Monday, January 19, 2009

Big Day Out Hot Produce stage feature


Sarah Kelly from The Redsunband, Bree Carter from Wow and Kiss Reid from The Scare are enjoying a post photo-shoot drink when one of them makes a bold claim. “We’re the best band in the whole world,” Kiss says with a devilish grin. “I want people to realise the album that we’ve just recorded is the greatest punk album ever made in history.”
“Have a bit more confidence in yourself,” Sarah jokes. Cue laughter all round.

While the animated frontman of Sydney’s dark punk rockers has his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, the bullishness that he and his fellow interviewees are feeling is understandable as they, along with other emerging local artists, have been hand-picked to play the Hot Produce stage at Big Day Out. Considering just how many young bands are vying for attention amid a buzzing Sydney scene, these artists are obviously doing something special to stand out from the crowd. “Basically, it’s about your live performances and being that little bit different,” Kiss states as he pulls hard on a cigarette. “So many bands want to join a scene, but it’s the people that don’t do the generic thing that get ahead.”
Bree, whose band’s live show offers high-energy techno/dance bounciness, concurs. “Yeah, that’s true. Be different. Be yourself.”
“The natural bands push forward over the bands that are fake and transparent,” vocalist/guitarist Sarah adds. “You’ve got to be lucky as well though, and it’s also about people wanting to help you out. It helps if you are really good at talking.”
“I’ve just got a good drummer with a really big mouth,” Kiss says. “He’s a great talker.”
“Which one’s your drummer?” Sarah asks.
“The one that talks a lot and always looks kinda like a 70s porn star,” he replies, as though that is explanation enough.

So, having got ahead of the chasing pack and scored a coveted place on the Hot Produce stage, how will the bands approach the occasion? Do they look at it professionally – a big chance to win over new fans – or is it just a day getting drunk in the sun that happens to be punctuated by a 40-minute set? “It’s like being out and being the driver when everyone else is pissed. It’s not as fun unless you’re part of it,” Bree says.
Kiss agrees. “That’s the way it is. We’ve played at festivals in England and I’ve tried to be professional and I hated it.”
“It’s fun to play a festival. I don’t think there’s heaps of pressure on you necessarily,” says Sarah, whose band has graced Big Day Out before with its dark, heavy dream-pop. “It’s pretty relaxed and it can be really interactive. Festivals are basically the only all-ages shows we get to play. So it’s all about playing to 16-year-olds, because they’re the best fans you’ll ever have. They’re so into it.”
“People are there to have fun,” Bree states. “You feel it from the stage. It breaks down barriers straight away, from the second you get up there.”

When talk turns to expectations of the day, Bree speaks with enthusiasm about the recent growth of her band from a duo to a quartet. “We’re trying to improve our live show as much as possible, so we have now got Stephen J. Mitchell from Emergency Emergency on synths and electric guitar and our friend on drums. Drugmoney is his official name.”
Kiss meanwhile, in spite of his general ebullience, has decidedly modest aspirations. “I hope I give a better performance than at Homebake. Every single one we’ve played has been disastrous. Too drunk.” Indeed, because of his band’s dipsomaniac tendencies, last year they were only allowed access to their rider half-an-hour before they performed. “We still drank it all. I fell off the front of the stage straightaway and got concussion. I’ll try to stay on the stage a little longer at Big Day Out.”

Once their sets are done, there is one particular band that members of Wow and The Scare are sure to head to watch. “I’ve seen The Prodigy before and the crazy energy they bring is just amazing,” Kiss recalls. “People were losing their shit. It was really exciting.”
Sarah, meanwhile, explains how she is more interested in seeing some closer-to-home acts, including The Drones and recent tour-buddies, Youth Group. “It was so fun,” she says of last year’s travels around Australia with them. “We were in a 12-seater van, travelling all together. I think it’s a great way to do it. Any inter-band tensions are defused because there are so many people around.” As an afterthought she adds: “It’s cheaper too.”

Enthusiasm levels vary when the discussion moves on to whether any of the bands have dreams of ever headlining the main stage at Big Day Out. Sarah greats the idea with indifference. “It’s not something I aspire to, because, generally, I like the smaller stages for watching bands or for playing.”
Bree has an easygoing attitude. “It’s not on my list of things to do, so it wouldn’t really matter if it never happened, but of course it would be great.”
Enter Kiss, with a typically devil-may-care approach. “I could do it,” he says with a smile.

Talk turns to fantasy festival line-ups. As is becoming the accepted dynamic, Kiss leads the conversation. “I’d take about five acts from the All Tomorrow’s Parties line-up. I’d throw Talking Heads in there and I’d get Swans back together.”
As he pauses for breath, Sarah takes the opportunity to request Mazzy Star. “But they’d have to play after dark,” she insists. Obviously putting plenty of thought into the logistics of her dream line-up, she also requests The Kinks, “really early in the day.”
As Sarah adds The Black Angels to her wish-list and Kiss explains how he could spend all day naming bands, Bree remains strangely quiet; the enormity of being asked to curate her own fantasy festival seemingly sending her brain into meltdown. “There are way too many,” she shrugs as an answer is teased from her. “For some reason I can only think 80s though. I’d love to see Bowie.”

As seasoned festival-goers, both as performers and punters, the trio offer up some tips for Big Day Out virgins. “I’m white as hell so I’d say wear sunscreen,” Bree says, studying her moon tan. “Oh, and take some sort of smuggling device, because I think you’re only allowed two drinks at a time.”
Surreally, Kiss adds: “Get a carrier pigeon.”
Meanwhile, amongst some helpful advice about bringing a big hat and not wearing black, Sarah suggests a slightly harder to acquire necessity. “A backstage pass is the best thing you can have at Big Day Out; shorter lines, cleaner loos.”

So there you have it. Forget sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, being an artist at Big Day Out is all about the joys of doing a wee in comfort. If ever there was a reason to form your own band and attempt to score a place on next year’s Hot Produce Stage, surely this is it. After all, have you seen the length of those lines for the toilets?


Rhys said...

Very nicely written article Bobby. You weren't lying about those chocolates. 4 years out of date!! How does that happen!

Bobby Six said...

Indeed! I ate loads of them before I noticed. Didn't do me any harm.