Conn. (otherwise known as Zak Connelly) has just released his debut single Through the Night. Incorporating a grungy sound with an 80’s vibe, Through the Night is a love song that so many people can currently relate to. The obstacles and distance that separates you from your loved one. The struggles that ensure from the emotional turmoil created. Conn. has managed to write a beautifully crafted sad song in a time when we need it.
Keen to see what Zac was up to we got together and had a chat.
Hey Zac, it’s been awhile since we’ve caught up! You have a new project happening ‘Conn.’? How did this evolve?
Hey! So I’d been thinking about doing my own thing for a while. Before I started playing with Rival Fire I was in a band called The Controllers which was kind of a punk rock band. We all went to high school together and it was a bit different to Rival Fire. I joined Rival Fire and kind of took the back seat to writing a little bit, which I really enjoyed to be quite honest. It was good to put your ideas in there but not have to feel like you’re the person that has to do everything.
Recently because of Covid I’ve been writing heaps of music. I’ve named the project Conn because that was my dad’s nickname when he played in bands. He’s the one who inspired me to play music so I thought that would be a name with some meaning.
Is Through the Night the only track so far?
I’ve only recorded Through The Night so far, but I have another four songs on the go at the moment. This song is a bit of a soppy song I suppose. My girlfriend Laura lives in Queensland so since April I’ve seen her once and that was between lockdowns. It’s pretty hard obviously. The whole song is about what my mind was going through as this was all unfolding and was just another way of dealing with some of the shit feelings I was having. I ended up setting up a studio in dad’s shed and I’ve just been kicking around out there writing songs.
At least you’ve got an outlet
Yeah that’s right. Just before the first lockdown happened I moved back in with my parents which I was stoked about because I had been living by myself. There’s a few of my family living here so it’s been good to have people around too.
So are we getting an EP seeing as you have a few songs on the go?
Yeah I think so. I’ve got the other four songs on the go that aren’t quite finished, oh actually one of them the structure is finished. The other three are ideas at the moment I suppose. They’re almost done but their definitely missing parts. The aim is to finish these songs while we are in lockdown. I’ve been listening to a whole bunch of different music too and I think I’ve been inspired to write different tunes than I have written before. The first song Through the night is a lot different to what I’ve ever written.
Yeah it wasn’t what I was expecting when I first listened to it. I couldn’t for the life of me work out who it sounded like until you said about the band.
Yeah. It was my mum who said that it sounded like Joy Division. I can’t say that I’ve ever really listened to them. After mum said that I went and listened to them and thought oh yeah I guess so! The singing is quite low in Joy Division and I sing pretty low. I just wanted to do something a little bit different. Rival Fire is very main stream rock I guess, which I love and it’s so much fun to play, especially live. When I wrote this song I just let it go in whatever direction it went as opposed to trying to make it go a direction.
I recorded this at Tim Smyth’s One Punch Studios. I love doing stuff with Tim because he’s a musical genius. It just happened that his wife Lisa was there when we recorded so I asked her if she would like to sing on the chorus with me. She was keen to luckily. I gave her the microphone and she just did what I asked, and we put it in there. I was like sick that sounds awesome! I was so stoked with it. The song has been mixed by a guy called Peter Holz. I met him at Sony in Sydney a few years back. He’s a really great guy. Technology has been really handy because even though I was lucky enough to be able to squeeze recording with Tim between the two lockdowns I couldn’t get to Sydney for the mixing. I was originally going to go and sit in on it with Peter. The fact that I can send him the song and he can send it back via email is just so good. So it’s off being mixed and mastered now.
The version I have is obviously raw then!
Yeah so the version you heard still sounds a little bit raw. The kind of vibe I’m going for is a little bit raw anyway. This is just me having fun really. I’m sure when this first single hits people are going to be WTF!! I’ve learnt that you would go insane trying to please other people, so this is just me. I’ve had so much fun writing this song, I’ve never had so much fun writing a song before actually. It’s the first time I’ve multi- tracked everything as well. I didn’t play the drums, Kieran Rafferty stepped in to do that.
Honestly why would you play the drums when you’ve got Kieran really!!
Well I’m not that good on the drum kit and Kieran is just amazing. We’ve been playing together since we were 13 years old. I said to him ‘Oi can you come play on this’ and he was like yeah! He rocked in and tracked two songs for me, including set up and sound check it took him under two hours!! He came in, smashed each song three or four times and then bailed!!
I’m really excited to see where Zac takes this project as this first single is so good. Go give it a listen below.
While some people have taken to chilling over lockdown Melbourne’s Drastic Park have been churning out music. Their single ‘Feels Like Forever’ was done entirely during the beginning of lockdown, and the clip was made with the help of some friends. They have released two hilarious covid related parody tunes that got their name out into the wider world with ‘Karen’s Song’ sitting at over 360k views.
To top that all off they have written and produced a new EP ‘Imposter Syndrome’ without even being in the same place. Learning all the processes along the way has been an interesting challenge for the boys and I think they have done a brilliant job.
You guys have been busy!!
John: Yeah we just wanted to remain active, so we thought lets just record a bunch of songs, we don’t have to do anything with them, lets just do it to develop ourselves. We got to the point were we though that they were kind of good. We showed them to Steve Cannatelli (Future ArtistDevelopment) and he told us we had to do something with them! It was a nothing that turned into something. On Last World I pretty much wrote all of it, but Imposter Syndrome has been a more collaborative process.
How did you end up with Cassie Sutton (Terra) singing on Work of Art?
John: I always wanted a female singer in the song when I wrote it. And we always had Cassie in mind. We went to Steve and asked what he thought, and he said yep Cassie. We showed her the song and she loved it and was more than happy to sing on it.
Influences? Although I can hazard a guess!
John: Last World was definitely influenced by one album and that was Blink 182’s self-titled album. I wanted to work on that sound, that in my opinion had only ever been done once. Imposter Syndrome still carries that, but we’ve definitely experimented with more pop punk sounds and another little experimentation at the end of the album. It’s still heavily influenced by Blink!
But you guys have created your own sound, if someone had put those songs on I would have known it was you
Joe: That’s good.
John: That’s cool. Steve always says that my guitar style is sloppy but in a good way. Lots of sliding and things guitarists don’t normally do. Where as Chris plays chords on bass which most bassists won’t play that kind of style. It fills out the sound for a three piece. Then you add Joe on top who is an insanely good drummer. That means we can do more strummy stuff, we don’t have to do so much lead crazy stuff because Joe’s in the background doing it all anyway.
What do you guys listen to in your down time?
John: I listen to a lot of weird stuff. Falling In Reverse and Escape The Fate, emo stuff. I like bands that have a lot of charisma about them. I’ve also been listening to BMTH’s weird new stuff. Other than that I listen to older stuff from the 90’s. proper punk stuff like Mellincollin, old school Greenday, Nirvana and Violent Soho.
Chris: I listen to a big mix too. I listen to lots of chicks, acoustic stuff. Amy Shark, Taylor Swift. I listen to heaps of soft shift! Anything from classical to Japanese anime piano soundtracks, rock, emo. I don’t listen as much heavy anymore I’ve drifted away from stuff that doesn’t have any clean vocals on it.
Joe: I listen to a bit of everything lately. Mainly hardcore.
If you could tour with anybody who would it be?
Chris: Any fucking tour would be a dream right now! Just playing a show would be nice. We’d have to find where we sat music wise. I’d 100% go on tour with Blink 182.
John: Wishful Thinking would be cool to tour with. Pretty much anyone ..
You just want to tour?!
John: I’m just trying to think with in reason cos to be fair bands want to tour with us!!!
Chris: I think if you’re probably looking at our sound or where we would sit from an Australian perspective Yours Truly and Stand Atlantic for me are the two bigger bands that I would love to play shows with for sure.
John: I reckon Violent Soho as well.
Fingers crossed that gigs are back sooner rather than later because I can’t wait to see these guys play.
We conducted this interview via zoom, a first for me, and John kindly recorded and edited it for me. The link for the full interview is below.
Perth duo Josh Cuzens and Lewis Fiaschi, better known as Bag of Bones, have just released their latest single Paid. The single is a follow up from No Pass Outs that was released at the beginning of the year. I caught up with Lewis to find out just who Bag of Bones are.
Hey Lewis thanks for taking the time to chat. Who are Bag of Bones?
Hey. So Josh and I have been playing music together for a while we’ve been in a few bands here and there that for various reasons didn’t work out. We just got to the point where we were like maybe we should just do a two piece thing and just keep it simple. Its good just having the two people, it’s simple and easy in a sense but also kind of forces you to be better at your instrument. We are super lucky in that sense because it is just the two of us. Initially things cost a bit more but in the end you make more money in a weird way as well.
You also get want you want stylistically and sound wise easier too I guess?
Exactly that’s a huge benefit of being just a two piece. It is I do this and then Josh does that and that’s it! Josh and I were in a band together when we were about 18 or 19. That kind of went nowhere, and then after that we took a year off and then came back together and started Bag ofBones. We just started with the 2 of us because we thought the main reasons why things fell apart before was because like you said there was to many people and things went nowhere
So do you guys do all your own recording and stuff?
Yes so we have a friend Emmett he’s pretty much been there from day one with us. Our first few recordings and demos and stuff were just done in his living room at his house in Fremantle. From there we have mostly just recorded things at his house. The most recent single Paid was recorded in his house in Yallingup.
What bands inspire you guys?
This list is endless. But I guess the big ones would be Arctic Monkeys, QOTSA, The Black Keys and Jack White. But in saying that we do like a lot of electronic music weirdly enough. Like I said I could stand here all day and list bands that we like.
I’m gathering that the meaning behind the song Paid is to do with the music industry.
Yeah definitely. It was written to be a joke honestly. We played a handful of shows as you do when you’re first starting up and we were just kind of getting ripped off and being taken advantage of. You get promised money and then we’d never see that money. I mean its unfortunately a pretty common thing that does happens to newer bands. We were playing around, and rehearsing and Josh started writing the song, we played it a few times live and people really liked it so we were like okay I guess we should probably try and take it seriously! So the first few times we played it live I just made words up on the spot to be honest. We didn’t really put much thought into it, the song probably took 15 minutes to write to be honest, we didn’t really think too much about it. Which is kind of the irony of it because all the songs that don’t take much effort and time to write are the ones that are usually a bit more successful.
I’ve had you guys playing in the background this morning and been bopping around the house! You guys would be really great to see live.
I think that’s probably what we are, more of a live band than a recording one. Recordings unfortunately do it justice. You’re definitely much better off seeing us live than listening to the recorded songs.
I saw that you sold out a gig recently too, even during Covid
Yeah which is good for us. The first gig back in three months and we didn’t really know what was going to happen. And it sold out within a week which is pretty good. It was ideal, it’s the dream really to sell out a show.
I’ve discovered quite a few new WA bands during this weird time. We don’t always hear about them over here.
There are some fantastic bands in WA. We are pretty lucky; it’s definitely helped in a big way. We are carrying on as normal, well not as normal but as close to it that you can get compared to the rest of the world. We’re pretty thankful and very lucky for that.
Have you guys got an EP or anything in the works?
We’ve got a weird kind of song with a part 1 and 2, so that will become a 2 track EP. We’ll finish recording that and then try and organise some sort of gig. But again the issues being if the venue is bigger than 500 you can only have ½ capacity, so we are just sort of sitting around. We’ve got a few shows but in terms of our own shows or another launch were not really in a hurry at the moment.
Yeah shows are a hard thing to be organising right now.
Yeah. Which makes it hard because then you lose that traction. And not playing live sucks because it’s just not the same. Josh and I have just been using the time to write songs, we had a few months where we got lazy and didn’t do much and then we were like no we need to keep going. Also looking at different avenues to push the music, there’s always going to be something you can do. Not just give up.
There are positives to all this, people are listening to music more and diving deeper in to bands
Yeah that’s definitely a positive, when you are trying to not look at it like it the shittest thing in the world. You’re either forced to write music because you have nothing better to do or to explore more music.
And everyone is looking outside of the box and it seems to have bought the community together
It’s the light at the end of the tunnel, something to look forward too. Hopefully, other bands get inspiration from the bands that are doing stuff and don’t just break up or stop creating.
On the creating side, there are bands coming out with some amazing sounds. It’s getting harder to slot bands into a specific genre. Like you guys it says garage blues, but I wouldn’t even say that was your specific sound
Yeah it’s kind of not now. I think when we originally started out writing music it was very much like old school Sabbath, super riffy. I guess that’s where I got the idea because it wasn’t as heavy as Sabbath, but it was that kind of that electric blues vibe. As time has progressed it’s gotten a little bit more poppy in an upbeat way. Not so much guitar based but lyrically based.
Evolving as a band and trying to find your own sound I guess?
For sure. We spent the first year just playing more instrumental stuff because ironically I didn’t like singing! Where now I’ve gotten more confident and I enjoy singing a lot more. So we try and write songs more lyrically focused. No Pass Outs is probably the song that was the start of it. That song for us is definitely one of our favourites. It has a nice riff behind it but it’s also more lyrical
Well I certainly am digging the sound these guys are putting out. Go follow their socials and keep up to date with what Bag of Bones are up to next!!
Gold Coast prog band Mass Sky Raid have just released a new single ‘Not Alone’ this is just a taste of what is to come as the guys prepare to release a new album in the near future. I caught up with vocalist Adam Lomas to get the low down on what we can expect from Mass Sky Raid’s new album.
Hey Adam thanks for taking the time to chat. Can you tell us a bit about Mass Sky Raid?
We’ve been around for a while now. We released an EP and then we followed that up with our debut album Science Fiction. We were then fortunate enough to get some government funding through the local Gold Coast Regional Art Development Fund Program after that album which has enabled us to do another album which we have just recently finished. ‘Not Alone’ is our first single off of the new album. We’re really excited that in this crazy time we can actually get something out. It’s a catch 22 in the sense that you can’t play live but people are home and probably listening to more content. It sort of works both ways, it’s unfortunate that you can’t play live but you can get content out via the digital platforms and pick up a lot of listeners still which is great.
It’s a good time to be increasing you listener/ follower base.
It’s amazing. If it’s done right the music industry can keep going. I’m sure bands will continue to release more content. The hardest part was just organising it all on the other side like the recording process during the lockdowns. Its hard to make music videos for the same reason. So just organizing the actual releases was quite a challenge in these times. It’s just great to finally get it out there.
I think the way technology is these days too it’s much easier to get your music out there via all the different platforms. Even to record and produce your own music.
Technology had really made it amazing for musicians like that. To be able to record the album and then to distribute it digitally to the world. If your smart in what your doing with that you can really market it and get exposure. There are so many platforms now that you can push your music too. It’s about being smart, enthusiastic and being determined.
When I listened to ‘Not Alone’ I got a real Dead Letter Circus x Rival Fire vibe from the single. Then I saw that Luke Palmer (DLC) produced the single!
Yeah Luke produced our whole album for us. He’s been a good mate for a long time. This is the first time we have used Luke as a producer, and we couldn’t be happier with what he has done with our album. It’s a very diverse album, I mean this is the first of many songs and they have all got their own personalities and dimensions. We are bringing in a lot of different elements that we wouldn’t usually bring in. I’m just really excited to get them all out there. Luke has been amazing through the whole process.
I’m guessing that DLC are one of your influences! Who else influences your music?
They are definitely one. Each member of the band has different influences. Bands like 30 Seconds toMars, Karnivool, Northlane. I think that’s what creates our unique sound, that we all come from really different backgrounds. I think we bring in those influences through our sound.
I see you have had a bit of a line-up change.
Yes, so along with myself and Alex Kewley we have two new members. We have Josh Whitney on bass guitar and Nic Ross, who is actually from Scotland, on drums. So we’ve actually gone through quite a line up change on this album. It’s exciting because these guys bring in new elements and I’m excited to work with them. Just to create music going forward with them and them bringing their own influences. It keeps it fresh and exciting.
I am loving all the bands that are creating what they want at the moment.
I think as a band we have gotten to the stage where we are just being honest with what we are creating. Taking it wherever its meant to go with the journey it’s meant to go on. I think this song is quite similar to our last album, there are some new elements added, but I think when we go into our next single release people will find that it is completely different. We are bringing in elements that we have never had before so it’s just going on whatever journey I think inspires you at the time. Keeping it fresh and original.
There is some amazing talent coming through, it blows my mind. You see new content get released by these unknown bands I’m blown away by the quality that’s getting produced. It’s actually really inspiring, it drives you as a musician to work harder, to push your creative limits. That’s what I love about it, you just keep getting inspired. Being in a band you want to evolve so that you don’t become stale. Obviously you do it for your fans, but you have to enjoy it yourself too.
So will you release another single before the album?
Yeah this situation with the pandemic means you never know what is going to be happening next, so we are just so happy to be releasing content right now. We’re working on a film clip for our next release which should probably be just around the corner. We are pretty excited about this one because it’s a completely different side of Mass Sky Raid. It’s probably going to draw a new audience. We are just really thrilled that the album that we have worked on is just so diverse. Every song is a bit of a journey, each song is so different. We’ve bought in elements like acoustics and violins. I’m really excited because of the diversity of the next song and it’s something that we really wanted to do. Just experimenting because you never know where the song will go if you do that. I think as we release the next single people will go ‘Oh yeah this is really different’. We can’t wait for the world to open back up again so that we can tour this album. We have this built up energy and we can’t wait to get out and play in front of people.
After listening to ‘Not Alone’ I am extremely keen to see what Mass Sky Raid have for us next and for the world to open back up!
Just over 12 months ago while on holiday in Brisbane I stumbled across Novus at a Crowbar gig one night. I was impressed with them back then but having listened to their latest two releases the growth and maturity of the band really stands out. Zac and I caught up for a chat about the songs, the band and the Aussie scene.
Dean Ross-Swaver – vocals
Jon Prestage – Drums
Lach Prestage – Guitars
Zac James – Bass.
You guys have released a couple of singles?
Yeah we are trying to keep busy given the circumstances, just trying to stay on top of it and use this time wisely. There’s no point sitting around. We released ‘Hopeless’ in May and ‘Reflect’ was released earlier today. We are a little bit blown away by the response ‘Reflect’ has gotten today. People really seem to be more engaged which is awesome, and I guess that is due to not being able to go to a show.
This time has made me realise just how much good music is coming out of Australia. DiamondConstructs new EP is so good, they are about to blow up. I feel like that about Honest Crooks too. I’ve watched them for the last 4 or 5 years just continue to kill it. Our singer Dean is into deathcore and he hasn’t stopped talking about Babirusa’s new album today.
I sat up last night to listen to that and Diamond Construct’s EP. It’s been a big day for music today. Thank goodness Ethan makes his new music list each week!!
I love that dude. Actually he chucked us on this week’s list and all of us were like ‘We’ve made it!We are on Ethan’s list’.Ethan’s the man he’s all over it.
Did you already have these ready to go or were they written during lockdown?
‘Hopeless’ was already written and planned but ‘Reflect’ we started back around the beginning of March. We really knuckled down and wrote it and did the film clip while the restrictions in Queensland were eased. We are just trying to capitalise on any little thing we can get.
I saw that you had a sold out gig recently
Yeah we managed to squeeze one in for the year!! It was weird with everyone sitting down but it was fun. It was nice to play again, we have missed that.
Did you have a few gigs locked in for this year?
No nothing concrete. Just a lot of discussions with other bands. Then the first lockdown happened and it all went out the window. We were going to try and do a North Queensland run and then around now we had wanted to do an East Coast run. We were gearing up to push ourselves a bit more interstate.
Have you guys got an EP or album in the works?
Not really. Our plan for this year was to play as much as we could while continuing to write. So we’ve released ‘Reflect’ but we’re not sure on what we will do next, we probably will do an EP, but I can’t say that we have started on one. ‘Reflect’ was a song that we wrote fairly quickly when all this covid stuff first kicked off. With what we were planning being unable to happen we don’t really have a concrete plan in place right now. Things keep changing all the time.
I was listening to ‘Reflect’ earlier and you can tell that you guys have grown as a band. There’s a more matured sound.
Thank you! We are really trying to step in to where we want to go as a band. The EP ‘Solace’ was a lot of bucket list items for us. Songs that we had always wanted to record. ‘Hopeless’ and ‘Reflect’ are much more where we want to go in the future. It’s the first time we have had had clean vocals in any of our songs which is really cool. There’s a lot more layers and we’ve added synthesisers, orchestral parts, and bigger lead guitar sections. Just trying to make the songs as big as we can. We’ve continued to write and will try to come out with something more as early as we can.
What was the story behind the two songs?
‘Hopeless’ really battled with the subject of depression. The negative side of depression and how you are down on yourself. How you feel like you just want to end it because you can’t see a way to come out of it. It was a really dark song.
‘Reflect’ picks up from where ‘Hopeless’ left off. It looks more at the brighter side. That you’ll have those moments and that is okay. When you sit down and reflect on everything that has happened, the good and the bad, that staying alive is a much better option.
Novus have really raised the bar with these two releases showing that they are up and coming contenders in the scene.
Holy f#$k I am not quite sure what the hell I just listened too! And I say that in the absolute best possible way. Earthbound have delivered an EP that is so technical in its instrumental delivery that my mind is completely blown.
Taking their inspiration from their favourite video games Earthbound have created, for me, a sonic masterpiece. This 4 track EP is right up there in my top 10 releases this year. The concept of using storylines from video games vs what these guys have created boggles my brain (too many tabs opened!)
Gamers familiar with the story lines will be able to relate the clues in the lyrics back to the video games. While us non gamers will still be reeling from the sonic explosions to our eardrums before we even start to delve deeper into the songs.
Earthbound appear to have pushed every boundary to the very edge on this release. The boys have proven just why they are a force to be reckoned with in the progressive metalcore realm.
Evergreen is a piece of work that needs to be slowly consumed song by song. My biggest tip is to whack some headphones on and find a comfy spot when you listen to this so you can fully immerse yourself in the moment. (As a side note you could probably just stare at the amazing cover artwork while you are there to complete the experience.) There is so much happening on every single track that each listen brings another surprise. Manically heavy drumlines, technical riffs and hooks, bass breaks, catchy chorus’s and groovy melodies…. Add to that some cheeky chugs, slides and quieter moments where you can briefly catch your breath! And all of that is before you add Tom’s vocals, which I didn’t think could get any better…wrong again!!
Honestly, I just want gigs to return to see this played live so I can watch these boys in action. This EP has something for everyone and if you’re a musician looking for some inspiration then this is where you’re going to find it.
There’s a line from Eden that simply says ‘You will know my name’ after listening to Evergreen that seems to have taken on a prophetic meaning!!
Evergreen is out tomorrow on all the usual platforms.
Inhibitor are destined for big things. With their first three singles already making waves in the deathcore scene, the Melbourne band have firmly entrenched themselves amongst fans. Their debut EP ‘Abhorrence’ is out next Friday (11th Sept). Heavy hitting, not only musically but lyrically Inhibitor have produced a killer debut release.
‘Abhorrence’ summed up in a few words is ‘brutal as fuck!!‘ Michael’s unrelenting drumming along with Declan’s hefty bass notes form the backdrop for the heaviness of what you are about absorb. Add the sweetly (if you can use that term in a deathcore setting!) soaring but ruthlessly delivered guitar riffs and hooks provided by Sam and Dan and you are in for one hell of a sonic ride. Jesse’s low guttural vocals are the icing on the cake for ‘Abhorrence’. Oh and if you’re looking for those massive breakdowns you’ve come to the right place.
Taking a deeper look into the lyrical side of the EP Inhibitor tackle an array of issues in a manner that makes you really question what is happening. The effects that it has on society and our planet – socially, financially, morally and ethically. The need to delve in deeper and question what is happening not just accept what is pushed on you via the media, government, social media platforms, religion and big business.
Mark next Friday on you calendar so you don’t miss this release!
Featuring some of Australia’s best metalcore vocalists on their roster I reached out to Featured X to see what this new project was all about. Tuck O’Leary (Fit For A King) was kind enough to fill me in.
For those of you that haven’t heard about Featured X and what they are about this is taken from their press release:
Featured X is an artist featuring platform aimed to heighten the ability of artistic interaction. As the first project under the Artist Owned umbrella, Featured X looks to kickstart a revolution for artist synergy across all levels of the industry. From bands to solo artists, all musical dreams will be able to take off on Featured X. The easy-to-use platform looks to be a launching point for the future of the music industry.
Beginning with a focus on the metalcore genre, Spencer Charnas of Ice Nine Kills, Levi Benton of Miss May I, Lauren Babic of Red Handed Denial and CrazyEightyEight, CJ McMahon of Thy Art is Murder and Tom Barber of Chelsea Grin are among the list of Featured Artists.
Featured X’s mission is to provide artists an environment of collaboration that will encompass and equally benefit artists on all levels of the industry. Featured X CEO and co-founder Jeff Menig had this to say, “Featured X will be streamlining a part of the industry that has never been effectively utilized. We’re creating a transparent environment for all levels of artists to collaborate on a level never seen, and we’re going to help artists monetize themselves in more creative and efficient ways”. Fellow Featured X partner and COO Adam Pickney realized “we didn’t truly realize how special this project was until the first requests came in and we saw how the artists interacted with each other. We want to change the narrative by bridging the gap between artists through technology, giving them a clear and safe place to communicate effectively”. “At a time when touring is at a standstill, income as a musicians extremely hard to come by”, said fellow Featured X co-founder and Head of Talent, as well as bassist for Fit for a King, Ryan “Tuck” O’Leary. He went on to explain “Featured X allows artists to pick the projects they enjoy and help build the vision for the new crop of artists. We’re so thankful for the cooperation of so many friends and peers as we begin this journey.”
Hey Tuck! First off can you tell me a bit about yourself and your background in the industry.
My name is Tuck, I play bass and do a little singing in the band Fit For A King and I sing in a band called Off Road Minivan. I joined FFAK a little over 6 years ago. ORMV is my side project with all my friends from home. It’s been really nice surrounding myself with friends and getting to constantly make art.
You’ve just started FeaturedXdotcom how did this come about? Who else is involved?
My business partner Jeff Menig and I were chatting one morning when he had the idea. It sounded not only realistic, but necessary, so we immediately started working on it. I started talking to some friends for the roster and then we found our web designer, Adam Pickney. Adams’ impact has been monumental, and he has since come on as a part owner. We’ve built up a nice little team around FeaturedX. Our friends Tasha Chaves, Aaron Marsh and Tyler Regelsky have also been working on the project and helping us to create a smooth, fun process for everyone.
This is obviously open to any band to either use or become a part of? How will this work?
We absolutely want anyone and everyone to try to work with their favourite vocalists. All you have to do is go to the site, click on the artist you want, choose which option for writing involvement then send the song along with your social media links. The requested artist will then Login, listen to the song, check out your socials and decide if the project is for them. Not every request will be approved but we hope that a lot of great music gets developed through this platform. You can also apply for the site as a singer/vocalist. I’m looking at all applications and checking out all the bands.
You’ve scored a few Aussie singers on your list too. How did you connect with them?
Lochie from Alpha Wolf and I have toured together a bunch so that came together easily. My business partner Jeff and myself manage The Gloom In The Corner so Mikey’s involvement was necessary. Booka is the queen of metal core and I just hoped she would join haha. I hit her up and luckily her and Sean were interested in the project. Ether by Make Them Suffer is one of my favourite songs and my “go to” hype song. I’ve got another cool Aussie artist joining this week and I’m hoping to confirm another today.
This is a brilliant idea for newer bands to be able to access some of their idols/inspirations to collaborate with? Where do you see it going further down the road?
I agree, hopefully someday Geoff Rickly will see my message, join the company and I can pay him to be on MY song haha. We would like to involve all genres, instruments and styles. We just started here because of the connections we have and what we know. I know everyone here for the most part, so it feels personal. I want everyone to be happy and have a nice experience with the site. This is for artists, by artists. Who knows what we will achieve but I think we can expand a lot.
Are there any other projects that you are working on?
There are but that’s for another time haha. For now, Featured X is the first step; much more to come in the future
Hardcore new comers Priorities have quietly snuck in and dropped their first single “If I Believed’. The 5 piece band hailing from Melbourne have created their unique and aggressive sound by blending 2000’s-era hardcore sounds with elements of a more contemporary djent, prog and metalcore sound. It’s a sound that I am really digging.
I caught up with Mitch Sigge and Jesse Grinde for all the goss on this new band!!
So you guys have just appeared from nowhere and dropped a ripper track! I had a listen to ‘If I Believed’ then went off to see what I could find out about you and then realised it was your first single.
Mitch: Yeah we’re a bit illusive! Just drop something and then disappear for a bit..
Jesse: Originally this wasn’t going to be a single. We just got tied up with this corona virus stuff and we wanted to save what was supposed to be our first single because we want an actual music video with it, but we couldn’t do the video. We wanted to put something out now, so that’s where ‘If IBelieved’ came from. And now it’s a single!
Mitch: We’ve been together as a band for roughly a little over 12 months now. We had this idea to get everything sorted and get everything out there but obviously corona virus has hit and has definitely made things a little bit harder. We’ve had plans for music videos fall through and everything in between, so it does make life hard, especially here in Melbourne.
Have you guys been in bands before?
Mitch: We’ve all played in bands prior to this. Alan our bassist and I played in a hardcore band for a couple of years. I think Jesse and Dean jammed around together for a while
Jesse:Dean and I have never played in a band together, but we’ve always written songs together which is weird. I was in a pop punk band and I really didn’t think I’d end up in a hardcore band yet here we are!! It’s been fun though
Mitch: Yeah its fun. I think Dean and Liam played in another heavy band together for a few years. So we’ve all been in bands and been around the scene for a while. Other than Jesse whose been more around the pop punk side. I played pop punk there for a while as a guitarist as well.
What kind of music do you guys all listen to outside the band?
Mitch: I listen to a lot of metalcore and that sort of stuff. Dean is massively into bands like Rush and that era of music.
Jesse: I listen to a bit of everything. I’m really not tied down. I’ll even listen to something like funk, blues or jazz.
I’m a bit the same. Metalcore is my jam, actually it’s probably more on the djent/prog side.
Jesse: Yeah I love djent
Mitch: That’s probably Jesse and Dean. They’re definitely more in to that. I still listen to the old school hardcore bands like Carpathian and all the local bands from back in the day.
How has the new single been received?
Mitch: Fairly well considering we’re pretty unknown. Nobody has really heard of us, other than the usual family and friends who follow our socials like Facebook and Instagram. For a first release single of a band that nobody has ever heard of I personally think it has been received pretty well.
So you’ve obviously got enough for an EP???
Mitch: Oh yeah. We have a drop box file with 15-20 songs sitting in it that just need tweaking and playing with. Then it’s just choosing the right ones to go with. We were well and truly set into writing and finishing off the EP then getting into the room with Nathan (Sanderson) and then we got hit with all these restrictions. Between the lot of us we do have the technology and the equipment to record it but Sando is the go to guy for us to really get the sound that we want. We don’t want it coming out demo quality, so we are just playing the waiting game at the moment.
Jesse:Sando just sets the tone for it all. He just gets it.
Mitch: He’s great. I’ve known Nathan for years just personally as mates. He’s played in bands before as well, a couple that we were in together. It makes it easy to work with someone who is already a friend. He has all the know-how and knows what is going on with us. He’ll suggest things to make the songs better or throw out different ideas. It’s a really easy working environment.
What’s the story behind ‘If I believed’
Mitch: Lyrically it was written in a really bad time for me. The inspiration came for it from then, the whole song wasn’t written at that point. I went through a pretty messy break up that left me couch surfing for about a month or so before things settled down and I moved into my cousin’s house. I don’t like to dwell or regress to those stages in life, but I think it’s important that when I was going through that I was finding music to help me get through. I was literally jumping between mates’ houses while still trying to work, live my life and keep the band going. It was a hard time. That was the main inspiration behind it, but I guess the whole message behind the song was a bit fuck you to the things that happened in life and how to get through it. That was where my head was at when I was writing it. Musically that was the boys and they killed it.
Jesse: Musically I drew inspiration for the guitar leads from almost like 80’s hard rock. All those windy leads. I stayed true to my ‘rocky’ self, whilst still keeping it hardcore. Dean is obviously the heaviness of the band; he wrote the breakdown which was pretty balls to the wall. I don’t know where he drew his inspiration from.
Who are some of the influences in your writing?
Mitch: For me personally lyrically I take a lot of inspiration from Caleb Shomo of Beartooth because I know he is very well rounded when it comes to speaking about what happens in life emotionally and all that sort of stuff. Jesse and I went to the Melbourne gig when they came here last and my partner and I got to meet him and pick his brain a little bit. (Sidenote: If anyone went to the Melbourne gig last year, it was Mitch who proposed to his partner!) For me he is probably one of the greatest writers of our generation. He’s only a year older than me and he’s on his second turn around of playing in an internationally renowned band. I know a lot of other artists that draw inspiration from the emotional side of life. Joel from Amity Affliction speaks a lot about depression and anxiety. And I think just through some of my life experiences it was very easy for me to write about that. I’m a pretty open person when it comes to talking about it. It wasn’t hard to open up about it. It was a pretty dark time and I did some stupid stuff that I regret but it is what it is. I’m in a happy and loving relationship now so I don’t like to dwell on that to much.
Jesse: I’m into a band called Novelists. The guitaring in there is just sensational. I draw a lot of inspiration from them or try to, I’m not that good!! And Beartooth as well.
Mitch: When you showed me Novelists they reminded me of Napoleon. That melodic, technical, punk hardcore kind of style. They’re really quite cool.
So it will be a while before you release your EP?
Mitch: Unfortunately yeah. Like Jesse was saying before we had another song lined up and we’re still in talks with Anthony, the guy who is going to do the music video for it. We were trying to get that sorted and then things obviously turned to shit. All the boys still communicate at least weekly if not daily about the music. But lockdown has made things really difficult. So it might be awhile before the EP gets released, but we are still working on music.
Jesse: Our music video is going to be priority number one. So once we can get together we’ll smash that out and release the single. Then after that we’ll probably try and smash out the EP, get it done quick smart.
Mitch: We don’t really have much of a time line. I’d love to have the music video and EP released by the end of the year, but we just don’t know. They are saying that in another few week’s restrictions will ease but that won’t be enough still for us to get together.
Yeah you probably need stage 2 restrictions before you can do much
Mitch: Yeah. I think we can class band practise as work or something like that. We need to be able to get 5 people in a room without it being an issue.
The good thing is people are stuck at home listening!
Jesse: That’s what I thought!
Mitch: That’s exactly right, that was kind of the inspiration behind even releasing something at this time. Everyone is stuck at home and people will come across it. We definitely have Pricey(The Faction, Collision Course) to thank for helping us project a bit more forward than what we were aiming at.
The way we came across Tim was he did one of those ‘is anyone releasing music in the second half of this year’ posts on Facebook and I messaged him. He replied and I sent him through our two tracks. So the one that has been released and the one that was supposed to be our first single. He was like ‘Yeah that’s sick’ and sent me through all the Collison Course stuff so that was great.
He’s done so much for the industry through The Faction because there wasn’t really anywhere that played metalcore.
Jesse: It’s really hard to break into the scene right now. There’s so much oversaturation in the market because everyone is trying to get in there. You typically hear about the big bands so how are you going to get into some of the smaller guys that are around.
That’s where I come in!! I pick up a lot of the smaller bands. There is so much talent in the smaller bands that are just starting out. At the moment the smaller bands are absolutely killing it.
The Melbourne scene is just so cool, it’s like one big family
Mitch: I’ve been around Brisbane and stuff. They have some great bands coming out of the other states, but I’ve never seen a scene that is as tight knit as the Melbourne scene is. It seems everyone that is in it knows someone from a band and you all end up becoming friends. It’s really cool to see that.
It’s been so good seeing all the bands backing and supporting each other with releases through Covid, not only the Melbourne scene but right across Australia.
Mitch: I’ve had people from bands in the scene message me saying how great the new song is which is so good.
I have to agree with those people. Go give ‘If I Believed’ a spin and hit up Priorities socials in the links below. Very keen to see where these guys are heading!!
“Earthbound’s mission statement is we want people to have a good time, to dance and to feel uplifted when listening to our music.”
Evergreen is the latest offering from Earthbound and it immediately went into my top 10 releases for this year. Jake Kershaw and I had a lengthy discussion about the EP, pushing boundaries, video games and our beautiful friend Ralph Brown. Grab a cuppa or a beer and find a comfy spot because this is a bit of a lengthy interview!!
We were coming off our last single and we wanted to get something out reasonably fast which obviously didn’t happen. We like writing our songs about our favourite games, we did that for Emberand Continuum. So we thought why not carry it on for this one but this time we picked games that were a bit more near and dear to us. Tom and I do a lot of the writing for Earthbound and these stories have resonated with us so much. The games that we are referencing we play very regularly so we wanted to immortalise it, give something that has given us so much happiness a life through our music as well. Lyrically that was where it was going.
Musically however I wanted to see what would happen if I could make metal a bit more dancy and upbeat. Let’s put aside the mosh for these tunes and let’s have a boogie. For myself, my musical influence comes from progressive metal, post hardcore, that kind of stuff. I’m a big fan of guitar lines that are really intent and have a hell of a lot going on.
Who influences you?
Dance Gavin Dance. Periphery, Haunted Shores, Erra, Wage War, Currents. All of the bands that I listen too I like the sound of, but I was striving to find a way to put all of them into it and see what I could do with it. I found that bouncy, upbeat sort of style with the low growly breakdowns mixed in with high chords, like the beginning of Eden. Juxtaposing those two things on the guitar was something I was really looking to do sonically. And then Tom just comes in and makes the song so good with his vocals. I sit there and record and I am just in awe of him.
When I was beginning to play 7 string guitar I watched so much Mish Mansoor it’s not funny and I learnt how to write drums from Matt Halpern online
He is my drum god I could watch him play all day
It’s actually insane that the man can control all four of his limbs individually. The last time they played here I did the meet and greet. It was awesome, I don’t usually do many meet and greets but I had to do this one. I got introduced to them when I was about 16, a friend told me that I had to listen to the new album Periphery ll, and it changed my life. That and Fortress by Protest the Hero really shaped my musical journey.
So the EP was ready to go before Covid hit?
It sure was. We recorded with Chris Vernon from Belle Haven. He’s a great bro and we loved every second recordingEvergreenwith him. We actually had it done at the end of 2019 and ready to go. We were waiting on some promo pics and merch. It was also festival season, so we like to take that time off. So from mid-December to the end of January we usually take off and just enjoy Xmas and New Year with our families. We kicked back into gear and we were just that little bit behind the mark with getting everything ready and then the world ended! This pandemic has been the killer of productivity and creativity so I’m really proud of the boys, Maddii (The Venom Collective) and everyone involved for getting through and getting it done. We would be lost without Maddii and Steve (Future Artist Development). We did Coach’s eight week course after Continuum and honestly it changed us as a band. I have endless amounts of love and respect for those two and what they have done for the Melbourne music scene.
It’s also been great to see the creativity of some of the bands getting their music out there. Drastic Park are a classic example. The amount of stuff that those guys have been able to achieve is amazing and the amount of promo work they do!! I loved Work of Art. Then you have Gloom in the Corner doing really cool stuff to promote themselves too. Seeing bands adapting to what is happening with the new rules around covid has been really cool. And like you mentioned everyone supporting each other. We are very lucky to have such a great industry where a world shattering event such as this has been able to have such a positive silver lining as well.
More people are listening and digging deeper into the bands too
I’ve done that with a few bands. In my house we all have our computers set up in the dining room, we have music on all the time. We get so many different genres playing. It’s been good discovering all the new music that I probably wouldn’t have if I was just going out to gigs every week. Having this downtime has had an upside.
How does song writing work for you guys?
I wrote Eden in March last year. I’ve talked to a lot of people about song writing but my method is a bit odd. I doddle around on the guitar for a bit and write it down into guitar pro and then all of a sudden I might not write a song for two weeks and then I’ll write one in a day once I get that idea. Eden pretty much wrote itself, after the initial riff and the verse it really did just write itself. When we wrote Liquify I would write the song and then go cool Tom here’s the title write whatever you want. To an extent with Evergreen I’ve used the song titles kind of like an essay question! Like what does this word mean and how can I express this word musically, what am I doing with it and how does it make me feel. That’s basically how all the songs came about. The only exception is Evergreen for some strange reason and I can’t believe I’m going to say this!! Evergreen came out of a Dance Gavin Dance lyric that just happened to work with everything we wanted to say. Originally it was just the title of the EP and we had the last song on it which is now called Evergreen. We were like what do we call this song. I think it was unnamed for about one month after we recorded it. I said to the guys why don’t we call it Evergreen and then the guys were like why didn’t we see that!!
The song Evergreen is actually very funny lyrically because one of our favourite band pastimes is playing a game called Civilisation V. Essentially it’s a turn based strategy game, everyone plays at the same time and you get a turn. You build cities and your civilization has to outlast time essentially. We were recording on my 23rd birthday and I said to the guys hey let’s play Civilization tonight for my birthday. So we were having drinks and playing, and I messaged my partner about the game and saying how I was about to kill Tom and she messaged him and told him. The guys all ganged up and killed me off and strangely it was a great bonding time for the band. We went on to write Evergreen about it.
With the lyrics of Evergreen what we aimed to do with them was, we had the story of the game and we wanted to give it a real world application so you can take it as the game or you can give it your own meaning. That was the way we really wanted to have our lyrics come across. When you listen to Thrive, and this is a fun one because no one would ever picture this, it’s about Mario Cart. We wrote it in the persona of someone who plays Mario Cart but it’s also about paranoia, being challenged, about staying on top. The lyrics at the start ‘They want to see me fall, To take me down is their only goal’ and there’s a line at the end about ‘Witness the falling star, Invigorate my drive, Guide and protect me’ will be understood by anyone who has ever played Mario Cart. Evergreen is written from the perspective of being attacked so it’s very much an overcome adversity story.
The lyrics we write are game based, but we wanted to give the application so that you could give your own meaning to it and take what you wanted from the lyrics.
I think having the video game references is a personal thing to us because we get to relive the games. I know when I’m writing I play all the games again and will get my vibe through it. It’s like it’s taken from this, but it also has this element to it. I think every song has its own meaning within the game.
Art is subjective so there is no right or wrong way to interpret the songs. Although for us that’s how we got there, via the medium of video games that are near and dear to us. But, like you’ve said it and Maddii’s said it, there will be 1000’s of people listen to it that have never played any of the games. Even gamers may not have played some of them, but they will all get their own meaning. And that to me is the coolest thing. You’re able to form your own opinion to what you are listening too.
That was another very big emphasis on what we wanted to do with Earthbound was have elements of something for everyone. From the cool guitar components, to the catchy chorus’s that will get stuck in your head, there’s break downs to mosh and melodies. Every instrument gets a bit of the spotlight at some point. When we did Evergreen the guys literally just said to me make something weird, I put every ounce of guitar I had into it, there’s a bass break in it, cool drumlines. We just wanted to showcase each band member as well. I really wanted to inspire other up and coming musicians to try cool stuff. I think having something for everyone and creating an uplifting space with upbeat tracks was really important to us. Then lyrically having that element over the video games which ties all the band members together as friends was a super important thing to, because that way we all have something we can connect to as well through our music. It would be so heart-warming to know that the feeling I got when listening to Protest the Hero in art class happened to someone else listening to something I wrote.
It’s super heart-warming to know your ‘brain baby’ is out there for the world to hear. Like this came out of our brains, we created this. It’s cool to see people react to it in such a positive way. I’m super keen to play shows, especially to play Eden because like I said before the biggest thing for me with this song is fuck the mosh off and come have a dance. As much as I love the mosh I just want everyone to come in close and have a fucking dance with it. For me that is the essence of that song. The other tracks on the Evergreen the chorus’s and the way the songs are structured it’s very indicative of dance. Earthbound’s mission statement is we want people to have a good time, to dance and to feel uplifted when listening to our music.
One thing we wanted was, with 2020 being so dark and shit, if our music can be positive and just let us have a moment to just dance then that’s a win for us. That’s exactly what I want Earthbound to be.
One of the things I like to do when making a record is to make the songs slightly harder to play each EP. To challenge myself with the technical side. I think one of my favourite parts is in the breakdown of Evergreen. There’s so many techniques that I have learnt that I wanted to add in. I’ll turn up to rehearsals and say ‘ Guys we have a new song’ and they’ll hear it and just be like ‘Fuck it’s too hard” I get this from my drummer a lot because obviously I’m not a drummer and I’ve learnt about it from watching Luke Holland and Matt Halpern, so you know RIP to my drummer!! Watching them is how I learnt how to understand what drummers do.
I hope this is how my band members feel about it as well, but when you learn something new on your instrument that’s all you want to do. It feels so cool to work out how to do this really cool thing. That’s why I wanted to add all the little bits and pieces in the songs so we can look back and be like hey we learnt to do that since our last record.
John Stokes (Drastic Park) did the visualizer for Eden. He is a wizz. We had a lot of stress doing that video. We had difficulty coming up with an idea and then finding a way to execute it. We finally got an idea and then Covid came along and then we couldn’t make the video. John swooped in and saved us all and we are very thankful for that. If anyone ever needs anything like that I hope people go to John.
How long have you guys been together as a band?
Daniel and I have been friends for 16 years. Our parents became friends and then that’s how we met David. I went to high school with our drummer Rhys and we played in school bands together. Eventually we were like hey let’s play some metal and Earthbound was born!
We started writing our first EP Solstice about 6 years ago. But our first song came out 4 years ago. We played our first ever show with Ocean Sleeper who are also from Gippsland.
Gippsland seems to be the place for music!
It’s crazy how much good music is out there everywhere, literally on your doorstep. Going to gigs and seeing all the up and coming support acts, which sometimes completely overshadow a main act.
Another one of our first big shows we played was supporting Saviour when they were doing the Never Sleep tour with Pridelands and Deadlights. Everyone on that bill was so welcoming and friendly and we were pretty unknown then. I need to put this out there, watching Deadlights do their soundcheck I’ve never been floored like that watching a band soundcheck. I can honestly say watching them and Periphery soundcheck have both blown me away. Wow just talking to you makes you realise how many amazing bands we have in Australia!
That’s why I’m so passionate about Aussie music. Why would you pay big dollars to see overseas acts when we have some of the best bands in the world at our fingertips. The bands always come and talk to the fans and mingle. It’s the best.
Yeah and they get just as excited as you to watch the other bands on the bill.
Did you guys have plans to tour with the EP?
We had tentative plans. They went out the window Covid happened. We’ve actually on ever played one show out of Victoria, so we were excited to play the capital cities for the first time. It didn’t turn out that way, but we will be doing the rounds as soon as we can.
If you could tour with three other Australian acts who would they be?
Oh that’s easy! Heartline, Infinite Illusion and Uni/Vs. I love Heartline they are incredible.They are one of the bands that we would love to play with. An honourable mention would also be Above/Below, and Days of Deceit both bands are really cool.
Days of Deceit should be a hell of a lot bigger than what they are. They are so good.
They are such nice guys. I chatted with them when they played here with ATLVS, who are another band that I would love to play with.
Of course Jake and I couldn’t have a conversation without talking about our beautiful friend RalphBrown and the project Jake worked with Ralph on ‘Without Belief’.
That was a really fun thing to work on honestly. It was so good working with him because he had this clear idea of what he wanted. He would just tell me I want this, and it was so easy for me to write those songs because they had so much heart and so much emotion in them. Some of it was a bit more difficult. Acceptance was a hard one obviously. The songs where so near and dear to both of us in our personal lives as well. In saying that I managed to add some really cool Easter eggs into that song which really gave it life personally to me. If you listen Acceptance where it kicks in to the “You raised us well” part, every single guitar line and bass line are actually a recurring theme from every other song. I added the guitar line on the lead in to Denial, the bass is the main hook from Depression, the piano part is in Bargaining, But the cool thing was what we did with it was we wrote the whole EP in one key and then for Acceptance we shifted it up So it sonically already sounds different. The idea was the first four stages were grouped together but Acceptance was the part where you were supposed to move on. We wanted to have it be bittersweet with its key and have that change so it did stand out.
Evergreen is out now on all the normal platforms. You can also grab yourself a physical copy and some cool merch in the link below.