Metal-Roos: Tell me a bit about the current lineup and how you guys got together.
Steve: Tommy has been with us since the start. Now Phoebe and me have been together 15 years. We’re a married couple. We grew up in Wagga in NSW and started playing music together 15 years ago. It wasn’t enough just being an acoustic duo in Wagga, we had bigger plans. So we moved down to Melbourne, and I actually rang this bloke here Tim, when I got there because he was my favourite bass player (laughter). I had gum leaves hanging out my ears and said “Hey I’m Steve from Wagga, you wanna be in a band?”
Tim: I was very flattered but very busy.
Steve: He was very polite… (imitates ringing an engaged phone). I guess we tried a few things out and we gravitated to Phoebe and I trying to create a rock band from my metal gigs from my past. So in the current format, Tommy walked in my life through my obsession with the band he was in.
Tommy: Which was?
Steve: House of thumbs. So we were trying to get this going for a long time. As soon as Tommy walked in, we recorded Enemy within six weeks and the album within a few months. The magic was there and we’ve really thought outside the box to keep it as an independent band to maintaining longevity with members. Because life comes up, and because the things that come up in your life are just as important as anything. And we’ve learnt to be very accommodating for that, which is why, if you look at our facebook page, there’s ten members (of the band). Everyone there is a contributor to this band. It works for us, we’re all very close. So with Tim and Azza who’s from a band called Frankenbok who, unless you’ve been living under a Frankenrock, you’ll know who they are if you’re into metal. We just gravitated towards them a few years ago because they’re friends. I’ve always been a fan of the band. It’s the friendship and the calibre of the people that they are. So Phoebe, Tommy, Azza, and we still got Skitzy there and he’ll always be welcome.
Metal-Roos: You have performed some overseas shows recently, can you tell me about how that went?
Tim: We went to the HAMMERsonic festival in Jakarta. It’s a big deal, and heavy metal is widely accepted over there. Rumour has it the president was a paying customer at the gig… when he wasn’t dealing with issues on drug dealers on death row obviously. It was good… it was like seeing behind the magic curtain. People there just couldn’t get enough of all the Western bands and the locals bands spruiking out the heavy shit. Terrorizer Lamb of God were some of the big drawcards and bands like Heaven the Axe, Colossus and about a zillion other bands were there too bringing the good times.
Metal-Roos: I see King Parrot recently had their van broken into and some gear stolen. Has anything like that happened to you on some of your tours?
Tim: It wasn’t us! We didn’t do it (laughter)
Steve: I can’t swim that far! No we run a tight ship and never leave anything behind. And they’re constantly touring, constantly working, so I don’t know the situation that was there. But it was bad luck for them. It’s just one of those unfortunate things You read about it all the time and we’ve been fortunate enough to never have to be in a position where we never had to leave shit behind, and we don’t intend to start doing that either.
Metal-Roos: Is there anywhere overseas you particularly want to tour?
Steve: Japan would be the place to go. I also wanna sit in a pub in Ireland and drink Guinness. What do you think Tim?
Tim: Japan and Ireland, yep, they both sound like great destinations.
Steve: We do have our eye set on America through certain contacts over there we’ve become quite close to, doing amazing things over there. But it’s all too early to say, and we won’t count our chickens before they’ve hatched.
Metal-Roos: What is the songwriting process?
Steve: It varies. Most of the material has come from Phoebe just nutting out a basic structure on acoustic guitar with lyrics and a melody, then we interpret it and it gets heavier. But then there’s Good things come to those who hate where I went through a thing and that’s how it was. We all say that we have collaborators. Then a song like Enemy, and I had a riff that I had for a long time, and I started it with Skitz and it just ended up where it was, something that progressed over time and turned into what it is now, and we were pretty happy with it. I’m really looking forward to the next stage of HTA as most things have fallen on my shoulders to take things to the next level, but having two members of Frankenbok, I feel that I have an amazing creative team that I can just step back and let things happen by themselves. Which is something I’ve never had. I’ve always had to be the driving force for what’s gone on so far. And I’ve got people who aren’t afraid and I respect their creativity. I guess I should also say that we love working with producers as well, because they offer a lot. We were fortunate enough to work with Ren Parisi, he did Sex Chugs and Rock n Roll. Reggie Bowman has done a few singles for us. They helped us to achieve what we didn’t even know we needed.
Metal-Roos: When I listen to “Good things come to those who hate” versus your first album, there is a massive difference. Was that a conscious decision for a direction you will be going in?
Steve: I had that song for a long time, and Phoebe never used to want to sing it. She’d say “it’s negative, I don’t want to sing it”. And I said “well it’s not negative, it’s not”. And then one day she got angry enough to want to sing it. She said I’m really angry, and I want to sing Good things come to those who hate. And I said, “are you sure? Because last time you sang it you sounded like Dolly Parton”. (laughter) But she said I really want to do it, so we did it. So the boys all learnt it, and then a couple of days later she walked in and sang it, and we were like “Who the fuck are you?” We stopped playing. It was like schizophrenic. She’s always sang from her heart and her heart was feeling absolute frustration and anger and disappointment. It’s a real “I’ll show you” song I guess. She really tapped into what the message was. Phoebe sort of takes on the character of any song she’s doing. If she doesn’t believe in what the lyrics are or what the lyrics are, she won’t sing it. She refuses to. But it’s a fun ride to be on because whatever we are doing, it’s coming from a pure place.
Metal-Roos: Is there a story with the Bogan Hunter song?
Steve: We are all massive fans of Houso’s to the point of obsession really. And when they did their first movie, Houso’s versus Authority, they put it out on social media that, in true Houso’s spirit, if you’re in a band and you reckon it’s any good, send us your shit. So Phoebe sent, as she does, two CDs separate times, and she does everything to a T. We got a phone call back and they said “We cannot get your CD out of Pauly Fenech’s car. We love it, we want to use all your music.” So after we finished jumping for joy, we got down to the business side of things I guess. They’ve just been awesome. They’re from a run very similar to us. They’re a very close, core team. And it’s worked, just like how our music worked for them. And they contacted us after they used all our music for the second series as well. They said, “Look we’re doing a show, it’s going to be like crocodile hunter but instead you’re going to be hunting Bogans and were wondering if you could write a song.” We said what do you want? “Something like ACDC or Status Quo, but do it your way.” They loved it that much they decided to do a film clip for it, then they asked us to do Fat Pizza which was a fuckin stupid song about pizza. And people took it seriously. We were like “it’s a fuckin song about pizza, man. Sexual pizza” (laughter). They said do something like That’s amore. Yeah so I went home and listened to that’s amore and I thought, are you serious? Ok, so that’s my version of that’s amore. (laughter). Maybe you shouldn’t print that.
Metal-Roos: Name some of your Influences/inspirations?
Tim: I like punk rock and classic rock, and weird shit like Frank Zappa and Butthole Surfers.
Steve: I like two styles of music – Heavy and Metal. I think I’m growing up, because I’m listening to lots of cool 70’s shit. But I love metal, as it progresses, I just keep going with it. Metal’s an awesome genre that is always trying to evolve and it’s kept me going for all these years when I was just a tiny kid. I try to get cultured, but I’m just shithouse at being cultured.
Tommy: Anything with good drums. As long as the drummer knows what he’s doing and he gives the feel, that’s when I like a song.
Metal-Roos: I remember hearing stories about record companies for metal bands getting sent so many videos that all had the swinging lamp, the wet floor, drab feel, etc. Your song videos are not like that at all. They often have a bit of humour and are clearly Australian also which is great. Where do you get the ideas for the clips from?
Steve: Is there a clip you’re referring to.
Metal-Roos: Bogan Hunter could be an example
Steve: Bogan Hunter was just us getting drunk down by the river, and being filmed. A stupid song about Bogans. Now the clip for Enemy…
Tommy: We used different producers for those two songs. The producer we worked with had a lot of energy for the other two songs. He knew the songs and had an expectation of what he wanted us to put out. The energy we were able to give was exactly what he wanted to have happen. And that was exactly what we were going to do anyway. And then his editor put it into some sort of coherent sense.
Steve: That’s such a Tommy answer
Tommy: The director you work with makes all the difference.
Steve: Enemy was the only one we did with a story. It was kind of inspired by Phoebe and I getting arrested on a bullshit charge for bullshit reasons. And I ended up getting locked up. It just showed the corruption, it was all a lie. And that’s what Enemy represents. And Good things come to those who hate, we just wanted to capture a performance of the song that had the energy. And like Tommy said, we’ve been fortunate enough to have the right people at the right time who are involved in what’s happening and become part of it. So we’re very proud of what we’ve done so far and it’s always been a special thing, and we’re looking forward to the next round.
Metal-Roos: Is there anyone at Metal Heart that you’re particularly keen to see?
Steve: Daemon Pyre. There’s a lot of bands that I haven’t seen, but I’m really keen to see Segression. I’ve got a lot of respect for those guys. I’ve known them for a long time, especially Chris. He’s just a beautiful guy. He’s like me, he wears his heart on his sleeve and he just goes hard and does it for all the right reasons which is why they’ve lasted so long. There’s no bullshit misconceived ideas. I did enjoy Inhailed. Rob Stanley is just an insane guitarist. Evil Yye, I’m a massive fan of Simon, he used to be in a band called Abreact. We just dropped our jaws when we first saw him. He just delivers every time he sings. He’s going to sing with us tonight on Good Things. Looking forward to moshing out with him.
Metal-Roos: Is there a future release coming up?
Steve: Absolutely. There’s a lot of songs and it’s been a long time between releases, but we just haven’t been in the right position. And we got Tommy and the magic happened, and I feel like we’re there again now. It’s new people and new territory. So there’s a lot of songs, and a lot of songs yet to be written. We played a new one tonight, it happened really easily, we’re very excited about playing. The direction could go anywhere. What do you do when a band doesn’t know what genre it is? Someone once said it’s like Britney meets Slipknot. I like metal, she likes Whitney Houston (laughter)
Interview Date: 2015-04-18