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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Next/Last Shows

Two more Melbourne shows in August; supporting Legends of Motorsport on Saturday the 13th of August at The Tote with Sons of the Ionian Sea and a free headline show on Saturday the 27th of August at The Retreat with dotcoms. These will be our last shows before breaking to write the new album.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Nerdy Guitar Pedal Update

So, as Google Analytics tells me, I get a lot of nerd traffic coming through the blog specifically to do with the gear related posts. So, yeah, here's another rundown of what I've been using lately.

My gain pedal section changes quite often. Never quite satisfied with what I've got, but this all sounded pretty good last gig. After the TC Polytune Tuner is my Foxrox Octron; still on the board because it sounds and tracks brilliantly. The first octave pedal I had was a POG 2 and I just couldn't get along with it because of the lag between playing and the note, and the fact it just sounded crap in a lot of ways. I don't really dig that Jack White-organ-guitar octave sound. It's just a crap sound. The sounds Future Of The Left pull out of the POG are orrite though. Anyway, this is about the Octron. Sounds great. Tracks great. Feels great. Good pedal.

Next up is my brand new Tym Guitars Big Mudd that I picked up in Brisbane a few weeks back. Sounds brilliant. I always end up running an overdrive after any Muff or Muff-type fuzzes because it gives a little more cut and presence. This one is one of the Ramshead series Mudds and they have a little trouble sitting in the mix usually but this sounded pretty good on Friday night so it'll probably stay a while.

The Lovepedal COT50 runs after that. This one is just a great pedal, but not all Lovepedals are the same by any means. The older stuff is great. The newer stuff is hit and miss. I've sold more Lovepedals than I've kept, but the ones I've kept are some of my favourites. Can be a bit tricky to match up with some guitars because of the single knob (sometimes playing guitars with hotter pickups tend to mean that gain pedals can sound quieter than the clean signal) but it always sounds great.

Last is a Fulltone Fat Boost 3. I like this pedal a lot. I click it on for a bit of a boost when I need it. Yep.

After that is pretty much the same as a while back: the Moog Freqbox is now the FORBIDDEN PEDAL as Mum said I hurt too many ears when I woosh this one. Note to self: be more considerate towards others re: square-wave. After that is the A/DA Final Phase, Cusack Tap-A-Whirl Trem and Earthquaker Disaster Transport Delay. Finally is a TC Electronic Hall-Of-Fame Reverb. It's a solid reverb that's small and tweakable. Not mindbendingly spectacular but it sounds good enough and it's small. Can't really ask for much more than that. I have an Eventide Space for home and that sounds better, but is the size of my face.

Vocal pedals are now a Line 6 M5 and a Pigtronix Keymaster. The old DL-4 got booted off the board for being too damn big. This M5 goes fine. Keymaster allows me to run XLR in and out of the M5 and there's a bit of a boost stage too. Got that running at 24 volts from the Pedal Power 2. Have got all my old DL-4 patches in the M5 and they sound pretty much the same. Plus now I can do other cool stuff on vocals that's not delay. Like this, maybe.

Any questions? Good.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Special Old Bar Thanks!

A special thanks to everyone who attended our second anniversary show. It was an excellent night; all the bands were on fire and the packed house made us feel very warm and fuzzy indeed. If you missed out, we got it on tape thanks to our awesome pal Kris on the desk and Jacqui behind the camera (who also gave me Animals on vinyl for my birthday), so hopefully we can put those two things together and chuck it up online at some point in the next week or so. But here's the best bit anyway.

Only a few more gigs to go before we hibernate and try to write something new. The next one is on Saturday, August 13th with Legends of Motorsport at The Tote. The plan is to try to have a few new ones to test out, so, who knows. Might be new songs. Maybe.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Old Bar Tonight, Razorcake Review

So, yep, it's my birthday bash at The Old Bar tonight. Should be fun. Bidet Mate on first at 9. YIS on at midnight. Russian Roulettes then Baptism of Uzi somewhere in the middle. Eight clams to get in.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

YIS & Brat Farrar Blowin' Up

(pictured above: my rear tyre that blew up on the Eastern Freeway at around 7pm on Tuesday night)

YIS and Brat Farrar in a pair of Top-5 lists on the web today:

Darren Levin, editor of Mess & Noise included 'Kingdom of Fuzz' in his Top 5 mid-year list, calling us "Melbourne's best pub rock band. Bar none."

Darragh Murray from Collapse Board said "Brat Farrar kicked some serious arse" amongst some other nice things in his Flavours of Skuzz review here:

For Sale: 1961 Hofner V3 Electric Guitar

The great gear cleanout continues with my 1961-62 Hofner electric. It's a great guitar. Didn't use it on Kingdom of Fuzz (cos I was too lazy to bring in another guitar aside from my Firebird), but I've used live and also to write a few tunes, "Ungreatful Motherfucker" being one of them. It's a great garage guitar but also has a really beautiful clean tone on the neck pickup. Here's me fiddling with it a little to show it works.

You can also hear it on this live Constant Light track.

And also our performance at the infamous Fall tribute evening:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Brat Farrar Brisbane Tour Report

Brisbane was awesome. Since it's been quite a while since I've written a meatier blogpost, here's a rundown of what we got up to over the weekend.

We had the first QANTAS flight out at 7:05am on Friday morning, which meant the alarm was set for 5am. Didn't get much sleep the night before as I was up late watching In The Loop (hilarious movie), so, for some strange reason, my body actually felt okay with the earlier start. Weird. Anyway, after being we met Sam at the airport at 6 and headed over to oversize baggage to check in our things. Nothing really interesting happened on the airport or the flight. The plane served muesli for breakfast. Andre said it looked like "the food from The Matrix" and refused to eat it. There was also a little packet of apricots and an orange juice, accompanied by a special message from Mr. John Travolta on the screens telling us about how much he cares about our safety and how he loves QANTAS. Nothing about loving Xenu though.

Flight was pretty smooth and we got to Brisbane around 9, and then caught a taxi to the Valley. We had an in-store at Tym Guitars in the evening, so we headed down there in the hopes of being able to dump our stuff so we didn't have to lug it around all day. It wasn't open until 10, and Sam had heard about this great place for sausage rolls which was actually just next door (Flamingos?), so we stopped there for some breakfast that didn't look like "the food from The Matrix". The sausage rolls were pretty great (they had this tasty chutney/relish which was all sorts of delicious). Expensive but a decent size. Washed it down with some sort of watermelon/strawberry juice (tasty but again, expensive). It was a good meal though. Music was Human League followed by Hall & Oates.

Tym's was open by the time we finished, so we popped in and had a chat to Geordie (who also plays guitar in Dick Nasty and is a top, top dude), who was more than happy for us to leave our stuff in one of the rehearsal rooms. Despite spending thousands of dollars at the shop via the website, we had never actually been to Tym Guitars before. It's awesome. Easily one of the world's best shops for anything ever. The collection of guitars in stock at the time was good as always; a decent collection of used Fenders and Gibsons with a fair few Japanese and international oddities along with a great collection of boutique effects and amazing amps; easily better than any guitar shop in Australia, but nothing amazing-amazing for sale that made me whip out the CC.

However, the stuff in the back rooms was easily amazing-amazing-amazing. Aside from the 60s Epiphone Crestwood in a glass case, Mosrites, vintage Electro Harmonix effects and rare-as-rare-can-be fuzz pedals next to Ramones vinyl in the cabinets (right next to a selection of the best new and used vinyl that puts the vast majority of record shops to shame for both selection and price), the collection of hire stuff is also awesome.

Sam emerged from rehersal/storage area with a beautiful, road-worn '72 Fender Mustang to play in the evening. Geordie asked if I wanted to use a Fender Precision or a Jazz bass for the in-store. I went with the P, and he strolled out of the private section with an awesome '79 Sunburst. We got to take a peak back there and not only was there some amazing vintage guitars from Tim's personal collection, but a bunch of Tim's custom guitars (which he no longer has time to make) which made me weep tears of both joy and sadness.

I could go on for hours about this place, but it's probably best if you just go up there and hang for a while. And plus we went back twice more over the weekend, so you'll hear about it again in a paragraph or two.

We went for a walk around after that down to (soon-to-be shutdown/relocated) Rockinghorse Records in the hope of picking up some bargains. I was starting to crash hard by this point and had to go sit down. Sam and Andre picked up some good stuff though. Original pressing of Pink Moon for $20 in pretty good condition had me a bit jealous, but I think all of the really good stuff was long gone. We headed up to Egg Records and bumped into some people that Sam knew from other bands up for the weekend. Nothing too special at Egg, but I wasn't really in the mood for crate digging at this point.

After a wander, we met up with our host for the weekend; Pete from The Vegas Kings and Mere Noise Records. Pete is awesome beyond words; not only did he drive us around for the entire weekend, but he gave us his place for the weekend and went and stayed at his girlfriend's flat. Aside from that, he's just a cool guy. He was finishing his shift at the gallery where he works, so we had a coffee and hung around for a little bit. Sam bumped into Dan from Sixfthick/Gentle Ben on the way to the toilet and we had a chat to him for a while. Nice dude. When Pete was ready, we headed back to his pad; a great place near the Sydney St Ferry overlooking the Brisbane River, with the Gabba on the other side.

After a little bit of a rest, we headed back down to Tym's for our in-store with Hoss and The VeeBees. Tim was down there then along with Tony from Sixfthick/ (who also does a lot of the design stuff for Tim's amps/effects/shirts/etc) and a host of other Brisbane folk (including the tall, mysterious "Cowboy" Bob who we'd encounter a few more times over the course of the weekend). The instore was heaps of fun; we played four songs and it all sounded and felt good. Sold a couple of YIS CDs and Brat Farrar 45s. The VeeBees were up next. Highlight was "Drive-Thru Bottle-O". We had an interview at 4ZZZ with Judy Jetson shortly after that, so we had to bail before Hoss.

Tim was manning the desk on the way out, and he stopped us to get us to sign the poster for the in-store (as all bands do at Tym's), and we were brave enough to ask about the new Fuzz Munchkin pedal he was making (which is an exact clone of J. Mascis from Dinosaur Jr.'s favourite Big Muff, reverse engineered by Tim). I'd been hanging out to get one of these ever since it was announced he was doing it, and he'd been getting calls from all around the world from some big, big names wanting him to reserve ones for them. However, he's just going to do 300 and put them on the site when they're ready; first-come, first-serve, no matter who you are (except that J gets 50 for himself). Much to my amazement, he just whipped it out the first one from behind the counter. It was probably as excited as I'd been about a new toy since they had Nintendo 64s in Epping Plaza four months before they were released. Freaking amazing. We even got to hold it. He told us all about it and he was almost as excited as we were. However, this one was J's own personal #001; we'd have to wait until they went up on the site to actually get our hands on our own.

We got down to the radio station at about 6:30 and had a chat on the radio. Judy played the three tracks from the Brat Farrar single as well as 'Burning Well' from Kingdom of Fuzz, which was ultra-cool. It's still awesome to hear your own songs on the radio; I don't think that'll ever get old. After that, we headed down to The German Club for dinner. We were told that we must have the Pork Knuckle, or failing that, the Pork Belly. The wait for food was insane (the line just to order took about 45 minutes), and during this time, Andre changed his mind from pork knuckle to pork belly and back again to pork knuckle.

The wait for the food was eased by Andrew; a sixty-year old one-man band playing at insane volume in the main dining hall. He was like of a cross between Colonal Landa from Inglorious Bastards, the German cannibal from The I.T. Crowd and Jandek, but with lederhosen. He had a big laminated sign saying "ANDREW" on his keyboard, as well as a flashing LED display that said "MUSIC BY ANDREW" in different colours and animations. Sam described it as "one of the most bizarre experiences" he's ever had on tour, and that's saying something. He did "Happy Birthday" at least seven different times. He had an amazing catalogue of MIDI backing tracks on his laptop, and along with singing in his thick german accent, he played keyboard, guitar, trombone and trumpet. We walked in to an amazing version of The Vengaboys' eternal classic "Boom Boom Boom Boom (I Want You In My Room), followed by "Sweet Caroline", "Bad Romance", a German folk tune, a German drinking tune, and then "Khe Sanh" into "I'm Too Sexy" (apologies to Andrew if the setlist is incorrect).

The place was going mental. In between sets people were chanting for Andrew to come back. His second set was nothing short of mindblowing. I was slightly disappointed he couldn't fulfill my request of Shout To The Top, but he more than made up for it with my highlight of the entire tour: Smells Like Teen Spirit followed by Du Hast. Nothing more needs to be said.

The wait between lining up to order food and recieving food was roughly the same time it took us to get from Melbourne to Brisbane, but it was pretty good when it came. The pork knuckle was indeed impressive. The pork belly wasn't bad. We headed off around 11, and managed to flag down a cab and headed back to Pete's for a well earned sleep. Good day.

We woke up on Saturday morning and did the regular thing; hung around and watched The Simpsons and did lazy stuff. We headed down to Tym's again to grab our gear and Tim was working in the shop. We had a play around for a little bit when he yelled for us to "plug in whatever we want". I did had my eye on one of his Lemon amps (but with the state of my bank account, I'd have to be content with the Lemon t-shirt). Then he said the magic words: "do you want to try out the J Mascis pedal?". Fuck yes. There was no Jazzmasters on the walls, so we grabbed a Jag and a Greco Strat. Being the hog that I am, I had to have the first go. It's freaking awesome. There's one set of regular controls and two channels. The rhythm channel is great. The boost channel is something else. Freaking amazing sounding thing. Would have loved to have cranked that Lemon up past 12'o'clock...

Tim strolled up the stairs grinning. He's just a great, friendly dude and a massive music fan who is genuinely stoked to be making gear for bands that he loves. He offered to make Sam his own signature duel-channel OD/Fuzz (which we've been planning ever since). He then offered me a go of his Big Bottom/Big Mudd hybrid pedal that he'd cooked up for Witch (and now is making one for Earthless; possibly the best live band on the planet). After playing the Fuzz Munchkin I wasn't quite as pumped to try this one out (and I already had a regular Big Bottom) but we had a couple of minutes so I thought I might as well. I plugged a regular P-Bass into a Bassman and kicked the thing on. Holy mother of God. Incredible bass fuzz. I ended up walking out with one of his Ramhead Big Mudds pedal. He fixed us up with some shirts as well. That, combined with an awesome big breakfast at Pete's mate's cafe and the weather made for a great morning.

We capped off the morning by visiting the lookout pictured above and checking out some other shops. Another guitar shop that was pretty ordinary (but anything would probably seem ordinary in comparison to Tym's). Went to a couple of second hand clothes shops. Vinnies. Nothing much was there apart from a weird Melbourne Knights scarf and a Chet Atkins record with dogs on the cover. Went back for a snooze before the main event; Flavours of Skuzz.

The venue was pretty weird; The Woodland Bar is a multi-room, band and sports bar in the middle of the Valley, not far from all the other main venues to play in Brisbane. There were three stages spread over two rooms upstairs; the main room which had the "Main Stage" and a smaller stage on the floor with a basic P.A. called "Floor Stage", and the "Function Room", which was in the "Mustang Bar" next door, where we were playing. There was also a two hour break about a third of the way through as a condition of the venue; apparently Rugby related. Weird.

We walked up the stairs to the around 5:30 to see the last few notes of Jonny Romeo, which was a shame. They sounded good from the stairs. Had a wander around while The Royal Family were playing on the Floor Stage and figured out where to stash our stuff until we played until 10pm. Sat down to watch Feathers after that; four local girls playing good-psych who enjoy using reverb pedals. They were good. Should have got one of the black t-shirts. I skipped off for a bit to watch Geordie from Tym's play in Dick Nasty. Metal. Opened with a Giants of Science riff which seemed to amuse/embarrass Ben Salter (in a funny way), who organised the event and was standing up the front. The place was starting to fill up even though there was only about 30 minutes of music before the 7-9pm break. Swapped back and forth for a bit between The Narwhals and The Boondall Boys (featuring Macka from The Onyas on vocals) who were tearing up the Function Room. Would have liked to have seen all of both but only got to see bits.

Went off for some Chinese with some awesome friends of Sam's during the break. We ordered heaps. It was pretty good. Szechuan-anything is always good in my book. Walked up the street checking the footy scores, thinking that Richmond might actually get up this week. (They didn't).

Got back to the bar in time for HITS and Blank Realm; two of the best bands of the night who were on at the same time. Damn. HITS started great and pulled a good crowd which grew to a massive crowd by the end of the set. And we had to follow them. Goddamnit. Blank Realm also sounded great in the main room. I missed out on Dick from HITS' poem to The Meatbeaters, which apparently was hilarious. Something about "I shouldn't have called you ________, because I should have called you gay, but gay in the cool way, because you're electric".

Our set felt pretty good; we probably played better at Tym's the night before but the crowd was great, even though the sound was like "playing in a tiled bathroom" (probably because the floor was tiled). Got to have a go at my new Big Mudd, which sounded great.

Wandered around patching myself up and getting my shit back together after the set and missed out on a lot of other stuff. Watched a bit of Hoss, who played Cheap Trick and Dead Boys covers. The VeeBees played another good set. Saw a bit of Straight Arrows, who had a big crowd. Velociraptor had an even bigger crowd at the same time, and their band was massive. Ten people, two stages massive. Only got to see a little bit of Undead Apes after that, which was sad, as we had to bail after Pastel Blaze's set. Hopefully can catch those guys in Melbourne sometime soon. Overall, this was a great night and hopefully it runs again next year. Would love to come up and play it again.

Had to walk out of the Valley to get a cab, as the line was massive. Nobody would pick us up for a few kilometers, but we eventually got one. Ate some bread back at Pete's, set the alarm and hit the sack.

So, back in Melbourne now; weather is shit and people are grumpy. All the people we met in Brisbane were just awesome; we had a great time and hopefully we can come back up with YIS in a few months. Time for pie and sleep, I think.

Here's the next gig poster and details.