INTERVIEW: The Getaway Plan (AUS), November 2011

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Damn, dude, remember these guys? Very much of a time and place for MySpace kids from Australia. “Where the City Meets the Sea” was an end-of-school anthem. We all kinda grew up with this band. Then, we kinda moved on. Having them back in 2011 on a reunion tour was like “Oh, hey! Cool!” Then it kind got old. They’ve since made two albums no-one listened to and half the band has left – which is especially funny when contrasted with one of the quotes in this interview.

This one’s a Q&A. I initially didn’t quite like doing these, but I think I’m a bit more used to it by now – I do a lot more these days in terms of formatting. This one’s a bit too casual for my liking – I’d occasionally fall into the “hey bro, what’s goin’ on?” line of question formatting. Still, it’s funny to read now.

– DJY, May 2016

***

AHM: Hi Matt! The Getaway Plan had only split up for something like 18 months when the reunion was announced. It’s probably the shortest break-up time we’ve ever seen! What triggered the idea in the four of you that perhaps you’d made a mistake?
MATT WRIGHT: It was more that our relationship as friends got better. Eventually, we got into the flow of just hanging out and talking – after awhile, the idea came up to make another record. It seemed silly not to.

With that said, you had already settled into your own band [Young Heretics] when the announcement of The Getaway Plan getting back together. Surely there were worries that the same problems would arise again, and that maybe the whole thing could turn bitter quickly?
Not at all. It was all really, really clear and obvious from the get-go. It just worked. All the problems that we had before were irrelevant – it just felt great. We are really dedicated to this band now.

In April, the band headed out on the Reclamation tour, which was the first official tour that you guys had done since the split. How did you find it?
It was absolutely amazing. The shows ruled, dude – especially the two shows we did at the Metro in Sydney. The tour was everything we hoped it would be and more, man. Back when announced the single reunion show that we did, the response was fucking insane. The show in Melbourne sold out in, like, seven minutes or something. It totally threw us. We were laughing at the fact that it happened, we just couldn’t believe it.

You guys premiered a lot of new material on the tour, including a song with Jenna McDougall [of Tonight Alive] on vocals. Is that song going to be on the album?
Yeah, it’s called “Child of Light.” Jenna wasn’t available to sing on the studio version, unfortunately. We did, however, get a children’s choir in for the song.

A children’s choir? No shit!
Yeah, dude! It was fucking crazy.

That’s so stadium rock – it seems like that would be something that you wouldn’t have even considered trying in your early years. That must have been a really interesting experience for you guys.
We’ve always been a little overly ambitious when it comes to recording and stuff, but to pull that off…man, it was just incredible. On this record, we’ve got orchestras, choirs, double basses, horns, everything. We kind of went all out for this one [laughs].

You might as well! This is, after all, your triumphant return.
Exactly!

Let’s talk about the writing of Requiem. One can only imagine it was a very different experience to creating Other Voices, Other Rooms.

It was quite different; because Clint [Ellis, guitarist] was away for most of it, off touring with [the] Amity [Affliction]. He’s left them now, but it was pretty difficult for him and us trying to balance those commitments.

So, with Clint gone, did that mean you were writing most of the guitar parts?

It was more like we were writing songs without lead parts and then letting Clint come in later to record his parts. For the most part of the writing, it was just me, Dave [Anderson, bassist] and Aaron [Barnett, drummer] in a rehearsal studio together. Clint came in around February for a week and got to recording instantly. He was loving the songs – he’d been listening to what we’d been doing thanks to that thing called the world wide web. Maybe it’ll take off [laughs]. It was alright in the end – we were closer at the end because of it. He’d actually written a lot, too. He’d been writing on the road. It was still pretty stressful for all of us, though.

With Amity growing so popular, was there ever a fear that he might choose them over you?
I dunno. I think that now that we’re back, the idea of anything changing, any members moving or anything like that…[trails off] …it’s not gonna happen. [laughs] But if it did, you’d be sure that it would definitely mean the end of this band. We wouldn’t be The Getaway Plan anymore. But everything has turned out so well, and we’re all so happy with the record – I can’t see this changing anytime soon.

Did you make a point to change your sound from the one established on Other Voices, Other Rooms?
We didn’t really intentionally try to do anything. You should expect something different, though – quite different. It has been four-and-a-half years since our last record. We’ve grown a lot in that time, and have a much greater understanding about working with one another. I’m not gonna say that it’s a Young Heretics and Amity hybrid…but it’s pretty different. There’s a song on the record which is probably the heaviest song we’ve ever written, which is really caustic. You’ll know it when you hear it. The whole thing is really diverse, though.

One last thing: With all of this new material, is there any chance of hearing some Hold Conversation tunes on the Requiem tour later this year?
We’ve kind of decided as a band that we’re not really going to be playing those songs anymore. They were great for awhile, but it’s been so long and we broke up for two years – those songs just don’t mean as much to us anymore. Imagine you’re a kid, right, and you do a painting when you’re four years old – imagine being asked to paint that picture for the rest of your life. Those songs don’t really represent the people that we are anymore. It’s not that we’re embarrassed by them, but they just don’t fit stylistically with us as a band. The setlist is pretty full as it is, anyway.

So we’ll never hear The New Year again live?
Aww, never say never – but, for now, it doesn’t look like it. [laughs]

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FBi Radio’s “Out of the Box” – October 22, 2015

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In October of 2015, I was asked to be a guest on Out of the Box, a one-hour lunchtime program every Thursday on Sydney community station FBi Radio. The premise of the show, which was hosted at the time by the absolutely delightful Ash Berdebes, is to look at a person’s life through the music that they love; with the guest programming eight songs that mean something to them. I was honoured to be asked on the show – which has also featured really cool guests like Paul MacThe Umbilical BrothersÓlafur Arnalds and Evelyn Morris aka Pikelet – but I was fretting quite a bit over what to choose. I think I put together a fairly solid and diverse list; all songs that meant something huge to me at different parts of my life.

Here are the songs I chose. You can also listen to the entire hour, which features a pretty honest chat with yours truly, by streaming it through FBi’s Radio On Demand by clicking here.

A huge thank you to Ash for asking me on and for her producer, Rachel, for doing a great job. I worship this station, and couldn’t believe my luck that I got to be involved with a show.

***

Sesame Street – Imagine That

I picked this song for two reasons. The first is that it is the first song I remember truly loving and knowing all of the words to. I would have been three, maybe four when I first heard it. I was fascinated by all of the music on Sesame Street – Jim Henson would go on to become one of the biggest parts of my upbringing, through both Sesame Street and the Muppets. I think the reason that this song stuck out to me was that it was about using your imagination but also remembering that being you is the best because no-one else can be exactly like you. Ernie sings it, and I’ve always loved Ernie almost entirely because of this song. There’s also “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon,” which also clocked me square in the feels. I forgot about this song for a few years and then rediscovered it. The day that I did I cried and cried and cried. It all came flooding back to me. I also picked this song because I knew for a fact that it would have never been played on FBi before.

The Cruel Sea – Takin’ All Day

The Cruel Sea were the first band I ever saw live. I bought Over Easy when I was eight years old because I liked the cover. I later saw this video on rage and felt very grown-up for liking an “adult” band playing bluesy rock music. I wanted to play drums, so I wrote to Jim Elliott, the band’s drummer, via their PO box. He wrote back and we stayed in touch for many years. In 2002, they announced a show in St. George’s Basin. My dad took me – even though it was an over-18s gig – and I got to meet Jim and had a poster signed by the entire band which is still on my wall to this day. James Cruickshank recently passed away, and I know a lot of people are rediscovering The Cruel Sea – I hope this helps.

The Forest – The Bear

Flash forward to 2008. I’m in my final year of high school and a lot is going on – I’ve discovered that I have Asperger’s, having been diagnosed as a child but never told; I’ve ostensibly come out as bisexual at a Catholic high school and I’m angry, confused, lonely and trying to find sense in what’s happening in my life. Around this time, I see a band play at a local community hall called The Forest. They’re a “skramz” (emo/post-hardcore/indie) band from rural Queensland. Although they identify as Christian and I was quite outspoken against Christianity (high school rebel!), their music was so intense and passionate that it got through to me. As long as I treated the imagery as just that, we had an understanding.

I bought their self-titled, homemade EP that night. Every day before my final HSC exams, I would play it as loudly as I possibly could – somedays I’d even scream along if I was walking by myself. Javed, the band’s lead singer, works in video games now and lives in Sydney with his wife and his beautiful daughter. He may be done with this band, but I’ll forever be grateful to him for that EP and getting me through that time in my life.

Parades – Hunters

I loved Parades. More than I’ve loved a lot of bands. To this day, I have no idea why they put up with me – I was probably so annoying and so clingy. Still, they became friends – really good friends. People I trusted and cared about and wanted to hang out with. foreign tapes was another album that got me through a lot – a major break-up, more struggles with anxiety, the utter loneliness of my uni degree. The hours of travel I undertook to see these guys play – eight times in total before they split – was always made worth it.

I picked this song from the album because I once screamed the “SO IT GOES ON ENDLESSLY” part so loud I started crying. In the front row. These two other guys thought I was crazy. I lost myself in the moment. Parades allowed me to do that. I wish they were still around.

Lemuria – Mechanical

2012 features the worst thing that has ever happened to me – the untimely and accidental death of my mother to a one-person car crash in April – as well as the best week of my entire life – going to one major international gig a day from Monday November 12 to Sunday November 18; seeing Radiohead, Refused, Beck, Silversun Pickups in Adelaide, Ben Folds Five in Adelaide, Harvest in Sydney and Coldplay. The soundtrack to both of these parts of my life was the album Get Better by Lemuria. I discovered the band through a random blog some years before but had never properly given them a listen until one of their songs came on shuffle not long after my mother’s passing. It helped me through and was there for me whenever I needed it – there were weeks where it was all that I listened to. It made me feel like there were others out there that were just as lost and confused as I was.

Getting to meet Lemuria when the came to Australia in 2014 was such a huge thing for me. Nearly broke down telling them what their music meant to me. One of the highlights of my life was getting to sing “Lipstick” from Get Better with the band at Black Wire Records. I chose the last song from the album because of all the times I have screamed along the “SHUT UP” refrain until I literally couldn’t anymore; as well as it being a highlight of their show at Hermann’s Bar – surrounded by friends singing along so loudly that Sheena, the band’s singer, gave up singing into the mic and just let us carry it.

mowgli – Slowburn

Cameron Smith, Curtis Smith, Dave Muratore, Eleanor Shepherd and Jay Borchard have all been friends of mine for quite awhile. Eleanor, the bass player, I’ve known since we were in primary school. I met Cameron in 2008, watching his old band Epitomes play every other weekend. Dave was brought in as the lead guitarist for a band I was playing with at the end of 2009; a few months after meeting Jay for the first time at a La Dispute show – which is, ironically enough, the same situation in which I met Curtis, Cameron’s brother, in 2011 to complete the set.

I bring up the fact that I am friends with all of them – even though Curtis is no longer in the band – purely because I want to state that the fact I think mowgli are one of the best bands this country has produced in the 21st century is not because they are my mates. It’s because their music speaks to me on the same way that The Forest did all those years ago – they capture my rage and my passion and my disconnect from the world around me. I have seen mowgli play live over twenty times, and each time I am utterly blown away by their talents. This was my favourite song of 2013 by a considerable margin – I still rank it as one of my all-time favourite songs. I think everything about it is perfect.

The Smith Street Band – Belly of Your Bedroom

This was included as a shout-out to Poison City Records, the Poison City Weekender and the remarkable friends that I have made through both. I was almost intimidated by the scale of the Weekender at first – I arrived at my first at the age of 21, incredibly anxious, nervous, excited, overjoyed and overwhelmed. I’ve since felt immediately at home there – I almost feel like part of the furniture. The Weekender is a time when I am connected with friends from all over – some that I see every week, some that I only get to see for that weekend. Once all the shows and the side-tours surrounding it are done, it feels like the end of camp to me.

I have made so many great mates through the community that Poison City has created – the fact they have made the queer, anxious yeti (as I sometimes call myself) feel so welcome and so loved speaks volumes about the environment of it. At the centre of the Poison City universe is The Smith Street Band – I chose my favourite song of theirs, which ostensibly deals with being the weaker part of a relationship (been there, done that, bought the t-shirt) and features the vocals of another dear friend, Lucy Wilson.

Georgia Maq – Footscray Station

Since 2009, I have played solo under the name Nothing Rhymes with David. I’ve been lucky enough to share a stage with some remarkable songwriters. None have challenged me in the same way that Georgia Maq has. I find her music endlessly fascinating, remarkably engaging and uniformly brilliant. I see so much in her that she is often too self-deprecating and unaware to see in herself. I fear that she will never, ever know how good she is. Each time I watch her perform, I more or less sit in stunned silence – when I’m not compelled beyond my will to sing along, of course.

I find the storytelling in this song so incredible – it took me a good half a dozen listens to fully comprehend it. Everytime I’m in Melbourne and I find myself out at Footscray station, I think of this song and I can’t help but smile. The first time I saw her live, she couldn’t believe that I knew every word to this song and that I was in the front row singing along. I couldn’t believe I was the only one.

INTERVIEW: Jae Laffer (AUS), September 2013


This was the first feature that I wrote for the BRAG, and there’s many happy returns where that came from. So far, I’ve done dozens of features for them; including seven cover stories that I’m really happy with. Obviously, we’ll get to them before you know it. Let’s get back to this, as I had a chat with the perfectly charming frontman of The Panics. Seriously underrated band if you ask me – even if, for many, they live and die by that song. This was in promotion of his perfectly charming solo album. Painless interview. Good one to start with for a place I’m still very proud and happy to be writing for.

– DJY, December 2014

***

2013 not only marks the release of Jae Laffer’s debut solo album, it also marks a milestone of ten years since the release of A House on a Street in a Town I’m From, the debut album from Laffer’s day job, The Panics. Jae exudes a sense of pride at what the band achieved – particularly at such an early age.

“It reminds me of that time in your life when you’re waking up out of being a dreamer in high school,” he says. “I listen to that album and I hear myself crazily imitating all of my heroes. It’s so exciting, though – and when it starts catching on, it’s the most invigorating feeling. There’s a great energy, and that’s the great thing about the kind of music you make when you’re in your teens – it’s naïve, but it’s not afraid of anything.”

The Panics have been on an extended break following the release of their 2011 album Rain on the Humming Wire. In that time, Laffer has been hard at work on When the Iron Glows Red – an earnest slice of folk-rock full of warm harmonies, strident acoustic guitar and a new-found sense of purpose. Laffer felt that Iron was an album that he had to make.

“I just wanted to test the waters,” he explains. “I’ve gotten to the stage where the band and I want to change up what we do and start afresh. We’re still very close, but I also wanted to keep up creativity on all fronts.”

“I felt it was a good time to do this album,” he continues. “After the last Panics album took a little longer than we wanted, it certainly had its particular stresses here and there. All I really wanted to do before starting on any new Panics stuff was just to show myself that I could create an atmosphere, write a whole bunch of songs really quickly and record them. For many years of compromising, it just felt great to be freely creative for creativity’s sake and take control of a record – produce it, play most of the stuff on it. It just felt good, and it worked.”

Laffer points to two iconic figures – John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen – as being greatly influential on the sound of Iron. “I think a lot of what I was listening to was reflecting being thirty years old and having new kinds of pressures in life,” he says. “It’s that struggle of trying to keep our dreams alive and not compromising too much, not letting things stop you from being your true self. So I found myself really relating to the worker’s ballads of Springsteen and Lennon crazily talking so abruptly about his relationship. I might not be up there with those guys, but it’s just that kind of feeling that resonated with me.”

The album will be launched with a national tour, starting in mid-October in Melbourne and winding up with a Sydney date in early November. Laffer will be joined by a four-piece backing band, and promises a mix of new solo material and some Panics favourites. Don’t worry about backlash should you request ‘Don’t Fight It,’ either – against all odds, Jae is at peace with The Panics’ biggest single.

“It’s just a cool song,” he says calmly. “As far as having a track that sums you up to people, then I feel ‘Don’t Fight It’ puts our reputation in good hands. It’s got a certain something to it… I’ll always be proud of it.”

INTERVIEW: Shout Out Louds (SWE), May 2013

This ended up being the last feature article I did for the AU Review. No bad blood there at all – Larry is a genuine product, and one of the best dudes in the industry. Built up a site out of essentially nothing and gave so many great writers and photographers a leg up when few other places would – myself included. Was very happy to write for this site for the four years that I did. I also think this was a pretty decent one to go out on – Adam is very polite (he’s Swedish, of course he is) and gave a great insight into what I feel were a very underrated band in their time.

– DJY, October 2014

***

The Shout Out Louds are keeping a deep, dark secret amongst their ranks. Around the mid-2000s, the band rode a wave of European indie rock bands roaring through a renaissance of cool; with soundtrack features, hit singles and world tours for all. While many bands from that period essentially burnt out, splitting with major labels and disbanding, Shout Out Louds just kept working away. They kept the exact same line-up, they never had any major public spats, they released consistently good records (including this year’s Optica) and they never compromised for anyone or anything. The facts don’t lie, and when they’re presented to the band’s lead singer, Adam Olenius, he’s simply asked one question: What’s their secret?

“I don’t really even know if there is one,” he laughs. “We were friends before we even started making albums. That was the main thing – we came together because we were friends. It’s hard to let go of something when you have such a strong, deep connection with your bandmates. Even though we’ve always been touring and still have people coming to see us all around the world, maybe the fact we didn’t really explode in the way that some of the other bands did… maybe it helped us stay hungry and want to stay creative. We’re still good friends, y’know? We still feel as though we have records to make and things to achieve.”

Optica is the band’s fourth album, which comes three years after its predecessor, Work. It was released in the first quarter of the year, and has already received some of the most glowing reviews of the band’s career. It’s a lush, intimate and engaging pop record, which sees the group – Olenius, keyboardist/vocalist Bebban Stenborg, guitarist Carl von Arbin, drummer Eric Edman and bassist Ted Malmros – expanding their palette and bringing some new, interesting sounds to the table. Although Adam still takes the central role of lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and primary lyricist/songwriter, he definitely feels as though the collective energy and force of the group is what makes the album so worthwhile.

“We were always so stuck in our own roles,” he says. “We had our own little bubble going for awhile. I have to say, though, on this record, everyone has been so much more involved. We produced this one ourselves, and it made us… I dunno, a little more passionate about being in a band. The attitude of this record is pretty strong, I feel. A lot of the songs were written in the studio, which is a little unusual in our group. Normally, I have a pretty solid idea of what I want out of the song, but going into the studio there were a lot of little fragments of ideas. I’d show them to the others, and we’d play around with them accordingly. This was the first time we didn’t go into our rehearsal space with this ideas as – like I said – we didn’t want to get stuck in our own roles again.”

“Every album we’ve done since our debut is a reaction to the album prior to it, he continues. “The Work album, which came out three years ago, was created very traditionally. We rehearsed the songs for about six or seven months, and then we went to the studio for two months – then, it was done. This time, we more or less did it the other way around. Who knows, next time might end up being completely different!” Adam points to one of the album’s highlights, “Blue Eyes,” as a song which sparked the creative process.

“The original version of that song was a fast track – it had a bit of a Sonic Youth feel to it!” he recalls. “We felt that it couldn’t really go anywhere, but we still wanted to do something with it. When we started playing it again in the studio, we started trying it out on different instruments and taking it down a step. We found that the groove sounds like a private jet landing at an airport! When that song came together, we really knew that we could create something unique with only a few elements. Even though it sounds very different to the other tracks, it really set the scene for the creative process.”

2013 has already seen the band touring extensively in support of Optica, which leads to a line of questioning regarding their return to Australia. Olenius has fond memories of the band’s previous tour, which took in the 2010 and 2011 new year period, including a spot at the sadly now-defunct Peats Ridge festival. “That place was like in the middle of the forest!” he exclaims. “It felt like we were playing in medieval times or something, that was a truly magical little spot.” As for when we can expect the band to come and play Optica for us in Australia again? “We’re going to try for a similar timeframe as last time around, so either very late this year or very early next year is the plan. It might be part of a festival, it might not. All we know is that we’re definitely looking forward to visiting you guys as soon as possible. We’ve always had a great relationship with you guys.” Ahh, those Swedes – always so charming!

INTERVIEW: Paul McDermott (AUS), April 2013

A bit like the Patience Hodgson interview, this was a challenge insofar as I had to interview someone very well known for one thing about something else. I really enjoyed that aspect of it, however – Paul was a wonderful guy to interview. He’s someone that I grew up watching, so it was borderline surreal to be able to speak one-on-one with someone I’d come to love and respect over fifteen years. Another feature where I genuinely think it’s one of the better ones I’ve done.

– DJY, October 2014

***

If there’s two things you can instantly remember about Paul McDermott – his ultimate distinguishing features, if you will – it’s that he’s one of Australia’s all-time great funnymen and he’s got a tremendous set of pipes. After roughly thirty years of focusing primarily on the former, McDermott’s new stage show, simply titled Paul Sings, brings attention to the latter in its first proper outing. For the first time ever, Paul has put together a show of all-original material, ranging from the confessional “Bottle” to the love-lorn “Slow Ride Home.” With all of this in mind, one would think that singing had been a part of McDermott’s life from the very beginning. He is, however, quick to point out that it was never really a part of his life until he formed the infamous Doug Anthony All-Stars alongside Tim Ferguson and Richard Fidler.

“I’ve always sung to myself,” he says, on the line from Melbourne in the middle of a busy week at the Comedy Festival. “As a kid, I remember just singing to myself and singing at church with my mother. There was nothing at school, though – I wasn’t part of the choir, I never learned an instrument. I didn’t really start singing publicly until I joined up with the All-Stars, and we started busking. I never thought singing as a career was a reality in any way, so it was quite a weird set of circumstances that lead to it.”

The rest, as they say, is history. After 10 years with the All-Stars, McDermott moved onto hosting Good News Week in both its original 90s run and its 2000s revival; as well as Triple J breakfast hosting alongside longtime collaborator Mikey Robins. He formed GUD alongside notable Australian musicians Mick Moriaty (The Gadflys) and Cameron Bruce (Paul Kelly, Washington, Club Luna Band); who had a substantial run at festivals and the like throughout the first half of the 2000s. On the ABC, he also hosted The Sideshow, a variety/cabaret program which ran for one season in 2007 before unfortunately being cancelled. One thing that did come from The Sideshow of particular note was a slab of original songs, written and performed by McDermott near the end of the episode. With this in mind, it’s easy to imagine the daunting task of putting together the setlist for these shows, narrowing down a myriad of material over the years down to just 90 minutes’ worth.

“It’s been an interest process,” he admits. “With this show, we’ve just been trying to narrow it down to the sweet songs. We used to do this thing in the All-Stars when about three-quarters of the way through the show, we’d do a song like “[Heard It Through the] Grapevine,” “Throw Your Arms Around Me” or “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.” They were always used as a counterpoint to the more visceral, grotesque comedy that we were doing. They affected people in a different way. This show is like a collection of those ideas, but they’re all original songs – songs that came from the end of The Sideshow, songs that were occasionally put in Good News Week or GNW Night Lite, or even songs that were in the [Comedy Festival] Debates. It’s taken us awhile to collect them, and we’ve only really found about half of them!”

Given that Paul Sings is a notably more sincere and – dare it be said – “serious” show in comparison to previous McDermott productions, the question must be asked: Is it difficult for people to keep a straight face at a comedy festival show? “The reaction has been quite phenomenal, really,” says Paul in response. “The reaction to the songs has been great. I do get to chat a bit with the audience between the songs – I guess that could be considered comedy. I think we strike a good balance, overall. People have been very complimentary about this show, which is really nice.”

Despite the title of Paul Sings, McDermott is also very quick to point out that he’s definitely not alone on this venture. Joining him will be a four-piece backing band, of whom he cannot speak high enough praises. On bass is Thirsty Merc alumni Phil Stack, who Paul describes as “the missing piece – his vocals are just perfect, and he has such great ideas.” On drums is Evan Mannell (“I’ve been calling him the Bison – he hits those skins like he hates them!”); and the two are joined by guitarist Patch Brown (“I don’t know why he isn’t the biggest thing in the world yet – he’s a superstar!”) and keyboard/accordion player Stu Hunter (“He’s done such wonderful things with these arrangements, what a brilliant musician!”).

There’s an overwhelming sense of pride in McDermott’s tone when he discusses how Paul Sings has come together – it’s already received rave reviews at the Fringe in Paul’s hometown of Adelaide, as well as the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. In two weeks, the show will come to the Sydney Comedy Festival for two nights only, at The Concourse in Chatswood and the Enmore Theatre in Newtown. McDermott himself is particularly fond of the latter – “Oh, I haven’t played there in a thousand years!” he reminisces. “What a beautiful venue. We can’t wait to come and play.”

Oh, one last thing, Paul: Any chance of an encore of “I Fuck Dogs”?

“People are ALWAYS after that particular classic,” he says with a laugh.

INTERVIEW: The Magic Numbers (UK), July 2010

Seriously, y’all, how fucking underrated are the Magic Numbers? Their self-titled was one of the best debuts of the decade; and they’ve made interesting and wonderful records in the years following; up to and including this year. I dunno what more I have to say. I guess I could also add in that Michele was an absolute sweetheart. I got to meet her and Romeo after the Magic Numbers show at the Metro not long after this interview and she was super-wonderful there as well. This feature’s okay. I think you can tell I’m a fan, which is surely a good thing, right?

– DJY, October 2014

***

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from The Magic Numbers. Too long, fans will surely add. Thankfully, bassist/vocalist Michele Stodart is quick to clarify on the line from the U.K. that the group were never going to split.

“We all just went away after the tour of the second album [2006’s Those the Brokes],” she observes, “and, y’know, get a break from the band, and each other. There was also our dream of building our own studio, which we’ve always wanted to do. We bought lots of equipment and built it up over about a year and a half – it was amazing because we finally had our own area, our own rehearsal space.” It was here where the band recorded their third album, The Runaway, up until late 2009. Set for release in a matter of weeks, fans are to expect the unexpected when it comes to the band’s new explorative sound.

“When we were rehearsing these songs,” explains Stodart, “we felt like they were too easy; that we could have just gone straight in and recorded them. Let’s try and actually make an album, instead of worrying how we’re going to do it live. So we kind of played around with the set-up of the four of us – thinking ‘okay, this doesn’t need bass; you don’t have to play the drums; [brother and lead vocalist] Romeo doesn’t have to play guitar.’ We mixed it up. It’s still the band, but on the record it’s more than that.”

Another one of the variations included on the record was Michele and vocalist/keyboardist/percussionist Angela Gannon (who completes the lineup with drumming brother Sean) contributing lead vocals to individual tracks. Michele has contributed lead vocals previously, but this the first time a song with her on lead has been chosen as a single. “It’s quite funny,” she comments with a giggle, “and it’s kind of a big deal, too. I’m not too sure how it’s going to go down, but it’s gotten a pretty good reception on the live front, so that’s been a lot of fun.”

On that note, conversation switches to the band’s live shows. This is a band that have established a rock-solid reputation as a must-see live act – they once sold out a 2500-capacity venue in the U.K. even before their 2005 self-titled debut had been released. Recently, the group have gone back on the road to try out the new material as well as pull out some old favourites for patient fans who haven’t seen the group since 2007 at the latest. One of their biggest profile appearances recently has been the annual Glastonbury festival – and Michele couldn’t have been quicker to sing its praises.

“It was amazing,” she recalls fondly. “It was probably one of my favourite Glastonburys because it’s the only one that I’ve been to that wasn’t muddy! No need for wellies whatsoever [laughs]. We kickstarted the festival on the Other Stage and we were so surprised. We didn’t think there’d be many people out to support us, seeing as we’ve been away so long – I was backstage fretting that there’d only be ten people out there and they’d all be passed out. We head out, and it’s packed! That was a really pleasant surprise – an amazing experience.”

Although on somewhat of a smaller scale in comparison to Glasto, a great festival experience is surely on the cards for the band when they take to the stage at the upcoming Splendour in the Grass festival in Woodford. Michele is jolted with excitement when she realises it’s in a matter of weeks – “We’re really looking forward to it!” she enthuses. “We’re only there for a week, but it’s going to be amazing. I hope the weather’s good, obviously; and we’re hoping to explore more of the country while we’re there.” Stodart recalls the band’s enjoyment of their 2005 tour as a part of the Big Day Out, claiming it was a “great chance for us to just spend a lot of time hanging out with the other bands and really take in an overseas country properly for the first time.” There’s little doubt that there will be plenty of great experiences for the band in their whirlwind Australian visit.

As for her own personal projects, Stodart also reports on working on her debut solo album (although it “might be awhile” before we hear anything from it), and also giving birth to her first child – a girl, Maisie. “She’s perfect, really,” says Michele. “She’s really, really cute. A lot of hard work, but she’s still perfect.” Motherhood has certainly had an overwhelmingly positive effect on Michele, but she believes it would be against her nature to dedicate her life to raising Maisie alone.

“It’d kind of be easier to do that,” she says when asked if she would ever pack the whole music thing in, “but I just know that I wouldn’t be happy. Now I’m trying to fit everything in – which is hard work, but I know that what I’m doing is the best for me and for her right now. Music is too big a part of my life for it to be extracted, and I know that she wouldn’t get the best mum possible. Even now, I’m here in the studio working on one of the b-sides for the single while she’s asleep. It’s a different kind of perspective that I’ve got, but I don’t think I could ever give up music.”

INTERVIEW: Ladyhawke (NZ/UK), June 2012

I think I became a bigger Ladyhawke fan after I found out we were on the same team. This is the only time I have ever had the pleasure of interviewing another Aspie, and it felt pretty fantastic to be able to discuss the creative process with her knowing that she’d probably had a lot of the same issues as me. It really lifted the mood and brought a lot of honesty to the interview, as well. She still had a lot of issues with her live show when I saw her the following month, but I understood them a lot more this time around. Anyway, Pip’s great. No idea what she’s up to these days. I hope she’s still being creative and embracing her Asperger’s.

– DJY, October 2014

***

It’s hard to pin down Pip Brown – not just because she is constantly on the road, but also in a musical and mental sense as well. The Wellington-via-Sydney-via-London musician best known as Ladyhawke has gone nearly four years between albums, touring incessantly and plotting a follow-up to her eponymous debut. The results have been, at times, drastically different to what has become expected of Brown – and the album Anxiety benefits significantly because of it.

“It’s almost like an inevitable curse that’s placed on every musician,” says Brown, in a London hotel following the conclusion of her U.K. tour. “When success comes with the first record, people will always tell them that they’re going to have trouble with the second one. Even if the album is awesome, some people will find it shit just because it’s a second album. The whole time I was making Anxiety, I was worried about that.” She recalls a particular encounter with a fan that enforced her fears more than she had expected it to. “I had someone come up to me in a shopping mall in New Zealand,” she says, “and they were just gushing – ‘Oh, Ladyhawke! When’s your new album coming out? Is it going to be electro?’ I was wondering why they’d think that; because it isn’t, y’know. That made me think that maybe people wanted me to make an electro record – but I didn’t want to do that. It’s hard to put all that mental stuff aside and just get my own creativity going.”

While Anxiety maintains a “more hooks than a bait shop” approach, its demeanour is suitably darker and occasionally more aggressive than its predecessor. Its inspiration lies in Brown’s desire to wipe the slate clean. There was no point in making Ladyhawke again – that album already exists. “It was just a time in my life when I had toured the first record for two years,” says Pip, “and when I finished, I realised that there was no part of me that wanted to make that album again. I knew that I didn’t want to make ‘Ladyhawke Mark II’ or whatever. I wanted to do something new that would inspire me and interest me in making songs again. I had this idea of trying out some really rocky, grungy sort of tracks. They were still poppy, but the tracks ended up making for a rockier album. Anxiety really just reflects my mindset at the time. I wanted to experiment with sounds that I hadn’t tried on the first album. You’ve got to keep it interesting for yourself.”

Discussion of songwriting continues, with Pip revealing a somewhat stubborn eccentricity in her constant rejection of song ideas – no matter how much potential they show, if she doesn’t have that certain feeling about them from the very start of the songwriting process they will be cut. “You tend to know when you start the song,” she affirms. “It’s all about the gut feeling. If I don’t have that feeling about the song, I have to trash it. It has to be gone. That’s one of the ways that I work.” Of course, this is a mindset that discomforts some of the people she has worked with, particularly her co-producer on Anxiety, Pascal Gabriel. “Some producers I’ve worked with are more practical and want to push through on those kind of songs,” she says, “but I feel like if I don’t have that feeling from the start then there is no point pursuing it. Even if I did push through and take the song to a finishing point, I would still feel like it was mediocre. I’d rather trash it and work on something that gives me a buzz. If I’m getting butterflies in my stomach from a bassline, then I’ll stop working on something mediocre on guitar and go towards that.”

“It’s so important that you’re excited about what you’re doing,” she continues emphatically. “You can’t be complacent. You really have to be excited about your own music. Otherwise, what’s the point?” A few listens through Anxiety will suggest that there is plenty to be excited about – from the sour honky-tonk piano of Sunday Drive to the booming bassline of Girl Like Me, it’s a confident and engaging record that explores the wider spectrum of pop music, as heavy on synthesizer as it is on guitar. Perhaps most notable of all is that every last note that you hear is entirely Brown’s vision. “All the instruments recorded on this album was me” she says. “My live band are still just that, they’re all session musicians who come on the road with me. I prefer it that way – that’s part of my process. It’s about picking up an instrument and playing, working a song out. It doesn’t make any sense in my brain to hand that over to someone else when I could do it myself.”

This peculiar drive and heavy investment into the sound of the record, sacrificing interaction with other musicians in order to get the album exactly right, might seem out of the ordinary for a lot of musicians. What’s worth considering, however, is that Brown’s very specific interests and aforementioned need to get rid of unsatisfying songs can be traced back to her Asperger’s. A form of Autism, Brown first spoke publicly about it in an interview with The Guardian in 2008. Although not something widely discussed in relation to Ladyhawke it’s something that Brown speaks passionately about in regards to how it affects her life – as well as how it can completely disorientate a live performance.

“It’s completely unpredictable,” says Brown, explaining what being an Aspergian can mean for a touring musician. “I can be really calm on stage sometimes, but there are others where I feel like I want to vomit. Those times I’ll look down at the setlist and realise that I’m only three songs into the set. It feels like ten years. There’ll be other times when you think you’re on a roll, having a great time, too. So I really can’t predict what’s going to happen, and it’s really annoying. It hasn’t changed, either. People often assume that with all the touring I do, it would just get better over time. It’s still exactly the same.”

It’s these assumptions that continue to frustrate Brown, 33 next month, who was only diagnosed with the syndrome in 2006. “Other people say to me that it just comes with what you do,” she says as our discussion on Asperger’s continues. “’Just deal with it,’ that kind of thing. I think that’s really not fair. As a young person loving music, you simply just sit in your room and you play. All you want to do is play music and play with your friends. You actually don’t even realise what that’s going to be like. You don’t sign up to become a musician for a lot of the things that go with it. You do it because you love music; because you love playing music. All of a sudden, you have to think about doing interviews, which can be quite hard; you have to meet loads of people that you really have no idea what to say to. We’re not actors, we’re musicians. People often lump the two into the same basket. Some of us are still really scared of the limelight, and just want to play music.”

She speaks intently and with an overwhelming vindication on the subject. Outside of discussing the creation of her music, it’s a topic that brings out the most fascinating responses in Pip. “It’s kind of hard to justify myself sometimes, just because I feel like I have to with some people,” she concludes. “I love playing music. I just can’t see myself doing anything else.”

INTERVIEW: Evanescence (USA), November 2011

Another bizarre encounter with an absolute hero of my early teens. Me and a few friends were nothing short of obsessed with Amy Lee and co., so I simply couldn’t pass up the chance to interview her; despite just turning 21 at the time. Even though Evanescence would later go on to be one of the worst bands I have ever seen, I’m very glad I did this interview. Amy, despite major diva status among most writers, was an absolute sweetheart. As shit as Evanescence became towards the end there, I can’t take that away from her. So, enjoy, I guess? You probably hated Evanescence from day one. Hell, I might not even blame you these days.

– DJY, October 2014

***

If you need any indication of just how fickle the pop industry can be, look no further than the story of Evanescence. Their runaway success in the early 2000s cemented them as one of the biggest rock bands in the world, tallying up over 15 million sales worldwide and two Grammy Awards for their acclaimed 2003 debut, Fallen. A follow-up, 2006’s The Open Door, saw sales halved and the band implode whilst on tour, ultimately leaving Amy Lee as the only original member remaining. Following the end of a huge world tour, the band – and Lee herself – went into hibernation. It seemed as though the band would never resurface – but, as everyone from James Bond to Justin Bieber have warned, never say never.

“I’m glad people have still been interested after all this time,” says Lee, who finally brought back the band with a fresh line-up and a self-titled third album which dropped in October. “At the beginning [of the hiatus], me and the rest of the guys had no plans. It wasn’t the end; we just decided to take a break from it all until one of us had a cool idea. It was just a matter of following the inspiration – I mean, if I didn’t have the drive or the motivation to make another Evanescence record, we wouldn’t be here talking about it.”

In her time away, Lee decided to focus on what had made lose interest in music to begin with, resulting in multiple delays to the release of Evanescence. Thankfully, however, she pulled through, and is particularly enthusiastic about re-igniting the songwriting fire. “There definitely was a period of thinking that maybe the whole thing was done,” admits Lee, “but I can’t help it! I love writing music. I found myself writing all the time, constantly playing. I even started learning the harp, which was really beautiful. Once I started up again, and started writing and playing more and more, I was just like “Wow!” This is a big part of me. I love doing this. I love sharing it, too.”

Lee put together a new line-up with guitarist Terry Balsamo, who took over lead guitar duties upon the departure of founding member Ben Moody back in 2003. Bassist Tim McCord who played on the band’s second album The Open Door returned and fill-in musicians from the tail-end of the last world tour – drummer Will Hunt and guitarist Troy McLawhorn – joined the fold as permanent members. Lee is vocally enthusiastic about the line-up, as she appears to be about practically everything that involves the band.

“It’s a really strong line-up,” she says. “At the end of The Open Door tour, I really felt like we were playing better shows than we had been before. There was a great chemistry on-stage, and we really knew how to play off one-another and work together. We needed a whole new creative environment in order to make this record, and we needed to work more as a team than ever. It felt really good – I was so happy to have so many cool ideas to work with and to pull from. Normally, I just shack up with one guy and we make the record together – the first record was Ben, the second was essentially me and Terry. This time, I had a whole team of brains that just get it. They get what I want to hear, and they play because they love it.”

Evanescence, as a record, is a far more solid affair than the muddled and seemingly misguided sounds of The Open Door. The unity of the band’s sound that Lee enthuses about is unquestionably present and accounted for, from the anthemic lead single What You Want to the bold melodrama of The Other Side. Balsamo’s guitar also provides a darker and often quite heavy dynamic in the midst of the band’s sound, in a way that is unlike anything the band have recorded previously. Amy emphasises, however, that the direction taken on the album was never intentional – or, worse, forced out. “Will is an incredible drummer,” she says, “and working with him was so great because it drove the album from a rhythmic perspective. Terry had awesome ideas, Will had awesome ideas… and Troy was just a complete shredder from the moment we pressed record. None of it was intentional – I just think my band rules!”

With the almost operatic sense of drama and despair found in the music of Evanescence, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Lee is a very self-serious person. She proves to be very much on the contrary of this preconceived notion, however, laughing and giggling her way through her chat with FL and exuding a warmth and friendliness that one certainly wouldn’t expect from someone often seen to be a mall-goth poster child. She also even showed a notably different side recently, when she recorded a cover for a tribute album – not Korn, whom she has performed with on several occasions; nor Bjork, whom Lee cited as one of her biggest influences in the recording of Evanescence. Nope, the artist she covered was that other clear influence on Evanescence: Robin the Frog.

Yes, Amy performed a solo cover of Halfway Down the Stairs, the ballad sung by Kermit’s nephew, for The Green Album. Lee gets particularly excited when the topic of Jim Henson and the Muppets tribute album comes up – “Oh. My. God. Just Jim Henson in general has worked on so many of my favourite things!” she shouts. “I was really big into The Dark Crystal, which was one of those things that I was super-obsessed with as a kid. He’s done so much amazing stuff – so when it came to picking a Muppets song to do for this record, there was really no pressure. I went with the really obscure one because I always loved Robin the Frog. The whole experience was really cool.”

The band is currently planning a large world tour to promote Evanescence, and Lee is happy to let us in on the fact that Australia is definitely on the cards. Despite being a part of the rumour mill for the Soundwave Festival, Amy does not even acknowledge them. “It looks like we’ll be doing our own headlining tour,” she says. “I’m not sure about official dates or whatever, but it will be in the first half of the new year, for sure. We all love Australia so much, and you’ve always been so good to us!”

INTERVIEW: The Phenomenal Handclap Band (USA), December 2009

Holy hell – I actually interviewed a one-hit wonder band! This is the equivalent of interviewing the Born to Be Alive guy; or the Disco Duck. For those that don’t remember, The Phenomenal Handclap Band were everywhere (read: everywhere) at the end of the 2000s with their roller-disco earworm 15 to 20. I won’t recite any of the lyrics here, dare I awaken the hellbeast that is the song’s catchiness.

All things considered, this was a pretty cool interview. The guy was polite and insightful enough, and I can start to see myself finding my own voice in my features. Let’s dance.

– DJY, April 2014

***

The name Phenomenal Handclap Band might not mean much to you, the name Daniel Collas even less. Break into a disco beat with continuous counting in fives, however, and you’re bound to get some kind of reaction. After all, it’s the Phenomenal Handclap Band themselves – of which Collas is a founding member – that are behind one of the year’s biggest radio hits in 15 to 20.

If you were unfamiliar with the rest of the band’s work, you might suspect that the rest of the band’s sound revolves around a similar formula – hooky, slightly derivative and cheaply catchy. You may be surprised to know, then, just how incorrect this presumption is.

“It’s an anomaly,” Collas states from his New York residency – which he claims is currently “colder than anywhere in Europe” – when quizzed on 15 to 20’s success. “So much so,” he continues, “that I kind of didn’t want to include it on the album. There was back and forth talk about its inclusion, given it was so different to all the other songs.”

Despite Collas’ weariness, he’s still satisfied with the acclaim the song itself has received. His goal is to convert passing interest via the song into something more genuine. “I think it would be really neat for someone to hear that song,” he says (never once referring to the track by its title), “and check out the rest of the record, or come to a show, and see how different it all is to that one song.”

This is a trait that Daniel himself has adhered to in the past, noting that he has a self-described “weird history” of following bands with one distinctive hit that none of their other work has topped – at least, in commercial terms.

“You can tell from that song that there’s a good chance their other songs are going to be pretty cool, too,” he notes, using the example of Swedish band The Cardigans. “Back when they had that song Lovefool, I was already familiar with them, but that song was a really big hit. You can tell by the way that song is recorded and produced and written that their other stuff must have an inkling of something ‘cool’ in there.”

So with 15 to 20 labelled an anomaly, where then does that leave the rest of the work of the Handclap Band? The unique, retro boogie found in their tracks on their self-titled debut record can be traced back to a period of Collas’ very interesting listening experiences when moving back into creating music, after having spent time working as a DJ.

“The stuff I’d been listening to at the time that was really inspiring to me was kind of proto-techno stuff… early eighties dance music that was making heavy use of synthesisers and set sequences,” Collas explains. “I don’t know what it was about it, but it really flicked my switch for me. At the same time, I was also getting into groups like Dungen, and a lot of older bands that they were obviously influenced by – that kind of pastoral, psychedelic rock element.

“I found that those were the only two styles that I wanted to listen to. I had a background in soul music that I predominantly listened to, but at this point all I was really into was either this robotic dance music or this kind of psychedelic rock.”

It’s once Daniel himself explains this bipolar listening habit that the influences behind PHCB’s music begin to make a little more sense and connectivity. “The fact I was into these two styles at either end of the spectrum was really inspiring to me. It even started influencing my DJ sets – I was playing these long, blended sets of Contra or Jo Jo Moroder and people like that, and then I’d put on some Rare Earth or Wool; that kind of thing.”

The seven-piece live band that Collas has been working with have had a huge year of touring, including several European dates and shows with names like Friendly Fires and Franz Ferdinand. Despite the fact that a multitude of New York musicians are credited as having worked on the record – including former Blues Explosion man Jon Spencer and TV on the Radio drummer Jaleel Bunton – Collas maintains that getting the band together for the live aspect of the project wasn’t nearly as difficult as it could have been.

“It didn’t end up being that difficult, as a lot of the key players involved with the record were available to being involved with the live project,” Daniel explains. “We were kind of going the auditioning route to find the singers, because obviously everyone on the record has their own careers to think of. But instead of that, we just had enough people that were willing to do it, and it kind of took shape that way.”

The Phenomenal Handclap Band will see in 2010 with a visit to Australia. Not only is Collas looking forward to experiencing his first visit to our shores – “the natural phenomenon and the wildlife we’re all really looking forward to checking out” – he’s also anticipating the tour dates with fellow New Yorkers, Chairlift. Despite being in similar scenes, the two bands are complete strangers.

“We have some friends in common, but we have never even met them before,” Daniel confesses with a laugh. “It’s funny, because we’ve never played in Australia and we’ve never played with Chairlift, even though they live like a mile away – so we’re not going to meet until we get all the way down to Australia!”

Sure, it’s an odd way of going about things, but with their powers combined, we’ll be sure to be experiencing some very enjoyable shows in the coming weeks.

INTERVIEW: Jonathan Boulet (AUS), December 2009

Ahh, Jono. This is the first time we ever crossed paths – we met properly sometime later in 2010, I believe. I met the Parades guys not long after, and up until his relocation to Berlin I would see Jono around the traps quite a bit. He’s a wonderfully talented man, and someone that I am constantly inspired by. Anyway, I won’t go on too long about this one – I think my excitement is pretty reflective in the writing; as well as Jono’s non-chalance. We’d get a lot more comfortable as the years passed. He’ll have a new record out this year. That’s exciting. This is way back when the first one came out – what a time to be alive!

– DJY, April 2014

***

The contrasts that exist between music and its musician remain as glaring as ever. Take twenty-one year old Sydneysider Jonathan Boulet. Speaking over the phone on an early Friday afternoon, he is shy and somewhat reluctant in his answers – a tough egg to crack, if you will.

Listening to his debut self-titled album, however, we are treated to a display of bright, exuberant and boisterous confidence that slips through every aspect of the music itself. It’s the musical equivalent of a student doing their homework on the bus, handing it in just as the bell rings, and getting full marks. Boulet may be exceptionally late, but he just might have put together the best Australian debut album of 2009.

“I’ve been making music by myself for a long time,” he explains. “Whether it’s been more electronic or more heavy, it started by just playing around on a keyboard. After getting more recording equipment and developing a few more recording skills, it started directing towards what I’m doing now.”

Indeed, Jonathan has had his finger in a variety of different-tasting but equally delicious musical pies. Even for someone so young, he has managed to work his way through a variety of genres and subsequent gig circuits.

“With the [Sydney band] Parades guys,” he makes note, “we started out in a kind of post-punkish band.” The sound? “It was heavy music, but we didn’t really want to sound like everyone else. We’d turn up to gigs in board shorts when everyone else was in tight pants and fringes. We didn’t think we fit in, but somehow we did – it was really weird.”

After working his way through a variety of bands, Jonathan’s creativity has shifted to focus on music under his own name. The album, consisting of songs written over the years up to now, was recorded in Boulet’s garage – he wrote, played and recorded the entire thing on his own.

“I guess the record was free to make,” he comments sheepishly, “but all-up the gear I was using cost about $1500.

“I think independence does help – the whole studio thing is a part of the industry you could just bypass and get a better result,” he responds when questioned about how important his D.I.Y. ethics have been in getting his music out there. “Of course, if you were on a major label backing, you wouldn’t care – you’d have the massive studio and the dollars to afford it. But I think it’s better, doing it yourself – you have more control and you’re more satisfied with the end result.”

It might have taken a while to get the whole thing together, but Boulet’s 2009 certainly hasn’t been garage-bound for its entirety. You might have seen him playing with W.A. wunderkinds Tame Impala or Queensland joy-bringers The Middle East earlier this year, in addition to a handful of his own shows.

He enthuses that Tame Impala are “”just the nicest dudes ever”. “We’d all be happy to play the shows and encourage each other,” he said, before laughing and adding: “We tried to get one of the guys to stage-dive, but they sadly never took the bait.”

He also shares a surreal experience backstage at Sydney University’s Manning Bar, opening for The Middle East. “Before they went on, they went downstairs to do their vocal warm-up. They started singing [Backstreet Boys hit] Backstreet’s Back – and they were doing it in perfect five-part harmony! It was sort of beautiful because it was ringing all the way up the stairs and back down again – it was just amazing.”

If it wasn’t in the live arena, perhaps YouTube may have guided you to the breathtaking video made for Jonathan’s brilliant lead single, A Community Service Announcement. The colourful video was filmed over in New Zealand, an experience Jonathan describes as “amazing – I couldn’t believe how different it was, two hundred metres from where we were standing!”

If this experience wasn’t great enough, imagine finding out that Kanye West was not only happy for you and would let you finish, but also thought you had one of the best videos of all time? West linked the video on his blog, Kanye Universe City, with the all-caps headline “WATCH THIS VIDEO, IT’S FUCKING AMAZING”.

“Yeah, it’s pretty cool,” Jonathan coolly comments in what could be the understatement of the year. “There’s not much more you can say about that. It’s funny, though, how some people don’t care until someone says they should. But, yeah…It’s cool, I’m happy – and the Special Problems guys [who created and directed the video] are getting some exposure out of it.”

Is Jonathan Boulet nervous? Overwhelmed, perhaps? Or just shy? Whatever personality traits he shows, don’t worry about it for a second – once the music of this baby-faced pop whiz graces your ears, not a great deal else is going to matter.