THE HARD-ONS Yes I Am

FeaturedTHE HARD-ONS Yes I Am

The Hard-Ons at the Link and Pin Cafe,  Woy Woy, Dec 10 2021. Pic by Mark Fraser

If there’s one consistent reaction to the live shows that The Hard-Ons have been performing in the last year with new frontman, Tim Rogers, it’s that the band have been on fire.  

“Man, for me personally, it’s been amazing,” says guitarist, Peter ‘Blackie’ Black. “To me, it finally feels like we’re a four-piece. All four of us are really gleeful when we get up onstage. It’s a magical unit. It really unreal together, we really connect.”

It’s now embedded in Australian music history that Rogers joined The Hard-Ons in early 2021 to record the excellent I’m Sorry Sir, That Riff’s Been Taken album, following the departure of Keish de Silva, due to a combination of issues pertaining to his personal life and perhaps not sharing the same fire as his ex-bandmates.  

“Look, it is difficult to talk about,” ponders Blackie. “And personally, I don’t want to speak on anyone else’s behalf as well. People grow up together and then nearly 40 years later, they feel very differently about certain things. I think Keish thought he liked being back in a band but he kind of forgot that it isn’t just rocking out, there’s actually a ton of fucking work that’s gotta go into being in a band. And I don’t think he was as enthused as we were.

“So it kind of felt like he was really, not ho-hum… but it was like, ‘ah, that’s a drag’. It’s like, ‘yeah, but man, you gotta work it’ – because you know, The Hard-Ons are a band that has never sat still. We’ve always wanted to write better songs, be better players, be better everything. It’s what we do. We love this shit to death. I think as soon as you stop getting better, as soon as you start resting, then you become one of those bands that starts start to suck, you know?

“And with this line-up, all four are really, really into it. When we bring a new song in, all of us jump on top of it. We give it everything and that definitely carries over when we play live. It really gels.”

In a previous interview, Rogers told this writer that for the first couple of shows with The Hard-Ons he’d pre-planned moments on stage as he was fronting the band onstage for the first time and doing so without a trusty guitar around his neck. Once the first show (in December 2021 at the Link & Pin Café in Woy Woy) kicked in however, all ‘pre-plans’ went out the door and simply being in the energy of the moment was everything.  

The Hard-Ons. Pic: Michelle Young

“I guess everyone performs differently and everyone has different ways of getting themselves ready,” Blackie considers. “To me, I never ‘perform’ you know? I never know what’s gonna happen. When I get up on stage and switch the amp on and we’re getting enough drums out of the monitors that sort of tells me how the night is gonna be. I don’t like thinking about it; I just love that first rush that you get.

“It’s not just the tunes and playing with these guys, it’s also that awesome excitement of the volume that you get to produce. Like, I can turn right up now and that is really enjoyable. That’s the physical aspect of the volume. And then obviously, there’s also the killer energy that you get from people who have come to see you and they want to loosen up as well so they’re yelling back at you and we’re yelling back at them. And it’s like this constant to-and-fro exchange of energy and that’s kind of how, for me, a show goes.

“But I know what Tim meant, you know? Like he was really intimidated by it. ‘What are your fans gonna think of me?’ And we’re like, ‘man, we think the world of you, and we know how strong this is. It’s like, don’t worry about it. Let’s just go out there and do it’. That’s exactly how it went – he got offstage and went, ‘yep, that was something else!’.”

Upon joining The Hard-Ons, Rogers presented the band with a wishlist of 70 songs he was keen to perform. It turns out his choice of gems was right up their alley.   

“Man, that’s what I really liked,” Blackie says. “I reckon – especially that album Peel Me Like An Egg – we’ve had so much bad luck with some of our last few records. In terms of Peel Me Like An Egg, which I was stupidly proud of, but then it fell on the back of our 30-something-or-other anniversary. So it’s like, ‘I don’t want to do that shit. I want to promote our new record’. And it’s like, well, ‘it’s kind of rude not to acknowledge the fact that you’ve been around for this long’. So I say, ‘oh alright’.

“In a lot of ways, a lot of the stuff that Tim digs are the records that kind of got forgotten. So picking up these songs was like, ‘shit yeah! We played this maybe twice’. So getting to play them again, has been a buzz.

“You know, whatever’s new is the most exciting thing and you’re proud and want to show it off and all that. But I’m not a dick. Man, if I went to see Slayer and they didn’t play Reign In Blood I’d be pretty pissed off. So of course we’re gonna play old songs as well, but the thing that sometimes people have to understand is, you might still dig a song that we might be a little bit bored with at the moment. If we attempted to play it, and we’re not into it, it probably won’t be a stellar performance. So you’ve got to sort of balance it. So we rotate old songs and you know, you play something for a while and go, ‘well that was fun, but let’s give it a rest. Let’s pick out some more’.

“So it’s been pretty fun having Tim and Murray as well, when he joined, he was like, `Man, I’d love to try this and that and that’. So… mix it up, make a call.”

While a new 7-inch single and video clip for Needles And Pins (backed with a non-album track, Spider Tree) has been released just this week, Blackie has been working on demos for the next Hard-Ons album which is set to be recorded at a studio inside MONA in Hobart in December. And, according to Rogers, the guitarist/songwriter already has his ears and eyes focussed on the one after that.

“People think it’s strange, but it’s actually not. It sounds like a lot, but I really like writing. So that’s all I do all day long. I remember reading an interview with Pete Shelley not that long ago. And he goes, ‘I probably write I don’t know, maybe 200 songs a year, but it doesn’t mean that they’re 200 good ones it means that of 200 I might get 30 that will go on a record’.

“So it’s not so much so I’m planning the next record. I am seeing what this record is shaping up to be like and might think, ‘I love that song, but there’s too many songs already with the same vibe. So put it aside for the next one’, or maybe do it solo. Whenever I’m blessed enough to get an idea, I just fool around with it and do a demo and wherever it goes, it goes.

“So yes, I am, but I always do that. I can’t help myself, it’s fun!”

THE-HARD ONS WA TOUR DATES

Thu Aug 4 – The Prince, Bunbury (Leeches + Ocean Drive) –TIX
Fri Aug 5 – Amplifier. Perth + Seawitch + Leeches – TIX
Sat Aug 6 – Indian Ocean Hotel, Scarborough + Seawitch + The Secret Buttons – TIX
Sun Aug 7 – Mojo’s, Fremantle + Rinehearts + The Shakeys –TIX

THAT’S ETTA

THAT’S ETTA

An accomplished jazz/opera/contemporary vocalist with a unique talent for song interpretation Etta D’Elia has made an indelible impression in Perth in the decade since she moved here from her native Italy. 

And with a new fringe show in the works, this spirited performer and teacher is looking to expand on all that she has done before. It’s taken hard work but in so many ways it’s about destiny.  

From an early age, it seemed that Etta was naturally theatrical, so much so that by the age of five visiting relatives would pay her money to tell jokes and stories. It wasn’t all for laughs, however, the power of music was also taking hold.

“I always wanted to sing and perform,” Etta states. “My mother says that since I was basically three or four, I wasn’t really walking, I was dancing and performing all around the rooms in the house and out in the street. My games were always to create shows to perform for an audience. I was pretending to be Liza Minnelli singing into a duster. So really, it’s always been in my blood.

“My grandfather, my very beloved Nonno, was an opera lover and he used to play piano for me. It has always been basically clear to me since I was a baby that I would become a musician and a singer and a performer in general.”

By the age of six, Etta was taking piano lessons, a dedication to craft that was complemented by her enrolment at The Conservatorio to learn classical singing followed by a Master’s Degree in Music Education. Her academic focus had been strictly classical but encouraged by a lecturer to branch out musically she discovered a love for jazz and was soon performing with Italian pianist Gianni Lenoci and his jazz quartet, featuring the French double-bass player, Joelle Leandre.

It was the first page of a musical love letter. A truer calling.      

“I felt that that was really my dimension because I felt free, really free to express myself,” Etta explains. “I’m not the person that writes music, but I love the freedom of improvising and scatting. That’s my creativity.”

Even so, at 23 Etta won first prize in an international opera contest, so work and further success opened up in that environment. But, she says, “still there was something missing.”

In 2012 Etta moved to Perth, Western Australia. It was a bold step and a big change.

“The impact that living in another country has on an artist is huge,” she says. It’s a huge transformation that can happen.

In Perth, there is not a huge demand for opera singers. I got more involved with the language, with the expression, and I felt a stronger connection with English and everything that is related to English expression.

“So, I want to go back there, and I decided to start slowly putting some more jazz songs in my act.”

Etta worked for several years with popular accordionist Nikki D’Agostino as a duo called Prima Donna. “It was a bit of classical music and a bit of jazz and a bit of pop all coming together,” she says. “We did a lot of work together. It was all based on Italian music and Italian humour.”

In 2021 Etta made a conscious decision to focus on jazz, adopting her grandmother’s nickname with a nod to Etta James. “It’s less aristocratic than Antonietta D’Elia and more direct,” she notes. “It’s more who I am now. It’s my jazz identity.”

She has pursued jazz performances all around WA as a guest vocalist and as the featured performer in duos, trios and quartets at venues such as Perth Concert Hall, The Crown, Pan Pacific, Ritz Carlton, Duke Of George, The Volstead Lounge, Velour Lounge, Kalamunda Jazz Club and more.

What jazz also offers for Etta is a sense of fun. The six-year-old jokester is still very much present, and even in her opera days – specialising in Mozart and Puccini – her voice and demeanour saw her cast in the more comedic roles.

“I would never be the big romantic, dramatic character,” she recalls. “I would always be the one that makes people laugh. So I decided to bring all that experience and knowledge in theatre into my shows, and that’s why they’re probably in between a jazz singer and a comedian, a stand-up comedy person. I always make a lot of jokes and try to interest people. That’s the other big component of it, the fun.”

With that in mind, Etta is working towards her Fringe Show to be staged in early 2023, a humorous melange of Italian music and jazz.

“There will be all the popular Italian songs,” she says, “love songs that belong to our culture that are not necessarily very popular here in Australia, but still very representative of our culture and our customs. This is a show where I explain a lot of curiosities and things about Italian culture through the songs.”

Going forth, Etta feels stronger than ever as a performer by acknowledging her past experiences and taking them with her as she evolves constantly as an artist. 

“I believe that making a stylistic choice when you are an artist reflects who you really are, and I believe that I’ve been through different phases of my life because I was discovering myself,” she says.

“I’ve reached this point where I’m happy to call myself a jazz singer and this is the point in my life in which I understand who I am. I like this dimension and I want to be here because I want to be free to use everything that I’ve got from my past to create something new.”

www.antonietta.com.au

www.facebook.com/e.delia.vocalist

STARDUST MEMORIES

STARDUST MEMORIES

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Upon the 40th anniversary of David Bowie’s ground-breaking fifth album, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, co-producer Ken Scott has no problem describing where Bowie was in the popular scheme of things when they went in to record it in late 1971.

“Nowhere,” he says, bluntly. “He’d had success with what at the time was considered a novelty record, which was Space Oddity (1969). He was almost more known for (widely panned 1967 single) The Laughing Gnome than he was for anything else. He was really nowhere, but he knew what he wanted to do.”

Scott had engineered Bowie’s 1969 self-titled and 1970 The Man Who Sold The World albums with producer Tony Visconti, before taking the production duties for Bowie’s 1971 LP, Hunky Dory. While well regarded, the iconic singer had yet to really break through, though Scott has it that Bowie wasn’t too worried about being a nowhere man.

“No, he was very calm about it,” Scott recalls. “He was fine. I think he needed to see if he was going to sink or swim on his own terms, because he’d tried it not on his own terms and it hadn’t worked.

“I had come to realise, at least in my own mind, that one of the reasons he went to work me with rather than Tony Visconti, was that Tony, being a bass player and a member of the band, was so in control of what it was turning out like, musically. I don’t think those first two albums were really David’s albums. They were more Tony’s, and I think David wanted his own voice. He wanted to form his own direction.”

The album famously dances around the tale of Ziggy Stardust, a prophetic rock star in a world that has only five years left to exist. Conjecture has raged for years about the multiple characters Ziggy was allegedly based upon, fuelled by Bowie’s enigmatic musings on the topic. One thing is certain, it seems; Bowie didn’t sit around conceptualising it in the studio.

“It was much looser than that,” Scott says. “It was never discussed upfront; the only comment that was made between Hunky Dory and Ziggy was David saying, ‘I don’t think you’re gonna like the next album because it’s more rock’n’roll’. He was proved completely incorrect because I did love it.

“One of the interesting things, that must have had an effect on all of us in the studio and our relationship, was that Ziggy was done so soon after Hunky Dory. Normally there’s a six-month span where you all go off and do different things and you come back and almost start your relationship afresh. Whereas because Ziggy was done a month after we completed Hunky Dory we didn’t have time to get involved in other things.

“So we came back in as the exactly same team and we were almost thinking along the same lines. We didn’t have to say anything to each other; we knew what we had to do because we’d already started that thing with Hunky Dory.”

Recorded at Trident Studios, London, The Rise And Fall… contains its fair share of Bowie classics, including Starman, Ziggy Stardust, Suffragette City and Rock’n’Roll Suicide. Arrangements were handled by Bowie and his longstanding ‘70s guitarist and foil, Mick Ronson.

“I don’t think David would have achieved the success he did without Ronno,” he says. “Ronno was exceedingly important. But for those early records, so were Woody (Mick Woodmansey, drums) and Trevor (Bolder, bass). It was that typical thing of the whole being more than the individual pieces.”

Ken Scott, David Bowie and Mick Ronson in the studio

Scott went on to co-produce Bowie’s 1973 albums, Aladdin Sane and Pin Ups, in a portfolio that includes work with The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Sir Elton John, Harry Nilsson, Lou Reed, Supertramp, Duran Duran and Devo. He keeps in touch via occasional email with Bowie, who once referred to Scott as his ‘own George Martin’.

“As a vocal performer I’ve never worked with anyone, since or before, who was as good,” Scott says. “95 per cent of David’s vocals would be recorded in the first take. It was amazing. He’s an exceedingly talented singer/songwriter/musician and a really nice guy.”

Since his last world tour for the Reality album in 2003-04, the 65 year-old Bowie (married to former Somalian model Iman, with whom he has an 11 year-old daughter, Alexandria) has rarely been seen in public and not released any new material, leading to constant speculation about the state of his health. Scott offers another take.

“I don’t know about all that,” he says. “But remember, when David Bowie would change character he would change it 100 per cent. I think he’s changed into the character of a doting father. And he’s done it 100 per cent.”

The remastered 40th Anniversary Editions (CD/vinyl/DVD) of The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars are out now. Ken Scott’s book, Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust, is available through Alfred Publishing.

BEN FRICHOT’S RENAISSANCE RESET

FeaturedBEN FRICHOT’S RENAISSANCE RESET

West Australian polymath Ben Frichot has, for several decades now, motioned his way around all points of pop cultural expression.

Combining elements of old and new, obscure and commercial, rock and/or roll, Frichot has excelled in artistic fields ranging from music (bands such as Storytime, The Hot Rod Sinners and Day Of The Dead), concert tour poster art (from Motorhead and Shihad to The Hives and Nick Cave), fashion design (Knucklehead Shipping Co.), web design (Knucklehead TV), commercial graphics (The Design Factory), a high-end sunglasses brand (Dillinger Optics) and a new avenue under the nom de plume, Lucky Amour.

The highly-respected Lyons Gallery represents Lucky Amour (AKA Frichot) amidst a stable of artists such as Banksy, Chet Ferry, E$cobar, Pino Ambrosino, Masayoshii Sukita and the estates of Roy Lichtenstein, Helmut Newton, Andy Warhol and others.

The ‘Lucky Amour’ moniker harks back to the ‘90s when Frichot was staging his first exhibitions. “I came up with that and was using it a long time ago,” he recalls. “I don’t remember why I was doing it at the time, but the gallery people really liked it and that’s what they’ve run with.”

Quite simply, the name fits. “It’s a whole fantasy world created by that art and it is all very much in a theme. 

“It’s funny when it gets to signing stuff and you have to sign another signature. I hadn’t invented a signature since I was nine years old,” he laughs.

‘Power To The People’ – Lucky Amour

At nine-years-old the young Frichot would come home from school and do his homework. There was no television allowed in the household by his father, so he would retire to the sanctuary of his bedroom where he began to create the kinds of fantasy worlds that he shares with the real world to this day.

“I was always drawing as a kid,” Frichot recalls. “From when I was little, I was always the cartoon kid… through primary school and high school I was always into that.

“In my room, I had a table with drawing stuff and a guitar. They were the two things I would spend every night doing – trying to learn how to play blues licks and creating comic book characters. I really liked comics, and I still do.”

The Cartoon Kid was making headway on guitar having taken a few lessons. That was okay and all, but it was an archetypal rock’n’roll scenario that got him totally hooked on six-strings.

“When I was 14, I met this girl who was 16 who played guitar and was all about it,” he says. “I thought she was the coolest chick in the world, so all of a sudden I was trying to play guitar and I was all about it.”

The dual/duel love-affair of art and music was set in stone. Frichot teamed up with some friends at school who had been jamming and soon evolved his presence from an outside guest to the creative driving force, as the (frankly average) singer was ushered aside and Frichot began to create original guitar riffs for them to jam on. It was instrumental music and an extension of the ‘theatre of the mind’ stuff that Frichot had already been creating for some years in his bedroom.

“Much like the drawing, I’d be figuring out shapes that I thought sounded good in my bedroom which became riffs,” he says, of the band that came to become known as Storytime. “Then I’d go and jam them with the guys.

“That’s what Storytime was, an endless collection of riffs.”

As the members left school and channelled their energies into the band and playing gigs, Storytime took off. They won the National Campus Band Grand Final in 1991, which set them touring nationally almost from the get-go. They played hundreds of shows and released several EPs and albums.

Storytime was a very physical band in every sense, as Frichot came to recall when they reformed for a few shows in 2016. John Lydon’s prescription for energy held true.

“I think that was partly an expression of a lot of anger,” Frichot concurs. “At the time I was young, and my father had died suddenly in a car accident when I was 17. I was basically homeless after that. Then I was basically a young parent with a barmaid that I met when I was working regionally, and life really spiralled. I felt as if I was in the driver’s seat, but I wasn’t, and I don’t think I was very aware, and I didn’t really have any good guidance around me.

“So I made a lot of mistakes, and I was more and more drawn to that anger stuff, musically. When I was younger, I thought that strength was like a rock. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that strength is like water. But it’s been a long road to get to that and lots of bad things happened along the way.”

‘Robo Coin’ – Lucky Amour

Frichot’s ability to face emotional hardship and learn from it is admirable. He was particularly tested in 1999, when his former partner abducted their children.

“That was really hard,” he says, “but it was in so many ways a turning point because I got so angry and disturbed during that time, I had to begin to understand about letting go of things.”

By this time Frichot had become ensconced in the national touring scene, but his artistic work had not let up. In fact, it was quite the opposite, as he went from doing poster art for local gigs to becoming a go-to artist for national and international artists touring Australia. 

On breaks from touring, he would not only be working on poster designs for upcoming concert tours, but, as an artist without any formal training, create opportunities to be able to refine his approach and learn new techniques from the best artists he could find.

“When I was 18, I didn’t have a home. I had no money, and I was keen to try and figure any which way I could to learn whatever skills that I could so that I could do something with my life that I was interested in, as opposed to just being trapped. That has actually become a bit of a habit… trying to learn on the run.

“I would beg, borrow or steal any opportunity I got to learn from anyone.”

During these early years, Frichot shared a house with an illustrator who worked at Perth’s daily newspaper, The West Australian, where there were 20 full-time artists in the artroom.

“Every night someone had to be in the studio on call in case there was a late-breaking story that they needed an illustration for,” Frichot explains. “So there’d be a rotation with this crowd where every night someone would do the 7-12 shift.

“He had introduced me to these guys so that I could go in there at night while they were sitting around doing nothing and I could use one of the workstations. So I’d be there going, ‘how do you do this? How do you do that?’ I’d be there two or three nights a week, just trying to extract as much information out of all these different artists as I could. They gave me some technical points although I’m sure they kept much of their special sauce for themselves.”

Nonetheless, it opened things up for Frichot, as he was seeing first-hand how artists operated in what was, at that time, the best commercial illustration studio in WA.

“It was much better than what you could get taught in an institution,” he says, “these were the professionals. I did that for about a year, and I was really lucky to have gotten that exposure.”

‘Lucky Sailor’ – Lucky Amour

The learning on the run approach and the eternal thirst for popular culture continued from 1999-2001 when Frichot formed the rockabilly-inspired The Hot Rod Sinners with drummer Eddie Fury (Fireballs) and Andy Burnaway (The Convertibles). He revelled in yet another new and interesting cultural experience.

“I think a lot of my really interesting exposure to a lot of retro culture was from my time with Eddie and Andy,” he says. “They were absolute connoisseurs of everything vintage. They were those guys that had the old cars and the old clothes, and a million records and they knew every artist from this, that and the other. Andy used to collect all these postcards and stickers and this stuff that I thought was so cool. All of it, I just loved and got really interested in all of those things.”

It was through Fury that Frichot met acclaimed US graphic/poster artist Frank Kozik in 1998 at his San Francisco studio. It was to be another revelation.

“I was looking around at a lot of the work that was going on,” Frichot recalls. “I went out to Frank’s studio and it was incredible. His factory set-up was amazing and what he was doing with silk-screening posters was super cool. At the time I was 25 and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world and it fitted in with everything that I had dreamed about doing, because I was already doing a lot of poster stuff and I couldn’t get enough of opportunities of doing posters for bands. That was another bit of nitro in the engine – the inspiration of visiting him and seeing where it could go.”

Suitably inspired, Frichot returned home with the intention of stepping things up, in terms of both artistry and making a living from art. He started Frichot Design Factory…

“It’s just this never-ending series of steps from then on where you just keep trying to push and improve and push and improve.”

As the 2000s motored along, Design Factory was followed by Knucklehead TV, which (in name) begat a fashion label Knucklehead Shipping Co., which Frichot co-founded with several music-and-style-minded cohorts. Frichot’s music clients included the likes of Nick Cave, Foo Fighters, The Hives and more. Meanwhile he formed the surf-guitar-meets-desert-highway outfit Day Of The Dead, a band whose very existence echoes his own overall artistic development.

“Ironically, I feel I’ve gone full circle and I have an appreciation for the simple, pure idea that isn’t encumbered by all these contrived technical layers,” he says. “It’s like that old gag – good taste is knowing how to play the piano accordion but choosing not to.

“I think musically I’ve ended up going more in that way. Day Of The Dead is a good example of that, just good tones and really melodic stuff that was fun to play, as opposed to ‘look how tricky we are’.”

Frichot also maintained a steady line in commercial work for the likes of Brookfield Multiplex, SAS and Australian Army regiments, Barbagallo Motors, Homesmith and a multitude of liquor brands, venues, promoters and… hospitals.

“I’ve always loved art, illustration and graphic design,” Frichot says. “For me the lines between them are very blurred.”

The unleashed creativity of poster art (which feeds into the fantasy worlds of Lucky Amour) is where he truly saddles up.

“When you get a brief to do a poster for someone and you’ve got a lot of creative license over making some sort of a giant robot elephant or a space station in the shape of a skull or whatever it is, that represents to me not only a great opportunity to explore imagination and creativity, but there would always be a technical challenge in how I would achieve the outcome that I was after.

“And again, in not being trained I think there’s something of a clumsiness to my work. Which ends up giving it character in some ways, or perhaps childishness is a better word (laughs).”

Dillinger Optics

Then there’s the sunglasses. Looking for a creative outlet of his own during a long stretch of commercial work and having long been forced to wear glasses due to eye problems, Frichot brought the old-school, classic aesthetics he loved to eyewear. Enter Dillinger Optics – over-engineered, high-end and handmade in Japan by masters of the craft.    

“I thought, ‘what a great product!’. One size fits all; at least that’s what I thought at the time, but it isn’t true. ‘It’s small and you can ship to the world and how hard could it be?’

“Turns out it’s really hard. So that was a long and self-taught journey on how to design a pair of glasses, what they’re made of, what the difference is in terms of where they’re made. That was a long journey. To eventually get to the point of the product that we have now, I’m really proud of it all. They are beautiful, but far out, it was hard to get there.

“And it’s only really just begun, to be honest. If that’s an idea that started five or six years ago, I’d say that’s four years of very expensive trial and error and research and a year of actually getting stuff that we’re really proud of and can sell. But that was a big investment and of time as well. I mean if I was charging someone that would be a very expensive job!”

It’s looking like it’s worth it. Dillinger Optics was recently showcased in The Telegraph (UK) on the front page and inside-spread of its men’s fashion lift-out, Luxury. It made for incredible exposure.

Telegraph (UK) Luxury September 2021 Cover

Similarly, the international interest now shown in the art of Lucky Amour is what Frichot good-naturedly describes as “a 30-year overnight success.” His sign-up to the Lyons Gallery, who operate three main galleries in Australia – Melbourne, Sydney and Port Douglas – and have affiliations with galleries around the world, particularly in the UK – is a significant moment in his career as an artist.

“Lots of different good things have always happened which have kept me going and I’ve got lots to be grateful for,” he notes. “There have been lots of people who’ve been really supportive and lots of good things that have happened, but at the moment there’s a nexus of really exciting international, purely artistic opportunities which is literally a dream come true for me. Simple as that.”

‘Milk Bar’ – Lucky Amour

Frichot looks up and around the walls of his Fremantle home. They’re adorned with Lucky Amour originals, a rogues-and-roses gallery that mashes and mixes and twists timelines with beautiful, fanciful evocations of Elvis Presley, Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, Audrey Hepburn, Lee Marvin and Bridget Bardot among assorted cars, skulls and robots from the 1950’s. It’s post-modern, past-gloried and future-storied; reduxed, refit and remodelled for the new now.

An endless collection of riffs. They’re selling well, too.

“I’m mixed between extreme gratitude, extreme excitement and a little bit of nervousness that I hope that nothing goes wrong,” Frichot admits.

“Or that anything interrupts it. Even then I need to push that thinking aside, because it is what it is and it’ll be what it’ll be and all you can do is the best you can do. The other thing is I actually really love doing it all and what’s really exciting about that is if you can achieve some success around doing something like that which I’m so invested in and passionate about, then every day is exciting.

“There’s every reason to bounce out of bed every morning just to make more.”

The Works Of Lucky Amour, AKA Ben Frichot, Available From The Lyons Gallery

thelyonsgallery.com

dillingeroptics.com

THE LONESOME LOCAL LOCKDOWN

FeaturedTHE LONESOME LOCAL LOCKDOWN

(First published on Facebook – July 3, 2021)

I’ve spent the last fortnight staying in a room upstairs at The Local Hotel on South Terrace, South Fremantle. I’ve been in the throes of moving house, and as a new place fell through just before my exit date, my dear friends at The Local sorted a room for me to stay at in the interim.

I practically live there already. I’ve hosted a weekly talk/performance event on Thursdays off-and-on (mostly on, 28 shows to date) since last October; regularly find a spot to write on my laptop there, and constantly enjoy drinks with folks from the wondrous Freo musical scene. I dearly love the creative community around South Freo, and The Local Hotel is both a heart and hub for this.

In the last week it’s been oh-so-quiet everywhere along South Terrace due to lockdown. While my first week staying at my favourite pub was incredibly social, the second lot-of-seven-days has been a contemplative experience, to say the least.

Week-2 has seen lockdown and the realities that hit a venue such as this. The constant murmur of bubble and squeaks and beats and basslines from DJ sets squirreling from downstairs-to-up; the tales and riffs from local musical heroes, the laughter of fond friends and even the hints of early romance in the front bar have made way for radio silence. It’s all rain and wind outside and faraway footsteps within. THE LOCAL HOTEL HAS BEEN CLOSED.

At times I’ve felt as though I’m the only person in the whole pub. There are other people staying here, but no-one is doing anything or going out. I only hear people and never see them. It’s like they’re ghosts. Which means I am also a ghost. In a Ghost Hotel.

I endeavour to be Casper (The Friendly Ghost, if you recall). It helps a bit as early in Week-2 I develop minor cold symptoms, resulting in a refreshing day trip to Fiona Stanley Hospital.

Turns out she’s not even related to Paul Stanley. Even so, I’m open to being thoroughly doused and dubbed then directed to go home and self-isolate. In a closed pub, during a lockdown. Quiet stuff. My test result comes back within 12 hours and is reassuringly negative. Such a mild experience compared to the scenarios of so many.

But I’m left with this playground. This lovely/lonesome Local Hotel which has been so good to me. So I take a mid-morning to take a walk-around (masked, mind) to capture the quiet, closed moments. It will open its arms and doors to its charming, salt-of-the-earth staff and clientele, but for this moment and all the moments (and the new memories, and the old ghosts), it literally has become my favourite haunt. And I love it now more than ever.

Pandemic or not. Support your Local. Whatever it’s called, wherever it may be.

(Vax, also).

THE REDUCTORS Intellect, Imagery, Humanity And Humour

THE REDUCTORS        Intellect, Imagery, Humanity And Humour

As the ever-elegantly-suited Robert Palmer (RIP) once noted, ‘the proof is irrefutable’.

And it is indeed an irrefutable truth about art – there ain’t nothing like the classics. Some songs, books and films have never finished saying what they have to say. It’s this kind of bedrock that Perth band, The Reductors, are founded upon.

To begin (the beguine), singer/songwriter/guitarist, Luke Nixon, has harboured a deep love of classic punk and post-punk since his earliest years.

“I grew up in Wales, and spent my teens listening to Manchester punk and post-punk bands,” he recalls. “In particular Joy Division, The Fall, Buzzcocks and The Smiths which, as it happens, also had a big impact on the other band members.”

Classic literature has also played a part in Nixon’s continued artistic development. The characters and themes in his songs are borne of a lifetime of reading.

“Philip K. Dick, David Foster Wallace, Martin Amis, Dylan Thomas,” he notes, “variously for intellect, imagery, humanity and humour.”

These flavours and inspirations motivated Nixon to create his own music and write his own songs. Not from a punk-fuelled need to act out, but at various points to explore his feelings both within, then beyond.

“Originally, the motivation was to retreat and immerse myself in my own private world,” he recalls. “At the time, music was the key thing that enabled me to achieve that.

“I stopped writing songs for a long while, and when I started again, it was from a desire to create connections to the outside of that world, for artistic and personal reasons.”

Having landed in Perth, the seeds of The Reductors began about a decade ago. In scientific terms, a reductor is an apparatus for conducting a type of experiment to reduce a substance. “It seemed appropriate for creating social commentary in song form,” says Nixon, bringing it back to the art of the matter.

“Honestly, this band seems to have been a subliminal process in which the current members each materialised into the line-up, through one means or another, over a number of years. A series of happy accidents.”

Those ‘happy accidents’ are Aidan Gordon (lead guitar/backing vocals – ex-The Autumn Isles/Tenderhooks); Gareth Bevan (bass/backing vocals – Will Stoker & The Embers) and Erin Gordon (drums – The Quivers). Occupying the lead vocalist/guitar podium is Nixon, who previously trod the boards with The Horseless Cowboys.

“I write our songs – music and lyrics – and bring them to the band with a form and structure,” Nixon says of the band’s creative dynamic. “We work on the arrangements together, with each of us contributing and developing ideas. The other band members are all seriously talented musicians, who bring vital elements of their artistry, personality and enthusiasm to the creative process, and to our live performances.”

The Reductors released their debut album, Caboose, in 2017, followed by a double-A-side single, Practical Girl/Tremors, the following year. Across the output is an edgy melange of melodic punk and rock sensibilities. It’s not hard to tell that Nixon knows what he wants out of his songs.

“The important thing is to make songs that the audience can connect with, whether through the music or the lyrics,” he explains. “As a band, we all have an affinity for post-punk music, so we are influenced by everything that contributed to that milieu, including American bands such as The Stooges and Richard Hell and the Voidoids, as well as those Manchester bands I already mentioned.”

With that in mind, the band’s new single, Body Scan, shines the light ahead for kicking against the grain in (hopefully) post-COVID times. Already nominated in the Punk Category in the 2020 WAM Song Of The Year Awards, Body Scan fights the future and cracks like The Clash. The song shames body shaming and punches the air in the most satisfying way. 

“The song addresses the illusory and damaging focus in society and popular culture on body image ideals,” Nixon notes. “I have a number of friends who have been negatively affected by perceived norms and ideals relating to body image. The raucousness and pace of the music makes for an effective contrast to those ideals by signifying vitality over perfection.”

The song was recorded with Rob Grant (Queens of the Stone Age, Death Cab for Cutie, Pond) at Poons Head Studio in Fremantle.

“We love collaborating with Rob,” says Nixon, “he is so knowledgeable and experienced, and terrific company. There is also real magic to Poons Head… it is quite unique.”

Body Scan is the first taste of The Reductors’ forthcoming second album, due in 2021. Another single release is scheduled for the end of the year, whereupon the band will increase their local shows and pursue a tour of the South-West.

Despite the downtime of WA’s version of COVID-19 isolation, The Reductors are in a good place to build on the momentum set in the last few years. For Nixon, his initial outlook for the band is evolving very nicely indeed.

“The original vision was to create something unique through a sort of organised chaos,” he says. “We had plenty of chaos, but not much else, so I decided to rebuild, artistically, from something a bit more elemental – the first album is really a record of that rebuilding.

“Now we are liberated from that process and producing our most energised and authentic music.”

In the meantime The Reductors will launch Body Scan on Saturday, August 22, at Lyric’s Underground in Maylands, teaming with The Limbs, who will also be launching their new single, Do Not Help Me, which was also nominated for a WAM Song Of The Year award. Also along for this amazing double-launch are special guests Will Stoker & The Embers and Tanami. Bookings via Oztix.com.au.

Facebook Event Pagehttps://www.facebook.com/events/683873885498057/

Photo credit: Elle Borgward 

Life Grows Where Rosemary Goes (In Memory Of Tim Underwood, RIP)

Life Grows Where Rosemary Goes           (In Memory Of Tim Underwood, RIP)
Pic: Tim Underwood and Gretta Little, Courtyard Club, December, 2016. cr Damien Crocker

It took The Rosemary Beads 24 years to release their debut album, Shine. The journey within has often been dark, but the future looks bright indeed.

Driving through Northbridge along Roe St, on the way to see The Rosemary Beads, the lulling yet gritty tones of Swervediver’s Rave Down on the radio provide a fitting soundtrack amidst the traffic, not to mention one’s pre-gig mindset.

Both bands have been favourites on Perth community radio station, RTRFM, for some time now.

Two decades in fact; for this isn’t April, 1994, but December, 2016, and ‘90s specialist program Siamese Dream has taken over the Friday Drivetime airwaves for a live broadcast of The Rosemary Beads’ Courtyard Club appearance at the State Theatre Centre.

Time sure flies, except when it doesn’t (and let’s be frank, it hasn’t). Yet here we are, out of the carpark and into the warmth of gentle evening sunlight in the Courtyard, with kids playing all over the shop, watched over by strangely familiar-looking-middle-aged parents. They look like people who may have been at The Rosemary Beads’ second EP launch at the Grosvenor Hotel on that Saturday of April of ’94, shaking their heads at the day’s headline news that Kurt Cobain had taken his own life. Oh yeah… they were.

But these here are gentler times. Not that the world is kinder by any stretch of the imagination, but the people gathered – including the band – are tempered by two decades of real life and new life to boot. This is the real life.

Between 1992-95 The Rosemary Beads were perhaps a little too tension-driven to be the darlings of the Perth music scene, but they made a damn good fist of being its prodigal sweethearts. There were several incarnations, but the celebrated/classic line-up of Gretta Little (vocals/bass), Tim Underwood (vocals/guitar) and drummer Cam Munachen motored through three excellent Citadel Records-released EPs in those years (Dog, Breath, I’ll Come When I’m Good And Ready). Little and Underwood had been in bands together for almost a decade by this point and for most of the band’s tenure they were a couple. Until they weren’t.

Little eventually left the band. During 1995 a four-piece line-up briefly trod the boards until Munachen tragically died of an overdose in the spring of that year. He was a good, young man whose demise betrayed his true character and whose loss spelt the end of The Rosemary Beads. Underwood lost his best friend and his band in one cruel swoop. Munachen’s funeral saw a grief-stricken Perth/Fremantle band scene turn up in droves and as his coffin was wheeled out of the chapel it was to the (loud) strains of the Rosemary Beads’ last single, Worried About Fucking. Rock and pop tension to the last.

It really was agonising for all those anywhere near it. The end of The Rosemary Beads wasn’t just a band break-up. People were broken.

Rosemary-Beads-620x347

Rosemary Beads circa 1994, Cam Munachen, Gretta Little, Tim Underwood

Which makes their reformation, in early 2015, something of a fairytale ending… no, make that a beginning. With different lives, partners, paths and children occupying the two decades in between, Little and Underwood connected again via what brought them together in the first place.

It was music.

Doves cried.

Joined by drummer, Warren Hall (The Drones, The Volcanics, The M-16s), a one-off gig was arranged at the Astor Lounge in February, 2015. Their three Eps were conjoined into a single CD edition and a video tribute to Munachen was played before their performance.

It clicked.

The only thing that could happen next was more of it.

“It just kind of happened,” says Little. “At first, we were just gonna do the one gig, then after we’d been jamming together for a little while I think everyone started to go, ‘this is fun’. On the day of our reformation gig I said to Tim, ‘I want to keep doing it if it keeps working out like this’.”

“Gretta and I rediscovered our love for playing music with one another,” Underwood adds. “We’re in tune with each other’s songs… and it just sort of snowballed, I guess. A rehearsal turned into another one, which turned into a gig, then another gig. It was all pretty organic.”

It’s a special, unprecedented reconciliation and as such is being treated with due care. Appearances at marquee events such as the Nannup Music Festival and RTRFM’s iconic In The Pines have been complemented by selected venue shows. After this many years, no one’s in a hurry to wear this out. The beating heart in all this is unveiled as the band’s debut album, 24 years after they formed.

Released in November 2016, Shine features unrecorded gems from the past and independently-written tunes borne since. It sounds like what might have followed back in the day, but doesn’t echo as a mere time capsule. It truly sounds like an essence of then and now, for today… and tomorrow. Because the band’s very existence now, proves that despite the evidence, tomorrow is always a possibility.

“I’m glad you think that,” Little responds. “We don’t sit back and go, ‘let’s make this the next Beads sound’ or anything but it just turned out that way. We sound like The Rosemary Beads but… further along. I did listen to an old recording the other day and I do think that I sing a little differently. I didn’t think that I did, but I do. And I play bass a little differently, too.”

“You can’t plan that kind of thing,” Underwood says. “Even when we were choosing the songs that we were going to do again, the same ones kept popping up. For instance, General Franco (from 1993’s Dog EP), which we still play, that song is 24 years-old, and it’s such fun to play and always gets such a good response. It’s turned out to be kind of timeless in a way that, for example, She Ain’t Around hasn’t remained timeless (laughs).

“You can’t plan it; the songs are either there, or they’re not. I always thought we had a great album in us; and I really like this album, but I think the next one will be killer.”

A new album looks a probability in 2017, but in regards to Shine, songs of yore that were resurrected include She Said I’m Dead, Crack It Wide Open and Torture & Jealousy. Little had a brand-new tune, Comet, and some older songs that hadn’t been done with the Beads – Stars, Denial and The Driving Song, the latter about her old border collie, Blossom, a fixture at the band’s gigs back in the day.

Other memories aren’t so happy. It’s a complicated history.

“I wrote a song called Stars,” Little says. “I had a rather unfortunate run in my 20s. People obviously know that Cam died and Tim went off on a different journey, and unfortunately, for me, there were numerous people in my life having numerous troubles. Stars is kind of about that period of time where lots of really sad things happened in a really short space of time. And that often makes me think about those days as well, which weren’t happy for me, unfortunately, through no fault of my own, but you can’t really do anything about that.

“Those songs are a part of my life whether I wrote them or not. They hold time. I remember things like certain gigs when we play, but mostly I just remember what was happening in my life. I don’t know if other people do that.”

Underwood’s brand-new song is Ain’t Nobody Else Like Me, and it’s the newer stuff he is enjoying playing the most.

“We were always pretty lyrically dark,” he says, “but now I think 20 years later that the lyrics are even darker. We’ve got 20 years under our belts of things we’ve been through and experienced and all that kind of stuff that the lyrics are even darker than they used to be. That’s the main difference. That’s not about the group dynamically, but the lyrics are definitely getting darker.”

Both Little and Underwood speak highly of Hall, the Beads’ new drummer.

“Probably one of the best things about being in a band is fiddling around with a new song and working out what to do with it,” Little says. “We all like that and all sit well with each other creatively. In a band, you need, personality-wise, people who are all going to go okay together and he’s both of those things, as well as being a really good drummer. I’m glad he’s happy working together with us.”

“Waz is quite comfortable stopping a song and suggesting something that could go in at that part,” Underwood explains. “Which is quite interesting, because he’s doesn’t play an instrument, so he’ll say something like, ‘I think we should have a guitar twiddle there’, or ‘I think the bass should run down there’ so Gretta and I will take that input. He’s really committed to the structure of a song.”

Since the album was finished, Cam Sim (Worm Farm) has come on board as the band’s second guitarist, to bring those extra recorded flourishes to the stage.

“That’s interesting because Cam and Waz devised that idea between themselves at the start,” Underwood recalls. “And they had to sell it to me. I was apprehensive at first, because I quite like being the guitarist in The Rosemary Beads. Another guitarist? Another guitarist? But when Cam walked into the room and set up, it wasn’t even an audition. He just slotted in really well, so it was great.”

“It’s going to evolve the sound a bit more and give us a few more options going forward,” Little adds. “It’s good to have someone else in the band to mix things up a bit.”

The Courtyard Club gig goes off with a few hitches (the PA cuts out twice, but everyone is ever-so-calm about it all), yet the band itself are truly sublime. Memories come flooding back, but it’s very much about how it works in the present. And with kids running around everywhere during the show, it’s a touching reminder that there is a future to behold for this band.

“It’s pretty exciting and I just find it really good fun,” Little smiles. “I was at home with twins for four years. You go out and play a gig and people clap you. Nobody claps you at home!”

“It’s not surreal anymore,” Underwood concludes. “It’s one of the most interesting band histories I can think of, where you break up and 20 years later you get back together and start playing again. Basically, the new songs are great; and the rehearsals are great; and the jams are great; and the songwriting’s great.

“Gretta’s still got a set of pipes on her and she’s still playing interesting basslines. It’s great. We’re not getting the crowds that we did in the ‘90s, but I don’t think anyone is. We’re just having fun and enjoying it.”

Tim Underwood passed away on June 27, 2020. RIP.

NICI WARD When Doves Fly

NICI WARD When Doves Fly

Perth Singer/songwriter Nici Ward has worked through a few musical aliases and band names in her time, but her latest venture as Lonesome Dove seems more than a little suited – in name at least – to this isolated era.

“To be honest, we are doing okay,” Ward notes of a life lived well in terms of family and creativity… and iso. “We live up in the hills and for once living away from everything is serving us really well. Our kids (Ward and her husband Ben have two young boys) have a lot of space to run around and that makes things a bit easier.

“I had a major freak-out after the first two weeks, really missing my friends and all the normal things everyone is missing and I hadn’t fallen into a rhythm yet, but things seem to have become a new kind of normal and that’s okay. Just taking each day at a time.”

While having two boys in a row a couple of years apart understandably took Ward away from the creative focus she had known in the preceding years, she felt its return as they’ve both grown older. For some time Ward shared songs she had written as posts to her Instagram account, but that soon proved not to be enough to match her true productivity.

“I started to feel like the material was building into something more and my brain just started going into overdrive with the whole concept of what it could be. I had that name for a long time, it’s actually a mini-movie series from the late ‘80s I remember watching as a kid. Although the name hints to a country vibe, it’s not at all. It’s my ‘90s pop baby (laughs).

“I took a trip to Los Angeles last year and it cracked open a whole creative place in my brain; it really helped me to push myself and realise not to worry about what other people thought about what I was doing and to just make it my own. It’s so cliché, I know, but it was a really pivotal experience for me, personally.”

Though it’s primarily a solo project Lonesome Dove sees Ward collaborating with husband Ben (guitar/bass – Rinehearts, ex-Screwtop Detonators) and his bandmate Ross DiBlasio (drums, piano). Al Smith from Bergerk! brought his mobile studio for recordings to be made at the Ward residence. “I want to use Lonesome Dove as a platform to do things how I want,” she says, “but also to collaborate with other artists.”

Ward has just issued Lonesome Dove’s second single release, Parallel Life, a poppy number that draws aural images ranging from Julianna Hatfield or The Bangles to Gabriela Cilmi (to these ears, at least).

“It’s is basically about the hope that there’s someone out there living your perfect version of life and the hope that you’re going to find them to live that together,” Ward says. “Pining over someone through your phone and having an idea of what it’d be like to be with that person but it’s all caught up in your head. It’s not about the reality of it.

“I like to make up characters a lot when I’m writing, it’s not always about personal experience, but I guess I did tap into that teenage notion of romance and what that meant compared to what was probably the reality of the situation. I guess the girl in the story is kind of sad in a way, she’s lonely and fragile. But she’s also sassy and has a lot to give.”

The accompanying video clip is simple and so very effectively direct. Shot on phone camera at her home, and featuring cameos from her cat and dog (‘my pets are in everything. I’m obsessed with them, I think they just added to the charm of it. Also, they’re cute’.) it was an afternoon well spent.

“I wanted people to see the character in that video,” Ward explains. “To feel what’s going on in her head. It’s a bit manic, I had about an hour where the kids were watching a movie and Ben was away working, so I shut my bedroom door and just got stuck in. I wanted to use the same angle and get as much out of that as I could which I think gives it a bit of a claustrophobic feel. Not to mention I really like the DIY aspect of the project and it’s just me doing everything. So I just set my phone up on a tripod and ran the song a bunch of times and tried to just relay to the camera what I was trying to get across.

“I wanted to show her different personalities and emotions. And the process of her thinking, which is where it goes from ‘fun, happy girl’ to ‘I’m a crying mess’ pretty quickly. I think my boys were pretty confused when I emerged from my room with a face covered in smeared make up, I looked like The Joker!”

Growing up in a musical household herself, it was possibly a full circle moment for Ward. The daughter of Perth singer/songwriter/musicians Boyd Wilson and Denise DeMarchi, as well as the niece of Baby Animals singer/guitarist, Suze DeMarchi, she witnessed both the glam and grim of music life from an early age.

“Music was everything,” she recalls. “My upbringing was bright, colourful and transient. I was an only child up until the age of about 14, so I was around adults a lot. I think I went to a dozen different schools which luckily suited my personality as I’m pretty adaptable. I learnt to be very independent. I liked making new friends. I had very strong female role models.

“My mum is an excellent singer and she and my Dad were always playing and writing and touring. We moved to Sydney when I was about six. We lived in a flat in Bondi. It was very buzzy. We had beautiful friends as family there, all the kids growing up with parents in the industry. One kids parents were touring, the others were the catering for Michael Jackson, another doing makeup for the next big thing. I remember my Aunty Suze picking me up from school with Deni Hines, it was the ‘90s and the song L-O-V-E Love was a big deal at the time (laughs). I learnt a lot from people around me, not just about the industry, but about the value of relationships.

“But also it was a different time, you really saw how much it took and how hard people had to work to get where they wanted. I saw the sweat. Without sounding old, things just didn’t happen at the pace they do now, and it wasn’t expected to. You were expected to work. I think that set me up for having pretty real expectations of myself.”

Unsurprisingly, Ward was compelled towards, if not a music career, then a musical life. She followed in a certain amount of footsteps but was clearly intent on making her own.

“As a late teen I did a lot of commercial/pop work, working with other writers, my Dad, Boyd Wilson, Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme) and tried for a few publishing companies. I was also getting put forward for auditions for TV soap kinda stuff. I loved it all. I played a few solo shows and did some fill-ins for existing bands.”

It was fun and all, but as Ward puts it, a degree of teenage rebellion kicked in and she wanted to make her own moves. Welcome to the stage, Nici Blue Eyes…

“Nici Blue Eyes was something I started in about 2001,” she explains. “I went to Melbourne and played for a long time there in a band where I was writing the material. It was country, I loved Wanda Jackson and Dolly Parton and it was heavily influenced by that vibe. It was a lot of fun and I learnt so much. Just constantly playing so much teaches you a lot. And I had a lot of great opportunities playing up in Sydney, Big Day Out, supporting some great bands… The Super Suckers, Six Ft Hick, Graveyard Train and more.

“I loved that in Melbourne if you played country you’d still get put on the same bill as punk and rock’n’roll bands, it’s very inclusive there that way and I made some lifelong friends because of it. The band evolved with different members but I just got to the point where I wanted to do new things, change of scenery, whether that meant musically or otherwise I wasn’t sure at the time.”

Ward and Ben packed everything they hadn’t sold off into their ute and drove around Australia for six months, eventually making a return to Perth.

“After a few years of working out where we wanted to be and deciding to have a baby I was feeling pretty lost,” she reflects. “I think a lot of mums go through it, having a baby is such a sacrifice mentally and physically, and you end up just being this other person that you have to get to know. I knew I wanted to be playing again but I didn’t know how to go about it, really.

“I contacted Joe Bludge from The Painkillers who I’d known for years and we sat down and went through a bunch of songs I’d written. I love Joe as a songwriter, he’s very clever. We formed Petticoat Junkyard which was Joe, myself, his wife Sarah Norton playing bass and Adem K (Turnstyle) on drums. It was a cool little unit and I was just so grateful to be creating again. We put out an album and played some shows and then…. I had another baby (laughs). I took a long time out after my second child.”

Now, several years on, Ward says that home life is a balancing act. “The main goal always is that everyone is happy. Ben is a carpenter and runs his own business. I’m studying personal training at the moment and we have two kids in primary school. So, music for us is our joy, it’s our hobby and it’s something we are both passionate about.

“Only recently have we collaborated together and it’s been very interesting seeing how each other works in that way. I love that it’s constant learning. Being able to put your personal feelings aside and just learn from other people, creatively, is the best. I think we are both learning a lot from our kids too. Our youngest is music-obsessed and that’s been hilarious and incredible to watch, just letting him find his way and find the joy in it, and our oldest is a total mystery, he might end up being a zoo keeper or owning a pet shop he says (laughs) which is great! But there’s always music playing or being played.”

As for Lonesome Dove the future looks bright. Ward has several new songs in readiness for an EP release, including a track co-written with Ben Protasiewicz from Perth indie punk rockers, Pat Chow. The fulfillment that comes from playing and creating music is much its own reward when the world, in general, still faces unsteady times.

“I’m hoping Lonesome Dove ends up just being a constant vehicle for me to put music out and keep working with other people,” Ward reflects. “And as far as everything else goes it’s just day-by-day at the moment. We are so lucky where we live and it’s all about just working hard for what we love and enjoying it I think. So yeah, I think that’s it. Like us all I’m hanging to get back to live gigs! But it’s cool, it’ll all happen when it’s supposed to.”

FB – https://www.facebook.com/Lonesome-Dove-109312573803211/

WOMEN’S FEST FREO

WOMEN’S FEST FREO
Photo: Addison Axe of Axe Girl, Women’s Fest Freo 2020 headliners. Pic: Marnie Richardson @ Three Gates Media

Julia Weller exudes both confidence and an infectious positivity. Many Freo music community folks will know her not only as a friendly neighbourhood barkeep at Mojos, but as a personification of that venue’s open and equal charm.

That’s not all, however, Weller is also a musician and an activist for gender equality. She is the organiser of Women’s Fest Freo, which returns this weekend to Clancy’s Fish Pub after debuting in 2019 with great success.

“Last year was a crazy whirlwind, and exceeded my wildest expectations,” Weller says. “I was – like this year too – amazed by how many people jumped on board for gender equality. Every day leading up to the event last year I had more new ideas and just did them all. It taught me to ask for more help and made me realise I’ve got a really nice community to lean on. I basically went through the roof when I found out how much the event raised for UN Women Australia, with over $6,500 we were one of their biggest individually organised events of the year, whilst having a huge party!

“With so much local female lead talent playing and Abbe May headlining last year, all of the people helping out and donating to the festival, we had a colourful, safe and amazingly fun event. I could never have done it without the help of everyone involved.”

While ongoing steps towards equality in the music industry still need to be made, Weller feels that progress continues.

“Looking at the average line up of gigs nowadays, I can definitely see people are starting to think more about making gigs more diverse,” she states.

“Playing music in the Dan Howls Band and working at Mojos I definitely feel like women have stepped it right up and have been motivated to follow through in whatever way they uniquely choose to express themselves; and that is being celebrated more and more.”

Along with her own work Weller feels buoyed by the efforts of WA artists strongly flying the flag for gender equality.

“There is of course our very own Lucy Peach, Perth’s all ‘round legend feminist within her own right; informing the masses about the power of the period with her fantastic TED Talk and writing beautiful, empowering music,” she notes.

“Another person that comes to mind is Perth talent Stella Donnelly, for being such an outspoken and inspiring women in the music scene. I really appreciate her powerful songs about real things that happen and in my opinion, encouraging everybody to open up the conversation and make a change. That’s really inspiring.”

Julia Yemaya

Julia Weller performing at Mojos. Pic: Tashi Hall

Weller was born and raised in Holland and upon turning 18 felt compelled to head to our shores upon meeting some exuberant Australians at dinner. A few months later she landed in Sydney “and went north, from there on I slowly made my way across, living in the rainforest and the Kimberley along the way.

“When I came to Freo it was my first reintroduction to a ‘city’ – I had been living out of a swag for about two years. I started busking and made my way for a good couple of months before having to get a job. From there onward I started to integrate into the Freo community more and more, working at the Freo markets, coming back every summer, the bubble had started to take shape.

“Then I started playing music with Dan Howls and working at Mojos and I really started to be a part of the music industry. It gave me the confidence of pulling something like this off, something I probably wouldn’t have dared even in my hometown. That’s why I love Freo!”

Mojos has offered Weller a front seat to the music scene, from grass roots to touring icons. She likes what she sees.

“I’ve seen amazing gigs at Mojos of any gender,” she notes, “and I feel like diversity is definitely being promoted and encouraged. Also it’s a zero-tolerance venue, which is actually really amazing. Anyone who feels uncomfortable can come up to the bar, and the issue will be taken seriously and dealt with.”

Women’s Fest Freo features 11 female-led acts – Lois Olney Freaya (solo) Tanya Ransom, Joan & The Giants, Freddie Mai (Bass Lemon), Smol Fish, Bexx, Hannah Smillie (Psychotic Reactions), Grace Armstrong, Lucy Peach and headliners, Axe Girl.

“I love how the main thing connecting these bands is the celebration of women,” Weller says. “We’ve got loads of different genres on the same line-up which promotes diversity in itself. From 60’s inspired garage to jazz, feminist folk/pop to soulful blues/country to indie pop, we’ll go on a musical journey!”

Women’s Fest Freo will also feature a pay-as-you-like second-hand clothing stall, glitter, good cheer and, well, beer. Weller reinforces the fact that the event is a safe space for free expression.

“Absolutely everybody is invited,” she says. I hope people feel comfortable and encouraged to express, dance and dress how they like, celebrating diversity and bring these vibes along to other events too.”

Women’s Fest Freo takes places at Clancy’s Fish Pub Fremantle this Saturday, March 7, from 6pm. Pre-sale tickets are $25.50 (including booking fee) available here or $30 on the door. All proceeds go to UN Women, the biggest gender equality advocate worldwide.

More details on Women’s Fest Freo – Facebook.com/womensfestfreo