The Australian Government isn’t the only entity that puts people through a rigorous cross-examination to prove their loyalty to a bunch of stars and a Union Jack. Each week at 'M+N', we make an Australian act kiss the flag by asking them questions about their favourite local acts: who they’ve been listening to recently, their underground heroes, or whether they prefer Radio Birdman or The Beasts of Bourbon.
Taking the test this week is Greg Cooper from Brisbane electro-pop four-piece Toy Balloon. The band will launch their debut album, Toy Division, with a double header in Melbourne this weekend (dates below). Out November 8 through Lofly Records, Toy Division is the product of a year-long studio collaboration with Brisbane-based producer Phil Laidlaw (aheadphonehome). It features a guest appearance by Helen Franzmann (aka McKisko), who lends her vocals to two tracks: ‘Broken Little Nothing’ and ‘Disco Cassette Freakout’.
Part 1. Geography
a. Tell us about your hometown.
Brisbane. Not a girl, not yet a woman.
b. Name your favourite bands from your neck of the woods. So many great bands: McKisko, Re:Enactment, Moon Jog, Mr Maps, Comic Sans, Axxonn, Hunz, Oh Ye Denver Birds, Big Strong Brute, Restream, Aheadphonehome, Ed Guglielmeno to name a few.
c. Where’s your local and what’s it like?
I spend way too much time at our rehearsal space/DIY venue LoFly Hangar these days, so I guess that's my local. $10 BYO. Come along sometime.
Part 2. History
a. Which Australian bands did you grow up listening to?
I was really lucky to grow up in Brisbane during a time when local bands like Not From There, Regurgitator, Gota Cola, Custard and Powderfinger would play all ages shows pretty frequently. Bands like Gerling, 2ltrDolby, Sandpit, Dirty Three, Something For Kate, that sort of stuff.
b. What’s the first Australian record you bought?
Baby Animals self-titled album on cassette.
c. Who’s your favourite Australian band/artist of all time?
Probably Gerling. They were making stupid fun music when I was stupid and young and they just always seemed to sound unique and relevant as the years went by. I still have my Gerling backpack, the zipper's broken but I still have it.
d. What’s the most “Australian” record ever produced?
The Proposition soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.
Part 3. Current Affairs
a. Who are some of your favourite new Australian bands?
I was watching Kid Sam at Hangar earlier this year with my brother Rohan and our jaws just dropped. Ivy St were also amazing when they played. The Emergency, Canyons, Faux Pas and Super Melody are my favourites from a more electro side. Heard amazing things about Rat vs Possum but haven't been able to see them yet. Obviously very keen to check out World Champion, Love Connection, Aoi, Convaire and Brown Bear Black Bear while on tour too.
b. If you could collaborate with one current Australian artist, who would it be, and what would it sound like?
Would love to give someone like Canyons or Cut Copy free range on some of our loops to give them a more polished dancefloor feel. We were lucky enough to get Helen Franzmann (McKisko) to do guest vocals and Phil Laidlaw (aheadphonehome) to produce the first album which was amazing for a debut release with no budget. I would also love to get Burke Reid from Gerling to produce us at some point.
c. Last great local gig you saw.
Mckisko supporting Tiny Vipers a few weeks ago. She managed to make Tiny Vipers sound completely middle of the road in comparison. We're so lucky to have someone like her in our city.
d. Do you think an Australian artist needs to go overseas to succeed?
If by succeed you mean “not have to work a real job” then definitely, especially for non-mainstream genres. There aren't enough people in this country, and the ones that are here prefer to pay hundreds of dollars to watch Human Nature butcher Motown classics, rather than go to a small venue and listen to some poor kids put their balls on the line for $50 and a two-drink rider. The main thing is just to have fun which is a type of “success” in itself I guess.
Part 4. Multiple Choice
a. John Paul Young or Jon English?
John Paul Young ’cause I always get him confused with the bass player from Led Zeppelin.
b. Richard Wilkins or Brian Mannix?
Brian Mannix. I hate Richard Wilkins.
c. ‘I Am Australia’ or ‘Still Call Australia Home’?
Industrial strength ear muffs.
d. Double Dare or It’s a Knockout?
It's A Knockout, for sure. I think it was filmed in Queensland.
e. ‘Under The Milky Way’ or ‘April Sun in Cuba’?
‘Under the Milky Way’.
f. Radio Birdman or The Beasts of Bourbon?
Radio Birdman ... but I like both.
g. RocKwiz or Spicks and Specks?
Spicks and Specks, I suppose.
h. Newcastle or Wollongong?
Never been to Newcastle, but Wollongong is a nice enough place.
i. ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’ or ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’?
‘Whole Lotta Rosie’. Bon Scott and an awesome title.
j. Cheezels or Twisties?
Just last night I had my first taste of these Grain Waves everybody's been raving about. Surprisingly good. To answer your question: haven't had either since I was a kid but was a huge fan of chicken Twisties back in the day.
TOY BALLOON IN MELBOURNE
Saturday, November 7
Pony, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday, November 8
El Joyero, Melbourne, VIC
All ages warehouse show