Citizenship: New Gods
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 Kylie or Dannii Minogue.
Proving his credentials this week is Rich Bradbeer, of Little Red/Greasers phoenixes-from-the-ashes New Gods. The band, also comprising Dom Byrne, Adrian Beltrame, Sam Raines and Dale Packard, have just released their debut self-titled EP, and plans are afoot for a full-length album next year.
a. How did the band come together?
Sam (Raines) and I had been playing with Dom (Byrne) in a band called Greasers for about four or five years. The trio became a quartet with the inclusion of Adrian in 2010, so we had a good musical history, a working relationship together – and about 80 songs up our sleeve. Dale (Packard) had tour-managed Little Red and mixed Greasers. We knew he was a great multi-instrumentalist, a mighty gentleman, a doting father and most importantly a guy who really had his shit together. So when it became apparent that Little Red was over Dom called Rainsey, who had moved to Colorado, and lured him home with the promise of strippers and a boat. I found some time between Eagle & the Worm, labouring and alcoholism to rehearse in Age’s basement in early Jan. Dale teed up with us in February after the songs were beginning to take shape. We upgraded to jamming in Dom’s basement, and then eventually a rehearsal room, and finally a recording studio. To this day we have yet to see strippers or a boat, but at least we are making the kind of music that we want to make.
b. Are you comfortable with the term ‘indie supergroup’?
The short answer is no. I don’t really know how it came about, but it is flattering to think that someone thinks there is something super about us as individuals. Maybe we can still harbour hopes of becoming Cleo’s Bachelor of the Year. But seriously, many people who take music seriously play, or have played, in many bands. Most of the people in bands in Melbourne have played in more than one band. It’s only really Dom and Age who enjoyed a middling moment of fame, but the rest of us are average Joes, so hopefully we can still harbour hopes of appearing on Average Joe. If you ask someone in the street, or even somewhere like Old Bar, who Richard Bradbeer, or Sam Raines or Dale Packard or Adrian Beltrame or Dom Byrne is, they will most likely offer a confused stare and answer “I have no idea”. Or they might do what some journalists have done when talking about New Gods and say, “David Byrne?”
c. What’s the genesis of these songs? Were they leftover from Little Red’s last sessions?
A couple of them are, but maybe only two on the EP, the other three are songs Greasers had messed around with. There is such a vast back catalogue to draw from, as well as the new material we are creating at the moment.
d. Is an album on the way? And if so, is the EP indicative of how it sounds?
We actually recorded an album this year but we cut it down to an EP, it’s the whole first date thing. You are introducing yourself, you are a bit nervous and excited. You don’t want to give it all away at the start. You maintain some of the mystery in hope that they want to come back for more and you depart with a smooch maybe. But you aren’t Wham Bamming and Thanking the Ma’amming. Yeah, an album’s on the way – it’s somewhere between Strauss, Pat Boone and Cannibal Corpse.
Part 1. Geography
a. Tell us about your hometown.
My home town was Kensington. No one knew where it was then. The South Kensington dealers were perpetually at war with the Footscray dealers and I played in a jazz quartet at the only pub on McCauley Rd. We played to people who didn’t want to hear jazz and to our parents. Now I live in Yarraville, which is to the south of Footscray. There are some 16 year-old fuck heads who try to be tough, and tragically one of them killed Nitin Garg a couple of years ago. I hate those kids passionately. But mostly the only danger is being run over by a massive three-wheeled pram or the parents’ 4WD Beemer. What else? There is no hardware store but there are four or five hairdressers within two minutes’ walk of each other. There are also about 15 cafes. There used to be a great second-hand record and nick-nacks store but it closed down and was replaced by a 16th cafe. There was a tobacconist who sold singles for 50 cents but now it is a jeweller. Also “GREASERS” is carved into the concrete near the corner of Somerville Road and Stephen Street.
b. Name your favourite bands from your neck of the woods.
I can only speak for myself here but Grizzly Jim Lawrie is one of Melbourne's best balladeers. He typically writes with poignancy and a dry humour, which, coupled with his creative use of metaphor, result in erudite lyricism set to simple melodies and harmonic progressions.
Saskwatch are an incredibly tight outfit and put on one of the best live shows going around. The set is always flows perfectly and they are monsters at their instruments.
Joe Neptune have been a favourite for a long time. Jarrad and Nick’s vocals blend perfectly, and the songwriting is supreme. ‘Indigo’ is a stand-out song, one of the best ballads of all time. I listen to the song over and over again just to hear the “are you gonna be a sucker for the rest of your life?” lyric. Other honourable mentions include Fraser A Gorman, The Harpoons and The Messengers.
c. Where’s your local and what’s it like?
There is the Blarney Stone. I ate there once. It was alright, because I was with one of my sisters and my dad and I love them both, but the food was average. I chatted to the chef at the station one night though, and he is a legend. They sell beer when the other bottle shops close, so that is useful. I saw a duet playing covers there once and I couldn’t tell if it was beautiful or tragically depressing. It is a very meat and potatoes kind of place. There is also the Commercial. I got my arse pinched there by a seven-foot transvestite in a tight leopard-print mini skirt, when I was bent over the pool table trying to play a shot … I’ve got no complaints.
Part 2. History
a. Which Australian bands did you grow up listening to?
AC/DC, Frenzal Rhomb, Jebediah, The Living End, Grinspoon, Bodyjar, Paul Kelly & The Dots, Area 7, Daddy Cool. You know, all the stuff that was on Triple J around 1996-1999.
b. What’s the first Australian record you bought?
Jeez, I can’t be too accurate here but maybe the ‘Save The Day’ single by Living End, or ‘No Logic’ by Area 7.
c. Who’s your favourite Australian band/artist of all time?
I was actually thinking about this last night. I think I’ll have to go with The Easybeats. They are incredible musicians and songwriters and Stevie is one of the best front men of all time.
d. What’s the most “Australian” record ever produced?
I don’t know. Probably something by John Williams or Slim Dusty. Maybe the comedian Austen Tayshus. Though I’m sure there is a record out there with nothing on it but Lagerphone and Billy Tea percussion, didgeridoo and damper-induced flatulence covering the low end, gum-leaf whine for melody and a throat gargling XXXX Gold for vocals – with a mighty spew at the end of the record.
Part 3. Current Affairs
a. Who are some of your favourite new Australian bands?
Hmmm, I think I answered that already. Grizzly Jim, Saskwatch, The Messengers, Fraser A Gorman, The Rubens, Courtney Barnett, Sex on Toast, Harpoons. These bands I’d consider new. Usually the most contemporary album I listen to is Dude Ranch, not because there isn’t good material but there is such an overwhelming amount of music to sift through. Personal & The Pizzas are amazing, but they’re American.
b. If you could collaborate with one current Australian artist, who would it be, and what would it sound like?
Probably Gotye so we could have a #1 hit and never have to work a day in our lives ever again. It would sound like New Gods with Gotye.
c. Last great local gig you saw.
The definite highlight of the year for me was Joe Neptune at the Great Britain. It was one of those shows where the music and the mood complemented each other perfectly. The stars seemed to align. It was like watching Neil Finn at Meredith in 2010. The Box Rockets’ second-last gig at the GB was really good too. Both the Rubens and Bertie Blackman put on some pretty great performances when we toured with them. But the greatest? Definitely Joe Neptune.
d. Do you think an Australian artist needs to go overseas to succeed?
If success is artistic satisfaction and expression, then no. If it is being measured financially, then probably. If I could make the minimum wage from playing music I’d die a happy man. There just aren’t enough people in Australia to make being a musician financially viable. Unless you are Bernard Fanning or Chris Cheney, it’s going to be really hard to pay the bills.
Part 4. Multiple choice (feel free to elaborate)
a. The Voice or Australia’s Got Talent?
I haven’t watched an episode of either but you would have to give it to AGT simply because of the perversity of having the most untalented, flaccid, moronic and offensive judging panel ever seen. Brian McFadden? That guy who was presumably in a band who was married to a famous Australian and thus became famous here. Dannii Minogue? The girl who is presumably a singer but is more famous for being the silicon-ised sister of a famous Australian who teenage boys whacked off over. Kyle Sandilands? The half bush pig/half man who used to work for a magazine that provided pictures for teenage boys to whack off over and sexist jokes to share with their mates. He is now famous for offending teenage rape victims and belittling anyone with a perceived vulnerability.
b. Hungry Jacks or Red Rooster?
Red Rooster, Australian owned.
c. Northcote or Brunswick?
Brunswick. Sydney Rd man. A1 Lebanese Bakery man.
d. Potato cake or dim sim?
It used to be dim sim but I don’t eat red meat anymore, so I have to go potato cake. But I often think about steamed dim sims and glaze over sentimentally.
e. Dan Sultan or Dan Kelly?
Both legends of the game, but Dan Kelly.
f. Kylie or Dannii Minogue?
The only Kylie song I know is the spinning around one. I can’t name a Dannii one. I like the fact that Kylie has made a lot of gay men happy but I like the fact that Dannii has a couple of extraneous letters in her name. I’ll go with Kylie.
g. Cate Blanchett or Nicole Kidman?
Cate Blanchett, though our drummer Sam Raines did play with Nicole’s husband Keith at Rod Laver Arena. Seriously.
h. Neighbours or Home & Away?
i. Cheezels or Twisties?
I am partial to chicken twisties. When I was in high school I’d eat half a pack before going to bed if I’d gotten drunk at a party, and I’d eat the other half when I woke up, as if the guilt wasn’t bad enough. HOWEVER: You can’t propose with a Twistie, and Cheezels come in a box. There is also an empty box of Cheezels at the foot of my bed. We all know which one wins.
j. Kimbra or Gotye?