Citizenship: Little Bastard
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.
Taking the test this week is Ross Tipper, vocalist and percussionist in Sydney seven-piece Little Bastard. The band’s rollicking, harmony-swamped strain of folk is showcased on a free new four-song EP and has become a live favourite in their hometown. They’re venturing to Melbourne this month, though, for a Sunday residency at Labour in Vain (Feb 3 and 10) and The Retreat (Feb 17 and 24).
(Photo: Jay Hynes)
a. You just did four gigs at Tamworth. How was it?
Awesome!! We ended up doing six shows all up, five of which we played for about two and a half hours each, which was something pretty new for us. We’re all pretty sore now.
b. With five people singing at any given time, how much time do you spend on vocal arrangements? How many different configurations do you usually try before you get the right one?
Well, we don’t really rehearse, so we mostly just figure them out as we’re going. Usually [Matt] Mason (banjo/vocals) will come up with a harmony to the main line, then two or three other ones will get stacked on top or underneath. We’ll go with that, and if it works at the next couple of shows, they’re done.
c. Do sound people have trouble mic’ing your mandolin, banjo and fiddle, or do you guys have it down pat by now?
Yeah, it can be hard sometimes, only ’cause most venues we play at are used to just sticking a mic in front of a couple guitar amps and away they go. So when we show up and need five DIs, all for instruments most sound guys don’t usually mix, it can get a bit hairy. It mostly works out, though.
Part 1. Geography
a. Tell us about your hometown.
We’re all from Sydney’s inner west: Thai food, pubs and babes on pushbikes.
b. Name your favourite bands from your neck of the woods.
The Mountains, Sticky Fingers, The Hollow Bones, Blind Valley, Fanny Lumsden & The Thrillseekers, Frank Sultana, Atom Bombs, Andy Golledge, She Rex, Palms, Particles, Lyall Maloney, Lacey Cole, Achoo! Bless You.
c. Where’s your local and what’s it like?
You can usually find us at the Courty I guess (Courthouse Hotel, Newtown), but only during the week as it gets pretty crazy on the weekend. That or the Townie after midnight. Courty is nice and leafy, Townie is gross and awesome and the only decent place open where you can sit around and shoot the breeze.
Part 2. History
a. Which Australian bands did you grow up listening to?
You Am I, The Whitlams, Paul Kelly, The Finn Bros (claiming them), Slim Dusty, Frenzal Rhomb, Powderfinger, Grinspoon, Jebediah, Go-Betweens and of course the inescapable pub pool room soundtrack of AC/DC and Chisel.
b. What’s the first Australian record you bought?
Would have been something by Frenzal, or Jeb’s Slightly Oddway. But then there was that Savage Garden record that SOMEONE bought for me.
c. Who’s your favourite Australian band/artist of all time?
It’s a close one between You Am I and Jebediah. Can’t go past the ’90s in Australia for classic pop/rock.
d. What’s the most “Australian” record ever produced?
Surely Goanna – Spirit of Place. That didgeridoo. But probably Paul Kelly and The Coloured Girls – Gossip. You can’t get more Australian than talking about the MCG, Randwick, Adelaide, etc. In fact, anything he did was just SUCH Australian folk. No one writes about Bradman anymore, and that sucks.
Part 3. Current Affairs
a. Who are some of your favourite new Australian bands?
Strangers, The Hollow Bones, Papa Pilko & The Binrats, Tame Impala (if they’re still counted as new?), The Delta Riggs.
b. If you could collaborate with one current Australian artist, who would it be, and what would it sound like?
Tim Rogers. It’d be swaggery bluegrass/punk, and all the songs will be about cricket and pubs.
c. Last great local gig you saw.
Yardfest 2013!!! It’s in a backyard in Kensington (about 15 mins away). It’s BYO, pretty much free, had awesome local bands, went all day and all night, there were snags and the cops left it alone for some reason. Too good!
d. Do you think an Australian artist needs to go overseas to succeed?
Depends what you reckon success is, I guess. I think that it can work both ways. Some bands get big here and then go overseas, and then there’s bands who aren’t getting much play here who leave and have a great audience overseas. If you’re gonna go, though, don’t make your ticket price $80 when you come back – your mates are still poor.
Part 4. Multiple Choice
a. The Voice or Australia’s Got Talent?
AGT ’cause they can do other things like twirl plates on sticks and stuff.
b. Hungry Jacks or Red Rooster?
Hungry Jacks. Just so many memorable nights on Oxford St spilling Whopper sauce on my shirt/jeans/hair/shoes. Plus it’s getting harder to find the ol’ Red Rooter around these days...
c. Northcote or Brunswick?
Northcote. But really Fitzroy. We roll between Brunswick St and Smith St when we’re Melbourning.
d. Potato cake or dim sim?
Dim sim for sure.
e. Dan Sultan or Dan Kelly?
Dan Kelly. Lineage and all that.
f. Kylie or Dannii Minogue?
g. Cate Blanchett or Nicole Kidman?
Cate Blanchett. Galadriel > Kurban.
h. Neighbours or Home & Away?
Neighbours all the way. The fondest of childhood memories lay in/around Ramsay St.
i. Cheezels or Twisties?
Cheezels. They fit on yer fingers.
j. Kimbra or Gotye?
Gotye. Awesome drummer/singer/writer/wally.
LITTLE BASTARD RESIDENCY
Sun, Feb 3 – Labour in Vain, Melbourne, VIC [5.30pm]
Sun, Feb 10 – Labour in Vain, Melbourne, VIC [5.30pm]
Sun Feb 17 – The Retreat, Melbourne, VIC [7.30pm]
Sun, Feb 24 – The Retreat, Melbourne, VIC [7.30pm]