Now in its fourth year, much loved annual MOJO BURNING has grown from strength to strength, this year securing international Rock'n'Roll outlaw NICK OLIVERI (QOTSA/Kyuss) to headline the 20 band mega bill in Brisbane at the Hamilton Hotel on Saturday March 25. Oliveri will be joined by acts such as SixFtHick, Cheap Fakes, Electrik Lemonade, Dom Turner, Transvaal Diamond Syndicate, Hussy Hicks, The Blackwater Fever, Hobo Magic and many more. Full fest info at www.mojoburning.com.
The all killer no filler fest will also subsequently tour Nick's 'Death Acoustic' show around Australia in an 8 date run covering QLD, NSW, VIC, SA and WA, starting March 23 and including such iconic Australian underground Rock acts as My Left Boot, Palace of the King, Fuck the Fitzroy Doom Scene, The Floors, Sumeru, Filthy Lucre and more in a move sure to please the forgotten children of a riff-based underground scene.
Beats Cartel's Christian Tryhorn says of the securing of Oliveri "This is going to bring some weight to the scene we've been pushing for the last 5 years nationally. There are so many under-appreciated Australian Blues Rock, Rock and Stoner Rock acts around the country. Where is their voice? Where is their progression up the industry ladder? We aim to help support those who aren't supported by the industry/media juggernauts yet are working hard and succeeding under their own steam. Touring Nick around the country is definitely going to be a career highlight."
We had a chance to sit down with the man himself NICK OLIVERI in the lead up to his Mojo Burning performance and subsequent national tour. Gareth from SCENESTR on the questions, Beats Cartel on the transcribe. *FULL INTERVIEW
You've been playing music – in one form or another – since 1987. That's 30 years. Is it a mind-blowing statement for you to process.
That’s 30 years… yes and no, yeah it is haha. Means I’m fucking old dude… nah I’m not that old but getting up there. First time I had a musical conversation with somebody it was with Brant Bjork on drums, I was playing guitar. We jammed some Ramones, Misfits, The Damned… that was awesome and was in 1987. We played our first gig, a party at Chris Baker’s house as Katzenjammer, which later became Kyuss, in Palm Beach California in 1987… I still have a flyer for it.
Lots of highs and lows during that time; how do you look back at your career and everything that has happened?
I’m very proud of the things I’ve done musically, I feel like I should be proud of it and I know there’s more to come, you know it’s never ending for me, music is forever and will always be a part of me. It’s my job you know, so I’m going to continue to play.
I play in bands because I love it and I play in a lot of different bands to boot. I love doing it, but it’s my job you know… I make the rent with my acoustic gigs. It’s quite a fun job but there’s no retirement plan! I’m a lifer and I’m going in.
Kyuss is wildly regarded as the originators of stoner, desert rock sound/ genre. You must be proud to be associated with that?
Absolutely. Kyuss was a great band and there’s some great stuff left behind as kids. We were kids you know… pretty awesome. I thought we were just kind of ripping off Black Sabbath hahaha… but I was wrong. Kyuss was heavily influenced by the riffs of Tony Iommi. What everybody bought to the table was very original though, tuning down to B on Wretch and C on Blues for the Red Sun in 1991… was a long time ago to be tuning down. Now I’m told bands go down to A, I think that’s too low but whatever. Yeah I’m very proud of that.
The QOSTA years; to enjoy that amount of success, was it hard to adjust to a new lifestyle? Or did things remain pretty much the same?
No things changed quite a bit looking back. It would happen to anybody. You go from even the big things to the small things like you’re in the store and saying ‘How much does that cost?” It goes from that to like “I want that, I want that kind of beer…”, you just grab what you want and get it, you don’t look at the price and do the math you just get it... and on big things as well. People start giving you stuff and treating you differently so it’s inevitable. Maybe in your mind you’re trying to stay humble or whatever but all these people are doing these things for you… you mention you want to have a party on your birthday and all of a sudden someone’s arranged a party on your birthday and you’ve forgotten you’ve even said it but all of a sudden there’s a party with people maybe in the same room that you said that to that person in hahaha. Everything just seems to fall into place and happens so fast you know.
We had been playing in bands for 10 years you know, it’s not as though we came out as kids with our first record and went “Here we are!”. More power to you if you’ve accomplished it like that but I think there’s more longevity in your career if it hasn’t happened to you that way and it builds and does happen.
We were in Australia when we went #1 with ‘No One Knows’, playing the Big Day Out Festival with Triple J announcing it over the Foo Fighters. I was like “What!?” Dave had just gotten done playing that record with us and he was part of it too but yeah we beat out the ol’ Foo Fighters on a radio thing… only in Australia would that happen and that’s a great thing. We were super psyched to be there and had an awesome slot. It was a great time you know, a great time to be alive. My 30’s were a great time, any troubles I had in the past just kind of disappeared, no one really cared about those any more you know what I mean?
Some troubles are real, some are blown up, but whatever, people didn’t really care about anything personal at that time. They were just like ‘I like your band, I like your stuff, you’re awesome.’ Things do change though, it goes from that to people saying “No you did this, this and this… I think… I don’t like you” whether they know anything about you or not. Heresy this heresy that… whatever.
After you appeared on stage with them for one song '…Millionaire', when touring with Mositboyz in 2014, could the future present a scenario where Nick Oliveri re-joins QOSTA?
Well here’s the thing, I own 47% of the band name, Josh will never probably have me back and I don’t necessarily want to be back in QOTSA. I’m not saying that if he rang me for a 25 year reunion tour where you do the Cheap Trick thing with a different record a night and we could play Rated R one night and Songs for the Deaf another night, I wouldn’t do it, I’d say yeah let’s go, long as I had nothing else on with another band on tour of course. I’m not going to cancel anything they’d just have to wait until I was done for me to do it.
Yes of course I’d say yes but I don’t want to necessarily have to go and play their new stuff, it’s not really my cup of tea and so be it… I don’t dislike it I just wouldn’t feel comfortable being told what to play and not doing what I know I can do. It’s been 13 years… my last show was in 2004 in Perth with QOTSA, so yeah… I read I was out on the internet, I’ve been out of the band for a long time now. I’m glad it still means a lot to people, I’m very proud of the stuff we did, I really am, I feel I can hold my head up high about the Queens records.
No, knowing that I own 47% of Queens, I don’t think I’ll be back in that band, I’d have to be like a hired gun or something, I signed my rights over so I don’t have a vote in that thing any more so no I don’t think it would happen.
In general, what does the future look like for you? Is Mondo Generator the full-time occupation?
Mondo Generator is always there. I kind of always set it to the side which is a bit of a shame, I never really gave it the full attention, probably could have given it more, but it is what it is.
My full time occupation is The Dwarves and the acoustic shows, those are my main jobs. I also play in a band called Bl’ast! and Bloodclots are a new thing I’m doing with John Joseph and Joey Castillo from QOTSA on drums, he plays in a kickass band called Trash Talk and Mr Todd Youth on guitar, so it’s a kickass real, coming from the heart, 80s punk sound, new album drops in July on Metal Blade Records so check it out.
Also have a new Dwarves album called ‘Make the Dwarves Great Again’, not sure what label that will be on, and a new record due from The Svetlanas, I play bass, arrange and write on that new record. Very cool, great band. Also singing compilations on the N.O Hits series. Kind of like a Desert Sessions vibe but old stuff that I’ve been compiling.
Your solo work; plans to release any more material?
Like I said I have a 6 song 12” EP due, 45s. There will be 6 volumes in the series of N.O Hits at All, my initials. It’s cool you know, it’s fun, quite a lot of musicians involved from The Dwarves, Queens, Groundhogs, Svetlanas, World Demons which is another band I had with Wino and Joey Castillo which will be on volume 2. We did a Rose Tattoo cover on that one, ‘Rock n Roll Outlaw’ which we thought was fitting to do. Lot’s of cool stuff there with some new acoustic stuff. Want to definitely make a new Mondo record too.
I drove out to the desert Monday just gone to practice, I’ve been a bit sick at the moment so it all takes it’s toll. Playing a lot at the moment… taxed!
The bad boy of rock image you have… do you still enjoy it or is it something you wish wasn't there?
Well it’s fun in the press… not fun when you’re trying to get a visa know what I mean? I mean we’re Rock’n’Rollers, there’s meant to be a bit of a past. The element of good Rock’N’Roll to me are bands like Rose Tattoo and ACDC. I mean if you talk shit to Angus Young he’s going to jump in the crowd and punch you, like he’s not going to take it… he’s short and small but he ain’t taking any shit. I’m just saying haha, that’s one of your own back there in Australia.
That’s what Rock’n’Roll’s about, not taking any shit from people. You’re not meant to give it to people either but if someone gives it you have to give it back. I mean, I’m not a bad guy at the end of the day but if I get involved with someone who starts shit and throws punches… if you throw punches back they’ll call the police on you. That seems kind of messed up to me and if that’s a bad boy image then I guess I’m a bad boy but I’m a bad boy for love… know what I’m saying. That’s right… haha.
Wish it wasn’t there though you know, I’ve got nothing to prove, I’ve taken some falls and I’ve knocked some people down… big deal. I haven’t started a fight since I was 21, I’ve been in ones I didn’t want to be in, you try and walk away but can’t. You always feel bad at the end. The bad boy image doesn’t make me feel good. Makes it hard to travel. I have to travel to play music. Don’t play music I don’t live. I’m fucked haha.
You're headed to Australia in March for some solo dates (first shows since 2009/2010), including headlining the blues-stoner rock event Mojo Burning in Brisbane… looking forward to the trip?
Absolutely, I am going to work my ass off to be there, ‘coz that’s what I do. Being asked by the fine people at Beats Cartel, by Christian, was a blast, was a great thing for him to think of me as a person that would be good to do this gig. It’s flattering and I want to play my best for it so I’ve been practicing and getting it together, I want to play good and have a good time you know? I want people to come up and sing with me, I like to have a lot of fun crowd interaction. I’ve toured Europe, the States, have done 28 dates in a row in Australia before, have played everywhere, Hobart, Perth. It’s awesome dude. Playing down in Australia is a great thing, definitely looking forward to the trip.
What can fans expect from you on this visit?
Lots of crowd interaction, lots of fun. I’m going to bring some vinyls, you probably don’t have that product down there. I’ll sell it cheap so you don’t have to pay the postage and shit haha. Will be playing a lot of old stuff to get people up and singing along… I’ll bring everybody up to sing if they want to haha, the shows are always a heap of fun. You’ll expect a very happy Nick Oliveri, long as I get in the country haha, a smile from ear to ear, happy motherfucker.
Anything you want to say about Trump being POTUS?
Ahhhh god. Ah man, he’s a… what a piece of shit, I hate the guy. I don’t want anything to do with him. I mean, he’s not my president. It sucks and reflects on America, and effects so many things. We don’t have a real say here you know, everyone is blind, it’s all USA, FDA and CIA. It’s messed up here.
Everyone in America wants to believe that we’re this strong country that can’t be penetrated at all but we’re destroying everything in our path and we’re so ‘great’. I want to believe that we’re free… the idea of freedom is such a cool idea. Unfortunately it’s not that.
Trump’s trying to build a wall… like what are we East Germany? He’s a fascist and a dick. He’s the guy at the bar who I’d let me buy a shot and listen to his jokes about how he’d sleep with his daughter coz’ she’s hot, if she wasn’t his daughter of course. You’d listen and say just give me the shot… I have to go haha. 1 more for the road then you’d listen to another shitty story. But I don’t want him running my country you know, I don’t know how he got in, well I know how he got in…
I live in California man and we’re definitely not for Trump. If my neighbours had like Trump signs out on their lawn and shit I’d be like ‘fuck you man’ you’re not the neighbours I’d ever say hi to. He makes me furious, I don’t understand, our country’s so fucked up… yeah… so… fuck trump, that’s my message. Why is this guy in power of any country? It’s scary. Nothing I can do to really change it.
What's your favourite app, why?
App! I don’t know… haha you’ve stumped me. Do I use any apps… I don’t know. I use iTunes I guess! Need to figure out how to use talk text haha (Ed: as we type out Nick’s responses via audio)
Best moment you've had on stage?
Yo check this out, one of my best moments on stage was in Sydney, Australia. We had just beat Foo Fighters as I said before on the Triple J thing. We were playing Big Day Out on a slot in the afternoon where everyone was still alive you know, the beer hadn’t kicked in where they were like tired and watching Janes Addiction later on saying yeah I’m tired but I’m going to cheers and enjoy it but not really go off like I did when the Queens were out there… So we had the greatest slot, I remember one of the barriers getting pummelled just like charging with an electricity in the air. We were playing this music and people were going off and I thought to myself this is horrible but amazing at the same time, the hairs on my neck were growing, first time I’d had that, I was like woah! It was so electric, and trippy dude, no drugs, alcohol or even sex ever gave me that energy man it was like woah haha. Nobody got hurt so it was great… it was kickass. I like when music moves people and if you’re at the hand of the music being played that is moving people, it’s one of the best feelings and that moment was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.
Also, Redding Festival 2000 or 2001, that was great, the last day of our Rated R tour, we set out and accomplished everything we wanted to do on that tour. We took a break off recording the next album to play that show.
Yeah you know I miss it sometimes very much, there were some great times and some great shows and some firsts for me in my career that we had happen to us. I remember pulling in the back of a Tarago to a gig in Melbourne in 2004 at the end of the Songs of the Deaf tour. We got picked up by our tour manager Curly and driven to this gate that went up (makes sound effects) and we were pulling into the back of this arena behind the stage. We could see that the lights were on and people talking. As soon as we pulled up the lights went out and I the cheer went up. I lit a cigarette and my bass tech handed me my bass straight away and I went like ‘What!’ haha. That was pretty awesome and surreal.
I got to do all this once man, I’ve got no regrets. That was fucking rad, that was some Led Zeppelin shit right there man and I got to do it once. Badass. It was at the end of the record industry… it was real back then you know… felt like you had really made it. We were one of the last Rock’n’Roll bands to have made it through record stores on the back of the record industry. Some of the best moments.
[Finish this sentence] Three weeks in and 2017 is…
Stressfull hahahaha. I’m stressed out man. Trying to get visa stuff done. A friend of mine Doug Evans just passed, a friend of mine in The Digits… fighting this cold and I’m tired. Stressful man. Doesn’t suck but it’s stress. I’m trying to make things happen man, but if they don’t I’m like screwed financially but it happens you know. What are you gonna do hahaha. Best to all of you in 2017.
We'd like to thank Nick for his time and Gareth for posing the questions. Gearing up for the big day March 25 (Mojo Burning) and the Nick Oliveri National Tour kicking off Thu 23 March at Frankies Pizza in Sydney.
13 March 2017 Christian Tryhorn
MUSIC AS A JOB, QOTSA REFORMATION & DONALD TRUMP: BEATS VS NICK OLIVERI
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