90s FAVOURITES, RADIO GAGS & TOUR TIPS: BEATS VS SCREAMFEEDER
28 February 2017 Christian Tryhorn
During the 1990s, Indie and Grunge Rock increased in popularity throughout the world. Brisbane act Screamfeeder were at the centre of Grunge's Australian genre component, performing at the 1994 and 1997 Big Day Out, supporting bands such as Rollins Band and Sonic Youth along with touring Europe alongside bands such as Screaming Tribesman and The Chevelles.
Lovers of loud and beautiful music since the day they were each conceived, the band have been compared to all the greats along their journey; Husker Du, The Jam, GBV and The Who.
After the vinyl re-issue of Screamfeeder's first 5 albums in 2015, the band is well and truly back on deck and back at work after a long hiatus from the scene. Hot on the heels of a couple of surprise singles in 2016, their 8th album and first studio recording since 2005, is being released in March with palpable anticipation.
A short warm-up tour has been planned in preparation for the new release with the iconic act taking to the Gold Coast on Friday 03 March at Miami Shark Bar and the Sunshine Coast on Friday 10 March at Noosa's The V Room (Villa Noosa). Grab this chance to revisit the band's back catalogue and get a glimpse of the new material before it's even released.
We had a chance to sit down with Tim Steward, singer from Screamfeeder in the lead up to the coastal run:
First up congrats on getting back on the road! It's been a while, what are you most looking forward to about this upcoming run of Coastal shows?
It’s going to be the first time in a years where we have a lot of NEW songs to play – which is super exciting. It’s a good feeling getting songs to the point where you’re all comfortable with them and they flow easily. And it’s exciting to play new stuff; there’s only so many times we can play Static without the sheen kinda rubbing off a little. We were talking about Dart at practice the other night, the amount of times we’ve played it must be in the high thousands. It’s good because they’re second nature to us, but we like the challenge of fresher material.
You're in the studio working on album number 8 on the back of a successful pledge campaign. What can you tell us about the new album? Have you adapted to current trends or stayed true to your roots?
It ended up being a bit of both actually. To begin with we were resolutely “we must record like we always used to”, but recording processes are so different these days. It’s almost impossible to record “as if it was to tape” no matter how hard you try. But hopefully the process was rushed enough and there was enough flying by the seats of our pants to retain a lot of spontaneity and get the songs sounding fresh. There are a few mistakes on the record still and I can hear us learning the songs as we go. But the record seems to hang together really well, it sounds like we know what we’re doing. We farmed the mixing out to 5 different engineers, so there’s a bit of a range of mixing styles on there too. Songwriting-wise we totally ran with the only way of working we have ever known, usually Kellie and I come up with the basic song, then Dean and Darek help refine the arrangement and get it a bit better. The types of melodies and arrangements we go for will pretty much never change. So in the end it sounds like a modern record but the songwriting is still kinda old school.
You guys hit your stride in the 90s when Indie Rock was Indie Rock amongst a solid emerging Aussie alternate Rock scene. Were those the glory days do you think or is now a better time for Rock acts to be emerging?
I can’t lie, they were pretty awesome times. There was a real scene, with a kinda unspoken underlying philosophy behind it. People were into rocking out too. It might be something to do with age but I generally find it harder to find new music I like these days. No one wants to rock out. Every time I hear another over-produced sensitive guy singing in a “good” voice and it’s all reverbed up and beautiful and shimmery I gag quietly to myself. David Byrne said something along the lines of “the better your voice, the harder it is for your songs to convey emotion”.
You're teaming up with Spiderbait for a tour show soon, that's epic! Were they one of your favourite Aussie acts from the 90s? Who else?
They were always fun to play with, for sure. You Am I were always amazing live (still are). We loved touring with Bluebottle Kiss, Not From There, Regurgitator, Celibate Rifles, and the Hard Ons especially.
You've had some great support slots over the years, playing with Sonic Youth, The Rollins Band, Pavement etc. Any stand out tour stories mixing with those legendary acts?
Oh the Pavement tour was kinda fun in a very chilled way. You never met such a relaxed and goofy bunch of guys. Their old drummer Gary would do stuff like hand out pages of the bible to every audience member, or stand there making toast for everyone. Steve Malkmus was so mellow too, one time I knocked his amp over and when I told him, he barely glanced up from reading his newspaper. When they played it was like there were no rules, they just had fun and – rocked out. Most bands we toured with were extremely normal, quiet, nice people. It’s a good way to get deeply into someone’s music if you hear them night after night, you start loving them more than you though you ever would..
Top 3 tour tips for up-and-coming bands?
Tip 1: go on tour. Get in a van and drive around the country with your gear and play gigs.
Tip 2: You’re not in town to complain about how tired you are, you’re there to tear ‘em a new one. Do your job (I’m paraphrasing Rollins here).
Tip 3: Don’t crash into kangaroos and wreck the whole van and sleep in a dodgy motel eating only stale white bread and have to catch a coach 1900km home to Brisbane, sleeping in the aisle with all your gear. *wish someone told us that one.
We'd like to thank Tim for taking some time out to talk with us! All the best with the upcoming shows.
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