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 Everett True

An open question to Brisbane

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OK. It’s a few questions, actually.

1. This quote (taken from the comments section on Thoughts on Music Promotion and Production in Brisbane: or Why Can’t Brisbane Get a Leg-Up?).

There’s no lack of things to do in Brisbane, there’s just a lack of support and visibility for the things that are happening.

If this is true – and it certainly seems like it could be true, the number of folk who repeat this phrase – why is this? There’s certainly not a lack of media, or funding for documentation, in Brisbane. There are dedicated radio stations, both commercial and community-led, any amount of street press who week in, week out mercilessly champion stuff that is happening locally, government-funded organisations, folk like Blair with his Brisbane Sounds project, Craig with his Sounds Like Brisbane project, Australia’s ‘largest music industry convention’ and their street-level counterparts… are they all looking the wrong way? THERE ARE ANY NUMBER OF PEOPLE DOCUMENTING AND ‘SUPPORTING’ BRISBANE’S MUSIC. So why the above statement?

Are they all championing the ‘wrong’ music? If they are, why are they? If they’re not, then what is the problem?

2. Or is this the problem? (Taken from the same comments section.)

I have to listen and deal with many a band every day, i think most of their music sucks the balls of a thousand dogs but good on everyone in Brisbane that’s picked up a musical instrument (or not even) and least given it a go.

I come to this from an international perspective. The debut I Heart Hiroshima EP was killer, their second album was sadlly generic. Is is not OK to say this because they’re good people? Do I have to suspend critical judgment if I’m dealing with anything local (or even national)? Was I wrong to commission a review from a writer in Athens, GA of the No Anchor album, knowing that he’d be impartial about it – and hence run the risk of the review being negative (it was) and hence run the risk of a clique of local music sorts coming over all aggressive-like and going, “Yeah, but they’re lovely people, good on ‘em for picking up an instrument, and y’r bang out of order to run anything like  that”.

Why is it that folk complain that Brisbane receives no coverage – and then, when it starts to receive international coverage, complain that it’s the ‘wrong’ sort?

Sort of by coincidence, I met Nick Smethurst for the first time yesterday. We had a fascinating conversation, and I hope he’s going to come on-board here (as other local ‘enablers’ are very welcome to do) but amid it he indicated that he never bothered getting in touch with me before because he perceived me to be part of the “Audiopollen set” (a club I attended precisely once). Oh heaven forbid! That folk might be able to CHOOSE which club or venue to hang out in without immediately being typecast.

118 Responses to An open question to Brisbane

  1. Paul May 13, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Pic of Barkala Street looking to Cooinda street?

  2. Darragh May 13, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Everett, I think Cam’s comment (from original article) might be referring to people outside of the Brisbane music biz. The ordinary Brisbanite may know nothing of bands inside the clique. There is not enough demand.

    But it can be created, partly by those in authorities getting smart and giving a shit. Give us better transport to and from venues, start gigs a bit earlier, better alcohol licensing for venues, making it cheaper to open venues, allowing funding and other incentives for opening art spaces, making all this easier. My brief experience in helping out in an local arts collective demonstrated to me that there is a hell of a lot of red tape to get past to try put on events – some of it unnecessary. By making it hard for people to do this, the incentive runs out.

    In response to your second question – yes, that is a problem but I think it is something not unique to Brisbane (maybe others can comment on appreciation within their own local scene?). I support critical judgment when it’s constructive. I think having impartial criticism from those with limited relationship to Brisbane is fundamentally a good idea. But I think people on both sides of the equation must be mature enough to deal with criticism.

    ps. With the No Anchor thing it was more due to some incorrect facts rather than anyone saying ‘this review is wrong’.

  3. Darragh May 13, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Audiopollen – what is this?

  4. Nick Smethurst May 13, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Hey! Hey. Misquote. I said i’d heard that was your interest – not that it’s a bad thing at all, more that I figured it wasn’t entirely congruent with what I did. Yeah.

  5. Michelle May 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    ‘I have to listen and deal with many a band every day, i think most of their music sucks the balls of a thousand dogs but good on everyone in Brisbane that’s picked up a musical instrument (or not even) and least given it a go.’

    when you ask ‘is this the problem’ are we discussing that bands should stop sucking dogs balls or that they shouldn’t try to make music in the first place?

  6. Darragh May 13, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Michelle – I think it is “should we tell shit bands that they are shit?”

  7. Michelle May 13, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Cool, thanks D. That does make sense. I guess one persons dogs balls is another persons cat whiskers (yes, i know how corny i am)

  8. Cam May 13, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    In the original comment I was referring to people who would be interested and open to seeing local music if only they knew about it. I can’t count the number of times I’ve talked to people who say that there’s nothing on in Brisbane, when that is quite obviously not true. These are the same people who then move interstate or retreat into a life rarely venturing out of the suburbs.

    It seems that the problem is twofold: firstly, people just don’t pay attention to these various media which support local music. It’s all well and good to have an interview in the street press, go into 4zzz for a chat about a gig, have posters all over town, invite hundreds of people to a facebook event. It barely seems to make a difference. The same people are going to come either way, pretty much. The people who read / listen to those outlets are generally all in bands etc anyway. They already know what they’re going to go to.

    The second problem is that people just can’t be bothered going to shows even if they know that they’re on. Whether this is just apathy or because of genuine problems with transport, I can’t say for sure. I personally think it’s both equally.

    In terms of government support etc, I’m not sure whether I care or not. I think that it would definitely help if it were easier for venues to operate, and better public transport would be great. As for support from things like QMusic etc, I’m not sure that helps. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t really help any of the music I like. Maybe that’s just my problem. I certainly don’t want a handout. To me it seems that most of the money that goes to local music either goes to established but niche genres like jazz and world music (which I have zero problem with) or to acts that have supposed commercial potential in the hopes they’ll become the next… I don’t know, Powderfinger? It’s the latter that I dislike, for multiple reasons. Mostly because it almost never works. They always put money towards bands that have the ‘new current sound’, which actually means that they’re a few years behind the eightball (which Nick kind of commented on in his interview). No committee is ever going to discover the next big thing, it’s going to happen organically. Therefore I think that a lot of this money should really go going towards supporting a community that can support itself on a small level, and then once certain bands start to rise out of the community into an interstate / international degree of visibility then sure, give them money to tour etc. The important thing is, put the money towards the grass roots and the commercial stuff will grow out of that.

    I guess that my general opinion is that I’m not angry at the powers that be for holding back interesting local music, because as far as I’m concerned they’re not really in a position to do much anyway. I’m angry at all of the people about there who sit by thinking that there’s nothing for them in Brisbane when in all likelihood that’s completely untrue. How we go about reaching those people, I have no idea.

    On a positive note, No Anchor had the #2 release on Bandcamp on the day that they released their new album. I don’t care if you like the album or not, that deserves kudos.

  9. Cam May 13, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    BTW, I don’t want people to think that I don’t think that things like street press, 4zzz etc aren’t incredibly useful and worthwhile.

  10. Cam May 13, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    There’s an extra negative in there.

  11. Everett True May 13, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    There’s an extra negative in there.

    … as the promoter said to the doorman, surveying the number of music critics on the guest list …

  12. Matt May 14, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Apologies in advance if this is inflammatory or inarticulate. I’m a little out of it.

    <y problem with Brisbane (though I highly doubt it's Brisbane-specific) is that support is rarely conditional or discerning.

    All of those institutions exist to provide support, certainly, and audiences are generally quite supportive of local music. It is my contention, however, that such support is often awarded on familiarity and effort as opposed to merit and accomplishment.

    The almost complete absence of representatives from Brisbane's entire sub-culture of dance music, for example, is indicative of either a fundamental ignorance of Brisbane's musical spectrum at large or a reluctance to engage with said spectrum.

    Yes, Dan Cameron is present but compare his contribution to that culture to the work of Kim De La Haye and you realise how tokenistic his presence is (and I say that as a good friend and long-term admirer of Dan and his work).

    Brisbane Sounds, similarly, presents a very narrow definition of Brisbane's musical culture. Brisbane plays host to one of the most successful DJ/producers Australia has in the form of DJ TyDi but – despite an international following eclipsing that of practically every band to ever do so – he has never featured once.

    This reluctance to engage beyond the superficial, meanwhile, translates into much broader aspects of Brisbane's musical scene. Ignoring the issue of just how few complaints are made about initiatives like Unconvention (and how they are treated when they do arise), support is, again, seemingly awarded to bands without reserve or consideration.

    For a recent example, consider Re: Enactment. Re: Enactment are, without question, my favourite band in Brisbane. I think they are, pound-for-pound, the most interesting rock act we have in this city. That, however, does not mean they are above criticism. If anything, they require more of it.

    Their debut album, while blessed with grand production and some brilliant songs, is a mess. There are completely superfluous songs and, structurally, it's an absolute shambles. Yet, every review I've heard of the album has been completely unreserved praise. I love Re: Enactment – but it doesn't deserve it.

    The problem appears to be that, in this city, a band or an institution is either good or bad. You either like them or you don't. Hence, unreserved praise or scathing criticism. Without meaning to pick on Lofly, Mr Maps got some ludicrous reviews for their debut album (http://www.messandnoise.com/releases/2000821, http://www.ravemagazine.com.au/content/view/25200/181/). All due respect to Messrs McMillen and Semchenko, it's not that good a record.

    It borrows HEAVILY from dated trends in both UK and Japanese instrumental music and shifts its priorities completely in its second-half (to its detriment). It most definitely isn't "a post-rock masterpiece" and it proves nothing other than "Mr Maps are capable of releasing an album". Bearing in mind, every single member in this band is a dear friend of mine and I have been consistently attempting to sleep with their cellist for *years* (to no avail – persistence is key, people).

    My point is that quality is a sliding scale. You can love a band and still think they're capable of better. In fact, a lot of the above criticism springs from a love and respect for the bands in question. Yet, in a lot of the conversations I have, you're either with a band or against them. There's no middle-ground. You're either a fan or some cunt who won't stop complaining.

    Where do all these attitudes lead, meanwhile? Pointless support. If someone does not display discerning judgement, why would anyone listen to them? Think of a friend who says no to everything. Are you ever going to ask their advice? No. A perpetually supportive music scene, by the same token, is neither informative nor helpful. Hence, Brisbane's music scene suffers somewhat.

    (To be clear, all the initiatives and bands listed in this article *should* be commended for their effort. What they're each trying to do is great. There just should be more to it. Criticism is fundamental to growth.)

    (And yes, I'm well aware I've just pissed off a lot of people. Believe it or not, it wasn't a priority. I love Brisbane. I think great work is done here. I just believe we can call – myself most definitely included – do better. Don't you?)

  13. Matt May 14, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Ugh. Such a wanker.

  14. Everett True May 14, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    There’s no middle-ground. You’re either a fan or some cunt who won’t stop complaining.

    This. Right here. Absolutely. No room for criticism whatsoever … and so the bloody art form CANNOT GROW. See the response to the (actually incredibly fairly argued and reasoned and impartial) review of No Anchor right here on Collapse Board. See the response to my (actually incredibly fairly argued and reasoned and impartial) review of Gareth Liddiard on M+N.

  15. Jane May 14, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    I object to “impartial”. This is a case of self-deception at best. At worst some sort of trojan horse trying to parade the mantle of “definitiveness”.

    Every individual is hobbled by the sum of their own experience. Every evaluation is filtered through that prism of experience. That prism of experience (encompassing much more than degrees of separation from whatever or whomever is being reviewed) is an inevitable source of bias.

    Unless your reviewer is some sort of tabula rasa, how can he or she possibly be impartial? It’s nonsense.

    “Impartial” reviews aren’t. It’s just another opinion. It could be a fair opinion and even a well-reasoned one. But, still, an opinion.

  16. Everett True May 14, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Fair point, Jane – and well-argued. All reviews are subjective. ALL of them. It was a bad misuse of the word on my part. I apologise. Especially as, when it comes down to it, I’m rather partial to Mr Liddiard’s music.

    You got the general idea though, I hope.

  17. Cam May 15, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I don’t think that NA review is a good example of what you’re talking about, ET. People were just pointing out some inaccuracies in the article that called into question just how much attention the reviewer was paying. Noone really said that the reviewer’s opinion was invalid. I think he made quite a few good points.

  18. Everett True May 15, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Actually Cam, the response to the NA review is a SUPERB example of what I’m talking about. Superb. A bunch of friends and fans of the band going, “How dare the reviewer have a different opinion of the album to us?” and then listing a load of nitpicking, entirely pointless (and false) reasons as to why the review shouldn’t be taken ‘seriously’. I have read Scott’s review and the responses to his review several times, and am still at a loss to discover any inaccuracies within the review. He did not write “there are no females on this album”. He wrote:

    And like most of this music, it sounds like the members live in an exclusively heterosexual treehouse made from steel and painted black, with a sign on the door that reads in big letters ‘No Girls Allowed’.

    This is a metaphor. (He used the phrase “it sounds like”.) And it’s an appropriate one, bearing in mind the context. Wikipedia (yeah, I know) defines a metaphor as “the concept of understanding one thing in terms of another”.

    Frankly, the petty small-mindedness of some of the comments on the NA review make me embarrassed – and also make me not want to review the album for Mess + Noise (who’ve asked me to write about it), which would be a shame … as I really rather like it.

  19. Ian Rogers May 15, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I’m pretty outraged by all this.

  20. Dr Huge May 15, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Everett, the answer to your question(s) is that both of these statements are true. The interesting thing is why.

    There’s an element of truth to the usual complaints about venues, licencing, public transport and so on but the short answer is that, apart from street press, there is no mainstream profile for Brisbane music in Brisbane. That’s why acts like The Veronicas, Savage Garden and Birds of Tokyo had to appear in Video Hits before most Brisbane residents even knew they existed. That’s why an interesting act had to be found by Bon Jovi before they had a radio hit and subsequently disappeared again.

    This situation is the inevitable result of a myopic obsession with the need to be ‘different’ to be validated and thus to get gigs. Brisbane music industry insiders seem to suffer from a ‘cultural cringe’ at the thought that anyone might enjoy music that sounds at home on Austereo and, as a result, very little Brisbane music is of the sort that local TV and radio would support (even if most broadcasts weren’t networked from Sydney or Melbourne – discussion for another day). It seems increasingly the case that Brisbane media see their role as either playing to a mass audience OR supporting local music. There’s no space for both, and this leads to a small in-crowd who follow live original local music and a vast population who neither know nor care about it.

    Who can blame the dominant local radio and TV stations (I won’t discuss the disgraceful negligence of the Courier-Mail) for overlooking local music when the criteria for admission to the local scene are the extent to which an act’s Indie sound defies most of the potential mass audience’s taste? I mean, I hate the bland monotony of B105 and yearn for something fresh, too, but does that mean that the only alternative has to be self-consciously and exclusively … alternative? Local street press and 4ZZZ might feature local acts – but they’re part of the problem because the vast majority of the music-listening public aren’t listening to them either. They’re preaching to the converted.

    I hate to say it, ET, but the dominance of your brand of criticism in such a small and insecure music market doesn’t help. Even though you occasionally let slip that you don’t automatically hate all mainstream music, the relentless pursuit of the alternative reinforces Brisbane’s problem. (But I value what you do – it has a place in the ecosystem so I’m not suggesting you should stop. Just open the minds of your acolytes a little.)

    Having a dominant musical style that is deliberately alienating to mainstream ears leaves the largest crowds of music lovers the meagre fare of covers bands playing radio hits (or, worse, solos and duos with goddawful midi backing tracks playing classic hits), visiting national or international acts, or DJs playing doof-doof. It ensures that the next classic hit written in Brisbane will be discovered somewhere else.

    Essentially, the current Brisbane music scene is dominated by two groups, both of which define themselves by being NOT mainstream:

    1) the art/affected/aloof crowd that hangs around the Judith Wright Centre or QPAC and will support only wholesome righteousness unless they can sniff at the music with their noses parallel to the ground; and

    2) The alt/angst/attitude crowd who frequent Fortitude Valley’s deafening grunge strip and won’t publicly support anything or anyone what provides a modicum of relief from their pretentious Indie identity.

    There are other elements – the culture crowd, which embraces all things non-Western; the songwriting set, too busy pouring out their hearts in self-indulgent offerings that sound like half of a domestic argument to connect with an audience; and the experimental/jazz groups, who seem to think either that popular music is something that needs to be improved/innovated/renovated in its own best interest or that it’s not worth playing. Each of these is a niche market and will NOT draw big crowds. As uncomfortable as it makes some people, it takes well-rehearsed performers turning in brilliant performances of well-written songs that listeners identify with to draw big crowds, and I Heart Hiroshima et al, (interesting and “lovely” they are) ain’t even close.

    Cam is wrong when he says Brisbane “people just can’t be bothered going to shows”. They regularly buy thousands of tickets for festivals and concert tours featuring international drawcards – known quantities. There’s no doubt Brisbane music lovers will pay to attend shows they appreciate – but the local original music scene obviously isn’t supplying that. During the Pig City era it was the politics of rebellion that unified the audiences and community radio. Ironically, they branded it as “underground” and “subversive” and it made for some great music. Perhaps when we get some of our best local acts on local radio a broader audience will start coming to local shows.

    The brutal reality is that there are a well-known set of characteristics of music that appeals to a large number of people and it’s much harder to find a “new sound” within that set of characteristics than it is to find a “new sound” that ventures out side them. There’s nothing wrong with venturing outside them – but get used to the idea that doing so consigns an artist to a niche market. In Brisbane, the niches have become the kind of cliques that Nick refers to – and that further fragments the scene. The closest thing we have to a cross-over is clubs like Lambda, which are marketed to students, not music lovers and are, accordingly, not valued for the music but for the alcohol.

    When musicians are only encouraged to be different, rather than good, they get the wrong kind of development, or a lack of progress, and produce music that “sucks the balls of a thousand dogs” because that’s all they’re rewarded for. The vast majority of music that is created is going to be awful and I’ve seen a thousand bands that have a heap of talent but who all seemed obsessed with performing attitude and indie cred, not with making music that connects with a large audience – because that’s “mainstream” and it automatically sucks. You get what you reward, and in Brisbane that’s music that’s interesting and different, not music that you take home and listen to every day for the next week, then play when you’re feeling down, or celebrate loudly with, or sing in your head during long, boring speeches from the CEO during staff meetings.

    How to solve the problem? Yeah, right! It seems to me that what’s needed is local leadership from someone who values the alternative AND the superior but is not afraid of mainstream appeal. Someone who can work with government and industry to build a link between the underground and the mainstream. Someone who can nurture all the cliques, critique and grow them, and celebrate when some of them develop from sucking dog balls to drawing big crowds in the same way the Beatles did – but then, the Beatles had to leave town before they learned that, too. I’m aware of a small group of visionaries who think like this are are nibbling quietly at the problem … but it’s a big one.

    So, I’m not criticising people for trying to be new and different and make music that’s deliberately NOT mainstream – I love to hear people innovate and try things. But if you do: be prepared to listen to advice about how to improve, don’t bitch about how few people turn up to support you.

  21. Everett True May 15, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    I’m pretty outraged by all this.

    How so, Ian? Please explain further. As you know (I hope), I respect your opinion.

  22. Ian Rogers May 15, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    I really liked the second I Heart Hiroshima record.

  23. Everett True May 15, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Ah. Y’r the fellow. Well … each to their own.

  24. Dr Huge May 15, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    See, Curtis gave me the first I Heart Hiroshima album at a Regurgitator show at Big Sound one year – along with Blood and Spunk. I loved Blood and Spunk and I thought the I Heart Hiroshima record was interesting.

    But I’ve never heard the second I Heart Hiroshima Record …

  25. Dr Huge May 15, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Sorry. Love and Paranoia, not Blood and Spunk …

  26. Cam May 15, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    This is a metaphor. (He used the phrase “it sounds like”.)

    If he used the phrase ‘it sounds like’ then that means it’s NOT a metaphor, actually.

  27. Everett True May 15, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Fair enough. I wondered about that myself as I typed those words in. But you take my point, I hope.

  28. Cam May 15, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    i went back and read the comments for the review. two people (jo and ben) say that the review is bad and wrong. the others either agree with the review, disagree but say the the review is valid, or continue the discussion about whether or not the review is accurate and respond to scott’s own responses.

    i don’t see that as problematic in the slightest. i don’t think it should be surprising or worrisome that people defend their friends’ music.

    anyway, that’s enough of that little tangent from me, imho.

    as for this conversation, i can see what Dr Huge is saying but to me we’re having two different discussions. he’s talking about why brisbane music isn’t making it on an international level, whereas i don’t really care about that. what i care about is that there are people out there who seem to be crying out for some sort of culture here, and yet that culture DOES EXIST here. there just seems to be this gap between the two groups and i have no idea how to bridge it. maybe people are actually totally aware of what’s out there and just find it easier to ignore/complain than make an effort to get out and experience things. if that’s the case then i don’t understand those people at all.

    i just came back from a tour where i played a couple of shows in adelaide. it was our first time there, and we played at great venues in front of relatively large, attentive audiences and at the end of each night we got a sizable amount of money (we didn’t break even as we’re a 5piece, but if we were a 3piece we probably would have). this is as a completely unknown band there. i never thought i’d be jealous of adelaide’s music scene, but there you go.

  29. Dr Huge May 15, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Cam: No, no, no, no, no!

    I’m not even remotely interested in international anythings (the myth that “export opportunities” represent is another issue again). I’m saying there’s little support for (or knowledge of) local talent outside of other local talent and local media know it. Brisbane music is making it on the international level BETTER than it is at a local level.

    You’re right when you say “there just seems to be this gap between the two groups” – that’s exactly where the problem lies – but the two groups are “people who are interested in local Brisbane music” and “Brisbane people who like music and want to support it but don’t care where it comes from”. The Brisbane acts that make it internationally are not the same ones the locals support.

    Brisbane music is not “making it” (whatever that means) at the local level because local people are not turning out to shows featuring local bands. (Isn’t that where this conversation started, ET?) I’m saying that the reason is because there’s a disconnect between the discovery/advocacy/promotion media that local bands can use to tell local people about their shows and the discovery/advocacy/promotion media that MOST Brisbane residents use to decide which shows they’ll pay to see.

    When people are “crying out for some sort of culture”, the question is not “is there culture?” – of course there is – but “what sort of culture is there?”. In the case of the Brisbane Indie original music scene, the culture that is present is NOT the culture that the majority of local residents will pay to go see (and deliberately so – that’s the problem) and where a local band IS that sort of culture, local media won’t talk about them anyway. There are a heap of reasons for that but the main one is the anti-mainstream culture of the local culture … if you see what I mean.

    What we need is the kind of scene where local original musicians play the kind of music that local residents will go to see most weeks. The kind that features in “Purple Rain”. The kind that Sam Righi described to me as the making of early 80s acts in Sydney: INXS, Midnight Oil, Chisel, Men at Work, Mental as Anything, Dragon, etc. The kind that dominates in the US cities I’ve played in, and in Europe, but which seems strangely absent from Brisbane. The kind in which the best of the interesting local acts get the chance to play week in and week out alongside visiting acts without seeming out of place.

    Your Adelaide story rings true to me for different reasons. I found it easier to book my second (2010) tour of the US and Canada than to get a gig in Brisbane – and I made more money there. I more than doubled my fan email list in 2 weeks. The Yanks gushed over my show. I got reviews like “so entertaining he could even make stones dance” (one of my signature tunes is called “Dancing with the stones”) and “‘Raindrops’ is in my top 25 indie faves, way refreshing. one day i played it 10 times in a row” ?because? my show is comparatively mainstream and outside the local Brisbane cliques.

    As long as the dominant value of the local scene is “we play music that’s different from the mainstream”, most Brisbane people will ignore Brisbane acts in Brisbane. They would rather pay see Pink/Coldplay/Kings of Leon/Justin Bieber … [shudder]

  30. Cam May 15, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    hmm, well when you put it that way then most of what you’re saying is pretty much the same as what i said earlier.

    i think that your characterisation of the brisbane music community goes a bit far, i don’t it’s nearly so extreme with its anti-mainstream stance. if anything, the problem is that it’s maybe too dichotomous. it seems like there’s a community of super commercial bands trying to reach the brass ring (of triple j airplay, i guess), and another community of bands who are maybe a little bit wilfully difficult. there aren’t a lot of bands who inhabit that middle ground, but to me that’s where all of the best stuff exists. most of my favourite local bands are in that middle ground. bands like nova scotia, the rational academy (who have returned to form after a few years lost in the wilderness of changing lineups), stuff like that. then there are bands on the borders on either side: no anchor, loomer, slug guts etc on one side, the john steel singers and re:enactment on the other. i think all of these bands are fine bands who put on generally reliable performances that anyone open to something new could appreciate, whether they spent their youth going to 610 shows every week or only go to one or two festivals each year. some of those bands have achieved some level of success, others not so much.

    i don’t think i’m articulating a point very well here so i’m going to go to bed instead. i actually didn’t intend to go much further in this post than that first sentence.

  31. Scott Creney May 16, 2011 at 7:25 am

    “If he used the phrase ‘it sounds like’ then that means it’s NOT a metaphor, actually.”

    Not even true in the slightest.

    If I write, ‘Metallica’s music sounds like loud drums, an amplified bass, two distorted guitars, and growling vocals,’ then true, that is NOT a metaphor. However, if I write, ‘Metallica sounds like the noise a cat would make with its front paws tied to the bumper of a car facing north, and the rear paws tied to the bumper of a car facing south, as the two cars drove slowly away in opporite directions,’ then that is DEFINITELY a metaphor. In the sense that this is not LITERALLY what Metallica sounds like. It is a COMPARISON. It is an UNDERSTANDING OF ONE THING IN TERMS OF ANOTHER. Which is, after all, the very definition of a metaphor.

    Also, when Everett used the term ‘impartial’ to describe my review, I’m pretty sure he meant it in terms of me ‘not giving a shit’ about the Brisbane Music Scene. Which happens to be true. Regardless of how anyone felt about my No Anchor review, I’m sure we can all agree that it wasn’t influenced by No Anchor’s place of residence in the slightest.

    Hell, the only thing I know about Brisbane music is that I think the Go-Betweens were from there. And I’m not even 100% sure about that.

  32. Darragh May 16, 2011 at 7:36 am

    Scott – I thought Cam was talking about the simile/metaphor difference (through the use of ‘like’) but then again, similes can be metaphors.

  33. Matt May 16, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Yeah, as a general rule, the word like indicates that it’s a simile, not a metaphor. A metaphor, again generally speaking, is something like ‘their music is a washing machine’.

  34. Everett True May 16, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Hell, the only thing I know about Brisbane music is that I think the Go-Betweens were from there. And I’m not even 100% sure about that.

    Sorry, wrong again Scott. (Where do I find these writers?) Go-Betweens, as ani fule kno, are from London. Or Sydney. Or some place similar.

  35. Cam May 16, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Exactly Darragh. It’s a simile. If you’re going to get all frothing at the mouth in defence of stuff like that then you’d better be correct.

    As for the rest of Scott’s response, I don’t really care. As I said, I never explicitly disagreed with any of the review. I just don’t think the responses are a partiularly good example of what ET and Matt were talking about earlier.

  36. Ian Rogers May 16, 2011 at 8:54 am

    I love it when people explain their work on the internet.

  37. Dr Huge May 16, 2011 at 8:56 am

    “the brass ring” = airplay on JJJ?????

    Proves my point perfectly, I think.

    If this is the level of expectation of Brisbane musicians and music fans then the problem is more serious, more systemic and deeper than even I thought.

    The brass ring should be airplay on Nova and/or Austereo – preferably in other states – followed by national and international exposure. Anything less is an up-front admission that the music is niche and will never draw big crowds …

    Hell, the brass ring should be airplay on 4KQ in 20 years time … by making the mainstream dig your music, not by kow-towing to current mainstream taste …

    SHEEEEEEESHHHH!!!

  38. Darragh May 16, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Hey Ian, I love how you guys made Jo from Butcher Birds an honourary male at the launch show. Gatton Bohemia torn my face off.

  39. Ian Rogers May 16, 2011 at 9:30 am

    We didn’t do that Darragh, Collapse Board did that. He was so amazing on the night.

  40. Darragh May 16, 2011 at 9:35 am

    ‘tore’, rather

  41. Matt May 16, 2011 at 10:02 am

    I fucking love you, Ian Rogers. You fucking rule.

    Cam: I actually don’t think it was the best example, either. I can see Everett’s thinking, though.

    Dr Huge: Your protestation to that remark is contingent on the belief that Triple J is significantly less mainstream than either of those stations. I’d say gunning for Triple J is probably just as commercial as gunning for Nova. The latter ultimately takes its cues from the former, anyway. Hell, look at Hungry Kids of Hungary. Shitloads of Triple J radioplay, now comfortably segueing onto Nova.

    Alternatively, look at the ARIA awards in correspondence with radio airplay. A group like The Presets were embraced by Triple J long before Nova touched them.

  42. Hughie May 16, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Matt: not at all. My protestation is based on the belief that JJJ has a fraction of Nova’s market share and also that it provides even less local content than Austereo. It’s just one massively syndicated network of Kingsmill’s taste.

    It’s true that commercial stations cherry-pick the best of JJJ’s bands (radio programming is a VERY incestuous business, metaphorically speaking :-). But to address the idea that JJJ is not “significantly less mainstream than either of those stations”, compare the playlists – with respect to market share. How many of the tracks played in the Triple J Hottest 100 are also in the ARIA top 100 each year? Kingsmill chooses a DELIBERATELY different playlist … and so he should. If you think he compromises on the side of the commercial, you need to have that conversation with him.

    JJJ deliberately set out to appeal to a youth/alternative demographic. No-one at JJJ would deny that. When was the last time you heard Britney on JJJ? Pink? Nickleback? Any of the biggest sellers? The fact that commercial radio picks up on their leads is proof that commercial radio programmers are myopic mass-market whores who will play anything that resonates with their listeners. That’s commercial media, get over it.

    Aiming for JJJ airplay is important for Brisbane bands but the fact that people view JJJ as, at best a stepping-stone to commercial radio proves my point that anyone who calls JJJ airplay the “brass ring” has a serious lack of vision … and that’s what’s wrong with Brisbane music.

  43. Dr Huge May 16, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Damn Mozilla auto-completes … I am “Hughie”.

  44. Everett True May 16, 2011 at 11:04 am

    i don’t think it should be surprising or worrisome that people defend their friends’ music.

    This is brilliant, Cam. Very neatly expressed observation. I still completely disagree with you about the response to the No Anchor review … but spot on.

  45. Everett True May 16, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Incidentally, the whole side-argument about similes/metaphors could be straight out of the How To Derail A Thread For Dummies handbook. (I’m not saying it was done deliberately.) The fact remains at no point in his review did Scott write that there are no females on the No Anchor album (which seems to be the only real point of contention here). And the constant nitpicking over semantics only goes to prove Matt’s point that – as far as local music criticism is concerned …

    There’s no middle-ground. You’re either a fan or some cunt who won’t stop complaining.

  46. Cam May 16, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    No one would have said anything about the metaphor thing if Scott hadn’t gone on a big rant about it. Or at least I wouldn’t have brought it up.

    Dr Hugh: there are plenty of bands in Brisbane in who are attempting to make slick, accessible music and pair it with a big, professional live show. Maybe not of the Top 40 Pop variety, but then that’s never really a live concern until after the artist has found some success anyway. There are lots of pop/rock bands who are attempting to do exactly what you’re talking about. Most of these more professional local bands find no more success than the more scrappy ones.

    I don’t know, people should just do what they want to do. I think that most good/successful bands do exactly that. Everything else is unimportant at best.

  47. Ian Rogers May 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    People should have 2-4 high powered bass amps onstage and play for about 40 mins and then play a 20 min song with a strobe pointed out at the audience. I mean, that’s what I think should happen. After 20 min of the strobe, success and failure, past and present, good / bad, all these things are completely collapsed into one another.

    I didn’t actually mean to be so opinionated. I actually just came here to share this: both Cam and Matt have given me terrible-to-lukewarm reviews in the past and it’s no biggie. In fact, they were both right and I’ve thought highly of them ever since. So, to return to Ev’s initial question: no, you don’t have to be a kiss ass in Brisbane.

    Brisbane forgives. Man.

    PS: ET, I know where you park. Just saying.

  48. Gerry May 16, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    I agree with Ian. A good record should peel open your skull, tear out your brain, & scrub all the fuzz off it. Or caress you like a lover. If you’re humming along with something squeaking out of your car radio while you think about picking up the dry cleaning, hoping you have won the lottery, or wondering what to have for dinner, it isn’t worthwhile. The Austereo network, & Nova, & Triple J, play elevator music for people waiting to die.

  49. Matt May 16, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Eh? When did Ian say that?

  50. Matt May 16, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    I mean, fuck. Motherfucker used to play in Iron On. Motherfuckers were badass but they were about as skull-splitting/soul-caressing as a bar of soap.

  51. Michelle May 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    no time to read all replies yet. just dropped in to say;

    did you know that commercial radio (in particular Nova) programmers will pretty much not add a track for airplay if vocals don’t kick in in the first 10 seconds? that time is an approximation from memory but yeah i’ve taken to making sure my vocals don’t kick in for at least 20 seconds just in case…

  52. Dr Huge May 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    “that’s never really a live concern until after the artist has found some success anyway”

    See, this is all backwards. Great recordings get made by acts who’ve played to a LOT of audiences who’ve told them when they get it right. The point of recording a song is to capture a performance that’s already shit-hot as far as the audience is concerned. You don’t develop the song in a vacuum and then expect audiences to like it …

    ALL the great acts (ESPECIALLY the innovators like The Beatles, Nirvana, etc) played their asses off live and perfected their craft BEFORE they tried to make headway with recordings. The measure of a great acts was one that could start playing a residence to nobody on Tuesday night and pack the place out by Saturday. After several years of doing that, record labels sometimes decided to throw them the dough to record what they were doing. That filtration mechanism was the one thing that was great about the old major label system.

    Far too many bands these days try to record and get their recordings noticed before they have anything worth recording. That’s other reason why mediocrity dominates … and, of course, ET’s right about them being thin-skinned and averse to criticism …

  53. Everett True May 16, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    i’ve taken to making sure my vocals don’t kick in for at least 20 seconds just in case…

    *likes*

  54. Matt May 16, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I’m learning so much in this discussion. I can’t believe I was so wrong about the entire industry.

  55. Everett True May 16, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    ALL the great acts (ESPECIALLY the innovators like The Beatles, Nirvana, etc) played their asses off live and perfected their craft BEFORE they tried to make headway with recordings. The measure of a great acts was one that could start playing a residence to nobody on Tuesday night and pack the place out by Saturday. After several years of doing that, record labels sometimes decided to throw them the dough to record what they were doing. That filtration mechanism was the one thing that was great about the old major label system.

    This model hasn’t existed for – fuck, I don’t know – for at least two decades now. Not least because popular music has *never* been about just rock bands and in the 10s most certainly isn’t. Nirvana didn’t really tour after 1991, excepting their final arena tour (which surely came about after the release of their finest album, In Utero). It’s misleading to imply otherwise.

  56. Everett True May 16, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Also

    Far too many bands these days try to record and get their recordings noticed before they have anything worth recording. That’s other reason why mediocrity dominates … and, of course, ET’s right about them being thin-skinned and averse to criticism …

    I’m not sure that that has anything to do with playing live. A mediocre song played live 3,000 times will still be a mediocre song.

  57. Cam May 16, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Exactly right on both counts, ET. Plus, I quite clearly stated that I was talking about Top 40 Pop style music with that ‘live concern’ comment that Dr Huge quoted (in fact it almost seems that I was intentionally misquoted, but surely not). Obviously that doesn’t come into the equation when you’re talking about predominantly live forms of music.

  58. Matt May 16, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    You guys just don’t understand how the industry works.

  59. Dr Huge May 16, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    “Nirvana didn’t really tour after 1991”

    Well, exactly! They cut their chops and learned their craft playing live BEFORE they recorded and made it big. Once you’ve had your first No1 the rules change. Not enough bands learn to write and perform by playing live before they try to capture those performances in a studio … then they wonder why they struggle to get noticed.

    I love that Time quote about In Utero: “Nirvana hasn’t gone mainstream, though this potent new album may once again force the mainstream to go Nirvana.” Perfect!

    “A mediocre song played live 3,000 times will still be a mediocre song”

    Very true and, again, exactly my point. A band that is learning its craft, listening to criticism and honing its chops will recognise that song as a dud because of the lull in their set when they play it. They will either re-write it or drop it in favour of a better song. If they do this well enough and often enough, the crap songs never gets recorded but a heap of better material develops.

    Everett seems to be referring to people’s propensity to repeat the same exercise and expect a different result. That’s one definition of insanity and is most certainly NOT what I’m talking about, though far too many bands (local and otherwise) seem to think that if they just keep playing the same songs the same way, eventually people will start paying attention. Life doesn’t work that way.

    “I quite clearly stated that I was talking about Top 40 Pop style music with that ‘live concern’ comment”

    I’d like to reassure you that it wasn’t a misquote but I’m still not sure what difference this makes. Are you suggesting that Top 40 Pop performers don’t devote a massive chunk of their lives to learning to sing, dance, and in all other ways perform? That they don’t spend years – audition after audition – proving that their performances are better than those of every other pop-star wannabe who’s trying the same path? That there’s somehow less pressure to be noticed in that space?

    If you are, you need to read the biographies of Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Justin Timberlake, Backstreet Boys, etc, and find out just how much effort they put into honing their craft and learning to perform live. Gaga once said something like “take off my wigs, give me a piano and I’ll still make you cry”. And you’d better include all the rappers in that, too. It takes years of practice to learn to rhyming, rhythm, beatboxing and other aspects of a good rap show.

    Never underestimate the amount of blood, sweat and tears that any top-level performer puts into their craft. Top 40 Pop is not my cup of tea as an artform but they work harder at it than a lot of rock stars ever do. Certainly a lot harder than Brisbane Indie wannabes who devote more energy to bitching about the poor turnout for their shows than they do trying to make their shows more entertaining …

  60. Matt May 16, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Oh, right. I get it now.

  61. Everett True May 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Not enough bands learn to write and perform by playing live before they try to capture those performances in a studio … then they wonder why they struggle to get noticed.

    This is nonsense.

    I love that Time quote about In Utero: “Nirvana hasn’t gone mainstream, though this potent new album may once again force the mainstream to go Nirvana.” Perfect!

    This was proven to be nonsense within months of the original quote appearing.

    A band that is learning its craft, listening to criticism and honing its chops will recognise that song as a dud because of the lull in their set when they play it. They will either re-write it or drop it in favour of a better song.

    This is nonsense, the sort of all-encompassing claim that can only be made by a person with minimal knowledge of the art form they are discussing.

    It takes years of practice to learn to rhyming, rhythm, beatboxing and other aspects of a good rap show.

    This is nonsense. And patronising, too.

    Top 40 Pop is not my cup of tea as an artform but they work harder at it than a lot of rock stars ever do.

    This is nonsense. And patronising, too.

  62. Cam May 16, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Dr Huge: Of course it takes a lot of practice etc to become the next Lady Gaga. However, that’s completely different from playing live, which is what we were talking about. You can’t just change the context of the discussion to suit your comments whenever you feel like it.

  63. Matt May 16, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    At this point, I’d wager Dr Huge has no interest in furthering a discussion. My cynical mind suggests to me that his purpose here is to convince onlookers that he is an authority on the music industry by making as many authoritative statements across as wide a spectrum of music industry related topics he can so as to garner traction for his business/website. He’s not put forth a unified perspective or argument – he’s consistently shifted the discussion so as to allow him to make many important statements about airplay, success and work. It may not even be deliberate.

    Of course, I could be wrong. The fact that he’s started to resort to snippy attacks about Brisbane independent musicians, though, certainly doesn’t suggest a great deal of respect for the people he’s conversing with – or their peers. He’s just blowing hot air to float his business. Again, though. I could be wrong. I’m not sure if I really want to be right. Maybe I’m just too suspicious.

  64. Everett True May 16, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    This man has a business/website? I hope to fuck it’s nothing to do with the music industry. Although if it is, I think it may have inadvertently answered one of the questions on this blog post. Why is Brisbane music so undervalued? Because it has people like ‘Dr’ Huge claiming to represent it in the mainstream.

  65. Everett True May 16, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Anyway. C’mon folk. Back to the business at hand…

  66. Matt May 16, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    How To Derail – Chapter 2.

  67. Matt May 16, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    In the interests of getting discussion back on the right track, though, I do think a key problem is that each community seems to view their own little niche as the centre of Brisbane music. I’m as guilty of it as anyone else. Those in the indie-pop scene think Brisbane music is doing really well, punks think Brisbane music sucks because there’s no venues supporting punk, indie-electronic producers aren’t even aware a whole production community exists. Everyone defines their immediate circle as the scene at large. If they hear of another scene, they presume it’s a niche.

  68. Donat May 16, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    It could be the simple case of too many scenes, and not enough solidarity going on. That might answer some of your questions.

    Though noticeably, there has been a little shift in recent months with posters advertising bands playing from different cliques within town sharing the same bill.

    It’s strange how this concept of ‘scene merging’ hasn’t happened before. I do believe it’s the only way any band can gain wider exposure as opposed to playing in front of the same 50 people in different venues around Brisbane.

    In the case of Nick Smethurst, I do recall seeing this not-yet-18 year old bursting onto the Brisbane scene in the early-to-mid 00s with a fresh outlook and an incredible degree of enthusiasm towards leftfield music.

    Booking shows. Playing in bands. Mixing bands. He did it all. And still does.

    Out of the seemingly stale, he rose to the occasion and showed people of his age how it could be done. Sure, he was not the first to do this here, there or anywhere; but as a very young man he had the spark to open up the underground in his own way. And so it would seem he got cut down somewhere along the line, and without this sounding like a eulogy, his influence is certainly felt around town today; however unacknowledged.

  69. Dr Huge May 17, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Aaahh, OK. When you don’t like or can’t understand the message, attack the messenger. Good luck getting “someone with influence” to take notice.

    At least Donat and Matt seem to have picked up on the idea (even if Matt doubts my intentions – altruism is unbelievably rare), so I’ll wish everyone the very best and leave you to it …

  70. Cam May 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Donat is right on it.

    I remember hearing someone once say that a band needs to have three scenes that they can play to (I think it might have been Ian Rogers, though I think he was quoting someone else). That way you can regularly play shows without making any one group sick of you, and then when you have a big show (eg: launch), you can bring all of those scenes together. After having this pointed out to me I noticed that pretty much every relatively successful band has done this, though they probably never explicitly thought about it like that.

  71. Everett True May 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    (from Facebook)

    John Willsteed
    it’s not a problem with the music. it’s a problem with the city, the culture, the tone, the flavour, the timbre … whatever.

    John Willsteed
    people here have NEVER given a fuck about anything even vaguely cultural. the overwhelming quality of this place is “progress” in the sense of “money before all else” . . we have no cultural history.

    John Willsteed
    and keep posting it.

  72. Everett True May 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    When you don’t like or can’t understand the message, attack the messenger.

    Actually Dr Huge, it was more the fact you seemed woefully out of touch and ill-informed about the subjects you were attempting to comment upon. I welcome disparate opinion. I do prefer it to have some basis in reality, however.

  73. Everett True May 17, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    OK. To go back to my original post, why is it that folk believe that Brisbane music isn’t being a) documented or b) promoted enough? After all, there’s plenty of folk doing both in town. Street press, radio stations, government-funded websites like Brisbane Sounds and Sounds Like Brisbane …

    For Bangs’ sake, Brisbane hosts Australia’s largest music industry convention every year with Big Sound!

    Then there’s Q Music, a not-for-profit government-funded organisation dedicated to promoting Queensland and Brisbane music, with its very own annual awards ceremonies. And it’s not like there isn’t support for music from within the mainstream art community. Why, GOMA just ran a season of rock film curated by the Courier-Mail‘s own Noel Mengel!

    Surely perceptions about Brisbane ought to be changing by now?

    So why does this belief persist?

  74. Darragh May 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Wilsteed is on the money here, everett. It’s a combination of things, but mainly because the Brisbane outside of a small music/art clique is a cultural backwater.

    People don’t care enough. You see it in the way everyday people allow the destruction of items like the regent theatre and the building the Alley was in (to be replaced by an ATO office)

    Blame Sir Joh and his puritan ideas of progress. They infected an entire generation. Why go to GOMA when we can go to Lang Park?

  75. Peter May 17, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    … but the underground is just that, … under ground. Lots of words floating round here: support, funding, championing, promoting, … it’s as if everyone is still aspiring to the same old goals, that commercial success and acceptance by the mainstream is all. Mainstream is a business, like any other. Underground is hidden, humid, fertile and seething with surprise. That’s were you find the interesting critters when you start turning over stones.

  76. Everett True May 17, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Actually Peter, my query is simple: everyone reckoned a few years back that Brisbane was all set to be the next cultural capital. Musically. That hasn’t happened DESPITE all the support, funding, championing, promoting … why not? It’s not like there’s a lack of fascinating stuff happening here.

    I guess what I’m trying to point out is that perhaps the people whose best interests are served by maintaining the status quo – those who control the funding: the people who run Big Sound (for example) – aren’t necessarily the best people to be promoting Brisbane as a ‘cultural’ city, not least because part of art’s purpose, surely, is to challenge the status quo. And also because just about the only way these people can judge ‘art’ is by commercial success: any other way is too indiscriminate.

    The music that gets the funding in this town is the music that applies for the funding is the music specifically designed to get the funding. This runs contrary to everything I ever believed made art or culture vibrant. But it doesn’t seem to bother anyone in the mainstream, not here in Brisbane.

  77. Cam May 17, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Re: Wilsteed and Darragh’s comments that Brisbane people just aren’t interested in cultural stuff, I’m not sure that it’s any worse here than anywhere else. I think some people use it as a bit of an excuse to not participate in fact.

    ET, those are pretty much my thoughts regarding music/arts funding.

  78. Matt May 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    I have many additional thoughts on these matters but, just for now, consider this:

    There are two people who, according to various sources of mine, are known for writing bulletproof grant applications to Arts Queensland. One of them is Lawrence English. The other is Liam Griffin. The disparity of those two artists is more than a little fascinating.

    Also, statistically, you are more likely to get funding from Australia Council than Arts Queensland. Also fascinating.

  79. Everett True May 18, 2011 at 2:26 am

    … which immediately blows most of that theory out of the water, because I have immense respect for Lawrence English and most anything he is involved in. Which is a relief, to know that the cream sometimes also rises. Which again turns the finger onto those documenting – or otherwise – the music …

  80. Labyrinth City May 18, 2011 at 9:24 am

    personally, if you think that there isn’t enough (or right?) promotion or documentation of local music then you should start something yourself; if you’ve got time to complain then you’ve got time to do something about it.

  81. Matt May 18, 2011 at 9:27 am

    What a revolutionary concept!

  82. Labyrinth City May 18, 2011 at 10:05 am

    yes and unfortunately it will stay just that until people actually put it into practice; it’s all well and good to sit there & complain but it’s another thing to contribute & do something/fix whatever you see is wrong. your complaints & diatribe may bring attention to it but at the same time you’re expecting other people to fix it when you are more than capable – that’s what i have a problem with here: laziness and hypocrisy.

  83. Cam May 18, 2011 at 10:43 am

    ^ that

  84. Everett True May 18, 2011 at 11:16 am

    So you don’t think Collapse Board is contributing to the debate and documentation of Brisbane music already then, Mr Labyrinth? I see. I am on this site over eight hours a day, unpaid. How is that laziness? How is it that hypocrisy? Maybe the problem is we’re being too subtle for you? Maybe we need to spell it out in capital letters. COLLAPSE BOARD IS DOCUMENTING BRISBANE MUSIC (WITHIN A WIDER CONTEXT), AND CONTRIBUTING TO THE DEBATE AROUND IT. There. Do you understand now? Stupid prick. This is just one blog entry among hundreds.

  85. Matt May 18, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Yeah, that’s a pretty idiotic comment you’re making there.

    If you were discussing a lack of financial/physical support or attendance or any number of other issues, your point would perhaps have some substance. In regards to documenting and promotion, however – which you specifically referenced in your comment – no-one in this discussion can be accused of laziness or hypocrisy. This entire website was basically founded in pursuit of that very mission.

    Now, if we characterise someone unwilling to give due consideration to an issue before leaping onto their high horse as ‘lazy’ – well, your objection is not completely unfounded (albeit somewhat poorly directed).

    It’s been reasonably obvious throughout this discussion that there is plenty being done. The real issue is – is what’s being done appropriate? With that taken in mind, advocating action instead of discussion is completely idiotic. If we can’t figure out what’s wrong with the house, how on earth do you expect anyone to repair it? Just pick up a hammer and hope for the best? Serious question – what course of action were you going to recommend after your call-to-arms? Let’s presume we’d all gone ‘egad, you’re right – let us begin work immediately’ – what project would we be working on? I’m legitimately interested.

    Besides which, this question isn’t even inherently one of complaint (though I can understand why many have taken it as such). It’s one of curiosity. Brisbane possesses the qualities that would theoretically make it x but instead it is y. Why is it like that? Let’s say a man has seven postgraduate degrees in finance but works happily as a fisherman. Regardless of your emotional investment, wouldn’t you want to know why he was like that? Institutionally and musically, Brisbane has all the resources to be viewed as one of the best musical cities in the world. Why isn’t it? Hell, are we that sure it isn’t?

  86. Ian Rogers May 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I love it when Everett gets mad.

    Funding is all about who’s up for applying for it. That’s the single biggest determining factor in what’s funded: who applies. Anyone who has ever looked closely at what gets funded realises this…and everyone can look at it. Funding is always on the public record.

  87. Everett True May 18, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    I love it when Everett gets mad.

    You were just lucky I was in a sweet and affable mood when I bumped into you and Mr Gillies the other day, Mr Rogers. (P.S. You should’a seen the original edit of my reply to Mr Labyrinth.)

  88. Ian Rogers May 18, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Oh and just to be THAT guy: I can’t see why Collapse Board can’t be funded in the future. Cyclic Defrost is. Mess&Noise was.

  89. Matt May 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Jeez, Ian. Why did you have to be THAT guy?

  90. Darragh May 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Hrm, I didn’t think Labyrinth City was actually commenting on Collapse Board – but the wider Brisbane public…..As Matt says – it was poorly directed.

    As for funding, why are we not applying for it ET?! 🙂

  91. Cam May 18, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Yes, that’s how I read it (and that’s where my agreeance was directed).

  92. Everett True May 18, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I just assume everyone hates me. It’s easier that way.

  93. istomponurrockanthem May 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    This is such an interesting thread. I tend to think that this is the core of the musical problems in Brisbane that needs addressing. Thankfully no one has brought up the “money” side of things which i see many people get caught up on.
    But the focus tends to be why it’s not working. And it’s not. I think the person who brought up enthusiasm was right on topic and that is the thing that I feel has been missing for years. I do often see facebook friends get excited about international gigs and their own gigs but seldom do I see the general public get pumped about a local gig. It’s considered for many a duty because their friends are performing and need support etc. I myself have been guilty of that feeling. Not all the time but I have felt it and I do understand it. I have seen many many great shows in Brisbane and I can safely predict that I’ll see many many more.

    For me the problem stems from the lack of excitement caused by the lack of mystery. Everyone in Brisbane must be on good terms with everyone to get gigs, to get radio slots, to get support, to get this and to get that. So we have ended up with very nice good musicians. I am not suggesting anti networking is the key or even anti promotions. But I am thinking that maybe we need somehow cultivate more edge…

  94. Alex May 19, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    my 2c is not exactly constructive but…

    After reading the article and some 90 odd comments I’d have to say that I think there is nothing wrong with the music scene/community in Brisbane!

    At least I don’t think there is.

  95. Everett True May 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I’d have to say that there I think there is nothing wrong with the music scene/community in Brisbane!

    I agree with you, broadly, Alex. The perception remains however that it doesn’t get the kudos or support it deserves. Or … maybe it does?

  96. Alex May 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    yeah it does. Marginalised music gets marginal exposure. Mainstream music gets the majority of the exposure.

    People on the margins should realise that the effort they put into their creative endevours will not equate the exposure/support it gets.

    Even in music, we’re still just inside a capitalist ecomnomy. And those rules apply to the creative economy in our own backyard.

    Brisbane is fine.

  97. Everett True May 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Who decides that some forms of music should remain on the margins? Who decides that other forms of music should reach the mainstream?

  98. Alex May 19, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Who decided punk? Who decided the Bauhaus?

    Once it would have been the cultural zeigist.

    Now it’s those with the best PR team who decide.

  99. Matt May 20, 2011 at 11:41 am

    That’s ridiculously romanticised. Malcolm McLaren was arguably one of the greatest PR professionals the music industry has ever seen.

  100. Ian Rogers May 20, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    I feel pretty supported and cherished. Somehow I forgot to mention that.

  101. julian_k May 22, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Ian Rogers said

    “Funding is all about who’s up for applying for it. That’s the single biggest determining factor in what’s funded: who applies. Anyone who has ever looked closely at what gets funded realises this…and everyone can look at it. Funding is always on the public record”

    Hallelujah. I can tell you from serving a term on the Australia Council Music Board 2003-2007, as an assessor for Arts QLD (2007-) and as a recipient of grants from both these agencies – Ian has hit the nail right on the head with this comment. Some kick arse music has been supported by these agencies and a range of pretty challenging stuff too. Go and check out Justice Yeldham (Lucas Abela) and the Dual Plover label. Lucas gets just about every grant he applies for. Why? Because they are really well written and he is making interesting, challenging music. Do all the good musicians apply? No. Why? Dunno. Ask them.

    Sorry Jerry. I don’t buy the funding body bashing. There’s not a lot of evidence to support the claim that great stuff is trying to get support and being knocked back. I know – I’ve read thousands of applications for these agencies. It’s simple. First – understand that its a 20% success rate. Second – write a good application. Third- if it doesn’t get up, take the feedback and write a better one. Sooner or later (if you’re not kidding yourself about what you are doing – and it is clear that some people are), you will get funded.

    In any case, funding is such a small element in the whole equation – the stakes are low outside the major performing arts. It not like we are talking about orchestras here. It’s certainly not a barrier to success.

    Can I provide a perspective as someone who has lived in Sydney all my life until 5 years ago when i moved to Brisbane. This city has a great music scene. It is not undervalued. I would have given anything to grow up and develop as a musician with this level of support around me. Sadly that was not the case in Sydney.

  102. Everett True May 22, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Sorry Jerry. I don’t buy the funding body bashing. There’s not a lot of evidence to support the claim that great stuff is trying to get support and being knocked back. I know – I’ve read thousands of applications for these agencies. It’s simple. First – understand that its a 20% success rate. Second – write a good application. Third- if it doesn’t get up, take the feedback and write a better one. Sooner or later (if you’re not kidding yourself about what you are doing – and it is clear that some people are), you will get funded.

    Good points, and eloquently stated.

    Can I provide a perspective as someone who has lived in Sydney all my life until 5 years ago when i moved to Brisbane. This city has a great music scene. It is not undervalued. I would have given anything to grow up and develop as a musician with this level of support around me. Sadly that was not the case in Sydney.

    Agreed, mainly (obviously I’m not arguing from a Sydney perspective) – and yet the perception still exists that Brisbane is a cultural backwater (c.f. a bunch of Sydney people talking on Triple J last week about how you have to move to Sydney or Melbourne if you want to get anywhere in this country). Why is this? Simply because it once – a long time back – was true?

  103. Cam May 22, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    that’s pretty much it. it’s not a cultural backwater at all. people just think it is. that’s pretty much brisbane’s only problem, re: arts. or at least the only one that is maybe worth worrying about, if you’re so inclined.

    i just went out for five days straight of great gigs, from tiny diy spaces like browning st through to relatively large venues like woodland. what’s more, every day there were a bunch of other events that i missed out on. brisbane is great.

  104. ed May 23, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Gah, you go offline for a week and you miss the best posts. This and some of things Nick was talking about in that other post last week are amongst my favourite topics when it comes to talking about the Brisbane music scene. I’ll probably comment in a few small replies over the next few days but will start with some of Nick’s comments

    “… people can rant and rail and say “there’s some bands all the time” but I mean they’re derivative – they’re not going to make any meaningful impact. What does it say about a place when the cultural capital you’re producing is fucking I Heart Hiroshima. That’s unacceptable. It’s five years behind the times”.

    If I had a major criticism of Australian music it would be this. it’s not just a Brisbane phenomena though.

    I remember back in the early 1990s either NME or MM (I’m guessing, although it might have been a monthly) did a one or two page feature on Australian bands, except it wasn’t really about Australian bands, it was about how none of the big acts came to Australia and so the country was full of tribute bands. Sorry if this is breaking news for anyone, but outside of INXS, the highest profile Australian bands in the UK in the early 1990s (due to endless touring) were probably the Australian Doors and the Australian Pink Floyd.

    Twenty years later Australian music has evolved slightly. Now instead of being tribute bands they have their own names and write their own songs except in so many cases the sounds and voices are someone elses. It’s no real surprise that the biggest bands in the last 10 years have been Wolfmother and Jet. Tame Impala are the current band making waves but although their reference points are more obscure than Wolfmother’s it’s still extremely derivative.

    When I moved to Sydney in 2004 every other band wanted to be The Strokes. Then I moved to Brisbane and it was the same. There was an abundance of guitar/drums two-pieces who wanted to be Black Keys. Every other female fronted band wanted to be the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Now every other band wants to be Arcade Fire. Australia wants its own version of currently big overseas bands. Hence you get unmitigated shit like Boy & Bear being flogged everywhere, playing every festival and selling out fairly big venues.

    So I get where Nick was coming from (at least I think that was what he meant). So much of what is happening and being celebrated and promoted in Australia is a rehash of a UK or US scene that happened 2 – 5 years ago. There’s some nice bands and stuff but it’s low on originality and scores very little in a wider cultural sense. But, as I said, I see it as Australia-wide, not just a Brisbane thing.

  105. Everett True May 23, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Actually Justin, I was hoping you could write us another post, picking out the salient points of this discussion – with your comments, if applicable. There’s a ton of interesting stuff happening among the comments here: it’d be great if they can be lifted out so we can take the discussion forward more.

  106. Darragh May 23, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Well, Justin, are you challenging Brisbane music not to be the followers, but rather the trend setters, not just in Australia but globally?

  107. julian_k May 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Ed said

    “Sorry if this is breaking news for anyone, but outside of INXS, the highest profile Australian bands in the UK in the early 1990s (due to endless touring) were probably the Australian Doors and the Australian Pink Floyd.”

    Not strictly true. My own band – even as we speak – had about 5 NME/Melody Maker top 10 independent chart positions from 1991-1994 and recorded 3 x Peel Sessions. I think it is important to distinguish between Australian acts with UK audiences and Australian acts with backpacker/ex pat Australian audiences. It is well known that many Australian bands can fill a venue playing to Australians in London. Its a nil sum game…but I digress. I take your comment to mean Australian bands who gained traction with UK audiences.

    I say, this, but it is possible that the usual round of ex-neighbours stars may have been doing something in the early 90s… like Kylie.

    What you do say, however, is not that far off the mark. The problem however has never been with bands themselves, it has been the tripleJ national system of endorsement. There have always been good australian bands. its just that this network does not generally play them. The bands then think they should give up, when in fact they should just move.

  108. Everett True May 23, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Ed said

    “Sorry if this is breaking news for anyone, but outside of INXS, the highest profile Australian bands in the UK in the early 1990s (due to endless touring) were probably the Australian Doors and the Australian Pink Floyd.”

    Two words: Ed Kuepper.

    Actually, there was a fan base of about six Kuepper fans at Melody Maker, half of whom were ex-pats – and little else. Not much different to The Go-Betweens fan base during the 80s then.

  109. Darragh May 24, 2011 at 9:30 am

    “The problem however has never been with bands themselves, it has been the tripleJ national system of endorsement.”

    Sadly, at the risk of dredging up the anti-JJJ sentiment once again, this seems to be true. Community radio is where you have to go nowadays to get the interesting stuff. JJJ wasn’t always like this though.

  110. julian_k May 24, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    @Darragh. Yes tha’t very true. At the risk of sounding old (wait a minute?) i remember a time when it was actually a quite adventurous station. That was in the 1980s, when it was a Sydney only station, prior to it becoming national (early 90s i think?). For many of us it was a channel to the rest of the world. I used to tape off air and hunt down releases in import record stores. now that dates me doesn’t it?

  111. Joel Saunders May 24, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    just postin’ to say that ‘older comments’ doesn’t work either on a mac or PC (mozilla or IE) from my experience, so i can’t read all ya bitchin’

  112. Everett True May 24, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Thanks Joel. We’re aware of the problem, and are working to rectify it. Hopefully, a ‘digest’ version of the comments is on its way shortly. In the meantime, why not join the squadrons of passive-aggressive Fleet Foxes fans quietly seething at this.

    Or, alternately – something positive!

  113. Darragh May 25, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Joel – I believe they work when you click the older comments link at the bottom of the page (rather than the top).

  114. Pingback: Interviewed: 4ZzZ Book Club on National Young Writers’ Month, freelance journalism, and UnConvention Brisbane 2011 at Andrew McMillen

  115. Michael Tysoe January 10, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    Hi Everett, my friend told me about your blog. I read your Nirvana book, very nice.

    I found a secret song in some of Beck’s backwards material. Upon reversing it, I found a hidden Beck song that nobody’s ever heard before. I mixed it some beats of my own. Would you like to hear it some time?

    Also, I “remixed” Territorial Pissings by overlaying Kurt’s vocal stem onto the 8 bit version of Territorial Pissings. The result is awesome and hilarious haha

    Andy Warstar (& the Warstars) was my project that I recorded those songs with, from Ashland, OR 1998-2013, Warstars r.i.p.

  116. Michael Tysoe January 10, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    I should’ve mentioned I’m from Brisbane haha

    I spent my time finishing Warstars in Brissie. I couldn’t help but feel that my band met it’s demise here because “lack of support” online.

    There really isn’t a huge network online for Brisbane punks and alternative crowd, generally. There could be though. There could be a punk meetup but there’s not.

    Yes, there could be a lot of things. Brisbane has a lot of potential.

  117. Marisa February 18, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    I think somehow that even with all the Big Sounds and the GOMA uplates etc Brisbane still seeks to define itself in terms of an old industry model. From experience no matter what merit you have or self motivation, DIY artists don’t get a look in at the bigger more sponsered/funded events that QMusic and co put their voice behind. For example you need to have a definite business savvy to get a showcase at Bigsound. These are events looking at export markets to send of that make the city ‘fit’ in with the middle stream culture internationally. They are geared for it.
    Somehow perhaps maybe these artists the ones with most energy and get up and passion and heart and dare I say it work ethic putting on shows with no hope of making a profit are being overlooked. As a friend once told me art for art sakes business for business sake. Having been in Brisbane for no longer than 5 years I went to alot of diverse gigs across quite a few scenes. Everyone in each of these small and disparate scenes are totally enthusiastic and supportive of their own niche. And really it seems like all the scenes are niche in Brisbane unless you somehow become the next big thing on triple J. I think the aims in Brisbane are outdated. And as I’ve always said it should be on merit as a qualifier not popularity. That said being a musician is a wholistic pursuit, it’s songs, musicianship, know how, sound savvy, performance, business sense, an ethos. None of this can be overlooked, however we can only work with the perspectives of those who have the power in which to say what will and what will not. Is this too esoteric. Probably….

  118. Jackie February 27, 2015 at 5:04 am

    The cream shall rise, and thus it ever was. Make cream! Or die trying.

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