27 January: Sydney
The last Australian AXXONN tour (for a while) kicks off. I’m fortunate to be getting toured by awesome Sydney-based organisation New Weird Australia. I’m staying in a ‘crack den’ near Central, it’s conveniently located to the venue, there’s good coffee below, the room has hi-speed Ethernet and a pink television (it may or may not work, I haven’t tried) and I caught Holy Fuck last night at the Sydney Festival – all in all, 8/10 for the start of the tour. (TH)
28 January: Excelsior Hotel, Sydney
The Friday night show should have been retitled ‘Sweat Fest 2011′. I dig band rooms generally because they have low ceilings and they’re tight sound-wise meaning filling them with sound is no problem (+ the smoke can’t escape). This was the first gig for AXXONN for 2011 and after a break of nearly two-months (something I’m not very accustomed to), and there hadn’t been much time to revamp the set as I had been on tour right up to this show doing ‘Tom Hall’ shows.
I was actually a bit nervous but after hitting the first distortion pedal it all just drained away, the new set is probably the most fun to date with a nice mix of improv, old and new stuff with plenty of room to take left turns. Overall I felt it was well responded too although I wouldn’t really know as Ii was quite delirious from heat exhaustion towards the end of my set.
The other acts were all pretty amazing especially Breathing Shrine who blew the roof of the place. It was their last show in Sydney as Rob Mayson (one half of Breathing Shrine) heads to the USA late February.
I’ve always had a hard time playing in Sydney, crowds, people, booking shows so I was super-relieved to end this phase of touring/AXXONN on a high note. (MM)
29 January: Smiths Alternative Bookstore/Transit Bar, Canberra
I’ve played multiple shows in one day before but not with AXXONN. I was wondering how I might shape up as AXXONN becomes more physical and with the temperatures souring in Canberra.
Canberra is a bazaar place, always will be. I spent about three years of my life there studying at the Australian National University, something I’m very appreciative of BUT I never, not once, got any kind of feeling for Canberra as a place., I’m not hating on it, I just don’t feel anything – neutral.
Stuart (New Weird Australia/tour manager) and I arrive in Canberra, ‘apocalyptic’ I think are the words Stu used as we drove in and I had to agree, for the nation’s capital, it was wickedly quiet. We arrived at our accommodation, something Stu had organised and I was a little out of place, it was Sydney crack-den to 4-star suite by the lake, I wondered if Stu was going to pop the question or something. The only time I’d ever experienced such goodness on tour was when I got the lucky dip hotel on bookings.com in London and it worked out to be the Hyatt Hotel in Paddington, pure ass not choice though.
We sorted shit out at the hotel and went to the first gig for the day, a bookshop. Kind of strange but alternative bookshop with great coffee. I’m not a big fan of playing during the day, it’s kind of like running in the morning for me, I dislike. But on the upside it was another box to tick, I’ve played basements all over the world, hair-dressing salons and even orchards but never a bookshop. The gig went well, with a small but appreciative audience.
Gig three for the tour was once again another sweat box, my poor Nord Keyboard is going to need a serious bath after this tour if this heat keeps up, I don’t suspect Brisbane will be much different. Joined on the night by Kash and Crash the Curb, the crowd was relatively disinterested with most being there for cheap drinks (I think) or Kasha, local triple j exports. Either way I bent some minds and had a blast, so all it all it was successful. I was even challenged soon after by a young arts student ( who Ii predict is currently in her second year and looking for conceptual rationales in art) wanting to know AXXONN’s agenda, “What kind of context does it have? Is it political or social?” I told her it was religious and she seemed happy with that.
One last stop in Sydney on the way to Tasmania for gigs four/five. I stayed with old pal Scott Morrison and he schooled me on the ideals of buying a new muscle car vs an old muscle car when I move soon to the USA, very informative and mind-changing, Dukes Of Hazzard it will be! (TH)
4 February: Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart
Tasmania, it’s where I was born and bred, a place I was keen to get away from, but now I’m mostly away from it, the place I enjoy getting back to the most. It’s always a tricky one, Hobart, it’s the beast I’m yet to tame and one I’ve been trying to for a while. It’s become blatantly obvious (like a smack in the face) that it needs to be changed up. We had a great line-up, reputable venue and good promo but somehow only managed 10 payers on the door, brutal! Salamanca Arts were a little stressed, to say the least. I’ve come to the conclusion than unless you’re receiving regular local or triple j airplay one must initiate some epic marketing strategy. One of the local guys on the night was like “Facebook has let me down…” mistake Number One, I say. I wouldn’t trust Facebook as far as I could kick it.
Nonetheless the drive to Hobart was interesting and the drive home was even more with a little interaction with some bored but friendly Police officers from Oatlands Station (the middle of fucking nowhere in Tasmania) who decided my very marginal amount over-the-speed limit at 1:30am in the morning warranted me being pulled over and cautioned. My tactics for dealing with the Police, get out of the car and meet them half way, be straight and honest and then ask nicely for them to give you a ‘caution’ and if all else fail blame the NIN Pretty Hate Machine album that you’re cranking in the stereo. (TH)
5 February: Devonport Regional Gallery, Devonport
Next stop was DEVOnport. My home town and the one I grew up in. Salamanca Arts said as we departed, “let us know if Devonport shows us up”. Well, by the time we arrived they already had with a nicely presented bar. There’s only a publicity campaign with AXXONN posters spread all around the city and a church to play in, I mean the church alone would have ticked the box over Hobart. It’s always weird to play in Devonport but also fun. Weird, because I remember going to all sorts of performance events by travelling outsiders but never imagined I would be that traveling outsider. It’s always fun because random people turn up that I haven’t seen for years and the guys I usually play with take delight in hearing the wondrous stories I have about the place. The gig was pretty epic, with the venue being the Devonport Regional Gallery, an old church with beautiful acoustics and a PA system big enough to fill a stadium.
The acts were decidedly more ‘heavy’ tonight and, as it happened, my grandmother (70+) had decided to drop by to see what AXXONN is all about. Having sat through soundcheck I was worried for her, to say the least. I realised I’m happy to terrify others grandmothers but wasn’t so sure about terrifying my own. It’s not that they don’t know what I do for a career it’s just I don’t often get the chance to play nearby. It also probably doesn’t help that as a representation of what I do my mother gives my grandmother the most ‘user-friendly’ track from the recently AXXONN album, a masterful arpeggiatored piano/drums melody
So the night went off without a hitch, my grandmother spent most of it with her fingers in her ears and a look on her face like she was having a heart attack. A great and appreciative crowd turned up who lapped up the array of merchandise on display, something I’ve noticed more regional areas are keen to do. We discovered Devonport’s newest restaurant Bento, a sweet Japanese place with great meals and service, something Devonport’s been lacking for a while. All in all, the shows went well with a couple of curve balls (HOBART) and some great laughs with the local supports Duo, Spheres and Oceans. (TH)
The tour continues:
TOOWOOMBA The Spotted Cow – Friday 18 February
with AMBROSE CHAPEL & DIE ON PLANES
BRISBANE Woodlands – Saturday 19 February
with AMBROSE CHAPEL & DIE ON PLANES
PERTH Manhattans Bar – Thursday 24 February
with Guests TBA
MELBOURNE Yah Yahs – Sunday 27 February
with MYSTIC EYES, NO ZU & PEON