Funny how timing works. I announced more than a month ago that we'd be interviewing Blueline Medic and the interview kept getting moved for various reasons. I sat down this weekend, determined to get it written and sent out before the Tuesday release of "Text_Bomb" on Fueled By Ramen. Well I did and it got back to me just in time. Click READ MORE for an interview with bassist David Snow of Melbourne Australia's Blueline Medic.
Adam of Punknews.Org: First the formalities, who are you and what do you play in Blueline Medic?
Dave: My name is David Snow. I play bass guitar.
A: I'm sure you're asked this by most North American zines, but how do you feel about the state of the Australian scene? One of our readers called it stagnant, would you agree?
D: I'm not too sure I'd describe it as stagnant. I'm also not too sure I can describe any singular "scene". There is a lot going on in Australia, but a great deal of it all is getting over-looked or lost. I think this is partly a result of a lagging `zine' culture and an increasingly fractured audience. National radio in Australia is often a relied upon to introduce people to new music. This is something mainstream music industry has always done, but something indie music supporters is replicating. It's not a bad thing, but it need to be supplemented with more localized groups of active listeners. Venues are there, and live music remains vital out here. It's just finding out about the shows that seems to be difficult. There seems to be those in the know and so many left outside that circle of people. Some people are seeking to disassociate themselves from one thing, but in the process cutting themselves away from everyone else that could potentially help them out. It's not quite a listening elite, but an absence of ways for newcomers to access different types of music. Music they may be into in a big way if only they knew it existed or way being played.
A: What new music have you been spinning lately? Are there any unknown bands you think people should check out?
D: I've been in love with Less Savy Fav for a while now. Occasionally I cheat on them and listen to Ladytron, Radiohead, Love like Electrocution, Pilot to Gunner and others.
A: Mainstream radio in North America is latching onto a lot of styles that were previously buried in the indie music scene, with emo and garage rock getting increasing airplay. Are those trends taking place in Australia as well and do you pay attention to what's on the radio?
D: It's happening all over the world. I don't know that it is an essentially bad thing. I think it is something that needs to be peppered with grass-roots support for those bands you do like: they'll need you once the radio interest fades. Lately I've been a little more attentive to what's been played on the radio, but given I rarely drive my car (and it is the only time I listen to the radio), even that is rather infrequent.
A: Now that it's a few years after the fact, are you happy with "The Apology Wars" ?
D: I'm more than happy with the way that album turned out. Working with J. was incredible. He is so talented and bought so much out of us and the songs in such a very short period of time. I think if we had attempted that album with anyone else, it would have sunken into regret by now. Aside from the actual recording and songs, the whole experience provides nothing but great memories.
A: What aspects of your sound or the recording experience did you make a conscious effort to change for "Text_Bomb" ?
D: If anything, I think we wanted to give this album a little more space. The Apology Wars had some rather thick and crunchy guitars. This time we wanted to try a slightly more classic sound with less gain and less distortion. I think we managed to do that, although we've backed everything back even further since the recording. It retains plenty of punch, but is somehow warmer.
A: Do you see a progression between the two full lengths?
D: There is a progression, I'm just at a loss to know in what direction. I think we've continued to explore anything and everything that grabs our attention, but this time the songs seem to flow from one to another with greater ease. So maybe it is that fluidity that is the progression.
A: What's the writing process like for Blueline Medic?
D: The writing process is slightly erratic. We all contribute in what is often a 4-way swap of home-made demo tapes. Other times ideas are running a little thin, or rather, we're holding off on sharing the idea with the others because we think there's something else we've got to save the time to find. More often than not, Donnie is snowed under with pieces of music we've delivered with accompanying demands for immediate lyrical attention.
A: On the "NEW.OLD.RARE" split and an Emplane Music compilation you included a cover of Tori Amos' "Precious Things." It's an interesting choice of a song to cover and works very well (if I can sneak a compliment in here). How did the recording come about? Would you consider yourselves Tori Amos fans?
D: Tori is a great musician and songwriter. Playing one of songs is a treat. Being able to record also served as an album-trial. At the time we recorded that song we were shopping for producers for the album. We gave over free reign (on the most part) to Lindsay, to see what he'd do, and were glad we were able to get a solid idea of how he works. It helped make the decision to work with Darren Thompsone for the album, easy. Given that the song was a cover, we weren't too precious about it all (no Pun intended). So it was part experiment, part homage to Tori, part a bit of fun. Putting it on a split seemed to be an obvious thing to do. I'm not convinced that covers belong on albums, so finding a place for it would have been hard had the "NEW.OLD.RARE" opportunity come along.
A: I'm going to jump into a few user submitted questions now…
A: "The Apology Wars" included "Shuffle and Scrape" which was based on a Caustic Soda song (members of Blueline Medic were previously in Caustic Soda -ed). Are there any plans to draw from other Caustic Soda material?
D: No, that was a bit of a good-bye. Donnie and Adrian do some acoustic shows every now and then and will occasionally play some of that old stuff, but it has nothing to do with Blueline Medic.
A: One of our readers asked if the lyrics to the song "Cathedral" were based on a real life situation?
D: Yes and no. It's based on the life of this one guy featured in a documentary Donnie watched. So it's not one of us, but it is someone and their real life situation.
A: We were submitted, "Does loosing bands like Something for Kate to the mainstream radio crowd dampen your spirits?"
D: Not really. Something For Kate are still the same great band they have always been. That there are more people liking them is no real problem for me. Sure it is nice to like something that is different to what the majority of people like: it helps make you feel like you are unique and your own person. When it comes down to it, you have to decide if you like the band.
A: Another asked how you feel about the Bridge Mall Inn (the rat) in Ballarat being shut down?
D: I didn't know about it `til now. I'm quite sure I know who (or rather which two blokes) may have sent that question, and I'd like to let them know we'll have to play in their back yard or Scout Hall next time we get up there. They'll just have to help us organise something.
A: Final reader question, "Why don't you play "Write Us" anymore?"
D: You can't be serious.
A: (back to my questions)
A: How has the new single "Sleepyhead" been doing in Australia?
D: Really well, as I'm told. It's our first "single" and Redline Records most successful to date if that counts for anything. I like the song. My Mum likes the song. That's gotta count too!
A: Do you find it difficult getting the same recognition from the North American scene?
D: I don't know. Living "Down Under", there is a slight disconnection with what goes on in North America. How do you measure that sort of thing anyway. I'd hate to be "recognised" as a piss-poor band… I'd hate to crave the approval of others just to motivate me to continue to write and play music. Out here we've enjoyed some successes with radio and on tour, but similarly, we've toured North America with some great bands and recorded with a talented American Producer. Recognition? I'm calling it all good.
A: Finally, are there any touring plans lined up to support "Text_Bomb" that you'd like to make known?
D: We'll spent the first part of June touring Australia. Sometime not too long after that I hear we will be on a plane to foreign shores. However, I've heard that voice whisper sweet nothings in my ear before, so until I'm strapped into that seat cursing the limited legroom, I'll reserve my excitement. We really want to go, but just need to make sure everything is place to make it work.
A: Thanks for the interview, we're looking forward to the North American release of "Text_Bomb" on April 22.
A: Oh… Aaron wanted me to ask who your favourite Fueled By Ramen employee was, but we probably all know the answer to that :)
D: um……… maybe that guy with the glasses….. Aaron?