Prove your humanity

Fresh after their national tour of polished album Gutful, GROK sat down and had a chat with guitarist Alex Cameron on the LP, tour and the upcoming summer dates for a colourful festival season.

Personal Stories reflecting Australian culture fictional or non-fictional? – Cowards punch line in Gutful true?

I guess the stories are based on our own lives. Thankfully none of us have been the victim of a ‘one punch attack’, but I guess we come from a background, I mean we met at a football club, and while we all love creative arts, music, literature and film, we grew up in places like football clubs, and the ‘blokey’ Australian atmosphere.

Once we started the band both of those sides have come out, but we can’t hide the fact that we are guys that have played football, and to an extent like football, but on the other hand, there are a lot of aspects of that culture that we don’t like. Its been interesting with our band because I think a lot of people have perceived us as some kind of chauvinistic pub rockers. But really if you listen to the lyrics in the songs we write, they’re often railing against that type of thing.

I really like that song Gutful because you can imagine a pub full of macho-guys chanting along, but also the message in the song is really ‘anti’ a lot of those things that you could associate with that kind of crowd, like its anti-racism, anti-violence, anti-boorishness. That kind of thing is what we try to do as a band, like try to challenge people’s perceptions a little bit of who we are.

It’s okay to be male, it’s okay to be into things perceived as male like football, but also that doesn’t mean that you can’t have sensitive views on things, or have liberal views about things that are going on in the world. I’ve always kind of been on both sides, there’s like a divide between those two worlds, and as I’ve grown up and become more confident within myself I’ve realised that its okay to be both things, and that there’s good and bad parts of both of those worlds.

Recording the album with Mark Opitz and Colin Wynne, what kind of influence did they have on your work? And obviously, they have such a distinctive Australian kind of background with INXS and Cold Chisel, what kind of honour was it to be kept in that sort of company already so early in your career?

It was a great honor for Mark to want to work with us. In terms of influence, Opitz has always been very about what his mission statement is, as a producer he tries to bring out the essence of whatever band he’s working with, for us that was a really good live band. He said he had a vision, even though he hadn’t seen us play when we were working together, he said he had a vision of us playing in a warehouse in the city somewhere with a big crowd in a sweaty environment, so that was informing what he was trying to do.

To achieve that, I guess it was keeping things fairly simple with the instrumentation, not really recording more than what we would have in a live gig. The other thing that [Opitz] is very big on is talking about the feel of a track. So recording the tracks with a live band playing, not using a clip track like some producers do, and making sure that the groove in the song is right from the get-go.

Playing a song through various times, recording it, and listening to them back, that’s determining which of the tacks has the best feel to it. And that feel can be a relatively intangible thing, you kind of have to get a feel for when everything is fitting correctly.

Once you get that hard part right, the rest of the process is a lot easier. Other producers will try and fix things up down the track, by moving the drums, putting them in time or editing parts, whereas Opitz is much more about just getting the actual take of different parts right from the get-go. Even if there are little mistakes, it’s about overlooking them in favour of the song. It’s those small mistakes left in there that really add flavor and character to the recordings.

Album Artwork who is it?

Taken up in a pub called Humpty Doo in Northern territory an hour out  from Darwin, Luke Stevenson took the photo and we decided to come up and celebrate Australia day in Darwin which would be interesting. We went out to a few pubs and found Pete which we felt definitely captures what were trying to do with the album.

You mentioned you all met playing footy together, cuffed and collared is featured as The AFL game track, was that a bit of a honour?

Yeah I haven’t actually played it but the boys reckon its terrible, bit of a stinker of a game. AFL and cricket games get renounced for being a bit shit hey?

You’ve got falls coming up some great Australiana scenery with Lorne and Fremantle, Have you been to any of the places before ? Which city are you most looking forward too?

Have been to Byron and Lorne – both pretty beautiful and different to South Australian shorelines where we don’t have that rainforest kind of fauna. Both spaces are really beautifully. A lot of people go on about Marion Bay so it’ll be nice to go down there.

In comparison to the other artists on the bill, Bad//Dreems kind of stand out as one of the more gritty mosh-pit bands, do you think you’ll gel well with the other artists and make better company?

*Scoffs* I think it’s a good to have a bit of variety, the people like a bit more variety. I just wanna have a beer with Liam Gallagher Basically.

Bad//Dreems are set to play at Falls Festival Fremantle on Sunday January 7 2018.