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illzilla, True Live, Phrase
Hip hop beats, edgy lyrics, soaring saxophone melodies and infectious grooves come together in a melting pot from Brisbane's Omni Anti.
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Interview: 20 July 2009
Tell us about your music – how did you develop your sound?
Tobias, vocals / lyrics: Jono and I ended up in a band together a long time ago in this town, and it took us to New York to tour and record for a year. We lived there in 2001 and I suppose we both grew in breadth and depth of listening with both of us constantly spinning records for each other. Despite staunch debate and disagreement over Peter Allen and Captain Beefheart, we had many crossovers and strong loves for Morphine, Shostakovich, the Beatles, and Thelonious Monk. Since returning to Australia we played covers together in a few bands but soon decided to pursue what we were writing in our heads, at gigs, at work, or while drinking at the piano, during practice, or driving around Brisbane.
Our interests in Australian hip-hop evolved really after returning to Australia. Living in NY was like being in an experiment, seeing how far the city you lived in would push you, and how you responded. So I found myself immersed in the home of beat culture, and spent most of my free time riding the subway and writing poetry. I continued to write upon returning, and as we were still working together musically, Jono and I decided to write for a band that had spoken word as a major component. The instrumentation was also considered carefully - the heaviest, darkest stabbing elements of the baritone sax and violin and for their long, moody and brooding abilities as well. Jono and I write on piano first so it plays a big part, as does the guitar. As soon as Veronica started singing with us all the elements for the sound we wanted were there. Apart from singing like Jesus ain’t ever coming back, she can drink you under the table.
You have eight members – must be quite a live show.
As we rehearse and record as a live band, it’s also great to play what we’ve written live, certainly. The only problem is the rider. When you’ve got 8 sailors drinking it doesn’t go very far.
What were you all up to before this?
We were probably doing the same a year ago as what we get up to currently, but we’re building momentum and finding different creative directions. For some of us it’s teaching by day, and in our studios at night. The rest of the band are gypsies, grey collar workers and students. We have all gigged in other costumes, and we still each have separate fires (that we started) burning in other art and music projects. There are also a few degrees floating around amongst us. Jono, Tony and Matt have done some Australia and Europe tours with the Resin Dogs (the majority of which they’ve been unable to remember), and Jono and Dave Atkins produced our e.p. Also I currently have some of my paintings at the Minus Canvas exhibition at Jugglers in the Valley. Brisbane is a blooming buzzing scene and although most of us have lived overseas and interstate, it is a really superb town to be based in.
What’s coming up in the future?
As a band we’re becoming very busy with live shows from very soon until the end of the year. We have dates in the pipeline for up and down the east coast, from Cairns to Melbourne (after sickies have been arranged). If the gigs paid well enough I’d do the tour by horseback. I’m a big Paterson and Lawson fan, and from them (and from several subsequent soujourns) have developed a great love of the stunning landscape of the outback. While I’m making a quick stopover in Venice, the band will be featuring DNO at Sounds of Spring which will be well worth seeing. But until the end of the year, all dates are on myspace, facebook, mybook, myface.
Australian music is?
All about the accent. The best of it is original, interesting, and everywhere. Brisbane itself has some very hip venues and we love playing many of them many times. It still costs us a lot of money to tour, but touring is always a road novel in itself, an addictive ritual, and worth the bank scars. The eight of us and all our friends are regular and intensive listeners to Australian music, and many of the artists we take notes from are Australians promoted by Australian indie radio. My friends in New York and London still listen on unearthed, and listen all the time, and request music. I get text messages and emails from them too, huddled in their apartment around a cup of cocoa or whiskey and a cigarette, leaning over the laptop speakers to hear our music on triple j.
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