Archive

NICK

Fancy6

After years of doing bands that are really performance art troupes and wrestling classes that are really theatre shows and music videos that are really short films about mortality, I’ve kind of forgotten how to do things with some ordeal-based high concept-y structure. How to do this just cause. So now have a band that’s just a band again, and it’s very slow going to get it all off the ground properly, because I’m still remembering that you can just book gigs to book gigs and play songs just to play songs. This isn’t self-deprecation though, the new band rules.

Fancy5

I’d always wanted to play at the National Folk Festival (after seeing so many of my friends play really special sets there) but I’d never had a band that was in the right genre pocket. So I applied with the country-fied recordings I did for the second of my EP-In-A-Days and lied that I had a band to play them with,  Once they’d accepted me I had proper artist fees to offer I was able to ask my dream line-up of musicians to join me there for the weekend.

The nucleus of the line-up was Jacq Bradley and Matt Nightingale, a multi-instrumentalist couple who normally play in about six different bands across that festival. Jacq and Matt both embody the stereotype of the calm collected accompanist-who-is-really-the-stealth-bandleader. They have acres of song sense, tons of good humour and throats full of aching beauty. Perfect foils for my melodramatic, fidgety, over-syllable’d, hammy energy. Completing the line-up was the rhythm section from PROM, Sam McNair and Matt Lustri- I was only able to let that band finish up because I already had plans to rope them into this. It was great to let Matt play his actual main instrument of guitar again after nudging him into that two-year side session as a bass player.

I treated the National as Glam Country fantasy camp. We worked up a set of any and all of my songs that could even half-work as country, which included some songs of mine I’ve always really dug and never really got to play live. We played three sets across the weekend and it was everything I had hoped for. I wasn’t planning to push my luck more than that, but to my delight the others all expressed that we should play more gigs.

Fancy2

My delight and my terror, as my gig-booking fitness has atrophied and the realities of juggling schedules with a bunch of other 30-somethings are stark. But also I’ve been writing Americana-ish ballads and stompers for as long as I’ve been writing and it’s such an indulgent joy to finally get to play them live as one set (turns out I have more upbeat songs about death than even thought I had). Crowd response has been really good and playing with humans like these is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So I’ll probably deal with my angst around it all by writing a four-chord song about it, one ready-made for sick harmonies.

Fancy1

Photos by Adam Thomas

YAH Pics 2

So the experimental arts festival I worked for, You Are Here, is now an experimental artist development organisation. That’s what happens if you leave me unattended with a mixed-funding arts org.

Festivals are fine and whatever but the other YAH gang and I realised that the thing we really care about/do well is help artists do existential deep dives into their practice. Hopefully the kind where they come out the other side as sweaty messes, doubting everything and unable to work within any conventional version of the creative industries. Or like, just feeling like they have more tools and clarity around their practice, that’s fine too.

We’re just coming to the end of 16 intensive workshops across 32 weeks, with a group of 8 artists that we’ve slowly turned into a tight arts-gang. They’ve developed artworks from idea to audience outcome, worked in entirely new artforms, formed new creative relationships and in some cases just gained the confidence to not have to make something.

 

YAH Pics

We did our best to give the artists time to dig into their aims and drivers. For a lot of them it’s about modeling new approaches to existing art formats like live gigs, film screenings and VR. A lot of them were experimenting with ways of knocking down the barriers that stop people accessing art. And as you’d expect in this old world, a lot of them had stuff around legitimacy and self-worth to challenge and try to explode. This was our first time working this format and we sometimes went a little too far into unlicensed therapy, but our artists’ always got us back on track and taught us heaps. Plus we had some great artwork outcomes like an augmented reality forest, a performance art sleep clinic and an work about the duality of care where you got to eat noodles while watching a film. So in short if you’re a loose unit Canberra artist you should apply next year. YAH Pics 6

Lincolns Revival

Quoted From The Facebook Wall Of Nick McCorriston:

‘So I got to know the lads from The Missing Lincolns way back in 2004, through some sort of contact with Dahahoo and a gig they played at The Ground Floor, a pretty gross little dive bar in the heart of Belconnen, now occupied by a Club Lime.

A bunch of us from our little theatre crowd got way into them, I remember myself, MaxJoel and Hadley romping around to their garage punk ditties often, and they had this swagger and confidence to them that was intimidating.

I pored over a 2 track single they put out, Heavyweight Crown backed with Her Alibi, a preview of an unreleased album recorded in Melbourne. After they put out their Righteous Noise opus, they added a second disc with these sessions, called Deliver Us, and as much as the rest of the band will disagree, this is my fave Lincolns material, the cheeky, innocent, wide-eyed Lincolns that I saw live so many times.

When I returned to Canberra in 2015, I got an invite to play bass for one of my favourite Canberra bands ever. I’m a terrible bass player, I have trouble with repetition and I lose my place often, so short rock songs suit me the best, and we’ve got that in spades with all this new(er) material. These songs have been on the shelf for more than 10 years at this point, and I’m really happy to be rocking up to Smith’s Alternative on Friday to play this stuff with some of the best guys I’ve known. check it right here: Missing Lincolns- the Lost Album Live

Cuz when I’m with you I feel like a million bucks.’

Quoted from the Facebook Wall of Luke McGrath:

‘Nick, Chris and I started this band in what, 2002?? 2003? In any case, it’s been a minute, and we are all still best friends which is crazy and beautiful. The first ‘album’ (a bunch of demos really) we recorded was done in Nick’s folks’ living room in Palmerston. It took us three or four Sundays (back then we practiced every Sunday for a few hours, always broken up by a trip to the Gunghalin KFC). I remember being so incredibly proud of those recordings – that shit bumped!

Then we won a Coca-Cola band competition and got to support Magic Dirt at EPIC, which was epic! It was at that show we met our first manager, who paid for us all to go down to Melbourne and record for a week in a proper studio! That was insane – Chris borrowed a kit from the guy from The Living End, I got to play a dozen different guitars including my still favourite, the Starcaster, and we got used to studio life which was mostly sitting around cracking jokes and reading Vice magazine. We made a couple of videos for it and got played on Rage back to back with The Arctic Monkeys two weeks in a row!

The rest of those recordings ended up shelved for a while until we recorded our second album with Sam King! Sam wasn’t yet the studio-owning recording tycoon he became – we recorded the album in a kind of annex of his folks’ house. Whereas our previous recordings had been just us, we decided to throw the kitchen sink at this one – we had strings, horns, organ, you name it! For a band that didn’t have a bass player, four people played bass(!) on that album! It’s one of my favourite things I’ve ever done, the songs and production are crazy good. We somehow got a song on the cover cd of Australian Guitar Magazine (the song ‘Guitar Fighter’, natch). We released this album with a bonus disc containing the songs we recorded in Melbourne – a double album!

So while we had three albums of recorded material, we were known around town as ‘the band with 100 songs’. Which was true, Nick and I were prolific (still are!). We had earmarked a bunch of those for our next album, but never got around to recording it. I moved away for a few years (Cairns and Edinburgh) and then Chris did the same (Brisbane) – Nick stayed in Canberra, concentrating his power and becoming a doyen of the arts scene.

We’d always planned to record more of those 100 songs – we even earmarked a dozen or so for another album – but got distracted with a zillion other fun and shiny things…

UNTIL NOW. We are going to record our third ‘lost’ album live in less than a week – it feels kinda wild and historic, which it is.’

 

Lincolns Gig 3

Quoted From The Facebook Wall Of Nick Delatovic:

‘I have a deep-set hatred of nostalgia, which makes me act weird sometimes. When I had the idea for this show I was conceiving it as a way to declare that the best of The Missing Lincolns is still to come, and I know that it is. I was dumbly unprepared for the outpouring of people’s memories from the past 18-and-a-bit years of the band, and their words about the part we might have played in a chunk of their lives. It’s not a comfortable thing for me to reckon with all that time, and it’s a weird thing to have spent the week rehearsing songs with lyrics written by a much younger Nick, who was both more afraid and more sure about everything than me. But it’s been a good reminder for me that I’ve had the joy of getting to make the exact art that I want, with the best people in the world, for years and years and years now. And that I should relax and notice everything that I have more often. Like maybe tonight. When it’s being recorded for posterity. Lol.’

LincolnsRevival3

Photos by Tiffany Gleeson

 

Wrestling Australia Camp-0047

As you know my relationship to my chosen sport of freestyle wrestling is so emotionally fraught that I wrote a whole performance art show about it. You might have wondered if any increased success in competition might have tamped down my various crises of selfhood and legitimacy. Well fear not! Turns out every little nudge I make into the higher levels of wrestling brings with it new layers of comitragic awkwardness.

Wrestling Australia Camp-0906

After a first place at 2018 Australian Nationals, a second place Oceania Championships in Guam, and a third place at 2019 Nationals, I got invited to the 2019 Olympic Training Camp. I got to train and spar with the Australian wrestlers most likely to qualify for the next Olympics, completing ten sessions across six days, and if that’s sounds like I might have been slightly out of my depth YOU WOULD BE RIGHT. Enjoy the below photo of me trying my best  to display good Active Listening Face while struggling to understand what was comfortably understood by most of the room. Wrestling Australia Camp-9759

My fitness held up fine and I definitely learned a heap of great stuff, but also it turns out that the world of elite athletics has a lot in common with high school. By which I mean a status hierarchy quickly appears (in fairness a fairly meritorious one) and anxiousness leads me to do clumsy stuff if front of everyone. I had a great and punishing time and left me desperate to keep going with the whole thing. So like, very much of a piece with my whole thing here.

Wrestling Australia Camp-9720

75196404_419801718700391_2381970948053008384_n

It’s usually safe to assume that your art has no real impact on the world around you. Babyfreeze’s obsession with high-concept gigs, like the arctic pajama party that we held in the Commonwealth Park Amphitheatre to launch our two new records (separate post coming about those) are done as our own selfish attempt to make sense of the universe and are best treated as such.

(Pajama party photos by Adam Thomas)

That said, just as we were hitting the limits of WeirdSpace GigShapes that our own brains and the town around us could offer, The Bubble was erected for a series of events in Haig park across the Spring. Artists were invited to Submit to The Bubble in all senses of the word. Really, how are we to take this other than as the inevitable physical reaction to what Babyfreeze has been putting into the universe?

Anyway, enjoy these shots of the Babyfreeze Electropunk Wellness Club, taken by Zev.

My big resolution for 2019 was to sing more. That must be pretty comical to my friends and loved ones as I’m sure that from their perspective I never bloody stop. But working as the ‘Company Singer’ on the Sound and Fury Tour drove home for me that singing is the most purely enjoyable thing that I do, and also that singing ‘standards’ can be every bit as fun as creatively challenging as singing my own stuff.

Matt Lustri is the only musician that I’ve played in as many different projects with as I have with Luke. Matt is a proper virtuosic musician and has objectively the best attitude, particularly when it comes to engaging with music that’s new to him. Introducing Matt to genres he doesn’t know is just the best thing, he’s always so ready to love things and to indulge two-hour YouTube trawls. Plus he absorbs and takes command of the technical aspects of playing different genres so quickly, like disgustingly quickly.

You won’t believe that it was actually Matt’s idea for us to do an act where we play songs from musicals, even I don’t believe that it wasn’t my idea. He floated it way back when PROM was rehearsing our final gig, and I wouldn’t stop singing broadway numbers in every spare second. At the time I laughed it off, probably daunted by the idea of covering songs that were written for full orchestras and the greatest singers of the 20th century.

But now that we’re just doing it the one-guitar-and-two-voices vibe is weirdly what’s making it work (at least for me and the tiny but vocally appreciative audiences of the Smiths Varietals). Reducing these big dramatic numbers down to the lyrics, the chords and my awkwardly over-detailed explanation of their original context kind of creates the gig equivalent of the aforementioned loungeroom YouTube party. Like Matt and I are your two friends excitedly taking you through a playlist of their favourite songs from musicals, without having checked if you’re actually up for that.

As a fiend for dense lyrical conceits I’ve pushed us towards of lot of words-y numbers, but I think we’ve done a pretty good job of picking songs that sell their brilliance in stripped-down form. Musicals from the 30s to the 70s is the bit, which creates the inherent challenge of picking songs that playfully highlight the absurdity of 20th century social values but not the ones that are just gonna straight up distress the audience. So plenty of Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair but less of the Bless Your Beautiful Hide.