Archive for September, 2009

Shonen Knife at the Corner Hotel, Melbourne, 24/09/2009
September 30, 2009

After I bought my first Shonen Knife CD way back in 1999, the Happy Hour album, I dreamed of some day seeing the band march onto the stage and break into a high-speed rendition of their self-referential introduction song Konnichiwa.  In their first Australian shows since their tour with the 1997 Big Day Out, there was nothing to be disappointed about.  The girls emerged on stage in their matching Supergroup uniforms, proudly waving bar mats that read ‘OSAKA, JAPAN’ like flags, then broke into just the song I’d hoped for.

There was plenty to jump around to in the set that followed, with the all-new Shonen Knife sticking mainly to their most upbeat songs from across their entire catalogue, with a good helping of songs from their latest – a fine thing, since it is a fantastic album.  Muddy Bubbles Hell was a highlight live, as was BBQ Party, with even the audience members who were simply out to sample some new Japanese pop-culture able to join in the ‘Pig out, pig out, pig out!’ sing-along chorus.

The first encore really got everyone moving, not surprisingly their biggest hit, Banana Chips. Once that was out of the way, there was a frightening moment where it seemed to be over too soon. Luckily the girls came back for a second encore, including their Ramones-esque cover of the Carpenters’ Top Of The World, which elicited cheers from the back of the Corner Hotel.


The Spazzys…
September 12, 2009

‘We gave them little instruments like ukuleles, and let them smash the shit out of some tambourines, and just go crazy for 20 minutes straight.’

It may have been a long time since we’ve heard new material from Melbourne pop-punkers the Spazzys, but that doesn’t mean the band haven’t kept busy.  It is almost five years since their debut album Aloha! Go Bananas produced a string of catchy sing-along singles and made the girls a major festival draw-card.  A new album and more festival shows are now on the horizon, but in the meantime, the Spazzys have kept themselves occupied with, amongst other things, appearances at kindergartens.

‘Ally’s started a business called Kiddy Rock,’ band-mate Kat Spazzy explains enthusiastically.  ‘I went with her on Friday.  She goes around to kindergartens and does music classes for all the little kids.  It’s awesome!  We get them all fired up, and then the teachers have to come along and give them their milk and settle them down.’

Suggestion that the group’s involvement with Ally’s Kiddy Rock workshops could lead to a Spazzys album for children were initially dismissed, but Kat conceded that it wasn’t too far-fetched an idea.

‘Children’s songs are pretty cute,’ Kat ponders.  ‘And Ally’s been writing some songs for children.  The Spazzys won’t go that way, but we might start a side band.’

Aside from these performances, the Spazzys have also boosted their profile and made some famous, and sometimes unlikely friends playing high profile support slots.  Kat boasts that Blondie played a Ramones song dedicated to the Spazzys, and that ‘Debbie Harry would do our make-up for us!’ Meanwhile, playing as Marilyn Manson’s seemingly mismatched support act was seen as an opportunity to reach new fans.

Marilyn Manson was wild,’ Kat recalls.  ‘He was crazy.  He never took off his sunglasses at any point at all!  But he loved us, and he was the one who asked us to do the tour.  All those little Goths in the crowd were so funny!  I thought they were going to raid the stage!  A lot of them really, really hated us, but we came out in capes and stuff, and hopefully a few of them liked us by the end.’

It was playing with Marilyn Manson that lead to what Kat describes as ‘pretty much the best show ever,’ playing as Marky Ramone’s backing band during his local tour.

‘He’s our hero, and we love him,’ Kat gushes like a lovelorn school girl.  ‘His promoter had heard about us during that tour and asked us to play with him.  That’s how we first met, and we’re still in touch.  Then he did our film clip with us!’

But the Spazzys became celebrities in their own right, both locally and abroad.  The band have developed a following overseas, and particularly in Japan, where Kat notes that ‘there is definitely an underground pop-punk following, just for our kind of genre.’  The Spazzys have recently released an EP to the Japanese market, and say ‘we absolutely loved Japan, and really want to go back.’

Meanwhile, in Australia, their album charted well, and songs were voted into Triple J’s Hottest 100, and the girls were invited to appear in television appearances, Kat on RockWiz and Ally on Spicks and Specks.

‘I went out the back in the green room and asked the producer for some butcher paper,’ Kat laughs.  ‘I made these massive signs… “Go Ally!” and stuff like that.  So I was in the audience with those and a six pack being loud and ridiculous.’

The girls wouldn’t describe their on-field performance in June’s Community Cup football match as ‘loud and ridiculous,’ though, preferring to quote the title on the medal won by Ally – ‘Most Rockingest Rockdog.’  The Spazzys are veterans in the Rockdogs, a team made up of local musicians who play in the annual Cup raising money for charity.  The mere mention of the Community Cup reveals a competitive streak in the girls’ otherwise light-hearted manner.

‘I hate those Megahertz!’ Kat proclaims, in reference to the Rockdogs’ traditional rivals, the Megahertz, a team made up community radio volunteers.  ‘I don’t really care about football at all – only my Rockdogs.’

After these other projects, the Spazzys say that they ‘are really happy to be concentrating on the music again, and putting out music, playing shows and making more music.’  Their new album will be called Dumb Is Forever, and is currently being finalised and is expected to be released early next year.  In the meantime the Spazzys hope to release a song or two.

‘We recorded it years ago,’ Kat says, recalling being in the studio shortly before the girls went on the road with the 2007 Big Day Out tour.  ‘We’ve made a lot of changes to it since then.  We’re really, really, really excited to finally get it out.’

Prior to the album launch, the girls are reintroducing themselves to touring at the inaugural Blueprint Festival in Ararat, 2.5 hours outside of Melbourne.  They join Jebediah, The Panics, Blue King Brown and Tim Rogers on a varied bill that spans a whole weekend.

‘We never totally disappeared,’ Kat refers to the absence of new music releases since Aloha, Go Bananas.  ‘We’ve been playing all around Melbourne.  No one can stop us from playing.  We kept on playing here and there.  We’ve done a lot of club shows, which I love, but I like a big audience to mix it up a bit.’

‘We haven’t done a festival in 2009,’ Kat surmises that the Blueprint Festival will be the first time the band has played before such a large audience in a year.  ‘This will be our first one.  I’m really looking forward to it.  It’s been a long time.’

But, when noticing that campsites are still available for the festival, Kat notes that the Spazzys have certain standards they adhere to, and warns concert promoters that the band ‘like to put our feet up and have champagne, like rock stars do.  I’m not camping!  I’m a girl!’

 The Blueprint Festival runs from September 18-21 in Ararat, Victoria.  Tickets are for sale now, along with full line-up and other information, from  Bus services are provided from Ararat city central.

From Buzz Magazine, September 2009.