Written by Brodie Popple
After the release of The Drones' critically acclaimed Feeling Kinda Free, Gareth Liddiard has set out across Australia touring as a solo musician. Since the release of Liddiard's solo release Strange Tourist in 07' The Drones have been hard at work with no sign of stopping. Bringing forth a sounds that belongs to no genre or fashion, Gareth will be treating Brisbane to an undoubtedly eclectic set this Friday the 21st of April at The Brightside.
It’s been seven years since we’ve seen an album from you as a solo musician, however The Drones only recently finished touring ‘Feeling Kinda Free’ you’ve been awfully busy but will we be seeing another solo record from you soon?
Umm, I mean yeah kind of, but kind of…not. The solo record I did seven years ago, the Strange Tourist thing, that was solo in the sense of me by myself. But The Drones is a solo thing anyway, it’s a platform for my arranging's, my neurosis. We're going to do a thing where me and Fi are starting a new band, because it's fun to do and we haven't done it in a long time. That will be a solo thing, but not anymore than The Drones.
What kind of sound would you approach a new project with? Something stripped back?
I don’t know, something more based on rhythm, you know in the past we've done stuff that’s more based heavily on chords, melodies and all that stuff. Which has been groovy, but we need something a bit more 'up-groovy', nothing real heavy. Everything I do, or we do, is just a reaction to all us, so we try to do something different, make it fun. Something I haven't explored in a huge way is rhythmical stuff, patterns, something like that. Won’t be exclusively electronic or acoustic, mainly like "what can I do with rhythm".
I’ve been following Gold Class for a while and was excited to see you popping up on their Instagram lately, aside from your role as producer, what’s your relationship with the band?
It's good! I've known a few of them socially for a while and it was really when we got up to making the album I got to know all of em'. Yeah we're friends now and they're like minded guys and they're fun to hang out with, it's a nice thing. Working in a studio with a band and share that experience, because you can talk about music with a working band in a way that you can't talk about with your mates at the pub. If I told you or a mate at the pub about it, you'd get bored pretty quick.
You’ve never been one to shy away from writing lyrics with taboo themes and this was quite present in ‘Feelin' Kinda Free’. In a world where free speech is often a vessel for prejudice and social commentary is paramount, do you find yourself holding back or filtering your thoughts or do you jump right in?
It's hard to think about that when you're in the middle of writing a song, because songs kind of bubble up and fester. It's not like sitting down and saying "I'm gonna say this or approach that", it's a head space kind of happening. Like a dream or a mood. I don't like to leave things off the table, there's somethings that are still too taboo to talk about. You know, I'm a vegan and if I mentioned that (in a song) I'd loose half my fuckin' audience. You can talk about fucking anything else. Everything else I just let it come and see what happens. If they don't like it, fuck em'.
The political themes of your lyrics also speak volumes about the current socio-political climate around the world. Are you a person with a political interest? Do you think music should be political?
I'm not a mega political nerd, I think it's interesting but not in a deep political science way. Injustices piss me off, I guess that's where it gets a bit political, if someone's oppressed. I definitely wouldn’t be able to stand up at a rally and talk, I'd sound like an idiot.
You’ve said before that there is no Australian way of life, which many can agree. Do you think patriotism is healthy or divisive?
Well it's divisive and a simple way to see it is Australia is a colon and it works for a mother country. You know, Australia wasn't colonized, it's remained colonized. We dig up all the fuckin' iron ore and grow all the sheep and wheat and we send it all to the mother company. That dynamic has shifted a bit because we don't work mainly for England anymore. But we are a colony and our job is utilitarian, so we don't have a culture and culture is frowned on. Because culture is for England, let them have the Opera Houses and architecture and let us have shearing sheep and putting wool on a boat and sending it to them, that's what we're here for. Think then of any problem we have and it stems from that, the Aboriginals don't get a look in because if they did, if we acknowledged their right to live here that would get in the way of our job. Which is to exploit this land for Britannia Incorporated. Europeans don't have a culture here because it's not our job. America owns itself because it's its own colony, they kicked the English out.
Well Indigenous Australian's were only considered people a year before my parents were born
Exactly! It's a chain of oppression, a system, if you looked at them like human beings. It would get in the way of you working this land and sending the goods back to England. You're here to rape the earth.
As soon as you strip them of their humanity it's a mandate for murder
Yeah definitely and you look at the Vietnam war, Vietnamese were considered 'g***s' and not humans. If you said to a soldier, that's a human being, kill it, there would be some uncertainty. But as soon as you say that's a 'gook' or a parasite, they'll kill. Same thing works for women and animals. Animals feel all the same things we do, but their brains are treated as inferior so therefore they can be killed. That's bullshit. That injustice shits me, you know, women getting treated as less, animals being murdered, its fucked.
Makes it hard to remain optimistic
Yeah it's like, all the drugs that are illegal are the ones that you can't take at work like LSD, Heroin, all that shit. Then there's lots of legal drugs like anti-depressants and stimulants that we give kids in schools, like amphetamines and opiates. All the legal drugs keep you working for the state, but all the illegal ones you can't work whilst you're on them. It's not as depressing once you understand it, but still you're just working for the man. The rich white guy comes out on top.
You’ve been playing in bands and as a solo artist for longer than a vast majority of musicians, how do you keep the fire burning to keep releasing music?
I like it, I enjoy doing it and the main thing that is out of our control that's kept us in the game is that we don't sound like any fashion. We don't go out of fashion because we never go in fashion, you know?
Yeah that whole daggyness attitude, if it's not cool it will remain cool forever?
Yeah if you blaze your own trail and you can do it like a Radiohead way (making shit up as you go along), or you can do it in a way that we do it. Which is kind of, like we do sound like other things, but we're using those sounds like a Trojan horse. There's a twist to us ripping shit off, we do it sarcastically. In that defence, we're doing something with our own flavour.
Well the name The Drones probably had a different meaning back when first conceived and that relevance of UAV's now probably helps with familiarity?
Back in 1997 a Drone was people who did horrible things like work in offices everyday, that's what we were referring too. There was no such thing as a predator drone back then.
Over the course of your career what is one of the most notable changes in the Australian Music scene you’ve witnessed?
The internet is both good and bad, but mainly good in a weird way, I think Triple J used to be a thing that was good. It helped us a lot in the 90's, but now its gone a bit stale and that's not taking away from it. A fucking huge organisation like that they're bound to get bogged down and now there's a Triple J sound which is a bit shit. It's not tossing up new and interesting stuff as much as it used to, I mean you're only talking to me because they got behind us. But the internet has taken over, there's a lot more females out there playing music, which has got to do with the internet and changing ideas. More women is a very good thing.
Agreed! Also your like a version of Suicide is Painless (M*A*S*H theme song) was one of the best ever to be honest
Haha yeah right thanks
One of the most prominent and positive trends we’ve seen is more musicians running as independent labels and management. In 2015 we saw the launch of Tropical Fuckstorm Records, how has running your own label effected the way you make music and tour?
It's something we're doing anyway with the records previous, we did it but we kind of forgot. Some people think we're really big, which isn't really true, we're kind of like a cottage industry. If we were selling honey, we would be the bee keepers and we'd be putting the honey in the jars and the boxes, into the back of the truck and that's where our job would end. If we don't do everything, we can't afford to do anything, it's less of a choice and more of something we have to do. I think the bottom fell out of the record industry so there's no money, but there are labels doing stuff but they're so small. If this were the 80's those labels like Bedroom Sucks or something like that, they would've been like waterfront or red eye making a nice living. It's a lot smaller now and we're just a reflection of that, Tropical Fuckstorm is very different.
Cheers for chatting Gaz, I'll see you at The Brightside on the 21st of April for your show!
Yeah cool man, good talking to ya!
// GARETH LIDDIARD //