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Music - Powderfinger interview

Tuesday, November 2, 2004



Keeping it together: Powderfinger eye a decade of living the music

By Juan-Carlo Tomas

What keeps a band together for 10 years? Living in Brisbane, says Powderfinger lead singer Bernard Fanning. That, and a good family life.

Excuse me? So much for a hard rock 'n' roll diet of beer, drugs and one night stands. As Powderfinger took to the stage at last month's ARIA Music Awards in Sydney, they looked as fresh as when they released their first LP, Parables for Wooden Ears, in 1994. There, surrounded by the industry's who's who, the band were described as an institution, a tag Fanning takes issue with.

"It's weird," he says, down the line from his Brisbane home. "We're still 21 in our minds, so to be institutionalised when you're 21 is kind of weird, but it's great. We get a lot of respect from people in Australia and it's awesome."

That's hardly surprising. From their follow-up album Double Allergic in 1996 to the smash-hit Internationalist two-years later, Powderfinger have always had a double-edged quality, tugging at heartstrings while downloading pure rock energy by the bucketful. Their current release, Vulture Street, takes this reinvention even further, adding a hard-nosed rock edge to their poignant lyrics.

"We kind of tapped more into that energetic rock thing and made it really different from our other albums," Fanning says. "We're pretty serious about writing songs, which I guess is more about the way we've matured as musicians."

Powderfinger found its roots in the early 1990s at Queensland University, where bass player John Collins, vocalist (now guitarist) Ian Haug and drummer Steve Bishop formed a band named after the Neil Young song 'Powderfinger'.

Haug met Fanning in an economics class in 1992, where they also met current drummer Jon Coghill. Guitarist Darren Middleton also joined that year and a year later they were signed to Polydor Records.

"We've kind of never been a band that's followed trends and fashions," Fanning says. "For us, it's the process of writing that keeps us going."

Their first EP, the self-titled Powderfinger, got a lukewarm reception, but their second, Transfusion, rocked to the top of the alternative charts, knocking off Nirvana's Heart Shaped Box. It was a sign of things to come.

"There'll always be people who just want to hear all the hits, while others are open to our new stuff," Fanning says of touring. "We try not to just rehash things."

Performing on and off over 10 years can suck a band dry. Fanning says balancing work and life and nourishing creativity have been their secrets.

"Whenever we perform in Australia, we kind of go on a national tour," he says. "We keep it fresh by doing a fair bit of rehearsal and try to change our songs around, structure our show in different ways, try to keep things different each time, not just for the fans, but ourselves. But we still kind of wing it a lot, it depends on the situation and what we're trying to do."

Which is one reason the Big Day Out, which Fanning dubs the Big Day Off, remains a highlight in his musical year.

"There's very little work to do," he reveals. "There's lots of people around and you hook with other bands you know and catch up."

They're also focusing on solo projects, with releases planned for next year as the band takes a break.

"Darren has a band called Drag and they're putting an album out next year," he says. "I'm also looking to release an album next year." But he's tight-lipped on the matter. "As a band we're thinking the public need a bit of a break from us!"

But the future looks bright, Fanning adds reassuringly. As seen at last month's ARIA Music Awards, the local scene is experiencing a rebirth among singer/songwriters, while bands like the John Butler Trio continue to push boundaries.

"Bands are becoming more willing to take a bit of a leap," Fanning says. "So ultimately we'd just like to keep going, keep building as a band and keep exploring where our music can go. We're not interested in any other aspect of the industry."

But will there be any room for a hard rock lifestyle? Band bonding?

Fanning laughs. "This may sound stupid, but there's a lot more to this industry than the celebrity crap that goes on now. We try to keep it real."

WATCH: Latex-clad Ariana Grande gets soaked by JLo's ex in 'Love Me Harder' sneak peek MusicFIX Blog by Carmarlena Murdaca Oct 29 2014 9:05AM

Looks like Ariana Grande doesn't mind getting her hair wet.

Taking a dip in the sexy pool, 21-year-old Ariana rolls around in a black leather bustier for her 'Love Me Harder' teaser… all while JLo's ex Casper Smart splashes water over her taut bod.

It's an instant pulse-racer! Check out the music video sneak peek above…

Despite slamming diva rumours while Down Under last month, the pint-sized pop star isn't doing herself any favours with this behind-the-scenes clip.

Especially since we see her get carried around on set because she "lays down in every music video". No Ariana, it's because you're totally precious.


Yep, we can see why Ariana would need to be carried on set. NOT.

Regardless of her diva training wheels, we're pretty excited to see more writhing and rolling from this sultry songstress as soon as her music video drops… and hopefully a whole lot less Casper.

View slideshow: Unrecognisable! Ariana Grande's frumpy to fab style evolution

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Best friend ever? Katy Perry flies 70 pals to Paris for 30th birthday celebration MusicFIX Blog by Adam Bub Oct 28 2014 9:35AM

It's been a huge week of celeb birthday parties, with Kim Kardashian's 34th in Vegas and Kelly Osbourne's Rocky Horror-themed 30th in LA… but Katy Perry's 30th really takes the (birthday) cake.

The pop diva flew 70 pals to Paris with hardly any notice, because, well, YOLO.

Katy had been holidaying in Marrakech, Morocco on a break from her Prismatic world tour when she booked a last-minute private plane for her friends and boyfriend Diplo, New York Post reports.

So why the big rush? Katy wanted to keep her b'day details "low key" after her plans for a trip to Egypt were leaked to the public. Sigh, we guess Paris will do…

The 'Birthday' singer and co touched down in the City of Lights on Sunday night, with the star apparently laughing and taking selfies with her 35-year-old DJ beau on the tarmac.

"They piled off the flight, her friends, assistants, her whole camp," an eyewitness told New York Post. "She flew all of her friends out, all on her dime."

Within hours, Katy, Diplo and a party posse of around 20 ate at Michelin-starred restaurant Le Jules Verne on the Eiffel Tower. When in Paris…

By early Monday morning, Katy and Diplo flew out again as he had gigs booked in San Jose and Las Vegas. Talk about a jet-setting lifestyle!

The pair were first rumoured to have hooked up in April, but it's all a bit awkward since he's expecting a bub any day now with ex-girlfriend Kathryn Lockhart. They also have a four-year-old son, Lockett... how awesome would it be to say Katy Perry's your stepmum?

We hope her Paris party antics looked something like this...

Now let's compare Katy's birthday with Kim Kardashian's 34th bash in Vegas...

Author: Adam Bub. Follow on Twitter. Approved by Amy Nelmes.

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