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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."

Spot the difference: Nicki Minaj's untouched 'Anaconda' cover MusicFIX Blog by Claire Knight Jul 29 2014 3:41PM She shocked the internet when she shared the raunchy cover photo for new single 'Anaconda' last week, now we're getting a glimpse of the real Nicki Minaj… and it's just as hot!

The above left photo is what Nicki posted to her 6.7 million followers on Friday, but the photo on the right shows a more natural Nicki in what website MediaTakeout claims is the original, unedited 'Anaconda' image.

Her signature curves are still very much intact, but appear to be smoothed out in the published version. Her skin has also been lightened, her hair slicked down and her bum… well, don't kill us Nicki fans, but it looks a little rounder.

Take a good, hard look for yourself and let us know if there's anything we missed.

Celeb butt pics

READ COMMENTS 0 COMMENTS Why will.i.am and The Voice winner Anja ditched Delta's song MusicFIX Blog by Claire Knight Jul 29 2014 11:38AM Last week the rumour mill was buzzing when Anja Nissen and coach will.i.am decided not to release new single 'My Girls'.

Now we know why the track that Delta Goodrem penned for The Voice winner was canned.

"'My Girls' is an awesome song, a great song," Anja told The Daily Telegraph.

"It just came down to whether or not it’s my style or not. Will just wasn’t sure."

Anja, 18, was due to release the track as her winner's single last Friday before it was dropped by the Black Eyed Peas producer in favour of a new song written by him.

"We didn’t have enough time. Will wanted to be part of the decision making process when it came to choosing the single. Will wasn’t sure if 'My Girls' was the right style for me. He wanted to have a few more days to think about that and start working on ideas, looking at where to go next," Anja continued.

Her self-titled covers album was recorded over one day last week and is due to be released on Friday to coincide The Voice Top 8 national tour.

Anja and Will left The Voice finale after party early to get to work on the elusive new single, which remains unfinished.

"We've been playing around with some ideas, but there's nothing ready to go as such," she confirmed.

Catch up on The Voice at The Voice's official website. For details on The Voice top eight tour, click here.

View slideshow: Aussie talent show winners: Where are they now?

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The Flaming LipsHarvest FestivalAustralia adds another music and arts event to its inordinate list:Harvest - A Civilised Gathering.
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