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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."

Courtney Love admits to using heroin while pregnant with Kurt Cobain's daughter MusicFIX Blog by Jeremy Helligar Jan 29 2015 8:59AM

Being the daughter of Courtney Love and Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain must come with its share of hurdles, but Frances Bean Cobain's challenges began even before she was born.

In the new documentary KURT COBAIN: Montage of Heck, which premiered last weekend at the Sundance Film Festival, Courtney, 50, reveals that she used heroin while pregnant with Frances, now 22.

"I used it once, then stopped," Courtney says. "I knew she would be fine."

Though her apparent lack of remorse is surprising, her candor isn't. Courtney's always been blunt and outspoken, and she more or less commissioned the project about her late husband, who committed suicide in 1994 at 27.

"In 2007 [I] got a call from Courtney who wanted a film that went beyond the music," said the doc's director Brett Morgen. "The journey started there. But I made this for Frances. She gave me the keys to go and make the film."

Indeed, Frances was executive producer and provided footage of her early months being raised by her parents.

Both Kurt and Courtney infamously battled heroin addiction during their marriage. Despite his demons, Kurt expressed his desire to be a good dad to Frances.

"My father and I are very different people," he said in archive footage. "I am capable of a lot more affection than he is. I don’t want her to be screwed up."


The Cobains in 1993. Image: Getty.

She seems to have turned out pretty well, though she's been estranged from her mother as an adult. The two reunited at the premiere for the first time in five years.

"So sad yet so uplifting, beautiful and gorgeous," Courtney tweeted of the doc afterwards. "Your daddy would be so proud of you baby. Thank you."

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WATCH: Newly single Irina Shayk strips off and cosies up to Marc Anthony in new music video MusicFIX Blog by Carmarlena Murdaca Jan 27 2015 6:47AM

One week after splitting from ex-boyfriend Cristiano Ronaldo and Irina Shayk's already found herself embroiled in a new love triangle.

For a music video, that is.

Caught up in a dangerous game of cat and mouse for Marc Anthony's new track 'Yo Tambien', 29-year-old Irina emerges from a pool like a total goddess as two men fight for her undivided attention.

Erm, do you blame them? Watch the newly-single star smoulder in the snippet above.


Cristiano who?

The Victoria's Secret model and her footballer ex split over the Christmas period, with the striker then linked to Spanish TV presenter Lucia Villalon.

Last week, it was claimed that Ronaldo dumped Irina, because she refused to attend a 60th birthday party he was organising for his mother Dolores...which sounded a little extreme to us.


The other woman? Cristiano says no, but sources say yes.

However, #CampShayk quickly squashed those rumours, saying that Irina had always "been to close to Cristiano's family throughout their relationship".

"Any negative rumours about Irina's and Ronaldo's family are completely false and have not been a factor in the cause of the split," they added. "Irina has no comments at the moment."

Probably because she's too busy being chased by men all over the globe...

See more celebrity breakup revenge snaps in the gallery below…

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