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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."

Bad romance! Lady Gaga's ex-assistant lands $1 million for tell-all book MusicFIX Blog by Josie Rozenberg-Clarke Jul 17 2014 7:43PM

Lady Gaga's split with former assistant Jennifer O'Neill was anything but friendly…and now the ex-PA has scored a reported $1 million book deal to tell us everything about working for the superstar. Look out, Gaga!

Page Six reports that Simon & Schuster bought the rights to Jennifer's upcoming tell-all, which will explore the two years she worked for the singer.

The best part? It's going to be called Fame Monster. Nice one Jennifer!

The former PA sued Gaga back in 2011, claiming she worked a whopping 7,168 hours of overtime and wanted the USD$393,000 owed to her…plus damages.

In the messy court battle, Jennifer testified that she was "required" to sleep in bed with the singer "because she didn't sleep alone."

She added: "I had no privacy, no chance to talk to any family, no chance to talk to any friends, no chance to have sex if I wanted to have sex."

Gaga, 28, branded Jennifer a "f---ing hood rat who is suing me for money that she didn't earn."

She also declared in official court documents: "I am the queen of the universe, every day...I'm quite wonderful to everybody that works for me."

Everybody except for Jennifer, apparently!

And she's not the only one who's angry at Gaga...

READ COMMENTS 0 COMMENTS David Guetta taken to the cleaners by ex-wife in $32 million divorce settlement MusicFIX Blog by Yasmin Vought Jul 16 2014 10:15AM

Things are not looking good for DJ David Guetta in his shock divorce with ex-wife Cathy Guetta (née Lobé).

Although their marriage of 22 years was officially declared as over in court this March, new sources reveal that 47-year-old Cathy ended up with the biggest slice of the pie.

"Things are not good," a source told Page Six. "Cathy owns all of the business names and the music [rights], [including] their 'F--- Me I'm Famous' brand of dance parties and popular compilation albums."

But that's not all. The business woman responsible for building the Guetta empire with the DJ, is also taking home a big chunk of the cash too.

"She's taking a lot of his money," another source told Page Six of the March settlement. "He's worth [AUD$32 million], she'll probably take [AUD$16 million] of that."

This comes as no surprise to another music industry source who revealed Cathy is the "business mogul", while David, 47, is "the rock star."

David and Cathy have two children together, 10-year-old Tim Elvis Eric and Angie, 6.

Related video: Celebrity divorce property settlements...

View slideshow: Messy celebrity splits

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