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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."

Move over, Nicki Minaj! Miley's terrifying prosthetic butt is about to take over the world MusicFIX Blog by Claire Knight Sep 18 2014 9:10AM They say "if you've got it, flaunt it", but they also say "fake it 'til you make it".

That's exactly what Miley Cyrus is doing with this giant fake booty… and we just can't look away. Check it out in the video above.

Seemingly jelly of all the attention that Nicki Minaj's jelly has been getting lately, the 'Wrecking Ball' singer took matters into her own hands and had her own version custom made, featuring a sparkly G-string, because YOLO.

Don't worry Miley, you're only 21… there is still plenty of time to grow a real derriere.

In the meantime, her twerking will be significantly enhanced by this bad boy.

The downsides to having a big butt? You need to constantly blow dry it, apparently.

View slideshow: Can you guess the celebrity butt?

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Ariana Grande allegedly heard saying she wanted fans to 'f---ing die' after signing autographs MusicFIX Blog by Claire Knight Sep 18 2014 8:13AM Ariana Grande is in even more hot water for her prima donna behaviour.

According to New York Daily News, the 21-year-old singer has a two-faced persona when it comes to her fans.

"She did autographs and pics and was all smiles until she got into the elevator," a source told the newspaper of Ariana's visit to a New York radio station.

"And as soon as the doors shut she said, 'I hope they all f---ing die.'"

Not cool, Ari.

The newest pop star on the block was ridiculed for her "diva" behaviour while in Australia last week, including orders to be photographed and filmed from the left side of her face only. But this accusation takes it to a whole new level…

TV presenter Giuliana Rancic even weighed in on the diva debate from Hollywood, telling E! News about the time Ariana's people elbowed her out of the way during an interview at the American Music Awards in order to get her "good side". Watch below to see Giuliana let loose on the 'Break Free' singer!

The New York Post also spoke to a source close to the singer who believes that, "instead of coming off like an assertive woman who knows what she wants, it makes Ariana seem like a toddler throwing a tantrum and her parents handling the dirty work for her."

Do you believe the rumour? Have your say below.

Unrecognisable! Ariana Grande's frumpy-to-fab style evolution

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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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