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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: Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea arch their backs and rub their booties at the AMAs MusicFIX Blog by Carmarlena Murdaca Nov 24 2014 3:56PM

Warning: This article contains hypnotic twerking, booty-popping and sexy back-arching.

Shocking crowds with their steamy performance of 'Booty' at the 2014 American Music Awards, Jennifer Lopez proved her butt was best by sitting on Iggy Azalea's voluptuous rump … which is much more impressive than resting a champagne flute on your butt, Kim Kardashian. Check out that bootylicious moment above…

The pair's 'Partition'-inspired grind comes just hours after TMZ revealed the strict guidelines artists had to adhere to at this year's awards.

According to sources, JLo and Iggy were not allowed to show their "cracks" while on stage, with absolutely "no rubbing" or "spanking" allowed after Miley Cyrus' controversial twerk at the MTV VMAs last year.

Yep, we're glad the girls didn’t stick to the rules.

View all the red-carpet highlights in our slideshow below:

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Totes awks! Kylie messes up lines at AMAs... after mocking Kendall's autocue reading skills MusicFIX Blog by Adam Bub Nov 24 2014 2:57PM

You had one job, Kylie Jenner

The 17-year-old fumbled over her words at the 2014 American Music Awards… one second after mocking sister Kendall's autocue fail from the Billboard Awards in May. Awkward! Watch the video above and squirm.

Kendall and Kylie, along with older half-sister Khloe Kardashian, presented the Favourite Pop/Rock Female to Katy Perry, who accepted the award via satellite from Australia.

Check out Kendall's original Billboards line flub below, introducing One Dir- whoops, we mean, 5 Seconds of Summer.

The Kardashian-Jenner girls had better luck on the AMAs red carpet, bringing plenty of va-va-voom with risky thigh-splits and even a touch of side-boob.

View all the red-carpet highlights in our slideshow below:

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