Greta Mob Talk Blues, Bushfires And Booze

GRETA MOB

Greta Mob‘s full frontal rock n’ roll is about to spawn a debut album, ‘Let The Sunburnt Country Burn‘ will be available from November 29 (pre-order). The Sydney-based band produce a visceral mix of blues, rock and punk that’s already turned plenty of heads since starting out barely twelve months ago. To get better acquainted, I had a chat with frontman Rhyece O’Neill to learn about Greta Mob’s inception, their future and how they ended up recording in a Mudgee shearing shed.

 
Greta Mob – ‘The Petite Bourgeois Blues’


 
For those new to Greta Mob – how did the band first come together?

Greta Mob was born in Berlin in the Summer (European) of 2011. My old mate from Wangaratta Luke Millar and I were both in town and we hooked up for a few beers and a game of pool. We decided that afternoon that we were to form a band. Initially it was to be a noise/experimental project but it soon developed into more traditional song structures. We began rehearsing the following week and were in the studio a month after our initial meeting.

I returned to Australia and formed the live band, Luke by this stage had returned to Melbourne. I convinced him that the weather was better in Sydney and that he should move up here immediately to which he did. I then recruited Tim Korn our genius “Tone man” lead guitarist and pedal specialist. I then found the best punk bassplayer in Sydney in Adam Kennedy and after a few gigs convinced Shane Fahey from Scattered Order to come to a rehearsal one night with his 67′ VCS3 Synth and now we can’t get rid of the old bastard.

Greta Mob’s sound is distinctly Australian with a strong blues influence. What music / musicians inspired your sound?

We are heavily influenced by Australian punk and post punk bands from the 80’s like Scattered Order, The Cosmic Psycho’s, The Powder Monkeys, God, The Deadly Hume, The Bad Seeds, The Sacred Cowboys, The Scientists, Beasts of Bourbon, The Birthday Party, Roland S Howard and Spencer P Jones.

We also look to The Gun Club, Lydia Lunch, Einsturzende Neubauten, PJ Harvey, Nina Simone, Patti Smith and the old bluesmen like Lightnin’ Hopkins, John Lee Hooker & Howlin Wolf.

Should I go on? Noise and experimental artists like Ben Frost, Tim Hecker, Sofie Loizou, Flippo and even bass music artists like Mala Digital Mystikz, Mark Pritchard, 2562 and Shed to name a few.

We cover a lot of ground, the lads could add a whole heap more of their own influences but that’s just a few of mine that I share with them.

Since delivering the debut single ‘The Petite Bourgeois Blues’ you’ve toured with Swervedriver, Beasts Of Bourbon, Hanni El Khatib and more. It seems you’ve been welcomed with open arms since hitting the live circuit. What’s the experience been like?

Amazing. Henry our manager and I have worked very hard at getting the band some decent gigs this year. There was a bit of luck involved in some of them. Our shows are like a rock & roll white line fever. Anything’s fair game when we hit the stage. I think it rubbed off. The highlight for me this year was supporting the Beasts of Bourbon. They are our heroes. It was a great honour to play with them and the Beasts really liked our show, as did their punters. We sold a shitload of merch at the shows which was really nice. A close second was being asked to headline the Tote for our 6th gig. The Tote is the home of punk in Australia. It’s been a dream of mine since I lived in Collingwood to play there. It’s a great honour for any band to play the Tote especially a band from Sydney.

The debut album is provocatively titled ‘Let The Sunburnt Country Burn’ (obviously not in reference to recent bush fires). So what is the story behind the title and how do your social views impact your songwriting?

I named the album over 12 months ago after re-reading the Dorothea Mackellar poem “My Country” with my Auntie on Christmas day 2011. We were discussing the merit of the poem and its importance to Australian identity and nationalism. To me it’s a confused work which oscillates between jingoistic nationalism and genuine lament for the white colonial settler state we inhabit. It’s the “Sunburnt Country” that Dorothea so loves that we are referring to and yes, it has nothing to do with the recent bushfires in NSW. It’s quite ridiculous that people would take it literally. It was a case of bad timing. A lot of it is a distraction from talking about the real issues, issues of racism, genocide and war; the barbarism of the Australian state and our psychopathic Prime Minister are what we are referring to. Not the tragic bushfires that are made worse by the fact that our government refuses to implement sustainable bush management practice used by the black fellas for thousands of years. These fires are so catastrophic because there are no profits to be made in paying CFA volunteers and implementing bush management systems and sustainable planning. To the reactionaries seeking to link our album title with the recent bushfires I say this: We grew up in North-East Victoria one of the most fire prone places on earth, don’t talk to us about fucking bushfires.

GRETA MOB - 'LET THE SUNBURNT COUNTRY BURN'

Tell me a little about the recording process. How did you end up in a shearing shed!?

We began the album in Berlin in the now defunct Freeborn Studios in Kruetzberg. With myself on bass and Luke on drums. We rehearsed solidly for a month and then went in and did the whole album in a day and a half. I brought the sessions back to Sydney and did most of the rest of the instrumentation with the help of some good muso mates from Sydney and Melbourne.

Sofie Loizou (Anomie) and my best mate Bill Skermer from the Folk Rhythm & Life festival went to our friends permaculture farm near Mudgee called Milkwood. I was out there helping them do some building work and part of the deal was that I got to use the shearing shed to record in.

We did all the acoustic guitars, a lot of the bass and junk percussion in the shed. I found all the junk in an abandoned timber yard in Kandos. This place is like a ghost town where this one guy owns the two pubs, most of the property and this old timber yard. We paid him a small fee to extract a heap of hardwood timber from his yard and I found these old railway bolts and bits of steel that we used as junk percussion in the shearing shed. A heap of recording was done in the fire escape hallway next to our studio in St Peters. The recording and mixing process was stretched over a year but I wouldn’t have spent more than a month all up recording and mixing it. I did the whole thing for under two grand (if you don’t include booze and other lubricants conducive to managing late night recording sessions and early starts on building sites).

The opening track ‘Yorta Yorta’ is a bloody tale of Indigenous struggle. Where does your passion for Indigenous Australians come from?

That track was written a number of years ago. It documents my experience of growing up on the Murray River and coming to terms with the fact that everything around me was built on the dispossession and genocide of the Yorta Yorta nation. It gave me vicious nightmares that I still have to this day. I’m not speaking for black fellas in this song. This is my story of realisation. The realisation that everything I was brought up to believe in school was bullshit and that we live in an apartheid state that seeks to wipe out the culture, language and history of the indigenous people of this land. All in the name of profit.

What’s next for Greta Mob? Is it true a follow up record is already underway?

It is true. We have recorded a second album as a band of five all in the one room. This time its produced by Shane Fahey and myself. We have a new EP coming out in January which includes radically new versions of ‘Yorta Yorta’ and ‘Gypsy Town’ featuring Spencer P Jones on lead guitar. Spencer plays on a number of tracks on the second album also. We are hoping to get Greg Perano from the Deadly Hume into the studio in the next few weeks. He recently asked me to work on the soundtrack to his new feature film so that will be exciting. We are about to head to Melbourne for our album launch and we are heading to Tassie after that. We are working towards getting back to Europe next summer. We plan to do a big album launch in Sydney in January with our mates the Hollow Bones. We have also started writing the 3rd album and hope to record this in Europe next year.

Pre-order Greta Mob’s ‘Let The Sunburnt Country Burn’ here / Stream the whole album via Mess + Noise.

Visit Greta Mob @ www.gretamob.com @ Bandcamp @ Facebook.

The Ocular Audio Experiment – ‘Elizabeth’s Song’

Strange, spooky and surreal. I think its fair to say that The Ocular Audio Experiment aren’t for everyone. But for some, their latest record ‘The Witch’s Whispering Tomes‘ will be something worth pouring over. Delivered in two parts, it has the same twelve psych’d out songs recorded in different styles. I’m still getting through the whole collection but ‘Elizabeth’s Song’ has stuck out so far, the part two version would make Tom Waits blush. Its a blues infused piece of country death, the kind of campfire song that will stay with you.

 

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Visit The Ocular Audio Experiment @ Bandcamp @ Facebook.

The Owsley Brothers – ‘If It Ain’t One Thing’

Florida garage bluesmen The Owsley Brothers released their new LP ‘Cobalt‘ last week. The lead single ‘If It Ain’t One Thing’ is a dirty, lo-fi rocker that will appeal to lovers of Jack White and The Black Keys.

 

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Download The Owsley Brothers ‘Cobalt’ @ Bandcamp / Connect @ Facebook.

The Owsley Brothers – 'Rotten On The Vine'

Following on from The Owsley Brothers last single ‘Pure Lust‘ comes the incredibly dirty blues track ‘Rotten On The Vine’. The deep set groove channels early Black Keys and White Stripes. There’s even a guitar line that sounds a little like Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’ – or is it just me? Either way, it sounds like it’s just been dragged up from a swamp – a lot of fun!

 

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Download The Owsley Brothers free @ Bandcamp / Connect @ Facebook.

The Owsley Brothers – 'Pure Lust'

Get ready to have your head ripped off by some psyched out, bad ass, garage blues courtesy of The Owsley Brothers! The man behind the curtain is musician J.E.Reynolds from the Gulf Coast of Florida by way of Kentucky. The Owsley Brothers are working on an LP but in the meantime, the ‘Pure Lust’ EP is now available for free download right here!

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Download The Owsley Brothers ‘Pure Lust’ @ Bandcamp / Connect @ Facebook.

Tom Waits – 'Get Lost' and 'Hell Broke Luce'

I know Tom Waits isn’t for everyone. Even amongst peers he’s the perpetual black sheep. I also know that he doesn’t fit well within the regular tunes of choice at SBWR. But screw all that, he also happens to be one of the greatest living songwriters. So here goes…

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Tom Waits is character unto himself. He doesn’t smoke or drink anymore. He never left Missouri on a rail road track. And he damn sure didn’t hang out with a one legged carnival midget! But that ruins all the fun of his poetry. I’m happy to buy into his myth. In my mind he was born in the back of taxi cab and has the menu of his first job at Napoleone Pizza House tattooed on his guts. That part is true actually, the job that is.

‘Bad As Me’ marks the first official album release in seven years. However, I dispute this because the Orphans collection released in 2006 was much bigger than an album. Three discs of bliss! For these last few releases its been all dirt and grit in the production process. For ‘Mule Variations’ Tom Waits recorded in an actual barn and insisted on the doors being open to let the world in, Roosters and all. On ‘Real Gone’ he recorded by the Mississippi and it ended up sounding dirty as mud but ‘Bad As Me’ has a little extra shine.

‘Get Lost’ extends Tom Wait’s unique blend of rockabilly junkyard blues, not dissimilar from the opener of ‘Orphans: Bastards’ (‘Lie To Me’). ‘Get Lost’ has a tangible energy to it, I can see the barn dust flying every time I hear it. It’s this visceral quality and the untouchable charm of his lyrics that keep Tom Waits so far ahead of the pack. That’s if there is a pack. And of course his not so secret weapon, co-writer and wife Kathleen Brennan.

Few veteran artists mature so well musically as they get older, most age and lose a little edge. Exceptions to the rule could be Dylan’s ‘Modern Times’ or Johnny Cash’s American Recordings series. But Waits really does get better with each record. There’s more and more attitude and sorrow with each release. ‘Hell Broke Luce’ sees Tom Waits dropping a passionate F-bomb followed by an almighty chorus. This military style delivery pushes a theme from the ‘Real Gone’ album (‘Don’t Go Into The Barn’) but also has angular guitars and off-timed rhythms that harken back to the ‘Bone Machine’ era. For someone that is so openly opposed to war, he nails the drill sergeant role.

My only criticism of the ‘Bad As Me’ album is that the tracklist is a little jarring. You get whipped into a frenzy by one track and then thrust straight into a ballad, if I had my way it would be split into two sides. That’s it, otherwise I would post every single track, but that just wouldn’t be cricket! Fans should go out and grab this one, it’s a right of passage! Sermon over.

Tom Waits – ‘Bad As Me’ tracklist…
1. Chicago
2. Raised Right Men
3. Talking At The Same Time
4. Get Lost
5. Face To The Highway
6. Pay Me
7. Back In The Crowd
8. Bad As Me
9. Kiss Me
10. Satisfied
11. Last Leaf
12. Hell Broke Luce
13. New Year’s Eve

Download ‘Bad As Me’ via iTunes or get the deluxe package or vinyl here. Visit Tom Waits @ tomwaits.com or through Anti Records.