(Galapogos in training)
Tell me about the formation of your band and the meaning behind the band name?
Dan Newton: We all met at Mixed Netball, we were all playing on the same team and were introduced by mutual friends. We had no real intention of playing music together really but one of the personal trainers on our team mentioned that playing music increases your upper body strength. So we just started playing ambient rock music to help our Netball skills and in the process we started to get caught up in the thrill of playing music. I mean we are better Netball players than we are musicians / artists and playing as a team in Galapogos has helped us greatly on the Netball court and given us all better upper body discipline. We recently got chosen to represent QLD in the first ever Mixed Netball Australian Friendly games so my advice to any young Mixed Netball player is to play in a band because it will improve your game and upper body strength. I’d also say to any young musician / artist starting out that if you want a back-up plan in case the music doesn’t work out then to play Mixed Netball because if you’ve been playing music long enough you’ll already have the upper body strength and you’ll be the world champions in no time. There is no money in it but our team is currently seeking sponsors so we can get proper uniforms and the funds to go to the Pan Pacific World Masters that are happening in Europe next year. It is like the BigSound of Mixed Netball and our application has been successful, we just need money to get over there. We’re traditionalists and believe in a good sausage sizzle and meat tray raffle to raise the funds for that but after playing in a band and being in the Brisbane music scene we’ve been introduced to crowdfunding so we might just use that so we can get the team over there in time for competition. In terms of the meaning of our band name, it is the ancient Egyptian word for “mixed sports” which really mirrors our motivations for kicking out the jams. In case you’re wondering our Mixed Netball team is called the “Camp Hill Panthers” and we play Tuesdays and Thursdays. We plan our whole music career around our busy Mixed Netball season, it’s a wonder we have time to do it at all.
Your Genre is Ambient Punk/Death Pop/Doomgaze. For those who don’t know, what is Doomgaze and what is it about your sound that places you in these genres?
Dan Newton: We went to BigSound and were told how to run a successful business by some of Australia’s leading musical minds. They told us that the best way to make money in the music industry was to use sleight of hand and make up new genre titles to essentially describe rock n roll. This really put us out of our comfort zone and challenged our understanding of what art could and should be. We never really thought it was possible to blend our love of Doom Metal and Shoegaze into one word to describe what we do. It took a lot of time for us to really feel comfortable with it because to us it really pushed the boundaries of what we thought was possible, I mean we were just mixed netball players so to have someone in the industry challenge us with the idea that we could not only be creative with our music but the business and brand side of things as well was a real game changer for us. I mean it was a risky business move just having one made up genre and we were way outside our comfort zone just calling ourselves “Ambient Punk” but when we were challenged to include three made up genre titles we almost walked away from music because we just didn’t know if it was going to work. I mean we just wanted to sell something to people that was tried and tested and met all of the KPI’s that go along with alternative / indie guitar rock n roll. It caused a great deal of tension within our band for a really long time and there was a period around 2012 where we just all sat down and discussed if we even wanted to be a band anymore. It put that much tension on all our relationships. Luckily we all went to BigSound that year and saw everyone comment on how brave it was to have three made up genre titles to describe our music. I mean we had doors kicked open for us in the industry as a result, so all of that pain and tension and the band almost ending was worth it. It was us being a big avant-garde with our brand awareness and thank fuck it paid off because it has really made people more willing to turn up and buy all of our music and it has brought has closer as a band as well. We encourage younger bands to be brave and adventurous when you have to make up genre titles for your music because as we learnt, people in the industry will want to make you famous if you are avant-garde and experimental with your marketing and brand awareness.
You’re signed to MGM Distribution/Noise Records, am I right? Can you tell me a little about how this occurred and what it has been like?
Dan Newton: We were awarded distribution after months and months of fundraising at our local netball club. In fact, it’s actually all a moment of synchronicity really – we were fundraising to get new uniforms for the “Camp Hill Panthers” at our local Mixed Netball club house and one of the players Husband ran a local DIY rock n roll label who only exclusively put out DIY rock n roll music and he brought one of our compact discs at the Sausage Sizzle and contacted us. He said that he only worked with strictly DIY bands and wanted to put out all our DIY EPs and Albums and that he had a special DIY only distribution deal with MGM who would put out all our DIY albums and EPs in DIY and non-DIY record stores. We only had to pay him a start-up fee of $200.00 and then tell ten of our friends in DIY rock n roll bands and get them to come along to the free seminars. That was a life changing moment for us, we never thought that you could survive financially by being just DIY but we have and all we have to do is tell other DIY bands about all the amazing opportunities they can also indulge in if they attend one of the free Noise Records seminars. We’re not really too across what Punk Rock is but the guy that runs Noise Records told has that his method is based on Punk Rock and so we were sold. Every now and then we have to hold seminars on his behalf but he told us that it is merely about spreading the Punk Rock message and making sure we exist outside of the mainstream. A lot of the things we talk to young DIY bands about you can’t buy in normal department stores or find in normal business textbooks which is why it is so Punk Rock and the traditional music industry do their best to cover up the truth about getting paid and being a DIY punk rock or guitar band. We’ve managed to make moderate returns as a result of being DIY and Punk Rock all at the same time.
You’ve cited Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and The Drones as some of your influences. A lot of cool ambience in their music. Can you specify what it is about these musicians that has influenced you?
Dan Newton: Well, we don’t really like those bands at all. We were given some very sound business advice by the owner of Noise Records that in order to get fans, especially punk rock fans, we need to list bands as influential as the above mentioned artists. We’ve all casually listened to these bands and they are pretty crazy and intense. A little bit too much for us but I think it was a genius move really because we have got a lot of facebook likes and compliments from reviewers and music scene blogs / magazines as a result. We really approach our music like a professional chef, we need to put in the right mix of ingredients in order to serve the right kind of flavours and the bands we list as influences are the special ingredients that will help design us the perfect mix of punk rock and intelligent art rock. We’re not afraid to design parts of our sound to please people and to get kudos for being a fearless punk rock band. These bands in no way mirror our tastes but they do explain what kind of image we’re trying to design for our band.
What equipment do you use in recording/on stage?
Dan Newton: We don’t actually own any gear, we just hire everything. We just use what the man says.
When I listen to your music I definitely get a sense of ambience, especially in the gorgeous instrumentals. How important is “technical” playing to you? Or do you just play what you feel?
Dan Newton: For us it is more about getting an adequate cardio workout and making sure we reach the appropriate heart rate levels. We’re all athletes before we’re musicians / artists so for us it is important to reach our own personal bests when we play. Like all good exercise regimes it requires a lot of stretching which is the most important thing to learn. The technique side of thing is important but it is also about pushing yourself beyond the pain threshold, we’re all really addicted to the endorphin rush that exercise can provide so that is what we chase when we perform. It is also important to have a good warming down program as well, it is just as important as your warm up stretches so we usually spend the last ten minutes of any musical workout on the treadmill or exercise bike doing a casual ten minute ride to the finish line. By the end you would have worked through all the relevant pain barriers and once those endorphins kick in, you’ll be relaxed and pain free. It’s important to make sure you drink plenty of water as well.
You’ve released quite a few EP’s/Singles. Which ones are your favourites/which ones are you most proud of? Why?
Dan Newton: All of them, any of them.
You’re playing EarCandy #5 soon. Have you been to an EarCandy event before? What bands are you looking forward to seeing?
Dan Newton: We played the first EarCandy back in 2013 and it is the only one we’ve been to so far.
What is “earcandy” to you?
Dan Newton: Um, Arrested Development
What are some of your favourite Brisbane bands? What bands would you like to play with?
Dan Newton: ADHD and Emma Louise
What is your take on the Brisbane “scene”? What do you think Brisbane needs more/less of?
Dan Newton: A sustainable business model where participants are allowed to make money solely by recruiting new participants into the scene. More sky-high returns in a short period of time for doing nothing other than handing over your money and getting others to do the same.
What is on the horizon for Galapogos?
Dan Newton: More of these