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Q&A w/ Blackbird Hum

Does each member of the band have a nickname? If yes, spill them! If not, please make them up right now!

There’s a few – our drummer is El Jeffe, our trombonists are Chilli and G-banger, our trumpeter is Cags, and our guitarist is Shreddie.

What is your favourite track to perform live?

One of our new songs is a big-band-horn extravaganza.  It’s still only got a working title “Ska Bb” but we’ve been ending our shows with it for the last few months and when we nail it, it feels great.  The energy is huge and the crowd always are up for it at that point in the set.

What are some of your earliest musical influences that have found their way into the music you’re currently making?

I grew up on a steady diet of Neil Diamond, Paul Simon and Rod Stewart. Not sure about Rod, but Neil and Paul definitely left their imprint. Those guys could write a tune.

What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome as a band/artist so far?

Time.  There is so much to do to keep a band moving along from booking tours, recording music, making promo material, making videos, websites, social media.  Just finding enough time to keep doing all those things is borderline impossible for unsigned bands. I think that’s why so many good bands never break through – I mean you gotta eat right?

Have you had the chance to play a show with any of your musical heroes? Who were they and what was that experience like?

We’ve been pretty lucky in this regard.  We got to support Arrested Development a couple of times.  Some of us in the band were kicking around when their album “3 years…” came out and it’s one of those albums that never leaves you.  So we played shows with them and after the second one Speech came into our dressing room after the set and asked a few of us to get up and play horns in their show.  It was nuts. Our sax players Nish and Jimmy both took solos and blew the crowd away.  Absolute music career highlight.  Bombing the stage with Melbourne Ska Orchestra was also pretty sweet.

If you had to choose one song you’ve written that best defines your band which one would it be?

Our last single “Down” was the first track we all wrote together as a band.  Before that our singer Jon had brought ideas to the band and they’d turn them into finished songs.  “Down” started as a fully blank slate.  A horn line was played, a guitar line followed, a chorus came next and eventually a full song was written.  Everyone had full control over their part and in pushing the song in various directions as it evolved.  It’s the first track that really feels like it has a piece of all of us in it.  Our new single “Say You Want” is the next one from those sessions so it’s got it too.

Does your music have consistent lyrical themes or do they change from song to song?

We write pretty much two different songs and just keep regurgitating them. The first is some variation on a love song.  Like our latest track – boy meets girl, something not quite right, sing kind of sadly about it for two verses, three choruses and a bridge.  Voila! Our other type is the political, angry tune.  We’ve written about asylum seekers, the 1%, white privilege, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act(no shit – we have a song about Aaron Swartz and the whole JSTOR debacle!)

Favourite Simpsons episode? Discuss.

The baseball one – “Ken Griffey’s grotesquely swollen jaw”. Pretty sure I could still sing that whole song.

How would you describe ‘success‘ for your band?

This has changed so much over the years.  We used to have all the same crazy goals as anyone would and always wanted more.  But there was a point where we realised that we were already successful.  Every year we were getting booked for awesome festivals, we were getting great support slots, our releases were getting the odd Triple J spin, and our local headline shows were intense, sweaty, beautiful affairs. So we mentally changed the goalposts in our favour.  If things go bigger, we’ll take it, but if not, we’re stoked and if you’d said to me five years ago the band will play festivals alongside George Clinton, Angus and Julia Stone, Old Crow Medicine Show, Thundamentals and Xavier Rudd and that we’d support Arrested Development, and get on stage with them, and the Wailers and Melbourne Ska  I would have said “fuck yes I’ll take that”.  So that’s success right.

Tell us 3 bands that we should be listening to/be keeping an eye out for?

The Mouldy Lovers from Brisbane.  We supported them in Newcastle and they were the best live band we saw last year.  Everything cooked from the first song till they walked off stage a sweaty mess.

Billy Fox from Sydney. He’s  a long-time collaborator of ours and is making amazingly textural, layered beautiful soul music.

Bedouin Soundclash.  These guys are from way back, in Canada.  But they never really broke here.  I think they’ve got a new album coming out soon – keep your ears peeled, they write wicked tunes.







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