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Written by Michael Carr on August 29, 2008

Continuing our exploration of Sydney’s psychedelic scene, Music Feeds chat’s to Matthew J. Tow, the mastermind behind Drop City, Coloursound and those perennial Brian Jonestown Massacre supporters the Lovetones.

Having worked and toured with Anton Newcombe and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, played shows around  the world with his previous band Drop City and currently supporting the BJM on their Australian tour, Matthew J. Tow is hardly a rookie when it comes to psychedelic music.

Drop City were part of the original bunch of bands that helped establish the psychedelic scene in Sydney. “The scene grew up around a core group of bands who were basically good friends and played shows together. There was us, The Dolly Rocker Movement, Belles Will Ring and a few others who were into similar kinds of music I guess. The Lovetones are really a continuation of Drop City. It all began there really.”

While the scene originally flourished, times have been hard for musos over the past decade with pokie filled pubs and 100-decibel dance clubs taking over. “I started to play in bands in Sydney in the early 90s and the venues were fantastic and extremely keen to have music on a regular basis. There were venues everywhere. The trend is shifting slightly again at the moment, but I think the last 10 years have been very difficult for musicians in Sydney.”
“The music scene at any one time is usually a true representation of what the audience wants to listen to. So I see it more as a general trend in music, rather than a lack of good music venues. If the public wants it, then it will generally come about one way or another.”

The Lovetones’ forthcoming album Axiom has seen the band further refine and polish their sound, showing the world that Australia can do psychedelic as well as everyone else. Recorded in frenzied sessions split between Figment Studios in Hollywood and The Sydney Opera House Recording Studio, Axiom is filled with rich instrumentation and dreamy soundscapes.

However the band have hardly been taking a rest with a new album soon to be released. “The next album Dimensions is finished and will be released in Australia in October of this year. The first single is Love & Redemption and it is the final album in the trilogy Meditations, Axiom and Dimensions. It was recorded here in Sydney with the help of Liam Hayes from Belles Will Ring, and I mixed it in LA with Rob Campanella from the Brian Jonestown Massacre, who has also produced and mixed, BJM, Black Angels and Dead Meadow.”
Matthew is an album machine. “Every album is different, none easier or harder. With Drop City and my Colorsound (solo) albums included I have released 13 albums. Every record is generally a snapshot of what is going on in my life at any given time. If you want to know where I’m at, as an artist or person, listen to the music”

With his obvious links to Anton and The BJM, I had to ask Matthew about whether or not Anton inspired him to take up a Do It Yourself approach and if he had any good on-tour with The BJM stories. “I have always been fairly pro active in getting my music out there, but Anton definitely has taken the DIY ethic to a new level. I have many good stories, but I don’t kiss and tell. You will have to wait for the biography!”

Matthew may be one of the most influential figures in the psychedelic scene, yet he hardly sees himself as a patron or leader. “I am only inspired to make music that is relevant to me and what is happening in my life. If a scene grows around that, then so be it, but I don’t feel inspired to help any scene along. Evolution will take care of that. I think the music coming out of Sydney and Melbourne is as good as anywhere at the moment. The kids are in good hands.”

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