When we last spoke with Brisbane based long haired hippies the John Steel Singers, they were already making quite a name for themselves with a touring schedule that would have put Michael Jackson’s proposed fifty concert residency to shame.
It seems they’re still as busy as proverbial beavers, but time and a solid reputation have started to take their toll on the band’s penchant for sleeping in. Heading off on the tour bus a few minutes late is all fine and dandy, but when you’ve got a plane to catch…
In a rare moment of downtime between tours, Mikey Carr spoke with Pete Burnoth to find out the latest.
Music Feeds: It’s been a long time since we here at Music Feeds had the good luck to talk to you guys, how are you? The last time we spoke was just after you got The Grates tour if my memory serves, how have things been going since then? You were really busy around that time, and I seem to remember you had you’re own tour going around then, how was that?
Pete Burnoth: It went really well, from what I recall, which isn’t much… I remember much fanfare and merry making from everyone involved. We saw a gigantic pet pig, played fall asleep in funny places and I worked on the whole not-being-an-annoying-ass to everyone in the touring party.
MF: Well, at least you tried . You’ve got a new single going, any changes in sound since the last stuff we heard from you? How would you describe the single? What with the title The Masochist, has one of you guys gotten in S&M?
PB: The changes are subtle… like the difference between a horse and a zebra…. not a huge leap genetically but looks a whole lot different (I may have made that pseudo-scientific fact up). The lyrics are written by Scott, as far as I am aware he hasn’t been going to dungeon themed parties, if he has I’ll be pissed that I wasn’t invited.
MF: From what I’ve heard on the MySpace you guys have taken a less happy approach to the music with some of the new stuff, would you agree? What caused that?
PB: The joy is still there for us, we’re digging on the new songs a whole heap but I guess now that Tim and Scott are getting closer to death (25 or 26 or something) the focus has changed from lollipops and toy cars to something a little more ‘mature’.
MF: You’ve got a pretty packed schedule coming up with the single tour as well as appearances at Falls, Sunset Sounds and Southbound, are you excited?
PB: Oh hells yes! Since coming back from the UK at the end of May we’ve played a whole two gigs. I’ve been going just a little mental trying to come up with new and exciting things to do in lil’ ol’ Brisbane. It’s the most down time we’ve had for around two years. Sure we recorded an album in that time… but I’ve missed playing gigs more than Bubbles misses Michael… too soon? Up yours! I’m sticking with it!
MF: If it is too soon, I’ve already overstepped the mark a bunch of times already. How do you find playing festivals compared to playing your own gigs?
PB: It’s a little more daunting due to the crowd size an all that. We’re learning not to play brand new songs that have had very little practice to a festival crowd. Nothing but the hits baby!
MF: Do you usually go through any pre-tour preparations? Boot camp to stay fit? Virgin sacrifice to appease the gods?
PB: I’m hoping we do a heap of rehearsing. It can only help I’m sure. I guess doing the washing is also pretty important. Set your alarm so you don’t miss the flight is a big one too, we’ve failed at that way too many times.
MF: I saw the video for Rainbow Kraut, fucking awesome by the way. It looks great but it looks like it didn’t cost much as well, is that a key concern for you guys, matching what’s artistic with what’s economically viable?
PB: That was done by Rhett and Warren from Moop Jaw, fucking brilliant those fellows. That EP (In Colour) was financed by Levity so we had more money that we imagined to make nice things such as the video. It’s a fine line I guess. You gotta make money so you can stay on the road but that brings some rather hard decisions at times.
MF: Being an unsigned band are the often times when you have to compromise the music because of lack of funds or do you try to avoid being put into that position?
PB: It has happened, it’s never enjoyable to be in that situation. There’s always a voice of reason coming from either the band or management trying to make us see both sides of the picture so sometimes a well thought out decision is made. As far as the recording process goes we’re always prepared to spend more money on getting the tracks right.
MF: As an unsigned band who’s managed to find some success through hard work, have there been any mistakes you’ve made on the way you’d rather not have made? By the same token are there any victories that bring a tear to your eye or a laugh to your heart?
PB: Hmmmm… missing flights is a big one. It could be laughed off if we were a three piece but when six people miss a flight that equals big dollars, yet we still cut it close every time. Sleep should not come before money but sometimes it does.
MF: Too often for me sometimes. Other than the single tour what do you have planned for the end of the year and the start of the next?
PB: Well, I’m going to start being a tour guide of storm drains, not the awesome big ones, which you can walk through, but the shitty little ones where you have to crawl and come across absolutely nothing interesting…. it’s a bold business move but I think it will pay off.
As a band we shall be releasing our debut album and then embarking on a comprehensive album tour. When that actually is I have no idea. I’ll have my people contact your people.
MF: Any Brisbane bands we might not have heard off that we should check out?
PB: Hmmm… we’re touring with Little Scout, have you heard of them? They are all kinds of lovely. There’s a sweet band called Swamp Lords containing a member of Blue Carousel… heard of those two? Check it!
There you have it. The John Steel Singers will be touring throughout October and November. For tour dates and info go to www.myspace.com/thejohnsteelsingers.