Tom Lowndes is Hot Dub Time Machine; a one-man, nostalgia-driven, time-travelling dance party. Since 2011 Hot Dub Time Machine has been transforming venues all over the country into a journey through the most iconic decades of music up to the present, and last year Lowndes launched his first ever Hot Dub Wine Machine concert.
In 2017 he’s once again running with the Hot Dub Wine Machine concept and has beefed it up into a full-blown concert series, with five shows in vineyards around the country. This time he’s also bringing along a massive contingent of guests, including Miami Horror, Paces, Young Franco, Confidence Man, and of course PNAU who’ll play their first live shows in six years.
We caught up with Lowndes chat about how Hot Dub Time Machine got its start, that now-infamous shut-down Enmore Theatre show, and what he thinks is the perfect drop of wine to accompany a Hot Dub live show.
Music Feeds: Where did the genius idea come from to do this Hot Dub Wine Machine Tour?
Tom Lowndes: It came from my manager, to be honest. Each year I try not to change Hot Dub too much, it’s about the greatest songs of all time, and there’s some songs that I play every single time. But what I do is try to make Hot Dub bigger and more intense every time, and the next step seemed to be to take it outside, and my manager really likes puns, and so Hot Dub Wine Machine was a thing. We particularly wanted to do it in Adelaide, which is a place I’ve played in more than anywhere else and it’s where Hot Dub first became successful, so we gave it a go down there. It went so great so we thought, “maybe we can do this everywhere.”
MF: How on god’s green earth did you manage to get PNAU who we haven’t seen live in almost 6 years?
TL: I wish I knew; let’s be honest I don’t go around booking the bands, that’s handled by all the agents and business people. But I’m super pumped about PNAU and we were super keen to get them. They’re one of the great Australian electronic music acts, particularly their live act. Their new song ‘Chameleon’ is just so good, so it’s all coming together nicely for a really good time at Wine Machine, and I think their demographic is similar to mine.
MF: This is the second year that you’ve curated an absolutely incredible lineup for the Wine Machine tour. Back when you started out did you ever imagine that you’d be here, with what is essentially your very own music festival?
TL: No, it’s absolutely crazy. I think the first every Hot Dub was in September, 2011 in the Factory Theatre in Marrickville in Sydney with around 100 people. Since then we’ve done so many gigs in so many places, I just keep expecting it to stop at some point or for people to get sick of it but it doesn’t and it just keeps getting bigger. I love it; it’s just so fun and so exciting. I never imagined this day.
MF: It seems like Splendour in 2014 and the year either side of it was when you really had a breakthrough in popularity. How do you go about keeping the show fresh and exciting for your expanding fan base?
TL: The concept remains the same but every show is different. That show at Splendour in 2014; that was absolutely my favourite show ever, it was so much fun.
MF: Was that the biggest show you’d done up until that point?
TL: Yeah absolutely. I’d done the amphitheatre at Falls before that in Byron which would’ve been similar numbers but the intensity of the Splendour gig was crazy. I used to go to Splendour and hang out in the Mix Up tent, for the particular vibe that’s there. So to then play there was ridiculous. That was definitely the start of where it started to become bigger. Before that, I had been doing fringe festivals and doing my own shows, but it was the move across to doing festivals that allowed a lot of other people to see it. My whole life really is working on those two to three hours of the show, so the concept remains the same but I’m constantly tweaking things within it. I’m always trying to work on the balance; because there’s people that have never seen it before but there’s a guy in Edinburgh now who’s seen it nearly 30 times now, and other people in Sydney have seen it 20 times or more.
People just love it and keep coming back, so no show is exactly the same. I’m always working on different things and new bits, but I’m never going to do a show where I don’t play ‘Superstition’ by Stevie Wonder or ‘[Smells Like Teen] Spirit’ by Nirvana, those iconic songs have got to be in there. It’s getting more tricky now that it’s on this bigger scale, and also I get bored of songs and replace them.
MF: You’ve obviously got a big base of underage fans – who were a little over-excited at your Enmore show last year leading it to be shut down. I know you made a statement at the time but from your perspective what went wrong and will you continue to do All Age shows in the future?
TL: That was awful. What happened there was the gig got crashed by Schoolies. I love doing all age shows, and generally what happens is we’ll get 100 to 200 really excited under 18s who run in the door as soon as they open and hype the support acts and stand down the front, bringing some lovely energy to it. Unfortunately, what happened at that Enmore show is that one to two hundred people expanded to five or six hundred Schoolies, and so something happened. I’m not really sure how it happened but having that many underage tickets sold was obviously a mistake. I don’t think it went through anyone’s head that it would be a problem. Also, I don’t think anyone considered what time of year it was, being Schoolies. So everyone was unprepared.
But in the end, the only fault I have with what happened before everything was shut down – I don’t blame the police – I just blame the dickheads who came along and acted really badly. I saw fights, I saw all kinds of things, and it’s just behaviour that has no place in music venues or at one of my shows. So they’re the only people that I’m really angry at, and I’ve got a couple of ideas about how I’m going to get the message out. Don’t be a dickhead and treat the venue and event with respect because it’s a really fragile political climate to be doing this kind of stuff at the moment.
MF: How long do you see yourself doing Hot Dub Wine Machine; do you have aspirations to get your own music out there any time in the future?
TL: Well for starters I don’t make my own music, I’m a DJ. I’m quite proud of that, and we seem to be at a time in the last 10 years where people just assume that DJs make their own music, and a lot of them do, but what I do is I rock parties. I don’t do a gig and then spend the rest of the time working on my album. I do a gig and spend the rest of the time preparing for the gig, making sure every detail and every part is great, and that’s a full-time job. I think that’s why Hot Dub parties are more intense, there’s a certain level of work and effort that goes into it. I don’t know how much longer I’ll do it; I was in my mid-30’s when I became a professional DJ. Up until then, I had a variety of other jobs, so I’m already quite old by the standards of this industry – but man I don’t wanna stop! I just want to keep doing this, it’s the most fun every day and I love it.
MF: You released some custom wine for last year’s tour. How did that come about?
TL: It was just one of those little details, one of those things that we strive to do, because every one of these gigs is at someone’s vineyard, at these places that have their own history. So it’s a special relationship you’ve got to nurture with those people. One of the ways we did that was asking them if we could put our own label on one of their wines, and they were really cool with that. It’s pretty cool to be sitting there at a vineyard drinking wine from the grapes around you.
MF: Are you a sparkling or still wine person?
TL: Definitely still, I’ll have a glass of champagne but I’ll have a bottle of wine.
MF: Red or white wine?
TL: Definitely red, but I do love them both. I love rosé, particular at Hot Dub Wine Machine. I remember I had a birthday once and we called it rosé day and we only drank rosé, and it was awesome. There’s nothing like rosé on a sunny day, chilling to music ahead of a long night of partying ahead. Only good things can come of that.
Hot Dub Time Machine’s wine-loving shindig, Hot Dub Wine Machine, kicks off Saturday March 4th. Check out dates and details here.