Back in the early days of the electric bass, nobody quite knew what the hell a bass should be. Should it be an electric version of an upright? No, not everyone has the lower back strength to really, truly rock out on stage with one of those things. Leo Fender’s Precision Bass set a precedent that was followed by pretty much everyone pretty much instantly, and almost all basses today are descendants of that design. But in the late 50s a few companies started messing around with something else. Some call it the bass guitar. Some just call it a six-string bass. But although Danelectro were the first to bring one to the mass market, Fender also took the idea and ran with it. Picture this: an oversized guitar with six strings, but tuned a full octave down, and with string spacing that’s much more guitar-like than bass-like.
It’s often been said that The Bronx have taken brutal party music to a new level. Their fourth album, released last year, is ample evidence that they’ve been able to capture their frantic-yet-precise energy in recorded form (check out their frigging excellent four album, for instance) but to really feel it, to really live it, you have to see them in the flesh. And this month me and my fellow Aussies will be able to, as the band returns to Australia for about the jillionth time for shows in Brisbane, Melbourne, Hobart and Sydney with High Tension. I caught up with guitarist Joby J Ford for a good old-fashioned geek-out.
How many times have you been down here now?
Oh man… six? Seven? Maybe more? Quite a bit! I think as a band, selfishly, there are fantastic places to go in the world, and we get to go to Australia a lot. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Germany but I’d rather go to Australia… Hahaha. I think Australia has a fantastic scene and fantastic bands, and every time we come down there we discover new bands… like DZ Deathrays… every band we get to play with down there is super-inspiring and I think there’s a calibre… even dating back to bands we never got to play with like the Lime Spiders, all these great garage bands of Australia who are unsung heroes. There was a compilation that came out called Do The Pop!, which was all the unknown, sort of forgotten underground bands of Australia and it’s some of the most fantastic music I’ve ever heard. When we first came down there eight years ago, nine years ago we were introduced to it and it’s still in heavy rotation on all of our iPods. Read More …
Cold Chisel are one of a kind. Their music is equally likely to appeal to the guitar nerd down the street as it is to the guy who fixes the hole in the roof, the lady who makes your coffee, your doctor. Yet somehow the band never seemed to make it big outside of Australia. Maybe it was just a case of wrong time, wrong place. But perhaps the democratisation of music will open new doors for the reformed band. Perhaps new album No Plans will be their big chance to show the rest of the world what they’re capable of: soul and blues-tinged rock with the powerful vocals of Jimmy Barnes – you might know him from the band Living Loud with Steve Morse, Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake – and the brilliant guitar work of Ian Moss. Produced by Kevin Shirley, No Plans must be a difficult album for the band. It’s their first in 14 years, and the first without drummer Steve Prestwich, who died in January 2011. One of his compositions, “I Got Things To Do,” is on the album, along with some new tracks played on the band’s record-breaking Light the Nitro tour of 2011. “In late 2009 the five of us made plans to record together again and do a tour,” As Barnes says. “After lots of twists and turns that’s exactly what we’ve ended up doing but due to Steve’s passing those plans changed a lot along the way. The last two years have reminded all of us that sometimes life deals up things you don’t expect. You can’t take anything or anyone for granted. Sometimes it’s best to have no plans.”
I Heart Guitar: No Plans is a pretty diverse album. It goes through a lot of different moods. Was that the plan?
Ian Moss: I guess it’s hard to be objective. I was kind of hoping it’d seem like more of a unified record, so it’s interesting to hear that there are lots of different styles. I guess over and above, we were trying to achieve raw power.
Well the title track, which starts the album, definitely does that. It kicks off very strongly.
Yeah! The distinctive tones of Barnes. The first thing you hear is Barnes. And hopefully that edge. Because there were really no overdubs. We went for it. We’re all in it together here and we played til we got it right. That gave it a bit of oomph.