Originally published on Swizzle-Stick.com (Feb. 2004)
I was first turned on to Screamfeeder by the unlikeliest of people — somebody from the band Blind Melon. I don’t remember who in the band mentioned them or how he had discovered them, but I distinctly remember thinking, “Screamfeeder? That sounds like a loud metal band with an angry lead singer. No thanks, I’ll pass.”
Late last year Screamfeeder’s latest release, Take You Apart, arrived at Swizzle-Stick headquarters. Remembering the name and keeping in mind that I liked everything that I’ve heard that Rhythm Ace has put out (Giants of Science, Rollerball), I decided to give the CD a spin. To an extent, what came out of my speakers wasn’t some scary noise metal but, rather, a band that shares a lot in common with Ash, Husker Du, Swervedriver, and fellow Aussies, You Am I. The sound owes a lot to early ’90s college rock — great raw guitar riffs, lots of melody, and a general sense of just simple do it yourself attitude. The crowning moment on Take You Apart is “You and Me,” a song in which Screamfeeder invited nearly a dozen friends into the studio to help sing the chorus. It’s part 4 Non-Blondes “What’s Going On?”, part Beatles “Hey Jude” (if you can believe that).
While it may be tough for American fans to just pop into a Virgin Megastore and find the CD, it’s definitely a CD worth tracking down if you miss the simplicity and honest feeling of the true college rock movement circa 1993. You can order a copy directly from the band via their website (it’ll set you pack somewhere close to $25). OR, if you’re just hanging out in Austin in mid-March for SXSW, you may be able to pick one up there (Screamfeeder has a few dates in Austin during SXSW including some in-store appearances).
Bassist Kellie Lloyd was kind enough to answer some questions we sent her in December. (And if you want a Screamfeeder soundtrack to listen to while reading, go here.
Screamfeeder has been doing this a while. How is the band perceived in Australia? What size crowds do you play for? Do you get regular radio play? Are you featured in the magazines?
Screamfeeder has always been well received critically. Our albums always get great reviews. The crowd size varies. We have a very loyal fanbase, though we are not a “huge” band. We are very much an indie band, the venues we play here in Australia reflect this. We always put our hearts into everything that we do, so our fans don’t go home feeling let down. We play lots of festivals too, so in those situations we get really big crowds. We are played heaps on the national youth network Triple J and all the smaller station and community staions play us, and very occassionally on commercial radio, which suits me fine, I hate commercial radio in this country, it’s fully grounded in ’80s formats. It’s quite pathetic. Yeah, we get our mugs in mags too, mostly indie mags. The big corporate mags only feature artists that have big labels that spend a fortune advertising with them. We get a mention when a new record comes out and get a review. We always seem to get “4 stars in the Rolling Stone.” Just give me indie rock!!!
If you are walking down the street, or ordering lunch at a restaurant, or buying a CD at the CD store, do people recognize you as being a “rock star”? Do you get approached for autographs?
I certanily get recognized, not asked for autographs much! That’s funny. I get really freaked out when I have to sign something. We do a lot of signing at shows and stuff.
Outside of Australia, what type of fan base do you have? Are you in a financial situation where you can tour in the U.S.?
We’ve played through Europe and in Singapore. We seem to get a bit of fan mail from Brazil! We are coming over to the States to play SXSW and a show in New York. We’re applying for a grant. We seem to be in and out of debt quite a lot. more in than out. That’s rock and roll baby! On the way to the U.S. we will be stopping off in New Zealand for a handfull of shows too. So the ‘feeder army will grow quite a bit this next year!
Speaking of financial situations, you’ve mentioned that you work in a vineyard. What exactly do you do there and how did you wind up with that job?
I’ve had many jobs. You’ll find most musicians have. I used to work in a university library and I made really good friends with my boss. When she left she promised to take me with her to her next job. And true to her word 2 years later she landed this management position in a winery up a mountain just half an hour out of the city. So I’m now working there.
My job is to take people through tastings and sell the wine as well as admin stuff and even yard work! It’s a great job and the people are nice and I get to take my work home with me!
How does that job mesh with your “rock and roll” life? Are you able to take time off of work to go on tour?
Well, my boss knew all about my life so she was well aware I would be taking time off. She told me she loved what I did and loved the passion that I have and knows that I’m a good worker. All I have to do is give notice. Nice one!
Do the people you work with know about Screamfeeder? Do they come out to your shows and buy your CDs or are they clueless that you have this “other” life outside of work?
I work with about 4 other people. Katrina, my boss, brought the owner of the vineyard to see us play with Billy Bragg and he was so excited! He loved seeing us play and thought we were better than Billy! He doesn’t know much about music, but he knows what he likes!
He was really stoked to have someone like me working for him, so you can see the type of people I work with are very cool.
Walk me through a typical day in your life.
Monday. Wake up at 7:30 am. Spend a rushed half hour getting dressed, cup of tea and breakfast. Run out the door at 8 to catch a bus out of town. 20 minutes later get picked up and driven up the mountain 10 kilometers. Get to work. Have a coffee and a cigarette, talk about the weather and start doing stuff. This may include sterilizing bottles, bottling the wine, labeling the bottles, making up boxes, serving customers, taking calls on the phone and making up mail orders. I might also spend the day in the vineyard pulling weeds, repairing damage from storms, raking the car park or picking coffee beans. I may also help making the wine or booking functions or taking care of a function. I may or may not have lunch.
I get a lift down the mountain to the bus stop and get a bus home, have something to eat watch the news or the Simpsons and walk down to Tim’s house – about 4 minutes away – and we drive to the practice room and write some new song or 4-track one we worked on on Thursday night. Get home about 10:30 pm or so and watch a bit of telly or read a book or go to my boyfriend’s house. Go to sleep.
You’ve also mentioned that you are a filmmaker. Is that a hobby or do you spend a lot of time making videos and films? What type of filmmaker are you (do you shoot movies for yourself, for the public, for commercial purposes, etc.)?
I make film clips. If I didn’t make one of ours, I organized it or I story boarded it. It’s not really what I’d call a hobby, it’s something else that I do. I don’t spend that much of my day to day time doing it, but when I’m working on it, it’s very time consuming. The last 3 clips we did I edited them on software I had to learn while I worked. I love doing it, I wish I could do more for other bands, I’d love to be able to do it as my money earning thing, but it just doesn’t work out that way. I need a regular income. I make all our clips for free. We wouldn’t have film clips if I didn’t donate my time for free. We can’t afford them. Same goes for tim and our web site, if we had to pay someone to do it, we wouldn’t have one at all. We like to be very hands on with everything we do.
Is filmmaking something you fell into or did you go to school to learn to be a filmmaker?
I studied film at art school. I wanted to make film clips. I have a Bachelor of Visual Art degree, majoring in film. One of my clips was nominated for an MTV award. Kylie Minogue’s clip won though. Of course. The way I like to make filmclips is with very few other people. We don’t have crews. We have someone on camera and I’ll direct from in front or the side. One clip I made for the last album was based on 16mm footage I found at the library where I worked. It was of dancers that I edited to be dancing for our song. The band isn’t in it, it’s one of my favourite things I’ve done.
What’s the hardest part of being a filmmaker? What are the parallels and differences between being a filmmaker and being a musician?
The hardest thing is that it’s very time consuming and you have to be able to communicate well. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t. We do things with very little budgets and no crew like I said, so we chose to make very simple clips and simple clips work well if you have very simple ideas. It’s hard coming up with a good simple idea. Sometimes what’s in your mind doesn’t end up how the finished product looks like. This could be said for the song writing process and particularly the recording process.
If it’s not too personal, tell me a bit about your family life (parents, siblings, significant others, kids, etc.).
My parents divorced when I was 22 or something. Older brother, we’re not all that close. I’m closest with my dad. He’s an eccentric who runs a second hand/antique store. We like lots of the same old stuff. He gets me great lamps! I have a boyfriend, he’s a beautiful man. I currently live alone in a small apartment, or what we call a flat. I grew up in a small town, moved when I was 17 to go to art school. Been playing in bands since I was 15. A bit of a black sheep. Didn’t fit in at school, the usual.
Between your day job (vineyard), your after-work job (filmmaking) and your night job (being a rock star), how do you find the time to relax? When you have a night all to yourself, without any other commitments, what do you like to do?
I like to lie on my bed and watch some TV or a movie or have dinner at my boyfriend’s place. My ideal night is to go out for dinner and relax with some wine and have a walk in the cool air, or have a bath and read a book. Or if a band is on that I like I’ll go and see them.
The idea behind Swizzle-Stick is that we want readers to feel like they are sitting at a table with us at a restaurant, a club, etc. and listening in (and participating in) our conversation. With this in mind, if you and I were to hang out somewhere, where is your favorite place to sit around with friends and talk about music? What is on the table in front of us?
The other guys in the band and I seem to do lots of talking in the car when we are driving around to practice or on tour. This is fun, I love the feelig of movement.
With friends I like to be sitting at a big table eating a big Asian meal, with lots of plates to share and a few bottles of red wine and smoking cigarettes after a great meal. Sitting outside and eating with friends in Chinatown is something I love to do. After that maybe a martini at a bar and then home to bed for a big sleep if I don’t have to work.