Adelaide hard rockers, Grenadiers are about to head out on their national ‘Live Fast, Diabetes‘ tour. Before they get busy blowing minds around the country, they answered some of our questions about getting started in the business, the need for ‘hustle’ and the importance of keeping it simple in order to succeed.
- Who was your first musical inspiration? Why?
It’s probably a really corny response, but that would be my Dad. He used to be in bands and has always been an avid music fan. From when I was a toddler he was raising me on a steady diet of The Kinks, The Beatles, Cold Chisel, Daddy Cool, Led Zeppelin, etc. He always encouraged me to pick up a guitar, and when I finally did he showed me how to play it. I used to take great joy and pride in looking through his old scrapbooks at pictures of his old bands, rehearsals, gig flyers, stuff like that. I just thought it was all so cool.
- How did you get started in music and did you ever even think you’d get this far?
Like every other rock musician, I got started playing in awful bands in high school. My first band was called The Purple Hearts and we covered The Kingsmen, Creedence, stuff like that. We sucked, but we had a lot of fun. To be perfectly honest, as a kid I probably thought I’d get a lot further because you have no sense of reality when you’re young. Everyone is going to be an astronaut, the prime minister, play cricket for Australia or something- no-one aspires to be a mildly successful part-time, self-managed musician with a day job. Having said that, now that I’m there and I realise all the work behind it, I am proud of what my band and I have achieved.
- What has been one of your most defining moments in your career?
Getting Triple J’s feature album. That was the point where we stopped being some half-decent rock band floundering in obscurity and playing for $50 a show, and started to become some half-decent rock band with a level of notoriety. It was a big deal for us.
- How has your music practice changed over time?
Mainly that I used to do it, and now I don’t haha. I mean I don’t sit there learning Jimmy Page solos and running scales like you do when you’re a kid. Now I’ll pick up an acoustic guitar and try and find 3 simple as hell open chords that sound great and that I can base a song on, or I’ll rock up to jam and we’ll see what happens. I don’t care for technicality like I did when I was a young metalhead. Now it’s all about the song- the melody, the lyrics, the way it makes you feel. I’ve learned that life is all about simple pleasures, and the most pleasurable music is often the simplest.
- My top business tip for new artists is…
Don’t expect anyone to do anything for you. I’ve come into this fairly late because I think I used to have this idea that people would recognise my incredible talent and give me a million dollars or something. It’s a vague statement, but hustle, hustle, hustle. Meet everyone you can, see as many bands as you can tolerate, when you have a day off spend it working on the business side of your music. It’s only when you’ve already done everything for yourself that others will want to help.
- My biggest career mistake has been…
Being lazy. I’m certainly not anymore, because I understand that to survive in music you have to have a shark’s mentality; stop moving and you die. But it took me a long time to come to that realization. Put on a million of your own shows, throw all of your money into your music, kill yourself for it. Fucking bleed for it. It’s the only way anyone’s ever going to give a shit. I know that now. Now I see a young band like Horror My Friend doing what I should have been doing when I was their age and it makes me really happy.
- In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is…
Too many cooks, not enough broth. If you haven’t played a show, you don’t need a manager, you need a show. If you haven’t written any songs, you don’t need a new shirt design, you need a new song. I guess I’m starting to sound like a broken record but as far as I can tell, in guitar based music the only thing that ever matters is self-motivation and a DIY ethic. I mean people complain about a lack of venues- shut up and put on a house show. People complain about no-one liking their band- shut up and write better songs. People complain about no-one coming to their shows- shut up and make your shows more interesting. There are a lot of people out there trying to make a simple thing complicated. It doesn’t have to be. Just believe in what you do and work hard to get it done.