Homegrown musical heroes WAAX have had one hell of a year already, with their national “Labrador” tour amping up audiences all around the country. Their recent support slots for the likes of Ecca Vandal, Kim Gordon and Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro are further evidence that these guys are ready to rock it with the best of them. If that’s not enough, you’d have to be living under a rock to miss the fact that the Brisbane 5-piece are helping to close out Brisbane Festival in style, as they tear up the Riverstage alongside other audacious Aussie acts Violent Soho, Meg Mac, and Methyl Ethel.
Amidst their crazy schedule, we were lucky enough to catch up with their guitarist Chris Antolak, so he can share some of his industry insight for our latest Savvy Seven.
1) Who was your first musical inspiration? Why? Who inspires you now?
Nirvana – I was 4 or 5 and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was playing on Rage one morning. I was mesmerized with what I was watching and hearing. As for who inspires me now, there are a lot of inspirations and not limited to music. However, Arcade Fire is up there due to their fearlessness when it comes to their music, the subject matter behind their music and the way they have shaped each release thematically. My other inspiration is Maz! She’s amazing.
2) What advice do you have for someone who is about to set off on their first tour?
Pick your moments – If you have a big drive coming up, it’s probably best not to party all night long. Micro-sleeps are real, and it’s life and death on the highway. Maybe give yourselves a day off here and there to blow off steam.
3) What has been one of the most defining moments in your career?
Same Same. The release of that song really kicked things off for us.
4) How has your music practice changed over time?
Unfortunately, we don’t practice as much as we used to, life can be pretty busy between 5 people. If anything we have become better at winging things.
5) My top business tip for new artists is?
Align yourself with the right people and do your homework. This world is very much ‘It’s not what you know but who you know’. Network as much as you can, soon enough you will find the people that share the same principles as you. And the homework, always understand what you are getting yourself into.
6) My biggest career mistake has been… What would you do differently now?
Not listening to my gut. Definitely trust my instinct a lot more now. No-one understands your vision better than you.
7) In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is… What do you think can change that?
The shift from a product-based business to now a service-based business – with the likes of Spotify, Apple Music etc – has been a volatile one which continues to have adverse effects on all aspects of the industry. In this case, the artist is affected the most. The value of music has depreciated to a level now where the artists you love still have to work a 9-5 to make ends meet, and yet the cost of being a “Successful Artist” hasn’t changed – so you’re touring at a loss because you have to keep up appearances.
Yeah, you should support your favourite artists, come to shows, buy merch, etc. and that helps! But the issue remains. Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix here, in my opinion, the industry needs to come together in addressing the issues and creating solutions, and the artist needs to be at the table for the discussion.
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Wise words from WAAX! Have a listen to their single “Labrador” below.
If you’d like to check out some more wisdom, you can visit the Savvy Seven archives.