Subject: Bassist Chris Joannou
I heard about Daniel’s [Johns, lead singer] condition. How is he doing?
It’s kind of a slow process, but he is on the straight and narrow now, hopefully.
The first thing that came to mind when I heard the record is how much musical growth you guys make album to album. Does that reflect personal growth as well?
Daniel’s songwriting is growing in leaps and bounds so it’s a challenge for me and Ben [Gillies, drums] to pull it off. All of us have come a long way as musicians.
What’s it like to be surrounded by the string sections?
When Van Dyke Parks came in, I never heard of him before, they started rattling off songs he had done and I was like ‘wow, I heard of those before’. So I was like ‘why does he want to work on our recording?’ (Laughs) But the guy is a genius with his arrangements. We knew the songs would start as a three piece but when it all came together it was amazing.
On Neon Ballroom it seemed like a considerable step forward, but it didn’t go over well in America. It obviously wasn’t a concern because this record continues where Neon Ballroom left off, but was there some apprehension about the direction you took?
What we’ve always done was to not stick with one style. Like “Tuna In The Brine” could have been on any of our records. We like diversity, but really we want to keep music interesting for ourselves, and everyone who is listening.
I know Daniel brings a lot to the table in the early process, what was this process like?
Daniel had a lot of demos with the songs pretty much completed. It was a matter of working it out and making [each song] the bands. David Bottrill came in and produced and that was the biggest help. One day he’d come in and fiddle with a song and it could change ten times before it was right. We’d burn a cd after ever session and then the song would change again the next day.
What do you think when Daniel brings a song in?
I don’t think there was one song that he brought in where I didn’t go ‘wow’.
You guys are younger than most bands that are just starting today, but you have four albums under your belt. What is it like being at a point where you can do what you want?
I’m just glad we can just make music and not worry about it. I’m still happy to be able to still make music with the same blokes I went to high school with.
What is it like meeting groups who are older, but newer?
I never really thought about it. (Laughs) We just got lucky to have done it so young.
Do groups ever ask your advice?
We do get asked for our advice, but we usually tell them to keep chipping away. We really played wherever we could and kept working.
What is life like at home?
It’s pretty cool. I’m probably a lot more fortunate than Daniel. His life gets pried into more than Ben and myself. I’m glad I can kind of carry on with out anyone bothering me, but Daniel does get a lot of crap.
What do you do to keep busy?
After we got out of the studio we went to a rehearsal room, with two keyboardists, and were rehearsing right up until the point where we were to go on tour. It’s only been the last couple of weeks where we’ve been sitting around going ‘oh boy’. It’s a little disappointing that poor Daniel has this arthritis thing.
Is it something that he’ll totally recover from and never have problems with again?
They say once you have had it that its really unlikely that It’ll ever come back. The poor bugger just has to knock it on the head right now. It could take one month or twelve month. We just want him to recover.
What do you look forward to most when touring?
You work hard in the studio to get the songs done so that you can tour. It all comes down to touring. There is nothing better than getting out there and playing your songs. That is where I get the most joy.
When you first toured, you were pretty much kids, what was that experience like?
We did little tours in Australia, but our first overseas trip was my first trip out of the country. I was like ‘wow!’ We had a ball. Our eyes were wide open the whole time.
Were you to young to realize how big it was?
I think there was a bit of everything. It was more than we imagined or dreamed of. It took a little while to sink in.
What do you think about kids coming up in music and list you guys as influences?
That is a weird one because for a long time everyone wanted to know who are interests were. It’s cool.
What are you listening to right now?
I was listening to a funny one in the car today; San Francisco psychedelic like Canned Heat.
Do you listen to a lot of different things?
I can go from that to Marvin Gaye to David Bowie to Angie Stone.
What are you hopes and dreams for the future?
I just hope we can keep making music. I just want to keep this thing going even if its not a huge success. Just the joy we get out of making music with the guys you went to high school is amazing.
+ charlie craine