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All about ME

Australia's genre-hopping sensations (interviewed by Nina Glencross)

By • Apr 4th, 2013 • Category: features

Straight from the heart of Australia’s art and culture capital, Melbourne’s latest musical export ME take rock, pop, indie, classical and theatre, mash them together and throw on a tie (because bowties are cool, don’t you know.)
The results can be heard on their debut album ‘Even The Odd Ones Out’, which explores an array of genres so vast, your iTunes will explode upon trying to categorise it.

Nina Glencross caught up with bassist Mikey Godde and drummer Spike Rogers to talk about the new album, their mutual distaste for TV talent shows and that night Mikey almost got stabbed in Glasgow after supporting The Xcerts. “Best night ever,” apparently…

Nina: So your new album ‘Even The Odd Ones Out’ is out over here in the UK now, how has the response been so far, that you’ve seen?
Mikey (Godde, bass): Yeah, fantastic. People seem to really be digging it. We’re definitely digging it as well, so internally the response has been the best.
Spike (Rogers, drums): It’s only been out for two weeks.
M: The only thing we really know is what we see from people at shows and that seems to be going really well and the reviews are good. We’re just really proud to have an album and to dig it so much.

N: So it’s quite huge sounding in terms of production, what was the recording process like? Was it ever a challenge getting the sound you wanted?
M: Not for me and Spike because we nail everything in one take!
S: Mikey and I, being bass and drums, were finished in two weeks, if that. A week? I think we did the whole thing in a week.
M: Once we got Spike’s drum sound, he just nailed everything really fast.
S: In terms of the whole process though, it wasn’t really challenging but more fun and experimentation. I didn’t necessarily find it challenging because the people we were working with and the environment was really relaxed. It was in a barn. A barn that was converted into a studio. The guy that owns it is a guy called Barny Barnicott.
M: Barny Barnicott, with a barn!
S: It was his dad’s farmhouse, I guess you’d call it. He totally converted it, and built the studio with his own hands. It’s awesome.
M: It does look awesome. And there were no time restraints. Back in Australia, we’d literally get kicked out of the studio every time we went to record because there’s a lot of stuff in our songs, it would take quite a while. So we were used to working under really high pressured situations, whereas this was really relaxed. We’d just rock up, have a coffee, go for a walk out in the countryside…
S: Go see the horses in the backyard
M: Yeah, yeah.
S: It was quite funny because Barney used to say, “We’re finishing at 5 today,” and at 3am in the morning he’d decide to go to bed. Yeah, it was a great experience.

N: So, the album – and your music in general – experiments with a lot of different styles from lush ballads to full on rock opera anthems but how would you guys describe your music to people who are unfamiliar with it?
M: I used to say all these stupid sub genres. But now I just say rock music and tell people to check it out.
N: Yeah, that’s the easiest way.
M: Yeah, I’ve just taken that on recently.
S: Epic is a good word though.
M: Yeah or like fucking killer. That works too. Bleeping killer.
N: Well if you’re going to say it, you might as well say it in full!
M: Yeah!
S: It’s one of those things like, The Beatles were a band that never really had a genre. They could write music in any style and it would still be The Beatles. I guess we would like to be that band that writes music and it would still be us, no matter what genre it is.
M: I think we’re in a really good position, me and Josh (Murphy, guitarist) were talking about it today. I don’t think we’re pigeon holed into any sort of style, so therefore, we are free to experiment with music. We have been worried when we did something far out, away from what we’d usually do. But when we play it altogether it just sounds like us. So I’m not sure what kind of genre we are. Rock…

N: There are some elements of your music which can also be quite theatrical. Do any of you have any theatrical backgrounds?
S: Yeah, I have a little bit. It was mainly in technical theatre though. So I did a lot of lighting and stage management, working on lots of musicals and things like that. But I think we’ve all got a flare for the theatrical, a bit of drama.
M: Yeah, we’re all pretty over the top when it comes to music. I think that’s what theatre is, really, because you can go to acting school but some people are just natural born actors. Or you can go to theatrical music school but some people are just over the top anyway.

N: So speaking of your influences and inspirations, is it a case that you share a lot of the same tastes and influences or is it about having different influences and bringing them together?
S: I think it’s a bit of both. We have a lot of bands and influences that we all like, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead…
M: Mars Volta.
S: Mars Volta. Luke really likes a lot of classical music and I did as well. I grew up playing classical percussion, but I think finding these guys opened me up to finding more classical music I actually like as opposed to stuff my High School said that I had to learn.
“Do not mess up that triangle part Spike! It’s very, very difficult!”
“Oh thanks Mr Ford, I’ll get it correct!”

N: So, in the video for ‘Vampire! Vampire!’ you’re sort of poking fun at Simon Cowell and The X Factor, so is this something you have quite strong views on?
M: Yes, we all are not fans of TV. We don’t really watch TV. I grew up without a television, and it just seems like some aggro bastard is yelling at you every time you switch the TV on. All the advertisements just scream and scream down your throat. That’s not even the worst of it. Music exists because it’s a form of creative expression like any art form. TV shows like that literally take everything natural and organic away from it. You can’t coach someone how to be a musician because it’s meant to be some form of expression. Just out of curiosity, I’ve seen these programmes, I just can’t believe it. It’s like literally telling people like how to be a person. It’s wrong.
S: The sad thing about most TV shows and especially the people that run them is these people have talent but they think the only way they can reach success is being on a show like that. So what generally happens is characters like, who we’re calling “Simon Powell” in the video, they exploit them, they get 10 minutes of fame, make their money, then move on. Whereas, if this person worked a little bit harder, for a bit longer they’d probably reach more success than some of these vampire characters are ever going to give them. That’s sort of the basis for the video. We just showed that in a very brutal and honest way.

N: So I’m aware you’re all from different parts of Australia, but you met and formed in Melbourne. So can you say a bit about how you first got together.
M: Yeah, a long time ago, a couple of us met at a festival and that was a whole different band then, it was like a really weird jammy, Mars Volta-y, intense-
S: Hard rock, maybe?
M: I don’t know, something! I don’t even know what that is. Then we found Spike and Luke on a musician’s dating site, basically.
S: We met through internet dating.
M: There’s this thing called Melband. You put down your influences, what you like. Melbourne is a major music sort of melting pot. So you just go on that and find people who are into the same thing as you, and we were just lucky that we found these guys. It took flipping ages to find Spike, we auditioned 30 drummers, before we found him.
N: Sounds painful.
M: It was painful.
S: It was alright for me.
M: Yeah, you were just sitting at home, doing whatever!

N: So, like you said, Melbourne is like a hub of music and art so is that something you guys were involved in?
M: Yeah, damn straight, heavily.
S: We were. I think now because we’ve been away for so long we’ve been out of it for a little bit.
M: Everyone needs a change, change is good.
S: But especially the Brunswick and Fitzroy areas, that was were a lot of local bands who were starting scenes and developing things so there were a lot of parties around those areas, a lot of which Mikey put on himself.
M: It’s a good community there but people need change to keep themselves inspired. I think if you stay in the same spot, doing the same thing for too long, you lose your inspiration. So as much as that place is really good and even after travelling a lot, I’d say Melbourne is one of the greatest places that I’ve seen, it’s just good to get out there and see other things.

N: So is that what drew you all to Melbourne in the first place?
S: What drew me to Melbourne? The fact that my parents had me in Melbourne! I’m the only one originally from Melbourne.
M: The rest of us moved there for that reason, because everyone in Australia knows that’s where you would go to find… Spike.

N: This is one thing you’ve probably been asked a few times but, just to satisfy my own curiosity, how did you decide on the name ME? It is a bit of a pain in the backside for people trying to find your music!
M: Yeah, well we didn’t think about the Internet. We weren’t really in the world of the Internet when we first came up with it. We were just rehearsing all the time and stuff. It just started because we couldn’t decide on a name. We had a list of like a thousand names and no one could agree on anything and someone said it as a joke. The fact that it meant nothing and everything all at the same time, meaning nothing as in when you’re trying to get a meaning out of it but also meaning everything because it is what you address yourself as which is where the symbol really comes from as well. It’s hilarious.
S: It’s also great to watch people like radio presenters stumble over the name. “This is Me. Not me! It’s the band, Me.” Except when you call your song ‘Naked’ and people try and search for ‘Me – Naked’, that’s not a very good idea, not for us anyway.
M: At least our band isn’t called Your Mum.
S: That’s very true!

N: So you’re a few dates into your UK tour at the moment, how have the first few shows been?
M: Yeah really good, London was flipping amazing, that was last night. They’ve all been really good but I’m just going to bang on about London because that was phenomenal. I don’t know what else to say, it was just a really good show, there was a really good vibe and there were just awesome people there.
S: It’s good to be doing our own tour because for the last year when we were touring the UK and Europe, we were doing support tours. They were quite big acts but it’s a different vibe doing your own show. Of course, they’re a bit smaller but people are down the front and they know the words and that’s absolutely awesome.
N: Yeah it must be great hearing the audience sing back.
S: Yeah, especially if you forget the lyrics, they can just help you out.

N: Are you looking forward to playing Glasgow tonight?
M: Shit yeah, man, I’m pumped! I’m fizzing with stuff because I’m… Yeah, I’m really excited. We get excited before every show really but we’ve literally been speaking about Glasgow since the tour started.
S: Everyone is very friendly in Glasgow all the time. We played here once before and it was a good gig.
M: We always having a fucking rad time here, we always have a really good time in Glasgow. I’m going to try to go back to the hotel early tonight because I don’t want to have too much of a good time because the tour has just started. But yeah, Glasgow is amazing, every time we come here, good shit happens

N: Any fond memories?
M: Yes indeed.
S: Well, apart from the fact that you nearly got stabbed last time.
M: That was the best night ever, though!
S: It was a really good night! You should tell the story…
M: I don’t know what to say.
S: Tell the story!
M: Some guy wanted to stab me…
S: What actually happened was we played-
M: OK, I’ll tell the story! So we played with Twin Atlantic and then we went out and we were all having a really good time and we got pretty rowdy. Out of the whole touring party, there was this guy at the front who was picking a fight with them. I just went out there to tell him to fuck off, basically and it turned out that he was a bit of a knifey kind of guy.
S: It must’ve been on The Xcerts tour.
M: Yeah, it was The Xcerts tour! Twin Atlantic were there but it wasn’t their tour.
S: The Xcerts’ guitar tech jumped in front and stopped everything and afterwards he told Mikey that the guy was about to pull a knife on him and no one had any idea that this guy had a knife. I guess it took a local to know what was actually going on. But yeah, that’s a fond memory!
M: But that night was really fun. Good times.

N: Obviously there’s a lot of heavy production on the record and only four of you guys so how do you achieve that epic factor and that power that the album has within a live environment?
M: With brutal force and energy! I think anything that is missing in a record, you can make up for by the fact that it’s live.
N: Yeah I’ve noticed you’re all quite animated on stage, which is always a good sign.
M: Yeah, we just get excited. It goes that to that being over the top thing.
S: When we do have the opportunity, we like to have guests onstage as well.
M: Yeah, sometimes 30 at a time!
S: Last year in London, at the KOKO, we had 18 people playing drums at once but we couldn’t fit them all in our van today so they’re not playing in Glasgow.
M: Sometimes we have string sections and horn sections, when we can. Apart from that, we just play. We’ve always had the problem that our studio recordings weren’t as good as the live shows because we never really had enough time or money to do it. We are really a dedicated live band, we’re not the kind of band to think, “Let’s write a song and record it,” it’s more, “Let’s write a song and play it a hundred times to people”.

N: Earlier this year, you played Big Day Out and it looked like you had great fun, how did you find it?
S: Awesome, absolutely awesome.
M: It was like above and beyond expectations which is saying something because it’s pretty much a dream come true to play that for any Australian.
S: It’s the biggest touring festival in Australia, so it’s pretty amazing to have the opportunity to do that. I do think I’m probably still recovering from it.
M: Yeah, I pretty much stopped drinking after that because they just treat you too well. I had too much of a good time. So we’re kind of knuckling down on this tour and being a lot more productive, less getting boozed up all the time. We’ve been taking all of our studio equipment to the hotels and writing songs for the band all night, just trying to make the most out of all our time. We also came to that idea just after Big Day Out because that was just an endless party. I don’t know those people do it, because some people do that all the time and I felt like I needed to go to rehab after it.

N: Do you have any more festivals lined up for this year so far?
M: Indeed, we’ve got one in Zurich, M4. And what’s that German one?
S: That’s a secret! We can’t tell anyone that yet.
M: Ah, nothing.
S: Actually, the Switzerland one, if people go onto our website, metheband.com, they can win a ticket and an air fare to come party with us and check out the festival. It’s all paid for.
M: Yeah they’ll probably get better accommodation than us!
S: Oh, they definitely will.
M: Whoever wins the prize, I’m staying in their room.
S: In terms of festivals, we definitely have that one coming up. There is one coming up in Germany which we can’t announce and there’s a bunch of others that we have to wait until people say, “You can tell them now!”

N: Lastly, a big question. What are your hopes and ambitions for the future of the band? However small or mighty!
M: Longevity. And organic evolution. And happiness and, when I’m an old man, to be content.
S: That was deep, man. I’d like to see every country in the world, playing music. If I’ve done that, then no matter what has happened to that point or what has happened past that point, I’ll be happy.
M: Dude, do you know how many fucking countries there are?
S: Yeah, exactly! Well, let’s race, let’s see if you can be all happy and content or if I can go see every country in the world!
M: Right on.

ME’s album Even The Odd One’s Out (reviewed here) is out now on Lizard King

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