Monday, September 29, 2014

Interview with a whole lot of people involved with feedtime

I spent a lot of my childhood in a more wooded suburb of Washington, D.C. Our family had a house with a pretty large backyard that backed up to a substantial forest. I saw some pretty weird things out there. Once we had peacocks in our backyard: I still remember my dad chasing after them trying to get a good picture with the disposable Kodak camera he had. Once our dog (who may have been part wolf) killed a deer - she came back to the house covered in blood, though with further inspection, there was no wound on her. Once we had a snapping turtle sunbathing back there that we had to physically persuade to go back to its lake.

It was pretty magical, looking back on it. One of my favorite things to do, though, was create terrariums of a sort in my bathroom sink. I had my own bathroom that my mom would rarely check on and I would sneak all sorts of plants and animals in the house so I could have more friends. I especially loved keeping amphibians back there. Lots of salamanders, toads, and frogs. And every now and then, my mom would come in and admonish me through a smile, telling me that I needed to return the plants and animals to the land, which I did reluctantly.

So when I saw that there was a band with a frog for its logo, I had to check them out. In the window of Bull City Records was a green poster with a minimal, unmistakably amphibian sign with the word "feedtime" written in slithery typeface. Going inside, I asked Chaz what the poster was and he showed me the 4 LP set of The Aberrant Years (sidenote: This was the first Wikipedia article I wrote). It was pretty inexpensive so I picked it up and it would color the rest of my senior year in college.

The boxset comes with extensive liner notes about the Australian post punk band mostly active in the 80s featuring three singularly-named members - Rick, Al, and Tom. It chronicles their time in Australia and the release of the four records included in the compilation. I'm kind of amazed that Sub Pop put this out, though I have heard that Mark Arm had a fair bit to do with the label's interest. Makes sense.

I also interviewed the band's friend Andrew who went to almost every feedtime show in Australia in order to get a good sense of the band's live show and presence. Pretty cool what he says too.

The band has some news about forthcoming music too, which should satisfy any interested parties.

Jordan Reyes: A couple of years ago, sub pop reissued your first four LPs as the Aberrant Years. How long had this been in the pipe?

Bruce Aberrant: We first started talking with sub pop about it in February 2009.  Over the next couple of years, it evolved into what it became, which was significantly better that what was initially being talked about. (The box set is more comprehensive – it’s everything – and has the great box, a superior booklet, and the replica sleeves.  At first it was just going to be a 2-disc set, with several tracks omitted due to length restrictions and the sleeves probably – if at all – only represented in much smaller, less detailed form in a smaller booklet.)

JR: Did other labels want to reissue your first records?

BA: Melbourne’s Dropkick Records wanted to do it, prior to us approaching Jonathan.  Rich ultimately had too much on his plate, but it was his keenness to see everything re-released, remastered, which planted the seed and got the ball rolling (if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor).

JR: Did you guys have much to do with the design of the box, liner notes, and photos for the Aberrant Years?

BA: Sub pop very graciously gave us free hand.

Al feedtime: Bruce had kept all the artwork which I had done in the eighties and I recreated sleeves, labels, inserts, etc. as best I could and designed the box art. It was amazing that sub pop were prepared to go to this length for this release

JR: Did the response to the box set surprise you guys?

BA: Yes.  Amazed.

Af: The fact sub pop chose to re-release all this stuff amazed me. I’m very happy to see it all available again and give the opportunity for younger people to be exposed to it.

Rick feedtime: I'm not aware of the response, but pitchfork gave it a good rap. It got a rap in the London Sunday Times (next to an Ellie Gould article. Whoa! )as a must-have reissue so that must be all right.

JR: What is your current connection to music, if any?

Rf: Doing feedtime and some a-tonic acoustic stuff.

Af: Just that I’ve stated playing feedtime again since 2011

JR: What kind of music do you guys find yourselves listening to nowadays?

Rf: I listen to madrigals, baroque, very ancient-style Arabic vocal stuff (this is extraordinarily difficult to locate) and more.

Af: For me it's feedtime again

JR: I read in an interview from 2009 that you guys never played the states. That is until the reunion shows that you all did in 2012. Why didn't you play outside of Australia at the time and how as it playing the states for your reunion?

BA: The first show in the ‘States was actually in San Francisco on May 21, 2011, at the time a ‘one-off’, headlining the second night of SS10, the tenth anniversary ‘do’ for Scott Soriano’s S.S.Records, which came about after a very enthusiastic invitation from Scott. A U.S. tour – around 20 dates, complete with support bands – was actually organized for spring 1989, but the band split just before it happened.

Rf: Australia was nowhere and so was feedtime. Playing for Scott Soriano’s bash was a true privilege (he's a nice bloke too) and the later tour was pretty great with sub pop helping out!

Af: It was fantastic to play in the states and to meet so many wonderful people.

JR: What was it like playing songs written 15-20 years before? Did things resume easily for you?

Rf: Lyrically it was easy to do. The meaning of the songs seems to be universal and not of a particular time & place. It takes a lot of effort to properly demonstrate feedtime so that took some time & hard work. Right now, we're getting what Tom calls "match fit" so that we can play three 45-minute sets with maximum power and  as many downstrokes as we can muster up. That’s going to be a living hell to try to do and we're starting at the next rehearsal (aka bash).

Af: Some were written 25-30 years before. We got together for a few bashes before we said yes to Scott Soriano's invite. We were a bit rusty, but the feel was still there so it just meant a bit of bashing about together before we left for the states to get a bit of stamina.

JR: Do you think you all would ever play the states again or was that a one time thing?

Rf: I'd like to play the states again. It was fun and people treated us nicely.

Af: I would be happy to. I had a great time on both trips in 2011 and 2012. We’ll see what happens

JR: Are you guys particularly interested in any other kinds of art like painting, or literature, or film?

Rf: I’m not, but i like seven samurai (Kurosawa’s film) and anything writ large or small off of Haruki Murakami.

Af: In the eighties, I was a printmaker, etching and linocuts. For the past 18 years, I have had a graphic design company.

JR: In the vein of a band named feedtime, do you have a favorite restaurant or food?

Rf: The Betel Nut Prawn entrée at Thai Pothong in Newtown (Sydney) is my favorite rave fucking nutcase yes !

Af: Not really a favorite. I just enjoy all things fresh and tasty, but I’m not a fan of processed food

JR: Is there actually a correct time for feeding?

Rf: Resupe when indicated by need or by desire

Af: When you're hungry

JR: re there any plans down the pipe for feedtime?

BA: Sub pop will be releasing two brand new tracks as a 7” - stick up jack and flatiron - hopefully November, and a third new track, herb says will be part of a new Dope, Guns... Set currently being put together by Tom Hazelmyer.  Not sure of the release timing on that.

Rf: Going to try to arrange a place again where we can do three sets in a night. Sub pop’s going to release a single and maybe an album. Haze XXL tells us that he's going to put a song on the next AmRep dope guns & fucking thing.

Af: As Bruce mentioned, a few tracks are being released sometime this year. The last 12 months have seen a lot of new songs come about so I guess I would like to record a whole lot more of them.

In addition to feedtime, I also interviewed one of their friends Andrew, who went to almost every feedtime show in Australi, to see what a live show is like.

Jordan Reyes: How did you know the guys in feedtime? 
Andrew: It was a couple of years before their first LP came out when i stumbled across them as a lost and lonely 22yr old fuck up. They had no profile in any scene at the time as far as i could tell. There were a handful of regulars that went to see them no matter what and a few drunks propping up the bar. That was about it. They usually played three sets with no support act, so the regulars and band would drink and chat between the sets and we all got to know each other that way. 

JR: How would you describe a feedtime show? Were there any staples in a feedtime performance?

A: It was all staples with no condiments. Very good for you though and if you ate it all up, you might get a small treat. 

A: They were loud, intense, hypnotic, and medicinal. 

A: Those feedtime shows were like some kind of anti-depressant for me that somehow made me feel better about myself and the world. Seriously, I think there was something about the harmonic vibrations that worked to soothe the constant static in my head. 

A: There was also a total lack of bullshit about the way they played and the way they were as people. A welcoming openness about their attitude that was so different to anything else that was around. Even other great bands that I loved seeing like X seemed like standoffish rock stars compared to feedtime. 

JR: What was the craziest thing you saw at a feedtime show?

A: Lots of crazy shit. Some banal, some extraordinary. One of my favorite memories is of Rick putting down his guitar mid-song and shoving a troublemaker in the audience out the front door of the pub then walking back in, strapping on and starting in again without the others blinking an eye or missing a beat.

JR: Who were some of the other good bands around at the time who may have played with feedtime that you would recommend listening to?

A: It’s all a long ago now and my memory ain’t what it used to be. There were plenty of good and even a few great bands around but feedtime were the only Sydney band that really mattered to me after I saw them that first time.

1 comment:

  1. Used to see them do four, sometimes five sets a night at gigs like Frenchs and The palace. Big beaut and Angry music back then! never heard anything like it since.