Taking your licks with James Williamson

JamesWilliamson5 HeatherHarrisThese bloody phone interviews. If you’ve never done one, this is how it goes: 

First, you notice unfamiliar terms in the email from the publicist like AEDT and CST that refer to time zones. And that excremental daylight saving kicked in two days ago. Cue frantic fiddling on the computer to make sure you’ve got the right time. 

You’ve been given a choice of times - if you’re lucky. Bit awkward if you get stuck with a time when you’re at work and you have to excuse yourself to go to the bog and do an interview. Trust me, you get looks. 

“Who were you cackling away to in the toilet, Robert? New … chum?”

Cue: furious blushing.

This interview was with James Williamson, the guitarist for Iggy and The Stooges, who has a new solo album, "Re-Licked" in the racks. And I got lucky on another front this time, and the nearly-threenager grandchild didn’t arrive until after I’d finished, so assorted boing noises, yowls and her squeaky voice didn’t float up into the recording. 

With most "phoners"you do have a strict 20 minutes to adhere to, a weird time (in this case it’s from 8.55am to 9.15 am). But you do worry that it’s 4.30 am where the interviewee is, and he’ll be off his head on Tequila and mushies. As rock stars do.

Just 20 minutes to gain rapport and probe the poor bugger’s most intimate self?  Poor bugger? He’s on the receiving end of a long line of assorted gits like me for several hours.

One minute before the appointed time, you dial a local number - with the area code prefix. A recorded message asks you to select your language. I am always very tempted to fuck with this but have so far refrained. One day I’ll select Croat or Bulgarian or Tig or something.

Real Kids Don't Get Old: John Felice returns with a new Real Kids album

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John Felice is one of rock’n’roll’s unsung heroes. A founding member of the Modern Lovers at the age of 15, he quit the band before the sessions that resulted in their classic album, and was subsequently written out of the history of one of the most influential bands of the ‘70s.

The band he left to form, the Kids, made some local waves but ultimately went nowhere, pretty much coming to an end when he went off to New York to audition for the Heartbreakers - a job he turned down.

Back in Boston, he formed the Real Kids, and finally wrote his own chapter in rock’n’roll history with an album for Marty Thau’s Red Star label that goes down as one of the greatest ever – a perfect blend of Eddie Cochran, the early Stones and the Velvet Underground, with killer tunes, energy and feel, and some of the most honest and affecting lyrics ever put to music.

Looking back: Dick Wagner in conversation with Geoff Ginsberg

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The recent passing of legendary American guitarist Dick Wagner is as good an excuse as any to look back on his long and incredible career. Philadelphia-based record label head, manager, writer and all-round music maven Geoff Ginsberg conducted a landmark I-94 Bar interview with Dick in 1999. It's reprised below. - The Barman

Get Drunk, Play Records with Loose Pill Ryan Ellsmore

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Loose Pills (fron left) Stu Wilson, Matt Galvin, Ryan Ellsmore and Bill Gibson

Remember when ‘super groups’ played ‘pop music’ that rocked? Yes, both terms have been bludgeoned into redundancy but Sydney’s Loose Pills are doing their level best to re-introduce some relevance.

The membership should be enough to make you prick up your ears - New Christs, The Eastern Dark, Lemonheads, Orange Humble Band, The Scruffs (the Aussie edition), Pyramidiacs and too many more to mention dot the collective history. The debut album, “Rx”, seals the deal with a dose of raucous guitars, powerful dynamics and pop smarts.

We spoke to singer-guitarist Ryan Ellsmore to get the lowdown and what makes a great Heavy Pop record.

Flashback: Brisbane garage rocker Screamin' Stevie in conversation

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One of the lesser-known musical pleasures in Australian over the last decade has been the quirky garage sound of the Hekawis, a fuzz-and-organ-driven combo prominent on the Brisbane and Melbourne underground music scenes. Churning out release after release, partly via the then prolific Courdroy label (who happened to own the country's sole vinyl pressing machine for a period in the '90s), the Hekawis pushed all the usual '50s and '60s buttons but came up with a sound unlike any other of their ilk.

All The HITS You Can Handle

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If there's one recent (i.e. it came out in late 2009 and is still being spun) Australian album that merits robbing a bank, mugging your neighbour or running down to Cash Converters and pawning your partner so you can purchase a copy, it's "Living With You Is Killing Me" by Brisbane band HITS.

Faster and Louder with Andy Shernoff of The Dictators

andy-soloProto-punk legends The Dictators have a Best Of compilation "Faster...Louder: The Dictators Best 1975-2001" out on Australian label Raven. Compiler Ian McFarlane spoke to Andy Shernoff, bass-player/keyboardist for The Dictators, in January 2014. Here's the full interview.