With the inaugural Spin Off Festival taking place in Adelaide over the next few weeks, punters who aren't able to get to Splendour in the Grass will be able to enjoy a selection of the festival's line up on our own turf. I chat with Craig Lock, member of local band Messrs and one of the festival's organisers, about how organisation's going now we're reaching the home stretch and what the band is up to!
Hey Craig, it’s Sose from The AU Review; how’s it going?
I’m good, how are you?
Yeah good! How’s your morning been, first off?
Oh you know, busy busy!
I imagine you would be! Thanks for having a chat this morning; it’s insane to think that we’re already into July and Spin Off is only a few weeks out.
You’re in the special position of both organising and playing it, so how are you handling everything?
Not too badly. I guess I’m kind of more focused on the organisation side of things myself, than the actual playing. Everything seems to be fairly under control with that, it’s just a matter of ticking off jobs that we’ve still got on the list basically and yeah, when they’re done, the event will happen! We’ve been working on it for a long time, so I think we’re pretty much on top of things. It’s just trying to get as many ticket sales as we can at the moment to make it a viable show.
Definitely. I mean, considering it’s the first festival of its kind down here, I would assume there’s going to be a lot of sales purely coming from the fact that it is so new.
Yeah, I think that’s what we need people to do because even if people don’t really like what’s dished up this year, if it doesn’t work this year, there will be no next year! This is no year after, this will not happen again. I think there’s a lot of interest from people, but I know that there hasn’t been as much commitment put on buying tickets as what we need yet. We’re confident it’s going to get there though; everyone always buys last minute, that’s what happens!
I think that’s such an Adelaide thing…
I know, I know, it’s really hard to deal with it when you’ve got a lot of money on the line. You’re like, “I wish people just saw it and bought their tickets”! You know, from previous gigs that we’ve run and just from ticket trends from shows, everyone buys at last minute. We just have to bank on that happening!
I’m sure it’ll be pulled off! I guess now, with Messrs…I’ve seen you guys a few times this year, what have you been up to lately? Do you think you’ll be heading out on your own tour at any point soon?
Yeah I guess our attention is focused more on writing music now, whereas before in what we were doing, we probably didn’t put as much time into writing the songs – we put it all into touring and playing shows. I think that has helped us a lot in being able to play a good live show; we don’t really need to do that as much anymore, but what we probably do need to do is write good songs. That’s what we’re focusing on and much of our time is spent writing music and trying to write really good songs and record them to a really high level before we actually do anything. It might seem, from an outside perspective, that we’re not doing as much as we were but we feel like we’re spending our time in a better way for us. Does that make sense?
Yeah, it does. Just on that, one of the things that seemed to stick out when you guys changed from The Touch to the band you are now, is the difference in sound and in general, the creative direction you’re going in. Are you finding that that creative direction is continuing to move further away from the original influences which drove the band?
Yeah, definitely. I think even with the demos that we’re working on now, they’re not really anything like we’ve even put out as Messrs. There are lots of ideas that people probably don’t even know that we’re working on. We know that what we’re working on is probably something fairly different to what we’ve put out so far; it takes such a long time to get songs released to a good level. When they’re actually out in the world, you’ve usually got a whole bank of songs sitting there that you haven’t actually done anything with yet and it’s just a matter of ‘how quickly can we get them out?’, that’s the main thing. It’s really tough when you’ve got an independent band that doesn’t really have any money and we’ve all got jobs and it’s just hard to make it happen quickly. Everything kind of happens a lot slower than what we’d like to
You would have to choose what is released quite carefully too…
Yeah, definitely; I think that when we first started this, we didn’t really have a choice, because we’d deleted everything that we had. We had to restart, which was good, because we restarted and wrote all these new songs that were different. Because we wanted to do that, we had to choose from what we had available at the time, which was the only songs that we’d written, but now, we’ve probably got about 15 songs. We can choose what we’re actually going to do with those songs, which is what we’re doing at the moment.
Cool. It’s been great to see that even though Messrs have gone through somewhat of an overhaul, the fans who’ve been there since The Touch days have stuck by.
I guess we worked pretty hard as the old band to play lots of shows and I guess, because the music isn’t 100% different, it’s just an evolution, more than anything…people who liked us before might like us now.
From what I’ve seen so far from you guys, it does seem like more of an evolution and a progression than anything else.
Yeah, definitely; it’s not too different, but it is different, if that makes sense!
In terms of the band performing at the festival…you guys are no strangers to the festival scene, what is it about those crowds in particular that brings out the crazy live performances the band are known for?
I guess it’s just having people there. As a band, we’re never really worried about playing in front of an audience…we’ve played a lot of gigs, I don’t even know how many we’ve played in total, but we’ve played so many that it’s just a natural thing for us to get onstage and do our thing. That’s the best fun you can have being in a band, playing live; the recording side of things and writing songs, it’s good, but it’s more of a challenge. Playing live is just fun! I think that’s how we see it and that’s probably why we do what we do live I suppose, because it is more fun for us!
It’s kind of like a pay-off.
Yeah exactly! The live gigs are the reward for the hard work of writing songs and recording songs! I think that when you’ve got a crowd of people that’s pretty big…that’s kind of why you do it. Obviously, the more people you play in front of, the better. That’s why everyone in the band does what they do.
For sure. Like I said before, you’ve played this time of gig many times, but you’ve also supported your fair share of sweet international acts as well. In terms of this festival, are there any artists in particular who you’re keen on checking out?
I think I’ve seen most of them! I’ve seen all of the Australian acts before, just through touring locally, but I’m pretty keen to check out Friends, I really like their music. It should be interesting to see what Lana Del Rey is like; I know that there has been some shaky live performances on TV but I think it will actually be good to see her in the flesh, to see what she does. She’s got a string section and a grand piano coming onboard, so I think it will be very interesting to see what she does too.
I think also, because it is on such a smaller scale than we’ve probably seen before, there’s a chance that that connection between band and artist is going be that much closer. People won’t be worried as much about running between five different stages all day.
Yes! I think that’s definitely one of the things that we’re hoping will be a positive for this. You know, you look at the posters that have 30 bands on it and you’re only going to watch six of them anyway, so for us, we think we’ve got a pretty good day of music lined up. People can watch them from start to finish and actually see everything on the poster, rather than only seeing six bands and wishing they’d seen the other ones as well.
Yeah, that’s a good way of looking at it. I’m looking forward to a cruisy day of live tunes!
That’s the idea! I think the one in Perth that they ran for the last couple of years had good feedback because of that; people were going along and they just had one stage they could focus their attention on and that made the enjoy the day a lot more, because they didn’t have to run around and try to get to this stage or that stage. It’s a lot different to a standard festival that we might see in Adelaide, I suppose.
For sure! Well thanks for having a chat with me; best of luck with it all, I think it’s really good thing that we’ve got an event like this happening.
Yeah I hope we just sell the tickets we need to and get to where we need to be so that no one loses on it and we can do it again! That’s our goal, making sure that it happens again. We’re not going to make much money out of it, if any, but it’s more just about making it so we can keep doing it. I think the potential for it to be attended to a really good level is there, it’s just a matter of building it up over time. I mean, no festival really makes any money or does too well in its first year.
Well that’s it; you’re kind of just testing the waters, as it were.
Yeah, I guess we’ve played it pretty safe in terms of how big the line-up is. You know, Lana Del Rey sold more tickets in Melbourne and Sydney on her own than what we need to get to this, so hopefully it gets there!
I’m sure it will. Thanks again, Craig, hopefully your day isn’t too stressful or busy!
Oh it’s always busy, it’s like a 24 hour job at the moment, but hopefully it’ll be worth it on the day!
It will be! Keep in touch and we’ll catch you round.
Yep, cool! Thanks so much.
Tickets for the Spin Off Festival are available from www.moshtix.com.au. More information about the festival can be found at www.spinoffadelaide.com.au.