AU ABROAD

the AU interview: Dane Robertson of Black Fox (Melbourne)

We caught up with upcoming Victorian band Black Fox ahead of their east coast tour. We had a chat about the recent release of their double a-side 'Day In Lieu/Monarch', their upcoming debut album Line Of Sight and blood brothers and much more!

How has 2012 been treating you guys so far?

2012 has been great thus far. We spent all of 2011 writing and recording songs, so this year is all about putting those songs out and playing some great shows. The most enjoyable period for a band is always when you’re releasing records, so I think 2012 should continue to be nice and exciting

You recently had your double a-side 'Day In Lieu/Monarch' launch gig at The Workers Club in Melbourne. Can you tell me a little bit about the highlights of the night?

Seeing all the punters sporting ‘Black Fox’ temporary tattoos on the night was a real highlight. It was also just really nice to have the record for sale at the merch stand, and to be able to show off the fruits of our labour. We’re a band that likes to party, so hitting up some Fitzroy nightspots to dance the night away with our friends afterwards was also a highlight.

What made you want to put 'Day In Lieu/Monarch' on vinyl?

We’ve always wanted to have some of our own music on vinyl, so first and foremost we chose to do it to fulfill that dream. Now that there’s a copy of it in my record collection, I can tick that off my list of ambitions. Vinyl is also a medium that makes a lot of sense for indie bands. CD sales continue to decline every year, while vinyl sales are on the rise. The fact of the matter is that more and more people are downloading their music these days, and it’s only the real enthusiasts that purchase physical copies—and they seem to be the people who are into vinyl. We made sure
that the 7-inch comes with a download card so that anyone purchasing it gets a digital copy for their iPod.

Your debut record Line Of Sight is due out later this year. Can you give us a hint as to when we can expect it out?

The record is completely finished and it sounds awesome. We haven’t settled on a date yet, because we’ve been so busy with the 7-inch release, but it will definitely be out sometime in the middle of the year. June or July is looking quite probable at this stage.

Who did you record Line Of Sight with and where?

We wrote, recorded and produced the album ourselves in various bedrooms, living rooms and rehearsal studios around the globe. In the past (in other bands) we’ve recorded albums both ourselves and in studios with producers. Having tried both ways, we decided that the DIY approach suited us best. I’ve spent years recording bands and collecting the recording equipment that suits our style, so it was pretty easy to do it ourselves. It’s also a lot more fun and experimental. There’s nothing worse than getting an idea and not being able to try it out because you’re running out of time in a studio and nobody’s got the money to pay for an extra day. Recording and producing ourselves, we had the freedom to develop some great recording techniques and to try out every idea that came to us. The result was a better album that was personally much more satisfying.

Did writing songs in Melbourne, New York and Japan help add to the diversity of Line Of Sight?

Absolutely. Daniel wrote and partially recorded one of the songs when he was living by himself in Japan, and that song definitely has a different feel to it. I’ve always felt that song has a more isolated feel to it than the others which really suits it. One of our best friends and fellow musician, Callum MacBain, co-wrote one of the songs on the album, and was someone that I used to show my newly written Black Fox songs to for feedback—usually while we attempted to brew homemade cappuccinos on an old machine that frequently left us with nasty steam burns. He’s someone that we all love working with and we definitely wanted to get him on the album. The problem was that by the time we started recording, he‘d moved to New York to study. I ended up cashing in all my frequent flyer points to go and stay with him for a week or so last year so that we could get him to record some parts for the album. We had a riot of a time. He was on holidays so we spent every night partying and every day working on music and playing expensive guitars that we could never afford in New York’s many guitar stores. He laid down some great backing vocals and harmonies on several of our songs and I helped him mix a romantic EP that he had written as a birthday present for his girlfriend. I believe her response when she listened to it was, ‘Are you happy with it?’ Who said romance was dead?

Who would you say influenced you as a band to write this album?

I was certainly influenced by bands like The Cure, The Smiths and BRMC. I’ve always felt that bands like that write music that is devoid of a time stamp. Although bands like The Cure and The Smiths wrote many of their hits in the 1980s, they still sound fresh today. I think in any given decade there’s a lot of music played on radio that you’ll look back on in 10 years and say, ‘God, I can’t believe I ever listened to this.’ I’m hoping that our songs won’t be in that group. However, a lot of those bands are making money and we’re certainly not, so perhaps they’ll have the last laugh. There does seem to be a lot of music coming out these days that is lyrically the worst
kind of tripe I’ve ever heard though. Pop music in particular has hit an all-time low in that regard. I hope that even if people don’t necessarily like our music, they can still appreciate the lyrical content.

The other big influence for us was Pink Floyd. Daniel arranged most of the synths on the record and spent a lot of time getting the right sounds. I know that he was largely influenced by the way that Pink Floyd utilise synths and keyboards to add textures to their songs. A lot of our synth parts were done on a Yamaha TX7. Virtually none of the sounds coming out of that machine sound good in their own right, but they sound perfect in the mix.

"Tightly linked by bonds of blood and friendship" - Can we assume that you are all blood buddies from this statement?

We haven’t quite gone through the schoolyard ritual of mixing drops of our blood together, but Daniel and Leigh are brothers so that counts for something. We’re all just really great friends. Daniel, Leigh and Myself have been friends for years and we work together really well. When Mitch and Andrei came on board we were very fortunate that they fitted in so well and were easy to work with. We all hang out together when we’re not doing band stuff and share a lot of the same interests. We’re very lucky in that regard.

You have some upcoming shows on the east coast of Australia coming up in a short while. Can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect from a Black Fox show?

Mania. We all love performing on stage and we’re very easily excited, so our sets are always very energetic. There are always a lot of dance moves going down. You’ll have to judge for yourself if that’s a good thing or not. We can’t help ourselves.

Lastly, is there anything we can expect from Black Fox in the year ahead?

We’ll be playing lots of live shows and putting out our record. Hopefully there’ll be some festivals come summertime as well. We’re always thinking of different ways to do things, so there’ll be some unique Black Fox parties along the way too.

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Catch Black Fox on tour near you soon!

June 6th 2012 - Revolver Upstairs - Prahran, VIC
June 16th 2012 - The Alley - Adelaide, SA
June 26th 2012 - The World Bar - Sydney, NSW

Black Fox's double a-side 'Day In Lieu/Monarch' is out now!