the AU interview - WAMi Festival 2010: The Novocaines (Perth)


While over in Perth for the 2010 WAMi Festival I sat down in the recording studio of The Novocaines. After hearing some of their new killer tunes, I chatted to the lead vocalist and guitarist of the group, brothers Corey and Jay Marriott, respectively. They dished the dirt on playing with Them Crooked Vultures, gave us East Coasters some insight into the differences between the Perth and Fremantle live scenes, and we chatted about their big 12 months in a changing music industry... read ahead!

You’re playing your big WAMi show tonight I understand?

Jay: Yeah, we’re playing at a venue called the Norfolk. It’s one of
those venues that when you’re just starting to cut your teeth, you can
play there. And so we’ve done a LOT of shows there. Many many many
times we’ve played at the Norfolk, so it kind of feels like a home
venue. But it’s been a while since we’ve played there, so to not only
go back and perform there again, but to do it with the backing of WAMi,
when everyone’s over here and buzzing about live music, yeah it should
be great.

Corey: It’s still even a good Fremantle venue for bands who can sell
it out with a bit of ease, because the atmosphere, it’s very loud, it’s
very intimate, there’s no real stage, it’s about 6 or 7 inches of rise
of the ground floor. And when it holds 160 people or so, the way the
room is set up, you get everyone into this nice little square, almost
lounge environment.

Jay: It’s not as dank and dirty, but it’s sort of what you’d expect
an early New York venue or something like that to be. It is dark,
there’s only really lighting on the bar and on the stage. It’s a true
live music venue.

How does the Fremantle scene compare to that of Perth?

Corey: Probably the healthier of the two, even in the last four
years they had another venue open. But then again, I went to a venue in
Perth last night called The Bird which is very very new, and Fremantle
opened up a venue called the Railway a few years ago. But Fremantle’s
kind of a long suburb/town/city thing... where it really isn’t well
interconnected. So there’s East Fremantle venues, and North Fremantle
venues, and they generally kind of hub together, which is kind of cool

Jay: It’s kind of funny with Fremantle, because it’s not that far away in the terms of everything...

Corey: It’s the river that divides that makes it seem so far away.

Jay: Playing in Fremantle is a good sign of a turning point of your
band, because if you’re starting to get people showing up to your shows
there, it’s a good sign people are willing to travel to see your band.
That’s why it’s so great to play there when you’re so long, because
it’s a good way to build up a fan base really quickly.

Last year’s WAMis were pretty important for you guys, as you were
giving the opening spot in the festival on the back of “Cup of Coffee”.
Was that a big step for you guys as a band?

Corey: Yeah, that was a huge turning point for us. The last year
WAMi we did the Triple J Live at the Wireless and the Saturday
Spectacular in the same weekend. And prior to that I don’t think any of
us had done a WAMi night of nights at all. And we all just had a really
good time, it’s a good community spirit – a really enjoyable weekend.

Jay: Last year was particularly exciting, because within a space of
two months we’d gone from general obscurity, to all of a sudden being
on the radio. That’s so exciting! It’s still exciting now, but to reach
that point of being on the radio, it’s great. Then we were Unearthered
by Triple J, and we got that gig with Karnivool – it was a whirlwind of
activity all happening at one time. It was fantastic.

Corey: And we’d played with Karnivool before, and Sugar Army before,
so it was a really nice feeling. There’s not really a hierarchy of egos
or anything like that – everyone’s just good friends. That’s a great
aspect of the WAMi setup.

Last year also saw the Ragdoll EP released – how have you changed as a band since then?

Jay: As far as how we’ve changed as a band, obviously if you’re
trying to make art, you want to be continuously developing your skills,
and honing in, finding more and more about what you really sound like.

Corey: ... your own identity within it.

Jay: So over the last 18 months, we’ve not only been working on
developing ourselves as individual musicians, but as a band too. A huge
turning point was when Stephen bought a baritone jaguar guitar, and
started playing that through his bass rig. Which means then we could
have interweaving riffs and we could start making dark melodies, or
heavier melodies, and that opened up a whole bunch of new options.
We’ll obviously still sound like The Novocaines, but we’ve been
constantly developing our songwriting, trying to get it that much
better. Hopefully anyway.

So what can we expect next from you guys?

Corey: We’re really on a waiting game at the moment. We’ve finished
an albums worth of material, we’re more at the business end of it at
the moment, trying to work out the best strategy to move the band
forward, however we feel is the best way to move forward. There’s a lot
of bright opportunities facing us, so we’ll just have to wait and see
how it goes.

Was Ben Kweller involved at all in the new material? I read somewhere that this was a rumour long past...

Corey: No – yeah, this was a long time ago. That was when the band was very young.

Did you guys tour with him?

Corey: No, I’ve played on stage with him, but that’s about all. He’s
someone who took an interest in our band very early on. He genuine
offered to record us in New York, with dates and a budget, but
scheduling never worked out. I think it was meant to not work out
because I think we would have just been way too young, and not really
known ourselves. It was more of an accidental thing...

Was it before Ragdoll?

Corey: Way before... Way before! This band has been going for four
years, but we’ve always taken a very natural approach to things as
they’ve come. That should defend us the longest, as long as we’re doing
whatever’s honest.

You recently toured with The Vasco Era – can you talk a bit about that?

Corey: Yeah, we’ve toured with The Vasco Era nationally, and their
new album is fantastic, and we got to play the WA shows with them two
or three weeks ago off the back of it. They’re really good friends, we
always stay at each other’s houses when we’re over in each other’s

Are you playing mostly locally at the moment?

Corey: We did play some East Coast shows before the Vasco dates, but
we’ve had a lot of great opportunities to play locally this year, which
has helped as we’ve been putting together our record together here. And
that included Them Crooked Vultures and Big Day Out.

Them Crooked Vultures! That must have been pretty amazing.

Jay: Yeah that was really really great. The best thing about it, I
mean sure you get to go out there and meet Josh Homme, Dave Grohl and
John Paul Jones- who we’re all huge fans of. But the best thing about
it is when you meet them and realise how humble they are. It was really
comforting to meet them in those sorts of circumstances. But we also
learnt a lot from doing that. How much that meant to us – if you can be
like them, and learn from how they operate while being hugely
successful. That (experience) was really high point for not only the
band, but life in general – a real milestone.

Corey: This year’s already been great, even Big Day Out was so much
fun. It wasn’t on the local stage, but we just played the Perth show.
And we did a New Years Eve turnover into the New Year at Capitol. And
it’s also because some of our friends are reaching similar points –
friends like Tame Impala and bands like that, who we played with down
at the Norfolk on our first show there – or a variation of. And now
that everyone’s seemingly stuck with it, it’s starting to be a really
enjoyable point for everyone.

Jay: It’s obviously really exciting for us that we can go – yeah we
can play Big Day Out, this is great. But it’s equally exciting to see
your friends and go “we’ve been doing this for the same amount of time
– we’re all sharing this – how great is that!?” So be able to do shows
and know that everyone’s having success around you, the people that you
care about, it’s just excellent.

If they can get this far, and we can get this far, then the sky’s the limit...

Corey: Yeah, exactly.

Jay: We’re very big on finding younger bands, kicking around Perth.
That’s not to say we’re hugely successful or anything like that, but
finding young talent and to try and embrace it and help them out....

Corey: ... Encourage it. But we’re still learning, and you can only give the honesty of where you’re at and what you know.

Jay: And you can learn a lot from any band. It has nothing to do
with album sales. Like there’s so many young bands where you go “wow, I
never thought you could do that before”.

And it is with these young bands that the music industry will take shape into whatever beast it’s going to end up becoming...

Jay: It’s really interesting how the music industry is changing. I
mean we just finished recording our album, and to see the market – it’s
completely different to how it was even 10 years ago. So to be sitting
here and learning about and embracing this new way everything has to be
going out. It’s really great to be really on the cusp of all of these
changes, and to experience it as it’s happening, and to know about it.
It’s really exciting.

Find out more about the band at