Matthew ‘The Axe Murderer’ Rogers is in the middle of ripping apart his studio in Vancouver before I Skyped on through. “I’m a bit of a sweaty mess of a person at the moment,” he says. Taking a brief break from renovations and reorganisation, Rogers turns focus to his band, The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer and their upcoming Australian tour dates.
It’s billed as their ‘maiden’ Australian tour but as Rogers mentions, they’ve already had a taste of our scene.
“It’s not our first time [to Australia], technically speaking,” he explains. “I don’t know if the last time really counts, but we went down for the BIGSOUND conference, maybe two and a half years ago? Along with that, we played one gig in Sydney in Coogee, but that’s all we’ve done; we’re really happy to be coming down and to be playing a couple of festivals and a few more ‘real’ shows.”
The tour takes in a few east coast headline dates, while the Canadian duo are also set to appear at both the Mullum and Queenscliff Music Festivals this month. While they were grateful for the opportunity the BIGSOUND trip gave them to perform, Rogers notes that they were careful not to base all their opinions of playing in Australia on that one, brief trip.
“Because BIGSOUND is a conference, it’s a different type of thing,” he admits. “You’re playing for a bunch of industry folk, so it didn’t feel like we were playing ‘Australia’. I don’t want to base all my opinions of playing Australia on the one experience we had in Coogee – we should be a bit more open minded than that! I’m looking forward to really experiencing the Australian music scene, in a more elaborate way that we ever have before.”
“We’re really excited about it, especially because November is probably the worst month of the year to be in Canada.” Rogers adds. “We’re on the west coast so it’s not snowy or anything, but it’s just dismal rain and three degree celsius all day long.”
With a new album in A Real Fine Mess now out, The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer have continued to flourish within this rugged realm of blues, soul and gritty songwriting they’ve made for themselves. As a live band, Rogers takes us through their approach and how it differs to how he and ‘The Harpoonist’, Shawn Hall, take to recording.
“They’re two different beasts for us,” he says. “We’re okay with that. Our recordings really don’t represent what we do live and what we do live really doesn’t represent our recordings, except that it’s the same players. Live, we just want to give people the best and real experience, you know? It doesn’t matter so much to us whether it sounds exactly like what people have heard on the radio or on the internet; it’s more important that they come and have something. A special memory to leave with of how much fun they had or some special moments of the show. With the recordings, I feel like we want to give people a different experience; something that they really want to listen to while driving in their cars or when they’re at home, whatever.”
While Australians will be introduced to A Real Fine Mess for the first time in coming weeks, Rogers notes that the duo is already looking ahead to the release of the next chapter of their work. For now, focus is on the road and experiencing new venues, audiences and bringing their brand to as many as possible, with a much-needed break also aligning perfectly in amongst it all.
“We’re gearing up to release a new record, but it’s not until late March, early April.” Rogers says. “We’ve been touring pretty consistently so looking ahead, we actually have a decent break, which is amazing. Except for this Australian tour and a scattering of things just to keep us active and not let the cobwebs set in too much. We’re really looking forward to a time of creative rejuvenation; it’s been a really strenuous long haul of pretty constant playing.”
“We’re really looking forward to it,” he says of the concept of touring abroad. “It’s so wonderful to go to new places, you really feel like you’re invigorated when you’re playing for new people who are hearing you for the first time. It’s really quite special, you wish that everything could be like that.”
THE HARPOONIST & THE AXE MURDERER AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
November 19th & 20th | Mullum Music Festival
November 22nd | Play Bar, SYDNEY
November 24th | Caravan Music Club, OAKLEIGH
November 25th – 27th | Queenscliff Music Festival