Interview By: Jack Walker
The riffs are so raging, the melodies so engaging and the sentiment so pure that it is near impossible to resist the raw and reliable sentiments of this most excellent Brissy guitar rock four piece. Violent Soho’s music is so full of battering-ram guitars, vocals obscured by haze and distortion, and a rhythm section so powerful it threatens to flatten buildings. There are heavy, and indeed very welcome - doses of abandon rock that is oft long forgotten in this electro nu-age of music. It harks back to an era of superb, unadulterated, 2.5 min power-in-your-pocket pure rock, replete with ear-grabbing hooks that are full of integrity. It’s a beautiful thing, this Violent Soho – look for their full length debut album on Ecstatic Peace / Universal coming soon!
We caught up with James Tidswell (Vocals/Guitar) via e-mail.
JW: You guys started as a group of teens a few years ago - just getting together and jamming. Did the group set any goals at that time and are you still on track?
James: I don't think we really set goals as such. We always discussed playing shows around Brisbane in Australia, but we didn't really have to much ambition beyond that. I mean when we started we didn't even play instruments, so we were more concentrated on learning how to play our instruments than setting goals. We sort of divided up who was going to play what instrument then started jamming. We are on track to our only goal which was playing around Brisbane.
JW: At what point did you know that you had a chance to become a major player in the Australian rock scene?
James: I would say we still haven't realized that, because it's not in our style of thinking. We are just happy to play shows and meet people that like our music.
JW: What's the craziest show you guys have played?
James: In Malibu for Rick Rubin, he hired a 1500 seat auditorium, and it was for him and 3 other people to watch us. That was by far the craziest because there was 1496 seats with no one in them, and Rick Rubin sitting right in front of us. It was pretty hard to play the way we do under those circumstances.
JW: What do you listen for when you hear other groups perform.... What one thing sets other groups apart from Violent Soho?
James: I don't really listen for anything, I just kick back, and if I enjoy it, I enjoy it. I don't know what sets other groups apart from us, maybe it's because they do listen for certain things when other groups perform. We don't really take ourselves seriously enough to compare ourselves to other bands.
JW: How do you measure a good song? Is it by how you can head bang to it, by the melody or lyrics? How does a Violent Soho song make the cut?
James: I guess it's all 3. It makes the cut if we can still remember how to play it the next time we go to practice it. If we can't well we just move on.
JW: How does the group approach songwriting and production? Is it the music or the words that come first? And when do you know that a song is right?
James: Um... that's a pretty tricky question, but it's definitely the music that comes first. Bordam doesn't even start writing the lyrics till we are recording the songs. So our main focus is always the music and how it sounds and if it has the right energy. You know, Zen Shit!
JW: What was it like meeting a pioneer like Rick Rubin? What did he like about the group and what words of encouragement did he give the group?
James: It was exactly as you could imagine. He was extremely soft-spoken and just a total rad dude. We talked heaps about Australian music, and all of his favorite Aussie bands, and what we were into, and our future - all that sort of stuff. I guess words of encouragement were there, but I found it more encouraging that after we played him 6 songs, he asked us to play another, then once we played 7 he asked for another, then once we played 7 he asked for another. So I think we found that quiet encouraging.
JW: Who are your influences?
James: There are heaps, because I think bands influence you in different ways. There are the standard ones that people hear straight away like Pixies, Sonic Youth, Weezer, Nirvana, Smashing pumpkins; all the standard ones that people go straight for because they know these bands.
Some of the bands we are influenced by are Australian. There are so many bands that are not really known by the rest of the world that we are influenced by like, Eddie Current, Suppression Ring, The Stabs, Dead Farmers, Budd, Midget, Hateman, Screamfeeder, Massapeal, Feedtime, Cosmic Psychos, The Saints, etc.. Then there is all the good shit coming out of the States as well that we are into, like Pissed Jeans.
JW: If you ever have the opportunity to headline a major U.S. tour what would the name of the tour be and who would be the first group that you would ask to open for you?
James: I don't know what the tour would be called, but I can say that my favorite band in the U.S at the moment would have to be T.U.S.K, so I guess I would ask them if they would like to tour with us. If they said, "No," then I would ask if we could open for them.
JW: What can we expect from Violent Soho in the future?
James: An album to be released and heaps of touring that all we see in our future. Thanks heaps!!
Violent Soho - James Tidswell Takes Us Down-Under
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