Sunday, 11 August 2013

It's My Kind Of Interview - The Blackwater Fever

While they've been rocking since 2005, I've been a fan of The Blackwater Fever since I caught them live with Gin Wigmore early last year. I might have been a little late, but I'm glad I saw them when I did, as they released their third album The Depths earlier this year and after hearing that it confirmed their soulful rock sound is one I am definitely a big fan of. They're about to play some gigs in support of the launch of their single 'Won't Cry Over You' and were kind enough to answer some questions for us before they play.

The Blackwater Fever
Interview by Jo Michelmore

Let’s ease into this Q&A easily, I’m going to answer the first part of the first question for you: you are Shane Hicks on guitar, Andrew Walter on drums and Jed A. Walters on keys and bass. Now tell us something about each of you that our readers may not know.

BWF: Shane: Currently recording a solo album. Prefers standard tooth brush over electric.

Andrew: Can slam dunk a basketball. Can pick the perfect avocado. Has one big arm.

Jed: To touch his moustache would be a death sentence. Records industrial music under the name "Tesla Coils".

You started as a two piece and are now a three piece, any extra good juicy fights you can tell us about amongst three opinions?

BWF: Not really, no. We're all pretty easy going and accommodating people. Personally if it was any another way, I don't think I could do it.


Your third album The Depths was released earlier this year. Now that it’s been in the public’s earlobes for a few months, is there anything you’d like to go back and change?

BWF: I can hear a few minor things we could improve on mixing wise. But this was our first crack at recording and mixing an album. So as a first try, I'm proud of it.

If The Depths was recorded in your home studio, does that mean some of it was recorded in your pyjamas? Is recording at home the same as working from home, as in, were your motivation levels high or were you tempted to just watch the TV sometimes?

BWF: Recorded in pyjamas? I'd say most certainly. I work from home as a graphic designer. My home studio and workplace are one and the same. My day job and recording both really got (and still do) get in the way of each other. It's a different dynamic then hiring a professional studio and engineer. There's no clock (or in our case, budget) to race against. You can take your time. Which is good and bad thing. When there's no time limit on a project you really need to keep a perspective on when a song or mix is finished. I'm a bit of a perfectionist… so it takes restraint to not over work or polish a song because as an end result, that's not what we're after at all.

When you started as a band, did you ever dream you would release three albums? What’s your next goal?

BWF: Probably not. We stared a band just for fun. Rick (the original drummer) and I were both pretty new to our instruments when we started. But jamming and playing loud music in a shed was pretty addictive. I guess it's that drive and enjoyment we get out of music that's got us to our 3rd album... and onwards.

Goal wise I'm keen to crack into the next album ASAP. Now that we have the tools at hand to DIY… I want to make the most of it.


How does the song writing process work for you? Is it an easy one?

BWF: Some songs come together easy and some don't. Some songs are easily pleased and form quickly, others are a struggle but you can sense their potential and you owe it to them to do better.

Lyrics can be hard. And I like to put a lot of thought into them. I've found if I'm trying to tell a story through a song, it pays to keep that story ultra-simple or else when you get to the end of the third verse you haven't said what you wanted to say.

How does the recording process work for you and which do you prefer; recording or playing live?

BWF: I think recording for us is pretty standard. All 3 of us in a room playing together trying to capture the essence of a song. We'll replace the guitar, bass / organ if need be. But hope to get all those elements in one hit to maintain a live feel. If not we'll redo a few things. Then we like to experiment with overdub which is heaps of fun trying different percussion, keys, lapsteel, backing vocals, noise and things. Then come mixing time you have a bunch of options to add or subtract.

If it came down to one or the other, I'd say I like recording the most maybe. To me a finished and released recording of a track means that the song is DONE! And putting out records feels like we're moving forwarded and accomplishing something more to me than just playing live. I've got so many unrecorded songs rolling around in my head so it's a relief to not have to think about the ones you've recorded anymore.

Recording vs. live sort of work hand and hand. You get a bit couped up recording. Your head sort of lives in this imaginary world of sound…. so you get the urge to play live in the real world… then after a while you get burnt out playing live and want to create and record again.

You play a mean live gig and by ‘mean’ I mean awesome. What’s your favourite part of the live process?

BWF: I guess I just love the loudness. Amplification! It's a cool feeling having your instruments and voice projected out to a crowd by a big powerful PA. I like meeting people that come up afterwards and confess it's their first time seeing the band and that we've made a new fan out of them… and seeing those people again that have been following us for a while and keep coming back.


How does playing your tracks live effect and/or change your feelings about them?

BWF: For us personally some of our tracks have stood the test of time with repeated performing… then some you put down for a while…. dust them off down the road to find a renewed enthusiasm towards them. Playing a new song live to a crowd really helps gauge if it's gonna work on record or not.

All musicians get compared to other artist in sound and style. Who is the most unusual artist you’ve been compared to and is there anyone you’d take particular offence or pleasure in being compared to?

BWF: My voice got compared to Nickelback's Chad Kroeger once. Haha… Ouch! :(
Someone called us The Blackwater Keys once too which I thought was hilarious. We used to get compared to other more popular two piece acts when we were a duo ourselves. It's a little frustrating when people compare your music purely based on your line-up/instrumentation. It's defiantly more of a duo thing…. It's not like 3 and 4 pieces bands get the same comparison treatment.

Thanks so much to The Blackwater Fever for answering our questions! The Depths is available on itunes and you can (and you should) catch them as they play gigs to launch their single 'Won't Cry Over You'. They play a mean show and by 'mean' I mean awesome...

Friday, August 16 - The Zoo, Brisbane
Friday, August 23 - Spectrum, Sydney
Saturday, August 24 - Lass O'Gowrie Hotel, Newcastle
Friday, September 6 - Solbar, Maroochydore

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