Your album Ex Tropical uses a lot of instruments and sounds you might not regularly hear on stage – so how has the transition been to performing it live?
It’s been good. I’ve got most of the sounds on my keyboard and we use backing tracks. I’ve always been in totally “live” bands in the past and the backing track thing is new for me. I feel it’s valid as long as we deliver a good show and put everything into the parts that are live.
Some of the “tropical” instruments like the xylophone and horns have a slightly artificial quality – like they were played on an old sampling keyboard such as an ASR-10. Do you find yourself drawn to slightly zombified sounds?
I don’t think xylophones and horns are necessarily tropical. The xylophone is the real thing but the horns and a lot of the other sounds are synthetic recreations or samples of mostly acoustic instruments. There aren’t any samples of other artists’ parts or performances though; everything was played by us. And yeah, I like bastardised, or tweaked sounds very much.
I dig the reverb-ed snares and repetition of the drum loops. Are there any drum sounds or machines that you particularly like using?
Not so much. I love [Roland TR] 808 and 909 sounds but we used a lot of different sources for the drum sounds. Whatever works and provides what I’m after, I’ll use.
A lot of the artists I like seem to be drawn to a particular animal identity – Gary Wilson with his duck, Chris Marker with his owls and cats. Lost Animal is a relatively self-evident name, but do you have a particular creature in mind?
A human being.
You seem to foster a very Australian outlook and aesthetic. How important to you is your home town and the Victorian bush?
I’m glad an Australian vibe came through for you. Melbourne is my hometown now and it’s influential in that it, and my friends within it, help nurture what I do. I lived in various small Victorian country towns before I moved to Papua New Guinea. Those places, along with PNG, resonate strongly in my psyche to this day. My dad used to play football in the country and my sister and I spent a lot of time entertaining ourselves in the surrounding bushland. It was a great breeding ground for my imagination. We also used to snow ski a lot when we lived at the base of the snowy mountains. That whited-out landscape was another big influence. I remember those times like they were a dream.
What does Lost Animal do on a beach holiday?
I’m on a beach holiday right now. I like being up early and experiencing the environment without too many other people around. I swim, read, eat mangoes, oysters, prawns and all that typical Australian stuff. Hang out with friends. A bit of loving never goes astray. I don’t drink anymore but I must admit to missing a G&T or five at the end of a balmy day. I’m also trying to get a bit of writing done.
I heard your interview on 3RRR a few weeks ago with Dave Graney. It’s the older crew of Melbourne musicians like him that make me proud of this city. Is there anyone else of that ilk you draw inspiration from?
Dave’s a good fella. He’s been supportive of my stuff since The New Season. He and his wife Clare used to come to our shows and were always very encouraging. “Evil” Graham Lee from The Triffids and Steve [Miller] from the Moodists used to have a label called W Minc and they wanted to release The New Season but I left the band. Jim White used to like The New Season too. It does help your confidence when older established musicians that you respect dig what you do.
When it comes to older musicians, Pat Ridgewell from Brisbane band Small World Experience has been my greatest inspiration. Ian Wadley and Julian Patterson were also in that band. I lived with Pat in Thornbury when I was 21 and we’d sit at the kitchen table all day drinking strong coffee, smoking weed and passing the guitar back and forth. His record collection expanded my tastes a great deal. It was a very formative time for me.
You’ve said that there will be a vinyl pressing of Ex Tropical in late January, early February. Do you take more pride in something you can physically hold in your hands?
I prefer vinyl. I respect it and treat it better. I take care of it. CDs tend to end up out of their covers strewn all over the floor, although I do listen to them in the car. They seem kind of unnecessary in the age of the MP3. If I buy a CD, it usually gets uploaded straight away and listened to as an MP3. I’m not a purist though. It’s the same for recording quality. Whether something is recorded onto a tape deck, two-inch tape or digitally, it’s ultimately about the song and the performance.
I’m into woody, earthy aromas and tastes lately – I keep picking rosemary from people’s gardens and carrying it around in my top pocket. If you could swap the “sugar” in Sugar Mountain for another spice or herb, what would it be?
Although it’s been a while since I indulged, I can’t go past Ganja Mountain.
Yet another re-posting today from the old dead Mess + Noise website and this time it’s the M+N’s Artist On Artist: Lost Animal interviewed by Andras Fox of Fox + Sui. Must be around the time of 2011, sorry didn’t take note of the date after finding it! It’s a much shorter interview that the other ones I’ve re-post here on my blog over this month but I do love that debut Lost Animal album so bloody much and I’ve posted stuff about it here before but who knows you might have missed that? Also including Jarrod’s much earlier more rock band The New Season which I don’t think I’ve blogged about before, throwing in the act who’s asking the questions here too!