Jem/WeEmptyRooms 2011 End Of Year Rant

End of year lists……they seem kind of stupid at times but I like to pretend my opinion matters somewhere and it seems like as good a time as any to take stock.

A lot has happened in camp WER this year, mainly it involved DEAD and their foolhardy attempt to cover the globe with their riffs. One of the better outcomes of this relentless and unsustainable tour regime was getting to meet great people and bands along the way. So in no order of hierarchy I present to you some of my musical highlights of the year. It’s not all of them, I can’t be expected to remember them all at once. And fuck mate……we’ll be here all day.

1. Heading North

Carburetor Dung in Kuala Lumpur put on one of the best punk shows i’ve ever seen. Turns out punk bands can have melody. My auntie came to the show and rather than be disgusted at what I do with my life she cried after we played. Career highlight right there.

Ghaust in Jakarta hosted a packed show in a great venue and managed to play an innovative and engaging set despite its’ post rock tendencies. A win in my book.

Vrosk in Jogjakarta and Jakarta were flat out menacing, a beast of a drummer and a scary vocalist.

Throughout this tour we met Cher from the DIY booking collective 7x0x7 who turned out to be a champion and a tireless upholder and active promoter of decent and humane ethics. She also found our harsh accents endearing which was a welcome surprise and cause of confusion.

In my mum’s old stomping ground, Batu Pahat, we played one of my favourite DIY venues to date called The Wall. I can’t remember the names of the awesome local bands but the organisers and promoters (like all on that tour) were exceptional hosts.

2. The Land of the ah…free

Unstoppable Death Machines
 proved that relentless touring equals having helpful mates in every little pocket of the country. They showed that audience participation can be fun and not daggy every night for a month in between driving ten hours a day, booking more tours and doing touristy shit with the wide eyed Aussies. They waste no time in waiting around for shit to happen for them, I’m expecting their hard work to pay off in the form of a much larger fanbase any day now.

Catacombz from Milwaukee were the best answer i’ve seen to Trans Am so far. Maximum good times, maximum nudity and tight as players. Their LP is exceptional road trip material.

In Minneapolis Gay Witch Abortion were quite simply one of the best live bands i’ve had the pleasure of watching. Guitar/Drums units often fall short of the mark for me. Too often the guitarist tries to re-create a wall of bass and it turns to mud. Much like local legends Hotel Wrecking City Traders these guys maintained a killer guitar tone with some very tasteful use of effects pedals. And the drummer….FUCK OFF! Fans of Pure Evil Trio’s John Irish would do well to check this guy out. Their album ‘Maverick’ is fantastic.

In Minot, North Dakota we played an exceptionally awesome DIY festival called Why Not? The orgnaniser of the festival played a great set, standing up with a broken leg or knee or something. He also presented me with a birthday cake on stage. Career highlights are piling up.

TOTAL FEST!!!! Um……I need a separate email for this thing entirely. Imagine the ultimate festival, hosted by the ultimate dudes in a great town and multiply it by 1000:

Vaz blew my mind to a fairly empty room. The heavyness to empty room ration had not been this high since I first witnessed Nunchukka Superfly in 2004. Upon return i tracked down their entire discography and it is all fucking great and quite varied which may explain why a fanbase has eluded them for a decade or so. Remind me of a more poppy and more brutal (yes the two can co-exist) version of our very own Deep Where All Drown. I will have some of their stuff for sale soon too.

Hammerhead (who feature 2/3 Vaz Members) breached the capacity of the bandroom and live music license of the venue. Some of you fools gotta discover Vaz.

Pygmy Shrews I was told had just got a new drummer. I dunno who the old guy was but this guy totally ran the show. Maximum power, minimal fucking about.

Big Business
 exceeded all expectations both times which, in hindsight, was a near impossible feat.

Thrones proved why he is the king of whatever you call that genre he dwells within/created. Never before has a rock band really only needed one person.

White Shit managed to put the fun back into hardcore (or perhaps for the first time?) which i’m sure would have upset any hardcore fans in the audience. Jared Warren proved to be an exceptional front man.

In Richmond Hex Machine were nerdy/clunky/riffy bliss. The large empty room didn’t faze them one bit, I always respect this. I picked up their album Omen Mass and it’s a corker.

In Philadelphia we played what turned out to be our last show of the tour and managed to play with two of the best bands of said tour:
Drums Like Machine Guns reminded me of our own Dead Boomers. Two piece noise unit who actually listen to eachother! And have “songs”.
Bubonic Bear pulled off the drummer/guitarist combo with the earlier mentioned wall of sound approach from the guitar. Double points for nailing that approach boys. Reminded me of Black Cobra but not in a derivitive way at all.

In New York (and earlier in Melbourne) Night Toilet were the only noise/ambient band I would ever want to be in. And this is no joke, they are exceptional in their ability to feed off eachother. A self described “fake band” it is apt that they have no website but i found this one instead

We didn’t manage to play a gig with water temples but they looked after us when we needed it. I hope they come back to Australia soon.

3. Back at home

I got to see onion play live a lot this year and even got to play with her in Darwin. She brings a kind of stripped back approach to noise/ambient/drone stuff that eludes most who can’t see the riff for the pedals. Hopefully I can release something of hers next year so more of you can hear it. – get a website Lara.

 upheld the tradition of Japanese bands who tour Australia being tight as all fuck, total shredders and top human beings. They also released an album that is fierce from start to finish.

Mr Sterile Assembly
 (New Zealand) visited us and played to a frustratingly small audience in a shit venue but still put on a primo set.

No Anchor raised eyebrows across the country and gave other underground/sludgey/noisy bands hope that maybe, just maybe we could get enough people to shows to cover the cost of the mixer! Another band who seem to press forward with their sound rather than dwell in one place.

The Reverend Jessie Custer destroyed a living room in Canberra on the last show of the Cyberne/DEAD tour. For me what sets this band apart from others of their ilk is an exceptionally tight and creative drummer. He really puts in those 1 percenters. They have a record out via Less Talk Records who rule.

Adelaide: what the fuck? Has been totally punching above its’ weight in the form of bands like Hydromedusa, Death Cult Jock, Poisonous Viper Gang, She’s The Band, Sex Wizard, Prison Bitch, Night Hag and of course Space Bong and others i can’t recall just this minute. Melbourne may have more gigs but Adelaide is delivering the high quality riffs in bucket loads.

Wicked City went to europe where for once they got to play to packed rooms, an elusive yet totally deserved occurrence back at home. They are better than ever.

Bone stepped it up a notch with a batch of new songs and a tour of China. Seriously one of my fave new(ish) bands going round.

Blacklevel Embassy did much the same as newest drummer Joel Ellis (Nunchukka) got used to his role. The heaviness factor got a lot higher but they don’t play nearly enough.

Babymachine from Wollongong released a record and it is a rock-n-rolling machine that bears many repeated listens.

Hotel Wrecking City Traders released a collab. e.p with Gary Arce of Yawning Man fame. Apart from it being a dream come true for the band the pairing proved, unsurprisingly, a total win.

I’m sure i’ve missed out on double what I just wrote. The world may be going to shit but good music spews forth at an alarming rate.

Thanks to everyone who has supported WER this year. Next year I hope to release a few more great records and host some sweet tours.


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