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Marty Doyle: At First Sight

Martin Doyle, aka “Marty”, aka “Count Doyle”, is the organiser of the imminent At First Sight at Carriageworks, happening this Saturday July 20th and featuring HTRK, Twerps, The Laurels, Beaches, Super Wild Horses, Songs, Client Liaison, Straight Arrows, Holy Balm, Shining Bird and Day Ravies. Just take that in for a second. If you recognise two or three of these bands, you’re excited. If you recognise most of them, you know just how significant this will be. An all-Australian line-up featuring key players among the very best of the actually-very-good music scene.

Not only that, the event is a record fair with more than 100 stalls taking part. This section is free and will be sound-tracked by a rotation of Marty’s vinyl-collecting friends, DJs from around Sydney and hosts of various radio shows. It’s an all-ages event so the young ones can seize the chance to see bands they’ll otherwise wait for until they’re 18, or nimble enough to sneak into a club.

Marty is an interesting character and has been active in the Sydney music scene for years, hosting Dusty Fingers on FBi Radio, DJing Fridays at GoodGod Small Club with Yo Grito and currently managing The Laurels, Straight Arrows and Super Wild Horses. We met on Abercrombie Street last week to discuss this event, and our conversation roamed far and wide to cover a whole range of things within his purview. I’m reasonably in touch with music goings on, as it happens, but I discovered quite a bit from this interview. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Come down on Saturday. One for the books.

Nick Hollins: I was going to ask you about when you started doing the Dusty Fingers thing, the radio show and everything.

Marty Doyle: Yeah, I had to put that into the press release and I think I counted it back as four years.  I’m pretty sure that’s right.

Nick: Has it been basically the same kind of show the whole time?

Marty: More or less, I mean I think when I started it I was pretty ambitious with a lot of the programming concepts. So there was one night where I did a special on bands from Chicago and that was it. And then I did one on bands from Texas. And then I started to get a little bit more creative and did a show on film composers like Antony Morricone and Angelo Badalamenti. So respected film composers and how their music has influenced all the contemporary music. And things like that.

I did one on space. Like the evolution of space throughout music. So I started in the ‘50s with songs about rockets to when man landed on the moon, then in the ‘70s it went a lot more spiritual and astrological and then you know … so I’ve had some good themes I think, but like week-in-week-out it just gets hard and to have the time. I mean this is me also coming up with these ideas seriously the night before the show or I race home and go through my CD collection and whatever like ‘Okay, I can do this.’ A lot of it is winging it.  I’ve been trying to get a producer to help me kind of formulate some of those ideas a bit better. But yeah the show’s been more or less the same in the way that it goes from new music to old music and kind of moves around a bit. I think it’s definitely rooted more in an older sound, you know? Which is obvious from the name of it.

Dusty Fingers

Nick: It’s kind of like a musicology sort of show as opposed to being a vinyl obsessive show?

Marty: Well I guess the intention and the focus of it is to have a show that exposes people to more sub-genres than they might have explored themselves. Showing the depth that’s available out there. For someone who doesn’t know much about dance hall music or leftfield kind of underground disco … and you know they’re the kind of things that interest me musically as well. And I love getting to explore. When you find a genre that you’re really into and you realise there is just so much in all these little small pockets where at surface value … like reggae’s an amazing example. I think a lot of people associate reggae with Bob Marley and backpackers, you know? But when you go deeper into that, you get past that surface, you realise there is an endless pool of amazing music to go through. I’m still searching through it and it’s like ten years on. Into that you go rock steady, ska and roots, and then dub. There’s always split genres under that umbrella and I think it’s about pushing through that initial layer to find out the depth below it.

Nick: So I guess, how long did you say you’ve been a bit of a music obsessive? And aside from that, where do you do your digging around? Like on the internet or talking to people or perhaps you could name drop a few sources that people can look into?

Marty: It’s funny because I have been asked that a few times, ‘Where do you find out about this stuff?’ And I don’t really know because I guess maybe I’m just doing it all the time. Definitely the internet but I mean I was getting into that stuff well before I had the internet. I think you know like when I was a kid, well certainly a teenager, I was into hip hop massively in high school. And this is way before the internet came around.  So that was through a lot of friends. And there was a shop above Subway in Liverpool Street called Next Level Records and they used to have MC battles and shit there, and kids used to go and hang out there. Like there was a couch and kids used to hang out there and watch these freestyle battles take place and stuff like that. So it was hanging out in those kind of places, people tell you about things.

But a big one as well was when I bought an album, you look at the thankyous. And you kind of go ‘Oh okay, Jungle Brothers and De La Soul and whatever,’ and you go and buy their album and you get further on and deeper into it. That was one way.

I guess now … I mean yeah, the internet definitely. But I think the internet can only get you so far sometimes. One of the things that I’ve also noticed is that sometimes I’ll have music that’s kind of crossed my radar in some capacity, either seeing it in a magazine or street press or hearing about it or seeing a poster for it on the street. So it’s in my subconscious but then when somebody goes ‘Oh have you checked out such and such, it’s really, really good.’ And you might have at first on face value kind of just been ‘Okay I’m aware of that,’ but when somebody says ‘No you need to check this out,’ then you do and check it out and it’s like ‘This is actually really, really cool.’

So I think the best thing is talking to people and getting somebody else’s enthusiasm across something will really tip you over the edge sometimes. And it’s something I think we lose a little bit through the internet. I mean at the same time I’ve spent nights on YouTube just going from link to link and finding all this incredible stuff and then I get excited about it and I go and tell people about it. But I feel like sometimes it’s only when you have those conversations and the enthusiasm is really put across that it really means something and it connects with you more. And it puts it higher to the list of things to check out.

Nick: Do you have other certain people on other shows on FBi that you have a continual dialogue with about this stuff? Sharing bands and what not.

Marty: Well I mean FBi is full of amazing music heads but like I don’t drive and … I shouldn’t say this, but I don’t actually listen to a lot of radio. And when I get into the studio to do my show no-one’s there. Like I talk to the guy I take over from and the guy who takes over from me. And that’s kind of more who I see, apart from station meetings and stuff like that. But you know there’s shows like Tyson Kho’s show Loose Joints on Sunday and I’ve known Tyson for years and we’ve DJ’d at different parties together and …

Nick: He’s been doing that show for ages.

Marty: He’s been doing that show forever as well. And you know he covers my show sometimes and I listened to what he played on my show. I covered his show last Sunday and I think we share a lot of influences and interests. So he’s definitely one show which I think is on a similar trajectory to mine. But most people that I get music off is more DJs. Like outside of radio. And it’s from clubs and other DJs that I’ve played with or have been associated with on some level. Like Owen who I DJ with at GoodGod.

Nick: Penglis?

Marty: Penglis from Straight Arrows.

Nick: Yep.  Hasn’t he got an absurd 7” collection? I’ve heard that.

Marty: He is insane dude. We’ll be djing together one night and he’ll be like throwing down sevens and then he’ll be on his phone on eBay bidding on another five whilst he’s playing you know. It’s all shit for next week, you know? I mean he’s got a wide taste but also a very select taste. He likes garage, soul and punk. And you know those things kind of branch out into further worlds but that’s kind of like his thing right? So he’s just constantly showing me stuff and I’m just like ‘Fuck what is this? Wow.’ So he’s been an influence on me for the last couple of years since we’ve been DJing together like definitely.

And before that like in the same way Dan Poulter from Dollys, you know he was a part of our DJ things as well. You know we all … that’s the great thing about doing a DJ collective is every week we’d rock up and we’d be showing each other stuff and we’d all just get stoked on each other. And it’s just a really good reciprocal way. And I think for us in a tangible way when you’re a DJ and you play that stuff out at a club and you’re going to go ‘Check this out,’ play it and you watch people dance to it.

Nick: Sure.

Marty: It’s really cool, as opposed to somebody emailing you a link or whatever.

Nick: And you’re just listening to it wherever your computer is, out of computer speakers.

Marty: Yeah exactly. Like ‘Yeah, I guess this is cool.’

Nick: So how long have you guys been djing together?

Marty: Well it only really started with this night. I mean I’d known Owen for …

Nick: Which night?

Marty: Oh sorry, Yo Grito. So Yo Grito is like a weekly thing that we do at GoodGod every Friday.

Yo Grito

Nick:  Right, right. And when did that start, sorry?

Marty: Well it’s out second birthday sometime around now.

Nick: I had heard that you three were doing stuff.

Marty:  Yeah, yeah. So it started two years ago and it kind of came from I was booking GoodGod at the time. And one of the things that we wanted to do, like Jimmy and the owners, it kind of felt that GoodGod up until that point had been like really more of a club-focused environment. And I was definitely trying to push a lot of stuff with getting a lot more live bands in there. And you know Jimmy is really into a lot of the DIY bands and stuff that came through as well. So we needed a rock n’ roll night basically. And rather than it being that kind of fuckin’ Guns and Roses kind of LA Sunset Strip kind of vibe, we wanted a point of difference and I mean I love a lot of ‘60s garage and soul kind of stuff so Owen and Dan were the obvious choices for people to do that with. That’s kind of where it started. And just having known those guys for a few years, that not only do they know good music but they’re actually really good DJs I think. They know how to read a crowd and work a room and I think that’s a really big important part. So it was really nice like over a couple of years to work out our synergy and learn each other’s record collections and sets. Now whenever we play together we kind of know, ‘Oh okay you’re going into early Stones, I’m going to take it to Bo Diddley now,’ and from Bo Diddley you go to Ray Charles or I don’t know, whatever. It’s a very fluid process. I think that’s a good thing about when you DJ with friends. It’s rewarding.

Nick: So you manage particularly The Laurels and Holy Balm? Is that right?

Marty: No I just do the bookings for Holy Balm. So I manage Laurels, Straight Arrows and Super Wild Horses.

Nick: Oh right, yeah I didn’t realise those last two. So did you start sort of managing those guys while you were still booking GoodGod and stuff?

Marty: Yeah, yeah.  So what happened … I mean it all started from The Laurels. The night that they did their 7” launch at The Hopetoun, I’m sure you would have been there for that.

Nick: Ah yeah, I have that 7”.

Marty: I remember that night, and I’d been going to see them a while before then. I remember the first show I saw them was at the 2007 band uni comp that they won.

Nick: Oh yeah I heard they won that.

Marty: Yeah so this is the first time I saw them and from that I was like ‘Wow this is a great band.’ And I just followed them for a while after that and you know at the time I was working at Inertia. And I was doing A&R for them. And I was kind of interested in maybe working with them, putting out their record or EP or whatever at the time. But when I first met them I remember the first meeting I had was with Piers and Luke at the Hollywood Hotel … they would have been like 21 I think at the time. And they were so nervous and shy and like adorable, and just after having a conversation I kind of realised that they weren’t really ready, they were still in those stages of like we’re still working this shit out. And I think like Aimee was still in the band at that point and they were still playing their first few shows really, it was very early days.

So a few years after, like whatever … they got to that 7” launch and I was just so blown away that night, and there were heaps of other managers there. And I’d kind of been tossing up the idea of ‘Should I do something here?’ And also by this stage I was at Ivy League, I’d left Inertia and I wasn’t sure if I was able to like take on managing a band and keep working at Ivy League. But yeah I think it was just that night and I kind of felt that pressure like ‘Fuck if I don’t jump in like now, somebody else is going to.’ And there was another friend who’s a manager as well, and she came up to me and said ‘They are like ripe fruit swinging from a low branch.’ Ready to be plucked, you know? Which might sound gross actually in hindsight but I thought it was a good call from a managing perspective on the night.

Nick: Well yeah that’s from the management perspective, just kind of being I sort of met them around the same time, I think very much around then. I think I met them in 2007 but late on and they were a four-piece by that time. And then at the time, the first time seeing them was just being blown away like ‘What the fuck?’ The guitar sound was crazy. And then after a while back in those days around 2008 it was like ‘Why are The Laurels not blowing the fuck up?’ It didn’t make sense for the longest time. So I know what you mean.

Marty: Yeah so I was like I’ve got to do this before someone else does and I felt like that they were also … like didn’t really realise their own potential fully yet, like a little bit. And you know one of the first things when we started working together was we got them on the Tame Impala tour and I think that was a big step for them. Because obviously Tame Impala were on everybody’s lips at the time and they were a really exciting band and The Laurels joined that and I think that was a good kind of thing to get it rolling.

And anyway from there on in after doing The Laurels for a couple of years I left Ivy League and I’d kind of gotten to the point with my job where I realised that I enjoyed managing bands and I wanted to give it a go. So when I left that I was just working with The Laurels but then in came Super Wild Horses and then Straight Arrows after that. Then I was working with the Gooch Palms for a while, then Holy Balm, and then I was like shit I’ve actually got way too much on my plate. So that’s where I’ve kind of drawn the line a little bit now.

Nick: Yep sure.

Marty: I mean it’s a lot, it’s a lot of work and effort to manage bands. You don’t make any money out of it. You do it for the love. You know, so yep … that’s that now.

At First Sight

Nick: I guess I would circle back and ask about how this At First Sight thing came about and how you started to get it organised with Carriageworks and how you went about selecting the bands and getting bands on board and stuff.

Marty: What happened? Yeah. I remember I was in a bit of a weird turning point, like I think I was really putting a lot of energy into Magic Cactus, which is the name of my management company. But also pretty broke. And kind of learning the trials and tribulations of essentially freelance work. You know there’s no kind of consistent wage. Anyway I think it was Rage’s 25th birthday or something that happened recently and there was a thing down at Carriageworks that I went to that night and I just got hit up from one of the girls that worked there and asked ‘Would you be interested in doing something with Carriageworks?’ And I was like ‘Yeah of course.’

So that conversation just kind of evolved until a bit further down the line they asked me if I could pitch a few different ideas for them for like programming, music. I think up until that point there had been music stuff there but a lot of it was like mostly theatre and art-based. So I think they were looking at getting into more music-based stuff.

And I don’t know like one night I just sat down and came up with a bunch of ideas and At First Sight was one of them. And it just felt like a pretty obvious sort of idea in a way that … like you know at music festivals there’s sometimes record stalls but mostly it’s fuckin’ silly hats and weird sunnies. And it just felt like why hasn’t anyone done a record fair, like a proper one with an all-day show? It just seemed like an obvious thing to do. And so I threw that idea and that’s how it all started.

Nick: Well yeah I suppose it’s an obvious enough idea but not the easiest one to carry off.

Marty: Yeah, yeah sure I think you’ve kind of got to get the right people involved to make it work. Fingers crossed it does work, we have yet to see.

Nick: Is it going to be a lot of the same record dealers that show up at Glebe Record Fair and stuff like that?

Marty: Yeah so the guys who are running the record fair are Egg Records. So they’re responsible for coordinating the Glebe Record Fair. And I went to the Glebe one for the first time last year and just thought it was awesome, you know. It was a proper coordinated like real-deal record fair and I found out that the Egg guys did it and so I went and hit them up about it. And they were like ‘We’d love to do it.’ So yeah it’s been really good having their energy involved in it because they know that world so well. So at the last Glebe Record Fair they went to all the stall holders and were like ‘Do you want to do this thing at Carriageworks with us?’ And they got like 100 tables on the day.

Nick: Yeah whoa, far out.

Marty: Yeah so everybody I think realises the value or the potential of Carriageworks as a space. Especially with that front. It’s such a great place for a record fair. It’s huge.

Nick: Well I wanted to launch into something about vinyl for a second … yeah we can do that, and come back and talk about the bands and stuff. You know everything that’s going on with vinyl at the moment, even the smallest independent bands are getting their cash together and pressing vinyl with a digital release and vinyl is just going crazy at the moment …

Marty: Yeah it’s funny isn’t it.

Nick: … deservedly so.

Marty: Yeah it’s just like the format has not died. Like it’s gone through so much stuff and it’s still like a really important thing. You know I mean like VHS and mini-disk or laser disk, like there have been all these things that have come and gone. But that’s like, when you think about it … it’s been the most solid music based product for about fifty-odd years, you know whatever. But personally I feel it’s in the last maybe five or so years that bands have … more like really DIY bands have gone back to making vinyl a priority. I think that’s really awesome. You know so much so now that bands will want their stuff on vinyl before CD.

Nick: Yeah.

Marty: And when I was just recently over with The Laurels in the States right, and when they played Austin Psych Fest right, there’s like a little merch tent you can set-up in after your show. There were people like ‘Have you got any vinyl?’ And unfortunately we didn’t have any on us at the time, but then we’re like ‘Oh we’ve got CDs,’ and it’s … ‘No, no it’s cool.’ You know? Like not interested at all.

Nick: I’d do that. I’m always just after vinyl.

Marty: Exactly. So now I think it’s like … I mean it’s kind of the ultimate testament of a fan I think is you see a show and you go and buy vinyl after it. And I think there’s a few things that make that appealing in the way that for a fan, the majority of the time these bands that we’re talking about that do vinyl it’s like they get off stage, they sit in a corner and they sell their vinyl. So it’s a way that you can kind of have not only a human connection with the music because it’s a tangible product, but it was sold to you through a human connection as well, the band usually sells it to you. I think it’s subconscious little mental things like that, that make vinyl important to you. And you can kind of go ‘Shit I remember the night that that happened,’ or that I bought this vinyl or how good that show was or how shit the show was but how much I love the album.

Nick: Yeah for sure.

Marty: So you can kind of trace these things a lot easier I think, then like … do remember your first download?

Nick: Fair point. No not really.

Marty: Cause how much shit do you download every day now? Like heaps right? You don’t buy vinyls every day. So the two things separate themselves in that way. You can trace it to a lot more experience.

But it’s funny because I did another interview with the Sydney Morning Herald about vinyl and they were talking to one of the guys who works at Utopia. This is totally a record store thing to say but he says ‘Oh but all these bands record their shit digitally and then put it on vinyl. It’s kind of like recording your favourite album and then putting it onto a DVD or something like that.’ And I understand that point that it’s not what it used to be but I think it’s also awesome, the fact that bands are able to make their stuff digitally for a lot cheaper. It means they don’t have to go into a studio, spend the money watching the clock, going ‘Shit we’re haemorrhaging money here by the second, every second we’re in here.’ They can do it digitally, do it at home or go anywhere and make an album.

Nick: And you can have the vinyl pressed anywhere in the world.

Marty: But the fact that they want that vinyl. It’s not about this whole thing about vinyl sounds warm or it’s better quality … it’s whatever, it’s not really about that, it’s what is important to me? And what is tangible to me? And what am I proud of? Who has a record collection that isn’t on display? It’s a prized thing. It doesn’t fucking matter if it was digitally recorded or not, it’s like I love this band and I love this record, and I love it so much that I’m going to put it up here for you to see.

Nick: Yeah. To be fair I’ve got piles and piles of old records, stuff that I bought at record fairs or you know whatever, stores with second hand stuff, old ‘60s stuff or whatever. But my favourite records are all the new ones, the sort of underground Australian bands, however many records and seven inches of theirs that I’ve got. They’re kind of my favourite.

Marty: Yeah, the other thing I think is that when it comes down to it, it’s easy to throw away CDs, it’s really hard to throw away vinyl though.

Nick: Yeah for sure unless you’re Piers.  He was trying to give me Love: Forever Changes the other day.

Marty: Oh really. (laughs)

Nick: I’m like ‘Dude, you can’t do that.’  He’s just a really nice guy. I said no.

Marty: He had a theory like ‘I’m going to throw away stuff that … unless it makes me happy, I’m throwing it away.’ And I’m like ‘Well that’s an interesting …’ but I like sometimes putting on a record to make myself feel sad. Because that’s life. It’s not all going to be bright lights, there’s going to be shadows in there as well. And you’ve got to get down to get up sometimes.

Nick: Maybe I could rattle off some of the bands that are on this press sheet here …

Marty: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. So just going back to the process of how I selected the bands, I guess when I first started I kind of wanted it to be mostly local and Australian, but then I had grand plans to try and get some international stuff. Cause I was like shit this is a big opportunity for myself and I kind of want to make it work. Therefore you feel that pressure of I need some acts that are going to draw heads. So therefore I was looking at international stuff. And of course that’s a whole different game. There’s one international band I was looking at getting, too expensive, couldn’t get it … and then I started thinking about it, and it’s like fuck it. How many festivals or music events is just a straight Australian line-up? Like none. I can’t think of one that’s a purely 100% Australian line-up now. I’m sure there are … but whatever.

Nick: Particularly in Sydney. Like in Melbourne … is Sugar Mountain like that?

Marty: No Sugar Mountain had like, what ESG played at the last one and Action Bronson and don’t get me wrong, Sugar Mountain is fuckin’ awesome and it’s on a similar kind of vibe to something that I’d go for. But then I started thinking more about it and it’s actually really important to have an all-Australian line-up because I think that’s one of the pitfalls a lot of festivals fall into; that they rely on a lot of these international bands to pull numbers. Where they kind of often forget that a lot of these bands sell out every show they play. Like Super Wild Horses have sold out every show they’ve played this year that they’ve headlined.

Nick: Yeah right.

Marty: But they probably won’t get on any festivals this year because they want some new, hot, young blog band from overseas that nobody’s ever seen tour out here before. And then they do their side headline shows and the room’s half empty.

Nick: Of course.

Marty: I think that’s a real big problem we’re facing at the moment, that a lot of these festivals are prioritising international stuff over local stuff and therefore what happens as a result is that the spaces for local bands shrinks and the opportunity for them to develop further in their own homes is diminished. I don’t want to sound xenophobic or ‘We should boycott international bands,’ that’s not my point at all, it’s just that there are far fewer channels for bands developing or getting the recognition that I think they deserve locally. That’s why so many bands now have to go overseas. Like Laurels are a great example. They had to go to Austin Psych Fest, an international festival before anybody has booked them here. Like what does that say about the state of affairs? Yet they sell out all their shows. They pull great numbers. There’ve got a good fan base. You know, things are solid for that band. A lot of people don’t recognise that … or in the industry, festival world or whatever.

And as we were just talking about before, you know Kirin [J Callinan] has been around for years, and it’s only kind of now that he’s been picked up by XL that there’s this kind of reaction. And that’s awesome. But I just feel if there were more of these kind of things, then there’d be more platforms for there to be more excitement, and just more understanding and recognition of ‘Hey this is a festival and these bands are awesome. And you should know about them. If you don’t, here’s the opportunity to go and see them.’ We’re doing ourselves and our industry a real disservice by not promoting and getting behind that kind of stuff. We’re way too dependent on overseas bands to fill the numbers.

Nick: Or on Australian bands that were popular 15 years ago.

Marty: Totally. That’s a whole other subject right there. So yeah I feel quite proud of the fact that this is now an all-Australian thing and if all goes well I really would like this to be an annual thing and it becomes annual then I want to keep it as all-Australian line-up.

Nick: Potentially the same … with the record fair, and specifically at Carriageworks?

Marty: It’ll be Carriageworks, it’ll be a record fair. So if all goes to plan, fingers crossed, this day will smash it.

Nick: Most likely.

Marty: And the people that come will help develop an all-Australian festival and record fair.

Nick: And it could turn into a hell of a platform for Australian bands, to become a thing where … cause that’s a really solid line-up. So if your band gets on that line-up next year, that’s good for you.

Marty: Well that’s hopefully what it’s set out to achieve. But time will tell.

The Laurels at Austin Psych Fest

Nick: I also wanted to ask about the US tour with The Laurels and any kind of throw away anecdotes of greatness that happened on the road. How did they go down with American audiences, for one thing?

Marty: Really, really well. I mean it’s such a risk I think, touring in America when you’ve never been there before. I mean Piers and Luke had never been overseas in their lives before. So that’s amazing in its own right. And when they told me that, I thought ‘Alright it’s my mission to get you guys overseas.’ And just seeing Luke’s face at the airport, even though it was seven in the morning and they’re tired or whatever, that excitement there was priceless. But I think for one thing it confirms that you can get to a certain point here or wherever, and when you get to America or Europe or wherever, I think it’s a really good process to understand that you’ve kind of got to start all over again. I think that’s good for bands. And no matter what level you’re at, whether you’re The Laurels or a really popular band that sells out The Enmore here, I guarantee they’re not playing the equivalent of The Enmore in New York. They’re playing some small shit bar because they haven’t been over there before.

So it was nice to see The Laurels kind of go back to playing some of those smaller rooms and having to not have the comforts of a sound check or a working backline. At one of their first New York shows, it was a warehouse they played in Brooklyn, and we were relying on the support bands to provide the backline. And one of them rocked up with half a drum kit. And I was stressing like ‘Fuck how is Kate going to play drums with half a drum kit?’ You know. And she actually was like ‘This is an awesome challenge, I’m cool with it.’ So just little things like that. So therefore she had to get more creative with her drumming. And Luke and most of the band I think would agree that was one of their favourite shows on the whole tour. And I think it was going through those little obstacles and hurdles that made it fun and interesting.

But the American audiences fucking loved them, they went down so well. And even some shows were really busy and some shows were half full, but they won over so many fans that way. And every show they played there was at least five people who stood around and waited to talk to them and buy the album and buy the t-shirt and chat to the band. And that doesn’t happen every show here. And it’s the energy of new fans and new discovery for people that makes a lot of difference.

Nick: I can see that here with the really young people at their shows, teenagers or whatever, and it’s a bit of a running gag with a couple of people, when you see the young ones at Laurels shows … like ‘That’s not how you dance to The Laurels! You little shit.’ Who am I thinking of there? Man I’m having a mental blank. He was over at Austin Psych Fest with you guys.

Marty: Oh Davy.

Nick: Yeah Davy said he saw young ones dancing a little too energetically to them at The Enmore. But what was I thinking? Oh yes so is there an inclination that they’ll go back to America with the next record?

Marty: Oh definitely. We were pretty much on the flight home and already planning how we could get back there as soon as possible. I mean unfortunately it’s just a very expensive exercise. Ideally we’d like to get them back as soon as we possibly can, as soon as we’ve paid our debts off. That’s the thing I think with America, again no matter what level you’re at. I mean you could be Tame Impala or whatever; The Laurels. Unless you’re committing to going there on a regular basis and making it work, I mean America’s such a huge, vast place that bands don’t last as long over there. And for good reason there’s just so much good music coming out of there. Unless you’re committed to being present in that country then don’t go. But you know I think we all off this tour kind of recognised the importance of being there, the potential of that band in America and how many good foundations were laid down on that tour and next time around it’ll be obviously bigger and it’ll be that next step up.

And it’ll just be in the same way that things happened here, it’s a gradual process and you’ve got to be committed to sticking that out. Nobody goes to America and just fuckin’ makes it overnight. Like yeah you can have certain things happen to you that will speed things up but generally it’s hard work and you’ve got to be present, you’ve got to be committed, you’ve got to go there. So it would just be great if we didn’t have to go through so many processes. I mean the visa process to get in there was just insane. Like it was just ridiculous and expensive.

Nick: Because you’re going to work there?

Marty: You’re making money in the country.

Nick: Yeah.

Marty: As soon as you’re receiving income in the country, despite the fact it’s nowhere near what you’re spending, that just changes everything. And it’s funny you always hear how the governments say ‘Oh we’ve improved relationships with America,’ and all these things to be proud about. Man it’s fine if you’re a tourist. If you’ve got anything else happening it’s a nightmare. And the funny thing about this as well is you can get a two-year working visa there, and if you’re employed in America you can renew your visa, as long as you’re still employed, it’s very easy to renew your visa. But for a band trying to get over there, dude it’s crazy. The amount of documentation you’ve got to provide, the processes it’s got to go through, the approval stages it’s got to go through, and the money that costs you is insane.

Nick: Yeah.

Marty: You know that’s why not a lot of bands can do this. And if it was easier we’d be back there probably next month. We’d play more shows and we’d get as much money together as possible and they’d be on a plane as soon as it’s possible to make it work. As it stands now it’d only be realistic once every year, once every two years, and that’s it.

Nick: Did you say that you proper manage Straight Arrows?

Marty: Yeah, yeah.

Nick: Do they have a new LP coming out soon or something?

Marty: Yeah Owen is in the process … so the way that it works is that Owen writes the songs and then when they’re ready the band come in and record them. So he’s in the process of writing and recording now. The intention is to have a new album finished by the end of the year.

Nick: Right that’s good.

Marty: Yeah, yep. Fingers crossed it actually happens. The thing is Owen has been really busy with producing a lot of bands as well.

Nick: Yeah I saw he did something with The Living Eyes recently. Bloods as well.

Marty: Bloods, Frowning Clouds, he did some stuff for the Royal Headache album, yeah heaps of stuff man he’s been really busy. That Nuggets compilation, he recorded The Laurels for that so he’s super busy. He did Angie’s solo album as well. He did Palms’ album, which is Al Grigg’s band.

HTRK 2013

Marty: One thing that’s probably worth mentioning is that HTRK at the moment are in New York recording their next album and they’re going to be back. So At First Sight is the first show where they’re going to play new material and it’s the first time anybody’s going to hear it.

Nick: And how long has it been since they played shows in Australia?

Marty: I think the last thing they did was that Outside In Festival that Astral People put on, and before that it was their album launch for their last album, Work Work Work at GoodGod. So they’ve played two shows in the last couple of years.

Nick: Yeah. That’s a good get. And Twerps as well. How long for them? Didn’t they play once last year in Sydney?

Marty: Well the last time they played in Sydney was Laneway Festival last year, and prior to that they had like one GoodGod show.

Nick: So what was that? Like February last year or something like that.

Marty: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah cause I’ve never seen Twerps live.

Marty: Oh really?

Nick: Yeah so I’m really keen.

Marty: Oh okay, well apparently they’re in the process of writing new material now and working on their next record so hopefully we’ll hear new stuff from them too.

Nick: Nice.

Marty: Yeah pretty exciting.

Nick: Um, who else we got? Laurels obviously, Beaches I don’t really know that much about.

Marty: So they’ve just released their second album, out through Chapter Music. Yeah so they’re going to be playing their new album just out which is pretty cool. Also there’s two other bands … so Client Liaison and Shining Bird. Client Liaison, do you know much about those guys?

Nick: No, no.

Marty: So they’re like this two-piece from Melbourne who are really into ‘80s Australiana kind of vibe. You need to watch, there’ve only had one single out called ‘End of the Earth.’ And they’ve done a video for it and it’s like the best video I’ve ever seen in my life, it’s fucking hilarious.

Nick: Embed that video here.

Marty: And also Shining Bird are a band from the Illawarra Region and they’ve just been signed to Spunk and they’ve got a new song out called ‘Distant Dreaming’, which as soon as I saw it I thought I’ve got to get this band involved. Again it was one of those At First Sight moments.

Nick: Yeah and along those lines as well, Holy Balm were like that. They were just instantly infectious and kind of different, doing something that’s apparent once you see them doing it but no-one’s playing that kind of shit.

Marty: Yeah, yeah. Totally it’s funny because they really stand alone I think, on their own feet in the way that they’re very much a part of that DIY scene, you know bands like Eddy Current and, well when they were around, Total Control. Twerps or whatever. You know all those bands love and respect Holy Balm but they’re very different in that obviously they’re a lot more sort of electronic based. You know they’re on R.I.P Society. When you look at what else is on R.I.P …

Nick: Yeah nothing like that.

Marty: … yeah nothing like Holy Balm, you know. So they’re also in the process of writing new stuff and are going to be playing some great new stuff for the first time as well.

Nick: And they’ve just been over in the States recently as well.

Marty: They were in the States, they went over for South By Southwest and their album came out over there on this great US label called Not Not Fun.

Nick: Oh, Not Not Fun. Yep.

Marty: So they did a whole lot of shows over there. Again another band that went over there and just loved the experience and can’t wait to get back.

Nick: And Day Ravies as well, the first time I saw them, at GoodGod sometime last year, I’d kind of heard the name and seen it and gone ‘That’s funny. I hope that band’s good because that’s one of the best names I’ve ever heard.’ But in the way that I’d kind of seen their name thrown around a bit and I have a natural go-slow instinct if a band has been hyped a little bit and I won’t check it out right away. So when I saw them I was like oh fuck, they’re really good.

Marty: I think, oh how did that come about? Well I think Alicia who used to manage The Laurels with me, she told me about them first like ‘You need to check this band out.’ And then we got them on a show with Laurels at the Beach Road I think was the first time that I’d seen them. And I was like ‘Wow, they really remind me of early Laurels.’ It’s like obviously they’re a very different band but you can also draw comparisons too. Just like I kind of feel for many years The Laurels existed alone, there weren’t many other bands that sounded like them or were part of that scene or community or whatever. I feel like Day Ravies are, you know? They share a lot of influences obviously. So yeah they’re really great, they’re a really exciting band and they’ve got some big stuff ahead of them.

Nick: Yeah that’s why I wrangled to get King Tears Mortuary on the Skydreams 3rd Birthday show, because it’s basically some weird parallel universe version of Day Ravies. Similar but kind of a mildly different style, have you seen them before?

Marty: No I haven’t.

Nick: Oh okay because it’s Sam and Lani from Day Ravies but with another guy playing guitar and a different drummer.

Marty: Yeah right okay.

Nick: So it’s kind of they play 60 to 90 second songs, out to four-minute songs, but same … just pop. Weird pop stuff.

Marty: Yeah cool, I’ll check it out for sure.

Nick: So what else are you keen to talk about here? Is it a festival? Is that what you’re calling it?

Marty: I feel like “festival” is a lazy term. It’s just a day. It’s a full day.

Nick: So are these DJs going to be going during the record fair?

Marty: Yeah they’ll be out the front of the record fair for free. Most of them are just friends of mine that I really like, that I’ve played many parties with and more importantly that all have great record collections. That was like a prerequisite to being chosen to play, it’s like you’ve got to have good record collections, you’ve got to know what’s up. That’s where those DJs are at.

Nick: Is there a fixation among vinyl DJs on sevens, more so than twelve inches?

Marty: Well I think if you’re … like well Owen for example right, he’s like obsessed with sevens and has a lot of ‘60s type stuff. But Marcus King plays pretty much disco. So all his stuff’s on twelve. So it’s just like a classic obvious format for somebody like Owen into all his stuff versus what Marcus is into. Yeah I don’t know I guess all those DJs want to find their stuff on vinyl, as opposed to finding it on a CD or whatever. But you know, not everything you can find. And now that the internet exists you can find so much amazing stuff up online and just burn it and play it.

Nick: DJ live with your iPhone. It happens.

Marty: Oh it totally happens. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do man. Like I can respect those DJs that like have that opinion about CDs or whatever, but it’s just like can I get it? And I’ve tried to buy as much vinyl as I can. But it’s like if I’ve got something that I know is fucking incredible and it’s going to totally rock the house, I’m going to play it. I don’t care what it’s on. If it makes you dance and it makes you go ‘How awesome is this?’ and have a connection, that’s what it’s really about.

Nick: Yeah sure.

Marty: You know things will come and go in different formats, unless you’re vinyl and then you might stay around forever. I dunno I think people get a bit caught up in this purity war. It’s not about that. It’s just about what’s good.

Nick: Yeah, I agree. And this event is refreshingly about what’s good with the line-up and everything.

Marty: Sure. Thank you. Well I feel like they’re all bands that on their own merits have good fan bases and are respected, but it’s rare that you’ll see a line-up that throws all those bands together and kind of packages it up as something like ‘Hey this is important.’ I think individually on their own merits, again they stand alone and they really stand out. But I feel like that kind of world is a little bit undernourished.

Nick: Yeah well for those who know, these bands are some of the elite of the kind of underground, or you could say the unpopular yet very good music scene, however you want to phrase it.

Marty: Yeah but I think that the intention with this day is to get people that may have heard of those bands and are semi-interested, to get them across the line.

Nick: Make it easy for them.

Marty: Presenting it in a way like ‘Hey if you’ve heard about these bands, here they all are on one day to come and check them out.’ The other thing is, and this is a very important thing, definitely print this … this is an all-ages show! These bands never play all ages shows. Very rarely. If ever. So this is like a really awesome opportunity if you are underage to come and kind of get your experience, you know. Although I’m very interested to find out how many underage HTRK fans there are.

Nick: Yeah. Or how many underage readers I have.

Marty: Well you never know, you never know. So that was also a good incentive for doing it as well, to kind of spread it out. Because you know how isolating it can feel sometimes to be a teenager in the know, but not being able to do anything about it. You need to wait all these years to turn 18 before you can go out to a club and experience all this sort of stuff. Any underage kids that rock up to this are fucking cool as far as I’m concerned.


At First Sight Set Times


  • Founder and Editor of Skydreams. Producer of Telepath on FBi Radio.

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