Recently taking out first place in the Ampfest 2012 competition, the Dead Owls' drummer Sam Maher catches up with Aarom Wilson to share that winning feeling.
OWLS OFFICIALLY A HOOT
Please give us a little history of Dead Owls.
Me and Jordan have jammed together since we were 16, back then we titled our jam ‘The Jordan Tjhung Sessions,’ playing to an imaginary crowd of thousands in a dimly lit garage. The ‘band’ has seen many stage names and has never really been taken seriously, until now I guess. The catalyst that started it all was Melbourne band Deaf Wish, a post punk/grunge group fronted by Jordan's cousin, Jensen. Jensen's home/speakeasy bar was the hub of creativity that introduced us to bands like Super Wild Horses, The UV Race, Eddie Current Suppression Ring and Royal Headache, thus starting our love for the local scene in Melbourne's self sustainable bubble. To this day I have never felt such a strong sense of community and camaraderie between people. We were soon consumed. Moving back to Perth eventually turned us into Dead Owls. Now here we are!
Your sound and influences?
Everything for us comes organically, so our sound is never really thought about or intentional. We both have very broad and different opinions of what we like and what we think we sound like, but tend not to think about it so much. Every gig brings us a new punter expressing who he/she thinks we are influenced by. It's a beautiful thing. I guess the obvious groups that directly affect our sound are Bright Eyes, Titus Andronicus and, of course, The White Stripes. The artists that affect our attitude towards shows and the way we write are the east coast bands mentioned above. Our mutual appreciation for pop music is also never far away from our writing process. It's a megamix of everything we enjoy.
What did you learn from your AmpFest experience?
We learnt that band competitions aren't so lame when you win. Coming from our background and the shows we were used to attending, I guess we adapted a small grudge against comps; they seemed trivial with the whole judging process, the amount of funding that goes into them and generally the caliber of the artists. But Ampfest was an exception this year, it was really well run, Kris [Dimitroff, WAM’s Project & Education Officer and his team did an amazing job, the judges this year were reputable and the quality of bands were definitely high. Playing a theatre [Regal Theatre in Subiaco] was a great experience also, never could have seen the Owls smashing out our set in a theatre. And most of all, coming from two guys that have never really won anything before, it felt pretty damn good to win.
Who were your fave bands or revelations from this year’s comp?
Tim Tan, who played our heat... So, we love the ‘80s, there is nothing better than driving down the freeway on a Friday night, singing along to some epic drum/synth ballad layered with blazing guitar solos and probably the cheesiest vocals you have ever heard. Tim Tan’s backing tracks provided that same enjoyment, except in his case the blazing guitars were accompanied by the most extreme metal-double-kick-extravaganza drums I have ever heard, all topped off with karaoke styled vocals. Tim Tan; one man band, great value.
Part of the first prize included six days recording at Soundbaker Recording Studio and $1,200 worth of mastering at Shanghai Twang Studios - how are you planning to use it?
We are two songs deep into recording our debut EP, which we recorded at Blackbird Studios with Dave Parkin. So the plan thus far is to finish off our release with him at Blackbird and use the mastering at Shanghai. The Soundbaker sessions will be used to record some solid demos and experiment with new songs and sounds, all to prepare us for our debut LP. Who knows, we might even release a 7" of B-sides from those days. We plan to have our EP ready to go early next year, with our first single Inside My Head Again
dropping next Thursday.
Last year your drummer also scored second place as part of Sugarpuss - how will you balance the two?
Balance has always been something I have been good at. I work full time at a hospital helping out in the operating theatres, and bounce around five bands/sessions at a time. So balance is no problem here. Sugarpuss have gone into hibernation mode. We have been locked away in the studio cave producing a record with Malcolm Clark from The Sleepy Jackson, planning a lot and discussing a significant change in direction. It's all a bit top secret at the moment, but you will know when it's done.
What shows have you got coming up?
Thanks to Ampfest we have landed a spot on the bill at Hyperfest on Sunday 7 October, which I urge everyone to buy tickets too, it's gonna be a great day. We also received an opening slot for Wanneroo's Beach To Bush Festival from our winnings. Playing alongside Hoodoo Gurus will make both of our mums, dads, aunties and uncles very proud. We have also been asked to be part of a very special new years eve show, but you will just have to wait and see what that one is. Everyday we have offers for shows coming in, it's all a matter of selecting the right ones. If you hit us up on Facebook you can keep track of them all!