- Birds of Tokyo
Birds of Tokyo and their insistent, bittersweet, rock sounds have resonated deeply with Australian critics and fans. Following two acclaimed albums, the band’s self-titled third studio release spent over eight months in the Australian Top 20. The double platinum album received the 2010 ARIA Award for Best Rock Album and in early-2011 the band’s anthemic breakthrough hit ‘Plans’ ranked #4 in Triple J’s Hottest 100. The album’s follow up single, ‘Wild At Heart’, reached #1 on the country’s National Airplay Chart and won the band an APRA Award. Birds Of Tokyo also received the publicly voted Rolling Stone Readers Choice Award and ARIA Award for Most Popular Australian Artist.
In March 2012, Birds of Tokyo partnered with producer, Dave Cooley (Silversun Pickups, Darker My Love) to work on a highly anticipated follow-up to their breakthrough release. After a month’s pre-production in Sydney, they took up residence at Oceanway Studios in LA to begin recording in a room that turned out to be right next door to where The Beach Boys were crafting their comeback release with Brian Wilson. To the amazement of the band, the Californian legends happily spent time hanging out and giving advice.
It was just one of many remarkable moments that shaped the band’s new music. Creating the new album, March Fires was a journey of exploration and reinvention for Birds of Tokyo. Spearheaded by the album’s first two singles ‘This Fire’ and ‘Lanterns’, March Fires debuted at #1 on the National ARIA Album Chart. The album was certified gold within four weeks of release, while triple platinum single ‘Lanterns’ became the most played song on Australia radio in the first six months of 2013.
In 2015, Birds of Tokyo released standalone EP titled Anchor, which has since been certified gold by ARIA. In addition to this, the band released a singles collection titled Playlist, lead by the irresistible new single ‘I’d Got With You Anywhere’. Playlist actually retraces the band’s musical voyage in reverse – from newest song to oldest. It’s a trip that includes songs recorded in Europe, America and multiple parts of Australia, from the epic moodiness of more recent works to the ramshackle indie rock of their earliest years. It’s clearly been quite a ride so far.
- Cold Chisel
Beginning in Adelaide in 1973, it wasn’t until 1975 that Cold Chisel consolidated into its definitive line-up: Jimmy Barnes (vocals): born in Glasgow, Scotland, Ian Moss (guitar/vocals): born Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Steve Prestwich (drums): born in Liverpool, UK, Phil Small (bass): born Adelaide and Don Walker (piano): born in Ayr, Queensland.
Cold Chisel moved to Sydney via Melbourne in 1976. Impassioned hard rock covers got the band gigs while Don Walker developed original songs. He zeroed in on the hopes, fears, anger and alienation, as well as the humour of working and student under-classes. Appreciative Cold Chisel armies formed. They followed the band from venue to venue, appearing just before Cold Chisel played and leaving directly afterwards. In late 1977 WEA (now Warner Music) signed the band to a modest contract, just in case there was a hit record somewhere in the mayhem.
LIGHT A LONG FUSE: 1978-9
The first two albums, Cold Chisel and Breakfast at Sweethearts presented the live classics ‘Khe Sanh’, ‘Home and Broken Hearted’, ‘One Long Day’, ‘Merry-Go-Round’, ‘Shipping Steel’, ‘Breakfast at Sweethearts’ and ‘Goodbye (Astrid Goodbye)’. But the band wasn’t happy with either album. Cold Chisel suffered from studio debutante nerves. Production difficulties on Breakfast left a bitter aftertaste. ‘Khe Sanh’, originally banned from commercial radio for its lyric content subsequently became Australia’s ‘unofficial national anthem’ and the Australian cricket team’s victory song. In late 1979, they found studio satisfaction recording ‘Choirgirl’ with young producer/engineer Mark Opitz.
#1 WITH A BULLET: 1980/82
The 1980 Top 10 single, ‘Cheap Wine’, previewed the album East, where all band members contributed songs. East peaked at #2 then stayed in the Top 10 for 26 weeks and in the ARIA Album Chart for a record 63 weeks. ‘Choirgirl’, ‘Cheap Wine’, ‘Star Hotel’, ‘Rising Sun’, ‘Standing on the Outside’ and ‘Four Walls’ became embedded into our national identity. Live album Swingshift hit #1 in 1981. Two months later the band toured America, with live performances rattling headliners including Joe Walsh and Cheap Trick. Back in Australia, the band recorded Circus Animals, which was led-out by Barnes’ vehement ‘You Got Nothing I Want’. Walker’s songwriting advanced into the compelling, spleen-venting rock of ‘Taipan’, ‘Houndog’ and ‘Letter to Alan’. The melodic uplift of Prestwich’s ‘Forever Now’ and ‘When the War is Over’ and Moss’ ‘Bow River’ became radio staples. ‘Forever Now’ made #4, Cold Chisel’s only Top 5 single.
UP & DOWN: 1983
1983 began with a triumphant headlining performance at the Narara Festival before a jubilant crowd of 30,000, but by August the band had begun to splinter, with Prestwich the first to go and tensions between the other members reaching breaking point. Cold Chisel decided it was ‘time gentlemen please’ and recalled Prestwich to complete a final album and 26-date arena tour, The Last Stand. The album, Twentieth Century, added the title track, ‘Saturday Night’, ‘Painted Doll’, ‘No Sense’, ‘Hold Me Tight’ and ‘Flame Trees’ to the Cold Chisel paradigm. The album debuted #1 early 1984.
CHISEL BY CHOICE: 1984/2010
Barnes hit the ground running with 1984’s Bodyswerve, the first of eight consecutive #1 albums. Walker, Moss, Prestwich and Small took time to reaffirm themselves. In 1989, Walker formed Catfish and released Unlimited Address while Moss debuted #1 with the album Matchbook, the majority of songs written by Walker. Prestwich joined Little River Band for a period and developed his songwriting. Small forsook music for family life. ‘I’d been in the best band in the world,’ he said. But radio and record buyers kept Cold Chisel as present tense. As Barnes’s solo output hit sales of 3 million, so did the Chisel catalogue. The band agreed to reunite in 1995. In 1998, after traversing many speed humps, a new album, The Last Wave of Summer, debuted #1 with 100,000 presales. The title track, ‘Yakuza Girls’, ‘Way Down’ and ‘Things I Love in You’ stood tall next to the band’s earlier work. The triumphant Last Wave arena tour drew 150,000. Lingering disputes within the band were resolved in 2003/4 by 16 Ringside shows that exhilarated band and audiences. ‘It’s been fun darlings,’ said Barnes, ‘Let’s do it again sometime.’ One-off performances ensured: In 2005, Cold Chisel headlined the Melbourne benefit for Boxing Day tsunami victims. In December 2009, Cold Chisel played to 50,000 at the Sydney V8 Supercars event and in October 2010 the band headlined the Deniliquin Ute Muster to 25,000.
FOREVER NOW, 2011… AND BEYOND
The most recent chapter in Cold Chisel’s compelling story began in 2010 when the band secretly started recording new material. Jimmy Barnes, Ian Moss, Don Walker, Steve Prestwich and Phil Small got together and wrote and recorded a handful of songs and realised that the magic was still there. With plans to continue performing and recording, the band was gutted in January 2011 when drummer Steve Prestwich passed away suddenly as a result of complications from a brain tumour. With Steve’s performances and some of his songs captured on tape, the band ultimately felt compelled to continue with the plans they had begun. Recording continued through May and June with drummer Charley Drayton.
In July 2011, the band rolled out the biggest archival release in Australian music history, remastering their entire catalogue and unearthing 56 new or rare live and studio recordings. It was the first time ever that the band had released their music digitally and it saw 8 of their albums hit the ARIA Top 100 Albums chart and numerous songs hit the singles chart. In a strange twist of fate, almost 35 years after it was first released, ‘Khe Sanh’ hit the Australian Top 40 for the first time.
Cold Chisel then announced their most extensive tour in 30 years and when tickets for the Light The Nitro tour were released in early August, the band was overwhelmed by the massive public reaction, selling over 160,000 tickets in the first day and ultimately going on to sell over 285,000 tickets across Australia and New Zealand.
But the stats are just the background… when the band stepped onstage for the first of the shows of the Light The Nitro tour the music did the talking. Across the country, the tour was met with unanimous raves reviews from the critics and the public alike. Meanwhile their compilation album, The Best of Cold Chisel – All For You, which features 2 of their new recordings, debuted at #2 on the national ARIA Albums chart and is officially double platinum.
In April 2012 Cold Chisel released its 7th studio album, No Plans. The album featured 13 songs drawn from recording sessions in 2010/2011 and includes the final recorded performances by drummer Steve Prestwich. No Plans, which debuted at #2 on the national ARIA chart, was the band’s first studio album in 14 years.
In 2015, Cold Chisel announced their One Night Stand tour of Australia in support of their 8th studio album, The Perfect Crime, which will kick off with a special mini-concert at the NRL Grand Final – and conclude with two special shows under the banner of ‘The Last Stand of Sydney’s entertainment centre’ to mark the closing of the Qantas Credit Union Arena (formerly known as the Entertainment Centre). The Perfect Crime is more diverse than any previous Cold Chisel work, with the band remarking that the record is the most rock & roll album they’ve ever made.
- Daniel Johns
Daniel Johns was ‘silent’ for 8 years. His long awaited solo album is therefore called TALK. Over those years there’s been no shortage of speculation about what the enigmatic singer/songwriter has been doing. He removed himself from radar. Rumours were rife.
What is known is that he put his band, Silverchair, on ‘indefinite hiatus’. The childhood friends enjoyed five #1 albums which sold over 6 million copies. They collected more ARIA Awards than any artist in history and Daniel became the only person to be voted APRA’s Songwriter Of The Year three separate times by his peers. However, after struggling to create fresh work together Daniel decided to step out on his own and try a completely fresh approach.
One listen to TALK and it’s clear that’s exactly what he’s done. Dollops of lush R’n’B are laced with cruisy electro flavours and some dark glitchy bedroom production touches to create a stylish take on modern soul. Gone are the big guitars and roaring rock vocals; in their place, urban beats and aching falsetto croons.
“I’ve always felt like most people hate everything I do but thankfully there’s always been an enthusiastic minority who seem to ‘get’ it. That’s fine with me. Anything that appeals to everyone tends to suck anyway.
“What’s funny is that when Silverchair released Frogstomp most people went out of the way to tell me how much it sucked. Then when we made Diorama a few years later everyone started telling me how I should go back to making Frogstomp. I guess now I’ll be told to go back and make Diorama again!
“That was part of why I picked the album title too by the way. I don’t really care what most people think. Let them talk.”
- Dustin Tebbutt
Falling for the northern hemisphere … the notion of life in winter and the appeal of a hibernation far away, Dustin Tebbutt relocated to Sweden for 2 years to live and work, write and record. The result was tenderly sculpted music about that move to the other side of the world… the things he left or lost along the way, and the person that came back.
The debut single, ‘The Breach’ was embraced with heavy rotation on triple j, entered Top 50 on the station’s Hottest 100 annual poll and earned Dustin a j award nomination. The song also felt love abroad receiving spins from Zane Lowe at BBC Radio One and across influential Netherlands station, Radio 3FM. The Breach EP reached #2 on the Netherlands Alternative chart and Top 5 on iTunes Australia, now nearing Gold sales locally.
Following the release of the acclaimed debut EP, Dustin delivered a second beautifully crafted recording with the four-track EP Bones mid 2014. The Bones EP was accompanied by a sold out national Australian tour, which saw Tebbutt performing multiple dates in major cities across the country and receiving glowing reviews for his intriguing live shows.
Writing, producing and mixing his projects as well as playing the majority of the parts, Dustin’s music is a solo work in the fullest sense. Paying musical homage to northern hemisphere winter dwellers such as Sigur Rös, Jose Gonzales and Justin Vernon, it’s an insight into the mind of a young man confronted by distance and isolation, yet intoxicated by the stark beauty of life at 28.
In 2015, Dustin collaborated with The Kite String Tangle on a brand new track called ‘Illuminate’ – which showcased the best of both of these rising artists’ talents – angelic vocals, sparkling production and lyrics that aim straight for the heart.
Dustin also released a seven-song mini-album titled Home in 2015 – with all tracks on the record written, recorded, produced and performed at home by Dustin. Not surprisingly, there’s a mood of solitary contemplation running right through this work.
Home was released alongside shows in the largest venues Dustin has ever played. His songwriting and live performances have both ‘stepped up’ over the last year and now so are the rooms in which he will be presenting his new music.
Songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Gotye is the music-making mantle of one-man band, Wally de Backer. A few years ago his indie album, Like Drawing Blood, became an underground classic and saw Gotye collect the 2007 ARIA Award for Best Male Artist.
The multi-platinum follow up – Making Mirrors – sold over 2 million copies worldwide and was a Top 10 album in over 25 countries. It won multiple ARIA Awards and spawned the hit single ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ (feat. Kimbra). The single has sold nearly 15 million copies worldwide, has been viewed over 650 million times, and was the most streamed song globally on Spotify in 2013. It was also the #1 iTunes single in over 50 countries and spent eight consecutive weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100.
The success of Making Mirrors led to sold out shows around the world in major venues including Radio City Music Hall in New York and the Hammersmith Apollo in London. After a mammoth 2012, Gotye brought his world tour to a close performing a handful of special homecoming shows back in Australia throughout December.
To cap off an incredible 18 months, Wally de Backer was awarded three Grammys for Best Alternative Music Album, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and the prestigious Record of the Year at the 2013 Grammy Awards ceremony in L.A.
- Missy Higgins
Singer/songwriter Missy Higgins has struck a profound chord with Australian music fans with her irresistible melodies, ‘arrow through the heart’ lyrics and a voice that clearly means every word. Missy was thrust into the limelight after she won Triple J unearthed while she was still at high school. In 2005, Missy’s acclaimed debut LP The Sound Of White spent 7 weeks at #1 on the ARIA Album Chart and became the country’s highest selling album of the year.
On A Clear Night followed in 2007, also debuting at #1 and giving Missy her first American hit with the single ‘Where I Stood’ selling over half a million copies stateside. Then after years of touring and seven ARIA Award wins Missy quietly decided to take a break from music.
Missy went off to Uni for a while but her love for music eventually lead her back to the studio, and in 2011 Missy set up in Nashville to record her first new songs in five years. Those recordings became Missy’s third #1 album, The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle, and in spite of the five year wait became the most acclaimed work of Missy’s extraordinary career. The breakup album with a difference, chronicling the much loved singer’s estrangement – and eventual rapprochement – with music making, spent over 3 months in the ARIA album chart top 10 after its mid 2012 release and became Missy’s second release to make the Billboard 200 in America.
On Friday September 2014, Missy released her fourth studio release Oz, an eclectic album of Aussie cover versions also accompanied by a quirky book of related essays. Oz debuted at #3 on the ARIA Album chart and remained in the top five for three weeks. The album features Missy re-imagining 15 Australian songs that were originally recorded by a diverse set of artists including The Angels, Slim Dusty, Something For Kate, Warumpi Band, Paul Kelly & The Drones. In the accompanying Oz book, Missy uses each of those recordings as the starting point for a sprawling series of essays; reflecting on life, love music and much more.
In January 2015, Missy gave birth to her first child – a gorgeous baby boy.
- Paul Mac
Paul Mac is one of the leading figures in Australian electronic music. He is a composer, songwriter, musician and producer. Paul is a conservatorium graduate and a multi ARIA Award winner for his work with underground dance pioneers Itch-E & Scratch-E and for his own solo work. The list of artists with whom he’s collaborated with over recent years includes Sia, Kylie, Daniel Johns, LCD Soundsystem and Troye Sivan.
A decade on from his last solo outing, Paul has released a new album in April 2015. Holiday From Me was written and recorded across three continents, Australia, Europe and North America, when Paul wasn’t composing for a film, touring with his successful remix duo Stereogamous or riding his motorbike. Holiday From Me will feature contributions from a number of guest vocalists, including Kira Puru, Megan Washington, Ngaiire, The Reels frontman Dave Mason, Shaun J Wright (Stereogamous, Hercules & Love Affair), Brendan Maclean, Nathan Hudson (Faker), Benjamin Fraser and Dappled Cities frontman Tim Derricourt.
In recent years, Paul has created original scores for feature films (Kath & Kim, Sucker) and composed for theatre (Bangarra’s Blak, Frank Woodley’s Possessed). He has written with George Michael and Troye Sivan and produced for The Potbellez. His impressive list of credits with his remix duo, Stereogamous includes LCD Soundsystem, Sia, and Kylie and the duo have toured Europe, North America and Australia (Burning Man, Glastonbury, Panorama Bar Berlin, Sydney Opera House).
In addition to his multiple ARIA Awards, Paul’s career highlights include Australian Dance Music Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Dance and Producer Of The Year. He has received an APRA Award, an MTV Award and been named Dance Artist Of The Year three times in Rolling Stone’s Readers Poll.
- The Presets
The Presets are Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes. The duo met while pursuing musical studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Discovering a mutual interest in contemporary music outside of their course, they joined the instrumental, experimental band Prop, and in 2003 formed the more techno, dance focussed duo The Presets.
The band became quickly recognised for their ability to fuse elements of dance music with an energy more akin to that of a rock’n’roll show. After signing with Modular Recordings in late 2003, the band released two EPs and an album Beams (2005).
In 2008 The Presets released the chart topping album Apocalypso, selling in excess of Triple Platinum sales in Australia and featuring four hit singles, including ‘My People’ – which became the longest charting single in Australian history. The Presets went on to win 5 ARIA awards (and 2 ARIA Artisan Awards) for the album in 2008, including Album of the Year, as well as the J Award and FBI SMAC Award for Album of The Year. They also shared the coveted Songwriter of The Year Award at the 2009 APRA Awards.
Pacifica was released in 2012, featuring Rolling Stone Magazine’s Song Of The Year, ‘Ghosts’. Pacifica was also nominated for an ARIA Award, shortlisted for the AMP Award, the J Award, and was Album of the Year in the Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph, and Electronic Album of the Year in the Sydney Morning Herald.
The Presets have been recognised worldwide for their dynamic live performances, playing hundreds of shows domestically and internationally, including key slots at renowned international music festivals such as Glastonbury, Coachella, Exit, Melt and Splendour In The Grass.
As individuals, Hamilton and Moyes have both collaborated with many other artists as songwriters, composers, producers and featured artists. Collectively they have remixed many prominent artists, as well as collaborating with Melbourne based contemporary dance company Chunky Move.
Silverchair are one of the most acclaimed and successful bands in Australian music history.
The group’s members were all born in the Newcastle surf suburb of Merewether. Singer/guitarist Daniel Johns and drummer Ben Gillies started making music together at primary school and schoolmate Chris Joannou later joined on bass. They got their big break in mid-1994 when they won a national demo competition conducted by SBS TV show Nomad and triple j.
Between 1994 and present day, Silverchair achieved phenomenal global success accumulating album sales in excess of six million across Frogstomp, Freak Show, Diorama, Neon Ballroom, and Young Modern, which became the fastest selling of their extraordinary career.
Silverchair have won 21 ARIA Awards – more than any other artist in history – nd they have enjoyed more #1 albums than any other Australian band. Daniel Johns is also the only person to ever win the prestigious APRA Songwriter Of The Year Award on three separate occasions.