Album Review: Shaman’s Harvest – Red Hands Black Deeds (2017)

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I have to ask the question: How has it taken me 17 years to find out that these guys exist? Because that’s been the most confusing and annoying aspect of having this absolute cracker of an album in my hot little hands. I feel like I’ve been cheated. I feel ripped off.

Shaman’s Harvest have been around for 20 years. They formed in Jefferson City, Missouri, back in 1996. Red Hands Black Deeds is their sixth studio album and will be released on July 28th. I have to admit to you that this review has taken much longer than expected. It’s taken weeks because every time I’ve hit play with the intention of writing, I’ve just wanted to listen and nothing else. And because I’m not a musician or an experienced music journo, I can’t comment a great deal about the composition of each song or the riffs and hooks and whatever else, or producer influences, and I obviously can’t make comparisons with earlier releases because life is cruel, and this is my first Shaman’s Harvest experience.

But I can tell you that this is really good. Actually, it’s incredible. I can also tell you a few reasons why you’re going to love Red Hands Black Deeds and how it’s going to reach out to a younger audience, and let’s be honest, when you’ve been around for a couple of decades and you can still appeal to the young ones – you’re definitely doing something right!

The first thing I thought of when I listened to the album was the diversity of the tracks. No two songs are even remotely similar – they all feel like they have their own personality, backstory, influence and heartbeat. It’s an album of stories. It’s also an album of honesty, raw emotion and freedom of expression. Lead singer Nathan Hunt has spoken about the “organic” characteristics of the album and it’s definitely a vibe that stands out. Every single moment, sound and lyric feels alive. And god it’s nice to feel something, especially when we’re surrounded by so much soullessness – musically and in general.

The writing of the album started during the US presidential election and there are social and political ideas throughout the album. Guitarist Josh Hamler has talked about this influence. “The tension in the record kind of speaks for itself. There’s a dark anxiety, tension-filled feeling that reflects what’s going on in the world”. This extends way beyond the US presidential election and into society and the world we all live in and I think it’s something that will really appeal to young people. And if it doesn’t, it should.

The album’s first single “The Come Up” is an honest and powerful representation of issues young people face every single day. It delves into struggles with anxiety, depression and society’s demand for perfection. “There’s so much negativity on social media today – a lot of people struggling with real issues…” The song is also an acknowledgement of Nathan Hunt’s own battle with depression. “It’s therapeutic for myself,” he says. “It’s just about sometimes when you just can’t change shit, you got to realise you can’t mould everything in your life and you kind of just have to roll with the punches”. Lead singer Nathan Hunt actually battled throat cancer in 2014 which could have marked the end of his career and derailed the band, but he didn’t allow that to happen. He just kicked it’s ass instead. What better message for young people in today’s world?

I also want to talk about influences, because indirectly or directly intended, I experienced an amazing journey when listening to the album. I think it’s easy and even a little bit lazy, to point out similarities with other rock or post-grunge acts. Shaman’s Harvest have taken it to the next level in terms of experimenting with alternative sounds, technology and instruments and they’ve used everything on offer to create something special and unique. I’m a music lover, as opposed to a music expert, and I truly loved being able to find unexpected little spins throughout the album.

The title track “Red Hands Black Deeds” is haunting and reminds me of the incredible ability and vocal intensity of Chris Cornell, and I love Shaman’s Harvest for it. Throughout the album, I had beautiful flashes of Metallica, The Police, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Muse, Linkin Park, KISS and god, there’s even a smooth Lenny Kravitz vibe going on. All you have to do is turn it up loud and listen carefully – you’ll hear it.

This is an album of pure truth. Hunt sums it up perfectly. “When you step back, you see we’re all just humans. That’s the longer view. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, we all just want love and to be understood”.  And that’s the truth for all of us.

Red Hands Black Deeds will be released and available on the 28th July and I’ll be talking to Shaman’s Harvest this week about the release. You’ll be able to hear it all on the Freak Show – 8pm Thursdays on OKR FM.

Edited: Just an update – here’s my interview with lead singer Nate Hunt on the eve of the release of Red Hands Black Deeds. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UZUMAKI EP Launch at the Cherry Bar, Melbourne – June 2016

When you listen to my kind of music and hear all the best rock n roll stories, the Cherry Bar is often mentioned. After all, if I wasn’t so little, I could’ve partied with Steel Panther after their show a week or so ago, but no. The Cherry Bar is a pretty rad venue, with a crazy history and a perfect example of why the saying “if these walls could talk” was invented.

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It’s in AC/DC Lane in Melbourne’s CBD and trust me, as suggested by a muso/journo friend of mine, the smell remains with you for days! I’m not sure if that’s because it genuinely smells or if after you’ve been there, you just want to savour the awesomeness of it all to the point where you can’t actually smell it anymore, you just think you can. The Cherry Bar really is a part of Melbourne’s role in the music world. It’s not a very big venue but they still manage to get a whole lot of people in there. When you’re there, you just feel like you’re part of something big, something special and you can’t help but let yourself go in this pretty fantastic world.

As I was popping my Cherry Bar cherry (sorry, couldn’t resist), I experienced the EP launches of two very awesome and talented young bands – The Walking Ded and UZUMAKI, with 6 Foot Inch performing as well. There was actually a shitload of people there and as with previous all-ages gigs, it was further proof that young people are craving live rock music. It was very cool for the Cherry bar to host the all-ages event as it doesn’t happen often.

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In reality, all-ages gigs are the future of music. We are the ones who will be there in years to come, paying entry, buying music and merch and dancing and partying the nights away, so it makes sense for any current act and venue to milk the shit out of that. If a band can basically guarantee the next generation of appreciation and sales, then why wouldn’t they?

The night started with 6 Foot Inch performing and they sounded great. Sadly, I only got to see these guys perform a couple of songs due to other commitments and I would genuinely love to see them again as they are another young Melbourne band keeping the dream alive! The Walking Ded are a Melbourne band consisting of Camden on drums, Odin on bass & vocals and Finn on guitar and they’re only little! They’ve just launched their first EP and that is seriously an incredible achievement for these young musicians. Their creativity and stage presence is outstanding, with the boys writing their own songs about everyday life experiences. They had the crowd moshing, singing and having a great time, everyone enjoyed their set and I was impressed with the fact they were rocking the walls of the Cherry Bar with their own material.

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But UZUMAKI absolutely shook the Cherry Bar walls and they were amazing. After having a chat with the band, they walked out on the stage ready to do their thing like professionals and the energy was crazy! I’m not going to say too much more about these guys because I think you should have a listen for yourself! I’m stoked to have met such an energetic, talented and passionate group of musicians and they definitely have a huge future ahead of them. I hope you all enjoy our interview!

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My Cherry Bar experience was pretty perfect. Again, I was just grateful to have the opportunity to experience it all and hopefully the importance of the younger market is catching on with artists and venues. No matter how great an act is, if they’re not willing to find a way to reach out to their younger fans, then my opinion will change. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and if a band really appreciates their fans and wants to ensure the longevity of their success, they’ll do anything they can to accommodate their younger audience.

And the decision really does rely on the artists and their management, considering the law in Victoria now allows venues the option of providing all-ages events. And it’s really quite simple – I earn about $8.00 an hour doing a school-based apprenticeship yet I’m still willing to pay $100.00 or more to see a band who I love. However, I’d much rather go to see bands at smaller venues, where I actually get the chance to interact and enjoy the experience properly. It also allows me the opportunity to work and do my own thing and along the same lines as before, the younger journos, photographers and promoters are very much the future. In another ten or twenty years’ time when some of these acts want to go round again, who’s going to be there? There’s nothing I’d like more. So I guess it all comes down priorities.

Steel Panther did it. Skid Row didn’t. Guess who’s t-shirt I’m wearing tonight? And that people, is rock n roll.

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Have a listen to my interview with UZUMAKI and embrace the nightshift!

A little one’s review of Black Stone Cherry and Steel Panther at Festival Hall, Melbourne – June 2016

Firstly, thank you to Festival Hall, which actually provides a concert venue that doesn’t exclude Under 18’s due to the service of alcohol. Sure, the unlicensed section feels like you’re behind bars in an institution, but I’m not complaining. At least I was able to go.

The side view seating was cramped and uncomfortable with no opportunity to stand up and head-bang like a lunatic, which is what I really wanted to do. However, I was fully entertained and a little bit scared by the old dude sitting next to me (actually, pretty much on top of me) who clearly had the flu and a Tinder addiction. As a friend of mine said “He wants to pick up at the Panther show!”. Ewww.

And on that note, even if I wanted to “pick up at the Panther show”, the seating area provides no room to move around, so I had to be satisfied with the occasional flirtatious glance at the two young hotties sitting to my right with their dads, hoping that one of them would at least respond with a smile or a wink or something. Yeah, that didn’t happen.

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My main motivation for wanting to get to this show was to see Black Stone Cherry perform live and seriously, they were amazing! As the support act for Steel Panther, they didn’t play for anywhere near long enough and when they were done, I was devastated. For a crowd who was mainly there to see Steel Panther, it was awesome to see them get behind BSC and they definitely didn’t disappoint.

The two dads of the before-mentioned hotties were impressed and made comments about how much they enjoyed the BSC performance, which was great to hear. I was blown away by how good they were. They played a raw and honest show with amazing energy and I couldn’t take my eyes off them, especially guitarist Ben Wells. This might sound a bit weird but just looking at him reminds me so much of Jani Lane so visually, I was super sucked in and had feelings of love. I would absolutely love to see a full BSC show in a more intimate venue, where I can actually stand up and rock out. And when they get the audience to help out with their Soul Machine lyrics, I’d like to be up the front singing loudly and proudly because that song went off with the audience! The hotties’ dads were right into it!

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So now let’s move along to Steel Panther. I like Steel Panther. And if you don’t like naughty words or dirty things (and I don’t mean muddy footy boots), now is the time to close your browser.

Being a little one, I asked mum to take me to the show. She’s a glam metal fan too, and she loved it all the first time round. But she never really got into Steel Panther. She did know that they pretty much just take the piss out of that whole genre, with an emphasis on the “sex, drugs and rock n roll” culture of the glam metal movement in the 80’s. Like a good little mum, she did a bit of homework beforehand and questioned me about what to expect. I don’t think she was worried about the show itself, but more nervous if she had made the right decision about allowing me to go, especially when she heard that it was pretty standard there would be lots of “tits out”.

Then I think her humiliation and shame kicked in at the fact we were sitting in the little one’s section and here I was singing all the words to Asian Hooker and 17 Girls in a Row. My friend Damo was in the licensed section and sent me a message saying that the look on mum’s face was priceless. Poor mum.

On a serious note though, the show was incredible. Yes, every single song is pure filth, there’s lots of tits out and let’s not forget the blow-up sex doll being passed around the crowd but this isn’t just a rock concert, it’s a theatrical production. There’s props, make up, costumes, role playing, comedy, audience participation, the whole works. And more the point, they are all phenomenal musicians.

Michael Starr (I’m going with stage names) is an amazing vocalist. Compared to other front men from that era, he has definitely been the one to stay fit and fabulous and his voice is crazy awesome. He rocks the spandex pants better than any other human ever and the way he works is pure genius. Guitarist Satchel reminds me of Zoolander, Lexxi reminds me of that weird Boy George-ish character in the Wedding Singer and Stix just reminded me of why I have a sad weakness for glam metal drummers!

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Considering 80’s glam metal is one of my favourite obsessions (*said in Frank N. Furter voice*), it feels incredible to have been able to experience it live, especially as my opportunities to do so in the future will be pretty limited. I had an amazing time, I loved the atmosphere, I enjoyed sharing the experience with mum who genuinely appreciates the genre and it was brilliant to catch up with Damo after far too long! Everything about the show was perfect, including mum’s disgust at the extensive use of the p-word (which can also mean cat), the giant inflatable penis flying around the crowd and the lecture I copped all the way home about being careful what I do in case it ends up on social media or youtube!

My life has changed forever. That is all.

 

 

Sisters Doll @ the Torquay Surf Lifesaving Club – April 2016

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Here’s the audio of my interview with Sisters Doll at the VMAD fundraiser held at the Torquay Surf Lifesaving Club in April. It was fantastic to experience a live performance and to have a chat to the guys who are leading a bit of a Glam Rock revival in Australia.

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Following their Top 5 success on the most recent series of Australia’s Got Talent, they’ve definitely made an impact. For the older generations, it’s easy to see how they’ve been influenced by the likes of KISS – their sound, styling and attitude would definitely take people back to the late 70’s and through to the 90’s, when that style really hit the peak of its success.

For the younger generations who don’t really appreciate the influences, Sisters Doll still has appeal. They are extremely visually exciting, very cool and offer an honest entertainment factor not often experienced by young people – especially in this day and age of digitally produced and heavily manufactured music. Sisters Doll pride themselves on their live shows, giving every single show everything they’ve got and the result is quite addictive. It’s fun, energetic, interactive and they know how to rock.

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During our interview, I was fascinated. As a massive Glam Rock/Hair Metal enthusiast, it was actually quite bizarre talking with three very talented and good-looking young guys who look like everything I’ve researched, read about, listened to and have grown to love, straight from the 80’s. It was a bit of a “Lake House” moment for me. Not quite a “Bret Michaels Lake House” moment, but pretty close.

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I think you’ll really enjoy the interview so follow this link and have a listen x

 

The Freak Show #162 – 80’s Love Songs feat. Damo

In the world of social media, random things happen. Most of the time, they include weirdos trying to get your phone number or trying to convince you to buy something. But every now and then, you find someone who was meant to change your life. I realise that sounds corny, but in this case it’s true.

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Social media gives a great insight into different people, places and interests and can bring things into your life that seem out of reach. And that’s how I came to know Damo. I found this human who posted photos of one of the most impressive record collections I have ever seen. Not to mention the fact that he posted shots from live rock gigs, set lists, links to his fabulous podcast and interviews and basically just a whole lot of cool, pop-culture and music-related stuff. Damo recognised me from Comic Con and had realised just how much I love music and all sorts of other geeky, cool things. And we hit it off.

Since then, Damo has really helped me with learning about music and musicians, he has suggested some great live gigs to attend and more the point, he has really helped with my music education and development as a broadcaster and offered guidance as I try to crack the world of music journalism. He’s had decades of experience in the industry. Damo performs in a band called Muscle Car, who have a cult following and supported Motley Crue and Alicie Cooper at Rod Lave Arena in 2015 – just weeks before our friendship took off. It will forever make me cry that Damo could’ve given me tickets to the show to see all three acts perform if we had known each other just a couple of weeks earlier. That’s complete shit timing!

Damo also writes for various magazines and websites and produces the Long Gone Loser Rock Show, which is an awesome and very entertaining weekly show, covering all sorts of great music and interesting things. So far, he is easily the biggest music freak I have ever met and he has some amazing experiences and stories from his years involved in the music industry.

Most importantly, Damo is just a really good person. He has happily shared his world with me and has allowed me the chance to get to know a world of music that I could’ve missed out on all together. So of course, I was thrilled when Damo agreed to come up and help me out with the Freak Show. I usually present the show alone and I’ve really been wanting to get some experience and have some fun co-presenting and just cut loose with all sorts of awesome randomness. And that’s exactly what we did.

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The only thing we had planned prior to the show was that I wanted to play 80’s love songs and the rest just fell into place. Damo brought a collection of records with him and I finally learnt how to use the turntable live-to-air at the studio!

We had a great time – laughing, being random and listening to some fantastic 80’s love songs and it’s about time I shared that with all of you too!

And while you’re at it, check out the Long Gone Loser Rock Show and Muscle Car on Facebook and Instagram. You’ll be very impressed!

Follow this little link and have a listen to all the shenanigans!

Cheers x

 

 

Black Stone Cherry – “Kentucky”

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As a young person finding her way in a world of pretty cool music, this album gives me a perfect look at where these guys come from and it’s now I place I’d really love to visit. Black Stone Cherry have been around for a while, forming in 2001 in Kentucky. This is their fifth album and they are paying tribute to their home state and sharing all the experiences and emotions that made them who they are right now. They’ve experienced success in the US, UK and Europe with past releases, with fans enjoying their definite southern US rock sound.

But this latest journey seems like the opportunity they’ve been waiting for to show the world exactly what they’re made of. As a result, they’ve released an album true to their roots, with all the heart and soul of the younger versions of themselves when they were first starting out, combined with time, maturity, freedom and all of life’s little experiences along the way.

I took some time to really listen to and absorb “Kentucky” and initially, I found myself making comparisons to other artists. I’m a young person and there’s so many rock acts and it’s just hard not to, especially when I’m trying to identify and describe all of the things that I like. I think it’s important to get an “innocent” perspective on “Kentucky”. These guys have been around a while and even though some would ask the question of why they haven’t hit the heights of commercial success, some of us just don’t care and would rather give an honest opinion on how their music makes us feel.

So I sat down, pen in hand, making notes as I listened to each and every song and I did find that there was consistency across all the tracks, with a loyalty to the sound they wanted to share. The consistencies were their ability to give us an honest hard rock sound, great heavy guitar riffs, pretty cool lyrics, awesome vocals and the fact that these guys work together like a perfect machine. But there were also a few little surprises along the way, and I think this is what gives “Kentucky” an edge.

The opening track “The Way of the Future” was a good start. Great lyrics, heavy guitar riffs and a really catchy vibe, I also found it had a little bit of quirk with some slight but cool changes of tempo and pitch, just enough to keep you wondering where it was going and how much better it could get. After listening to that track, I already knew that I’d enjoy the rest, I just wasn’t sure to what extent that would be. It got a little bit heavier before it got lighter, which is fine by me, but I did wonder if we were going to get to a point where I felt that these guys had the potential of being commercially-friendly and appealing to a younger audience. I was excited when it did happen.

In our Dreams was a bit heavier than the first track, Shakin’ my Cage was just cool and then we arrived at Soul Machine. This is their money shot. It’s a very appealing track for airplay, it has a catchy chorus, an awesome combination of lead and backing vocals with fun and enjoyable lyrics. I’m guessing it has a bit of a flirtatious and cheeky message and that’s fine, because it has a great sound to match. Still true but just a little bit more playful.

Their cover of “War” also has a huge amount of appeal. It’s a song that younger people are familiar with and it’s an awesome version, so I hope they use this to their advantage. When you’re appealing to a generation who know you mainly through WWE, it’s definitely worth taking a track like this and milking the crap out of it!

And then once they suck us all in completely, there’s songs like Rescue Me and Born To Die – both fairly airplay-friendly but with a heavier sound, banging lyrics that can talk to us, especially during times of confusion, helplessness and loss and a bit of diversity in their design. I’m going to take a moment to make the comparisons now, because it will perfectly describe what I’m trying to say. Rescue Me has this gospel vibe, which feels like it’s been inspired by Queen and then, in my mind anyway, it travels into a combination of Metallica, Nickleback, Bon Jovi and MUSE. Yes, sounds a little mental but it’s my favourite track from “Kentucky”. That, and In Our Dreams, which I am loving more and more every time I listen to it.

I was also excited to learn the news of Black Stone Cherry’s upcoming Australian tour – they’ll perform as special guests for Steel Panther, which just adds another awesome dimension to what these guys are doing. Tour details are available at www.blackstonecherry.com and their Facebook page has regular updates on everything you need to know.

No matter how you feel about “Kentucky”, I think one thing is certain – these guys have shared an incredible journey and work and perform for all the right reasons, giving us music that is reflective, amazing to listen to, heartfelt and honest and you can definitely hear how much they love doing what they do. Chris Robertson summed it up perfectly, “Music is life, life is music. It’s faith, family and music. Those are the things that are quintessential for my life – for all our lives”. Yes Chris, and thank you.

 

 

The Freak Show #161 – Hair Metal Love Songs

After presenting love songs on both Memory Lane and the Freak Show for Valentine’s Day, it kind of got me thinking about love songs across all the ages and different styles of music. I also started paying much more attention to lyrics and interpretations of love in all kinds of songs.

So over a couple of weeks, and you really need to understand just how much music I can listen to in a couple of weeks – I mean we’re talking hundreds of songs and then I’ll check out the lyrics and look into the background of the band and the inspiration for the song and it’s just a long and wonderful youtube/google/itunes process. Over a couple of weeks, I listened to a huge amount of love songs from all ages and styles and it was awesome to enjoy the different interpretations and representations of love, emotions, dating and mating and even though the format and sounds changed, the stories were similar and that’s what I enjoyed the most.

I decided that I would spend a couple of months learning about love songs and I’d present a different style or era each week. And of course, I had to start that ball rolling with my favourite music style of all time – HAIR METAL/GLAM ROCK!

Now I could go on for days about why I love Hair Metal and why I’m addicted to the love songs in this genre – but I’m not going to do that.  I’m just going to say a few words that sum up everything…

Bret Michaels.

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November Rain. Guitar solos.

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Gorgeousness. And long hair.

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Bad boys who want to be loved (let’s forget about the other stuff, it was 30 years ago).

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Boys wearing make-up, singing love songs. I’m gone.

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Enough said. So now, all you have to do is go and click on that crazy little hair metal link, sit back and enjoy the love x

http://yourlisten.com/thefreakshow/18th-feb-2016-okr-fm-hair-metal-love-songs

The Freak Show #160 – Valentines Day – R&B Love Songs

Every year around Valentines Day, I plan a very loved-up Freak Show.  This isn’t because I love Valentines Day, it’s more because I believe it’s a great reminder for everyone to show love all year round, instead of just one day a year.

Usually I play all the classic love songs but this year I decided to go with a R&B theme because it sort of suited my mood at the time.

R&B is a very sexy style of music. Cool sounds, smooth lyrics and vocals, and music that echoes your heartbeat – yes, it works very well. And I’m a bit of a sucker for a shirtless Jason Derulo or Usher – I love their voices, their gorgeous smiles, their abs, the way they dance and man, they can really get hearts racing. So therefore, R&B was the plan for my Valentines Day Freak Show.

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I haven’t had a real Valentine yet but I did have flowers delivered to me on the universal day of love this year. There was a card attached which said “Keep smiling beautiful” and that was it. I still have no idea who they were from. I felt like a bit of a knob asking a few people if they sent them and I’m not quite sure if I genuinely believed it was a possibility or maybe a little bit of wishful thinking. Regardless of any of that, it was really sweet to have a secret Valentine. It definitely made me smile and brightened up my day.

So there you have it! I’m sure you’ll enjoy the show much more than you probably enjoyed my dorky little Valentines story, so please visit my soundcloud page and have a little listen…

Lots of love,

Audrey x

 

 

The Freak Show & Chocolate Starfish @ Morrisons Winery Moama – Jan 2016

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Back in January, I was super excited to get the chance to catch up with Adam Thompson from Chocolate Starfish and witness another phenomenal live performance.

Adam is awesome to interview and I really get the chance to learn about the era of Aussie rock that I absolutely would have loved to see for myself. We usually talk a bit about how music has changed since then and I try to pick his brain about lots of strange and wonderful things – as you will hear.

The one thing I love the most about Chocolate Starfish is their live performances. These guys really know how to put on a show that takes over all your senses.  They sound incredible, they look awesome and perform with so much passion, fun and with so much energy. It’s one element that Adam Thompson absolutely loves -bringing theatrics to music for that performance quality that clearly keeps shows like this one, sold out.

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Of course, Chocolate Starfish write some pretty cool songs too and their song Cinderella has an amazing story. All proceeds from the sale of the song were donated to the Jaime Wild Foundation in support for Jamie, who is a young woman challenged by motor neuron disease (MND). A Cinderella Ball was held on the Gold Coast last year to raise funds for the foundation and to assist Jaime’s future quality of life. When Chocolate Starfish perform this at shows, it’s a tradition for the crowd to take off their shoe and raise it high and wave along with the song in support for Jaime, her family and for the wonderful cause and it’s a pretty special thing to be a part of.

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These guys always play a mixture of original tracks and covers and this is another reason they appeal to people of all ages. The performance at Morrison’s was all-ages and was a great family atmosphere. They perform a bit of Meatloaf, which I absolutely love of course and speaking of Meatloaf – I have to say I was completely blown away and happy beyond words when out of the blue, I hear Adam’s voice and the first few words of Sweet Transvestite from the Rocky Horror Show. If there was a moment when my love for Chocolate Starfish could get any greater – that was definitely it!

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Anyway, I’ve included the link to our snazzy little interview and I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s very cool! And a HUGE thank you to Adam and all the Chocolate Starfish crew for their time and for being awesome! I can’t wait to catch up with them all again soon.

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