Monday, June 02, 2008
Courting celebrities, songs on high rotation, exciting big industry movers, living it up in their favourite playground of LA; the rapid and near-vertical trajectory on which Skybombers find themselves let's us see them for what they are; four boys from Melbourne who, when not having a blast (which it seems they do most of the time), are often finding reality a little 'scary'. Like their recent shows at Auckland's Vector Arena with Foo Fighters. 'Man that was terrifying," says drummer Scottie McMurtie, "Very memorable, definitely scary, but fucking sweet at the same time. After the second night we were like...'man, we just played with Foo Fighters!' he laughs, 'I was almost more happy to be there just watching the Foos because their show was amazing. It was [guitarist] Chris Shiflett's birthday and they had a male stripper come on stage and do a dance, it was hilarious.'
With their Sirens EP the release responsible for kick-starting all this attention, and their freshly debuted album already flying off shelves in the US, Skybombers seem almost unnervingly unchanged by it. "Yeah it's pretty weird, I don't think we're huge in The States or anything but it's nice to get the opportunity to get to go over there and give it a shot. It's pretty scary, it's something we never would have expected - this time last year was the first time we'd been overseas, and since then we've been back four times. We recorded our album there, we sold out the Viper Room twice and all these things....yeah, it's pretty scary." says McMurtrie. "Touring with this legendary punk band X was our first chance to get out of LA, we got to do 18 states - we went everywhere - Boise, Idaho! It was fun, 13 000 miles, I've never been in a car for so long. The shows with those guys were great and the crowds were really responsive."
"It would've hate to suck." adds singer Hugh Gurney. "We played a show at SXSW, at Lance Armstrong's bar and had a ball-tearer of a gig. Yep, I just made a cycling joke." he nods, "We just partied. Partied with The Von Bondies, The Donnas...that was fucking sweet. We tried to do the whole meet-and-greet thing so we'd go out and get wasted, go home, have dinner, go out and get wasted." he says wryly, rubbing his eyes.
"The Viper Room show, 22nd of April, that was my birthday." says McMurtrie. "That was a fun night. I met Slash! That was fucking sweet. Lemmy too. No really," he says to a surprised Gurney. "He was just at a bar getting a drink. I said hello. Then I was like: [shouts] 'holy shit man, there's something on your face!" a joke about Lemmy's prominent mole sends them both into hysterics. LA sounds like it's becoming a second home for the band, but that's something he's keen to keep in check. " I couldn't live there, I could go out every night there, but I couldn't live there. I reckon six weeks is the longest you could ever spend there, something about the food and the booze starts to kill you." "Yeah," chimes in Gurney. "Management would like us to be in the States the whole time, but we want to fuckin'..." he trails off, "Man...we have priorities, like playing The Pub and Karova Lounge! We wanna do Australia, I'd much prefer to be a big band in Australia than a band overseas. I want to play to the home crowds, build more of a vibe, playing smaller cities here rather than being scattered all over the place."
All over the place is precisely where Skybombers have been since their signing to Albert Productions (home of AC/DC and The Easybeats), quick ascension into the books of Gold Mountain Management (Neil Young, Nirvana, Beck) in the US, and teaming up with producer Rick Parker (BRMC, The Von Bondies and Dandy Warhols) to produce their new album. Whatever it is Skybombers have that sets them apart from the legions of other rock four-pieces populating this planet besides the 'Livers of Steel!' that Gurney suggests, it's working. "I think a lot of people come across as pretentious and fake." proffers Gurney. "We play music because it's fun performing, I think a lot of people don't do that anymore. What sets us apart from rock and roll bands is the live show and how much fun we actually have when we play, that comes across on the record as well."
Unlike most bands, they haven't made a quantum leap from the EP (recorded in two days for $1000 with a 'let's get in there and do it' attitude), to their album. "We wanted to make the EP as fun and as high-energy as we could, so the spirit of that remains the same." Gurney explains. "We did the album over six weeks and had a million more guitars to play with and time to develop songs and get everything right. We had no idea what to expect, we were shit-scared. We'd heard all these stories about bands going into studios with shit producers and arguing - we just went in there and had the time of our lives, everyone got along really well. We laid a lot of it down in the same room so we got a live vibe. We spent a long time playing with sitars, guitars, amps, tabla, sleigh bells, shakers, maracas...everything, we even had an explosion on Teenage Dreams." Sleigh bells? "You'd be surprised," says Gurney seriously, "If you listen to Oasis their songs are full of sleigh bells, and the Hives use them a lot, you actually hear them but never really notice them. Sleigh bells, doesn't sound rock and roll but it fits well."
Knowing what it takes to fit well into the Indie 103 playlist may be one thing, but underlying this sort of instant acceptance is the band's nous. Clearly they've been saying yes to the right people at the right time. "I mean, we have been lucky, we've fallen into bed with the right people and I really don't want to let them down." says Gurney, "I want to do as best we can, rock as hard as we can, have as much fun as we can and take advantage of what we've got. We write the songs to play live. We're a little bit more ahead here because we've been playing for longer, so I'm looking forward to this tour a lot." he says before pausing. "We party. We try." Right now, they're winning.