Monday, January 13, 2014

The Folks Behind the Music- Spotlight on Anthony Moore; Desert Highways and Heavy Magazine

Hey man, here's the questions for the interview. I think it'll be fun to feature lots of people who are behind the pen, making the scene happen. Take your time, there's no rush.

Start at the beginning, how did you get started with this crazy idea of writing about music?

I have always loved music, from as early as I can remember. Playing KISS cassettes and vinyl from as young as 5 or 6. KISS and Michael Jackson were my two favourites growing up. I always believed I was destined to be a ‘rock star’ from back then. I just don’t ‘get’ people that don’t listen to music or don’t even have a favourite song or band. I really just can’t comprehend that. I have also always liked to write, whether it’s poetry or short stories or whatever. I got side tracked working in retail for about 20 years but in the middle of that when I moved to Melbourne around 2000 I went out to lunch with someone who had a massive impact on my life. I had been doing community radio for a few years in a small country town (103.9 2-Way FM. Wauchope, NSW, Australia) and one day I turned up for my shift and there were a couple of band members and another guy with them who were keen to do an interview. It was 2 members of Elephant Gun (Melbourne) and Bob Stevenson who was then the Director of Promotions at Roadrunner Records Australia. I was stoked they were there and interviewed them straight away. I was also stoked that I got an e-mail from Bob saying there were pleased to hear the interview going to air with their music straight away as they drove out of town. You have to understand that, as the saying goes, the station played both kinds of music, country and western. There were only a few ‘alternative’ shows. From then on Bob would send me new music to play and I heard some great albums I would possibly never had heard otherwise and I used to plug the hell out of them. Dreadnaught’s Dead In The Dirt song is still an all-time fav, The Workhorse Movement’s Keep The Sabbath Dream Alive is another. Anyway, when I moved to Melbourne, Bob said we should catch up for lunch. When we did he asked me what I wanted to do in Melbourne, I said I wouldn’t mind getting into music writing at some stage. He threw me in the deep end and I got my own column on their then site Metalshop and I called it Desert Highways. It was predominantly stoner and related news, reviews, interviews etc although as I had a background in skating I had the odd interview with pro’s like Mike Vallely, that was awesome.

We're all the product of our musical past. What's your musical history? First album you ever bought?

First album I ever bought was either KISS or Michael Jackson. Can’t remember any more. Think it was KISS. Other early one’s were Pseudo Echo, still one of my favourite bands to this day, Devo, Sex Pistols. A weird mix of pop, metal and punk right there!

First musical epiphany moment?

As mentioned Michael Jackson was so amazing, his style, groove, the way he moved. KISS though blew the ears off my head. When you listen to them it’s amazing, when you see photos of them too though as a kid it’s instant envy, love, obsession, everything with them. The Sex Pistols were dirty and crazy and like nothing else I had heard. I used to get a lot of my music introductions from my older brother, like Sex Pistols, Motley Crue, AC/DC, The Radiators, Lime Spiders and I also loved Devo as soon as I heard them for the first time when I was a kid too; mind-blowingly crazy. Music was always meant to be this tailored structure of intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus etc and we were taught in school you know, guitar, bass, drums, vocals, maybe percussion and keyboards were what’s in a band. But there was make-up, pyro, all kinds of crazy, all this other stuff that wasn’t ‘music’ but was such a major aspect of making it unique and crazy cool.

First album that terrified the hell out of you?

I don’t think I have ever really been terrified of any music. There’s plenty of stuff that I’ve heard that’s brought up a bit of vomit in the back of my throat J but not terrified. I guess maybe there was one band that made me wonder about what demonic stuff they got up to outside of music. Can’t remember their name. I was used to seeing pentagrams and all that sort of thing from metal and the band wasn’t metal but it was just really really dark, kind of slow and really evil sounding. I have never really taken lyrics to heart and thought oh yeah Slayer is going to make me kill or Maiden’s Number Of The Beast must have been written while they sacrified small children at the alter of Satan, but this CD really was pure darkness… I’ll have to see if I can find it.

What's the last album to grab you by the throat and insist you listen?

I have had BRUCE’s self-titled debut on high rotation since it came out. I’ve also reviewed High  Tension’s debut for HEAVY Magazine (Insert plug here – Australia’s premier heavy music mag). That instantly blew me away. So many attitudes, really strong song writing, there’s a mix of styles in there but they’re truly doing their own thing. It was instantly a fav album of the year along with BRUCE, Whores and Captives all extremely close seconds. Whores (US) and Captives (Australia) I both really instantly liked for their sheer emotion, guts and drive. Amazing musicians and song writers in both bands and their current releases are played around here pretty much every day. Look up Captives and keep an eye on them.

I hear a lot of music, from gigs to reviewing and I like to just go on Bandcamp’s front page late at night and try and find a band a day I have never heard of and like. I end up coming across so many new things, loads and loads I forget about but a lot I cling onto. There are so many amazing bands in Melbourne and Australia and the thing I notice more and more is that my favourite albums or live bands are locals. Quite a few are friends too which is cool. That’s also how I started working with a lot of bands, seeing them first, are blown away by them and we become friends and then end up working together.

What do you see happening in the music scene today, good and bad?

I am merely a piece of dust on a grain of sand in the ‘scene’, maybe this should be asked of those higher up in the world. I am usually a pessimist I have to say in life and like to walk amongst the shadows, but I think there are a lot of positive things happening from where I see them. Sure venues are closing and that sucks, but here I have also seen new one’s open. There are more bands out there trying to play and it can be harder to get gigs. I miss singles as quite often the more experimental or looser played B sides were often the better tracks. Vinyl is at a crazy all time high for sales for the last 10 years although most musicians can’t afford to release anything these days. Craig Westwood (The Ruiner, Dern Rutlidge, Christbait) said to me a few years ago that CD’s are just expensive business cards and he is so right. People go to gigs and want stuff for free (yeah me too) and it’s a pity. It’s due to several things, one is that people can download music for free and the other is that most people just don’t have the disposable income to throw around on things. That’s why limited edition vinyl works so well because people want something that is unique and extremely cool if they are going to spend their dollars. But please labels stop releasing 5 colours of each album and then another 17 when you reissue them as completest collectors like me are often left in the corner in a foetal position as we can’t collect them all! The great thing though with downloads is that you can discover music you never would have previously and one argument is that people find new music this way and then if they love it will buy their physical album anyway. Whether the dollars that those people are spending outweigh how many free or illegal downloads there are for any particular band is something I can’t answer. I love Bandcamp and I love that there are so many sites around to discover music. I miss magazines and especially those like Hot Metal but am proud to be associated with HEAVY Magazine, the people behind it are old school in their beliefs and are there for the music. Things have changed a lot over of the years within music and I guess you just have to go with it and embrace whatever part of it will work for you.

With so many music sites, how would you describe what you do?

I have a blog although I have no time to add to it and haven’t done so for ages. I also don’t write as much for HEAVY and others as I used to due to things I am setting up right now but hope to get back into it more down the track as I really enjoy it. I would say I am a word manipulator and quite often feel like I am just pulling words out of a hat. I often feel like I am running out of words to use. I don’t think I am exceptionally good at what I do but thoroughly enjoy writing, the research and fine tuning aspects of it, the listening to music whether it be live or recorded and for a ‘music journalist’ I am pretty bad at describing what a band sounds like or being able to put them in a genre or style of music. I tend to write more about how it makes me or the room feel, what’s happening around everyone, what reactions there are to the gig or album. It’s probably better to ask my wife this, she puts up with me asking her to read something, and then read the entire thing again to see if the flow changes after switching two words.

What's your unique take on the music and writing?

Everyone’s a journalist like everyone is a photographer. Sometimes I guess it cheapens the art but it also means there are so many styles out there and most aren’t ‘trained’ which can lead to some very unique work. I don’t mind that. Maybe if I was a ‘professional’ I would take offense to some of the people around and what they say but I still have trouble saying I am a freelance journalist, although I am. I take it seriously when I write something but don’t see myself as a writer, I am just someone who writes. Maybe that is my problem why I haven’t finished any books yet J

Illegal free downloads on your site. Yes or no, and why?

Not on my site, never, no. I like Bandcamp and sites like that where you can listen and then buy.

What's been your all-time greatest "Find"?

My wife; she’s the limited edition double pop-up gatefold etched and coloured splattered picture disc vinyl original test pressing.

That band you "discovered" before anyone else and started the word spreading?

Without giving a cop out answer I think we all have a lot of these. I am someone who likes to just spread the word about any band I love. Partly to help the band out and partly as I just love hearing others say oh yeah, that’s awesome! Spread the love. There is so much amazing music out there and it ALL needs to be heard. There are so many muso’s playing any night of the week and playing for nothing or even losing money after travelling and getting their gear serviced and drinking 3 times their rider limit. Spread the love I say!

If you could write a 1,000 word essay on one song, which one would it be, and why?

That is such a full on question. I have about 400 albums squashed into my top 20. First song that comes to mind though is Jane’s Addiction’s Three Days. It is an epic epic song. A true journey song in every sense, so much raw emotion, highs, lows, Perry’s vocals are inspiring, Perkins drumming is brilliant, Avery’s bass is perfect and Navarro’s guitars, woah. I am not a religious person, spiritual in some respects I guess but hearing that song live for the first time was the closest I have ever been to ‘God’. It transcends all space and time and for that reason will always be timeless. Jane’s have so many elements all mixed up together and when you hone in on one instrument you realise just how different and varied they all are, yet together they are so perfect. I am getting goosebumps writing this now just thinking about that song. Seeing Jane’s live is also such a massive sexual experience. This is exactly why I don’t get people that just don’t listen to music or don’t get obsessed by a song or band. Have I reached 1000 words yet, oops sorry J

What makes that song so important?

As above.

Give us three bands that we need to keep our eyes out for.

Mentioned BRUCE, High Tension, Whores and Captives above so here’s a different three then, all from Melbourne…

The Hidden Venture who I manage so I guess this may sound biased but I am so proud of these guys and what they’ve achieved with their debut album, Old Sins Cast Long Shadows. They’re a blend of straight up rock, stoner, there’s some soul in some of the vocals right through to a bit of attitude and growl and on top of that their song writing is just exceptional, they are all amazingly talented musicians. I am very honoured to be working with them. Expect big things and stay tuned!

Seedy Jeezus are great to hear and insane to see live. Imagine Hendrix, Cream and Alan Forbes all together in a band rockin out. Alan Forbes? Yes, guitarist / vocalist Lex Waterreus is also an amazing artist and along with his brother Rad are Mr Frumpy. Solid muso’s that are freaky talented.

DEAD deserve to write their name in all capitals; a two piece band with more weight than any five piece. Drummer Jem is a freight train and Jace is on bass and vocals and packs such a force he knocks you off your feet. The music they play and everything they do artistically is awesome.

Tell us about your personal music collection. Vinyl? CD? What's your prized possession?

So many! I am stoked I have John Frusciante’s Estrus 7”. He’s my all-time favourite guitarist. Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of my all-time favourite bands although after BSSM I lost a lot of interest. Californication is pretty good; we don’t even mention One Hot Minute in this house. I am pretty strictly Mother’s Milk and BSSM when it comes to Frusciante and Uplift is my favourite Hillel album. He is a massively underrated guitarist. I would love to have heard what he’d be doing now. Frusciante’s solo work is great, he keep pushing himself trying different styles and techniques. Very inspirational.

Pretty stoked on having all the Desert Session’s releases on vinyl. My wife was on holidays and walked into one of our then favourite music stores in Sydney, Waterfront Records (their label back in the day was also one of the best ever). You know the stores that have stickers on their sleeves saying who is on a release. It said members of Kyuss so she knew I would dig it and that’s how I originally found out about Desert Sessions.

I have some pretty rare, original and unreleased Kyuss and Sons Of Kyuss cassettes. I am pretty stoked to have those.

I guess I have some things that may be worth some dollars but my prized possessions in music are more things that take me straight back to a time and make me feel exactly what I and the band were going through. EG Magic Dirt’s Signs Of Satanic Youth, Meanies – Gangrenous, I wasn’t there when it came out but my Syd Barrett vinyl is much loved. Also a lot of prized possessions in my collection are things friends have released and bands that I work with in some way. Just proud of the people you know realising a dream and getting it out there. Great moments in life!

I should also mention my collections of RHCP in general, KYUSS / QOTSA and all related, Magic Dirt and Meanies near complete collections. Ok I better stop now

What makes it all worthwhile for you?

I would like to say seeing the food I put on the table for my family from the money I make, but that would be a lie as I don’t make much. For me music is about going to a gig, falling right into the sound and forgetting where you are; being pushed over accidently by some random because he’s completely letting go and  you haven’t seen him because there is no peripheral vision when the band is completely switched on, everything’s aligned and all are just rockin out. So I guess, just being able to do that, at its most basic level, is awesome. Doesn’t really answer the question I guess.

How would your life be different if you weren't writing about music?

I would probably still be stuck in retail. I actually wanted to be a sound engineer and did that for work experience in high school. My parents bought a surf and skate shop when I was like 14, 15 and I had been skating for about 6 months or more I guess. We had not long moved to a coastal town and they didn’t know anything about surf. We all just jumped right on in and I was in charge of skate and street wear from then on. It was trial by fire and as they say never work with family. We would frustrate each other at times but I owe them the world for what they taught me and letting me be able to do that. After I moved from there I managed stores in the same industry and then became a state manager. For those that have done retail they will understand it when I say it takes a part of your soul away that will never come back. It’s a love / hate relationship for sure. So yeah, I would still be stuck there I guess.

Ever been threatened by a band or a ravenous fan?

Friends of mine would probably say I have been the ravenous fan one too many times J There’s been some drama’s in moshes I guess but that just happens. But no not really, seen a few things go down over the years, fights and heads hitting stages when crowd surfing, few tongues down rockers throats that were otherwise spoken for.

In the end, what would you like to have accomplished, or be remembered for?

I would just like my kids to know that even though we don’t live in a mansion that following your passion is the most important thing in the world. I am blessed to have a wife that understands me and how important this is for me to do. Her patience is amazing and her love unconditional. I have also started up a label and I’m pretty stoked that I am now getting the chance to put out some music that people may not otherwise have been able to hear. Massive dream come true under way!

Many people may not realize the hours you devote to what you do for little or no pay. Is there a day job? If so, how do you find the balance?

Since leaving my last ‘job’ a few years ago due to them being dickheads, I was kind of forced into a reality check about who I am and what I want to do. This is my ‘day job’.

What's next? Any new projects?

As mentioned I have started up a label, Desert Highways and the site is also a home for everything I do, freelance journalism, band management, booking and promo and also an online store. It’s only been live for about 6 weeks ad is still in its infancy with loads more to be added. It will continually grow. And yes for those paying attention earlier on, Desert Highways is my old column name. It’s a name that has always stuck with me since I came up with it.

The debut release on the Desert Highways label is a 7” split featuring Perth blood rockers Chainsaw Hookers and US legends Electric Frankenstein. Limited to 250 on white with red splatter vinyl, this is an epic release! We had the launch on Nov 29th here in Melbourne with Chainsaw Hookers and two other great Melbourne bands The Kremlings and Muscle Car…

I’d also like to mention who did all the logo’s and branding for Desert Highways and that is legendary Australia artist Ben Brown, most well-known for his artwork for the Hellmenn and Massappeal in the 80’s and 90’s.

I have been changing some things around so once the site is up and running more I will have more time for working with the bands I do already work with and we can finally get stuck into some of those idea’s we’ve been wanting to do. Loads of exciting releases are in the pipeline for the label too. Very exciting times ahead and thinking back after writing all of this it puts a smile on my face thinking about the little kid that used to look up at his wall in awe at his KISS posters and think now he’s going to put out some music on his own label. Going back to a previous question on how the scene has changed, it’s so great now that we’re all realising that anyone can actually release anything these days, not just the big companies. Sure without them we wouldn’t have gotten here but over the last few years a lot of people are finally doing it, I really like that way of thinking and being. Labels trading with each other to stock their own online stores and with so many different people being the “ceo’s” of their own labels, there is so much difference between them all, so many DIY and unique releases that a ‘major’ could just never do. Check out DEAD, who I mentioned earlier. Jem is behind WeEmptyRooms, an example of a label that is doing it right. Solid releases and all hand screened with artwork by Jem’s band mate Jace. Truly kick arse.

I also wrote a piece on poster design for a book coming out shortly called Rockin Australia. I am extremely proud to be a part of this book as it’s such a massive undertaking and it’s also historically really important to catalogue music and art. It’s being put out by James Anfuso from Starman Books.

From the press release:

“ROCKIN AUSTRALIA is the culmination of 5 years of research and planning and celebrates 50 years of music, artwork design and the appreciation of all things rock’n’roll!

This 3 volume, 1260 page large format hardcover bookset showcases over 1400 Bands and includes a staggering 2272 posters from both national and international bands touring Australia. ROCKIN AUSTRALIA has also broken away from the traditional chronological poster layout and instead opted for an alphabetical format making it far easier to search for your favourite band. Each poster comes from the authors personal collection accumulated over the last 20 years.”

Finally, other than the music, what's your other burning passion?

My family, they’re beyond awesome. My wife keeps me grounded by telling me to stop being an idiot and putting up with me and my two kids (6 and 8) are bigger rock stars than I’ll ever be and I wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s it, my family and music. I used to skate and still have loads of memorabilia but haven’t been able to do it for years and years due to injury (and now old age). I was happy to give that away, the other two I couldn’t.

A few things links:

Desert Highways contact: 

Anthony Moore


Desert Highways
P.O. Box 42
VIC 3072

The Desert Highways roster:


The Hidden Venture 

TTTDC (featuring members of Peeping Tom, SotIS and Wicked City) 

Don Fernando 


Seedy Jeezus 


Black Rainbows 


I’d also like to give a shout out to these people who I respect greatly for who they are and what they do:

Tym’s Guitars (Brisbane, Australia) – some of the best guitar pedals you will ever find amongst others things.

Vinyl Grove (The Hague, Netherlands) – this store may be a world away from where I live but thankfully someone invented the internet.

Right Eye Media (Melbourne, Australia) – Adam is a legend and makes great clips, live and otherwise and is my preferred photographer of choice for taking gig photo’s.

HEAVY Music Magazine – Thanx Liv and all at team HEAVY – YOU ROCK!

Monster Rock Booking – based in Portugal, the worldwide team are a solid group of people and I am stoked to also be a part of this. Pedro Lima (CEO / Management / Promotion) is a great friend and it’s inspiring to see others follow their dreams and become successful.

Hammer Ink Merchandise – Located in Perth, Australia and run by Jon Russo, guitarist from Chainsaw Hookers. I get all the Desert Highways merch screen printed here.

And of course Todd and all those at Ripple Music / The Ripple Effect, great site and label!

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