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Howzat! Archive - October 12th 2011

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Their new album is aptly titled: M1. And Gold Coast band Tijuana Cartel are hitting the highway to promote it, doing 32 shows in 64 days, from Cairns to Canberra, Broome to Byron Bay, and Margaret River to Melbourne (checking into the Corner Hotel on 28 October). Asked about the Tijuana Cartel tour van, singer Paul George points to an almost clapped-out white Mitsubishi Express that the band has had for five years, clocking up more than 170,000 km. Trumpet player Josh Sinclair does most of the driving. "He's the youngest and doesn't generally drink. He's a good lad, so we take advantage of him as much as possible when we're a little drunk."

Tijuana Cartel have taken their potent sound - a mix of electronica, world music and pop - to 5000 people at a Fremantle festival. They've also played to three people at a Bellingen pub, "two old men and one car accident victim in a walking frame, attempting to dance". What's the strangest venue they've played? "We did a haunted pub somewhere on the outskirts of Perth," Paul says. "The guys thought it'd be funny to plant a recording of a dodgy ghost voice under my bed while I was sleeping. I was passed out at the time and woke up screaming."

Paul loves life on the road, even though the van is loud and the air con doesn't work. "Having a job where hundreds of people scream at you when you finish is a real perk," he says. "It's far more exciting than my stint as a pizza deliverer." What doesn't he like? "Snoring. Being trapped in a room full of four guys sounding like angry bears protecting a family cave can be annoying." On a good night, the guys have separate rooms. "It can be odd bringing a date back to a single room filled with four guys - all snoring."

What's on the rider for this tour? "Two bottles sav blanc, one carton of beer, one bottle white rum, plus one bottle of vodka and Jager." Do you always get the full rider? "Um, we usually get about half, but more often it's everything. I'm trying to detox at the moment, so we may need to start asking for beetroot juice. We've heard of some bands asking for condoms, but I think that's a little overboard for us."

Tijuana Cartel made M1 in Nimbin, the NSW town with a reputation for drugs and hippies. What was the band's Nimbin experience? "Well, we have our own reputation for drugs and hippies," Paul smiles, "but it was not as exciting as people would want to believe. We spent most of the time recording with a very rare trip into town for food and beer. It was harvest season, so everyone was in a good mood. Now and then you'd see a chopper or two trying to spot plantations, and we'd have to stop recording until they passed."

It could be Howzat!'s favourite double bill: Skipping Girl Vinegar - who have released our favourite 2011 album, Keep Calm Carry The Monkey - plus our favourite Adelaide act, Myles Mayo. They're playing at the Northcote Social Club on Friday.

The Stillsons are earning some raves for their second album, Earnest (through Fuse). In a four-star EG review, Inpress founder Andrew Watt said: "The album is an example of hyperactive genre-jumping that shows an impressive ability to translate plentiful ideas into compelling music." While Nick Argyriou wrote in Rhythms: "Earnest is one of those records that you simply can't find fault with." Howzat! was intrigued by the band name, which also provides the title of one of the new songs. "A Stillson is a plumbing wrench - the big shifter," the band's co-lead singer, Justin Bernasconi, informs us. "When we formed, in 2006, one of the members was a weekend warrior musician - he was a plumber during the week - and we wanted a real straight name. Unfortunately, he didn't last long in the band, but the name stuck." Many people think they're Irish because of the Stillson School of Irish Dance, "which is quite ironic for a band in which every member has an Italian surname". The Stillsons play at the Northcote Social Club on Thursday, and Pure Pop on Sunday.

"It's been like a biblical journey." So says The Hello Morning's Steven Clifford, referring to the band's long-time-coming debut album. But they promise it will be out early 2012. Excellent news. This band could be very big. Howzat! saw them with Sydney's Dead Letter Chorus, who are definitely ready for the big stage. They're capable of swinging from intimate to grandiose - and only great bands can do that.

Gotye's reign ends after eight weeks.

Somebody That I Used To Know GOTYE (number two)
Inescapable JESSICA MAUBOY (24)

Local hip hop star 360 lands at four.

Making Mirrors GOTYE (number three)
Falling & Flying 360 (four, debut)
Ultimate Hits LEE KERNAGHAN (eight, debut)
The Acoustic Chapel Sessions JOHN FARNHAM (10, debut)
Vows KIMBRA (14)
Prisoner THE JEZABELS (15)
Blue Sky Blue PETE MURRAY (18)
White Heat: 30 Hits ICEHOUSE (19)
Storybook KASEY CHAMBERS (22)
Songs & Pictures BECCY COLE (24, debut)
Coast To Coast CODY SIMPSON (26, debut)
Moonfire BOY & BEAR (38)

Leave The Party MYLES MAYO
Freefalling THE KILLJOYS

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