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Howzat! Archive - May 5th 2010

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Howzat! recently asked Juan Alban to nominate his favourite Epicure song. "Probably Ghosts Under The Guillotine," the Epicure singer replied. "I think it's the pinnacle of what we achieved creatively it starts at a whisper and finishes as a scream." In some ways, it's the inverse of the band's career. When Howzat! first heard Epicure at the start of the '90s, they were, like Powderfinger, grunge-inspired. The single, Feet From Under Me, was a powerful piece of rock. But then they evolved into a poetic pop band, akin to Augie March. Now - as Powderfinger depart with a scream, doing a stadium tour - Epicure release the anthology, Quietly Into The Night, calling it quits after a decade and four albums.

"I guess it's a combination of things," Juan explains. "A large part is financial - we fund all our recording and touring ourselves and we just weren't making enough to even come close to covering those costs. The last record [Postcards From A Ghost] didn't get much support from radio, despite being widely considered as our best, and two important members of the band left shortly after its release. Unfortunately, all of these factors made it impossible to continue."

Epicure are one of the great bands to come out of Ballarat, ranking alongside The Mavis's and The Dead Salesmen. Three of their songs made Triple J's Hottest 100: Armies Against Me, Life Sentence and Self Destruct In Five. They played the Big Day Out, the Falls Festival and did tours with Live and Train. Favourite review? "Any of them for Postcards From A Ghost. The ones I read were all great. Or maybe our manager only sent through the good ones!" Worst review? "The review of [third album] Main Street in Rolling Stone: two stars. The review itself wasn't that bad, but it stung nonetheless. I'm not very thick-skinned and I grew up reading that mag." News of Epicure's split came as Train sat on top of the Australian charts. "You know, they're a great band," Juan says. "It's obviously very pop, but I really enjoyed watching them play. That guy has a hell of a voice. They were quite friendly to us as well, which was nice." How many gigs have Epicure done? "Going by my hearing loss, it must be hundreds," Juan laughs.? Best gig? "Probably the Falls Festival in 2003/04. We played to a huge crowd and they all knew our songs. After that, we went from playing empty rooms to sold-out rooms." Worst gig? "Well, I don't want to cast aspersions on the lovely city of Warrnambool, but I've only considered quitting music twice and both times it was after shows in Warrnambool. The first was when we were heckled mercilessly by bikies at the Criterion Hotel, and the second was when we supported The Living End at an all-ages show. I was hit in the head by at least three full bottles thrown from the crowd. I sing with my eyes closed, so I never saw them coming."

Looking back at the past decade, Juan says: "The highlight has been making the albums - I'll be proud of them till the day they nail shut my coffin. And to have been able to make them with my best friends is something I'll cherish. The lowlight will undoubtedly be the band ending. I know we all feel pretty defeated about the way things have turned out. The band has always been my hope for the future; it'll be hard not having it there any more."? Did the guys make a living out of being in Epicure? "Nope. It all went back into recording and touring costs. But I like to think the band gave me a reason to keep living, so in that sense it was worth it." What's the worst business decision you made? "Geez, it would be harder to think of a good one." What's the strangest thing an Epicure fan ever did? "A girl once asked us to sign her heavily pregnant belly - at her husband's insistence. That was weird."

So what's next? "I've started work on a solo record - the doomed, far-inferior-to-the-band, solo record! Has to be done, right? And I know the other guys will keep playing, even if it's just casually. Hopefully I get to play with them again some day." Epicure are recording their final show, in Ballarat (on May 29), and hope to release it online. Their final Melbourne show is at the East Brunswick Club on Saturday, May 15.

Finally, what advice would Juan give to a young band starting out today?
"Don't stop. Ever." ??

Vanessa Amorosi leaps from 34 to 13. Sydney dance duo Yolanda Be Cool have their first chart hit. And Jet score their second Shaka Rock hit.

Mr Mysterious VANESSA AMOROSI (number 13)
We Speak No Americano YOLANDA BE COOL (25, debut)
Sweet Disposition THE TEMPER TRAP (32)
Love Lost THE TEMPER TRAP (34)
Seventeen JET (40)

Last year's Australia's Got Talent winner, Mark Vincent, scores his second Top 5 album. Compass features a duet with Don Bradman's grand-daughter, Greta. And INXS' new digital-only greatest hits collection lands at 21.

April Uprising THE JOHN BUTLER TRIO (number three)
Compass MARK VINCENT (five, debut)
Down The Way ANGUS & JULIA STONE (six)
Cohesion GYROSCOPE (10)
Conditions THE TEMPER TRAP (11)
Golden Rule POWDERFINGER (12)
Platinum INXS (21, debut)
On Broadway DAVID CAMPBELL (22)
Hazardous VANESSA AMOROSI (34)
40 Years True Blue JOHN WILLIAMSON (36)
Shaka Rock JET (40)

Under Your Radar EPICURE
Something Borrowed, Something Blue GEORGIA FIELDS
Will You Shine? PERRY KEYES

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