Alex Lahey chats new music, Christmas songs and appearing on the Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 soundtrack

As any ’90s kid will proudly sprout, there’s nothing quite like the original soundtrack for the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games of the late ’90s and early 2000s.

Trundling through the game’s pixelated landscapes and nailing tricks to the tune of Rage Against The Machine, Dead Kennedys and Goldfinger was a defining musical experience for many an amateur gamer out there, coaxing them to delve further into the hip-hop, punk and alternative rock stylings that peppered the soundtrack and getting them started on their very own sonic odysseys.

With the recent reissue of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 franchise, the game’s team have taken it upon themselves to revisit the original soundtrack to give it the official remaster it’s always deserved.

As well as bringing back many of the biggest songs from the original series, the soundtrack also features a number of new tracks curated from a hotbed of Australian talent, including songs from Baker Boy, A. Swayze & the Ghosts and Alex Lahey, with the raucous guitars and seething attitude of Lahey’s ‘Misery Guts’ proving to be the perfect track for all of the game’s skating shenanigans.

Given her fandom of the original series, we linked up with Alex Lahey to chat all about her inclusion on the game’s recently remastered soundtrack, as well as to hear about her experiences throughout 2020 and what else is over the horizon for Camp Lahey in 2021.

Hey Alex! It’s been a weird year, so thanks for taking the time to chat. How are you planning on spending the holidays this year?

Hey! Thanks for having me! It’s been a cooked year, hasn’t it? I’m planning on spending the holidays in Melbourne, seeing all the family and friends I missed hanging out with while we were in lockdown for so much of the year. It’ll be great to really reconnect with the people I love.

Despite being cooped up indoors for the majority of the year, you seem like you’ve managed to stay relatively productive and continued to work on new material. How has your songwriting or production process evolved since being forced into lockdown? 

I’ve actually written more music this year than any other year in my entire life – it’s crazy. Despite the intensive periods of isolation, I’ve spent a lot of time collaborating with friends and other writers and artists on a bunch of songs for all sorts of projects.

It has been really great to replace the time that I would usually spend on the road with getting deep into writing and recording music and feeling really productive and fulfilled as a result. That said, I’m dying to play live once again.

I’d love to hear what kind of music you’ve had on rotation for this year. What releases really jumped out at you over the span of 2020? Anything really surprising?

I feel like I’ve had the opportunity this year to really dig in to a bunch of music that has been coming out, as well as taking the time to go back and discover some awesome stuff that has passed me by. I’ve been diving into the Rilo Kiley back catalogue this year – always such a treat discovering a band who already have heaps of music available for you to enjoy!

As for new stuff, I love the new Sondre Lerche record, stuff from Del Water Gap, Brittany Howard’s album from last year is a masterpiece, flowerkid is seriously cool, Andy Golledge, beabadobee’s album and my mate Illuminati Hotties.

One of the tracks you worked on over lockdown was a cover of The Ramones’ ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight)’, and you’ve said on record that you’re a big fan of Christmas songs. What other Yuletide-themed tracks would you consider covering, and why?

I’ve actually pulled together this playlist of Christmas songs from over the years that has some pretty wild stuff on it!  

I love ‘Just Like Christmas’ by Low, ‘Come on! Let’s Boogie to the Elf Dance’ by Sufjan Stevens and ‘Not Another Christmas Song’ by Blink 182. As far as the traditional tunes go, it’s hard to go past ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’ by Darlene Love.

You also made the most out of the lockdown period by calling on your fans to assist in the video for your re-work of ‘Everyday’s The Weekend’. Do you think the prolonged ramifications of COVID-19 will permanently alter the way other artists interact with their fanbase?

Yeah, absolutely! As much as I disagree with the projection that live streaming with replace live shows, I do think that live streams are here to stay and will be a big part of how records are released in future. It has also forced artists to get really creative about content development, which has upped the ante in how music gets shared. Things like VR experiences, Twitch streams and fan made videos are a great way to get everyone involved and excited about music, which to me is a really great thing.

It’s been 18 months since your last LP The Best Of Luck Club dropped, and one of the singles from the album, ’Misery Guts’, is making an appearance on the new Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 soundtrack. How does it feel to get one of your tracks on such an iconic gaming franchise? 

Man, literally a dream come true. My brother and I spent countless hours as kids rinsing the original games and when I heard that ‘Misery Guts’ was going to be a part of this new release, I couldn’t wait to tell him.

I’ve spent a bunch of time with the new PS4 release and it’s so sick. All the new tunes on there are awesome and the music from the originals that are still in there are some of the songs that influenced me most as I was learning how to play guitar and get into rock and punk music when I was younger. To be a part of the lore of Tony Hawk Pro Skater is honestly a life highlight for me. 

Finally – what does 2021 have in store for you? Is it too early to talk about touring, or are you just going to bunker down and hit record?

At the moment, I’m doing a bunch of recording while still writing loads. I think touring is still a little way off for all of us, so I’m just lapping up the process of really immersing myself in making the best songs that I can. 

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Fender CEO predicts that 2020 will be the company’s biggest sales year ever

Fender Musical Instruments CEO Andy Mooney has predicted that 2020 will be a record breaking sales year for the iconic company, revealing the extent of their financial returns in a recent interview with Business Insider. 

Discussing the impacts of COVID-19 upon the musical instrument sector, Mooney told the Business Insider that the company were initially “looking over the edge of an abyss” after their Californian and Mexican production plants were closed in March, forcing the company to introduce staff furloughs and wage reductions.

However, Mooney says that an influx of orders began to swamp the company in the months that followed, placing emphasis on the sheer amount of people at home with extra time on their hands for the massive sales spike.

Mooney disclosed to Business Insider that Fender were now looking at posting a record sales year in 2020, forecasting to top last year’s figures with a staggering $US700 million – just shy of $950 million Australian.

“We benefited more than most,” Mooney told Business Insider, noting that the company’s decision to offer the Fender Play educational app for free throughout the lockdown period also contributed towards their success across the year.

“We didn’t think more than 100,000 would sign up. But that many signed up in the first week. It expanded to 500,000, so we went all-out, and now we have 980,000 people using the product.”

Read the Business Insider article in full here.

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Carstens Amplification and Billy Corgan unleash the 100w Grace guitar amplifier

Coinciding with the recent release of The Smashing Pumpkin’s new double LP CYR, Carstens Amplification have partnered with Billy Corgan for a new limited edition run of Grace guitar amplifier heads.

Designed and hand-wired by Brian Carsten – otherwise known as Corgan’s own amp tech – and completed over the span of two years, the Grace is a 100 watt, all-tube behemoth, utilising four EL34 power amp tubes and four 12AX7 preamp tubes to output its mammoth tone.

Boasting a single channel and a simple control layout of Volume, Bass, Middle, Treble, Master Volume and Presence, the Grace provides players with a powerful high-gain option for recording and performance, with designer Brian Carsten attributing the amp’s high-gain performance to a specifically designed and hand-wound Mercury Magnetics transformer.

As per Corgan’s request, the amplifier was designed to deliver ‘an unheard-of amount of gain, high headroom and distinct tone’, and judging from the man’s own demonstration below, it seems like the Grace delivers on all fronts.

Each amplifier is fitted inside a sleek Tolex-covered chassis, and can also be purchased alongside a matching speaker cabinet. Corgan’s own signature adorns the back of each amplifier and cabinet, but be warned – there’s only 50 units being made for this run. If you’re keen to get your mitts on one, move quickly.

Find out more about the Grace over at Carstens Amplification today. 

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Coopers and Live Nation team up for Live, Loud and Local shows

To help welcome live music back into bars and pubs around the country, Coopers Brewery are teaming up with Live Nation for a run of Live, Loud and Local shows, seeing some of Australia’s best bands play shows around the country this summer.

Kicking off in January, Perth indie dance dons Crooked Colours will be treating punters to a set of sin and sweat at a hometown show at the Hotel Rottnest on Sunday January 17, 2021.

The series will continue in Sydney the month after when The Rubens take the start at Selina’s, Coogee Bay Hotel on Wednesday February 3, before Bad//Dreems rock the stage at Adelaide’s Bridgeway Hotel on Friday February 19.

Coopers and Live Nation have also promised that a number of other shows in Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne will be announced in early 2021

“It’s been a really challenging time for venues, musicians and patrons,” Coopers Brewery Director Melanie Cooper said in a statement released today.

“Live music is an essential part of our culture as is heading to the local for a social drink with friends. It’s something we’ve all missed. We’re putting together a great series of gigs that will allow fans the chance to see their favourite bands perform live again and support local venues in a socially responsible way.”

Check out all the dates and details below. More shows and artists are set to be announced for gigs in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth in early 2021 – keep your eyes peeled for more news on that soon.

Coopers Live, Loud and Local – 2021 shows

Perth – Crooked Colours – January 17, 2021 – Hotel Rottnest
Sydney – The Rubens – February 3, 2021 – Selina’s, Coogee Bay Hotel
Adelaide – Bad//Dreems – February 19, 2021 – The Bridgeway Hotel

Grab your tickets from 10am on Wednesday December 2 via the Coopers website. 

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