What piece of equipment do you have to show us today?
A Roland SPD-SX.
How did you come across this particular item?
There would always be a drummer who would pull it out mid-set to play their little 808 drum part, and that would be the end of it. They always seemed like a bit of a novelty to me. That was until we started merging some more electronic elements into STUMPS recordings. I began researching how we could incorporate some of these components into our live show. I saw artists like Foals, Bloc Party, The 1975 and Lorde were all using similar setups, and the SPD-SX was often central to those.
What is it that you like about it so much?
I like how it’s a piece of equipment that anybody can use, yet it has the potential to be uniquely your own, in the way you make it sound and how you use it within your setup. Everyone learns to use it differently and it is truly interesting to see how other artists utilise it to create their sound. Being able to drop your own files and tracks onto it is really easy, and it’s a great alternative to having a laptop on stage. For me personally I like to use it to trigger loops in tracks, and play it as a pad for some of the sounds that I can’t on the kit, like claps, other percussion and any weird little sounds we may have scattered through the recordings.
How do you use it and how has it shaped the way you write music?
I use it as a utility member for STUMPS. We try to play as many elements as we can live, but inevitably there are going to be details which just aren’t achievable as a three-piece. In ‘Laugh About It’, a track we released end of last year, instead of hi-hats in the chorus, we used a triangle loop. So when we’re playing it live, I trigger that loop in the chorus and play along on the hats. I use it to play a sleigh bell in the verses too.
I started using triggers on both my snare and kick drum, which plug directly into it. It allows me to layer sounds on top of my snare and kick so we can use the actual tones off the record in a live setting. This has definitely changed the way I approach the writing process in STUMPS. Previously we would have the same snare and kick tone on every track on a record. Now with the ability to replicate these sounds live, I feel we have a lot more room to explore. If a track feels like a drum and bass snare does the job, I can trigger that exact sound live. It’s allowed us to flesh out ideas differently and has certainly inspired a new train of thought in the writing process.
Tell us a bit about what you have coming up?
We’ve had to reschedule our up-coming tour for later in the year because of everything that’s going on at the moment, it’s looking like late September, early October at this stage. It’s exciting though as some of the shows have already sold out. It does give us a chance to finish off our larger body of work however. We have been working pretty hard on that for the last couple of months. Over the last few releases I feel we have really nailed the direction that we want to take STUMPS in, so we’re excited to keep moving forward with that.
STUMPS’ new single ‘Mouth Static’ is out now via Cooking Vinyl.
A soothing cut reminiscent lo-fi ’90s alt-pop, ‘Sweetness’ pairs Edquist’s breathy harmonies with colourful, sparse instrumentation with key changes galore. It’s an absolute masterclass in minimalistic songwriting – less is always more, and it seems that Edquist’s onto a winning formula with everything we’ve heard so far from How Much Works. Check it out below.
In a statement accompanying the release of the single, Edquist spoke of how the basis behind the song stemmed from the purchase of a quirky vintage drum machine, saying “I bought this old Rhythm Ace FR-8L drum machine which has this setting called ‘RockN’ Roll2′ and when i heard it it reminded me of lots of indie pop songs from the early-mid 90s that used sampled or programmed beats instead of kits, eg. Sophie B Hawkins’ ‘Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover’ and Neneh Cherry’s ‘Woman’ and ‘7 Seconds’… I had to try it out.”
How Much Works by Sweet Whirl is out Friday May 29 on Chapter Music/Inertia Music.
Chunky Shrapnel was actually set to be premiered at Melbourne’s Astor Theatre this month, until everything went to shit and forced us to coop up indoors indefinitely. To give the fans what they want, the band are set to release the film online on Friday April 17 for a limited 24 hour window. You can also preorder the accompanying live Chunky Shrapnel double album on that day – it’ll be released in its entirety on Friday April 24.
CHUNKY SHRAPNEL from PHC Films on Vimeo.
“Chunky Shrapnel was made for the cinema but as both concerts and films are currently outlawed, it feels poetic to release a concert-film digitally right now,” King Gizzard frontman Stu Mackenzie said in a statement today. “Get the loudest speakers you’ve got, turn ‘em up and watch Chunky on the biggest telly you can find. Get heaps of snacks and convert your lounge room into a cinema.”
Sign up for updates when Chunky Shrapnel goes live here, and preorder the album via Flightless Records.
As you’d expect, Thundercat lists off a whole stack of slick grooves from the likes of Marcus Miller, Larry Graham, Louis Johnson and Herbie Hancock, as well as the unexpected (but not unwelcome) addition of Jack Bruce’s bassline on ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’. Towards the end of the video when chatting about Jaco Pastorius, he even pulls out a Precision Bass and demonstrates how to perform all those killer artificial harmonics on ‘Portrait Of Tracy’. Watch it below.
In case you forgot, Thundercat’s new record It Is What It Is is out today, featuring the previously released singles ‘Black Qualls’, ‘Fair Chance’ and the bizarrely infectious ‘Dragonball Durag’. Believe me, if you’re a bassist and you’re not listening to this record, you’re missing out – there’s more than a few nuggets of wisdom to be found in Cat’s style, and Flying Lotus’s production across the album is killer. Go on – treat yourself.
Revisit our Thundercat Gear Rundown here.
Launching today, #QSCAtHome aims to promote creativity and some much needed cheer in our community, with all entrants going in the running to win a QSC CP8 powered speaker and a swag of merch to boot. If there’s ever been a good reason to post your new beat to Instagram or record that gold record riff you’ve been sitting on for all these years, this is it.
If you’re short on inspiration, we reckon this Luther Vandross/Mac Miller mashup from Tom Misch will get the juices flowing – check it out.
To enter, all you need to do is follow QSC Australia on Facebook or Instagram, then post your musical idea with QSC Australia in the tag and add the hashtags #QSCAtHome and #PlayOutLoud. You’ve got until the start of May to get your entries in, so don’t stress about the time here – that’s all we’ve got up our sleeves right now.
Revisit our review of the QSC CP8 Speaker here.
Spanning four tracks, Look Down, See Us is an abstract odyssey fueled by vintage Roland gear, warped breakbeats and pure eccentricity. It’s short, but he squeezes out a lot of ideas in that short time, flipping classic James Brown samples atop of jungle and acid inspired grooves to fascinating effect.
Of course, if you’re clued in on everything Frusciante’s put out over the past ten years, this shouldn’t come as a surprise – across the likes of Letur Lefr, PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone, Outsides and Enclosures, he’s explored everything from bubbly acid house to obscure Black Sabbath-sounding drum ‘n bass and more. It’s definitely an oddball catalogue, but it certainly displays his creativity in a new light – listen to Look Down, See Us below.
Look Down, See Us is also set to be followed by two more Trickfinger releases this year: She Smiles Because She Presses The Button will arrive on Friday June 3, while another record will follow it later this year. They’re all being released on the newly minted Evar Records, created by Frusciante and his girlfriend, which is described as being “an experimental electronic label emphasizing genre defying transitory hybrid musical spaces with music for the brain and body alike.”
Read our retrospective feature analysing John Frusciante’s first three solo records.