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MYSTERIA MAXIMA MEDIA are currently in Melbourne to promote the release of their latest publication and officially launch this website. We’ve enjoyed investigating the music of Victoria, so we thought decided to interview a few bands to get to find out more about them.

Q. How would you describe your band’s experiences working in Melbourne?
[Steven] For this band the experience has been pretty great so far. Every show we have played so far has been an improvement in some aspect, turnout, response, meeting great bands, experiencing playing a new space. Many of us have played in various bands previously, and personally I haven’t experienced playing in a band that has had such a positive response and done as much in such a short time.

Q. Have you lived and played elsewhere and how does the scene compare?
[Steven] As a teenager I was playing in bands in Cairns where there was an excellent community arts space where a lot of more artsy rock bands would play regularly – kids influenced by stuff like Sonic Youth, Ride, Swerve Driver, and My Bloody Valentine. I think I was lucky to be exposed to that type of music early on.

After that I played in bands in Brisbane for many years. The main difference I have noticed between Melbourne and Brisbane is that line-ups in Brisbane tended to be a lot more eclectic that what was happening in Melbourne. You would have an indie rock band opening, then maybe a noise rock band, then a noise act or experimental-electro thing closing. That sort of thing seems to happen a lot less in Melbourne. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that there are so many acts, venues, and choices, so things end up being a bit more focused line-up wise. I do like to play eclectic line-ups and were definitely try and do that where practical.

I also lived and played in London for a fews years and toured much of Europe. Originally I found London odd because everything was promotor based. People had to say who they were there to see at the door in order to split up payment. “Everyone” didn’t seem to be a tolerable answer either. After a while I found a more DIY group of people whose approach aligned more closely with my own. While there we toured Continental Europe many times. They look after you so well and are very appreciative and hospitable.

I’ve also toured the States mainly through a bit of  DIY basement tour network with a few club shows here and there. I while I’ve heard of some bands having a really bad time in the States these bands have mainly been doing bar or club shows, while doing the DIY stuff makes it a lot more personal and I couldn’t have had a better time.

Q. How does your band fit in and where do you play most and who with?
[Steven] We really like playing Old Bar, but often play places we haven’t played in before just for the hell of it. Sometimes it’s interesting to see how we can fit six people on a stage, particularly with the two drums. We’ve played with Bench Press a few times. I think they started around the same time as us and we’ve become sort of gig buddies.
Probably my new favourite space is upstairs at The Tote. They’ve renovated the space, made it larger, put in a better PA, and the walls are painted this red colour that makes it really pop.

Q. Where and where do you guys rehearse and fit around everyone’s busy schedules?
[Steven] Initially we used to jam regularly at Max’s home studio. That is great relaxed place and I think we got a bunch of songs going quickly because of it, but people’s schedules change and now we usually jam at Magnet in Coburg. If you keep it to a regular day people can usually make it. Sometimes if there’s only a few of us available we’ll still do it and show each other ideas or work on new stuff.

Q. Melbourne has this thing with sound guys where the band pays instead of the venue, whereas other cities the venue usually provides. Does covering your own expenses like door person, sound guy, lighting and venue hire fees on top effect your gig-making decisions.
[Steven] Max and I are both sound engineers so that helps with our employment prospects, but from a band perspective it’s kind of a double edged blade. If you pay your own sound person you get to pick who you use, but you may have to keep in mind when putting together your line-up that you at least want to break even. We have a few regular people we use and it’s good having someone who know’s what they’re in for with such a large band and with two drummers, and you can be confident in pulling a decent sound out front. There are a few places that use house people and I’ve seen more than one sigh when they’ve figured out they’re going to have to mic up two kits.

Q. The People of Melbourne seem to really appreciate live music and there is an obvious culture built up around that. So many venues, so many bands – does this make for tough competition?
[Steven] I think that maybe people in Melbourne tend to go to more “event” type shows, like launches and that sort of thing. I also think that sometimes people tend to go see a whole line-up rather than just a single band on a bill. People are a little spoilt for choice here and this can make it tough for interstate bands. You could of course end of on a killer line-up and have a great show, but then come back next time and play to twenty people.

Q.What recordings or new releases are you working on?
[Steven] We recently recorded what was originally going to be an EP, but may actually turn into an LP. It’s currently being mixed and we’re starting shop around for someone to put it out.

Q. Who does the most work in the band?
[Steven] A lot of the roles a split up, and there’s definitely certain roles that people gravitate more towards just because of personality or skill, and amount of free time, or jobs with access to computers. I’m not going to name names really as this is a bit of a divisive question, heh.

Q. Are there political, spiritual, emotional or other such themes in your music?
[Amy] The lyrics to our songs are pretty cryptic for the most part, which gives the listener a bit of room to take away their own meaning from what they’re hearing. They are certainly initially written with a specific moment or concept in mind, but when the whole song comes together the end result often barely resembles how it started out.

Q. What is the Bands over-arching theme? What do you stand for, what are you trying to express?
[Amy] There isn’t an intentional, over-arching theme to our music. The songwriting process is incredibly collaborative, so the songs aren’t necessarily the result of one person’s creative vision. Some of the lyrics to our songs have been inspired by the random names the instrumental demos are given, others have been written depending on the mood of the music, or salvaged from other writing. We haven’t sat down together as a band and mapped out exactly what we want our music to ‘say’ or ‘do’, it’s all happened pretty organically which seems to be working for us.

Q. How important is doing a video clip to you? Got any crazy ideas?
[Steven] I personally have never really been keen on video clips. I’m happy for others to take the lead on it though. It might be a good example of the division of labour in the band which I mentioned previously.

Q. Do you plan to tour nationally or overseas?
[Steven] We’re obviously hoping to do some interstate shows when the record drops, but I love touring so if the right opportunities come up I’d jump at it. A few months ago we did a couple of shows in Sydney, one being one of the last Black Wire shows. Tom and Black Wire have been so supportive of all my bands for so long, and also broader musical community in Sydney and Australia-wide. It’s a really sad situation where a place that should be supported and perhaps even be receiving grants for the work they do is shut down due zoning and government bureaucracy.

Q. How do you get your music heard? Vinyl, Tape, CD, Soundcloud or bandcamp? is it working?
[Steven] At the moment we have a track up on bandcamp, which is pay as you like. We have shirts for and sale and some tote bags will be up soon. We’ve sold a few things and people have played a few tracks, so in that sense it’s working I suppose. We’re hoping to have a vinyl release available later in the year.

LOST TALK PLAY THIS SUNDAY JULY 2 AT THE EVELYN HOTELDOORS AT 8.30PM.

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Laith Tierney

Author Laith Tierney

Usually under the nom-de-plume Laith Tyranny (no doubt a nod to his preoccupation with comic book heroes and villains) Laith has fronted some of the most interesting bands to have come out of Perth in the past 10 years. The Bible Bashers: a kind of free-form gothy swamp-blues thing, heavily influenced by gimmicky evangelists and other dark-but-funny shit. Fear Of Comedy: Laith’s oldest and most personal band – lyrically transparent, explorative of both music and mind, and very close to the heart of its creator. Add about 10 other bands he’s been in over the years, tweak all of the ideas but stay within the overall master plan, and you have Laith’s discography. ​ As a front-man, he is both singer and performer; deliberately character-based and theatrical, inevitably as another by-product of the psychosis. Everything he does is familiar, but with a new (and usually darker) slant. For instance, Laith would probably tell you Sinatra is a big influence. This would be true, but the Sinatra in Laith’s head is some kind of Tommy Gun-wielding John Dillinger type guy, who lives in a Bond villain submarine lair by day and sings in Vegas by night. Probably with superpowers. Reality is never enough for Laith, because his imagination isn’t kept in a box. It’s on fire and being constantly fed gasoline. ​ This can’t help but fuel his approach to writing which melds pop culture, esoterica, film noir, social politics with a healthy dash of punk. A long-time collector of comic culture and a regular fixture in the local comic scene, he creates characters which step outside the usual boundaries of the genre, challenging the reader’s perception of the hero, the villain and everything in between.

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