from The Earthmen has done a lot for a young lad, everything from being the latest member
of The Earthmen and guesting with Drop City. He talks to Britpack about his love of
First of all, you joined The Earthmen 6 months ago.
MS - Yeah, in January, just as they
were recording. I joined just as the album was being recorded. Before that they had been
trying to find a band and I came along and played bass and organ, and we've now got a new
drummer, Craig, and we've got a settled line up, so yeah, it's good.
JQ - What influence do you have in
the band in writing?
MS - At the moment I'm not doing a
lot of writing, but it'll probably change in the future, but the band's working really
well together. We've got a lot of new songs. The album I think is coming out at the end of
October so we're already rehearsing new songs for b-sides and possible other singles.
JQ - How was the gig with Alanis
MS - Um, that was very strange. The
first show we did was at the Perth Entertainment Centre and we walked out and it was like,
the place was full, absolutely full, and they turned the house lights down and everyone
was screaming, like they had no idea who we were, but it was a really big buzz doing that
- like, going from playing to a couple hundred people at the Evelyn or the Punters Club to
the Perth Entertainment Centre - it's a bit daunting but, yeah, it was a lot of fun.
JQ - How did it actually come
together - a strange combination I thought.
MS - Yeah, it is strange. I think
the reason the tour came about was because she's on the same label (Warner) as us and I
don't know if they have to have an Australian act, but we were the ones that ended
up..being the ones..but it was strange, (quickly adds) but it was good, it was a lot of
fun. A lot of people got to see us.
JQ - What was the name of the band
which you were playing bass for before The Earthmen?
MS - No, I was actually playing
organ in my own band which I still play in - Aberdeen - and I actually played bass in The
Earthmen three years ago and so it was like a rejoining. But I wasn't playing keyboards
then as well, but we're trying to integrate it into the live performances and the
JQ - What English bands are you
influenced by if any, that is?
MS - Um...a lot of bands...Stereolab
- definitely Stereolab. Pretty much anything that's keyboard driven.
JQ - Charlatans etcetera..
MS - Yeah, yeah - anything that's
got a nice organ in it. A lot of older stuff as well. Personally I like a lot of late
70's, early 80's English bands like XTC and Squeeze and Elvis Costello. That
whole sort of period. Yeah, I'm into that.
JQ - So when did you actually start
learning to play bass?
MS - Well, I started off as a
keyboard player. I learnt piano when I was five and then I learnt guitar and of course
from guitar no-one wants to play bass in a band and I was the one that ended up being the
bass player (laughs), but I quite enjoy it now.
JQ - So you obviously prefer
MS - Ah, yeah I thought so at first
but I'm really enjoying playing the bass now. I try to make it as melodic as possible -
not over the top but, you know, it's nice to have a nice bass sound.
JQ - I noticed you were playing
guitar [with Drop City] - quite multi-talented!
MS - Jack of all trades, master of
none! (laughs). Yeah, it's good to play around.
JQ - What ambitions do you have for
MS - For The Earthmen or..
JQ - Well, basically The Earthmen
MS - The Earthmen are looking at
heading overseas next year, which was my initial plan before I joined the band and I put
that on hold to see how things went. We're hoping, once the album comes out, that we can
maybe get over to England and through Europe and do some playing and maybe set up base
there for a while.
JQ - and become commercially...
MS - um, we're not gonna sell out!
JQ - Well, you've got an individual
MS - Yeah, but I think the guys are
keen to head back overseas and set up there.
JQ - So basically going to England.
Will you set up recording over there like Drop City with the same guy [Andy Wilkinson who
produced Drop City's "Magic Transistor Radio" album]?
MS - Dunno. We haven't got any firm
plans for the future. We'd just like to see what we can do over there. See how the crowds
like us there.
JQ - How long have the Earthmen been
MS - The Earthmen have been together
since, I think, about 91, 92, so it's about four years now or so and they had
a lot of stuff out on the Summershine label.
JQ - ...quite a long time.
MS - Yeah it is a long time but I
kind of walked back in at the right time (laughs) just as they signed the deal with
Warner, so it's all comin along pretty well...
JQ - Who do you know best in the
band - how did you get through to the band?
MS - Through Nick [Batterham]. I
used to play in a band called Blindside with Nick about, um, that was for about two years.
I think that was through 93 94 and we had a couple of eps and albums out and
that sort of split up at the end of 94, I think it was and I didn't really see much
of anyone, like The Earthmen, cause I'd played briefly with them. So it was probably
JQ - He does quite a bit of the
writing doesn't he?
MS - Yeah. Nick and Scott [Stevens]
are the principle songwriters and hopefully I'll start doing a bit of writing as well.
JQ - Have you done any songwriting
before for any of your other bands?
MS - I'd done most of ...the music
that I play in the other bands is stuff that I've written and hoping to maybe write a song
or two with Matt Tow from Drop City for the new Drop City album as well.
JQ - That should be coming out in a
few months time, shouldn't it?
MS - Yeah, well I'm going up to play
keyboards and guitars and a bit of singing on that later this month and so it's sort
of...playing the shows around with them has been a nice way to get into songs because
there's a lot of new songs they're doing too.
JQ - Is there any other type of
music you want to experiment in?
MS - (rather excitedly) Actually I'd
like to get into dance music and maybe something like Electronic or Saint Etienne...
JQ - That style - Pet Shop Boys...
MS - yeah, yeah. Something that's, I
mean, I think it's be commercially a good thing to do to write some dance music because
obviously that's where the money is to be made but, yeah, I'm pretty keen to try something
like that out too.
JQ - Well, that's about all I