Jackson Firebird are an explosive two piece Aussie Rock outfit spawned from the small country town of Mildura, Northern Victoria. The rock duo consists of fat guitar, distorted vocals, hard hitting drums and the unconventional sounds of a miked-up, upside-down “bottle bin”. Emma Dean chatted with drummer/bottle bin extraordinaire Dale Hudak to talk touring the UK, releasing their debut record and cock rockin’.
You just got back from touring the UK…How did the gigs go?
We were invited to play The Great Escape festival in Brighton and London and managed to get put on the bill for Sound City in Liverpool the following weekend. I think the strength of our management had a big part in getting us over there.
Our first gig was in Coventry which was surreal such beautiful countryside. It was freezing and we were dressed like arctic explorers and all the locals were walking around in t-shirts and short skirts. We played 3 Aussie BBQ shows where we were thrown in with amazing Aussie bands. We felt privileged to play alongside bands like Sietta, the Kill Girls or Ben Salter. All in all Liverpool was our favorite place to play and party.
How were the audiences?
Really cool, we got some great feedback from heaps of awesome people. They seem to like their bogan rock n roll in the UK so we fit in nicely.
What did you get up to when you weren’t playing?
We did all the touristy things you would expect, got pissed a lot and the strippers etc… It’s really amazing the stuff you can see on a shoe string budget, a seven pound all day tube pass can get you into the thick of it.
Any amusing tour stories?
All the good ones are a bit blurry! We didn’t know what to expect when we got to Liverpool but as soon as we got off the train and into a cab the driver turned around to us and said in thick cockney “the first stop for you lads is the fookin barbers!”
Are you hoping to head back soon?
God I hope so.
Tell us about how you boys got started
[Brendan] Harvey and I have been jamming on and off since we were teenagers. But it wasn’t until 2007 that we decided to start writing songs and playing gigs. My first band as a kid was called Soggy Biscuit and later played in a band called Safari 500.
How did growing up in an Australian country town affect the way you made music?
I think the isolation of a town like Mildura (about 4-5 hours drive to nearest two cities) helped mould our sound and live show. There were mainly cover bands playing the local pubs so outside influence mainly existed in the records and CD’s we listen to and less on what those bands were doing on stage. We would get together and just jam. Play as hard in jam room as on stage. It wasn’t until we got to play shows in the city that we realised we were doing things a little differently.
What music did you listen to growing up?
For me southern rock stuff like the Allman Brothers Band or the Black Crowes, but I also love my Pantera, Mark of Cain and early Spiderbait. Harvey was all about the Easy Beats but also loves his heavier music.
You have a very unique take on the drumming side of things – many of your songs feature the miked up ‘bottle bin’ – how did this happen?
It was the result of being totally drunk with Harvey at a mate’s bucks party camping trip. I don’t really remember playing corrugated iron and a plastic tub around the camp fire that night but I do remember waking up with bruised, bloodied and swollen hands……. and an idea.
How does this change the way you write songs?
The idea behind the bottle bin is it’s the barest essentials to a drum beat. It’s like stripping your kit down to just a bass drum and snare drum and then smashing the shit out of them with your bare hands. With a stripped down backbeat the songs started writing themselves. Heavy, dirty riffage is the only thing that works here. Everything just seems simpler, lyrics, music and performance is built around simple, raw, hard hitting and high energy.
How was working with Kram on your debut EP ‘Bottle Bin’? What did he bring to the recording process?
Kram has always been a personal idol to me. I remember being at school in Ballarat and walking past this hall which was packed to brim with all types, punks, metal heads, rockers and hearing such a heavy thrashy sound pumping out of those open doors. I was too young to get in but that was the first time I was exposed to Spiderbait and wasted no time buying the album ‘Shashavaglava’. It has been on high rotation ever since. So when I found out he liked what we do [it] was just the coolest thing. His experience in the studio and his understanding in what we are about helped us nail the EP.
Tell us about working on your new record ‘Cock Rockin’ – how has this evolved since ‘Bottle Bin’?
The album began as a bunch of songs we really just wanted to put down on more of a personal level. A full album was on our checklist of things to do. See question 14. The big difference between the EP and album is the way we recorded. The EP was done in digital not setup together and the new album was all done on tape and playing feet from each other.
You worked with producer Mick Wordley – what prompted the choice? What did he bring to recording?
Mick Wordley is widely regarded around Adelaide and Aus as being a ‘live sound guru’. He has got to be the biggest tech head we know and has a real passion for music and using tape over digital recording. These qualities and his input on how far we should push the songs to get the desired sound were what sold us on Mick. He’s also a top bloke!
What did you want to achieve with the new record? Do you think you’ve done that?
The aim was to throw down on record what you hear at a JF gig. Much of the album was recorded as if we were playing a live gig, in the same room together, attempting to have as much fun as we do on stage. I think we got as close as possible to achieving that goal.
You have a stripped-back, garage, no frills rock sound – what are your thoughts on bands who rely too much on electronic mixing and auto-tuning?
All bands are different in some way, everyone has different tastes. It’s great that there is so much variety out there when it comes to music; life’s more interesting that way. We are not really into it for our band but are also not smart enough to work out how to use all that electro stuff anyway.
Is there anything you’ll do differently for your next album?
We will take that as it comes. I’m sure we will evolve (or regress) in some way just have to wait and see.
Why should people come see you guys on your ‘Paper Scissors Rock’ album tour in June?
It will make you fist pump the air, play air guitar, stomp your feet and smile.
Any good local bands we should check out?
Go see King of the North! They kick ass.
So what’s next for Jackson Firebird?
Lots of live shows! Sore hands and heads! Keep an eye on YouTube because we will be dropping a fair bit of content over the next month! Oh yeah……. And rockin’ out with our cocks out!