The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
INTERVIEW JOHN WAITE 2013

HARD ROCK INTERVIEWS 2013 - THE SIREN TOWER'S GRANT MCCULLOCH 2013

 

 

THE SIREN TOWER'S GRANT MCCULLOCH

TALKS TO THE ROCKPIT

ABOUT THE NEW ALBUM AND THE NATIONAL TOUR

 

The Siren Tower is another Perth band destined for bigger things. With their new album hot off the presses it's hard to exactly define their 'sound' and that's a large part of the appeal of this distinctly Australian band. We caught up with Grant McCulloch to get to the bottom of things...

 

 

Mark: Thank you for taking the time to talk to the Rockpit. For those who aren’t familiar with the band can you recap how it all started and how you got to where you are today?

 


Grant: We were definitely a right time right place kinda band, Brody and I had been playing in acts around Perth and our primary bands just happened to finish up at the same time, so it was just a happy coincidence that we became free agents togther. From there we got receruiting some of favourite players from the Perth scene and went to work.

 

Mark: How would you describe your sound? People are throwing around things like ‘roots rock’ and ‘distinctly Australian Rock’ – how do you view yourselves?

 


Grant: Problematic haha… we don’t really know where we fit, but then again, it’s not a problem we spend a lot of time trying to work out. I guess we have some facets of the classic Aus rock thing going on and if people make that connection that’s great. Being from a school of muic that’s not really flavour of the month makes marketing the band a challenge, as parts of the media machine can be a bit stand offish, but we just keep out head down and keep working. We know there’s an audience for this music and if we have to take it to them ourselves, that’s what we do.

 

Mark: Is there a story behind the band name, or is it just a very cool name?

 


Grant: Haha, no there’s no real story, it’s just something that came of of the smoke… it has really strong connotations with the broader themes of the band for us so I guess that’s why it stuck.

 


 

 

Mark: Coming from a place like Perth which has such a rich and varied scene and yet is so isolated do you think it’s any easier of harder for bands to break out?

 


Grant: IF you get radio support then it evens the playing field a little, if you’re nbot getting rotation, that’s fine, you just have to tour, but that’s where it starts to get hard for West Australian acts… you can’t just get in a van and do a couple capitals over the weekend. It’s a huge financial commitment to go it alone, so there’s a disadvantage there for sure… but you gotta have a hobby right?

 

Mark: You’re another three piece band that produces a huge sound. Do you ever feel constrained by the formation or liberated by the players with you?

 


Grant: We generally operate as a five piece, and we wrote the album as a five piece. That said we probably write like a twelve piece, we get a bit carried away. I’m blessed to be in a band with these guys, they really transform the initial ideas I bring in and realise potential I wasn’t even aware of.

 

Mark: You started off the tour in Tassie in October and round it out this weekend back home at the Amplifier. How has it been and what stories can you bring us from the road?

 


Grant: It’s been great, getting into a couple new markets in Tassie and Newcastle were real highlights. I think one of the more interesting stories came from Brissy, we took a taxi back to the accom after the show and the driver was enjoying his own Billy Idol Concert. Stereo on ten, shouting lyrics at us, singing to people on the street… mental.

 

Mark:What songs are being best received live and what’s the vibe like out there in different states? Is it easier to get people out in say Brisbane than Perth?

 


Grant: There’s a pretty broad dynamic in the live set so everything has its place and seems to hit well. As for which cities work, I’d say Melbourne and Perth are ou strongest towns, mainly due to the work we’ve put into them, but Brisbane was a great show on this run,  so can’t wait to get back there.

 

Mark:What is the best thing about playing live?

 


Grant: The last chorus of the last song… when you know you’re on empty and you’ve left it all on stage, seeing the happy punters and having given them something, that’s a pretty rad thing.

 

Mark: Your new album ‘A History of Houses’ sounds like something every aspiring architect would read – what’s it all about?

 


Grant: It’s about the mircales in the mundane, the stories we all live everyday. I think the album shows how spectacular our lives can be if they are framed in a certain way. We lose sight of how insane it is that we’re even here, waking up everyday, and how much our stories have to offer.

 

Mark: How quickly did the album come together and what was the recording process  like?

 

 

Grant: It took a long time to be honest; we tracked for about a month with our co-producer, Forrester Savell and we continued to work on it for another six months or so after that, then the packaging was another few months back and forthing with the manufacturers. So from tracking to the receiving the final thing it was probably 12 – 18 months.

 

 

 

 

 

Mark: You explore some interesting themes lyrically on the record, were you specifically setting out to write with particular themes in mind or something less solid?

 


Grant: We don’t really set out to do anything musically, it really is a case of whatever comes, comes. I think my fascination with Australian history dictated some of the subject matter, and that’s something that might change on the next record, I don’t know. If I get into Japanese anima, or Norwegian folk lore, the second record could be a very strange beast.

 

Mark: Did you get what you wanted from the album, or do you feel even from this distance there are things you would change?

 


Grant: There are very few things I would change about this record. As far as a first album goes I couldn’t be any prouder of the first chapter we’ve been able to write. The music is strong, the themes are clear and the end product is worlds beyond anything I’ve achieved before, and I think the other guys feels the same as well, so we’re stoked.

 

Mark: The single and video for “King River” is amazing do you feel that is the song that was the best representation of the band on the album?

 


Grant: To be honest no, not really, not for me anyway; I think some people would say it’s a good summarisation of what we do, but for me personally, I think tracks like The Banishing Of William McGuinnes or Last Apple In The Big Man’s Orchard are closer to where I see the band overall. But like I said, for others, King River may be bang in the middle of their experience with The Siren Tower and that’s cool. I think King River is a little more measured than some of the other stuff, which I love about it, but it’s a little left of where I think our centre is.

 

Mark: Tell us a little about the making of the video?

 


Grant: I got rained on standing in a paddock an hour south of Perth in 13 degree weather. IT was rough. But you gotta suffer for your art so it’s all good. like the album, this one took a long time, just chipping away, the three shoots we did we’re about a year apart so it was in the pipeline for a while!

 

Mark: It’s a very strong debut talk us through a couple of our favourites – “The Banishing Of William McGuiness” and “Floods”.

 


Grant: Yeah, first couple tracks off the album, William McGuiness, or Billy Mac as we like to call him is a favourite of mine. I grew up near Glenrowan in Victoria which is Ned Kelly country so I feel a lot of my upbringing in this song. It’s about the birth of a bushranger, which I guess is an amalgamation of the outlaws I read about

 

Grant: Growing up. And Floods, well that’s a little more personal and style wise it’s just a flat out rock song. It always has a huge impact live so it’s definitely a highlight.

 

 

 

Mark: What are your plans for 2014 and beyond?

 


 Grant: I guess we’ll look forward towards album number two, we’ll start the writing cycle again and see what happens. We’ll also try to keep working over east as much as we can.

 

Mark: What have been your greatest challenges to date, and your favourite moments musically?

 


Grant: It’s really just trying to get the band out there without substantial radio play. We’ve been picked up by a few stations here and there which we’re insanely thankful for, but the big guns haven’t opened the doors, so we’re trying to hit markets cold and work off word of mouth which is slowly working. It just costs a lot more!

 

Mark: With technology changing so much over the last few years and seemingly not slowing, and TV force-feeding us the lowest common denominator, what hope is there for rock music?

 


Grant: HBO, baby! There is great media everywhere, the static is just growing louder so you have to focus and go find it. The increase in consumer level tech allowing anyone with a penchant for stardom to make music, tv or art of any kind means there is more shit to wade through, but I think there has always been people only concerned with excellence and there will always be people like that. The good news is shit art is shit and good art is good so it’s not too hard to tell them apart… Operation Repo verse Breaking Bad… it’s not rocket science.

 

Mark: Thinking back to your early memories of music, what was it that first made you decide you needed to be in a Rock and Roll band?

 


Grant: I guess it’s my competitive nature… Ive always been able to sing, so it was just another thing I wanted to be better at that everyone else haha. Then you start building things and seeing music take shape out of the air, that’s a very cool thing. When you can hold something you’ve made, it’s very gratifying.

 

Mark: From what you’ve learned so far what is the most valuable advice you’ve been given so far as a musician?

 


Grant: It’s a shit business, haha… Music can give you some amazing experiences, but don’t do it for affirmations, success or even satisfaction because none of those things are guaranteed. Do it because you want to make something,  do it because you want to express yourself.

 

Mark: Can music change the world?

 


Grant: No, but it can be a part of it. I’m going to enjoy the revolution much more if Bob Marley is cranking on the stereo, aren’t you? Education and empathy can change the world. Being proactive enough to find the truth, or the closest thing to it and learning what is really happening in the world and where you and your actions fit into it… that’s the only way forward to the global funk jam.

 

Mark: If you could have been a ‘Fly on the wall’ for the creation of any great album from any period, just to see how the magic happened and it all came together, what would it have been for you any why?

 

Grant: Sgt. Pepper's or Pet Sounds probably… because how the fuck do you make those albums. I mean really. Just how the fuck?

 

Mark: What is the meaning of life?

 

Grant: Be excellent to each other.

 

 

 

Grant spoke to Mark Diggins November 2013

 

 

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