WORDS: Alex Piercy
Australian duo JACKSON FIREBIRD have been making ripples in the rock world over the past several years. Ahead of their hotly anticipated second record, Shake The Breakdown Alex Piercy talks to drummer Dale Hudak about the new record, the character of their live performances and the most embarrassing moment on stage.
Firstly, how are you?
Dale Hudak: Hey Alex, great to meet you man! It’s Dale here, I’m the much not better looking, less well-endowed other dude in the band. I will try my best to answer your questions mate.
Playing as JACKSON FIREBIRD there is definitely a sense of humour and character to what you produce, how do you bring this to your performances?
Dale: I guess we have always played for the fun of it. We try and keep our selves amused on stage. The thing that brings me most pleasure is when I get to piss Harvey off in someway. After a bit of touring we both get pretty gig fit. We’ve been playing together for a while now so Harvey is pretty good at preempting me regardless of how a song goes. I know which parts of the songs are challenging for him on the guitar. So sometimes it’s nice to up the tempo and keep the parts going for about 12 bars longer. Not sure if it’s entertaining for anyone else but Harvs freakin hates it. Life’s simple pleasures.
Speaking of humour, what’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you on tour (that you’re willing to admit)?
Dale: The time I woke up in naked in a park in Hamburg with 10 euros taped to my chest and a dinger hanging out of my….. wait that might have been the dream I had last night. No really, we recently played a gig in QLD and it was so hot I had to strip down to my grandpa jocks and pretty sure one of my nads was hanging out for half the show. That was pretty embarrassing. Brazil dunny glog
It’s impressive how full a sound you guys create, does a lot of work go into the voices for the guitars or do you think playing style is more important in a mix?
Dale: Because there is only two of us we need to pull a few tricks. Harvey is pretty good with his feet when he is twanging away, turning the octave on and off when needed (mostly on). A really important part is we’ve found a sound dude that travels with us and makes us sound big so really we are like a three piece in that regard. Playing style is also important. We don’t have any mellow songs and both of us nearly do an injury every gig.
I’m still in awe of the DIY drum kit and megaphone seen in Goin’ Out West, are there any other contraptions you guys bring to the stage?
Dale: I’ve upgraded the megaphone for the next tour. It’s a behemoth. It just needs to be dropped a few times and have some beer spat on it to get that perfectly shit vocal sound. I also played around with pickups on the bin and tray to get some different bass drum/snare sounds. But in the end the raw sound of an amped up bottle bin and aluminum tray just suits our songs better.
What have you guys been listening to while preparing for the release of Shake the Breakdown?
Dale: I’ve been giving Spotify a flogging at the moment. Current playlist includes Body Count, NOFX, The Black Crowes, and some early Fleetwood Mac. Sometimes it’s weird listening to it on random going from Fleetwood’s Never going back again into BC’s Evil Dick but it’s all good. I’ve had Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Orange album stuck in my car CD player which is perfect.
Has the recording of sophomore (edit L.P) E.P Shake the Breakdown, been a smooth ride or a long journey?
Dale: It’s been a long journey. We had a bunch of songs when we went over to SXSW in 2013 so we decided to put them down with Frenchie Smith at the Bubble Studio in Austin TX. This gave us enough songs for an EP but we really wanted to go the whole hog and get some more songs down to release a full record. Anyway fast forward through 2014 with some tours through Europe, Brazil and Aus and we finally got to go back to Austin and finish it off. The whole album took a bit under 4 weeks in the studio but it was just a long time between sessions.
Which track on the new record do you think has come out the best?
Dale: My fave is probably the title track Shake the breakdown. It was one of the first songs we ever wrote as a band but only ever recorded it as a demo. I think we gave it a good crack this time and the bottle bin is booming! Harvey’s vocals in Get away are a cracker too.
Is there any particular message behind any of the tracks on the new record or do you guys concentrate more on riffs and having fun?
Dale: It’s mostly centered on riffs and fun. We keep the lyrics pretty simple stupid and most of it is dunked in cheese but I think it works. We come from a pretty bogan neck of the woods in rural Australia where fun is getting drunk and going fuck yeah when someone falls off the stage. Some of this mentality comes through our vocals but we do try to tell a story. Like New Wave is about an ice head trying to score at a school social. DEEP.
Do you guys have aspirations of Shake the Breakdown helping you climb up the billing lists or do you prefer playing intimate high energy shows?
Dale: We have played some pretty large shows but the intimate ones will always be my favourite. It’s always been important to me to be able to meet and have a beer with the people who are at our show. Then to see them up the front just cutting loose. I always felt there is more disconnection at the larger shows and you normally can’t see the bar which is a real worry.
You guys recently played an awesome cover of QUEENS Fat Bottomed Girls, was it a particularly busty groupie or something else that drove you to choose this track?
Dale: Ha wish I could say it Busty Betsy but no it was Frenchie out producer who suggested it in the studio when we had a bit of time up our sleeves. At first we both thought he was joking because Freddy Mercury has an insane voice and how the hell could I even attempt it. It’s such a kick arse rock song and the lyrics are a bit tounge in cheek so we decided to give it a crack. Frenchie’s vision with it was not to copy but just do it how we would live rough and ready. We learnt the whole track and recorded in half a day. I think it’s that rawness that gives our version it’s flavour.
Your video for Cock Rockin’ definitely leaves a lasting impression, have the pair of you watched super bad one time to many or are other influences at play?
Dale: It’s funny you say Super Bad because that movie did plant the seed for the video. Also, almost every band/green room someone has sketched a cock and balls somewhere on the wall. The songs called Cock Rockin so it seemed obvious we should have some cocks rockin out!
Seeing as you guys are releasing a special red issue Vinyl of Shake the Breakdown are either of you personally supporters of the Vinyl revival.
Dale: Harvs is right into the vinyls. He has a really great collection of LPs and it’s fun to flick through them while having a listen. One of the best qualities about having your music on vinyl is that unlike other forms the listener tends to listen to a whole album in its entirety. A lot of thought goes into what order tracks a laid on an album to give the best flow and journey. This gets lost on digital or cd.
When can we next expect JACKSON FIREBIRD in the UK?
Dale: God I hope soon. We always have to best time in the UK. I think there are plans before the end of the year.
I’ll end with this, Imagine JACKSON FIREBIRD are about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, given that you’re not to inebriated to talk who would be the first band you thank in your acceptance speech?
Dale: We started out as a Black Keys cover band called the White Keys just for fun. We pretty much worked out their first three albums before we started writing our own stuff. So it would definitely have to be those dudes. Then we would go and get drunk.
Shake The Breakdown is available now via Napalm Records