Remember when ensemble bands were in vogue? It was probably around the turn of the Noughties, when Arcade Fire were first making a splash, a big one had just landed from Broken Social Scene and the Polyphonic Spree were sailing off into the horizon.
Mosman Alder recalls such acts. It's not just their six-strong line up, but also their lush, ambitious sound. Both in their live show and their debut EP, the recently released Burn Bright, the Brisbane-based sextet demonstrate a widescreen drive as well as a strong songwriting focus that prevents them being saddled with the ‘jam band’ tag.
Fronted by the velvety-voiced and exotically named Valdis Valodze, their line up consists of a classically trained pianist, a Scottish violinist and even a heavy metal drummer, all bonding over a love for playing. From their diverse mix has come a sound that distinguishes them from Queensland’s current wave of jangling guitar bands.
Mosman Alder were able to get a sweet deal thanks to a unique offer from an old member of Powderfinger: guitarist Ian Haug offered the outfit the chance for some free studio time in exchange for gardening duties on his property. Clearly not an opportunity that comes around every day, they seized upon it. Time in the dirt at Haug's led to the production of Burn Bright, a five-track collection that showcases their sonic aspirations as well as their knack for literary references such as those on ‘Mr. Pinckney and The Beast’ or ‘The Ice Queen of Silver Screen’.
Having already supported Deep Sea Arcade and Big Scary, as well as being hand-picked by Kimbra for a spot on her album launch, Mosman Alder are already sculpting themselves as an impressive live act. It’s one you can catch on their forthcoming East Coast tour, before they hunker down for their coveted spot at Splendour In The Grass in July.
THE EVERGUIDE EIGHT…
with Robyn Dawson (violin) of Mosman Alder
What was the last bit of music you purchased?
It was either a Mendelssohn record from an op shop or Ice Cube’s Greatest Hits. It doesn’t really feel like I’ve actually bought something unless I can hold it in my mitts.
Describe your live show to someone who's never seen it?
Like… totes the best musically live thing you’ll ever see in your conscious time on earth! Kidding, but there are six of us playing different things, so a bit of diversity there to keep you involved. At the very least it’s usually quite entertaining watching us try to get through a gig without falling into/over someone while we’re crammed on stage.
If you could collaborate/tour with anyone - alive or dead - who would it be?
Well that’s a cruel question - I’d prefer not to choose! It makes me feel guilty for the rest of the people on the list that I shun. But let’s go with Snoop Dog. He’s been genre-hopping something ridiculous the past while, he’d get amongst it and it would definitely not be dull. Or Radiohead, Black Sabbath, Nick Cave, the Beatles… or Ella Fitzgerald, Beck, Sigur Rós, Dylan or Tom Waits? Being decisive is not on my list of attributes.
What helps a band succeed in today's music climate?
Shiny pennies, they really help. So you can relentlessly tour, eat while you are on tour, get to and from your shows, invest in gear of the musical variety, perhaps have a beer every now and then that actually tastes great and record things that sound good. Lots of shiny pennies definitely help move things along. Crisp notes would be preferred, but shiny pennies will do. They don’t really have to be shiny, I’m still holding out hope that Mummy will win the lottery. Monetary issues aside I choose to believe that good music tends to find a way to float to the surface amidst the debris, and if it doesn’t there is always someone who appreciates it - which is the point really, isn’t it?
Describe the best and worst thing about Australian music?
The Australians. Just kidding you guys are alright. We’ve got a bunch of ace Aussies supporting us over our next few shows, (previously grilled You Need To Know-ers), I, A Man
are supporting us in Melbourne. Pretty darn excited to see those guys live, you know you guys have a bunch of flippin’ great musos scooting about. You are hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t a musician in Brisbane - everyone’s getting involved. You can’t get too worried about Aussie music when you consider Nick Cave exists.
If you had to cover a TV theme tune - what would it be?
The Soparanos theme is pretty bitchin’, Saved By The Bell perhaps? Bit of nostalgia? If we could do a movie theme song then definitely the song from Orgazmo.
Tell us your most memorable live moment?
Well one of the strangest live moments would definitely have been when a less-than-sober dude wandered up Jack-Sparrow-style onto the stage in between songs, stole Jackson’s mike, reminded us to promote our next show, gave us reassuring nods when we did and then wandered off into the crowd again. Helpfully odd! Touring with Besnard Lakes was pretty bloody surreal. We’d been a little over enthusiastic to go see them for months, we’re all big fans, so it was bleeding lovely we got to support them. Those Canadians are a great bunch, aren’t they?
What’s next for Mosman Alder?
Hopefully lots of gigs that people come to and enjoy, or maybe genocide, it’s a hard choice really. We’re back on the road - planes really, not quite as romantic when you fly - really soon to play people our recently released EP and a few new songs. We’ve got Splendour coming up, the only word appropriate for that is ‘Yaldi!’, a Scottish colloquialism that could probably be translated to ‘yeeeooowwww’ in Australian.
MOSMAN ALDER TOUR DATES:
Friday 15 June – Alhambra Lounge, Brisbane
Friday 22 June – Grace Darling, Melbourne
Saturday 22 June - FBi Social, Sydney
: Al Newstead