Monday 22 April 2013

Interview with AVER

Well Sludgelord fans I am interviewing brilliant Aussie Stoner/Grunge Riff Masters – AVER

Your probably thinking who the fuck are AVER. Well folks – Aver – are one of the first bands that I took straight to my Stoner/Grunge heart back in May 2011.

Their S/T debut album won them a lot of admirers back in 2011. It's an insane blast of Grunge/Stoner Rock riffs that I still listen to on regular occasions.

This is what I originally said about the album back in 2011 -

“Their debut album is quite simply one of the best debut records I have heard in years. You get 8 tracks on for 48 mins. This is one hell of a seriously heavy, spacey, trippy, psych journey into the Metal Vortex.

Imagine if Alice In Chains and Kyuss flew a NASA Space Shuttle to the moon and played a massive jam/band practice session.. This is what you would get.”

Well I thought it's about time to catch up with these ace Stoner Rockers.

Q1 – Hi guys, Thanks for doing this. How are things with you guys Today.

We're doing really well at the moment, We're in a really good place as a band, we're all on the same page musically and writing some songs we're really proud of.

Q2 – For people not in the know, can you give them a brief bio on how the band came about.

Aver came together while were in high school, as we all went to the same one, somewhere around 2006. We had been mates for ages and had pretty much gone through musical puberty together and it was the first band any of us had been in. Jed, Chris and I were a trio for about a year or two and we were hanging out with Luke a lot, who was out biggest fan (out of about 5 fans).

Before Luke joined the band we pretty much had our awkward teenage musical phase where we couldn't play very well. It all pretty much started when me and Jed came up with the intro to Retreat to Space (which was called “Interplanetary Pimping” at the time, to give you an idea of how mature we were at 17). Once Luke joined the band things started working, and we slowly started to get a collection of songs together.

Q3 – Well I first featured you back in May 2011 when you sent me your brilliant S/T debut album. It seems it received a whole range of praise from the Stoner Metal community. Bet that took you by surprise.

Your review was one of the very first we received, and I vividly remember reading it out to the other guys, and we were all in shock. We thought there must have been some mistake, we'd been playing to no-one and practising in a cramped bedroom and someone out there actually liked us! When more reviews started coming in every one of them took us by surprise, I honestly couldn't believe that all over the world people were liking what we were doing. We were all between 19 and 21 when we recorded the album and it really didn't feel real, it still doesn't in a lot of ways. Seeing reviews like yours come in was probably some of the happiest moments of our lives and would still stand as our proudest moments.

Q4 – You produced the album yourselves and give it away as a free download. Was that a hard decision to make at the time. Though I know your now selling the album on CD.

We pressed 200 CDs to sell at shows and probably sold about 30, and I had been an avid reader of Stoner Rock music blogs for years, and were my go to place for new music. So I really thought it would be an honour to have some people just download the album and have a listen to it, so we gave it away. We're still giving it away for free download because it didn't cost us much ($1000 at a friend's house who has some recording gear) and I mixed it myself, we we weren't going to start charging people to hear it, we just want people to hear it, it was never a difficult choice. I downloaded music all the time then and still do now, I would feel like a hypocrite if I charged people, and the goal was that some people would hear it, not to make money.

However we did end up selling the rest of the CDs by mailing them overseas, I think we charged 8-10 dollars, which was actually less than the postage, packaging and pressing cost per disc, again just so people could hear it. We also included a king skin rolling paper in each one and I wrote a short note on the inside of the cover (as there was not much in the way of liner notes, I wanted someone who took the time to actually buy a copy to feel like they got something special). I'm pretty sure we've sold them all but occasionally I stumble over a copy and will mail it out, I don't know if we'll ever do a re-issue or anything like that, but maybe if there's demand enough for it.

Q5 – I love the album cover. Very trippy and one that sets the tone for the album. How did the album cover came about.

The artwork was drawn by a very talented friend of our called Mariko, she's one of those unfairly talented people that can make something amazing without much effort. She was working at a tattoo shop at the time and I went in and said “We want something sort of trippy... with a totem pole... and maybe some spacey shit?”. And she drew this amazing artwork during her breaks at work, and when she showed me I was just absolutely speechless, she was very humble about it and said “I also snuck the word AVER into the totem pole there” and I just knew it was perfect. 

We're definitely going to try and coax some more art out of her in the future because I think it was the perfect art for the album. Fun fact: the white bits are actually white-out as she didn't have much in the way of pens at work.

Q6 – Now wasn't the original album title for the album – FUCK YOU BURDT – Why did you never go for that title. Would of been a cool one to post on the blog. Aver – FUCK YOU BURDT – Album Review. HA HA

Our lovely friend Olly contributed that suggestion. I was never a big fan of the title but the other guys thought it had a certain ring to it. It is after all a phrase they'd been using for years. Still do in fact.

Q7 – Which bands and artists influenced you all as musicians.

That's a big question, there's a few core bands that have highly influenced how we write, bands that we love so much that definitely shaped us all together, they would be, in no particular order: Lo-Pan, Elder, Kyuss, Sahara Surfers, Kyuss, My Sleeping Karma, Acid Mothers Temple, Truckfighters, Nirvana, and Dozer. Then we have some individual quirks, for example Chris and I are huge fans of Acid Bath, Alice In Chains, and Tool, but Jed and Luke aren't really fans. Jed's a massive Primus fan and I can't stand them.

Q8 – Do you gig a lot in your local area of Australia or do you have to travel further afield to perform gigs.

We've only really been in our local area (it doesn't help that none of us can drive), but it's always been the dream to tour and travel. Australia's very big and the cities are quite isolated, so it's not like the lucky bastards in Europe that can just drive a few hours to Italy and play some shows like it's nothing.

Q9 – Are you guys full time musicians or do you all have regular jobs to pay the bills.

We all have jobs, we'd love to be full time “professional” musicians, it's been my dream for as long as I can remember and I really want nothing more. I think being able to tour and play music and just break even would be living the dream. We hope that once we finish our second album a label might want to release it and we can tour internationally and just never stop. I could think of nothing better.

Q10 – What is the song-writing process in the band. Is it a group collective or is it down to one individual.

It's very much a group exercise, quite often someone will bring in the skeleton of a song, but usually the finished product is so far removed you wouldn't recognise it. A lot of the songs come around just from jamming, but we try very hard to have a song be something that we all like and have contributed to. 

You can't really have someone pulling all the weight or not be involved, it just works for us as we usually get on the same page about things, or will all agree to scrap a song. An embarrassing amount of our songs come around by accident. I'll be playing a little riff and Luke will play a lead over it and soon enough we've got the verse of Acid Rain cranking along.

Q11 – What are your favourite bands around at the moment. Do you listen to modern day rock/metal or do you just listen to the classic era of Stoner/Doom/Sludge/Post-Metal.

We really do listen to a mixture of all sorts of music, but we're very picky about the quality of the Stoner bands we listen to. We probably all have a personal collection of about 20 or so albums we'll just listen to on repeat, and maybe half of those bands will still be active.

Q12 – I originally asked the question when interviewing Adrift For Days but I want to see if anything has changed since last year - I have noticed there isn't much record label involvement in the Aussie Sludge/Stoner Metal scene. As a lot of bands I have featured on the blog have all been free downloads. Some of the bands have been brilliant and in my opinion should be signed like yourselves, Adrift For Days, The Matador, Dreamtime and Hydromedusa. Is this the case.

Australia's a really shitty country to be in a Stoner/Sludge band. The whole scene in any given city could probably fill a medium sized venue (which is what happens when a band like Kyuss Lives plays and everyone sort of recognises each other). I think the bands that are doing it here, and their fans are very passionate about what they do, because it's not easy and can be very discouraging. Labels pretty much want nothing to do with bands like us and live venues are shutting down pretty rapidly, or become Dance music venues in our city of Sydney. 

There's always that core of people, but I feel really jealous of bands in the States or Europe who can rock into a country and there's a Stoner scene. We really want to play overseas, Australia's just not the place for out sort of music at the moment, which is quite sad, but the bands that tough it out tend to be really good, because you have to be both passionate and dedicated to play Stoner/Sludge here.

Q13 – How big of a help has BandCamp,and the blogging community in getting your music across to the Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal world.

Without it, no-one would have heard our album. I truly believe that blogs like yours and sites like bandcamp have revolutionised the ability for people to discover and hear music. If I wasn't discovering bands of Stoner Rock blogs in 2005/2006 there wouldn't be an AVER, and our reviews from blogs are the sole reason anyone has heard of us at all. It's hard for me to put into words how grateful I am for anyone who has taken the time to review our album, because it's people like yourself who are responsible for the people who know us now.

Q14 - What were your original intentions when you started the band and have they been met yet.

We were just a bunch of kids that loved taking drugs and Stoner Rock, releasing an album was probably the highest realistic goal we ever had, although in my heart I always wanted to be able to tour the world and play music for a living. Each step of the way we're surprising ourselves with what we're capable of. We're all very humble people (except Jed, he's a dick) and thankful for the luck we've had. I can't believe we put out an album like that, let alone the sort of music we're writing at the moment.

Q15 – What are your views record companies shutting down blogs and websites due to illegal downloading. Some people are for it and some people are against it.

Fucking horseshit. We (and some of the blogs we sent out album to) uploaded the album on sites like Megaupload and Rapidshare and they all got pulled for “copyright claims”. Who the fuck claimed copyright on the album we all produced and gave away for free? I think the sharing of music is one the most important things in the world and has enriched my life immeasurably. I think the music industry has been very unfair against musicians and music for a long time and they're fighting progress every step of the way. As long as there is the internet, there will be free music. 

If you like our music, take it for free, maybe do us a solid by showing a friend or chucking us a like of facebook. If you want to support us (or any band) financially then buy an album, a shirt, or come to a show. That's how it should be.

Q16 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band. Obviously the reality of how expensive it is being in a band could be considered as a negative aspect.

It does cost us more than we make to exist in this band, but that's the price for doing what we love. The most rewarding aspect for me has been reading reviews and talking to fans online. Some of the songs have really meant a lot to some people. One dude got in touch with me and said that Phantom Limb had helped him through a dark period in his life and I was just fucking speechless. It's hard to believe a song I wrote in my bedroom could me as much to someone else as it does to me.

 Just seeing that people enjoy our music, that it in some way improves their lives is more reward than I could have ever hoped. It makes all the days of having to drag my hungover arse to band practice worth it. Which is also the biggest downside. Hungover Sunday band practice. But you do it because you love it.

Q17 – So when is the next Aver material coming out. It's been ages since we have heard anything new from yourselves. What happened to that split EP you were going to record last year. Did anything come of it.

We were writing songs for the split, while trying to do separate songs for our second album, recorded some stuff for the EP but it all sort of fell apart. It took longer than we thought and it just king of died in the arse.

We more or less finished the last song for the second album this past weekend, and will hopefully be recording in June/July. It's really good stuff, especially because the songs on the first album are a collection of things we wrote over 4 years, while we were still growing as musicians, whereas these new songs are a lot more sculpted and mature. 

We're really proud of what we're doing at the moment and this next album should be really amazing. I have a gut feeling that it's the one that will make a big difference to us. We'll record it in a studio and then send it to some labels and if all else fails, release it ourselves. But it will be very good, and it's not too far away!

Q18 – If you could provide any advice to people wanting to start a band, what would it be.

Honestly, for a while you will suck. We sucked for ages, but it gets better. Being in a band with people is like training a new sense, it's something you start to feel very faintly at first but gradually you can start reading each other's minds. It's a surprisingly intimate sort of relationship and requires a lot of respect, good humour and love for what you're doing and each other. You have to make the choice to play what you love, otherwise there's no point to it. Play from your fucking heart.

Q19 - Finally, Do you have anything to say your fans

This will actually sound really sappy but our fans (Avernauts as we affectionately call them) mean the world to us. Every person who took the effort to like us on facebook or order and album or even just send us a message to say hi, has my eternal gratitude. You make this worthwhile and have been a bigger source of pride and happiness in our lives than you could begin to imagine.

 I like to think of AVER as having a very two-way relationship with its fans. Music we love, and the musicians we admire have shaped our lives in a big way, and the prospect of being that to someone else is a massive honour, and not something we will ever take for granted. I just want you to know that as long as we can, we will do everything we can to give you as much as we can as a band. 

We recommend music, I chat to fans on facebook and try to have time for anyone who ever reaches out to us, because it would mean a lot to me in the same situation. You guys are fucking awesome, and pages run by passionate people like the Sludgelord are our support network.

Thank you for listening to our music, I hope there's many more years of this to come.

Well guys thanks for doing this. I can't wait to hear the new album when you finally get it done. I need my Aver fix and soon.

All the best. Steve.

Now people if you haven't experienced their brilliant debut album then why the fuck not. Headover to BandCamp and download it now Pay Now Download. It's a brilliant album that I rate very highly. You won't be disappointed.

Check The Band From The Links Below