The Adelaide music scene: to many of you it might be little more than a touring speed bump between Melbourne and Perth but to us it's a way of life. Feast within, on all its dysfunctioning splendour, as we bring you the highly satirical, laughingly fictional and intellectually imbecile tales from our rock & roll wasteland...
BEHIND THE SCENES AT HILLSIDE STUDIOS LOCATION SHOOT / Friday February 26th 2010
Hi! Today I'm here to present you with a little something different from your usual irregularly scheduled broadcast. And by "something different" I clearly mean presenting you something that ISN'T yet another retardingly loose approximation of a live gig review, followed by a gross littany of shitfaced drunkarse lunacy that makes you half wonder just what the fuck it is I do for a living around here.. and before you ask: yes I DO work for the CIA, yes I do totally run a top secret "black ops" division out of the western suburbs, and no I can't tell the exact whereabouts of my secret HQ, or give any details of what my occupation actually involves (or at least until Congress declassifies it 30 odd years later with all the good bits "blacked out"). But if ever you do see the Westpac Building on Currie Street vanish without a trace, only to be replaced with a cheesy American Apparel store that sells nothing but tube socks, vibrators and exploding novelty underpants that depolarise all your smart cards, laptops and iphones in a five kilometre radius then NO *cough* it totally wasn't me and I don't know what the fuck you're on about. REALLY!! I mean shit duuudes, we all know I've already covered more than enough bands this week to cover TWO WEEKENDS on Spoz's Rant (let alone a whole month in winter) without having to provide yet more grounds to commit me to an insane asylum. Which is why instead, I'm here for a "location shoot" at 14 West Thebarton Road Thebarton; just opposite stop 5A on the 287 bus route; or otherwise known to many of you tragic band geeks as the one and only home of Matt Hill's "Hillside Studios" (or at least it has been since he moved it here from Clovelly Park a few months ago). Yup that's right, at long last we get to take a peek behind the proverbial curtain, and meet the Adelaide scene's equivalent of the Wizard of Oz himself.. YEAAAS, BE EXCITED EVERYONE!!
Yup this right here is where the magic happens on a weekly basis, As chances are if EVER you've bought a fartarse demo, single, seven inch, EP or album from ANY band about Adelaide in the past five years (or otherwise fooled everyone into believing your a shit hot live scene blogger; and thus merely mooched it all for free.. SCORE!!) and it HASN'T come from Mixmasters, Broadcast Studios, Capital Sound, or that weird homeless guy who farts out the entire alphabet for a "lobster" down Hurtle Square way (is that you Colin!?) then Matt Hills and his studio is the mad genius behind it all. I shit you not! His signature style is simply unmistakable: that warm "analog" sound, subtly nuanced in rich atmosphere, ambience and character, equal mix Gil Norton, Butch Vig and Paul Epworth. Responsible for such classic albums as Mr Wednesday's "The Garden Where Parties Grow", Wolf & Cub's "Vessels", Double Handed's "A Book Of Back Pages" and Fire! Santa Rosa Fire!'s upcoming "Sea Priest". As well as countless EP's and singles from Poly & The Statics, Lady Strangelove, 200 Motels, Artax Mission, The Amcats, Kytes Of Omar, Lyla, Zeta, Bing Goes To Monaco and Sincerely Grizzly; and let us not forget the ever infamous Lumonics demo: the most SKULL FUCKINGLY SUBLIME RECORDING that likely next to none of you own (but you could probably scam anyways if you stole it from their Triple J Unearthed). No shit duuudes! He's not just that gumby "Bob The Builder" type you see tweaking about Jive, Jade Monkey, Rocket Bar or The Ed Castle with his plumber's crack hanging out.. OOOOH FUCK NO, he is truly a man of legend!
And the reason WHY I'm all "up in his shit" today? Well as much as it provides me with yet another whimsically lame excuse to write up a blog (yeaaah like I ever need one of those!?), it's actually because I've been hired to provide him with a series of shiny new photos to furnish his myspace to replace all the other photos I took of his old joint down Clovelly way back in 2007.. and y'know for insurance purposes, happy snaps, or whatever-the-fuck (I know! maybe he'll woop up a powerpoint slideshow and set it all to music!? WOOOOO!!). And yes, before you ask that IS him sneaking an "Alfred Hitchcock" cameo in the background there; because yes we really are being THAT clever!
Anyhoo, in effort to pretend I'm actually doing my job here and not simply dicking about on his dime (no seriously you don't wanna know how much I charge by the hour for this) let's give you the grand tour of his state-of-the-art studio equipment shall we? Like this wondrous array of knob "thingamajigs" for example: providing the ultimate control in knobbing things in either a clockwise or anticlockwise direction (and ideal entertainment for all those after hour cocktail parties too!).
Or these carefully labelled plug "doowhatsits" N1, N2 and indeterminate: brilliant for plugging or unplugging all your N1's, N2's or indeterminates whenever the mood strikes you. Of course I've got NO fucking clue what I'm talking about here, but they DID seem awfully important to Matt's setup (or possibly the inner workings of his bar fridge) so I'm taking photos anyway. Awesome huh!?
Speaking of such, no sound studio would ever be complete without accompanying "Land Before Time" novelty figurines keeping watch on top of the speakers. Laugh you might, but without them here I swear the delicate acoustics in this joint would completely turn to shit. Oh and it's also where Matt hides his secret stash of "no-doze" for those all graveyard shifts he pulls (ie: whenever he attempts to beat his high score in Moon Patrol.. but shhhh I totally didn't just tell you that now).
And here's the control room, shot from a slightly different angle and in a completely different "warm lighting" too. Which clearly has NOTHING to do with the fact I might have fucked up the white balance throughout this location shoot, and everything to do with me being all "arty" and shit. Do I need mention I'd spent the last two nights drinking? of course not.. I'm a professional!
This is collection of keyboards: they come in a wide variety of sizes, colours, textures and flavours.
The is a microphone shot close up, in such a way that everything else looks all blurry and far away.
And this is me stating the bleedingly obvious time and time again as clearly you've never seen "studio equipment" before, and you've spent the last 24 years locked in Josef Fritzl's basement.
As such, try and guess what THIS is: if you responded with "an historically accurate reconstruction of a "Milo Rimbaldi doomsday device" you'd be dead wrong, it in actual fact squeezes orange juice.
This is the all important "live room". So IMPORTANT in fact I was tasked to shoot it from two entirely different angles: one from ground level, and another from the above "mezzanine" area (where Matt keeps his Nintendo Game Cube) just so it appears that much more fuck off extreme. There is also an accompanying "dead room": but short of that one cameo Matt made in it earlier today? yeaaah it's kinda crap to photograph in. But trust me, both performing spaces are at least five kinds of head explodingly awesome to record in (and one of them even smells like mint!).
This is a piano, quite possibly like many other pianos you'll happen upon in your journeys, or even see leaping out of trees (or maybe that's just me). And yes like before, this too is also apparently of vital importance to photograph, but perhaps only to point out that the persian rug you see waaay off in the corner was in actual fact weaved by him, BY HAND, that one night he was tripping on shrooms in Melbourne with The Black Keys. Ask those guys from Lady Strangelove about it some time; true story! Oh and as a bonus? totally glows in the dark too! (the piano, not the rug).
This is me standing in the live room looking back into the control room. The window you see here is double glazed, not for any crucial "sound insulation", but purely for Matt's own amusement; the dead room he even slowly fills with water. I know I laughed too when he told me that, and then he locked me in there once and we laughed even louder. Aaaah that Matt, he's a funny guy isn't he?
This is a rack full of headphones. I forget why they're here exactly as I'm dead certain they serve no good purpose whatsoever. Hmmm maybe I'll nick some and hock 'em off at Crime Converters?
Figuring I'd taken nearly enough retardarse photos to prove I don't have a single clue WHAT I'm talking about (no seriously what am I? some kinda studio svengali!?) I decided to duck into the kitchen instead. Because hell, we all want to know about the kitchen situation right!? And here it is!
If ever you're feeling peckish: a wide variety of chips, chocolate and soft drink are available here for $2 each. It operates on an honour system, so simply throw your coins in and help yourself, or as the little sign says ever so eloquently: "do the right thing or karma will bite you in the butt!".
Whilst here I discovered this 3D Japanese print left hanging on the wall by Isle Of Vision during one of their wacky "all-nighter" drinking sessions here (read: demo recordings) a few nights ago.
And THIS oversized novelty tennis ball..
Hmmm, now I wonder, what could I possibly do with this?
Thus inspiring THIS: the stupidest 23 seconds of video footage you'll likely ever see on this blog, and soon to be made world famous as the most fuck off awesome youtube phenomenon ever to hit the interwebs since "Keyboard Cat", "Leave Britney Alone", or fat kid who thinks he's a Jedi Knight.. or perhaps not. Yeaaah let's just forget we ever saw this and we'll move on, shall we?
Speaking of "flush worthy", soon after THAT Matt suggested I check out the toilets too. Which I admit was a bit of an odd thing to say (unless it somehow doubled as a "vocal booth"), but since I'd already swiped those three cans of soda in past hour and my back teeth were floating, I thought "fuck it!" and kicked the door open.. little realising somebody else was already in there.
Yup that was Anthony Wignall from The Keepsakes screaming obscenities at me as he ran out the door, and THIS is what Matt Hills was referring to in the first place: Hillside Studio's "Hall Of Fame".
Yup he might have only established this studio a few short months ago, and yet these toilet walls are already festooned with a riot of colour. Better yet he openly encourages this insanity with complimentary textas for anyone willing to leave their indelible mark. I swear I could be lost here for hours on end, all the richer and none the wiser, with still yet more shit (not literal) to discover!
Aaaah you know when you've truly made it in life, when you become the subject of toilet graffiti!
Returning back to the control room, and ducking a few chairs (and tables) that Anthony has thrown my way (oh riiight, I'd almost forgot about that!), I sat and watched in silent awe (possibly in the safety of the other room with a zoom lens) as the both of them worked on The Keepsakes upcoming album (it's launching at Jive on April the 1st dont'cha know?). Sometimes Anthony would pace back and forth in anguish, sometimes he'd scream in Vietnamese, sometimes they'd argue, there'd be knife fights, then they'd play a game of Connect Four and all would be good again.
Aaaah just look at all that intense concentration, that dedication, that unwavering eye for quality! No wonder Matt Hills and his Hillside Studios is so sorely sought after in the Adelaide scene. For this man, this more than a man, this ten foot giant belching fire like a volcano, this LIVING LEGEND will not stop, will not relent, until he's wrung every last drop of inspired brilliance from your band!
Except when he's trying to beat his high score in Moon Patrol..
And as I walk out that door, a few spare chocolate bars stuffed into each pocket when Matt wasn't looking (and you didn't hear it from me about those headphones *ahem*), I can't help but be inspired. THIS is where it all happens.. this is where dreams come true! Unless of course your band totally sucks, in which case slip a $20 to that guy in Hurtle Square and he'll set you up just fine!
Yup in closing: lemme just state for the record that this advertisement thinly disguised as a "blog" was brought to you by Spoz, courtesy of Spoz's Rant. None of the views or opinions expressed above are necessarily those expressed by Matt Hills, or by Hillside Studios. And any and all rights to the recording "Giant Tennis Ball (Drum & Bass VIP Mix)" is strictly reserved (coming soon to itunes!). Oh and is it just me.. or did someone seriously "jump the shark" just now!? Aaaah fuck it. Three episodes this week and TWO MORE TO GO!? Trust me duuude, it's all downhill from here!