The Khyber Belt
It may not be the biggest, it may not draw the most people, but Rock The Bay is, without question, one of Melbourne's finest music festivals. Coming up to its third year, it showcases and celebrates Melbourne and Australia's ever amazing and diverse alternative and progressive rock scenes. This year Rock The Bat expands its musical palette further, with the introduction of a slightly heavier rock element. The 2011 model basically offers something for everyone who loves alternative, progressive rock, heavy rock and metal.
This year's version also has another surprise in store. The Khyber Belt may not be the best known name in this scene, but this is purely due to them being a brand new band. The pedigree and history behind this outfit will be extremely well known to Aussie alternative rock punters.
Over the last few years, the alternative heavy rock scene has seen the parting of ways of a number of its luminaries, including Rook, Bushido and .Hinge. However, a number of former members of these three bands have come together to form The Khyber Belt, in sort of a local 'super group' situation. Throw in the former bassist of the still-active Sleep Parade and you have yourself a pretty damn illustrious combo. What's more, Rock The Bay doubles as the band's first ever gig.
Talk about throw yourself in at the deep end.
Guitarist and former Rook member Tyson Fish has absolute confidence in the band's ability to put on a ripping show, however, and also is happy to discuss the band's brief history and how they came together.
"This band is a combination of people," he begins, "basically at the start of last year a lot of bands in our scene, for whatever reason, seemed to come to an end. A bunch of us had been talking, I was actually approach by Guy Shenfield from Bushido, and he had a whole bunch of tracks written. At that point in time they didn't look like they were going to go anywhere else. So he kind of went out on a mission to put together a band to finish off these tracks.
"So, initially it was myself, Alex from Bushido, James from Sleep Parade and Glen from .Hinge was also involved. All those bands had split up, and I think James had left Sleep Parade. In April last year we got together to have a few jams. It was one of those 'instant chemistry' things. Guy had sent through all the songs, and he said he hadn't had any expectations to try and get them all done. But in the first rehearsal I think we played through three or four of them, and it was like 'that's a pretty good start!'… Now Forbes, who was also in Rook, is involved as lead vocalist.
"We've got our debut gig at Rock the Bay," he continues, "we had a few ideas (for gigs), but we had to keep pushing them back, obviously with the change of vocalist. We spoke to Crutey (Matt Crute, Rock The Bay organiser), and we said if there's a spot for us we'd love to jump on.
"Forbes is actually living in Brisbane at the moment, so the opportunity to do some spontaneous shows, or even spontaneous rehearsals, is a bit tough. He's coming down a couple of nights before the gig, to rehearse for it. So we'll just smash into it, we're feeling pretty confident that the songs are sounding good. We've all been aching to do a show."
So what's the meaning behind the name? "The Khyber Belt is an asteroid belt on the edge of the solar system," Tyson explains. "And some of the asteroids contain certain elements such as hydrogen, helium, that sort of thing. And they believe that after many asteroids collide, they become meteors and leave the belt. There is a theory that in the early stages of the solar system one of these meteors hit the earth and produced those gases, and put them into the atmosphere. And hence, it began life. They also believe that it will be a meteor from The Khyber Belt that will end life as well. So we've put a lot of pressure on ourselves!" he laughs.
Being that there's little music to be found - because very little has even made it to tape - for this brand new band, since they are currently working on pre-production demos for a possible EP release this year, Tyson is more than happy to describe The Khyber Belt's sound: "It sounds like a mix of Rook, Bushido and Sleep Parade!" he quips.
"It's in the same vein… it seriously is an amalgamation of all those styles, without actually sounding like any of those bands. It's not metal, it's not rock, there's a bit of prog in there. If you come down to Rock The Bay you'll hear how it sounds."
THE KYBER BELT debut at ROCK THE BAY when it makes its epic return to The Espy on Labour Day long weekend (Saturday March 12). It'll have over 30 amazing acts sweating it out over the The Espy's three rooms. The event will feature Barbarion, Sydonia, Bellusira, Tim McMillan Band, Engine Three Seven, The Beards, Redcoats, New Skinn, Electric Horse, Alba Varden, Xenograft, Don Fernando, Fare Evader, I Said The Sparrow, Anna Salen, The Charge, Decortica, Die Vader Die, The Happy Endings, These Four Walls, Rhymada, Zenith ASP, Moroccan Kings, Sunset Circus, The Deep End, Crash And Burn, Man From The Meteor, Hummergun, Cross Section and The Phil Para Band. Tickets are on sale now from saltar.oztix.com.au, The Espy, Polyester Records, Missing Link, Fist 2 Face, Greville Records and The Nash (Geelong). Check out rockthebayfestival.com for more info.