Hard rock is tricky. For every band who believes in what they're doing, there are another ten who just take the piss and phone it in. But the devil is in the details, and you can't fake the perfect balance of attitude, melody, precision and energy of Ten Thousand. The band - singer Jay Bowen, guitarists Brandon Valentine and Marty K, drummer Mike J Rivers and bass player Luke McKenzie - play the kind of rock that casual fans can sing along with, hardcore musicians can geek out over, the chicks can dance to and the dudes can bang their heads to. With a new video for the track Like A Disease hitting the interwebs, the band are poised to launch their EP Tales From The Wasteland at the House Of Rock on Saturday October 15.
The EP was recorded and mixed by Marty K, and the results are amazing, especially given the lack of outside influence from a label or producer. "We thankfully have access to a fantastic studio and all the time in the world," Bowen says. "We did a couple of tracks at a very reputable studio here in Melbourne and they were great - they could have made it to radio I guess - but there wasn't the coolness to the sound that we wanted, so we decided to do them again. With what it would have cost us in studio time, we'd just never have been able to afford it." Valentine agrees, particularly with respect to the amount of time the band could spend on seasoning the tracks. "We had the time to sit down and listen back," he says. "We got to test out some weird ideas in terms of what little sub-tracks to put in there and I think that really paid off."
The track Like A Disease is a great example of how the in-house production policy paid off. The song is a kickass introduction to the band: grooving, melodic and sonically slick. And it was brought to the band by drummer Rivers. Valentine: "He came in with a story of something horrible things that had happened to him and with a guitar sound that was in his head. He sang it to us and we emulated it, and cecause all five people write in the band, as soon as we've got the structure of something it just takes off."
The footage for the Like A Disease video knits together scenes from various gigs as well as backstage goings-on. "Most of the footage is from the new Greyhound," Bowen says, "but it includes basically the last year of our history - little bits and pieces, backstage stuff, a lot of our friends who have really helped us in our first year. We've got a great team around us who really believe in us, and it didn't feel right to just put ourselves in there. These days the music video is as important as the track. Obviously it all starts with the music but you have to be very mindful of the visual element as well. We're all big lovers of film - grindhouse, ninja films, contemporary westerns." Valentine agrees. "That's something we all love. I have a huge fascination with all the excess imagery that comes with music. You can attach the same piece of music to two different images and inspire two different audiences, and I love that idea."
Both Like A Disease and Devil's Dance, which is currently streaming on the band's website, exhibit a blues-like sense of groove augmented by more glitzy rock flash. "The swamp blues kind of thing has a dark but really loveable imagery, almost that True Blood kind of thing," Valentine says, adding that the band is looking to the home of the blues - America's south - as their next target. "I think our music does have its roots there. There's that resonating note from the blues, and I just think it'd get a good grip over there."
Bowen elaborates. "It's really important to get overseas as soon as possible, especially the south. Blues is one of the fundamentals of rock. If you look at something like Motley Crue's Kick Start My Heart, the structure of it is really similar to Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. It's not that far away. We all love the Crue, but rather than just look at them we went back further to what their roots were, and that's where a lot of our blues influences come from."
BY PETER HODGSON
Ten Thousand launches the Tales From The Wasteland EP at House Of Rock, taking place at The Palace this Saturday October 15. CDs will be available at the gig.