Dearest internet. It’s been a long time coming, but my children’s fantasy novel, Zeb and the Great Ruckus, has finally arrived! It’s been described as ‘like 1984 for kids, but with more magic, music and explosions’ and will be available for your rapturous enjoyment from the 15th of September!
FACT: Reading this book will give you superpowers!*
* Note: imagination is a superpower. You may disagree with this. You may also disagree with the laws of gravity, and you will be wrong about that too.
“This is a story made from pieces of all the dreams you had when you were asleep, but then forgot when you woke up.”
Hello! You are reading this in order to determine whether or not this book will be of interest to you! Well, congratulations, you obviously have fabulous taste! Zeb and the Great Ruckus is a story about magic, music, fireworks, bewilderbeasts, clockwork birds and weaponised toffee. It has some funny bits, some scary bits, some sad bits, and a rather large bit about a cave-dwelling ruttersnarl which we would tell you about but we don t want to give away the ending. If you like the sounds of any or all of the above, then this is the book for you! If you would rather read a complete history of European haberdashery, please consult your local book emporium.
Harry Potter says it’s the greatest book he’s ever read!*
Technically, it’s categorised as a children’s fantasy novel, but as I often say categories are for marketing departments and people who are too lazy to make up their minds about things. This isn’t just a book for kids. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s strange, it’s a protest novel, it’s a celebration of art and music.
*quote attributed to Harold S. Potter – 32 year old amateur taxidermist currently residing in his mother’s house in Tingalpa.
I’m extremely excited about the illustrations, which were prodived by fellow Brisbanite Kathleen Jennings. She recently won TWO Ditmar awards (the oldest and most respected scifi/fantasy awards in Australia) and has also been nominated for a World Fantasy Award. Kathleen has a beautiful, whimsical style that encapsulates Zeb and his companions perfectly. Plus, she has an obsession with Daleks that I find thoroughly enjoyable.
Preorders are open right now through Odyssey Books and the Amazon store so hurry up and make with the clickety clicks already! (Amusing side-note: I once had a fan tell me “My mother, who is 82 said ‘it’s amazing that they can operate the world’s largest book store from the middle of a giant south american jungle!'”).
You can also check out the facebook and goodreads pages. If you enjoy the book and would like to write a kindly review or even send me an email/tweet/messenger pigeon, that would be hugely appreciated. I’m one of those nice authors that actually replies to emails (most of the time.) If you hate it, please address your grievance to our dedicated complaint service email: email@example.com. Details of the launch party will be announced soon (followed by the super secret after party at my house). You should come. It’s going to be one hell of a ruckus.
As a teenage music nerd, my bedroom walls were perennially populated by posters featuring various scowling dudes with guitars looking down on me lying on my bed losing myself in my headphones whilst devouring Rave magazine. Growing up I always thought that being a music writer would be the most inconceivably, unbelievably, incontrovertibly cool job imaginable. Years later, I moved into my first Brisbane sharehouse with two wonderful girls, one of whom was just starting to pick up speed as the lead singer of now superstar act the Grates. Her then boyfriend wrote for another local music mag, and it occurred to me for the first time that music writers were actual people who existed in the real world and breathed and ate and drew on the fridge and used the bathroom when you really, really needed it.
It wasn't until late last year, when I'd accomplished the infinitely more arduous task of having my first novel published that I got around to signing up with Rave. In the short time since then I've reviewed countless gigs and albums and squeezed in just a handful of interviews. As a writer, it's been a fun challenge to pump out tiny bite sized non-fiction pieces at a high rate of frequency, as opposed to my primary concern of churning out massive 80 – 100k word fictional behemoths every few years (if that.)
I was devastated when I received news that Rave was shutting down, and not only because of the fact that I will now have to start PAYING for gigs like a total loser. Rave provided valuable exposure for local bands and artists, great opportunities for local writers and photographers and, perhaps most importantly, was an entirely independent operation. Independent media is important; the beauty of working for Rave was that we didn't have to serve anyone's agenda. My editors would occasionally ask me to change a few things here and there, but this was more for content quality than because we were beholden to some corporate giant with vested interests (just look at the whole Rinehart/fairfax debacle at present). Clearly music journalism is nowhere near as important as political journalism, but journalistic integrity is of fundamental importance in terms of filtering what and how information reaching the masses and and we are currently seeing a dangerous erosion of its values which the loss of important independent media sources will only exacerbate. Thank Christ operations like New Matilda and The Conversation are still afloat.
Here are a few highlights from my time with Rave; bands I would never have otherwise heard of, concerts I might never have gone to, interviews with amazing people I would otherwise have never met. Thanks to all the wonderful writers, editors and photographs and bands that I've worked with. This city is filled to the absolute bursting point with obscenely gifted artists and it's been an absolute blast working with a team dedicated to celebrating this this talent. See you at a gig sometime!
The cover of Tenacious D’s Rize Of The Fenix (and yes, that is how it’s spelt) features a picture of a penis stylized into the form of a phoenix with flaming wings. If you’re thinking ‘well, that sure as heck doesn’t bode well…’ then you can tell where I’m going with this. It’s honestly almost impressive how terrible this album is. And yes, it’s supposed to be a comedy album, but that’s the other problem. It just isn’t funny. There’s toilet humour galore, which would be fine if the jokes landed once every 20 minutes or so, but the truth is that the whole thing’s about as funny as the Armenian genocide. Even the dialogue interludes are appalling. They sound like a couple of stoned middle-aged men trying to re-enact scenes from Saturday Night Live. The whole shtick of having Tenacious D almost exclusively write songs about what it’s like to be in Tenacious D was entertaining enough on the first album, but on album #3 they are really just flogging a dead horse. And then kicking it. And then piling beer cans on top of its rotting corpse. To top it all off, album closer 39, which basically spends 317 seconds mocking women for being beholden to the passage of time, sounds as though it’s been written with the specific intent of pissing off feminist groups. This album gets one star for the sole fact that it features Dave Grohl on drums.
This week, I'm going to give you some advice on romance. Now, I know what you're thinking. It's either A) How did I end up at this page when I was looking for videos of cats playing keyboards??? or B) Why on earth would J. M. Donellan be qualified to give relationship advice? He seems to just post about getting dumped all the time.
I have no answer for A) but in regards to B) I'm hardly going to be the first amateur to deign to impart ill-founded advice. I mean, the Situation wrote a fucking book with advice on dating, I'm pretty goddamn sure I'm more qualified than he is. Not least because of the fact that I realise that a book should consist of more than just 133 pages of narcissistic, misogynistic ranting. And fashion tips.
Sure, love can be a beautiful thing. But let's face it there are plenty of times when it can also be gross, stupid, frustrating, painful and sometimes, just really fucking inconvenient. Maybe they're your housemate. Perhaps you just have the wrong anatomy for their romantic preferences. Or they just said the sentence "I don't know who David Bowie is." Maybe they're dating your best friend and the three of you hang out all the time and once in a while you'll all have a little too much to drink and he/she will suggest you all head into the bedroom together and by the time you realise they were only joking you're already half undressed and then you have to pretend like you were only joking too but they both know you weren't and it gets super awkward and even worse they've seen they embarrassing tattoo that you keen meaning to get removed…
Whatever the case. There are times when being in love in just a terrible idea, so here are my strategies to help you not love someone.
1 IMAGINE THEM AS YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE POLITICIAN
Simple but effective. If the politician in question is ugly and/or the wrong gender for your preferences, even better. Just imagine someone who really sums up everything that's wrong with politics and modern society in general, someone like, oh I don't know…
2 DEVELOP A NEGATIVE PAVLOVIAN REACTION
"Jenny? Oh no, I'm WAY over her. She smells like transmutational butterfly larvae."
Sounds weird, I know, but weirder than tying all your hopes, dreams and happiness to one single human being who is just going to end up decomposing in the ground some day? I think not. Keep a packet of something disgusting in your pocket, like canned chrysalises for instance. Every time you see or think about your soon-to-be-not-loved one, shove something putrid into your facehole. Once you associate the object of your desire with squirming, crunchy larvae, IT'S BYE BYE ROMANCE!
3 INTRODUCE THEM TO YOUR PARENTS
I know this is often what people do when a relationship is going WELL, but this is primarily due to the fact that people are idiots. By the time dear old dad asks them for the sixth time if they got that nose ring because they were hoping to more closely resemble a swine or just to antagonise their deadbeat parents you'll know that all hopes of a happy, successful relationship are dead in the water.
4 THINK ABOUT THE LAST TIME YOU BROKE UP WITH SOMEONE
"Oh god! I can't do crosswords anymore! She used to use words like, all the time! Sometimes in sentences, or paragraphs even! It was our special thing…"
Bear in mind all relationships end, the only variables are when and how badly. Just try and picture that last time, when you listened to the 3 Smith Kings of Misery (Elliott Smith, The Smiths and Robert Smith) on repeat and lived on a daily intake of three bottles of cheap red wine and a family sized block of cadbury chocolate. Actually that last bit doesn't sound too bad, but then there was the bawling over summertime photos, the dividing of possessions, the places, songs, books and movies that were forever ruined. Yeah, that's right. You've got all of THAT to look forward to. Maybe in three months time, maybe three years, maybe three decades but whatever the case we all know that breaking up with someone feels like having your heart torn out of your chest, ripped in half, spat on, then forcibly reinserted via your colon.
So there you have it. Next time you start falling in love and it's going to be the worst idea ever you can thank me for reminding you that's it's the worst idea ever. Send me a thank you email. Maybe with a photo attached. Perhaps a facebook friend request.
After the debacle surrounding D12’s non-appearances at the disastrous Heatwave festival it would seem that American hip hop acts are starting to garner a reputation as being unreliable. Continuing this trend, tonight’s opening time has been shifted back an hour and there seems to be a great deal of confusion as to what time the performers are actually hitting the stage. Nevertheless, once local wunderkind Sampology starts warming up the crowd everyone seems indifferent to the confusion and ready to shake that which their matriarchal progenitors gave them and raise their hands in an upwardly fashion like they just don’t have a particular preference on the issue.
After a brief intermission, Cut Chemist strides onto stage along with accompanying VJ and launches into a rap mash-up intercut with bizarre psychedelic visuals. All of this occurs behind a slew of turntables, loop pedals and MPCs that has gearheads drooling in awe. The crowd tonight is lively and enthusiastic, but surprisingly sparse for such a renowned international act. The benefit of this is that the dance floor actually has some space to move, meaning no one has to resort to the all too familiar arms-up-head-nod-shuffle-dance that has to be regularly employed at packed hip hop shows.
Cut Chemist’s set tonight mixes classic hip hop joints like Sound Of The Police with music from Colombia and Brazil interspersed with classic J5 tracks and of course selections from his forthcoming album. During all of this he uses a variety of cameras to zoom in on his various feats of technical wizardry ranging from his trademark virtuoso cutting to mixing whilst operating loops via foot pedal to his fingers dancing over the MPC. Chemist is clearly a man who loves what he does and does it better than almost anyone else. Between samples he air guitars, pantomimes and lip-syncs in a manner that manages to be both adorably goofy and, when interspersed with prodigiously expert scratching, pretty damn incredible.
If you'd like to listen to my voice as well as read my words (although I'm not sure why you would, I have to listen to my voice all the time and it's pretty damn annoying.) You can check out the new show I'm doing on 4zzz with Darragh and Jodi. Exit Stage Zed runs from 4-6pm every Saturday. We'll be focusing on playing live recordings and music from bands gigging around town each week.
You can check out our 4zzz page here facebook here and twitter here.
Hit us up on the facebook page if you have any suggestions for live albums to play or if you want to throw us demos and such. Also 4zzz is running a drive to raise money for a new transmitter and you should probably donate between nine and ten million dollars.
Criminally underrated local act Coalition Crew are the first of four obscenely impressive lists of performers representing three different continents this evening. They deliver a solid set of tight, clever rhymes over golden era-influenced beats and bass.
Bankrupt Billionaires, a recent addition to the local scene, are next up on stage. Their soulful hip hop-influenced sounds pack a hell of a punch. Lead singer Kel Timmons has enough sass and swagger to power a small island nation, and with a little help from Laneous and Hannah Macklin, tonight the Billionaires make a real impact. Recent Triple J unearthed single Daze Of The Dead is a highlight, but their whole show is pretty much start to finish flawless.
Lotek swaggers onto stage suited and booted and backed by Rudekat Sound. By this time the whole evening feels more like an Island Vibes sampler rather than an international headliner show with a few supports. The entire assembly of the Hi-Fi, from the front of the stage to the back of the bar, is dancing and shaking like the world is about to end. Lotek’s ska/funk/soul/reggae-influenced hip hop goes down a treat, with songs like The Rudest Dude and Paid working up plenty of crowd participation.
Chali 2na and his band take the stage a little after 11pm, greeted by a crowd that is soaked in sweat and booze and smiles. His set tonight is framed around the idea of ‘Chali 2na radio’, featuring selections from his solo work and Jurassic 5 interpolated with a bizarrely diverse selection of medley covers. Classic cuts like What’s Golden? and Freedom are satisfyingly brilliant, even without the rest of J5 in tow. The backing band tonight is phenomenal, the keyboardist/vocalist showcasing an impressive falsetto and the seven-string (yes, that’s right SEVEN) bassist really brings the house down. 2na certainly knows a thing or two about crowd participation and has the audience doing everything from clapping to introducing themselves to strangers to playing Simon Says (which turns out to be incredibly fun when played with several hundred people and a live hip hop band). The one problem with the two-hour-long ‘radio show’ format is that it leans a little towards the self-indulgent side, mixing in sections from Rock Lobster and playing a huge selection of little known songs detracts from what could otherwise be a near perfect shorter set. That said, however, when you see a guy crowd surfing in a wheelchair, you know something good is going on.
Just a quick sidenote: If any crazed stalker fan wanted to murder Connor Oberst, it would be really hilarious to creep up behind him and sing the line "turn around bright eyes…" from this song before getting all Charlie Manson. Original article HERE.
The Hi-Fi – Thu Nov 17
Darren Hanlon’s story songs, presented here in simple format with just guitar and drums, are an excellent start to the evening. Kevin Devine, a surprise last-minute addition to the bill, launches into 30 minutes of captivating songs that are delivered in everything from a whisper to a primal scream and leaves the surprised crowd spellbound.
Connor Oberst and the accompanying six musicians that compromise the Bright Eyes cohort walk on to rapturous applause and launch straight into Four Winds. Oberst and co. present the bulk of the songs tonight in a majestic, almost gospel format, playing a slew of their better-known tracks and a few hidden gems across a massive two and a half hour set. The band gives the impression that they are having a brilliant time on stage (with the exception of the keyboardist who looks about as thrilled as a hung-over misanthrope filling out a tax return). Their performance is somewhat grandiloquent, Oberst at times getting his Bono on and reaching out to the hands of the adoring crowd, but this has never been a band to do things by halves. They close with an epic rendition of Road To Joy and an almost religious performance of One For You, One For Me.
Dearest humans and computer literate apes of earth, I come with glad tidings! My friend and fellow 100 Stories for Queensland contributor, Jessica Bell, has just released her new book The String Bridge. Recent research indicates that acquiring this book will make you more attractive, intelligent and improve your bowling average by 23.5%.
The book is being released with a soundtrack written and performed by the author, which is pretty damn impressive if you ask me. You can get the soundtrack for FREE (my favourite price) if you purchase the book on November 11th and email the receipt to jessica.carmen.bell(at) gmail(dot)com. I guess you could also just email her inspiring quotes, recipe ideas, and your top ten make out songs if you really wanted. Just don’t try adding her to any spam lists though because Jess is a poet and everyone knows poets are the toughest bastards around and she may just find a way to clip you over the ears via skype.
The String Bridge has received a bunch of rave reviews (by which I mean highly complimentary reviews, not people on pills listening to Underworld in brightly coloured clothing giving it the thumbs up) but you should read it yourself because you are smart enough to make your own opinion.
View and comment on the original article at Rave Magazine HERE.
BLACKLIGHT: The Medics / Lunch Tapes / Pigeon / Boss Moxi
Lightspace – Fri Nov 4
The promoters of tonight’s event describe the venue, Lightspace, as a ‘classy warehouse.’ Sheer white curtains adorn the walls and stage, candles cast flickering shadows and my friend (name withheld by request) comments that the luxury hand soap in the bathroom is worth $40 a bottle and she is considering relocating it to the interior of her handbag. From the very beginning, it is clear that this is not going to be your standard warehouse party.
Boss Moxi are the first of four bands this evening, they greet an initially sparse crowd with a sonic smorgasbord of bouncy psychedelic rock tunes and twin guitars soaked in delay. There are a few average tracks scattered amongst their better material, but songs like Esso and Hospital Drums are catchy enough to make this a memorable performance. Halfway through, the second guitarist switches to saxophone and their act really starts to pick up. The last few songs bring their set to an explosive, frenetic finish.
Pigeon are next on the bill, and their five members proceed to set up an impressive arsenal of brass, electronic and rock instrumentation. Essentially, Pigeon sound like The Knife jamming with the Happy Mondays in Ibiza in the ‘80s whilst watching Eurovision. The really appealing thing about watching this band is that you just don’t know what’s going to happen next. Their five members switch from laptops and synths to guitars and drums to brass and back again. The crowd responds to their brilliantly unpredictable performance with a frenzied display of raving and moshing, and by the time they pull Boss Moxi’s sax player onto the stage for a ‘sax off’, this has become one of the most outstanding local shows in recent memory. From this they segue into a bizarrely brilliant synth and brass cover of Phil Collins’ Another Day In Paradise with a quick cameo appearance from the iconic sax solo from Baker St. Watching this band play is 16 kinds of fun, and by the time they finish the crowd is soaked in sweat and smiles.
Announcing this is their final performance “as Lunch Tapes” I can only guess as to whether the band means they are planning a name change or undergoing some kind of superhuman metamorphosis. Playing a fun, energetic selection of loud ‘70s psychedelia-influenced rock songs, Lunch Tapes’ standout track The Thrills Of Being Young exemplifies their whole approach to performance: violinist Harriet Straker adding lift and energy to their sound, and lead guitarist Julian Holland playing some absolutely blistering licks. I look forward to seeing Lunch Tapes 2.0.
The Medics are the last in an extraordinary line-up tonight. Their four members (and their hair, which is collectively shaggy enough to clothe a small Alaskan village) don their instruments and begin. Their classic rock band line-up looks almost underwhelming after this evening’s selection of violins, trumpets, synths and saxophones, but they have an undeniably commanding presence. Somewhat reminiscent of The Temper Trap, they play a series of epics that ebb and flow from quiet, dreamy moments to soaring electric crescendos paired with ethereal vocals. However, the band sometimes gets a little lost in themselves, during one particular odyssey the audience performs that awkward ‘clapping at the assumed end of the song only to discover that there is another section’ two times over before the song eventually ends. Finally, a storm of drums and throbbing bass and strummed guitars brings the evening to a close.