The Australian Government isn’t the only entity that puts people through a rigorous cross-examination to prove their loyalty to a bunch of stars and a Union Jack. Each week at ‘M+N’, we make an Australian act kiss the flag by asking them questions about their favourite local acts: who they’ve been listening to recently, their underground heroes, or whether they prefer Nick Cave or Warren Ellis.
Taking the test this week is Dylan Stewart from Melbourne guitar noise enthusiasts Iowa, who are launching a new single ‘Panic Attack’ this month. It’s the second track lifted from the band’s forthcoming debut album, Never Saw It Coming, which is slated for release in April.
a. How’d the band come together? Two-thirds of you were in [defunct Melbourne outfit] Window, right?
Yep, Matt [Rooney] played drums in Window and I used to play guitar and sing in that band until I moved to the UK for a while. I got pretty bored not playing any music over there and after seeing My Bloody Valentine reform and play at The Roundhouse I was pretty keen to start up something new. When I knew that I was coming back to Melbourne, I called up [bass player] Jordan [Barczak], a friend from uni, and asked him to start thinking about putting some songs together.
b. Tell us about your new album, Never Saw It Coming.
We tracked the album over two days at Head Gap Studios with Neil Thomason. We then recorded vocals and some extra parts with Anthony Cornish at Horizon Sound Studios. Anthony also mixed and mastered the whole record. We didn’t spend too much time mixing it, as we thought it sounded pretty good straight off the desk and I guess that’s what kept the sound quite raw.
c. How many guitars did you use?
I think I used about four guitars on the record. Predominantly a ’59 Jazzmaster. Also a Jag, a beat-up old Mustang and a shitty acoustic.
d. And fuzz pedals?
I bought this amazing fuzz pedal the week before the recording called an MC-FX “Rebel Fuzz” It was made by a guy in Melbourne and that was pretty much the main sound on the entire record.
e. Is new single ‘Panic Attack’ indicative of the album?
Probably not so much! But in saying that, all the songs are pretty different and we tried not to be too particular in the style of tracks we recorded for the album. We wanted to cover a broad range of ideas and adopt an “anything goes” attitude towards the final song choices.
f. What are your plans for the year?
We’re launching ‘Panic Attack’ at the Tote [in Melbourne] on February 22 with support from Damn Terran and we’re currently getting the album pressed on yellow vinyl. We’re also planning on doing some shows in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to support the album, which will be released in April.
Part 1. Geography
a. Tell us about your hometown.
I was born in the UK, grew up in Niddrie, a suburb next to Essendon [In Melbourne], and I now live in Northcote. Northcote has the NSC [Northcote Social Club], good coffee shops and Thornbury Records is a close stroll away.
b. Name your favourite bands from your neck of the woods.
Laura, The Stabs, Mass Cult, Damn Terran, Lowtide, ZOND and The Peninsula Rhythm Kings, a Dixieland jazz band that both my parents play in.
c. Where’s your local and what’s it like?
I really like Palomino’s in High Street. I actually have a signature sandwich there: a chutney cheese melt with pancetta (under the cheese). They’re now open for drinks at night, too.
Part 2. History
a. Which Australian bands did you grow up listening to? You Am I, Even, The Fauves, Sandpit, Magic Dirt, Incursion, Sy Snootles and Art of Fighting.
b. What’s the first Australian record you bought?
You Am I’s Sound As Ever.
c. Who’s your favourite Australian band/artist of all time?
It would have to be AC/DC.
d. What’s the most “Australian” record ever produced?
The Triffids’ Born Sandy Devotional.
Part 3. Current Affairs
a. Who are some of your favourite new Australian bands?
Jordan and I have really been getting into Tape/Off from Brisbane.
b. If you could collaborate with one current Australian artist, who would it be, and what would it sound like?
The Avalanches circa ‘Rock City’ when they were pretty much The Beastie Boys. I guess it would sound like hip-hop Neil Young.
c. Last great local gig you saw.
The Laurels at the Tote. Great band!
d. Do you think an Australian artist needs to go overseas to succeed?
I think if an Australian band can actually make it overseas for any period of time that could be classified as succeeding.
Part 4. Multiple Choice
a. Sandpit or Sidewinder?
Sandpit! They were such a great band. On Second Thought is an amazing record.
b. Something For Kate or Screamfeeder?
Although Something for Kate featured members of both Sandpit and Sidewinder, Screamfeeder gets our vote for 20 years dedication to distorted guitars.
c. Kochie or Karl?
Karl after Logies nights.
d. Carlton or VB?
e. Nick Cave or Warren Ellis?
f. Pot or schooner?
Pint preferably, but a schooner will do.
g. Pie or parma?
A parma pie is an intriguing prospect, perhaps?
h. Rob Mills or Johnny Young?
The “Real Thing” Johnny Young.
i. Fitzroy or St Kilda?
j. Paul Kelly, Ned Kelly or Dan Kelly?
Paul Kelly. His inclusion on 1988’s Young Einstein soundtrack sealed the deal.