Midnight Juggernauts Talk Melbourne Music Week, New Record
News posted Tuesday, November 22 2011 at 01:00 PM.
Related: Midnight Juggernauts, Melbourne Music Week.
After spending much of the last few years traversing the globe, Midnight Juggernauts will be reacquainting themselves with their hometown via two appearances at Melbourne Music Week. On Friday November 25, the band will be provide a live score to accompany clips from the sixties British newsreel series, Look At Life, as part of the Cinemix program at ACMI. On Saturday November 26, head Juggernaut Vincent Vendetta will be curating a screening of George Romero’s seminal gorefest Dawn Of The Dead as part of the Playing Under The Influence series, which also features Mick Harvey, Tim Rogers and Henry Wagons, also at ACMI.
We spoke to Vendetta via email about those projects as well as his mobile phone dramas, and the band’s plans for the near future.
What have you been up to for the past few months?
We’ve been hiding out in the studio, just writing and recording and juggling a few things. We spent most of last year circling around overseas, so it’s been nice to take time out, find a home again, and try to be normal. I’ve spent the last few weekends gardening out in the country. I also have new responsibilities, like feeding the neighbours’ cat while they're away.
Last time we spoke, you said you had a lot of material in the works, and plans/hopes to do an “angry” album at some point. How are those plans developing?
I must have said that when I was having troubles with Optus. Somehow they were charging me for two separate accounts instead of the one, and then wouldn’t admit to their mistake. Thanks Optus. In general though, the whole writing thing is going well and we’re feeling inspired. We did some recording in France last month, which we really enjoyed. We also shot a music clip in Russia a few weeks ago, which was amusingly strange. We’ll probably have these things finished and out there by early 2012.
For the Playing Under The Influence series, you’ve chosen Dawn Of The Dead. Why?
We were asked to choose a film that has inspired or influenced us and I could very easily have chosen hundreds of other titles but I went with Dawn of the Dead, for a few reasons. When I was a kid I was really into horror films, and Dawn of the Dead was one of the first that inspired us to begin shooting similarly themed films on Super-8 as 14 year olds.
Of course, Dawn of the Dead also had its comment on consumerist culture, and its connection to the ’70s Italian film scene, which also interests us. We were also inspired by Goblin and Dario Argento and the Italian cannibal genre and all those offshoots, which all had great backstories and soundtracks. We would have liked to screen Cannibal Holocaust as well, but in the end we thought it would have been too base and sordid for a public screening.
Were you drawn to the film as a whole, or to Goblin’s soundtrack more specifically?
For this screening, we probably chose Dawn of the Dead more for the Goblin soundtrack. It's just a really evocative score, and it gives the film its personality and presence. I like symphonic John Williams soundtracks as well, but the dark and heavy ’70s Goblin soundscapes have their own distinct appeal.
We’re screening the Argento cut (originally for European audiences), where the social commentary is less apparent, however unlike the Romero version, it has the full Goblin soundtrack. Someone needs to make a new cut which combines the best of both versions.
What exactly will your role as curator entail?
I dunno. I looked up the full definition and it says “denoting an ecclesiastical pastor, of or from the guardian of a minor”. I know that I’ll introduce the film and then have a Q&A afterwards, where we can discuss the film and perhaps explore tangents into the Italian scene from the time, like the cannibal and mondo genres, or maybe music scenes from that time like Italian prog rock and Space disco.
How did the Look At Life project come into being? Were you aware of the series before you became involved?
We were approached by Melbourne Music Week as to whether we’d like to do a live soundtrack performance as part of the program. It sounded like a fun project, and it was something that we’d thought about in the past. We then proposed making a soundtrack for a series of short films instead, so that we could divide each individual film to fit with an individual song.
I used to use lots of found footage from old-school informational films when I was doing visuals and short films, and I remembered that this series had some great visuals over some rather diverse subjects. It was a good starting point; engaging imagery that we could subvert and twist into new creatures.
The Look At Life performance will be improvised. How do you alter your approach for such a show? Do you map things out a bit, or is it purely off the cuff?
Well, a lot of ideas will still be prepared in advance, as we want them to be strong pieces of music with a sense of purpose. However with some of the songs being 10 minutes long, there will be certain elements and sections which will be left open for improvisation. We had a jam today and it sounded great, but we can’t be sure 100 percent how it will play out on the night. If it works, we may release it as an experimental LP.
Will you be watching the newsreels, either in advance or during the performance?
Yes. They made close to 500 from this series and I've watched about 200 of them, on subjects from science and technology, to military might, to hovercraft engineering. We chose the ones that would suit our particular songs and ideas for the night.
Have you ever considered, or been offered, soundtrack work for a feature film? Can you see yourself going down that path? Sci-fi, perhaps?
We’ve had some strange offers in the past, but it’s something which would be fun to take on more seriously in the future. Perhaps we’ll conceive our own sci-fi space opera. We’re looking into it.
These Melbourne Music Week engagements are pretty highbrow. Do you get approached with many projects of this type? Do you seek them out?
Yeah, we get asked here and there. That suits us, as we like being involved in more unusual projects. A lot of the press we did overseas seemed to be for art-leaning magazines, so then we received offers for similar projects from arts festivals through Europe; there are some strange proposals which we might try out over there next year. I wouldn’t say my tastes are highbrow at all, though.
Last Friday we DJed at the Melbourne Music Week launch, and I played an all-Melbourne set. It started with Architecture in Helsinki and Geoffrey O’Connor and Paul Kelly, then slowly moved into Kylie, Madison Avenue, ‘Addicted to Bass’, Jason Donovan, that kind of territory. At some point my ex-friend threw a banana at me, which means something as those things are still quite expensive. Highbrow, lowbrow, “cred” or cheese, I'll give everything a go.
You haven’t played in Australia since your Crystal Axis album launch dates. Any plans to break that particular drought?
Well, we’ll probably still be hiding out in the studio over summer, before releasing new material and finally playing here again in 2012. It’s been fun to have this time out at home, but we’re also looking forward to getting out there again. But before then, I really need to sort out these issues with Optus. I changed my Wi-Fi network name to “Optus suck, don’t go there” in facetious protest, so if you read that network on your computer, you know that I’m nearby.
Midnight Juggernauts will be providing a live score for the 'Look At Life' newsreel this Friday (November 25), with Vincent Vendetta curating a screening of 'Dawn Of The Dead' on Saturday. Both events are at ACMI. Tickets here.