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REVEREND GENES

THESE WICKED RIVERS BLACKHAM IMAGES APRIL 23-120.jpg


Web: www.reverendgenes.com.au

Bandcamp: reverendgenes.bandcamp.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/reverendgenes

Instagram: www.instagram.com/reverendgenes

Threads: www.threads.net/@reverendgenes

TikTok: www.tiktok.com/@reverendgenes
Twitter: www.twitter.com/reverendgenes

YouTube: www.youtube.com/reverendgenes


 

When did you decide that a career in music was for you?

 

Initially music was not really on the radar. Growing up in Australia pretty much means being near the coast, the beach, and sport. There’s far more sport than music in Australia. If it’s not cricket season then it’s footy season, or something else. Australians love their sport. I was no different.

 

But one day, my brother told mum that he’d saved up some money and wanted a synth. So mum bundled the two of us into the car and took us to our local music shop. While we were there mum asked me if I wanted to learn to play an instrument. Hanging right next to us was a Washburn electric guitar. Mum insisted on buying it. 

 

Up until then, there was a beat up, hand-me-down nylon string guitar in the house, with strings at least a decade old. I remember trying to tune it and play it. So, by the time the Washburn made it home I already knew a few simple chord shapes.

 

I used to sit and listen to music at home and try to play along. In hindsight I was pretty bad at playing and singing at first, but I persisted. The original period of UK and USA post-punk and new wave was a huge influence.

 

These two styles of music appealed, there seemed to be endless guitar sounds and styles to learn about. I spent a lot of time sitting with my Washburn guitar and a Roland Jazz Chorus amp. I’m really glad I went to the music shop that day with mum. The cricket and the beach are still great. But music took over.

 

 

 

Who are your musical inspirations and why?

 

There are lots. Neil Young’s understanding of American roots and bluegrass, and his ability to extend, and shape, that sound comes to mind. His vocals are sublime. He has created a world of sound that is easy to lose yourself in. Always happy to get lost in Neil’s music.

 

Still the main genres that have inspired are the ones loosely known as post-punk and new-wave. Bands like come to mind like Midnight Oil, The Church, You Am I, The Cure, Stone Roses, Fugazi, Grandaddy, REM, Interpol, Pavement, and The Pixies.

 

All these acts have their own sound, and their success owes much to their unique sound. It is developing a unique sound. Your own take on tone and harmony that is of interest. Midnight Oil undoubtedly have a unique sound. Early albums like Head Injuries, Red Sails In The Sunset, and 10 to 1 are Australian alternative music classics. Most folk know Beds Are Burning from Diesel And Dust. But the first four studio albums are simply some of the finest, original sounding, Australian alternative rock music ever written. Amazing stuff.

 

The Church and You Am I are two other favourite Australian “indie” rock bands. Both also have the ability to write music that transports you to another place.

 

Hopefully, Reverend Genes is also on a path to finding a unique sound. That is the goal.

 

 

 

Can you tell me 3 things about yourself that people might not already know?

 

Well, not much is known at all, so this should be pretty easy. Let’s go with I love border collies and growing food. Sammy (Samantha) is the resident border here at RG headquarters, and will show up in a video clip early next year for a song called I Know You Know.

 

Sammy just turned 13, but she still mostly gets around as if she were three. One thing has changed though. Sammy can no longer get up into the garden beds to steal cucumbers.

 

Aside from border collies and organic food, I also really like nylon string guitars. I guess that beat up old hand-me-down left its mark. Traditional flamenco guitar music, Celtic music, and the music of the great South American guitarists get played daily, all are yet to be truly mastered. Some Spanish favourites include Paco Pena, Isaac Albéniz, also the Irish harpist Turlough O’Carolan, and the music of Agustín Barrios and Heitor Villa-Lobos.

 

 

 

What song of yours best describes you and why?

 

I guess Plastic People. This song is built around a theme-like guitar riff that reminds me of the best riff focussed guitarists and bands. I really like a good guitar riff, and thanks to the riff in Plastic People, this song is more than another bed of strummed harmonies over a vocal.

 

It is a bit different, and I like different. So Plastic People ticks the box for writing a song based around a thematic guitar riff. 

 

As well, here at home we are pretty big on minimising the plastic that comes into the house, and recycling what does. One morning while taking out the recycling, the lyrics for Plastic People popped up out of nowhere and formed up pretty quickly. It was easy to describe the plastic you see in beach sand, the low bee numbers in the garden, and the endless queues you see lining up to buy take away coffees.

 

It’s fair to say that I know more can be done to get plastic out of the natural environment, and out of our bodies for that matter. Hopefully, people will like the music that underpins Plastic People, and with any luck they may work towards reducing the amount of plastic in their life.

 

 

 

What has been the best gig you have done to date and why?

 

It’s hard to pick one gig from Uni bars, to Newcastle and Sydney pubs and clubs, and non-traditional venues like restaurants, vineyards and even the odd concert hall.

 

One gig does come to mind though. It was really two shows in one day for Saint Patricks Day. The first was an afternoon show at Scruffy Murphys on the corner of Goulburn Street and George Street in the Sydney CBD. Heaps of locals and heaps of tourists, and Saint Paddy’s day is always packed to the rafters. 

 

The band was aptly called the Irish Rock Show and to be sure it should be no surprise to learn that the music played was stuff like U2, Thin Lizzy, Van Morrison, The Corrs and The Cranberries. The band had a rhythm section from East Germany and the old Yugoslavia. An Irish singing lad with pipes from Dublin. A local lass from Sydney singing her heart out and knocking the fellas in the crowd out. And, a pretty fresh Reverend Genes trying to keep up on an old Fender Jazzmaster. Lots of fun.

 

Later that night there was a second show at the Cock N Bull in Bondi. The joint was jumping with what seemed like every Irish backpacker on holiday in Bondi. At the end Marc sang the Irish anthem. Wrapped in a flag that came from the crowd he sang. The crowd cheered. Fine times.

 

 

 

 

If you could perform a gig at any venue where would it be and why?

 

I guess that would have to be Wembley Stadium with the Opera House coming a close second. Wembley because of Live Aid, INXS, and the Eagles footage, and the Opera House coming a very close second thanks to the mighty Crowded House.

 

 

 

What has been your best achievement to date and what would you like to achieve in the future?

 

Getting up the courage to enrol and study at a traditional Conservatorium is worth mentioning here. This is also how I was introduced to Spanish guitar, and also the music of the great orchestral composers. 

 

Traditional music study is a great way to understand more about the language of music. What you learn can then be applied to your own music. 

 

For example, how and why are some chord progressions more effective than others? How have the great composers used chords? Spending time learning about melody, harmony, rhythm and orchestration is worth doing. After all, if you don’t know what has gone before, are you in the best position to be able to write the best original music of your own?

 

 

 

Tell me a story from backstage or after a gig?

 

Ok. This story is kinda backstage thanks to a bunch of mates who were playing in a local Newcastle band called Big Men Fly, and picked up the support with Fugazi in Newcastle. The venue was a small bowling club in the west end and across the tracks. Big Men Fly were great. The gig was all ages. It seemed like more than half of Newcastle were there. There was no stage, just fold-back wedges and mic stands between the band and everyone else. Fugazi were in full flight. This was just one of those gigs that is impossible to forget. 

 

The bowling club was recently knocked down as part of upgrading Newcastle Train Station. When I walk through the station I still think about Fugazi and that night, surrounded by trains, and people rushing about, it’s almost like the gig never happened.

 

What do you like best about being a musician and why?

 

For me the best thing about being a musician is songwriting and finding time to play guitar. Sure, playing live is heaps of fun, but sometimes it can be too much. But songwriting and songs are always there after everyone goes home, and it is the songs that are the best bit.

 

 

 

If you were not in the job you are now what would you be doing?

 

Jobs come and go. To borrow from the excellent Ted Lasso script. Music is life.

 

 

 

What has been the best gig you have been to as a fan and can you tell us about it?

 

The Fugazi gig mentioned above was way cool. Still there is another gig that comes to mind.

 

The gig was a triple bill at the mildly infamous Cambridge Hotel in the west end of Newcastle. You Am I, Front End Loader and Tumbleweed were on the bill. The Cambridge Hotel was one of Newcastle’s few mid-sized rooms that has always supported original music, and lots of it. From international and national acts through to locals. 

 

The Beastie Boys have played the Cambridge as Quasar. And, The Cambo was one of the few venues that often had international and national acts mid week. Not bad for a regional town in the middle of nowhere, and at the arse end of the Earth, to use a phrase made famous by the 24th prime minister of Australia.

Anyway, You Am I opened that night and there was only a handful of folk in the room for the first band. Aside from their energy and sound, with Front End Loader and Tumbleweed watching on from the side of the stage it was pretty clear that something special was going on. Tim Rogers, You Am I’s frontman, looked like a barefoot hippy from the 60s, he was pin-wheeling like Pete Townsend’s mentor. He was on fire. Over the coming months and years You Am I would release a number of iconic Aussie albums and go on to tour the USA supporting Soundgarden.

 

That night had three amazing independent Australian bands, all on one bill, doing their thing. Sadly The Cambridge Hotel was recently sold and will become apartments. Much like the Morrow Park Bowling Club that hosted the mighty Fugazi, time has taken a toll.
 

 

What would your ideal festival line up be and why?

 

Midnight Oil, The Church, You Am I, The Cure, Stone Roses, Grandaddy, Pavement, Fugazi, REM, Pink Floyd and The Pixies would be amazing. If The Beach Boys and the Beatles were to come out to close the show with Mark Knopfler adding some chops over the top, then I’d always remember that.

 

 

 

What would you say is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

 

My uncle once said finish your degree. That was pretty good advice as I learnt that study was a good thing. Finishing that degree provided proof that going on to study music would also be a good thing!

 

 

 

What things make you happy and what things annoy you?

Being happy is not so much about things but more about getting rid of enough things so that you can just enjoy time. Having said that I’d find it hard to be happy without a guitar and fresh sets of strings.

 

As for what’s annoying, other than snapping strings, the way folks rarely seemed to care about other folk, or this amazing world, can be annoying. Given what we know about space, we are lucky to have found ourselves living on Earth. Wrecking it just makes no sense.

 

 

 

What things do you like to do when you are away from music?

 

Hanging out in the garden. That may seem a bit weird. But for those in the know, growing your own food and cooking it is one of life’s simple pleasures. TV shows and movies are also pretty cool. There is just not enough SciFi or zombies. Someone should fix this.

 

 

Do you think social media and the internet are a good thing in the music industry?

 

Social media is really best taken with a grain of salt. After all, these platforms are driven primarily to make money, and music, like most art, is not just about money. 

 

In the social media world the music industry is just part of a large aggregated revenue stream. They matter as much to social media platforms as independent artists matter to corporate labels. And that’s not much.

 

Having said that, the internet offers an amazing platform to share knowledge, language and culture.

 

The internet also offers musicians a doorway into the world of media and radio that was all but closed prior to the the early 2000s. 

 

As soon as self-publishing and social media came into play the ground shifted. The end result seems to be that platforms and businesses running on internet devoured all value that had previously been placed in recorded music. The corporate, money making part of the music industry was forced to merge and adapt. 

 

But, for independent artists not much really changed. Less than a third of a cent per stream will hardly allow all the musicians on Spotify to suddenly retire. And, Google is one of the world’s largest and most successful companies, yet YouTube pays nothing to most of the musicians publishing content there.

 

All up there are good and bad things about how the music industry, and musicians, leverage the networks and services available online.

 

Both social media and the internet are like a modern day wild west. Here, independents chase the viral equivalent of a first strike gold rush, and any social media owner could easily become the next failed MySpace. Everyone in the middle is just along for the ride.

 

 

 

How important do you think your look and image is when it comes to being in the music industry?

 

The music industry is obsessed with image, mostly because the music industry is made up of people, and people are obsessed with how other people look. What people say comes a distant second. 

 

Phrases like “did you see … last night” are an almost universal response between people after a gig. It is very rare to hear someone say did you listen to, or did you hear the band last night. Sure, some people will say the singer or band sounded great, but not often.

 

This is not surprising given that sight is our dominant sense. This sight combined with an insatiable curiosity for what is going on behind closed doors drives us all.

 

So, is look and image important in the music industry? The answer is yes. Should image carry as much weight as it does? Probably not, especially in cases where image outweighs music to the point where things just get silly. Sadly, silly happens 24/7 within the music industry. Still, the music industry should not feel too bad about this, or care too much, because silly is going on everywhere, all the time.

 

 

 

Can you tell us about any tattoos you have and the significance of them to you?

 

Not really, other than to say that tattoos are an important way to mark points in life, beginnings and endings especially. Like all of us, tattoos fade.

 

 

If you run the country for a day what would you change about it and why?

 

This is a big question. Few are happy with their lot all of the time, yet most people, whether they realise it or not, are resistant to change. This is one of humanities great paradoxes. 

 

As far as we can tell, we are the only animals that are capable of initiating change, and we tell ourselves constantly that anything is possible. Yet most of us hate change.

 

So if I got to run the country for one day, then things would be more Robin Hood as opposed to status quo. This would also entail ensuring that Sherwood Forest was not only protected, but grew.

 

 

What would your ideal day consist of?

 

The ideal day would probably flow as such. Start with the perfect coffee, followed by some guitar, great food from the garden, dinner, beer, and hanging out with mates and family. Simple stuff. Definitely, no work or chores for other folks!

 

If you could say one thing to your fans what would it be and why?

 

Recycle.

 

How would you answer the question Who are Plastic People and what are the differences between you as a music artist and you away from music?

 

We are all plastic people. That is simply because like plastic we are all flexible and capable of change. It is also because plastic is inside everyone of us whether we like it or not.

 

As for artist versus person, aside from a little personal hypocrisy, they are mostly one and the same. I think my mates and family would agree. They’d probably also tell me to shut up.

 

 

 

What was the first record or song you purchased and why?

 

A double album called Gossip by Australian musician Paul Kelly. I had heard a song called Leaps And Bounds, and another called Before Too Long. I still listen to tracks from Gossip often.

 

The album is jam packed with melodic hooks, grooves, stellar guitar playing. Not sure exactly what genre it is as there’s a bit of everything in it. There’s blues and country influences, along with rock, surf, indie, folk, and some reggae. Do yourself a favour, you’ll be glad you did, especially if you like guitar.

 

 

 

What would say to someone thinking about becoming a musician and getting into the music industry?

 

I guess I’d say practice your craft and find your sound. There is always more to learn about music, more than can be fit in many lifetimes. So get stuck in. Find the time to play every day. Find the time to practice every day. Playing and practice are not the same. And, if you are interested in writing music then write every day and practice writing every day. It also would be a good idea to learn about live sound and recording. 

 

 

 

If you could collaborate with any other band/singer or musician who would you choose and why?

 

John Lennon and Paul McCartney. JS Bach would be mad too. Actually, if the collaboration could be an impossible made up band of Lennon, McCartney and Bach, then that would be nuts. Listening to Bach and McCartney banging on about bass lines would be awesome. I’d be happy to just sit back with John and listen.

 

 

 

If you could have written one song from history which would it have been and why?

 

This is also a hard question to answer. Still it would be Yesterday. The inseparable nature of the lyrics and melody, the harmonic melancholy, the heightened sense of sadness delivered in spades by the string quartet, the use of repetition, the juxtaposition of the A and B sections, the coda. It is all perfect. 

 

 

 

What things make you uncomfortable?

 

Authoritarians.

 

 

 

If you wrote a book about yourself what would it have in it?

 

It would be an Aussie tale about how Reverend Genes managed to build a machine that turned day-to-day humdrum into clear space to make music.

 

 

 

What has the rest of the year got in store for you?

 

2024 will mostly be about arranging, recording and mixing new songs. Most of the initial writing is already done. The lyrics, and initial tracking to test out arrangements are also in place. The next step is to go back and check if any of the early tracking is worth keeping. Most likely the guitars and vocals will be re-tracked. 

 

Videos and artwork for the new tracks also needs to be wrapped up. The development of AI text to video is also something that is getting interesting. Being able to create high quality, custom footage in an affordable way will be another game changer for musicians.


There will also be ongoing promo and follow up for the current Time EP and the Change EP that is due early 2025. After the Change EP is out, hopefully there will be another opportunity to revisit the Space Time Change recordings across radio and media before launching into new tracks.

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