In celebration of Abbey Road’s 50th anniversary, some of Australia’s most respected musicians and members of iconic groups, collectively known as The Antipodean Rock-n-Roll Collective (ARC) –Kram (SPIDERBAIT), Mark Wilson (JET), Davey Lane (YOU AM I) and Darren Middleton (POWDERFINGER) – all self-confessed Beatles tragics, will faithfully and lovingly bring The Beatles’ most audacious creation to life on stage, performing Abbey Road in full, from start to finish, followed by a second set comprising of a selection of hits spanning the breadth of The Beatles’ career and catalogue.
Joining ARC live on stage will be special guests Ash Naylor (Paul Kelly, Even and Rockwiz), Linda Bull (The Black Sorrows, Vika and Linda Bull), Brett Wolfenden (The Pictures, Jim Keays) and James Fleming (Eagle and the Worm, Bob Evans). I spoke to Kram about this awesome tour and what it is about Abbey Road that makes them what to celebrate the 50th anniversary.
It’s awesome that The Antipodean Rock-N-Roll Collective continuing to build momentum over the last few months…
It’s weird, we played a few years ago which was in Brazil for the World Cup and Daz haphazardly put the band together and asked if we wanted to go and just play a bunch of songs. It was such a fun trip and obviously Powderfinger, Spiderbait, You Am I and Jet have all played together many times before so we’ve all known each other for years. The friendship was always there already and it is quite a different band compared to
Powderfinger, Spiderbait, You Am I and Jet. It has its own energy, it is great that we get to do this project that we’re going to get to do this Abbey Road thing. It seems like the perfect time with the anniversary but for us as group it is going to be a really exciting project.
Do you think that there is the expectation that this will become more of a regular thing rather than just an outlet to have some fun?
We would really like to and we have written some songs in the past year. I think we will do that eventually. It is a matter of fitting it in and finding the right time to do it. The main reason is Spiderbait is doing a new record, I know Jet are planning on doing more work in the future, same with You Am I and just trying to fit in to everyone else’s schedule and with whatever else they are doing. I’m also doing this band with James Morrison and Paul Grabowsky called The Others. Creatively absolutely, so we’ll find the right spot and make a record would be awesome.
How did the idea come up to do Abbey Road?
Davey is probably the biggest Beatles fan I know, I thought I was but he is. We did a show in Perth with the Hoodoo Gurus last year and we had been talking about doing a production for some time. We have done sporadic shows and we really haven’t been able to do our record. Davey piped up and said it’s the fiftieth anniversary of Abbey Road next year and I’m like let’s do that and create a show out of that. I have done some Beatles stuff with him before which was really cool and I thought it was a perfect thing.
I ran home and wrote out the synopsis of how the show would work and who would play what, how we were going to approach it and we took it to our agent and they said this sounds sick then had further discussions with Live Nation who said yes, we’d love to do it. We can’t actually believe that we are doing it. It is going to be amazing and we’re really excited to be performing it especially from the perspective of it being a very organic production. It is a lot different to these sort of shows where you have you session band, session musicians and the singers come off and on. This is very much trying to play it as a collective band and everyone involved playing the record as organically as possible. It is very much a reflection of us as a group nd we thought we could do the record justice.
Was there any trepidation about taking on such a classic album?
Not for me, absolutely not! If there was trepidation I wouldn’t have done it but I’m always the person who says fuck it let’s just do it. I think you know deep down if you celebrate it and do it with joy and passion and not get stressed about it you will nail it, you’ll always do it. I certainly hope that we don’t fuck it up or something breaks or whatever but I really believe that we can do this record and really celebrate it, playing it the best we can.
Will some songs end up being more ambitious and take more rehearsing to nail it?
Absolutely! We want to be as true to the record as possible and keep hearing new things in it, covering within the group of us as much as what’s on that record. Some tracks will take a lot more rehearsal but that will be a joy to. I approach music as a joy not a chore. I love preparing and putting this shit together and I never approach anything from a perspective of fear. Fuck that! It is a magical space to inhabit but at the same time we have to do a fantastic job to even get close to it. We’re going to be working really hard to make this happen and I just can’t wait to do it.
Do you get in to full Beatles mode with outfits and so forth?
I’m not sure yet! I’m not entirely sure but I think we’ll dress up a bit, I won’t be coming out in short and a daggy old shirt like at a Spiderbait show but it has been very hot lately. I think whatever is suited to us as a group and the production, we’ll just wait and see. It is going to be organic but it definitely is going to be a show.
It is great that it is going to be a different type of show compared to the White Album Concert where there is a singer on, singer off with a house band…
I’m glad that you agree and that was one of the reasons why we wanted to do this big production. The whole thing about ARC in this regard, it is different compared to what everyone else is doing and it is that very fact. It is coming from the band creating that on stage together as opposed to splitting it up by singers and musicians which works fine as I haven’t seen the White Album show, I know all those guys really well. Chris said it was brilliant but I think it is from a perspective of really wanting to play the record as much as singing it. We want to play this thing as well as sing these songs as one group.
As you start going through Abbey Road do you find that certain songs suit certain members?
It is true, certain singers might find certain songs easier to sing, maybe it is an element of personality. I know I tend to sink in to John Lennon stuff really well but it depends on how the record pans out and how we are going to introduce each singer. There will be extra singers and musicians as well and more expansive than just the four of us. It is a really interesting record because it is so varied and there’s lots of different spaces to inhabit on each song. Musically, when you get in to side two it starts to really trip out to this beautiful continuum of music that goes on. Sidewinder is very much like a retrospective of the whole Beatles career. There’s different songs on that side that could be on all their different records. If you go in the case of Oh! Darling that’s almost like going right back to the start. It is a bit like the album is a story of the whole band and one of the magical aspects of it the work they did together.
Will that open the door to doing other Beatles albums down the track?
Sgt Peppers is almost begging to be done…
Yeah, there is talk of doing other projects , maybe some Beatles stuff as well, if we can manage to nail this and do a really good job we’ll start thinking about other projects we can do. I think because our tastes are so varied there’s any number of styles and bands that work that we could pay tribute to. Beatles is obviously one we would want to do again but we’ll see what happens. We still have a lot of work to do to get this show happening as well as we want to but we are well on our way. I just can’t wait to start.
Do you find this project really rejuvenating while Spiderbait take a brief break to work on the next album?
It’s funny, I’m doing so many different things at the moment, that’s personally self perpetuating and I know a number of artists from my generation such as Timmy Rogers is the same, Davey definitely, just keep doing all these different things all the time. If you love playing and you love travelling and you like creating work you just go for it. In some ways you are more productive than you were when you were twenty.
It is weird, wherever I go around the country and the world the tendency is when I land there and whoever I’m with I’m really in that moment. I’ve been very much in the Spiderbait moment for a bunch of months with this fantastic tour we have just done. Thanks to everyone in Adelaide who came to our show, it was epic. It reminded me of playing at the old Adelaide Big Day Out which was so exciting and brilliant. Now that we have done that we are talking about doing a new record together this year which will be cool but now it is like flying to a new place with a new group of people doing this Abbey Road thing. I’m really enjoying being in that zone but maybe you are correct in what you are saying in that when you are older you do more projects to rejuvenate all of them not just one of them. It is like constantly moving to different places all of the time and to keep things fresh and it seems to work really well for me.
There’s plenty of love in Adelaide for Spiderbait and things continue each tour to be on the up and up…
Thanks man, I really appreciate it, I think we are stronger now than we were years ago which is as big a surprise to us as to anyone else. I think we really enjoy the feeling, the audience, the music, each other’s company, so thanks so much and that was an awesome show.
Is there much you can say about the next album?
Everything I’m writing sounds like Motorhead and the Cosmic Psychos at the moment and then Abbey Road in between that and listening to a lot of Sex Pistols. I’m not sure how it is going to end up and we haven’t played and jammed together for a number of years since the last record in LA (five years ago), so we will just have to see how it will turn out. Some of it is trashy as fuck, some is a bit more complex but we do write a lot of material for a record so it will just depend on what ends up on the record. One of the things I would like to say is that when we do get to recording I think we would like to do it is fast as possible and not fuck around too much and keep it kind of live. That may change but who knows! At this point we are happy with the progress we are making.
Interview By Rob Lyon
For tickets to Abbey Road Live head to Live Nation