Art Of Fighting Celebrate 21st Anniversary Of “Wires”

To celebrate the twenty first birthday of their debut full- length album Wires, Art Of Fighting have announced a run of Australian dates this coming September through October. Performing headline shows across the East Coast in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, and visiting regional areas in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, the nine date tour will see the band performing every song from the iconic Wires album.

The record’s eleven tracks are beautifully crafted melodic gems, from the opening track Skeletons, Reasons Are All I Have Left, Just Say I’m Right, and Give Me Tonight, the album is a stand-out from start to finish. This record remains one that is etched in the minds and hearts of their fans and peers, so much so, that twenty years later Rolling Stone Australia listed Wires as the 159th best Australian album of all time. To coincide with the anniversary and tour Wires will be released on vinyl for the first time as a deluxe double album with gatefold artwork through Hobbledehoy Records. Ollie Brown answers a few questions about this iconic album and tour.

Congratulations on the 21st birthday of your debut album Wires. Can you believe how fast the time has whizzed by?
Thanks! It totally has passed fast. When I was younger I thought there would be a point where I would go, oh wow, I’m older, I better act like it. But you’re always still you, just with more perspective. My 40 something perspective on Wires is that I’m (graciously) envious of the younger me that could write such unfussy and uncomplicated songs, something that definitely becomes harder with more time and experience.

How exciting is it to see this released as a special double vinyl package?
When the album came out in 2001, CD was the main format and digital downloads were looming. Vinyl was glamorous but pretty niche at the time. I was a massive CD collector but only really because that was the default format and hence the main way I consumed music. With Wires we went with the digipak CD cover (the folded cardboard sleeve) so we could maximise the luxury feeling of the artwork (Thanks, Trifekta!). I guess that ‘deluxe’ CD packaging was a follow-on from the vinyl format in that you felt you were buying a nice ‘thing’. But as a physical format CD is is kind of lacking, like a mini vinyl (with poorer sound quality). For me, cover art forms a huge part of the mystique of an album, so seeing Wires big and bold on vinyl is awesome. And it sounds great!

Was there a bit of work going through photos for the artwork?
I went through many old hard drives and old CD-ROMs in my hunt for the original Wires CD album art. Luckily, I found it. Also luckily, at the time we made sure the album art was high enough resolution to work for a poster, so it scaled up ok for the vinyl. I can honestly say that when the album came out in 2001, there was no conceivable world where you would need to make the art high-res enough for a vinyl re-issue. Which seems strange in hindsight.

What highlights or particular moments stand out for you as being significant when the album came out?
The album ended up being released on independent labels in Japan, Taiwan and the US, and also got a bit of airtime on some European community radio stations. That meant that we could set up tours in those places with local agents and know we’d have at least some folks at the shows. So we did our first international touring after Wires came out, which was obviously awesome. A funny story from that time is that the album was nominated for Best Alternative Release at the 2001 ARIAS and we were so convinced we had no chance of winning that we proceeded with our long-in-the-planning European tour. We found out on tour in Germany that we’d somehow won and we were in utter disbelief (and pretty delirious).

Which single from Wires sums up the album?
I guess it’s probably Give Me Tonight, which was the kind of default ‘radio single’. It bridged the gap between the slow and gentle guitar music we were making with stretches where it grows in intensity and tension, hallmarks the band has come to be known by. It’s also pretty melodic and ‘catchy’ as far as our songs go. The second one would probably be our bassist Peggy’s song I Don’t Keep A Record, which was a lot of peoples’ favourite on the album. But anecdotally, everyone seems to have their own favourite (mine is probably Skeletons) and I think that’s a good thing as it indicates the album is pretty consistent.

Was there any temptation to re-record or remaster the album?
I don’t think so. That would make four times as we demoed the whole album twice before recording the final version. This mainly because we are super obsessive and pedantic, but also because at the time we’d never recorded in a ‘real’ studio and we were nervous about running out of time and money. I think if we remade it today, it would sound pretty different as we’ve obviously changed as people and musicians over the years. The album was actually re-mastered from the CD master specifically for the recent vinyl re-issue so that sort of counts.

How much are you look forward to the tour to celebrate this album?
We’re really looking forward to it! Wires is probably the album of ours that presents best in a live setting mainly because it was essentially recorded that way. There are only a few overdubs on each of the songs and it’s mainly just us and our bass/ drums/ guitars/ voices. So it translates well to the stage. As for the touring itself, that’s always great fun. We’ve been friends for 25 years so it’s impossible not to have laugh and have fun.

Will Adelaide get a look in?
Sadly, no. Genuine apologies.

Is Wires played start to end?
Yep, that’s the idea. We thought about playing the songs in a different order but as soon as we tried it it just seemed off. Back in the day it took us many, many late night sessions with the final mixes trying to sort out the song order and once we finally had it there was no going back. Of course, once the Wires section of the concerts is over (and it’s a pretty lengthy album at 55 minutes), if the audience clearly wants more maybe we’ll do a few tunes form our other albums.

Are there plans for Art of Fighting to record any new music?
I’m always working on bits and pieces of music and have songs bubbling away, so there’s always material for when we get the chance to rehearse. These days I live in Copenhagen with my family and everyone else still lives in Melbourne, so it’s more of a geographical issue. That said, maybe this tour will provide the inspiration we need to get cracking on album number five…

Interview By Rob Lyon

Catch Art Of Fighting on the following dates. Tickets HERE

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