Children Collide
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Children Collide

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You could attribute the band’s steady avoidance of creative entropy to this no-bullshit approach. While the band’s sound has increased to epic proportions, and their experience with a revolving door drummer roster, it’s that tenacity which has carried them from the humble surrounds of Ding Dong and into our current decade – whereas so many others have failed. In the midst of the final tour with Ceaser, Mackay lets us in on the creation of the new record.

“That is something that the three of us have together, that drive. Obviously we’re about to lose our fourth drummer, but that drive definitely made him a part of our team. Maybe some bands just don’t have that. For me it’s just something that I can’t not do. And for me to have this avenue and to be able to make a living off it  and be able to play for people, it’s something I will always fight for, for sure,” he states.

Rather than spew forth the hackneyed cry of “creative differences”, the band laid everything out in announcing Ceaser’s departure. “[Giving a vague explanation] was contemplated, but that’s really not who we are,” Mackay reasons. “Also it would have left room for a lot of really annoying interviews if we had to tapdance around it. There’s really not much more to say on it. He’s a really good dude and one of the best drummers in the country. Just sometimes these things don’t work out on a personal level. Saying that, this tour’s been great.”
Historically, it’s around the stage of the third album in which three-piece rock outfits tend to expand their ranks, whether it be in the studio or in the live setting. As Johnny explains, he’s content with the notion of ample onstage real estate. “This album actually has a few extra bits on it where we could actually get some else in to play. But we’ve always had the extra noises going on in our production. I guess it’s a thought, but I suppose our space dynamic would be pretty weird on a smaller stage – with an extra person there I’d probably end up knocking over their keyboard or whatever they’d play,” he laughs. “But that could be part of the fun, I dunno.”

Monument more than lives up to its title, sounding stadium-sized despite adhering to the triptych of instrumentation. “That all comes down to Woody [Annison, producer] really,” Johnny explains. “Woody and I would sit there with three or four amps set up, I’d be pulling out pedals left right and centre. We’d have up to ten or 12 guitars, maybe more, to choose from. We’d just sort of go through and test the sound. Woody’s done a really great job on the production.” Just as George Martin was unofficially labelled the fifth Beatle, Johnny has no qualms in calling Woody the fourth bandmate. “In a sense, yeah. We did our second EP with him, as well as pretty much all our demos since then. Not so much on a creative level, but on a production level he’s that for sure.”

The concept of a pre-album launch tour can prove to be a bit daunting, with newer material lacking the benefit of familiarity. Though that may be the case for the trio’s current tour, the fresh cuts are going down a treat. “We’re only doing a couple off the record on this tour, but there’s one called Cherry that’s killing it live. Everybody’s just paying attention to it, which feels good,” he beams.

The first taste of the album came in the form of Sword To A Gunfight, a track which has drawn favourable comparisons to Primal Scream – an influence which may have come about from sharing the bill on the 2011 Big Day Out. “I dunno, I always experiment in a lot of different ways. Whatever I’m listening to at the time seems to come out. That’s sort of what just happened, it wasn’t very conscious. Sword To A Gunfight was written pretty much straight after the Big Day Out tour, and I was just mucking about in my room trying to get a little bit like Bobby [Gillespie]. It didn’t really turn out that much like Primal Scream, but it’s always fun to try and attempt those things,” Johnny ponders. “I’m not a very good emulator, so whenever I try to emulate it always sounds like I’m trying to do something else anyway. There’s probably a lot more early ‘70s German stuff on there more than anything.”

Having made mention of that UK and German influence, the band retains a distinctly Australian virtue, one which they hold onto with pride. “I just feel like I sound like a fake dick when I sing with an American accent. I think a lot of people do. It’s a massive turn-off for me when I hear Australian bands sing with an American accent. They generally sound like dicks,” he laughs in his broad Aussie accent.

Averaging around one album per year, Children Collide stand as one of the very few modern acts to maintain a prolific output. “I find it difficult to restrain the output,” Johnny states. “I’d put out more albums if it was feasible. I’ve got hundreds of songs sitting there ready to go. I’m not saying they’re all good, but I do write a lot of songs,” he grins.

With the current single tour wrapping up before the album’s release at the end of month, the band have no concrete plans for the middle of the year. Obviously, auditioning a new drummer is a foremost priority. “I’m trying not to think about it at the moment,” he states. “As far as we’re concerned, Ryan’s our drummer. And once he finishes, we’ll just sift through the hundreds of drummers who have contacted us so far and choose a small group to have a muck around with and see how we feel. My sister is an organisational psychologist and she does those personality tests on people, and my mum’s been saying, ‘Why don’t you get her to do a personality test on your new drummer?’ Then I have to tell her that it really wouldn’t go down that well,” he chuckles.

Already a formidable force on the festival circuit, it looks like the upcoming season won’t disappoint the band’s devout following. “I’d say we’ll do a bunch of festivals. I’m going overseas for a bit, so I dunno what’ll happen there. Then when I get back we’ll do the album launch tour, because what we’re doing now is only the single tour. I’m sure our manager has grand plans, but who knows what they are – I have limited knowledge at the moment,” Johnny reveals in a suitably matter-of-fact way.

BY LACHLAN KANONIUK