Sarah Jane Music, AKA Sarah Jane, the Aussie alt-rocker and popular Youtuber, is releasing a new album on Oct 23rd 2020 into the world.
Being a fan of her highly emotive tracks, I thought I’d see if I could grill her on the details around this new album, which I was lucky enough to hear in advance of its release.
Here is our conversation. Enjoy!
When did you record this album?
SJM: I started recording this album in September 2019 and finished it in early July 2020.
Where did you record this album?
SJM: I recording everything in my home studio! ( even the drums)
Who’s a part of this album, in terms of the recording of it?
SJM: I recorded everything myself except for the initial set up for the drums as my dad acted as the drum audio engineer. But apart from that, I recorded everything myself. I had a couple of different drummers feature on the album, I had my partner Ben play on ‘August’ & ‘Cut My Teeth’, I had ex-Violet Stones drummer Mate play on ‘Suffocate’ and lastly my dad played on ‘Poison’. All the other drum parts were played by me (as well as all the instruments)
Why did you record this album? 😀 (existential question)
SJM: haha! I have sooo many songs & I had been planning on releasing this album before I even released my debut album ‘Absence’. I knew I wanted this album to be bigger and have a full band on most of the tracks. But I guess I recorded the album cause I just have a lot of songs & I love producing my own stuff. It’s just fun and I get a really cool product at the end of it all.
What kind of gear did you use to record this album? ie. vocals, ie. drums, or whatever.. any type of gear you’d want to mention.
SJM: Firstly, I used my dad’ss huge Sleishman kit. I’m not really sure about all the details of it but it’s a super good kit. With the guitars, I also used my dad’s Fender Strat to record all the clean parts cause it sounds amazinggg and I just used my Fender Jag to record all the distorted parts! I recorded the guitars through the Modern Vintage Marshall head with a Marshall MX212A Cab.
For the majority of the electric guitar parts, I ran in through my sans amp pedal. The main distortion I used was the Biyang Fuzz Star as well as the classic Boss Distortion Ds-1 & the Rat Pro co.
For all the acoustic songs, I used my classic LAG guitar (which is featured in all my youtube covers), and in ‘Talk About It’ I used my trusty ‘Gypsy Rose’ Nylon guitar. And I recorded all the acoustic guitars AND all the vocals through a Behringer B1 Condenser Mic.
Do you feel that this is a concept album, or more a group of songs that you’ve been working on lately that just happened to get put on this album? How do you see the sequencing of the tracks and is there a sort of narrative going on?
SJM: Originally I had just thrown a bunch of songs in together and called in an album but during the early recording process, I started writing some new songs. I was going through some significant changes in my life and I guess the new songs were a way for me to express myself. In the end, I wouldn’t call it a concept album, but more of a ‘themed’ album in the way that they are a grouping of songs about different things but they were written around the same time. They all represent where I was and what I was feeling at that time.
This feels like a fairly doom-y album, or kinda like old school grunge style (ie. old school Nirvana or Silverchair, etc). Is this intentional or do you just happen to gravitate to the doomier subjects and song styles? ie. I notice there’s not really any fast songs on here.
SJM: I didn’t intentionally write it to sound like anything, it just comes out how it is haha. I guess I’ve been listening to some different bands and artists and my old influences are slowly washing away. I’ve been listening to a lot of Radiohead and Jeff Buckley lately so maybe that’s why there are not so many upbeat ones. I also suppose it ended up like this because when I write a song, I decide whether it would suit my band more & I guess I prefer making upbeat songs with my band rather than by myself. I sorta see it as different styles, if that makes sense.
Are you influenced by any specific bands from your country, either local or more famous?
SJM: There’s a band called ‘Tired Lion’ who are from Australia and they’ve been a big inspiration for me for years. I think that’s the only major one who has influenced me. I really gotta get more into Australian bands.
Do you like country music? This album has a bit of that twang-y acoustic guitar vibe happening.
SJM: uhhhh I wouldn’t say I do. I used to be obsessed with Taylor Swift when I was a teenager but that’s as far as that goes hahah
What do you hope to accomplish with this album? ie. plan to tour, plan to do anything special around its release?
SJM: I WISH I could tour but sadly that’s just not a possibility at the moment and probably not for a long time. I just want people to hear the album and hopefully connect with it on some level & I would love to be able to sell out on the CDs I have so I can hopefully step up to Vinyl for my next release! I don’t really have any SET goals I want to accomplish as I’ve already accomplished what I set to do which was, produce another album.
How has your Youtube channel’s growth and success influenced this album? Or even just the nature of the channel with all the covers and whatnot.
SJM: I guess my channel isn’t growing as much as it could right now as I haven’t uploaded a cover in a while. But I did try that for a bit at the same time as recording the album & it just took too much time and energy and the truth is I don’t enjoy doing covers as much anymore. It became a chore rather than something fun and therefore I didn’t put much effort into them. I’d rather put my time and energy into something I love doing and at the end of it I have this piece of music that’s all mine and it’s something I’m proud of. I’m just glad that a lot of people who found me by my covers are also supporting my own music and who are taking an interest in it. I’m really glad that my covers have paved me a way to reach out to a ton of people who otherwise wouldn’t ever have found my music.
Was this a hard record to record? (I mean in terms of like personally, psychologically, emotionally taxing, uhhh.. logistically, etc)
SJM: I wouldn’t say it was hard, just time-consuming. Some songs took a while to record but others took one or two takes. The vocals for the song ‘Marry’ were done in one take and the vocals for ‘Rest’ took me about 2 months to finish as I was never happy with them. I guess ‘Rest’ took the most out of me cause it was just so frustrating and I thought I was never going to get it right. If anything, it has been therapeutic. It feels so good finishing a project that I’m proud of. And it has cost me a fair amount of money to produce but I’ve been working a ‘day job’ for the last 2 years and I have been saving for this (and also my band’s album). Working in my home studio has cut costs drastically but it still costs to make merch, CDs, mixing/mastering, advertising, etc. It’s still all worth it in the end.
How do you feel about the way it turned out? Is it rocking epically enough or you? 🙂 (Sometimes artists hate their own albums, ya know, which is why I ask)
SJM: No no I’m super proud of it. It came out way better than I expected. A lot of the songs were going to be just acoustic but it completely changed in the recording process. That’s what I love about producing. The initial product is completely different from the end product. I love it. I’m very proud of this album.
What’s next for you?
SJM: I have so much planned! Next, I have my band’s album which should be released at the end of the year and I’m also working on two other projects with some different bandmates. I am also planning on working on one or two concept EP’s for my solo work next. There’s so much music I wanna make haha!
Looking more into the “old school” side of guitar-based music, we also have Mr. John Scoffield on this list. And this is yet another of these “unexpected” mentions.
Nonetheless, this, once again, proves how Pro Co Rat can be versatile. In many cases, this depends on the other pieces of gear, but Rat is capable of creating very unique tones in almost any setting. And having such flexibility is what makes one pedal so great.
So whenever you hear John Scoffield play with distortion on, there’s a high chance he’s using the almighty Rat.
And if you still haven’t gotten the chance to listen to Scoffield’s music, then you’re missing out a lot.
In this article, I chat with my friend Bryan Rogers, self identified ex-mod, about his time growing up in and around the music of London, England, in the late 1950’s and early 60’s, where he experienced the birth of rock ‘n roll in the UK first hand. This was before Beatlemania, so pre-1963…
Bryan Rogers was born on the 10th December, 1940, in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England.
Here he is around age 2.
These were the pre-British Invasion days, and Bryan was there in person as bands like The Beatles, The Stones, and many more started playing small dance halls and theatres in and around London, before heading off to America to make it big.
Venues like the Locarno Ballroom in Swindon, the Lyceum in London, McIlroys in Swindon, The Locomotive Pub, Farr’s, Gaumont State Kilburn Ballroom, and so forth…these were places that Bryan would frequent to listen to these rock ‘n roll groups, whether they played live, or a DJ was there playing records so the teens could boogie-woogie, as it were.
All this was happening around the same time that American rock legends like Bill Haley and the Comets, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, and many others were coming over to the United Kingdom to find new fans in the youth of England, and influencing those British bands who would later “invade” America.
In speaking with Bryan over the years, I’d heard tell of his adventures in and around jolly old England (particularly London), seeing all of these bands and having some first hand encounters with a few of them.
Finally, I had a chance to sit down with Bryan Rogers, and chat with him on the topic of early rock ‘n roll in England in the early 1960’s, and what all went down back then – the way it was.
Bryan is, by nature, a curious cat, and usually cats live perilous lives, but this cat has fortunately survived to relate his tale to me, who was very interested to hear about his (mis)adventures and dirty deeds over across the pond.
Hope you all enjoy our chat, and if you have any comments or stories of your own, please leave them below!
On 50’s music and the 1960 British pop music charts
Bryan: So back in the ’50’s, it was mundane music compared to what it is today, like Doris Day and Frankie Laine …for Chrissakes!
And then there was The Shadows, who were the back-up group for Cliff Richards…they recorded a tune on their own called “Apache”, which was a knock off of an American group.
Anthony Newly was another English film star who became a singer, and then there’s Shirley Bassey…
Who else we got here?Roy Orbison’s in there with “Only The Lonely”.
Presley started to pop up around then too. Lonnie Donegan, Emile Ford and the Checkmates.Cliff Richards and the Shadows again, yeah.The Everly Brothers…these people are slowly coming on…yeah, these are the British, not the American charts, mind you.
And then there was people like Tommy Steele, who wanted to be American, like Elvis Presley, but he never was.
YTMS: Tommy Steele, never heard of him.Was he really famous?
Bryan: In England, he was…he was on a merchant ship, and he learned how to the play the guitar, so he sung a few songs…became a big hit.Because people like Bob Dylan were on the go, right?
YTMS: So he was a troubadour kind of guy?
Bryan: He was a folk singer…
YTMS: Big changes in music between 1960 and 1970…
Bryan: Yeah, the whole British Invasion happened.The Animals, Freddy and the Dreamers, The Kinks, and all those groups.I think The Animals come from Newcastle…
Seeing Rock Bands in the Early 1960’s (Pre-Beatlemania)
YTMS: When you were growing up over there in England, you saw a lot of these groups when they first came up?
Bryan: Yes, at the local dance hall, on a Saturday, they’d come and play, and we’d dance to them.
YTMS: What was the place called?
Bryan: The Locarno Ballroom, in Swindon.
YTMS: How big was it?
Bryan: Probably …
YTMS: 1000 people or so?
Bryan: Yeah.I’d also go to the Lyceum Theatre, in London, just off the Strand, in the center of London.It was all mainly records there.
YTMS: Just records?
Bryan: DJ’s, yeah.
YTMS: Any bands there?
YTMS: Ah, it was just a dance club, not really a venue for live bands to play.
YTMS: So where did you start seeing actual bands play, and when?
Bryan: Most of the people from that time, most of the bands…like The Undertakers, that was one of ’em…because of the success of The Beatles and The Stones, bands started coming around to the dance halls to play.
Some of these groups found success, like Freddy and the Dreamers.. I didn’t really like them, but there you go. Uh, who else?There was the Dave Clarke Five.
YTMS: They were a rock group?
Bryan: Yeah. “Bits and Pieces” was one of their songs. “Glad All Over” was another one of their hits.They come from Tottenham area of London.
YTMS: So they played at the Locarno?
Bryan: No, but I saw them play in Tottenham.
YTMS: You’d travel around to see bands play?
Bryan: Oh yeah.When I was livin’ in London, I had a scooter, and I’d tour around to the different city halls, dance halls…
YTMS: How far would you go to see a group?
Bryan: Half way across London.
Bryan: Yeah, and London’s a big place.
YTMS: Just scoot on over?
Bryan: Yeah, Seven Sisters Road… just down the road from the stadium, there was a pub on the corner… at the pub, they’d have these dances, play all these pop songs…
YTMS: You were big on the clubs at the time around there?You and your friends?
Bryan: Yeah…we’d hang out at Baker Street, which is in the book about Sherlock Holmes.22B Baker Street.
I used to go to a club called Farr’s.F A double R apostrophe S, Farr’s.We were about 14 or 15 then.So we’d go there, and we used to have tailor-made suits.
Bryan: Ok, here’s the scoop.My friend Dennis and me.. Dennis lived down the road from me.. and he says, “Bryan, do ya want a job?”Paperboy…I said “Sure.”We had to walk two miles up the road, to this place called Ellington’s.We go straight up Carlton Vale, and if you’d continue up Carlton Vale, at the end is a T junction, and that’s Abbey Road.THE Abbey Road.
So, prior to coming to Abbey Road, on Carlton Vale, we turn right on Maida Vale I believe it was, and we’d walk along there, and turn left, across from Maida Vale underground, and there was Ellington’s.So, we were paid to mark up the papers, like, everybody in England had the morning paper.We’d get the address for some apartment building, or “mansions” as we called ’em, take a Daily Mirror paper and a Women’s Own magazine, put them together, write the address down, fold them, put them aside, and a paper boy or girl would come and take them.
So we used to mark up the paper rounds, and we also had a round of our own.Now, let’s put it in dollars, it’ll be easier to understand.They were pre-paid, say, 50 cents a week to deliver papers…
Bryan: Dennis and I would get, say, 3 dollars a week to mark up the papers every morning to deliver a round, and our own round as well.A suit back then, it used to be guineas, would be, say, around about 17 dollars for a tailor made suit.So we were makin’ 3 bucks… what do you think we’d spend our money on?Sharp linen.So when we’re 14, we’d save our money.And another thing, we’d have a con game going.We’d go around to all these different apartment buildings, or mansions, that we knew were the other paper boys’ routes… knock on the door every Christmas, tell ’em we were the paper boy…
Bryan: …and they would give us a tip.Maybe 50 cents or a dollar.
YTMS:That’s pretty good…
Bryan: So that used to go towards our suit fund.Twice a year we’d have tailor-made suits!
YTMS: You bought more than one I guess…had a whole wardrobe full of ’em?
Bryan: Yeah.Dennis had some overcoats made, but I never got those.
On Becoming A Mod
YTMS: What were you guys like you called?
Bryan: Mods.We had the short hair.
YTMS: You were trying to be a mod on purpose?
Bryan: We never thought about it at the time, but yeah.We’d pick up some shoes, they were tapered.Pointy, tapered shoes.Fake crocodile skin…We had flared trousers…
Bryan: …with a little slit on the side at the bottom.And maybe 2 or 3 covered buttons going up the seam on our jackets.Single or double breasted, covered buttons, as well.
YTMS: Hm…This is what it was like to be a mod.Any other defining characteristics?
Bryan: We had short jackets.
YTMS: Does that mean you were cool?
Bryan: Yeah, we were with it.
Bryan: No, no, no.We had our own little clan, and we’d gyrate together, at these dance halls.
YTMS: Yeah, yeah.
Bryan: Now, if there’s any “teddy boys” around, or “rockers”…
YTMS: Is that what the other guys were called?
Bryan:Yes. Now, they wore jackets down to their knees…black velvet collars…and had really tight jeans on.And they had these boots called “chukka boots”.They used to have crimped soles about that thick , black or dark blue.
Bryan: So imagine – big pairs of boots and long jacket with hair down back, like Presley, you know.. a D.A. .. Tony Curtis, you know.. film star.. he had that down there, and that was called a duck’s ass.Parted down the middle, it all come down.. and then a quiff over here …So they were teddy boys, yeah.And if we ever met… it was a punch up.Sometimes, we’d get on our scooters, and we’d drive down to Bornemouth or Brighton..south end, that’s on the coast…and we see any rockers, it them or us.. we’d go for it.. like Quadrophelia.
YTMS: Did you go looking for ’em?
YTMS: Were you worried about seeing them?
Bryan: No, there was usually more of us than them.
YTMS: Were there a lot of fights?
Bryan: Just now and again, not that often.
YTMS: People get stabbed?
Bryan: No, no. But, prior to that, the teddy boys…they used to have razor blades, put them in their collar, or in their hat.That was their weapon of choice – a razor.
YTMS: Sounds dangerous…
Bryan. So I come in at the end of the teddy boy era, basically, and at the beginning of the mod era.Which was good…I prefer to dress smart than scruffy with messy hair.
YTMS: Did that work better with the birds?
Bryan: The birds, yeah…
YTMS: Did the girls like rockers or mods better?
Bryan: The mod girls liked the mod boys and same with the rockers.You could tell by looking at somebody who was who.
YTMS: Did mods and rockers ever get together.
Bryan: Probably…well… I doubt it.
YTMS: So for bands at that time, who did you see?
Bryan: Prior to going down to the town Swindon where the Locarno was, I told you before I went to the Gaumont State Kilburn.It could hold 4000 people.
Guy Mitchell was in that early list here .Singin’ the blues, we went and saw him.When I was a young kid, every time I’d go by this theatre, I’d see Louie Armstrong would be advertised, Ella Fitzgerald, all the jazz people, yeah.
YTMS: Did you check them out?
Bryan: No, we were too young.Maybe 10 or 11.
YTMS: Not interested?
Bryan: No.And then we went up and we saw Guy Mitchell.We went and saw Bill Haley.I’ve told you this in the past.
Barging In On The Platters
And then, we saw The Platters.You’ve heard of them?
Bryan: So we said, let’s see if we can get in backstage and see them. Well, lo and behold, the first door we tried – it opened.You don’t usually… We pushed on the door and it opened.As we walked in, The Platters were there, as close as you are…there they were!I thought the girl was pretty.
They stood and looked at us, we stood and looked at them.Nobody said a word.Then somebody goes, “Hey, what the f*** you doin’ here, get the f*** out of here!And we were gone!
But…not only did they have this little stage at the state theatre, but they had this little dance area…and Gene Vincent came in…and he sung there.Be Bop A Lula.And that was another person who I told you before that you are aware of…The Beatles liked him.They all followed these guys.
YTMS: This is pre-Beatlemania?’62?
Bryan: Maybe a little before that.
YTMS: Did you ever end up seeing those big British bands.The Beatles, The Who?
Seeing The Beatles
Bryan: No, never followed The Who.I saw The Beatles and The Stones in Swindon. It was like an Eaton’s store, and they had a restaurant on the second floor…and on a Monday night, they used to have groups there.Or lone singers…and this was prior to The Beatles becoming famous, they were there…The Rolling Stones another week.Long John Baldry was there. He was there, he was talking to this guy, he had a woman with him, and I was there with my friend Dave…and we could hear everything they were saying, we were standing by the bar…
YTMS: Didn’t you tell me some weird story about this guy?
Bryan: Yes, I did.So after a long conversation, this guy says to Long John Baldry, “Who’s the girl?” and Long John Baldry turns to the girl and says, “What’s your name again?” So, all these singers at the time, they all knew one another… they used to meet up.Elton John got his name…it’s allegedly said… they were lovers, Elton John and Long John Baldry.I heard this many years later, on the radio.. and…they split up, Long John Baldry dumped Elton John.. his real name was something like “Jimmy”…
Bryan: Reggie something-or-other, yeah yeah…so, he changed his name, and because he liked Long John Baldry, he called himself John…this is the rumour, anyway…where he got Elton from, I don’t know…but it’s been successful for him.
Long John Baldry Reuinion (Many Years Later)
Bryan: So, fast forward to a few years ago in Cambridge. There was a bar over by Soper Park and Highway 8.There was a little blues bar in there.
YTMS: The Cave?
Bryan: No, that little plaza with the pizza place.Around the corner, they had a blues bar.And Martin says to me, cause he was workin’ there…he says, “Dad, come, Long John Baldry’s here! Why don’t you come and see him?” So I went and saw him…he had this hat on, he always had this thing for a hat… and long hair now…When he was at Swindon, he wasn’t wearing a hat when he was talking to that guy and that gal, and he had short hair…blonde hair…he was a tall guy, about 6’4″, maybe taller. That’s why they called him Long John, I guess.He was in this blues bar here and Cambridge and I went to see him…And, as he walked towards the dressing room I went to speak to him…
YTMS: He didn’t remember you, did he?
Bryan: No, no…I just wanted to say “Hey, I saw you in Swindon!”, but he just poo-poo’d me away and went into the dressing room. So Martin spoke to him after the band were done for the night. He said “Yeah, I remember Swindon, yeah” But I didn’t know he was gay ’til Martin mentioned it.
Bryan: I had no f***** idea.
YTMS: He came to Cambridge (Ontario)?
Bryan: Yeah, he came and sung in that bar.
Bryan: To me it’s the end of the road if you’re singin’ there.But, he was known by a lot of people.
YTMS: Yeah, he was famous.
Bryan: Yeah…I’ve got all these books here about all these different musical groups, and now and again they’ll cross paths.
McIlroy’s in Swindon
YTMS: So what was that place that was in Swindon, the restaurant?
Bryan: Yeah, on Monday nights it was a dance club, and during the day, a restaurant. One night, we saw Jerry and the Pacemakers.The place was called McIlroy’s.
YTMS: Was this a cool place to play?
Bryan: Yeah, and it probably held about 500 people.And a lot of the performers came there just when they were getting famous, or prior to.
YTMS: The Stones played there?
Bryan: Yep. This was before they were locked in a room and told not to come out before you write a f***** hit song.
Bryan: If you look up McIlroy’s in Swindon, you’ll see some of the flyers of the Beatles and the Stones.
YTMS: You were allowed in to this place, at 14, 15?
Bryan: Yeah, there was no booze.Actually, maybe there was.You used to be able to drink at the Locarno.I was 19 or 20 then.But you could drink when you were 16…there were no drugs back then.No one talked about them, and they didn’t even really exist to us.The only people doing drugs were the groups – the Beatles and the Stones.In the circle of people I moved with within London, and within Swindon, we didn’t do drugs.We didn’t have a clue.
YTMS: Probably for the best…
Bryan: I remember…I used to hang out with a guy named Eric Heaton.We eventually had an apartment between us, and had all the birds over.We had a friend, Willie, who used to hang out at Locomotive pub in Swindon.
Eric used to go there more than I did.One time, we finished drinking in there, they closed the bar.Willie says “Come on boys, let’s go back to my place and have some carrot wine.” “No,” i said…I’d had some of my mother’s homemade wine, knocks the s*** right outta ya. “No, no,” he says, laughing like a crazy Irishman. So we go back to his place and have some carrot wine, on top of all the beer we drank.Then we staggered up the hill, until we got to the flat we were livin’ in.I laid on the bed, and the f***** room was goin’ round and round.Then I had to throw up, so I fell off the bed, got on my hands and knees, and crawled round to the bathroom.Oh, that carrot wine!
YTMS: I never heard of carrot wine.
Bryan: Brutal.So those groups back then, we’d watch them, and after a while we’d dance to them.They were pretty cool.
YTMS: Were you a fan of the American bands when they came to England?
Bryan: We might have seen a few of them.
Jerry Lee Lewis – No Encore?
YTMS: Didn’t you say you saw Buddy Holly?
Bryan: Buddy Holly was when I lived in London, and went to the Gaumont State Kilburn.
Like I said, the first guy we saw was Guy Mitchell. “Singing The Blues” – that was his big hit song.After that, it was Bill Haley and the Comets, and then Buddy Holly and the Crickets, and then there was Jerry Lee Lewis. I checked on this – he only sung in three concerts, and that was it.
YTMS: In the UK?
Bryan: Yeah, the press gave him a hard time, cause he had married his 13-year-old cousin. But I read many years ago in about 1980, in the Penthouse or Playboy, I was reading that, and here’s an article on Jerry Lee Lewis, and then there was a paragraph about Jerry Lee singing at the State Kilburn, and it said we boo’ed him off the stage, because he married his 13-year-old cousin.It wasn’t because of that.We listened to him…he did his bit, and here’s the reason why we boo’ed him…
Bryan: Why do you think?
YTMS: He sucked?
Bryan: No, he was fabulous.It was because he left the stage, and wouldn’t come back and do an encore.NO ENCORE.And another guy that would not play an encore was Roy Orbison. When I used to ride my scooter around London with my pals, we’d see tour posters with Roy Orbison and the Everly Brothers…
But you know, they were the best of times, the 60’s, and all those groups.There wasn’t 1 group, or 2 groups…we used to have parties at my house, with my parents.
After the British Legion closed on a Saturday night, people come over and we’d play records like Little Eva “Locomotion”, The Beatles, The Stones, and whoever else was popular at the time.
They were good parties, they really were, and then we’d sit around and play cards afterwards, drinkin’ my mothers’ home made wine.Then I’d get up and say “Holy f***!It’s broad daylight!” and everybody’d be gone…
And so concluded my chat with ex-mod Bryan Rogers. Stay tuned, we may yet chat again!
Today I spoke with Sarah Jane Curran, an alternative rocker and lead singer for the band The Violet Stones out of Sydney, Australia. I came across her music recently on Youtube (where she goes by Sarah Jane Music) and was impressed at all of the material on there, from original songs she’s written herself and with her band, as well as vlogs, live cuts, and a ton of cool covers of everyone’s favourite grunge rock classics (including weird B-sides and deep cuts).
Not only is Sarah a talented songwriter, but she can sing and pull off a number of different styles. Her channel is gaining momentum as I guess people like me stumble across her looking up old and new grunge style rock and metal, and her following grows as her band The Violet Stones do more gigs across Australia. A new album is also in the works. Here is our conversation which touches on a number of topics from this to that (and even *that*). Hope you dig it!
YC:Hey Sarah, how’s it going tonight?
SJM: It’s going pretty good thanks!
YC: Cool cool.So how’s the Australian music scene these days?
SJM: I don’t really have anything to compare it to honestly but I’ve just started playing around the scene last year and I think it is struggling a bit (mostly around the Sydney area). Although with bigger artists, I think it’s pretty good but it’s harder for smaller acts to get a following around here.
YC: Who’s big there now that everyone loves from the rock world…ermm.. Jet?
SJM: haha I don’t really hear about them tbh. But there’s this one band in particular called Tired Lion and they’re probably one of my favourite bands at the moment but they’re from Perth & I watched them gain more and more people at their shows every time they come back and they have a pretty decent following in every state I think.
SJM: Other bands that are big are bands like Violent Soho & Dune Rats. I guess that’s the sort of genre that is dominating the ‘alternative’ music scene at the moment. (Heavily influenced by grunge).
YC: Silverchair are done right? They’re like classic rock now i guess.. but they’re like a year younger than me so I remember when they came out I was like who are these little geeks? That was the second wave of grunge… post Cobain
SJM: haha the early Silverchair albums are probably a huge influence of Australian ‘grunge’. I’ve seen soooo many bands trying to be them
YC: And meanwhile they just wanted to be Helmet
SJM: If they were still around I’m sure they’d be one of the biggest bands here
YC: I think they were always slightly misunderstood in that they were more like Helmet than Nirvana but people just saw them as a mini Nirvana in the 90s
SJM:Yeah I never thought they sounded too similar to Nirvana but that’s what they’re sort of known for (for being the Australian Nirvana). My dad calls them ‘Nirvana in Pajamas’ hahahha
YC: awww.. cute. they’re a solid band.. I heard Daniel’s solo album and i thought it was half decent, even though it was like not rock at all as i recall. First few albums were pretty ass kicking. So your band.. is playing shows and such?
SJM: I actually saw Daniel Johns live! Yeah we are playing shows, and actually in the middle of recording our first album
YC: Daniel has a killer voice and rocks some mean riffs…anyway…How’s that going? I’m listening to Sheets of Denial.. pretty good for a demo…
SJM: It’s going pretty good, we’re getting our name out slowly amongst the Sydney scene. Thanks!
YC: I mean it sounds like not really a demo…how did you record that one?
SJM: We practice with an electric drum kit and plug our guitars straight into a console and it comes out into headphones that we all wear (so basically we can practice without making a lot of noise). And that demo was actually made I think the night we made the song, cause we record the songs so that we remember what we did ?
YC: Yeah. i can relate.. it’s easy to forget stuff…so wait that song has electronic drums?nahh
SJM: yeah it was recorded on an electric kit haha
YC: so what made you want to learn like 8 million covers?
SJM: hahah I guess in my early teens when I was just getting into Nirvana I decided to learn a lot of the songs cause you know, being able to play your favourite songs is pretty cool. So I did that and my friends and family were encouraging me to post them on youtube and I eventually did and people actually wanted more! I still post them because I guess it forces me to still learn songs even if I don’t feel like it and I guess it’s good for me to listen and try out new things with the covers
YC: lol yeah that makes sense…i mean having people pay attention helps motivation
SJM: yeah definitely hahah
YC: i’ve learned a lot of covers, but i can’t seem to get up the motivation to post them on my channel…i just post originals that no one listens to ? but you probably are aware that youtube’s algorithm kind of craves the stuff you’re doing.. ie. covers of famous songs…that’s how i came across you i think.. i was randomly looking up people covering Alice in Chains songs…
SJM: hahah yeah it really sucks how no one really cares that much about originals unless you’re already known for something else. Yeah, I guess thats part of the reason I do them still. Cause of course I don’t wanna always wanna do covers, I much rather play my own songs
YC: i’m in a band with a guy that actually despises doing covers. like, i’d be game to be in a covers band if it was cool covers. but he’s got a real hate for covers bands. cause it pushes original bands out of venues. he has a point i think
SJM: Yeah and theres a real market for cover bands over here.
YC: but people want covers…it pays the bar’s bills and shit
SJM: Yeah guess so, but it sucks. It’s really a hard market to break through in with your original music
YC: but your channel seems to be doing really well from what i can tell
SJM: Doing better than I ever expected like I had no idea what I did right
YC: well i do internet marketing for a living, so i know what i think you’re doing right
SJM: what did I do right then? hahah
YC: well…for one, youtube likes consistency. so you keep doing the same thing in the same format and that’s something youtube likes .. or like, the robots that control youtube. most people are unbelievably retarded and inconsistent
SJM: hahah yeah i knew that consistency was important, thats why I try upload once a week
YC: google / youtube likes to see a really consistent thing happening.. same look, same room, person, blah blah
SJM: ah cool thats good to know
YC: like if you’re too scatterbrained, and everything looks crazily different, youtube will be like “sorry bro”…it’s just like a theme, and also you’re not pissing off the family friendly part of the algorithm…and you’re a girl
YC: so the millions of freaks out there like girls as a rule…i’m not trying to say anything sexist lol but i mean.. it’s not my fault the world is sexist ? there’s probably some marketing thing where people trust girls more or something
SJM: No I know what you mean and I totally agree like I think people can’t get over the fact that a girl is singing and playing guitar on a System of a Down song. I think like 80% of my audience are dudes as well. think thats what my youtube stats say
YC: yeah.. it makes sense. well the other thing is musicians are notorious for not understanding marketing. it’s just not part of their mentality. so for instance the fact you can even interpret youtube stats .. or even know they exist. people in bands could give a fuck about that shit and when they do look at it, they don’t know what the fuck to make of it, and musicians from older generations are double screwed cause they just don’t get technology as it is today
SJM: hahah I think I’m very on top of things and very organized. Like I keep my band in order and I used to be the only one posted anything to our facebook page (they’ve started contributing more recently). my dads one of those people who doesn’t understand how to advertise or anything.
YC: yeah my band has a FB page but even i hate using it
SJM: it gets tiring but Facebooks been pretty good for my band. but I don’t think it does much for my youtube channel besides advertising and such
YC: i think it’s cool you have a really well rounded social media thing going on.. even on your youtube, you have the vlogs too, originals, covers, live shit
YC: it’s basically a sign that you and your band have your shit together
SJM: hahah I guess so
YC: so who are your biggest influences? i guess you’re big into Nirvana
SJM: yeah well I don’t really listen to them much now, but they’re basically my roots
YC: you’re covering b-sides and whatnot.. so not like.. average fan of Nevermind type thing. i notice with Nirvana you kind of sing the stuff he screams
SJM: um yeah. It’s because I can’t scream at the moment. I really want to though
YC: well you have the kind of voice that might get wrecked if you scream your lungs out
SJM: yeah I have tried and every time I do it, my throat hurts and thats not suppose to happen. But I got really into Korn recently..And other bands System of a down, Incubus, Hole, Foo Fighters, Tired Lion.
YC: how do you go about learning a korn song?
SJM: well its way more difficult since the guitarist use a 7 string so I basically find the tabs and have to transpose it into a way I can play it in standard
YC: yeah i was thinkin.. this isn’t standard. Who are some of your favourite players? like.. did you learn Korn because you’re obsessed with Fieldy? Fieldy crush?
SJM: haha nope I have a young Jonathon Davis crush. nah but I really love their songs and melodies and how its still heavy
YC: ah i see.. yeah chicks dig Jonathon
YC: I see your Cranberries cover got some traction eh
SJM: It did only after Dolores death though
YC: right.. yeah. who’s your fav guitar player at the moment?
SJM:I don’t really have favourite guitar players to be honest. I focus more on people’s ability to write songs and melodies
YC: yeah i feel ya on that.. it’s more about songs. so to tie it back to your album for a sec, when’s it gonna be done?
SJM: the bands album?
SJM: Should be done by the end of the year. We’re doing it diy so it doesnt really have a deadline or anything
YC: is there kind of a goal you have with this album? ie make it the heaviest fucking album of all time
SJM:We just want to get our stuff out there and have something to give to people when they ask us if we have an album or EP. Like we get asked after gigs often if we have anything released and we have to say no
YC: man.. you have nothing? for someone who records so much shit and does so much youtube, you should at least have something…….
SJM: That’s what we’re doing now hahah I guess because we didn’t know how we were gonna go about it like we’re broke and so we needed to find a cheaper option to record and we found it eventually. and we have demos and stuff out, enough to keep people somewhat interested
YC: so what do you give people? a USB? with demos? or nothing
SJM: Nah we don’t give them anything, they can just check out stuff online if they really wanted to
YC: hm well then! one more question – what are you recording stuff with ie. software?
SJM: We’re using Sonar X1. Basically my dads helping us out a lot with this and we’re just using what he has. We recorded the drums in a church and we had to set up everything from scratch and that was very interesting haha
YC: So you’re tracking things one by one, not doing live off the floor. that’s cool though, sounds like fun
SJM: nah we don’t have the set up for that and yeah it’s kinda good not having a deadline but also we just want it done. we kinda just want this album out of the way so we can start our next one because we like the new songs a lot more. just gotta do guitars, vocals and the mixing/mastering.
YC: Awesome.well it was cool to talk to ya.thanks for taking the time