When faced with adversity, what do we normally do? Run? Confront it? Make a rock and roll album about it? In the case of Aussie Hard Rock quartet MASSIVE, they did the latter and now the explosive energy of Rebuild Destroy is now in stores ready to be listened to. Rock Out Stand Out chats with vocalist/guitarist Brad Marr about these songs, their touring experiences and advice he would give to a band starting out.
Hello Brad, thank you for joining Rock Out Stand Out today. So let’s talk about your new release Rebuild Destroy. First off, the name and message behind the record is strong, could you explain that further?
The name Rebuild Destroy is pretty personal. We had a crappy tour in 2016 where everything went wrong. Gigs got cancelled because of decisions made from higher up and there were venues we couldn’t fill. When you’re flying from Australia to do tour and to have ten out of the first fifteen shows cancelled, it breaks your bank. So we were just sitting around and there was nothing to do.
Due to the gigs going wrong, the label wasn’t happy that we weren’t selling CDs. Which is hard when the shows aren’t going well or are getting cancelled. We had a lot going on. Then we spent our money on a bus that eventually broke down. It broke the band. We were moving to Europe to take on the world but ninety days later we were back in Australia with our tails between our legs.
We nearly broke up as we thought it was over. If it wasn’t down to festival offers we were getting for the next year, we started thinking we need to do something about this. 2016 may have been just a one-off bad year for the band so maybe we could still salvage it. Some people wanted to leave, some people wanted to do it.
We got original guitarist Ben Laguda back. We did a tour and it was great, we recorded some new songs and they sounded great. So we thought let’s rebuild the band from the destruction we caused on the tour so that’s what’s behind the name.
Everything that could have wrong did go wrong on that tour, but we got a good rock and roll album out of it.
So the songs on the album. A lot of them stand out in their own way, was the song What You Gonna Do? written during that period?
That song is brutal. It’s about three different people that really pissed me off. What’s great about being a song writer is that you can get revenge on people. You don’t have to be a Facebook spammer and rant about people on online, you can just write a song about them. They can’t do anything about it if they can’t write songs.
I can tell you one of the people in the verses it talks about is a famous person. This person tried to start a fight with me in a pub about something that was alcohol fuelled and not my fault. Nonetheless he wanted to fight me.
Another verse is about an old mate who usually gives us thumbs down on YouTube as he’s jealous about not getting into the band. The other verse is about a girl who liked to man hate and liked to accuse some friends of things that got them into a lot of trouble. I was angry so I wrote an angry punk song.
Were any of the other songs on the album fuelled by this anger and hate?
The whole album is pretty much fuelled and triggered by it. Particularly the songs Roses and Face In The Crowd, these are personal songs that I wrote about people I know or knew. For me, it’s a way of getting these feelings off my chest. There wasn’t any hatred in those specific songs, they were more about writing about your life. When life serves you lemons, you write a song. That’s all you can really do, you can’t do much else.
I noticed there were some uplifting songs on the album. I liked Gettin Heavy.
That’s cool, it’s a little blues jig. It’s about people and things that have happened. We ran into a local celebrity in Australia at 5am in a pub. He was off his face, bragging to complete strangers who he slept with and all these cool things he had done in his life. I realised that maybe he used to be a millionaire and now he’s a looser. It seemed he was trying to live off his past life so I wrote a song about him.
It’s sad when you think about it. He could have spent the rest of his life in a mansion and now he’s with a bunch of drunk people on King’s Street at 5am bragging about the models he’s slept with. That’s what Gettin Heavy is about.
As a band, did you have specific roles when it came to contributing parts and lyrics?
When it comes down to the music, that’s more of a team effort. Myself and Ben [Laguda] share riffs, bounce off each other a lot. If I have half a song written up, Ben will make it come to life. If he has a riff, I take it from that and bring it back as a full song. We work really well together when it comes to writing music.
When it comes to lyrics as part of a band, you can’t have too many people telling the story. It’s more like, I’m the story teller and we make music together. It works really well for Massive.
Has there ever been moments where you have written lyrics and other band members have tweaked them slightly?
There’re no rules to it. I’m not precious about it so it’s not the end of the world if one of the guys asks if we can try something else. It’s cool. We always find a way to make something we all like in the end. We’re not precious, we know what we like and we all like similar things so it works out well.
Can we expect single releases from the album? You have Long Time Comin out at the moment.
We have just released that one. We did a lyric video a few months ago for Roses, it wasn’t originally going to be a single it was something to release so people knew we had an album coming out. So we released a little lyric video for it.
We started filming for two video clips because we don’t which one is going to be the next single. We have started doing a video clip for Bullet and one for Pieces. When us or the label decides which of those will be the next single, then the other will be the next single after that.
So this is the first album with your new label Off Yer Rocka Recordings, how did you find transitioning to them from your old label?
We have known them for years as they run Hard Rock Hell (HRH) Festivals and stuff. We’ve always had EarAche Records but after that tour, I think it was a mutual decision for us to go our separate ways. We actually finished the album a while ago and we searched for labels everywhere. Yes there were a few bites, few people interested and a couple of offers on the table.
In the end however, who do you trust? Some business company that only see dollar signs and could potentially do something good for you or a bunch of guys that know the band and are very keen to work with the band. Off Yer Rocka wanted to work with us and we wanted to work with people who wanted to work with us. So yes, big whoop and I’m happy.
Speaking of live shows, there was one tour you speak about on your website where you stayed at fan’s houses. Where are your favourite places?
Most of the time on this tour, we stayed in hotels which is good. I mean I like couch surfing, I love meeting people, going to stranger’s houses after gigs and trying out their cooking. Sometimes I like a bed that isn’t a fold out couch, on the floor or a pillow on the floor. It’s good to have bed but we still do it.
There’s a guy called Al, who lives in Birmingham who dedicates his live to rock and roll bands. Him and his late partner Valerie, used to invite bands into their home and cook for them. There have so much memorabilia in the house. Whenever we’re in Birmingham, we always stay at Al’s house and he’ll cook us a dinner, he still makes the effort and welcomes bands into his home.
Stuff like this is awesome as it brings it back home. If you are in hotels every night, you feel like you’re working. Whereas if you’re in a house with a person hanging out and watching the TV, it feels more homely.
You have appeared all over the world, do you notice a difference in audiences?
In America, they don’t buy tickets. You kind of have to force them down their throats. It’s too hard to go to America just because of visas and stuff. The UK are very good at buying tickets, we like to book in advance in the UK because we know people are going to come and we know there’s going to be money to afford to eat on tour. UK is always a good place to start for us.
Last year, we experimented a bit and went far east Europe. We went to Hungary, Czech Republic and Romania. That didn’t work out so well. You live and you learn, we didn’t know what to expect. We booked the tour and had local promoters in each country. They don’t get many bands over there and we found out why.
They all tried to rip us off and no one wanted to buy tickets. There was one night where the promoter walked us around and said certain people didn’t pay because of connections to the venue. Those countries are not on this year’s tour that’s for sure.
Having said this, it was an experience and we got to see places we never thought we would get to see. I remember we drove through Transylvania. Who would have thought that from starting a band in a barn north of Melbourne that we would get to go to Transylvania and play rock and roll music?
Can you reveal where you will be on tour this year?
A little bit. The whole tour hasn’t been booked yet. We are due to appear at a couple of festivals in the UK. We have a bit of a UK tour booked; there are a few gaps that still need filling before we announce anything. We’ll be heading down south of London again, we like it down that way. We got a bit in Germany and France, a couple of festivals over there and we’re hoping to get up towards Scandinavia this year. So we’re going to have a good six or seven weeks across Europe again because why the hell not. It’s not every day you get to see the world and see places you wouldn’t get to see.
Finally, what advice would you give to bands who are looking to start and don’t know what to do first?
It’s no-one’s place to tell a band if they suck or not. So if a band thinks they are good enough then they need to do the right things. For example, they need to not play in the same venue in the same small town every week. They need to treat it like a business and treat themselves like they were a real band because perception is reality, particularly in the music industry. If people see you as a big deal then you are a big deal.
So if a band is good enough, smart enough and they can afford to do it, you’re going to lose money at the start no matter how good you are. If you have all those things at the start, then you have what you need to make it into a career. Get good, I can’t tell you how to do that as I’m still learning myself, and then treat it like a business yet don’t forget the fun. So a fun business. Have fun doing it but remember that you want to do this for the rest of your life.
Thank you Brad for taking time out to talk to Rock Out Stand Out.
Rebuild Destroy is out now via Off Yer Rocka Records
Find MASSIVE on Facebook, Twitter and their official website.