Interview – Meniscus


My previous interview with Meniscus – instrumental four-piece from Australia, was done by an e-mial correspondence. I remember when I was editing that article I thought to myself that it would be very cool to talk to these guys again one day, but in an direct, face-to-face interaction. I don’t know whether it’s because we were exchanging messages just before Christmas, but a few months have passed and my Xmas wish has came into fruition. In June/July Meniscus visited the Old Continent for its first ever European tour, which included also two shows in Poland. After band’s performance in Warsaw I sat at the backstage with all members of the band and our encounter has developed into the following conversation:

Thank guys for giving me the opportunity to talk to all of you. It’s great to see you on your first ever European tour. How has it been going so far?

Marty (visuals): Europe’s been amazing. It‘s a very friendly place. People have been very warm and receptive and it’s been beautiful.

How about Poland? How would you evaluate your two Polish shows in Wroclaw and Warsaw?

Cameron (drums): People were very excited and very genuine. They really loved the show, asked for an encore so it’s been very cool.

Marty: I imagine a lot of people who were at the concert at the beginning they didn’t know who we were, but when we played our music they were very receptive to it and it meant a lot to us. It’s nice to see somebody dancing around excited who has probably never heard us before, especially because we’ve come such a long way to get here. We could play to bigger crowds back home, but here we get different response.

How exactly different is that response?

Marty: In Australia it’s not as enthusiastic as in Europe.

Dan (guitar): With Australia generally people don’t like a band unless someone tells them they’re cool. Someone has to say you’re good before they like you, whereas here everyone seems to enjoy it because they identify with the band themselves and they get something out of it, which is really awesome. More so the last shows we played in Poland proved it, but in generally Europe has been like that throughout the tour.

Tonight when you started playing there were only few people in front of the stage, but by the time you got to your last songs the place was packed. You drew people standing outside into the club.

Alison (bass): That’s what’s happened throughout the tour so far. At the start we get interest from a few people, but by the end everyone is right up the front so interested that we get calls for an encore.

Marty: When we played in Osnabruck in Germany we talked after the show to this one guy who told us he was literally walking down the street after watching football game with his girlfriend. When passing by the club he heard the music being played and he stopped his girlfriend and said: I need to go in there and see this band. And he literally left his girlfriend in the street and went in to see us. That was pretty awesome (laughs).

It’s good that we talk after your show because I finally got the chance to experience your art in full, on both sonic and visual level. This next question is a very fresh one, I came up with it just a few minutes ago during your show. There is a lot of depth and space into your music, it’s been there before I even saw you live, but watching the visuals to your sounds gave me another perspective of your music. The abstract visuals were awesome, but I also liked the movie parts, particularly the sea, space and trains. When I was looking at them and listening to you, I thought to myself that your music is about travelling. Not travelling as changes places, more like travelling within you and from that thought I went into the next one that traveling within you is actually exploring life. In our preview interview you said that with your music you try to present “find your own meaning” concept to the audience so that’s the meaning I found in your music tonight and taking it from there I wanted to ask you what is the meaning of your music and what you do to you?

Marty: I think a lot of is about exploring what we can do as a band. It’s about pushing our possibilities. Coming up with something new and fresh we like and then coming up with a way to present it to the audience with hope that they will also take something out of it as well.

Dan: There is no idea right from the start. We never said we want to write this kind of a song or we want people to think this. We just jam it and see what happens. Once we find something and it works, we’ll put it together. A lot of ideas for the song structures or for the visuals come up after the initial aspect of jamming it out. We don’t try to create something specifically, we just let it happen.

Alison: We always try to push our own boundaries. Once we come up with something we ask ourselves: how much further can take we this? We try to push the boundaries personally and as a group. It might be Dan coming up with different kind of riff or Cam coming up with completely different beat to what we used to and we’re working with it. We always try to mould and shit it in different ways.

Marty: The visual aspect is always the last thing we do. I usually hear the song after it’s been worked on for a while so I’ll hear almost a completed song. Then I keep listening to it and come up with my own theme. When I’m listening to it I think to myself what I am thinking about when I hear it and that usually becomes a running theme. After that I go out and source all the needed materials. So our visuals are more what I think about when I listen to the music. It’s not necessarily what these guys might have thought of when they were writing it.

I guess after they watch your visuals everybody finds his own meaning to the images you have created.

Marty: Yeah, definitely.

Dan, next question is particularly to you, but of course, everyone can interact in it. Let’s say it’s a question through Dan to the band. I was watching you performing and I have to say you are very passionate on stage. Your performance is very intense and when I was watching you feeling it all so strongly I thought that while being there you are on the edge. What I mean is that on one hand you are so immersed in your music and the emotions that in explode in you without any control. That lack of control makes it all beautiful, because that kind of passion is all about lack of control, but at the same time you have to have some control over what you do on stage, because after all you have to keep the riffs, rhythm, operate the pedals. So that’s why I thought of the edge, of a state in between the control and lack of it. That’s how I see it, how does it look from your side? Would you be able to describe your emotional state when you’re on stage?

Dan: It’s a lot of things. Before the show it’s usually all the normal things like is the show is going to go well, are people going to turn up, are people going to like us, will my equipment survive etc. But once the first beat of the first songs starts that goes away and it sort of becomes a case of… (pauses).

Where are you then?

Dan: It’s weird, it’s 50/50. I’m half concentrating on changing the effects at the right time and making sure that things are show they should be. I try to stay with the band and not to drift off, but then there is the other aspect, which enables you to forget about it all. Forget about the fact that you play guitar and just enjoy it. It takes long time todevelop that kind of confidence. The thing I always say when somebody asks me about my attitude towards playing is just imagine it’s the last time ever you’re going to get on stage and play. If that was your last gig, how would you want people to remember you for? That’s how I have always thought about it.

Dan on the edge

(Photo by RockOko, Warsaw, 03.07.2012)

Anybody wants to add anything?

Alison: For me I feel I’m a completely different person on stage.

I guess to understand that difference it I would need to ask you what kind of person are you off stage.

Alison: I’m actually pretty shy.

Marty: (laughs)

Alison: Hey, c’mon, seriously!

I can see some doubts here..

Alison: Well, unless I have a drink, then maybe…

Marty: The thing is you generally always have a drink in your hand (laughs).

(laughs) So Alison, could you describe this shift from how you are off and on stage?

Alison: Off the stage I’m more quiet and on stage I try to show off a little bit. I quite enjoy that.

Would you like to take some of your features when you’re on stage to the way you are off stage?

Alison: I try to do that because I have more confidence on stage so I try to bring that to my everyday life.

Cameron: For me when I go on stage and you have people there standing, watching you, I can feel their energy and their excitement about the show and it gives me energy as well. It makes me feel good and I guess eventually it also makes the audience feel good so that is a kind of exchange.

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