Music Interview: B-Film Etc. – ‘Maybe In The Next One’ Out Now!

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B-Film Etc.
B-Film Etc.

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We caught up with Hobart-based band B-Film Etc. following the release of their album ‘Maybe In The Next One’, in October 2020.

How did you first get into music?

Paul: I played casually in high school (I sang in a school band where we did covers of high school standards, e.g. The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The White Stripes, etc.), but I didn’t start playing more seriously until University. 

A friend knew a friend who needed a singer for his band, so I went along to one of their practices. I was embarrassingly nervous, and I doubt I sang a single note in the right key, but they somehow agreed to take me on as their singer. 

I could barely play the guitar at this point but being in a band was the spark that motivated me to knuckle down and become a more proficient player. 

Caitlin: My dad played a lot of music around the house when I was a kid, and I, along with my siblings, was given music lessons as a child. 

I tried out several different instruments up until high school, where I played flute in the concert band. In college and University, I became more interested in indie music and started attending gigs in Hobart. 

I made a lot of friends that were in bands and eventually picked up the bass when a group of them asked me to join a band they were forming. 

What is the first song that captured your attention as youngsters?

Paul: My older brother and sister were really into Nirvana, and I can remember watching a TV special on the band (I believe it was to mark the first anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death) when I was five years old. 

The special played all of Nirvana’s music videos, and I remember being struck by ‘Sliver’. The dancing baby and the lyric, ‘Grandma take me home’, must’ve appealed to my 5-year-old brain (It still appeals to me now, by the way). 

Caitlin: (Can I say 3?) Tusk by Fleetwood Mac, Love Cats by The Cure, Political Science by Randy Newman

Who influenced your latest album release, ‘Maybe In The Next One’?

Paul: I was influenced by a few different styles for this release. The songwriting of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Jeff Mangum – and more contemporary artists such as Conor Oberst – were all big influences on this record. 

I tend to read a lot of music bios and other scene histories, and a few months back I read Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad. Going through and listening to each of the band’s featured as I read, served as a good motivator to finish off the record. The DIY aesthetic, particularly the production stylings of Steve Albini, definitely coloured this album. 

I’ve also been really inspired by a lot of lo-fi/bedroom rock music coming out of Philadelphia; bands like Alex G, Elvis Depressedly and Pill Friends. 

Caitlin: Just a lot of indie music from the 80s and 90s; The Smiths, The Cure, The Pixies, etc. 

This album has a stripped back sound, what was the thinking behind that?

There’s an intimacy that comes with a single voice and a single instrument that seems to get lost amid an ensemble. We also had a sharp focus on storytelling, and so we didn’t want to clutter up the mix, as it would only serve to distract from the lyric in particular parts. 

In addition, the punch that comes with a dynamic shift is much more powerful when you start from a very quiet place. 

You have been together for seven years and released six albums, what sparks that level of creativity?

Paul: I seem to write songs out of some weird compulsion. Sometimes I don’t even enjoy doing it, but I still seem to find myself picking up a guitar and humming out a tune. 

You could call it an obsession: I’m always wanting to write a better song – or at least a song that better captures the sound that I have in my head. 

In relation to being fairly prolific, I’ll go through periods where I won’t write a thing for months, and then all of a sudden something will spark my creativity, and I’ll write five songs in a week. 

Also, I have all this music and recording equipment that I’ve accumulated over the years; I might as well put it to use. 

 What motivates you to make music?

Paul: See above; a strange compulsion. I also really enjoy the process of recording music; that first listen back after you’ve recorded the core of a song is always a thrill. 

Caitlin: Paul. Whenever he asks me, “Hey! Do you want to perform/write something on this song?”

 What are your other passions aside from music?

Paul: For my day job, I teach high school English and History. Apart from that, I do a bit of long-distance running (cross country and track), and I’m also quite an avid reader.

Caitlin: I work in admin for a University. For hobbies, I like photography, painting, walking and learning languages. 

 If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

Perhaps this isn’t a direct critique of the industry; it’s more to do with the way people consume music. I’d like music to be valued more highly. 

People have become accustomed to accessing and listening to music for free, and this has partly contributed to people investing less into the artists they listen to, as well as the LP as an art form. 

When I was a kid, you’d buy a physical copy of an album. You’d pore over the album art and leaf through the booklet. You’d listen to that album on repeat, over and over, even if you didn’t like it at first, because hey, you’d spent all of that month’s pocket money on it, and God knows that you weren’t going to concede that you’d wasted your hard-earned cash. 

Eventually, you’d learn every word, every dinky riff or drum fill, and come to enjoy the quirkiest songs on the album far more than the singles. In other words, the relationship that people have with music has changed, and something great about the way music was one experienced has been lost.

This is also a very particular personal preference, but I’d love for gritty rock music to re-ascend to a primary position in the industry. However, with every year that passes, this seems less and less likely. 

 What’s the music scene like in Hobart, Australia?

It’s fairly non-existent at the moment, thanks to the pandemic, but prior to that there was a bit of a scene; quite a few punk bands, plenty of metal devotees, some folk groups and the odd psychedelic rock unit. 

I’m guessing it’s quite like many other small city scenes (Hobart’s population is roughly 200,000), there’s quite a bit of inter-genre rivalry, as everyone is seemingly fighting for an audience. 

We’ve taken a bit of a step back from live shows in recent years, but when we were playing quite frequently, it always felt a bit ‘clique-y’. There was a huge rift between the punk and folk scenes, and we didn’t fit well in either camp, so it was always quite difficult to get a local following. 

 What new music are you listening to at the moment?

Paul: I frequently scour Bandcamp, usually searching genres like ‘Slacker Rock’, ‘Bedroom Rock’, ‘Alt-Country’ and music with similar tags. I’ve made quite a few good finds, bands like ‘Fog Lake’, ‘Pope’ and ‘Knifeplay’ to add to the Philadelphia groups mentioned above. 

It tends to be that I will arrive at a band a little too late, as it’s typical to find an album that you love on Bandcamp, only to realise that the band that made it split up years ago. 

FV Music Blog October 2020

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