It smells pretty interesting. Damn you get some weird smells from working with these cats, smells I’ve never smelt before. Some of the smells are good and some are downright fucking terrible. The smell of these lads after a tour in the tarago is like how I imagine the apocalypse would be.
There’s been a lot of controversy in the media around the issue of the war. Some bands and celebrities have opted for the “no stance” play to avoid negative publicity. Do you believe media and music personalities have a responsibility to use their celebrity status to bring social issues to the forefront?
If they feel that those issues and that stance is important to them then they should be vocal. If not, I don’t feel they’re obligated at all. We all have an obligation to be human and we have to choose the battles that we consider worth fighting for. Some fight against world wars, some fight against their partners, while some fight against other drunk people at the pub.
Your music deals with alienation a lot. Is this an issue you relate to where Australia is heading?
We’re just expressing ourselves as Dre said way back in the NWA days. C’mon we’ve got an arsehole for a prime minister, a batch of bland scurvy dogs who make up the ruling party, and then a bunch of spineless circus clowns that call themselves the Labor party. I can’t see how we can’t be critical and questioning of these monkeys.
You’ve mentioned before that the public are especially receptive to political commentary since the beginning of the war. Do you think this breaking down of ‘absolute truths’ is a part of a larger global movement?
For sure, Australia is a tiny country and you only see how politically insignificant we are when you travel overseas. But now that the so-called ‘war’ in Iraq has ended I think people are exhausted by the whole ordeal. The last thing most people want to be reading and viewing every day is hundreds and thousands of deaths at the hand of their own leaders. It’s very painful to try and comprehend that kind of cruelty, especially on a daily basis.
To what extent has the unquestioning faith in ‘institutions’ such as the media or the government been fractured (in Australia and globally) and what has the role of underground or roots movements and media forms been in this?
Whoa.. we’re just stupid musicians man..
Does the ‘Aussie battler’ exist? If they do, how have they been whored within political rhetoric in Australia?
Yup. Ozi Batla made himself a certified tribute to the real deal.
It’s been commented that your music doesn’t generally appeal to the hardcore ‘purists’ of any particular genre. To what extent to Australian artists struggle with the issue of cultural identity in their music in the context of a global market where they are a minority?
Small fries. People thrive on negativity – if you’ve got a story that’s dramatic and slags someone out, it’ll probably hold more interest and condemn more effectively than a positive story. But whatever really, each to their own.
Do you feel more comfortable existing as a kind of ‘hybrid’ in a number of musical communities? Where do you think criticism leveled at this ‘co-existence’ is coming from?
We are our own thing and that can be taken how you want it. We make music that is our own. We can’t hope to please everyone. Some of the Hip Hop community get so flustered about us being “Hip Hop” when we dabble with other sounds, but who cares y’know. Fuck it. The politics of making music almost can make it seem unbearable if the process weren’t so fucking fun.
Would you say Australia has an identity crisis? Where do you see Australia as it moves from a very traditional (and colonially oriented) Australian identity to a more globally influenced one? Do you see your music playing a role in this ‘movement’?
Australia is a small child that has a habit of hanging around the tough kids at school to make it seem more threatening than it is. I think we have a great ‘identity’ though, but to me, it isn’t found in internationally culturally comparable characteristics. Did that make sense? What I’m *trying* to say is, our culture isn’t found in an old building that Jesus Christ once sipped wine in.
Your style has been described as “intellectually vicious”. How important is it to openly challenge audiences intellectually in addition to musically?
We feel like we’d be taking our audience for granted if we were to simply spit bullshit at them. So we work at what we do and constantly try and improve and create interesting material. That sounds a little wanky but y’know, fuck it.
Who are some of The Herd’s role models in Australia and overseas?
Ned Kelly. Peter Garrett. Mark Pollard. Seb Chan. Anasonic. AK-47. Nada. Femineminem. Rachel. Hermitude. Luke Snarl. Def Jux. Rhymesayers. Dumphuck. TZU. Koolism. Curse ov Dialect. Upshot. Symbiotic Crew. Diggers. Activists. Stuff.
How important is it to have a sense of humour about yourselves in the music industry?
Number three in the list of most important characteristics. Essential.
Urthboy and OziBatla, you’ve both recorded with Koolism members recently – what was it like?
How’d you know about that? That’s a secret. Hau rocks the spot, as does Danielson.
Does the Herd have any plans for collaborations with other artists in the future?
Yep all kinds of artists across the board. We’ve done collabs with TZU and Curse in Melburn, and plans to do some more. But they’re secret too.
Has the audience response to your music been expected? As a group, are their any tracks you thought would be received a particular way that weren’t?
There’s definitely a strong appreciation for any song with that charming gentleman Urthboy. I mean, he’s a suave player there’s no doubt.
How have you been received overseas? Does the Australian ‘content’ /flavour of your album work for or against it in a global music market?
Increasingly positive although we haven’t been able to adequately promote overseas as of yet. Sorry for the lame answer but I’ve got to go..
Is large scale commercial success and “artistic integrity” mutually exclusive in your opinions??
No look at Radiohead or a number of different groups. Although one person’s sell-out is another person’s strategist. You have to act in a way that is comfortable for you, so you can sleep at night. We’ve turned down offers that we’ve considered may compromise the kind of principles we stand for.
And, finally, what does it feel like to be playing alongside the legendary Grandmaster Flash? What were your reactions when you found out?
Lost for words. He is the fucking man.