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The Dwarf takes some time out to have a chat with the enigmatic frontman for psychedelic garage rock band from the states, Brooks Nielsen from The Growlers.
You got into music at a later age, what was it about playing music that just took hold of you and wanted you to make this your life?
I wasn’t really sure what to make of my life when I first started but I was kind of addicted to the you don’t know what is going to happen at a show type of feeling that was happening. A lot of things to improve for everyone and a lot of improvements to get a solid reaction so it became addictive to just try and constantly better ourselves and out weird ourselves at the beginning because it was so new to us.
Was there any live acts that you saw that made you think wow this is how live music should be?
Nothing on a big level, I didn’t see anything that I liked but in the small little shows in Long Beach in L.A, a lot of older guys in burnt out bands and kids at small shows really struck me as you guys are cool. I saw KISS once but that was more of a novelty so really it was just small rock shows. Grand Elegance was the first band I ever really saw.
A lot of artists who have a later start in their musical careers, tend to have a lot more life experience whereby they have been through the drudgery of everyday working life and have an extra appreciation for their success which in turn drives them to make inspiring music and I get that impression from your latest track Going Gets Tough. How does your song writing incorporate pre Growlers life and post Growlers life?
It’s really directly about me and the people around me and what I am going through right now. Everything is really just up in the air because I don’t have real expectations and don’t see goals other then this band stays together and we make good music, better music.
So is the success that you have found is something of a surprise in that respect?
No, I am very reliant on other people and always have been, not just on a work level but a friendship level. I knew when I was younger that I was going to get other people to do things and work with them and I feel like I could have done that with anything, still can. I am just happy it ended up being music.
You have a strong connection to the surf culture and it is a passion of yours, how does this scene find its way into your music?
It’s embedded in me. It’s hard because the music pulls you away from it. Sadly you can’t just surf breaks around the world like an endless summer. It’s hard to find the happy medium but we get to be around it, it really takes me back to where I was and I think being a part of that was everything. From the lingo to all the stories we heard from our friends and our friend’s dad’s and everything we got from watching the surf films, old surf music. Everything was about being a part of that surf culture and as that culture got lame, rock and roll became cool to me.
Like any band starting out you acquired any instruments and recording gear you could get your hands on which helped carve out your sound but now with a little bit more cash and resources behind you, have you had the luxury of experimenting and developing your sound with better instruments, more studio time and option of producers?
No, this last record we borrowed a lot of nice guitars from my manager and we finally got into a nicer studio with a really talented engineer so we were using more quality gear and the guys knew how to use it. It’s been a long while so I really thought we deserved to do that and the band accepted it really well but no, no one has been able to go buy themselves a cool guitar yet.
You guys threw a lot of warehouse parties and let everyone and anyone play, did this DIY style help influence the music you were exposed to and in turn made?
I think it helped develop a DIY type of thing. All we have to do is turn up to these shows and play em, we continue to try and manicure them and all the details and change everything and make it more of an experience because we miss that. The warehouse days when it was illegal it came together barely because we didn’t know what the hell we were doing and it wasn’t paying for itself. We try and recreate that somehow even though we party too hard although we shouldn’t be so we are just trying to keep that cool feeling alive.
When making new material, do you get inspiration from touring and being on the road, jamming and slowly fleshing out tracks or it is a process of putting pen to paper when inspiration strikes?
Yeah, from being away from home and hearing other bands and almost being competitive like hearing something and thinking that was good, I want to write some more shit. We are too busy to be writing when we are on the road so when we get time we take advantage of it.
You are a self-confessed work-a-holic which is a quality you need to make it in the music industry but it that some for your creative process?
Yeah, I’ve never had writers block because I wouldn’t let myself.
In the past year you have played 150 shows worldwide which is a feverish pace, do you feel that if you slowed down you would lose your intensity or is it a case of packing in as many venues in each city as you can instead of playing one venue per city as some bands do?
It’s hard to judge everything; it’s hard to tell who’s doing what. A lot of these bands look like they are larger than they are, I don’t know if it is because they are lazy or they can’t sit in the van with the other guys they play with. For us directly we work when we want to. The only complaint is looking at the calendar and seeing how many [shows] it is going to be. We are in Australia, getting drunk and swimming together in the crystal blue ocean. It’s a good vibe and we are getting good results and it makes us happier than anything else in the world can.
You are touring on the back of your new album Chinese Fountain, how has this different from your previous work?
I don’t think it is really and that’s one of the things about The Growlers, we haven’t really taken any giant leaps. It’s just a chance to be ourselves; we are standing a little further up and looking back again.
Is it a case then of fine tuning your style?
I think so. The re match, just try it again.
Your single 'Good Advice' is about throwing caution to the wind and following your own path, is this basically a mantra for your life and by virtue actually good advice?
I think I was playing around really because I don’t think I should be a role model and I have become content knowing what I am not doing or where I am going and I really just want to be left alone. I am just going to be like this and I know good advice is good but it really just gets old when I am not really here to take it. I can’t really apply it in the same way someone else who applies it more standard life and can take good advice. I kind of sacrifice myself more to this lifestyle.
Most bands have a hard enough time just touring an album but you guys have your own festival Beach Goth, how did this come to be?
Once again I really miss those old beginnings when we started which is us in our warehouse or any warehouse I could find. Letting them out for these illegal parties and I kind of miss that and I wanted to do a big version of it. We played around with all the ideas we’ve ever had and we do all the art and hand picking of bands. I think also I became a real hater of all the festivals, they are so overdone and I feel that their pushing me around and trying to sell me energy drinks and ecstasy pills and I kind of got over it. Being the walking contradiction that I am since I am a song writer I decided to do my own festival.
The Growlers have been known to enjoy some recreational delights which I think is putting it mildly, when experimenting was it a case of opening the doors of perception for a greater awareness that shaped your music and subject matter or just getting loose?
Yeah definitely because we had a very ignorant idea of it because it’s like oh you take a special effect and suddenly you get good at guitar (insert buzzer sound for incorrect answer) no you don’t, you start writing good lyrics? Maybe but it kind of stopped that fear we had of what we can and can’t do and we really became fearless about everything and we got a kind of arrogance that was needed to be cool or think that we were cool and pushed away from other people. It’s a weird thing, I can’t advocate it. It’s kind of like a seatbelt, sometimes wearing a seatbelt can kill you but you don’t go around telling people not to wear seatbelts
What can we expect during your Australian shows, plenty of fancy dress, some crowd surfing and confetti canons?
Well I think that happens when we are on the road or at home because we are picking up things we see on the side of the road and in stores when we are bored but we usually pack dresses (laughs) or outfits for that but you never know because we are itching to make it fun so anything can happen. You can expect songs from every album we have made.
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