The Laurels and Nick Allbrook interviewed each other for us
'Cause they're going on a co-headline tour.
With The Laurels celebrating a new single by heading out on tour with Nick Allbrook, we got the two acts to interview each other. And what ensued was something you just have to read. A simple journey through time and space this is not. It's so much more. Check the song below, and the dates down the bottom:
THE LAURELS ASK / NICK ANSWERS
THE LAURELS: Obviously you're a well-known musician, but your artistry also extends to written and visual mediums. Your essay, "Creative Darwinism: Pretty Flowers Grow In Shit", and your illustrations for "The Vine" are bloody tops! Have you got anything else outside music in the works? A book? An exhibition? If there's an exhibition, will there be free booze?
NICK: I like to spend my time painting things, because there's no deadline and I think they're too shit to be of any value to anyone except myself as a purely therapeutic meditation. I'm pretty great at having ideas and not finishing them, probably even better than I am at having ideas and finishing them, so there's always a whole bunch of shit in various states of disrepair or pre-existence. Like my tiny tiny gallery I'll put down near the floor on small tiles on public buildings to test the rigour of the Fremantle Council's "I-wouldnt-call-this-shit-art-hyuck-hyuck-hyuck" vandalism committee, or me and Amber Fresh's next book The Longest Scarf I Ever Saw or film Quiche on a Leash or my ancient but never quite finished kids book Samuel Speck Journeys to the Centre of the Sun or the stupid bench in the backyard or my avowed but still pending etymology degree or moving to Tasmania to escape global warming and tell everyone to piss off forever.
THE LAURELS: When you visited Sydney last with Peter Bibby, we ended up puffing on a mad bag of buddha and listened to a few old school hip hop classics. I've been obsessed with KMD's Black Bastards ever since. The back story is pretty tragic, but in the process it also birthed MF DOOM. I've been a huge DOOM fan for years and couldn't believe I'd slept on this album for so long. Do you have any other lesser known faves from this era that you can recommend? I'd have to say my pick is still Black Moon's Enta Da Stage!
NICK: Honestly Luke, you chaps are the undisputed fundi of that hallowed time in hip hop history. I just got lucky with that one, which is indeed a fucking banger. I expect to roast so many bags of Gautama with y'all on this tour and be introduced to another few universes of Ill. Oh yeah... Ill Communication is one of the greats, to be sure.
THE LAURELS: When we first toured with you many years ago you had a tour manager who went by the name of Super Dave. He was always dropping priceless truth nuggets and more than willing to share his wisdom learned from many years on the road (eg. once a band decides they are going to wear dinner jackets onstage then they are passed it). What ended up happening to Super Dave and have you ever "opened a bag of Cheetos" while on tour?
NICK: Super Dave got married and had kids! I know right, jeeeeez... but dont worry, beneath the churlish exterior and faux-metal drumming he's a tickety-boo father. And no, I have never ever opened up a bag of cheetos on tour and hope I never do and condemn anyone who does to a serious finger wag from me. Except that one time when Jay actually did literally open up a bag of Cheetos and we all did laugh merrily.
THE LAURELS: You once told us it was your dream to open a burger store called Serge Gainsbourger. What number would the Nicholas Allbrook burger be on the menu and what would it contain?
NICK: I guess it'd be buried somewhere in the kids section, or with the other vegan-vegetarian curios that make big men laugh at little men whilst gripping their masculinity. It would contain a thick slab of artisanal Greenlandic ice in between charcoal brioche buns (as in, just black...like, carbon) with a home-whipped Head & Shoulder jus. It'll be an experiment to see how much shit I can sell with an edgy name and a cool vintage newspaper wrapping.
THE LAURELS: You've just gone to bed... Nek minnit, you're in the middle of a dream, playing a song onstage with a bunch of past and present AFL players as your backing band. Where are you performing, who are the players and what song are you singing?
NICK: Shit brother thats a hard one! I mean, I'd love to list my favorites, but I'm gonna have to go with the ones that are most deeply embedded in my subconscious. Probs Shaun McManus who will forever hold a place in my heart as an emblem of my cast-iron love for Fremantle Football Club, regardless of how embarrassingly shit they manage to be. He'd be lead guitar so he could fuck up as much as he wanted and it'd all be G. Probably Matthew Priddis 'cause that face is just so hilarious and heartwarmingly daggy. Tony Modra could be there on backing vocal yelling "Modraaaa!" and, fuck it, gimme Michael Walters and Ballantyne and Stephen Hill and Mundy. And we'd be playing Close to the Edge in its entirity, and at the crescendo - you know the one - "seasons will pass you by, I get AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGHHHH!" etc. Jeff Farmer leaps out of the past for a massive screamer, sails away and tears the clouds asunder, revealing the massive beautific nose-face of Matthew Pavlich, who then assures me that this year, Simba, the flag will be ours.
NICK ASKS / THE LAURELS (PIERS & LUKE) ANSWER
NICK: Dear Laurels, if you were to have a 'soup party' and you could invite four guests from history, who would they be, and which soups would you serve. And remember to think about the social dynamics and dietary requirements and what-not... you know, Ghandi wouldn't eat a ham hock and probably wouldn't feel super comfortable breaking bread with Mussolini. Or maybe you like conflict...?
THE LAURELS: We don't like conflict, so we've tried to arrange a soup party that has all the right ingredients for a memorable evening:
Our first guest is Carl Sagan. I won't lie to you, besides the fact he would provide great conversation on extraterrestrial life we do also need to clear some of his speech samples on our upcoming record and they are very expensive. Inviting him round under the pretense of a 'soup party' would be a fantastic way to spring this question on him at the start of the night, and to be honest, he'd probably say yes due to this awkward position we had placed him in. If this attempt fails, then we'd secretly record him talking at dinner, this is where our second guest steps in...
Delia Derbyshire - unsung heroine of electronic music. In the event of Carl's refusal to appear on our record, Delia would be able to record Sagan talking using her experience at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Unfortunately we would only be able to collect the reel-to-reel tapes many years later in the event of her unfortunate (second) death, as she would most likely stash the recordings in her attic, never to be listened to again. After her time at the BBC she worked in a bookshop, an art gallery and a museum, plus she likes synths. Not only would she be fascinating to talk to, Delia's attendance at our event would also ensure that the soup party doesn't turn into a sausage fest.
Guest number 3 is Jerry Seinfeld. There is unfortunately no soup for Jerry, he's just there to provide light comic relief in the event of any awkward silences (such as now).
Guest number 4 is Lao Tzu. I'm not so sure if Lao Tzu could be bothered to talk to any of us, but hopefully he can at least show us "The Way" and sign my copy of the Tao Te Ching. If he did talk, I imagine it would be in a remarkably similar manner to that of a Furby, i.e. come to life for a few moments, say something profound, then go back to silently being zen.
We have also taken the liberty of adding a fifth guest as Jerry won't be consuming any soup, and this person is world champion of chess and political activist Gary Kasparov. Gary will not be seated with us though, he'll be wandering around the table playing nine simultaneous games against all of us (you are also invited Nick). Surely at least one of us could take him down? He did lose to a computer after all. I reckon Lao Tzu (underrated) looks the most likely.
So we can focus properly on not getting thrashed by Gary Kasparov, you don't need to worry about bringing a soup. This event will be specially catered for by our friend and music/skating/cooking/painting/life extraordinaire Drew Houston (he plays in a band called Wild Cat Falling). I asked him for some of his favourite soup flavours but he only came back to us with one, so bad luck if you're not a fan of his recipe. It contains garlic, lemon grass, ginger, chilli, leeks, mushrooms (enoki/shiitake/asian ones) plus vegetable stock. Served with spelt bread. Might get him to knock up a regular pumpkin one too, can't really go wrong with that.
NICK: This is a multifaceted question. Did Conor getting a Phd - sorry, Dr Conor - change the dynamic in the band? Like, did he become all high and mighty and correct you guys when you said stupid shit? Also, Conor, did you know I saw public enemy play three times in row (four in total) and fist pumped Flav when he walked off-stage and I could probably lay down It Takes a Nation of Millions... right now off the top of the dome all over your stupid smart ass Doctorly face?
THE LAURELS: Ah, a multifaceted question for a multifaceted guy. I think Conor gave up correcting the stupid shit we say a long time ago, although I am still of the opinion he only attained his doctorate for the sole purpose of putting 'Dr' next to his name on album credits (this is the perfect example of stupid shit we say). We forwarded your question onto the Dr but all we got was an 'out of office' reply, which is the standard response these days. We contacted him again a few days later and discovered he is currently on holiday in Southeast Asia, a trip he didn't tell us he was going on until he had arrived safely at Malaysia airport, thus rendering us unable to rehearse for this upcoming tour or learn new songs. I suppose you could say he's changed, but I think that's more to do with all that jazz he has been listening to and the flight upgrades to business class that he now receives courtesy of his new title. Having said all that, upon finishing his University studies Conor has now returned to his old job and Luke is now his boss. Full circle.
Regarding the next part of the question, Conor would love that. PE are his favourite rap group of all time and I have a vivid memory of him chanting "Fuck racism" with a raised first at one of their recent Sydney shows. I imagine he would do the same to you while you were spitting some Prophets of Rage verses at him (and also possibly on him if you're all up in his face and going off as much as I think you would).
I have an extremely similar story to recount of an encounter with Flava. I've seen PE twice and the second time, after the show had finished I am certain I saw Flava being driven down the street in the back of a tour van. 80% certain it was him. This person, whether it was Flava or not, did not see me.
P.S. If anyone has heard from Conor please let us know.
NICK: Dear Laurels, can you pose an argument for the existence of a true omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient God? If so, what does it look like? Any wild and wacky colours or tentacles?
THE LAURELS: It's funny that you mention wacky colours and tentacles. I'm pretty sure I encountered God after I was given a very high dose of shrooms by Caleb from Regular John. Caleb suggested that we take a "shaman dose" which he insisted was 63 caps. Each. The following day he realised his calculation had been out and the dose was actually supposed to be a fraction of that. Anyway, Piers' Jimi Hendrix poster was hung proudly in our lounge room at the time:
As the trip started to come on, the image grew outside the borders of the frame and onto the walls. The streams of colour emerging from his afro morphed into tentacles and I felt a terrible wave of fear briefly overcome my mind. Jimi began caressing my thoughts telepathically and proceeded to guide me through my experience, feeding me with information about the universe and showing me visions of matter dissolving and particles convulsing, creating galaxies before my eyes that I never could have dreamed of. At this point I realised I needed to cleanse myself of the spicy tom yum soup I'd had for dinner. Spewing rainbows of psychedelic prawns could be considered somewhat of a headfuck but Jimi assured me that I was purging the evil from my body. The sheer magnitude of the dose rendered me paralytic for the remainder of the night. I understood the meaning of life whilst crawled up into the foetal position for those six hours, but I couldn't actually remember the wisdom he'd imparted on me the next morning. The lasting revelation that I had was that Hendrix is God. I'm just thankful it wasn't Clapton.
NICK: If you could travel back in time to 2010 (or whenever I cbf doing the sums) Fremantle, and kick in the door to find a young Nick Allbrook with ill-fitting school shorts sitting at the family computer (thats right kids, ONE COMPUTER) as he was being transported to a luxuriant teenage arcadia of the mind on the wings of your music in a saddle of Myspace with a helmet of blonde hair and a spear of bad chords, what would you say to him? Keep in mind that you're kind of his fave band.
THE LAURELS: Given that we would probably be too lazy/physically unfit to kick down a door, I envision this scenario loosely based around a collection of scenes from the first Matrix film. Naturally, you're Neo and Conor is Trinity. Conor "hacks" your computer (i.e. messages you on Myspace), cryptically telling you to follow Charlie "Blue" Carlton. On the surface it seems like a desperate attempt to get you onboard with his football club who are somewhere at the bottom of the ladder. You run into him at a local match later that evening, recognising him because he's wearing his vintage Carlton jersey. He promises to introduce you to Morpheus who will "set you free", even though you reassure him you're content following your beloved Fremantle Dockers.
The next day I hunt you down as Agent Smith. I lock you in your room and proceed to lecture you in the hope I will deter you from throwing your life away in a band like I have and that you will instead focus on your studies and go to law school. "There's no money in music!" I warn, "I'm turning 29 and I'm still working in market research!"
You wake up, convinced it was all a dream... Conor calls and says you're ready to meet Morpheus (who is obviously Piers) and you're driven to a crusty, roach-infested apartment. He ushers you into a room where Piers is seated on a wooden stool wearing a tinfoil hat. Prophetically he proclaims "all this could be yours", mustering just enough energy to wave nonchalantly around the room which contains a bare mattress and an empty bottle of gin. He offers you a choice of pills and asks if you'd like to go down the K-hole. You proceed to take all of them at once and trip balls, instantly writing a catalogue of monster psych-rock classics that enable you to take over the collective psychedelic consciousness and fulfil your destiny as The One.
NICK: When I first toured with you folks, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and Tame Impala was just a band rather than a world eating leviathan (in a good way, of course), you would constantly guzzle big-ass V energy drinks. Me and Jay figured it was because you were always as toasted as my mothers muesli or as baked as her potato gratin but with twice as much green (which is still none, but thats extraneous). Anyways, true? And did the excess consumption of these drinks have any adverse side effects on your health? I drank half a redbull once and felt like I could see deep into the future, and in that future I was defs having a cardiac arrest.
THE LAURELS: I can only speak for myself regarding these horrible allegations...
As I'm the only driver I often end up doing 10+ hour stints at the wheel and big ass energy drinks (for a while) were the only way I could stay awake. One thing led to another and soon an innocent and helpful tool for long drives became a full blown addiction. I began drinking them before shows as they allowed me to get a bit of a buzz on and still be able to drive home safely (without recording a DUI). Fast forward a few months and I was drinking them in preparation for big nights out (where I didn't even have to drive), as it meant I would be able to drink a lot and avoid falling asleep, which is quite a common problem for me. Things snowballed and I found myself cruising around late at night past petrol stations on the hunt for 2-for-1 deals. It was then that I realised I needed help. I reached my lowest point on a drive home from Melbourne to Sydney one night where I am certain I glimpsed that same future that you had also seen. Perhaps some collective consciousness or inherited biological programming that is only experienced upon drinking that much caffeine? I suddenly came to at the wheel and realised I had been driving on autopilot for the last few minutes, with no memory of the last few towns or signs we had driven through/past. I could no longer feel my arms or legs - it was as if I was floating in the car seat and not touching the steering wheel or accelerator at all. Rather than pull over like a sensible person, I continued driving for a few more minutes contemplating whether or not I had in fact just crashed the car and killed us all, and how embarrassing that would be as we hadn't even released a full length LP at this stage. Was I now stuck in some interminable Hume Hwy bardo? My thoughts soon shifted to memories of my time on planet Earth, and how unfair it was that this was the intermediate state of existence I had now been consigned to, given that it's what I had spent most of my life doing anyway. I can't remember exactly what happened next, but it turned out I was still alive and had in fact zoned out from boredom due to some post-rock instrumental we had been listening to on the car stereo. This is why I now always listen to hip hop in the car, you could never fall asleep listening to all those lyrics. Moral of the story: stay in school, don't do energy drinks.
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