How to Survive a Shipwreck

A few years ago, I took a short holiday with some friends in a cottage by the sea. It wasn’t a regular cottage, but a re-purposed lighthouse keeper’s cottage, situated on Green Cape – a secluded peninsula on the far south coast of New South Wales, girt on one side by one hundred square kilometres of national park, and on the other by the Tasman Sea.

When I stayed there in 2012, I was struck by the sense of isolation, and at the somehow enriching feeling of helplessness that I felt when being as exposed to the elements as the lighthouse and cottages were. This was particularly true on one clear night. As I lay on the grass beside the classic white picket fence that seems at once apt and out of place bordering a cottage beside the sea, gazing up through the dark, clear night at unimaginable numbers of stars, I was overwhelmed at once by the sound of the sea, the icy chill of the southerly wind, and the depth of infinity laid out above me.

It became obvious to me why ancient peoples looked upon the elements of nature with the reverence that was only deserved by gods, and a thought came to me: I want to record an album here.

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The Australian National Busking Championships

On the 31st of October, Brodie, Quinton and I drove down to Cooma, where Brodie spent most of his childhood, to participate in the Australian National Busking Championships, a competition run by Allan Spencer, a Cooma local and mover-and-shaker. We played a gig at one of the pubs that night, and the following day got down to busking around town. We played to a very receptive and appreciative audience outside of a few of the cafes in town, on the street. We had a fantastic, very busy day, and got to spend time with some really great people, and that evening walked away with third place in the championships, and second place in the people’s choice award!

Following a couple of great days in Cooma, we headed on up the road a ways to Canberra, where some lovely friends of ours had helped us line up a couple of gigs. The first was a house concert put on by the Canberra Musicians Club, with a lovely atmosphere and vibe – we played music late into the night with our fantastic hosts and new found friends.

The night after that we spent playing at The Phoenix, a bar in Civic that I had wanted to go to for a long time, but had been closed when I had visited Canberra earlier this year due to a fire. But the Phoenix has since risen from the ashes, and while only half of the full pub is now re-opened, it is such an amazing venue, and all of us can’t wait to play there again in the near future!

Festival Season

In the coming month, The Button Collective will be playing at a few festivals. We’ll be at Kiama Folk by the Sea (September 26-28), Ballina Coastal Country Music Festival (October 3-5), and Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival (October 17-19).

Really looking forward to these, as we’ll be able to play with the classic 6-piece line-up at Ballina (so rarely does this happen these days!), and with Christina for all three festivals.

The Lonesome Sea

The Button Collective have spent the past weekend on a macadamia farm in Whian Whian recording an EP. This EP will be a bridge between the first and second Button Collective albums (with the second being recorded at the end of this year).

There’s a nautical theme to the four tracks on the EP, two of which are traditional songs (Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy and Paddy’s Lamentation), and two are originals. There’s still a little bit of recording that needs to be done, but we’re hoping to release these tracks very soon.

This recording session was also the first time I got to use my new double bass! It sounded great, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Steve Law, our wonderful engineer.

Music videos and Splendour in the Grass

This past week, The Button Collective have been around Coffs Harbour, Lismore, and Byron Bay. Our mission? To film several shots of a music video in the foggy riverside farmland of Brushgrove, and to be involved with the Amish barn at Splendour in the Grass.

The festival was a lot of fun – we got to hang out and play music with some good friends from all over the place – Lismore, Sydney, and the Blue Mountains. The barn was a reactionary retreat from the modern festival landscape, with acoustic music and simple lifestyles.

In the days either side of the festival, we were up at a ridiculous hour to make sure we could catch the pre-dawn fog along the river at Brushgrove, a tiny farm town just north of Grafton. Here’s a few sneaky behind-the-scenes shots:


The Button Collective On Tour!

After running a successful crowdfunding campaign over December and early January, The Button Collective are now ready to release our debut album, A Ship Sails, which we recorded ourselves and I mixed late last year. We’re hitting the road to mark the official release, and stopping by Lismore and Coffs Harbour, the two main areas in which our fanbase is largest. In addition to that, we’ll be playing the support slot to one of our favourite bands, The Perch Creek Family Jugband. Ever since first coming across these guys, we’ve all fallen in love with their music, and it’s going to be a huge amount of fun playing with them.

We’ve got a whole bunch of gigs lined up in the coming weeks…

Perch Creek Poster - Conservatorium

  • 28/3 The Angry Pirate, Redfern
  • 30/3 The Wild Rover, Surry Hills
  • 2/4 Southern Cross University UniBar, Lismore
  • 3/4 The Lismore Rose Garden Rotunda
  • 4/4 Star Court Theatre, Lismore – with The Perch Creek Family Jugband
  • 5/4 The Old Museum, Brisbane – with The Perch Creek Family Jugband
  • 6/4 The Coramba Hotel, Coramba
  • 10/4 The Little Guy, Glebe
  • 11/4 The Angry Pirate, Redfern
  • 13/4 The Wild Rover, Surry Hills

The best part is, we’ll be playing with the full album line-up for the first time since moving away from Lismore, and flying the other three members down to Sydney for the end of the tour. It’s all pretty exciting, and I’ve been having a lot of fun putting the whole tour together.

The Falls Music and Arts Festival

The Button Collective at Falls FestivalThrough a few mutual connections, The Button Collective had the extreme pleasure of playing four sets over the course of the Byron Bay Falls Festival, which took place over the New Year holiday (December 30, 2013 – January 3, 2014). I think for each of us, these were some of the best shows we have ever played.

I feel so lucky to have been involved in such an amazing festival – from the moment I arrived I knew that this music festival was something different from any other I had been to. The prize jewel in the crown, however, was the Villiage area, a more arts-oriented space in between the two main stages, and in which The Button Collective were scheduled to play four sets.

The Button Collective at Falls FestivalWe made some great new friends; saw some amazing bands, circus performers, puppeteers, and other acts; and are all hugely pumped to be involved with more festivals in the future.

One of the best parts of the whole festival was having our new found friend Kurt Petersen along for the ride with us, pointing cameras every which way and capturing all the fun we had, on stage and off.

The Mullumbimby Music Festival

Just under a week ago, I headed out to the Mullumbimby Music Festival with The Button Collective. We were given the opportunity to play a slot at the Courthouse Hotel on the Saturday through connections at Southern Cross University, which we were all very grateful for. We also had a chance to play live and have a short interview on ABC North Coast radio, which we did as a stripped-back four-piece band, something that is going to become the norm in 2014 following a big move to Sydney.

Apart from playing, all of us were really looking forward to seeing some amazing artists over the weekend. In particular, Mustered Courage, Potato Potato, Rapskallion, and The Perch Creek Family Jugband. It was an enormously enjoyable weekend, with perhaps a little too much alcohol involved, and I think every member of the band has come away from the experience very inspired and ready to kick the band up a notch, and looking forward to playing the next festival – the Falls Music and Arts Festival in Byron Bay over the new years’ break.

As of midnight last night, the Blood, Guts & Firetrucks EP crowdfunding campaign finished successfully. While we reached our goal early (more than a week before the deadline) a few people pledged beyond our target. I spent a while this week getting together all the artwork for the packaging, and the physical copies are currently being pressed and printed by Media Movers in Sydney. There’s still a bit of work left to do to get all the rewards out to those who pledged to the campaign, but it’s good to know that enough people were interested to get us over the line.

Out of one campaign, and into another – tomorrow is the launch date for The Button Collective’s Pozible campaign – we’re taking pre-orders for our completely self-produced full-length album, and looking at a January launch date. The album has been in the works for the best part of six months – we’ve been recording new songs as Brodie has been writing them, and I’ve been mixing the twelve final tracks for the last month-or-so. We’re setting a modest target for the campaign of $500, which will pay for 100 physical copies of the CD, printed, pressed, and posted to those who pre-order it. Of course, there are a number of higher reward levels, with merchandise, booklets, and personal gifts for those inclined to show more support.

It’s going to be an exciting couple of months, with not only those two releases, but the Ben Wilson and the Job Seekers EP also just around the corner.

It’s also going to be an extremely busy next three weeks, with a long list of gigs with five different bands. As much as I enjoy playing music, and being exceptionally busy doing so, I feel like it must be just about time for a little holiday.

Crowdfunding and Me

Currently, things are ramping up towards the launch of a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the release of Blood, Guts & Firetrucks’ debut EP, ‘The Wrong Way’. In case you haven’t heard of crowdfunding, it’s a (relatively) new way of raising money for specific projects by engaging your fans directly and getting them to pledge donations towards your goal. Each donor receives a reward for their generosity, depending on how much was pledged. Generally, if the goal is not reached, no pledges are fulfilled and the project remains incomplete.

There are several companies running hosting services for crowdfunding campaigns, with Kickstarter, IndieGogo, and Pozible being three of the most talked about, in my experience.

The Blood, Guts & Firetrucks Pozible campaign is not yet live, but you can get a sneak preview of the video I have put together for it here:

 

Convincing people that they want to throw their hard-earned money at something can be difficult. The approach I took with this video was to initially tell people what the project was, the fact that we are very close to completion, how they can help, and that they will get something in return for their dollars. This information is fleshed out on the Pozible site in detail, but simply saying “We’ve been saving up and raising funds. We’re almost there, but we need your help” is enough information for people to get the idea that while their contribution need not be huge, every dollar is very valuable to us at this point, having spent a lot of our own money, time, and effort towards completing the EP.

The second half of the video, overlayed with one of the actual tracks from the EP, is a montage of footage from the studio, and from live shows. This part serves to convince people that the EP is something that they really want, a product of the four members of the band getting in the studio and putting themselves into something worth having.

The Pozible campaign will launch shortly, hopefully raising the remaining funds we need to get the EP mastered, the artwork produced, and the physical CDs pressed, printed, and shipped.

 

In the coming months also, The Button Collective will be running a Pozible campaign of our own, raising money to get the first set of albums pressed and shipped to those who pledge. Couple these with the upcoming Ben Wilson and the Job Seekers EP release, and Gracie Hughes’ debut EP just around the corner, and it’s going to be a big summer for official releases that I’ve been involved with.