Adam Price is the principal songwriter in the reasonably new Newcastle outfit Hey Universe. You may remember him from the hardworking naughties lads Cotton Sidewalk. Adam is joined by fellow Sidewalk member Marty Paget on drums and brother Andy on bass and they play an ambitious, progressive style of alternative rock and are more than capable of pulling it off. Hey Universe are champions of the DIY ethic, from self-recording to running their own original music venue and we got Adam to explain the band in a little more detail.
1. When you started writing the songs that became the Hey Universe project, did you feel it was left over ideas that never came to fruition in Cotton Sidewalk or completely concepts?
Not at all. There were about 3 songs that CS recorded which never saw the light of day. Since then I've written a heap of music that I envisaged I'd make a solo records out of. But I got bored of doing stuff on my own. I asked Marty and Andy if they wanted to form a band. The goal was to jam and collaborate. Our first session saw us come up with about 7 solid ideas. We turned one of those ideas into a 6 minute long rhapsody.
2. Are you taking inspiration from the same or similar artists you were in Cotton Sidewalk?
I don't think so. I think I was more narrow minded with the music I listened to. I liked over-produced rock music and that was about it. I Iike every piece of music I hear now. I've more respect for other artists. The stand out ones are those that are amazing musicians, but also amazing songwriters. I want to be able to play an instrument well enough that I don't feel I need to over-produce a recording to cover up musical inadequacies. I'm back into the 'less is more' proverb from Cyrinthonianz 1:5
3. Cotton Sidewalk was well established and I imagine you went through a lot of stuff together – long van rides smelling each other’s offensive odours, sharing different politics and ideas etc. Were you nervous about starting a band again?
For some reason, memories that come to mind of that 15 year period are the negative ones. I always feel like we could've done things differently, better. But you know what? I loved that band. Even the offensive odours. I wasn't nervous about starting a new band. I've been in my fair share of bands. Hey Universe is one more to add to the list. I was really excited to start a new band. Perhaps it's because I've been playing in bands for so long, but I don't know I would enjoy life 100% if I wasn't making sound with other people.
4. Did you put much planning into the Hey Universe line up or were Marty and Andy natural first choices?
Everyone else said no, so I asked Marty and Andy. He knows it, but Marty is one of the best drummers in Australia. So I had to ask him. Andy, he is a great musician and songwriter and can play bass. I wanted Hey Universe to be a 3 piece. More room to make sounds, and playing wrong notes doesn't matter because you just pretend you wanted that dissonant timbre.
5. What’s it like being in a band dynamic with a sibling?
Done it before. The respect thing is different. The sibling doesn't get the same respect as the friend. It's a phenomenon. I guess you know that the friend won't hang out with you if you aren't nice. In most cases.
6. Your songs are quite progressive and easily have room for 5 or more players, do you like the dynamic of a 3 piece?
When I'm creating I try to be as not-normal as I can. It might mean starting a song with a middle-8, or a weird chord that doesn't "fit". I just try my best to not bore myself. I like the simplicity of a 3 piece. I feel it gives us more freedom to create.
7. You engineered your first recordings yourself. Do you enjoy the role and do you find it challenging to remain objective?
Good question. I love recording, mixing and producing. The biggest benefit of self producing your music is that you can do what you want, and these days you can achieve expensive sounding records very inexpensively. I don't necessarily love recording, mixing and producing my own music. That said it'd be lovely to be in a recording studio paying a producer to decide what is good or not. I've just finished tracking my own vocals. It's hard work. I prefer it when recording is fun.
8. I understand Lo-Fi at The Dungeon in Adamstown is your brainchild. Are you able to explain the concept a little more and give an idea of what you have coming up?
Lo-Fi at the Dungeon is a quarterly event that aims to nourish and nurture the community, and attempt to break down walls of segregation through the means of new (original) live music. The terms 'low key' and 'alternate' were inspiration behind the name of the event.
The first Lo-Fi was in July this year. I vowed that if it went well I'd continue with it. It did do well. There was ~100 people there and the atmosphere was fantastic. The Dungeon is a great venue for music and audiences. You can come and enjoy the art of live music in an environment where you can be yourself without judgement. Lo-Fi is not-for-profit and aims to raise funds for arts and justice projects. 2nd December will be the Lo-Fi v2. Zackari Watt's new band 'Flight Hawk' are headlining supported by 3 more acts. 7 - 11pm.
9. Marty has just become a new father, how that impacted on the band?
Well it hasn't changed Marty's jokes. They're just as bad as they were. It's obviously affected how much time we get to get together. Andy's in other bands too, and I've got children, so it's a balancing act.
10. Who is getting around the Newcastle scene at the moment that impresses you?
I've mixed a few gigs more recently for younger bands. That scene is pretty busy. Good bands. Big crowds. One band that caught my attention is called 'Cherry Stain'. Hip-hop cross Jamaican funk, dropping beats about Newcastle life. I dig.
11. What does the future hold for Hey Universe both short and long term?
More shows. A song release before the end of the year. I'm finishing the recording off at the moment. It's called 'Tinar' and we wrote it and recorded drums for it at the one and only best studio in Australia, Novotone.