Sydney’s hardest-rocking four piece Avalanche have great new single Second Hand Band, it’s a powerful track that encapsulates what it’s like for a rock n roll band on their way to the top, out April 9. The band have also released a potent video to accompany Second Hand Band, an ode to the band’s beginnings, rehearsing in an old steel factory in Sydney’s west. Avalanche’s highly anticipated new EP of the same name is set for release on May 11. We caught up with the bands lead vocalist/bass player Steven Campbell to learn more about Avalanche
Hi, thanks for taking the time to chat with Hear 2 Zen, what have you been up to today?
Steven Campbell (lead vox/bass): A pretty usual day for me woke up and went to work with my dad and brother at our family Roofing business. We do tile and metal work and collectively have over 50 years experience so we are always doing different things in the trade. Last week we actually installed new drain pipes for a retirement village in Blacktown which was interesting. After work I usually come home and have some food, play some bass and practice singing and today in particular will go to rehearse with the band for three hours and get back home around midnight. It’s not a perfect life but it definitely makes me happy!
Tell us about yourself, how long have you been performing/creating music for?
Steven: I first started just as a singer when I was around 13 years old. I’d always loved music ever since my first album when I was around 5-6 where my parents gave me a greatest hits album of Michael Jackson, but it was when I was around 13 that I first watched the Tenacious D movie Pick of Destiny and I knew rock and heavy music was really my passion. I started a duo with my close friend at the time who was a great guitarist and ever since then I’ve been trying to do the whole music thing eventually picking up a guitar myself and even went to do a diploma in music after school which was a great experience. When I first joined this band I was pretty seasoned but still had so much to learn and I originally was just meant to be a singer but we had a few issues with bass players and me playing guitar and bass for a few years I decided to take up the mantle as well which brings us to here.
Who are your greatest inspirations? Why?
Steven: Well there’s the obvious ones like our favourite bands AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, Motorhead and Guns n’ Roses cause that’s what made me love the music I love, but if I had to say what my greatest inspiration is I’d have to say my father. He was a singer back in the 70’s-80’s and played in the original Avalanche which is where we got the idea for the name. Not only has he helped teach me how to sing the way I sing today but he also was the reason I push so hard on music, I want to make him proud, it’s one of my greatest driving forces and probably the reason I wanted to have a career in music to begin with. It’s not that he isn’t proud of me either, I’m sure he is, but its still a constant reason I want to do well. I love him.
How do you create music? Are you lyrics/story driven, or does the music/melody come first? Explain your process.
Steven: Generally we have a pretty free form flow of writing songs whether it be someone comes in with one riff or idea and we build on that or even a whole song worked out and we all just work out the kinks and see what does and doesn’t work. But lately we’ve gotten a good rhythm of someone bringing in a general consensus of a song so a verse, chorus and maybe a bridge and then we collectively work it out and add an outtro/solo and all work together to come up with an idea of what the song should be about which we can usually already tell just from the feeling/tone of the instruments. Once we have an idea of what the song should be about which could be a title that we’ve all come up with, i’ll write most of the lyrics and bring them into a rehearsal where it can be hit or miss at times but if there’s something we don’t all agree on we’ll tweak it until we’re all satisfied. Sometimes we do have completely different ways of songs coming together but lately we’ve had some luck with that formula.
What has been your greatest challenge so far in performing/creating music?
Steven: Well we play as often as we can and we usually practice twice a week so sometimes it can be hard to retain the same stamina throughout it all, physically I mean. We’ve had issues where someone might have an injury from overuse even but with adversity we usually find ways to overcome those challenges which is also part of being a musician. If there’s something that really gets under our skin we’re not unfamiliar with working sometimes day and night to find solutions to the problem and I feel personally that its that strive for perfection that truly shows a musician what they’re made of.
Tell us about your new release, how did it come about?
Steven: Second Hand Band is the latest release for this band and when we wrote it, we just wanted a way to showcase everything we’ve gone through so far to come to this point. Sure we’re relatively young musically speaking we’ve only been around for around 3 years but man have those three years been filled with some insane highs and lows. With a bit of thought as well, we realised that this experience is not unique to us, but rather something that most if not all bands would probably go through starting from the garage. Which means it’s also a good way to look into the highs and lows of any band you love and know of. The song itself explores what it’s like to make music as any music fan would. Where you kind of feel like you haven’t found your own voice just yet but are well on the way to and that a lot of ideas can be easily compared with those of the musicians favourite artists. It also shows people how bands think of themselves in way which is that they are always gonna be their own greatest critics. If you really love a certain band especially locally, there’s almost a guarantee that band will never see themselves in the same way that the listener would which is a crazy thing when you think about it.
What advice do you have to artists who are just starting out?
Steven: The most important thing for new bands is you have to grind. You have to always be prepared to do your absolute best and you have to be prepared for that feeling like its not enough. Bands only fail if the people making the music give up, it doesn’t matter how much people like you or how many people come to see you play the most important thing is what you think about yourself and how you want to progress. Which is what actually causes you to progress, you have to always push forward no matter what, even if it’s just baby steps eventually those steps turn into leaps and bounds and all the rest will come with it. A good live show is a must and especially when first starting out you want to play as much as you can. We did about 6 months of open mic gigs before we even had our first paid gig but those 6 months taught us what we should expect and what we should be doing, if it’s a passion this stuff shouldn’t be too hard in fact you’ll find yourself looking back at it with a sense of accomplishment.
Tell us your favourite Zen practice.
Steven: Meditation is an amazing Zen practice to get your head right. In fact I think it was the first time we played Frankie’s Pizza in Sydney that we got asked by one of the managers before our set to go down to the whiskey bar downstairs which they’d closed for the bands on that night and take a good ten minutes to get ourselves right mentally. We found it not only helped us play better but it eased a lot of the nerves you’d have just before playing. It may not technically fall under the category of meditating but it helped us realise how important it is to just take a second to take a few deep breath and shut your brain off a little bit.