Teak Interview

What exactly brought Teak together? What significance does the name hold?

We evolved out of an acoustic covers group that was developing its own tracks on the side. With the name Teak, we didn’t want to be locked into a certain genre or style that would restrict what we wrote.  We like the diversity and freedom of not being stereo typed. We wanted to write songs about things that we see around us in our lives, but to have these ideas in a catchy rockin’ format so people can understand them easily… In the end we went for a name that was open for interpretation or was a bit nondescript musically.  We also wanted a name that was easy to remember and was short. Out of the sky Teak became the name: simple and yet different.

What bands (either current or past) have influenced you the most, and what attributes did each of these bands possess to make you all consider them influential? I have been a massive fan of Australian band “The Church” because they manage to have great guitar sounds with interesting melodies but with excellent words too.  We don’t sound like them really as they are more in that space rock zone, but that combination of thought provoking words with rock beats appeals to us. We are all fans of Foo Fighters, who have the happy knack of great riffs and melodies but with the musicality and diversity that a lot of rock bands aspire too. We love the power of the guitars and the energy of the drumming the Foo Fighters have live but also the way they capture it in their recordings.

We also have influences from areas that are not considered rock, like British band Elbow. It is the arrangements, brilliant melodies and strong lyrics that these guys have that inspires.

Robben Ford and Red Hot Chilli Peppers also influence us for differing reasons, but the musicianship of these artists inspires us to continue to improve to head to the levels that they clearly are..

How did the LP allow you to introduce yourself to audiences? Does your single “This Time” represent the whole of Teak, or some specific facet of your sound and style?

The LP gives the audience a cross section of the styles of song that Teak play live.  We wanted to be true to label so to speak.  We love rockin’ out, but we also like the moods and subtlety of softer music to suit the feeling of the song subject.  “This Time” is a combination of what Teak do.. With big guitar sounds and strong beats, but honesty in the lyric.  It sits in the middle of our styles of song.  We have harder songs with more punch lyrically than “This time”, but it represents that Teak write about matters that most people feel, but you can rock along with those thoughts too.

Are there any stories to tell behind your tracks that may provide further context for listeners and NeuFutur readers alike?

At the time of writing the album a stack of people were losing their jobs and homes because of the Global financial mess the rich had created.  This injustice made people feel shit as it wasn’t their fault. There is a human side to these things and that’s what the songs are about.  We don’t care that millionaires lost money in their portfolios, they will be fine in the end..It is the fall out of the people’s lives that happens when they lose their family harmony and their respect in society when they lose their livelihood is what we were seeing.  We have written about the person who has always done the right thing, worked hard and worn stuff ups before and just trying to do the best they can to be a decent human, yet they get chopped at the knees when things get tough for the rich.  We are those people too.

So, with that in mind, the songs tell the story of what happened to people we know that through very little fault of their own find themselves with things they have to deal with like separation, financial debt, media reports of misery and corporate rip offs…However there is hope, as some the songs are about having a great time, moving on and finding new ways to enjoy life or at least think about it.

Who else in the music scene have you met and who is out there right now that you would like to collaborate with?

I have met Steve Kilbey from the Church, but only briefly, who I would love to write music with, as his ability to write clever words is outstanding.  I have also briefly met Marty Willson–Piper, the guitarist from the same band who is brilliant.  I would love to write words to some of his music too, but he is a wordsmith himself so I would be happy to just chip in ideas!

I would work with anyone who is talented with their ego in check as it would be a great learning journey for me as you can never say you know it all.

While there are a number of stylistic similarities between Australian and American music, there are some significant differences as well. Of these differences, which would you say is the most significant – and why?

The differences aren’t always the same or obvious, as many Australian bands tend to sound like they are from America sometimes.  The thing that sticks out for me is there is more image based music that comes out of America (from what we are exposed to down here) . You know they look great, and everything is choreographed to the smallest detail and I feel that the sentiment of what the song is about gets lost sometimes.  American music is really well produced that is another difference overall which makes it great to listen too.  As there is such a large range of styles and genres in America and the competition to be heard is very intense, there is some awesome music being made and it runs deep from the mainstream too.  Whereas in Australia, there is depth and it is very competitive, the quality of music isn’t as deep as America I feel.

What was the last CD, LP, download, or other recorded work of music each of you bought?

I just bought Slashes album which features different vocalists and have it cranking loud every day at the moment.  It has that classic Rock thing going and it really works. Aaron our Guitarist is into heaps of things but especially blues and I know he just bought B.B King – Blues is King

Mark bought the album by Australian band Children Collide – “theory of everything” which is a pretty cool album.

Our Drummer Greg has been into Shihad – “Ignite”

Are there any live performances in Teak’s future? What venues or locales represent Meccas in which you’d like to attend but haven’t at this point?

Teak are back playing live again in February here in Melbourne and are planning to tour Australia later in the year to promote the album. Playing live is where a musician has to be “on” and we enjoy the challenge and the reactions we get from the audience.

We would love to play in the US, UK and Europe,  & there has been some talks about doing that.  As for a specific venue that would be the Mecca… we don’t know, but a room full of Teak fans works for us!

Where do you see Teak going in about 10 years? Would you move to a major label if given the chance, or stick to the underground?

Interesting question that as the music world has changed and is continuing to change fast.  We feel music is still enjoyed by most people, they just aren’t keen to pay for CD’s and downloads unless everyone else is or they are forced too.  We all know you can hear or get almost anything online without spending a cent. What we do know is that people love good music live and will pay for that. So we see the recordings as like adverts for people to know what the band Teak is, and then they decide whether they want to see and hear it live or not.

Teak in 10 years will still be making and playing music live as long as people still keep coming to the shows and enjoy it.  If we can do that underground and independent we will.  Obviously there are huge obligations around being with a major label but potentially enormous upsides as you get your music to a larger audience faster-maybe.  We would do it, but we would need to feel it makes sense for Teak and the audience we have and most importantly that we can still enjoy making and playing the music and be true to that and our audience.

What does the rest of 2011 hold for the band, and how can readers connect with you and your music?

Teak are planning a tour of Australia and beyond in 2011, but the details aren’t nailed yet. We want to get to the US also, including Ohio where we have some good interest in the band. We are social networkers too, and keep in touch with our audience through Facebook and the like.  We are happy to be personal so to speak as we feel music is a two way thing between the artist and the people who like ‘em.  We love to hear from people about what they think or like not only about Teak, but all music that they are into.

Any other thoughts for NeuFutur readers?

Just that people who are into music are ahead of the rest of the population and they are the ones who discover the great stuff, and the herd follow them months or so later.  So keep the search up, as that feeling you get when you find something you really dig that gives you goose bumps is worth it every time…Teak might be one of those discoveries.  But let’s all please not give up on searching for great music just because there is sugar coated crap blasting out of the commercial FM stations sometimes.  There is enough quality being made still for all of us.

 

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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