By Luke Buckler
Unbelievably Bad Contributor
Best know for his meditative swagger as front man for Sydney OM-rock deities Sumeru, Matt Power has a assembled new punk band – Free or Dead – and his first EP, Strikes, is in the bag. Clearly going for something more immediate and direct, Matt wrote and recorded the songs, enlisted the help of some local heroes to provide drums and guitars, and came up with a solid record.
Matt told UB all about the band, its conception, and the best way to make someone feel special on their birthday.
Is Free or Dead a solo project?
In terms of the recording, yes, I wrote and recorded all the songs that became the Strikes EP as a solo project. Various people played guitars and drums. Once the record was done and we thought that it might be something we could release we decided to get a band together and play a show.
Who else have you got involved, on the recording and for shows?
The main instigator and collaborator for this project has been Rickie Swain who played bass in Lomera. Rickie was the one who encouraged me to finish the record and put it out, he also contributed to the artwork and other visual aspects of the project. Playing guitar on the record is Reggie Barber from Firearms/Lomera, and Pete Bursky and Chris Wilson who both play in Sumeru. Adrian Griffin from Lo! slayed all the live drums on the record, he laid it down with Jay Whalley at Troy Horse, with everything else being recorded by myself in various bedrooms and living rooms over a two-year period. Adrian and Rickie both play in the band for the live shows and we are joined on guitar by Mitch Lanham from The Bloody Kids and Lachlan Marks of Gay Paris/sleepmakeswaves.
After spending so much time doing stoner/metal/sludge bands, what made you want to do a hardcore band?
Well, this is just what comes out when I play guitar I guess. I don’t play or write the music in Sumeru. I arrange the lyrics and contribute to some of the arranging but essentially all the ideas and themes come from Pete. Lyrically and thematically Sumeru can be quite obscure or intentionally vague, it’s about being heavy and expanding your mind. When it came to doing this I really wanted to create songs that were direct, speak with an active voice and have a lot of urgency about what I was doing. Musically I’ve always loved punk rock and was listening to bands Burning Love and Trash Talk while I was writing and recording so I think that came through quite a bit.
What are your aspirations for the music video you crowd funded for?
Ah, this where Lachlan Marks comes in. We’d been talking about film making and the possibility of working on something so I approached him with my take on what the song ‘Hunger’ kind of represents and asked what he thought. Lachlan went away and conceived a treatment that really captured that idea and then took it even further. We aspire to present something very cinematic and to do it at the highest level possible. Now that we’ve successfully funded the project I’m excited to see it move into production.
You had some pretty wild incentives going for that campaign. What’s your secret for a special birthday phone call? How do you rate your baking skills, and can UB HQ get one of your cheesecakes?
Ha Ha! Well what makes a birthday phone call special is firstly timing, you can’t be too late because it’ll be played out and you can’t be too early, you want to catch the birthday person in the right mood. Secondly, it’s nice if you can personalise it with the person’s favourite song playing in the background or something you know is special to the person. I don’t have a wide range of baking skills but the one thing I know how to do well is a vanilla cheesecake with a nice smooth biscuit base. I’d be happy serve one up to the UB crew, no problem.
Are there plans to do more shows with Free or Dead, or tours in the works?
It’s really hard to do anything with this band because everybody is so damn busy. A tour might be near impossible but yeah we are keen to play shows because it’s a real fun band to play in. We’ve started writing as a band which is really cool so hopefully we can record sometime. For me this project is about being really creative musically and visually and playing shows is kind of secondary in a way but still an important aspect. Our next show is with Disparo! and Masochist in Sydney on May 21 at Hideaway Bar.
And since we got you here, what’s doing with your other band?
Yeah, Sumeru is in a really creative writing phase at the moment. We’ve almost finished writing for the next record and everybody is pretty jazzed on what we’ve come up with. It’s all super heavy. I think we are scheduled to record at Capital Sounds in June sometime so we should have something ready by the end of the year to release early 2018. On April 29 we are supporting Death By Stereo at the Hideaway Bar with Hostile Objects and RAGE.
Listen to Strikes: