'Eucalyptus dream pop' in red centre
When Dane Taylor picked up a 12-seater van from a rental company he didn’t explain the finer details of how the “unlimited kilometres” were to be utilised.
“We didn’t really tell them we were driving it to Alice Springs and back,” says the key vocalist of Shining Bird.
“A family trip” they thought as Taylor says rental companies, and often hotels, usually give a flat “no” to requests from bands thinking it’ll be “girls and chaos”.
“Once we got asked if we were a football team, as [the hostel manager was] like, ‘because we’ve got a ban on football teams at the moment’,” Taylor smirked.
This tour, supporting the Austinmer group’s second album Black Opal, was a little different to previous times with 90 per cent of gigs in unknown territory.
One such included the privilege of performing for Indigenous communities in Australia’s red centre like the Anangu Elders as they painted and weaved baskets, with Uluru as the backdrop.
Keyboard player Russ Webster says the concert was more like a “cultural exchange” with elders welcoming them with sand drawings and a bush tucker lesson, encouraging the foreigners in tight jeans to taste witchetty grubs and wild honey.
“It tasted like salty chicken,” Taylor laughs. “It was just amazing.”
The experience was incredibly “grounding” to the boys, though they already seem quite grounded and not the rock-star strutting type.
According to Webster, the general vibe in the Alice was much like that of northern NSW with travelers and an “alternative crowd”.
“It did feel like the Byron Bay of the desert,” added Taylor.
He said one of the biggest highlights of the trip was camping on the fly, so “spontaneous and free”, as nothing was planned.
“We’d just kinda drive until sunset then pull off to the side of the road and setup camp,” Taylor said.
Percussionis James Kates captured all of these golden moments on film and wants to get a documentary ready for release in 2017, hopefully before the group sets sail on a European tour.
The next year will see a lot of gigs abroad for the guys after recently signing with UK record label Melodic.
Webster says the new album Black Opal is more “mature” than their debut Leisure Coast with the songwriting and sound “stepping up a notch”.
And yes, they do still have a seventh member.
An “elusive” saxophonist named Michael Slater who may not be at every gig.
Shining Bird play Anita’s Theatre Friday November 18, doors open 7pm. www.anitastheatrethirroul.com