Interview: Wrong Place Records
Wrong Place Records is a new and exciting creature poised to grace the plains of the Tasmanian musical community. A small, independent record label intended to showcase some of the best in local music, it’s the latest venture and project by the same people responsible for the Hobart House Show Syndicate, Number One Hits compilation and the Hobart Little Bands Gig. Chloe Mayne finds out more:
“[Wrong Place] is a combination of a record label and gig-running ‘brand’ I suppose,” says founder, Rob Fisher. “In terms of a record label, the focus is on small run releases of bands Australia-wide, with a firm focus on Hobart hits. As a ‘brand’, I’m not sure. When I’m trawling the internet looking for gigs or bands interstate, I see a band I haven’t heard of attached to a gig that is ‘RIP Society present…’ or ‘Bedroom Suck presents…’ and I check it out. It’s stupid to attach authority to brands, but it works.”
The first trio of releases on the label will be a split Lenin Lennon/Naked 7″, RBP & KEK’s Devotional cassette and a compilation of tracks by local bands titled Wrong Place, Right Time: Hobart 2014. Featuring an impressive wingspan of names including Bi-Hour, Mess O’ Reds, Small Black Lambs and Molle St Therapist, Wrong Place Right Time: Hobart 2014 is an excellent catalyst of some of the best music that Hobart has to offer – it strikes to the core of its pulsating heart, pushing fingers into its deepest, murkiest and most interesting places. For those of us that do or have called Hobart home, it’s delightfully endearing, speaking to us of long winter nights whittled away in a dark corner of the infamous Brisbane Hotel, boots sticking to the grungy carpet (for a brilliant piece that sums up this experience, please check out Adam Ouston’s recent memoir “Why You Should Spend More Time at the Brisbane Hotel”, miniature music festivals in church halls and DIY shows in living rooms that spill out into the garden in the summertime.
Hobart contains a tightly wound knot of a musical community within which friends buy one another’s records, go out to watch each other play on a Saturday night and then make more bands together – a creative rhizome of shoots and weaves and whorls that frequently overlap. The sounds that emerge from this entwining, however, are remarkably different. WPRT: Hobart 2014 encapsulates this neatly – the raw, fuzzy edged nostalgia of garage favourites Treehouse complements the clean, minimal curves of ocean-poppers Heart Beach and the rollicking psychedelic sprawl that is Small Black Lambs. The overall mood is tinged with a certain darkness, a lilt of cynicism or melancholy or ennui, but let’s not get carried away trying to tie this in with the fact that this music has been created on a windswept, at times anonymous island en route to Antarctica, separated from its mainland counterpart by one of the wildest stretches of ocean in the world. Rather, the songs on WPRT add to and extend a similar independent aesthetic found in the burgeoning musical scenes of larger cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
“I don’t know that Hobart’s sound is necessarily unique,” agrees Rob, “but it isn’t particularly trendy and is for the most part pretty sincere. Because of its size perhaps, there isn’t a sense of competition for attention, there’s lots of room for personality and for people to do their own thing and for there to be a core of people at the very least interested in what’s happening. With that in mind, there’s a lot of room for constructive criticism – heckling is a special part of the Hobart scene, as is watching a band respond to feedback from one gig to the next. The scene and its bands are quite esoteric, interconnected and self-referential, and are striving to be exciting. Hobart bands are being noticed too, with both Treehouse and Bi-Hour recently being released through the Melbourne label Vacant Valley, and of course there is the success of The Native Cats.”
This curious relationship and interplay between Tasmania and its ‘mainland’ counterpart has been somewhat unintentionally (and a little tongue-in-cheekily) alluded to in the label’s name.
“Wrong Place, Right Time is a song from my first favourite album by the second best band ever in the world, I Am Kurious, Oranj by The Fall,” explains Rob. “Honestly, I was just flicking through track titles trying to find something that was both audibly and visually aesthetically pleasing and that was fairly neutral and without any pre-existing connotations.
I suppose as an afterthought though, it works as a snarky comment about the Hobart music scene. Insinuations that bands should get off the island, that we are isolated, etc – which is a long running joke within the scene, because it’s so untrue. It’s unintentional, but it works in that way. A less subtle option would be “Isolated Island Records.”
The label will be launching itself at the Brisbane Hotel, Hobart on May 16th with performances by the likes of Heart Beach, Peter Charles Macpherson and Treehouse. From there, the future of Wrong Place Records is looking humble yet optimistic. In any case, the very emergence of new labels like this one is proof that independent Australian music is well and truly kicking: even more so, it’s an integral component of our musical and artistic culture.
“A realistic long term goal,” says Rob, “is just to be one among many fantastic relatively small time labels in Australia doing its thing. Even in Hobart there are a number of awesome labels in Rough Skies Records, Consumer Productions and Wormwood Grasshopper. Nationally, there are a plethora of labels boasting exciting releases that likeminded folks across the country are excited about. Perhaps, one day, Wrong Place will be one of them.”
Interview by Chloe Mayne.