This Rock and Roll / Jazz infused duo will be the headlining act at this year’s Commotion by the Ocean. We catch up with drummer Joel en route to his next gig.
Where are you off to at this moment?
I am off to Sydney, but our plane is delayed so I am stuck in this airport trying to get to the city on time for a gig.
> So it’s business, not pleasure?
Well, I also play drums in another band and we are playing at Oxford Arts Factory tonight, so I am looking forward to it!
> Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Avalon on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. I have lived there forever, and it was only just a year ago that I moved to Melbourne. It is a beautiful place, Avalon, and the origin of the band.
> Lovely. How many interviews do you do for The Fumes per week?
Well, it depends on what is going on. If there is a release or tour coming up, we obviously do a lot more, and sometimes they are few and far between, to tell you the truth. It is 50/50.
> And you guys are relentless tour people. Do you love being on the road?
Oh, it is definitely tiring, but man we love it. It is just the way we do things. I think The Fumes are a real live band, and we draw most of the fans from our live performances … we are renowned for our shows, so we like to get out there as much as possible. We still love it.
> If someone was to come to the show, what can they expect?
A couple of hairy, sweaty men playing their instruments as loud as they can, I guess! (Laughs) No, we always have good fun and everyone gets up to have a dance, and most of our onlookers would say we have a thirsty audience.
> So there are just the two of you in the band – tell us about your accomplice and front man, Steve.
Steve and I have known each other for about ten years now. We met each other in Sydney, Avalon, through mutual friends, and he was actually playing with another guy. We met at a party and hit it off. He is living in Far North NSW, and I am in Melbourne … it doesn’t sound ideal, but it actually works because we play so much. We usually set aside a couple of days to rehearse before a tour or show and tighten everything back up. Steve is a fan of the Blues, and he has made me come to appreciate that genre since playing with The Fumes.
> What about musically? How do you fill the gap of the missing instruments in the band?
Steve has a really good knack for filling in the sound. He does a lot of work on the lower strings of the guitar where he gets his bottom end and that bass sound from. And my approach is to hit as hard as I possibly can. It seems to work. We sort of dabbled with extra musos and other members here and there; for example, there are keys on the latest record. And we even had James Cruikshank from The Cruel Sea play on a few numbers. But it feels most comfortable when it is just the two of us; there is certainly something special about it.
> Who are your drummer influences – that you are inspired by and look up to?
Ahh, definitely Rob Hirst from Midnight Oil. I think it is everything about him – the way he conducts himself on and off the stage. If you had ever seen footage of him or seen him live, you would agree he is a machine!
> Are you looking forward to playing Commotion by the Ocean this January in Forster?
Yeah, Steve and I can’t wait! It’s going to be a blast, and we hope everyone can come along to see The Fumes in action.
> Thank you Joel.