The Musical Hijackers play Britney’s Circus

So this was by far and away the most difficult one that we have had yet… play Britney Spears’ Circus as an 80s power pop ballad ala Foreigner or Aerosmith.

Why so difficult?

Well.

80’s power pop ballads are all about melody. Well obviously there are lyrics and chords there too but they always have a strong melody, which you desperately need when you are wailing away at a very slow majestic tempo.

Now the Britney fans out there who are super familiar with this particular tune may have noticed something… there is not a lot of melody in this song. In fact, vast swathes of this song contain only the one note… check out the chorus – it goes “all eyes on me in the centre of the ring just like a circus” and it is all one note right up to the word “circus”. Not a bad melody in the context of a pop/dance tune but as far as singing it all long notes at a slow tempo…. ye gods kill me now.

But fortunately we had our resident 80s guitar music expert Andrew present and he reharmonised it (changed the chords underneath) so that it was a bit more rock and then we tried our best…

(The bass player certainly could have tried a bit harder but at least you know now that we are live and unrehearsed!)

Enjoy our 80’s power ballad Britney!

The Musical Hijackers play America’s Suitehearts

Could you ever imagine Fall Out Boy sounding so wholesome????

I doubt it… (:

B105 The Musical Hijackers perform – See You Again

Hi all, check out our heavy metal version of Miley Cyrus’ See You Again…. the first and perhaps last time, that you will ever hear death metal vocals on Austereo….

B105 The Musical Hijackers perform – Sex Is On Fire

Hello everyone. We have a new challenge this year (well a succession of them). The people at B105 enjoyed our very early morning musical shennanigans so much, they asked us back to meet their musical challenge every Monday morning at 7am…..

They have named us The Musical Hijackers and we will weekly add to our blog the outcomes of our spot. The breakfast crew might ask us to perform Lady GaGa’s Poker Face as a country song or Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl as a polka.

This week it was Kings Of Leon as a swing tune… that’s right, jazz isn’t dead, it just smells funny…

IMA vs Stavulous

You may be aware that in late November Stavulous, B105’s morning crew in rock band mode, reformed to raise money for The Royal Brisbane Children’s Hospital.

They raised 1.4 million dollars (which was pretty amazing) and we helped by training Stavulous, nearly drowning at Stavulous’ cyclone ravaged live to air broadcast and heading in at 2am to the B105 studios to offer our support as < did a mammoth 27 hours straight live to air…

Listen here to Stavulous, Andrew, Silas and Seamus and their 2 am madness.
It does have adult themes, so you may want to listen before the kids do…

If you are offended by country music or polka, I strongly recommend you avoid it altogether!

IMA Radio Ad

Ok, so we thought we’d try to get some podcasts working on this site. Just for a test, I’ve included a radio ad we did some time ago for 4ZZZ. Click below and give it a try.

B105’s Stavulous… an insider’s story part II

A brief comment on where I left off at the end of part 1.

Let’s talk for a quick second about working hard. We’re not talking about 6 hours practice everyday or anything like that (though Labrat did go pretty hard early on).

These guys were just too busy. But we’re talking about a few weeks of focused daily work. That’s all. More than a lot of people with goals to play in successful bands do – and look at what Stavulous achieved in three weeks!

Anyway.

While this was all going on, Stavulous explored some of the more disreputable sides of rock stardom – fake tattoos, hotel room trashing, cross dressing, underwear as outerwear and big, big hair. But they were achieving quite a bit where it was really going to count

We had some proper loud band rehearsals and apart from how amusing it was to see that group dynamics between the members of a morning crew are much the same as they are between the members of a rock band (except wittier and with less swearing) they actually did quite well.

Labrat’s right foot technique was pummellingly violent to say the least, and at least one kick drum pedal couldn’t stand the pressure and shattered, but I think his mentor Matthew had taken the sensible attitude of – the performance is in one week and it’s vaguely in time – WELL DONE!

Camilla was calmed after another session or two with Silas and could begin practising her pumping rock moves (there’s not a lot to do with your left hand when you play keyboard in a rock band).

Tash had reconciled her relationship with her Violin teacher which had soured somewhat after Labrat smashed her Violin on air, demoting her to Bass and her little solo bit before the Chorus was all sounding good.

And Stav was sounding like a singer! Which was very exciting for all of us (and thank God really).

On their very last rehearsal the day before the Ekka performance, they were doing ok and I wisely said “OK. Now on the actual day you will be coming in cold so you should take a ten minute break and then come back and practice playing it with no warm up.”

They took this very wise advice and came back after their break and managed to not play the song through once successfully. Not once. Five starts, five Labrat breakdowns. How very very exciting at this late stage…. They sensibly called it quits and invoked the famous “It will be right on the night, uh, day” attitude that has sustained many shaky stage performances in the past and off they went.

The setup on the day of the gig was the usual “Where is it meant to be?” “Bugger I forgot the X, do you have any?” “No, we’re allowed in there, truly” and “Can I have more of me in the foldback?”.

The morning crew were doing a live cross from the Ekka, and various fans arrived and received Stavulous t-shirts and autographs. Stavulous had a quick soundcheck and played through the song… and didn’t collapse in a heap (phew). The crowd warm up man did his “Now when I say the name Stavulous we’re all going to cheer… are you ready….”. And the tension built…. I’m pretty confident that it was brown trousers time for Stavulous, it must have been terrifying but they were busy working (which must have been a welcome distraction from the far more serious business of rock).
And finally

At lunchtime the IMA crew all wandered back to the B105 stage, one final check of guitar tuning… and it was time! They were announced, and the crowd cheered (it was the best attended outside broadcast they had ever done apparently), and they played and…

It was ok!

It was only ever going to be to a certain standard, but they sounded like a capable garage band.

After 3 and a half weeks of music lessons. Unbelievable.

The mix that went to air was not particularly sympathetic (which I knew it wouldn’t be… sigh…) but they sounded pretty good. Labrat played drum fills that were actually rhythmic for the first time ever, Stav loosened up in moments and sounded like a proper rock singer and no one fell over, broke a string, forgot their part or froze and it was actually pretty good.

The second time they played as an outro to their morning show was actually pretty bad… but it didn’t matter. They had proven to themselves (and to us) that with some motivation, ANYONE can play music. And play it in a very short amount of time. We were immensely excited about that and were very pleased to have been involved in a project proving it to be true. Anyone can play!

Later that month we received a slightly panicked call from Andy at B105 (he said that if I could hear ANY panic in his voice, we must be in real trouble) – Stavulous were doing a world tour of Brisbane. It had originally been conceived that Stavulous could play every hour, on the hour for 24 hours, but cooler heads prevailed (though that would have been kinda interesting and very amusing sleep deprivation wise).

The plan was Stavulous were going to do a world tour of shopping centres throughout Brisbane, playing their one song and would we like to be involved? We were happy to once again, while the promotional side of the project was doubtful in it’s impact for us, we thought it was a great social experiment and the B105 cast and crew were just fun to work with. And it was a good thing that we were involved as no one at B105 had any idea of how to run a rock band! So we helped them to organise a PA and an engineer (and thanks to Billy Hyde for sending along John as a drum tech who was a machine and a very very good drummer) then the next Friday we followed them around as Stavulous rocked the four corners of Brisbane one song at a time…

It was a very successful day, plenty of fans turned out to watch them play (just one song!) and the band had reached the stage by half way through the day where they could recover from disasters mid song (small things like Labrat forgetting how to play drums for half a verse…).

It was fascinating to watch how their playing improved as the day wore on. By the end of the day they were listening to each other – holding pauses for slightly longer than was metric (not ideal) but then crashing into the next bar very together (which sounded great!). Every time they played again they became a better band and better musicians. More and more proof that
everyone can play music.

We were VERY pleased when the day was finished but it had been fun. The whole project had been very encouraging to us as mentors, a ratings success for B105 and actually enjoyable too!

I think I should take this chance to thank everyone who was involved in the project – Andrew, Silas and Matthew from IMA, Donna, Andy, Dan and the technical crew, street crew and support staff from B105, Kevin, John and Gareth from Billy Hyde, Danny for FOH on the tour and Stavulous for not letting us down and proving us right…

EVERYONE CAN PLAY MUSIC!

Check out the proof here…

In the meantime – you can play music too! We’ve proved it now. Head over to our contacts page and leave your details. Look forward to seeing you soon!

B105’s Stavulous… an insider’s story.

StavulousRecently IMA was involved in a very fun project…

The B105 (a local Brisbane radio station) morning crew decided that they would form a rock band and perform at the Royal Brisbane Agricultural show, the Ekka.

Now that would seem quite reasonable except…

Stav (vocals and guitar) had played guitar for 18 months and had sung on stage once or twice (but no way that he could sing and play at the same time), Camilla (keyboards) had piano lessons up until the age of 5, Tash (bass guitar) had recently begun to play the violin (she had been playing for three months) and Labrat (drums) had never touched a musical instrument in his whole life…. never ever.

So, really pretty much complete beginners. But that’s ok because everyone can play music yeah? But the Ekka was only 4 weeks away….

4 weeks to prove that EVERYONE can play music. What an outstanding opportunity for us to walk the walk and prove that it is true what we believe – everyone CAN play music.

Now it was not an ordinary situation. Labrat, Camilla, Stav and Tash are overachievers and pretty determined individuals… that is how they have reached the level of career success that they have. They also know how to work hard. And they had great potential for utter public humiliation looming very fast indeed.

Ideal music students!

So here’s the story proper.

We received a call from one of our staff (thankyou Anthony). He had heard on the radio that the B105 breakfast crew were forming a band. They were looking for music teachers to help them to learn to play.

We got on the phone, then sent an email introducing ourselves and pointing to our youtube links so they could see that we could really play. We let them know that we were very excited about this as we could prove publicly what we believe very strongly – everyone can play music! And we could handle all of it for them – drums, violin (early on Tash was going to play violin), guitar, keyboard and voice – we could handle it
all…

I should point out at this stage that things at B105 happen sometimes very quickly… They have hours of chatty time to fill every morning and when you have hours of time to fill daily you have a brilliant idea… and you go for it! This can mean that sometimes the people behind the scenes (hello Andy and Donna) suddenly have HUGE and alien tasks that they have to complete… “We need thousands of rubber ducks for a rubber duck race this friday…”. You get the idea…

They called back (possibly relieved) that they had found one place where they could have all the music lessons that they needed. Seamus did a live to air offering his services and made some lame jokes but was at least able to finish with “Yes indeed, everyone can play music – even the B105 breakfast crew!”

We had a first production meeting, where we delicately discussed things like – when on earth was this actually going to happen, could Tash play bass guitar instead, did they understand that the instruments so graciously donated by B105 listeners possibly weren’t up to the standard of instrument that they would require to play in public and did they understand that if they were doing it live to air they couldn’t rely on looking funny – they actually had to play half decent cause otherwise it was going to seriously suck. Be scared Stavulous… be very scared.

All this was quite easily sorted (thankyou Donna), Seamus showed Labrat a VERY basic drumbeat (he had been randomly bashing the kit and swearing for the last 3 days… he SERIOUSLY could not play…) and Stav possibly also had his first singing lesson that day but it is all a bit blurry 7 weeks after the fact…

And so it all began.

We contacted Billy Hyde Brisbane and asked them if they could provide some instruments for Stavulous to practise and perform on (they didn’t even have instruments… thankyou Kevin and Gareth for getting us out of that one).

Listeners were asked to choose a song and a band name. Within about week and a half the performance date was announced.

So Stavulous (very cute) were going to perform Green Day’s “When I Come Around” in 3 weeks time at the Ekka.

We started by seriously simplifying the song. Green Day can really play. There was no way Stavulous were going to be able to do an exact cover in three weeks. Labrat had a lesson pretty much every day for the first week. Camilla and Tash both had first lessons as did Stav.

And they worked very hard.

Camilla was a bit panicked, as she couldn’t have a second lesson for a week and a bit as her mentor Silas was away touring in West Australia with Women In Docs, but she was always going to be fine (she’s impressive under pressure).

Tash’s part was simplified so that she didn’t have to panic (and she picked up on it REALLY quick).

Stav is such a stage lover that he was going to pull it off just fine – he just had to learn some truths about rock’n’roll. Stuff like, “Rock musicians make it look like it’s a big effort to play – but the truth is that it’s very relaxed and easy”. He was truly shocked.

Matthew (Labrat’s drum teacher) had some very fascinating and expletive filled lessons with Labrat…

We were all a bit worried about Labrat. A rock band lives and dies based on the quality of it’s singer and it’s drummer. Stav would have a vocal mic so even if he totally sucked he could say something clever and possibly escape relatively unscathed… but Labrat only had the drums. And if he got confused and stopped in the middle of everything… well it would be dead air and a LOT of red faces for everyone.

And they worked very hard.

They broadcast their first band rehearsal one morning and heard themselves as a band for the first time.

And then they worked very very very hard indeed…

It did all end up happily – including a world tour of Brisbane a few weeks later but our next blog will fill you in on the gory details…

In the meantime – you can play music too! We’ve proved it now. Head over to our contacts page and leave your details. Look forward to seeing you soon!

Check out the proof here…

Sustainable Voice part 2

Hello again everyone, just to recap, this is part two of the question…

Q. I sing in a band and I find that at the end of a gig I’ve got
no voice left and if I have to do two or three gigs in a row I’m really
in the shit. We’re touring soon and I’m worried.

A. We broke the answer down into four sections…

1. Be particular.

2. Be a diva.

3. Get equipped.

4. Learn.

Now that we can be particular, let’s…

2. Be a diva.

It’s easy for singers to get a bad rap, because sometimes you
need to be fussy and demanding. Your voice needs to be protected or you
can’t sustain a tour, or sometimes even a whole gig. Protecting your
voice can require behaviour that may be irritating for those around
you.

You have to fight for foldback onstage. Amongst all the
musicians on stage, your foldback requirements are critical. Guitarists
can turn up their amps, drummers can hit harder and while it may
fatigue (and potentially injure them), they can’t do the same damage to
themselves in 30 minutes that you can do in 30 seconds if you can’t
hear yourself properly. Try to be nice about it, but fight tooth and
nail for your foldback.

Smoke machines and air conditioning dry out your voice and are
your enemy. You might ask (politely) to have them turned off. Try using
a humidifier in hotel rooms and dressing rooms where the aircon has to
stay on.

If the people around you really care about the band and how you
present to the public, having audible vocals on stage, being a bit hot
in the car and not having the smoke machine on are pretty small
sacrifices to make for a great sounding show.

3. Get equipped.

Having your own quality microphone is very important.

Everyone else in the band pays a fortune for their gear, so
shelling out for a decent mic so you sound fantastic seems fair if
you’re going to be such a diva.

Go into music stores and try different mics. Compare handling
noise and choose one best suited to your voice (they’re all different).
Prices start at $400.

Consider wireless to allow yourself the freedom to really move.

Try in ear monitoring. It can dramatically improve control and
minimise damage, simply because you’ll hear yourself properly (maybe
for the first time ever).

4. Learn.

Bite the bullet and try singing lessons. You won’t lose your
unique voice. A good teacher coaches technique, which you integrate
into your existing sound.

Your teacher can help you sing with your whole body and access individual muscle groups for effect (like distortion).

Be patient and prepared to work because if you want to use
distortion night after night you must have a good technique
(sustainable) mixed with a tiny bit of relaxed and carefully monitored
“bad technique” (for rock).

Finally, the best thing to help sustain your voice onstage is to relax and enjoy yourself… (God forbid!).

Sustainable Voice part 1

This was the first of a series of columns that we wrote for Rave, a local Brisbane music magazine. There is a bit of repetition with some of the other entries in our blog, but I thought that it was worth including.

As this is our first column and we don’t have any real questions
yet, let’s pretend that a singer has asked me how to maintain their
vocal health…

Q. I sing in a band and and I find that at the end of a gig
I’ve got no voice left and if I have to do two or three gigs in a row
I’m really in the shit. We’re touring soon and I’m worried.

A. You are the singer. You are the primary focus at the front
of the rock behemoth. The reputation of your band can live or die
relative to your performance. You must be good and you must be
consistent. My number one recommendation (unsurprisingly) is to find a
good singing teacher… but here’s some stuff to consider….

We’ll break this down into four sections.

1. Be particular.

2. Be a diva.

3. Get equipped.

4. Learn.

1. Be particular.

Remember, singing is very serious stuff. Live or die stuff for your band…

Your body is your instrument.

So… eat well. Lots of wholemeal stuff and greens. No chilli
(sigh), no dairy and check that you are aware of any allergies that you
may have – maybe you feel like crap all the time because you can’t eat
wheat (or whatever).

Drink well. Lots of room temperature water (no ice – your voice
hates it). No diuretics (drinks that dry you out – think coffee, soft
drink, alcohol – even fruit juice can be suspect – water all the way).

Drugs are horrendous for your body and pot is the worst for
your voice – you can’t cool it and it rips the crap out of your voice –
you’re not Bob Marley either, so don’t use him as an excuse.

Get fit. If you can’t run for about forty minutes without
getting puffed, you’re not ready to really front the band. Mick Jagger
and Steven Tylers fitness is an embarrassment to everyone under the age
of 50. I also heartily recommend Yoga, Tai Chi and Chi Gung as great
voice sports.

Don’t talk over ambient noise (touring vans, loud music etc).
This is really tiring for your voice. Send the rest of the band out to
talk to punters after the gig if you’re touring, or minimise your
involvement (difficult for Indie bands I know, but you’re the singer –
you’re particular and a diva – it’s in your job description).

Get plenty of sleep! Your voice and body must have time to recuperate (tough on tour but it’s sleep or sing…).

And finally, do some simple, relaxing vocal exercises so that you know where your
voice is at before you hit the stage, warming down is also a good idea.

Next month I’ll give you some diva instruction, help you spend
money at your local music store (just like a guitarist) and point you
in some learning directions.