Tropicana is the longest running annual Stro event, having been held for over 22 years. UNE is proud to announce the appearance of the John Steel Singers on wednesday, March 16. The guys are most well known for their Sixties-flavoured pop, falsettos and sky-high harmonies.
It’s no wonder that they are a favourite among many crowds. Behind the scenes, they are almost stubbornly creative and strive for longevity. They indulge in experimentation, yet it’s that pop ethos that is firmly at the centre of the indie rock group. After spending the last year writing, recording, and touring the UK, they have progressed as a band. While sustaining the contagious pizzazz that we’re used to, their music has matured to a new level. The result? Their long-awaited debut album, Tangalooma.
The six-piece had modest beginnings, with the joining together of two work mates, Tim Morrissey and Scott Bromiley. Scott, a multi-instrumentalist (guitar, trumpet, keyboard and god knows what else). Tim, a music enthusiast, raised on ‘60s and ‘70s pop records, with parents who liked to party. Scott taught Tim how to play guitar, and from there the songwriting backbone was built.
The duo teamed up with experienced drummer, Ross Chandler, who had previously played with such acts as Teenager and Stature::Statue and talented musician/trombonist, Pete Bernoth and his marvellous glowing ginger hair. A while later, guitarist Luke McDonald was added to the lineup, whose inventiveness as a musician and composer helped to shape the JSS sound.
The band has gone through a few bass player changes – namely Pat McDermott and Dion Ford, who both contributed significantly, but chose to move on to different projects. Finally, the band has more recently found a keeper, in bassist Damian ‘Buddah’ Hammond, completing the lineup as we know it today.
But who is John Steel? John Steel only exists in the form of a plastic toy horse. The band’s mascot. Partly stolen from a child in a restaurant, but the kid left it there, so let’s just say it was never returned!
Like any music lover, the John Steel Singers have drawn influence from many of their idols in music history: Talking Heads, The Beach Boys, Split Enz, and the list goes on. One prominent act is The Go-Betweens, whom the JSS not only draw great influence from, but whom they have been lucky enough to be associated with as well.
At one of their first gigs at Brisbane venue Ric’s, Grant McLennan bailed up Tim in the toilet to tell him that he thought they were really good. Tim, shy in the presence of greatness, remained silent and modest – awe-struck by what had just taken place. A few weeks later, Grant McLennan sadly passed away, and Tim never got to say all the things that later ran through his head. Fast forward to last year, and the band was honoured again when Robert Forster personally requested them to be his backing band at the Dew Process ‘Fire and Flood’ Benefit Show for Black Saturday and QLD flood victims.
From there, a friendship was formed that would see Forster return to produce their debut album, Tangalooma.
The songwriting process for the band usually encounters Tim and Scott bringing ideas to the table and then, working with others as a group, they flesh out the material once the bare bones are laid. While the result is often perceived as sunny pop, the deceptive under-layers reveal a depth of songwriting and lyrics that are often quite dark. As much as they thrive in the studio, the signature JSS live show is one to witness.
Over the past few years they have had a busy touring schedule, playing with The Polyphonic Spree, Built To Spill, The Dodo’s, Man Man, Philadelphia Grand Jury, The Grates, Yves Klein Blue, Sparkadia and more. They’re also no stranger to the festival circuit, having joined the lineup on festivals such as The Big Day Out, Falls Festival/Southbound/Sunset Sounds, Laneway, Come Together Festival and more again. In May of last year, their live show and national profile scored them a spot on the Great Escape Festival in Brighton, UK. They are coming to The University of New England for Tropicana, so don’t miss out.
Tropicana is the first big show of the university year, and it provides an opportunity for all students, both new and old, a chance to meet and greet, party and see in the new university year together.
There have been some big names at Tropicana in the past, such as Paul Mac, Rocket Science, Phrase and Spiderbait, and 2011 is keeping the trend alive with the fantastic Triple J and TuneFM favourites – the John Steel Singers from Brisbane. It’s going to be a huge night at the Stro, and a great opportunity to see some fantastic live music in Armidale.
Alongside the John Steel Singers will be the ever-catchy Jonathan Boulet and resident Stro DJ – T-Nox, to keep the party going.
Tickets will be available at Campus Essentials for $15 for students and $18 for everyone else, and all details will be on Stro UNE Facebook page.
Tickets will sell fast, so make sure you get in quick. If you miss out – make sure you keep an ear out to 106.9 TuneFM for ticket giveaways coming up to the event!