Hello and thanks for taking part in our by-now traditional end of year recapitulation – now, to the questions!
For the benefit of our readers, please identify yourself and what you do in the band (or, in your case, bands)… “My Name is Adam Agius, I’m the vocalist and lead guitarist in Rock n’Roll outfit Pilots Of Baalbek and I’m also vocalist and guitarist for metal band The Levitation Hex“.
And two finer bands you couldn’t hope to find! What sort of a year do you think it’s been musically, notwithstanding the chaos going on in the real world? And what were your musical highlights in 2020? “I’m pretty much answering from a local perspective. There are some fantastic bands getting around and playing some COVID-restricted gigs; bands like Local Horror, The Neptune Power Federation, Mucho Sonar, The Dusty Rhodes and Witchskull have been killing it live and staying in touch with the punters. For me the highlight came before COVID, catching a couple of The Neptune Power Federation shows in January, they never fail to entertain”.
Any lowlights for you? Or do you prefer to try and stay away from things that are going to make you disappointed? “I guess every cancelled gig was a low light and also not being able to finish an EP with my Melbourne band mates from The Levitation Hex due to restrictions does suck. Pilots Of Baalbek had to re schedule our debut album launch three times before we finally unleashed it ten months later on 16/10/20, which was a pain in the arse but we finally got to rock to a sit-down audience – that was a little weird”.
We can’t talk about 2020 without repeatedly mentioning COVID it seems – how did it impact on your bands specifically? And how did you combat COVID setbacks? And, moving ahead, do you think the way we do things like touring in the future will be able to take any positives from what’s happened since March? “As previously mentioned it caused some massive delays and cancelled tours. My real fear is that this whole “sit-down restricted gigs” will be kept in place whilst sporting events get to have packed crowds, that really pisses me off and is a blatant slap in the face to our industry”.
If a worldwide pandemic had happened twenty years ago it’s arguable that the effect on bands may have been even worse given the absence of the internet and social media – Do you think the fact that fans now have a much more direct line to bands meant that social media played a part in helping bands survive this period of financial instability? What do you think of the rash of pay per view concerts we have seen spring up recently? “I guess that the internet helped bands stay afloat but having done some pay per view shows and also attending some demonstrated to me that its not even close to the energy and power of a real show”.
That’s certainly true, although I’ve really enjoyed some of the ones that I’ve tuned into. What about the ‘Zoom Jams’ – are you a fan? If so, what ones should we be seeking out on the internet to cheer ourselves up? “We never attempted a zoom jam and it was probably something we should have had a go at. The problem is that both the original bands I am in had either just finished producing an album or were half way through recording. Our minds were very set in that side of the process and we would have started serious rehearsals when the product was out so it never occurred to us to zoom jam”.
Shows are tentatively being booked now across the world for 2021 and beyond – what does the next twelve months hold for you? “Pilots Of Baalbek will play our next show at Punknats in Canberra in early January and then hopefully also some interstate shows before we start our next EP/LP. The Levitation Hex will attempt finishing our EP as soon as the Melbourne boys in the band can get in a studio together and when the Canberra lads can get down to Victoria to jam”.
Won’t be too long now hopefully! Now, It’s our end of year round up, so of course our thoughts are turning to the Holiday season. What’s best for you? Christmas or New Year? And what will you be drinking? “One positive thing that came out of COVID for me is that I used the opportunity to slow down on the drinking and that has resulted in a healthier me in all respects. I will be taking it easy this Christmas and new year, catching up with my folks at Christmas. I prefer Christmas as it is about family and relaxing. I will be sampling a few lovely local brews though. I’m a big fan of supporting local breweries, twenty years ago there were none, now there are many and it’s a great thing!”
I have to say I’m more of a mass-produced premium lager man myself but I understand your joy! Moving on, you’ve been invited to the Sentinel Daily office party -we’ve let you take charge of the stereo for five songs. What will you play? ” Giuda…White Tiger Woman, Down On The Street by The Stooges…. The Sweet‘s Sweet FA, The Neptune Power Federation – Opium Den and Mucho Sonar‘s Bring back the Venue“.
That’s enough festive fun – here’s your chance to speak directly to our readers – what would you like to say to them? “Hey good people, The Levitation Hex will be releasing and EP soon and re-releasing our back catalogue on all digital platforms , search for us on Facebook. Pilots Of Baalbek will be getting out and playing some rock shows, you can find the material on all digital platforms like Bandcamp and Apple Music et cetera et cetera”.