Mick Quee, bassist with rock and rollers Hailmary is hanging in Melbourne. He’s just about to watch some kind of sporting event involving ‘pies’ and ‘tigers’ (a tiger-based pie-eating content, perhaps?). But we’re not on the phone to discuss sports; we’re here to discuss Hailmary’s latest EP Evolve Dissolve and the band’s imminent Australian tour. So Mick, what’s happening? “We finished the EP, and now we’ve been getting the songs fine-tuned and getting the tour prepared. We’ve done as much as we can to get ready to hit the road next weekend.” That’s right, people. The tour starts this week.
So Evolve Dissolve is the follow-up EP to the Navigate The Sunrise (2014) EP. Do you plan to keep releasing EPs or are you keen to put a full length out? “I think for the next release we’ll be looking at doing a full length album,” he mentions the line-up changes and the general business of the band as contributing factors “It’s just been easier to do an EP and probably after the tour we’ll start thinking about releasing an album next.” The fact that everyone has to work a ‘normal’ job doesn’t help matters but Mick is philosophical about the situation. “Yep – we’ve all pretty much got jobs to fund the hobby – the expensive hobby! But it’s all part of it; you suffer for your art so we don’t mind working hard and then working hard to get some good quality music out there. Well, we hope it is…”
We touch on Hailmary’s recent support for Ugly Kid Joe’s 2014 UK gigs and Mick is suitably impressed with the experience. “Yeah, last year in October, we headed over to the UK and did a tour with Ugly Kid Joe which was great. They’re idols of ours and we all grew up listening to them so it was a massive highlight to take Hailmary over there and play in front of some bigger crowds that are in tune to that kind of music.” Fortunately the reality of touring with one’s idols wasn’t sullied by big rock egos. “They’re great guys; very friendly and any time they could help out, they helped us out. They were willing to share and help; their tech guys were willing to help out, and we got stuck with some accommodation issues a couple of times…really, really friendly guys. Really, really nice, and it was a pleasure to tour with them.” It’s nice when people don’t turn into complete dicks, eh? “Yeah, that’s it – you hear horror stories about smaller bands going on tour with well-established bands and getting treated like punks, getting undermined. But I think it’s a bit different these days; I guess it happened a lot in the eighties and nineties but these days everyone is just trying to go out and have some fun so there’s no point in anyone trying to act like a rock star.”
Returning to Evolve Dissolve, the band’s influences such as Alice In Chains and the Stone Temple Pilots are most apparent. “Yeah, definitely. We’ve definitely got that nineties edge to it with our own sort of flavour added to it.” I mention that it’s (almost) a guilty pleasure to enjoy some straight up rock nowadays, and Mick agrees. “I think over the last ten years people have got a bit carried away with needing to be heavy. I think you can be heavy and still produce a good quality product that people can enjoy without heaps of blast beats and people screaming and jumping around. Just some good melodies and the music doesn’t have to be overly long either – you know, if that’s your passion and that’s the style of music you enjoy playing then just do it. I think some bands try to ‘out-heavy’ each other but we won’t shy away from doing some acoustic stuff. We all enjoy different kinds of music so why not embrace it and add it in to the mix? Give people something to enjoy because we definitely enjoy it.” So there’s still a place for the old school rock? “Yeah, I think so. Let’s just play some straight up rock and roll without all that bullshit. Obviously the influences come through but we try to put a new spin on it; we don’t want to go out and blatantly rip-off bands but I think there’s still room for good melodies, good heavy riffs, big drums and heavy guitars – and good, clean vocals.”
He tells me the EP was cut mainly at drummer Vas Shevtov’s Vasectomy Studio in Perth, where most of the band are based – though Mick admits “I ended up flying back and forth to do some extra bass stuff over there – it was all pretty much done ‘in-house’ so that cut the cost back a bit.”
Would you say the essence of the band comes through predominantly at the live shows? “I think so. Meeting up with these guys a couple of years ago, and then getting to know them and realising that we’re all on same page,” he talks of learning the music on the fly then busting out a national tour. As he puts it: “It was quite large. It sort of just clicked and as time’s progressed and we’ve got the line-up we have now; playing live – it’s been really enjoyable. It’s definitely all about the live show and the live sound. I think if you want to get a really good idea about what the music’s about then come down to a show and hopefully it tickles your fancy.” But there’s none of that hitting the stage half-trousered for Hailmary.” Mick is adamant. “We keep it pretty tame till after the show. I think we’ve got a job to do – we’re not trying to be rock stars; getting on stage blind and doing it half arsed. I think that just lets the fans, and yourself down, if you’re not playing 100%. There’s plenty of time to party on – and we definitely have a crack, don’t worry about that – but we wait till after the show, and if people want to come back and have a drink with us, the more the merrier.”
Mick extols the benefits of touring; meeting new people, making new friends and we end up praising Australia’s utterly sweet music scene. As Mick succinctly puts it “There are some awesome people and some really great bands; I’ve been all over the world and I think Australia’s got some of the greatest talent and highest grade bands in the world, ” – and he adds “It is up to each individual band; if touring overseas doesn’t work for you then at the end of the day, if you can’t do it for whatever reasons, you can still make a fair impact in Australia – and there are a lot of bands doing that. I think Australia’s got some great bands in all genres.”
I mention the light-hearted video for My Song, taken from the Navigate The Sunrise EP; it looked like a lot of fun – and it also seemed imbued with that traditional Aussie spirit of ‘not taking yourself too seriously’? “Yeah, mate – a bit of tongue in cheek. It’s all a bit of fun at the end of the day so if you can take the piss out of yourself a bit and have a bit of a laugh, I think that’s the key to having fun. It’s all about having fun at the end of the day. We try not to take ourselves too seriously and we just go out and play our instruments and have fun.” So any plans for any of the tracks from Evolve Dissolve? He gives an enigmatic reply. “We’re working on something at the moment; running a few ideas around. Now we’ve finished the EP I think we can start working on a clip but nothing’s finalised at the moment but we definitely want to throw a few clips around. I think the social media age being what it is, it’s definitely something that you need to have in your kit. People definitely still enjoy seeing a good video clip.”
Too true. But a live set will certainly do – and so I let Mick get back to his pie-eating tiger competition while I prepare for Hailmary’s national tour.
Hailmary’s Evolve Dissolve Tour Starts this Friday in Melbourne – see the ad on our front page for details!