Hard Rockin’ in the Free World
For the best part of a decade Degrees of Freedom have been keeping the hard rock torch burning bright in the nations capital. And while the music industry has seen the rise of styles like electroclash, nu-metal and dance rock, the boys have stayed true to their alternative roots and have risen to become one of the more recognised and respected bands on the Canberra scene.
In 2003 (when the band was named ‘Serenade’), their debut EP ‘Guninmymouth’ recieved substantial airplay on Canberra’s 104.7FM station, and since, they have scored support spots for other hard rock acts such as COG, Karnivool and The Butterfly Effect.
September sees Degrees of Freedom gear up again to play another support, this time for Birds of Tokyo.
Singer/Guitarist Ben was gracious enough to give Loud Noise and Pictures some time, away from perfecting Neil Young tunes, to answer a few questions.
Loud Noise and Pictures: Without resorting to standard rock music cliches, briefly describe Degrees of Freedom.
Ben Dales: It is always difficult to describe our music. I think it fits into the fairly broad ‘Alternative rock’ label, which isn’t very useful. It is riff driven, hard rock with melody. There is a cross over audience of people who seem to like our stuff, people who like heavier music and people who like more melodic rock.
LNaP: What particular artists/bands does DoF look up to/aspire to be like?
BD: I don’t think we really aspire to be like anyone else, but we are certainly inspired by other acts. It is more that we just want to get together and make our own brand of music, which hopefully some people will enjoy. We have been inspired by some of the bands we’ve played with over the years such as COG, Karnivool and the Butterfly Effect. COG were really cool as well as being a great band, which is important. We’re also inspired by acts like Soundgarden, the Tea Party, and Muse. I think you can hear their influence in some of our tracks, a lot of people who like those bands would also probably appreciate our sound.
LNaP: You’ve done some fairly varied and very well recieved covers (Massive Attack’s ‘Angel’ and Jeff Buckley’s ‘Dream Brother’ for example) in previous shows, how do you as a band, decide on what sort of songs you want to cover, and how do you choose on the night?
BD: We mostly try and do covers that are very different from the style we play in order to diversify the set. We also try and bring a bit of our own style to the songs. The Massive Attack cover [featured on the Serenade EP] was really the first time we had ever tried this and it seemed to work. I like to think that the audience would be surprised when they hear us playing a song they recognise, performed very differently from the original. At the moment we are working on a Neil Young song from his acoustic work, we try and rock it up a bit so it should be interesting.
LNaP: How does an emerging band such as Degrees attempt to distinguish themselves from the other bands in a similar situation?
BD: It is difficult to differentiate yourself with so many other bands around. Basically we try and work on a sound that will stand out against the backdrop of all the different bands out there. There are a lot of other bands playing a similar style to us, but I don’t think there are many that fuse a hard rock groove with melody the way we do. I think the most important thing is to stand out musically first.
LNaP: How does a band such as yours gague ‘sucess’?
BD: For me the only real gauge for success is that we are happy with the work we are producing. Obviously it is great when other people enjoy your music as well and performing to good crowds with bands like Birds of Tokyo is really cool. But that is really like a bonus. If I didn’t feel like we producing quality music I would quit no matter how well we were doing.
LNaP: How did you manage to score the Birds of Tokyo support?
BD: We were lucky because we had played with Karnivool before, so we had a contact with the Birds of Tokyo. We sent them and email and asked if they wanted a support for the Canberra show. They were keen for us to play so it worked out well.
LNaP: Are you working on any new songs, can we expect to hear them at the Birds gig and when can we expect another album?
BD: Yeah we are working on a couple of new songs at the moment and they are a bit of a departure from our last EP. There is still a strong groove running through them but I think they are much more dynamic and varied in tempo. There is a bit more experimentation in the feel and bigger choruses than the previous stuff. I don’t think they will be ready for the Birds of Tokyo gig, but we may just bring out the new Neil Young cover. As far as a new album is concerned, we are still promoting this one at the moment, but we are writing some new songs so it will probably happen sometime soon.
If you can – go and pick up a copy of Degrees of Freedom’s self titled EP, fans of COG, Karnivool etc will not be disappointed. Even better, catch Degrees at the ANU bar this Sunday when they rock out with Birds of Tokyo.
|Greenroom||Canberra, Australian Capital Territory|
|ANU Bar||Canberra, Australian Capital Territory|