She'll Be Rock

5 June 2012 | 4:17 pm | Michael Smith

Two-man guitar and drum attack Jackson Firebird took their sweet time getting there, but as guitarist Brendan Harvey tells Michael Smith, it’s all good.

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Mildura, population around 30,000, sits on the might Murray River in North Western Victoria close to the South Australian border. It sports about eight pubs and clubs – that's not a lot of gig opportunities for a young musician – so inevitably, once you're up and running, you've got three choices: head for Adelaide, head for Melbourne or resign yourself to cover gigs and B&S balls in the local area. Guitarist Brendan Harvey and drummer Dale Hudak, aka Jackson Firebird, the name of a favourite guitar, opted for Adelaide.

“Funnily enough we didn't play Melbourne that much, being Victorians,” Harvey admits from Melbourne, where he now lives, “we ended up everywhere else bar Melbourne, 'til early last year.”

The two musicians have been playing in bands together on and off for about 16 years, but got serious – relatively – about just playing together, no bass guitar, as Jackson Firebird in 2006, initially just jamming out in the back room of Hudak's parents' bakery. People started hanging around to see what all the noise was about, then gigs at the local pub led to gigs in Adelaide and beyond, supports for the likes of You Am I, The Fumes and Little Birdy and the next thing you know, the festivals started noticing. Along the way it seemed obvious that they had to cut an album.

“We basically started to do the album for our own sanity. One thing we wanted to tick off in life was to record an album, so during just gigging around the countryside, we'd drop into Mixmasters in Adelaide with [engineer/producer] Mick Wordley and he was keen to do it and we sort of did it in dribs and drabs. I think there was, max, eleven or twelve days over probably fourteen months, so it was a very, very slow process. It wasn't because we didn't have the material; it was just finding time to get in there.

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“The major part of Jackson Firebird is the live show, so to get that on record was our main objective and we heard about Mick and the great stuff he does with live recordings, and to tape, and we hit him up at a Fuse Festival in Adelaide and gave him our EP [2008's Bottle Bin] and he gave us a call the next day.”

That EP had been co-produced by Kram, who'd heard the duo through a small band competition a few years before, and the album – titled less than subtly but saying all you really need to know to understand where Jackson Firebird are coming from, Cock Rockin' – not only got finished but got picked up by major label Warner Music after some reps caught the band at Bluesfest.

“It's all pretty straightforward, straight down the line monkey out of the tree sort of stuff,” offers Harvey of Jackson Firebird's music. “A lot of our songs were sort of written the music first and then we've sort of thought, 'Well, we'd better put some lyrics over these.'”

Their obviously very driven manager, who'd got the record in front of Warner in the first place, also got on the case regards getting the boys some festivals in the UK, which duly saw them head over to Brighton last month to play The Great Escape.

“We got an offer to go over to play two shows, so we thought we'd make the most of it and there's another festival called Liverpool Sound City, the weekend after Brighton, so they invited us to play a couple of shows and we played a few Aussie barbecues and a couple of our own shows.”