Going against the grain of a monolithic industry is hard enough when you have a large amount of resources at your disposal. Doing so when you’re a fiercely local and independent record label can create even harder challengers, while simultaneously offering unique opportunities. Hive Minds are doing just that and after another recent successful event; Hive Minds took time out of their party planning to sit with The Wandering Lamb and chat about who they are, what they are doing and offer a few insights some of problems in the local scene.
Thanks for taking the time out chat with us here at The Wandering Lamb. So can we kick things off and ask you what each of your backgrounds are in music?
Simon: Vito and I went to high school together. We’ve been playing music together for years. I come from an 80’s dance background and rock music.
Vito: Simon and I gigged pretty hard with 8 Bit Love where we learned most of our skills in that band.
Ivan: I used to go to folk clubs with my parents [in Drysdale] when I was younger. Dad used to play the flute and mum would strum the guitar. I started listening to heaver music in school while playing in heaps of different bands in heaps of different genres. I feel I’ve had a very diverse experience.
So, where did Hive Minds begin then?
Vito: Well back to 8 Bit Love, we booked a couple of tours and had a pretty hard time with it. So we figured ‘why don’t we put a name on it’ and we might be able to suck some people in. It kind of worked. It was a lot easier to get a gig saying I was Vito from Hive minds rather than Vito from 8 Bit Love.
Simon: We’ve always been releasing our own music, throwing our own parties and doing our own touring. Now we’re putting a name behind it. Which has also given us more focus. Now that it has a name it’s something we are actually doing rather than something we are kind of doing.
Ivan: I just liked throwing parties.
What, in your opinion, separates Hive Minds from other independent labels?
Vito: The label is just another thing to try and get people to take music more seriously. The label at the moment has only worked with bands we’ve all be part of. We are just trying to create our own ideal scene with our friend’s bands. I think we’re more focused on the performance elements.
Simon: I always think ‘what do I want to go see on a Friday night?’ An awesome party with awesome bands with free drinks and free food. So if I want to go to those, the more parties we make, the more parties other people will make.
Simon: If we had money we would definitely pick up more bands but how do you generate money when you want to be doing something that aims on being free?
Vito: It’s also about not biting off more than you can chew.
Simon: We had a Japanese rock band, they were just here touring and we asked them to play. That was a wild night.
Generally speaking then, how has the local scene responded to what you guys are doing?
Vito: Only recently people have been taking it more seriously. They are realizing that it’s not just something that Ivan does or that Simon does but it’s an actual thing. It’s hard to know for certain because we are looking at it from the inside out.
Simon: Everyone has a lovely time at our events. Even if we aren’t sure that we managed to pull something off. Everyone lets us know they had a lovely time.
Ivan: There is always good feedback from our events that we throw.
Vito: I think also that fact that we are running it out of share houses instead of venues has really helped and will keep us going strong for a while. If you just do it at a venue you’re just running a club night and I can’t fucking stand club nights.
Ivan & Simon: *laughs*
Simon: I find I’m thinking about people and gigs from a psychological point of view. It’s not necessarily taking me where I didn’t expect but it’s interesting. Our last gig started at 5:30 in the afternoon and there were about 30 people there from the get go. The fact that we can get people out at 5:30 on a Saturday afternoon is pretty impressive by anyone’s standards
So what do you think you guys are doing that gets these people so eager to participate?
Vito: Punch helps
Ivan: And food
Vito: You can go to a house party and it can be a bit awkward. There might not be music, you might not know enough people. Maybe people like the fact that it’s a house party that’s also an event and there is going to be all this stuff going on.
Ivan: You know that something is always going. People know that we know how to put a good show so people trust us.
So you would say that your formula helps facilitates easy interactions with strangers?
Ivan: yeah, it’s a very open happy and relaxed space.
Vito: we are still working on the cops though.
Well that rolls onto my next question; what are some of the mistakes you have made so far along the way?
Simon: Too many bands. We once had 8 bands playing but in the future I think we’ll just stick to 4 or 5 awesome bands.
Ivan: I think also the structure of the lineup. Who you put on and when has a big impact on how the whole event goes.
Simon: Burning a curry, that was Ivan’s house mate’s fault.
Ivan; yeah, he set the kitchen on fire….
Simon: It’s not so much a problem but an observation. People won’t pay $5 to see a band on a Tuesday. If it’s a Tuesday night you want a free gig, one really awesome band and 2 pretty good bands. We can all want a free gig but if no one is getting paid then no one is getting paid.
So people want to have their cake and eat it too?
Simon: Yeah, to me that’s a massive issue.
Vito: One thing I’ve noticed is that venues don’t seem to want to have bands. To the point where venues used to charge a $1 from every entry but these days its $2.50 per person coming through the door and what do they provide? A door person? Obviously the sound facilities that are already there but they are already making money from the bar but the bands need to pay for a sound engineer. Their increased cut could have paid for that. Some venues just don’t seem to appreciate the artists and the fact this is their work. There are even some venues that say that if you don’t get a guaranteed amount of people through the door then you have to pay us $1000 to make up for ‘losses’.
Ivan: I think it’s people being flakey as well as bands not doing enough promo.
Simon: Yeah, if you have a gig on do your basic promo. Do a Facebook post, tell people about it. I remember when we had a residency at revolver; I was texting everyone in my phone every week. It annoyed some people but it worked. Just promote and talk to people. If you have general social skills, talk to everyone you meet. Tell them that you have a gig coming up and it will work.
Ivan: Use your social media, there is so much power there to promote your work and all you are going to do is make it better for yourself.
Vito: There are also a lot of booking agents that are lazy and don’t do their research on who is most appropriate to book for a venue, when and who should be headlining or supporting.
Vito: Just to continue experimenting and figuring out the best method to throw these parties and be completely self sufficient
Ivan: I think to continue doing bigger shows and every event we do better than the last and improving
Simon: I think to just keep engaging and trying new and unexpected things.
Well, to wrap this up; what would be the advice you give to those that are looking to start in the local music scene in one capacity or another?
Simon: Start throwing parties in your house or your friend’s houses. You don’t have to worry about anything. Everyone will love you and you’ll get pissed and end up naked.
Vito: I think when you’re thinking about doing these things, throw in the question of ‘why not?’.
Ivan: Talk to everyone, find out what people do. The more people the easier this all becomes because everyone generally wants to get involved and help out with these kinds of events and it all comes together and feeds of each other.
Photography by Meghan McLeod