What began as a simple idea of a few shoegaze and dream pop bands coming together to do a tribute to The Cure (shortly after Robert Smith’s birthday, no less) evolved as a premise. What had been a tribute show in a small venue became a much more ambitious festival, showcasing the talents of the genre’s best bands. Jack from Contrast originally pitched the idea to like-minded musicians, and now Gabriel Lewis of critical favorites Lowtide has built a sprawling bill that looks to be the biggest collection of talent since Part Time Punks’ Shoegaze Festival in LA three years ago. We caught up with a few of the principals from Lowtide, Miniatures and Hideous Towns in this, our first-in-a-series spotlight on what is now known as Roogaze 2015 on May 9th in Melbourne, Australia.
DKFM: How did you get involved in this incredible festival?
Gabriel Lewis, Lowtide: This show is the result of two gig ideas merging. One was for a smaller tribute night (hence the sub-heading on the artwork – there may be covers but it’s no longer an essential thing to do, although I think all bands are still trying to learn songs) which got the ball rolling, and I’ve always wanted to put on a big show given how many bands were popping up. I felt they really needed a way to celebrate what a rich, and supportive scene there is here with some kind of showcase.
Chris MacLean, Hideous Towns: Jack from Contrast came up with the initial idea after missing a similar style gig while he was overseas. There was a ridiculous level of interest immediately within the Melbourne band circle, so I guess we were just there at the right time along with everyone else, so psyched about being a part of it!!
Ché Walden, Miniatures: The idea was initially thrown about on Facebook and we immediately jumped aboard the hype train, I guess we were lucky enough to get in early!
DKFM: Have you ever been involved in a shoegaze-specific event of this size?
Chris MacLean, Hideous Towns: Not at all. We’ve had the pleasure of playing with all of the Melbourne bands on this lineup but never in one huge show so this is super badass. The fact that a bunch of interstate bands that are absolutely killing it are involved as well just makes it all the more exciting.
Ché Walden, Miniatures: There was a similar event a few months back for Australia Day, insofar as it was a bunch of psych/gazey bands playing for most of an afternoon and night. This however feels like the first to our knowledge to be really organised by the bands and, to be honest, for the bands.
Gabriel Lewis, Lowtide: Not at all. Locally, shows are usually more genre blended for better attendance. I’m hoping that a narrower focused field will be able put a bigger spotlight on the scene. I wanted to hold a mirror up to the bands and say, “Look how amazing you are. You should be proud!”. I’m convinced that the strength of the lineup alone can get a great turnout.
DKFM: Are you familiar with the other bands on the bill, and who are you most looking forward to seeing?
Ché Walden, Miniatures: It’s crazy, we love every other band on the bill and have played with a few of them many times before. It’s actually becoming a bit of a circle jerk in places. Chris our bassplayer is the guitarist from Hideous Towns, Jack from Contrast is filling in with Luna Ghost, I’ve also started playing bass for Bloodhounds on my Trail. Lots of people are kinda pulling double duty now and we love it. I feel like if we had anything as cruel as the UK music press from the 90’s paying attention to us, they’d be tearing us apart! Personally I’m stoked about Day Ravies making it down for the show, although it’s gonna be great to see Kigo live for the first time.
Chris MacLean, Hideous Towns: Yeah for sure, this list forms the majority of my favourite Australian acts of the last couple of years. I’m not as familiar with Miners as most of the others so really pumped to see them, as well as Blush Response and kigo who I haven’t seen live before.
Gabriel Lewis, Lowtide: I’ve seen all the bands except Blush Response, so am especially excited to see them. I’ll definitely be excited to see all the interstate bands playing in the same room. I’m amazed it was all able to fall together like this!
DKFM: Do you think it’s possible to pull off an event like this again?
Chris MacLean, Hideous Towns: I don’t see why not. In my biased mind I can see this being an easy highlight gig of the year, for us as a band and myself as a fan, so if it’s well attended and the venue is happy then it would be cool to see more stuff like this happen again. That would be so dope actually, I don’t really like proper festivals and we never get to play any haha!
Ché Walden, Miniatures: Absolutely! It seems to have come together so easily, simply from the idea to putting it together. I guess we’re fortunate here to have places like The Tote that are willing to go along with something this crazy and just say “Yes”!
Gabriel Lewis, Lowtide: I guess we’ll see how this one goes before considering that. But the amount of bands I had to leave off was really frustrating, so there’s definitely enough talent for another!
DKFM: Do you realize that fans around the world are right now looking at Australia, and talking about THIS event? How does that make you feel?
Gabriel Lewis, Lowtide: I’m pretty surprised, to be honest. I’ve had my head down trying to get this across the line so I didn’t even think about this registering on the global shoegaze community’s radar. Pretty stoked!
Chris MacLean, Hideous Towns: I hadn’t stopped to consider that, but I suppose friends and I are always doing the same thing from their perspective about rad shows in the US or UK or something so yeah why wouldn’t they be, we’ve got a lot of bands here to be jealous of! I’m sure we’d all be keen to take it overseas if someone was willing to get involved bread-wise, maybe some day!
Ché Walden, Miniatures: Bizarre. Down here when you’re a fan of the bands and musical subcultures that we are, you’ve grown up/come up looking outwards, looking backwards, to the 90’s, to times and places we (generally) never saw etc. So the idea of the tables being turned, if only briefly is pretty humbling! I still find it hard to believe that what we have is unique, if it is. Like, surely doesn’t every big city have this? A bunch of bands that like each others music and play together regularly with hardly any competitiveness etc? If not, then we’re luckier than I realised.
Lucky indeed. This event seems to have made an even bigger splash overseas as word of Roogaze 2015 (and this lineup) has spread. Keep an eye on the event page for details, and stay tuned to DKFM for our updates!
More to come…