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q&a: belles will ring

When you take a trip through middle America, structuring it around the fabled Route 66, and come back to kick off a national tour, you have a few stories to tell. I got to ask Liam Judson a few questions about the last few years making music with a NSW band called Belles Will Ring, and a few things came up. Like Mad Men, Jack Kerouac, and toothpaste. My kind of interview.

So, Liam, first of all, cover of Inpress! Congratulations. What does your mum have to say?
Thanks, I actually haven’t seen it yet but clearly our manager’s doing a great job. It’s gone down really well. My folks actually haven’t seen it yet, but Mum got quite excited, she’s kind of a stage mum in that way, keeping media clippings and all that. It’s cute sometimes, and funny.

Well with the response to ‘Crystal Theatre’ I’m not surprised. How did you guys end up in Portland, of all places?
Well first of all, we were in Portland, NSW, not Portland, Oregon. We had already started half of the album over in Oberon, another country town, it was a walnut farm, during the summer, and it was awesome, just incredible. So we wanted a similar experience, so we kept an eye out for large properties where we could play ‘til 3am and not annoy anyone. So this country house popped up, the pictures were beautiful and when we got there, we were blown away. But it was freezing, that side of the Blue Mountains, the wind could kill you.

It’s like an escape, really. And it’s therapeutic, and it helps the recording process. Unless there are snakes. I don’t deal well with snakes, which was one of my first experiences in Oberon.

Belles Will Ring have toured with Bombay Bicycle Club, Ian Brown, and you’ve done the national tour circuit already, so do you think you’ve all got it down pat? Or are there still toothpaste ownership scuffles?
We’re definitely better now than we’ve ever been. And it’s the best fun there is. From recording in the country to being on tour, its like going from one holiday to another. You know that Kurt Vile song, it just pops in my head “on tour, Lord of the Flies, aw hey, who cares..?” You know, along those lines. Good times, playing music, eating bad food. Actually, I don’t enjoy that part of it. But you know, its all good experience.

You’ve been on the road lately, in the States, tell me a little about that, and how any adventures helped shape the album.
Yeah it was myself and Aidan, and we decided to make our own Jack Kerouac tour, all the best parts of the Midwest that we’ve read about. We spent most of our time looking for Route 66 actually, it’s all broken up now. The little bits of it we could find…it was actually really haunting, all the old ‘60s diners, boarded up, left over from a time gone by. And it was incredible, really chilling. So we made a pact, right there, that the next BWR album would reflect on our feelings and our experiences while we were there.

When you’re not recording or touring, what do you get up to?
Wow, good question. What do I do? Well making music pretty much takes up most of my time, so its either that or…chilling out, really. Kicking back with a gin and tonic, some HBO. You know, Mad Men, Breaking Bad.

I don’t know about you, but Mad Men makes me feel like I was born in the wrong era.
Well as much as there was wrong about that era, it definitely looks incredibly glamorous on TV. The agencies, the roles, it’s pretty cool. I’m halfway through the third season and keeps getting better.

Back to the point. I noticed BWR are on Twitter, how do you think social media phenomenons like that have helped you guys, at this point in time, and how they’ll help younger Australian bands?
Well, I’m kind of the wrong person to ask about all that, I’m pretty old school, the rest of the guys take care of updates involving Twitter and Facebook stuff. But it sort of does make you think about how saturated it’s all become, and I think we got into the game at a good time, it feels like so long ago, but we decided to use it when the time suited us. In the beginning, I would burn CDs, probably about 15 at a time and we would hand them out at gigs, just to get the music out there. It was small, but it was something, with covers I printed at Officeworks, and I still think that’s how it should be. Younger bands could possibly be missing out on that, with digital file sharing, and a heavier reliance on the internet.

If there was any band you could play with, within a loose realm of reality of course, who would it be?
You’ve really put me on the spot! Well at the moment, Kurt Vile has really blown me away, a great new album, I would love it if we could play with him. Maybe also play with My Morning Jacket? I don’t know, that really is a hard question, so many bands I’d like to share the experience with.

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