Tempered poster designed by Däryl Prondöso from a photo taken by Celeste Aldahn.
Tempered editor Max Easton describes the magazine as, “a journal about backwater Australian music. The kind of off-kilter punk, hardcore and electronics that this country does especially well.”
What Tempered does especially well is capture the current creative climate of these musical scenes through contributions from writers, photographers and artists who are direclty involved in them.
Easton, a music writer who has contributed to Mess + Noise and Crawlspace, also plays in Sydney band’s Point Being and Dry Finish, has assembled some quality talent for Tempered’s first issue including Kate Hennessy’s article on death and music and Trischelle Roberts piece on the notion of the female performer.
It includes interviews with The Rangoons, The Friendsters, Tim & The Boys, Aloha Units and Sex Tourists and musicians Dan Stewart (Straightjacket Nation), Freya Zaknich (Rule of Thirds) and Liz Irwin (Bitchratch) write about their own work.
Accompanied by photographs, illustrations and photo essays, the magazine gives an excellent insight into some of the most exciting and interesting music in Australia.
Read an excerpt of Dan Stewart’s piece on the new Straightjacket Nation album Power It Up and a short interview with Max Easton.
Noisey: Why does Australia do off-kilter punk, hardcore and electronics so well?
Max Easton: What we do exceptionally well in this country is create extremely unhelpful environments for bands to make music. Australia also makes some of the worst music in the world (look at the ARIA charts), but when the people who face the uphill battle of being a band that can't go anywhere, can't make money and don't care about that, they can make incredible music. I think the Australian music that sits in the shadows is made by people who feel an actual need to do it at any cost - that desperation makes it special to me.
How did you decide who to include?
Each band in the book has the qualities I look for in music: it's got to be necessary, it has to be desperate, it has to show something genuine about their personality, and it has to be honest - almost too honest. That's there in everyone in the book. Each article reveals something even more about a band or person or situation that was already revealing. That's really important to me in a band, and in a piece of writing.
The content features music from around Australia but I like how it has a Sydney focus. For too long Melbourne has been seen as the heart of this kind of Australian music but things seem to be changing.
I think Melbourne will always be the heart of this kind of music, but the best bands in Melbourne are always the ones who aren't getting a free pass from the city (it's a very easy city in which to play music, it has actual culture!). Those who are ignored, or treated as unfashionable, or frightening in Melbourne tend to be the most exciting. In Sydney, Adelaide, and Brisbane - every single band gets this treatment. If a band cares enough to work in a world that works against them, they always come out sounding desperate and powerful. That's why we have Royal Headache, Oily Boys, Low Life, Lucy Cliché, and Holy Balm...that's why this book is excited about The Friendsters, Tim & The Boys, Aloha Units, The Rangoons... Sydney has its own little trends and problems too, but it's been the most exciting place to see music to me.
You have contributions from some talented writers. How did you get them involved?
I wanted to hear from writers who don't have an established voice elsewhere, or who wanted to do something different to their standard way of writing. There are also people whose opinions or feelings I've wanted to hear more from - Freya Zaknich is one of my favourite music writers and she doesn't write nearly enough for me, Del Lumanta is one of the most switched on people I know when it comes to underground music, Kate Hennessy is the country's best music writer, but rarely gets the chance to write lucidly and outside of a release cycle - so I was stoked when they were keen to contribute. Luckily I also did a call out and received submissions from Vivian Huynh and Trischelle Roberts, who wrote two of the most heartfelt and revealing pieces in the book. If it wasn't for those two pieces, this wouldn't quite be what I wanted it to be.
Do you have a favourite piece or photo from the mag?
There's a photo by Sydney photographer Drooby that I looked at more than any of the others. I don't think it's my favourite necessarily, but it was taken at a show Sex Tourists played in the early afternoon at Verge gallery. The sun is coming through the window, and Ewan is staring at the ground mic in hand, exhausted and pissed off at how badly the show was going (they hadn't figured out how to play as a live unit yet and couldn't string a song together). Later they managed to get just enough going to get one chorus of 'Guts' to stick and I teared up like I was watching Good Will Hunting. Good photography brings you fiercely into a moment, that photo did that for me.
'Tempered' is available for pre-order here.