Latest release: Destination Somewhere (Earache)Website: www.massiveoz.com
It’s a typical situation for an Australian rock band – two albums in, opening for veterans like the Screaming Jets, spending months overseas to rapturous crowds… but getting no response from radio. That’s the reality that Melbourne rockers Massive face as they launch their second album Destination Somewhere, which is being handled by Earache in Europe while attracting almost no mainstream attention here at home. Vocalist Brad Marr is philosophical about his band being snubbed by media. After all, Rose Tattoo were virtually ignored here too – when was the last time commercial radio played any of their songs that isn’t ‘We Can’t Be Beaten’?
“That’s just what commercial radio is. They’re gonna play what makes the shareholders happy – and that the least rock n roll sentence you’ll ever say!” Marr says. “That’s the way rock n roll is in Australia, and you and me can’t change that other than supporting and promoting and playing rock n roll music. We’re not going to stop because radio doesn’t like us. Even back in the 70s and 80s, bands like AC/DC and INXS had to go overseas, so it’s not like anything much has changed over the last four decades. Here we are in 2016 and we have to go over to Europe and America for something that Australians do actually like, if they’ve heard us!”
Massive do have a few things going for them, one of which is being mates with The Screaming Jets who are about to take them out on a national tour. Being a band that can still fill any room they play, the Jetters are good mates to have.
“We went out with them last year and basically made friends with all the boys,” Marr explains. “They’re a bunch of 50 year olds but they all party like they’re in their 20s. They haven’t slowed down one bit! We’re all in our 20s, so we all like a good beer and a good party, so we got on really well and we were stoked to be asked again this year.”
The tour will see them playing ten shows around the country before they wing off to Europe again. For Massive, it has been a constant cycle of touring since that has painstakingly built them a following “the old fashioned way”, as Marr puts it.
“We haven’t stopped touring in three years. We’ve been round and round, off our own bats, as a local band, playing whatever shows we can get. I can’t even count the number of shows we’ve done. We like doing it. We love doing this. We want to get out there and make fans and do that circuit so that next time when we come back there’s a few more people watching. It’s build-one-fan-at-a-time style rock n roll. It’s gotta be done here in Australia.”
Destination Somewhere has that brash, bluesy hard rocking style that typified Australian bands when pub rock was king. Given the chance, Massive would be all over the radio here, but Brad Marr is realistic about the chances of that happening.
“The landscape of rock n roll has changed in Australia a lot. Radio doesn’t play new music as much and when they do it isn’t the sort of rock n roll we play, so we’re on the back foot that way.” He doesn’t let it dampen his enthusiasm for wanting to rock though. “We do this because we like it and we want to do it,” he asserts, “so when it comes to playing to new fans, we do it because we want to do it and if they like it then bloody oath! Let’s keep doing it!”
We’re talking on the first anniversary of guitarist Brendan Forward’s debut with the band. How this young man came to become part of the Massive line up is one of the most rock n roll things you’ll ever hear.
“We just kidnapped the guy with only the clothes on his back,” Marr says.
In a move more in line with a 18th Century navy press gang than with rock n roll, Massive got Forward drunk, told him he was hired and threw him in their van. When he woke up, he was 300 kilometres from home on his way to Newcastle for his first gig with the band.
“If you’re gonna do it, you’ve gotta do it right. We weren’t going to send him a letter and say ‘Here’s your sign up papers’,” the singer goes on. “He had the clothes on his back and a borrowed guitar and we kidnapped him for seven or eight days, or something. So he had a pretty cruel initiation period into the band, but he nailed it. It was such an easy fit into the band, he’s an everyone’s-mate kind of guy so we loved him right away.”
That’s just as well, because Massive has hardly been off the road since. Just as importantly, Forward added a deeper dimension to the band’s classic rock sound with his love of primal blues.
“The things he listens to are Howling Wolf and Chuck Berry and a lot of blues from the 40s and stuff like that,” Marr explains. “That inspires him and brings a really cool flavour. We’re all different, but we all like rock, so we put all those influences together and that’s the Massive sound, I guess.”
Massive has a sound that has attracted big interest from European crowds, a following that could well consolidate further with the release of Destination Somewhere and a subsequent tour there later this year. Rock and anything to do with it is still as strong as ever there, and Aussie bands have enjoyed a special relationship with European crowds ever since the likes of AC/DC and Rose Tattoo headed there in the late 1970s. It’s no wonder Massive spend so much of their time there.
“The rock and roll dream is still very much alive over in Europe,” Brad Marr says. “People listen to hard rock and they love going to gigs a lot more. That’s what they listen to on radio and what’s more successful over there. It’s still a big genre, hard rock. You can see that in festivals like Wacken and Download. So as much as we love Australia, Europe is a much more hard rock audience so that’s why we have to go there and build our audience over there as much as we can.”
Massive are on tour with The Screaming Jets in May:
6/5: Hallam Hotel, Hallam VIC
7/5: Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC
13/5: The Gov, Adelaide SA
14/5: Charles Hotel, Perth WA
20/5: Villa Noosa Hotel, Sunshine Coast QLD
21/5: Hamilton Hotel, Brisbane QLD
22/5: Blue Mountain Hotel, Toowoomba QLD
26/5: Bridge Hotel, Sydney NSW
27/5: Rooty Hill RSL, Sydney NSW
28/5: Belmont’s 16, Belmont NSW