The Break performs on Sunday at the Hotel Great Northern, Byron Bay.
The Break performs on Sunday at the Hotel Great Northern, Byron Bay.

One-on-one with The Break

WHEN three members of Oz rock legend Midnight Oil jammed with old mate Brian Ritchie of US alt darlings The Violent Femmes, it was a match made in music heaven.

What eventuated was The Break, an instrumental surf-rock experiment. Adelaide French caught up with drummer Rob Hirst…

Q. Your former bands toured together – what were your first impressions of each other?

Midnight Oil thought The Femmes were a bunch of buskers who got lucky. The Femmes thought Midnight Oil was a band with very good lyrics they tried to drown out with very loud guitars. 

Q. How did the collaboration come about?

We shared a US road manager. Through him, we met Brian in his hometown of Milwaukee. Much later Brian moved to Tasmania and we grabbed him before anyone else could. 

Q. What did you miss about making music?

We missed playing live but not the long tours. When bands stop playing live they tend to make over-produced music that nobody wants. 

Q. What are the positives and negatives of not having a lead singer?

Positives: you get to play up at the lip of the stage. Negatives: you wish you were back at the back. 

Q. Tracks from (debut album) Church of the Open Sky are named after famous surf breaks - how does the Byron Bay surf compare?

Let's just say The Pass is WAY too competitive for these little black ducks.

Q. What does a Break audience look like?

Surf rats and saltwater cowboys, sci-fi geeks and tie-dyed hippies, somnambulists and funambulists – you name it.

Q. You're established musicians – did this add or detract from the pressure to put out a great debut album?

Being ‘established' is one thing – [but] you've still got to prove it every time you play. The music on our album came from studio jamming; it cries out to be taken and twisted and turned upside down by humans playing the crap out of their instruments.

– Adelaide French



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