Artists of the Month - June 2017
Trent Morgan - drums/harmonica/vocals;
John Moodie - guitar/vocals;
Russell Kereama - bass
Some of the best music in Australia is coming out of a tiny studio in Mullumbimby. That’s where you’ll find Broadfoot - one of the Far North Coast’s busiest bands, a three-piece whose gigs leave listeners charged with pleasure and with an urge to dance. Broadfoot's music is all about superb musicianship - the interplay between band members as well as improvising - a rare feature in music of today, is just one of the band’s great strengths. Broadfoot is influenced by an enormous range of music, musicians and music styles - from classic rock to blues music, reggae, jazz, soul, disco, funk, country, folk, and classical. These influences fuse into a sound the band describes as “optimusic”.
Their original track “The Timeless Groove” won the 2010 Dolphin Award for Best Funk Song, the 2011/12 Dolphin for best Garage/Indie went to John's eccentric masterpiece "She Bites Me", with "Ocean" a finalist in best Rock/Metal/ Alternative, and 2013's Dolphin for best Rock song recognised "In Your Playground" as the best rock song born on the North Coast last year. Three more of their songs were nominated as finalists.
The “NCEIA Dolphin Music Awards” are an annual iconic 'local music' event, organised by the North Coast Entertainment Industry Association (NCEIA).
Songs from Broadfoot's CDs receive airplay on local independent radio stations as well as ABC Radio North Coast, where the band came close to blowing up the studio as the first non-acoustic act to be invited to perform live to air. Footage of ASP Junior World Champion flowed effortlessly with "Ocean" as its soundtrack in WAVES Magazine's No Direction DVD in November 2012. Motivated by a shared and consuming love of playing music anywhere, any time, Broadfoot revel in the spectrum of opportunities abounding on the Far North Coast music scene such as headlining Nimbin’s Aquarius Foundation Benefit in 2010, the 2010 Movember Foundation “Morning Of The Mo” afterparty at Byron’s Great Northern Hotel and the Australian Longboard Surfing Open at Kingscliff in 2012 and again in 2013. They have also been added to the triple j unearthed website where three of their songs may be heard.
As we go to press Broadfoot are releasing their sixth album “Timeless Groove Too”, a double album of twenty nine songs. It's on a double CD with a three page folding sleeve, and it comes with a sixteen page lyrics booklet. It is also available on iTunes and Google Play.
Enquiries about the CD can be made through their website - the cost is $20 plus postage. The CD is also available at their gigs should you happen to find yourself at one while visiting Byron and surrounds.
The Pittwater connection, although we’re sure band members John Moodie and Russell Kereama would feel right at home here too, is through Trent Morgan. You can read more about this former local creative in his Profile page, running this Issue, and below.
There's no need for gimmicks when the music's this good!
Trent: How long I’ve been playing music and Broadfoot
Having lived at Collaroy, Bayview, Avalon, Whale Beach and Newport before moving to the Far North Coast at the end of 2000, Trent Morgan has been playing music since the age of nine, when he joined the Avalon Primary School band. He’s been playing the drums since 1982 - 35 years now and still loving it. He played in various school rock bands as a student at Barrenjoey high School, started to learn to play harmonica in 1988 and nowadays sometimes plays drums and harmonica simultaneously. The drums become sort of automated and he can concentrate on the harmonica. Trent has been singing (mainly doing harmonies) since the 90’s, and started writing his own songs in the late 90’s. He began singing his own songs live when Broadfoot started in July 2007.
Broadfoot’s earliest incarnation as a musical entity started off when Trent began writing songs in about 1999 – using a four track recorder borrowed from Brad Haynes, his then-housemate at Avalon. Simple technology for the time but it was just for fun and it allowed Trent to play all the parts on the songs he was writing - drums, bass (from a keyboard), pianos and acoustic guitar, with singing and harmonica added over the top. The songs were very basic, the playing simple; although Trent’s skills on some of the instruments were rudimentary, he loved the huge range of musical freedom and expression the recording technique opened up. He initially recorded about nine songs and his landlord at the time, Rick Melick (who happened to be Jimmy Little’s keyboard player then, later going on to play keyboard with Joe Bonamassa) mixed the tracks and sent Trent to his mate who had worked at EMI Australia, who mastered the songs and put them on CD. The working title was ‘The Trent Morgan Solo Dance Album’ (solo because it didn’t involve The Ramblers, the band with which Trent had been playing music for ten years). Thankfully Cliff Fletcher from the Ramblers encouraged Trent to name it something else - ‘Broadfoot’ was his suggestion. Broadfoot is Trent’s middle name, passed down from the maiden name of his Scottish great-grandmother to all the first-born sons in her family line. So Trent went with it because ‘Broady’ had been his nickname in high school and it’s quite an unusual name. At this point he was borrowing a single fin surfboard from surf legend and journalist Derek Hynd at Brad’s suggestion for a single fin contest, and Derek offered to borrow the ‘Broadfoot’ CD for a listen. When Trent dropped the board back Derek sounded very encouraging and interested in the CD and gave it a three out of ten - thanks Derek!
Trent made more Broadfoot discs (all for fun - giving them to his family as Christmas albums), sometimes involving Cliff from the Ramblers. Eight of these albums were made, with all the songs written by Trent, between 1999 and 2014. There is another one currently in the works – as long as Trent keeps writing songs these albums will keep coming. The songs he presents to the rest of the Broadfoot band are all from these ‘demo’ albums. After moving to the Far North Coast, Trent was playing in a covers band in the Byron area in 2006 doing heavier rock stuff as the drummer and backing singer but got so sick of playing other people’s songs, feeling that the cover band thing was parasitic on music in general - the way a new song would come out and the band would want to learn it to play live because people may have heard it. Although acknowledging that such music had its place, Trent had had enough and wanted to put something together to play more original music. He’d played a lot of original music in The Ramblers for years and found it easier to be himself when not trying to sound like someone else! He gave the Hotel Brunswick - a beautiful art deco hotel in Brunswick Heads - a demo he’d recorded with Cliff and the band booker had had a cancellation and wanted to book the band on the demo with a few days notice. Trouble was there was no band. Trent gathered Cliff (who had always played guitar live) to play bass, brought in an older character with a great crooning voice whom he knew from playing golf, to play piano, and then the biggest gamble, asked his second cousin Matt Cleary who lived in Murwillumbah (Matt had introduced Trent to most of Hendrix’s work in 1989, and had played in his own band in Sydney in the 70’s and 80’s) to play guitar, despite never having actually seen him play before. July 2007 was Broadfoot’s first gig. The members took turns singing songs which they all knew and did a pretty good show, well they were asked back many more times. The originals seeped into the music slowly but eventually the musical taste variations amongst the band members finally became too strong. Trent likens the emotional/physical and spiritual feeling to standing somewhere with people tugging on your limbs in different directions.
Along came John Moodie. Broadfoot had been running a jam session at Bo’s Café in Byron on Sundays and in walks this little guy with a tiny acoustic guitar with the sound hole covered over with a Lipton’s Tea cardboard off cut. He had put a pick-up in it though. My goodness. John sung and played Chuck Berry’s Johnny B Goode and Trent saw right away that he was the best guitar player he’d ever played with, unbelievably dextrous, tasteful, bluesy and exciting. John was invited to join Broadfoot that very night. He’d already seen the band play at the Beach Hotel in Byron and he really liked them anyway. John was running a band of his own – Purple Stone – playing at hotels in the area occasionally, doing a lot of Hendrix, T-Rex, Stones, Bowie etc. One exciting aspect of John’s guitar playing is his ability to play guitar solos with his teeth, and behind his head, if the mood takes him - it certainly gets an audience interested when he does it – an amazing spectacle. Yet this extraordinary talent comes with no braggadocio whatsoever – John’s onstage demeanour is deceptively unassuming. John, (originally from Auckland) used to live in Lennox Head enjoying the relaxed vibe until a tornado literally ripped the roof off from over his head. He relocated to Byron Bay and is enjoying the beach lifestyle, having coffee with his friends and playing his music. He is a talented artist and has done the illustrations for the lyrics booklet of Broadfoot’s new album. Eventually he joined Broadfoot permanently and the piano player Graeme Quirk relocated overseas, establishing the band line-up which lasted until the end of 2013 - two guitars, bass and drums. The line-ups of Broadfoot to this point played hotels, markets, parties, the odd festival and weddings. From about 2009 on they played about one hundred gigs a year. This has continued until today.
In 2010 the band entered some songs in the North Coast Entertainment Industry Association (NCEIA) awards and met with success, winning the award for the best funk song with ‘The Timeless Groove’. In 2012 they won the best song award in the Indie category for ‘She Bites Me’, following up in 2013 with the award for best rock song for ‘In Your Playground’. In 2014 they were finalists for best songs in the rock, blues and jazz categories. The diversity of all these categories says a lot about Broadfoot’s musical style, a joyously uncategorisable blend for which the band coined the term ‘Optimusic’.
In 2013 personal reasons triggered Matt’s exit from the band, which became a trio and played on. Near the end of 2013 Cliff was bound by other work commitments as a lifeguard and swimming instructor, so Darren Knight – a guitarist who could also play bass well, a schooled musician with similar tastes in music to John and Trent – took his place.
In 2014 Russell Kereama took over on bass when Darren left to pursue an opportunity to play his first love, guitar. Russell - originally from Fielding in New Zealand - had organised and played in a big funk band with many of his Maori brothers during the 80’s and 90’s. Russell at times seems to know just about everyone in the Byron Shire and if he doesn’t know someone he’s very happy to say hello anyway, being a very friendly and approachable chap. Russell was a member of the New Zealand water polo team and is also a visual artist of international renown. His large canvasses are often bold with colour, texture and movement. Russell featured on the series ‘Colour in Your Life’ (an artist profile television programme) in 2014, where he was interviewed about his art. It can be difficult for the band when Russell gets called overseas for art exhibitions, but Broadfoot are very fortunate to have Darren happy to step up for bass duties when this happens.
Broadfoot’s approach to recording and sound
The band tend to like simpler production, feeling that it’s easy to get lost in all the recording ‘toys’ available these days. Same for production at a gig, they prefer it pared back and pure. Broadfoot feel it really should all be about the music and the production serves that - not the other way round, which is sometimes the thinking the band encounters when linked with a sound person they haven’t worked with before and who doesn’t know them (a problem often encountered on bigger stages). It seems obvious to the band that music comes first, production is there to serve the music and musicians. It’s sad that modern pop music is so affected by auto-tune (the strange pitch controlling device so often heard these days), computer generated drums, and other sounds. Broadfoot prefer voices heard as near to as they might sound without a microphone, allowing emotion to come through. Although there’s a place for the construction of ‘music’ via a computer, Broadfoot represent the philosophy of music made on musical instruments, played by people interacting with each other. They like the human element; the humanity seems so repressed in modern pop songs, which have become incredibly robotic in nature, metronomic to the point that one may as well dance to the rhythm of a photocopying machine - where’s the soul!? As a drummer, Trent likes hearing someone playing drums, hearing the expression, the nuances of that person – sadly lacking with a computer generated beat.
Many of Broadfoot’s gigs are at local markets. The band made a conscious decision to concentrate to play more markets and less in hotels for a few reasons. It was not for financial reasons - there is minimal financial reward in playing at markets, especially smaller farmers’ markets. Not to mention heading off to gigs at a time when regular nocturnal musicians are just getting home! Despite stricter smoking laws being introduced in July 2007 they found that the smoke at hotels still managed to get to the stage and continues to do so even after the recent tightening of the laws. Trent found that the passive intake of cigarette smoke was really messing him up during and after many of Broadfoot’s hotel gigs: his throat would constrict, his voice and singing would suffer and days of sinus trouble would follow. Colds turned to infections more easily and his overall health struggled in consequence, culminating in the return of his childhood asthma. The band has cut back drastically on hotel gigs now and he’s been a lot healthier since. In all honesty, playing to a room with overly inebriated people is really not fun, and unfortunately at times it can become dangerous. Broadfoot once had to leave Nimbin Hotel halfway into the gig when things got out of hand, feeling lucky to escape with their instruments intact. The market scene is far healthier and more upbeat, and the band is happy to be involved with these weekly or monthly local events where their music is enjoyed by a far wider gamut of audiences, from infants to elders, locals and visitors. Something about the band’s sound fits in with the ideals once encapsulated in the area – they’ve been hailed as the right soundtrack for the utopian dream which many still pursue, but find ever more elusive in this increasingly materialistic and stressful century. Broadfoot exist for the pure joy of playing music, and this comes across to their audiences.
The band play nearly all their gigs in Northern NSW, with some in Southern Queensland. They occasionally venture to the Coffs Harbour region to play, and for a brief period (from about 2010-2012) travelled to Sydney to play on very rare occasions. During that time Broadfoot had three gigs at The Newport Arms as part of the Sunday Afternoon Chill season. This was wonderful as many of their family members were able to gather, and Trent in particular enjoyed the feeling of being back at ‘home’ playing music on the Northern Beaches. On one of these trips they played a gig at The Opera Bar, adjacent to the Sydney Opera House. That was fun - very iconic scenery to look at whilst playing. These days the band tends not to travel much, with John and Trent being self-confessed homebodies.
Funny band moments
At a less busy Northern Rivers Hotel Broadfoot was in the middle of a song when the amplifier of the band’s former guitarist stopped working. He walked out of the hotel, went to his car and brought back a cordless drill and started to pull apart his amp on stage, while the rest of them were still mid song. It seemed very Spinal Tap to the others. Again in another Spinal Tap moment, they were playing at Nimbin Hotel and the same guitarist had decided to bring a ‘wireless’ set up, where his guitar is connected to his amp via a wireless connection - no lead. Well just as it happens to Nigel Tufnell in the Spinal Tap film he set everything up and his wireless set up started picking up and projecting a radio station through his Marshall quad box. The rest of the band had to laugh really.
Trent says that he finds it challenging to write about the band: to him, the music is all there is, the rest (PR) is just smoke and mirrors. While acknowledging that in order to get music out there one needs to promote it, he finds it really hard to talk or write about the music in an attempt to promote it. So many people around the Far North Coast where Broadfoot plays really like the band’s music and it follows that there would be a similar proportion of people in the general community who would appreciate the music too. The band would like people to have access to it because they think many would enjoy it, plus there’s an underlying voice of ambition which says they should aim to be extremely successful on a large scale level. Where does this come from? Maybe it is because a lot of the musicians the band-members admire have had that sort of success, so they feel like they should try and emulate it. Although very few musicians ever gain this sort of success, and this type of aim or dream can be a real drag, Broadfoot would like their music to be accessible to many more people because they believe that people would enjoy it - plus it would be nice to actually make some money as well! With words being inadequate to describe Broadfoot’s music - they are pretty difficult to categorise - the best way to assess their music is to kick back and listen to it.
Broadfoot’s recorded work
Broadfoot’s first three albums were released in 2009, 2010 and 2012. There was a compilation (of twenty songs) made from these albums in 2013 released as ‘Timeless Groove’.
In 2014 the band recorded and released ‘The Sun Warms the Sea’. Songs from this album are still getting radio play in Byron. The album has four of John’s songs, the rest by Trent. The subject matter of these songs is diverse, including the overtaking of Australia by Europeans, the ridiculous nature of the cost of housing in Australia, a song about holidaying with your children, various love songs, a wistful look at another day in life, the comical nature of a meal served on a honeymoon, and a social comment about living lazily.
After ‘The Sun Warms the Sea’ Trent, John and Russell decided they needed to re-record the vast collection of songs which had come from Broadfoot’s first three albums; songs which formed the bulk of their live material. The first three albums featured music from the band line-up which existed until 2013, and the band wanted to present their songs from this era in their current incarnation: to record the sound which they had developed. All the songs John and Trent had written on those albums were re-recorded, with the addition of some songs written prior to these, some of which had been played live early on in Broadfoot. Timeless Groove Too is the result - a double album with twenty-nine original songs. Recording started at the beginning of 2015 and steadily continued between gigs. It is named Timeless Groove Too because the songs from Timeless Groove are on there, plus there are many more songs added - but it’s all fresh - different arrangements, lyrics, instrumentation, grooves etc. Most of these songs feature in the band’s live set at varying times.
About Timeless Groove Too
The songs in this collection touch on a wide variety of topics. There are many love songs, with the band’s songwriters finding this topic very inspiring - as have many other writers! One of the songs on the album ‘Ocean’ encompasses Trent’s passion for the ocean, the lyrics being based on his experiences with it. The opening line ‘I love it out here’ - is a reference to sitting out in the surf waiting for waves. The riff for this first came to Trent when practising something for his music course at the University of NSW on a Marimba (like a large xylophone)… he got distracted and the riff was born. On this recording it is played on vibraphone instead, along with guitar. With a sort of revisiting of Vivaldi the album includes a seasonal suite. ‘Autumn’ has references inspired by running across the very cold sand of Avalon Beach to the water’s edge to thaw out the feet for an early morning surf. There is also a reference to the orange candle banksias (Banksia Ericifolia) which come out in Autumn - the ones on Barrenjoey Headland are an especially vivid memory. ‘Lay Down and Feel the Earth Rotate on its Axis’ was written about a time when Trent was living overlooking Whale Beach and he was just about to move house, wondering whether he was feeling overwhelmed about it or not; he spent quite a bit of time just doing that - laying down and sort of letting the world go by. For some reason it felt right at the time - not being active - just being contemplative. The lyrics come straight from that. She Bites Me is a lyrically eccentric song of John’s about a difficult relationship. It has a catchy chorus and many may relate to the emotional sentiment of the song. ‘The Timeless Groove’ has three verses, each from a different time historically, with a different topic to each, yet they are related. Trent had been reading some Greek myths and was intrigued by the Priapus character, who became the subject of the first verse. The second verse deals with Elizabethan times, centering around Sir Francis Drake. The third verse is about an era of Australian cricket which was pretty amazing - the Chappell, Lillee, Marsh era. ‘Catwise’ is a song written after the first line just popped into Trent’s head driving home from a holiday - ‘Being wise is where it’s at, said the Cat, to the groover’. He tried to put some ‘life’ wisdom in there. ‘Out of the Fire’ is a nod to Jimi Hendrix from John - John is very inspired by his guitar playing. ‘Soul Freedom’ was specifically written as a song to dance to, written with experiences of playing at Yamba’s Pacific Hotel in mind. Trent envisaged the dance floor there and wrote the lyrics. Russell goes to town in this one, showcasing his funky sensibilities. ‘Spanish Mackerel’ was inspired by Autumn again, and from walking along the Brunswick River. ‘The Moon Over Mullumbimby’ was written when (as the name suggests) there was a huge full moon rising over Mullumbimby - as viewed from the hills to the west - a stunning and awe-inspiring spectacle. ‘Sheep and Cows’ came about from a documentary called ‘First Footprints’. Trent had wanted to write an ‘Australian’ song or something with an Australian flavour, and having set himself this task, the question of ‘what does it mean to be Australian?’ came to the fore. So the song became to be about who we are, with this mixture of the culture that had been here for forty thousand years and the very recent current one. John’s ‘Sweet Apple Pie’ has undergone countless incarnations. John’s approach to song writing seems to be much more aligned to the way he does his drawings – he’s not afraid to chop and change and adapt as he sees fit. This song is often the first one John goes to in the band’s live sets – a staple of Broadfoot gigs. ‘Too Many People’ reasons that the underlying modern problem - and cause for countless others - is that the world is overpopulated. Not a new idea, nor one for which a solution is easily suggested. There are limited resources on the planet, with an ever increasing demand for them. ‘Struttin’ Out Straight’ is basically about getting your act together - ‘getting on top of things’. There’s a lovely variation of instrumentation in this - guitar, drums, bass, organ, mandolin, saxophone, pitched percussion, cowbell, bongos, tambourine.
The extra bonus accompanying the album is that there is a sixteen page lyrics booklet. All the songs are represented. We feel proud of our lyrics and are happy to display them for those who may not pick up all the words when listening. John has done some drawings to accompany some of the songs.
'Timeless Groove Too' is here and raring to go.
A double album - twenty nine songs. It's on a double CD with a three page folding sleeve, and it comes with a sixteen page lyrics booklet. It is also available on iTunes and Google Play. Enquiries about the CD can be made through our website - the cost is $20 plus postage. The CD is also available at our gigs.
Below is a clip we put together with one of the tracks from the album - Winter. Have fun watching, we had fun making it!
Broadfoot - WINTER
Published on 27 May 2017 by vitai lampada
From the new album 'Timeless Groove Too'.
Make Your Move (section from)
Broadfoot at Byron's Farmers Markets