Interview by Eriq Rivera
Maiden Tonne is a four-piece Australian rock band heavily influenced by early 90’s rock or “grunge.” The band’s guitarist Neil Mcloud answered some questions X-Static Radio lead write Eriq Rivera asked the band.
Q: How and where did you guys formed Maiden Tonne?
Neil Mcloud: Myself and our drummer (Smokes) have know each other for nearly 30 years. We grew up in the same little town and pretty much jammed our way through high school and through part of our college years, and then went our separate ways when we found out that needed actual jobs and professions in order to get somewhere in life.
Years later I found myself playing acoustic music with another friend, and after a while I enlisted the help of Smokes to funk things up a bit. A couple of years ago, by chance, I met the singer (Matty Boland) of an Australian stoner rock band called Rollerball. These guys were the real deal but had, luckily for us, called it a day.
Matty and I decided to have a few acoustic jams that included some choice cuts from Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Audioslave. About a year ago we turned it up a notch and started doing small acoustic gigs at intimate venues. Over the Xmas break we enlisted the help of the multi-talented Phyl Skuthorpe (Phyllis) on bass, and things have been moving along nicely since then. Phyl is a massive fan of music in general, but grunge seems to be his holy grail.
Q: How did you guys come up with the name Maiden Tonne?
Neil Mcloud: Matty came up with this name about a year ago. In the cricketing world (which is huge over the summer months in Australia), when a rookie goes out to bat, and scores 100 runs or more on his first attempt, then this is called a Maiden Tonne. If you delve deeper into though, I guess it has connotations of heavy and light, hard and soft, black and white etc…
Q: Did you guys always wanted to become musicians?
Neil Mcloud: Ever since I had my first strum of the guitar I knew that I wanted to take it as far as I could. A certain thing called life gets in the way sometimes though, but this is our red hot chance to give things a go, and we’re gonna grab it by the horns, and I think I speak on behalf of the other Tonne members here.
Q: You guys have listed Alice In Chains as influences, can you guys talk about your thoughts 90’s rock/”grunge” from then and now?
Neil Mcloud: Personally, Alice in Chains is a major influence on all of us. Smokes has only recently started listening to them after all these years, but he is blown away by them. They struck a chord with me, which starts with their haunting melodies, continues with their lush harmonies and then flows into their brilliant story telling abilities. I know I’m bias, but they just do it for me. Phyllis is monumentally huge fan of all things 90’s, grunge and fuzz rock especially, ranging from Pearl Jam, Dinosaur Jnr, Tumbleweed, Kyuss, QOTSA, etc…..the list is endless. Matty has also been cracked from a similar egg and, from a vocal point, can manipulate his pipes to sounds like any singer from the genre, whether it belting out some Layne, Cornell, Weiland, or even turning back the clock the channel some Jim Morrison.
Q: Can you guys describe the writing and recording process of your demo/ep songs?
Neil Mcloud: On our first 5-6 songs the writing process was extremely limited. Smokes and I had developed some guitar riff and drums segments, and then we’d basically head out to a small studio in the hills called D4 (a converted shipping container), jam bass and drum while Matty conjured up his vocals, and then I’d lay down two guitar tracks straight after. It’s a very organic thing for us so far, and more effort is currently going into the actual songwriting process so that we can be sharper and tighter when we hit the studio again.
Q: What are some meanings to the songs?
Neil Mcloud: Good questions, if you listen closely to Matty’s lyrics on his old Rollerball creations, you’ll see some interesting ideas floating around. In Slippin’ Away, the first verse tells the story of how, on our way to the studio to record that song late one night, I was trying to play the riff to Matty through my phone when I swerved the car so that I didn’t hit a kangaroo and nearly hit a big tree in the process. So, when you listen to that song keep in mind that Matt had never heard any of it before that night. That’s pretty impressive.
Q: How do you guys feel about your audiences reaction to your music?
Neil Mccloud: We’ve played our original tunes at quite a few gigs now and the audience response seems to be getting better and better. Ideally we’d like to play most of our own material at gigs, but in the current venues it doesn’t really lend itself to that format.
Q: Any favorite/fun/interesting stories with the band from performing?
Neil Mcleod: Matty likes to steady the nerves with a small bottle of Jagermeister before a gig. Late into one of our recent gigs, Smokes mis-heard the cue to the intro of Would that we were covering and started playing One Inch Man by Kyuss instead. That was interesting, but luckily the beats for both songs aren’t too far removed from each other.
Q: What are some current bands you guys would love to tour with?
Neil Mcloud: Any decent grunge or stoner rock band would be amazing to tour with. Southern Californian stoner rock band Unida are touring here in May, and we’ve put our hat in the ring to support them for their Brisbane gig. Fingers crossed.
Q: What is in the future for Maiden Tonne? Any plans to come to the U.S.?
Neil Mcloud: The short term aim is to record some new material for an ep, and we’ll probably release some further demo material from last year in the next month or so too, so keep yours ears to the ground for this stuff. Our new ep is titled “The RedSunBlue Sessions”. Regarding tours, we intend on building up a solid local fanbase initially (Gold Coast & Brisbane), but a tour through the US and parts of Europe would definitely be considered in the near future. With the way that digital media is these days, it’s pretty easy for your music to reach people all over the world, but to stand out from the crowd is the hard bit.
Q: Any final comments?
Neil Mcloud: Keep it grungy and fuzzy people, and remember, good music will never fade away.
You can listen to their music on their Youtube page.