Interview: Shannon Sol R. Carroll of Band of Frequencies

“…the bride’s grandmother storms up to the front. At first, I think she’s going to lose it and then she slides her dress up and starts pole dancing at the front of the stage!” – Shannon Sol R. Carroll

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So, What essentials are a must for your Trunk?

A tent, a swag, a guitar amplifier, my beloved Fender Strat, a road case full of collected effects pedals, a 5’9” twin fin shaped by Neal Purchase Jr., a fishing rod and tackle bag, a cake of surfboard wax with sand and hair embedded in it, guitar strings, jumper leads and gaff tape.

So who exactly and how many make up your band?

The band is usually a core trio, but it can blow out to a six-piece when the planets align. OJ ‘The Juice’ Newcomb is on Bass.  Mark ‘Heno’ Henman on Drums. Dave ‘Rasta’ Rastovich sometimes plays cosmic electronics and melodic percussion through the mix. Nick ‘Ziggz’ Aggs plays keys on occasions and we have a kind of ‘sonic lazy susan’ of percussionists and drummers that sit in with us here and there including Terepai ‘Pai man’ Richmond, Nick Mayer-Miller and Dave ‘Dog’ Atkins. Oh yeah, and I play the guitar and sing stuff.

How long have you guys been at it for?

As Band of Freq’s, we’ve been at it since 2005, so five years.

How did you get together?

We are all in another group, Afro Dizzi Act, and have been playing together in that band for over a decade. Band of Freq’s emerged as a psychedelic side project that then became embedded in the swirling undercurrents of the left field surf culture in and around Byron Bay.

Where’s your local joint?

The Sunny Coast is a bit light on for live venues these days, so at the moment it’s in a beachside park down the road from my house where every second Sunday free live gig gets put on by a dedicated crew of coastal culture cultivators. People turn up in the hundreds, sometimes thousands, with a rug, a few brews and just chill in the sun listening to music. They call it Peregian Originals and people are so into it that it’s become East Coast Originals and is spreading out all over the place. It all runs on raffle tickets so if you go, make sure you buy a wad of tickets and some merchandise so the muso’s get paid.

Have you had the chance to travel much with your music?

Yeah, we’ve been lucky to visit some of the far reaches of the globe with both Band of Freq’s and Afro Dizzi Act. We toured North East India, up to Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram. Those were both epic and heavy considering the political situation at the time. We played at the Kathmandu Jazz Festival for two years running. We toured Japan to release the surf film ‘Life Like Liquid’ and then went on to hang out with the crew who made a documentary called ‘The Cove’, which has exposed the annual Dolphin slaughter in Taiji. We were invited to California to play at the Cosmic Creek Surf Festival and launched the Switch-Foot book over there.

What big names have you had the honour of jamming next to or in support of?

There have been many shared bills with great artists, though my favourite tour was with Little Bushman from New Zealand. Frontman Warren Maxwell, who is also in Trinity Roots and in Fat Freddie’s Drop on sax, has now formed Little Bushman. He and the whole crew are like kindred souls that have been listening to the same records as us. They know how to let the music surge and swirl out into the cosmos and back, exploring both inner and outer space. It’s all there on all levels.

So tell me about the maturity behind a band? Is being in a band a, ‘I’m never going to act my age,’ type of thing?

Perceptions of ‘acting an age’ seem ridiculous to me. I’ve met eighty-year-olds with more spark and life force than a bored and scared 25-year-old conformist. There’s no time to waste worrying about all that shit. To me it feels like making music and being in the ocean are definitely like a kind of fountain of youth. If you check out muso’s and surfers you’ll generally see many people having a good time right up until they die, whatever their age.

What’s the ethos behind the Band of Frequencies?

It constantly evolves and changes, but the element that always remains is freedom; the freedom to express and create sounds that matter to us at the time, the freedom to constantly evolve and change.

Please talk me through the love triangle of yourself, the surf and your music?

I think I met Music first… or was it Ocean? It’s hard to say… I’ve loved the two of them since I can remember. They’ve both been very understanding as I worked out my shit. The first major upheaval happened when I completely left Music in my mid-teens after a solid 6 years together. I was playing organ and keys and just felt over it. I got a new surfboard and through riding it I fell head over heels for Ocean. It was a callous ditching. I even sold my JX3P synth to buy another surfboard. Two years later Music and I met again through a white Fender Squire electric guitar and from that moment we were once again inseparable. We all seemed to balance it well for the next eight years until Music started giving me these ultimatums about moving to the city. It was hard for Music to feel loved in our small coastal town at the time.

So we left Ocean, and Music and I tried monogamy in Brisvegas for a few years. I attempted to stay in touch with Ocean, but she just didn’t get it. My car broke down which made it near impossible to even visit her as we were living in a band house in West End. I was a car-less sultana, deeply loving Music, but slowly becoming a shrivelled shadow of my former self. I was searching for the exalted salty highs Ocean once provided by experimenting with drinks, drugs and epic jams every night of the week. For a while, it worked, but as time went on even Music could tell I was losing my shit. So when an opportunity came to move back to the coast we took it. That was when Band of Frequencies was born and the love triangle has been solid ever since.

Got any laughable stories for us of shenanigans going on during a show, on or off the stage?

Once we did a gig for a friend’s wedding and they had a couple of mates who were MC’s. After a few drinks, one of the lads approaches the stage and asks to sit in. Always up for a jam, we launched into a fat track. Everyone gets up on the dance floor and the party hits a whole new level, bouncing and jumping, ripping off suits and heels. Then he starts getting really saucy and smutty, asking everyone to get it on, thrusting his hips and starting to strip. I start looking around at the oldies, waiting for them to cotton on to the x-rated content going down at the front. I see the penny drop and then the bride’s grandmother storms up to the front. At first, I think she’s going to lose it and then she slides her dress up and starts pole dancing at the front of the stage! It was so loose and surreal that everyone started to do it. She was classic. It was the most bent wedding I’ve ever been to.

What albums do you have out?

Our first record was Sol Train. Then we released ‘Under the Sun’, the soundtrack to the surf film that was released through the Californian label, Ubiquity Records.

Working on any new stuff? If an album, what’s it going to be called?

We have a new record coming out this year (2011) that is yet to be named.

How was it starting off in the Australian industry? A tough gig? What are your comments on the industry?

It was, and still is a challenge to continually produce original music independently in Australia. Art is a person-to-person exchange I feel. If you like a band, buy their stuff. Even if you already have it, buy it for someone else. Take an extra $50 to the gig. If you have no cash, tell someone else to buy stuff. Get active and spread the word to your crew. Loving a burnt copy of a favourite band’s CD doesn’t help them continue to make music, unless you buy their t-shirts, hats and undies. Spread the love. Keep the energy flowing back to the artists.

Lastly, when you’re not playing music, what are you getting up to?

Playing Ocean.

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Listen to the Band of Frequencies on triple j Unearthed.

Browse the Trunk Junk collection; maybe even pick one out for yourself.

© Jonathan Boonzaaier 2016

Jonathan Boonzaaier Editorial Journalist Band of Frequencies Article Two

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