In the wake of Nubreed and Infusion, Statler and Waldorf, aka Dennis Gascoigne and Leo Hede, have come flying in to the Australian breaks scene with an amazing debut EP ‘Collusions’ and follow up album ‘Andronovavirus’. If you’ve heard the name before but can’t quite put your finger on it, Statler and Waldorf is the name of the two old balcony dwelling grumps from the Muppet show. “We actually prefer looking at the comic, cynic side of them rather than the grumpy side,” Dennis Gascoigne, or Statler, laughs. “It’s a name we thought we could grow into. If we are making music for 80 years it’ll become appropriate.”
Gascoigne has already been making music since the mid 90s, where he played in skate punk bands at a really early age. “So about ten years… long enough to know better,” he chuckles. Known for their exhilarating live performances, Statler and Waldorf straddle genres and mash all kinds of sounds together providing an interesting yet accessible sound. The name, ‘Andronovavirus’ is an abbreviation for Andromeda, Novation, Virus “which are the synths used the most on the album,” Gascoigne explains. “They’re not so much old school synths but more old school sounds. They’re not like the old Junos, which is probably a little too temperamental for our patient levels to be dealing with gear that old!”
I noted that their EP ‘Collusions’ had a rather different sound to their album, and I read that many people who saw them live were surprised to receive something quite different to what they were expecting. “We produced the EP with a lot of artists we admired and wanted to work with and it ended up sounding very unlike what we do live. People would come up after a live show and ask for our EP and we’d give it to them saying “this sounds nothing like us, what you’ve just heard”. Our aim when we made the album was to make an album to reflect where we were as live performers and as recording artists,” he clarifies, “so when people say ‘we like your stuff’ we can say this album will be their bag, you’ll like this.”
Their album is full of fantastic tunes, and an old school vibe. This feel comes partly from the equipment used, and also partly from the vocals. Duck ‘N Cover is an unabashed celebration of disco bickies and Saturday nights. The Resistance is resplendent with references to hackers and the underground. The vibe is very reminiscent of the mid 90s ‘cyberpunk’ sound. “Excellent!” Gascoigne grins as I say that. “We do a little DJing as well as our live show and one thing we guarantee is a lots of early to mid 90s everything, somewhere between the range 93 through to 98-99. As far as I am personally concerned they are the golden years of electronic music,” he states.
“It had the popularity yet the innovation. No one really knew how the gear worked and they just kept on making weird and wonderful sounds and making them work as popular music. Back before the Prodigy busted into the mainstream in Australia they were making really cool music. Even to the extent some of the rock stuff like Rage Against The Machine had a bit of that feel to it, and Pop Will Eat Itself had a great mixture. It just has a really good feel to it.” Here our conversation devolves into each of us saying how much we love the incredible PWEI, how great they were live, and I let him know that there’s a new album coming out. “I’m getting it!” he shouts excitedly.
Turning back to their music, I mention how much I enjoy Duck ’N Cover, but I had to wonder if the rock mix was put on their to appease the Australian, and particularly Queensland music listener. “Contrary to how we’ve got it on the album, the rock version was actually the original! The way it came about is the bassline, which gets a little buried in the mix, this funky synth bassline, only worked at 155 BPM, which is pretty fast. It’s pretty standard for rock, but you’re getting into your fast breaks, slower drum and bass, which we don’t delve into much. The only way it would work with the vocals, no matter how we squeezed it, was as a rock track. So we finished it as a rock track, and once we knew where it was going we slowed it down to the breaks mix. It’s really fun to perform,” he adds.
We wind up the interview talking about Statler & Waldorf’s gig at Earthcore, which they are both very excited about, but particularly Hede who used to be a hippy, and me lamenting that Adelaide’s breaks scene is still quite small. “The electronic scene in Brisbane is not so big either. You get your ‘weekenders’, guys who go to clubs and if it’s on they won’t leave,” he says, “but people who actively follow breaks and know all the DJs, other than Kid Kenobi who everybody knows, you’ll get a small crew of people but it’s not the scene you’d expect from our population.”