Infusion has been rocking Australia since the mid 90s, but has found their star rising ever quickly skyward, first being signed to Thunk Recordings and then their tune Dead Souls being picked up by Adam Freeland’s Marine Parade label. The Wollongong trio of Frank Xavier, Jamie Stevens, Manuel Sharrad are the current leaders of Australian Dance music, holding the torch proudly high as they tour around the world, performing blistering live shows to packed houses. I spoke to Frank Stevens after a quick tour of Argentina and Chile, and the big UK festivals.
Their most recent big date in the UK was Glastonbury. “We had two shows at Glastonbury, one which was live to air on Radio 1, and then we had another gig in the Glades tent, which is a bit like the Boiler Room tent at the Big Day Out, and it was really good. We had about 5000 crazy English people jumping and going crazy,” Xavier laughs. “Creamfields Argentina was amazing,” he gushes of last years’ festival. “We played for an hour and a half, and when we started there was about 150 kids there, and by the end of our set there were about 18,000 people there! We played Argentina and Chile this past weekend, and that was just incredible. I don’t know how they’ve found out about us, but news just travels fast around that part of the world.” Infusion is also big in Japan. “We’ve played Tokyo about five times, and the last time we played was in a club called Woo, to about 2000. The Japanese really love their music, will really give people a chance.”
Although they were featured on Triple J and played the traps in Australia, it took some time before they got a wider appeal. “We’ve been playing around Australia since, well I joined in 1996, and it wasn’t until 2001 that we went overseas. It helps when overseas people rate us, and we play some of the big festivals over there, then Australia goes ‘Oh, hang on, they’re doing quite well over there, let’s give them some more attention.’ Steven’s is quick to point out that’s not the whole of it, and is very loyal to Infusions early fans. The fan base that Infusion have crosses borders and genres, most obviously because the band refused to be pigeonholed. They combine breaks, techno, trance and progressive, and there are influences and similarities between them and a wide range of groups, from Icehouse to Pink Floyd. “Every band has influences and ours is from the late 70’s and mid 80s. I was into Depeche Mode, Beach Boys, Japan, Bowie, but we all listen to a lot of different things and I guess when we all get together there’s such a big range of differences it becomes a big melting pot.”
Another contributor to the wide fan base is the internet. “Even though I’m not a big fan of forums, forums have really helped us a lot,” Xavier states. “Kids from all different countries posting ‘you’ve really got to check these guys out’… the news gets spread around. We’ve just released the album in Argentina, Chile and Canada, and with the push of the bigger record label it’s just been getting bigger and better for us”. But Xavier isn’t so keen on File Sharing. “A lot of people seem to download the Radio One BBC files and I don’t really mind, because it’s on radio in the first place. Radio One is a promotional tool for us, so that doesn’t really bother me. But with the album we checked to see if it was on soulseek last week, and it’s not there yet, so lets hope it remains like that!” he chuckles “But it happens with every band, you can’t avoid it. It’s killing the industry, but what can you do, it’s going to get worse and worse.”
I mention to him that another person I interviewed had a similar view, and that they though file sharing would force the price of bands upwards so they could recoup their record sale losses. Xavier disagrees. “It won’t force the price of bands up; it will encourage bands to tour more,” he says. “It encourages them to get off their arses and not sit back and wait for people to buy their records, but get them out there and earn their money the good old-fashioned way,” he laughs.
Infusion has definitely shown they can earn their keep, with vibrant live shows that equal rock performances in energy and vibe. “With a live band there’s a whole lot more energy than what you can see on stage with a dance act. If you see people like Underworld and Chemical Brothers they’re stuck behind keyboards twiddling knobs,” he says, “and although it sounds live and it’s ‘big’ sounding, it still doesn’t have that appeal of when you have a drummer and guitarist going at it, there’s a few mistakes here and there that leap out at you, and people get a lot of energy from that. The way we play is quite similar, with got a vocalist, and the sounds and way we mix are quite live, and the energy as we’re all jumping around… we’re not sitting behind laptops and twiddling knobs.”