The Cactus Channel are a ten-piece funk orchestra straight out of Princes Hill High School in Inner-City Melbourne. They play raw, loose and nasty funk, recorded straight to analogue tape. It’s just like the old days, they say, but sporting a badass teenage mustache. I spoke with guitarist Lewis Coleman.
Congratulations on being chosen as the FReeZA Artist of the Month. So How did The Cactus Channel become involved with FReeZA?
Cheers! We heard through either the school music department, or friends at school, about the FReeZA Battle of the Bands competition, and that there was a heat at the Sydney Road Town Hall for “Northern Metropolitanians” such as ourselves, so we applied, thinking it would be a bit of fun, and ended up winning that heat! Thus it began…
Your debut album, HAPTICS, has just been released. How does it feel to see your vision become a reality?
It’s pretty exciting! We’ve been gigging for around three years now and to finally release a body of work is rewarding, and relieving! It’s been playing repeatedly in our ears for possibly slightly too long, but it’ll be exciting to see the reactions of people who are listening to the recordings for the first time, or at least less times than us…
How long has it taken to put the album together?
A little over a year now – that’s why it’s so relieving to finally get it out there! We tracked everything for the album in July 2011 while we were finishing VCE, and from there it was lots of mixing, mastering, cover design, photo shoots, vinyl pressing, the lot. But it’s all just part of the process and it’s come out nicely, so we can’t complain!
Why should people come to see you perform live?
We’re not saying anyone should, but, hey, if you’re after a good time we can certainly accommodate your dancing feet! We like to think we’re a band that can get your knees back in action.
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you play?
Like ten slightly-too-overexcited teenagers in a room trying to play like the JBs or The Dap Kings. It’s raw and loose, but determined to please your knees.
Releasing two vinyl singles internationally while you were all still in school is an incredible feat. How did it feel to hear your songs recorded for the first time?
Thanks! It was quite funny – in fact it’s still funny – to hear any of our recordings on radio, or in places other than our homes or the studio. Without sounding overly clichéd it was obviously pretty exciting and fulfilling to finally hear that crackle of vinyl, and then our tune on the end of the needle…
You’ve been a band since high school. How have things changed for you musicwise since you’ve all graduated?
In a way it has been a little harder to plan around everyone’s work shifts, and different uni days/times, in order to organise all of us in the one place. But also we have had more time to focus on music than we did while doing VCE. Six of us are now studying music at the same university, so it really hasn’t been all that hard for most of us to do the band thing because it all ties in with what we are doing already! It’s nice to be out in the world experiencing more music this year and putting inspiration to practice more often.
With ten members, there must be plenty of opinions flying around. How do you all manage to get on so well and create music that you all love to play?
I think we’ve been able to manage ourselves pretty well over the years because everyone loves, and is enthusiastic about, being a part of the band in their own way. There are times when opinions and ideas will be flying around in all directions, but I think we still try to filter bits of everyone’s thoughts into what we create, or at least consider them. We’re all close friends, so really it’s quite easy to raise an idea, but having said that we’re not afraid to kick each other in line, and we do…
Where do you see Cactus Channel being in five years time?
A bunch of washed-up music hacks, ditching all our instruments to play ten MIDI synthesisers in an attempt to appeal to a new audience…
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