Jervis Bay’s local music scene offers a wide variety and diversity of genre’s, such as pop, rock, blues, roots, and country. We asked a local musician, Larry Millott, what they thought about being a musician in the local area.
Hi Larry, thanks for talking with us. Our first question is, do you think there are enough places in the area to perform?
Larry: Yeah, I think there is, you know you’ve got obviously the venues, your clubs, your pubs, and that, which, they abound in the Shoalhaven. And as well as that you’ve got festivals, private functions, weddings, parties, anything literally, so if you put all that into the big picture, yeah, there’s always work to be done.
How do you feel about the life of the local music scene? Is it thriving?
Larry: It is at the moment. It has its highs and its lows, and I’m pleased to report at the moment its on a bit of a high. Ummm, by that, only two years ago, a lot of venues were not having so much entertainment. And if I may be bold its because they were so hung up on poker machines, that where venues… I mean, it’s a business, I understand it, they’ve gotta make money, they were making a lot of money out of poker machines, so the pressure was off to provide a lot of entertainment, I do believe the shine has gone off a little bit of the poker machine thing, thank god. The next generation has come in realizing it’s a waste of money, that’s a fact, so whether they like it or not, now venues are more inclined to start putting entertainment back on, and also the other thing that’s very encouraging is, theres always been a lot of entertainment on but they were hung up on the cover band thing, which is not bad, that’s where people go and do their homework and learn their chops, playing other peoples songs but sadly, the original side of it, umm theres been a bit of frustration, theres not many places that, if you bang on the door and said, ‘Look, we’ve got this great act, you know and we play all our own songs’, they’d say, ‘well we’re not gonna employ you’, which is frustrating, like, well how do you get to be good if you can’t play your own songs. But over the last couple of years, that has started to change. Where I guess some more, hip people have got into the right ears, and said, look you know, you’ve gotta get the next generation involved and they don’t want to hear tired old songs from 30-40 years ago all the time. And that’s all you’re offering up. So venues have started to put on new, original material, and in a lot of cases its really catching on. People are going to see that, you know, which is great, cos that’s the future. Yeah, you’ve gotta get up there and play new stuff. So at the moment it’s going really well.
Are there lots of opportunities for musicians in the local area?
Larry: Yeah there is, again, probably just reiterating, cos of all those venues and things on offer, to get your foot in the door, and to learn your craft, if you’re prepared to be a bit flexible, you know, and still play some covers, as well as your own stuff, and are prepared to do weddings, parties, anything, then there is always a lot of work on. You could get a couple of gigs a week no problem, so it’s good.
Is the music scene something that’s hard to get in to?
Larry: No, I don’t think so, not particularly. You have agencies around, there’s a couple in the area, that are always looking for new acts, and they, sort of, you go to them, and say, this is what I do, and they go, ok, we like what you do, and we’ll go to bat for you and try and get you into this venue, or that venue and get you some work. And as well as that, you can also chase up work yourself. Get on the phone, and send people emails and all the rest of it. And people are always, you know, looking for something new, something a bit fresh coming along. So I don’t think it’s that hard. The main thing is, I guess you’ve gotta have something to offer, you know, if you’re painfully boring, lets be blunt, or just really bad, you know, at the end of the day, you’re not gonna get a lot of work. But that would apply to anything. But if you’re keen and you’ve got something to offer, it’s not hard to get into it at all.
So obviously there’s a lot of talent out there in the Bay and Basin, but how do people get to hear local musicians?
Larry: Well you’ve got the local radio station, who are very good. I know they’re very ‘pro’ local talent, you know, and they’ll give you a bit of a run. But you’ve got, I’ve actually seen people busking, which strangely enough is not a bad thing to do, actually. It’s a good thing to do if you’re a bit uncomfortable about playing in front of people, it’s a crash course in getting your confidence up. But you’ve got places like over at Huskisson, to name names. There’s Angels café, a little place on the corner, opposite the pub. They put on acts a couple of days a week, and they’re very keen to use local people and they actually encourage people to come along and play they’re own stuff ‘cos they want to get away from the tired, same old, same old, you know, so, yeah it’s good. And you’ve got down at Milton, Milton, they’re a little bit arty down there, which is a wonderful thing. The redneck factors down a bit, but that’s good, because they, the venues down there, you’ve got the theatre, and the pubs and that, and they’re inclined to, if you look at the gig guides, put on people who want to play their own material, you know. So yeah, theres avenues there if you want to chase them up.
So we’ve asked you a lot of questions about the music scene, can you tell us anything about your band?
Larry: I’d love to.
Have you ever supported anyone famous?
Larry: Yeah, we’ve played with the Screaming Jets, Daryl Braithwaite, who else… Dragon, the Choirboys, once Kevin Boritch, who’s like a blues rock god – of the world, to name but a few. There’s some others but I really can’t think… Angry Anderson, from Rose Tattoo – you girls are probably thinking who? So yeah, we’ve supported some cool people, and that’s always a buzz. And I have to say too, that most of the people I’ve met up there that have had success have actually been really humble, and the least demanding people, and when I’ve played with other people who I thought weren’t that good and were maybe a bit new to it, I think it’d gone to their head a bit and they were the ones that’d carry on. You know, I want this and I want that…and this is not good and I don’t like the lighting and stuff like that, and we’d be thinking ‘wake up to yourself’, and that wasn’t the case with the older people who had… maybe they’d been doing it for so long they’re just over it and just want to get on with it and do it you know, and that was really cool. That was one of the best things about playing with some dignitaries you know.
How did you get the name ‘The Howlers’?
Larry: Aaaah, that was, I was, I’ve played in many different bands over the years but I can remember I was actually playing at Husky pub and it must’ve been about 15-18 years ago and we were doing a little blues jam, and the bass player there, a bloke called Ray, we did this song and we must’ve done it rather well and the crowd loved it and he turned around and said to me, ‘oh mate that was a howler of a song wasn’t it’. And I thought hmmm, I just remembered that, and then when I was looking for a band name a few months down the track I just thought, well, ‘The Howlers’, sounds sort of bluesy, which is what it is, you know, but since the internet came along I thought I was real clever with that name. I get on there now, and every country’s got a couple of howlers, so other people thought of the same thing. But that’s where I got it.
What makes up your band?
Larry: What makes up the band? Well the line-up is five people. I just sing, ah, cos’ I play guitar badly, I employ two guitarists, you got a rhythm player and a lead player, and then you got a bass player and a drummer, so theres five of us all together so it’s pretty much your classic rock band line-up you know. And what I like about it too is that I don’t have to be bothered playing an instrument, and this is handy for anyone out there…if you’re a bit suss about it that you think you may be a bad front person, that’s one of my strengths, it frees you up, so not having to worry about an instrument or breaking a string or all those things, that frees me up to show off, you know, punce around onstage and be the engaging front man, which is very important in a band, cos I think that’s definitely one of our strengths, and one thing that kills it for a number of acts that you go and see, when you get out and see a lot of acts, sometimes they’ll be really good musically, and the songs good, but they’re just boring, and whether you like it or not, you can’t be boring. You know, you’ve gotta have some showmanship. Maybe you can be boring if your gonna be the cello player in an orchestra and you’re sitting amongst 50 people, you know reading a chart, but if you’re just gonna get up on stage and theres gonna be 2,3, 4, 5 people, and people are gonna watch you for a couple of hours, just having great songs is not enough. You’ve gotta be engaging, you’ve gotta be entertaining.
So where can people see the Howlers?
Larry: I was hoping you would ask that. I dunno when this is gonna go to air but, umm, we play up in the ‘Gong, we go up to Goulburn and places like that, but I guess if we’re talking of the Shoalhaven persons, for instance this Saturday night, which is the 23rd, we’re at the Culburra bowling club, we’ve got a couple of bands on, we’ve got a blues band supporting us, the next day, Angels Café, I do the odd gig down there but not with the Howlers. It’s like the Larry thing. We turn up with just a couple of people, and play a more eclectic mix of songs. We do a few of our own but we throw in some metal country songs, and Elvis songs and stuff like that, just to have a bit of fun. And Huskisson RSL, they seem to love us down there and they’re cool now, as I said before, putting on original material, we’re down there about every 6 weeks, 8 weeks, we’re actually back there on the 13th of June, and we recorded a gig there about a month ago, and we’re happy with the results so we’re actually gonna put out a live album soon, which will be like ‘The Howlers’ live at Husky RSL, how cools that! That’s gonna be a bit of a first for the area. And yeah, in Nowra, we occasionally pop up in there somewhere.
Thank you for coming and we hope to catch you out and about.
Larry: Thanks for having me, I loved it.