Introduce yourself and your band and tell us why we should listen to you?
I’m Rich Anderson, guitarist and contributing songwriter with Australian rock band ‘Five Star Crooks’. We’ve been around in one way or another since the mid 90’s, and despite the sad state of affairs with rock ‘n’ roll these days, our passion for playing music has never wavered. At our core we just love getting together in our jam-room, creating that roaring sound and getting the music up through our feet, creating, sharing a whisky and having a yak into the wee hours. It’s a great escape from everyday life, we’re more like family than a band, any gigs and airplay are an added bonus. Coming from the country areas outlying Melbourne city we’re essentially out on the rock and roll frontier, large distances between towns & gigs, sparse population, south of us there’s the island of Tasmania then next stop is Antarctica. The rough diamond landscape of Australia is reflected in Aussie rock music, its rough and raw, but its genuine, and that’s what you get with us. We’re more or less adopting the old jazz band attitude – if you don’t like it, frankly we don’t give a damn. It makes sense to us, we enjoy making our music and while we’ve got two feet and a heart beat we’ll keep playing. If you do like it, get on-board and join our gang, the more the merrier.
What do you classify your sound as? Who do you tell people you sound like?
Five Star Crooks play rock in the hard rock vein, raw rock ‘n’ roll. We don’t hide our influences. You can hear a lot of 70’s Aussie hard rock influence in our music, from bands such as AC/DC, The Angels, Rose Tattoo, Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs. There’s also some British influence there too from bands such as The Rolling Stones, Free, Faces, Status Quo and The Who.
With digital music in today’s world would you vote to keep or eliminate physical media?
I’d vote to keep physical media, 100%. Take me back to the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s. I grew up in an era when you had somewhere physical to go to buy music and we’d go there often. Even if you didn’t know a band, if the album artwork was eye-catching enough you might give them a go, and now and then you’d hit the jackpot. Cd’s didn’t really cut it in terms of physical appeal, not like LP covers, especially the gatefold albums, sometimes they were works of art in themselves. I’ve still got most of my teenage albums. Some were stolen or never returned. Even if they put a download card with a LP size cover or attach a usb to a LP size cover, I’d go for that over and above a digital download alone. Music product used to be a mix of art and music, I used to buy band posters frequently too. Now-days its tending to become mainly just the music, which is a loss in my eyes.
What is the reason you decided to be a musician and has that reason paid off?
I’ve been captivated by music from the get-go. I remember when I was young family would sing along around the piano at my grandparent’s hotel, and also watching guitarists perform there. Jumping around in the bedroom to the radio hits of the time pretending a tennis racket was a guitar. When I reached teenage years after I started learning guitar, music was my refuge, and I don’t think I would have survived my teens without it. I pretty much lived in my room for about two years just playing guitar and my favourite music. Playing in a band can be hard at times but you have some damn good times along the way which balances it out and makes it worthwhile. I’d say it was absolutely worth it for all the good times, the refuge that music can give and that fact that I’m still here.
How do you feel about females in metal getting special attention? Do you feel it is fair?
I wasn’t aware they were getting special attention. If you’re talking about appearance, if they’ve got it and they flaunt it good for them. If the music is not good they probably won’t last anyway, and if the music is good, what’s the issue?
Are you opposed to religious beliefs or politics being used in music?
We believe in freedom of speech, and that people can write about whatever they like. Our song Karma Take a Vengeance has a political verse set to rock n roll. Give it a Try off the new album is also political in that it asks politicians to walk a mile in the worker’s shoes.
We have dived into some pretty deep issues here. Do you think your music sends a message and if so what is it?
Every song has its own meaning or meanings, sometimes people read their own meaning in other people’s songs. I think rock music in general taps into the animal or primal in us, into the tribal and into the part of us that celebrates and knows freedom. I like to think our music is part of that.
The market has changed and many bands believe that record labels are a thing of the past, with many labels now charging bands to “sign” how do you think a band can make I in today’s scene?
Grabbing the attention of the public is the key to breaking through. There’s so much talent and entertainment out there that a band has to compete with. All you can do is try to have quality PR, keep plugging away and put your best foot forward – that and cross your fingers.
How do you feel about pay to play? Do you think it is fair for a band to have to pay money to play?
Hall’s have always had to be hired to put on an event. For a club though that’s open regularly and has music as its drawcard to be charging bands to play, I think that’s absurd. Fair enough if they have regular large rock ready audiences for touring bands to play to, but if they expect you to bring your own crowds and pay to play I think that borders on exploitation.
It is fact that you are talent and the entertainment. Explain what you think is the most important key to success.
From what I’ve read the key to success in the music business is believing in yourself, staying true to yourself, persistence and being respectful to audiences and fans. These days the chances are there is people equal or better in talent than yourself in the audience, the days of enormous ego’s in rock music are over.
In country music and even in some cases rock music is written and performed by different people. Would your band perform a song written by someone else?
Absolutely, if the song was suited to our band, and we could feel and transmit the energy of the song we’d be open to recording it. There are two songs that were written by friends of ours that we enjoy playing and may be recording in the future.
If you are pro female in music are you pro using sex to sell music?
As far as I know the term ‘rock and roll’ is a reference to sex in itself so naturally I’m not opposed to using sex to sell music as long as you have the consent of the people appearing in the promotion, the promotion is targeted responsibly, and its not degrading to women or men in general. Like I said earlier I think some forms of music and certainly rock music taps into what’s primal in us and sex is a part of that. I don’t think western civilization is sexually repressed, nor should it be.
What is your view on the lawsuits against people saying lewd or unprofessional things to women or men and how does that affect an art described as sex, drugs and rock n roll?
It depends on what is meant by lewd in the question. If the language in question is crude, degrading and abusive you can see where some people might take offence, but if ‘lewd’ is meant to refer to a pornographic context then its ridiculous to think that one might be constrained from referring to sexual acts or attributes within a music form that has sex as part of its foundation. If the killjoys of the world were to succeed in taking the sex out of rock and roll there wouldn’t be much left, and they’d be straight after the next thing in line – drugs for example, or violence, or political expression. If political correctness ever goes too far rock and roll may have to go underground, wouldn’t that be fun? As Ozzy Osbourne said, ‘You can’t kill rock and roll, it’s here to stay’.
Ok, lets lighten up a bit. What is your favourite band of all time and why?
The Rolling Stones, because they’ve had all the aces. Master craftsmen of blues, rock ‘n’ roll, country rock & ballads, great musicians & performers, they’ve pushed the boundaries at times, they’ve had longevity - ‘Soul Survivors’ I guess you could say, and they reflect the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll and all that has been good and bad about it - they’re the yin and the yang.
Do you have a favourite sports team?
I follow The Hawks, the Hawthorn Football Club in the Australian Football League, and have been lucky to be alive during several successful periods for the club. They pride themselves on being a family club, play for the team, and use the motto ‘one for all and all for one’.
If you could get on the stage with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
My deceased friend, James Harrison. I loved sharing the stage with him and his band Friendly Fire, he was an exceptional songwriter, performer, and a soulful singer. It’s a tragedy that he wasn’t discovered and celebrated by the wider world. I carry his songs in my heart and would love to be on stage with him again. Maybe we’ll jam it up when I get to ‘the great gig in the sky’.
This is your shot to let loose. Throw down your biggest complaint about the music biz.
I just feel that compared to the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, many fans, not all fans, but many fans at concerts these days aren’t physically connecting with live music as much, not getting into that rock ‘n’ roll trance or ‘zone’, not gelling with the music as much because of mobile phone technology. I think its sad when large numbers of fans are present at a gig but still choose to stand still and view the concert at times through their phone, via a filter. I was guilty of it too once when I first got a mobile phone and all the images I took were generally crap and I don’t look back at them. I think fans prone to using mobiles at concerts would enjoy themselves more if they’d move to the music and inter-react more with the band. Imagine Slade’s recording of “Know Who You Are” from the live album ‘Slade Alive’ if you didn’t have all those hands clapping, if half the audience had cameras in their hands, it wouldn’t have that magic. There’s a oneness that can be achieved between a band and an audience when a gig is really rocking and I just feel that all those distracted fans that are filming these days instead of living in the moment can hinder that from happening.