Photos Stephen Boxshall.
Here’s a few of the Desert Highways team’s Top lists for 2018. Thank you all for your support again throughout 2018, it’s very much appreciated! Also a massive thanx to all of our contributors. Very proud to work with such an incredibly talented group of people!
Mark Ireland – Writer.
Best gigs 2018:
Power Trip – Bendigo Hotel.
Roger Waters – Rod Lavar Arena.
MAMMAL – Croxton Bandroom.
Streaker Gate Benefit Gig – Gasometer.
Meredith Music Festival: The Presets, Billy Bragg, Little Ugly Girls.
The Stems, Even – Northcote Social Club.
Boogie Festival: Cable Ties, Clowns, The Southern River Band, Birdcloud, Cash Savage.
Golden Plains Festival: Mogwai, Baker Boy, Black Angels.
Stiff Little Fingers – Croxton Bandroom.
Download Festival: NoFx, Hot Water Music, Prophets of Rage, Arch Enemy.
Beck – Margaret Court Arena.
David Byrne – Margaret Court Arena.
The Demon Parade – Psych Fest – The Tote Hotel.
Fuck The Fitzroy Doom Scene, El Colosso – Sookie Lounge.
Shame – The Tote Hotel.
Future Of The Left – The Old Bar.
Words Matt ‘Koops’ Cooper – Vocals, El Colosso.
Days 21-24 – Ourense ES
The last few days have been a total blur of amazing food and wine, laughing, drinking, hot springs, drinking, exploring, drinking, and so on… We arrived in Ourense for our gig on Sunday night at Café Cultural Auriense. Once again, we’ve had the benefit of being looked after by folks who may as well have been old friends. Before the gig we hung out at a local bar and met a few of the native hoodlums. Got a wee bit tipsy and had a ball. Then we had our load-in, and after we were settled, and sound was checked, we went to one of the best restaurants I’ve so far had the pleasure of – Café Monte Carlo. This place is amazing! Octopus (pulpo), baby eels (zamburiñas), Galician wine, and so on… The gig went very well – another great crowd and huge fun. Oh! I forgot to mention that on the way into town today we stopped off at the local hot springs – Termas Ouratiz. No need to say how DELIGHTFUL that was! The time since Sunday has followed a similar pattern. Sleeping in until late, then a delicious breakfast (usually with wine), huge walks exploring the old town, a trip to the termas, then dinner, drinks, and enjoying the incredible experience of meeting the locals and sharing the stories of each other’s lives. The sun is up late here – it’s usually still light at 11pm – and so around the streets and plazas you still see families out and about until at least midnight. It’s wonderful to witness and experience. We are in Ourense for another day. We’ve been staying above the venue and so have had easy access to a lot of local stories! Soon we are off to Plasencia and continue working south until we hit the Mediterranean and Estepona. We’ve arranged to rent a townhouse there for three days – according to Benny and D, Estepona is the jewel in the tour. It’ll mean three days on the beach, more incredible food and drink, and more delightful indulgences of the senses! Continue reading
Words Matt ‘Koops’ Cooper – Vocals, El Colosso.
Days 13-14 – Besançon FR
Two days rest back in this beautiful town. Lots more sun and time spent in it. Lots more amazing food and wine. Have met so many delightful people. The French in this place have a great love of life and its sensual indulgences. No small wonder they excel at wine and cuisine! A couple of reviews have been posted about our Krefeld show and they are overwhelming in their praise. Great to hear that the locals are digging our stuff. We’ve had A LOT of great eating and drinking here in Besançon. Still can’t shake off this bloody cough and cold though. It’s probably driving everyone else nuts. I feel terrible about it. I’m just glad I have lots of good medicine here – hahaha! To have come all this way, and after two weeks to still be struggling with it is doing my fucking head in.
Starting to really miss my family back home. Touring is amazing, but the separation from loved ones – especially kids – is difficult. Continue reading
Words Matt ‘Koops’ Cooper – Vocals, El Colosso.
[Ed – We were going to get El Colosso’s Euro tour diary in installments, but when touring, and especially overseas, tour life can totally consume you. So instead, we recieved it all in one big massive lot and will post it in three installments (Parts 2, 3 & 4). Such an awesome read and we’d like to thanx Koops and El Colosso for sending this through, such an awesome band and great guys too! Cheers!]
Days 1-2 – Brussels
Feeling very run down after the crazy-long flight. Got to our apartment right in the middle of Brussels, dropped off our gear and went straight to the bar across the plaza. Baguette and beers! Crashed early after having some fruit and water. Lost my headphones somewhere between Dubai and Brussels, so mission #1 is to get a new pair…
Day 3 – Bremen DE
Today we met our tour manager from Teenage Head Music – Max. A cheeky and cool Frenchman who has spent a lot of time on the road. There is really only one main rule for the tour – no drugs on the bus. Max also informed us that rule number two is – do not be late to the bus. Cool. We had a big six hour drive from Brussels but Bremen has turned out to be very nice. First gig is Meisenfrei Blues Bar. A great venue, and great staff. A bit freaked out by the crowd – everyone seemed pretty old and uninterested, but it turned out they loved us! I lost my voice during soundcheck and got a bit spooked. Max gave me some magic lozenges and by the time we got on stage it worked out fine. Hope it clears up! The boys drank on after the show but I crashed after a long hot shower… Continue reading
We’re lucky enough to have Koops, El Colosso vocalist, submitting a tour diary while they’re away on their European tour. We wish them all the best! Thanx Koops and El Colosso! – Ed.
In another few days the band that I sing in – El Colosso – is traveling to Europe for its first international tour. First tour of anywhere, actually. We haven’t toured Australia yet, apart from a few gigs in Ballarat, Bendigo and Frankston.
We’re heading off to play twenty-odd shows in thirty-odd days, promoting our debut album Pathways, taking in Germany, Slovakia, Belgium, France and Spain. It’s a tour that doesn’t just involve a crap-ton of money and a big flight to get there, but also a kind of leap-of-faith to remove ourselves from our families and jobs and commit to really living rock and roll every night for more than a month in a different city every day, in rooms full of perfect strangers, 14,000 kilometres away from everything we know.
Not fucking fantastic being away from our families though. In truth, that totally sucks.
Preparing for the tour has been a lot of work, but huge fun. We’ve not just stepped up rehearsals for the many weeks leading up to it, we’ve also been preparing new songs for our next record. AND we’ve also had the opportunity to play at The Forum, supporting South African band Seether. How many times have we all been at that venue and dared to dream of one day playing there? We were like kids in candy stores. Or just like the big bloody kids we really are playing at the Forum! But the new album is written, we are super-tight with our tunes, and all that remains is for us to get there and show a different part of the world what we can do. Continue reading
Words Mark Ireland.
Immediacy is the first word that come to mind as soon as the track ‘Doom Boogie’ drops first on the El Colosso album, Pathways. Its relentless riffs never let go, vocalist Matt Cooper is an absolute powerhouse monster of a singer, reminiscent of all my favourite singers from the last 20 years; Layne Staley, Chris Cornell and a million other in between his pitch and range are out of this world, he holds the words in such taut tight control, that you become breathless in awe.
The single ‘Leatherhead’ is a perfect first release, its groove heavy rhythm will have you punching holes in the walls and screaming with ecstatic pleasure.
‘The Hunted’ just pulverises your ears until a river of blood is flowing.
The title track ‘Pathways’, has more ridiculously heavy riffling that entrances you so deep that not even a trained hypnotist could wake you up! Continue reading
Words Emma Cooper.
On a sweltering Sunday at the tail end of November The Tote in Collingwood hosted one of its famous Sunday Six Packs. Opening the sessions were psych-rockers Lucid Planet, complete with incense sticks in the amps and lyrics bearing philosophical musings. It’s a hard gig to open in the sober daylight, but Lucid Planet suited the languid, muggy Melbourne afternoon, with psychedelic soundscapes and hypnotic, bass-driven rhythms burning easily into post-rock Tool-like bursts.
Following Lucid Planet, Sydney-based Shanghai brought some sexy swagger to the stage. Shanghai is an experimental outfit featuring variously keys, bass, percussion, guitar, theremin, flute, saxophone, and trumpet. Full of surprises, this band weave through genres faster than you can call them; snapshots of metal, punk, pop, glam rock and free jazz flash before our ears, faintly doused with a campness reminiscent of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. They add neat musical references throughout, from the snatched bars of jazz standard Round Midnight to a swift, rocking unexpected cover of Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, but the works are distinctly their own. Even the unanticipated tuning of a new guitar for lead guitarist / singer / theremin player Luis Rojas was turned into an interesting musical segue and held the attention of the delighted room.