James Bradly of Choking Stanley on reaching the Gozzy Rock Grand Final:
“Gozzy Rock has been great so far. All the stage crew were really helpful and professional, and we were so pleased to get into the final. We're all really looking forward to it, and can only hope for the best.”
If the delightfully named Choking Stanley look like they’re having a good time up on stage – and they do – there’s a damn good reason for that.
”Five of us went to school together so we've known each other a long time,” explains bassist, James Bradly. “We all got along really well, and spent a lot of time together, so the band just became an extension of that.
“Three of us had been in and out of bands together, and our most recent endeavour at the time had fizzled out. We were at a party talking about what to do next, when we heard Andrew (Dols, vocals) singing along to The Black Keys. We had no idea he was such a good singer and were blown away when we heard it. We all looked at each other and knew that whatever we did, we needed him onboard. We didn't really invite him to join the band, so much as we informed him that he was now our singer.”
Jason Edmiston (saxophone) joined soon after, then Matt Chatley and Michelle Claire more recently came aboard to fulfil the band’s quest for a full horn section. The avenues are even more open.
“One of our favourite bands is The Cat Empire, which we tried to channel early on,” Bradly says. “We wanted to make music that was fun and energetic, but also clever and complex. When we first started writing, we found the songs we liked best were rooted in funk and blues, but we wouldn't call ourselves a blues/funk band by any stretch. The music we like to listen to is anything that makes you smile and makes you want to dance, and that's the kind of music we try to create."
There’s a feel of summery good times happening with Choking Stanley, with many styles which can make them hard to pigeonhole. This can be an advantage musically, but placement on gig line-ups can sometimes prove tricky (for others).
“We've found it hard at times,” Bradly explains, “as we don't really fit into any one particular genre. Getting on a good bill has been tough, as organisers don't always know where or who to put us with, but we generally get a great reception from the crowd. We found putting on our own gigs was the most rewarding. It's stressful organising, but we always got a good crowd.”
In describing the band as a live entity, Bradly says Choking Stanley are “fun, energetic and infectious. You can't take your eyes off Andrew, because he's got some killer dance moves. And all the while the band is cooking up a funky storm of music, that makes you want to get up and dance.”
Bradly and guitarist, Connor Klokeid are the main songwriters in the band, who have released a 2015 EP, Kick Back And Relax, followed by late-2016 single, Second Layer.
“We had excellent turnouts for both of those launch gigs,” Bradly says, “and a lot of great feedback about the music itself. The EP was fairly raw-sounding, but we had quite a flattering review come from it. We had a lot of follow-up from the single, with Rooftop Movies using it for their seasonal trailer, and Fringe Festival for one of their online promo videos.
“We're really proud they used our music for them.”
From here on in it’s all about capitalising and moving forward.
“We're keen to get back in the studio and do another EP, especially now that we have the horn section,” Bradly reveals. “It's been somewhat of a rebranding, so we're focusing on getting our new image out there. We've got a few big gigs coming up, so we're hoping to propel ourselves forward with them, keep the momentum and hopefully release something next year.”
The 30th Anniversary Gozzy Rock Grand Final happens from 2pm on Sunday, August 27, at the Don Russell Performing Arts Centre with, Choking Stanley, Farraday's Cage, J.F.K, Hibiscus, Mitchell Martin and Sweet Surrender, with guest sets from previous winners, Young Robyn (2016) and RAKSHA (2014).
Choking Stanley also feature in the support line-up for Young Robin’s Stay single launch at Badlands along with RAKSHA, Iceage Sugar, J.F.K, Scarlet Drive and Figurehead on Saturday, September 16.