The first thing you notice as you enter the unassuming factory unit is the posters on the walls. They’re like an archaeological dig of gig promotions for some of Perth’s best bands, including the legendary Love Junkies and one of Perth’s hottest tickets right now, Sly Withers.
If you want to see some of Perth’s latest and, potentially, greatest bands before they emerge from the hothouse that is Rock Scholars, get on down to one of their Carwash at the Garage gigs.
The bands on the posters also are Rock Scholars alumni. They were formed and hothoused at Rock Scholars’ premises in Osborne Park, a light industrial suburb better known as an oasis of commerce than for its contribution to Perth’s cultural life.
Run by Sam and Karen Simmonds, Rock Scholars provides a space for school-aged kids to learn about performance, song writing and the joys of being in a band.
“We don’t focus on theory and the academic side of things,” Sam Simmonds told Around The Sound, “We’d rather get our students together into bands and encourage them to play and write music. It’s all about the performance.”
When Around The Sound visited the Rock Scholars premises it was abuzz with excitement. Music emanated from every rehearsal space. Kids on a break played basketball with their mates, just hanging out and having fun. And, if you were looking carefully, you’d see storied musicians like Carla Geneve hanging out with the students. Mentoring from accomplished industry professionals is all part of the program at Rock Scholars.
To learn more, we sat down for a chat with members of Intrusion, one of the next-big-things emerging from the Rock Scholars program. Having launched their debut EP in April this year, Intrusion are definitely a band to watch out for. When we chatted to them, they were very happy to talk up the Rock Scholars experience.
Asked what Rock Scholars had done for them, Jye Criddle’s (vocals) immediate response was, “So much!” Which was followed by Paddy Whitford (guitar) telling us, “The ability to come here and actually find people to play in a band with.”
The value of this part of the Rock Scholars program can’t be underestimated. They match students based on their musical interests and put them into bands as part of the program. When it sticks, the results can be extraordinary. And, for some students, it gives them access to potential bandmates they can’t get elsewhere. Renae Griffiths (bass) told us, “My school doesn’t really focus on music, so I struggled to find a group of people who needed a bass player.”
Another key aspect of the Rock Scholars program is the mentoring and networking opportunities. Ethan Dixon (guitar) told us, “I think having a good mentor who really knows what they’re doing is a big part of it. Our mentor is really beneficial to us.” To which Griffiths added, “Everyone who works here is in the industry, so there’s that networking element as well.”
On 17 August Rock Scholars is holding the next in its series of monthly Carwash at the Garage gigs, on the stage that is the central focus of their premises. The factory unit turns into a 200-capacity venue and these events provide an opportunity for bands that are part of the program to perform and find an audience. They also provide an opportunity for alumni bands, like Moth, to come back and perform at the place where it all started out for them.
Moth drummer, Catherine Zoller, gave us the band’s back story.
“We joined Rock Scholars early in 2014,” Zoller told Around The Sound. Sam (Banks-Smith, vocals/guitar) and I are the original members, we met here, we didn’t know each other before. We got put in the same band and it worked really well and we’ve stayed together.”
“We were both musicians for a while before we joined Rock Scholars, but being in Rock Scholars really developed our musical abilities, because we were having to prepare for a gig each term, so we really had to practice. I know my drumming abilities really improved and I think everyone’s confidence did as well.”
Asked about the benefit Moth got from being part of the Rock Scholars program, Zoller said, “It was really good to be introduced to all the venues around Perth. That was a great thing, because we wouldn’t have been able to do that without Rock Scholars, because it’s all licensed venues. One of our first gigs was at Mojos, and that was so exciting. Outside of Rock Scholars we couldn’t really have done that. And, it’s really good to have all the mentors at Rock Scholars, they’re really experienced in the industry and with song writing.”
As for the upcoming Carwash at the Garage gig, Zoller was only too happy to share her excitement about coming back to play the show.
“That’s really exciting. We’ve been hoping to be asked to play it for a while. I don’t think we’ve played an underage gig for a while and we regret that, because I remember when we were underage, and we wanted to be able to see local Perth bands, but a lot of the time they didn’t play underage gigs and when they did it was the biggest thing!”
If you want to see some of Perth’s latest and, potentially, greatest bands before they emerge from the hothouse that is Rock Scholars, get on down to one of their Carwash at the Garage gigs. It’ll be worth every cent of the $10 cover charge.
Next one is on 17 August with Moth, Intrusion, Nevertheless, The Suns and Bittersweet. More info here.