The Graveltones - Uber Rock/Camden Rocks Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Jamie Richards with Hywel Davies   
Saturday, 12 July 2014 03:30

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Australia has produced its own fair share of top quality rock bands over the years; I dare say that the biggest and most successful of all was formed by a bunch of Brit ex-pats who relocated to the sunshine of the new world back in the day, yes you know THAT band. Ironic then, that the hottest antipodean property currently bubbling under, and surely about to break through into the consciousness of rock fans world-wide, is made up of a couple of Aussies who gave up those lazy, hazy days in surfers paradise for the, frankly, much greyer skies of London town UK. Their collective name is The Graveltones and the men behind the name are Jimmy O (vocals and guitar) and Mikey Sorbello (drums), two of the most talented and warmly charming men you could ever wish to meet.


Last year whist Jimmy was in Cardiff with producer Charlie Francis mixing their amazing debut album, ‘Don’t Wait Down’, I met up with him to see how things were going, and they were going tentatively well as it turned out. Less than a year on, and with the album now a full eight months in existence, the world is a different place for the two unassuming guys, their train, it seems, is really picking up a head of steam; and Uber Rock (as ever) is hanging onto the running plate. Mere hours before they unleash a truly amazing set at Camden’s Jazz Café as part of the Camden Rocks festival , myself and wingman Hywel Davies from Welsh band Dead Shed Jokers, caught up with the Jimmy and Mikey for a truly memorable encounter.


Jimmy, looking naturally sharp, warmly welcomes us, remembering our meeting last summer. He introduces us to his partner Mikey, a solid six footer with the beard and forearms of a 19th century sailor; his friendly manner is instant and genuine. As ever, we offer apologies for interloping on their time in the name of being ‘interviewers’ and the laughter begins…and never really stops.


Jamie: (picking up a book hanging around on the table titled “How To DJ Properly”) “Is this anything to do with you guys?”


Mikey: (laughing) “Well you know, there are so many people just doing it wrong…this is ‘properly’….actually me and Jimmy are the world’s worst DJs, we sometimes get asked to do it and we just put on our favourite songs…somehow it always goes wrong…”


Jamie: “So Jimmy, since we met in Cardiff things are a little different yeah?”


Mikey interrupts: “Hang on where was I when you guys met?”


Hywel: “You were DJ-ing…” (much laughter ensues)


Jamie: “Anyway, you were mixing the album back then, are you happy with it? I loved it by the way”


Jimmy: “Absolutely, yes, and thank you. We’re very proud of it, and even though it was done in a very short space of time we really did what we set out to do”


Jamie: “I was surprised at the complexity of some of the songs, some really sprawling epics in amongst the raucousness you usually come to expect from a duo.”


Mikey: “Wow, that’s really kind, thank you, we do try!”


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Hywel: “How do you find yourselves writing in the scenario of a two piece, do you find a limitation ever?”


Jimmy: “No, never; what I do is I just write a song…whether it works with what we’re doing…and sometimes it doesn’t, and actually the box of songs that don’t work with what we’re doing is getting bigger and bigger…but you just write a song, and if it’s a good song it’ll stand on its’ own merit. I always believe if a song is a good song then you can play it on an acoustic guitar…”


Hywel: “As long as it’s a genuine expression…”


Jimmy: “Yeah, exactly.”


Mikey: (mischievously) “That’s not true, you haven’t heard the songs I write… because I have some seriously genuine expressions... I just play guitar and cry…yeaaaaaauuur!”


Much laughter ensues


Hywel: “Well the world needs it…”


Jimmy: “We’ve just written a song actually, basically I got the skeleton of the idea, took it into the studio…and it became something completely different…..we kinda bounce of one another in rehearsals and we play around with it until something starts cooking.”


Mikey: “Yeah, and sometimes you hit a brick wall like immediately, and we just leave it and try and forget about it, but it stays in your head…and maybe after a couple of months you’ve minced it up, deconstructed it in your head, and you approach it in a fresh way and then it can work.”


Jamie: “Okay, so live-wise you’ve been pretty relentless over the last eight or nine months, and I notice Germany seems to be a big thing for you, you like it there yeah?”


Mikey: “Oh ja, ja…well you know what, the beers there are a lot bigger than they are here…”


Jamie: “Ha, and that’s essentially the attraction is it?”


Mikey: “Steins, over pints….yeah, we just keep going back!”


Jamie: “Great news for Lisa then. (The band’s manager) Did you ask her to just book German gigs and nowhere else, completely based on the size of the beers there?”


Jimmy. (laughing) ”No, we’re gonna tour the UK soon…but we will be having huge beer steins flown in to every venue.”


Hywel: “Cast in a foundry no doubt, now that you’re hitting the big time?”


Jimmy: (laughing loudly) “Absolutely!”


Gravetones UK tour


Jamie: “It must be an absolute riot on tour with you guys, what scale is at for you now? I mean is it still just the two of you getting in a van and going?


Jimmy: “Up until the last time yeah that was pretty much it, but the last visit to Europe we had a driver, tour manager…it was a bit different.”


Hywel: “Sounds like it’s getting serious… back to the German thing, how do you find the audiences, is there a difference in the reaction compared to the UK?”


Mikey: “It really varies; I mean from town to town it can be different. There was one place we rocked up to and it felt like it was the early nineties…people were just going crazy like they wanted to punch a wall or something.”


Jimmy: “Oh yeah, there was a proper mosh pit!”


Mikey: “Yeah people were just letting loose, it’s how live gigs should be…”


Hywel: “I know it can be strange in the UK sometimes.”


Mikey: “Yeah, there can be a bit of ‘hey man watch my shoes’.”


Hywel: “How do you cope with that?”


Jimmy: “I think there’s a vibe you get from every audience, you feed off it, then there’s a moment in the set where you break them…then it doesn’t matter what you do, if you can crack ‘em….then you can do whatever you want, that’s the key I think. We’ve played so many gigs now we can kinda see that when it happens…”


Hywel: “You feel when it’s ON!”


Jimmy: “Yeah, but then if it’s not we play the same anyway…and sometimes there’s been weird gigs where an audience has been quite reserved and then come up to the merch’ stand afterwards and go ‘hey wow…’ and you’re like (laughing) ‘why didn’t you do that in there’?” (laughing)


Jamie: “That’s the British stiff upper lip you’re on about…anyway, the album is great as we’ve said, you’re touring…have you started thinking about a new album?”


Jimmy: “Yeah, we’re half way through it, we’re gonna record around November.”


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Jamie: “I guess these days you can’t afford to let the grass grow under your feet when you get some leverage?”


Jimmy: “Yeah, and you have to keep the creative juices flowing.”


Mikey: “It’s really interesting to see where it’s going.”


Jamie: “Now that everything’s moved up a notch, bigger gigs, tour mangers etc….do you find yourselves hanging out in different circles?”


Mikey: “Nope, not me I got my thing going on, my local boozer.”


Jimmy: “Nah, not really, we’re just playing music ya know…”


Jamie: “You seem like two really authentic people, so the fact that you’re musicians just means…exactly that I guess, nice ordinary guys who happen to play music..?”


Jimmy: “Yeah exactly, I think that’s really important ya know. Look man….the whole music industry should be less bull shit, you see it sometimes, people putting on a charade or some act and you think, what’s the point?


Hywel: “I think people like that, they connect to music but if the people making it are more ‘real’ then the connection can be stronger….I mean sometimes it can be intriguing…Mikey I think you could pull that off actually.” (laughing)


Mikey (laughing) Oh yeah I’m gonna get more mysterious, maybe stand on a hill, light a fire and just stroke my beard….…” (laughing)


The interview ends in as much chaos and laughter as it began with, the two Uber Rock soldiers scuttled away. Someone else is waiting to speak with the hottest new band in Britain don’t you know! A matter of hours later The Graveltones cement their growing reputation by turning in an exhilarating performance to a packed house, Uber Rock was lucky enough to witness it (and to share beers with the band before and afterwards). With a UK tour on the horizon, kicking off on a mountain top a mere stone’s throw away from Uber Rock HQ at the Steelhouse Festival. If you don’t give yourself the witness the band on this run of dates you might one day miss out on the opportunity to brag about seeing them in a tiny venue. 

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