“What’s the difference between a hard-partying rock star and an Aussie down the pub?”
That isn’t a riddle; it’s Brad Marr of Aussie rockers Massive answering the question of whether he and his band mates really are ‘fuelled on lager, adrenaline and a desire to party hard’ as the press release proclaims. The land down under has graced us with plenty of hardcore and metalcore outfits of late – Parkway Drive, August Burns Red and Northlane to name a few – but less in the way of retro, bluesy party rock: that’s where Massive come in. As much as they like a cold one, their sound is as far from ‘sloppy drunk’ as you can imagine; tight, melody led riffs lead Brad’s gruff vocals on spiky, feel-good rock that packs as much of a punch as an irate kangaroo.
“We wanted to make a real rock n’ roll band and do it right,” says Brad. “We didn’t just want to play pubs, we wanted to be a serious band.” It was on a pub trip in between serious band time that they found their bass player Aidan McGarrigle. “We made friends with this guy at the pub, and we didn’t know he played bass until a couple of weeks later,” laughs Brad. “Then there’s Brendan [Forward] on lead guitar. He’s the new guy; he’s only been in the band for about a year, but he moved down from Newcastle, which is about 12 hours north of Melbourne, to become a professional musician. He’s the perfect guy for us, and we’ve been a happy band ever since.” Completing the lineup is drummer Jarrod Medwin, who Brad has known since high school.
Massive might be a relatively new name to English ears, but their latest release Destination Somewhere is actually their second album. “We released out first [Full Throttle] independently at first, then we got picked up by an independent label in Australia, then we got signed to Earache in the UK and they released it again in 2014,” explains Brad [it was also given away with issue 196 of Classic Rock]. “So it’s old to us because it’s been released three times! I think we’ve progressed as musicians now. When you play in a band and tour a lot, you learn a lot about each other. This album makes me think, ‘This is who we are, that’s what Massive sounds like’.”
He says ‘toured’ – we might be more inclined to say ‘epic road trip’. Playing riffs as tight as Massive’s needs a band that’s truly in tune with each other, and spending days on end together in a van means these guys know each other very well indeed. “On our last tour we went down the Australian coast and crossed over 22,000 kilometres,” says Brad. “If you do that in a straight line it’s half way around the world! We go absolutely mad. There was one trip on the last tour that was a three-day drive up the middle of Australia. Some of those roads – well, they’re not roads, you’re driving on sand. By the end of that, we went to the pub and had a couple of cold beers. We really needed them after that!”
Having a well-earned beverage after a long journey is one thing, but Massive aren’t lying when they say they like to party. Brad pauses when we ask him to tell us about some of the mischief they’ve got up to – not because he doesn’t want to, but because there are so many stories to choose from. “We’ve got enough stories to write a couple of chapters of a book,” he laughs. “The day before we went to the studio to record this album, Jarrod and Aidan had a pretty big night out. Aidan’s brother rang me the next morning and said, ‘You might want to find out where the boys are, because they’ve packed their bags and they’re going to LA’. Yeah, they’d packed their bags and got a taxi, and the only thing stopping them was that they’d forgotten their passports. There was another time we were touring with a band called the Screaming Jets. They’re a pretty big band in Australia, and we like playing pranks on tour, because we’re idiots. A couple of beers in, we decided to nude up and take over their stage naked. I think they were kind of horrified that over 1000 people saw us naked at the Metro Theatre in Sydney. It was a sold-out crowd.”
In answer to Brad’s question, it seems like there isn’t much difference between a hard-partying rock star and a beer-loving Aussie. Whether they’ll be ditching their clothes when they play the UK in September remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure: they’ll be bringing the party.
Massive’s album Destination Somewhere is out now through Earache. For more information, visit their Facebook page.