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Interview with Dave Rogers from Second Prize


Melbourne band Second Prize have just put their latest album. Taking its name from the world of Pro Wrestling, The Heel Turn is the moment when a good guy (or a “face”) becomes a bad guy (or a “heel”).

Tomatrax caught up with Dave Rogers from the band to ask a few questions.

How did the band form?

It wasn’t really ever like the band “formed”, as such. I had played some guitar for John in his old band The Raylenes and he had come on board to play guitar for my band. We had been writing songs and making scrappy demos and decided to start working towards a record. We recorded the drums at drummer Dave Kleynjans basement, which was a like a museum for vintage Ludwig drum kits. We built the arrangements up as a four piece and went from there.

Where did the name Second Prize come from?

John had always had it kicking around for a while. We text each other band names all the time but none of those ever made the cut. I really liked The Brains Trust, Rusty Dad and My Friend Likes You

Your new album is set for release this month, how does it feel to have it finished and ready to go?

It’s been a long journey to get this record finished. We worked on and off on it for five years, I think. It wasn’t like we planned it that way, life just happened around it. I played in other bands and made other records for people so the time I had to commit to it wasn’t consistent. Same with John. But it’s a great feeling having it done and draw a line under this part of our musical lives.

You’ll be launching the album at the end of the month, what can fans expect from your show?

When we made the record, we did it with a complete disregard to how we would play it live. So the rehearsal process has really been about dividing up parts and essentially rearranging the songs to make them work in a five piece band. The band is cooking so at the very least, you’ll see at least three people at any one time in complete command of their instrument.

You’ve talked about the album looking at the grey area where male behavior drifts into masculine toxicity, what prompted the interest in this year?

I think it’s an interesting environment for middle-aged white guys making music right now. We recognise the work that has been done and continues to be done to make and promote safe spaces for diverse voices to be part of the music scene. John’s lyrics are anything but the usual rock and roll platitudes. It’s natural for his lyrics to reflect that idea of putting masculinity under the microscope.

What made you pick ‘Waiting for a spark’ as the album’s single?

I think as a song it represents Second Prize really well. It’s a love song in essence but the characters aren’t typical. The production felt like a real collaboration to with our drummer wanting to push what was presented as almost a ballad, to more extreme places. That gave me license to create a wall-of-sound outro that was a heap of fun to create.

When writing what comes first, the words or the music?

It varies but they’re usually developing alongside one another. The way John and I work, we don’t usually muck around with the bones of the song once it’s written but the production is about dressing the skeleton up in the fanciest clothes possible.

Do you ever listen to your own music?

I don’t know about John but because I produce and mix it and check the masters, I’ve listened to these songs more than I care to think about. But I still love them and listening for me is less about what the songs actually sounds like coming out of speaker and more about remembering the decisions we made along the way to get it there.

What other music do you listen to?

I’ve always loved guitar pop, proper indie music and a little bit of alt. country when the mood is right. But I’m also listening to newer electronic artists and the odd bit of J-Pop.

What do you have planned once the album is out?

John’s already sending around new songs so we’ll start thinking about doing another recording, so I’ll be rolling my sleeves up and getting into that.

Check out Second Prize’s Facebook page to find out more!


International Women’s Day 2019

Happy International Women’s Day! Once again it’s time to celebrate the day in the only way Tomatrax knows how, by featuring some of the best songs from solo female artists and all female bands over the last year or so. So now onto the music…


10. Iluka – Ritual

9. Eliza Hull – Going soon

8. Lisa Caruso – Shake baby shake

7. Harley Mavis – No chance

6. Clews – Museum

5. Shelley Q – Life goes on

4. Hatchie – Sure

3. Tia Gostelow – Hunger

2. Evi Vine – Sabbath

1. Sylvaine – Abeyance

Interview with Levi Anderson from the Kite Machine


Hailing from Geelong, Victoria, The Kite Machine sway from swirly and dreamlike soundscapes to tight grooves and twisted guitar licks on their latest single ‘Walls’. The band proves yet again that they are adept at taking listeners on a wild ride that takes one unexpected musical turn after another.

Tomatrax caught up with Levi Anderson, the band’s singer and guitarist, to ask a few questions.


How did the band form?

The band started with me forming a band to play my original music with a group of friends from a music course in Ballarat. Members have come and gone as the band was finding its identity but since 2015 when Kane and I were joined by bassist Liam Brennan, The Kite Machine’s path has never been surer and it’s identity as a band was realised. 


Where did the name The Kite Machine come from?

There is no real interesting story behind the name. It basically came from me putting words together that sounded cool and then seeing if that name was taken. The Kite Machine is what eventuated.


You’ve got your debut album coming out next month, how will the rest of the album compare with your first few singles?

There will definitely be some surprises. We released a rather diverse range of singles ranging from solo acoustic to almost electro rock but you’ll find something a little heavier, a little more progressive and even a little dancier once you spin the rest.

You’ve been together for 8 years, what made you decide now was the time to do a full length record?

We didn’t really decide now was the time necessarily, this record has been over two years in the making. It’s hard to choose when the right time is, sometimes you are at the mercy of time, how long production takes, film clips, PR schedules etc and you don’t want to rush any of it… This is just how it turned out.


What made you decide to make the album self titled?

Being it’s our first album this is a real introduction to the band. These are a collection of what we consider to be the best songs we’ve been playing for years as well as some newer tracks people haven’t heard yet. Up until this point these songs define what TKM is. 

We’ve had EPs in the past but nothing makes a real statement like a full length record and we want people to remember the name with that statement.

What is the music scene in Geelong like?

The scene in Geelong is looking real strong with a lot of quality local artists releasing new music this year. They’re booking tours and playing solid local shows and really building brands for themselves. It’s this kind of professional approach that is putting Geelong on the map, letting the world know that there are real, talented musos here that are worth taking notice of.


When writing what comes first the words or the music?

Music always comes first for us. We work tirelessly over the instrumental rhythms and how they work together, however Levi’s vocal melodies and rhythms are seen as an instrument that needs to work with the rest. Lyrical content is usually the last layer to the overall piece.


Do you ever listen to your own music?

Sure we do and yes we’ll turn it up if it comes on at a party. Our music is essentially the best bits of all the music we love and we’re proud of it.


What other music do you listen to?

Some favs are Biffy Clyro, Raconteurs, band of skulls, Tool, Cog, Mutemath, Wax Chattel, DZ Deathrays and of course Rage Against The Machine!


What do you have planned once the album is out?

We want to get straight into playing shows as soon as possible. We will have tour dates to release soon, hometown shows, Melbourne, Sydney, we want to push the album as far as we can.


Check out The Kite Machine’s website to find out more!


Fred Abong (Throwing Muses, Belly) Announces ‘Pulsing’ EP, UK Tour with Kristin Hersh


Fred Abong has announced his new solo release – the ‘Pulsing’ EP. This six-track offering will release on March 8, the same day that his UK tour with Kristin Hersh kicks off. As a solo artist Abong will be supporting Hersh on this tour. But he will also be playing bass in Kristin Hersh’s live electric trio, together with Rob Ahlers, drummer in the Hersh-led power trio 50FOOTWAVE.

This follows Abong’s 2018 ‘Homeless’ EP, also released upon launching his previous UK tour supporting Kristin Hersh. Ahead of the EP release, he presents the lead track ‘Firefly’.

Best known as former bass player for the influential art-punk band Throwing Muses and Grammy-nominated alt-rock band Belly, Abong has been immersed in academia for the last eight years or so, completing a Ph.D. in Humanities and working as an adjunct professor in the Religious Studies, Philosophy, and English Departments at various universities.

“it was inspired by life and life events. You can fill in the blanks here to your satisfaction – relationships, loss, death, ecstasy, identity, longing, transformation, frustration, desire, love, hate, etc.,” says Fred Abong.

“Songs are only one possible manifestation of the inspiration that informs existence; and if that’s true, then maybe focusing less on the specifics of the inspiration behind someone’s songs and more on the pervasiveness of inspiration in each of our lives would be of more benefit and utility. Your own life, in other words, is just one song after another. You should listen to those first. If you want some company after that, then by all means give the songs on Pulsing a listen.”

Prior to being in Throwing Muses and Belly, Fred was active as a drummer and bass player in numerous bands centered on the Newport, RI hardcore punk scene, which gave rise to bands like Vicious Circleand Verbal Assault. Partly because of these DIY roots, Fred left the music ‘business’ after the release of Belly’s ‘Star’ in 1992, choosing instead to quietly and independently pursue his own music.

Abong’s music has been described as cross between “ragged Replacements and lyric-driven Bob Dylan,” and as “Elliott Smith with balls”.

Most recently, Fred contributed bass on Kristin Hersh’s new ‘Possible Dust Clouds’ album, released in late 2018 via Fire Recordings, as well as working with Rhode Island-Boston collective The Pull of Autumn, for which he contributed ‘Vanishing Spell’.

Earlier, he worked with Tanya Donelly, former bandmate in both Throwing Muses and Belly, on the song ‘Snow Goose and Me’ for her 2016 ‘Swan Song’ series, a track that ABC News dubbed “a moody, expressive bit of songwriting that will demand repeat listens”.

Fred Abong’s album will be released digitally via Bandcamp, with CDs to be available exclusively at shows during his UK tour. Show and ticket info for all shows can be found at

8th Mar: Engine Rooms, Southhampton, UK
9th Mar: West End Centre, Aldershot, UK
10th Mar: Bush Hall, London, UK
12th Mar: Bush Hall, London UK
13th Mar: Sub89, Reading, UK
15th Mar: Holywell Music Room, Oxford UK
16th Mar: Philharmonic, Liverpool, UK
17th Mar: Cluny, Newcastle, UK
18th Mar: Perth Theatre, Perth, UK
19th Mar: Mono, Glasgow, UK
20th Mar: Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, UK
21st Mar: Left Bank, Leeds, UK
22nd Mar: St Phillips Church, Salford, UK
23rd Mar: Hare & Hounds, Birmingham, UK
24th Mar: Glee Club, Nottingham, UK
26th Mar: Tramshed, Cardiff, UK
27th Mar: Phoenix, Exeter, UK
28th Mar: The Fleece, Bristol, UK
29th Mar: Arts Centre, Colchester, UK
30th Mar: St Paul’s, Worthing, UK
31st Mar: Quarterhouse, Folkestone, UK
1st April: Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich, UK

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