Five piece Brisbane based Mecha Mecha have developed their own brand of atmospheric alternate rock mixing elements of blues, rock, and grunge. They have been selected as part of the latest Raw Brisbane festival and have also been touring round the regional parts of the state. Tomatrax caught up with Walter Webb, frontman, songwriter and lead guitarist, and Christina Langham, guitarist, backing vocalist, manager and percussionist from the band to ask a few questions.
How did the band form?
Walter: We’ve been Mecha Mecha for nearly two years, in the forming months we were a three piece with a regularly changing line-up working as a covers band. Hayden, the bassist, and myself were consistent members. We embarked on a 9-week tour of regional Queensland in February 2015 and decided to expand our sound by adding another singer, Christina Langham, who also plays percussion and acoustic guitar, in addition to adding our extremely skilled violinist Amanda Terry. Angelo, my brother then joined the band on drums for the tour.
Christina: I met Hayden and the past drummer, Matthew whilst at Uni in Lismore. When I moved to Brisbane I kept an eye out on local musician boards and Facebook groups for work. After seeing a poster from Mecha seeking multi-instrumentalists for their QLD tour, I just had to be a part of it. That poster really sold me, hey. The artwork was done by a band friend, Gemma Davis – it was just too quirky and cool. I knew I wanted to be a part of the band after seeing it..
Where does the name Mecha Mecha come from?
Walter: We get asked that all the time, it’s quite funny really; there’s no significance or meaning behind the name. When titles were being thrown around, it was clear that a name that could be easy to work with visually, for posters and advertising, was the way to go. I remember wanting to combine the idea of Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails logo, with the simplicity of (Australian progressive rock band), Cog’s’ name. Mecha Mecha is what we got.
You will be playing at the next RAW Showcase, how did you get involved with that?
Christina: Amanda and I played at the “Visionary” Showcase in January with our other band, Ocean Leaves. There were forms floating around the venue on the night for people wanting to play at future nights. I took the opportunity on a whim and wrote down Mecha’s details. A few weeks later, the RAW crew invited us to be a part of the May showcase.
What can fans expect from your set?
Walter: Our show consists of a slick, tight show, showcasing a repertoire of original music varying in timbre and sometimes even in genre. We really value integrity and honesty when it comes to our performances.
Are there any artists you will be looking forward to see at the show?
Walter: I’ve never been to a RAW showcase before, but from I’ve heard, they’re always amazing. I’m really just looking forward to the whole thing.
Christina: I’m super keen to see the artists, they’re always a highlight for me. Particularly for this showcase, I’m looking forward to the displays from Emetic Art and Paige Alexandra!
Your music uses a diverse range of instruments and styles, is it hard to make them all fit together?
Water: In all honesty, making all the instruments fit can be tricky! Many of our practices are devoted to song structure and arrangements. When the band first formed there were lots of pre-written parts and every one just kind of played what was already in place, and the arrangements were insanely full. It’s just like any aspect of music, or any other project for that matter, it’s all about slowly refining, defining and improving.
Christina: It can get sonically squishy, but also physically too. Sometimes I accidently smack Amanda with my drumsticks if she’s standing in front of me. Oftentimes we all smash our guitar necks together, or into the side of peoples bodies, even the walls. My acoustic has a few war wounds now, but it gives it character.
You’ve been doing music workshops across regional Queensland, how did these come about?
Walter: The workshops we ran across Queensland were originally a means to an end, as most of the funding we received from the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) and other local arts grants were dependent on us offering something concrete to communities. All though the concept of teaching other musicians, younger or older then me, was fairly daunting. Slowly but surely, it was clear that the workshops only beneficial for us, and those we were teaching.
Have these workshops led to any bands forming / music being released by the participants?
Walter: I wouldn’t know just yet! I do regularly receive messages from participants, with videos of their improvements and creativity. Many of the people we were teaching were just beginning their instrument, so hopefully we’ve pointed them in the right direction.
Christina: I befriended a few kids on Facebook whilst on tour. Recently I saw a post from a boy in Gladstone who has now started a band with some school chums. I couldn’t help but smile and think that maybe we had some influence on that. They’re looking to record some demos soon.
The band originated in Nimbin, what prompted the move to Brisbane?
Walter: Angelo and I are from Nimbin, and Hayden is from Coffs Harbour, so we just originate from Nimbin in the sense that we lived there. The band that we are today formed in Brisbane.
Christina: I met Hayden and the old drummer, Matthew Roach while studying at SCU in Lismore. Personally, I made the move to Brisbane chasing opportunity – a bigger music scene offers more, you know? Amanda was studying at Griffith Uni when I poached her to join Ocean Leaves and Mecha Mecha.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Walter: Absolutely, I’ve only ever written music that I want to listen to, I don’t write it to fit other peoples tastes. I think that’s why some influences are very prominent in our music, because they’re what I want to hear at the time of writing the songs.
Christina: On occasion, when a sense of nostalgia takes over. I have a few recordings from other bands I played in before Mecha Mecha. Listening to those recordings takes me back to the place I lived and who I was during that time, even the friends and people I hung out with. They’re like little snapshots into my personality and musical growth. I treat them like personal milestones in both my career and life in general.
What other music do you listen to?
Walter: As a band, we’ve got a pretty big range of influences. The ‘alternative rock’ era of the 90s was a huge influence for myself and my brother; names like Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, early Muse, Nirvana, Nine inch Nails, Tool, Primus, Cake. I’ve been stuck in that era for ages, though I do really like the Cat Empire, and the Wombats.
Christina: I’m influenced by a lot of older music as well, extending back to the 20s with Jazz Greats like B.B. King, Ella Fitzgerald and Art Blakey; then there’s the funksters The Meters whose drummer, Ziggaboo Modeliste, I am heavily influenced by. I grew up listening to a mix of Country Rock and 80s Rock, so I’m in love with people like Boy George and Cyndi Lauper, and I know all the lyrics (thanks Mum) to Guns & Roses and such hahaha. These days I try to keep updated with Top 40 tracks, the best from Triple J and frequently scour Bandcamp and Soundcloud for local bands to check out. I think I would say my local scene, along with Sydney’s and Melbournes, play a huge influence on my playing and songwriting style these days. Amanda has also exposed me to the Brisbane experimental and electro scene, I’m very into that!
What do you have planned after the RAW show?
Walter: We’ve got a fair few Brisbane gigs upcoming, and lots of work as a covers band in rural towns. We play a lot of Irish music in pubs because it’s quite fun, and unlike other covers, we don’t have to associate the music we’re playing with the identity of the band. It’s our bread and butter, and it’s enjoyable, but we’re not Irish!
Christina: We’ve got a few smaller ideas in mind after RAW, including the planning of small tours up and down the coast in support of our recent release, Something Out of Nothing EP. After being on tour for so long, we noticed how quickly our name was spreading through word-of-mouth and Facebook. We’ve got ideas to go back North and visit the schools and towns that we played at on tour, and South of Brisbane as well to the hometowns of the band members. It’s a goal of ours to make it down to Sydney and Melbourne by the end of the year.
Check out Mecha Mecha’s website to find out more!