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:: Spotlight :: Interview with Trial Kennedy

By: Michael Italia

For every successful rock act, there comes a point in time where a transition or transformation takes place. A crucial point where a band will have to let go of their roots and step up to bigger and better things. Where the kids next door suddenly burst from the shackles of small scale fame and mould into a much larger spectacle with a new found fan base and media circus trailing their heels. There’s no real telling when this transformation will take place but for Trial Kennedy, that time could be now. With a national tour underway, and a debut album titled New Manic Art about to be released, the Melbourne quartet is tipped to be – dare I say it – the ‘next big thing’.

Bassist Aaron Malcolmson is in a positive mood on this chilly autumn afternoon when he phones in from Melbourne, fresh from returning from a six-week recording stint in Atlanta, and clearly still riding the wave of excitement from his experience in working with renowned producer/engineer Nick DiDia (Rage Against the Machine, Powderfinger) and from what he cites as ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity’.

“Working with Nick was such an incredible experience. He’s an amazing guy and he managed to bring out the best in every one of us”, Malcolmson muses. “He really does what a producer is meant to do, and that’s guide the band with creative ideas but in no way try to take over. I think the end result really shows and we’ve created an album that we’re all so proud of.

With a list such as Rage Against The Machine, Pearl Jam, Incubus and Powderfinger credited to DiDia’s resume, Trail Kennedy were, understandably, a little nervous before they boarded the plane to the United States. “We were all really stoked when we found out we were going to be working with Nick. But as soon as we showed up, Nick was cracking all these jokes and playing around. We immediately felt comfortable. He’s just a real laid-back guy and I think it’s reflected in his work ethic. He was always trying to get the right mood and get the right vibe. Yeah, he’s definitely a vibe guy.”

Living out of each others pockets for thirteen hours a day, over six weeks will indeed test any vibe and rattle the mood but according to Malcolmson there were ‘good vibes all round’ and the experience ‘strengthened the bond between everyone in the band’. “If you could imagine hanging out with your three best buddies everyday, doing what you love it do, it doesn’t seem like work. And there are no stresses you know, you don’t have bills to pay, or other life stresses on your mind, it’s just focusing on the music and having fun with your mates.”

Looking towards the tour, Malcolmson is quietly excited to be back in his hometown and playing to an audience where they ‘pretty much know everyone by their first name.’ “It’s always great to be playing in Melbourne and especially at an intimate venue like The Evelyn.” When asked about his thoughts on Trial Kennedy’s first ever headline tour, Malcolmson is typically humble and unassuming when pondering the turnout at their shows. “I really don’t know how the crowds will turn out. I know we have accumulated a solid fan base over the years, but I suppose you just don’t know if anyone will show. And that’s the thing, whether we have ten people in the room or it’s a sold-out gig, we’ll just go out and play the same show regardless.”

With a national tour currently underway and a second show just announced in Melbourne (Hi-Fi Bar), what can people expect to see at a Trial Kennedy show?

“Oh, that’s a tough one to answer because I’ve usually got my head down and I’m into the music”, Malcolmson laughs. “But from what I’ve been told from people who’ve been to our shows is we seem to put out a similar kind of vibe to a Cog show. Not that we sound like them at all but just in terms of the experience and the atmosphere. And that’s what Trial Kennedy is all about; we like to create an entire experience for those in the audience so that people can walk away with something more than just having just watched a rock band.” Malcolmson then happily teases, “And without giving too much away, we have something really special planned for the gig at the Hi-fi Bar. But that’s all I’m saying.”

So I guess we’ll have to go along to find out.

'New Manic Art' is out Saturday May 31 through Gotham/SonyBMG. You can also catch Trial Kennedy at the Hi-Fi Bar in Melbourne on June 20 and maybe catch a glimpse of what’s in store!