St Jerome’s Laneway Festival is halfway through their 2012 run with the festival visiting Melbourne and Sydney over the weekend. At the same time the indie circus rolled into town, thousands of punters filled Melbourne’s local venues to see the festival’s sideshows.
Amongst those sideshows were those for M83 who had sold out two shows at the Prince Bandroom. Supporting the french electro outfit were local Melbourne band Teenage Mothers who are well known in the local music community for their interesting on stage antics.
But apparently those antics went too far for Anthony Gonzalez, frontman for M83, who unceremoniously kicked them off the sideshow tour after the first Melbourne show because their lead singer James ‘JK’ Kennedy ‘looked like a junkie’ after inhaling nitrous oxide onstage.
Kennedy regularly includes the skit into the band’s set and according to the band using ‘soda bulbs’ is not illegal. Despite this M83′s management were adamant the band not be allowed to play anymore shows, cancelled their guestlist, and barred them from the venue. The band were replaced by a DJ for the rest of the tour.
Now Teenage Mothers guitarist Raph Brous has hit back at Anthony Gonzalez and M83, labelling them hypocrites and claiming on their first meeting Gonzalez tried to recruit Brous to find marijuana and other illicit drugs for himself and his bandmates. Brous has published a full account of what happened in an interview with Mess+Noise and on his Facebook page.
You can read the full account below:
Among other things, I play guitar in Teenage Mothers. It’s post punk. We like stark, meaningful lyrics and abrasive guitar noise. We recently recorded our debut album with Jim Sclavunos from Grinderman / The Bad Seeds. So we were surprised when M83 requested us for main support on their sold-out Australian tour. They’re a French electro-dance band, so we seemed an odd choice. They offered peanuts ($250 per gig), but we said yes because we like their music.
Our lead singer, James ‘JK’ Kennedy, is unusual. He’s a political activist in the Occupy movement. He left school at 15 to be a pro skater, then he quit the Nike team and taught himself to read aged 23. During our gigs, he likes doing backflips and inhaling soda bulbs (nitrous oxide). It’s not a contrived act. It’s simply JK being himself.
On October 10th last year, I emailed Anthony Gonzalez (M83 frontman) and his manager. I told them about our lead singer’s unusual behaviour, including his fondness for soda bulbs. They made no comment.
Last Thursday was the tour’s first show. At soundcheck, Anthony Gonzales met our singer JK. Anthony immediately asked JK to hook up marijuana and other drugs for the members of M83.
That night, our crowd response was great. JK inhaled several soda bulbs onstage. Apparently a few audience members voluntarily took soda bulbs too. That’s not illegal. Soda bulbs are available from supermarkets and catering suppliers. You can buy them over the counter.
After the show, we had a drink with Anthony backstage. He was friendly and I gave him an inscribed copy of my novel. Everyone got on well.
The following afternoon, we soundchecked for the second Melbourne show. Then, thirty minutes before our set, we were suddenly kicked off the entire tour. Under orders from M83’s vindictive tour managers, the venue staff pushed us onto the street. Our guest list was cancelled and our friends were kicked out too (some of them had travelled a long way to the gig). Security guards barred us from entering the building. It cost us hundreds of dollars. It was humiliating and unfair.
I attempted to compromise. I promised that in Sydney, JK would not bring any nitrous oxide onstage. But that wasn’t enough for M83. They wanted to punish us.
So M83 kicked us off the Sydney show too. They knowingly made us waste ten airline tickets (return airfares for five people). We had been advertised on the Laneway Festival website and streetpress. A lot of people were expecting to see us.
Why were we suddenly kicked off and replaced with a crappy DJ?
M83’s tour manager claimed that we were ‘disrespectful’, because our lead singer inhaled a soda bulb onstage. So apparently M83 is a fundamentalist cult that requires abstinence from fun? Before the tour, I clearly informed M83 about our singer’s antics.
Outside his band room, I confronted Anthony Gonzalez and his tour managers. Anthony told me why he shafted us, kicked out our friends and wasted everyone’s time and money. His exact words were:
‘Your singer looks like a junkie. I don’t want people who look like that around me. This is an important time for me’.
Anthony Gonzalez is a hypocrite. He asked our singer to find him illegal drugs, then he kicked us off because he thinks that our singer ‘looks like a junkie’. In fact, James Kennedy is not a heroin addict. He has never been a heroin addict. He’s a fit young man. How many junkies can do backflips off a stage?
Anthony Gonzalez makes stupid assumptions based on appearances. In his arrogant bubble, individuality is condemned as ‘disrespect’. What else can you expect from a guy who hogs the limelight, excluding his long-term band members from all publicity shots?
I don’t enjoy writing this account. I truly respected Anthony Gonzalez. But people are asking why we got kicked off the tour. Why shouldn’t Anthony be exposed for his abusive conduct?
So much for rock n’ roll. M83 should have chosen a boring DJ as their support. Playing with them is our worst experience as a band.
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