Project Description

Interview With:

BITZER

Interviewer: Jemma Bird

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Australian hard rockers BITZER have just released their second album, “Pedigree Mongrel”. BITZER pays homage to the classic great Australian songbook with “Pedigree Mongrel”, a salute to Aussie Pub Rock. Check out our chat with drummer, Mick O’Shea below!

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Bitzer

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Hi Mick, how are you?

I am good thank you Jemma, how are you?

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Good thank you! How are you and the rest of BITZER feeling about your album release day today! Are you celebrating at all?

No, we’ve been in [the industry] a bit too long now to celebrate unfortunately but it will be interesting to see how it goes!

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How long was the process of recording the album?

It’s been ongoing actually because we released the 5 song, self-titled EP about 3 years ago now and we just sold that at gigs. We did a couple of other songs that were shelved and didn’t make the EP. So we kind of went back and revisited them and built from there. We went in to record and ended up with 10 songs. As you know, they are all covers and tributes to Australian artists. Some are done in the same vein and some we played around with a bit.

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Do you take the live aspect into consideration when you are recording and mixing things up a bit?

We just change it up when we think it’s suitable. Some we go in and record as is and others we just change it whether it be a case of just changing some accents or the actual feel of the song. That’s what we did for the EP and it was received well, so we did it again for the album.

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What was the selection process like and how did you decide which songs made it onto Pedigree Mongrel?

We all had favourites and there was obviously some writers/bands that we wanted to pay tribute to. Obviously it’s all Australian. A lot of the artists that we covered, one of us had worked with before – whether it was touring or recording. Ultimately it was up to the singers and what they were comfortable signing. We all had a hit list of around 5 songs each and then worked our way to find the ones that made the album.

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Do you have a favourite from the album?

It’s actually come up better than we thought and as I said there was a couple of songs that we recorded a few years ago but we basically recorded the whole album in two days except for a couple of guitar solos.

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Two days?! That’s so quick!

Yeah we don’t muck around! Time is money obviously as well, so we try to get a hold on that kinda stuff. We are all fairly seasoned, and if we didn’t know what we were doing by now we may as well give up! To answer your question, I played in Dragon with Marc Hunter for a couple of years and I was a fan of Dragon before I worked with them so my favourite is probably ‘Sunshine’. That was one of the tracks we recorded a couple of years ago and I was actually going to sing on that, but I hated the sound of my own voice on the song due to ear troubles at the time. So Steve Mulry did a great job with it. I really like the Angels covers, they hold a place close to my heart as well as the songs that Lucy sung on. She’s got a great voice.

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Have you got any plans to tour the album with Bitzer?

Not as such. We talked recently about maybe doing a couple of shows, but it’s a bit hard because we are all doing different things. Lucy lives in Alice Springs and Skenie lives in Queensland and we are all working on seperate projects but we’ve talked about maybe doing a couple of showcase gigs at the end of the year or start of next year. When we released the self titled EP we did a couple of gigs and that was well received and great fun. So, that’s the plan.

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You’re quite a veteran when it comes to touring and have toured with so many bands! How do you go with picking up new material constantly? Do you rehearse constantly?

If you want to do things justice then you do have to rehearse but at the same time we try to keep it true and try not to over rehearse. Some songs we didn’t even rehearse for the album we just went into record and come up with ideas/changed them up on the spot. This was a little different from the EP because we did rehearse before we recorded that but this process was a little different.

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How do you go touring with so many different people? I assume you get comfortable with one band and crew and then you’re off on to the next one?

Yeah. It’s not as much as a living as it used to be, but it’s still a living. You just try and keep working and that ends up with you playing different styles, with different people but it’s good. It keeps you on your toes! I enjoy it. It’s funny because I did an interview yesterday and he said to me “You’re known as a rock drummer. How did you go doing these other styles?” and it took me a while to get my head around it. It was a learning process. Me personally, I’m known as one of the hardest hitters around. So I had to learn how to play with the same as intensity and finesse but just play a little quieter. It’s something that I really enjoy.

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Well playing for different people and constantly changing genres would’ve come in handy when experimenting with the new album and opened you to ideas that you might not have found if you solely played one genre!

Yeah most definitely. We are all in our 50’s and have been around such great musicians that we know and love we find it really easy to work with them!

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Is there anyone that you are yet to tour with that you would really like to?

AC/DC. I came close with that! I saw on the news that Phil Rudd went off the rails a bit so I thought to myself, ‘I’ve got to get onto this’. I had a few contacts at their record label and I approached them and they said that nothing has been decided yet but we’ll definitely keep you in mind. I also knew their Tour Manager for years and he told me that I was in with a chance and that it was in between me and two others but they decided to go with someone they knew and trusted, much to my disappointment. It was nice to be considered. Apart from AC/DC, I love Richard Clapton – but I’ve never played with him. Diesel as well. Anyone that writes good songs and is passionate about what they do!

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Touring isn’t your typical 9-5 job! How do you balance your career with your personal life?

I’ve done it pretty much all of my playing life! You miss out on things but I’m not someone that has a chip on their shoulder who thinks the industry owes them something. You choose to be a part of it and it is what it is – you just have to run with it. I work 4 days a week as a cleaner to make ends meet. I have a 12 year old son and a wife – you’ve got to pay the bills somehow!

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Lastly, what’s your go-to karaoke songs?

Ah! I did do karaoke to ‘How’s That’ by Sherbet – I was pretty drunk.

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Oooh, that’s a good one!

Yeah it was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be! I think I’ll leave that to the singers.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!

Thank you Jemma!

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Bitzer

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TRACKS

1. ST LOUIS 04:31

2. DOWN PAYMENT BLUES 07:04

3. SUPERMAN 04:23

4. SUNSHINE 05:02

5. BAD BOY BOOGIE 04:27

6. THINGS DON’T SEEM 03:53

7. I’LL BE GONE 05:15

8. I REMEMBER WHEN I WAS YOUNG 04:23

9. DOG EAT DOG 04:21

10. RUN FOR THE SHELTER 03:53

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“Pedigree Mongrel”
is out now on all digital platforms.
iTUNES

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AMNPLIFY – JB