Interview with Kathleen Turner Overdrive
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Lizzard: The radio got me into music. From there it was about taping music from the radio onto cassette, then owning the music on vinyl, followed by going to see bands live, then being part of making music with like-minded others. Without music I would probably be entering my dotage like my peers wearing sensible shoes and visiting the bowls club for dinner once a week…
Mark: Similarly the radio and listening to my Dad’s records. I loved the Beatles. But a lot of what was on the radio, and there Saturday morning music shows. Late night music show ‘Rage’ on Australia’s ABC tv was hugely influential, and others like ‘Rock Arena’, ‘Beatbox’, ‘The Big Gig’, ‘Recovery’, and listening to Brisbane indie radio station 4ZZZ were also big influences. I don’t know what I’d be doing without music, it’s inconceivable.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Lizzard: For me, popular culture, particularly horror and SyFy movies and TV shows come a close second to listening to and making music. The songs I write tend to use characters from pop culture, to make a point. For example, in our song Wonder Woman, Ripley, the heroine of the movie Alien is used to exemplify the multi-tasking and juggling working mother’s have to do between running a household and performing well in the work-place, whilst often being taken for granted by their significant other.
How long has your band been around?
Adz: myself, Lizzard and Mark have been playing and jamming in a few different layouts of the band for a good 6 years or so, with drumsticks in my hands to begin with, then later as a guitarist and then finally settling in as main bass guitar. In the last two to three years we have been graced by the presence of Danny to take the sticks in hand and lay down some thumpy drum beats!
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Adz: as a band we reside in Toowoomba, just up the hill from Queensland’s capital, Brisbane. The music scene in Toowoomba has been much of a love / hate relationship for the town with original music generally being outweighed by cover bands and ‘quantity over quality' top 40 abusers. As a band that is committed to releasing new music I think being in a town with a ‘lack there of’ helps us put our heads together to change that fact.
Mark: Agree with Adz comments and while I’m not down on covers bands per se, I don’t need to go to the local and hear the 10,000th rendition of Brown-Eyed Girl! But there have been times when the music scene here was thriving with original bands, and shows were really collaborative. I don’t know if being from Toowoomba influences our sound as we all have different tastes and like a vast array of music. That is reflected in what we all add to each song. As musicians we all have our own individual styles and that ultimately is what shapes our sound. But not sounding like a human jukebox is definitely an influence.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Lizard: Kathleen Turner was a Hollywood star back in 1992. Her face was everywhere. One day in early ’92, whilst having a beer and musing over possible band names, Mark suggested a fusion between Kathleen and the 1970s Canadian rock band ‘Bachman-Turner Overdrive’. It was such a winner that in the 2000 movie ‘High Fidelity’, Jack Black calls his band by the same name. After that, annoyingly, the name took off all over the world.
Mark: originally Lizzie and I started the band with another mate Mel back in the 90s. We thought the name was a clever pun and were doing covers of all sorts of stuff in our inimitable style!
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Lizzard: Our most memorable shows are the ones where the audience gets into it. There’s no bigger buzz for a band than when the punters are dancing and singing your songs back at you. At a recent gig we got the ‘one more song’ demand from the audience. So we pulled out the only cover we do, ‘99 Luft Balloons’. Within seconds of the song starting, one of the punters had ‘borrowed’ a giant bouquet of balloons from a function in another part of the pub. Before long, everybody was waving a balloon in the air and singing the song at top note.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Danny: I don't think we have a favorite venue as such so far, but definitely have had some great shows at some great places. I think the crowd and people involved in the music make the venue and night great. There's been shows where no matter the venue looks like the uproar of the crowd and support of other bands make it all worth it. We have played throughout Toowoomba (our hometime) and Brisbane and have had great experiences and encounters at every show. I mean you walk off stage most nights thinking, “wow that was awesome!” Then you think the exact same at the next show. Queensland has treated us great and we can wait to venture into different venues and places around Australia, Hey maybe then we will have a favorite venue!
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Lizzard: The Clash, The Ramones, The Buzzcocks, ABBA, X-Ray Specs, The Pretenders, INXS, Nirvana, The Divinyls, Jebediah
Mark: Green Day, Metallica, Misfits, Black Sabbath, Siouxsie Sioux and the Banshees, Pere Ubu, Husker Du, and for some homegrown flavour, The Saints, Radio Birdman, Mark of Cain, Magic Dirt, and of course You Am I!!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Adz: practice everyday. Those songs you want to learn may not be at your skill level but with plenty of hard work and practicing everyday, for hours on end, fighting through the pain that comes with it, you will work your way towards being great. I’ll always remember wanting to learn ‘Aces High’ by Iron Maiden back when I first picked up a bass guitar not knowing the extreme speed needed to keep up and failing, but after years of practicing thrash and my agility with finger style, I was able to nail it with no pain or strain at all… all comes down to practice, commit yourself! As for advice for my younger self? Spend more money on bass guitars instead of regular guitars hahaha!
Mark: Be fierce and fearless. Say fuck you more often to people who want to put you down. Say thank you more to those who show you kindness. Be authentic. And whatever sort of music you like to play, be true to yourself - do what you love, love what you do.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Lizzard: Learn an instrument as soon as you can.
Mark: See the previous question!
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Lizzard: ‘Corpse Tree’ is about my decades long search to discover my paternal line. Adoption. Secrets. Bureaucratic hoops. Lies. Thanks to DNA testing, all was finally revealed in 2021. Sadly the people I had hoped to find had all passed away (hence the name of the song). Surprisingly though I discovered that I have four half-brothers and that I am Scottish!
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Lizzard: ‘Stalker’ is a demo we recorded a few years back. It’s getting a face-lift in October when we go into the studio with Steve James. It’s a punchy tune paying homage to teen romance in the 1980’s…a confusing time for teens who would go out on a date to the movies or drive-in to see a movie about teens on dates (or camping) getting stalked and ultimately terminated…Jason Vorhees gets a special mention.
That said, ‘Unseen’, the first single from our EP, “Autosomal'' is the crowd favourite at the moment. It’s fun to play too!
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Mark: It’s a mixed process. Lizzie comes up with a lot of the lyrics and a hummable tune. Then she and I sit together and work out the melody and key, and come up with a basic chordal arrangement. I record a Garageband demo and share it to Soundcloud and then we take it to rehearsal. Danny and Adz add their take on it, so not just adding bass and drum lines but really considering what fits, and they are both active contributors to arrangements and dynamics. When I write I tend to sit out in the studio and if I’m jamming on something I’ll record, lyrics might come later. Other times I might be driving and do recordings on the phone then use the same process as with Lizzie when we have a vocal melody only, fleshing it out with chords and guitar lines. Usually when I record by myself I over-embellish so songs often end up having quite a different personality when we have all contributed. Recently Danny sent us a guitar line and that evolved into a killer new song ‘Gurlzilla’. The lyrics came when Lizzie and I were visiting some friends in northern New South Wales. Wet, lazy day. Phrase pops into my head. Oila - complete set of lyrics. And right now we have a neat little funk phrase that Adz has sent that is going to also be a cracking tune. Watch this space! ;)
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Mark: Some songs have a social theme - ‘Gurlzilla’ is about the entrenched fear by the patriarchy of strong women, so the protagonist of the song is a symbolic representation of female power. Similarly ‘Wonder Woman’ from our EP ‘Autosomal’ is about women just getting on with life despite everything that is thrown at them. But ‘Stalker’ from our 2020 demo EP ‘27’ is a pop culture-inspired romp with the narrator/obserer in the role of stalker/serial killer/teen slasher. We like to have fun and hopefully give people something to think about without being preachy or smug.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Danny: I don't think we have ever had a disagreement as such! I mean yes, when writing music we all have our own inputs and ideas to bring to the table but it's always been easily agreeable between every member. It certainly does help that we have all known each other through the last decade if not more and have always been on the same wavelength. We are a tight knit family and enjoy not just each other's company by musical ideas and expressions. I think once you find that balance playing music in a band is not just easier but a hell of alot more enjoyable!
Mark: Danny is just saying that. We sacked him last night.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Danny: We do! We are excited to play at Rock Sisters United on the 30th of September at The Brightside in Brisbane! From there we will be making our way down to Melbourne with our good friends from Krave to put on a show at Whole Lotta Love bar with Melbourne band The Dreadful Tides! Between all of this we are going to keep working on music and putting on great live performances!