Prepare for a set of hard and fast guitar licks, killer beats and high energy vocals that will put a spark the loins of any Aus Pub Rock music fan. Inspired by the best in Aussie rock, these lads put on a stage show not to be missed. In the midst of their “Too Much Rain” Tour, Drummer Pete McMillan took some time to chat to us about touring, recording and what it’s like to be a member of rock legends, Black Aces.
When and how did Black Aces get started?
Tyler (lead singer and guitarist) actually started the band in highschool, so Black Aces have been around in some form or another for quite a few years. Although, the band really begun to take it’s steps toward being a bit more serious when Alex (Bass) and myself (Pete, drums) came on board. We’d known Tyler for years, had played shows together in different bands and come up in our local scene at the same time. I was asked to fill in for a tour after the drummer left suddenly, and I’ve been filling in ever since! Then not long after that we were in need of a new bass player, so we got Alex in and we ran from there.
The band has come a long way, from touring the UK and Europe countless times to working with legend Aussie rock producer Mark Optiz, did you always see your band climbing to this level?
It’s a strange one really. I was only just thinking about this the other day. As you go along you just see the band as the band and don’t often take stock, time to reflect on where you’ve been, as you’re always looking forward going, “Right, what’s next!?” But if you had have told 11 year old Pete, who’d barely even held a pair of drum sticks, that one day I’d be playin’ in Glasgow in front of a packed house of rowdy Scotts, or burning down the Autobahn with my best mates in Van packed with gear headin’ to another show, or recording with a guy that’s worked with Angus Young and Bon Scott, there’s no way in my wildest dreams I’d have thought such a thing possible. However, as far as we’re concerned we’ve got a very long way to go yet, AC/DC knew what they were talking about, ‘it’s a long way to the top’, ain’t that the truth!
What was it like to work with Mark Opitz?
Going in to work with Mark was a bit daunting at first, you know this guys worked with so many great artists, not just Australian, but international. However in the end it was a great experience. For him, we quickly discovered, it’s not about perfection, the perfect take, it’s about capturing the vibe, the right feel. If the feel’s not there, it’s no good, a song can end up being a bit soulless. So that was a big part of the process recording with Mark. We’d play live in a room together and just run through the songs like we were playing a set at a show, rather than repeat the one song over and over. It keeps it fresh that way, and keeps it with a more live feeling. The other thing with Mark is he really knows how to get a great sound, guitars in particular, and that’s really what we were going for.
We also had a fantastic engineer in Colin Wynne, who’s worked with plenty of great bands, Bad Dreems is one of the recent ones. Col’s a great bloke, switched on, and he certainly helped contribute to a relaxed atmosphere and that really helped the band just concentrate on what we do best.
Black Aces is currently on the ‘Too Much Rain’ tour for the forthcoming EP ‘Never Change’, how is it going?
Yeah, so we’ve been touring the Too Much Rain single and taking in different parts of Victoria. It’s been going well, played a few places we haven’t played before like Young Street Supper Club in Frankston, and the Criterion in Castlemaine, that one was last weekend, and was an absolute ball! We had a great show in our home town of Bendigo, it’s always a great night coming home and playing. We are however, particularly looking forward to the Bombay Rock show, the studio we were recording the Never Change EP at was right round the corner, and we’d came down to Bombay Rock and has a few beers and watched some band’s after we’d knocked off. It’s a great lineup too, with The Vendetta’s who we play with quite a bit, then Ramblin Gold, who are a great boogie rock n roll band, and actually feature our former guitarist Rhys. Then we’ve got Flickertail down from Sydney, good mates, and top shelf British rock in the vein of Thin Lizzy and the likes. It’s going to be a cracking evening!
Could you tell us your craziest story from the ‘Too Much Rain’ tour?
The tour’s been great. Can’t say much in terms of crazy. The show down in Frankston was a pretty rowdy one. Was Jazz’s (rhythm guitar) hometown show, and they certainly like to put a few frothies away down there!
Who are your musical influences?
If you listen to us, you’ll likely pick up who we like straight off the bat, the obvious ones are the great Aussie rock bands, like AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, Angels, Chisel etc. We do love our classic rock bands, Zeppelin, The Who, Queen and so on. However, there are four different guys in the band and we all get into a broad-spectrum, punk, metal, blues, country you name it.
What does your songwriting process look like?
Song writing can vary. We are pretty open on the process. Usually one of the boys will come to the band with a riff or melody, or the basis for song, like a verse and chorus, and we’ll go from there. Tyler tends to write a lot of the lyrics, but it really can vary though, someone else might have some lyrics, and so we might try and build a song from that. Or we might go, we want a song that sounds like this, so we’ll just bash it out at rehearsal until we come up with something we like. Song writing really should feel organic, and shouldn’t be forced, and that’s really our process.
How would you describe your sound?
One of the boys described us as face-fucking blitzkrieg power rock the other day, we all had a chuckle, but it’s not far off it. I’d best describe us as no frills rock n roll. No flash, no effects, no pedals, just loud Marshall amps, back breaking bass and drums, good old fashion rock n roll. We should get your foot stomping and your head banging.
What is the proudest accomplishment of Black Aces so far?
One that sticks in my mind is the first time we played at Hard Rock Hell Festival in Wales. We were playing the smaller stage in a pavilion of sorts, and Ratt were playing the main stage at the same time. We kicked off our set and there was a fairly decent crowd, but by no means was the area full. When I play I usually just put my head down, keep on eye on Alex our bassist and get stuck in, I don’t take too much notice of the crowd. After 3 or 4 songs I remember looking up and the place was packed. The vibe was unbelievable. Apparently word had got around that there were these crazy Australians goin nuts and putting on a show, and apparently people were leaving Ratt on the main stage to come watch us, it was mental. Still one of the best shows I’ve been part of. The crowd was loud. However the best part was straight afterwards. We’d come off stage absolutely buzzing, and the head of festival came straight up to us and said he wanted to get us back next year and put us on the main stage. We flipped. That was a great point for us, as that also led to us signing with out label.
When can we expect to hear the ‘Never Change’ EP?
We’ve already released a couple tracks from the EP. There’s ‘Too Much Rain’, which we are touring right now, and before that we had ‘Feverdreams. If you haven’t checked that one out, have a look at the video; it’s a bit of a laugh and was a lot of fun shooting. As far as the EP goes, we are pretty happy with the final result, overall sound wise it’s really a continuation of the last record, but we think we’ve refined the songwriting a bit. The title track ‘Never Change’ is a particularly catchy one, and that’s also a lot of fun to play live!
Do you have plans for more new music after ‘Never Change’?
Yeah, we do actually. As we head towards the end of the year we’ve got another big run of shows to promote ‘Never Change’, then as soon as they’re done we’ll be going straight into the writing and demoing as we look ahead to do our next album!
Where can fans hear you music? Drop a link!
Head on over to our Spotify page, https://open.spotify.com/artist/68WyVOugnsePJTQktdQVCt?si=hwVwE0kMSyO948iPUt9QLw
Or our YouTube Channel, https://www.youtube.com/BlackAcesMTV
Black Aces hit Bombay Rock Saturday August 31st with Flicker Tail from NSW, The Vendettas and Ramblin Gold.
To buy Black Aces newest single “Too Much Rain” head to https://lnk.to/cjUfPFGK