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. with Craig Carter from the Australian Progressive Rock Band BRAINSTORM
.                                   by Sergio Motta, Rio de Janeiro - Brazil

Sergio Motta - I have heard in the very beginning of Brainstorm you used to play covers by
bands as The Rolling Stones, Zoot, Billy Idol and also Black Sabbath.
What was the first song truly composed by yourselves?

Craig Carter: At the start we learned covers of some of our favourite songs. This was a fun way to learn how to play together. However, we always wanted to be an original band and we were very sure that we would be performing our own songs as soon as we could write enough material. The second time we met to play was when we wrote the first song. It was a song called "Freeway" and we eventually recorded it for our second release, "Brainstorm Two, Earth Zero" (we have just re-released this album on cd). This song was written about the singer of the band at that time who was trying to follow the drummer to the rehearsal in his car. A very deep and meaningful lyric! It's a kind of pop-punk song about how much fun Chrysler cars are and how bad a driver the drummer of that time is. Anyway, this song has proved enduring, much to our surprise, and we continue to play it at gigs when it is requested.
Brainstorm was formed by musicians from many music eras, each one of you with a
different idea of what good music was. Was it difficult for you to get to a consensus of
opinion in what direction to proceed musically?
Craig Carter: It was very difficult. We almost broke up several times due to "musical differences" before we even figured out what those differences were. This question touches on a very interesting topic for me. Australian society is made up of people from many different countries who have all come here to work hard to make a better life. This makes Australia a fascinating melting pot of cultures and ideologies. Brainstorm reflects this diversity in a musical sense. We are a band that has taken different ideas and beliefs about music and attempted to blend the good parts of all of it to make something unique and progressive. The songwriting process consciously involves all the members so that everyone has an influence on how the song is formed and the direction it takes. We all believe that each member has an equally valid opinion so that we will all try to put aside ego to consider the benefit to the music of any idea that is presented. Of course, in practice this may be as simple as allowing one member to write his own part free from the constraint of needing the approval of the person who initiated the idea for the song. This system has taken us some years to evolve and in the beginning people did argue about the direction of the music. We had people leave the band due to these disagreements but invariably it was down to personality and not music. Despite the differences in personal taste that each member has there is a huge crossover that we share. We all love music. We do not love "X" type of music or "Y" type of music. If it is good, done with integrity and expresses a deeper truth about the life, then we can agree to like it. We also tend to agree rather strongly about the music that we dislike. This can lead to some fun at rehearsals when we will parody all sorts of bad music.
The first work composed by you was ''Earth Zero'', which was at first only available on
cassette. According to an information, that cassette was warmly received by all those 
who had eventually the chance of listening to it. Was all of that within your expectations?
Craig Carter: This was actually our second release. There was a cassette only recording called "Brainstorm" released in 1993. "Brainstorm Two, Earth Zero" was certainly our first "real" album in that we tried to present a coherent whole collection of songs. We got good feedback from this recording and some airplay on public radio here in Australia. We were happy with the album and even happier with the re-mastering we have had done for the cd release this year but we were always conscious of the shortcomings of the album in terms of songs, performances and recording. Because we have always been a band that has done EVERYTHING by ourselves we have had to accept some considerable limitations to what we would hope to achieve. We have limited time so this means that each project takes a long time. This recording was done entirely on 8-track so the quality is limited by this. I think that the recording is pretty good for only 8 tracks. We record, engineer and produce all of our own releases so this means we each need to multi-task to make it happen. We have become more proficient over the years as musicians, audio-engineers, producers and managers but this makes for a lot of time spent doing other things other than writing and performing which is the key to putting out great music. Each album has shown an improvement in quality of songwriting and recording so that we are definitely encouraged to continue. We are currently recording our next release and we are keen to finish this so that we can get it out and start work on the next project which we hope will be a concept album.
''Earth Zero'' is now available on Cd. Why has it taken so long to be changed from 
cassette into Cd, whereas the two other posterior works by Brainstorm were issued
ahead of it?
Craig Carter: No long answer for this one. Time is the problem. "Tales of the Future" was always conceived as a cd release. We just needed time to organise having "Earth Zero" re-mastered for cd and a new cover done.
You have once said that Rock music is not hard to do when you don't expect too much. 
On having three albums upon your band's credit, would you then say that you have gone
far beyond your initial pretences?
Craig Carter: Once we had big dreams and small expectations. Over the years I think that we have changed to having more realistic dreams and goals but greater expectation of achieving them. That is certainly the way I feel anyway. I do not feel that we have achieved our aim yet. Ask me after the next album is written and I will tell you! I hope that we can continue to improve and make exciting, interesting music that connects to people intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. You tell me if we are achieving that!
I have read in your homepage that you used to play in people's houses, backyards and
dingy pubs. Does it still come about in the current days?
Craig Carter: We have always enjoyed playing to people in all sorts of places. We don't play at parties or so many dingy pubs these days. In truth the live music scene here in Melbourne has contracted dramatically over the years and continues to do so. There are simply very few places for bands like us to play. We are hoping to find other Progressive style bands to play shows with and we would like to play at festivals if we can.
I have been noticed that Brainstorm's second album '' Tales of the Future'' is softer and
more progressive than its predecessor. Did that new musical experience get to bring
some reaction to your audience?
Craig Carter: I think that it was more of a natural development of the music than as a result of any comments that we got from the album. We have always had the philosophy that we will make music that we feel represents how we think and feel and allow our audience to try to connect with that. We have never consciously written songs to please an audience. Of course, we do note what people say about our music, we are interested and the idea is to communicate so we try to find out if we are doing this successfully. "Tales" is a more progressive style. We have always had the softer, more ambient side to our work and that is given greater prominence on "Tales". We think that this is one of the albums strengths and we plan to develop that style even further. I believe this has a lot to do with our drummer, Vittorio, who joined between the albums. Vit has a very jazz influenced style and his impact on the playing has been immense. He takes a very active role in the writing of the material and his ideas and songs are different and very exciting for us. The songs on the album we are currently recording are another step along the road.. I believe that they are our best yet and I hope we can finish soon so that everyone can hear them!
Speaking about your audience in Australia, is it restricted to Melbourne, or have you hit
already other cities over there?
Craig Carter: We have a limited audience for our music in Australia. We are based in Melbourne and try to find fans of our style in other cities in Australia. This is difficult as Australia is so big and touring to other cities is difficult logistically. We find that we get far more support from other countries than we do from Australia which has rather narrow musical tastes generally.
Before having access to the Internet, the band Sebastian Hardie was the only Australian
one I knew, today I can see there are a lot of other bands playing this sort of music over
there in Australia. By the way, have you lately been optimistic towards progressive rock
scene in your country?
Craig Carter: I have to admit that I am not optimistic about the Progressive scene here. Sebastian Hardie were a long time ago. There are other bands playing cool music of course but there is definitely no "scene" happening. It's every band for themselves. Unless the tastes of the local market change or the bands become organised to tackle the problem the only option is to look at other countries where this music is appreciated more. We would love to meet other progressive rock or similar bands here, we just can't find any!
Just to close this interview, would you like to impart any message to all Brainstorm fans
in Brazil and in the world?
Craig Carter: We would just like to say thanks to all our fans everywhere and to ask everyone to keep the faith in good music and the good in music.

Sergio Motta
is a friend and partiner from the Progressive Rock And Progressive Metal Site

Steve Bechervaise - Keyboards
Craig Carter - Guitars, vocals
Vittorio Di Iorio - Percussion
Paul Foley - Vocals, guitars
Jeff Powerlett - Bass, vocals

Tales of the future
(CD 1998)
Earth Zero
(MC 1995, CD 2000)
Brainstorm - (MC 1993)

Brainstorm Home Page

Brainstorm formed back in 1988. After spending far too much of my precious youth doing as little as possible, talking about grand plans in smoky living rooms but never getting around to actually doing anything, a drummer friend, Gary Simonite, with whom I'd done a fair amount of this announced to me one day that it was time to get off our backsides and get organised.

To my lasting horror he'd gone and booked a rehearsal studio. Not only that, he expected me to be there that Sunday morning to "form a band". I was 31 by this time, had been on the dole for 12 years, and though yes indeed I played guitar, had never got beyond strumming chords and making noises into a tape-deck for personal amusement. In fact, I had become very comfortable with the idea of making plans but never doing anything about them. But Gary was firm. He promised that he would bring a vocalist, and I had three days to find us a bass player.

That was the start of the band. A friend of mine, Clive Rosewarne, played bass, and Gary brought Karl Eastaway to be our vocalist.

The Dead Kennedys were pretty big back then and Roy Orbison had just died so, being paragons of good taste, we naturally called ourselves the Dead Orbisons and began playing gigs as a classic garage band - noisy, out of tune, much too fast - at friends' parties, benefits, and at what we still know and love as "sticky carpet pubs". We had augmented our lineup at our second rehearsal with another friend, Steve Bechervaise, who was (and is) an excellent guitarist, so naturally we made him our keyboard player, and another friend of Gary's, Craig Carter, to do lead guitar because (as I'd tried to explain to Gary in the first place), I couldn't play anything but chords, and not a great number even of them. But it was at that second rehearsal we wrote, in 20 minutes, the song which still, after all these years, people ask for more than any other: Freeway, a deep, creative 4-chord (the same four chords repeated over and over for verse, chorus, solos) masterpiece partly about time, space, and the ineffable purpose of the universe, but mostly about Karl, who didn't know the way, following Gary in his Chrysler to get to the rehearsal. With such genius already evident at our inception, we truly felt destined for greatness.

Brainstorm played a lot during 1989, changing our name early on to Brainstorm, a strategic move which was intended to tap into the deep Hawkwind-loving subculture we were certain existed in suburban Melbourne but which, somehow, even now still hasn't materialised in the waves of adoring fans we expected to flock to us. But, undaunted (if nothing else, we have always been this), we went on ahead anyway, playing in people's houses, back yards, dingy pubs, empty rooms, anywhere that would have us. We weren't much good yet really, but we had hopes of making the big time, and expected to be talent-spotted by some big shot and to move up into the two-car-garage band circuit at any moment.

Still, it was fun, and anyway (big secret!) rock music isn't hard to do when you don't expect too much. At this time we were playing a few original songs but mostly covers, by the Rolling Stones, Zoot, Radio Birdman, Billy Idol, Black Sabbath, Lou Reed and others, as well as Hawkwind. This mix of music reflected in many ways the mix of people in the band. We had lost Clive early that year (89), when Gary (who was easily bored), insisted on saying "Testes" instead of "Testing" during a sound-check. Our new bass player, Mick Lukeis, was into R&B and blues and lots of other things. We had people from many musical eras, each with a different idea of what good music was.

By late 1989 they had lost Gary and Karl, replaced by Phil, a Rush/Wings/Metallica (!) fan, with a late seventies or early eighties focus. And Karl was replaced by ... me. For some time it had been clear that a vocalist has a lot of influence on what is sung and how it is sung. When Karl left it seemed to us that the choice was either to get a new vocalist, and have to play whatever they wanted to play, or for one of us to learn to sing ourselves and maintain the direction we had already been developing as a group - we had achieved two-car status by this time - without, as yet, any visible signs of success. So I became the singer. Whether this was a good idea or not is best judged by others (ahem) ... but at least it did mean we could keep doing the sort of material we had been doing, and developing our own sound. By mid 91 we had changed a lot from the initial group of three years earlier. We were writing more songs, and better ones, playing fewer covers with a growing focus on Spacerock. In the interests of getting work we had begun recording demos, which, whilst fairly dodgy production-wise, was leading us to dream of Bigger Things. The lineup had stabilised and we were starting to get some feedback that made us think we might even develop into a 2-car colourbond garage band if we kept at it for another few decades.

So, from mid-99 the band have enjoyed the luxury of being able to play about once a month at Joey's nightclub in St Kilda, still to a small audience, but big enough to satisfy the manager to keep booking us (a very important step!). We are now essentially an originals band, and have been for five years or more. Currently we're working on our next (fourth) album, which should be released in a few months. This will be a further progression, better (we hope) than the previous ones, with longer songs and more of Vit's jazz influence, as well as reflecting the continuing development of the band.

It was sometime in 2000 that we discovered the web. As a natural step towards getting our music out to people beyond the very small live scene in Melbourne, we began looking at the possibility of web distribution and publicity (reviews, etc). It came as a huge shock to find out how many other bands there are overseas playing space/prog rock, how many websites there are, distributors, e-zines, and above all, all the new music there was out there to listen to. For the first time since 1975 I'm beginning to feel that the music isn't dead and that we are not merely a curious anachronism, playing to ageing Hawkwind fans and other friends, but part of a larger, ongoing evolution of what is the best of all music.

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