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Feature Interview: Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders

We were lucky enough to sit down and have a chat with Tim Rogers aka Jack Ladder ahead of his show at the Brightside in Brisbane.

How has 2015 been treating Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders?

It’s been good. Kirin (J Callinan) and I went to New Zealand in January. Which was good. We were on the news there. Then it was quiet for a bit. We went to SXSW and that was pretty busy. We did a lot of shows there. We went to New York and LA.  It wasn’t a massive tour or anything, just sort of showcasing and selling the product. SXSW is hard. We made a lot of friends and some new fans. It was good.

Was SXSW the highlight so far?

New Zealand is actually the highlight. I love going to New Zealand. It was pretty relaxing.

Austin is like a nightmare situation. You get up, go to a show and there’s not many people there. It’s raining; you set up and play to not many people. Then you pack down and you go to another show and you set up and do the same thing again. Every time, you have to get into the headspace again and get out of it and talk to people. It’s quite exhausting. By the end of it my head was just sort of upside down. But this is what you do and the whole process of SXSW is like a trial by fire. If you pass through that you can go on and do something else.

How did the songwriting process work when creating your latest album ‘Playmates’?

I was living in my new house and there was a crappy old organ there. I sat down with an idea for the band and how everything relates and got Bossa Nova happening on the organ. It was a special time because I had the songs there and developed those ideas at home and then I took them to Kim (Moyes). We then played them through with Kirin and Donny (Benet) and worked out the different parts. The songs were written with a certain idea of space involved in terms of scale and parts relating to each other. Where as before I sort of did it all at once. ‘Playmates’ had a much more thought out and architectural process. Like IKEA flatpicking.

There are some big names that worked with you on this record. Sharon Van Etten features, Kim Moyes was on board as producer. How did these collaborations come about?

From being around long enough, people take notice. I’ve known Kim for a long time. It didn’t feel like I was going to a celebrity producer. He’s a good friend of friends and he just happens to be in The Presets. I have a great respect for what they do and we talked about working together. He liked the demos and had time. I really thought he was the person who could do the record the best justice.

I met Sharon at a show at Byron Bay. I played and gave her a record. She really liked ‘Hurtsville’ and said ‘if you want me to sing on your new record I’d love to do it’.  We could have got any number of female songwriters, but I love her voice. I think she’s amazing.

How did Kim influence the sound on the record?

He brought a lot of discipline and big sounds that I wouldn’t normally feel comfortable with. He allowed me to think bigger about things. I’m usually happy to just get a sound out of something. I’m more about writing the parts and Kim is more about focusing on making the sounds massive.

How would you describe the translation of your recordings into a live setting?

The album is flat-packed and it works with the way people listen to music. The live show is an extrapolation of what the record is. Everything is much more alive and more present. There are no live performances on the record. Everything is meticulously put together. I was amazed at how well the record translated into the live show.

Explain a day in the life of Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders on a day of a gig?

When you’re traveling to another city, you have to catch a plane. You have to get the exit row - otherwise it’s a waste of time. I got an exit row today, so I feel better.  Then you arrive, you get the car, and you go to the hotel. Lie down for five seconds and laugh at the news. Then it’s time for sound check, then when that’s done, I have a shower and a couple of glasses of wine, then do the show. It’s all pretty fluid. There’s not a lot of time to think.

Are there any rituals you have before a show?

Not really. We slap each other on the ass and hoot and hola. Donny sort of gets on everyone’s leg and has a thrust.

Are there any interesting things would we find on your tour rider?

We just take what we’re given really. We’re happy with a case of local beer and a bottle of wine. 

What is next for Jack Ladder and The Dreamlanders?

We’re going back to America. The aim is to go over there in August and again in October. It’s exciting. We’ve got the label over there. You need to be there to manage that and make things happen otherwise you’re just invisible. It’ll be good to be playing more than a couple of shows at a time. You can really get on a roll and get into the headspace. In Australia, our tour is pretty limited. We do four shows over two weekends, where in the US we do four or five shows a week. It starts to really flow and become a thing and that’s what I’m excited about.

Lastly, who is your favourite Beatle?

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