Aussie upstarts Black Aces tore up the second stage at Hard Rock Hell X before heading home to start work on their brand new record. HRH Mag’s Simon Rushworth caught up with frontman Tyler Kinder to talk rock, beer and…futsal.
“It’s pretty cut throat,” admitted Tyler Kinder, staring into his can of beer and choosing his words carefully. “Of course there’s competition to be the best and play the biggest shows. But that’s why we’re throwing up so many great bands back home now.” The Black Aces’ no-nonsense frontman is a typical Aussie: honest, endearing, self-confident and determined. He loves the banter with his fellow bands. And he loves the fact that so many musicians from Down Under are making their mark in the UK. But most of all he loves the competition.
“It’s a congested scene back home but it’s close-knit too,” he added. “There are some great bands around. But you’ve got to work your balls off. It’s such a small scene: it’s so tight and there are only so many venues you can play and so many cities you can play in. You have to be a really good band to get anywhere. And I mean anywhere. I suppose it’s a good breeding ground in that sense. Everyone who wants to do anything has to work really fucking hard to be able to cut it.”
And there’s no doubt Black Aces can cut it. Current long player Shot In The Dark is a deliciously decadent slice of pure rock and roll fury – reminiscent of classic AC/DC but different enough to suggest Australia’s new breed can successfully shake off the shackles of their nation’s genre-defining past. According to Kinder it’s the element of competition – as well as a sense of kinship – that can help Black Aces become more than a footnote in the history of Aussie rock.
“Fighting for the scraps on the live scene back home does make the best bands even better,” he added. “But it’s friendly competition you know – we’re all good mates. We have to be. Everyone wants to be the best there is so that’s the element of competition right there. But still you’ve got to support each other otherwise there is no scene. If bands are hating on each other and talking shit then it just divides everyone and you can’t have that. What I throw down on the stage is where it ends.”
For Bendigo’s Black Aces it’s only just beginning. Formed in 2011, theirs was a mission common to so many 20-something musos chasing the fabled prize of rock and roll glory. “When you start out your dream is just to play at the local pub and get the gig wherever you can,” added Kinder. “Then I suppose our goals changed. We wanted to see whether we could do what other bands from Australia had done – your ACDCs, your Rose Tattoos and your Airbournes. We always had our sights set on trying to get to the UK and Europe and so 2016 has been a big year for us. There’s only so far you can get in Australia and it feels like the scene for our kind of music is over in the UK and Europe. We have always wanted to try and crack it outside of Oz.”
Kinder would freely admit Black Aces haven’t cracked it yet. But autumn’s Aussie Invasion tour alongside Massive and Tequila Mockingbyrd proved the theory that the band belongs to the northern hemisphere. “We’ll be back,” added Kinder. “No doubt. We did a short run of shows just off our own back with no label and no support or anything like that in 2013. We just thought we could try and book it ourselves and get over and see what it is like and it was ok. But to come over to the UK and do a fully-fledged tour only made us even more determined to do it all again. It was a long time coming but we loved every minute.”
Massive and Tequila Mockinbyrd are doing things differently. Both bands have made the brave decision to relocate to the UK permanently – ditching the fiercely competitive Melbourne scene and a lack of mainstream radio support back home for a more focused shot at success in a country that’s been quick to embrace both bands. But Black Aces headed home for Christmas. Why?
“It’s simple,” added Kinder. “We’ve got about 30 new songs up our sleeve and we are pretty much going to go straight into pre-production to record a new album after Christmas. That’s our next focus. After that we’ll come back.”
Back for good? Who knows? But Black Aces will be guaranteed a warm welcome whenever they choose to reconnect with a British audience baying for their high-energy take on classic rock and roll. The band’s Hard Rock Hell X show set tongues wagging and heads banging – Kinder blown away by the quartet’s first trip to Hafan Y Mor.
“We weren’t expecting it to be much like home,” added Kinder. “And it wasn’t! But what was the same was the way we were welcomed with open arms by a bunch of crazy rockers. We couldn’t wait to get there and play – the boys from Massive had already told us it would be special – and it was a fantastic experience. We had never done a festival – or at least nothing on that scale – before. We couldn’t wait to play on the same bill as guys like Phil Campbell. We’ve got all of the records he plays on back at home and it’s guys like him who encouraged us to do what we do.”
What Black Aces do might not be too different from just about every other Aussie rock and roll wrecking crew to lay waste to the world of rock. But it’s heartfelt, authentic and unrelenting. As a recipe for live success it works a treat and it’s rooted in decades of balls-to-the-wall British music. “A lot of our heroes have come from the UK,” added Kinder. “All those bands like Thin Lizzy, Motorhead, Saxon and Judas Priest. They’re massive influences. Suddenly we’re following in their footsteps, playing the same venues and seeing our name next to bands we’ve looked up to for years and years. It’s a bit surreal. It’s also humbling. The UK is still the one place in the world where every Aussie band worth its salt wants to break.”
Hitting their first full UK and European tour alongside Massive and Tequila Mockinbyrd made Black Aces’ breakout run of shows extra special. “I learnt to do laundry thanks to those guys,” he added. “We all looked after each other. It was like one, happy family. Well, we were happy most of the time. We’ve known each other for years and we’ve all supported each other at shows back home. Everyone’s sort of been around each other at some point or another for quite a few years.
“It was a blast being on the road for so long with those guys and when we did have some downtime we’d all head to the nearest pub. What could be better? Pete missed his futsal but we’ve banned him from putting his boots on for as while as he’s always getting injured. And I think Jazz missed brewing beer with his dad back home. I get that. It’s perfect father-and-son time.”
Black Aces played Hard Rock Hell X. Current album Shot In The Dark is out now with the band’s new record tipped to land late next year.