Kris Peters continues with part 2 of his epic Ezekiel Ox interview (read part 1 here)..
Despite his standing in representing the oppressed and underprivileged, Ezekial Ox is more commonly and affectionately known for his music, and unfortunately Cairns has been starved of his talents apart from one show by Over-Reactor last year. This is about to change on October 25th, when he brings his ‘On the Record’ show to the Grand Hotel, a show which promises everything we have come to expect from the outspoken vocalist and more.
“It’s exciting and it’s something new,” he enthused of the show. “I don’t think anyone’s ever taken a show like this on the road in Australia before so it’s been a process of getting confident enough to do this and it’s been a long process. I’ve been working and collaborating with other people for a long time and I’m not stopping doing that but I’m at a point in my career where I can go out on my own and have confidence.”
“The show I’m bringing to Cairns will involve spoken word, live beat box looping with soul and Hip Hop plus interpretations of original songs and re-interpreting of old songs that you wouldn’t expect. There will be dancing, there will be acappella singing, there will be jokes so it’s really a Cabaret show at its core. I think we called it a Cyber/Punk/Hip Hop Cabaret on the press release.”
With all the political laden aggression present in Ezekiel’s music, it would be natural to assume he was an angry man in everyday life, but Ezekial is adamant it is just the opposite.
“I’m a pretty energetic person,” he said. “I’d say I live life in an aggressive style. I put myself fully into the situation and I’m happy to intervene in things. I think my stage persona is more of an extension of me. I don’t run around singing all the time but having said that I did go into the city last night and busk for two hours in three different spots with my web station and my speaker and battery and everything so I guess I am constantly setting up wherever the fuck I want on the street and playing music for people so maybe it’s a fair reflection of who I am.”
He says that busking and getting back to the street level is something that keeps it fresh and also provides an opportunity to stay connected to the people.
“A lot of people have no idea who I am (when out busking) and that’s great. I would have got rid of 20 flyers and made a bit of coin last night,” he continued. “You always bump into someone, whether they recognize me from a protest or they recognize me from a previous band you often get spotted but busking is fantastic, it’s such a great thing to do and you meet interesting people. Last night I had a Hip Hop cycle going and I was doing a beat and rapping and before you know it there was three other M.C’s who came off the street and wanted to rap with me and that sort of stuff is fantastic, just to meet new people. It’s a street level thing that I do. I mean, the music industry is bullshit. It’s fundamentally built around bullshit. You only have to listen to a lot of the music that actually gets played on the radio and a lot of it – I’m not saying all of the music – but a lot of it that gets heavily marketed and funded and supported by what you would call the music industry is fundamentally not fantastic and not moving forward. It’s not as good as Aretha Franklin or nowhere near what Tina Turner is doing, there’s a million examples, but getting on the street and busking is making music more democratic because some people don’t like it in which case they won’t give you any money and some people feel the need to tell you they think it’s shit and that’s okay too because they can just walk away but a lot of people support it. The vast majority of people love what I’ve been doing on the street which is good, it’s a really good way to get back to what it’s about which is just playing fucken music.”
With a career spanning full bands and duos and now solo, Ezekiel has covered pretty much every style of playing music, and when pressed on which he enjoys most he is hard pressed to answer.
“I don’t know if it’s something I look at like that,” he mused.
“I love performing and I’ve been really enjoying the solo stuff this year…… I guess the fact that it was so easy for me to let go of The Nerve probably shows I wasn’t really craving the band thing that much but then again I’ve been on stage with a few bands this year so I like performing… it’s a really hard question to answer…. Being on stage as opposed to not gives me enjoyment. I LOVE the stage; it’s kind of like my home. I definitely feel more relaxed on stage than off.” With such a back catalogue to choose from, there has to be one song in particular that Ezekiel is most proud of and that typifies his music and lyrics.
“If someone said give me one song to look into to find out what it is you do with your music I would probably say the song ‘The Majority’ by Mammal,” he deliberated. “I think it’s something I wanted to do and it needed to be really raw and it needed to be really emotional but it also had to be quite sophisticated in the way it was constructed lyrically because I was making a choice to use language that isn’t appropriate and to be able to create a song where I used that language to make a point about why the language was inappropriate, I really enjoyed that process and I think it’s been proven because that song had the most hits on You Tube of anything I’ve ever done. So people really latched onto that song and it’s also got such an awesome riff and groove and Mammal had that real funky sound that was so much fun to play around with.”
Mammal were one of the best and most original bands to emerge from the Australian music scene in the last twenty years and it was truly sad to see them break up just as they looked to have carved their niche. A reforming of the band would be eagerly anticipated and widely accepted, but Ezekiel says unfortunately, that isn’t on the horizon.
“One of the guys contacted me about five months ago,” he said, “and asked me completely out of the blue to reform the band for a couple of shows and it was an easy no for me. But I did speak to Pete (guitar) and Zane (drums) and Owen our booking agent at length because it wasn’t a decision I wanted to make lightly at all. I was certainly more than happy to discuss it, but it’s not something I see in my future. There were very good reasons to leave that band behind on a personal and musical level but I’m really proud of the work we did in Mammal. Unfortunately in life things change and they move and there’s some people and things you’re willing to continue with and others you have to let go because it’s just not healthy.”
Ezekiel Ox plays the Grand Hotel on Saturday October 25 with support from Cameron Cusack, Jimmy the One, Ray-Lee, Meat Bikini, Leanne Tennant and Sworf. Doors open from 6 p.m and tickets are $10 from the Grand Hotel bottleshop. There are STRICTLY only 200 tickets being sold so get in now to avoid disappointment.
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