...audio forensic
by steve phillips
article written in january 1998
published in "sadness is in the sky magazine" issue 5
High Pass Filter are simply one of THE most amazing bands to have emerged in the last half-dozen years. Their collage of styles is so carefully and skillfully intertwined, their talent for producing great songs and sound is almost unique. Late in 1997, High Pass Filter released their debut studio recording "Audio Forensic" and no matter who was listening, they had to be impressed at the style & strength of that release. I chatted with one part of the High Pass puzzle, Anthony Paine, to discuss "Audio Forensic", recording and writing, and a live history which would be hard to match.

Below is an edit from an interview with Anthony Paine, bass player from ‘High Pass Filter’ & also Melbourne’s ‘Hired Guns’. In their history to date High Pass Filter have been the guests on tour of many amazing and talented bands and musicians. Allow me to list but a few of them: The Boredoms(from Japan), Beastie Boys, The Paradise Motel, Fundamental, Fugazi…

SP. Regarding the groups ‘live’ history, High Pass have played with some majorly impressive bands. What would you cite as some of the prime moments for you?

AP. Ahh, I guess doing 5 shows in 1 week with Fugazi. Having a few guys that inspired me, I can’t speak for the other guys but Joe, the bass player from Fugazi, was one of my first influences to pick up a bass. Having him standing watching my fingers as I’m playing waiting in the wings, was VERY strange! It was very awkward. Beastie Boys. After we’d played one night with them and turning up to do the next gig with them and they’re on stage doing a woeful version of “Do Do Do Do Da Da Da Da”(The Police), with distorted guitar dub things going on, it was pretty funny.

SP: Were you guys specifically requested to do the Beasties shows?

AP: That was a (Steve)Pav decision, he put that together ‘cause he was putting his fashion label in Sydney, wanted to throw a party on a boat. It’s cool turning up and saying “hey ah, can I use your bass amp?” It was taller than I am! Sharing drum kits and borrowing guitar strings and stuff….

SP: Building camaraderie!

AP: Strictly in the bedroom dreaming, rock’n’roll cliché sense I’m very susceptible to meeting my idols, I can’t deny it, it was great fun playing with them! Inspiring people!

SP: Does playing with such people impact on your playing?

AP: Our gigs we did just post Fugazi were pretty good I reckon. The live track “Troy” on (Audio Forensic) was recorded just after we got back off that tour and we weren’t really intending to record it, someone just ran a DAT at the gig, which is something they(Fugazi) do every gig they do, digitally, just off the (mixing)desk. They have a really good feedback loop going where they look at their live performances and feed that back in, and you can see it, the way they sound check, the way they work. You can see them reinventing what they do every night, and a lot of that comes from them recording & listening to their live gigs which is something we certainly did a lot of when we first started out. Probably not so much any more. We used to record every gig & I have them all on cassette at home. I used to drive around listening to them & you’d pull out one little bit that was different that particular night. You could see The Boredoms do it too. Someone’d make some accidental, silly little, God awful, happy little riff & it’d get turned into a big durge sort of Fudgetunnel sort of thing. The next night they’d play it. You get inspired by those ways of working, it’s pretty good.

SP: Totally off the subject of High Pass Filter, you also play in a number of other bands. Do you enjoy playing in such diverse acts such as High Pass & The Hired Guns, who are completely removed musically from each other?

AP: It’s not totally off the subject! I love playing bass & it’s a very different kind of bass playing(in The Hired Guns). I have to know I have to do 4 bars of something, work a few of the required ‘grooves’ in there ‘cause we are working within the genre of country-rock. There’s always the feeling within The ‘Filter that you can say “well I’m gonna write something that sounds like this or like that” but using The Boredoms example of pulling out some absolutely stupid accidental thing that you do & making a tune out of it, you don’t tend to do that so much (in The Hired Guns). It gives me so much discipline having to learn a song with 8 chords in it, which we have, in High Pass Filter you don’t, you cruise along, there’s bit’s in there that are really well rehearsed & learnt but they’re using something that I’ve created & built from the ground up. Here(with The Hired Guns) I’m learning the other guys songs, we’re learning classic old tunes and that’s a much bigger challenge, the biggest challenge I’ve had for ages. ‘Cause I don’t know what notes I’m playing I only know what they sound like. I have no idea of music theory.

SP: You obviously embrace the idea of a challenge.

AP: Of being totally out of my depth!! It’s a really big challenge. At the moment it’s a really good challenge, much bigger challenge than writing another two note, meditative, trippy base line for The ‘Filter. There’s something similar about repeating yourself in country and dub. Repetition is such a powerful thing. Just that Brian Eno quote that “repetition is a form of change. Everytime you choose to repeat something you’ve made a decision to not do something else.” It’s a powerful tension building thing, that certainly happens a lot in this band(The Hired Guns) as well.

SP: Just a little less focus on spontaneity!

AP: Very different. I don’t run around playing with kiddy toys, falling over and making silly noises, I’m not supposed to anyway!

The Hired Guns & High Pass Filter can be seen playing frequently around Melbourne. All High Pass Filter releases to date are available thru Shock Distributors. For a full replay of the interview with Anthony, check out Issue * 5 of SADNESS IS IN THE SKY, available in and around Melbourne in all great independent record stores. Click HERE to find out how to get hold of it!