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The Music Man Athron McCann

Interview by Katie Allen

I-MAG’S KATIE ALLEN TALKS TO MUSICIAN ATHRON MCCANN ABOUT A LIFE DEDICATED TO MUSIC, HIS TAKE ON MODERN MALE MUSIC, AND HOW MUSIC CAN HAVE A POSITIVE IMPACT ON PEOPLE’S THINKING

Katie Allen: What inspired you to become a musician?
Athron McCann: Sex, drugs and rock and roll – give or take the rock and roll. I was deeply drawn to the concept of connecting with other people positively through the transference of energy via sonic streams of consciousness. Music gives us the unique platform to reach and influence others with a whole spectrum of ideas, be it political, emotional, spiritual, or simply to entertain and educate them within the moment. Music allows us to cross all world boundaries and combine our voices into a revolutionary new age of social world peace. And yeah, I did it for the sex and drugs.

KA: Where has your pursuit of the muse taken you?
AM: A shit-load of stinky rehearsal rooms, too many bottle shops to remember, quite a number of long queues outside unemployment benefit offices, courtrooms, dark and smoky clubs in underground basements. On the flipside, many mindblowing moments over the years. Once you make that inner decision to make music number one, it tends to bring with it a huge amount of experiences. Playing big stages is always the dream, but ironically some of the best places to end up are peoples lounge rooms, jams with buskers in city malls, recording onto a cheap old tape deck in a subway tunnel, etc. Recently I was invited to the Philippines to perform at a charity concert on a small island called Catanduanes. The level of warmth and happiness I received from the people there would be hard to top in any other situation.

KA: How would you describe your music?
AM: My live solo gigs build on the use of loop pedals to create multiple vocal harmonies and layered guitars, to add new elements to the standard singer-songwriter set up. When it comes to writing full band tracks, it’s hard to stick to a singular style, simply because my influences span across almost every genre. For the latest album I was lucky to work with incredibly talented local musicians who helped forge the overall sound of Escape into Fiction into a solid set. It moves from roots driven rock to dark pop, with a few chilled solo sounds thrown in to break it up.

KA: What do you think of today’s Top 40 male artists and the modern male music?
AM: I don’t think any small number of names currently in the Top 40 could possibly define modern male music. Anyone with a recent hit really is a culmination of years of artists putting their skills to work and bringing new sounds to the industry. I could just as easily say that Lennon-McCartney and Elvis Costello define modern male music as they are still found echoing in so many songs written today. Male music is pretty much indefinable in it’s broadness. Saying that, video did kill the radio song and there is certainly a gearing of fashion, attitude, looks and financial status in the promotion of music nowadays. People know when they hear someone singing from a real place though. It’s what defines true artists, I believe.

KA: Your track “Wood You Burn” has been used to promote Keep Bali Clean and you’ve also written politically critical tracks such as a song protesting the Australian government’s position on asylum seekers or “boat people.” Do you think music can change the way people think?
AM: People will always be susceptible to having their beliefs challenged and changed if they are approached in the correct way. Music has a tendency to deliver messages with far more ease than other social platforms, so it is certainly an ideal method of challenging the way people think. Bands like Rage Against The Machine have forged their relationships with both their music and their fans based on this concept. Outside of lyrically delivered messages though, there are plenty of scientific papers putting forward the idea that music itself can have a direct affect on the way people think, based on varying harmonies and pitches.