Yes, Yes, RiotACT is a Canberra website but besides being RiotACTâ€™s South Pacific corespondent (I just gave myself that title btw) and one of the more slack adminâ€™s, NYE Solie style has more than me to rate it as a RiotACT worthy story. Seminal Canberra band Night Train is headlining the FACE tour gigs for the troops here in the Solomons.
Ok, headlining may be a over statement as multi golden guitar winner Felicity Urkhart, comedian Dave Prost and the RAAF band are also all involved but your faithful corespondent took time out from copious Sol brew drinking to ask the members of Night Train how they got involved in being in the Solies for NYE and entertaining a rather non standard group of rock fansâ€¦
Ntp: The FACE tour (forgive me for not recalling what it stands for at the moment, Iâ€™m still a little seedy from last night) is a series of gigs designed to provide entertainment to Australian forces, mainly defence forces, deployed overseas, that harks back to the Vietnam era. How did you guys get involved?
NT ( SM ): Our singer works at defence and we also remember Kintama doing a tour to Iraq a few years ago, so he investigated the process involved and next thing we sent a CD and DVD off to FACE (Forces Advisory Council on Entertainment), they came and check out a local gig and next thing we were asked to do a Xmas, New Year tour.
Ntp: What does a FACE tour involve for you, how many gigs, how long away from home and what sort of stuff have you guys had to sacrifice, &c, to take part in this?
NT ( SM ): The tour to the Solomonâ€™s is a short run by FACE standards, 6 days all up, 3 main shows at GBR and also some acoustic shows for troops in outposts and on prison duty as well. So we miss NYE in the ACT, but thatâ€™s a good thing. The amazing thing is the work that gets put into something like this tour from the FACE guys etc, weâ€™ve all had medicals and been inoculated against every disease known to man, and these malaria tablets we are on make for some very interesting dreams tooâ€¦So I wouldnâ€™t say weâ€™ve made sacrifices, itâ€™s just been a great experience all round.
Ntp: Now you guys have played numerous gigs to all sorts of crowds, anything stand out about playing to the RAMSI (regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands) members?
NT ( BS ): The machine guns!!!!!! Plus the appreciation of the RAMSI guys has just been great.
Ntp: What about your co-performers; the RAAF band, one of Australiaâ€™s major female country singers and a comedian surely isnâ€™t your usual lineup of co-stars?
NT ( BS ): I think it just creates a good sense of variety for the guys, having three completely different acts is like a bowl of Kellogs, just rightâ€¦.
Ntp: From the gigs I recall back in Canberra you tended to perform the majority of your own stuff with a smattering of covers. Here it seemed to be the reverse. Any reason for that?
NT ( SM ): We are playing every song off our EP Puzzle and about 8 covers in our 1 hour set. The morale in RAMSI from what we were told has been pretty poor and we just wanted to put on a show the guys and girls could get into and have some fun at, by playing enough of our own material so they knew what Night Train was about and some good party tunes we thought that would make for a great set, it has seemed to go down really well too.
Ntp: Although you still have a few performances to go before you call it quits over here, would you encourage other bands to take part in this type of venture and what, if anything, have you gained or learned form this experience?
NT ( BS ): Definitely recommend it, itâ€™s a great experience and as corny as this sounds it really feels good to give something back. We got to go diving in a WW2 Japanese Frigate, and just seeing the Solomonâ€™s and realising what a varied place it is, from beautiful scenery and crystal clear beaches to slum areas.
Ntp: 2007 holds a lot of challenges and uncertainty for both the members of RAMSI and the local people of the Solomon Islands, do you have any view on the situation over here and what does 2007 hold for the members of Night Train?
NT ( BS ): The people are great. Even in the midst of adversity they still manage to beam a smile at you.
Obviously there is a lot of work to do and it has to start from the top. Infrastructure is obviously not there.
As for us we will be continuing to write new material and hope to record some time in the second half of the year.
Ntp: Thanks for your time guys, both on and off the stage, and I look forward to catching up with you back in Canberra in the New Year.
NT ( BS ): It has been a pleasure!
Canâ€™t wait for that and probably the next time there wonâ€™t be as many guns!!!
[Ntp spoke to Felicity Urkhart and even offered her a drink but was too chicken sh!t to ask for an interview. I didnâ€™t really care about Dave Prost or the RAAF band, although both rocked. Interview carried out without the knowledge or permission of AFP, IDG or RAMSI management.]
SM: Scotty Masters â€“ Guitar, General Silliness
BS: Ben Schumann â€“ Drummer, Rock Faces
Night Train have been good enough to provide Riot with their latest EP and we will attempt to provide a review of it, having heard it both live and on disc, within the next few weeks. Having said that please donâ€™t hold your breath, Iâ€™m as slack as a really slack thing.