MUSIC // MANY in Baw Baw are familiar with Mercury White. The band, largely made up of musicians from the region, won an Australian band competition in 2013 and placed fourth in an international competition in Germany the following year.
Above: Paul and Tammy performing at the Railway Hotel. Photos: William PJ Kulich. PRN:01059
Things have changed since – the band is working on new material but under a (secret) new name with a slightly different line up. Band members Paul Cooper (vox/keys), originally from Warragul, and Tammy Brittaine (vox/violin/synth) played at the recently renovated Railway Hotel last Friday as cover band Lua Lua. While there they talked to WBBC.
Lua Lua is a cover band you’ve made to, essentially, make money out of music, yes?
Tammy: We’re not going to deny it.
Paul: it’s just another way to get money out of this industry. It’s tough. You have to spread yourself out in this industry to make money, and this is just another way to do it.
What kind of covers do you play?
Tammy: We’ve got two shades of the set. Because we do weddings as well we wanted to take advantage of the violin and piano, so we do a lot of classical stuff as well.
Paul: It’s more improvised stuff. I guess you wouldn’t say remixes, but we use a lot of drum samples and looping. (Looping is where audio is sampled live and repeated.)
Now, this is the first time you’ve really tried looping…
Paul: It was the intention to start with and is really difficult to do. We’ve got the hang of it a bit more and we’ve patched it up so I can loop keyboards and stuff so it makes it a bit easier. It frees you up to do a bit more and only on certain songs.
Tammy: It makes it a bit different, we want it to be a little bit unique and not the same as everyone else.
Paul: It’s nothing ground breaking, but it makes life easier when you don’t have to play.
You mentioned before this interview Mercury White is reforming. What can you say?
Paul: We are doing it, but the name and a few other details [are secret.] We’ve just got a new bass player…
Your old bass player left last year
Paul: He’s fronting another band, so he wanted to pursue that and we were fine with that. We tried to do it without bass for a while and now we’re just getting a bass player in and it has totally worked. The songs we’re doing now are a lot different. We’re not using big synthesised basses and stuff, it’s more organic.
Tammy: We still have the electronic aspect here and there.
Paul: We want to go back to sounding like a band, not a big production, because I think if you’re a band you need to sound like a band. If you go in the studio and it’s all synthesisers and electronics you sound manufactured and we want to sound like we’re playing our instruments because that’s what we believe we’re good at.
It’s a big change to make given Mercury White’s success
Tammy: We were always just trying to push the band to see where we could go. [This frees] up Coop as well because, as a frontman, leading a lot of the landscape sounds on his keys didn’t give him the opportunity to lead properly. That’s where the idea came from, so now we’re getting those landscape sounds from the guitar more and he’s having more of a feature thing with his keytar. Yeah, we’re bringing the keytar back.
Paul: Don’t tell anyone!
WBBC: Is that secret?
Paul: No, it’s just a bit embarrassing.
Tammy: No it’s not.
Paul: Everyone else loves it but I hate it because there’s nothing but stigma that comes with playing the keytar.
Tammy, how do you fit in now? Your violin is the most unique instrument in the band
Tammy: my role has changed a few times along the way, but now it has settled as a dual vocal, dual lead position. And the violin has always been a feature role and it’s going to stay that way, and me having the synth there is just support, if it’s needed. I think a lot of us are thinking that way – we’re only playing if it’s needed, not just for the sake of playing.
This is a venue which has been revived and just started putting live music on again. I guess it’s good to play more local acts?
Tammy: we love it when hotels, pubs appreciate live music
Paul: My favourite thing about it is they destroyed a nightclub to bring in acoustic bands and food and a bar. Like, yes! Suck s–t DJs! So that’s good, because this where I spent all my teens dancing. (Clarification: the night club still operates at the venue.)
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