Fan­ning Waax- ing lyri­cal af­ter ‘ gate- crash­ing’ de­but

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - INSIDER - KATHY McCABE NA­TIONAL MU­SIC WRITER

Waax front­woman Maz DeVita and her band­mates were blown away when they re­ceived an un­ex­pected email from Bernard Fan­ning.

The for­mer Pow­derfin­ger front­man and award-win­ning solo artist dropped them a note to tell them how ex­cited he was they were go­ing to record their al­bum at the La Cueva Stu­dios in Byron Bay he co-owns with re­spected pro­ducer Nick DiDia.

“Bernie sent us an email say­ing he was so ex­cited about us com­ing to the stu­dio and he re­ally liked the band. Oh cool, Bernard Fan­ning. We’d never met him be­fore … wow, this is hap­pen­ing. What does this all mean?” front­woman Maz DeVita says.

“We joked about it, say­ing how funny would it be if he co-pro­duced the record?”

The punk quin­tet had been in dis­cus­sions with DiDia to pro­duce their sin­gle Labrador as an ex­per­i­ment with a view to book­ing him to helm their record. But when they got to the stu­dio, there was Fan­ning sit­ting in the cor­ner.

“We did ask him to stick around. It ended up be­ing the first co-pro­duc­ing thing Bernie and Nick did and we did feel re­ally spe­cial,” DeVita says.

One of the most ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated de­but records

to be re­leased in Aus­tralia this year, Big Grief peaked at No.11 on the ARIA al­bum charts, a sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ment for an in­de­pen­dent punk band in a stream­ing era dom­i­nated by r&b and pop.

DeVita says Fan­ning proved piv­otal in help­ing her record her vo­cals, find­ing new melodic colours in her pow­er­ful clas­sic rock voice which can send fans into a frenzy with its vis­ceral growl.

Fan­ning says DeVita’s singing and the rock mus­cle of her band­mates was ev­i­dent in the demos he and DiDia lis­tened to be­fore sign­ing on to the project. That power was a com­pelling rea­son be­hind him “gate­crash­ing” that first stu­dio ses­sion.

“Ob­vi­ously you can hear the power in the band and in her voice,” he says. “I haven’t heard any­one re­ally scream like that prob­a­bly ever. It’s not metal and it’s too melodic to be punk. She has got her own thing but she also has all the at­tributes of Chrissie Hynde, overt and tough and sassy.

“And I’m a sucker for a melodic rock band.”

Both signed to Dew Process, the in­de­pen­dent la­bel es­tab­lished by Pow­derfin­ger man­ager and Splen­dour In The Grass co-founder Paul Piticco, Fan­ning and DeVita share a pas­sion for mu­sic with a mes­sage, with Big Grief’s songs ad­dress­ing ev­ery­thing from her bat­tle with body im­age to deal­ing with anx­i­ety.

“Maz has some­thing to say,” Fan­ning says. “She’s very elo­quent and has this

con­fi­dence with a bit of a frag­ile skele­ton around it.”

DeVita’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity, even as she screams out her pain on stage, has con­nected with thou­sands of rock fans around Aus­tralia and word-of-mouth about them con­tin­ues to bub­ble over­seas. She has been a vo­cal cam­paigner for safe spa­ces at gigs and cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment in venues where fe­male fans and mem­bers of the LGBTQ com­mu­nity can con­fi­dently en­joy a po­si­tion in the front rows.

So she and her band­mates — and many of Waax fans — were ap­palled when she was “ag­gres­sively groped” while singing from the front row bar­ri­cade at the Cam­bridge Ho­tel in New­cas­tle in April.

DeVita and the band called out the in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour in a pas­sion­ate so­cial me­dia post: “You wouldn’t grope some­one in the gro­cery store, on the bus or in your work­place. So what makes this sit­u­a­tion any dif­fer­ent? What am I to you? Last I checked I’m a f...ing hu­man who de­serves the right to her own body and the right to work in a safe en­vi­ron­ment,” she posted.

The ho­tel ex­am­ined se­cu­rity cam­era footage and iden­ti­fied the man re­spon­si­ble and he has been banned from the venue for life.

DeVita says they have also in­sti­tuted other mea­sures to ed­u­cate pun­ters on re­spect­ing artists and other fans at gigs and, along with cam­eras from the stage aimed at the au­di­ence, she would en­cour­age other venues to fol­low suit.

“Our tour man­ager briefs ev­ery­one about what we ex­pect from the venue and se­cu­rity and there has been a change in the be­hav­iour at our shows,” she says.

WAAX PER­FORMS AT YOURS AND OWLS FES­TI­VAL, WOL­LON­GONG ON OC­TO­BER 5 AND 6, AND OUT OF BOUNDS FES­TI­VAL, SYD­NEY ON JAN­UARY 18

“She also has all the at­tributes of Chrissie Hynde, overt and tough and sassy

Bernard Fan­ning with Waax front­woman nt­woman Maz z DeVita.

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