with Mandy Nolan
Based in Byron Bay’s forested hinterland, Starboard Cannons is the creation of Ash Bell and Matt Bone. Fundamentally an acoustic duo, Ash and Matt have been writing and performing together since 2009. Described as having a style ‘somewhere between the Scottish highlands and the Aussie bush’, Starboard Cannons put songwriting at the helm, and back it up with a solid live performance.
The release of their debut album, Somebody’s Opus, through Vitamin Records in August 2012 has put Starboard Cannons on the map. Engineered and co-produced by Jordan Power (Angus Stone, Powderfinger, The Vines), the recording features some of Australia’s finest musicians, including Sara Tindley and Sal Kimber. Having debuted at #4 on AMRAP’s ‘Great Southern Charts’, tracks from Somebody’s Opus now see frequent airplay on Triple J and many other radio stations across Australia.
With a celebrated debut album, a reputation for captivating live performances and rapidly-increasing legion of loyal fans, Starboard Cannons remain focused on what is most important to them: having a great time. They will be performing at Bangalow as a 4-piece band with Stu Eadie (Karma Country, The Clouds, Uke Mullum) on drums and Steve Cook (The Barleyshakes, Tulca Moor) on fiddle and mandolin.
Mandy Nolan spoke to Starboard Cannons’ Ash Bell about the upcoming Bangalow gig
What do you think the benefit is of being a two-piece?
We add and subtract other instrumentation as is required. It means we are not bound to the same mix of instruments and sounds for every song. Also we get to spend a heap of time together disagreeing.
How does it change or influence your melody making, or composition?
It means the world is our oyster! The compositions don’t rest on there being a full band, but the option is always there if we so desire.
What do you look for in a good story? Why do you think the best ones are always a bit dark and twisted?
I like finding the angle of a story that might be overlooked. To focus on the not-so-obvious perspective. The happy stories are boring. I like a bit of dirt and doom. Plus I think people (myself included) empathise with the downtrodden a bit more.
How many narratives do you pick up in the pub? Is there still magic in the front bar?
I have taken quite a few stories away from the pub. Mostly they are just a foundation for something with a bit of creative licence. The best thing about the pub is that stories tend to take on some extra bits and pieces when a few cold ones are involved. Does my job for me!
Who are the musicians who sit at the top of your playlist?
I’m all about songwriters and storytellers. Aussies like Jimmy Dowling, Liz Stringer and Jeff Lang are some of my favourites. Paul Simon, Ryan Adams, Justin Townes Earle and Joe Pug are at the top of my list for sure.
What surprises you?
I see so many local talented artists in this area who I consider to be world class, and it surprises me that they have not been exposed as the amazing performers they are. So much rubbish in the ‘charts’, and so much substance goes unacknowledged.
What are you plans for the next 18 months?
We’re looking to record another album next year. We have a number of festivals coming up this year. Just writing and arguing and doing what we do.
What should we expect for your show at the Bangalow Bowlo?
We haven’t done a local headline show like this for a while, so it’s going to be special. Matt has some pretty out-there ideas to make the show a bit different, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that goes. Some great guests, too, with local legend Jimmy Dowling kicking off the night. You never know what might happen at a Cannons show.
Friday September 6
Bangalow Bowling Club
Doors 7.30pm / Show 8pm
Tix: Pre $17 (+bf) / Door $20
Available www.kupromotions.com.au & the venue