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Photo Maria McArrow

Melbourne indie rockers, Shiva And The Hazards have just released their dreamy new single East India Empress, a mesmerising modern throwback track out March 16. The group have also dropped a spellbinding clip to accompany the song, painstakingly pieced together from vintage Bollywood footage. East India Empress is the first taste of Shiva And The Hazards’ debut EP Future Cult Classics, an eclectic collection of music that transcends decades, set for release on April 6 and will be launching their new wares at Melbourne’s Gasometer Hotel on March 23. Drummer Leigh Baines was kind enough to let us interrogate him about the band and his drum world.

What was your first kit like?
I was quite lucky. It was a Tama. Grey and white. It was the demo (off the shelf model) so it was the cheap one, with the really cheap skins. Of course, I didn’t know I needed to update the skins to make it sound better. I thought it sounded incredible. I’m pretty sure it didn’t. My poor mother!

What’s your regular kit set up?
Ludwig and DW. Depends on the gig. I love Gretsch kits too. Zildjian cymbals – 24 inch Ride, 20 inch crash, 14 inch hats. 22 inch kick, 14 rack and 18 floor. We use samples too which we trigger. Our brand of music doesn’t require anymore at this stage. I practice quite a bit on my digital kit too. Whack the headphones on and I’m completely blocked out from the world. It’s truly amazing.

Is it the same for recording?
Very similar. Most other drum sounds are done through over dubbing and mixing.

What sticks do you favour?
In the studio I prefer a 5a stick which is lighter, however live, the 5b vic firth. Perfectly waited. Wooden tipped of course. Nylon is for. People without a clue use nylon. Everyone knows that.

Other drummers you admire?
For me, the idea of a great drummer, is someone who goes unnoticed, unless you choose to notice them. Charlie Watts for me. He plays the role perfectly. I like Zak Starkey as a drummer. I see similarities in my playing. I met Zak. Cool dude.

What’s your latest recording and when will you be back in the studio?
Right now is our first release. Pre order is available through iTunes. The single ‘East India Empress’ is out on the 16th March and the EP, April 6th. It’s called Future Cult Classics. The lead single was produced by Chris Potter (The Verve) in his London studios. I can’t explain the experience very well. One of the best things I’ve ever done! The second and third tracks were mixed by Mark Gardener from the band RIDE. Absolute legend. We have already tracked the next release. We better get it to Mr Potter/Mark!

What gigs have you been playing lately?
Loads. Clubs, festivals, even some acoustic. From headlining Brewers Feast, Tanglwood Festival on New Years to supporting Wesley Fuller in Ballarat and The Delta Riggs at Yah Yah’s and many many more. A huge range. It’s been a great lead up to this release. We have our launch on the 23rd March at The Gasometer. Come down for a shandy.

Most memorable gig?
Geez! Umm… We played a boutique festival in Jan called
Brewers Feast, as the headline. Apart from it being super fun, our singer’s first words were… “Hello Tanglewood” (our previous festival a month earlier) Things like that are memorable.

Worst stage nightmare?
‘I hope the kick drum doesn’t slide during the gig, or if the clutch on the hi hat doesn’t stay tight. Drummers know what I mean. Ya can’t prepare too well for things going wrong, but it always seems to work out!

Album that changed your life?
Well, I listen to Urban Hymns by The Verve A LOT! Probably too much. But it’s in my top 3. To work with the same producer years later, is ridiculous.

What gigs are coming up in the next few months?
So we have our launch on the 23rd March at The Gasometer in Collingwood and we are headlining a day festival at The Brunswick Hotel on the 8th April called Dirty Shoes. We will be announcing more soon.

A drum tip for the kids?
Practice to a metronome. Same goes for you guitarists. Pift! Oh and be nice to your mum. She’ll let you practice more.

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