When it was announced that 28 Days and Area-7 would be doing a run of dual-headliners up the east coast throughout June and July, Forte grabbed the chance to speak with two founding members of the veteran Aussie bands. As it turns out, it was also a chance for two great mates to catch up on old times.
“We enjoyed our glory days around the same time as the 28 Days guys and we did a lot of tours together early in the piece,” says Area-7 frontman John ‘Stevo’ Stevens. “We’ve been mates for a long time, like a lot of Melbourne-based bands. Everybody sort of knows each other.”
“We all get along really well,” says 28 Days bass player Damian Gardiner. “At the start of last year when Area-7 were playing at Soundwave, they did a secret show and I was speaking to Stevo then about this tour. So it has been a year and a bit in the making.”
The Roll the Dice tour kicks off at the Corner Hotel on Friday June 10 and it’s sure to be a sell-out. “This is the first time we’ve played in Melbourne in three years, since we did the Upstyledown tour back in 2013,” Gardiner says. “We’ve been dying to put these shows on. We’ve been waiting so long to go on tour with Area-7, because we’ve done tours with Bodyjar, Frenzal Rhomb, and all those kind of bands that are the new vintage. But Area-7 is the only band we haven’t been on the road with in years.”
Something setting this tour apart from the rest is that the playing times will vary in each city – literally decided by a roll of the dice. “This tour will be great because we’re not sure who will be headlining on each night, hence the name”, Stevo says. “You’ll notice on the promo posters that the names swap around. That was done quite deliberately. We will simply roll the dice on the night and see who goes on first.”
Fans will also be treated to a hand-picked support band, unique to their city. “Both bands picked a support,” Stevo says. “[For Melbourne and Chelsea Heights] we chose The Go Set, and 28 Days chose Postscript.”
“They [Postscipt] remind me a lot of us when we started,” Gardiner says. “They take me back to that late-‘90s punk rock era. I’ve seen them a few times and they’re just amazing. We really wanted to support local bands and give them a chance to play in front of a room full of new people.
“We always love to support younger bands. Some approach us at shows and we steer them in the right direction. We’ve got age and years of experience, so that’s something we’ve always done and will continue doing, I hope. Frenzal Rhomb gave us a hand up back in the day, so we’ve got to pay it forward.”
“I have a lot of love for the up-and-comers,” Stevo says, “and I have a lot of hope that they’ll get to do some of the things that we got to do, because any band that’s playing live and doing it, I absolutely respect.”
Despite ruling the live music scene in the late-‘90s and early-‘00s, Stevo and Gardiner both sympathise with aspiring Aussie musicians today. Dwindling numbers of music venues, streaming services, and fierce competition has left cracks in the once thriving industry. “I’m a bit older than most of the guys in the band these days,” Stevo says. “I was around in the ‘80s and I remember that I was in bands that were playing four or five nights a week to full houses right across the state and that just doesn’t happen these days. I think the music scene is really in a sad state at the moment. I hate to ever think it would die.”
Regardless of the state of the live music scene, Gardiner says these shows will be all killer, no filler. “We’ve got very cool loyal fans, and we want to keep them happy and give them what they want. We’ve never had a problem with playing our hits. We will definitely play Say What, Kool, Goodbye, Sucker, Rip It Up,and What’s the Deal.”
“It’s going to be hits and memories for us too,” Stevo says. “We’re not trying to get a new record deal or anything like that, so it’s just fun for us.”
“Yeah, both bands don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Gardiner says. “A lot of people who grew up with our music are married now with kids, so it’s a good excuse to get out of the house, let your hair down and have a bit of fun – and remember how it used to be back in the early 2000s.”
Written by Natalie Rogers
When & Where: Corner Hotel, Melbourne – June 10 & Chelsea Heights Hotel, Melbourne – June 12