During what is believed to be one of the final interviews given by prolific hardcore figure Michael Crafter, the outspoken front man took the opportunity to reminisce about where it all began, reflect on “being a rock star wanker”, and his realisation about what really matters to him. Who knows, this could be Crafter’s last confession…
“I don’t see why there’d be any other reason to do anymore interviews like this, you know? It’s kind of crazy because I’ve done thousands of them over the years, so this is my last rant I guess!” he laughs.
“It’s weird – I always say that people only care when you tour a new album, when the band breaks up or if the band ever reunites,” Crafter continues, “but mostly in-between, people lose a lot of interest. For some reason when a band breaks up everyone’s the biggest fan ever!”
As a former member of I Killed the Prom Queen, Bury Your Dead, and Carpathian, Crafter knows a thing or two about the highs and lows of playing in a successful touring band, and despite a few setbacks along the way his passion for playing hardcore music and his faith in the fans has never wavered – so I wondered about his early days in music class.
“I remember I was in year nine we all started talking about what we were going to do when we left school. Me and JJ [Peters], who was in Prom Queen with me (he’s in a band called Deez Nuts now), had always said ‘We’re going to be in a band!’ and everyone and all the teachers were like ‘That’s not a job’. Honestly, there was no encouragement because we were in the country and no-one had ever done anything like that before from our school. In the end, we basically quit school to go to band practice.
“I always knew what I wanted to do and we just stuck at it,” he continues. “I used to go around to JJ’s place every Friday night to watch Rage and we’d stay up till the end, and on Saturday mornings we’d watch Recovery. There was so much punk stuff getting played back then – Frenzal Rhomb were massive, as well as Pennywise and Blink 182.”
Crafter says that as these huge American punk bands became more and more successful, he found himself drawn to an underground sound.
“By that time Blink 182 and Green Day had gotten so big that we realised we were never going to see them play at small venues in Adelaide again,” he says.
“Then, as time went on, more hardcore and metalcore – which wasn’t even called metalcore back then – were being played at small punk shows and that’s why we started getting into heavier stuff.”
Soon Crafter developed his own sound, earned a reputation as an in-demand singer and became the face of Australian hardcore (thanks in part to a brief stint on reality TV show Big Brother). “When I Killed the Prom Queen started doing well it definitely changed our attitudes. I don’t want to say we had massive egos, but there was a time when I even looked at myself and thought, ‘This is fuckin’ stupid!’ – acting like that and being a rock star wanker is pretty easy to do. You’re getting shit on a platter and everyone’s patting you on the back when you’re killing it – I’ve seen it time and time again. Now I can see who was fake and who was real, and who my true friends were.
“Even when I started in Carpathian I was very disheartened by music,” Crafter adds. “When you’re thrown into the deep end as a young band, it’s easy to get caught up in the bullshit.”
Nowadays he says that he’s a lot more “chill”, and admits he’d rather take his daughter to the park or the pool than be on tour. “I’m glad that I don’t have to tell my daughter that I have to leave for weeks at a time anymore. At these final shows I don’t care about how many tickets are sold or how much merch is sold. Now I think that if someone comes to the show and they have a good time, then that’s really all that matters.”
So if you see Michael Crafter spruiking his wares after the gig, don’t be alarmed because his hugs are free. “I’ve always sold our merch myself, because then I can actually embrace people and they can tell me whatever they want. Rather than sitting in a band room, bored with a bunch of dudes drinking – I’d rather talk to people.”
Written by Natalie Rogers
When & Where: Barwon Club, Geelong – January 15