Confession: Arts & Crafter
I Killed The Prom Queen.
Bury Your Dead.
Michael Crafter has done a hell of a lot in the past 16 years, and with stints in some of the country’s most noteworthy bands, cemented himself as a living legend within the local mosh scene. None of his endeavours, however, have come close to leaving the impact that he did with his final pride and joy –
Confession the 2008 season of Big Brother Australia. Confession came pretty close though; it seems you can’t look both ways at a local show without seeing some acne-riddled legend wearing a ‘Fuck Cancer’ shirt. That’s why, when Crafter announced the end of his reign behind the mic at the arse end of last year, Australia was pretty cut. Outspoken, interesting, and always just a fucking great laugh, Crafter gave BLUNT one last call before wrapping it all up – to give us all the juicy stuff about Confession’s split, sure, but also just to do what he does best: get off track and talk shit.
Mosh is fucking dead.
As you know, Soundwave just bit the bullet, and Australia is pining for another sick as heavy music festival. Is there a chance, however slim, that you might rise with the return of Crafterfest to take its place?
[laughs] Crafterfest is still the best hardcore lineup ever to happen in Australia! I looked at the flyer earlier and was like, “Holy shit. How did I get this many bands to play for absolutely fuck all!?” And the tickets were only $20, or like, $25 if that. I think I did a bit of a Soundwave with that; I remember telling mates, “yeah, I’ll pay ya, I’ll pay ya,” and soon as it finished, then I’d divide the money between everyone. But it was way easier to do shit like that back then, so I don’t reckon I could put myself through it now.
As someone who has eaten, slept and breathed Australian heavy music for so long, how much of an impact do you think Soundwave’s death will have on the scene? Do you think it will have much of an impact at all?
Being 100 percent honest, I think it’ll be better for Australian music. I did an interview with someone before, and I was just saying about how a festival like Unify has the ability, and the pieces to the puzzle, to put together a nationwide festival quite easily. They could throw together a Groovin’ The Moo, or similar style thing, with your Illys, your Amitys, your fucking… Vance Joys. They could throw together one of them and have it in every city, and have it sell out. The first ever Unify was out in the middle of nowhere, and I think they had, like, 50 tickets left out of 5,000, a month out from the actual festival. And that was three hours out of Melbourne, in the middle of fucking nowhere… Imagine if they put that in the city!
After eight fuckoff massive years, Confession is coming to an end, and I gotta say man, we thought you’d be throwing down well into your 80s. Was it a difficult decision to make, to close up shop?
No. The funny thing is, I called Graham at Resist and I was like, “I want to end the band. I’m worn out, I’m tired, I hate telling Kennedy I’ve got to go out on tour… What else do I need to see? What else am I trying to achieve, and have I achieved everything that I ever wanted to?” And I felt like I have. I mean, there’s obviously a few places I haven’t been to, but I feel like I’ve seen a good majority of the world, screaming into a microphone very badly. So I was just like, “This is it,” and he was like, “Wait, we’ll announce it, and then we’ll announce the tour dates as we announce the band breaking up, and it’ll–” and I was just like, “Nup. I’m just gonna announce it now, you can announce the tour whenever.” He’s like, “Just, we’ll use the momentum from–” and I was like, “Nup. We’re going my way.” So I posted it online, and I woke up the next day and just felt this sense of relief.
I’ve done this before. I did the final Prom Queen tour, and I felt like when that was ended, I was like, “Yep, there’s that book closed.” And for me, the Prom Queen book definitely closed then, y’know? I always say that being in a band, you get lazy. You have a lazier life because you know you can go on tour and do whatever – you can go to the beach, go out, and not really have much stress on tour, but then you come home and there’s reality. So when I came home, it was like, obviously I want to see my daughter and everyone I missed, but then I’m like, “ohhhh, I have to go to work!?” I just need to stay in that mindset of always working, and then I don’t have to tell Kennedy that I’m leaving; she’s getting to the age where she does realise now, like, “daddy’s going away to the band?,” so she definitely knows. And yeah it sucks, but I feel like we’re going out on a high note. We released a CD that hit the top 20 in the ARIAs, and… What more do I need, really? I never thought I’d crack the top 20 with a metalcore CD, and look at how many bands do it nowadays.
I suppose now is the right time to call it a day – you’ve got Kennedy growing up and your business to attend to. Now that Confession is coming to an end, what are your plans for the future?
I’ve got a few ideas! I wouldn’t mind opening a venue in Perth. I’ve been talking to a few people about it, and there are definitely people interested in putting money into it and stuff. I’m not even kidding; I’ve talked to people about doing a festival in Perth as well, that was going back a few months. So that little thing might be a bit more of a reality now that Soundwave is gone and people are really looking for something, so maybe I can talk to some people and see if that’s something that can happen somewhere down the line… But I’ve thought about a lot of stuff, and I have a lot of business plans – I don’t know. I’m trying just to take everything as it comes. I don’t think I’ll ever, like… I know I won’t be able to walk away from music, but I know I can walk away from music when it’s singing in a band. The one thing I need to stop is singing. I’m so bad at it, it’s so funny! I was talking about it the other way, I fully can’t sing in time, my voice sucks, I get tired really fast, I have asthma… I’m the shittest vocalist ever, what the fuck were people coming to shows for!?
So this tour that you’re doing right now with Graves. How does it feel knowing that – at least for now – this will be your very last go on the road?
I don’t know, y’know? I think towards the end it’ll hit me, but at the same time, we haven’t been a very active band like we were years and years ago. We did, like, one or two tours a year – last year, we probably did more than we ever have because we did the Amity tour, and then we did Soundwave, and then we did some shows in Asia… But we haven’t really done anything since the middle of the year. We haven’t done anything in Australia since that February or March, so it has been ages anyway. I don’t think it’s really gonna change too much. It just becomes the end, and you’re like “Okay, this is done!,” and you just move on to the next thing. What that may be, fucking… Who knows? My printing business is going really well, which is cool; I’m just happy to get that over and done with and maybe just have a few weeks off from working in Feb, and I don’t know, I might go to some magical island and drink non-alcoholic cocktails.
Do you have any crazy plans to send this chapter off in style at the shows?
Yeah, I wanted to have a full-on fireworks show, but we’re in 200-capacity venues… So… Fireworks, out the door. We’re pretty much just gonna show up and hopefully be good. I might fix my hair or something; I should probably go back to the 2004 Prom Queen fashion and wear, like, the tightest spray on pants and a sleeveless black shirt, and just look like the 2004-2007 metalcore hero!
I saw you posted photos of Kennedy at the Big Ass Tour on Facebook, and it gave me this mad idea – for the encore, you’d get the band starting a song, and then just before people expect to see you come out and tear into it with your crazy screaming, Kennedy runs out and belts the opening lines. What are your thoughts?
She would be so scared! At the Big Ass Tour I took her out to watch… Well, she didn’t want to watch anyone, she just wanted to play in the band room and harass everyone. So I took her out, and I tried to convince her that Motionless In White were, like, Hotel Transylvania. “They’re from Hotel Transylvania, they’re vampires! They’re nice vampires!” Nope. Didn’t want a bar of it. She goes, “They’re scary. I don’t like them.” She then proceeded to go around and tell everyone about how they’re scary and that she doesn’t like them.
Is she into the music? I can just see her chucking the maddest mosh.
She doesn’t really know what it is. She’s definitely into music, like, she sings along to all of her kids songs and stuff. But as soon as I put something heavy on, she goes, “NO. That’s TOO LOUD.” Or, “that’s noisy,” or, “that’s ewwwww.” So half the time I just listen to gangster rap around her – we’re gettin’ full ghetto!
I also saw on Facebook that you were thinking of doing a bit of a spin on the ‘meet and greet’ concept and throwing some BBQ action into the mix for charity. What’s the go there?
I was thinking about it, I was like, all of these bands are charging to meet people, and I see all of these fucking things like, “blah blah blah exclusive this!” – what the fuck do you make them exclusive for if someone that has to pay!? They’re a FAN, just go out and fucking talk to them! So I was like, “oh, maybe we can just fucking have a barbie before the show, or whatever.” Maybe even just have a barbie while the show’s going on and people can come out and buy some food, and we’ll just donate the money. Obviously some of the shows are going to be impossible because, shit like Melbourne, I don’t think you can really set up a BBQ in Fitzroy, but, like, places like Geelong and Wollongong, and the Lab in Brisbane – Strike Hard in Sydney – places where we can do it… We might be able to donate $100, $500, who knows? But anything is cool, and it means we can have a talk to people, and what’s better than having a sausage!? It’s like fucking going to Bunnings!
I know it’s a mad cliché of a question, but looking back on the past eight years, or even the past 16 when you factor in Prom Queen and all of that shit, what would you say has been the highlight of your time on the road and playing music for a living?
There’s probably two, I think. The first time Prom Queen went to America was banter. We played Elkfest in New Jersey, and it was just like, at that time, that was the biggest thing you could do. We went fucking psycho – there was probably like 200 people watching us, but for us, that was fucking 20,000. That was crazy, but then years and years ago, me and Winston [McCall] were sitting upstairs in his parents’ house, and we were talking about something and he goes, “Bury Your Dead’s vocalist is sick!,” and I was like “wooooah, that’s crazy!” And we were sitting there just thinking, “Yep, that’s that done” – this is when we were massive fans – and then the next day, we were sitting there and I went, “I just got an email from them about singing,” and he was like, “woah!” It was such a fucking cool thing because I was just there with my mates in Byron, and… Actually, I think me and Jeff tried to track the vocals for a song, but I think it was shit, Jeff had no fucking idea. So yeah, I recorded vocals back in Melbourne and sent them over and then all of that kind of happened.
It wasn’t the right fit in the end, but at least I got to do it. It is still one of my favourite bands, it’s why I did Confession, it was always the influence for Confession and Carpathian. It was definitely the band that pioneered that way of playing breakdowns… Like, you can even hear it in In Hearts Wake and shit now; the style that they brought is still living on through so many bands, so that was a cool thing to do. I got to sing on all these fucking songs that I fucking love and listen to in the gym. It was a pretty fucking crazy time. And I guess with Confession, just the ability to record multiple albums in various countries… Oh, that scooter that just drove past was loud… Yeah, multiple albums, multiple successes in countries, shit like that. Getting to tour in Europe and Asia… It’s just so many things, and it all kind of rolls into one. You’ve got to be appreciative of anything that happens because when you’re 15-year-old kid and you’re trying to tell everyone that you’re going to be in a band, everyone’s laughing at you, but when you’re 34, you’re like “ha ha, sucked in! I fully got to do heaps cool shit, and you’re a fucking tradie!”
Of course, you are wrapping this all up with a headlining slot at Strike Hard in Sydney, which is a pretty special show because, y’know, it’s your last show ever, but it’s also sending off Hand Of Mercy and bringing Shinto back as well. I have to ask – was it your idea to bring Shinto into the fold, just so you could have that guy tattoo your face on his arse?
Y’know what!? [Josh Robertson] posted it, and I’m sitting there like, “Fuck… Shinto’s on the list.” So when that came up, I had seen it but I forgot about it, and then Mitch from Shinto messaged me and he was like, “Oi. This.” And I was like, “Yep, this is gonna happen!” Boris The Blade are playing – I’ll give Sharpy whatever money he needs to tattoo this cunt, he’s gonna bring his gear, and this dude is gonna get my head on his arse! It’s fully happening.
To say you’ve had a massive impact on this scene would be a total understatement. Y’know, you see people getting Confession lyrics tattooed on themselves and wearing Fuck Cancer shirts religiously – what’s your take on how everyone has latched onto your stuff?
I think it’s actually kind of crazy. I don’t really think about it too much, until, like, my mum or my friends back home would message me and go, “there’s this dude at my work that loves you!! He doesn’t even believe we’re mates.” That is retarded. Like, I play in the shittiest fucking metalcore band, and like, people go and get my signature tattooed on them, or lyrics that I wrote. And that is fucking crazy, because at the end of the day, I’m no different from anyone else – and that’s the same for anyone in any band. I was watching this thing the other day, and Dave Grohl goes, “If anyone in a band says they’re a rockstar, they’re a wanker.” He’s in one of the biggest bands in the world, and he’s the most down to earth person ever in interviews – swears and everything – and when he was saying that, I was like, “Yep, that’s exactly how it is.”
It doesn’t matter how big your band is, or how successful you get, you’ve gotta stay a good fucking person. It’s like, when you go out on Soundwave and shit, you just see these fucking tossers, and it’s like, “You’re an absolute wanker.” They go, “We need this! We need that!” It’s like, “You’ve got legs, cunt, get up and go grab it!” I’ve seen it over the years and I’m just like, “Whatever. We’ll go out on this last tour, we’ll go out as just the band, I’ll sell the merch, and that’s how it is.” It’s simple. It’s fucking meat and potatoes. It’s just how it is, it’s how I’ve always wanted to do this band. I didn’t want want all this bullshit to surround it, and I didn’t want to make all the mistakes I made in the past.
Confession / Graves
Mon Jan 9th – The Brightside, Brisbane (18+)
Tue Jan 10th – The Lab, Brisbane (AA)
Fri Jan 13th – Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast (18+)
Sat Jan 14th – Woy Woy Leagues Club, Central Coast (18+)
Sun Jan 15th – Barwon Club, Geelong (18+)
Mon Jan 16th – Unify Festival, Gippsland (18+)
Tue Jan 17th – The Brisbane Hotel, Hobart (18+)
Fri Jan 20th – YMCA HQ, Perth (AA)
Sat Jan 21st – Prince Of Wales, Bunbury (18+)
Sun Jan 22nd – Amplifier, Perth (18+)
Mon Jan 23rd – Enigma Bar, Adelaide (18+)
Mon Jan 30th – UTS Underground, Sydney (AA)