By Rod Whitfield
For those unfamiliar with the long, often painful but ultimately triumphant story of this most ambitious and hard working Aussie rock act, a very quick and concise catch up. Forming in Melbourne in the late 2000s, they played around their native city and across the nation for several years, releasing a couple of well received EPs and a monumental debut album, 2013’s Connection record, and generally picking up an ever growing and devoted following.
In the wake of that album, and a couple of the amazing and highly entertaining videos that accompanied it, a life changing moment occurred. Their sounds and vision caught the ears and eyes of the industry in the USA, and they were given the opportunity to leave the life they loved in Australia and move Stateside to pursue their rock and roll dreams. The two major driving forces in the band, livewire frontwoman Crystal Ignite and bass player Mark Dalbeth, decided to smash their Australian comfort zone and go for it. After the long and arduous process of applying for working visas, the pair landed in Los Angeles in early 2014 with stars in their eyes but many, many hard yards behind them.
It was those hard yards that prepared them for a rather tumultuous time in the early stages of their US odyssey, with lineup changes and management difficulties just some of the issues they faced. They could very easily have folded the whole thing and come running back home with their tails between their legs. But that’s just not the character of these two determined musicians.
Fast-forward to mid-late 2015, and the band have a settled line-up, including two brand new, very exciting American players, one of whom played in a very high profile American heavy band. Back for a whirlwind tour of Australia, Ignite couldn’t be happier with the new-look line-up.
“We tried getting someone from Australia, Lucius (former Cog and Floating Me drummer Lucius Borich), but he couldn’t do it, logistically,” she recalls, “because Mark and I are the nucleus, it’s never mattered to us. We’ve been doing this a long time, so we’ve always had someone there to take the place.
“So Koichi (Fukuda) is our guitarist. He’s formerly from Static X, which is amazing. So he’s a pretty famous guitarist. He’s just a phenomenal player; he’s the best guitarist we’ve ever had. And that’s saying something, because all of the recent guitarists we’ve had over the last five years have been awesome. But he’s just something else, he’s the best player I’ve ever witnessed.”
And now, for the first time in the band’s history, they have another female in the band, occupying the drum throne.
“Tosha (Jones), our new drummer, is an amazing player. She could out-drum any guy we put her up next to. She’s a hard hitter, she hits like a man, in fact she hits harder than most of the guys we know. She’s just phenomenal, and we’ve never had a line-up like this before. Our band has never had four members who all believe in themselves, the project and admire and respect each other like this. This is something that I didn’t know was possible. We’re so happy!
“When we met Tosha, we all said we felt like we’d been in a past life together.”
Once the band were settled in LA, they actually expected not to come back to Australia on a regular basis, for a while anyway. But it hasn’t turned out that way. They have been back a few times for tours, and are now here again for a show in Sydney with American southern metallers Hellyeah and some headliners of their own. Plus they will be back yet again in December for a nationwide jaunt with US female fronted rockers Halestorm.
“It was supposed to be once!” She exclaims, “and it (a tour) wasn’t even supposed to happen. It was March, and we had to come back to the country to collect our visas, because there was a bit of a complication. So we decided to throw a last minute tour together. Then we got the Seether show, and that was amazing, in front of about 2000 people, and then we got Hellyeah in Sydney.
“Then we found out Halestorm are touring, and now we’re coming back again in December, so it’ll be nice to show the new guys around in an Aussie summer.”
As someone who did hard yards upon hard yards, and has now bitten the bullet and re-located to a much bigger market, Ignite is in an excellent position to advise younger bands who may be thinking of doing the same.
“Do it!” She states emphatically. “Lots of people contact me all the time, about ‘how did you get to America?’ Everybody’s contacting me, wanting to go to America now. Firstly, you need a working visa, and to get a working visa you need to prove that you are the top of your field in the country. America doesn’t want artists there, so they make it really hard.
“With the way things are now, I would say get out of Australia, but get out after you’ve made waves in your home country first,” she continues her advice. “That’s what we did, but we got to a point where the same amount of people were coming to the shows, which was really good numbers, but we weren’t getting the industry support that we needed. We got noticed overseas, so we took that opportunity the first chance that we had, and we got signed within 12 months.
“I’m not saying that will happen for everybody, we had done our hard work in Australia, so that’s why it was a quick process. So hone your craft first. You don’t want to attack when your album is seven out of ten, you want to attack when your album is ten out of ten.”
Sage and valuable advice to young bands considering making the move, from someone who knows their shit.
Thursday 27th August at The Metro, Sydney
Melbourne Headline Show
Friday 28th August at Max Watts (Formerly Hi Fi Bar); with w/ Tequila Mockingbyrd, Chasing Lana, Acolyte and Black Dog
Sunday 30th August – Acoustic full band show at Woody’s in Collingwood
Tuesday 8 December – 170 Russell, Melbourne
Wednesday 9 December – The Gov, Adelaide
Friday 11 December – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Saturday 12 December – ANU Bar, Canberra
Sunday 13 December – Manning Bar, Sydney
Tuesday 15 December – The Tivoli, Brisbane
Photo by: Enzo Mazzeo