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Pushing The Needle To The Red With GEOFF O’LEARY From PISTONFIST

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“We pretty much mentally had pulled the pin.”

Geoff O’Leary

It has been a well deserved breakthrough 18-month period for Brisbane rock outfit PistonFist that saw the band not only deliver their debut album RedLine, but also power through support slots with Jane’s Addiction, The Smashing Pumpkins, Cancer Bats, The Poor and Alice Cooper.

Despite setbacks that threatened to blow their motor, PistonFist time and time again regrouped and embraced the change to emerge triumphant and in more demand than ever before. But, as a wise man once said, a band’s true character can only surface in times of extreme hardship or adversity. Or he would have if the wise man knew anything about the music industry as a whole.

What started as the logical next step in the evolution of PistonFist when invited to tour Europe with original Slipknot vocalist Anders Colsefni quickly turned into a maelstrom of unwanted disaster when Colsefni pulled the pin on the run of shows not long after PistonFist had finished paying the bulk of the tours expenses. It was a pivotal moment in the future and career of the band, who not only had to weigh up the potential destruction of heading out on the tour of a lifetime, but also the very real prospect of more or less throwing a small fortune down the proverbial drain.

After a pow-wow with the other two bands scheduled to be part of the tour – Sin Soto and Kaosis – the bands collectively decided to push forward and try to salvage at least something from the rapidly darkening dream. The first point of order was to secure the venues to play at, the second was coming up with a band high enough in stature to join the tour that would draw a crowd and make the tour an enticing proposition for venues and countries that would likely have never heard of any of the three bands other than the fact they may have briefly seen their name on a tour poster that was now null and void.

Their solution? Piece together two tribute bands featuring the existing cast of musicians that would put bums on seats and also not demand more money than they were worth. Thus, the Prodigy and Slipknot tribute bands were born, and the tour was back on!

PistonFist frontman Geoff O’Leary joined HEAVY recently for a chat about the tour and what has been a whirlwind period for the band, starting with the boys finally getting recognised by the powers that be and given the opportunity to shine on the big stage.

“It’s an interesting one,” he measured. “We’ve definitely busted our bums. We did the Australian and New Zealand tour last year with Anders and Waylon (Reavis, Mushroomhead), two really, really good guys, and we had a fat time. Smashing Pumpkins was great, but the one for me that’s a bit of a standout was Alice Cooper. It was amazing. We’ve never been looked after so well at a show. We’re fortunate, no doubt, but at the same time we worked hard. We’ve worked on all the things, too – and this is one for the young bands that are listening. The social media, the consistent rehearsals, just busting your balls is well worth it. I think the thing is we love it. We’re not making money – it’s costing us money, no doubt – but we love it. That’s where it’s at. And I think if you don’t love it, don’t waste your time.”

In the full interview, Geoff talks more about the European tour, how it was salvaged and how close it came to being abandoned, the rise of PistonFist, lessons learnt from playing with bands like Cancer Bats, touring overseas for the first time and what he expecting, the value of honesty and trust in the music industry, having to relearn and play drums for the first five shows of the tour, anticipated problems, their upcoming new single and more.

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