Hindley Street Country Club – 71 musicians seeking a new future
By Julius Grafton
On July 20, Adelaide’s Thebarton Theatre will put up the ‘house full’ sign for a concert by local band Hindley Street Country Club. They are a band born on Facebook that play what they call ‘thinking man’s pop’. With more than a million song plays, this collective of professional musicians punch above their weight online and are forging a new business model for live music.
Everyone working behind the scenes in music and technical production can learn from this. It’s a project that started with an idea that quickly took off. Now Hindley Street Country Club – or HSCC as it is easier to search – are approaching the next phase.
Back in the old days of 2017, Darren Mullan and Constantine Delo were, respectively a studio operator and a bass playing arranger. Due to their inherent talent and business savvy they both enjoyed a career in one of the smallest of our state capitals.
“You hear in music circles about DRAB-elaide, SAD-elaide. BAD-elaide”, Darren said. Then: “If you’re any good you gotta leave town.” But strangely many didn’t. Adelaide is the capital of South Australia with a population of 1.3 million, and it has produced a heavy roster of major acts. Today there is an army of super talented musicians living right there, on Saint Vincent Gulf, in a town where you can watch a sunset over the water.
Ahead of the July concert, HSCC are dropping one song a week on Facebook and YouTube. These get shared and shared and viewed, and the word spreads everywhere across the globe. A lot of eyes are now on the project, led by Darren and Con. Darren does the recording and keyboards, while Con is the bass player and arranger.
They have a great dynamic – CX interviewed them on a Monday afternoon at the start of Winter in Darren’s studio, Adelaide Recording Studios. It’s a simple but viby working space with 32 inputs, and the studio interface rack of stuff – Logic, MOTU, Steinberg.
There’s something about wired people. These guys have bounce, charisma and vigour. Let’s explore what is happening here.
Back in late 2017 the guys posted a bunch of songs under the Hindley Street Country Club moniker. Anyone who knows Adelaide will know there is nothing upmarket about Hindley Street – it’s a gritty avenue of bars and strip clubs. Rock singer Shannon Noll was arrested outside a club there a few years back and put it into further and better (or worse) notoriety.
Because Con and all of his cohort had – and still do – play in cover bands up and down that street, they penned the name because it has the opposite upmarket connotation. It localises the project into Adelaide, since a lot of Australia knows that damn street. It is to Adelaide what St. Kilda is to Melbourne, and Kings Cross WAS to Sydney. (Before that state government decided to shut down an entire nightlife!)
For the first year, they shot everything on one camera in Darren’s studio, working on a one-day, one song a week regime.
(Below: Sure Know Something had 250,000 Facebook views in a month)
The clips caught our eyes at CX because of the one camera simplicity, the musicality, and the great and consistent mix. Simple consistency is often missing when people try to do multi-camera shoots and edit various takes.
Towards the end of 2018 they moved out to location, with the Chaka Khan cover, ‘I’m Every Woman’ lighting up social media. Shot at the Palais Hotel, on a lovely sunny day, the sight of Sarah Lloyde backed by Melissa McCaig and Pina Del Re absolutely ignited social media.
The tech was again surprisingly simple. Darren engaged Peadar McBride as camera operator. Peadar also owns a Soundcraft Ui24 – a very handy 22 input audio mixing system designed by Melbourne’s Danny Olesh. The Ui24 is the backbone of the HSCC live shoot.
“The Ui24 is the only thing that can do it”, Darren says. “Everything goes in the one box, we use an iPad, 22 inputs with all takes and tracks recorded onto a USB stick. When we shoot on location, you can’t hear the singer. We use in-ears for the singers – the musicians can’t hear the singers. They focus on the groove!”
“When you shoot live, you must not amplify the vocals. You don’t want the spill. I trigger the kick drum – Con plays a Gallien-Krueger 600w with a 4 x 10 box. ‘Bass must be loud!’ Con says. Drummer uses sticks – we feel every hit. Re-triggering the kick gets rid of the fluff – I use a digital kick, that’s instantly the HSCC sound.”
So about that song? “The song comes first, before the performer. A common feature is the songs appeal to our generation – they come from before kids and mortgages. Thinking man’s pop. Blue eyed soul”, says Con who arranges the music.
“The songs need to have strong lyrics”, says Darren.
(Below: ‘Im every woman’)
“Next season, after the Thebarton Concert, I have 15 songs lined up – and it will go to what we call ‘yacht rock’”, says Con.
Darren says he is unusual as he doesn’t do gigs, but Con does, and he gets a lot of people pitching at them. “There’s so many people, so many songs, not everyone can get a song.”
Con says: “a lot of people send stuff to me now, and some get pissed off because they can’t get on, but it doesn’t reflect badly on us. A lot of people want to do a video but then they don’t work so well on camera.”
Darren chimes in, “Red light syndrome – freaks some at the ‘Go, Record’ phase.”
Con: “On the shoot day I ask them to listen to the original song then disregard it. We build it on the day. I come in and know how I want the song to sound, but it is a beautiful collective!”
Darren: “This is old-school recording, we’re doing it live, all together, and it’s a benefit not hearing the singer.”
This defies conventional logic, but if you live in Adelaide you get used to working by a rule book that is perfectly SA Proud!
“I like that the musicians are a bit on edge” says Con. “And the last person to learn the song is Darren because he’s setting up. “It’s not sink or swim, but we never do more than six or seven takes.”
Darren: “We record audio of more takes than we film. I’ll record all, but film maybe three of them. It’s hard to use pitch correction but if someone hits a bad note – then it’s ‘skin grafted’, if I record the lot especially the early takes when the vocal is strong, I can grab a part.”
Con: “I knew things had changed when we recorded ‘Ride like the wind’, by Christopher Cross. We changed the chords – it wasn’t true to the original, it came out how we did it. As validation Christopher Cross wrote to us and said it was great! We re-interpret. That’s what we do. Barry Gibb heard our version of ‘How Deep is your Love’. The guys from Player, John Waite, they’re all hearing us.”
Making It Pay
Now there are over 60 songs online, with more than a million views, and the theatre gig is selling towards a full house on July 20. The only thing missing is – um – money.
“Great concept. How do they monetise it?” a musician mate asked me.
So far they haven’t. Every performer to date, all 7 drummers, 18 guitarists, 21 vocalists, 6 keyboards, 5 brass players, 1 mouthharp and 1 violin player have done it for love. “And, the video”, says Darren. “Most of them don’t have a better video than the one we made!”
And there are plenty more hot musicians in the area. “I have ten more people who Darren hasn’t even heard who can sing their arses off”, says Con.
What is in that water in Adelaide?
It’s all very nice, but eventually something involving money needs to happen. The guys are on to this.
“We are the go-to guys for a super-band, we can tour and back people”, says Darren.
“We could make a comfortable living doing new versions of old songs. There’s a lot of Australian acts – we can do our style with the artist singing”, says Con.
“We’re in S.A. Proud mode until the Thebby Theatre show – and then all bets are off”, says Darren. “We’re multitracking all our gigs and filming. We can take this anywhere!
HSCC have signed a Shure Sponsorship.
TICKETS TO THEBARTON THEATRE SHOW
(Buy from here, NOT Viagogo)
Arranger (Vocals and Bass): Constantine Delo
Producer (Vocals and Keyboards): Darren Mullan
Dino La Vista
Zkye Compson Harris
Pina Del Re
Most popular Songs Online (Free) At YouTube
(Interestingly the vast majority of views happen over at Facebook – 1.5 million so far)
WHOLE LIST (As at May 2019)
Curiosity Killed the Cat
Lady Wants to Know
Feel Like Making Love
I Can’t Go For That
Sex on Fire
Is This Love
Feels Like the First Time
Love the One You’re With
Ride Like the Wind
I Can’t Make You Love Me
Breakfast at Sweethearts
More Than Words
Are You Old Enough
If You Want Me to Stay
Heading in the Right Direction
It’s Too Late
Can We Still Be Friends
Rocky Mountain Way
One Day I’ll Fly Away
Who is He (and What is He to You)
Baby Come Back
Summer of 81
Maybe it’s Time
I’ll Be Around
April Sun in Cuba
I’m Every Woman
Killing Me Softly
Jesus is Just Alright
Walking on the Moon
Bette Davis Eyes
I Don’t Want To Talk About It
Chuck Es in Love
Wanna Be Startin’ Something
Isn’t It Time
How Deep Is Your Love
Sure Know Something
Rolling in the Deep
Lady What’s Your Name
Lonely is All I Do
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