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Hamish Rosser Q&A: the Vines’ drummer tackles Smith’s questions

Posted by Sophie Davies on October 17th, 2011

Hamish Rosser, drummer with the VinesHe drums for Aussie alt-rock band The Vines, he microbrews his own beer and he DJs at some of Sydney’s coolest bars. OK, so he claims to be a fairly average surfer, but what’s not to like about Hamish Rosser? When not touring with the band, Smith tastemaker Hamish (right) loves travelling, even penning a review of South Coast retreat Woodbyne in New South Wales. Here he shares his take on music, bands to watch, gig venues and travel hotspots…

What first inspired you to get into music?
It all started when I heard Joan Jett’s ‘I Love Rock ’n Roll’ when I was eight years old. That was my anthem and I took up guitar just so I could learn to play it. Unfortunately, my teacher made me practise scales instead of power chords, so by the age of 11 I’d saved money from my paper round, bought a drum kit and become obsessed with hair metal – hey, it was the Eighties.

The Vines, with Hamish Rosser How did you hook up with the Vines, and what’s with the name (a wine fetish)?
As much as I love a good shiraz, the name actually came from lead singer Craig Nicholls’ father who had a band called the Vynes in the Sixties. I hooked up with the guys in December 2001 after the original drummer quit and the band ran a ‘Drummer Wanted’ classified ad in the Sydney street press. At the time I was looking for something new and was in the habit of auditioning for any band that sounded like they had potential. Needless to say, I struck gold with the Vines.

How would you describe your sound and who are your musical heroes?
Psychedelic punk rock. My heroes include the Beatles, James Brown, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Jeff Buckley, Nirvana, the Dandy Warhols, the Strokes, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Jack White (in all his many incarnations).

The Vines new album Future PrimitiveTell us about your new album Future Primitive – any tricky ‘fifth album’ traumas creating it?
This album came together pretty easily. We had a long period of rehearsing new material before we hit the studio so we were well prepared. We also brought in Chris Colonna as producer and his unorthodox and youthful approach really comes through. We stepped outside our comfort zone a little but it didn’t take us too long.

Any tips for Australian bands worth checking out?
Some great Aussie bands are Tame ImpalaEddy Current Suppression RingChildren CollideThe Grates and Art vs. Science.

Hamish behind the drum kit, JakartaYou’ve just toured Australia. What do you love/hate about life on the road?
I love touring because I love to travel. I’ve come to know Australia’s capital cities pretty well from my frequent visits and feel at home anywhere. The worst part about touring is early morning flights. I’d have to say that touring Europe is the most enjoyable. We travel by bus but this is certainly no Contiki tour. Waking up every day in a new country and discovering a new language, new cuisine and, of course, the excellent selections of beer and wine is a real treat. Playing places like Jakarta (left), Indonesia’s capital, was a buzz, too.

Any favourite local live music venues?
The best Sydney venues are the Annandale, Oxford Art Factory, The Standard, Metro Theatre and Enmore Theatre. Melbourne has the legendary Tote, Northcote Social Club, The Hi-Fi and the magnificent Forum.

Tell us about your corner of the world – what would you show a visiting pal?
I live in Redfern and I love that it’s so close to everything that Sydney has to offer. All the bars, cafés and restaurants of Surry Hills are just across the road and we’re not far from the beach, either.

The thing that sets Sydney apart from any other city though is the water, both the harbour and the beaches, so if I’m showing it off to visitors a trip across the harbour to Manly via the Manly Ferry (right) is an impressive way to start. It ticks a lot of boxes – Opera House, Harbour Bridge, multimillion-dollar waterfront mansions – and finishes with one of Sydney’s better surf beaches. Manly has come a long way in the last 15 years and has a lot to offer in terms of dining and drinking.

Who would be your ideal travel companion?
Depending on where we’re going, it’s a toss-up between Bear Grylls and a Victoria’s Secret model.

Do you have any hotel hates?
Usually when I’m staying in a hotel I’m on tour, and that means late nights, so I like to sleep in the next day. Thin curtains that let in the dawn sunlight can spoil my lie-in; and there’s nothing worse than staff that insist on knocking on the door to make the bed or check the minibar despite the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.

Where’s the most romantic place you’ve been with a partner?
New Zealand and South Africa (Cape Town, left) are pretty amazing, and Fiji is a fabulous retreat for romance and tranquility.

Good to hear – we’re just off to Fiji to find new hotels for Smith. Where’s next on your wish-list?
Buenos Aires. I visited South America in 1997, but missed out on Argentina. From what I’ve heard it’s the Paris of the Americas.

Tune in again soon to hear about Mr & Mrs Smith’s latest and greatest discoveries, including new hotels in Fiji…

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