Adam Crowe is the founding guitarist in legendary Perth Hardcore outfit Miles Away. His band has toured over 15 countries around the world. More impressively they have done this 100% independently with a DIY work ethic that I found really inspirational and I think you will too.
In this Interview with Adam, I get to the bottom of how a Perth based band with zero Triple J play managed to build a cult following not just in Australia but across the globe; How they managed to fund a 5 month world tour to places as far flung as Malaysia, Mexico and Hungary; Adam shares his perspective on how a young band jamming at The Hen House can fulfil their dreams of touring O/S; and finally we discuss the lasting impact touring the globe has had on the members themselves.
On a personal level I have really enjoyed watching the rise of Miles Away over the past 10 years. I remember meeting singer Nick Horsnell at early Gyroscope shows back in the late 90s. His passion for local music was strong and he’d often be singing along and supporting to a multitude of local band shows years before he became a singer himself. This band is true success story in the Perth music scene. Enjoy the article and be sure to share it with your band mates and let us know what you think in the comments section.
MILES AWAY – Endless Roads
ROB: For the uninitiated can you please give the reader an idea of the Miles Away story.
ADAM: So in a nutshell, Miles Away started up in 2002 consisting of 5 young guys, fresh out of high school, who wanted to play punk/hardcore music together. We never expected the band to tour overseas, let alone to even play real venues in our own city. So when we first received an offer to jump on an east coast Australian tour with ‘I Killed The Prom Queen’ in 2004, we actually thought it was a joke! We seriously couldn’t understand why Common Bond Records wanted to press our music, nor could we fathom as to why people would wish to come see us play on the other side of the country. After a few years of ‘getting in the van’ to play shows across our own continent, we started to expand our horizons to see where in the world we could play, and how we could make it work. Thirteen years later and we acknowledge that we’ve been very fortunate in this band to have been able to see the globe numerous times over, while playing the music we love and hanging out with our best friends throughout the entire journey.
ROB: Miles Away spring to mind more than any other Perth band when it comes to O/S Touring. Can you please give us a quick overview of some of the countries you have toured? How long was each tour roughly?
ADAM: We’ve definitely hit up a few countries over the years. Japan, Slovenia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Mexico, Scotland, Indonesia, Sweden, Portugal, USA, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Canada, to name a few. Most tours were about 30-40 days long, and depending on our locations there were a few tours which we did back to back. For example in 2008 we planned a tour called “The Endless Summer”. We started off with an Australian tour and then headed over to South East Asia and Japan for a month. Straight from Tokyo we flew to Frankfurt where we started a 30 date European tour with our brothers in Cruel Hand, then we flew with them over to the USA where we undertook another 30 days on the road around the country. So just by talking with friends who also played in bands, we put together a solid 5 months of non-stop touring across the globe.
ROB: How many years after starting the band did you first tour overseas?
ADAM: The band had been together for just over three years before we did our first international tour. We had finished a great summer tour in Australia with Champion, Betrayed and Internal Affairs in 2005. After making friends with those bands, and one man in particular Corey Williams from Internal Affairs, asked if we would want to come tour the USA with them. After exchanging multiple emails across the Pacific, we had an East Coast and a West Coast tour booked in the US. We then thought to contact a Japanese booker to lock in a two-week tour before we arrived in the States and then booyah, our first international tour was happening.
ROB: Was it daunting organising that first tour? From an outside perspective it seems really gutsy from a financial point of view. What was your thought process at that point. Did it not make more sense to Tour Australia?
ADAM: We knew from the word go that being a band that wanted to play as much as possible wasn’t going to be easy on the bank account. But instead of saving our money to buy lowered Commodores’ or going on month long benders on a party bus across Europe, the band collectively decided to save as much money as we could in order to fund national and overseas touring. We wanted to see as much of the world as we could, and if we could do so while playing music at the same time, well what band could hope for anything greater? Any savings the band had was spent on the flights, but for the most part, we paid for it all out of our own pockets.
ROB: As you progressed onto more O/S tours were you able to get to a position to breakeven or even make money? What advice can you give to bands that help keep costs down as well as how to best generate income to cover expenses whilst you are on the road.
ADAM: To be honest, overseas touring is always going to be rough. Especially in the beginning. MA would usually do a couple of national tours to get some money in the kitty, and then use those savings to get us overseas to play to new crowds and also to explore new corners of the planet. The main advice I’d give to young bands is to try and do as much as you can yourself without hiring a manager or agent to run your band. There’s no short cut to getting on an overseas tour, so don’t try and pay someone the little money you have to swoon you onto some package tour. Play as much as you can in your city and your country, even if that means paying out your own pockets for the first couple of tours. Crash at friend’s places, borrow a van, print your own merch, and most importantly write music that is more than just a mangled collection of your current influences. Write from the heart and push yourself and your sound until you have something that is unique, creative and most importantly, something you are happy with and reflects who you are.
ROB: How does a band from Perth book such extensive tours around the globe?
ADAM: Ever since day one, we have all worked fulltime jobs to sustain ourselves and contribute to the band’s activity. We never split the MA kitty. Even today, it just sits there until we decide on what the band wishes to do next. Whether it be an international tour or to go overseas and record a new album in a studio of our choice. We have never once had an agent or a manager. Our record labels have helped us in regards to promoting our music in certain regions of the world (Six Feet Under-USA, Anchors Aweigh-Europe, Resist-Australia, Alliance Trax-Japan & Brainwreck-South East Asia), which has helped us to get the exposure we need to get our music out there. However, everything we have achieved has been done through playing music, meeting other bands, and making new friends around the globe.
ROB: Can you give us a few highlights from your overseas touring? Favourite destinations or memories.
ADAM: Where shall I begin…? This question is actually the hardest to answer as all of our tours have been amazing, for many different reasons. Of course our first experience playing out of the country (a city in Japan called Matsuyama) was completely mind blowing. I was 20 years old and couldn’t believe that my band was playing show after show in a country where people knew our music, and stage dived, sung along and danced to our music, just like we were used to in Perth. It was a really warming and welcoming feeling. Then to be in the US (which is where our genre of music came from) was a very exciting, overwhelming, and an almost daunting feeling. To be playing shows with Panic, Iron Age, Outbreak, Internal Affairs, Go it Alone, Blue Monday, Iron Boots, Betrayed, Trash Talk and Cruel Hand, bands which we looked up to and never would have imagined to be sharing the stage with, it was a really incredible time.
But then of course as we became more accustomed to international touring, we began to look at it in a way which enabled us to escape from the normality of life back home, to get on the road with your mates, and see new places and cultures and meet new people. Spending most of our 20’s out on the road, introduced us to a new way of looking at life.
Speaking for myself, I learnt how to appreciate the little things, and I also learnt how lucky we are in Australia to have clean running water, access to health and education and to be able to speak our minds without having being oppressed or punished for doing so. The effects of touring is also present in our lives today. Nick is getting married to his Italian sweetheart Laura this year, Cam is constantly being visited by the French, bike-riding, nutella eating legend Herve, and I’m living/studying in Berlin. None of this would exist if Miles Away didn’t take that risk and pour our hearts and wallets into getting that first international tour.
ROB: What would be your advice to a young band jamming down at the hen house that wants to follow in your footsteps. What do they need to do first when it comes to undertaking such a massive step.
ADAM: In my opinion (which is ONLY my opinion) young bands should question what it is they’re doing and why they are doing it. If you’ve just started a band in hope to become the next big thing, I’d say you need to re-think your motives for playing music. Firstly, you want to be playing music with people you connect with on a both a personal and musical level. You wanna write songs with people who work with you, not against you and you also want to spend months on the road with people you enjoy being around, and not just for the 30 minutes you’re on stage together each night. Once this foundation is established, the rest will begin to develop itself. By sharing and building on like minded musical ideas, your songs will be stronger, which should lead to well received releases, followed by well deserved tours.
ROB: You have been living in Berlin for the past few years. How have you managed to still write a new album?
ADAM: Yeah I moved to Berlin 4 years ago which was right at the end of the Endless Roads touring cycle. As you can imagine, the writing process for the new record was definitely different. Not being in a room with all of MA felt pretty strange, but it wasn’t too different from the way we wrote ‘Endless Roads’ and writing in so many different locations was also really fun, inspiring and rewarding. Majority of the record was written in my apartment in Berlin. The riffs, song ideas and lyrics were sent back and forth via email so that all of us were able to share our opinions and arrange/critique the songs in anyway we could. And as we don’t have a permanent drummer, we had friends in Perth, Berlin, Sardinia and Boston help with that side of things, depending on where I was at the time of each writing period. So it took a little longer than usual, but that wasn’t an issue for us. In fact, I think the gap between releases has really helped us to push the band further on a musical level, while still maintaining the Miles Away sound. Well that’s how I see it anyway. I’m looking forward to how it’s received come Autumn.
ROB: What does the future hold for Miles Away?
ADAM: I don’t want to give to many secrets away, but we do have some cool plans for the future. This weekend we start our mini-tour to promote our third self-released 7” titled ‘Weathered’. The tour kicks off in Leederville this Friday night at the Babushka Bar!
We also have a bunch more planned for later in the year based around the release of our upcoming full length which you will be hearing about in the coming weeks.
Big thanks to Adam for taking the time to share so many awesome insights into what it takes to tour O/S. I hope you enjoyed that. Miles Away are about to launch into another national tour and you can see the dates below. Such an amazing live band!!!
Rob Nassif – The Hen House Rehearsal Studios