West Australian reggae band Oz Island are on the move. They formed in Perth, but the band members come from all over Australia. They’ve been around for a while now but recently released their debut album called better life. Deadly sounds caught up with guitarist, Fabian Cox.
Deadly Sounds: You have your debut album coming out, and it has a really interesting mix of Northern Australian musicians.
Fabian Cox: Yes, we come from all the way up in Maningrida in the Northern Territory, all the way down to Beagle Bay and through the Kimberleys.
DS: That is a huge distance, from north-east Arnhem Land right across to the west coast. How did you guys all get together?
FC: We were all studying at Abmusic in Perth. Geoffrey James and Patrick Laurel had already formed a band and then we decided to form Oz Island.
DS: It is such a mix, not only of languages but also of musical styles. Your debut album Better Life is a great album for a start… And I believe you guys have all been in other bands?
FC: Yes, Japeth James was writing songs and the other boys were in various bands.
DS: Which bands were you in?
FC: I was in a band called Fallout in Kununurra and some other bands in Perth.
DS: A lot of bands have formed out of Abmusic and the Pigram Brothers have proved that you can live on the west coast and have a good career in music. Are you touring to release the album?
FC: We want to tour mid next year – first a tour of WA, then Australia after that.
DS: We often hear about the politics happening over in the west – the big issues. With you being associated with
your family and a number of family cultural tourism businesses… do you guys get approached to write songs about what is happening on country or to get involved with the demonstrations and so forth?
FC: We got the chance to do a song on the album through mental- health issues and we have had a lot of people asking us to do festival gigs and stuff like that.
DS: How do you feel about being on the west coast and all of this discussion about gas going through? How does it personally affect you?
FC: I am not happy about it… I am against mining – anything to do with it.
DS: Western Australia has some of the biggest mines in the world and it has been going on for quite a long time and has been the subject of films and stories and people getting involved, from George Negus and the Butlers to Mitch Torres and community people – many people have cultural tourism businesses that keep that area together and get tourists to come and see that pristine environment of that west coast. One of the things that keeps people moving is music – the track “Gorrngunya” – what language group is that?
FC: It is Burarra language from Maningrida. It is Japeth James’ language.
DS: There is a song on the album called “Soul Mates” – tell us a bit about that?
FC: It is a song that I wrote with my soul mate. It was written as a duet for a male and female, but I changed the words around so a male could sing it. It is about me and my wife.
DS: You are a romantic at heart – most musicians are.
DS: (Oz Island is an interesting name for a band. Who came up with that one?
FC: Geoffrey James came up with that one.
DS: What is behind it?
FC: Australia is an island. So this is music for all of Australia.
DS: Have you noticed that there aren’t as many reggae bands starting up out there?
FC: Yes, there haven’t been many coming out lately.
DS: Keep an eye out for Oz Island and their new album Better Life.
Better Life is released by Too Solid Records and distributed through MGM and Skinnyfish Music. The album is also available on iTunes and through all good music retail outlets.
For more information about the band check out: www.ozisland.com.au