You may have heard of the band. You may have seen the stickers. You know they exist. But have you seen them play live? Blank’s music mistress Mella Bunker recently caught up with Tokyo Beef’s bass player Mykel Nikiforides, drummer Joel Dillion and newest addition, singer Dru Dixon to discuss the winning recipe of Tokyo Beef’s line up and why you need to see them live.
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I have been recommended by numerous friends to check Tokyo Beef out but they were always a bit of a mystery to me so I never quite pulled finger to make the effort and see them. Well guess what? They’re playing the Gold Coast Show of all places, and they’re one of the Gold Coast’s loudest hard rock bands.
Tokyo Beef have been around for around eight years with founding members Graeme Treanor (who was on holiday in Hawaii when I spoke to the band) on rhythm guitar and Peter Punk on lead. Multi-instrumentalist Mykel Nikiforides (who came onboard three years ago) lays down the bass grooves, Joel Dillon is on drums and singer Dru Dixon came onboard just two months ago.
The band has seen a number of line up changes over the years (Benny D Williams was the original singer before he moved onto his solo career as loop maestro) for various reasons.
“Guys like to move on or they are getting too old for the business. We are all up there, over 40,” reasons Nikiforides who saw Tokyo Beef play Swell festival one year and mused about being in the band. He answered a Gumtree ad a year later.
Joel Dillon who has played drums in pipe bands, orchestra’s and the Sydney Opera House stepped in after the band’s previous drummer stopped part way through a set, waved his sticks and said ‘I can’t do this anymore.’
Newest addition Dru Dixon has music in his heart and blood. He comes from a musical family and was surrounded by it from day dot, in fact his uncle was in Mondo Rock and father was in The Daly Wilson Big Band.
“I was really quiet at an early age because I was surrounded by all these fantastic people, I just kept my mouth shut,” he told me. It wasn’t until he travelled to London where Dixon finally found his voice and started playing music. Upon returning to Australia and after a brief spell in the country, Dixon was invited by Nikiforides to try out as new singer and after initial hesitation from other members, has brought his own presence to the band. Nikiforides reckons Dixon has “mellowed the band down in a good way”.
Whilst there are still antics on stage, the recipe is almost perfect. Band members think perhaps if lead guitarist Punk pulled back a bit on playing over the top of everyone the formula might be better. “He’s on his own trip, like a jazz musician,” says Dillon. However all agree he shreds on guitar and it wouldn’t be Tokyo Beef without him.
Due to Queensland’s tight noise restrictions, Tokyo Beef can’t play many venues. Sure they could tone it down but that’s not their style. They’re loud, hard and fast. Lucky for the band they have a loyal fan base who provide arenas for them to play, like a recent skateboarding event run by Stoke Skate called Mudgeerabarby or Burleigh Boardriders who host gigs on the beach.
“Open air gigs” says bass player Nikiforides suit them because they can go loud. 120db loud. Their music has also featured on Channel One’s Blokesworld and there’s a cool video on Coastalwatch featuring their music to a rad surf clip that has received over 20,000 hits.
“Keep what you have by giving it away” is important to the band according to Nikiforides they are passionate about music but not so passionate about the music trade which is why they self manage and remain casual.
Do your thing from their self titled album is about them having nothing to prove, “the minute we start taking things seriously it all falls apart,” a lesson they say was learned from past experience in other bands. But don’t let that casual attitude mislead you. While they may play for anything from a carton of beer to a $1000 gig, Tokyo Beef mean business. They do it for the love of music and to show the younger generation how it’s done.
For a place like the Gold Coast that lacks the plethora of live music venues other cities have, where bands can play loud, Tokyo Beef reckon it’s important for band’s like themselves to pass the mantle on to younger bands like emerging rockers The Vernons who are starting to gain traction in the music charts. Nikiforides who happens to be uncle to Vernon’s lead guitarist James Nikiforides regularly shares his experiences with the members of his nephew’s band. Tokyo Beef are unofficial mentors to upcoming rock bands and I sure hope they stick around long enough for my kids to see what true Aussie pub rock sound like in the flesh.
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Tokyo Beef play the Gold Coast Show on Friday 28 August at 6.45pm & Saturday 29 August at 2.00pm