Locked out: An interview with Art Vs. Science and The Dune Rats on Lockout Laws

Chris Daniel talks to Sydney band Art Vs. Science and Brisbane band The Dune Rats about the lockout laws from a musician’s perspective. 

Let me break it down for you. You are in Sydney. It’s about 1:00 in the morning and you realise if you don’t make a quick decision of where to go within the next half an hour, you will either be stuck in the same filthy pub for the next hour and a half, or even worse, you will be locked out with nowhere to go. That leaves you with the hard decision of quit and go to sleep, throw a spontaneous house party or result to the alcohol content from a KFC hand wipe. How could they possibly take away our drinks from the one place we have left!?

What a disgrace! An utter nightmare! Our society is doomed indefinitely!

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Image via the commons.

Get over it; it’s not the end of the world.

Despite it’s successful implementations within Newcastle diminishing alcohol-induced violence on the streets, the lockout laws have created a larger spectrum of issues within Sydney, all of which extend beyond those petty concerns about not being able to order a Jägerbomb at 4am anymore.

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Image via the commons.

Ever since these laws have come into the limelight, the primary concern has revolved around the destruction of a culture, a result of operating times of bars and nightclubs being cut short. However, if we take alcohol out of the equation, we can see the already devastating effects of these laws on other elements within Sydney. Most mentionable, the once diverse and vibrant live music scene.

With a decline of 40 percent in ticket sales and gig attendance records showing a decrease beyond 19 percent, controversy has sparked, but has been seemingly overlooked. Earlier in the year, Sydney’s CBD played host to 15,000 people, rallying as part of the ‘Keep Sydney Open’ petition. A fitting finish as it concluded in Hyde Park with live performances from Art Vs. Science, Nina Las Vegas and Royal Headache.

Why is it such a big deal you ask? Sydney is home to a great number of large music venues, welcoming not only prominent national acts but also attracts a hefty roster of international artists too. Just this year artists including Foals, Django Django, Bloc Party and The Wombats have performed in theatres around the city. Although these names attract a sellout crowd, it leaves both local and national artists out of the picture, meaning they are just a few who are suffering the consequences of the lockout laws. With businesses shutting down all over the city due a significant decline of foot traffic and forced closure of bars and nightclubs, crowds are beginning to shy away from gigs as they either have nowhere to go afterwards, or can’t be bothered using public transport to outer city suburbs.

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The once lively Kings Cross, now a ghost town. Image via Inthemix

It may be a hard idea to process, but for entertainers alike, these laws have impacted many vital aspects within the industry. Ticket sales, gig attendance and set times are just a few to mention. Here is what a couple of musicians had to say.

Art Vs. Science

The Sydney electronic trio that have banded together with the public to fight for the awareness of these laws. The three-piece has provided the anti-lockout theme ‘You Got To Stop’.

An interview with Daniel Williams (Drummer):

Do you think the lockout laws will improve or destroy the culture within Sydney?
“The laws are already in place, and we can already see the effects of what they can do. So far it has destroyed the nightlife because after a certain time, no one knows where to go or what to do, either be locked in the same bar or nightclub or whatever until 3am, or move on and end up at a house party.”

Musicians and night-based businesses are the losers behind the grand scheme. Who are the winners?
“Definitely. We are suffering the consequences from the laws. Performers have seen ticket sales crash whilst businesses have shut down as well. Somewhere down the track there is probably a politician who has made a lot of money imposing these laws, so I guess he is the real winner here.”

For someone like Mike Baird or a politician of his sort, what do you have to say to him or her?
“Man, I’m not really qualified to say anything to a politician, but if I had the chance I would just have to ask them why, and maybe reconsider what is being put into place here.”

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Dan Williams, drummer for Art Vs. Science at the Cambridge. Photo via Brooke Tunbridge. 

The Dune Rats

Brisbane band who have become somewhat accustomed to the idea of lockout laws that are soon coming into effect within the city.

(Considering that Brisbane has a far denser population than Sydney, and Sydney has a much larger area and far more venues, the music scenes from both cities probably won’t suffer the same consequences.)

Interview with BC Michaels (Drummer and vocalist):

Do you think the lockout laws will improve or destroy the culture within Sydney?
“Well its kind of like a music festival. Police bring a sniffer dog in, and to let a canine off onto some bloke who is just trying to jump the fence is a little too far. So with the lockout laws, its kind of like the government is trying to punish the rest of the population just for the one percent. But that’s just my view.”

Musicians and night-based businesses are the losers behind the grand scheme. Who are the winners?
“The general population are the losers, so i guess there is really no winners. Maybe a politician who gets more votes by conservatives sure, he could be considered as a winner. Im not good at politics as you can see.”

For someone like Mike Baird or a politician of his sort, what do you have to say to him or her?
“Maybe answer the real questions, not just avoid the answer.”

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The Dune Rats at Party in the Park. Photo via Chris Daniel

Interviews conducted at Party In The Park (The Dune Rats) and Super Sundae Fundaze (Art Vs. Science)

Feature image via the commons. No changes made.