Reaching out from the garden…

Hey there friends of The Offtopics, it’s Polash aka “The Funk Dynamo” here… though, to be honest, I haven’t been feeling very dynamic for most of this year. I know it’s been a long time since you’ve heard any updates from us and I apologize unreservedly. There have been some events besides the obvious global happenings going on for us that have made me want to gnaw off my time tapping foot rather than do a mail-out. This isn’t me substituting sounding mysterious for being interesting. Neither am I having a moan (who needs to hear that right now??) I’m just trying to keep things “real” for a moment.

It’s still hard for me to talk about it but I promise I will bring everyone up to speed over the coming weeks. Rest assured, we Offtopics, have been making plans to get some new music out there. It’s complicated by the same pressures that have been affecting everyone but it WILL happen.

In the meantime I want to share something super positive with you all. During lockdown I teamed up with my buddy Darius Kedros to record a solo EP which I’ve called “Polash From The Garden”. The EP has six songs on it, three of which Offtopics fans might recognize from our live shows. I really hope you enjoy these stripped back acoustic versions. The other three songs are originals from beyond The Offtopics’ wheelhouse though they may get funkified after the zombie apocalypse.

It wouldn’t be one of my projects without some beautiful visuals to go with it so I was absolutely thrilled to team up with Rebecca Stewart again and she’s come through with the goods. Here are some of her concept roughs to spark your interest.

There’s a whole story behind the visual ideas for the EP cover and if you’re keen I’ll do a deep dive in another email.

For now I just want to let you all know that the first single off the EP is called “Isolation (Tonight)” and will be available on all streaming platforms THURSDAY 19 NOVEMBER so SAVE THE DATE!

That’s it from me for the moment.  Please write back to say g’day. Don’t be like me and go quiet ‘cos the world is getting you down.  Right now, nothing would please me more than to have a bit of back and forth via email.

I hope you’re all hanging in out there. Lettuce know!

All the best,

Polash OTO*

AKA The Funk Dynamo
AKA The Love Wombat



(*Of The Offtopics)

Polash Larsen Announces First Single From His Upcoming Solo EP

Isolation (Tonight) will be available on all streaming platforms from Thursday 19th November 2020


‘Polash From The Garden’ is the forthcoming solo EP from The Offtopics songwriter & frontman and former Grenadines guitarist Polash Larsen. The EP is an introspective, reflective and occasionally whimsical offering from an artist more known for his on-stage antics and high energy performance persona.
Recording during the lockdown created unexpected opportunities to explore songs that couldn’t find their place in a band context. “It would have been easy to become negative, focusing on what we couldn’t do but we (Polash and sound designer and Tim Minchin engineer Darius Kedros) chose to lean into the limitations. If I couldn’t play it on guitar myself then we couldn’t bring someone else into the room to do it. There was no hiring fancy equipment. One of the tracks features a drum that Darius found in hard rubbish! I still try to focus on story when I write a song and the stripped back production puts the events and characters front and centre.”
A case in point is the single ‘Isolation (Tonight)’ which, in a subtle nod to the EP tittle, starts with a circular chord cycle similar to Van Morrison’s ‘In The Garden’ but then deviates into unexpected territory by contrasting languid vocal delivery with the underlying impatience of the rhythm guitar. “I wrote this song very early on in the pandemic thinking about people physically separated from their loved ones. It’s an anticipatory sort of song from the perspective of someone who’s trying to make the best out a date night over Zoom. It’s a song of frustrated romance.”
The EP makes a virtue of “making do” and is inspired by the acoustic bootlegs of Bobby Womack and Rick Rubin’s American Recordings with Johnny Cash. The EP title is a play on words referring to both the recording taking place at Kedros’ Garden Studio and the Bengali-Australian Polash being named for the flower from the Flame of The Forest tree. Illustrator Rebecca Stewart’s cover art was inspired by a New Delhi mobile Covid testing station depicting the artist as “the sort of Hindu god who keeps an arm free to pat dogs”.
http://www.theofftopics.com | management@theofftpics.com

Offtopics Dates, Gigs and More for 2020

Hi everyone!

Here’s the first newsletter for 2020.  Anyone tuned into our Instagram will have seen that we’ve resurfaced and we’re working on new tunes for the new year.  There’s plenty more to report vis a vis forthcoming gigs, recording plans and our funk dynamo’s India trip but before we get underway we have a bit of sad news to relate.  Keyboardist, ofttimes guitarist and founding member Mark “Bretho” Bretherton has announced that 2020 will be his last season playing midfield with The Offtopics.

Mark

He has some burning personal creative projects (including finishing that novel he’s been working on) to get through this year. Obviously we’re very sad to see him go but we support his endeavours. On the positive, he’s committed to playing the following two gigs so make sure you get along to those to wish him well.  We’re also looking for someone to fill his jumbo size converses so forward any recommendations if you know someone seeking to become a new hot topic…

BIG BOOTY AT THE BOWLO
The band is kicking off the year with a fun, family friendly show at the Thornbury Bowls club on Sunday 16th Feb.  We’re very excited to be entering into, what will hopefully be, an ongoing relationship with the promoters, Rinkydink as they seek to activate Bowls Clubs across Victoria.

The Offtopics at the Thornbury Bowlo

This is a ticketed show that includes barefoot bowls and bar prices that haven’t changed since the 1970s.  The band will play two funny, funky sets from 2:30pm. You can BYO a picnic and there’ll be prizes and giveaways on the day including a copy of our Back on the Zine Collection (valued at $100).

For more info as it pops up there’s a Fecebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/535132840575293/

SHEPP GOT SOUL 2020
Friday 27th of March we’re travelling further afield to The Vault in Shepparton for The Shepparton Festival where we’re collaborating with our good friends the Deans of Soul to put on a night of original, funky disco and dance music. Punters who came along to our show at Bar Open last year will have an idea of what’s in store as The Offtopics put out a vibe that’s kooky and rambunctious followed by the Deans being smooth and unctuous. Great fun WILL be had.

Shepp2020

Tickets go on sale at the end of January from: http://www.sheppartonfestival.org.au/

IN OTHER NEWS…
Our resident funk-dynamo is playing a solo acoustic show at the Foreigner Brewing Company on Thursday 6th Feb. He may, or may not, be getting paid in Pilsner…

Screen Shot 2020-01-22 at 4.14.27 pm

In any case come along around 6:30pm to hear him play a selection of Offtopics tunes and other old favourites.

You can find out more at the Facebook event.

NOOOOO CHOONS…

Plans are afoot to record and digitally release some new songs this year.  As you know there are stalwart tracks that get a good showing live like “The Love Wombat”, “One More Time (Now With Feeling), “Mr Tonight” or “Tomorrow is a Month Away” haven’t immortalized in code.  We’re going to try to get these onto the world wide web this year.  Make sure you stay in the loop for news about digital launches and download giveaways!

PARSI THE DUTCHIE ‘PON THE LEFT HAND SIDE

In the “Not entirely confirmed but geeze I hope we pull it off category” some of you might be aware that Polash went to Mumbai before Christmas to pursue a bizarre opportunity to play on a pair of floating restaurants moored outside the Taj Mahal Hotel and the Gateway to India for a luxury yachting event.  He’s always had smooth music leanings but this is probably ridiculous… Anyway – if the stars align we’ll be flying to Mumbai for the last weekend in November to play some gigs in India. Stay tuned…

Key dates

First Friday Funktacular at The Moldy Fig

The Offtopics Moldy Fig Residency

Special guests, long-form performance, theatricality and hijinx… These are all the things you get to flirt with when you have an ongoing relationship with a venue.  We’re very excited to announce the commencement of our residency at The Moldy Fig!  Dorelle, the owner and chef, enjoyed our first outing there featuring Tony Pain and Richard Giles from our buddies The Short Order Schefs so much that she invited us to be regulars once a month.

We’re looking forward to playing some laid-back New Orleans themed tunes during dinner and then serving up some crazy funk for dessert.  And, of course, playing at The Moldy Fig sees the return of our signature cocktail “The Stormy Steamboat”.

IMG_3377

More details on the Facebook event.  We hope to see you there sometime in the coming months!

The Offtopics with Mary Webb at Cross St

Cross St Poster 12 July.jpg

Coming up this Friday at Cross st is a funtacular winter warmer.  Your loveable purveyors of punch-drunk funk and unsteady rocksteady are doing an earlyish show at Cross St.  Supporting The Offtopics will be the delightful ex-Adelaide import Mary Webb.

Polash met Mary a couple of weeks ago at the I Manage My Music workshop and hit it off almost immediately (meaning she displayed a high tolerance for his Dad jokes). Mary’s voice has hints of Angie Hart and Suzanne Vega.  We’re hoping she adds a bit of class to our otherwise shambolic act.

Here she is a few years ago back in Radelaide:

Friday’s gig will be an EARLY one with Mary taking the stage around 7pm.  All the details are here on Facebook (if that’s your jam).

In other news, Tim our bass monster, has developed an obsession with this song:

What do you reckon? Should we cover it? Was Ian Dury taller than Polash?  Let us know!

Polash Goes Back in Time…

Polash Goes Back in Time The Brunswick Green Sunday 7 July 7pm

We have a few little announcements to make and the picture above is related to one of them.  More than just a gig, our resident Funk Dynamo, songwriter and showrunner has been working up a solo show of stories, songs and images.  It’s an intimate and personal journey through his life, his musical influences and how they relate to the songs he’s written over the years. It’s also an hilarious account of his parents’ marriage, their subsequent divorce and that time he took his father’s ashes to be scattered in the Ganges.

This showing at The Brunswick Green on Sunday 7 July is the second rendition of the show since the first one in May at Red Betty (see below).

Resized_20190502_202348_2705

He’s taking a slow and steady approach to this by presenting it in small venues every couple of months but eventually the plan is to take it around the country performing it in people’s living rooms.  It’s all about that search for a feeling of being at home…

Here he is feeling at home at Red Betty:

Resized_20190502_203443_9567

Find out more about the showing at The Brunswick Green here.

This focus on solo work doesn’t mean that The Offtopics are on hiatus – far from it!  Your favourite vendors of punchdrunk funk and unsteady rocksteady have shows coming up on Friday 12 July at the Cross St Hall.  Friday 2 August sees The Offtopics start a monthly residency at The Moldy Fig.

Watch our socials for more as it unfolds…

The Offtopics Eat A Moldy Fig

Why is the featured image a picture of Kraken rum?  Well it all has to do with the gig we have coming up at East Brunswick’s The Moldy Fig.

We’re playing for the first time at this delightful New Orleans themed bar, and to commemorate the occasion, their clever mixologists have come up with a signature cocktail called “The Stormy Steamboat” involving Kraken Spice Rum, passionfruit & lime charged with ginger beer and a spritz of grapefruit bitters.  Egad!  Surely a couple of those will make you as unsteady as our Rocksteady?!

This gig is happening on Saturday 1st June at 120 Lygon St East Brunswick.  The first set is at 9 and hopefully you can join us for what may turn into a beautiful relationship over time.  More details about the gig here on Facebook.  Let us know there if you’re coming (if that’s your jam) or just drop us a line via email. We’d love to hear from you.

Besides the inaugural signature cocktail we’re being joined onstage by a couple of guest players from The Short Order Schefs – Richard Giles on Sax and Tony Pain on guitar. Fans of the Schefs know just how good their musicianship is so you’re definitely in for a treat.  Music historians might recognize Tony from this 90’s era music video at about the 2 minute mark.

His hair’s a bit shorter now and he’s rocking a more blues funk approved axe but the question remains… “What is Australian culture?”

Maybe The Love Wombat will know?  Or Funky Grandma?  Debuting in the first set will be a new song introducing another quirky character to The Offtopics repertoire called “Mr Tonight”. Don’t miss it!

This should be a really fun one.  With all the doom, gloom and disappointment of the last couple of weeks we’re really looking forward to tearing it up at The Moldy Fig on Saturday 1st of June.

2018 wraps early for The Offtopics – but what a year it’s been!

While we’re only a few days into December we all know how crazy things can get in the coming weeks so I, your conscientious correspondent, thought I’d jot down a quick note about the year that was for our favourite purveyors of slapstick soul, punch-drunk funk and unsteady rocksteady.

The Offtopics played their last gig for 2018 at the legendary Festival of Folk, Rhythm and Life in Eldorado.  It was a tough slot that day on the Camping Stage as they had to follow a popular young act in the form of “The Northern Folk”.  Just as the Offtopics took the stage the capacity audience drained from the tent like someone had pulled the plug from a bath.  Where did they go, you might ask?  It just so happened that a true giant amongst troubadours was starting his set at the same time.  Archie Roach was on the famed Creek Stage and you could hardly begrudge the audience for voting with their feet.  Only those too listless to get up in the 33 degree heat remained at the Camping Stage… but get up they did as The Funk Dynamo’s antics demanded a quick caper in response.

FRL Camping StageSlowly a crowd gathered – perhaps drawn by a certainty that the suited one would succumb to heat stroke?  Those happy few who witnessed The Offtopics debut at FRL were left wanting more.  After the end of the set the tent refilled with perennial folk festival favourites “8-Foot Felix” just as a cool change came through and the temperature dropped to a more tolerable 26 degrees.

It was tough but, on balance, perhaps others had it harder?  Literal giant (as opposed to “true giant” – though perhaps he qualifies at that as well), and old mate of Linc and Polash – Kutcha Edwards had a prime time slot at dusk.  Unfortunately his audience also included a swarm of moths attracted by the stage lighting.  Kutcha was spitting wings and kid-friendly curses while still managing to put on a great show.

I make it all sound like a slog, actually, FRL was LOTS of fun and it represents a milestone for The Offtopics as their first gig away from Melbourne.  2018 had a lot of firsts.  The band completed its first series of releases – the much touted “Back on the Zine” records.  In what many might consider a radical departure from the norm, the band put out three vinyl singles and then an EP.  To tie them all together the EP came with a fold out poster that pulled all the comic strip art together into a satisfying whole.

Offtopics A1 Poster-Proof-Mockup

The Offtopics also launched a video clip to go with their third single, “A Man Needs Cooling (Girl)” shot by the inimitable Patrick Stapleton and featuring Donna Dimovski-Kantarovski as “The Woman”.  When the afore-mentioned Kutcha Edwards saw the video his response was “Har! That is so COOL!”.  We hope you’ll feel the same way…

2018 was also the first time the band performed live on radio at one of 3PBS FM’s “Live in Studio 5” sessions.

29197247_10156438973666742_2421170487498375168_o

 

A forthcoming first will be a four-song, live EP from this performance due out in 2019.

Another first was the band’s first overseas sale of a physical record. A fine, funk enthusiast in Yorkshire bought himself a copy of “A Man Needs Cooling” on vinyl seven inch.  2018 also marked the first time the number of live gigs done by the band in one year entered the double digits. It’s a fair effort for an eight-piece band made up of busy family men and motivated artists.

Outside of activities directly associated with the band we had some firsts for our individual members.  Tim’s band Johnny Longshot released their first album.  Howard was honoured for the first time by Moreland City Council for his leadership and service to the municipality’s musicians through the Moreland City Band.  Polash and Tony Champagne’s side project “Quasimodo’s Dream: Adventures in Australian Pop” podcasts went live after threatening to do so for a very long time indeed.  Polash also played a couple of solo gigs for the first time in an aeon.

So, as you can see, 2018 has been a year of firsts.  What will 2019 bring? There are already mutterings about the 4 song EP of live material but in addition there are plans to record an album (of more than 8 songs this time!) with Kalacoma frontman and engineer Nick Hererra manning the desk for us again but with a twist.  What will that twist be, dear reader?

You’ll have to join us in 2019 to find out!

Until then…

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

 

And stay Offtopic!