Tinderbox, the psychedelic groove powerhouse, is a seamless fusion of funky, transcendental freeform soundscapes paired with conscious vocals with a powerful message, and a freight train of drums and bass groove. 😉
Tinderbox, the love, brain child of Gumpy Savidas, was seeded within a local collective of rappers, singers, musicians and DJ’s performing as a collective at some of Australia’s best fes- tivals such as Rainbow Serpent, Island Vibes and Wallaby Creek Festival as well as doing amazing shows at bars and clubs all up the east coast of Australia from Melbourne to Cairns.
Gumpy, the lead magical maestro at the helm of the ‘ mothership’. also known as the fiery front man of heavy rock band, ‘Blind Munkee’, and as the singer and guitarist in the band, ‘Savidas,’ has numerous credits in Australia and internationally as a music producer having had multiple hits with various bands in Australia and also having been based in New York for several years working as a successful music and video producer.
Gumpy is has produced over 30 music videos including videos for Savidas, Blind Munkee and Tinderbox.
Gumpy, recently returned to Australia from a successful solo Tinderbox tour of South America that kicked off at the start of 2020, that saw him doing shows in Buenos Aires, Uruguay, Peru and Columbia.
The success of the South American tour proved Tinderbox’s universal power of musical com- munication, being able to transcend borders and cultures and deliver the TBX psychedelic universal message.
Tinderbox have recorded their latest album that has Gumpy and Far North Queensland finest artists collaborating on fresh and funky new Tinderbox tracks and feature live stream perfor- mances at iconic locations around Australia.
Tinderbox’s name derives from the fact of being reputed to be the “fire starters” of any dance floor with their completely infectious psychedelic, funky grooves and inflammatory conscious lyrics.
Gumpy Savidas. I reckon just about every muso in Cairns will have heard of him. Since the Cairns Songwriters group began I find myself looking deeper into the background of artists rather than just enjoying their music. And Gumpy is no exception, there is a lot of background to delve into. (yeah, I know, I ended that sentence on a preposition). Anyway, I could waffle on about Gumpy’s style(s) of music and the myriad places he has performed both in Australia and overseas but it’s best if I let him do the talking. His answers to our questions are both informative and entertaining. Have a read, a chuckle and get to know him better.
When did you first start writing songs?
My introduction to song writing in someways was quite symptomatic of what was to become my ongoing song writing process really. I kind of started making up little songs when I was about 6 years old to express my joys, frustrations and also to express the well of emotion that was building up inside of me without throwing tantrums … well less tantrums. Sort of like, “Why don’t you go get fu@ked do, do, do.. La, la, la” And when adults were like, “What did you just say.” I would just say. "I’m singing a song I heard on the radio." Who knew Rage Against the Machine would take one of my classic chorus's and do so well with their hit, 'Killing in the Name of.' I should have registered it with APRA, but really that process may of become slightly more sophisticated, but in essence it is what song writing is to me, kind of a sonic squirt of my inner feelings and a narrative of the world around me as I see it.
Where do you get your inspiration when you write a song?
I sort of feel like we are all energetic sponges soaking up energy and experience and we all need a way to squeeze it out. My way of draining my swamp, so to speak, is to try to refine what I have absorbed and send it back out to the universe in a sort of narrative groove ball. I feel like songs are formed inside me over a period of time. I’ll have an experience, epiphany or interaction and the feeling of the experience will sit inside me and squirm around in my stomach and chest and kind of distil, ferment and brew until I get to the process of creating grooves at which time those various festering diamonds of experience seem to push their way like lava into my brain and usually some sort of phrase will pop out and if it hooks with the music and it speaks to me, I’ll take it further and surf the volcanic brain burst with some verbose ramblings that eventually become verses, bridges and/or laments of love and/or hate. Sometimes this process is quite quick and other times it can take years and sometimes an idea will come out and I will think, ‘hmmm kind of catchy, but it doesn’t mean anything,' so I’ll throw it in the bin. And sometimes years later something will happen and that song will come into my head and make complete sense so I’ll go to my musical dumpster and try and dig it up. So now I kind of try and trust in the process (Om shanti) and if it has a groove and a flow throw it out into the world's ocean of judgement and see if it floats.
What is the funniest thing that's happened to you during a performance?
Well a comedian friend of mine once told me that humour is a person in trouble and well I’ve found myself in quite a lot of that over the years, so in that sense it’s all been hysterical. There was a gig I did years back with a band I was in called Freaked Out Flower Children. We were playing at this huge pub in Manly, NSW and it was a stinking hot summer night. The outfit I stupidly chose for the gig was this checkered, fake fur suit with big, thick fur pants. I knew as soon as I put it on it was a bad choice and dumped the top half but I had nothing else to wear. I thought I’d sweat it out a bit, but that it would be ok. Well one song in and I had sweated litres and felt like I was on the verge of fainting. I was so hot I thought 'fu@k it, I’ll do the gig in my underwear,' but then remembered I was rolling commando so that would be too traumatic on both the audience and myself. Our tour manager who was side of stage had picked up that I was in serious trouble and not coping with the heat and I was not going to remain conscious much longer. I looked over and he had fashioned a sort of a lap lap with a T shirt , gaffa tape and leaves off a plastic plant that was side of stage. I ducked off stage and did a fashion week quick change and dashed back on to finish the rest of the show. It was not a bad outfit, sort of like a camp plastic Tarzan ensemble. It wasn’t as tailored as I would of liked and I did lose some hair and skin on the removal of it, but it kept me covered and ventilated so I should have maybe held onto it.
Which genres of music do you use in your songs?
I struggled with what “my” genre was for many years. The first band I got a record deal with was a hip hop rap act called 'Mighty Big Crime'. We were right at the forefront of Hip Hop's introduction to Australia so it was kind of like the wild west of music. I’d always been into funk, soul and disco music however, when I heard “The Message” by Grand Master Flash I was pretty much hooked. It wasn’t long though before we were mixing styles within 'Mighty Big Crime' such as house and techno etc, which we got a lot of flack from the more hard core hip hop devotees. The problem I’ve always had with genre is as an artist you are very much commercially compelled to remain consistent with one genre - such as pick one genre and that’s it for life. Though I write to grooves that could really be any genre and I tend to hear the funk in anything from AC/DC to Enya. I think it is changing now and things are becoming more harmoniously musically Schizophrenic, which tends to work for me.
Lyrics or music: Which comes first for you?
I guess in a way usually the song title or idea tends to come first, but sometimes the lyrics come from the groove.. so yeah, constructing lyrics and forming grooves are actually two completely different processes. I tend to write music in bulk in a way. I’ll strap up a beat on Reason and then groove on it with the bass for five minutes or so, till it's grooving then save it and then make another. I’ll continue that process for sometimes up to 20 or 30 grooves or so. And then put them on my phone or iPod and listen to them as I’m getting about through the day. And then it’s like there are song ideas that are stored in the dark inner caves of my psyche and it’s like one of the song ideas will hear the groove and come out for a dance and before long the lyrics and the music are making sweet, sweet love together, or fighting in a hysterical hypnotic way. They both tend to work.
Which artist, past or present, would you like to collaborate with if you had the chance, and why?
Well I guess if we’re talking collaborating with artists of celebrity, I have had moments of fantasising about working with artists such as David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Tom Morello or working with producers such as Pharrell Williams, Butch Vig, Trevor Horn or Brian Eno, but to tell you the truth, I think I’ve become a bit of collaboration whore and I’m loving it. The more I collaborate with other artists the more inspired I am by the concept of collaboration. For me, collaboration really plugs into the core of what music is. It could just be my sonic delusion, but I believe that every human was put on this planet to make and experience music and it is really the last and most functional means of communication at a time when all other forms of communication are failing so drastically. The song from my first solo album - “Music is My Mobile Phone,” (available at tbxmusic.com… plug, plug, plug...) is actually about just that. I feel like I can not really communicate or understand a person until I know what musical frequency someone resonates at and once I do, it’s like we have a mega highway of understanding, communication and infinite knowing… yeah pretty deep I know, but dats da way I roll.
Which is more important to you: Success as a recording artist or performing artist, and why?
I really feel, for me, performing and recording are two sides of the one coin. I would say that performing is what I live for, but if I didn’t write/record in the studio then there would be a personal part of my music that would be hard to reach in a live format. I’m kind of like two different people in the recording studio and then live on stage. In the studio, I am quiet, serious, introverted and meticulous, and somewhat of a neurotic perfectionist. Whereas live, I tend to just fire it up and fly by the seat of my pants and am happy to surf the vibe of the jam. I’m pretty much working with the audience in the direction the show takes. If the audience is getting off on a track, I’m happy to expand on it and see where it takes us. When performing live, I often change the lyrics, structures and grooves to songs on a whim. If the studio me was in the audience of a show, I could see them frowning and face palming saying, “What the hell are you doing? That verse took me days to write, record and perfect and you’re pulling it apart and skipping right over the emotional bridge part.” I guess that’s why the studio me and the recording me don’t hang out so much.
How do you keep track of your ideas?
(notebook, iPhone, etc.) Tell us about your most recent song /single / album. Please provide links.
The process of cataloguing my ideas has been an ongoing series of different experiments. From note books full of tangled tales, scrap pieces of paper with illegible writing, malfunctioning dictaphones, badly labeled voice files that disappear forever into the hard drive of an ageing laptop on its last legs,
and of course brilliant hit songs that come to me on a drunken night out, that are so good there is no way I could forget them, but then waking to find they have once again disappeared into the ether. The current weapon of choice for collating my mental mindstrings is the good old trusty iPhone, but I recently had a midnight phone wreck which lost about 30 ideas I was working on that were all gonna be double platinum hits… of course. Maybe someone will invent “Song Cloud” in which those ideas in your head instantly get uploaded to a mental muso cloud, but would that be the answer? What could possibly go wrong with that?
My first solo album which I did just over a year ago is available and I’ve just recently finished 10 songs which are making their way through the streaming factory to Spotify, Apple Music etc, but they are all available NOW at the Tinderbox website:
21 November 2020 ·
We're showcasing today a songwtiter who pushes hard against musical boundaries and norms,
.Gumpy's trademark refusal to comply with music genre stereotypes has marked him out as a true creative maverick. His projects include Savidas with
Uma Vernau and Tinderbox with Uma & Isaac Scott
. His material is very quirky whilst simultaneously being utterly addictive. We asked him a few questions about where he's at and here's what he came back with...
1. When did you write your first song and what was it called?
The first song that I wrote was in grade/year 6 me and a few other guys in my class considered ourselves hotshot musicians. They asked me if I could play bass and I lied and said yes and failed to mention that the extent of my musical training was learning the 2 chord anthem “Rock my soul in the Bosom of Abraham “ on acoustic guitar. I borrowed a bass off someone and immediately went home and started learning “notes” within my crash course of bass study, I came up with a riff based around E,G, A I started jotting down words and soon had penned a simple but what I thought was an epic hit called “Chicken Shit Man” Met up with the guys and they were impressed and we filled out a set with a few Stones and Beatles tracks. We got asked to play at the year 12 reviews as they thought it was cute that we had this band going. Our cuteness quickly turn to shock shame and awe. When we busted out Chicken Shit Man. The use of the word shit by youngen’s such as us was highly controversial. We finished the show to resounding applause, but were never allowed to play at the school again. In fact I got expelled from the school a couple of years later. I still believe it was cause they couldn’t handle the edges lyrics of Chicken Shit Man.
2. What technology do you use to make life easier as a songwriter?
My most vital tool is not surprisingly my laptop. I travel a lot and it allows putting grooves and songs together anywhere, which I love. So many times I’ve got ideas and thought. “Oh I’ll record that when I get home” and then get home and it has evaporated. I use the DAW Reason. It’s a lot quicker and uses less CPU than programs like Pro Tools and Logic. which used to be my staple, but Reason has all the old school analog sounds on board and is super quick to strap up a track in minutes.
I also get a lot of milage out of my phone using a lot of music programs such as Figure which is like the little brother of Reason and mumbling ideas into it all day.
I actually have a song called “Music is My Mobile Phone” off the last album which people misunderstand as my mobile phone being the generator of my music when in fact music has taken over my phone as my main form of communication… unless I get an iPhone sponsorship in which case I will totally flip the story.
3. What genres do you compose in?
I don’t really have a genre in mind when I start a song. I work from grooves and tend to follow the groove where it leads me and also to what inspiration it brings up. The first band I was signed with to Virgin Records was Mighty Big Crime, which was a Hip Hop / house act. Though I love Hip Hop and house music. I found that I started to get frustrated with having to angle everything to specific genres and after that ended really delved into a myriad of genres. One of those genres was with the band Blind Munkee which was a new metal sort of sound. I loved the melding of the heavy riffs, rap style vocals and spewing my anger to the world out on stage. We still work on Blind Munkee, but haven’t done shows for a while. This is one of the last shows we did at the music awards.—
Now with Tinderbox, I kind of start with a drum and bass or jungle kind of tempo and rhythm and just let nature take its course. The songs rarely end up sounding specifically drum and bass, but I love working in those tempos and it sort of ends up with the tracks sounding like a kind of beach, punk, rap cacophony.
4.Which artists past or present would be your dream collaborations?
As a fantasy collaboration, I couldn’t go past David Bowie, ( Though there are obvious reasons that this will never happen).. Or on a more experimental day, Brian Eno, but really I’ve learned over the last year just what a collaborating whore I really am and there are so many people that I love collaborating with of all different styles and experience levels. I find there is no one that I have ever worked with and not grown from the experience.
5. Writing, production or performance ...what do you enjoy most and why?
I think the thing I prefer the most is performing, but really because it is a culmination of the process of all three process’s.
Performing without writing and production would kind of feel a bit empty to me. I guess that’s why I never really got into the performing covers thing. Not that there is anything wrong with that at all. There are some absolutely amazing cover bands out there, but for me the whole buzz is coming up with something you want to say putting it in a form that gets your message across and then finding a groove that carry’s the sentiment and vibe and then boom dropping it on an audience. And hey sometimes (depending on the audience and/or venue) it can go over like a bag of shit, but even then I feel satisfied, cause I think “Well that’s my truth, if you don’t get it, what evz. “ And quietly leave, while dodging beer bottles and chants of “Play Ke Sanh Ya C@&NT!”
6. What methods/ services have you found to actually work when trying to promote your original material ?
Well Thats a hard question due to the fact that the more platforms that start up. The less they seem to benefit musicians. I don’t think there has been a platform that is really designed that functionally helps musicians since My Space… Yeah remember that. I think Justin Timberlake still owns it. I should give him a call and see where it’s at. But yeah Spotify if the go to for music distribution at this point and though it may be functional for listeners it is not helping musicians out in any way and profits are almost negligible unless you are Radio Head or what ever. And Facebook is good for promotion I guess, but I actually seem to find that you get more traction from actual posters, flyers and word of mouth etc. Facebook algorithms are quite heavily controlled so if you maybe mention something something that goes against a narrative that Facebook/ twitter /Youtube or Instagram don’t subscribe to then you risk getting shadow banned etc. And I’m really not good at not offending algorithms, so I’m never quite sure what the reach of those mediums are.
I try to get peeps to the Tinderbox website, to listen buy, subscribe and interact, but it can be a bit of a up virtual hill battle.
7. Tell us about your most recent song /single / album. If possible please provide links.
I have just released a Tinderbox Album called “From the Storm to a New Dawn.” Which is a bit of a 2020 diary and commentary on my experience of the time of Rona, but more peoples reactions to it and the various narratives and peoples reactions to the whole thing.The album is only available on the website for the reasons I covered in question 6, but I will be releasing the tracks of the remainder of this year and the beginning of next year on all the social sites, but one at a time as not to confuse the algorithm robots, but if you’re not a robot check the two albums out on tbxmusic.com and drop me a line of what you thought of it.
8. What are your plans as a songwriter/artist in the near future? ( Gigs/ releases)
There is a Tinderbox gig at River Sessions at Watsonville on Fri 20 November 2020 then a gig at Underground -Elixir Bar and then We have a Tinderbox single launch coming up at Elixir Music Bar on 19 December 2020, performing the single Freedom, featuring Hildebrand and a whole heap of special guests. Then was gonna retreat for a couple of weeks and write some new tunes and then bust out at the start of next year with a bunch of new jams.