Image for Paul Mac In The Manic Room

Paul Mac In The Manic Room

When news of Paul Mac’s appearance at this year’s Mardi Gras Party was released, it was billed as “Paul Mac and Friends.” A pretty vague headline when you consider that this man has worked with an incredibly diverse range of artists, everyone from Ngaiire from Australian Idol, to famed sauna DJ Seymour Butz, even Silverchair front man Daniel Johns. So who are these friends of Paul’s and what do they have in store for us?

“I’ll be bringing different vocalists – Peta Morris, Sara Mcleod who used to be in the Superjesus and Abby Dobson. There will also be three backing singers and a four piece band.” It’s far from your typical Dome line up, and Paul thinks is one of the most exciting things about this year’s party.

“As soon as I said yes to being in the Dome I imagined all the Letters To The Editor that were going to be written! But I think what’s happening in the Dome this year is great, there’s almost this festival angle to it. It’s such an eclectic mix, there are a lot of gay and gay appropriate artists in there this year – it feels like an alternative party. It’s really brave that Mardi Gras is trying something new and thinking outside of the box.”

I tell him for the first time in years I truly can’t decide which space I want to spend my time in. With so much on offer, I don’t want to miss any of it. “I think it’s really good to have that dilemma!” he laughs. “A lot of my friends are coming to Mardi Gras for the first time in lots of years. I must admit, I normally go to the alternative parties, but I often feel guilty about it because I do love Mardi Gras and I love what it represents. Unfortunately so often I’d find the music at those parties really stale and they weren’t moving forward.”

Which, of course, is where Paul comes in. He will be bringing his own style of joyous, uplifting vocal tracks to the Dome, performing mostly tracks from his album Panic Room interspersed with a few other “special songs”. Sandwiched in amongst the likes of Seymour Butz and The Presets, it will make for some real light and shade in this notoriously dark space. “I think this year the Dome will be sexy and vibrant, but in a really different way. The only thing I can compare it to is when I went and saw Peaches play in Berlin. There were these two gay skinheads attacking me throughout the show, it was raw, live and energetic, full of sweaty men, there was sweat dripping off the roof. I’m hoping Dome will be like that. It’s the first year I really feel like going.”

There’s a lot of excitement in Paul’s voice as he reminisces about his first Mardi Gras. “It blew my fucking head off. It was back in the eighties. It wasn’t even in the Hordern then, I can’t remember who the act even was – it was a long time ago,” he chuckles. “I wasn’t really out – actually, I wasn’t out at all. I just ended up at the party and I remember realising that there was this whole world out there that I felt really proud to be a part of. There was such a sense of wonder.”

So with the perspective that comes from years of experience, how does he feel things have changed? “Well, we did have that glory period where we were well and truly under the radar. You could have parties with 20,000 people and there’d be sex happening in the horse stables but nobody really knew. Now things are more litigious, if there’s a sex space at a party then people can sue – all of that. For fuck sake, you can’t even smoke a cigarette anymore! Still, while Oxford Street has definitely changed a lot, for me the alternative scene is where the fun people are and where the good music is. Newtown Hotel on Thursday nights, Bad Dog parties… One thing I really miss though is the laneway, but you just can’t get away with that anymore. The cat is officially out of the bag! These days when it comes to a recovery I want a change of headspace. If I’ve been surrounded by dance music and darkness and flashing lasers for ten hours, I’d much rather recover with someone special, or go fly a kite in a park or something.”

Paul feels that this year’s party marks a real turning point for Mardi Gras – a fresh, new approach and an exciting new direction. “In the past gay culture led the way, it was the cutting edge, that’s the way it’s always been. It led the way musically. For Mardi Gras to survive it needs to take chances, it has to give something to this generation. This year’s line up has so much fresh energy to it. I hope it brings a whole bunch of new, young people to the party and I hope those people really take the reigns, instead of looking at Mardi Gras as this thing that’s outdated or that doesn’t belong to them.”

And so with a number of very successful projects under his belt – Panic Room, The Dissociatives, 3000 Feet High, what’s next on the horizon for Paul Mac? “At the moment I’m helping Daniel out with the next Silverchair album, I’ve been doing some songwriting, getting some new stuff together, experimenting with co-writers, music, with the gender of vocalists… or wondering if there will even be any vocals at all. Maybe I’ll go back to more electronic, crazier house, back to my Itchee & Scratchee days? I don’t know. I see right now as a really important time for me as an artist though. I like to take my time between albums, I want to make sure I’m evolving, I don’t want to just cash in. I want each album to be special and gorgeous and unexpected.”

Special, gorgeous and unexpected – we wouldn’t have him any other way.

Paul Mac plays in the Dome as part of the 2007 Mardi Gras Party. For a full wrap up head to our Mardi Gras page.

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Brad said on the 19th Feb, 2007

And a third great interview! Bring on the gras!