Callum Neilson on his Bad Habits

Interview by Maxim Buckley

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Poster by Brayden Wilkinson

Where did the idea to start Bad Habits come from? Why a band night in Adelaide?

I guess when it comes to something like this, it’s the kind of thing that everyone would love to do. I don’t necessarily mean to start a band night in Adelaide, but everyone wants to be different and unique. There’s something really cool about that, doing something that you’re passionate about and doing it in a way that you like and you know others will like too. Bad Habits came from a place of me wanting more from the Adelaide music scene. Don’t get me wrong, the scene is pretty cool, but I found it was stagnating a bit in some areas. I play/have played in multiple bands in Adelaide, at the moment I’m behind Bermuda Bay and Ron The Ox. In both cases, we’d get booked for shows and we’d find that sometimes booking agents would put us with arguably quite different bands, sonically. Sometimes even minor things such as set times and sound checks, definitely minor things in the grand scheme of things. These felt major to us though, it felt as though sometimes the booking agents didn’t care, that we weren’t special and were just another band in the music scene. Bad Habits was and is something that is so different from that. I wanted to create this night that was community focussed, that supported local acts in a really big way whilst also being a really exciting and professional event.

Bad Habits seems like a really big endeavour, do you have help? How much help have you received along the way?

I mean, in some ways it’s mostly me, but I get a great deal of support from a lot of people close to me. When I first started, I had all these great ideas, or at least ideas that I thought were great. I’d bounce them around amongst my mates and they’d all go ‘Yeah! That’s a sick idea!’ and I thought we’d be all good. It wasn’t until I started organising these nights, talking to professionals in the industry and talking to those who go to these types of gigs that I realised that there may be better ways of doing things. It’s definitely an endeavour that started off a bit solo but over time I’ve collaborated with some great minds in and out of the industry.

I have a bunch of people that are helping to hype the event up. They’re people I really trust because I think they’ve got a great taste in music and are passionate about supporting live acts. I think the best recommendation an event can get is when your mate tells you it’s good. Like, hopefully, your friends know you better than anyone else, so if they’re recommending an event to you then it must be good. They wouldn’t want you going along to something and having a terrible time, there’s no benefit in that for either of you.

You currently study computer science. Why not study something more related to your passion of music?

I think the nature of the question doesn’t really sit well with me. It’s not that I’m not passionate about computer science, in fact I really enjoy computer science. I think I just wanted to study something that I’d be able to have a pretty consistent job in. Like, one day I may be overseas, starting up a show somewhere and it may need a website created for that. Since I’ve studied computer science I can go ‘no worries, I’ve got this’. It’s a very open ended degree and that is kind of liberating. It’s also a degree that will hopefully result in a job that will allow me to more actively pursue my passion of music. Computer science related jobs are typically more 9–5 whereas music is more after hours. Extracurricular if you will. It’s a great industry for me to be in because it’s ever growing and I’ll be able to continue working on the things I love. Another good thing about computer science is that I don’t have to come out of it with too much commitment (no honours projects, no necessary graduate positions, no real “climbing the industry ladder”) so there’s nothing that will ever really stop me from switching over to music either as a musician or an event producer, given everything I’m ready to commit to that.

Would you say you benefit from Bad Habits?

I would say that anyone who does something benefits from it. I benefit from Bad Habits in a number of ways. The event is funded out of my pocket and generally whatever I make from the event goes back into the event to make it even better for next time. So, I suppose I’m not necessarily benefiting in a monetary sense. I do however benefit in other ways. I’ve met so many people in the short time I’ve done it and made so many industry connections, connections in the past I could only dream of. I also benefit from it because I put on a night that I want to see and I enjoy myself and I like to think that everyone who comes along really enjoys themselves too. It’s just a really great night that I think everyone should get around. And of course, I benefit from seeing some of my favourite Australian bands play in Radelaide!

The first lineup, Hey Harriett, The Ethanol Blend and Hobsons Bay Coast Guard, that’s arguably a pretty surfy line-up. Do you always keep it to a specific genre? If so, would you do a metal night? Or is it more strictly from that indie rock space?

I don’t think a metal night will be on the cards for Bad Habits, it just wouldn’t be on brand. I definitely try and curate the night to be a specific genre, or feel if you will, and I curate it in a similar way that someone would curate a playlist. In fact, I usually make a playlist with the bands that I want to book and just listen to it on repeat. Generally, I’ll just have it on shuffle, not in order of sets, just because I want to make sure the music blends well together. I really think that’s the most important part. If the music doesn’t have a natural progression from one song to another then like it just doesn’t feel right to me. The night in essence is attempting to be one really well curated playlist featuring three bands. In fact, a long time dream of mine would be to put on a gig lineup that consists of all the bands on my “hot wax” Spotify playlist…that would be a dream to me.

Tickets to Bad Habits can be found through the Facebook event for $10 or on the door for $15

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