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Interview – Clair Sergeant, The Sure Fire Midnights, February 2013

| 12 February 2013 | Reply

By Shane Pinnegar

I caught up with Clair Sergeant, lead singer of ten-legged, all-girl wrecking crew THE SURE FIRE MIDNIGHTS over a cold beer in Western Australia’s Southwest, to talk about the band’s seven year career and ended up finding out that despite having fans from The Angels, Rose Tattoo and other legends of Aussie rock, trailer trash sexism still exists in rock n’ roll…

The Sure Fire Midnights play The Rosemount Hotel in Perth Saturday 16th February to celebrate their Seven Years Of Fire.  In support will be Melbourne’s Warped, Chainsaw Hookers, The Floors, The Shakeys and Custom Royale.  Catch them with Unida, Truckfighters, Mammoth Mammoth and more at Cherry Rock in Melbourne, May 5th.
Sure Fire Midnights 01

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: Hey Clair, thanks for your time today.

No problem.

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: So, let’s get straight into it. It’s been a seven year ride for the Sure Fire Midnights. What are your top three highlights so far?

Playing the Bon Scott celebration concert to raise money for Fremantle’s statue of Bon. The Melbourne shows we just did were awesome and… wow, we’ve done so much!  Oh playing with Tumbleweed, that was awesome.

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: That would have been cool, yeah. So things have really amped up over the last twelve or so months, you had the Strike at Midnight album hit the shelves, you played a lot of shows in Perth and you’ve headed over east more than once, how’s the response to the album and shows been?

Yeah, really good. I think every time we go over East we get more and more of a following, more people knowing who we are. We get more people at the shows and we’re getting offered more supports and more gigs and stuff, so it’s really good.

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: Awesome. Now, the line up changed a couple of times in the early days, but you’ve been solid for about four or so years now.

Yeah, about four years now. It’s been good.

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: So how do you feel the band is growing as a unit, playing with the same five people for four or so years?

The amount of gigs that we play [have made us] a lot tighter, we gel more when we play. I seriously think it all started to really gel properly about a year and a half ago, something happened and it just all… we got really tight and we did lots of gigs, it went from something good to something awesome.

Sure Fire Midnights 02

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: I think I mentioned that to you after one gig around about that time period…

I don’t know what it was. We’d been playing for a while and we all just started… we always clicked, all five of us together, but something happened and it just went to that next level.

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: It’s good that you guys noticed that as well as people in the audience notice that.

Yeah, I know, I can’t really put my finger on why but I think it’s just that we’re playing lots of shows. Something happened.

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: So thinking back to when you formed the band in 2005, what were your main goals forming the band, what were you hoping to achieve?

I was in a band with one of the [original] guitarists in The Sure Fires, and then that band broke up. So I think it was just trying to get back to where we left off with that, have some fun and just to basically write some rock songs and play some shows and see what happens from there.

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: So, being a group of five girls, have you encountered sexism, or being treated like a novelty along the way?

Yeah, that always happens. You just have to deal with it. There’s that sort of ‘Oh well, it’s just a group of girls…’ attitude.  Now it’s getting to the stage where, some people say it but they say it in a different way. Some people say [things like] ‘Well, they’re a bunch of girls but if you close your eyes you’d never be able to tell.’

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: Why do you think people are still reluctant to believe that five women can rock as hard as a bunch of blokes?

I don’t know. It really is [an issue] though. People don’t get it. Someone even told me last night that  for a gig we were on the bill of, certain bands didn’t want to play before us because we’re girls and they don’t want to play before a bunch of girls!

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: They’re idiots. As I read in one live review recently, ‘It’s a very brave band that can follow The Sure Fire Midnights because there aren’t many in town that are going to be as good.’

I think its sort of hard to believe [for them] until they come and see a gig or… I don’t know what it is but still some people have that thing where [they think] girls can’t really play!

Sure Fire Midnights 03

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: Keep on proving them wrong! So you’ve done a stack of high profile support gigs along the way. You mentioned Rose Tattoo and the Angels and Tumbleweed and so on, who have been the easiest and hardest to work with?

Ooh…Rose Tattoo were great. We’ve played with them a couple of times – at the Bon Scott Celebration Concert, and we also played with them at Cherry Rock 2010, that was really great.  We sat down with them and they gave us all these tips on how to make it in rock n’ roll – like, just play every show you’re offered because you never know what’s going to come out of it, and that’s kind of what they’ve done over their career. So that was really great, they were like mentors. Yeah, I don’t think we’ve ever really played with anyone who has been terrible, or who hasn’t wanted anything to do with us. We haven’t really found that yet.

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: Cool. So the easiest parallel to make to the band would probably be The Runaways or maybe Joan Jett, but can you tell us a bit more about your influence and your heros or heroines?

Yeah my influences are, there’s obvious ones like AC/DC and Bon Scott – I’ve played Bon in  tribute bands and stuff like that, I just love the way that he wrote lyrics, the way that he sings.  I like everything through to stoner rock. I like John Garcia – I love everything that he does. It’s going to be great playing Cherry Rock 2013 because we get to play with Unida who’s Garcia’s current band, so that’s awesome for me, and Truckfighters, another really great sort of stoner rock band [are also playing] that weekend, that’s really great.  New bands like Red Fang – I love Red Fang so much.  That’s kind of what I’m listening to at the moment.

Cherry Rock 2013

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: How was the experience of working on the album with Todd Trevor from Warped?

Yeah, good. He was working with Kenny (Watt of The M16s), so Todd came to jam with us a lot, just to help us get the songs ready for the studio.  He had heaps of really good ideas and we worked together really well, so it was good.

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: Excellent, and you’ve got Warped coming over for the 7th birthday party at Rosemount. What are they like live?

Amazing live! They are INCREDIBLE live!! Tell everyone you know to come see it! They’re a really cool band, they’re really energetic. Check out YouTube, there’s a video thingy of them playing – it’ll give you a taster of what they’re like live. They’re crazy, really good.

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: So what else can punters expect from the gig? You’ve got The Chainsaw Hookers on there…

Yeah, Chainsaw Hookers, and The Floor, The Shakeys… Yeah, Lucille pulled out but we’re replacing them, we’ve got Custom Royale, who are amazing.  I saw them on Boxing Day. That’s the first time that I’ve seen them and they blew me away, so I can’t wait to see them again.

Sure Fire Midnights 7th anniversary

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: I haven’t caught them yet but they’re meant to be good.

Oh, they’re really, really good. Really great sound and really great players. The whole night I think is going to be great. Every band is good quality so it’s going to be a really good night.

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: Excellent. Now the band are also renowned for your striking, very cool art work on the album and on your tour posters. Who handles the artistic side of things?

That would be me, mostly – I do all the posters. The artwork on the album was actually an artist who lives in Amsterdam, her name is Claudia Hek and she’s really great. She’s friends with Todd Trevor from Warped and he put me on to her and I have a couple of her originals at home. She’s really good. So when we wanted an album cover, I didn’t really want to do it, ‘cos I didn’t want to get sick of looking at my own picture on the cover [laughs].  So I wanted someone else to do it so we put the idea to her and she came up with that, which is great. Everything else… I love doing posters, that’s kind of my little thing.

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: So what inspires you artistically?

I don’t know, pin ups and that kind of thing. Mexican folk art… I don’t know, my favourite artists are people like Mark Ryden and I love Claudia Hek of course, stuff like that.

Sure Fire Midnights - Strike At Midnight CD

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: Cool, so if you could magically go back in time and contribute to the making of any one album in history, which would you chose?

Awww, It’d have to be AC/DC’s Powerage!  Yeah, that’s one of my all-time favourite albums. That would have been awesome, back in the day.

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: Yeah, classic stuff. So, finally Clair, what does music mean to you?

Music means a whole lot of things, I guess the best things for me are having fun with the girls, playing… I don’t know, it just feels right being on stage and it makes me feel awesome, singing and writing songs. I don’t know I guess it’s my happiness to me. I don’t know how to describe it.

100% ROCK MAGAZINE: That’s a pretty good answer to me. Awesome. So thanks very much for your time, enjoy the rest of that beer, sorry to have distracted you from it for so long.

Category: Interviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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