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The best kept secret in music



funk fusion 10 piece hipakusha started their third set for the evening just after we arrived. their red headed sound engineer rapped the first song we heard which was random. the lead vocalist who's name i didn't catch was the cutest little blonde woman. she's like a cross between tinkerbell and shirley bassey. she was wearing a very funky outfit too.

they belted out an hour of music and the crowd loved it - there were quite a few people up and dancing away. the whole group was gorgeously in sync and the place was throbbing.

i managed to grab ryan (guitar/vocals) and paul (percussion) after the show for a quick chat about the band. it started out when a few of them were doing a music course at tafe in about 2000 and discovered that they had a love of groove music in common. forming as a 6 piece back then they expanded into the 10 piece almost orchestra i had the pleasure of experiencing tonight. like all good funk and groove groups in brisbane they started out playing the tongue and groove in west end and in the last year or so have been playing venues like family and press club more and more as well.

i asked them if it was an extra challenge playing with so many people. "Well," Paul began, "The first thing we think about whenever we're going to play a gig is how we'll all fit on the stage. Barsoma is actually a large stage for us. Places like Tongue and Groove and Bowery are a real challenge."

i even scored myself a copy of their EP "the grand royale" that they recorded down near byron at top cat studios (you can order it by emailing felonius.records@gmail.com ). they had no money, no producer and recorded seven tracks in a week. "Next time we want to do it right," Ryan said. "It sounds pretty good for what it is, but we know what it could be. Next time we want to produce it more."

there were so many people up dancing while they played and i mentioned that maybe it's because they're such a crowd on stage it's not so intimidating for people to get out on the dance floor. the guys nodded. "Hipakusha is tending to the health of dance floors all over Brisbane," boasted Paul.

they're playing again at the press club tomorrow at 5:30 so i might try to get there. i invited them to our breakfast meet up tomorrow at fat boys too (see elliott's comment for details). - Vibewire Magazine

"10of a kind"

Brisbane is home to more than its share of funked-out, sneaker-twitching live acts, but few can compete with the sheer presence of Hipakusha. Featuring ten members, the band have been gestating for the past three years and spent the last 12 months securing their name on the local live scene.

Melding hip-hop, Latin groove and soul, the crew have recently penned debut record The Grand Royale and are keen to get ears wagging. Vocalist and guitarist Chico Mendez excitedly explains his take on the CD.

“We recorded this EP so long ago, so we really had a chance to be thorough with the tunes. Most of the crew we have now hooked up when we recorded this, so there was the whole ‘getting to know you’ thing going on. We also got to see the whole progression of making, playing and promoting a CD. It’s a big learning curve, man.”
Having played in and around the Brisbane scene for some time, Mendez says the band feel an amazing affinity to this humble little town.

“Brisbane people are our people! That is a big part of what we do – paying a bit of homage to those cats that make this a great laidback town. We love this city and you can hear Brisbane in the songs. The title track of the EP is all about the River City crew high tailin’ it after we robbed the treasury casino! Not that we endorse criminal activities… stay in school, kids! It’s more a fun-loving look at the town we live in.”

Keeping a band together and organised can be a struggle at the best of times. Factor in ten members and the logistics of keeping the machine running and it must be a nightmare. However, Mendez insists Hipakusha is anything but a struggle.

“We’re all hanging out anyways. We may as well play some tunes to go along with the brews. Sometimes we have the odd problem, but we all dig what we do so there’s no real problem. A lot of the tunes get nutted out before practise so we can focus on the task at hand. But even that can be a bit hard because we are usually too busy screwin’ around.”

For a band who focus so heavily on their live show, the task of recording could have presented some problems.

“On the contrary, it was this recording that really set our live sound, hence all the cats in the group,” Mendez suggests. “When someone wasn’t playing, you could really feel it. It was like ‘Where did that line go?’.

“This recording was very raw, in a 70s soul sort of way. We recorded reel-to-reel on an old machine that AC/DC had done some Back In Black lines on, so we went for a warm and vintage sound. Because we combine that old funk and soul vibe with a strong hip-hop influence, I think we will be working hard to match both aspects of the music.”

Hipakusha play The Zoo Friday Sep 30. Grand Royale out now.

- Time Off

"The Grand Royale EP review - 4 stars"

"Pretty good for a local band" is a qualifier we often use. Lets transcend these clauses with Hipakusha's debut album. "The Grand Royale" is not just a promising home-grown album, it's a promising album. Ever wondered what happened to those American '90's bands Freak Power and Viperhouse. I think the cycle of reincarnation has funkified their souls, transported them to the Antipodes and given them the alter ego of the River City Crew. Fusing hip-hop, latin and funk, 10 piece Hipakusha have gone beyond their brilliant live sets and finally released an album. Pity it's only seven tracks long. Songs like 'You Ain't Gotta Find It' and 'Brown Sugar' might make you wonder if the Brisbane band stole James Brown's mojo and distributed it among themselves. Fluid and husky with just enough street cred for them to pose on a lowrider bicycle and red Mercedes on the cover, great things are sure to follow. - The Courier Mail 24/09/05

"HIPAKUSHA/Kid Cofucius"

The Zoo Friday September 30

The Dynamic Thrills warm us up on this rainy

night with a groovy racket, while their singer shaman-

dances like Jim Morrison. They're followed by

Sampology's DJ set; he smoothly spins his way from

Jurassic 5 to the Jackson Five.

Kid Confucius have come all the way up from Sydney

to play their soulful blend of hip-hop. They demand

so much audience participation (Make some

noise! Clap your hands! Tell us you love us!) that it's

difficult to tell who's performing here, them or us.

After some more Sampology, Hipak Hipakusha usha usha, a.k.a. the

River City Crew, take to the stage. They're a jazz band

with a DJ and a guitarist who raps, but what would be

just another gimmick in a less competent band becomes

a natural extension of the genre for these skilled musicians.

They sound like a cross between The Fun Lovin'

Criminals and the Dream Warriors - does anybody

remember The Dream Warriors? - only with a Brisbane

bent and a female vocalist. Even though she's a

tiny lady, she has gigantic, husky, classic-jazz voice that

easily fills the Zoo.

- RAVE MAG, Bris Oct 05

"The Grand Royale - Oct.05"

By the time you read this the 10 piece groove extravaganza will have launched their debut EP ‘Grand Royale’, almost certainly to hordes of fans who have become enthralled by the irresistible funk music being produced in Brisbane. The recent addition of a rhythm and brass section has helped define their sound with a charming motown flavour which sets them apart from the mob. The 7 sexy tracks on this album exhibit an impressive range of influences, from hip hop to reggae to RnB, all of which are complemented perfectly by an authentic 70’s vibe. This is first class fusion from quality musicians who genuinely feel the music they are generating - Scene Mag

"Hipakusha - The Grand Royale"

Funk, Soul Hip Hop Colectives sexy debut-

You know you got it goin' on when you can make Brisbane sound sexy. Sly and confident, Chico Mendez's not-too-Aussie-hip-hop words dominate the soundscape, gliding smoothly over Erin Downie's sensual vocals. Add some cool horns, a relaxed backline and enough scratches to convey "Were representing it", and you've got the Grand Royale. The groove slows down a tad on Boom Boom, while the funk factor goes up on the guitar, helped along by fuity flute phrases. The silky smooth chiller you aint gotta find it shows off their sensitive side, while Hand sUp adds depth with a Latin flavoured groove. The unmistakable croon of Stevie B's trumpet completes this well-produced record. Laidback but never lazy, the River City Crew have created a solid aeven track groover that easily secures them a place in Brisfunk. - Rave Mag - Brisbane - Dec 05

"Hipakusha: The River City Crew"

Brisbane band Hipakusha have gone through some major changes over the last couple of years, their main vocalist, as well as their DJ (Afix) both left the band, but the boys are now back on track. Sometimes varying between 10 – 12 members at a time on stage, they are somewhat of a unique addition to the Brisbane hip hop and electronica scenes. ITM caught up with one of their members DJ Buxism to find out a little more about the band and what they have install for Brisbane (and the world) in the near future.

A ten piece band is quite large by any scale these days, how did the big band theme evolve?

Well basically a few of the guys formed the band around 6 years ago and it kind of grew from there. At present we have 6 core members and almost for every gig we add an extra 2 – 6 extra musicians to come jam with us. We still haven’t got a permanent keyboard player either so we normally try to grab anyone we can (that have talent of course). Then there are trumpet players – we really love trumpet players, but they seem to be like gold in Brisbane (or Australia for that matter), so we are forever on the look out for them and snap them up whenever we can. If you know anyone who can play a mean trumpet than let us know and tell them to send us a line.

Being on stage with up to 12 members on stage at one time must be quite an issue at times, especially with the size of some of the stages in Brisbane?

You are telling me. Take The Press Club for example, it is the venue we probably play at the most, about once a month and it isn’t the world’s biggest stage by any accord. I am forever rubbing up against the end of the bass player’s guitar. You soon get used to it though, and I think being crammed on a stage together kind of adds to the intimacy.

So who are the 6 core members of the group?

Well we have Chico Mendez doing the main vocals. Then we have Paulie Dubs who likes the play percussion and does a bit of hollerin'. A1 is our bass guitarist and like most bass guitarists, the ladies just love him. Saul plays a mean sax and is definitely one of the highlights in our group. Then you have the two beat boys as such – J on the drums and me (DJ Buxism) on the decks and effects as such.

Having played at quite a few venues up and down the coast, what would you class as your favourite venue?

Oh that would have to be The Press Club for sure. We play their about once a month and there is such a good vibe there, really chilled out and stuff. I think most of the guys in the band really dig playing there too.

I notice that the band often refers
to themselves at the ‘River City Crew’, kind of reminds me of that 80s break dance song the ‘Rocksteady Crew’.

Haha, yeah I quite enjoy the whole break dancing thing, but never really made that connection. It was Chico that came up with that whole line so who knows with him, he probably was inspired by that track.

Having listened to a few of your tracks, there seems to be quite a few different styles mixed into the band’s sound, how would you best describe its style?

That is a pretty hard question actually as we sound like a bit of everything really – like a little from column A and a little from column B. Our base sounds would be hip hop and funk and then everything kind of branches off of that. It does seem to vary from song to song as well, but anyone that has been to our shows or listened to our EP would realise that.

What is one of the weirdest gigs you have ever played at?

That would have to be a gig we did down at a Manly street festival about 6 months ago. Daddy Cool was on the bill and played before us. They were doing the ‘Eagle Rock’ as the final track which was incredibly funny and then we had to come on. When I got back to Brisbane I told my father how we had played with Daddy Cool and his response was “Wow, sounds like you guys are starting to get famous.”

With the upcoming tour, will there be any new releases on the horizon?

Actually we not long visited Airlock Studios in Samford. It is actually owned by one of the members of Powderfinger, I can’t remember which one though. It is a really cool studio set out in a rainforest type setting with water pond out the back, a great environment to work in. We basically recorded 3 tracks over 3 days and just have some final tweaking to do on them, but they are almost complete. The tracks should be out end of April. One of them is actually a sequel to our old track ‘The Grand Royale’ and is called the ‘The Lowdown’, so make sure you keep an eye out for it.

Will fans visiting your upcoming shows get a glimpse of these new tracks?

We haven’t actually played them live yet, so we will definitely be playing them at the upcoming shows. That will give some of our fans something to look forward to and really something for us to look forward to as well.

Future Hipakusha tour dates include:

March 31 – The Rev (Brisbane)
April 29 - The Solbar (Coolum)
July 01 – The Zoo (Brisbane)
Plus regular performances at the Press Club
- In the Mix website


"The Grand Royale" EP out now.
"The Lowdown/Scrimmage" A side out now


Feeling a bit camera shy


“Hipakusha have shaped their sound playing nightclubs and stages around Australia since their formation 3 years ago. A Hipakusha show draws on the group’s love for old school grooves and the never-ending search for a fruity new sound. Armed with guitars, turntables, mpcs, organs, synthesizers, bass, a plethora of effects and a three-piece drum kit - along with their trademark vocal sound – Hipakusha come ready to party.

These interplanetary meetings of fun have taken place in venues around Australia with tours to Sydney, playing The Vanguard and Mandalay. Regular shows and residencies around Brisbane include, The Zoo, The Columbian, UBER, Family, The Press Club, and Rics. The band of 6 have made many late night trips to coastal venues, The Sol Bar and Sound Lounge as well as playing festivals such as the Valley Fiesta and West End Festival. In their travels, Hipakusha have shared stages with many friends and bands including Kid Confucius, Watussi, Labjacd, PTY LTD, Afro Dizzi Act, Resin dogs, My Ninja Lover, Hip Pocket, Elation and Sampology.

2005 saw the release of the highly acclaimed, “Grand Royale” EP. The Courier Mail states the tracks will “make you wonder if the Brisbane band stole James Brown's mojo and distributed it among themselves.” (Courier Mail, September 2005)

In 2006, Hipakusha worked with esteemed producer Anthony Lycenko (Giants of Science, Pete Murray, Moloko), in releasing the double A side single, “Lowdown/Scrimmage” launching the band into national radio rotation.

2007 shapes to be an exciting year as the band head into the studio to deliver their debut album. Hipakusha isn’t slowing the pace of their constant playing schedule either – with a north coast tour recently announced as well as a fully fledged East coast tour in the works, Hipakusha will be passing out their concoction of musical love on more stages then ever before.

“You know you got it goin on when you can make Brisbane sound sexy.” (Rave Magazine, December 2005)