Certain Australian rock groups have recently been hailed as the “saviours” of the genre by the international press. “Electronic music is dead,” the taste-making mags eagerly gush, “and rock is very much back in vogue – with antipodean acts at the vanguard.” The argument media mavens put forward is this: How can dance music a genre based around overweight, overpaid, old-aged, po-faced DJs spinning non-descript repetitive beats compete with the kind of “incendiary” live performances and raw, “real” recordings delivered by the leaders of the rock renaissance? How could electronic music ever be as energetic or exciting as a screaming, spitting, eardrum-splitting rock set? How? Ask Infusion. Just as Aussie acts have almost single-handedly proven that there’s life in the rotten corpse of rock’n’roll yet, fellow antipodeans Infusion are here to put to rest any discussion of electronic music’s imminent demise. Take a listen to the group’s upcoming second album, or witness one of their dynamic live shows, and you’ll agree that reports of dance music’s death have been greatly exaggerated. On the other hand, reports of Infusion’s excellence are anything but inaccurate. While the music press has been generous in its praise of the Wollongong-bred trio (comprising Frank Xavier, Manuel Sharrad and Jamie Stevens), it certainly hasn’t indulged in flights of hype fancy. With Infusion, there’s no need for hyperbole. Stating a widely-held belief, Premier Sydney newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald described Infusion as “Australia’s best live act” (NB: no qualification of ‘best live dance act’ – just “Australia’s best live act”, full stop). Offshore, Muzik Magazine labelled the band “a force to be reckoned with”, and Mixmag portrayed Infusion as “exciting, and funky as f*ck.” “Exciting” really is the word when it comes to summing up Infusion’s live gigs. With a solid pedigree in live performance, these guys consistently deliver the goods onstage. Why else would they be perennial faves for major domestic festivals like Big Day Out and Splendour in the Grass? How else could they pull off the coup of being booked for such prestigious international outings as this year’s Roskilde Festival (where they’ll be the only Australian act on the bill) and Creamfields UK, or Glastonbury 2004 (where they performed twice)? Then, there are the recent slots at Creamfields in Argentina, guest gigs at top UK clubs including Renaissance and Fabric, and a relentless touring schedule that sees the trio regularly tripping through Europe, the US and Asia. While most local electronic acts are trapped in the domestic ghetto, the world is listening to Infusion. Which should tell you something Infusion are export quality, and like our fine lagers, they’re intoxicating audiences across the globe. Discussing playing for a near six-figure-strong crowd of frenetic South Americans at Creamfields in Argentina late last year, Jamie Stevens says: “They’d told us it’d be big, but nothing couldve prepared us for what it looked like once we got onstage. It was a bit daunting, but really good fun you get so much energy from it. I don’t think we’ve ever put on such an energetic performance, and that’s really saying something for us! I’d never seen Manuel so animated. You get so much from the crowd, and they’re so animated themselves jumping round, screaming, waving their arms around. It’s a great memory, that one.”
Lately, the trio added to the memory bank with recollections of a mind-blowing appearance at legendary English festival, Glastonbury. “That’s another incredible dream come true,” Jamie enthuses. “Having grown up with the British music press, buying NME every week, reading about Glastonbury, T In The Park and those kind of things, and then getting to play there we had to pinch ourselves when we were told they wanted to book us.” However, despite their burgeoning fame and ‘glamorous’ life, travelling the world, playing the music they love in exotic locales, Infusion retain a distinctly down-to-earth, fan-boy outlook. “We do have a hotel at Glastonbury,” Jamie notes, “but I think we might sleep in the car. One of the great things about doing these kind of gigs is that we get to see all the bands playing at the festival. And get in for free.” Keepin’ it real or what? They’ve already played alongside the cream of the electronic music scene (e.g. The Chemical Brothers, Underworld, Paul Oakenfold, Carl Cox etc). At Glastonbury 2004, they’ll share the bill with Oasis, Muse, Kings of Leon, PJ Harvey, Nelly Furtado, the Black Eyed Peas, Scissor Sisters, Morissey, James Brown, and an elderly vegetarian billionaire named Paul McCartney. Yet, while Infusion may be “big in Japan” (oh, and Europe, and the States, and the UK…), they’re absolutely massive in their homeland. Unlike the nu-kool Oz-rock groups mentioned way back at the beginning of this spiel, it hasn’t taken column inches in the international press to reassure us that it’s OK to like Infusion. In Australia, we’ve always known that the guys are world-beaters. A dedicated fan-base, packed-out gigs across the country, multiple ARIA Award nominations and a swag of Australian Dance Music Awards testify to the love this wide brown land has for the gleesome threesome. The first single from their impending, self-titled second LP, Girls Can Be Cruel (the equally rockin’, angst-ridden antithesis to Are You Gonna Be My Girl? from fellow “so-hot-right-now” Melbourne band, Jet) blew up across the airwaves and lauded by the superstar DJ élite did damage to dance floors globally.
And this is only the beginning. With the release of their first major label LP (due out in 2005), backed by a relentless, no-sleep-’til-stardom touring schedule, Infusion are set to cause seismic activity on a transcontinental scale. Forget backward-looking, Xerox rock and by-the-1800-numbers pre-fab pop the 21st Century belongs to Infusion.