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Augie March - Failing To Fail

Author: Jane Stabler
Wednesday, 16 January 2008
2006’s Moo You Bloody Choir cemented Melbourne ensemble Augie March into the annals of Australian music history. Backed by the stunning single One Crowded Hour, which polled at number one in the triple j hottest 100 of 2006, it seems the band are actually shocked. Maybe even disappointed. 3D’s Jane Stabler has more…

Deliberately setting out to fail at something is not a mindset that many of us contemplate. Failure is something that the majority of us like to pretend doesn’t actually happen, and when it does, it’s not something most of us want to admit to. But if you believe Edmondo Ammendola of Augie March, failure was always the band’s aim, which means that their unanticipated success is actually a failing in itself.

As difficult as it is to accept that a band signed to Sony BMG never actually wanted to do well, Ammendola is insistent.

“We’re actually hell bent on destroying our career before it starts,” he claims. “We’re annihilists and by the annihilate way we will forge the annihilate sword and die by it. If we make deep stuff we’ll fall to the deepest pit of failure [and] yes, we did start out with that in mind. If everybody else is out to succeed, it’s worthwhile setting yourself apart from the pack and failing. We’re trying to write the most meaningless stuff possible, it doesn’t mean anything. People think it does, but I think we’ve fooled them long enough.”

Augie March have made a name for themselves through their claims that in a world gone mad with window dressing, they are actually making “stuff”. That doesn’t seem to point to a desire to fail, but Ammendola once again assures me of his honesty. “I’m hanging up my socks,” he says, “and when you’re hanging up your socks it’s that point in the day that you’re the most truthful.”

As much as I detect a smidge of sarcasm, I don’t often wear socks so I can’t really judge. But another indication that failure may not always be top of their agenda is their inclusion in the Big Day Out line-up. For a band that seems so hell bent on self-destruction, agreeing to play the Big Day Out is a bit of an oxymoron. As far as “nonsense bars and nowhere music” go, the BDO fits in somewhat. Now a fairly commercial event, it’s often full of people who are along for the ride rather than a dedication to the music. When Ammendola claims to have never wanted to end up in that kind of musical sphere, it begs the question why are they bothering- Surely playing that type of event just perpetuates their lack of failing and cements them even further somewhere they are claiming not to want to be.

“I guess our past experience of the Big Day Out for the most part have been a parched throat singing lies to a bunch of people who are just sitting round waiting for the main act from overseas, for whatever’s hip at the time,” Ammendola says of the event. “The Big Day Out seeks to give people a taste of what’s going on. I don’t think any of the bands take the Big Day Out seriously to be honest. I suppose it is a strange thing but you gotta pay the bills.”

Unfortunately for Ammendola, Augie March’s 2006 album Moo You Bloody Choir has been praised as a great success and even touted as the band’s best release yet. Of course with the desire to fail ever present, this is not the news the boys were hoping to hear. “No [it’s not the best to date] and I’m not saying that to be contrary,” Ammendola claims. “The album was a stillborn. We failed. We failed the music. I mean when we first tried trying to fail, our first album was and still is considered our best, and we succeeded because it was received with very little fanfare and very little songs on the radio, and that’s why it’s our best album. It did succeed – we failed. We succeeded in failing.”

WHO: Augie March
WHAT: Play Big Day Out, Sydney Showgrounds
WHEN: Friday 25 January