Linda Meech to celebrate 100 winners with her Kiwi mum

Linda Meech jets off home to New Zealand on Friday to take a well-earned break.
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She promised her mother that if she clocked up 100 winners nationally this season she would head across the Tasman for her birthday, and she hit the century mark on June 28 at Flemington.

Meech is understated and underrated. She is ranked fourth in the Victorian premiership on 96 winners, behind Brad Rawiller (142), Dean Yendall (131) and Damian Lane (96). But she remains humble, despite hitting the ton for the fourth time in her career and riding her 1000th career winner at Mortlake in November, and she believes she can do better.

The 33-year-old came to Australia on a working holiday in 1998 and never went home. “Racing is a lot better here than New Zealand, the quality and prizemoney just doesn’t even compare,” Meech said.

Meech is modest about her abilities; “I would have liked to have ridden 100 winners in Victoria already, but there’s not much I can do. Just work harder next year.” She has collected 10 winners in town this season, her best to date. November was a good month for her – she also rode five winners at one meeting at Echuca.

“I would like to start riding in town more frequently,” she said. “But in racing there are no guarantees, you can drive yourself mad trying too hard because there is no guarantee you’ll get on a horse that’s good enough to win and it doesn’t matter how hard you try, you’ve got to have a bit of luck.”

Meech was in the saddle before she could walk. Growing up in “steep, hilly” New Zealand terrain meant most of the stockwork was done on horseback.

“I don’t know where it came from but I always wanted to be a jockey,” Meech said. “Before I started school, when I was about four, I told my mum I didn’t need school because I was going to be a jockey.”

Meech said she owed a lot to Peter Moody. “He is my biggest supporter and I ride for lots of good trainers in country Victoria as well, which helps get the numbers up,” she said. “I have ridden more winners in town this season but I don’t get a lot of rides in town, so it’s nice to have a good strike rate.”

Meech said it was encouraging to see the likes of Michelle Payne and Katelyn Mallyon getting the opportunities and results at the metropolitan meetings.

“There were some great female jockeys when I was young, just as good as the girls today, the difference is the girls now are getting the opportunities that the likes of Therese Payne and Maree [Payne] didn’t get,” she said. “Therese was a superstar jockey and at the same time Linda Jones and those riders were competing against the men, and it has just taken a long time to all catch up.”

Meech said punters could expect to see her in the saddle for many years to come. She is fit and healthy and “there is no reason why I can’t keep riding for a long time”.

She returns to Australia on July 17 and will head to Darwin for the Northern Territory Derby.

MUSIC: Kingswood country

BE THERE: Catch Kingswood at The Cambridge Hotel on September 18.KINGSWOOD fans are being treated this winter. Not only is the debut album from the Melbourne four-piece finally being unleashed, but a national tour has been announced.
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The rock outfit first made waves in 2009 and have since gained fans for their all-out rock sound, with songs like She’s My Baby, Suckerpunch, Yeah Go Die and Ohio.

In the years since they’ve toured with the likes of The Living End, British India and The Saints and chalked up numerous festival appearances, including Splendour In The Grass, Queenscliff Music Festival and Pyramid Rock.

Their debut album – from which we’ve already heard singles Suckerpunch and the most recent and more chilled I Can Feel That You Don’t Love Me – was recorded at the renowned Blackbird Studios in Nashville. Called Microscopic Wars, the album was recorded with big-name producer Vance Powell (Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, Kings Of Leon) and will be released on August 22.

Catch Kingswood at The Cambridge Hotel on September 18. Tickets at bigtix杭州后花园m.au.

ASH GRUNWALD

BLUES-ROOTS troubadour Ash Grunwald’s career is a lesson in diversity.

His music is founded in traditional blues but over the course of his career he’s also explored far and beyond. He’s worked with hip-hop names t.z.u, Funk Oars and Urthboy, Spiderbait’s Kram, played alongside acoustic singer songwriter Pete Murray and the much-loved Joe Camilleri of Black Sorrows fame.

More recently he teamed up with Scott Owen and Andy Strachan of The Living End on their collaborative album Gargantua.

But now Grunwald has come full circle, back to his solo blues roots and back to touring Australia. Catch him at The Cambridge Hotel on October 2. Tickets at yourcambridge杭州后花园m and bigtix杭州后花园m.au.

CHINGY

US rapper Chingy – who had hits with One Call Away and Right Thurr – plays Finnegan’s Hotel next week.

The first release of tickets for the July 17 gig sold out, but the second release is still available as well as VIP tickets, which include the chance to mingle with the rapper after the gig and have a photo taken.

Visit finneganshotel杭州后花园m.au.

GET ready for a road trip with the Crooked Mountain Concert at Warrumbungle National Park near Coonabarabran in November.

The festival on November 8 will feature Aussie legends Dragon (April Sun In Cuba, Are You Old Enough, Rain, Speak No Evil and Young Years), The Capulets, The O Trio and Smith and Jones.

The festival is BYO picnic rug, chairs, food and alcohol, but locally-produced food and non-alcoholic drinks will be available on site. Music and kids’ activities kick off from 5pm.

Festivalgoers can stay for the weekend and explore the beautiful Warrumbungle National Park, with powered and unpowered campsites available in the park. If camping isn’t your thing, there is accommodation in Coonabarabran, Tooraweenah and Coonamble. Those travelling from Coonabarabran can pre-book the concert bus for $12 return.

Tickets on sale now on 13000PARKS on 1300072757 or visit nationalparks.nsw.gov.au.

NEWY’S own The Owls will launch their third EP Own The Streets with a national tour and hometown show at The Cambridge Hotel in October.

Their first EP, Swamp Love, was released in 2012, followed by Ocean and Own The Streets, which was released last week. In between the three EPs, the boys chalked up plenty of gigs including supporting the likes of The Cribs, Wolfmother and DZ Deathrays.

Catch the four-piece at The Cambridge on October 11.

Visit facebook杭州后花园m/theowlsonline. Tickets at bigtix杭州后花园m.au.

JOE Camilleri this year celebrates 50 years in the music business. And with 45 albums under his belt, he is showing no signs of slowing down. The writer of milestone Australian songs such as Harley and Rose, Chained To The Wheel and Never Let Me Go is the frontman of The Black Sorrows and Jo Jo Zep and The Falcons.

Album number 17 from the Sorrows, Certified Blue, is being released as a CD and as a limited edition, coloured 12-inch vinyl LP. The songs draw upon the diverse palette of Camilleri’s musical tastes and influences – blues, jazz, country, roots, r’n’b, and Americana. Fans have the opportunity to meet Camilleri and hear him perform tracks from Certified Blue at JB hi Fi, Glendale, at 1pm on Saturday.

HOT on the heels of fellow Beatles act Bootleg Beatles’ show at Wests in June, The Fabulous Beatle Boys are coming to Newcastle.

The group’s visit marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ one and only tour of Australia in 1964, with The Fabulous Beatle Boys recreating the ’64 tour, right down to the song set, the outfits, the instruments and even the atmosphere.

The Fabulous Beatle Boys play at City Hall on November 14. Tickets at Ticketek.

Canberra to host a leg of the Australian Athletics Tour in 2015

Australian sprint queen Melissa Breen. Photo: Jeffrey ChanCanberra is home to the fastest woman in Australian history, so it only makes sense the city is back on the Australian Athletics Tour for the first time in five years.
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ACT sprint queen Melissa Breen and London Olympic Games competitor Lauren Boden are set to headline a star-studded local contingent against the best in the country at the Canberra Track Classic on February 7 next year.

Canberra has not been a part of the Australian Athletics Tour since the Australia Cup was disbanded in 2010.

Breen proved exactly how quick the track at the AIS was when she smashed Melinda Gainsford-Taylor’s 20-year-old 100m women’s record, stopping the clock in 11.11 seconds at the ACT championships earlier this year.

Athletics ACT executive officer Ben Offereins said having the Australian Athletics Tour back in Canberra would be a massive boost to the region.

”We’ve felt a little bit neglected over the past couple of years because we haven’t had a tour meet and it’s something we’ve always wanted to get back,” Offereins said.

”It’s a pretty strong athletics community in terms of love of the sport, so it was something they wanted to work towards.

”It’s good we’ve been able to work with Athletics Australia and get a meet back here.”

Offereins has campaigned strongly for the event since he joined Athletics ACT earlier this year.

The 28-year-old moved from Perth to link back up with his former coach, Aaron Holt, as the 400m runner aims to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Offereins won a bronze medal with the men’s 4x400m relay team at the 2009 world titles and won the 400m at the Australia Cup in Canberra.

He is hoping to compete at the Canberra Track Classic, joining the likes of Breen, Boden and Paralyampic gold medallist Evan O’Hanlon.

”We’ve got a lot of athletes we want to showcase to the community,” Offereins said.

”It will be a good opportunity for the people of Canberra to see the Canberra athletes compete against Australia’s best.

”One thing that’s known around Australia is that Canberra is a fast track.

”It’s something even athletes outside of Canberra have been calling for because of how fast it is, and Mel proved that this year.”

The Canberra Track Classic is one of nine stops on the 2014-15 Australian Athletics Tour.

The season will finish in Brisbane, with the national championships to be held in Queensland from March 26-29, the first time in the state since 2009.

Halle Berry stars in new TV drama Extant

Golden girl: Halle Berry as Molly Woods in Extant and her “android” son.With the mesmerising manner of an old-school film star, Halle Berry seems the very personification of the dramatic migration of film actors, writers and directors to television, the new wave which has caused the so-called ‘‘golden age’’ of television.
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And Berry, the star of a new ‘‘event’’ television drama, Extant, about a female astronaut, Molly Woods, who returns pregnant from a year-long solo space mission, comes to the point very quickly: ‘‘First and foremost it was story, story, story,’’ she tells The Guide. ‘‘This was one of the best things I have ever read.’’

‘‘Quite honestly, I have read lots of pilots, lots of films, and when I read this it just jumped out at me,’’ the star of Monster’s Ball and the X-Men franchise says. ‘‘I related to this character in a very profound way. I understood her. I thought I had the wherewithal to breathe some life into this character.’’

Berry says she loved the science fiction aspect of the story. And then there is the imprimatur of Steven Spielberg, who is an executive producer of the project.

But the conversation comes back to the inescapable point: if one of Hollywood’s most bankable film actresses has joined the great migration from big screen to small, is this the final nail in film’s coffin? Or merely proof that Kevin Spacey’s declared ‘‘golden age’’ is indeed that.

‘‘There are so many reasons why one has to start abandoning their concepts about film versus television,’’ Berry says. ‘‘It’s a grey world, it’s not longer black and white where you do one or the other. I think today, as artists, we go where the good work is, where the good characters are.

‘‘Nobody can dispute that television has some of the best writing you will read. The best filmmakers, producers, directors, are doing television, so it’s no mystery that actors would then follow.’’

In Extant, unanswered questions – such as a chunk of missing video log – and unexplained events suggest there is a conspiracy at work. But what? And why?

While the story is, in one sense, writ large from the science fiction playbook: space stations, unexplained encounters and the possibility of alien impregnation, it also taps a provocative vein of moral and ethical questions, in particular about women’s ownership of their bodies.

Berry says those ethical and moral themes were never far from her mind. ‘‘How did Molly get pregnant? Was it right, was it wrong? Now that it’s happened, what does it mean? Is she a mother? Is she not a mother? What rights does she have? What does she do about it, morally and ethically? Where does she stand? She’s having to ask herself those questions.’’

The series also stars Goran Visnjic as Molly’s husband, John Woods, and Pierce Gagnon as Ethan, their  ‘‘son’’ – an android child whose humanity, or the implied lack of it, is one of the show’s most potent story threads.

‘‘One of the questions that the series poses is can this robot become human? Can we teach it to love? Can we give it free will? Will it act as human beings act over time?’’ Berry says. ‘‘And we, as humans, can we love something that is not real, that is sort of fabricated?

‘‘What intrigued me about this series is to try to discover the answer to that. Can we teach someone to be human? Hopefully by the time we finish this series, we might have a better answer. We might be able to intelligently talk about it but I think that’s what is exciting all of us right now. We are asking ourselves those questions.’’

The series was created by writer Mickey Fisher who conceived it, he said, as an antidote to all of the poor writing he had given female characters over the years.

‘‘Like a lot of male writers, I short-changed a lot of my female characters over the years; out of a desire to write someone who is complex and interesting and faced with an extraordinary situation, I set out to write this,’’ he said.

Right off the bat, Berry says Molly is complicated. ‘‘That was the first thing,’’ she says. ‘‘[When I read the script I saw] she was a woman who was extremely complicated. Right away the woman who goes to space for a year by herself, she’s complicated, because that’s not what most people would ever think of doing or want to do. She was complicated and she was strong.’’

On Fisher’s point – that he had short-changed a lot of female characters – Berry agrees that great writing in film for women, and for women of colour in particular, is tough to find.

‘‘It’s been really hard throughout my career to find roles for me to play,’’ she says. ‘‘I think, give me an opportunity to give all that I think I am capable of doing, and many times I have had to, I like to say, make lemonade out of lemons, because you have to keep going.

‘‘The option of laying down and dying, or switching careers, never seemed possible. So I have done the best I could with all the limitations I have been faced with and I think I have done OK for myself.”

And she has an Emmy and a Golden Globe, for Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, and an Oscar, for Monster’s Ball, to show for it.

‘‘But there has always been a shortage of good roles for women, and for women of colour there is even less there and we just have to keep trying to find a way out of no way, and stay a part of the industry that we love. And television now gives us another outlet to be able to do that.’’

Extant’s trailer, and the stunning space effects achieved on an ambitious television budget, have brought early comparisons to Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron’s stark film epic. Coupled with Spielberg’s name in the credits, it is easily labelled science fiction, but Berry points out that the high-tech elements of the story quickly give way to something far simpler.

‘‘It’s a human story about a family,’’ she says. ‘‘The fact that Molly goes to space and things happen up there, that’s part of it, but it’s more about when she comes back, what is she dealing with, what is the aftermath of that.

‘‘It’s really about this family and these people, and how they relate to one another, and how they solve this mystery. And what is love? What does being human mean? Can they live as a normal family with everything else happening around them?’’

Extant, Sunday, Ten, 9pm.

State of Origin 2014: The lead-up to Game 3PHOTOS

State of Origin 2014: The lead-up to Game 3 | PHOTOS State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images
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State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

NSW Blues’ captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Queensland Maroons captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

NSW Blues’ captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Queensland Maroons captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

NSW Blues’ captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Queensland Maroons captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

NSW Blues’ captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Queensland Maroons captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

NSW Blues’ captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Queensland Maroons captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Queensland Maroons captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

TweetFacebookIt’s the game of the rugby league season. Can NSW make State of Origin 2014 a clean sweep?

Check out the pre-game photos fromSuncorp Stadiumhere.

Check out what people are saying on social mediabelow.

Footy fans get set to the final match of the 2014 State of Origin series at Suncorp Stadium. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Cheika promises full force Waratahs

Michael Cheika has quashed speculation the Waratahs will field an under-strength team for their clash with Queensland on Saturday, saying to do so would promote a “bad mindset” within the minor premiers.
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The final-round derby clash at Suncorp Stadium will have no scoreboard impact on the Waratahs’ spot in the finals series after the side clinched top spot with a bonus point-win over the Highlanders last week.

But Cheika rejected suggestions the match was an opportunity to rest players or protect them from risk of injury, confirming that key starters Israel Folau, Sekope Kepu, Kane Douglas and Alofa Alofa were all on track to play in Brisbane and would not be wrapped in cotton wool.

“You could [injure a player] at any time, in training or regular games,” he said. “This is a contact sport, you don’t go into it worrying about things like that.

“It’s a bad mindset if you do, something is almost bound to happen. Just go in there, play with the guys you have and see what cards you’re dealt.”

Cheika said he had been rotating players through training to manage their loads and was doing the same this week.

“What we’ve done with those international guys who were with the Wallabies in June is, as the season has played out, we’ve rotated one a week out from a day here or there,” he said.

“We’ve done it with Adam Ashley-Cooper, we’ve done it with Michael Hooper and we did it with Bernard too this week.

“But as for not using players, I don’t want to have that style of worring about things that may or may not happen.”

The Reds, meanwhile, have spent the week fighting off accusations from Queensland legend Stan Pilecki that their 30-20 loss to the Force last week showed they felt no pride in the Reds jersey.

Test second-rower Rob Simmons defended the playing group on Wednesday, saying he was angered by Pilecki’s comments that he was “embarrassed and disgusted” with the side’s effort.

“It’s disappointing, you can say it all out there but to question our effort we get very frustrated at that. The effort’s not the question, you can question anything else but it’s a bit disappointing really [to question their effort],” Simmons said.

“As players we’re not sugar-coating anything, we know it’s not the ideal season, we’re not happy with it, and there’s been a few changes this season and you can expect a few more next season and we’re looking to improve. We’re pretty disappointed with it and looking to finish on a high.”

About the only place the Reds have an edge over NSW is at set piece. The Queenslanders have conceded six more tries (48) than they have scored (42) this season and are occupying lowly 12th place on the ladder, but on lineout and scrum success they are in the top five in the competition while the Waratahs are trending near the bottom.

Simmons said the Reds had an opportunity there to cause NSW a headache leading into their finals campaign.

“It’s a tough one, they’re a pretty good team all around but we have pretty good set piece at the moment, especially our lineout in attack and defence, so we’ll try to get to set piece nice and fast, speed things up and basically just try to beat them in every little battle in the forward play so our backs can start running riot,” he said.

The second and back rows are the only places Cheika could tinker with selection, with regular No.6 Jacques Potgieter a solid second-row lineout option and Test rookie Will Skelton an option there too.

Either way, neither the Waratahs nor Reds are taking Saturday’s clash for granted.

A NSW loss would expose a soft underbelly and Queensland will have Pilecki’s barbs ringing in their ears.

“There’s a few people saying in the media it might be a dead rubber, but I can guarantee you Saturday night won’t be a dead rubber,” Simmons said.

“This is state of origin for rugby union.”

Harcourt rebuked overdrug ‘retirement’ claims

Peter Harcourt (far right) has been rebuked by the AFL Photo: Pat ScalaThe AFL has moved to clarify comments made by its medical director at a Zurich conference, insisting players are not “retired” by the league for illicit drugs problems but rather made their own decisions.
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Peter Harcourt had revealed during an anti-doping conference last November, but only publicly reported last week, that the AFL had temporarily withdrawn three players with illicit drug problems from competition, and “retired” another three who were unable to control their problems since the policy was introduced a decade ago.

AFL spokesman Patrick Keane said the illicit drug policy was “a voluntary policy that relies upon the co-operation of players and clubs”.

“Confidentiality is a cornerstone of the policy and so we cannot provide detail about individual cases – Dr Harcourt’s briefing in Zurich about the AFL’s illicit drug policy drew upon information already provided to clubs and players,” Keane said on Wednesday.

“We have consistently stated that the IDP is based on a medical model and its key focus is to identify players abusing illicit drugs and to support them and change their behaviour through early intervention and treatment services.

“To clarify, the AFL does not force anyone to retire from the game – the wording of the presentation was misleading.

“Players make their own decisions about their playing careers and sometimes those decisions are based on advice regarding their health and welfare, including consultation with our medical directors and the player’s own health experts, or a decision made on the basis they can no longer make the commitment required to be a professional footballer in our competition.

“In the cases cited, the players retired for health reasons; this is a medical model – a player’s health is the overriding consideration.”

Former Hawthorn midfielder Travis Tuck, the only AFL player to have had three strikes and been suspended, may have fallen outside of the group of three.

Keane reiterated that players “identified” under the policy were subjected to target testing as part of their treatment program.

“The changes to the IDP have already been widely publicised. They include the capability to act upon players judged to be recalcitrant,” he said.

“Players identified by the AFL medical directors of acting or displaying an attitude contrary to the objectives and spirit of the IDP will be directed to undergo a more intense education and counselling program and will be named to their club CEO if there is no change in behaviour.”

Players originally had just had doctor-patient privilege. Players can now only self-report once throughout their career to avoid a strike.

The changes came about after Collingwood chief executive Gary Pert warned in November 2012 of “volcanic behaviour” of some players during the off-season.

Speaking on Fox Footy’s Open Mike this week, Pert said the industry at that stage “had been brushing off the rumours and not following it up”.

“There was very poor understanding and education, I think, throughout the clubs,” he said.

“Now we have the clubs involved in the process, we actually have the loopholes closed so we have sent a very strong message to players, not only AFL players, but players that are playing the game throughout Australia, that we won’t accept it.”

Harcourt told the Zurich conference that three players had had psychotic reactions to illicit substances, five had taken illicit substances to deal with certain psychiatric symptoms, and the AFL had opted to “temporarily withdraw” another three players “because of substance abuse issues that needed to be treated”.

He said another five had shown “attitudinal and personality type issues, but the bulk are just silly, risk-taking behaviour”.

Sudden death rugby will bring out the best in Brumbies: Ben Mowen

They haven’t won a last-round match in eight years but the ACT Brumbies are adamant their sudden death clash against the Western Force will inspire their best performance of the year as they aim for a finals berth.
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Scrumhalf Nic White has challenged the Brumbies to increase their physicality and tempo to match the desperate Force, who are trying to secure a play-off spot for the first time in the club’s history.

The winner of the Australian derby match will be guaranteed a place in the finals.  The loser’s fate will hinge on results of other matches.

The Brumbies haven’t won a game in the last round of the regular season since 2007, three of those costing the club a play-off spot.

But Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen said the team had learned from the past and was suited to knock-out scenarios.

And for extra motivation, the Brumbies can secure a home final and set up a week-two match against the top-of-the-table NSW Waratahs if they beat the Force.

“Last year we spent close to a month living out of a suitcase … the carrot is that if you get Friday night right, the path to the final is there,” Mowen said.

“We’ve been a side who understands the pressure of knock out football. We got it wrong in 2012, we learnt the lesson and went on a run last year. There’s so much experience now, sudden death footy will bring the best out of us.”

The Brumbies will be bolstered by the return of five key players for the clash against the Force.

Matt Toomua, Sam Carter and Josh Mann-Rea are all back in the starting XV while Pat McCabe and Joseph Tomane will be on the bench.

Carter has trained just twice since injuring his ankle in the Wallabies opening Test against France last month.

The towering lock played more than 70 minutes with an ankle syndesmosis injury, but powered on to earn man of the match honours.

“It’s been about five weeks since I played, but I’m not too worried,” Carter said.

“I feel pretty good, I’ve had a break and I feel good to go. The biggest thing I can add is getting the old combinations back. My goal is to get back into the Wallabies, but I’m focusing on the Force and Super Rugby first.”

Wallabies No. 9 White said the Brumbies had fixed the deficiencies in their game after they were convincingly beaten by the Waratahs two weeks ago.

White, who will be playing his 50th Super Rugby game, will likely line-up against his former Brumbies understudy, Ian Prior.

“It’s simple this week, win and you go through and lose and you don’t,” White said.

“We needed to fix a few things in our game … the Force will be very desperate. They’ve got the hunger there to make the finals for the first time, we’ve got to match that and go up again.”

LIVE: Art vs Science. parlez vous dance?

Art vs Science play at The Cambridge on August 1. Tickets at Bigtix. Picture: Erik BerganAFTER six years together and a string of infectious hits including Parlez Vous Francais?, Magic Fountain, Flippers, Create Destroy and their latest, Creature of the Night, Sydney trio Art vs Science have cemented themselves in the Australian electronic music scene.
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But the boys – Jim Finn, Dan McNamee and Dan Williams – were playing rock music together when a pivotal gig changed their path, McNamee (aka Dan Mac) told LIVE.

‘‘I saw Midnight Juggernauts in 2006 at Homebake Sydney and that was like, ‘Wow, holy shit!’ That was an influence because I was playing in a rock band with Dan, Jim and Jim’s brother at the time. I thought, ‘I want to do this’.

‘‘I’d been thinking about doing dance music live since forever and they were actually doing it,’’ Dan Mac said, before adding a few more gigs from big names in dance music cemented the genre shift.

‘‘The Presets were doing it. Then I saw Daft Punk and while they don’t do it live…there was this mixture between really classic electronic music and pop as well. It felt really good and I thought, ‘This is so hectic, it’s awesome’, so that’s the vibe I went for with Art vs Science.’’

And that he did. Together the trio followed in the footsteps of Melbourne three-piece Midnight Juggernauts in playing electronic and dance music live as a band. But there’s also no doubting Art vs Science have forged their own path: part of the huge appeal of songs like Parlez Vous Francais? and Magic Fountain is that they are so different from everything else out there, so distinctly Art vs Science.

In the six years since forming, the trio have released a handful of EPs and their debut album, 2011’s The Experiment which reached No.2 on the ARIA charts.

Despite it being years since the record’s release, the trio released the Create Destroy EP in April, rather than unleashing their second album.

Dan Mac, who takes vocals, guitars and keyboard duties in the band, said the decision was a collaborative one. While at first it was driven by their ‘‘management/distribution company’’, in the end it worked creatively for the band too.

‘‘In hindsight I agree because there were some songs which I thought were finished but I wasn’t completely happy with,’’ Dan Mac said.

‘‘Just in the last couple of weeks I opened up a Pro Tools session and I actually listened to it with fresh ears and went, ‘Aha! I know what needs to be done now’, and I did some nips and tucks and now it sounds really awesome.’’

Having space from the songs was just what the band needed. It’s a creative process they’ve used successfully on previous recordings: ‘‘It’s my preferred way to do things, actually. Either like that or go from start to finish in half an hour and do it that way. If you start working on something minutely, you need to give it a few weeks’ off.’’

Dan Mac said the trio had a ‘‘bunch of songs’’ already recorded which are likely to make their way on to the next album, which will be released in the next 12 months.

‘‘If we were making a cabinet it’s all been put together and sanded, it’s just waiting for varnish,’’ he said cryptically.

But for now, Art vs Science are keeping fans happy with their latest single Creature Of The Night which Dan Mac said Finn wrote at the end of 2012.

‘‘The lyrics were just a little sort of a ditty – he kind of writes kids’ songs in his spare time and he’s really good at that – and he wrote this one when he’d come home [from a night out] when the sun had come up,’’ he said before adding with a laugh, ‘‘but then those lyrics which started off kind of simple became mutated into this strange like of allegory of a song about the night. It’s a partying song but oh, jeez, it’s got a menacing tone.’’

The boys gauged Creature Of The Night by giving it a run live at Sydney’s On The Harbour New Year’s Eve. The response was resoundingly positive and so it was released: ‘‘The very first hour of this year we played that song and it went off so we thought, ‘We better make this a single’.’’

Litmus testing new songs live is something they’ve always done and will do on the upcoming Creature of the Night tour, though Dan Mac is careful to remind fans the favourites will always be part of an Art vs Science set.

‘‘All the ‘hits’ – for want of a better word – we’ll play, but we are going to play a lot of new stuff too. ‘‘We want to be excited about it. It’s not playing new stuff for the sake of playing new stuff, but the songs actually stand up against the old stuff. [Seeing the crowd response to new songs live] was a huge thing when we first started because no one had heard anything and that was our only gauge of whether or not a song was good.

‘‘It’s harder to do that now because people are naturally going to respond better to something they’ve heard before.’’

It’s all about striking a balance between the band keeping themselves happy, keeping fans happy and pushing their sound forward.

‘‘It is kind of tricky. The thing is, for a while we had the attitude towards the end of our last run [of shows] of ‘Let’s just play the old ones’ because people did naturally like them. That did work for a while because we weren’t really writing much,’’ he said.

‘‘But there needs to be that element of freshness because it starts to feel like you’re in a covers band playing songs: they’re our songs but it’s been a while since we actually wrote them.’’

The last thing either the band or punters want is for a gig to feel like Groundhog Day.

‘‘Personally I want to see a band which is kicking arse with their latest creative stuff.’’

Art vs Science play at The Cambridge on August 1. Tickets at Bigtix.

For your chance to win a double pass to the show, see page 19 of today’s Herald.

Picture: Erik Bergan

ICAC witness John Caputo pulls out of CDP campaign launch after Liberal Party finds out

Power couple: the Reverend Fred Nile at his wedding with Silvana Nero last year. Photo: James Alcock Quit as MC: John Caputo, after appearing before the ICAC in April. Photo: Rob Homer
杭州夜生活

After failing in her bid to enter federal Parliament last year, Christian Democratic Party candidate Silvana Nero has been busy preparing for an assault on the seat of Wakehurst, held by NSW Attorney-General Brad Hazzard, in next year’s state election. The CDP’s northern beaches campaign will be launched by Ms Nero – the wife of upper house MP the Reverend Fred Nile – at a modest $35-a-head fund-raiser at Dee Why RSL on Friday night. But the campaign has suffered a casualty even before it has been launched: the master of ceremonies for the evening, Liberal fund-raiser John Caputo, has been forced to pull out after the Liberal party state director Tony Nutt found out. A former mayor of Warringah, Mr Caputo is a committee member of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s federal electoral conference and vice-president of Premier Mike Baird’s state electoral conference. Mr Caputo made headlines earlier this year after giving evidence at the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s investigation into alleged Liberal party slush funds used to hide political donations from banned donors, including property developers. In April, Mr Caputo told the ICAC he had handed over thousands of dollars’ worth of cheques from a March 2011 Liberal party fund-raiser to former energy minister Chris Hartcher, who is accused of being the mastermind behind the slush funds. Mr Caputo, who strenuously denies any wrongdoing, agreed that this was not normal fund-raising practice. On Wednesday, Mr Nile said Mr Caputo had agreed to MC the CDP campaign launch because he was “a family friend of the Neros”. “Silvana has been a friend of his for 15 years,” Mr Nile said. Mr Caputo confirmed that Ms Nero “is a friend and she asked me to do it. I’m happy to do it”. But when contacted, the NSW Liberal Party appeared to have no idea about the arrangement. Within minutes of being asked for its view, a spokeswoman for Mr Nutt called back to deliver the bad news. “Mr Caputo is not attending the event,” she said, leaving Ms Nero and the CDP searching for a new MC –  and Mr Caputo at a loose end on Friday night.