Features November 29, 2018

“We’re all about narcotics…” – everything we learnt in the 2018 ARIA Awards media room

“We’re all about narcotics…” – everything we learnt in the 2018 ARIA Awards media room
L-R: PNAU, Courtney Barnett, 5 Seconds Of Summer. Photos by Christo Herriot

There were many moments of triumph at last night’s ARIA awards, an evening that truly belonged to Gold Coast artist Amy Shark as she took home album of the year for her debut, Love Monster.

But behind the stage, up on the fifth floor of The Star hotel, shellshocked winners were herded through the media room in front of dozens of journalists and former jjj presenter Robbie Buck to have a chat. Here’s everything that TMN learnt.


Aussie legend Jimmy Barnes picked up Best Soundtrack for his confronting doco Working Class Boy. He told the crowd backstage how he hoped the win would bring to light the domestic violence issue that’s ravaging Australia.

“My message that I really wanted to get across was that we can’t sit around waiting for this to get better,” Barnes said.

“People who are washed over by the plague of domestic violence in Australia are dying now and the only way to change is the Government to get support to struggling families.”

Next up were Best Urban Release winners Hilltop Hoods, who spent most of their interview time praising their ‘Clark Griswold’ feature artist, Adelaide’s Adrian Eagle.

“It’s his song, one day he was in the booth for nine hours and it’s not cause he couldn’t sing, it’s because he wanted it a certain way. We’re huge fans and we can’t wait to see what he does next,” said MC Suffa.

Teenage wunderkind and 2018 Breakthrough Artist Ruel teased new music for 2019 when pressed for information.

“If not an album, then probably an EP but I know for sure I will have a body of work coming out next year,” Ruel said.

Vance Joy, who picked up Best Adult Contemporary Release, seemed genuinely shocked that he took home an award.

“Lucky my managers printed out all the names that I needed to thank,” he said.

The singer also touched on his life since “Riptide” turned his life upside down.

“I was playing my song at every radio station and I think I probably didn’t know where the line is for what I could handle,” Joy said.

“At the time I didn’t warm up and I kind of burnt out at the end of that touring and I lost my voice for about two months. It was a learning curve cause it taught me that I can push back on some things, I can say no.”

Another superstar of the evening, Hall Of Fame inductee, Kasey Chambers, bounded into the room with tears in her eyes, full of appreciation for what she had achieved.

“It’s one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me,” she said of Paul Kelly‘s bespoke poem welcoming her into the Hall of Fame.

Award veterans and three-time Best Dance Release winners PNAU came into the room, with a couple of libations under their belt.

“We’re all about narcotics, obviously, because we’re all about dancing,” said Nick Littlemore within 30 seconds of sitting on the couch.

Furiously backpeddling he continued, “But dancing doesn’t need narcotics, you can tap into the ones in your, we can talk about DMT all night….”

It was at this point Buck kindly reminded Littlemore that he was in front of a room of journalists. Congrats, boys.

Best Video Winner Dean Lewis revealed that in another life he was the boom guy on the ARIA red carpet.

“I was writing songs in my room for six years without showing anyone my music, I just never thought it was that good.”

The first female recipient of Best Rock Album, Courtney Barnett, was suitably subdued but bursting with pride for her Milk! Records project which included fellow ARIA nominee Evelyn Ida Morris.

“I think starting Milk! Records five or six years ago, I’m really proud of and it’s inspiring to be a part of and see other artists grow.”

Heartthrobs of the evening and multiple ARIA winners, 5 Seconds Of Summer made a surprise visit to the media room, sporting oddly affected American/Australian accents.

Drummer Ashton Irwin touched on the band’s changing sound, “This year has been all about the determination of change this band’s trajectory.”

“We basically had to regroup and decide to take on the world again from a different musical perspective.”

“We’ve been fiercely determined to make people like us cause we want to be a people’s band. We really believe that this group can exist for a long time. We look for the musical acceptance of the public.”

Last up, Amy Shark, visibly shook, apologised for keeping the room waiting before sharing what her awards meant to her.

“I started so long ago trying to do this. When you’re putting out work and people are liking it and nominating it, it’s so far from what I thought I could achieve,” she said.

“I’d given that dream away so long ago, I’m waiting for someone to wake me up.”


Just as quickly as it started, it was over – see you at the 2019 ARIA Awards!

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