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I can still picture the exact time I first heard Miles Away. I was in front of my computer working on an issue of Rest Assured zine in 2003, when I threw in a CD Pawel Piotrowicz had burnt me of a bunch of Perth bands. One band really stood out from the pack and immediately caught my attention. From memory I think there were maybe three songs on that CD that predated the Armed With Hope demo.

A month later Pawel emailed me and asked me if I got the CD and in particular what I thought of one band called Miles Away. I told him I thought they were rad. Pawel informed me that Miles Away had a demo out and he’d get them to send me over a copy. The demo arrived not long after and didn’t leave the CD player in my car for weeks. I’d always been a big fan of melodic youth crew, as had Pawel, and the octave driven songs on that demo certainly appealed to my senses. Couple this with a Lord Of The Rings sample, my fave movie at the time and it made for the perfect blend. It was easily one of the best Australian hardcore demos I had ever heard.

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At the time I had recently released the My Hate, My Choice EP for Brisbane’s Against on Common Bond Records. One of the golden rules instilled in me from friends who ran record labels of their own, was not to release CDs for bands that couldn’t tour regularly. I momentarily toyed with the notion of releasing something with Miles Away, but soon gave up on the idea. ‘It could never work’ I told myself. The costs of touring the East Coast for a Perth band are on par with touring an international band. At the time the big hardcore labels of the day, Resist and Trial and Error had never touched a Perth band for that exact reason.

I emailed back and forth with frontman Nick Horsnell and told him I was into his band and loved the demo. We both had very similar tastes in music and would shoot the shit. He told me Miles Away was planning on recording their debut EP soon. He didn’t ask me if I wanted to release it or not, like most bands did and I respected that. I told him I was looking forward to hearing it and left it at that. In my mind I still thought a touring Perth hardcore band could never work. You gotta keep in mind this was before the domestic airfare price competition really changed touring in Australia. In those days everyone drove interstate as flying was just not affordable like it is now.

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One night, not long after, I was driving home from band practice with Perish The Thought guitarist, Dan Wecksler and I had the demo blaring. Dan remarked how good it was and asked if they were gonna be the next Common Bond band? He confirmed the inner debate I was going through. Fuck it! I decided right then and there, that the rest of Australia needs to hear how good this band is. I got home and jumped straight online, emailed Nick and asked him if Miles Away wanted to do the EP with Common Bond? I grabbed some dinner and came back to the computer to find a reply from Nick an hour later. He’d just gotten home from work in the Rusty factory and at Miles Away band practice the night before, the band had decided Nick should ask me if I’d be interested in putting the EP out. Call it fate, or call it a coincidence, this was basically how the “Make It Count” EP came out on Common Bond.

In deciding to do so, I had broken two golden rules of running a record label. Firstly never agree to put out a release until you hear it and secondly never release anything for a band that can’t tour to promote it. At the time I was funding Common Bond releases on my credit card and Against’s EP was selling like hotcakes, so I figured I had a decent financial buffer in case the release didn’t work out. Pretty crackpot logic, I know.

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Nick sent me over an unmastered copy of Make It Count, as soon as they had the recording mixed and I was totally blown away. It more than exceeded my expectations and I felt honoured that they wanted to release it on my fledging little record label. Once the EP was mastered and Pawel designed up the artwork, I had a pretty good feeling the EP would do well. I ordered an initial press of 500 copies through a local CD manufacturer, pretty confident I’d get through that many copies in 6 months, which was kinda a big deal for an Australian hardcore band at the time. I picked up the press, and checked out the CD booklet; the complete package just looked absolutely amazing. Pawel had done a stellar job on the artwork and it complimented the release perfectly.

I had secured distribution with MGM and the core stores around the country like Resist, Missing Link, Rocking Horse, Moshpit Music etc. all ordered in copies. I was running a distro at most shows and had sent the band over 100 copies to sell at their local shows too. I did up some rather amateur posters and sent them to stores along with promo copies. I also sent out promo copies to local radio stations and print that covered hardcore. All of the reviews came back positive and the band received quite a bit of airplay on the relevant punk and hardcore shows of the day.

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The band planned a series of launch shows over in Perth. One of these was at HQ in Leederville, a real cool Gilman Street esque venue, which was attached to a highly shreddable skate park. On the afternoon of their launch show, in between band sets, guitarist Adam Crowe came unstuck lapping the park and broke his wrist. I recall fielding a rather distressed phone call from Nick soon after telling me the news. I couldn’t believe it and by the end of the conversation we were laughing about it and it was decided other guitarist Cam Jose would just play the set solo. Despite the impromptu rejigging of their set list to accommodate the changes, the launch was a success and the response was awesome.

Word had spread quickly to the East Coast and copies of Make It Count were flying off the shelves. Make It Count was voted the most popular release so far in 2004 on Triple J’s Short Fast Loud mid-yearly report. Neither the band nor myself could believe this. Their immediate popularity was staggering.

Graham Nixon from Resist Records asked me if I thought Miles Away would be interested in playing the lineup of Hardcore 2004 that year? I rang Nick not long after getting off the phone to Graham and he was over the moon. Their first East Coast tour was going to include being on the lineup of Hardcore 2004, you couldn’t have scripted a better fairytale for a band from Perth. We decided it would make sense for the band to try to do some more East Coast shows to make the most of their flights. The only problem was how to finance it?

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Bassplayer Steve Hopperton had begun looking into how fellow WA band Gyroscope managed to tour so much and found out that WA government grants were available to help promote local bands. Hoppo put together a rather professional business application, outlining the audience reach and the expected growth the band would achieve as a result of the tour. After much jumping through hoops and frantic saving, the band scraped the cash together and booked their flights.

As Crowie was still in a cast with his broken hand, the band had recruited Scott from fellow Perth band From The Ruins / Jaws, for the trip East to fill in on guitar. Crowie was on the verge of being back to full mobility and was going to fly over along with Scott anyway. In an effort to reduce van hire costs it was decided I’d pick the guys up from the airport and drive them around. I borrowed a friend’s Holden Kingswood sedan as it had a bench seat in the front and a large boot and figured that would do the trick.

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Miles Away were due on first on the bill for the over 18s Friday night show at the Manning Bar. As I waited at the airport to pick them up I alarmingly learnt that their flight had been delayed. In all of our planning none of us had predicted this to happen. Our two-hour window from arrival to showtime had suddenly been halved. We somehow all managed to fit in the car and make it to the show 10 minutes before they were due to go on. The mad rush prevented the opportunity of nervousness setting in and the guys played a very well received show with all panic soon forgotten.

The next day was a totally different story though. Due to Beltsy’s Blooduster commitments back in Melbourne, Mindsnare was set to play earlier than usual on the Gaelic Club lineup. This proved unlucky for Miles Away, as they were due to go on after them. No one likes to play after Mindsnare and for good reason too. To further complicate things Crowie had removed his cast the night before, declaring himself fit to play. Having to watch on as Scott played the night before was too much for Crowie to take, deciding to battle through the pain, rather than let the opportunity pass him by again. Despite their fears, the crowd went nuts, with no shortage of people singing along to their set. From here the band headed off to Melbourne via Canberra to play some more shows.

Pumped on their first trip East, Miles Away soon returned in September for a short, but sweet joint tour around the country with Last Nerve. The bands had hit it off when Last Nerve toured Perth earlier in the year so they teamed up for the “Hardcore Still Lives” tour. Copies of Make It Count were running low so I ordered a second press, which the band made a solid dent in on this tour. Miles Away previewed some new songs on this tour that would later appear on the “State Of Affairs” split CD.

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Earlier in the year Darren Gibson from Melbourne band Away From Now approached me with the idea of doing a 5 way interstate split CD with his band representing Victoria, Perish the Thought for NSW, Hi End Audio for SA, The Amity Affliction for QLD and Miles Away for WA. Each band would contribute 3 new songs. Miles Away recorded two new songs. “Sink Or Swim” and “You Lose” along with a reworked version of a demo song “Holding On”. The new songs were a little quicker and harder than the EP songs but still sounded brilliant. From memory we eventually got through 1000 copies of this split.

In December of 2004, I had booked Seattle straight edge, youth crew band Champion in for their first ever Australian tour. Miles Away and Against were support bands for the tour with Against not doing the Perth shows and Miles Away only doing Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide. Any fears I had of a Perth band not being able to tour had long gone out the window as this would be their third trip East in a 6-month period.

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By now Make It Count was well on it’s way to selling through its second press and Miles Away had become ‘the band’ in Perth in a short amount of time. Champion was collectively their favourite band at the time and the guys were over the moon about touring with them. Also coming along for the ride would be Bridge Nine Records head honcho Chris Wrenn who was keen to check out Australia and catch up with Champion who were coming over via an extensive European tour with Comeback Kid (coincidentally Miles Away would again tour the country in early 2005 with Comeback Kid.)

The tour kicked off in Perth and Champion were stoked to be in warm temperatures again coming from one of Europe’s most harshest winters on record. For me it was my first time to Perth and I was keen to check out the hometown reaction to Miles Away. From the first note at the White Sands, the place went mental. The Champion guys were impressed as was Chris Wrenn and I felt like the proudest of parents at the band’s reception. By the end of that tour Bridge Nine Records would be re-releasing Make It Count with the State Of Affairs split songs and some of the demo tracks as well. The Miles Away global domination had just begun and still continues to this day 10 years on….

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