Month: May 2015

Interview: Steve Eales


Steve Eales will be familiar to many country music fans as the lead singer and main songwriter of Sovereign. Flying solo since then, Steve’s latest album is The Open Road. Steve took some time recently to talk about songwriting, mysterious guitars and road testing songs. 

Congratulations on the release of your album. An album takes such a long time and effort and thought and energy, I was wondering if it now feels like a relief that it’s out or do you now move into planning a tour and thinking about the next album?
It’s actually the latter. I’m in a constant state of writing and recording, because you constantly get inspired. As a songwriter there’s something or a predicament or an environment or some personality that’s influencing you and inspiring you, so I’m constantly writing and being inspired that way and in order to keep it fresh I record in some kind of fashion. So I’ve got this huge catalogue of songs that are ready to go for the next album and even the one after that.
When you get ideas – some people might sing a line into their iPhone, but do you go in and properly bed down a track with a guitar or something else?
It’s a different way every time. I’ve got ideas that I’ve sung into my phone. I’ve got riffs that are just a guitar riff that I’ll play over and over. If I go back through songs that I listen to on the album I can remember how every song was seeded – I can remember how I came up with that riff and it reminded me of that thing I was thinking that day. So it’s different every time. If a song wants to come out, if it wants to be a thing somewhere in the world, then it’s going to come out. It’s a weird thing. It’s not like you intellectually sit down and think, I’m writing a song now, and then you come up with something. I think if you did that you’d end up with a really poor-quality product. For want of a better word it’s more spiritual – or emotional, I guess, that’s the best way to describe it.
It sounds very much as if you exist in a state of constant creative flow. A lot of people struggle to get to that state and often it’s because they’re trying to make that intellectual decision that they want to write something or they need to write something, but that’s the wrong way to go about it. Whereas it sounds like you’re open to the stories and the songs that come to you and that’s why they can continually come, because you’re not trying to force them.
You’ve nailed it there. It gets to the stage with me where I’ll say [to a song], ‘I’m not ready for you to come out yet – you can just stay in there a bit longer’, rather than sit down and wrack my brain and try to come up with a word that rhymes with ‘hay’, you know. I don’t do that. I used to stress about it – I used to think, How am I going to construct this song? And I would listen to other people’s music and wonder, How did they write? What did they do? And I guess it’s probably a good way of getting your grounding as a songwriter, but I’m at the stage now where there’s so much going on inside of me and anything could come out at any time that I’ve got to control what comes out, to the point where I will half-write some songs and think, That’s going nowhere, and I won’t let the rest of it out.
At what point in your life did this start? Because for some people this point will never arrive. Is it something you’ve had since childhood?
Yes, it is – it’s something I’ve had since childhood. When I grew up – my dad is heavily into the church, he’s actually now an ordained minister. But I remember way back in the day a friend of mine – who was much older than I was – was getting piano lessons and he was sitting around this organ playing some tunes, and I would make him go over the same thing over and over again because I was getting lyrics and melodies forming in my mind and I was humming and singing them along. I probably would have been seven or eight years old.
Has it always felt like a gift, to be able to do that, or has it sometimes felt like a burden?
Interesting question. I used to be a carpenter back in the day and I can remember hanging upside down from the rafters on one particular job – I was three stories up – and I was trying to handle a power saw and I’ve got lyrics going through my head and I cannot focus on what I’m supposed to be doing. My mind just would not stay on the job. And I’ve had similar experiences when I’ve – I love playing sport, and I’ve got some ability, but I have never been any good because I don’t have the focus that you need to be a great athlete, simply because I’ve got music inside of me all the time. It just pours out, basically.
Did you grow up around music?
Not really. We had a piano in the house that we weren’t allowed to touch. We’d wait until Mum left the room to see if the lid was locked. But no one ever played it. And there was a guitar that was kept in a canvas bag behind the couch. No one was allowed to touch that either. So there were instruments there but nobody played.
So where did they come from, these mystery instruments?
I had this guitar – I’ve recently just given it away. It was literally a priceless guitar. It was a handmade Spanish guitar that’s over a hundred years old, that ended up in our family probably before I was even born, from a friend of my dad’s who used to do a few burglaries. He ended up getting locked up and he stashed a whole heap of stuff around different people’s places and my dad ended up with this guitar. Now Dad has never known if this guitar belonged to the guy or the guy ripped it off from someone else, but when this friend of his got out of jail Dad said, ‘I’m sorry, mate, I can’t have you round my family’, but he didn’t want the [guitar] back either. So it stayed in the family for years. I think that’s the reason we were never allowed to get it out and play it. But I remember being about two or three years old and sticking my hand up inside the broken zip and pulling on the strings to make a noise.
That guitar sounds like it deserves a song of its own.
Yeah, well, I named it Matilda and I’ve written heaps of songs on it, but I recently passed it on to another family member.
Back to the album – the first single, ‘Cos I’m Country’, was about living in the country, but I’m wondering if it also applied to your musical tastes. Having said that, the song ‘Love it When it Rocks’ suggests that you’ve never been just strictly country.
Well, that’s true. When I wrote ‘Cos I’m Country’, that’s more about the actual life of living on the farm rather than being country music. Country music has such a broad brush these days, when you swipe something with the country music sound it could be anything from Slim to Big & Rich, for instance, that have a rock and rap in their songs. So that song’s not really about the country style, that’s more about growing up on the farm and having the ethics of a farmer passed down from son to son, not just the skills of farming the land but actually ‘this is why we live in the country, this is why we do what we do’. Whereas ‘Love it When it Rocks’ is, when I’m playing live and I’ve got a couple of hundred or a thousand people in front of me who just want to move their feet, there are some types of songs that I can’t play because they’re, like, ‘Will you hurry up? We want to dance’. So there are some songs that I’ve got to bring out for that kind of environment, and that’s what ‘Love it When it Rocks’ is all about – not everything is going to be a country ballad.
On your album the ballads are really lovely. When I heard them I thought we don’t get a lot of ballads. A lot of alt country albums, the songs are a slower tempo and you can’t really classify a lot of them as ballads. On a lot of country rock or country pop the pace stays really upbeat or the slower songs are really melancholy so they don’t have that ballad feel – they can feel like a dirge sometimes. So you obviously like that balance of ballad and up-tempo yourself.
You do. There used to be a time when you’d buy an album and you’d like two or three songs, and then you’d put up with the rest or they’d grow on you. I don’t think that belongs in today’s era. Most people will say, ‘I like that song so I’m just going to download it and the rest of it I don’t like’. So now the challenge is there for artists – if you’re going to put out an album with twelve songs on it, all twelve of them have to be a song that people want. You can’t think you’ll pad out this album with some stuff that doesn’t really matter. You can’t do that any more.
It’s a lot of pressure, though, isn’t it? Part of the beauty of an album is to have that ability to have it telling a story across the whole work, but when you’re thinking that people are perhaps accessing just one song at a time, the entire story needs to be in that one song and whatever you’re trying to convey to a listener has to come across in that one song.
You’re right – every song has to encapsulate the thought that inspired you to write the song and if you are smart enough or it just happens to work that way, all the songs on the album will sort of tie in to a similar theme. And that happened when I brought the Battler album out: every song was a handshake to the next song or somewhere on the album it sort of belonged. And the next album I brought out – This is the Life – was more about, ‘I don’t want to be boxed in to only sound like this sound’ or ‘Don’t think that I’m just that kind of muso’. So the album was eclectic as far as styles go. I had 1920s, 1930s style swing songs on there as well as the country ballad and country pop sound. This album is a little more mature – I’m not trying to prove anything like I did on the previous album. Now I’m putting the songs on that I’ve road tested and I know people want to hear.
Although I would think it’s a bit of a comfort to know that you have a vault of songs – as you said, you’ve been banking them up. So you can go to the vault if you need a song.
That’s true, too – I’ve got so many that I can just say, ‘Hang on, this song doesn’t exactly fit on this album – let’s try that one over there’, knowing that that song works in front of a crowd as well, because one of the most important things is to write a song, get familiar with it so you’re comfortable playing it, and then slip it into a live show and see what people’s reactions are. You can’t do that on the bigger shows but every now and again I do some more intimate pub-type gigs where it’s laidback or sitting on a stool and I’ve got good crowd reaction going on, so I explain that this is a new song I’ve just written. If people are tuning out and just talking amongst themselves, I know it’s not going to be any good on an album either. I haven’t got a good enough hook.
Has there ever been a song you’ve really loved and you’ve road tested it like that and it’s gone down like a lead balloon?
Yes, it’s happened a lot [laughs].
I suppose if you write a lot of songs then you’re less attached to each song than if you didn’t write many at all, but does it still hurt?
I don’t really feel hurt. The best way of describing it is that if I was to assume that the gift of music was a gift for me I would probably have that approach – ‘well, you people just don’t know what you’re listening to, it’s a great song’. Once you get through your skull that the gift of music is for everybody else and you’re the conduit for it, then it kind of brings things back into perspective where it’s, like, ‘okay, this song may be for another era or it may never come out’. But the reality is that you’re playing for people’s pleasure. You bring it back to the basics – what is a song? If somebody buys a song from you, what are they buying? It’s not like they can take it home in their hand. Or if they come to a show they can’t stick it in their pocket and take it home. They’re not taking anything. It’s an emotion, it’s a feeling, it’s an idea. And if people can’t connect with that on a level that affects them, then either you haven’t done your job properly or it’s not a good enough concept or melodically it’s not sound. You haven’t allowed the gift to develop properly.
That’s a great way to put it. I also love the idea of the song not being in the right time or of the right time. That’s a very philosophical way to see creative work. But I think we’ve already established that that’s how you approach it anyway.
That was a trial-and-error thing. I’ve got songs on the first album that I brought out with Sovereign, back in 2000, that would be better now. They’re good songs – they’re great songs – but they didn’t make it as a single, they were like a B side, whereas the music now has caught up.
I’m going to ask one last question: the album is called The Open Road – what are your plans for taking it on the open road?
That’s a good question [laughs]. I’m always on the road. Pretty much every weekend I’m out gigging somewhere. And the plan is for the second half of the year to take the Open Road band and album up the eastern coast and then down through the centre.
Given that Tamworth gigs get booked quite far ahead, are you thinking of Tamworth already?
Definitely. I haven’t been to Tamworth since 2008. I’ve been in the [United] States pretty much every year or on tour somewhere else in the country, so yes, definitely. 


The Open Road is out now.

Interview: Luke Sinclair of Raised by Eagles

Diamonds in the Bloodstream by Melbourne band Raised by Eagles has been one of the outstanding country music releases of recent years, and it was my great pleasure to talk to singer and songwriter Luke Sinclair about the band’s origins, finding the balance in a creative life, and about Tamworth.

It some ways it made me feel nostalgic but I wasn’t sure what for. It’s evocative of music I wished I’d heard in the past, if that makes sense.
[Laughs] It does. I like that – I like that a lot. I’ve always been accused of being overly nostalgic, in my closer family and friendship group, and I certainly write from that place as well. I’ve always loved that music. Probably my heaviest influences have been from the ’70s in a musical sense, so I’m glad that it maybe harks back to the past.
What sort of ’70s influences? I’m curious about your lineage as a musician.
It’s that classic story of Mum and Dad’s record collection, which I have a much better appreciation for now than I did back then. When you’re a kid you don’t really realise that these things are particularly affecting you the way that they might be. They had records that were probably the more conservative side of country music – there was the standard reference points like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan and Neil Young, but they also had John Denver and Anne Murray and John Williamson and stuff like that that I don’t listen to today, but I still have a very nostalgic connection to those artists. It wasn’t until high school that I got hold of a good friend’s older brother’s tape collection that had all this John Prine and Steve Earle and Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, like the outlaw, grittier side of country music and I just really fell for it immediately and I’ve just loved it ever since, and always played that kind of music on guitar. I went through every music phase there was, growing up – glam rock, dance music even – but I was always a closet country music-playin’ dude on the guitar. And when I moved to Melbourne it just became fully realised when I found other people who loved it as well and started playing in bands. And here I am.
The Melbourne country music scene is very vibrant. Melbourne city seems to have a cohesive country music scene in a way that Sydney city doesn’t, and I don’t know if it’s because of the venues being the way they are and perhaps it’s easier to form a community, whereas in Sydney the country music venues tend to not be anywhere near the centre of the city. But in terms of that Melbourne scene, I can’t think of another act like Raised by Eagles so I wonder who you consider your contemporaries to be?
I feel like we have many. I agree with everything you said and often scratch my head about the difference between why Sydney doesn’t seem to have a strong Americana or alt-country scene and in Melbourne it seems to be a close-knit community and all the bands that are on that circuit are people I know – well, most of them anyway. We all sort of know each other. Half of us hang out together in the same social circles and party together and play together and all that kind of stuff. The country music community, especially in Melbourne, is really special and really close, as far as I’m concerned, and I suppose our contemporaries would be those people who have become great friends of ours, who are all on this circuit. Van Walker was one of the first musical connections I made in this town and certainly someone who has been very inspirational and very supportive to me as a songwriter and has always pushed me to write and to play, and it always helps when you have someone like that who you think is a great artist and a great songwriter telling you that you are as well. And that has happened in my musical life quite a bit and it’s really driven me to believe in the songs I’ve written and what I’m doing. And Liz Stringer and Sean McMahon – Down Hills Home, they were a huge influence on me, I always wanted to be in a band like that, and now we’re really good friends with those guys, but I was a fan first. My friends now are really my contemporaries and my inspiration as well; they’re all in bands, most of them. And I think it’s a really special thing to be part of – in Melbourne, anyway. I’m not sure why it’s a little different in Sydney – it’s certainly a lot harder to get people to come to the shows in Sydney. But I feel like it’s sort of getting better, but I’m not from there so I can’t really say.
The country music communities in New South Wales are really on the Central Coast and an alt-country community northern NSW.
Is that Maitland and areas like that, or do you mean further up – Mullumbimby?
Yes – Mullum and Bangalow. I’m thinking of Matt Henry, who puts together Late Night Alt at Tamworth, and Lou Bradley and others. And that community seems to take in Brisbane as well, so those guys all know each other, and that’s not unlike what’s happening in Melbourne in terms of collaboration and cooperation and support. But let’s move on and talk about your band and how your band started.
My wife is a musician as well – her name’s Tracy McNeil. She was on the same circuit and I was in a band called The Idle Hoes a few years ago and we used to play a lot in Melbourne. And then my writing partner in that band decided he didn’t want to push and take it any further, and his partner had a baby, and I could see that it was dissipating, but I still had all these songs that I really wanted to get out there to play with a band. And I was miserable and Tracy said, ‘You’ve got to put a band together and play these songs, so you can get them out and get them down’. She had a gig coming up, and she said, ‘Why don’t you put a band together and do the support?’ So I frantically put together a band of guys I knew through music who are the guys who are still in the band now, and we sort of really didn’t even have a name – we might have just settled on it just before we played. But it was Raised by Eagles – a friend of mine gave me that name. We were signing CDs for The Idle Hoes and he was giving us all nicknames and he looked at me and just wrote on the CD, Raised by Eagles, and I loved that name, even though I got it from my furrowed, brooding brow, I think. And so it stuck, and I thought, I’ll call the band Raised by Eagles for now and, as usually happens, those things tend to stick, and it did, and that’s kind of how we got started. Then we recorded that first album really slowly, no pressure, we were just going into the studio and plugging away at it for a few months, and that turned into the debut record. We released it and it ended up doing really well. So it’s just led to all of this, really.
You have a day job, as a lot of musicians do, and then there’s not just the recording of

the music but the business of music too. And you’re the main songwriter. I presume that’s out of desire and not necessity that you write the songs?

Definitely. That comes first, really, before everything else. It’s all really driven by desire and what’s necessary to have money so you can eat and pay the rent, so the day job is the necessity part, and the music and the writing is the desire to be an artist and to play music, really. I have friends who don’t have day jobs and they’re doing it really hard, and it’s really hard to be a musician and not have some other kind of income that isn’t just from music, just so you can pay the rent and have a heater and have hot water and all that kind of stuff. It’s hard, because I feel like I’m just waiting around – and have been for years – for one to consume the other and hoping that’ it’s going to be music and it’s starting to happen that way, but at the same time that’s a bit scary. You’ve got to start taking some risks and letting go of some financial comforts so that you can really the time to do what you’ve always dreamed of doing. It gets to this point where it can be a bit scary, I guess, because you get used to making some money.
The time that work takes up obviously detracts from time spent on creative work but sometimes there’s an argument for the structure of a paid job even if it’s a part-time paid job, and about the structure and security of an income facilitating that creative work, because sometimes when everything’s loaded onto the creative work – when that’s responsible for bringing in income as well as fulfilling dreams and other things – that can be too much pressure on that work. Everyone’s different, though – all creators are different. Some people like that structure of the day job and using a different part of the brain.
I agree. It’s all about finding that balance, which I haven’t actually found yet. I’m trying to do everything at the moment and it’s really quite all consuming, but as you said I know friends who just do music and they don’t have a day job or anything else, and they’ve told me that the time that I spend at work is time that mostly they just spend sitting around wondering what to do with themselves anyway. A lot of artists can be quite self-destructive and if you’re not given routine you can fall to self-destructive behaviours. I know that I’m pulled in that direction when I’m given too much time on my hands. It’s all about how you balance, but you need to have enough time to write and record and tour and all that kind of stuff. Those jobs that allow you to do all of that are few and far between and you’re really lucky if you’ve struck that balance, but I’m still working towards it, that’s for sure.
One of the reasons why Australian country music is so special and vibrant is that it springs from storytelling, whereas a lot of the American country music we hear most of seems to be less about that now. Australian country music, even if it’s quite commercial, still springs from this desire by the artist to communicate a story or information, or connect with their audience. I wonder if you’re a singer-songwriter and you’re in the bubble of not being out in the world every day – if you’re not working or doing other things that connect you to people – if that has an impact on the sorts of stories that you tell and your ability to tell them.
Definitely. You need to be experiencing so that you can have things to write about. It’s funny that you said that our album makes you feel nostalgic because I feel like I write from the past, basically, not really now or the future or anything like that. It’s a bit scary because if you’re busy all the time with the one thing or a day job or a routine that isn’t particularly varied you feel like you might be running out of material. I get scared of that sometimes, that I’m just going to end up making songs up out of necessity. I feel like the music in America, though – commercially, I know what you’re saying, but there’s still a lot of great country music or Americana coming out of that place that still holds the storytelling very dear. All my favourite bands, and where we try to write from, is all about stories and poetry and turning those into songs. That’s what all great country music was. It’s a real shame to think that’s disappearing out of the genre; I would hate to see that happen. I guess that’s why the coined the term ‘alt country’ because I feel like that part of the music is where the good stories are, so maybe that’s why it’s called ‘alternative country’ because commercial country aren’t telling the real stories. What’s commercial country music about? Driving down the road, going to make your girlfriend …
[Laughs] What’s interesting to me is that Americana is a specific sub-genre of country music in the US but in Australia I still see a lot of the really big acts still engaging in proper storytelling, whereas in the US those big stars are, yes, driving down the road and so on. Troy Cassar-Daley is still telling stories. For me it’s always really stark at Tamworth, to see who gets the crowds. It’s such a diversity of stories and songs and it is that which unites the audience – they want the stories.
That’s good to hear. We haven’t played Tamworth – I haven’t even been to the festival – and everyone’s telling us now that that’s crazy and that we need to get up there. It’s nice to hear that it has that vibe still. Down here, to tell you the truth, I’ve always felt like Tamworth was the mecca of commercial country in Australia, so it’s nice to hear that it’s not.
I feel now that it’s a very powerful creative hub that lasts the rest of the year, to the extent that I reckon someone should do a PhD on the influence of Tamworth on creative relationships in Australia. So many people I’ve talked to either meet a producer there or a band member there or a songwriter they work with, and those relationships spin out through the rest of the year. Then they come back together again in January and those relationships become other relationships. There’s a lot of excitement in Tamworth now and it’s people your age and his age, slightly older and slightly younger, who have respect for the traditions of country music, who love it, who love telling stories and just want to get up there and play. And that’s a new wave of country reaching its crest now. So even if you were to go to Tamworth as a punter, or to play, it would be an amazing experience.
Sophie, I’m sold! I’d love to do it with the band. I’d love people to hear the band if I could get that happening. I love playing solo – there’s quite a sense of freedom to that – but I’d love to get up there with the band. 

Diamonds in the Bloodstream is out now.

EP review: New Life by Iain Archibald Band

Country rock can be a contentious genre amongst the country music crowd – it’s not ‘traditional’ country music but nor is it straight-up rock ‘n’ roll; usually the lyrics sit within the country music lyrical convention and the music is closer to rock, with country accents. Country rock also tends to be a genre that focuses on entertainment – it gets the crowd going, it gets heads nodding and feet tapping. Perhaps that’s at the core of some people’s objection to it: that it wants to entertain. But show me an audience that doesn’t want to be entertained and I’ll show you a crowd of critics. 


New Life is a five-track EP by Melbourne outfit Iain Archibald Band. It is entertaining country rock with a lot of heart and a great lead singer – unsurprisingly enough, this gentleman is called Iain Archibald. And even within the genre of country rock we can classify further, so I’d say this band’s influences lean more towards Keith Urban than The Wolfe Brothers. They’re worth checking out, and I’m confident they are entertaining audiences across Victoria with more of Australia to follow. 

EP review: Life by Proxy by Matt Henry

Bangalow resident Matt Henry has become increasingly well known to country music aficionados – for one thing, it is largely through his efforts that alt country has gained increasing attention at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, due to his Late Night Alt shows at the Tudor Hotel. So Henry has established himself as a great promoter of other people’s music, and a supporter of country music in general. How wonderful, then, that he’s also a remarkable singer-songwriter in his own right.
Henry’s debut EP, Life by Proxy, is a collection of heartfelt songs with great melodies and thoughtful lyrics that position Henry within the broader country music genre, but it’s his willingness to play with structure and style that sees him fit more strongly into alt country. The five songs on this EP capture a range of moods that are all served well by Henry’s mellifluous singing voice. They’re a great introduction to an outstanding new Australian talent, and hopefully an album won’t be too far away.

Life by Proxy is available now.

Album review: Yes Sir by Slim Dime and the Prairie Kings

There is something inherently appealing about Slim Dime and the Prairie Kings, and that appeal starts with Slim’s voice: it’s sassy, it’s rich and rolling, and it makes you want to sit up and pay attention. And once you’re paying attention, you may as well get up and dance, because that’s what the Prairie Kings’ music makes you want to do.

Yes Sir is an album of covers and originals, in which Slim and the band both take on songs from and create songs that evoke the pre-rockabilly era of western swing and rock ’n’ roll. They are perfectly suited to this, drawing out not only the beats and – yes, let’s say it –the swing of these tracks but also the darkness in some of the lyrics. Slim’s voice is an adaptable instrument, and she can bring light and dark into it, as the song requires.

The most recognisable song on the album, for most people, will be ‘Cold, Cold Heart’ by Hank Williams, Snr, but the other tracks are just as worthy of attention because they are a toe-tappin’ good time. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that Slim Dime and the Prairie Kings would be a really great party band – they know how to handle a beat and respect a song, and they have an increasingly large repertoire to draw on. Luckily all of that is apparent on their recordings, too, so hiring them for a party isn’t necessary. But they hail from Melbourne, in case anyone is wondering …

Yes Sir is available from CD Baby.

Album review: Diamonds in the Bloodstream by Raised by Eagles

The opening song of Diamonds in the Bloodstream by Melbourne band Raised by Eagles sounds as if it could be heard coming from the radio of a panel van parked beside a Sydney beach during the 1970s and simultaneously it evokes parched paddocks somewhere along the Hume Highway, era indeterminate, and a bunch of mates sitting beside an AFL field, talking about nothing much in particular and everything at once. It’s evocative of everywhere, everytime, yet it is not a derivative song. It’s just Australian, in the best possible way: it conjures up landscape and lazy hot days; bush poetry, long drives and strangers well met. It’s a lot for one song to achieve, but it’s not alone in doing that on this very fine album.

There are eight songs, arranged into A side and B side. Some are so beautiful they hurt, in that way that you think you’ll never get over an album but you know you’ll have to because you can’t listen to it all day every day.

The pace of Diamonds in the Bloodstream is gentle yet it’s not an album that lets the listener be lazy. Rather, the gentleness seems to be the product of the band members’ comfort with each other: there’s nothing to prove there, so the songs can be allowed to stand on their own, and the musicians layer on only what’s needed. Restraint is so often not exercised in modern song production – if something can be done, it seems that the belief is that it should be done. To not do those things – to believe that bells and whistles are just a distraction, not an improvement – requires confidence and, to an extent, courage. Courage is also required to create art that endures. Diamonds in the Bloodstream is that.

Diamonds in the Bloodstream is out now.