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Bliss N Eso


Sydneysiders Bliss N Eso are about to bring their massive Circus Under The Stars tour to WA, performing at Busselton’s Signal Park on Friday, May 2, and at Wellington Square in Perth on Saturday, May 3. Max MacKinnon, aka Eso, speaks with JOSHUA HAYES about what the lads have been up to lately.

2013 was a big year for Bliss N Eso, both professionally and personally.

Their fifth album, Circus In The Sky, debuted at the top of the ARIA charts, single House Of Dreams was the soundtrack to the AFL finals and they continued to build their overseas fanbase with a tour of America and Canada. On a more personal level, their North American tour was book-ended with performances for Australian troops in Afghanistan and Eso, aka Max MacKinnon tied the knot in Las Vegas.

They’re not planning a low-key 2014 though, with their biggest tour to date underway: Circus Under The Stars, named so because most of the 15 shows are in massive outdoors venues. They are touring with a live band – including Shapeshifter drummer Darren Mathiassen, Ceekay Jones on guitar and Bliss’s cousin on keys – which MacKinnon says first practiced together “literally a week before the Big Day Out…That’s enough time for us to get ready for anything.”

Performing with a live band has been an eye-opener.

“It’s strange… the live drums allow this kind of freedom in timing with the lyrics, so you can actually play with your words a little bit more. I’ve been finding that Bliss and myself have been actually singing melodies with the lyrics. It makes it fresh for us,” he says.

Bliss N Eso’s tours have always been notable for their impressive line ups and audiovisual extravaganzas, but Circus Under The Stars looks set to top everything they’ve done to date. Seth Sentry and Horrorshow are the support acts, and MacKinnon believes the audiovisual set-up will impress punters. “I can’t give away exactly what we’re gonna be doing, but it is going to top it and raise the fucking bar,” he says.

The tour, which kicked off earlier this month, reaches many regional centres, including Busselton. “We wanted to get back to a lot of the regional places, because that’s where we kind of started,” MacKinnon says. “They’re the ones that are hungry and thirsty for any kind of talent to come to town, and instead of making them have to get on a plane or drive hundreds of Ks to get to a big city, it’s only right that we get back to them and give back, mate.”

The set will draw heavily on Circus In The Sky, which is arguably their most personal work to date – notably on singles like Home Is Where The Heart Is, which explores how the group first got together. “This is our fifth album now and I think we realise that we’ve all matured a little bit over the years, and it was about time to give them a little bit more of who we are,” MacKinnon says. “We’re at that point now where the supporters have been listening to us for God knows how long and it’s about time we showed them a bit more of us.”

Their next project is underway, although MacKinnon notes “we never stop, really”. They have been known to leave the familiarity of their Sydney homes behind when finishing albums, recording much of Circus In The Sky in Los Angeles and heading to a secret location in the Victorian bush to work on 2010’s Running On Air, and their next project may be the same.

“We’ve got crazy ideas. Absolutely crazy ideas,” MacKinnon says. “I’m not sure if this might happen, it’s sort of up in the air, but we’re trying to get a secluded, small island to not have any internet, have nothing whatsoever, and just jam out and live out there for a week or two.”

Another recent step outside the group’s comfort zone came last year when, in the lead up to their North American tour, Bliss N Eso performed six shows for Australian troops stationed in Afghanistan. MacKinnon says he didn’t want to go when the group was first asked.

“Playing Call Of Duty is the closest to a war zone I wanted to get. But we got emails and Facebooked by a lot of the soldiers over there saying what it would mean to them,” he says. “It was just amazing to be able to give them that pat on the back and bit of morale during such crazy times.”

The tail end of the North American tour was also memorable, with MacKinnon and his wife (who he proposed to onstage at 2011’s Sydney Big Day Out) tying the knot in Las Vegas.

“Mate, it’s like going to the video store,” he begins – a little oddly – when asked if the decision to get hitched in Vegas was an impromptu one.

“The video store is hell for me and the missus, because we can’t decide on anything. So it was like ‘Maybe we should do it out in the bush and get someone like Gandalf to marry us’, ‘No, no, maybe Mexico, fireworks’. We just couldn’t choose a movie, and so finally we just had to say, since we did a wild proposal, let’s do something wild and head over to Las Vegas.”


Bliss N Eso are about to bring their massive Circus Under The Stars tour to WA, performing at Busselton’s Signal Park on Friday, May 2 – Get your tickets for the Busselton show here.


They also play Wellington Square in Perth on Saturday, May 3 – Get your tickets for the Perth show here. 

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