Written by Kerrie Alexander
When I was first tasked with interviewing a local horror punk YouTube band, I envisioned meeting dark personalities influenced by scary horror films and science fiction movies.
Yes, they love to dress up in self-expressive fashionable steam punk goggles and various wizard hats for the MADBLUDS YouTube appearances, but it was clear from the get-go that the depiction I had of band members Yoshi Castellana and Ralph Cardwell couldn’t have been more wrong.
The two big hearted Hervey Bay lads are more about the cheesiness of low-budget Hollywood pictures with big bugs and mad scientists and an undeniable love of music and bad movies.
So, this is not just a story about a band. It’s a narrative on how Yoshi, a NDIS support worker and Ralph, his client, formed a bond over music and D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) to become best mates and now want to help other like-minded people in the community find their path to musical freedom.
Ralph’s severe anxiety meant that finding a support worker that just “fitted” was difficult but once he connected with Yoshi and found that they had a mutual love of David Bowie and corny movies, the rest was history.
Yoshi, 27, is a self-taught guitarist who uses music with many of his clients and even though Ralph had only dabbled in guitar, they formed the MADBLUDS and started playing and recording the costumed clips for the YouTube channel out of Yoshi’s parents’ garage.
After only a year-and-a-half, the clips have been streamed to 132 countries via an American Screening platform called the Monster Channel that has over 70,000 views.
The music is a mix of Ralph’s love of old-school punk rock and bubble-gum, Partridge Family and Monkeys, and Yoshi’s love of Cure, Joy Division, and of course David Bowie.
The MADBLUDS is a “family” name with more people likely to be welcomed into the fold in the future.
Each member is initiated with a name starting with Raul MADBLUD (Ralph) and Sweet Yoshi MADBLUD because “the ladies love him”, Ralph said with a laugh.
“It’s been pretty amazing and mind-blowing.
“It was just like, lets fool around and make a song and now we’re collaborating online with other musicians and have done 30 plus interviews with podcast horror hosts we’ve connected with online.
“I had played guitar all my life on and off and one day at his mum’s shed at the studio Yoshi handed me this bass and said why don’t you have a go and I just fell in love with it.
“I’ve played it every day since.”
Yoshi believes that music is a universal language that everyone can speak, and everyone should have the opportunity to grow and learn on guitar, piano, singing – whatever it is they love – in a safe and non-judgemental environment.
Ralph’s ability to overcome his anxiety to now appear in online interviews and band appearances is testament to that.
So, the next step in Yoshi’s plan to further progress MADBLUDS fame, work with his other band Quaint Butter, and open musical pathways to the public was put in motion.
His dream became a reality recently with the opening of Planet Sound Labs, located in a leased section of the Neighbourhood Hive building on Boat Harbour Drive.
It boasts a room filled with sound systems, lighting, and a big array of Yoshi’s musical instruments that he’s willing to let others use just to get a start in their musical journey.
And unlike his primary school classroom where the shiny electric guitars were under lock and key and only used by the privileged few, Yoshi says these instruments are there to “go hard”.
“I’m a guitarist mainly and I’ve seen what it does to help me and for someone wanting to try music is universally healing and it’s difficult to sometimes get the money and space to start that journey,” Yoshi said.
“From what I’ve seen from the guys that come in here, without any advertising, they are very open to come in and do their thing and give them the confidence to progress and do more music.
“When I was in school, I wanted to play electric guitar and our music room was like the forbidden fruit, locked all the time.
“Unless you already had the talent you couldn’t touch it, so I don’t want that here.
“If you want to try drums, go, play it, and play around with all the pedals or just sing and record. Do fun songs. It doesn’t have to be serious. We’ve done plenty of silly ones for the MADBLUDS channel.
“The fact that we’re doing it and building confidence is great.”
Anyone who comes to the drop-in sessions with Yoshi and some volunteer musicians each Wednesday at the Hive from 3pm to 5pm will be welcomed into a safe and non-judgemental environment.
“I suffer with anxiety and one thing that Yoshi knows how to do is create an inclusive welcoming atmosphere,” Ralph said.
“No matter what challenge you might have, music is universal and speaks to everyone so anyone can come here and have a positive experience.
“There is no judgement here, just encouragement.”
Yoshi has big plans for the next 12 months with hosting events with local bands and recording local artists at the forefront of his ideas.
He wants to help musicians find the money for instruments through busking and fundraising ideas and work with the Neighbourhood Centre to secure grants for events and more instruments.
“When we have a live event, we will play a couple of songs to open and then let other local bands have a platform. It’s not about us it’s about showcasing other local bands,” Ralph said.
“It’s also about giving other people confidence,” Yoshi said.
“I want to have something in the middle of open mic nights and pub gigs; it would be ideal for us to have something every month because we have most of the equipment here so we can just roll it out.
“I’ve also started recording and mixing in the past year and I really want to get people in and record their music and promote them too.
“There will be workshops and events or free, but there will also be private tutoring and guitar repair and things like that to help pay the rent.”
Yoshi is still doing support work by day but says most nights will be spent at the Hive doing what he loves most.
“If they’d let me, I’d probably just sleep on the couch,” Yoshi said with a laugh.
MADBLUDS could do with a coffee sponsor or they might just go from steam punk wizards to apocalyptic zombies.
To find out more you can catch the guys on YouTube or follow them on Facebook under Planet Sound Labs.