A connection to Cambodia has driven an Australian band to seek out ways to bring over musicians from the country so they can play future gigs together.
Speaking from his home in Glenlyon, Victoria, singer, guitarist and drummer of The Screaming Riels Garry Eyles said his connection to Cambodia first started 10 years ago.
He went over to volunteer with an NGO and ran percussion workshops and drumming therapy with children.
“I made a commitment to go back every year, as I didn’t want to just teach them stuff then think I’d done a good job in the world and never go back, because that is what often happens,” Eyles said.
Fast forward to now, he has worked with different schools, helped kids record a CD, plays with a band in the country and married a Cambodian woman with whom he now has a four-year-old daughter.
But life there can be difficult for many people. For instance, he brought his Cambodian step-daughter to Australia once. She did not know English, but during her stay taught herself the language and how to play guitar, eventually joining Eyles’ band on stage last year.
Eyles said after the 14-year-old returned to her home country she was “seduced by an older man” and now has gone missing.
“I’ve hired an investigator and have a reward out too for any information on his whereabouts so he can be arrested,” he said.
“Cambodia is an amazing place. We share the same ocean, the Asia Pacific, and they love Australians.
“We’ve got a lot in common, they like to drink beer, have a barbecue, watch football.
“But on the flipside it can be such a paradoxical world.”
The Screaming Riels, also made up of James Thornly and Johnny Wallace, take their name from a combination of factors.
For starters, the riel is the currency in Cambodia, when you hook a big fish while fishing – one of the favourite activities of the members – the reel screams and, as Eyles said, they “play for real”.
Describing the band’s style as a mixture of blues, grunge and punk, Eyles said he hopes for a successful tour of Australia’s South Coast, saying if he builds relationships with venues it will make it easier for him to bring out Cambodians to play gigs in the future.
The Screaming Riels will perform at Tathra Hotel, Tathra on Sunday, July 22 from 4pm.
Entry is free.