From his bedroom in a town on Australia’s East Coast called Ulladulla, Buz Clatworthy, creates some of the coolest lo-fi garage punk around. At seventeen he released two brilliant record’s Hive Mind Volumes 1 & 2 plus a split 7” with Set-top Box and later this year he’s set to release another 7” on one of our favourite labels, Anti Fade. We interviewed Buz yesterday about all this and more.
How did you first discover music?
BUZ CLATWORTHY: I first discovered music through my dad who always had something playing on the stereo at home. I recently watched Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels for the first time and realised a fair few of the songs on rotation during my childhood came from that soundtrack which is mostly really good. Dad also played a key role in my discovery and interest in playing instruments from sitting in the shed and watching him play guitar when I was little.
You started out playing drums; what inspired you to take them up?
BC: Funny story: I took guitar lessons for a short period of time while I was in primary school and my guitar teacher had a drum kit set up in the room where he did his lessons. When I tried playing it I just found it heaps easier and it felt more natural to play than guitar at the time so my Mum bought me a pink ‘70s Mapex drum kit which I still have. I eventually lost interest until Dune Rats came to town when I was 11 (before they got famous and started sounding like Smash Mouth). I was one of about 15 people watching and after their set the drummer BC [Michael Marks] gave me a jumper and a shirt which I would go on to wear every day for the next year or so. BC really encouraged me to pick up drumming again & here we are 7 years later, Dune Rats sound like Smash Mouth and I have a band called Rock Music Fan Club. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
We really admire the fact that you write, record and do everything yourself; how did you get started?
BC: I got started when my Mum bought me a little Tascam digital recording desk and a couple mics two/three years ago. I didn’t do much with it until I saw Gee Tee and Concrete Lawn at a tiny DIY venue in Marrickville called Monster Mouse, later called 96 Tears (R.I.P), I think it was one of Concrete Lawn’s first shows. That show opened my eyes to the idea that maybe I could do it too.
I live in a conservative but relatively nice coastal town called Ulladulla about 3.5 hours from Sydney and there are no good venues or bands here + no one was interested in what I wanted to do at the time so I sorta had to do it by myself.
Are there any challenges doing things this way?
BC: The way my recording set up works I have to record all the tracks from the very beginning of the recording to avoid having to line the individual tracks up later when mixing which is hard to get right and makes the process heaps less efficient. This is annoying when you wanna record parts that come later in a song or if you nail a track but then fuck it up toward the end and have to start again. I also don’t like playing to a metronome and can’t figure it out on my recording desk anyway so I have to memorise the song and record drums first while I play through the song in my head. Apart from that, and Brinley who plays bass in my live band getting all the praise for the basslines I write L, I enjoy doing it alone.
Can you remember the first song you ever wrote? What was it about?
BC: I think the first actual song I ever wrote was “Hive” which is on the first tape I did under R.M.F.C. It’s basically about the hive mentality in high school which I was having trouble dealing with at the time trying to find a balance between my place in the dumb social hierarchy and my individuality which I’ve always strongly valued.
Can you tell us a little bit about your songwriting process?
BC: I usually start with a bassline I’m happy with and build from there. Once I’ve figured out what I wanna do for the verse and chorus on all the instruments I record a demo and figure out what needs changing etc. I usually write the lyrics after when I’m happy with the instrumental except for sometimes when I’ve been playing cod mobile late at night and the free drug that is sleep deprivation gives me an idea for a cool chorus which I then sing into my phone to remember it.
Do you see any reoccurring themes in your work?
BC: There is definitely a reoccurring theme throughout Hive Volumes 1 & 2 ‘cause I was going for a concept album sorta thing. Pretty much all of those songs follow similar themes regarding the hive mentality in different branches of western society. These themes still play on my mind a lot but I’m steering away from that and exploring different themes and ideas in new R.M.F.C songs.
Where do you have your best ideas?
BC: In my room between 12am and 2am after a nice COD [Call Of Duty] mobile session. If anyone reading this plays COD mobile add me on there, my name is: megapiss2001
In January you released the Racer R.M.F.C / Set-top Box split 7” on Goodbye Boozy Records. I know you’ve been a fan of Set-top for ages; you covered their song “Worker” on the split; what made you choose this track?
BC: Aside from it being one of my favourite Set-top Box songs I just felt like that song worked best for the R.M.F.C sound and I liked the way it sounded with double time drums.
Set-top chose your song “Television” to cover on the split; can you tell us about this song?
BC: Television was sort of a last minute song that I wrote before the “dead line” for the Hive Vol. 1 release and I think it ended up being the best on that EP and one of the better songs I’ve released so far. I think it was a subconscious attempt at ripping off Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon” which I actually didn’t realise until a DJ played it before our set at the Lansdowne one time and Television was first on the set list.
You have a 7” coming out on Anti Fade records in June; what can you tell me about it? What inspired the songs on it?
BC: The A side is one of my favourite R.M.F.C songs. The lyrics in it are pretty strongly informed by a concept that I found to be helpful in a book I read a few years ago based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The idea is basically to think about and remind ourselves of death on a daily basis in order to normalise and accept it given that death itself is inevitable for all beings. For most of us that have grown up in western society, death is something that has been ingrained in our minds as something to avoid the thought of at all costs which can be very detrimental to our grieving process and ability to accept the loss of someone we love. I recently lost a second uncle to cancer after losing another from the same disease 4/5 years ago, losing them definitely inspired that song.
I have to ask you, as we LOVE dogs here at Gimmie zine; on R.M.F.C’s Hive Vol. 2 album cover, who’s the dog?
BC: That’s my second oldest dog Dorje he’s a “Poomba”.
We always love finding new music too; what have you been listening to lately?
BC: Lately I’ve been really into the solo catalogue of Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt who both played in Soft Machine. Ayers’ best work is sorta spaced out and hidden between his albums from 1969 through to around 1976 whereas I think Robert Wyatt really used all his best juice on his 1985 album Old Rottenhat. I’ve also been really enjoying Snakefinger’s album Greener Postures (I thank Brinley for that). Billy Gardner (Anti Fade Records) showed me Chrome during our last Melbourne visit and I’ve been obsessed with them ever since. Their album Red Exposure rules.
Lastly, what’s something you’d like everyone to know about R.M.F.C?
BC: I’m famous!