Naarm Punks SHOVE: “Record and release things sooner… don’t just sit on material or ideas for years then get depressed that no-one has heard your stuff”

Photo by Dylan Jardine. Handmade collage by B.

With raw expression and attitude Naarm/Melbourne punk band SHOVE are about to drop their debut EP 7” on the world. Maq of The Faculty gave us a heads up on them last year singing their praises: “I’m gagged for that new band Shove I think they are formidable.” Indeed, they are; they’re here to obliterate us. SHOVE’s Ham, James and Bella tell us about the release.

How did you first get into punk?

HAM: I grew up in a small-ish town in regional NSW (the country music capital!), and was a snotty teenager who was pretty pissed off. Having some sort of outsider complex coupled with access to the internet meant I ended up listening to bands like Rudimentary Peni and The Locust. All the dudes I used to hang out with back then were more into metal, which I thought was too slow “where’s the speeeeed man!” (Although now in my older age I have more appreciation for it).

JAMES: I wasn’t really into punk when I was younger.  Then about a decade ago I saw this band called Battle Club. Their shows were so dirty, and intense, I just wanted to be around that all the time. And now finally I have fulfilled my destiny, as Hamish (the bass player from Battle Club) plays drums in SHOVE!

What’s one of your all-time favourite albums and what do you appreciate about it?

HAM: Ooof, hard question – there are too many to count. Although it’s not an album, I’d have to go with The Shitlickers self-titled EP. I mean, it’s 8 songs so it nearly counts as an album. The whole thing is so sonically extreme and ridiculous it’s hard not to chuckle when listening to it. The riffs are absolutely shredded and the drums are simple but absolutely brutal and full of frothy spit and energy. Rumour has it that to get a sound that fried, they resorted to stabbing their amp speaker cones with needles. On top of this churning mess, the lyrical content is full of far-left despair and the sentiment of capitalism being shiiit, which is something I think most people can get behind in 2021.

How did you discover your local music community?

HAM: When I moved to Naarm I ended up living in sharehouses with people who played in the local music scene. It kind of snow-balled from there, where the majority of my friends and everyone I hang out with either plays in bands or I regularly hang out with them at gigs. I was always pretty into music zines when I could find them too so it was a pretty natural progression from reading them to wanting to get more involved.

Bella, I know this is your first band, and that you’ve “spent too much time on the other end of the industry to know how corrupt and generally useless it is”; can you share with us a little bit about your experience with the industry?

BELLA: As far as cliches go, the one about big egos in the music industry isn’t an unfounded one. Local community stuff is great but once you move into a national stage things become more about how much money you can make off some group of young white cis males from Byron who are probably writing some catchy form of indie pop that’ll take them to the top of a meaningless annual countdown, help them sell out a few shows and the next year never be heard of again. Not to mention the high levels of patriarchal sexism, misogyny and multitude of other -isms that are prevalent the whole way throughout.

SHOVE’s been around since 2019, but members of SHOVE are from bands Shit Sex, Eat-Man and Burger Chef, collectively you’ve been involved in music for a while now; what’s something that you’ve learned doing what you do that you wish someone would have told you earlier on that would have made things a little easier for you?

HAM: Most of the learnings I would tell my younger self are still things that I’m still not good at today, and still trying to improve. Things like ‘Get better at relaxing and talking to people you don’t know so well’. Or ‘Record and release things sooner and then move on, don’t just sit on material or ideas for years then get depressed that no-one has seen/heard your stuff’.

What brought SHOVE together?

BELLA: Well, the boys were already jamming and I was working in an ice cream shop when I realised that punk rock was my true calling

You’re first show was Best Fest 3 back in 2019; what are your recollections from the show?

HAM: I was at this show as a punter. I remember seeing Shove playing and thinking “How the fuck is this Bella’s first gig!? She’s so good!”

You’re releasing your debut self-titled EP 7 inch, which you recorded with Alicia Saye. What was the recording process like for you? (I know your earlier single releases were recorded separately in your own homes). What did you love most about the process?

JAMES: I’ve had the good fortune of having Alicia as our sound engineer at a bunch of shows in a few bands over the years. You always know you’re in good hands when she’s behind the desk. So, we were stoked when Alicia said she’d record us, we knew the technical side of things was covered. What I loved the most about the process was probably getting to hang out with that legend for a couple days, she tells ripper stories. Definitely spent more time eating chips and talking shit than we did making music, which keeps everything feeling chill when you do go to record.

HAM: Yeah, Alicia is a complete gun. We recorded It over a weekend. It was really nice having someone pulling the levers who knows what ball-park you’re aiming for and who can also set you back on track when you’re off your game and losing your shit a bit.

What’s your approach to songwriting?

JAMES: We’ve gotta keep it simple. One of us usually has a sound that’s been stuck in their head for a week, the other instruments join in, and Bella tells us if it’s a number-one hit. Bella will do her self-proclaimed muppet singing along with it, but then she takes the phone recording home and does the lyric writing in bed with an ice cream.

HAM: What James said. It has always been pretty collaborative. Generally, someone will have a riff and we build from there. Everything is up for discussion and no idea too stupid to try, but also nothing is too precious for the bin if it doesn’t work. Thankfully we all tend to be on the same or at least very similar pages when songwriting so it’s fun.

The song ‘Power’ from your EP also features on the Blow Blood Record compilation A Long Time Alone 3 (you had a track ‘Non-essential Citizen’ on the ALTA 1 comp too); what sparked it’s writing?

HAM: Someone brought in a riff which sounded really good when paired with a d-beat underneath it. When Bella added some vocals, we got really excited because it brought it all together and added the necessary punch.  

We really love the song ‘Control’; how did it come together?

JAMES: I started this one off. I again forgot that I was playing a bass guitar and just starting frantically trem picking. It doesn’t help that I learned guitar from playing Guitar Hero… But the others were supportive as always, and ran with it. I think a defining feature a good band, of bands that’ve worked well for me, is that when you’re in a room and you play something that sounds a bit rough, a bit stupid, everyone just stands back and goes “hmm, maybe that could work” instead of dismissing it.

What made you decide to close the EP with song ‘Maggot’? How much thought goes into your track sequencing?

HAM: A reasonable amount of thought goes into the track sequencing but the final decision mainly comes down to gut feeling. Adrian suggested several different track sequences based off a few different paths the EP would take the listener on. The ultimate decision always seems to come down to if it does ‘the thing’ for your reptile brain.  

What do you get up to when not making music?

HAM: Mainly trying to make weird little animations, and I’ve recently been trying to learn how to make my own fucked up ‘walking simulator’ video game.

What’s making you happy right now?

JAMES: Without a doubt, it’s that we have the amazing support of our new label Rack Off! We seriously feel like the luckiest band in the world. At this level, I don’t expect to get more than a logo and few records on shelves, but Grace and Iso have done so much for us. It’d be a bloody shambles if we attempted to do a tenth of what they have done for the band. And well, we were already stoked to be playing shows and hanging out with our fave bands Blonde Revolver and Future Suck, so being label mates is a dream. Can’t wait to get out soon and play more shows together, and get this EP into some more ear holes.

HAM: Not too much at the moment haha. Lately I’ve been really enjoying having hot baths while listening to some dub or reggae and smoking a big joint. It’s the simple things. But also, what James said! RACK OFF RULE!

SHOVE’s self-titled EP 7” is out tomorrow (Oct 15) on Rack Off Records, a label that focuses on female-identifying and gender diverse releases.

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