Display Homes: “We started to draw more on influences from bands of the 80s like Delta 5, AU Pairs, Pylon, B-52s”

Original photo courtesy of Display Homes. Handmade collage by B.

Eora/Sydney 3-piece Display Homes are back with new music! The asymmetric guitars, bass grooves and dynamic drums we’ve come to love on their previous two EPs are all there brighter than ever on forthcoming debut album What If You’re Right & They’re Wrong?. It’s raw but sharp, minimalist and danceable. Their pop sensibilities make it accessible while their post-punk leanings make it exciting. We’re calling it now as one of our favourite albums of the year! 

Today Gimmie are premiering first single ‘CCTV’ with accompanying video shot via CCTV at a pub vocalist Steph King once worked at. We caught up with the band for a yarn.

We’re excited that you have new music coming out. The sneak peek copy of your debut full-length album, What if you’re right & they’re wrong? has been on high rotation at Gimmie HQ! It’s one of our favourite releases we’ve heard so far this year. How long have you been working on it and how does it feel to be releasing it into the world?

GREG CLENNAR: Thanks, glad to hear you are enjoying it! We recorded the album at the end of 2020 and the songs were written over the two years prior to that, so it has been a long time coming. To finally announce the album is very exciting to say the least. The delay caused by COVID and the subsequent delay with pressing plants has drawn it out as I am sure many other bands have experienced. It’ll definitely be a relief once it’s out.

What influences have shaped Display Homes’ sound?

GC: I’m not sure if there’s been any one collective influence for our sound, even though it may come across that way. At our first ever practice, none of us had any idea of what we wanted to do, except that Darrell had already declared our name was Display Homes, which Steph and I both wholeheartedly endorsed. We didn’t even know who was going to sing, which entailed a few failed attempts on mine and Darrell’s behalf before realising that Steph was clearly the best singer in the band. As we evolved and the sound started to make more sense, I think we started to draw more on influences from bands of the 80s like Delta 5, AU Pairs, Pylon, B-52s etc, who we all love.

How has the band grown from 2019’s EP E.T.A.?

DARRELL BEVERIDGE: In 2019 we all lived together in one of the most beautiful sharehouse in Marrickville. Seriously, this place was incredible, a true Display Home inhabited by us FRAUDS. It looked like one of those places that instagram bedsheet companies use to shoot their ads and people look at them and go, “If I get these pistachio coloured sheets, maybe I can live somewhere like that!”  Unfortunately the owner dogged us and kicked us out because they wanted to move back in. 

In terms of progression as a band, I think we’ve just tightened a few loose screws. When we were recording the album and I was doing guitar for one of the songs, Owen the producer stormed into the room on about the 38th take of a very simple guitar part and said to me, “You keep hitting that top string, do you even use it?” I replied, “I do not.” Owen: “Then take it out!” So now I only play with 5 strings (seriously).  So technically, I’ve regressed musically.

Where did the album title come from?

STEPH KING: I always find it hard to give anything a title. I couldn’t think of a title for one of the songs on the album and I asked Darrell and he named it ‘Neenish’– which was the name of his cat at the time, probably because he remembered he needed to feed her. It worked out surprisingly well as the lyrics very much matched the behaviour of a little kitty cat. 

I was struggling to think of an album name and was rewatching season 1 of Fargo during lockdown. What if you’re right & they’re wrong? is the quote on the poster in the basement that Lester reads moments before he loses the plot. It just stuck with me. I asked Greg and Darrell what they thought, and they liked it, so we went with it. I think if I asked Darrell for an album name he probably would have suggested ‘Beans’ – which is the name of his current cat. But cat names can only go so far.

Photo courtesy of Display Homes.

We’re premiering first single ‘CCTV’ as well as the video for it, which is your first music video. Tell us about the writing of ‘CCTV’.

SK: The lyrics were inspired by a game that I’d play when I was bored on long car trips using letters from number plates. Using the three letters I would add one more letter to make a word. I came up with a drum beat and brought it to practice and then Greg and Darrell added their parts. I think it was one of the quickest songs we have ever written. Over time I have found that if I bring an idea to practice that has the drums and vocals already aligned it makes it a lot easier. Playing both at the same time means they really need to work together, and if it isn’t written with that in mind, it can be a struggle to play live. 

The album was recorded and mixed by Owen Penglis; what brought you to working together? What was recording like? What was one of the most fun moments for you? What was one of the most challenging?

DB: I met Owen close to 10 years ago and was actually going to record one of my old bands EP with him (we were called Sucks) but we ended up going with someone cheaper for the same reason one would drink cask wine over bottled wine.  Sucks were cask-punk, Display Homes is more bottle-punk. It’s still cheap but it’s in a bottle at least. 

It was all fun except for this satanic devil dog in the studio that had it in for me and wanted to fucking bite me all the time. I find recording really difficult and uncomfortable and while I enjoyed the process as a whole, actually doing my parts made me pretty self-conscious on many levels.  Why am I self conscious? Why do I keep fucking these parts up? But Owen was great, he could really pull you out of your head. Just as you’d finish a song and convince yourself you had nailed it, you would look up and see Owen with a big smile and he would say, “Tune your guitar and do it again!” He really encouraged us to get the best out of the recordings.

The video was made using the CCTV cameras at the Cricketers Arm Hotel, a pub, that Steph used to work at. Steph, what were some of the best and worst bits about working there?

SK: The Crix is a very special place. It’s the best pub in Sydney! It’s like the clock stopped in 1995 and everything is the same. It was my first job when I moved to Sydney and the overwhelming sense of community with staff and locals was very welcoming. Worst bits – hmm, it’s near the SCG so maybe on game nights when rude men would buy three Jack and Cokes at a time. It always felt weird, kinda like the outside world was entering the pub for a few hours and then leaving again. 

What do you remember most about the day of filming ‘CCTV’?

SK: It was an interesting music video to ‘shoot’ because there wasn’t a great deal of shooting involved. As it was all done on the CCTV cameras, we would set up in front of one of the cameras with the help of our very good friend Luke Smith who brought along some lights and his handy cam to get some additional footage. I would yell out to our friends who we coaxed into coming along with a couple of free beers “Ok everyone we are doing it now”, often without anyone hearing me, and then one of the bartenders would start the song on the speakers so that we could try and play along to keep the footage in time. We couldn’t hear a thing and every take we would finish a couple of seconds before the recording ended. The whole day was very much an experiment and even by the end of it we didn’t know what was caught on the cameras. It wasn’t until we got home that we could really try and figure out how we would put it all together. 

What was it like putting together the downloaded footage for the clip?

SK: The first hurdle was downloading the footage. After we finished up for the day I was told by the pub manager that “the security camera guy is coming in the morning and last time he came he wiped all the footage from the system”. Panic mode kicked in at the thought of losing it all and involved me arriving at the pub at 7.30am the next morning and contacting several different people to get a hold of the key that opened the cupboard of the security system. I kid you not, there was about 10 seconds remaining on the last piece of footage as the camera guy was walking up the stairs at 10.30am. Then came sorting through the thousands of files of footage, which was very tedious, but also very fun at times. It was my first time editing and I obsessed over it for months – but we got there in the end and we are all really happy with it.

Which is a favourite from the album?

DB: I liked recording ‘Proof Read’. When Steph was doing the vocals, me and greg were standing in the other room looking through the window psyching her up to make her get as tough and intense as she could. Jumping up and down yelling “GO STEPH!!! FUCKING BELT IT OUT!!!!!! YESSS !!!! IT’S A HIT!!!!” Steph nails it in that song I reckon.

Album closer ‘Aufrutschen’ was on the E.T.A. cassette; how do you feel the album version has changed?

DB: Part of me didn’t want to do it, but then I remembered growing up hearing multiple versions of the same song from bands I liked – I really liked that. Like a live recording, EP version, and then an album version or whatever. I always thought there was no bad that could come from that.  If people like it they’ll listen to both, if they don’t they’ll listen to neither. It’s like if you put $5 in the pokies and got $10 credit, or put nothing in there and got nothing. Everybody wins! Or no-one wins! Take your pick!

We love the album art; who did it?

SK: We actually had a completely different cover that I did on lino. We were sitting on it for a while and I just wasn’t sold on it. I am studying architecture and almost every semester I always partnered up with my friend Allyson because we worked so well together. We always managed to produce our best work at the last minute. Five minutes before a presentation we both grabbed pastels and started scribbling our building on the page. I asked her if she would mind if I used it for the album cover and she said go for it (thanks Allyson!). It reminds me of a time when my studies and hobbies were at peak productivity. Sometimes it’s crazy how much you can get done in a day.

Can you tell us a fun fact about Display Homes?

GC: When we supported Real Estate at the metro the official run sheet said ‘Display House’. As Darryl Kerrigan of The Castle says, “It’s a home not a house”. 

What do you do when not making music?

SK: I think I can answer this one for all of us. We all work 9-5, enjoy swimming laps, and eating delicious charcoal chicken. 

What’s next for Display Homes?

GC: The record will be out on Erste Theke Tontrager this European Summer and then we will look to play some album launch shows. We have played Melbourne and Brisbane before but we are excited to play some other cities/towns this time round. We have started writing some new music too, so maybe another album!

Display Homes’ debut album What if you’re right & they’re wrong? out soon via Erste Theke Tontrager.  Follow @displayhomesband + DH on Facebook. DH on Bandcamp.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s