Gut Health: The Band You Need To Know

Original photo by Sophie Gabrielle. Handmade collage by B.

Naarm/Melbourne five-piece Gut Health’s’ EP Electric Party Chrome Girl is one of the fieriest debuts of the year. Their no wave, queer rave culture inspired post-punk floor-fillers are uninhibited, full of energy and addictive. The biggest strengths of the four-track collection is its joyous fun and assertively tongue-in-cheek wit. It’s full of character and panache. We saw their LGBTQI+, femme, and non-binary heavy lineup play a wild show earlier in the year and from that performance alone, we were hooked, and patiently awaiting a release! 

We are thrilled to be introducing you to Gut Health and premiering their debut single ‘Inner Norm’ today. We recently got to know four of the band’s members Athina Uh Oh, Adam Markmann, Dom Willmott, Eloise Murphy-Hill and hear about their musical journeys, inspiration and music.

What have you been up to lately (band-wise or otherwise)?

ADAM: We had a little rest for a couple of months just before this release. Athina and I had an amazing trip through Europe and Egypt. It was spectacular! Now we are getting the ball rolling again, getting back into venues and getting excited about the release of our new EP.

Tell us about Gut Health’s origins.

ATHINA: Gut Health was Adam and I making fun during lockdown. Though we both had aims for the project, it grew naturally out of a connection to music we shared a love for, each other, and later to the rest of the lovely band members. 

Dom and Adam are also long time collaborators, so their process is rather organic. Myka and I had met a few times through some of my friends who play music with them. I was very honoured that they were interested in being a part of the project after nervously hitting send on that first message. Long time admirer. Eloise and I have a few mutual friends, so when I heard that they shred I was very excited. Oh, and Angus and Adam met truckin’. 

Each of you are from different backgrounds from punk to jazz, and influenced by queer rave culture; tell us a little about where you’ve come from?

ELOISE: Most of the work I’ve done is mostly in the folk-pop music world, playing in bands with close friends and for a couple of my friend’s solo projects. What I really love about Gut Health is that it’s given me a space to play guitar in a completely different way than what I’m used to. 

DOM: I’ve played in different noisy bands with Adam for about 5 or 6 years now but our first ‘music date’ was him showing me James Chance and then us writing a complete rip-off track. In a way, Gut Health is us just getting back to what we started. 

ATHINA: The only other music project I was involved with was with some dear friends playing more soul driven tunes and a short DJ stint. I was definitely in need of a little more confidence then! Life’s a mission of finding your own voice – it’s possible that people can tell when you’re being true to yourself or not. 

How did you first discover music?

ADAM: I’m very lucky to have an extremely musical family. My Mum and Dad were always listening to great punk, goth and new-wave music from the 80s. My mum worked in a record store when she was younger, and my dad taught me my first guitar chords. My uncle is a bass player too and inspired me quite a lot to pick one up. I grew up with a healthy dose of Stone Roses, My Bloody Valentine, Elliott Smith and the Cure when I was little.

ELOISE:I think I had just the old CD’s in the car, acoustic guitar around the house, childhood discovery of music. Lots of Paul Kelly, Crowded House and Stevie Wonder. I remember when I got an alarm clock that also had a CD player in it- such a game changer. 

ATHINA: I’m also grateful to have a family who mainly work in creative fields. If we go back, my granddad was an accountant but he collected a fuck-tonne of trumpets throughout his life and would play for hours out of passion. My grandmother was a conductor and played a few instruments. Dad therefore grew to love music, collecting records that I was able to put on as a child and playing it. 

My parents recall me jumping off the walls to The Collins Kids, and bringing a CD of The Stylistics so the whole class could lie down in rest time and listen to it in prep, because it would make me cry, haha. My mother’s family would put rembetika among other things on the speakers. 

Photo by Jhonny Russell.

Who’s one of your musical heroes?

DOM: R. Stevie Moore changed my perspective on what music can do and what a musician can be. He was so unapologetic and so varied, always making, always acting on impulse and always doing it for himself.

ADAM: Elliott Smith is my favourite musician of all time. I grew up on him, my parents would always be listening and my dad would always be singing and playing his songs. I feel like he’s become part of me in some way. I love his vulnerability, truthfulness and talent.

ELOISE: I think the way that Arthur Russell made music was just incredible, seems like music would just be constantly coming out of him. Such a variety of styles as well.

What’s an album that’s helped shape you and what do you appreciate about it?

ADAM: I think that listening to Loveless for the first time really changed my view on how music can be made. I don’t think I was the same person after listening to it for the first time. I like how you feel like you’re falling slowly through the air and completely weightless.

DOM: Modern Lovers (S/T) was a big one. ‘Comedy’ in real music was something I hadn’t considered until I heard Jonathan Richman being a big dumb fool.

ATHINA: Betty Davis (1973). An unapologetic babe. 

ELOISE: Donny Hathaway’s Live 1972 – ridiculously energetic music, being able to hear the audience so clearly be a part of the music is so captivating.  

When and how did you come to pick up your instrument or use your voice?

ADAM: I started playing bass when I was in high school. I play guitar a bit too, but it didn’t speak to me as much. I used to de-tune my Dad’s old acoustic guitar and slap it to pretend I was flea at about 14, I think?

DOM: I did a lot of singing as a kid but when my voice broke I had an identity crisis, got disillusioned and ended up picking up the bass thinking it’d be easy… 

ATHINA: I actually can’t remember, but I was always obsessed with singing. I’ve never been very technical when it comes to instruments or vocal training even though I participated in a couple high school things. I always wrote and sang for catharsis. 

ELOISE: My older brother started learning electric guitar when I was a kid. As a younger sibling I think I got a bit jealous, and wanted to get better than him, so I did. Kind of sinister really. 

Why is it important to you personally to make music?

ADAM: It’s strange, the more I think about it the more I’m not actually sure. I know it’s because I love music. It’s holds so much significance for me, not only because of the sound itself but the communities that you form. But I have a bit of trouble putting my finger on where the exact compulsion stems from. Maybe it’s because of how significant it has been to my family? I’ve grown up for it to feel like home. 

DOM: I think sound as an art material is simply amazing. It’s got something to do with it being invisible yet physical and only describable through other senses (warm, bright, crunchy, smooth, etc.) Specifically with music, I really marvel at its capacity for defiance. Placing expression, sensation and presentness on a stage and collectivising people around an appreciation of those concepts is an incredibly powerful thing.

ATHINA: I also think it feels like home because of my upbringing. I don’t necessarily believe that I’m saving lives playing music. However, there is something very special about people coming together to dance, to share their sensitivities or their rage. To comment, question, find catharsis, or to escape. I don’t know what I’d do without it. 

ELOISE: I think for me it’s just one of those things that there is nothing I would rather do. I can never get sick of playing with music. 

 Where’d the band name come from?

We thought it was funny how trendy it had become in Melbourne – such a talking point for everyone suddenly. Phonetically it’s quite satisfying to say too. It’s quite silly. 

Photo by Jhonny Russell.

 We’re excited Gut Health are releasing debut EP Electric Party Chrome Girl; what’s the story behind the title?

ADAM: Myka once misheard some lyrics that were ‘electric, kind of home grown.’ We all just thought it was very funny and became a little in-joke for us. The song isn’t even on the EP hahaha

 How long have you been working on it?

DOM:Most of the songs were written in fits and bursts between lockdowns, with the recording happening mostly late last year. When we initially started recording, the aim was to make some demos just to hear ourselves back before the ‘real studio sesh’. We never ended up having the patience to do it all over again, plus the tracks didn’t sound so bad to begin with.

We’re premiering lead single ‘Inner Norm’; what’s it about?

ATHINA: Inner-Norm is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating look at Naarm/Melbourne’s Inner North, observing how over time the self-identified ‘alternative’ residents begin to morph into what many northern resident’s proclaim as ‘normies’/normalcy. I’ve always struggled with the term ‘normie’ because it comes off as a little high-horse to me. 

I think a lot of us, particularly young people, find ourselves trying to navigate where we fit in, how we fit the ‘mould’. Humans are strange creatures, we often have a desire to categorise ourselves and others on a surface level. 

We love the song ‘Barbarella’ too; what inspired you to write it?

ATHINA: It is about Barbarella (1968), played by the icon Jane Fonda. Male gazey stuff aside, Jane Fonda is so sexy and I like to see her fighting evil while wearing amazing campy outfits. Maybe it’s a crush song to Jane Fonda, because she’s great, and her playing a superheroine just, like, tipped me over the edge. The song is based around the line in the script ‘Genius is Mysterious!’ 

The band self-recorded the EP in a storage facility in Brunswick; what do you remember most from recording?

DOM: We had a pretty small amount of equipment to record with so all the main elements were tracked pretty basic, but for some reason I went all out on the percussion day. I placed mics around the room in this huge stereo image, most of which was either summed to mono or just thrown out!

ADAM: I guess cause the storage units are all just concrete cubes, you can hear – in very intimate detail – every band’s sessions around us. There was a particular band right next to our room that was insanely loud. It seemed like they knew our calendar, and every time Dom and I went to do some of the more nitty gritty recording that required silence and concentration they decided it was a great time to start blasting their tracks. I really can’t emphasise more how loud it was. 

Photo by Jhonny Russell.

Simon Maisch from Bitumen, OV PAIN, Telekninet, EYESØRES mastered it; what made you want to work with Simon?

ADAM: Simon was recommended to us by our friend Ferg (Laughing Gear/Romero) when we were toying with who should mix it. It just made total sense – I love Bitumen so much and everything he has mixed and mastered comes out amazingly.

We first fell in love with you band when we saw you play a show while we were in Naarm at the start of the year. What’s the best and worst shows you’ve played and what made it so?

ADAM: I dunno about best or worst, but we once played this little doof/party over New Years in Torquay. We were planning on driving up with a fill in drummer George, as Myka wasn’t available, and had our gear packed and ready to go. After we had packed everything the next day and were about to leave, George messaged us saying they were a close contact so we were kinda just stuck with all our gear. We decided to drive up anyway with everything and see what happens and party regardless.

We ended up rocking up and the guy who was running it was trying to convince us to play anyway, and introduced us to this drummer Luke. I was pretty nervous and apprehensive of improvising, but we decided to agree to it anyway without ever having played music with this guy. It was a bit awkward at first when I met him, then we smoked a bit and had a big skate and threw ourselves around and bonded quite a bit.

We decided we were going to do a Pittsburgh show (short for The Pittsburgh Enlightenment Experience) the name is a whole different story, but the short of it is that me and some friends did an improv show once under that moniker at the Coburg RSL, we call improvised sets ‘Pittsburgh shows’ now. Anyway, the show went off, it was super fun and I think we all got closer from the experience. 

Playing at last week for Dr Sure / Bench Press recently was also a really fun time. We also had heaps of fun playing with Screensaver and Loose Fit – such a lovely and talented crew. 

What have you been listening to, reading or watching lately?

ADAM: I’ve been listening to a lot of DJ Screw recently. I can’t seem to stop, it’s hypnotising.

DOM: I’ve been obsessed with this polish no-wave band Atol Atol Atol. It sounds like someone live-dubbed the universe collapsing in on itself.

ATHINA: Last film I watched was The Worst Person in the World. I found Nina Hagen’s New York New York album when I was away, so whacky wild and fun! It was produced by Giorgio Moroder. 

ELOISE: I’m embarrassingly late to watching Squid Game. It’s great. I’ve been listening to a bit of Gang of Four this week as well. 

When not doing Gut Health-related things, what can we find you doing?

ATHINA: Making films, eating bagels, and watching Rocky Horror. 

ADAM: Playing RPGs and listening to Silmarillion audio books.

ELOISE:Probably in a pool, or in line to pay for a pastry and coffee that is a bit out of my budget. 

What should everyone know about Gut Health?

Buffest, most swol band in Melbourne. 

Pre-Order Gut Health’s Electric Party Chrome Girl EP from Marthouse Records. Follow @gut__health + Gut Health on Facebook.

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