Adele Pickvance of Brisbane’s Adele And The Chandeliers: “My bass guitar gives me superpowers…”

Photo courtesy of Adele; handmade mixed-media art by B.

Meanjin/Brisbane trio Adele & The Chandeliers play jubilant pop with post-punk energy, full of charm, playfulness and sparkle. Before forming the group, vocalist-bassist Adele Pickvance was a member of The Go-Betweens plus solo work with Robert Forster & Grant McLennan, and did multiple albums with The Dave Graney Show. Gimmie interviewed Adele about moving to Brisbane from the UK as a teen, beginnings as a musician, a love of Pete Shelley, the band’s debut LP First Date and of what the future holds.

You first moved to Brisbane from Bury in Lancashire as a teenager; what were your first impressions of Brisbane? What was the music scene like? Was it an exciting time for you?

ADELE PICKVANCE: I was 15. The smells of Brisbane’s flora and the bugs and creatures… and the heat and humidity really threw me. There were a lot of changes to get used to. My school uniform for one… suddenly I could, and everyone else could, see my white hairy legs. They seemed to glow in the sunlight. My parents promised me a pony in our back garden so I could ride to school, but it ended up being a bicycle to ride to Sandgate High and that was bloody hard work as we lived at the top of a hill.

 I think we all watched too much Skippy The Bush Kangaroo as prep for immigration.

In England, I was listening to music by Depeche Mode, Visage Fun Boy 3, etc and anything on Top Of The Pops and sometimes The Old Grey Whistle Test if I stayed up late enough. My world was BBC radio and TV. The only experience of Aussie music I had was Men At Work. At the time, I had heard of The Go Betweens, but I thought they were a punk band from Germany, not Australia, probably because they were spending a lot of time touring there.

When we landed in Brisbane, it was Radio 10 and commercial radio again. Cold Chisel, etc… I didn’t quite get it… so I was happy to continue to listen to my old mix cassette tapes.

I know that you come from a musical family, both your father and grandfather were musicians. Early on you played violin, who or what inspired you to switch to playing bass guitar?

AP: My dad used to play in the clubs in England as organist and generally with a 3-piece band. One morning I woke up and found a Vox bass guitar on my bed, he told me it fell off the back of a truck! Bass guitar has 4 strings, like the violin, but the other way round, so I jumped onto it quickly.  When we arrived in Brisbane, I had left behind my violin teacher, the youth orchestra and my grandad, who I adored, as we would play violin duets together. There was no music at Sandgate High so the violin stayed in the case and my bass guitar became my instrument.

Can you please share with us an album that has had a really big impact on you? How did it effect you?

AP: At the time, I was soaking bass lines and had a nice set up in the Granny flat underneath the house in Brisbane with the record player and bass amp. Kissing To Be Clever by Culture Club hit me. At the time I didn’t understand my attraction to the album, I just loved it and learnt the bass parts. I’d come home from school, switch on the record player and turn on my amp and play along to it on repeat. Now on reflection, it was the gathering of different types of styles like soul, reggae, pop and calypso. Each song had the magical taste of Soho, London, which was something I was being drawn to. And of course, Boy George and his gender bending was appealing to me.

You’ve had long stints as a member of The Go-Betweens plus solo work with Robert Forster & Grant McLennan, and four albums with The Dave Graney Show; why was it finally time for you to do your own thing with your band Adele & The Chandeliers?

AP: I moved to Sydney in 2010, after playing with recording and touring Robert’s The Evangelist album, and made a record with Glenn Thompson called Carrington Street of which the two of us toured, and I suddenly then realised I wasn’t getting offered the gigs as a bass player that I used to get so frequently and easily. I moved back to Brisbane in 2017 and still the phone didn’t ring, and so thought if I wanted to continue making music and performing music, I would have to form my own band and do it myself.

How does it feel to be the person up the front singing the songs now? Is it ever scary for you? What feeling do you get from playing live?

AP: I might be in denial, but I still feel like I’m not the centre of attention. And there’s something about being a wee older and wiser. It’s never been scary… more exciting and a wee bit nervous which helps me play better. My bass guitar gives me superpowers too! It is a different headspace and I’ve had to come to terms with being the one who is responsible for the maintenance of the band/ keeping it going/ planning, etc… That’s all new to me. I love playing live, I’ve gigged since I was 17. My comfort zone is plugging the jack in to the bass, switching the amp on, testing the microphone and being on stage. It’s not the glory of being on stage, it’s the making of music that’s the thrill for me. I think the audience picks up on the energy and excitement.

One of the first things your band released was recorded during one of the group’s first ever sessions in the studio, the Buzzcocks’ song ‘Love You More’; has this song got a special significance to you? What do you appreciate about Pete Shelley’s songwriting?

AP: I was in a cover band when I was 21 called Torn Sweaters, three girls, guitar, bass and drums, and we did a version of that song. It’s a song that’s always stuck with me, it’s such a great song to play and you have to be a bit brave to sing it, you almost shout it out. When Pete Shelley had passed away, I did a really big deep dive back into Buzzcocks.

The Chandeliers’ original drummer, Ash Shanahan loved to play fast and I believe we ended up recording the song quicker than the Buzzcocks version, which I was shocked about…  as that feels really quick.

The connection I have with Buzzcocks is of course Pete Shelley. I think of him as a queer guy in a 70’s/80’s DIY punk band singing love songs that aren’t about specific genders and I really like and admire that. I like to think my songs are similar… And of course, he’s from around Manchester.

At the end of last year Adele & The Chandeliers released your debut LP First Date; where did the album title come from?

AP: Our album name comes from a band discussion with Scott Mercer and Ash Shannahan when we first started. We felt like we were on a first date of sorts with all those similar questions of: do we want to hang out together? Do you want to commit to turning up to rehearsals? Do we have a connection? And of course, when considering touring: does anyone snore?

The album’s cover photo features your parents, Bill and Alma, at Manchester United Supporters Club, Deansgate, England 1965; was this their first date? Is this why you chose it as the cover image?

AP: The older I get the more I see the nostalgia and hip coolness caught in their black and white photos. They were bohemian types. The First Date cover photo was the first photo of them together. Dad had just finished his gig with his jazz band and mum brought her girlfriend with her as she knew she wanted to chat up the pianist as she had seen him and his band play before. I love this moment where everyone is having a good time sitting on the edge of the stage, you can see there’s a sparkle happening.

How did First Date get started? Tell us a little bit about writing the record. Were many of the songs in your notebooks for a while beforehand?

AP: Two of the songs are from an early solo EP recorded at home in Sydney called My White Rabbit. I released that around 2017. The other Chandeliers’ songs were formed from riffs or chords on the guitar that I record onto my phone, and I make sure I write in my notebook any line or idea I have…. then the two meet. I record roughly into my home studio then send off to the band for us to have a crack at the next rehearsal. We then record the songs at band rehearsal, then listen back and try again next week. When I write, I try to make the songs come quickly. II don’t like to spend a lot of time overworking the words and the music. I try to maintain the initial spontaneity and the guts and vibe of a song in the final result. There’s a chance to think about keyboards and extra guitar parts after the sessions in the studio, when we get the songs home.

How does a song most often come to you?

AP: I generally start with a predicament or a thought and I write notes in my book. I come up with catchy riffs and I play them on my bass and record into my phone and then try to get the two to meet. Generally, in my bedroom. That’s where the good songs come from.

There’s a universal theme of love that runs through each track on the LP; what inspired you to write about love in its many different forms?

AP: Writing about love isn’t intentional. I used to write a lot of miserable love songs with the acoustic guitar in my 20’s and 30’s. I wasn’t miserable, it’s just what I did. As I’ve aged, I’ve turned it around with the Chandeliers to be up and pop… bright, and I guess that’s where the Chandeliers come from – light and bright. Nothing miserable there, up and fun, but I’m still thinking about the curly things about love and the wayward adventures I get myself into. I like to play with it.

Cam Smith at Incremental Records record First Date; what was one of your favourite moments from recording?

AP: Cam creates a relaxed environment in his studio and nothing is too difficult, which encourages everyone. I like to work fast. My favourite moment was when we invited Karin Bäumler to sing her response to the song German On My Mind in her native tongue of Bavarian. Ive known Karin for many years, since 1995 and it was the first time we had sang together. We planted the microphone in the middle of the room so we could both sing into it, face to face. I had no idea what Karin was responding/saying… but it sounded great and we had a ball!

What’s next for you?

AP: I’m writing in my notebook, sitting on my bed, there’s new songs in the pipeline for Adele & The Chandeliers. We’ve been gigging a little, and we’re always looking for shows.  We don’t mind if it’s in a back garden.

We’ve had a change of drummer. My brother Jonny Pickvance has joined us and he’s bringing a new energy to our songs. I feel like we’re going to make some great new work because of the familiarity Jonny and I have, even though we come from different styles of music… Scott, myself and Jonny all have a playful sense of humour. I have a feeling the next record will be even more playful, with a little more splash of old rock’n’roll.

Please check out ADELE & THE CHANDELIERS on bandcamp and adelepickvance.com.

Streetview magazine’s Jack Cherry: “There are more kind people than there are arseholes in the world, don’t let yourself focus on the worst.”

Handmade art by B.

Gimmie loves zines! (independent self-published, small-run, mostly photocopied/printed works). One of our current favourites out of Melbourne is Streetview, a music-related mag created by Jack Cherry from band, Vintage Crop, as well as a host of collaborators (FYI the Gimmie team have contributed to the next issue). Streetview is free available by mail-order. This issue features interviews with The Stroppies, Roolette Records, Christina Pap from Modern Australian Underground podcast/Swab, Quality Used Cars, OUZO!, Ishka from Set-Top Box/Research Reactor Corporation/Warttmann Inc. Records/TV Guide zine and more. Check it out!

How did you first find out about zines?

JACK CHERRY: I think the first zine I saw was a photocopied, hand-drawn tribute to Nirvana. It was in a local record store in Geelong, I didn’t buy it or even really read it; it was just a moment where I realised that people actually make/buy/sell/share that sort of thing. It was years before I ever made one – I think I had to wait long enough for me to think it was my own idea, even though I was probably just copying that Nirvana zine deep down.

What’s some zines you enjoy?

JC: I really like Conscript, which is a graphic design mag that my buddy Darcy Berry (Moth, Gonzo) puts together occasionally. He has done a lot of great design work for Vintage Crop and it’s really cool to be able to see more of his work and he also gets a few other designers to contribute work too.

I also enjoyed the first mag that Meaghan Weiley did, it was just called Issue 1 and it had some real cool content in there. I think she’s still working on the next issue of that too. It would be rude not to mention Magnetic Visions, the zine of the hyperactive Billy Twyford (Disco Junk). GGG is also one of my favourite, your long-form interviews are always engaging and interesting. It feels like people so rarely do phoners anymore that it really helps your interviews stand-out.

What inspired you to start your own zine?

JC: I’ve always dabbled in writing, I started a few different zines over the years but chickened out when it was time to distribute them. I think the big inspiration was just giving myself something that I can dig into and exercise my brain a little. I don’t really have any goal and I certainly don’t want to be the best; I’m just enjoying the whole process.

Why did you decide to make a print zine?

JC: It just didn’t feel real if it’s not a hard copy, I’m not really an in-depth writer and my work tends to gel better as a collection of articles rather than individual pieces on a blog.

Where does the name Streetview come from?

JC: It’s stolen directly from the latest Vintage Crop album, but I made it up so it’s okay. I just think it works so well for the name, it’s the view from the street-level. I’m writing from my own point of view and I’m not pretending to be above the music scene or anything.

What are the things that are important to you when making it?

JC: Highlighting local artists is probably the main thing, and people who don’t receive as much attention as I think they deserve. I also strive to make the content interesting, asking questions that are a little different without being too serious. It’s gotta be fun and fresh otherwise you’re just like the rest.

We love that you have a Pheature Photographer each issue and subscribers receive prints; why did you want to spotlight photographers work?

JC: I think music photography is kind of taken for granted lately, especially given that everyone has a camera in their phone that is of such high quality. There’s an art to capturing the right moment at a show, its actually pretty hard to take a great pic of a band and I just wanted to share some local photographers that do a good job of it. The idea of including prints of their work with each issue is just cool because I feel like a lot of these photos get posted on Instagram or Facebook once and then their buried underneath the ever-consuming news feed. It’s nice to offer them some longevity.

What do you hope people take away from your zine/mag?

JC: I don’t know if I want people to take anything away from it as much, I think I just want people to read it all. I’m trying to slowly expand the content parameters, so that you see a real eclectic bunch of people and bands side-by-side. I love the idea of people taking the time to read an interview with a band that they’ve never heard before and really giving it time of day. It’s easy to scroll past something online and pay no mind, but I hope that people feel a little more inclined to give different things a chance in the physical mag.

What was the last film you watched? Tell us your thoughts/feelings on it?

JC: I saw Tenet the other night at the cinema. I enjoyed it, I’m a fan of Christopher Nolan’s work, even if he does often make things harder than he needs to. I’d recommend it to sci-fi fans but not action movie fans. It was also super loud, which got old after two and a half hours. I was big into Robert Pattinson’s performance too, gave me some confidence for the new Batman film.

Outside of the zine, what else are you working on?

Well, my band Vintage Crop just released a new record (Serve To Serve Again) which was a big process and incredibly rewarding. I also run a little record label called Weather Vane Records and have put out 5 releases this past year, working with some great bands from all over the world.
I’ve been putting the finishing touches on another exciting project which I’ll hopefully be sharing more about early next year. On top of all that I work full-time as a swimming pool technician down in Geelong, servicing pools and pool equipment.

What’s your best non-musical or non-zine related skill?

JC: I’m pretty good at the new golf game on the Playstation, I’m also weirdly good at remembering numbers but nothing else. I can’t tell you what I had for lunch yesterday but I can tell you my best friend from Primary School’s old home phone number.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from 2020?

JC: A good attitude is just as contagious as a bad one. There are more kind people than there are arseholes in the world, don’t let yourself focus on the worst. Pay attention to the kindness in the world and do your good deeds.

Check out and sign up for a free copy: @streetview.mag on Instagram.

Naarm/Melbourne’s Hot Tubs Time Machine: “I laugh ‘til my face is sore.”

Photo: Arthur Twomey. Handmade collage by B.

Marcus Rechsteiner (The UV Race, Luxury) and Daniel Twomey (Deaf Wish, Lower Plenty) have gotten together and made an album under the name, Hot Tubs Time Machine. It’s a delightful bare-bones jaunt of minimal bass, 808 beats, layers of synth, bright guitar and percussion, soundtrack-ing Marcus’ engaging, humorous and very relatable stories taken from his daily, that give us an insight into his world. We interviewed Daniel to get a look into the making of Hot Tubs…

Hot Tubs… is yourself and Marcus from The UV Race; how did you both first meet? What were your initial impressions?

DANIEL: I first saw The UV Race at the Tote for Deaf Wish’s 7-inch launch in 2008. I thought Marcus was a loose unit. He won me over when he sang about M*A*S*H. We were always on the periphery of each other’s lives but I didn’t really get to know him very well.

What sparked the idea for you guys to start working together on this project?

DANIEL: A couple of years ago Marcus and his mate Brent were looking for a drummer and asked Mitch Marks to join them the same week that I suggested to Mitch that we might start something with me on guitar. So instead of getting a drummer, they got me tagging along. I suggested I play bass cos there was nothing else left. Mitch didn’t stick around but I did. It was a really fruitful and joyous six months of making music with Brent and Marcus in a group called Luxury with Steph Hughes joining us on drums. When the first lockdown happened last year Brent (who is from the States) was on a visa run to New Zealand so got stuck there. Not the worst place in the world to ride out the pandemic but Marcus and I were gutted. We miss him a lot.

So, late last year, Blonde Revolver asked us to play a show with them and Marcus suggested we do it as a duo. “But we can’t play any Luxury songs” he said. “We’ll write all new stuff”. So that was the brief. “Daniel, write a set of songs in two weeks and I’ll sing on them.” And that is an accurate description of the process. I write a bass line, put together the beats on an 808. Add layers of keyboard or guitar or percussion. Marcus waltzes in and tells a story over the top and I laugh ‘til my face is sore.

What inspired the name?

DANIEL: Marcus called me Tubs. He called me Tubs for about a year. One day I called him and he answers “Hot Tubs Time Machine.” Three weeks later we need a band name. Two months later it’s on an album cover. It’s a funny old world.

What was the first song you wrote for Hot Tubs? What’s the story behind it?

DANIEL: ‘Pants Off O’Clock’ came first. Marcus had been talking to a friend about that moment that the door shuts and you can leave the shackles of pants behind. They had been reflecting on the extended hours Pants Off O’Clock was experiencing due to lockdown. Pants Off O’Clock around the clock.

What kinds of other things inspire this collection of tunes? We love that each song tells a very relatable story, like ‘Southern Hemisphere Christmas’ and ‘No Thanks, Google Maps’.

How were the vocals recorded? They’re so honest and have such a purity and charm in delivery.

DANIEL: Marcus has spoken to me about how anxious he gets about recording vocals so I knew that I had to create the right environment for him. Recording everything as I went meant that the only thing missing fourteen days after I started working on the songs were the vocals so, I was so keen to get some in the can. I recorded the first lot of vocals on the sly. When I was setting everything up at rehearsal, I ran the microphone through the laptop without telling Marcus. A good chunk of the vocals are from that session. Marcus singing away with no idea the red light was on, sometimes it was the first time he had tried singing on a tune. On those takes you can even hear the rest of the music reverberating around the music room we were jamming in because I couldn’t really put headphones on him without him catching in. So then at the end of all the songs I broke the news to him. “Congratulations Marcus, the vocals are recorded!”

Of course, some needed re-recording so when Marcus arrived a couple of hours early for our annual steak night – long story – I casually suggested he have another crack at the vocals. I purposely set myself up facing away from Marcus – so that he didn’t have the pressure of someone watching him, but set him up behind me – so he could see me laughing at all of the words. Apparently, that is how Stanley Kubrick directed Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove. He got the camera rolling, made sure Sellers could see the effect he was having on him and proceeded to roll around on the floor laughing. So that’s what I did.

Where or how do you think your best song writing ideas come to you?

DANIEL: Marcus says they are usually from conversation. He’ll be talking to someone or himself and thinks “that would be a good idea for a song”.

What do you personally get from creating stuff?

DANIEL: The second lockdown last year was hard. Everyone you speak to experienced it so differently but myself, I really struggled and I know that for Marcus it was even harder. When he asked me if I thought it was possible to pull a set together, I knew how good it was going to be for his mental health. There was no way I was going to say no. I did it for my brain too. I love a project, one with a deadline is even better. Stretching out of my comfort zone and playing a synth for many of the parts was such a satisfying puzzle to enter into. Knowing I only had seven days left and five songs to go was thrilling. Four days left and three songs to go. Two days left and one song to go. The finish line. For me personally, creating this particular stuff was a very enjoyable, liberating process that resulted in a really great gift for a good friend. Watching Marcus sing on the songs and get a kick out performing them a week later was so rewarding. His enthusiasm is painted in bright colours on his sleeves.

Cover Art by Evelyn Nora Hanley

What was one of the most fun moments you had while making the Hot Tubs… album?

DANIEL: I had a silent partner helping me on all of the music. Over the two weeks that I was writing the material, my twin brother was in quarantine. First in a hospital in Bangkok, then in a little place in Vientiane, Laos. He had some recording equipment and instruments with him so he could work on music while he waited the days away so I started hitting him up regularly for ‘bits’ for songs. We spoke every day, multiple times these calls were some of the highlights of the whole process. His whole world was a hospital room for a patch and So the two of us just fell into these songs together. We locked into the twin zone. He served up some very funny shit that didn’t make the record – and some that did. I am still recovering from his bass solo for Hot Tubs Time Machine Theme. Left on the cutting room floor because the world just wasn’t ready.

What’s next for you guys? Will you be playing live shows?

DANIEL: Yes! Sunday the 28th of February we are playing our album launch. A roving, pop-up, public transport powered, guest spot extravaganza. Over the day we will play three busking sets at different locations. Each with a different guest joining us for our set:

  • Bourke St Mall 1pm with my daughter Hetty.
  • Edinburgh Gardens 3pm with Pam, the music teacher at the school I work at.
  • Under the High St Bridge, Merri Ck 4:30pm with Sleeper & Snake.
  • At 6:30pm they will all join us on stage at Avalon Bar.

Please check out: HOT TUBS TIME MACHINE on bandcamp. All profits from album sales go to Djirra in Abbotsford. “Djirra is a place where culture is shared and celebrated, and where practical support is available to all Aboriginal women and particularly to Aboriginal people who are currently experiencing family violence or have in the past.”

Melbourne Noise-Punks Super-X’s George Ottaway: “Mechanical and wild sounding…”

Photos: courtesy of Super-X; handmade mixed-media by B.

Super-X’s debut self-titled album is full of aliveness, possibilities and risk. The Naarm/Melbourne trio walk the tightrope of balance of control and dissonance that’s beautiful and ugly at the same time. Gimmie interviewed co-vocalist-guitarist, George Ottaway.

Hi George! How are you? What did you get up to today?

GEORGE OTTAWAY: Hey Bianca! I’m pretty good, it’s the weekend, so I’m taking it pretty easy so far. My girlfriend is from Madrid so tonight we are heading to what’s meant to be one of Melbourne’s best Tapas bars. Will report more on this later!

What’s an album in your music collection that’s important for you?

GO: For me, it’s got to be Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92. It’s a really beautiful album and I find myself coming back to it again and again since first discovering it in my mid-teens. It evokes a lot of memories for me, including a really memorable solo trip I did to Iceland for All Tomorrows Parties Festival back in 2015, when I listened to it a lot. I also think it’s probably the most coherent and consistent Aphex Twin release, and maybe the only one where he isn’t intentionally trying to fuck with his audience!

How did you first get into music? Did you and your brother (Super-X’s co-vocalist-guitarist) Harrison get into music together?

GO: Growing up, music had a very important presence in our house. Our parents are both music fans and liked to fill every possible moment of silence with community radio or a CD from their collection. I remember hearing a lot of the Rolling Stones, Nirvana and Nick Cave. Our dad in particular made it his personal mission to impart his musical taste on us; by the time we hit primary school he was pumping The Stooges’ Raw Power on cassette in the car as he drove us to school! When we were teenagers, we both picked up guitar and formed garage bands with our friends. It was a pretty interesting, exciting time to be making music, websites like Myspace and programs like Garage Band were suddenly making it really easy and accessible for young kids like us to record songs and get them heard by a wider audience. This was also around the time we discovered the Melbourne underground scene! We got into bands like Kiosk, Bird Blobs, Sea Scouts, Circle Pit, Witch Hats, ECSR, Zond, the Nihilistic Orbs label and started going to a lot of shows.

When did you first know that you wanted to play music yourself?

GO: I think around the age of 13. I was pretty obsessed with music and just knew it was something I had to do. In primary school I had a pop-punk band that played to the other students in the school hall, which was pretty cute and my first taste at playing music.

What inspired you to start Super-X?

GO: I’d watched Harrison – he’s a bit older than me – play shows in different bands over the years and I was itching to get into it myself! We were both living together at home at the time and both of us playing guitar just made it easy. We were intrigued by each other’s styles – I’d say Harrison is more technically astute, while my own style is a bit more naive and abrasive. We both wanted to play in a band that was a bit grimier and more ferocious than what we had previously done, so we outlined a bunch of key influences that we both enjoyed and started jamming regularly. After a while Harrison wrote the guitar line for ‘Weapon-X’, which is where we found our sound. A little after that we recorded our first demo, with me playing drums – it’s still up on our Soundcloud!

Can you tell us a little bit about the writing process for your debut self-titled album? Do you write collaboratively?

GO: A lot of the time we just bring in a riff or even a drum idea to practice and see where it takes us. Super-X rehearsals are always really fun: we spend a lot of time just jamming and improvising together. Harrison, Kaelan [Emond ] and I have been playing together now for a while so we all know how to interact with each other, when to rise and when to tone everything down. After we have the instrumentation down then we usually work on our lyrics – often it just begins with a murmur and becomes more fully formed as the song grows.

The album was recorded over six months between August 2019 and February 2020 at Invention Studios in Footscray working with Ryan Fallis and Mathias Dowle. Ryan & Mathias are fantastic to work with – they are incredibly patient, contribute great ideas and have one of the most incredible guitar pedal collections I have ever seen, including a number of pedals from the former U.S.S.R that they let us use! They are also lovely dudes, highly recommended!

Was it intentional to take your time recording or was it a necessity because of other commitments?

GO: In 2019 we had actually hit a bit of a slump with the band. We were all beginning to lose a bit of interest and all had a lack of direction with what we wanted to do and had all considered breaking the band up. We had tried recording a year prior but were pretty disappointed with the results. With work and other musical commitments (Kaelen plays drums in Obscura Hail, and I play rhythm guitar in Future Suck) we were also struggling to find the time to devote to Super-X. It was at this stage we decided to take a gamble and head back into the studio with Ryan Fallis & Mathias Dowle at Invention Studios. We were pretty unprepared in a number of ways, a lot of songs were only 80% complete, but I think taking this risk definitely added a bit of vulnerability and excitement to the sessions. We weren’t really sure what was going to come out of it and we just dived in head first. The album was recorded as live as possible with very minimal overdubs. We’d been thinking about the structure of the album for a while: we wanted a strong narrative and a focus on ambient and sound pieces throughout. Figuring out the exact track listing and order of the album was really exciting – we experimented with it as the tracks started to take shape – and ultimately pretty satisfying.

What influenced your choice to go with a real bare-bones vocal?

GO: Harrison and I aren’t natural singers, and the focus of Super-X has always really been on instrumentation, with lyrics and vocals taking a bit of a backseat a lot of the time. I think a lot of our inspiration vocally came from a the early Iceage LP’s. We wanted a delayed sound on the vocals and to have them gritty and pretty low in the mix. I think lyrically we just wanted them to be direct and to the point as possible so they could pierce through all the distortion and effects.

The album came out right in the middle of lockdown because of the global pandemic; how did you feel about not being able to play shows for its release? Any plans to play shows soon?

GO: I was actually quite thrilled with the album coming out in 2020. It’s such an iconic year for all the wrong reasons, but with no shows on and everyone having a lot of solitude I think it enabled us to carve out our own space and get the interest of Spoilsports records and Polaks, who did a joint release for the album. I think a lot of people took the time to actually give it a spin who might not have given it the time of day in other circumstances. Friends and fans have always described our music and live shows as a bit dystopian so I think having it released in 2020 is sort of fitting funnily enough?

We’ve actually got two shows coming up! Thursday March 4th at the retreat with Crash Material and our official LP launch on Saturday March 27th at Old Bar. We will be revealing the full line-up a little further down the track for that one.

What’s the most fun you’ve ever had playing a show? Where was it? What made it a blast?

GO: I lived in a massive pretty run-down house with an enormous backyard in Caulfield from 2015-2020. A lot of the LP was written in that house and is based on that particular chapter of my life. We had a bunch of parties with my housemates and would get bands to play in the lounge room which would always go off. There’s something about seeing live bands outside of the normal constraints of a venue which gets people really fired up. We had over 100 people at one of the parties and set up smoke machines and strobes, we had a fire lit outside and a TV at the end of a dark corridor looping Clint Eastwood’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly on high volume. Super-X played with Tony Dork (who just released a brilliant LP on Legless last year!) and it went off! Both bands played well and I’ve got some pretty memorable photos from the night. After bands we had a bunch of techno sets going well and truly into the early hours. Someone put the smoke machine on full blast and the dance floor turned into a thick, smoky nightmare scene for an hour or so with people panicking and spilling out into the backyard. My neighbours wouldn’t look me in the eyes for months after! I went to a music festival a year later and a guy I swear I had never seen before in my life came up to me and was preaching to me about how it was one of the best parties he had ever been to haha. It was loose.

Travel has been off the cards for most people for a while now because of the pandemic but if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

GO: I had plans to go to Brazil for a 6-8 weeks on my own but COVID of course fucked everything up. I’ve always loved hot weather, good food and to be as far away from anyone who’s first language is English as possible when travelling. In 2018 I travelled through the Balkans and wound up getting a bus from Athens to Gjirokaster in Albania. Its where the dictator Hoxce was born and has a pretty fascinating history. There’s loads of old Nazi war loot that the Albanian army kept after they defeated the axis in the castle, including old tanks and captured flags, weapons and a documentation on how they defeated the retreating axis armies, which is pretty interesting. Albania was definitely a highlight of recent years, beautiful country and off the beaten track.

You did the artwork and design for the album; did you study art? How did you decide on the imagery? What made you go with a stark black & white palette?

GO: Yeah, I did! I did a fine arts course at RMIT specialising in drawing, so I was glad to put it to use for creating the imagery for the album. I’ve always been a firm believer in that the imagery and aesthetics of bands are just as important as the music. It’s got to be strong, bold and to the point. I honestly think if the Germs and Black Flag didn’t have their great aesthetics (the four bars symbol and Germ’s circle one logo) they wouldn’t be anywhere near as popular as they are today. People want to feel cool when they wear your band t-shirt or buy your record so the aesthetics have got to hold up.

Locally HTRK have incredible design for every release they do, I’m a massive fan of them. Nigel Yang is one of my favourite guitarists.

With Super-X I wanted something equally as bold so I decided on an industrial looking electrical plug image. Super-X is pretty mechanical and wild sounding at times so I think it suits what we do. I think for a debut LP classic black and white can never go wrong. I also drew a lot of inspiration from Peter Saville’s design and techno/ambient LP’s from the ‘90s like Underworlds Dubnobasswithmyheadman and Autechre LP’s. A lot of musical groups the less you see of the artists themselves sometimes the better, it creates more mystique and intrigue.

I never want Super-X LP’s to be about my Harrison, Kaelan or myself, or the way we look or whatever or to have us pictured on the front or back cover. I want the experience of listening to a Super-X LP to be like putting on a film with narrative of beginning, middle and end. With a strong emphasis on visual bold aesthetics to suit. The less focus on us as individuals the better. I’m a firm believer in that.

Have you been working on anything new?

GO: We have! We’ve got a bunch of tracks we’ve started to develop and have been working on some ideas in terms of sound and aesthetics for the next piece. It’s going to sound a little bit different.

Who are some bands you love that we should know about?

GO: I think locally Romero – shit hot band that a bunch of our buds play in. I used to play drums in the guitarist Ferg’s post-punk band Eyesores years ago when I was cutting my teeth playing my first ever shows. These guys are working on an LP that I am very much looking forward to, it’s really fun rocking power-pop. I really dug the new TOL album, Justin Fuller has influenced me a lot, he’s an amazing guitarist and always creates a very intense atmosphere. It’s like gothic tinged hardcore? I’m really enjoying Snowy Band, beautiful gentle pop and the production is excellent.

What’s something that’s been interesting you lately that you want to share with others?

GO: I recently discovered Japanese cyberpunk metamorphoses films from the early ‘90s. 964 Pinnochio (check out the trailer on YouTube for an idea) is fucking wild, I guess you could describe them as industrialist-fetish films? and the soundtracks is an absolutely incredible mix of techno and ambient selections I’ve never heard. The director Shozin Fukui also directed Rubber’s Lover which is just as twisted as 964 Pinnochio. There’s also Tetsuo The Iron Man which is more well known by Shinya Tsukamoto. These films are very confronting! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Please check out SUPER-X on bandcamp; on Facebook; on Instagram; on Tumblr. Super-X’s self-titled debut album out via Spoilsport Records and Polaks Records.

Reckless photobook creator David Forcier: “There’s a whole world of possibility in front of us.”

Image: David’s passport photo; handmade collage by B.

Underground photographer David Forcier has a knack for capturing compelling images. Forcier’s snapshots express the intensity and integrity of live music, documenting a vibrant, vital scene and evoke a myriad of feelings for the viewer. In the latest edition of his photobook project, Reckless, you’ll find an interesting and dynamic collection, mostly from the Australian underground punk scene between June 2016 and April 2019. Gimmie caught up with David recently to chat about the project, as well as the new record from his band, Civic, that’s in the works.

Firstly, how are you doing?

DAVID FORCIER: Yeah, I’m alright, some days are more difficult than others but things could most definitely be worse.

Currently, you’ve found yourself back in Quebec, Canada after spending the past five years living in Melbourne; how does it feel to be back in Canada? I know that having to leave Australia was very overwhelming for you: losing your partner, home, job, dog, support network, creative outlets, identity and sense of security. These are huge things. We really feel for you!

DF: Well to start off I’m living in the country about an hour-ish from Montreal and about a 20-minute drive to the nearest town. When you think of the stereotype of what living in Canada would be like that’s pretty much where I’m at with it all. It’s pretty wholesome mostly and because I’m unable to work and have been in varying stages of lockdown since October I don’t really see anyone and spend most of my days alone working on music or other creative endeavours to keep my mind busy. If I’m honest I’ve barely done anything “normal” since I’ve been back so it’s hard how to say I feel about anything, I haven’t most of my friends and everyone is still in the collective lockdown mess.

Can you tell us a little bit about where you live in Canada? What interesting things did you discover about your neighbourhood since moving back?

DF: So, the little township I’m in at the moment is called Mayo, Quebec. There’s about 600 people that live in the area and its farm land and not much else. So, to call it a neighbourhood would be a stretch but I think I’ve really learned to appreciate being in nature more than I ever thought I would. It’s the middle of winter at the moment so it’s a struggle to get outside much these days but honestly being able to just walk through a field or the forest without a soul around you can be pretty healing especially with the anxiety surrounding the unknown of what’s next in my life.

All photos by David Forcier.

Initially, what drew you to living in Australia?

DF: It’s not especially exciting but it was honestly the idea of not having to deal with winter anymore. I don’t do well in the cold and it’s so unavoidable here. I had sort of found myself at the end of what felt like a chapter in my life and had lived in Europe in my early twenties already so I thought I’d throw caution to the wind and just do something to figure myself out a bit more. I had never intended on staying for as long as I had but honestly just could never bring myself to leave and it really just felt like my home.

How did you become interested in photography? I understand that you started taking photos while living in Europe in your early 20s.

DF: Looking back at that point in time in my life it was a pretty lonely weird existence and I think I just needed something to be creative with to keep my mind busy. I ended up picking up a few cameras and just started taking photos of everything I could which eventually led to music since that was a pretty big part of my life already. It’s strange to think about but I remember being in my mid-teens seeing live music and seeing some of the photographers that were fairly prominent in the music community around me and think “I’d be good at that” but never really had the courage to do it. I think sometimes leaving the places you spend so much time in can really allow you to explore the things that you might be too anxious to do otherwise. When you move somewhere new you don’t know anyone and as someone who has pretty severe social anxiety being a bit anonymous can be a huge breath of fresh air and luckily, I’ve embraced that in the times I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone.

You’re getting set to release the second issue of your live music photobook, Reckless, which compiles live photographs taken in the Australian underground punk scene between June 2016 and April 2019; how did you initially come up with the idea to make a photobook?

DF: I most definitely used my camera as a crutch for my anxiety when I first moved to Melbourne which meant I ended up with a lot of photos. It’s a bit embarrassing to think but at times when you are going to events that are meant to be pretty social and you don’t know anyone having something to do can be the only that will make you actually go. After a couple years I needed some way to get them out in the world so I could keep moving forward and, in a sense, move on from the things that had happened. Leading up to the release of the second book I’ve found myself thinking about the passage of time a lot and how it’s important to not get stuck in the “what was” of everything. I suppose this is more evident than ever with everything that has changed in 2020 but I’d like to think I’m moving forward and compiling the last several years of photos was a pretty good way to bookend that part of my life and know that everything is in forward motion. 

For you, what are the elements that make up a great live photo?

DF: The beauty about photography and a lot of other ways people tend to express themselves, whether it be in music, painting, writing or whatever else is that it can be truly unique from person to person. I know what my strong points are and the way that I’ve developed the aesthetic around what I do but a great photo can literally be so different from person to person and I can find something to appreciate in most. From a technical standpoint you could have a photo that is really shit but could be the one that sticks out in hundreds. So, I think what makes a photo great really varies and at the end of the day when you are taking a snapshot of a moment in time when you get to look back on it there’s always something great you can find in it.

Your images are black and white; what inspired you to choose to work without colour?

DF: For years I’ve been thinking about how important it is to work with limitations within ever way you are expressing yourself. It’s so easy to get caught up in getting the perfect camera or piece of equipment but if you limit your options a bit it can really force you to be creative and work with what’s available to you. Black and white is just one of those things, it was just another thing that I didn’t have to think about and just made the whole process a bit more natural. That and I kinda got obsessed with the aesthetic of black and white after a while because it just always feels a bit more timeless which can be especially good when documenting music.

What made you choose the EXEK photo for the cover image? You used a 35mm camera for it, right? I know you didn’t you want to have someone’s face on the cover; what was the thought behind that?

DF: I think I just like the idea of things being a bit more ominous than it just being like “oh yeah that’s such and such” on the cover. There was a point where I was trying to catch really calm parts in bands sets and not have anyone’s face in the photos which ended up with a whole whack of otherwise unusable photos. Also, I kind by default kinda gave people I’m either close friends with or just really love their music a bit more attention in the book. EXEK are just always great and they are mates as well as being a pretty big constant in Melbourne punk to me so it just made sense.

What do you feel is one of the most compelling images in the book? Can you tell us the story behind it?

DF: There’s a photo of Jai Morris from EXEKs guitar that just stood out to me and was one of those attempts at getting a cover image sorted. It’s got “please kill me” written on it and just seen it so many times that it feels a bit iconic and I think at times it’s a pretty relatable thing to read.

Assembling material for the photobook, were you trying to emphasize anything about the Australian underground scene with the images you chose?

DF: I just wanted to get a good snapshot of that specific chunk in time within that specific punk scene. I spent so much time being in it and getting to know so many people that I could now call family. I touched on this a bit before but I think it’s really important to be able to look back to certain parts of your life or in time so you can know you are moving forward and becoming at peace with things that are no longer what that used to be like. Probably half the bands in the first book don’t even exist anymore and in a few years’ time it’s likely that all the bands in this issue won’t exist anymore but I like to not get caught up in thinking that’s a bad thing at all and that things just change and adapt. No one likes to be around the person who still thinks high school was the best point of their lives, there’s a whole world of possibility in front of us.

What do you enjoy about the editing process with your photos?

DF: The interesting thing is, not dissimilar to journaling, when you take photos of anything you tend to be able to remember the details of otherwise unremarkable times. I could tell you what I did before and after most of the photos in that book, who I was with, where they were taken and where just by looking at them. Maybe it all just ties into that idea of moving forward and maybe not rehashing all the same thought patterns. It also gave me something to work on after the fact and to be excited about. When you get film developed you never really know exactly what the result is going to be and getting a great photo is really rewarding.

Why is it important to you to document culture?

DF: I think now more than ever it’s evident that there is going to be a bit of a gap in most people’s lives with photos of what was in their periphery because those images are all on old iPhone 3s in some drawer, a hard drive that crashed or gone with the Facebook account you deleted. I guess culture is no different to that, I’d most definitely like to look back on the past not through the lens of the weird technology that we are still trying to work out how to make sense of and instead from the point of view of someone who actually cared enough to take the time to and had intent behind it.

How did you first get into punk?

DF: It’s pretty cliche but my older brother had this dubbed minor threat tape when I was like 11 or 12. Not to sound like Dave Grohl in a music doco but Minor Threat just really blew my mind and I had no idea that kind of music even existed which I imagine a lot of people can relate to.

Can you remember the first live show your ever went to? What details can you remember about it? What feeling did it give you?

DF: The first thing I went to was Canadian punk band S.N.F.U when I was 13. RIP Ken Chinn. It’s interesting to look back at that being the first thing I ever saw because if you are familiar with them then singer who just recently passed away was at once the wildest most offensive person and also seemingly the most misunderstood extremely talented person and will most definitely be talked about for decades to come, at least in Canada… Seeing Chinn perform was scary and weird and often made you feel uncomfortable as a kid that was 23 years ago so it’s hard to really remember the details but I guess just gave me the feeling of what the fuck did I just watch.

What’s something important that you’ve learnt from being a part of the underground music community?

DF: I think over time have really learnt the importance of community in general. I think as humans we generally strive to fit in somewhere and often what comes with that is helping out the people around you and when it happens it can be truly beautiful. I’ve had my share of difficult times with Visa denials and ultimately getting kicked out of the place that I call my home but there was always someone around to help me through it all. I think if anything this has been highlighted with the situation, I find myself in at the moment and really feel this longing for community most days.

How has lockdown, due to the global pandemic, tested your creativity?

DF: Well for the first part of the pandemic I was in Melbourne still and managed to finish recording the Civic LP that we have coming out so that portion was actually really productive. We’d all lost our jobs so we just had infinite time to get it all done which was great. As for now it sort of comes in waves, I’ve managed to pen down a lot of rough ideas for a few different projects but am finding it a bit frustrating to have to think of every single part of what I’m working on. I’m a drummer first so I’ve had to really work on every other instrument a bit which has been a challenge, I’ve also picked up playing saxophone which has been incredibly rewarding. I guess I just really miss collaborating with other people, I guess this is where that community thing I was talking about comes into play. I’ve got pretty good at being alone but it’s definitely not sustainable.

Have you found any positives from the tough last year (spilling into this year for some) that we’ve had?

DF: I think there’s plenty. I have so much time to look inward and sort out a lot of my mental health issues and am actually pretty thankful for the pause and time for self-reflection. I guess maybe I’ve been trying to stay positive as best I can so maybe I’m sounding a bit hokey but I feel like maybe people will just be better to each other now that we’ve realised how much we need each other.? To be honest though, I’m usually a massive pessimist and feel like we collectively haven’t learnt fucking anything at all. Time will tell, I guess.

What project/s will you be working on next?

DF: There was some recordings that have been passed back n forth with Civic so maybe that will materialise into a 7-inch or something. It’s definitely not the ideal way to do anything but will see how it goes. I’ve got a few other music projects I’m slowly piecing together as well but it’s all slow moving when it’s just you. As for photography stuff the drive to do anything really ebbs and flows but I have a huge back catalogue of stuff that no one’s has ever seen dating back to the mid-2000s so maybe I’ll figure out some way to give that some attention. Thanks for the interview!

Please check out: @davidforcier. You can get a copy of RECKLESS here at MOM Publishing.

Extra RECKLESS Info: 84 pages, 107 photographs, black and white, risograph printed, 133mm x 210mm. Mix of 35mm and digital photography.

Featured Artists are: THE STEVENS, SYSTEMA EN DECADENCIA, HARAM, THE UV RACE, TOTAL CONTROL, THE FRANTICS, ROT T.V, COLD MEAT, VANILLA POPPERS, SEX DRIVE, RAPID DYE, BLOODLETTER, BB AND THE BLIPS, LOW LIFE, THE NO, L.A SUFFOCATED, KNIFER, EXEK, UBIK, RIXE, POWER, PARSNIP, CONSTANT MONGREL, OILY BOYS, STRAIGHT JACKET NATION, RED RED KROVVY, ORION, VINTAGE CROP, THE STROPPIES, HANK WOOD AND THE HAMMERHEADS, TALC, THE SNAKES, ROBBER, GELD, PUCE MARY, TOL, NUN, NOTS, TERRY, EXECUTION, VERTIGO, SPOTTING, STATIONS OF THE CROSS, RABID DOGS, SPIKE FUCK. 

Reckless photobook comes with a cassette mixtape compilation. Tracks chosen by the artists involved.

Reckless Mixtape

Side One

01 David Eastman – Walking On Water /// Total Control

02 The Homosexuals – You’re Not Moving The Way You’re Supposed To /// Terry

03 Au Pairs – You /// Spotting

04 Leather Nun – No Rule /// Puce Mary

05 The Viletones – Screaming fist /// Rot T.V

06 Scrotum poles – Pick the Cat’s Eyes Out /// Constant Mongrel

07 Pagans- Boy Can I Dance Good /// The Frantics

08 The Comes – Public Circle /// Vanilla Poppers

09 Stations – Cultural Capital /// Stations

10 Japan – Quiet Life /// Bloodletter

Side Two

11 Screamers – Vertigo /// Vertigo

12 Electric Eels – Accident /// Cold Meat

13 Pink Fairies – Do It /// The Snakes

14 High Rise – Psychedelic Speed Freaks /// Geld

15 Jesus and the Gospelfuckers – Kill the Police /// Straightjacket Nation

16 Sheer Terror – Here to Stay /// Low Life

18 The Dogs – Slash Your Face /// Rabid Dogs

19 Dr Feelgood – I Can Tell /// Kniffer

20 Little Bob Story – Like Rock’n’Roll /// Rixe

21 Davy Graham and Shirley Collins – Love Is Pleasing /// The Stevens

Gimmie Radio FEB 2021

Gimmie Radio returns! We are keen for suggestions on how people would like to hear these playlists outside of just being a Spotify playlist. What alternatives are available?

But for now, here’s the latest playlist of stuff we’ve been listening to around Gimmie HQ.

Sydney punk band ARSE’s guitarist-vocalist Dan Cunningham: “I was really frustrated with everything in my life…”

Handmade collage by B.

Sydney punk trio ARSE’s straight-forward, minimalist, and most importantly honest music, captures the daily grind of the modern world in all of its anxieties, pressures, stresses, and frustration. Gimmie spoke at length with guitarist-vocalist, Dan Cunningham.

How did you get into music?

DAN CUNNINGHAM: From a very young age my parents got me playing music as soon as I was old enough to do so. It’s been a lifelong thing for me really, it’s in my family as well, I have cousins, aunts and uncles that all play. There’s always been music in my life and it just made sense to go for it myself. When I got to high school, I started playing guitar and that’s where I met Jono [Boulet], who also plays in ARSE. He and I have been on the road musically, and literally, together for years; we’ve always played in bands together. I’ve always been in bands, ARSE is the most recent one.

I know you did bands Parades and Snake Face too! You’ve gone from doing Parades that sounds pretty indie pop to doing a punk band with ARSE. Often when people are younger and in their teens, they’re really angsty and the music is aggressive and as you get older you mellow out more, I feel like you guys have gone the opposite!

DC: Jono and I have always had a punk band of some kind or another going at all times, even during Parades we had Snake Face as the side thing. We’ve always bonded over that kind of music. As we’ve gotten older, we’ve even said it out loud, at this point we’re in our 30s now… it’s insane when you’re doing music and you get to that point, it feels a bit ridiculous to be doing a kind of indie thing, unless you do it really well and you really think about it and it’s coming from a really visceral, honest kind of place and you do it convincingly, then it works. For us, we’re just at the point where we want to keep playing music together. At the time we started this band, it just felt like the absolutely right thing to do, especially for where I was at in my life, to do the band I always wanted to be in. Jono has always been on the level. We just did it and it felt like a really natural thing to do. We had zero plans for this band, to be quite honest. We started it three years ago.

I understand at the time you started the band you were going through a real depressive period in your life?

DC: Yeah, somewhat. I was a bit wayward really… just, life never turns out the way that you want it to, which is a sad reality. At that point I was really frustrated with everything in my life… which is totally normal I think, anyone can relate to that. At that time there was a real lack of music in my life, at the bottom of it all I think that was the root of a lot of my problems. I just needed to fill that space, that void in my life, it was absolutely the thing that I needed to do—that’s how the band started really. That’s something I only realised much later though, maybe after a year of doing it.

Was there a reason why there was a lack of music in your life at that time?

DC: Circumstances. I was at university studying and I didn’t have the time to do it, there were other personal things going on, it was a tumultuous time. Doing what I was doing at university I was pretty conflicted about it taking up so much of my creative time. There were a lot of questions about whether I was doing the right thing? As you get older I think you’re more aware of time, how you’re spending it and if you’re being honest with yourself in that. That’s where I was. I’m still kind of there [laughs] in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of those questions still hanging around. At least music is more of a thing though, it’s a clear and present thing in my life. I feel a lot better about everything.

What is ARSE for you?

DC: It’s an outlet for a lot of stuff. I do it with two of my best and longest standing friends which is a huge thing, just getting to create something with them! We get to spend a shitload of time together. When we play shows we love to hang out, often playing a gig is an excuse to go grab dinner somewhere, for me it’s something to do—that’s’ the most important thing to me. I love playing out of Sydney. Before lockdown we’d spend a lot of time in Melbourne, last year [2019] we went down five or six times; every time we play down there it gets better and better. Melbourne is such a great place to hang out. They’re really going through it right now with the Coronavirus. Knowing the people I know down there through playing in the band, the cultural aspect of Melbourne is its greatest strength and right now they’ve completely lost it, it’s pretty devastating. ARSE for me is to make connections, that’s a really valuable thing in my life. The music is the most fun I think I could have, doing that, getting up there and turning everything up to 11! Really feeling it! When you play it’s really a bit of a heighted state that I can’t get any other way.

I saw the podcast you were on recently and you mentioned that playing live was almost like a meditative experience for you.

DC: Yeah, absolutely. I’m definitely not thinking about whatever is going on in my life when we play, that’s a hugely underrated thing. We also mentioned that in the world of music there is this innate relationship with music and substance abuse and all that sort of thing, we see that when we play ‘cause obviously we’re playing shows all the time and spending a lot of times out in the evening, playing pubs, venues, where there is alcohol everywhere – which is totally fine, do whatever you do. For me, after a few years of getting on stage with a few beers under my skin and feeling maybe not as present as I could have been, now it’s really valuable to me to really be present and to just take it all in—to really be there for the moment. If I want to have ten beers after, well, that’s a different story, but when I play it’s really important to me to take stock of the moment, because moments are fleeting, moments are all we have at the end of the day, experiences and things like that. It sounds new age or something but that’s just where it’s at for us. I don’t know if that’s a bummer for some people, because I think people want punk bands to be bit lawless and fucked up basically, there’s an image there that people really connect with. It’s not our thing, it’s not what we set out to do.

One of the reasons I really love ARSE is because music-wise you are very traditionally punk rock and what people may expect from a punk band but then your lyrics are intelligent, at times philosophical and there’s a lot more going on there then what it might seem at first though. I feel like you have a lot of deep thought happening there.

DC: Thank you! I think about what I’m writing, if for no other reason than… for me,  a lot of the band is writing the things that I would want to hear or that I would be stoked on if I was hearing the band for the first time, that’s always in the back of my mind. I’m a huge fan of music, music is my life! Even when I’m not playing it. I’ve been in bands where you’re not into the music that you’re making, which is a really weird thing to do. I reckon there’s so many bands playing right now that don’t love their own music, that they just do it for some other reason. For me the only reason to be in a band is to make the music that you want to hear—that’s all we’re doing. It’s definitely what I try to do with the lyrics. I really nerd out on the lyrics of all of my favourite artists and bands. The lyrics are half of the picture for me, music is one part and then if you’ve got the lyrical side happening as well, those are the things that make my favourite bands.

Same! One of the first songs of yours that I heard and that really resonated with me was ‘NRVSNRG’.

DC: Cool!

You have no idea how many times I’ve listened to that song, especially in the car on my way to work every day, I could so relate to what you were saying. The lyrics are so honest. I’m listening to it and I’m like, “yeah buddy, me too!

DC: Awww that’s amazing. Thank you for saying so.

What’s the story behind that song?

DC: That was a really easy one for me. Some of our songs you don’t want to know how long I’ve spent on the lyrics, it freaks me out. I definitely get stuck in a kind of feedback loop when I’m writing stuff, I’m in it big time right now because we’re using the downtime to try and put out new stuff. I’m working on lyrics to a whole bunch of things at the moment, it’s kind of a bit of a pain in the arse. That song was not one of those instances, I remember being surprised at how easy that one was to do. The music was really straightforward and I didn’t need to fit things in anywhere, I could just go for it. A lot of the time when I am playing guitar as well, a lot of the lyrical side of things has to fit in with how I’m playing because it’s too hard to do live, it’s got to be feasible for me to be able to sing and play at the same time. That one was really easy for me because I don’t really play anything in the verses in that song, I had a chance to do whatever I wanted.

What you’re singing, the lyrics, is that how you were feeling at the time?

DC: Absolutely! It was a really natural thing to put all of that down, I was surprised at how well it worked, that’s what you want. I always want to get a result where I feel like it wasn’t written by me, that it was written by someone else; that’s the mark of a great result, that is the pinnacle of that feeling for me. I don’t know who wrote that song [laughs], it hit all the beats for me.

How good is the bass line in that song!? It has such a groove.

DC: Yeah, that’s Jono. He brought that to the table. That whole song is a great example of every piece falling into place. I would say in a way that is our most well-known song. When we play it in Sydney, that’s the one that everyone knows, I think it’s because it’s probably the most relatable.

I’ve noticed that at your shows. You look around at everyone in the crowd when you’re singing it and it really feels like everyone is like: I get you! I feel it too.

DC: Yeah, that’s it.

I like how you guys have a real minimalist kind of drumming.

DC: [Laughs] Yeah, we do. There’s a few things going on there with the drums, the big one is that it’s a bit of a, I don’t want to say experiment… Tim [Watkins] our drummer is a really incredible drummer, very talented, we just wanted to see if we could focus his energy completely, we didn’t want him to have all these extra bits of the drum kit to play with; we wanted him to have three things to hit. It’s so tempting to be all over the drum kit, he is that guy, he’d be all over it if he could! There’s only three of us in the band and we wanted to have every element going at 100%. The best way to do that with the drums is just to give him a couple of things to do. It helps us write the most effective song if we only use a couple of things.

You mentioned the song ‘NRVSNRG’ was easy to write; what’s something that’s been hard to write?

DC: Probably the EP, Safe Word. That was definitely harder, because we were trying some stuff, we were seeing what we could do differently. There was a lot of trial and error in that. There were also some time issues. It was a bad time to try to write a record, in our lives there were a lot of things going on; there was a lot of juggling of things. Lyrically as well I was trying new things. We’re still happy with the end result, but it didn’t come together easily. The odds were against us.

It’s been really cool now to have the time to think about what we’re doing; that’s one upside to the lockdown pandemic situation we’re all in.

What kinds of things have you found yourself writing about now?

DC: I think I’m definitely trying to get to that place where things lyrically need to come from the heart, which sounds a bit wishy-washy but I’m really trying to connect with that and things I’m feeling and try to put that into songs where we can play with new ideas. Musically, we’re in the early stages. Jono and I are just trying to figure out how we can be the best version of what we do. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, we’re just trying to hone in on the things that we love about the band and try and do better. We’re chipping away. We hang out once or twice a week and throw ideas around. At the moment we have a lot of stuff to go through, we have a big pile of trash we’re working our way through [laughs]. We’ll pull one or two things out and finish them.

What do you love about writing lyrics?

DC: I’m a writer for my work. I write for websites, that’s my bread and butter. For as long as I can remember, even as a kid, I’ve always had music going and I’ve always had writing. I studied journalism at uni. Like I said before, I really nerd out on great lyricists and lyrics. Writing is something I can’t not do—it feels good to be doing this. I feel like it’s what I should be doing.

Do you have any favourite lyricists?

DC: Definitely. I hate to be obvious, but someone like Gareth Liddiard [Tropical Fuck Storm / The Drones] for me is one of the most underrated lyricists; he is rated but he could be rated better!

Totally! He is one of the best Australia’s ever had.

DC: Yeah, he’s one of the best Australian songwriters of the last thirty years. That’s not gushing either, that’s the truth. He’s kind of like the gold standard. I feel like what he does is uniquely Australian, I think only an Australian could do the thing he does really well.

The way he delivers the vocal as well, it can give you chills and make you feel. It’s really emotive and he’s really great at creating an atmosphere.

DC: Yeah. I’ve read a lot of interviews with him as well and he kind of brushes off his talents in a way like, “Oh yeah, I just wrote this thing.” You can tell there’s so much work went into what he does. It can’t be mistaken; you just know when someone has worked really hard at what they do. He may be blasé about what he does but he is way better than people realise.

I also really like Nick Cave, for all the reasons I just said before, an Australian songwriter that’s undeniably Australian in what they do. These are big figures to have looming over me as I’m trying to write [laughs]. I’m not saying I’m anywhere near the talent of those guys.

You’re very talented at songwriting. I can tell there’s a lot of thought behind your lyrics.

DC: Thank you. I’m really glad when we play that the thing people often approach us with after we play is that the lyrics really resonate with them. For me, that is the ultimate compliment. I really appreciate that.

You meditate, don’t you?

DC: A little bit. It’s something that I’ve dabbled with for a long time and Jono’s done a little bit here and there. I’m always trying things. I’m always trying to be healthier. I think it’s an age thing. I’m always trying to create habits that I can carry into my later years because there’s people in my family and people that I know that are close to me in my life that never cared about that stuff and now in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s they’re just fucked! I don’t know how else to say it. Just surviving and not living. It goes for mental health as well. We’re of the generation now where there is a huge focus on mental health, it’s being taken more seriously. There’s not a person out there that doesn’t struggle with some form of mental health. I’ve certainly had my share of issues. There’s no one I know that hasn’t. For me meditation – it’s not something I do as much as I could or should – is something that I’m mindful of and work on.

So, when you’re doing it it’s mindful meditation that you’re doing?

DC: Yeah, a real basic one. I got really into it for six months, to the point I was doing it almost every day. I look back on that time as a time of better mental health. I’m currently trying to steer the ship back to that period.

I’ve been doing it on and off for around twenty years now and I know for a fact that my life is always better when I do it.

DC: You can’t deny it’s impacts. What type do you do?

I’ve tried a lot, like you I like to try as much as possible. I’ve struggled a lot with mental health and my whole family has had most major health problems you can think of, so I can really relate to what you were saying before about loved ones being fucked. At different points in my life different styles of meditation have helped but I always come back to the mindful breathing in, breathing out, simple meditation.

DC: Yeah, that’s the one.

I’ve been doing the mindful breathing one lately but when I breathe in, in my mind I say, “I’m breathing in, I’m alive” and you acknowledge that you are alive and that you’re here now. When I breathe out, I say in my mind, “I’m breathing out, I smile” and that’s appreciating that I am alive and that I should make the most of that. It’s as simple as that.

DC: Amazing! That’s a great lesson for anything really. You just have to find the thing that works for you.

Exactly! And, everyone is different…

DC: Yeah, so it might not work for someone else but if it works for you, fuck, you’ve just got to do it, right?

Right!

DC: I never thought that something like music and my practice of music, that mindfulness, by extension meditation, could play into the musical part of my life. There’s a relationship forming there, which to me is something worth pursuing. It’s great! Anything that’s going to improve your existence and whatever time you have left—you just have to do it.

*More of this interview can be found in our editor’s up coming book, Conversations With Punx, alongside in-depth chats with Ian MacKaye, Martin Rev, Brendan Suppression, Keith Morris, spiderxdeath, Rikk Agnew, Geza X, Steve Ignorant and many more.

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