Photographer Jamie Wdziekonski’s For The Record: “I’ve only ever really shot bands that I believe in”

Original photos by Jamie Wdziekonski / Handmade mixed media collage by B.

We’re excited to be celebrating one of our favourite creatives and humans – photographer and documentarian, Jamie Wdziekonski (Sub-lation) – as he looks towards his first solo exhibition opening this Friday night (May 5) at NGBE Gallery in Naarm/Melbourne. 

Jamie is also releasing a photo-book, For The Record: 2013 – 2023, which highlights Jamie’s photos that feature on albums from bands including, Amyl and the Sniffers, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Kikagaku Moyo, Parsnip, Tropical Fuck Storm, Traffik Island, Zelkova and many more. Pre-orders for the book quickly sold out online, so the only way you’ll be able to get one is heading along to the exhibition. Don’t miss out, you’ve been warned. We love you Jamie! 

After doing what you do for over a decade, why is now the time to finally have your first solo photography exhibition along with accompanying book, For The Record: 2013-2023?

JAMIE WDZIEKONSKI: There was a rush to do it. I got told that the building (53 Lygon Street, East Brunswick) that I have a studio in was being sold; the whole block is going. We have a gallery downstairs that we can use for free (they don’t take commission) and I thought I may as well have a show.

I’ve framed up these Traffik Island offcuts from tests we were doing for the Shrug Of The Shoulders album cover we did at a photo booth; they’ll be at the show. Things basically started with me framing them up. I was going to put those online to sell, but thought they’d look nice in a show. 

I’ve always wanted to do a big Sub-lation ten years of photography book. I knew I couldn’t afford  to make something that big, so I decided to make a condensed version. I was thinking back to the Traffik Island frames and because they were taken for a record cover, I got the idea to put images in a book that were used in album artwork. 

I had thought that when I got back from the Kikagaku Moyo world tour in December, I would start planning it. It’s borderline killed me to get everything together so quickly [laughs], but I’m still here!

Yes, you’ve done it! Yay you!

JW: [Laughs].

Wasn’t Kikagaku Moyo the first album art your photos were featured on?

JW: The first one was The Murlocs’ Loopholes, which was a poster insert with the record, and there was also a lyric booklet with the CD version. There was an image in the gatefold and the front cover of the lyric booklet.

Nice! There’s 58 records featured in the exhibition and book?

JW: Yeah, that I know of [laughs]. I may have forgotten some! I was trying to keep it under 100 pages but then there were just so many releases so it’s now over 300 pages!

Wow! Do you remember how you felt the first time your photos were featured on a release?

JW: It felt really nice. 

The Murlocs’ Loopholes came out in around 2014, right?

JW: Yeah, I think. Let me check the book index… [Picks up a proof of the book and flicks through it].

Is that the finished book? Exciting!

JW: Yeah. Each release has a title page and I’ve written what was happening back then and details of labels and when we took the photo. 

Have you got notes you’ve written from over the years? Was it easy to get all the info together?

JW: I’m so bad! I call myself a documenter, but haven’t done that properly [laughs]. 

Same! It’s only recently I’ve started labelling all my interview files properly with date/time/notes etc.

JW: I pulled out my old iPhone and looked back at texts or Facebook messages. Finding a gig is easy, you can type in something like ‘Amyl and the Sniffers, America, 2021’ and you should find information. But, shoot dates for when it was just me and Amyl at Merri Creek; what was that? 

The metadata on the files fucked me up because it shows the date something was edited, not taken. 

The text bit of the book is what has killed me, the detail that went into the text was definitely an undertaking! 

Congrats on all of the hard work! It looks amazing! 

JW: Thank you! I’m happy with it. Ben Jones designed the book cover for me.

It’s very cool. Let’s talk about some of the images featured in For The Record. What can you tell us about the shoot for The True Story of Bananagun? That cover is so beautiful.

JW: Nick from Bananagun found the location, the Royal Botanic Gardens in Naarm/Melbourne. 

We went out there one day with the intention of shooting without booking a boat and found out you have to book. The guy operating the boats said we could sit in the boat while it’s docked for a couple of photos that we used for press photos, but we had the intention we’d go back for a proper shoot. 

We rang them up one day and said we wanted to book one of the gondolas and the guy there goes, “It’s not a gondola it’s a punta.” [Laughs]. You can hire them for an hour and they take you around the lake. The guy that was steering the gondola was picking all of the nice spots to show us. It was one of the easiest shoots because everything was so beautiful and you couldn’t really take a bad photo. 

I especially love the photo on the back cover where it’s a bit of a longer distance shot of the band on the boat and there’s like reeds in the foreground.

JW: I took that photo when I first got there. We were going to meet at Fed Square but they all went ahead because I was late. They were already on the boat when I got there and I took that photo as I joined the group. All the colours came up so nice. 

Totally! What are some other shoots that you have vivid memories of?

JW: The Amyl and the Sniffers’ Big Attraction & Giddy Up split EP has a photo of Amy in red. It was from my first night watching Amyl & the Sniffers. I had heard their name around and had checked out their ‘70s Street Munchies’ clip on YouTube and thought they looked really cool and that Amy looked really interesting. 

They were opening for The Murlocs with Parsnip at Howler. I didn’t meet them until after they played. I didn’t know what to expect – at that point I had never seen a punk band. Amy came out on stage and she was darting back and forth across it, jumping off the foldback speakers. It was the most energetic thing that I had shot at that point. I had only been shooting psychedelic bands, even though everyone is moving they’re still kind of stationery in their spot, this was the first time I’d shot someone that wasn’t—Amy was upside down and everywhere!

I have fond memories of that night. I love Amy, Amy and I are close. I love the Sniffers too. I really connected with them, they were  so genuine. It was the biggest show that they had played at that point. They were all wide-eyed and like, ‘You get chips backstage! That’s crazy!’

Amy is totally lovely! I spied the comment she left on your post about your exhibition and book. She said: “You change lives” – and that you’ve changed hers.

JW: That was so sweet. It’s a mutual feeling, they’re changed my life as much as she reckons I’ve changed hers. There’s a mutual uplifting to both of our creative outlets – I love their music and they love my photos and they gel well together.

I know that a lot of people’s introduction to many of the bands you shoot is via the compelling and genuine images you’ve captured.

JW: Amyl and the Sniffers are really fun to shoot!

Your images are really important in raising the visibility and profile of the artists you shoot.

JW: That was the idea and intention behind photographing music. I always wanted to just promote the music that I like and hope that other people will like it too. I never did it because I wanted my work to be in Rolling Stone or something [laughs].

I know that Traffik Island’s album A Shrug Of The Shoulders was a big one for you, as you did the entire layout as well as shooting the photos.

JW: From concept to doing the shoot to layout, even suggesting track listing, which was cool. I’m probably the most proud of that one and the Leah Senior cover for The Passing Scene. They were the albums whose art was my concept. For them to put that trust in me means so much, I really wanted to deliver something cool for them. I think both covers really suits the mood of the album. 

Is there specific things you take into consideration when working on a cover project?

JW: Other than those two, most of the other times my photos were used for album covers were photos that I took not knowing they would be used as artwork for a cover; they were live or press shots that were used later. 

Are you ever surprised at the photo/s that end up being used?

JW: Yeah. There’s some where I would have chosen different images, but that’s just down to personal taste. 

In a way, this exhibition I’m having is curated by everyone – all of the bands that chose those images for their artwork.

That’s really cool to think of it in that way and it’s very much in the spirit of something really important to you—community. I remember you telling me about the studio space you work from in Lygon Street being a real creative community hub.

JW: I don’t love too much attention personally, I much prefer the attention to be on the bands.

Same! That’s how we are with Gimmie too—it’s all about the bands, not us.

JW: [Laughs] Yeah, you know what I mean! It’s weird people asking me for radio interviews and stuff; I feel out of place. It’s nice they care about what I’m doing though. 

What you do is totally art, Jamie! You’re an artist in your own right… even though you’re uncomfortable with that…

JW: [Laughs] I feel like if I call myself an artist though I have to deliver. 

I was working out that in the last decade your photos have been featured on around ten releases per year.

JW: Yeah.

In 2021, I think there were around 13 releases with your photos. That’s a lot! Very cool. On the opening night of your solo show there’s two bands/artists that you’ve shot photos for their releases that will be launched – Howard Eynon and Zelkova.

JW: I shot a single cover especially for Zelkova, which was cool. It went so well. 

Yeah, you showed me the mock up that you’d made in preparation for the shoot and because it was outside I was crossing my fingers all day for you that it wouldn’t rain.

JW: It was a really fun day! There’s a lamp post beside the bridge and it lights it all up at night. They brought screwdrivers with them and unscrewed the little plate in the lamp and under it was the power supply, so we hooked up an extension lead and they played live, which was so cool. It was just me, the band, and the guitarist’s girlfriend that was helping out. I thought to myself, ‘Fuck, I wish more people were here to see this, it’s amazing!’ The sound was reverberating around the bridge. We shot it out in Riddells Creek a couple of weekends ago. 

It was the quickest turnaround for me in terms of coming up with a concept, shooting it and designing the artwork for it to be in the book. We shot it on the weekend, I developed the film on Sunday, got it back Monday evening, and had to design the cover Monday evening to be able to put it into my book and submit to the printers in the morning. It was tough but we got there!

Howard is putting out a single, which is really cool. It’s his first official release since his 1974 album.

That’s amazing you were able to inspire him to do that!

JW: I called him and I was like, ‘Howard, I really want you in this show, so I think you’ll have to put out one of your songs in the next two months’ [laughs]. I told him, ‘It’s 2023 – 23 is your favourite number – it’s your year to do it!’ He told me he thought I was right and that he’d really love to.

So good! Howard is so lovely. Thank you for introducing us, it’s always inspiring chatting with him.

JW: Yeah, I’m really stoked that’s happening. 

Is there any other albums we can find your work on that you’d like to share a little about?

JW: The Traffik Island one [A Shrug Of The Shoulders] was very involved. We were up at Howard’s place in Tumbi Umbi and it was the last time we’d be going there because Howard sold that property and moved down to Bruny Island. We were having a send off party, there was a stage outside and all the locals they go swimming with, their doctors, dentist and everyone came out for the house show. 

Howard was throwing out a bunch of stuff like books, lamps and trinkets; there was a book, Photobooth: The Art of the Automatic Portrait. I ended up keeping it. I loved flicking through it.

Before we went up to Howard’s Zak [Olsen] had asked if I could take a photo for his new album cover. We couldn’t really come up with a concept though and we thought we might just take a photo out in nature. We thought to shoot Zak from a distance and that I’d shoot the trees. I don’t think we even got to try though. 

I saw the photobooth book and thought of the idea of shooting the title of the album spelt out in the photobooth. Zak and I still shared a studio at that point so when we got back from Howard’s we knuckled down into planning it out. We went down to the photobooth to measure it out. I stuck up giant post-it notes against the wall of the booth and drew out lines with numbers and shot the test shot so I could see where the frame fits. Luckily the letters needed to be on an A2 size. I brought a bunch of A2 sheets and painted the letters in the studio for ages. We winged it, one night we went down to the booth and it took us three to four hours and put $200 – $300 in gold coins through the photobooth. A few people came up to us thinking we were tagging the photobooth. People were telling us that its heritage listed. Then I took the photobooth strips home and had to scan them into the computer before I could start making the cover. It was really fun! I was so stoked I could do it for Zak because I love his music. He’s probably one of my favourite song writers. 

It was really nice too because I had known those songs as demos for so long. He sent me a few tracks years ago. Sharing a studio I’d asked him, ‘Whatever happened to those songs? Why aren’t they on a record?’ It prompted him to think about other demos he had and he decided to make an album. 

It’s so cool that you can inspire those whose work inspires you!

JW: I’ve been lucky in picking bands before they take off. Even for me now, it’s quite difficult to shoot a bigger band. I can see why some people that are starting to take photos now would struggle. If you’re starting out now and try to go on tour with Amyl and the Sniffers, it’s difficult. If you pick bands that aren’t popular and that are looking for photographers then you have to put in the yards and fund yourself. Pick bands that you think are going to pop off and that you have a good feeling about and follow them and see what happens.

I’ve only ever really shot bands that I believe in. I don’t want to be a photographer that gets hired to shoot Pitchfork Festival or Coachella. I’d hate to have a list of bands to shoot that I don’t know or like, it would be terrible. I do get to see a lot of cool things and go to really nice places that I probably would have never been to on my own accord. Getting to do that with friends is really nice; it’s so nice getting to know each other and know personalities. 

Aside from actually taking photos I think a big, important part of your job is your relationships with people. 

JW: Yeah, you have to have a good relationship with a band in order to be in so many situations that others wouldn’t normally be privy too. A greenroom can be such a sacred space for a band, to have unfamiliar photographer in there with you you’re not going to get the best photographs because the band might not be comfortable around you, there could be a barrier. You have to get to know people and you let your guards down and get to know each other—that can really get some nice photos together. 

You can tell that, especially from a lot of the Amyl and the Sniffers photos you’ve taken.

JW: I’m lucky that we came together early, and asked if we could go to Adelaide together, which was our first time travelling together. One thing I really remember about them is, how many questions they asked me in the van on the way to Adelaide. They were actually interested in trying to get to know me. Often you’re in a van with a band, and not to say people aren’t interested in you, but with Amyl and the Sniffers they really wanted to get to know me. I was like, ‘Are these guys Suss on me?’ [laughs] ‘Why are they asking me so many questions?’ I’m not that much of a talkative person at best! 

I love when people want to really engage and they care about getting to know you and it’s not just about what you can do for them. With Gimmie we never want things to be all business, the humanness is very important. 

JW: Yeah, when they’re interested in you and care about what you’re doing. They respond to what you say and don’t go, ‘Oh yeah, yeah, cool.’ They actually ask you questions!

Totally! I hate when people pretend to be your friend just so they can use you to do something for them. 

JW: Absolutely. You can generally smell that from a mile away [laughs].

Yep. These days I can usually spot someone like that before they even open their mouth. 

JW: [Laughs] I’d believe that.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

JW: Thank you for writing the foreword for the book.

It’s my pleasure and it was also a privilege. We’ve been a big fan of your work before we even knew you and we became friends. Your images are incredible and important AND besides that you’re one of the loveliest, genuine people we know. When you find incredible people like yourself in life, it’s important to keep them close and look after them. We love you! 

JW: Hell yeah. Love you guys too!

Check out more of Jamie’s work HERE and @sub_lation. More info about For The Record: 2013 – 2023.

FYI, an in-depth interview with Jamie appears in our print issue Gimmie #2.

Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice: “I’ve been anxious to show anyone, it felt a bit too real, a bit too personal”

Original photo by Jacob McCann / Handmade mixed media collage by B

Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice’s driving force, frontman – Dougal Shaw, has welcomingly leaned further into electronic elements gleaning krautrock, new wave and ambient music in the creation of new release Bubble

Exisiting in a solo/experimental space rather than the usual full-band and born of solitude over a two-week period, it’s Shaw’s most personal, vulnerable and full of quirk (textures and randomness abounds) collection of songs yet. They explore solitude, sorrow and the line between sanity and insanity, while coloured with the wry humour that has resonated and endeared Dr Sure’s to us over the years. 

Listeners of Bubble will get to understand how this period of upheaval in Shaw’s life has been one of great inward reflection and growth as an artist and human. Bubble is a rewarding listen.

What’s life been like lately for you, Dougs? What’s news in your world?

DOUGAL SHAW: I’m a dad! That’s the big seismic shift in my life. I’m really trying to prioritise being with this little human as much as possible. But yeah trying to keep everything rolling outside of that means not sleeping much and just having every spare moment filled up. My partner is a saint and together we can kinda keep it all rolling.

Dr Sure’s have a new release, a “mixtape” of sorts, that was recorded during a two-week period of solitude; what was happening in your life during these weeks to inspire you to focus on making something? What made you want to explore solitude via song?

DS: It was a kind of involuntary solitude haha. It was during the big lockdown in Naarm/Melbourne that went for like six months. My partner was up in QLD visiting family when it started and ended up staying there for about five months. I was backing her to stay up there, it was pretty rough down here, but also I was definitely going a bit loopy alone. I was fairly void of creative energy and then my shed/studio flooded and the carpet was getting mouldy so I decided to pull everything out, got some self levelling concrete and raised the floor so I could seal the walls. A shitty thing ended up giving me some purpose to get outta bed in the morning. Once I set it back up I spent two weeks straight in there, it’d never been so well organised. Everything was patched in and I’d kinda just go in and hit record and wander around the room playing different things and talking to myself. I made the Bubble songs and another album worth of krauty instrumental ambient things or ‘Frog Songs’ as I was calling them.

Bubble is the album’s title; where did it come from? A reference to song ‘Life in a Bubble’? Is this how life was feeling during the two weeks making this collection of songs?

DS: Yeah, they were calling it the ‘bubble’, you couldn’t go further than 2 kms from your home or talk to anyone not in your house. I was in the shedio round the clock, which felt like my own little bubble within the bubble, and the songs were going into a drive folder called ‘BUBBLE SONGS’. ‘Life In A Bubble’ was just instrumental for ages but I found a note/poem from the same day it was recorded, so I got the robot to recite it for me. It ends with the words ‘life in a bubble’ so I thought it was a nice intro to the project. Also, totally unrelated, when the bub was in Liv’s tummy we started calling it Bubble, cos it looked like a little Bubble on the ultrasound. When he was born we called him Bubble for the first three months before he got a name.

What’s the story behind track ‘All My Friends Are All My Friends’?

DS: It’s like a little bit of insanity in a song. It’s about little faces appearing on my limbs and having yarns with them. It says something about keeping it on the down low so I don’t have to put on 13 masks when I leave the house. Eventually the faces start showing up on mugs and other things. It’s essentially about wanting to introduce my partner to all these new friends of mine when she comes back home and navigating how to break the ice. A lot of these songs are addressed to Liv.

We really love the song ‘Low On Time’ – especially the lyrics: No light for you is no light for me / I think we’ve found the light; what’s it in reference to?

DS: Honestly, it feels like a fever dream when these were made, but I’m gonna do my best to speculate. It’s talking about the simple things that seem so much more desirable once they’re no longer accessible, like driving into the night with the one you love. It talks about the joy of seeing other people succeed and wanting the best for them, and wanting to share in that experience. I think maybe that realisation was ‘the light’ that I refer to. It’s kinda like the epiphany ‘HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED’, in that movie (I’m blanking on the name) where the guy treks to Alaska solo.

‘Outside Looking In’ is another fav; where did the imagery for these intriguing lines: A hostage inthe porridge / An avatar on a dodgem car / A donkey with a house key – come from?

DS: It’s not quite Alaska but seems I was trekking inward haha. A lot of the lyrics were coming from that train of consciousness type writing so it’s a reflection of where my head was at. I was running around this “shedio” and I guess like I was saying about the fever dream, it’s almost like I was outside of myself just watching it all unfold. I think it says, ‘Like a voyeur in the foyer of my mind’. Seems like I was tweaking out a bit. I was trying meditating and some other things to stave off the anxiety and existential rabbit holes my mind was trying to take me down. Just doing whatever I could to hold it together. The music video is a pretty solid visual representation of my headspace.

Was the song ‘Saturday Night’ literally made on a Saturday night? We’re curious, with the line: I just come here for the conversation – what conversation are you talking of?

DS: Yeah it was a Saturday night. Another weekend in the bubble. I just found some handycam footage on a hard drive a couple of days ago, it’s pretty funny, it seems I’d started setting up the camera and kind of chatting to it, documenting the creative process and whatnot. It was 10 or 11pm and I was like ‘it’s Saturday night, I’m back in the shedio solo, let’s party’. It goes for ages like I forgot it was recording and I’m just walking around playing different things and layering up this tune and humming to myself. I think the conversation I’m referring to is with the Juno, my synthesiser. I say something in the song about ‘mother of mars’, which is a reference to Juno in Roman mythology.

Music-wise how did ‘Ophelia’ come together?

DS: I reckon it’s written like the day after I made this Sleaford Mods ‘Jobseeker’ cover for a compilation my pal made on Critter Records. That’s an assumption, but the drum machine is pretty much the same beat. I reckon I walked in the next day and hit ‘start’ on the drum machine and just started layering up fresh sounds from there. Lyrically it’s another one for Liv and talking about how modern technology has failed us cos we can’t hold hands from 3000km’s away and how her internet in Central QLD was really shitty so our convos were always broken.

For us album closer ‘Ghostwriter’ is one of the most interesting on this release; what can you tell us about the ideas behind this track?

DS: So this is like the first and only time I’ve done this but it’s fully improvised. I did the synth, drum machine and vocals in one take and didn’t have anything written down or planned. It’s funny every time the drum machine adds an element I kinda stop playing synth cos I struggle to do both at a time. And I only do the synth lead when I stop singing. The words are ad lib. I guess it’s like the ghostwriter I’m singing about in the song is writing the song. The only overdub is piano which is also one take, as is. To be honest initially I was like oh that’s the rough idea, now I’ll record it properly, I think I tried twice on seperate occasions before realising it just is what it is.

Was there any happy accidents while recording that you actually kept on the release?

DS: Yeah I reckon most of it! I thought about going back and redoing some bits but in the end I think I just decided to keep it true to the time. It’s loose and raw and kind of written free from any idea of a release or a tour or any future to work towards, it was a time of all those things being stripped away and having to face reality and the present. I think that’s why I’ve been anxious to show anyone, it felt a bit too real, a bit too personal. In hindsight after sitting on it for long enough, and having enough distance from that time and that head space, I’m happy for it to exist as it is.

The photo on the cover of Bubble was taken by Jacob McCann; what do you remember most from the day shooting with him? And, what made you go with that image? How is it connected to these songs?

DS: It was at our first annual ODD BALL at Brunswick Ballroom last year. Jacob’s a great photographer, he’s not afraid to give direction and he always pulls something interesting out of his subjects. He spotted that random doorway to nowhere in the green room and got me up there. I just thought it was a striking image that fit with the bubble concept. I always liked cheesy solo album covers with a portrait on them, this is my cheesy solo album moment.

What’s something that you’ve been super into lately that you’d like to share with us?

DS: Mainly hugging my little guy, watching rubby the rubber tree, laying on the floor, learning to crawl. We listen to the Mug record most mornings, it’s his favourite, and mine. And then we listen to Mikey or Cluster & Eno or Gary Numan. We like to get up early and listen to records and let mum sleep in.

What does the rest of the year look like for you both professionally and personally?

DS: Hopefully lots of the aforementioned hugs. This Saturday we’ve got the big double launch with Kosmetika at Northcote Social Club, got Program and Adored on the bill. Last big home headline for the foreseeable but got some tours coming up. Doing a run up the East Coast with Bad//Dreems in June/July. Touring with my other band the Last Drinks, got a new album out this week as well which I’m super excited about. We’re working on new Docs stuff with the band at the moment, polishing a coupla albums worth of songs which I can’t wait to show ya. Some new stuff coming up on Marthouse. Massive thanks to you guys, Bianca & Jhonny, for the support over the years, appreciate you guys heaps and all your do for underground music here in Aus.

Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice’s Bubble out now digitally and on cassette via Marthouse Records HERE. For more info follow @drsuresunusualpractice and @marthouserecords.

Read previous Gimmie X Dr Sure’s chats: 

It’s important to have some kind of light at the end of the tunnel because a lot of what we see in the world today is pretty bleak

Being human is a lot to fucking handle

Cincinnati Punks Choncy: “The DIY punk scene here is ever evolving…”

Original photos by Zachary S. Pennington courtesy of Choncy / Handmade mixed media collage by B.

Cincinnati band, Choncy, make sharp, propulsive post-punk, garage, and hardcore-adjacent music.  Their debut album Community Chest recently came across our radar and we’ve been giving it a thrashing on the stereo ever since. Inspired by Parquet Courts, Gee Tee, Vintage Crop, and The Coneheads, their fun punk tunes talk about regular day occurrences while having a “rust belt flair. Gimmie got the scoop about all things Choncy from the band – Liam Shaw (guitar/vox), Nathan McVeigh (bass/vox), Simon Schadler (guitar )and Joe Carpenter (drums).

Choncy are from Cincinnati, Ohio; what’s your town like? What are the best and worst bits about it?

CHONCY: Cincinnati is a sprawling city with a tight knit and supportive community. Some of the best bits are the parks in the area and the zoo is pretty sick. We are also overrun with craft breweries so take that as you will. Some of the worst parts of Cincinnati are the dog water infrastructure, the poor quality of public transportation, and they also shot Harambe.

What’s the DIY punk scene like where you are? Who are the bands we should check out?

CHONCY: The DIY punk scene here is ever evolving, new bands come out of the woodwork from the plethora of niche scenes and neighborhoods around the city, combining their influences to create genuine music. Also, Sam Richardson of Feel it Records has moved here which has really kickstarted the scene and put Cincinnati on the map for punk and adjacent. Some bands you should check out are Devils Cross Country, Corker, Spoils, Beef, Louise, and Comando.

In February Choncy released a debut album, Community Chest. Thematically the album explores the trials and tribulations of the modern day workforce culture day-by-day in the Rust Belt; when not making music, what do you each of you do? Liam’s a videographer and editor, and Joe an artist, right?

CHONCY: Joe is indeed an artist; he specifically does freelance graphic design work while he is not working in the meat department at Kroger. Nathan is a mix and master engineer when he is not slinging drinks and pies. Simon is a lighting designer for The Seed, a studio in Brooklyn, NY. Liam does a lot of video editing work including freelance editing for twitch streamers, Poggers.

How did you first discover music?

SIMON: When I was born my dad was playing in the Fairmount Girls, who are still around today, and a handful of other bands in the punk/rock scene in Cincinnati, and my mom was a bass player. So, music has always been a looming factor when growing up, but I distinctly remember Queen’s News of the World being the first album I loved as a kid.

LIAM: I used to make Call of Duty trickshotting montages when I was a kid, so I listened to a lot of dubstep and YouTube rap.

NATHAN: I grew up listening to 70’s and 80’s rock n’ roll because it was the only thing my dad would listen to. I really didn’t start discovering punk and indie music until early high school, the first band was Knuckle Puck, I heard them playing on the speakers in a Zumiez.

JOE: I have never known life without music, but I remember getting my iPod touch in 4th grade and discovering minor threat, which lead me down the rabbit hole.

What’s an album that has had a big impact? What do you appreciate about it?

LIAM: Light Up Gold – Parquet Courts. Their style of punk resonates a lot with my style. My song ideas are stolen from them basically.  

JOE: Songs From The Big Chair – Tears for Fears. I appreciate the excellent song writing, which tackles socio-political topics and turns them into timeless pop songs. 

NATHAN: Floating Coffin – Thee Oh Sees. John Dwyer is essential one of my idols for music and that album will never get old. His raw power in the music with cryptic lyrics has and will blow me away.

SIMON: My Love is Cool – Wolf Alice. When I first listened to the record, I was blown away by the layering of complex sounds that are highly chaotic but functional. The album conveys a particular emotion that is hard to describe.

Live photos courtesy of Choncy / by Zachary S. Pennington.

How did you get into making music?

JOE: Started playing guitar at 12, it hurt my hands too much so then I bought a drum set with my birthday money and it just clicked.

LIAM: I have the least experience with music in the band. I picked up guitar like 3 years ago. But I’ve always had a knack for performing on stage because I used to be a ballet dancer so screaming and dancing is what drew me into wanting to be in a band.

NATHAN: I met my dearest friend Drake Hinkle at a minimum wage pizza job in high school, he introduced me to just jamming in a basement with him and his friend. I had never picked up a guitar before that, but I fell in love with the energy and wanted to join in. I started playing with them on a $50 knockoff Walmart Strat and then switched over to a squire P bass I got for my 17th birthday.

SIMON: I started drums and piano lessons when I was around 6, and like most kids do I ditched the piano for the instrument that matched my desire to be loud and crazy. During the covid lockdown, I was fortunate enough to keep myself sane by teaching myself guitar and bass using my parent’s hand-me-down instruments and learning some casual audio production through friends to write my own songs. 

How did all you meet? How did Choncy come into being?

CHONCY: So Choncy was originally just Liam (guitar,vox), Simon (drums), and Nathan (bass). Liam and Simon were both good buddies throughout high school. Coincidentally during our freshman year of college Simon and Nathan lived across the hall from each other and quickly became pals. Fast forward to fall 2021 we cleaned out Nathan’s basement and then boom baby Choncy. Shortly before Simon moved to NYC for the majority of 2022, we met Joe at the GAG & Corker show at Torn Light Records and were able to convince him to take over the drumming role. When Simon moved back to Cincinnati in August, he quickly joined back as the lead guitarist.

Choncy’s first show was a costume party in October 2021 with Red Metaphor and Heat Death; what do you remember about your debut show?

CHONCY: We went with country/western costume theme, everyone thought Simon was a minion and people thought Liam was John Denver. It was in a frat style basement with a makeshift bar and a Keg. It was a great warm up for the show we played the next day in Simon’s garage (another kegger) with our good friends Gool. Kegs on Kegs on Kegs, Joe didn’t come.

Community Chest was recorded in Amish Studios with Joe Tellman in Nashville, Tennessee; what’s’ one of your fondest memories from recording?

CHONCY: The dizzy wizzy burger on the drive through Louisville, and both the Joes indoctrinating Nathan and Liam into the rip-it energy drink culture. Did you know they were the prime energy drink for active United States military personnel in the Iraq war?

What’s one of your favourite songs from Community Chest?

CHONCY: ’Swatted’ is one of our favorites because it’s about a kid getting swatted in a Black Ops II Ranked S&D Standoff match. Joe wrote the bass part even though he couldn’t play it, that shit is disgusting.

What song was the most fun to write? 

CHONCY: ’Company Man’ was probably the most fun to write because it was the first song where we fully locked in with Joe as the new drummer. It is arguably our most musically inclined song, lots of substance.

What’s the story behind the album title?

CHONCY: Community Chest is a card you get from the board game monopoly. Even with rampant monopolies in America still existing, nobody gets a community chest card. We also thought it was a good metaphor for the hodgepodge of our sound.

Joe, you do the art for Choncy releases; how did the art for Community Chest come together? Aesthetically were you inspired by anything specific?

JOE: Initially I was inspired by Snooper’s use of a puppet/shtick on stage and so I bought a dummy from Spirit Halloween as the representation of Choncy- a landlord, boss, capitalist, weak willed and dull individual. After a few shows his body was all but entrails of filling and cardboard on the venues floor. This scene inspired me a lot in the creation of the artwork, seeing parallels between the destruction of our bodies for a large game of life in America. A realization of the use of propaganda, fear mongering, physical attachments, and fleeting desires from someone who was once unaware of such a narrative being projected onto them.

In the artwork, I use elements of the monopoly board game, which ties into the album title or vice versa. I use tools of photography, xeroxed images, and illustrations that are mixed digitally with a distorted perspective, collaged outgrowths, and deep manipulation. Those stylistic choices came naturally after a 2-month period of band group chat banter on half-baked artwork which I wouldn’t have come to alone.

When do you feel most creative? Is it ever a challenge for you to create? What helps?

JOE: I don’t have a specific time when I feel most creative, but it comes in waves very unexpectedly. Often when creativity strikes, I start jotting down notes/poetry/song ideas on my phone to create a repository to remind me of my thoughts later on. It is always a challenge, a good exercise for me is the practice of automatic drawing (closing your eyes and drawing intuitively.) This tends to relieve the perfectionist anxiety, as well as exercise.

LIAM: I feel most creative when I am at work or right before I go to bed. I find myself humming melodies and recording voice memos more and more. Yes, if you can’t create its not worth trying to push through the block. It helps to give your brain time; I also get good ideas on my runs.

SIMON: I feel most creative when I can take leisure breaks and when I have no external distractions. Every aspect of my life requires me to be creative in one way or another whether its work, school, or music. As much as I love creating, everyone needs their breaks. I usually cycle through the focus of my creativity. A lot of my creativity is fueled by real world experiences that I can use as inspiration and motivation, especially projects from friends.

NATHAN: I feel the most creative after I get back from someone else’s gig, I get a lot of inspiration from live settings. I struggle with landing on an idea that sounds good in my ear, I tend to be hyper-critical of my own craft but realistically who isn’t? I usually try and take a step away from what I’m doing to clear my ears and head. 

If you could move to any city in the world, where would you go?

JOE: New Delhi. Cows are sacred.

SIMON: Amsterdam. If I ride my bicycle into a car, legally it’s their fault.

LIAM: Sydney. Catch me at a Gee Tee show. *Insert hot rod revving noises*

NATHAN: Outskirts of Zürich. The alps look beautiful.

What’s the rest of the year look like for you personally and for Choncy?

NATHAN: The rest of the year is going to consist of me graduating from the university this April and then hopefully landing a studio job or some good freelance work with mixing and mastering in Cincinnati. I am going to keep working on a few side projects I have going but nothing too crazy. Looking forward to doing a lot with my plants and maybe building a garden once it starts to warm up here. Going to be gaming on some gs-go add me on discord and I will buy you awp, spungas#5145.

JOE: Working and creating. My other band Waning has an ep coming out soon. I am trying to turn my music and design side hustle into a main gig. I’ll be moving into my grandparents’ house to help them out, while rebuilding their barn. I plan on using this opportunity to dig into myself and my creative work while enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

SIMON: I graduate from the University of Cincinnati in April and am wrapping up two design competitions as well as a lighting exhibition for Blink. Going to continue working remote full time with my studio and using the extra time to pursue more musical endeavors with a future move back to New York in mind. Might also speedrun the resident evil 4 remake.. we will see.

LIAM: I might start a solo project, getting into synthesizers and digital audio spaces. Trying to get a better paying job. My degree is useless.

CHONCY: We are working on writing more songs, we want to start introducing more sounds into our music and possibly other instruments. We are also working on more visual content for some upcoming releases. We are starting to branch out to other cities for shows. Just had a successful first weekender, hitting Chicago and Bloomington with Pat and the Pissers. There are hopes to do more things like this soon, especially with how well this weekend went. But most importantly we are going to have fun.

Choncy’s Community Chest out now digitally and cassette via Feel It Records – get it HERE. Follow @choncyband and @feelitrecordshop.

Kosmetika: “Dreaming big and being excited about the future”

Original photo courtesy of Kosmetika / handmade mixed media collage by B.

Mysterious art pop project Kosmetika is about to gift us one of the best and brightest contenders for  album of the year with new record Illustration. We’re loving the intricate drum machine bops, melodic basslines, memorable synth lines, English/Russian vocals and odd-form structures. Today Gimmie are premiering single ‘Eighty Four’ and caught up with Kosmetika’s driving creative forces Veeka Nazarova and Mikey Ellis to chat about it and the forthcoming album.

We first spoke with you three years ago when your debut album, Pop Soap, came out. Excitingly we’re premiering a single ‘Eighty Four’ from your new record, Illustration; what’s the song about?

VEEKA: ’Eighty Four’ was one of the first tracks that Mikey and I wrote for Illustration. I would say it’s about a love/hate relationship with the Internet. If you were to translate the lyrics from Russian to English it would read quite abstract, sort of like a collage – a bunch of very surrealistic images mashed together, but overall lyrically it does have this slightly creepy feel to it, despite being a very funky upbeat song. 

For instance, in one of the verses I’m describing a moment of me reading a book as a kid and vividly imagining all the characters as if they were right in front of me,  just this very special feeling when you are connecting with a book on a personal level. Then on the other hand there is a time when the internet becomes more advanced  and takes over humanity, so in the lyrics I refer to the Internet as ‘the water cycle effect’, how it all starts from one drop and slowly turns into rain, makes up a river then evaporates and it happens all over again. Throughout the whole song there is a dialogue between one of my favourite book writers of all time Gogol and ‘the kids’ and it’s him trying to get all the kids to stand up against the Internet and stop them from looking at the screens and being miserable. In the end of the song the Internet supposedly crashes forever.

You told us last time that Pop Soap didn’t have a strong concept and was more a collection of ideas; is there a theme or thread lyrically that links these songs?

VEEKA: Yes absolutely, Illustration has a very strong concept to it. It was written within a couple of months and most of the songs were inspired by the idea of diving deep into your subconsciousness, being self-aware, thinking about yourself throughout the time and embracing who you are as an individual. A lot diving into the past and self-reflection. It’s also about dreaming big and being excited about the future in general. 

I would recommend listening to Illustration when you are driving/walking through the city on a quiet night. There were a few songs on the album that were influenced by the astounding stillness of the night city in 2020. This crazy feeling when you are walking through empty streets of the night city and it feels like the most comforting place on earth.

We understand that you were unable to work on the music as the five-piece band, and that co-founders Michael and Veeka started working on Illustration as a home recording project; what were some of the best and worst bits doing things this way? Michael recorded it all, right?

VEEKA: I think a lot of bands/artists faced a similar situation when you couldn’t go out and collaborate/write music with other people. We were just lucky to be living in the same house and because we’ve written music together in the past, overall it seemed like a very natural process. The only thing we struggled with was that we couldn’t record the drums for ages, so had to wait in between lockdowns to be able to go into the studio we had at the time. 

MIKEY: The best part about doing it during lockdown was that we didn’t really have any other distractions that would normally interfere with writing an album.

That left a lot of room for experimentation and arranging parts etc which has resulted in quite a strange sounding collection of songs!

The worst/hardest part about it was not getting to work through the songs together as a full band.

I think it would’ve sounded quite different if we’d all been able to work together on the songs but it’s a nice little snapshot of that moment in time – what a bizarre moment in time it was!

What’s your preferred way to write a song?

VEEKA: Usually one person comes up with a concept for the song and then we try to work on it together. Sometimes both of us would have a more solid song idea and the other person just adds a few things to it, it really depends. On this particular album I came up with a basic concept for most of the songs and Mikey shaped them into more finished ideas, doing a lot of the production and arrangement for the songs.

Unlike the previous album that had dual lead vocals, Veeka only sings on this one; are there any different things you’ve been able to explore with in relation to your voice this time?

VEEKA: There are a lot of alternations between spoken word and singing on Illustration, I definitely enjoyed focusing on the spoken word bit and getting it perfect. 

Veeka, you sing in English and your native tongue of Russian; do you feel more comfortable singing in either? Why is it important for you to sing in your native language?

VEEKA: I love singing in both languages, it’s honestly a challenge to be able to do both, especially when it switches between the languages in the same song, sometimes my brain gets overloaded and I blank haha but I love the challenge. 

I guess I like the idea of singing in a foreign language because it’s very unique and unusual. I believe it gives people some space to focus on the music first, yet at the same time gets the audience intrigued about the meaning of the lyrics. I like to give people the option to translate the lyrics or not, so there is more room for personal interpretation.

What is one of your favourite moments on the new record? Can you give us a little insight into it?

VEEKA: I really enjoyed experimenting with a drum machine and the new synthesisers we bought at the time. 

MIKEY: One of my favourite moments on the album is the instrumental track “Institute of Kosmetika”. The song just kind of appeared out of nowhere and one of the main percussion instruments on the track is an empty wooden wine box.

I like to think of the song as a sort of intermission moment in the middle of the album. A palate cleanser perhaps?

What’s the story behind the album title, Illustration?

VEEKA: I participated in this HTRK album title competition back in 2019. They’ve asked people to come up with a name for the new album and the best three names could win tickets to their show. My name was shortlisted and in the end it was my suggested name or the other person’s name. They decided to go with someone else’s title which was ‘Venus in Leo’ instead of mine which was… sIllustration’ 🙂 – so it was sort of stuck with us and we chose to use it for our album.

We love the album’s art by Mikhail Nazarov!

VEEKA: Mikhail Nazarov is my father and he is a very talented artist. Mikhail is a huge Kosmetika fan and he asked me if he could draw an album cover for us. We love his work so much so of course we said yes! We’ve always known it’s gonna be called Illustration so having a hand drawn cover was important to us. We sent Mikhail the demos and he drew the funny robot-like face which we thought was fantastic for the Illustration cover! 

What have you been listening to a lot lately? Who are some bands people should check out?

VEEKA: I have been listening to a lot of Eastern European new wave/synth wave plus some experimental Japanese synth albums from the 80s. Artists like Kate NV, Yasuaki Shimizu, Ryuichi Sakamoto ,Yellow Magic Orchestra. Oh and also Mong Tong who are from Taiwan!  

MIKEY: I’ve been listening to Vera Ellens new album a lot over the last few days – it’s awesome – it came out last week I think on Flying Nun? She’s an incredible musician/songwriter from NZ and has two other amazing albums which I would highly recommend checking out.

Also been listening to a lot of the Go-Go’s and Melbourne’s magnificent Cool Sounds.

What’s the rest of the year look like for you personally and Kosmetika?

MIKEY: We are planning on playing heaps of shows around Australia and work on some new ideas of course!

VEEKA: Yeah, personally I think we just wanna get better jobs and record as much new music as we can! 

Kosmetika’s Illustration out April 21 on vinyl and digitally via Spoilsport Records – GET IT HERE. Follow @kosmetikamuzika_ and @spoilsportrecords

ITCHY AND THE NITS: “Fast, happy, silly, outrageous and contagious.”

Original photo courtesy of Itchy and the Nits / Handmade mixed media collage by B.

Garage punk weirdo trio from Gadigal Country/Sydney, Itchy And The Nits released their debut EP last week and we’re totally vibing on it! They’re super fun and super cool – read our interview with Beth, Cin and Eva, give their songs a listen, and find out for yourself.

Who or what first made you want to be in a band?

BETH (drums/vox): I think probably going to gigs and seeing all different kinds of bands I just thought it seemed like it would be fun! Cin and I always planned to be in a band together growing up.

CIN (bass/vox): I played bass in the school band and me and two of my friends who played baritone saxophone and trombone tried to form a band and obviously it was terrible. I guess it always seemed like fun! I thought the girl who played bass in school of rock was super cool.

EVA (guitar/vox): When I was 15 I saved up my dog walking money to buy my guitar and I guess from there it made sense to wanna jam with other people! My friend Charlotte and I were always into punk in school and used to jam together, and I guess I wanted to be like girls I thought were awesome like Kim Deal or Poly Styrene!

Growing up, how did you discover music?

BETH: Me and Cin’s Dad played in bands when we were kids and still does, he played a lot of 60s garage and punk records at home  so we always loved that stuff and got really into it as we got older

EVA: Mostly my Dad, when I was five he gave me a Madness CD that I was obsessed with and took to school for show and tell to play ‘One Step Beyond’ hahaha. From there I just grew up into all the same music as him, and then as a teenager kept looking for more.

CIN:: Family who liked cool music! Our parents were always playing punk tapes in the car and me and Beth would get hooked on particular songs and they’d have to spend the whole car ride rewinding the tape manually for us.

How’d you all meet?

BETH: I met Charlotte (who used to play in the band) at work and she introduced me to Eva, We all had similar taste in music and when Eva started working with us we starting jamming together at my house. Cin my sister started playing bass with us about a year later!

EVA: Me and Charlotte have been best friends since we started high school. Charlotte got a job working with Bethany at the ice cream shop, and then I got a job there where I met Bethany and the rest is history… I met Cin through Bethany as they’re sisters hehe.

CIN:: Yeah!

What influences the Itchy & The Nits sound?

At the moment probably Nikki and the Corvettes, The Donnas and The Gizmos!

What’s the story behind the band name?

We had our first gig coming up but we didn’t have a name yet so we had to come up with one quick. We had a song called Charlotte’s Got Nits, so we thought The Nits but then Charlotte and Beth came up with Itchy And The Nits and we thought that was just lovely.

In exciting news, you’re releasing music! Seven songs recorded with Ishka (Tee Vee Repairmann, RRC…) and mixed by Owen (Straight Arrows); what’s five words you’d use to describe it?

Yeah! They’re out now! Maybe fast, happy, silly, outrageous and contagious.

How long have you been working on this release?

We’ve had a lot of the songs for like a year or two and just recorded our favourites with Ishka last June, and we’ve been taking our sweet time putting them out cause we weren’t really sure what we were meant to do with it or how to do any of that kinda stuff! But it’s finally out!

What’s one of your fondest memories from recording with Ishka?

It was relaxed and fun! It wasn’t about getting everything perfect. We recorded on an 8 track and played our parts all at once so it was like doing a mini show. Hanging out with Jen, Ishka and their cat Egg McMuffin is always lovely!

What’s one of your favourites in this collection of songs? Tell us a little bit about it.

Maybe ‘Dreamboat’! We actually wrote it about our shared celebrity crush haha. Also when we play it live now we do a dance in unison during the verses which we accidentally spent almost three hours of band practice perfecting instead of rehearsing the songs.

What would we find each band member doing when you’re not making music?

Cin’s always off on adventures driving around and camping hehe. Eva’s usually going for a swim or bushwalk with her special bird binoculars and Beth is probably watching telly and playing tricks on people

Has anyone in the band got a secret talent or hobby?

BETH: Eva is good at identifying Australian Birds so whenever a bird flies past she can usually say what kind of bird it is and a few interesting facts about it. Cin makes her own ice cream at home and is always making delicious new flavours!

EVA: Beth does amazing paintings and drawings and comic strips. She did the drawings on the album cover, and has made a lyric/comic strip for ‘Crabs’!

What’s been the best and worst show you’ve played? What made it so?

The worst was probably when we played on New Year’s Eve in 2021 I think it was, and the headliner band couldn’t make it and lockdown had just ended. There were about 10 people there including the seccies, the bartenders and the people playing pool up the back. It was probably also the best because we played better than ever since no one was there to see it.

Any pre-show or after-show rituals?

Right after every show just as we’re taking our things off stage we have someone off to the side who has a big hook that catches us and drags us away.

What have you been listening to lately? What’s something you recommend we listen to right now?

EVA: These aren’t so much new discoveries as albums that I am just obsessed with constantly, but I reckon for the last couple years I have listened to the albums Pinky Blue by Altered Images and True Love Stories by Jilted John at least twice a week.

BETH: There’s these YouTube channels- bolt24 hot sounds and Glendoras they upload heaps of different cool 60s stuff so I like checking what’s new on there. Also been listening to The Go Gos and the Delmonas heaps lately!

CIN:: I’ve been listening to the album ‘las canciones de conchita velasco’ a lot lately!

What’s the rest of the year look like for you?

Hopefully doing some more recordings with Ishka! Playing some more gigs and working on some new songs too!

Itchy And The Nits’ self-titled EP out now – get it HERE via Warttmann Inc. Find them on Facebook and Insta @itchyandthenits.

Get excited for The Toads!

Original photo: Matt Shaw. Handmade mixed media collage by B.

Naarm/Melbourne band The Toads’ jittery post-punk hums with both a nervous energy and a groundedness with a mordant sharpness lyrically they dissect the mundanities, grind and absurdity of life. The band features members of The Shifters, The Living Eyes and Parsnip. Gimmie is excited to premiere The Toads’ first single ‘Nationalsville’ from their forthcoming debut album, In The Wilderness (which features many indelible moments). We were excited to learn more about the band, their coming album, new single and its accompanying video, from members Stella Rennex, Elsie Retter, Miles Jansen and Billy Gardner.

We saw The Toads play your first show last year at Jerkfest; how did you feel in the lead up to the show and what do you remember about the show?

STELLA [bass]: I remember that I was wearing a t-shirt that said “Chicken Every Sunday” and we couldn’t find Jake’s snare and cymbals before we played. 

BILLY [guitar]: We rocked up super late and were playing first, I was stressed on the drive down but the show went sweet and we all had fun.

ELSIE: [drums] It was my first show ever so I was pretty nervous and had a tequila sunrise to calm my nerves. I remember my friend Bec (Delivery, Blonde Revolver) rocked up in some home made Toads merch, which I think we should replicate and sell.

MILES [vocals]: First shows are always a touch nervy,  I think.

We did ok? I had to play twice so I was trying not to drink too much. 

I remember the show and the evening being a bit stressful as I was going overseas the next day and I was paranoid about getting Covid. Somehow I avoided it and got to Belgium, all good. 

What initially brought The Toads together?

STELLA: Billy and I have played in other bands together and with each other’s bands for a long time. So we jammed a few songs with my dear friend Elsie who wasn’t playing in any other bands and had learned drums earlier in life! We were just having fun with friends really. Then when it sounded good we tried hard to think of the perfect singer. After several options that didn’t quite make sense Billy suggested Miles who is a great friend of ours and was the perfect match! ❤

Photo: Matt Shaw

How did you find your sound?

STELLA: We all have relatively similar taste in music so it’s not difficult to agree on things. 

BILLY: We tried a few different ideas at first and discussed which direction to go in. We all agreed that we should make more songs in minor keys, so we did, but recently realised the album is five minor and five major songs – so it ended up an even mix anyway.  

Does The Toads have a preferred way to write songs?

STELLA: Mostly Billy makes the tunes and Miles makes the words. And I doodle around on bass and Els plays the drums. 

BILLY: The songs are extremely simple even at the finished point but they start off so, so basic. Usually just some chords and a melody that work over each other. Stella plays the melody on bass over my chords for the verse and then I’ll play the melody as a solo or lead over her rhythm as some sort of break. Elsie makes a cool beat and Miles usually has words before the night’s over. It’s a very basic and fun process. 

MILES: Chuck-Billy and Stella write the music and I just add my words. It’s cool to see them working stuff out together. 

We’re premiering your first single ‘Nationalsville’ for The Toads’ debut album; what’s the song about?

MILES: It’s about a cotton farmer/ National party donor, water farming in the northern sector of the Murray Darling. He removes the water gauge and lies about how much water they are stealing, while diverting a huge amount of it into his catchment.  A charming situation. 

BILLY: The working title for this one “Country Song”. When we first jammed it, it felt real ’65 era Stones song or something – with some country I guess. Miles’ vocals’ gave it its own vibe. 

Album cover art: Ian Teeple

The clip for it is fun! It was made by Leland Buckle. What can you tell us about making it? Where was it filmed? How did the audience seated in the chairs watching the band come into being?

BILLY: We referenced “Stranded” and “What Do I Get?” video clips and then passed the baton over to Leland….

LELAND: The old folks in the chair is a homage to the ‘Underwater Moonlight’ album cover, was listening to that one a fair bit when we started talking about the video. 

ELSIE: It was a great day, pretty funny playing in some hall in Preston on a Saturday morning, surrounded by references to catholicism whilst staring down the eyes of Leland’s creepy (but amazing) paper mache people. 

How long did the album take to record? Who recorded it? Where did you record? What was the most fun you had during recording?

STELLA: We recorded the album in two batches because we initially were planning on an EP. But once that was too long for a 7” and we made some more songs we decided to make it an album. Recorded it at Billy’s place in Preston. Took two full days, three months apart, with many overdubs after the fact. We had lots of fun and always do.  

BILLY: Yeah, what Stella said – initially it was just five songs for a 7”. And then we went for eight songs to be a 12” EP. But along the process we fleshed out two tracks (Two Dozen… and Tale of a Town…) into their own new interlude/reprise things with new words and melodies. I like those ones. Miles’ vocals on The Wandering Soul are terrifying. The funnest part of recording was definitely – and pretty much always is – the overdubs.

ELSIE: It was definitely a lot of fun. I think we lost our minds a little at the end of each session but just made the overdubs a lot more fun and out there.  I think it took Stella and I a few extra takes to get some harmonies done without cracking up laughing. We are also really lucky that we have Billy in the band who can record everything himself, so it made the whole process seem a lot more comfortable. 

MILES: We always have fun together. Lots of beers/seltzer’s and dexies. It was really cold on the first day and I slept all rugged up in my coat while the others were busy laying down the tunes. You gotta respect it. 

Which track from the forthcoming album do you like to play live the most? What do you appreciate about it?

STELLA: I like Gimme Little More to play on bass because it feels tough. 

BILLY: Probably just Nationalsville or something. Tale of a Town is fun when we hit the quiet part. 

ELSIE: Agree with Bill, seeing him rip his solo in Nationalsville is always sick to watch. For me, I like playing in the ‘In The Wilderness’ because the song has grown so much from what it was once. I think it has a lot of quirkiness and sort of goes against the structure of a ‘normal song’, like the extended outro. I also love the bass in this and Miles’s vocals do a few twists and turns which just sound so good.

MILES: I think I like playing “In the Wilderness” I like the end part , it’s a bit Eno / Bryan Ferry or something. 

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

BILLY: Michael Rother. Fair bit of krautrock in general. 

STELLA: Been listening to lots of Rosalia, watching Atlanta and rewatching Extras. 

ELSIE: I’ve been listening to this album Fantastic Planet by Lealani which is kinda moody synth pop which is a big vibe. I’ve been watching The Last of Us like the rest of society at the moment. And reading Politics of Public Space. 

MILES: I have not been listening or reading much at all lately. I’ve been watching Will Ferrell movies, The Mandalorian and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. 

What do you get up to when not making music?

BILLY: I’ve been cooking heaps. Lots of salsa verde’s. 

STELLA: Going to Tafe and working mostly! 

ELSIE: I work full time at a local Council so mostly that, but outside of work, I’ll either be walking my dog, going for a run down the creek or in a Youtube hole. I also have just picked up Spanish classes!

MILES: Work, watch people play Dayz on Twitch, play Total war games, visit the same pub every weekend and hang out with my partner. 

What’s the rest of the year look like for The Toads? Also, are members working on any other projects?

BILLY: Just hope to work on some more songs. Also hope to do a split record with Modal Melodies at some stage, but where all members play on all the songs like a collab. There’s a Toadal Melodies joke in there somewhere.

MILES: I have been very lazy with The Shifters, so I would like to get back into that, soon. 

Video by Leland Buckle.

In The Wilderness out via Anti Fade Records (AUS) and Upset The Rhythm (UK) June 9 – pre-order HERE.

Sex Drive’s Shopping Blitz: “Pure, raw energy.”

Original photos by Jhonny Russell. Handmade collage by B.

Yugambeh Country/Gold Coast punks Sex Drive have released one of THE best Australian punk albums of the year, Shopping Blitz. The songs are bursts of intensity filled with anger, empathy, humour and power. In our latest print issue you’ll find an in-depth chat with vocalist Beau Kearsley (get it here), and below we spoke to guitarist Benaiah Fiu about the album.

Sex Drive’s Shopping Blitz album is finally out! It’s been a long time coming; how do you feel now that it’s out in the world?

BENAIAH: It’s surreal actually, because I’d just forgotten about it. We recorded it five years ago. All the hard work was done so long ago. It being out feels so amazing. I was a bit heartbroken when it didn’t come out back then. I guess I could have done something about it, but my head wasn’t in the right place.

When we spoke to Beau, he said that when the initial album release plans fell through he was really depressed too.

B: Yeah, it was a hard time.

What do you remember about Sex Drive’s beginnings?

B: Pure, raw energy. The demo was written without Jake on drums. The structure was all there but not working with our old drummer. I met Jake the first time we all had a jam and that jam we knew straight away, this is the guy. He’s amazing and he’s an amazing human. He was a perfect fit. It felt really exciting. At that point in our lives we had a lot of angst, we were young and it felt so good to let it out through the music.

Have you always lived on the Gold Coast?

B: Yeah, pretty much. Since I was fourteen. I used to live on Fiji’s most remote island – it’s where my dad is from. I lived there for three years. 

What was it like living out there?

B: The first year was a complete culture shock. I was twelve. Some of the guys in my village happened to be amazing musicians and I thought they were the coolest dudes. They taught me to play guitar, and smoke and drink [laughs]. They played reggae and a bit of blues.

Is that the first music that you started to really get into?

B: No. While I was living there it was definitely all reggae for sure. When I was younger I was obsessed with The Offspring as well as System Of A Down and Eminem. My older sister still lived here in Australia and she’d send me CDs while I was there. There wasn’t anything like a local music shop to get anything, it was just all the boys playing guitar.

Photo by Jhonny Russell.

Beau told us that when he first started hanging out with you and heard you playing Slayer songs on the guitar he was like, ‘Whoa! He likes stuff I do. We’re going to get along.’

B: [Laughs]. I got into Slayer as soon as I got back to Australia. My sister had a cool older boyfriend, he got me into bodyboarding and gave me all these VHS tapes. All the music on them were amazing, it was all 90s punk. 

Was Sex Drive your first band?

B: No. I had a band called Jim’s Radio with a couple of friends. We’d jam in one of their bedrooms and there was this 90-year-old neighbour guy called, Jim, that would put his radio up at the window and blast it back at us for revenge [laughs]. We made songs about KFC and stuff. It was a little fun project. I never imagined that I’d end up being in band playing shows at that point early on. 

The drummer for that project got invited to be in a psychedelic rock band and I was like, ‘Damn it! I thought we were going to make it to the top!’ [laughs]. They kicked out their guitarist and asked me to join. I was like, ‘No way! Whoa. These guys are so cool.’ We played some shows around the Goldie. 

You met Beau out in the water? You both bodyboard.

B: Yeah. It was so long ago. He had no idea who I was and I really looked up to him, he was an amazing waterman. I was getting into it a bit late. He was the coolest kid. He came to a party at mine and he was being so drunk and funny. He shaved his head and eyebrows in my backyard [laughs]. We were still in high school. I played him some Doors songs I had been listening to like ‘Five To One’. He loved it. We started talking on MySpace and we organised to go surfing together. It was pure fun. 

Beau said early Sex Drive rehearsals was at Jake’s mum’s place.

B: Yeah, we played songs that would become the Demo. When we played with Jake everything made sense. It was like, YES! We’re on! We had a sense that it might actually turn into something. 

Photo by Jhonny Russell.

Beau also said that a lot of Sex Drive is because of you, that you help him with so much, including how to sing things.

B: I’ll come in with a guitar riff or I’ll have a whole structure for a song or we do it together. It’s cool we’re a collaborative band. Beau’s approach to singing, I love how it works with my guitar playing and Jake’s drumming. 

We jammed heaps in a factory that we lived in. Our friend Floyd would play drums, it was his “house”. Beau and I moved in. 

Beau showed me the Cosmic Psychos documentary and it was incredibly inspiring. It was like, we live in a shed too [laughs]. It was really fun.

The band also used to work together in a fedora factory?

B: Yeah! [laughs]. It was down the road and around the corner from where we lived. We had a real dipshit rock n roll little lifestyle. We were young. 

How old?

B: We’re pretty immature for our ages [laughs]. I was 23 and Beau is a year younger. 

Tell us about recording your Demo.

B: Dangerz, who was the drummer in that first project I was telling you about, ended up studying sound engineering at Byron SAE. He recorded us for his assignment. He’s naturally talented at it all and did a good job.

Next came the self-titled Sex Drive 7”.

B: That was recorded in a blokes house in Ocean Shores, in his home studio. 

What about the new one, your first full-length, Shopping Blitz? Micky Grossman did it?

B: Yeah, he had a cool little set up. 

You recorded a couple of times, right? The first time didn’t work out quite how you wanted so you recorded again.

B: We went down there [Gadigal Country/Sydney] a few times. The first time we had a bunch of people in there watching Beau do his vocal takes and partying—we were kind of ruining it.  I wish I could go back and record again because I was so drunk and anxious at the time of recording. I’ve grown to love the recording now; it always takes me a while to come around.

What were you nervous about?

B: My personal life was spiralling. My idea of my musical trajectory wasn’t going as planned. I felt like I was getting old and that my dreams were slipping through my fingers. 

Has your dream of what you want to do with music changed?

B: Definitely. 

What’s important to you now?

B: It’s just going back to basics and having fun with it and not caring about anything other than trying to write cool songs, not caring about the outcomes. And, playing shows to people that enjoy coming to watch. 

We’re so stoked on the album. It’s a classic Australian punk record. 

B: Awesome! All of the songs for the album and the EP were written around the same time in a storage shed in Burleigh. 

One of our favourite songs on the album is ‘Strange Motel’. Beau said you had a solo project called Strange Motel?

B: I started project Strange Motel before we recorded the album. When we were writing that song, before we started jamming it, Beau would say in the funniest voice, ‘A man walked into a strange motel.’ He’s so funny. That would be the song intro at the time. It didn’t have a name but we decided to call it that for that reason. 

For Strange Motel, I just felt like I had to write more songs. I’d figured out how to use GarageBand and do drums and bass, so I stole the name for the project [laughs]. 

Do you have a favourite song on Shopping Blitz?

B: ‘American Muscle’. I love Beau’s vocals and delivery – in the verse it feels really powerful for me. 

He was telling me what that song about…

B: He hasn’t even told me!

He said it was about when he was in America and he got beat up at a show for dancing. 

B: Shit.

‘Shopping Blitz’ is a funny one. My friend Kale, our first bass player – he was a massive part of the song ‘Hate Home’. I loved playing with him on bass, we’d sit in my bedroom and figure out new riffs for tracks. He really hated ‘Shopping Blitz’ because that riff – I wrote it lifetimes ago in 2013 – we’d always jam it. Jake and Beau would force us to play it and he hated it [laughs]. It’s gone through different phases of how it’s played. It’s amazing that it made it on to the album. It’s my favourite. 

‘Shopping Blitz’ is about shopping centre Pacific Fair?

B: Yeah, I guess. The lines. It can be the lines at the shops or the white lines on the road going by on a road trip. 

‘Military Boy’ was really exciting. I brought in a riff and asked the boys to help craft it into a song and there was so much energy in the room when we first jammed it. It was getting away from the Australian sound (that we love playing). Now we’re trying to blend hardcore and that Aussie pub rock sound.

What hardcore bands do you love?

B: There’s a band called White Pigs, they’re an endless source of inspiration, with their self-titled EP on YouTube. I really love hardcore and metal crossover bands. I feel like a bit of an outsider in the hardcore scene. I admire and respect hardcore, especially guys like Primitive Blast and Nerve Damage. I love going to their shows and standing at the back and watching because I love the music but I don’t know the moves [laughs]. 

Anything else to tell us?

B: We have a bunch of exciting ideas for new songs for Sex Drive. I’m just getting back into things. I lost my license, so it’s just me at home in the garage with my guitar. I’m thankful for the time, I can’t go for a drive somewhere and distract myself. 

It’s so great that you’re sober and have clarity and time to create again. You might come up with things you’ve never even imagined before because you have a clear head. We’re so excited for you.

B: Yeah. Thank you. I thought drinking was enhancing it. Now I can see that it was definitely just numbing me and I was wasting my time. I’m so excited for everything too. Can’t wait to get out there and play shows with my best friends. 

Sex Drive Shopping Blitz is out now get via Scarlet Records or on SD’s bandcamp + via Lulu’s in Naarm and Repressed Records on Gadigal Country. Follow: Sex Drive Facebook and @sexdrive.aus.

New Terry track ‘Gronks’

Original photo by Oscar Perry. Handmade collage by B.

One of Gimmie’s favourite bands Terry are releasing a new album Call Me Terry in April, which thematically scrutinies our country’s corrupt, colonial history and shines a spotlight on greed, privilege and entitlement of white, wealthy so-called Australia. We’re excited to be premiering a new single and video for track ‘Gronks’. We caught up with Terry to get a little insight into the song, vid, what they’ve been up to, what they’ve been listening to and what they have in the works with other projects.

What’s life been like lately for everyone in Terry? Congratulations Xanthe and Zephyr on your new little addition to the fam!

TERRY: Thank you! Life has been good lately. Lots of swimming and nappy changing. Amy and Al’s visit when our baby was three weeks old was a highlight of recent months! We cooked, went for a day trip to the upper mountains, and played bananagrams. 

We’re super excited about the new album, Call Me Terry! What’s something that you’d like us to know about it?

T: It was nearly called Terry Gold.

We’re premiering one of our favourite album songs ‘Gronks’; what initially inspired it?

T: ’Gronks’ was written at the start of 2020. Was a bit paranoid about the world flipped upside down and how the powerful would further their own interests (white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchy) and the war machine. “Meet me from the banks you gronks” is spoken from a Robocop-style Twiggy Forrest character sailing up the Parramatta River in another wave of imperialism.

Photo by Oscar Perry.

What do you remember most from making the ‘Gronks’ video?

T: I (Xanthe) made the video just recently late at night after the baby was asleep. It was nice to listen to the song loads of times and play around with images. I wanted to see what I could make using just the text and image of the Redmond Barry statue from our album cover but broadened the scope, after my cousin Solomon sent me some footage of a Terry doll he and my Aunty had made for an upcoming video. And then again after finding loads of footage of Amy, Al, Zeph and I on a ferry that Dan shot on my iPhone in an inspired moment a few years ago. I remember all those things. 

The demos for the album were recorded in 2019; what can you remember from recording them? They were recorded apart, right?

T: We kinda tried to record a whole album before X and Z moved to the blue mountains. But I think we were dreaming, or at least I (Al) was. The songs were undercooked. It was great to record days before they left cos it made us feel we still had something to work on together. 

How did it all feel when you finally got together in 2021 to record the album’s tracks? Did the songs change much from the demo versions?

T: It was great being together to record the songs. I think Terry had been going pretty hard on the creative Bathurst circuit for a few years. We’d write a lot intensively, record then tour. It’s really productive and I think we were stoked about the output. We got to see the world. But you can only do that for so long I think. X and Z moving interstate and the lockdowns forced us to have a breather. Abscess makes the heart grow fonder.

Besides making music what’s something you love to do when you all get together?

T: Eat, prey, laugh.

 Were there any challenges making the album?

T: At first I thought the space apart would be tricky but in the end it gave us time to slow down and consider the compositions/mixes a bit more.

Which is your favourite track from Call Me Terry? What do you love about it?

T: I love ‘Market’ and ‘Golden Head’. Can’t pinpoint what I love about them. Different instrumentation. They feel pretty dynamic. Golden head is such an anthem.

We love the album cover that features song lyrics; how did you come to decide to incorporate them like that? Who took the photos?

T: The artwork was influenced by an old poster that Xan and Zeph saw about the the action to save the demolition of the finger wharf in Woolloomolloo. We all took the photos separately. We drove around the city and found structures that had a relationship to the songs. I think words and actions are pretty important so you might as well put yourself out there.

Where do you find you have your best ideas?

T: In transit. 

We’re always on the lookout for new music; what have you been listening to lately?

T: Mixture of recorded and live:

Vampire from Melbourne have just recorded an album, five years on from their demo. Jacked to hear that. One of the best bands in Melbourne. 

Glass Picture have been playing some new material live. Really excited to hear it when they record.

Eternal Dust new LP on LSD club. Incredible.

Phantasm – a new super group.

Punter – new LP probably out by the time interview is printed.

Reaksi – the 7” on hardcore victim is great but there is a whole set of great punk. 

Maxine Funke live in Melbourne recently was phenomenal. Can’t wait for the new tunes.

The Clash – ‘Long Time Jerk’, great outtake from Combat Rock.

Are there any other projects you’re working on at the moment?

T: There is a Primo album nearly finished. A Truffle Pigs LP is getting close and a Lower Plenty album is ready for a master. Theres an old Russell Street Bombings LP that needs a master. Zeph did some great recordings over the last two years with percussion, harmonium and guitar.

What’s the rest of the year look like for Terry?

T: Nappies, bouncers, swaddles overturn the ruling class.

Call Me Terry is out April 14 via Anti Fade Records (Aus/NZ) and Upset The Rhythm (UK).

Read our previous interview with Terry HERE.


Gimmie 7 is here!


Civic – Lewis Hodgson & Jim McCullough chat to us about their new dystopian sci-fi punk rock n roll surf thrill ride of a record. And, working with Radio Birdman’s Rob Younger + their own interesting and colourful creative & personal histories.

Pale Horsey – who are one of THE bands to check out from Meanjin/Brisbane right now. They’re on our cover this issue. Their shows have a manic energy that is all at once feral, gripping and magnetic.

Tee Vee Repairmann – we get the goss on his solo project that’s morphed into a live band & news on Satanic Togas, RRC, 3D & The Holograms.

Sex Drive – vocalist Beau talks their beginnings through to their new full-length album, Shopping Blitz.

Santigold – we chat about personal power, being seen, generational trauma, the book she’s writing, the power of nature, valuing yourself and album, Spirituals.

Shove – Bella opens up about her challenges of the past few years, the importance of talking about hard things & sitting with uncomfortable feelings + the power of community!

Tha  Retail Simps – the Canadian band’s vocalist-guitarist Joe explores their hot record, & we learn more about his zine, label and art.

Nadine from The Prize made selections for our DJ playlist & gives us insight into why she loves them.

Get it HERE! 

❤️ Bianca & Jhonny xo