DR SURE’S UNUSUAL PRACTICE’s dougal shaw: “Being human is a lot to fucking handle”

Original Photo: Cielo Croci. Handmade mixed-media by B.

Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice are Gimmie favs (they were one of the first bands we chatted with when we started Gimmie). We’re thrilled to announce the new wave art-punks’ forthcoming full-length album Remember The Future?, which will be out on Marthouse and Erste Theke Tonträger, as well as premiering the entertaining video for song ‘Infinite Growth’. We love their blend of clever social commentary and politics with catchy well-written compositions and fun visuals. Gimmie spoke with guitarist-vocalist Dougal Shaw to find out more.

How have you been feeling? I know a lot has happened this past week in Naarm/so-called Melbourne with lockdowns still in place, protests and an earthquake!

DOUGAL SHAW: I’m actually surprisingly pretty good at the moment. The pendulum has swung back around to the positive end [laughs]. It’s been swinging back and forth pretty consistently. Today I’m feeling good. Yesterday I had one of those days where I was just, what’s the point? Why? [laughs]. Trying to find some motivation to keep pushing forward. In general, in the last month, I’ve been feeling pretty positive.

Good to hear. On the “why?” days like yesterday, do you just allow yourself that space and know that what you’re feeling will pass?

DS: Yeah. The last couple of years if it’s taught me anything, it’s taught me to listen to your body and mind if you’re having those down times. Maybe in the past I would have tried to push through those times and keep working on projects. I’ve realised now that, if I do try to work through those times it’s pretty shit work; you go back to it and it’s got this weight to it, you’re putting all this stuff onto it. I’ve learnt to give myself days off, which I’ve never really been good at giving myself days off—what’s the next project?

Same! Jhonny and I are like that too. This next print issue of Gimmie has taken longer to get together because we both deal with (as many people do) bouts of depression, anxiety, stress, heath problems and things of that nature. Even though it’s something you absolutely love doing and it’s fun, some days you still find it hard.

DS: Exactly. I feel like it can work both ways. In the past I have used my creative practice as a way of processing a lot of what’s going on in my world and the world around me. Potentially in those down times would be when I was more inclined to get in the studio and write music. Now maybe being removed from all of the good times, and being able to have that separation where you’re out in the world doing things and having a good time, obviously you’re not going to be doing creative things and writing in those moments, so when you have that quiet moment to yourself and you’re feeling introspective, those might be the times that I’ll go and create. Now being removed from the outside world and being stuck in my own little world, it’s made me a bit more conscious of those kinds of things. A bit more conscious of your emotional state and more intuitive when it comes to what I need for myself in each moment. Sometimes it will be that I’m not doing anything today, I’m just going for a really long walk and I’m going to try and clear these cobwebs out. The one positive, I guess, is that I have a lot more tools now to manage those things, in the past I may have found those bouts of anxiety and depression to be really overwhelming and not know how to deal with them; going out and partying used to mask those things. Without those vices to lean on, you’re faced with yourself and your like, ‘Fuck this is a lot!’ Being human is a lot to fucking handle [laughs].

Photo by Alivia Lester

There’s been a period where you haven’t been writing too many songs, especially not as many political songs, but writing more fun songs when you do write.

DS: Yeah. For a long time, I thought of my music as a vessel for change, to use my voice and privilege to start conversations. At the same time, I’ve always just written silly songs as well. I pretty much didn’t write anything for a year. I was working on other projects. I didn’t feel like I had anything to say.

I feel like you did say a lot before that, you had this run where you put out a lot, and everything was such a high quality.

DS: Thank you. Maybe that was part of it, feeling a bit empty. Being isolated from the community and from actually being able to engage with the world, I found it really hard to think about what I had to say, or I found what I had to say wasn’t worth documenting. Deciding to put this album out this year… it was floating around for a while, we finished it a couple of months ago and we didn’t feel like there was any rush, because we aren’t able to play shows for it.

By this album do you mean, Remember the Future Vol. 1 & 2 together?

DS: Yeah, that’s this one. It was a really drawn-out thing because of Covid that really felt like it was hanging over my head for ages. That was this big black cloud in my head as well. We recorded half of it at the start of last year and we were booked in to do another session in April, two weeks after we first went into lockdown. The whole idea with the record was that it was going to be the first full band recording, so I was kind of stuck on that for ages. Rather than moving on, finishing and getting it out, it was like, no, we gotta do this with the band. We finally finished it in May this year. It’s finally come together! It feels like a really weird one, because of the Covid stuff we decided to put out the first half last year. Our European label Erste Theke Tonträger, hit me up to do a record, he really liked Remember the Future Vol. 1, he wanted to do a full-length with that and then another of our EPs on the other side. I was like, well, this is half of a full record. That was the push to finish this record.

You recently had a song ‘Live Laugh Love’ on the Blow Blood Records compilation, A Long Time Alone.

DS: That was the first song I’ve written after this huge gap of not writing. The compilation was the kick I needed. I’d seen that Christina had been advertising for contributions for ages, and I thought, ‘I have to do a song for this.’ The deadline had come and I hadn’t done it, which was a Friday, so the next day, Saturday, I plugged everything in for the first time in ages and made this really dumb song.

Did it feel weird plugging everything in again after so long?

DS: Kind of. The song is funny in itself, I’m glad it has a home on the ALTA compilation, because otherwise it would have been another one on a dusty hard drive. It feels like a song after not having written a song in ages, it’s a silly song.

It has a fun title!

DS: [Laughs] I know! The concept came before the song. It’s about forgetting about how to live, laugh, love. I saw one of those inspirational infographic things that someone had posted. I’m glad it’s getting a home. I wrote that song, then in the week following it, I wrote one or two songs in a day, ten songs in a week. A week later I sent Christina a different song, and was like, ‘I actually made some decent songs now. Do you want to put one of these on?’ She was like, “It’s too late, I’ve already sent it off.”

A couple of days ago you released the song ‘Ghost Ship’ too.

DS: Yeah, that was another compilation [on Critter Records]. I wrote that one at the very start of the lockdown. It was inspired by… they were coming out with all these bail out packages, but they were going to big corporations and multi-million dollar companies [laughs]. It was a funny concept.

It’s crazy how all of these big companies received bail outs and then ended up making a profit and doing better than ever!

DS: Exactly! They didn’t actually lose any revenue; they gained all this government funding that was designed to help struggling people. That’s capitalism!

We’re premiering Dr Sure’s new clip for the song ‘Infinite Growth’. It’s a fun clip. What sparked the idea?

DS: A lot of the time when I’m doing visual stuff, I want it to be fun and playful, because a lot of the time I find the lyrical content to be pretty heavy. I liked to offset it with something a little more accessible. Potentially if you were to follow the narrative of the song then the clip would be pretty heavy—talking about mining, the destruction of the ecosystems. By taking a representation of these things, of people in suits, business men, which is a reoccurring motif in a lot of our visual stuff, and thinking about the result of their actions. For this one, they’re still pedalling their narrative of infinite growth, while the climate has heated up so much that their faces as literally dripping from their body.

Love the special effects!

DS: Yeah, really top of the line. We got the hair and makeup team… professional prosthetics! Nah. I looked up how to make prosthetics and the easiest solution that I came across was to just mix Vaseline and flour, then use coco to create different tones of it. It was pretty gross stuff to put all over your face, but it was worth it.

Pic by Cielo Croci

You wrote the song around the time that our government were talking about destroying sacred Indigenous sites.

DS: Yes, exactly. It was Djab wurrung Country. They decided to build a new highway that was going to take off two-minutes of drive time for people commuting into the city. To do so, they had to destroy these hundred-year-old sacred birthing trees. That was the spark, but at the same time, it felt like a real time of solidarity for people coming together to stand against those things. That’s where the duality in that song is trying to reframe this capitalist terminology talking about infinite growth and kind of reclaim it for the people and the ecology.

Nice. What else have you been up to?

DS: I’ve been collaborating with my partner Liv on some things, which is really nice. She’s an artist and really good photographer. We’ve worked on stuff before, a lot of the time our practices have been off in different directions. Having a lot of time together and being isolated from anyone else, we’ve been working on stuff. I spent this week making a zine to go out with the record. It’s a collaboration with Liv, she took all the photographs. It’s a zine of lyrics, photos, my art and poetry, all mashed up. She took a series of photos based around the concepts of the record and I mashed them up with my brain spew! [laughs]. We’ve been thinking about creative ways to put out this record.

Liv and I have been making some songs too. She’s been learning the guitar for the last couple of years. We’ve been putting down some of her ideas. With Liv’s limited knowledge of playing, it’s been good for me to teach her that a song can be really simple; it’s made me reassess my approach to songs. When you make a song that’s only two chords, you can leave all of this space for layering and making it interesting in other ways. It doesn’t have to have all of these chord changes for it to be engaging.

When Jhonny and I make music, I like to go for how does this feel, and keep trying things until eventually something fits and feels good to me and us. That’s when you come up with something that is unique to you, because you come with all of your experience or lack of, and that all comes out in those moments.

DS: Exactly. I feel like I’ve always approached music in a really similar way. I’ve purposely avoided learning too much. Sometimes I question if that has been the right approach? Most of the time, I stick by that approach, it’s more about feeling and how you react to it. To me, it’s always been about how you react to whatever it is you’re recording. Picking up the next instrument is a reaction to the last instrument. It’s about what feels interesting.

Pre-order Remember The Future? HERE.

RABBIT’s Bobby K: “I’m always a lovesick fool for a pop song…”

Original photo by Scott Bradshaw. Handmade mixed-media by B.

Forming just over a year ago, nipaluna/Hobart-based band RABBIT are releasing their debut 7 inch on Rough Skies Records (home of bands we love: Slag Queens, All The Weather, 208L Containers and The Native Cats) today. The quartet give us three high energy, power-pop gems. Overdriven guitars, catchy riffs, solid driving rhythms, and melodic vocals singing songs of love and heartbreak. Songwriter and guitarist, Bobby K, tells us about the band’s formation, recording the EP, and their inspirations.

RABBIT is inspired by forgotten power-pop groups and new wave punks; who are some of these inspirations and what is it that you appreciate about them?

BOBBY K: There’s a demo by Peter Case’s band The Nerves that I come back to a lot. I stumbled on a lot of these old power-pop songs because they were made popular by other artists. The first Cyndi Lauper record has a couple; Robert Hazard wrote Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, The Brains wrote Money Changes Everything. The Nerves wrote Hanging on the Telephone which I only knew as a Blondie song until I started sniffing around its roots like a truffle pig. There’s so many truffles underfoot hey, The Flamin’ Groovies, The Records, Vibrators, The Soft Boys, The Only Ones, Television Personalities, Buzzcocks, The Motels… plus all the Oz punk stuff like Celibate Rifles and Birdman and Saints. What ties the truffles together for me is sharp, simple songwriting – I’m always a lovesick fool for a pop song but rough it up a bit with overdriven guitars and demo-quality recording and you get me all buttery. Recently I got hooked on the Buffalo Springfield song Burned – prime example of perfect guitar pop, and coincidentally almost the same title as a RABBIT tune from the 7”.

You wrote and recorded the demos for the three songs on the Gone 7” yourself on a Tascam 4-track tape before forming the band. Who or what first got you into music?

BK: My Aunt Lou played me a tape of a Welsh choir when I was about 6 and I guess it got in there pretty deep, pretty powerful music. Neil Young taught me guitar, Bill Ward taught me drumming. I studied classical music at uni too, but it wasn’t much chop and crushed me into a tonal box from which I’m still trying to escape. Nahhh, I like tonality, it’s comforting. Anyway I’ve been in heaps of gross punk bands since I was 13, and one that was pretty good, and now I’m in RABBIT.

On your Instagram there was a vid of you playing guitar with the caption: upstrokes are for arseholes. Where does your love of the downstroke come from?

BK: It’s a worthy commitment! I got it from Dave Gibson (Funeral Moon/Spacebong/Ratcatcher). Dunno where he got it from but probably The Misfits or The Ramones or The Slayer [sic]. Have a look and a listen next time you watch a guitar band, upstrokes are so floppy and limp. There’s nothing worse than listening to limp floppy upstrokes, nothing, except like if you’re running back to your car because you’re two minutes overparked but as you get back the inspector is taking a photo and the ticket is there on your windscreen and you were too late, and you try to protest but the inspector just simpers at you, and then later you’re at the pub and there’s a band playing and IT’S HIM, THE INSPECTOR, and he’s playing third wave ska! That’s worse! But it’s the same thing! Also, the tone and attack of downstrokes rips.

photo by Scott Bradshaw

How did the band come to be? How did you meet each band member: Maggie Edwards (vocals), Sean Wyers (drums) and Claire Johnston (bass)?

BK: I was living in a sharehouse with Magz around the time I was recording the demo. My singing voice sounds like Leo Kottke’s farts on a muggy day, so I asked Magz to sing on it. Even her retching is sonorous. I think I met Clairey at the Brisbane Hotel one night and she put her name in my phone as ‘CLAIREY MEGABABE’. She’d heard the demo and was super keen, so we tried to get a band together with her on drums. I went overseas for work and it fizzed, and then she kicked it back into life last year, she put the word out and pulled it together with Sean on the kit. I’d met him a year before when I showed up at a rehearsal space for a weekly blast beat practice and his metal band had muscled in on my slot. They went to the pub for an hour while I sweated it out over his snare, and eventually I moved into his spare room. That’s how Hobart works. Clairey is still MEGABABE.

Each of the songs on Gone speak to various aspects of love and/or relationships. Can you tell us about the writing of ‘Gone Gone Gone’? What sparked it?

BK: The songs on the demo came out of a singularly painful and traumatic breakup, sort of diversionary processing tactic or something, dunno what was going on upstairs but I chucked it all into writing loud pop songs. Somebody in France was very kind to me when I was low, dusted me off as I was passing through so I stayed with them for a few weeks and eventually got a flight to Dublin and drank a million pints with my Da and then BANG, wrote a song about it. It’s in G major and it’s got a bunch of suspended 4ths which try to convey the feeling of vomiting in the rain in the front yard of a BnB while your Da takes photos of you from the rental car. Berlioz for the 21st century or whatever. Actually, the lyric in the chorus came out of a dream I had many years ago and I never knew what it meant but now I sort of do.

You made a film clip for ‘Gone Gone Gone’ directed by Joseph Shrimpton; what do you remember most from filming it?

BK: Shouting SHRIMPTON a bunch. I’d just met Jo that day and was pretty excited. They’re really nice! It was an easy film shoot – mostly I just lay on a mattress and read a book about chess while Clairey had a bath. Magz and Sean had an argument about a lamp. SHRIMPTON!

The songs were recorded with Zac Blain (A. Swayze and the Ghosts) in a sharehouse on Muwinina Country. How did the collaboration come about?

BK: We just asked the guy because he’s a ripper. We more or less all knew one another, so it was an easy thing to organise. Sean and I were living in the old sharehouse on Warwick Street (where the video was filmed), the neighbour screeched at us like a bat, Zac was an absolute pleasure and he gets where RABBIT comes from. He’s got cool spectacles.

Can you share with us some details of the recording of ‘Burnt’?

BK: More room mic and less close mic in the drum mix, Bonham style for Seans. Two almost identical guitar tracks panned L/R – one through a Fender Bassman and one through an Orange Rockerverb II, same set up for every song on the 7”. Clairey’s bass guitar signal attended the Zac Blain School of Wonderful Works and graduated with a Certificate III, and Maggie just sings everything perfectly, every time. That’s what she does.

How did the song ‘Love Bites’ change from the original demo version to the final recording version we hear? We especially love the dual vocals!

BK: Well, Love Bites wasn’t on the demo that went up on bandcamp, it was a later song that I demo’d after we’d started rehearsing. I recorded it really rough for the band to hear and Maggie filled in a missing verse. It still changed quite a bit from my demo to the band recording… the dual vocals are more contrapuntal on the 7”, I think on the demo it was more of a straight harmony. Clairey reworked the bass part and made it more harmonically colourful. Sean and I are very different drummers, so the drums were bound to feel different. I’m an absolute slop-fest octopus while Sean is much more precise with his fills. The brief I gave to Sean for Love Bites was “play it like Mitch Mitchell, y’know, like just put shit everywhere”, but Sean hits ’em harder and more solid than Mitchell, so there ya have it!

Photo by Scott Bradshaw

Rabbit are nipaluna/Hobart-based; what’s the best and worst bits about living where you are?

BK: Worst bit is how the gaming industry dominates pubs all around the state and there’s relatively few venues to support live music and there’s not much we can do about it.

The best bit is how everyone drives 10ks under the limit and the sky always looks like an ice-cream cake.

What’s one of the most memorable local shows you’ve attended or played and what made it so?

BK: We recently played at Junction Arts Festival in Launceston and after our gig we went and watched a friend’s band Broken Girl’s Club, and I was standing on the grass in the dark with Sean and he taps me on the shoulder and shouts over the music ‘OI, BOBBY LOOK AT THIS’ and I look down and he’s holding a handful of wriggling worms.

Ohhhh, also there was one at Altar where the sewage backed up and flooded out onto the dance floor and The Bonus didn’t get to play because it was a public health emergency.

What do you love about making music?

BK: It’s the only thing in the world that I ever want to do, and I GET TO DO IT.

What else should we know about you?
BK: I used to go for the dim sim but now I go straight for the corn jack.

RABBIT ‘Gone‘ 7 inch is available to order through Rough Skies Records.

Quicksand’s Walter Schreifels: “What we’ve been dealing with, even for the best of us, has been tough.”

Original photo by Annette Rodriguez. Handmade mixed-media by B.

There’s a heaviness, groove and beauty that simultaneously exists on NYC band Quicksand’s records. Distant Populations is the fourth studio album from the legendary post-hardcore outfit, who are sounding as passionate, and better, than ever. It’s narrative weaves through the complexities of simply existing and coping in the weird times we’re all sharing, and have been for the past couple of years. The album title comes from lyrics of song ‘Inversion’ which were inspired by a misheard lyric of anarcho-punk band, Nausea. Gimmie chatted with the always thoughtful guitarist-vocalist, Walter Schreifels, who has gifted the world so many shining moments through songs in iconic bands Gorilla Biscuits, Youth of Today, CIV, Rival Schools, and more.

WALTER SCHREIFELS: I’m very happy to have the album out. It’s exciting! I’m psyched. I’m hoping that maybe next year we’ll get to travel again; we had so much fun in Australia.

That would be so great. I had so much fun at your last shows here. Congratulations on the new album, it’s tremendous.

WS: Thank you so much. I’m glad you like it; I really appreciate that. It feels really cool that we did all of this stuff to make this record and people are appreciating it, especially you, thank you.

What have you been up to today?

WS: I woke up and I went for a run. I came home, we had a house guest, she’s been helping us with some interior decorating, so we had some discussions about that. Then I had to go pick up an amp over in Brooklyn. I got a parking ticket, but I got my amp! Outside of that, I answered some emails, and went for a nice walk with my wife, we bought groceries. Pretty basic.

A part from the parking ticket, it seems like a pretty perfect day, doing a little of all the things you enjoy.

WS: That is exactly right.

What kinds of things were you discussing with the interior decorator? What kind of vibe does your home have?

WS: We moved apartments in May, so we’re just figuring this one out. Let me just adjust this [moves computer] you can see this big wall with no artwork on it, we’re figuring out what kind of art we want there. We were thinking a big piece, so we were talking about some kind of giant photograph or maybe a painting. We kept our old apartment and we’re subletting it, there’s a painting there that is just big enough, but the frame is a little warped. We’re going to take the canvas off the frame and just hang it flat, that’s our solution. It’s an abstract painting that a friend of mine did, it’s kind of a splatter painting, but it’s got some vibe to it and the colours are nice, so we’re going to try it out. I guess interior decorating is like that, you put something there and see if it sticks, if it does, cool; if not, it’s a work in progress.

Yeah, I think a home is always like that. It’s always in progress and it always evolves and changes, as you do. Our home’s walls are filled with art our friends have made, we’ve made or we have pieces from our favourite artists, and a lot of framed concert posters. I love having walls filled with things that make me happy, and when you walk past certain pieces, you’ll think of that person that made that for you or maybe when you got it or it might evoke a time in your life.

WS: I think that’s the best. Especially if you have some friend’s artwork and it radiates that, it’s really, really nice.

I know that for you as an artist, growth is always really important to you, and that for this album Distant Populations,it’s something you really wanted to focus on. How do you feel you’ve grown?

WS: From the experience of doing Interiors and touring – you and I first met when we were in Australia with Thursday – all of those experiences, going from not having recorded a record to making this record-comeback-thing, to touring the world and really doing it. Then we became a three-piece. I really grew as a player. The three of us carrying on also brought us a lot closer, and created a lot of movement—we really got each other’s back. We’ve always been good friends, but never more so than now.

That’s really nice.

WS: Making this album we went at it with a fair bit more confidence, because we had gone through all of that together. We built and process, so that if we were really stuck on something, which inevitably happens, we were confident that we would get through it without worrying about it too much. Which is a good place to be in a relationship, problems arise and challenges are there. A lot of the growth happened there, in the guts of it.

Stylistically we took more chances, for what that’s worth, we were less concerned with: are we living up to something? Are we being faithful to a legacy? We had a bit more of a free hand there, and I think we took advantage of it.

We obviously wanted to come out with something new that was faithful to our old records, but also reflective of who we are in the now. And, now we’re freer from that, which is nice. I’m grateful for all of it, to be honest. It’s cool.

When you started making Distant Populations what story did you want to tell?

WS: We wanted to be a little more succinct and punchier. With Interiors it was more expansive, moodier and soundscape-y. That was great for us and we were really successful with that, but having done that, we wanted things to be a little tighter; that was part of our goal. We were psyched if a song was under two minutes. If it was creeping over three, we were really wondering; why?

When I listen to the record, I don’t want to review my own album, but as much as I can be objective about it, I think it holds you in. I’ve heard the songs plenty of times. I’ll be like, how does that song sound? I’ll listen to it and the next song will start and I’ll be like, oh shit, I wanna hear this song now. It’s gets to the point without rushing. It was always fun, we didn’t have to labour it, in that regard.

Album art by Tetsunori Tawaraya.

For me that’s when some of the best art happens, when it’s not tortured and laboured over too much. There’s magic in spontaneity and immediacy. I think you can work on something for too long, to the point where the heart and the spirit that made it shine, is gone.

WS: For sure! We figured out our process and if we hit those stumbling blocks where it’s not fun, we would just shake it off and do something else; we let it simmer. You can’t force it. We were pretty good about that. In the end we were listening back and making our comments, and we were all cooperative about it. It was really nice. We were laughing—there’s fun in it.

The album art work by Japanese artist Tetsunori Tawaraya is especially fun! I noticed that between the artwork as well as some of the songs like ‘Katakana’ (which is a Japanese syllabary) and ‘Rodan’ (a winged-monster from 1950s Japanese monster movies), that there’s a bit of a Japanese connection.

WS: There’s a love of Japan shared throughout the band. Initially when we were talking about the artwork, Sergio [Vega] sent this Japanese artist from the early 70’s through and it was this monster motif; we couldn’t really contact the artist. I knew Tetsunori Tawaraya’s artwork and said, this is an artist that is kind of in the same vibe, but he’s an illustrator and working now, he’s alive and my friend is friends with him. We wanted it to be fun.

Interiors’ art work, I love it, I think it’s so cool, but it’s got this spaciousness and trippiness to it. Tetsunori’s work has this monster funness about it and it’s a good image to project this music on to for the music to live in. We wanted to create a Star Wars-esque saga for our music to live in, where there’s this protagonist, this dude with a staff, and then there’s monsters and stuff like that. And, the lyrical themes of the songs could exist in a fantastical world. So, you can escape the sort of bullshit; typically, the way things play out in our contemporary discussions of how the world is going; how we’re feeling; how we’re coping…to have it exist in that world instead. To keep it fun like that.

As far as the Japanese thing, ‘Rodan’ was just a working title. I tried to find out, what am I writing about in regards to Rodan? To me it ended up being about being humble, being small, and how you contest with outside forces that are beyond your control, like a force of nature, like Rodan this giant thing that could kill you, or you could be swept up in its wind. Being small. Being humble. Not trying to attack that.

With ‘Katakana’ I think it is so interesting how the Japanese have these different character alphabets for their language. Japanese culture is so interesting, that for western music, especially from my generation, it’s now spread quite a bit across Asia, where there’s this cross-culturalisation where people in Japan appreciate western music, and it’s becoming more so that western people appreciate music from Asia. For me, Japan is the place that I am most familiar with. That’s pretty much where it came from, it wasn’t like, ‘let’s just do Japan!’ I was kind of just in our vibe, we always love going there, it’s awesome.

I’ve always wanted to go to Japan. I love so much about Japanese culture; I have since I was a kid. My old punk zine was reviewed by Maximum Rock N Roll once and the reviewer said, “You’d think this girl was Japanese” because I used to have a lot of Japanese-inspired art in the zine.

WS: Yeah, that artwork is cool. Japanese somehow just do everything right. Aesthetically they’re so on point.

Before you mentioned that sometimes there’s things outside of yourself that you don’t have control over, I was thinking about that a lot with the global pandemic, lockdowns and life changing. Watching the news most days, I was realising that a lot of it is designed to make you fearful and keep you coming back, keep you looking at it, there’s a whole cycle that can keep you feeling down. It was getting me down, as it was a lot of people, and I decided to take a step back and look at what it was in my life that I can control. I’ve found that helpful. What are some things that have helped you in these weird times?

WS: That’s what a lot of the record is about—how I’m coping. This is before Covid, because honestly the lyrics were written before all of this stuff. It’s beautiful that you and I can talk over Zoom, and it’s so cool to see you, but our communication is over soon… we’re losing some of our humanity. Our humanity is evolving at a very fast pace, and that’s scary. People are looking for simple answers, but there’s not really simple answers to all of that. I feel that through music, art, your family, friends, nature, you can find that humility. Through exercise, moving your body, yoga, breathing, meditating, you can find that grounding and you can cope with all that shit that’s coming at you. The fear, it’s really terrible that the cyclical nature of it is that people are addicted to it, and not through their own fault, it doesn’t make anybody bad; people are making money off of addicting you, it’s like cigarettes.

It’s important for me personally, to notice that I am like that too. What does it do for my soul? What do I then carry out into the world? What fears am I projecting because I’m eating it up? I’m like most people [laughs]. I’m pretty much exactly like, most people. I’m dealing with this stuff; how can I get a handle on it? A lot of the stuff in the lyrics is touching on that, sometimes specifically and sometimes in a really broad way.

I told you that I went for a run this morning. When I go for a run, I’m up early in the morning. I live right near Chinatown. I see all the woman fan dancing in the morning and everyone doing Tai Chi. I go run by the river, I see all the other runners running around and all of the boats are going by on the East River – the East River has been there forever. Connecting to those things in the morning puts me in a positive state of mind. It’s easier for me to weather, not just the news, but the stuff that happens, and to be stronger for it, because it just will continue to come; we have to evolve with it and make it through. What we’ve been dealing with, even for the best of us, has been tough.

Like we’ve been talking about, all of the things that we can do to build a strong foundation within ourselves, really does help to cope and in dealing with things.

WS: For sure. You have to take care of yourself to be effective. You have to rest. You have to be good to yourself. You see it, people are just aggravated at each other, aggravated in their own world and it’s coming out… it just seems like anything comes across the plate, people are looking to dissect it in some way that someone else is bad or someone else is ruining it or someone else is against you or someone has to be defeated. Everything seems to be sliced up in those ways and that makes people aggressive. Everyone’s eating that up, whether they want to or not. Some people are probably very disengaged or maybe more elevated in their consciousness and are able to process it more easily. I think it’s something that everybody is dealing with. I am. I’m part of it.

You mentioned meditation; is that something you do?

WS: I don’t meditate, but my wife does. I feel like I should be meditating. I do yoga, which I feel is a breathing meditation. Running is a meditation for me. Meditation is where you’re taking your mind and directing it and working on that muscle. I haven’t gotten into it, but I feel like it’s sitting there for me, like jazz [laughs], I have to dig in a little deeper than I have been.

Was there anything on the record that was challenging?

WS: It’s always challenging in the sense that you want to do your best work. It’s a collective, so you always have to work within that collective. You have to be kind and humble to other people, and you have to get your ideas across. You have to dig deep from yourself, but you also have to know when not to try that hard. These are all challenges. Once you’re going to make a new Quicksand record the first thing is—this thing better be fucking good! It’s not going to be a cakewalk.

As I was saying before, I feel really good about my bandmates and how we handle those challenges, so I have a lot less anxiousness. When a struggle does come, it becomes more of an adventure of, how do we get through it?

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

WS: I sure hope with all the [Covid] variants crossing the world, I hope we figure this out and get a chance to come back to Australia, because we’d love to see you, and get out there and play again, I’m looking forward to that.

That’s the dream. I hope it happens sooner rather than later. Did you miss playing live?

WS: The first year, not that much, to be honest. I didn’t miss going to the airport. I really appreciated just being in one place, because I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager, so every single year of my life has been travel every year, all the time. It was ok to take a break. I’m not going crazy or anything, but I do feel when I go to these different countries and I see people that I’ve met and have friendships with, and cities that I love to see, I do feel that they are part of my home and who I am too. My friendships with these people and my relationships with these cities are a part of me, so I am missing going to Australia, going to Japan, I’m missing my friends in Europe and across the United States. Overall, it’s been ok and, in many ways, awesome to take a rest. I’m ready to hit it again!

Is there anything you do that gives you the same feeling you get when you play live?

WS: Going for a run can be like that, especially trail running, because every time that you put your foot down, you get a different height or texture, you might have to duck under a branch, so your brain is having to fire quickly. At the same time, you get into a trance. When I’m playing, you’re very present. All these different little things are happening and your brain is just doing them and telling your where to go, in the same way your foot knows where to step during a run. Of course, when I stop running, there’s not a bunch of people clapping for me [laughs]. And, I’m not going to talk to that many people after the run about what a cool run it was! I miss the exchange of seeing people, not so much the applause (although I do like applause)—that communication.

For all things Quicksand please check out: quicksandnyc.com. Distant Populations is out now on Epitaph Records.

Power Supply: In The Time of The Sabre-toothed tiger

Photo: Matt Weston. Handmade collage by B.

Power Supply have come together to bring us an inspired record for grim times. The Naarm/Melbourne group features Leon Stackpole (The Sailors), Richard Stanley (Drug Sweat), Per Bystrom (Voice Imitator) and Mikey Young (The Green Child). In the Time of the Sabre-toothed Tiger packs a one two punch with its bright melodies and first-class songwriting. An invigorated, yet chilled and charming style of garage rock, that will have you smiling; the sincere and entertaining lyrics a highlight.

Gimmie are excited to premiere first single ‘Infinity’! We chat with vocalist-guitarist Leon about the track and forthcoming album, out October 22, a co-release between Anti Fade and Goner Records.

We’ve been listening to the new Power Supply album In the Time of the Sabre-toothed Tiger on high rotation all week. It’s such an incredible record. It has a really bright feel to it and it’s made us really happy. In grim times, like the world has been experiencing of late, it’s nice to have something like your record to lift the mood.

LEON STACKPOLE: That’s really nice to hear. It makes me feel happy too.

When I recently spoke to Billy from Anti Fade Records (who is putting the record out) he told me that you’re one of the funniest guys he knows. How important is humour in your life?

LS: It’s through everything really for me. I really like music that has a sense of humour. I also like music that is serious too, but I think that some of my favourite stuff has that extra little bit, that humour, in it. I gravitate towards those sorts of things.

One of the things that I really love about Power Supply is your lyrics. There is a comedy in there, but then there is also introspection and a lot of thought behind it.

LS: I think you could say that… [pauses]. Sorry, I’m just walking past my wife in the garden.

Lovely!

LS: There is humour. The lyrics that are on there are probably no particular theme, yeah?

I feel like it’s a real collection of thoughts, from everywhere, just from living life.

LS: Yeah, there is. I made up all of the album pretty much. Probably the ones that get on there are the ones that are the least ridiculous [laughs]. Some of the songs I’d take to rehearsal to play to the guys and they’d just go, “Oh my god, what is that?” [laughs]. They may consider it to play live once in a while, but other than that they just go, “All right, it’s a bit too absurd.”

[Laughter]. I understand that when you got back into the shed to write the record that “jams became songs, jokes became lyrics”; what is one of your favourite jokes that became a lyric?

LS: I think the ‘Time of the Sabre-toothed Tiger’ one makes me laugh. It comes from the concept of when people talk about anthropology and evolution, these sorts of concepts, and how all of our behaviours go back to early humans, back in the time of the sabre-toothed tiger. When my wife and I are talking about things, we’d be like, ‘what would they have done back in the time of the sabre-toothed tiger?’ That crept into the lyrics to the point where I suppose you hop into a time machine and go find out. To me, that’s funny! I don’t know if it is to anyone else though [laughs].

[Laughter] It is. I totally get that. There are a lot of moments lyric-wise on the record that had me smiling in amusement and laughing.

LS: I think ‘Infinity’ is funny as well. That song is completely absurd. I haven’t actually talked about these songs to anyone, you’re the first person I’ve spoken to. It’s funny you’re asking me these questions because I was just out in the bush taking the child for a ride, feeding the guinea pigs and things, it was getting closer to the time for us to chat and I thought, aww sheezus those songs, I have to talk about those songs! [laughs]. I called up Per and said, Per, what do you think are the themes of the songs on this album? He said, “It’s kind of like all these songs that you made up before lockdown that kind of predicted lockdown. Fuck, we’re soothsayers or something like that!” [laughs]. I don’t know if I honestly believe that, but it’s interesting to hear his perspective on it.

I love how the opening lyrics for ‘Infinity’ literally say that Mikey sent you an MP3 and the title was ‘Infinity’.

LS: [Laughs] That’s exactly how it happened.

Did you ask Mikey about why he called it ‘Infinity’?

LS: I never did ask him about it. My son became a but obsessed by that song. With the last verse about lying on your deathbed, he’s like, “What’s a deathbed, dad?”

Wow. That’s a big question.

LS: [Laughs] Yeah. Then he became obsessed with the concept of infinity as well. I pinched all of his little phrases that he says for the other song… what’s it called?

Photo: Raven Mahon

‘Infinity and 90′?

LS: Yeah. ‘Infinity and 90’.

I was going to ask you if there is a connection between the songs ‘Infinity’ and ‘Infinity and 90’?

LS: Yeah, there’s a connection… I’ve never really thought of this before. So, since hearing ‘Infinity’, my son was obsessed with the concept and we were driving along in the car and he’s like, “Daddy, I think I know the biggest number ever! Infinity and 90!” [laughs]. I wrote it down and when it came time to write the song, I thought they made good lyrics, so I threw Archie’s lyrics on there.

That was one of the songs that had me amused by the lyrics. I also love the line: Does the mountains make the mist or does the mist make the mountains?

LS: I love that one too. We were driving to Melbourne passed Mount Macedon, it was covered in cloud. My son was contemplating that and said that, that’s how that lyric came.

The next line too, about there being a bee in the car; that was real too?

LS: We were in the car and there was a panic. In absolute terror and fear he’s like, “There’s a bee! There’s a bee in the car!” But actually, it was a piece of dust [laughs]. I don’t know how he confused dust with a bee, by the way.

It’s funny because as a listener who has no idea of the backstory of the song, you could listen to the lyrics and it could sound like an abstract metaphor and you could read really into it like, oh this is such a deep concept! In reality though, it comes from the everyday ordinary life stuff you experience.

LS: Yeah, for sure. I love that.

The way you deliver the vocal for ‘Infinity and 90’ is almost whisper-like; what inspired that?

LS: I’d been listening to a lot of La Düsseldorf that day and somehow or another that voice ended up on that song.

I think the vocal delivery really suits it. I also love how every song on the record sounds different. I don’t want to sound too wanky, but the cohesiveness of the album feels like a journey.

LS: Yeah, yeah. There’s nothing wrong with a good journey here and there.

Are there any lyricists that you really love?

LS: Yeah. It’s funny, this morning the local radio station was asking people about that, to text in and say their favourite lyricists. People were writing in fairly regular things. I thought, what would I do? I’ve been listening to Kate Wolf lately, a lot. I ended up texting in and saying, Kate Wolf. Some of her lyrics, songs like ‘Green Eyes’, I love that song. It’s beautiful, just so perfect and genuine.

When did you first start singing?

LS: I used to sing in bed when I was a kid, until I’d finally fall asleep. I didn’t really sing that much until we started a band with some friends of mine called, The Sailors. It was a good band because we’d all jump in and have a go. With Power Supply, I’m trying to get everyone to do backing vocals. I think Mikey is finally coming around to the concept [laughs]. I like to hear backing vocals, I love them.

Same! I’m a big fan of backing vocals. The band No Doubt have some really cool backing vocals that Gwen Stefani does. They’re actually really interesting and have some cool harmonies.

LS: Yeah, right. I haven’t really listened to their records except for the hits and a bit of her first solo record [Love. Angel. Music. Baby]. I kind of like that record.

That record rules!

LS: I like the big hit off of that one. The one where she’s basically struggling to come up with new songs.

‘What You Waiting For?’?

LS: Yes! That’s a classic that song. I do like that record. When the harmonies are done really well it’s just wonderful.

Totally! Do you ever get self-conscious doing vocals?

LS: Not so much anymore. I remember the first gig that us guys played, I didn’t really have any lyrics [laughs]. I was driving to the gig trying to make them up; that was probably a bit nerve-racking.

How did the gig end up going?

LS: Well, it’s amazing what you can get away with! [laughs]. The gig was fine.

Art by Mark Rodda

How did a Mark Rodda painting end up becoming the album’s cover?

LS: That was Per’s research. How it went about it, I’m not sure. We did look at a few different things and a few different artists’ styles. Per looked at all that stuff and we discussed a few. In the end he said, “This is the one.” And, we all agreed.

When you look at the album cover, what do you get from it?

LS: I haven’t seen it for a little while, but it makes me feel warm inside.

[Laughter]. Awww.

LS: It probably looks a little desolate. I’m living in Central Victoria right now, so everything is a little like that sort of a landscape, which I feel pretty comfortable with. How about you?

I get more of a lush feeling from it. The tree gives me ancient forest vibes. I think it ties in with Time of the Sabre-toothed Tiger theme too.

LS: I do recall us making that connection. I do guess that’s why Per suggested it.

What’s one of your favourite things about the new album?

LS: I love the sound; I think it sounds amazing. We recorded it at The Tote in the front bar. We did a residency in September two years ago; we played each Sunday afternoon. We left our gear there on the last night and came in on the Monday and recorded it there, cos we were pretty well-practiced. You’ve got the traffic out the front, I thought it was all going to come through the windows, but it’s fairly well insulated and you couldn’t really hear anything else. In fact, the beer fridge was making more noise than anything else and we had to turn the beer fridge off.

What did recording at The Tote add to the songs or experience?

LS: It made it feel more comfortable because we’d just played there. It’s been hard for us to get together to play. I’ve been in Castlemaine, Mikey is down on the Peninsula, the other guys are in Melbourne. We have to make an effort. We played five gigs in a row over five weeks and recorded, we were hoping that we would feel comfortable, relaxed and well-practised. We do have fun together. We recorded in one day. We’ve added some overdubs and things in since; a few years for some overdubs! [laughs].

How does it feel to finally have the album coming out in October?

LS: A relief really. Just last year I was saying, oh, let’s just put this out on Bandcamp and be done with it. It kind of felt like that for me [laughs].

I’m glad you didn’t just release it digitally. It’s such a beautiful album and deserves a physical release. The album is too special for it to only be digital!

LS: It’s been such a long time since we recorded it all.

Have you listened back to it recently?

LS: Nah, but I probably should. We have been talking about playing some gigs, but I don’t think it’s going to happen for a while.

When we jam and it’s Mikey, Richard and Per just playing away, it’s the best thing for me, I just sit back and listen to those guys.

We’re excited to be premiering ‘Infinity’ the first single from the new album!

LS: That’s so great!

There’s a lot of stuff around water and the environment that seeps into the music.

I know that you work in environment protection roles, so obviously you have a passion for doing that.

LS: For sure. It’s probably the sub-theme in the whole sabre-tooth-tiger-thing—environmental change.

I totally got that. It’s interesting how a lot of the world seems so divided right now and people get so hyper-focused on particular things and who is right and wrong, but they also forget that there’s crazy stuff going on with the planet, climate change, depletion of land and resources. If we don’t have a planet then we’re not going to have anything! It’s pretty much the number one base thing we should be concerned about.

LS: Yeah. It’s pretty fundamental [laughs]… that’s just trying to add some humour to it, because it is fundamental.

Photo: Matt Weston

**Note: This interview is an extract. The entire chat where we talk more about the album, Sun Ra, turning every day occurrences into song, and more, will appear in the October print issue of Gimmie**

Here’s the first sneak peek at ‘Infinity’ from Power Supply’s forthcoming album, In the Time of the Sabre-toothed Tiger:

Available for pre-order HERE at Anti Fade and HERE (in the US) at Goner Records.

GIMMIE ZINE ISSUE 3

Issue 3 of Gimmie Zine features In-depth interviews with:

The Murlocs’ Ambrose Kenny-Smith opens up about inspirations in his life that coloured stories told on latest album Bittersweet Demons. He chats life, death, love, family, early days, skateboarding and creativity.

Shannon Shaw of Oakland band Shannon and the Clams has a really special chat giving an insight into the making of new record The Year of the Spider, written during some of the most stressful moments of her life; caring for her father battling illness, and dealing with a Peeping Tom haunting her apartment complex. Shannon shares a life changing experience, joyful news and talks about visits to her psychic, her art, songwriting, and finding confidence.

Ghanaian-born Canberra-based creative powerhouse Genesis Owusu tells us about inspirations and debut album Smiling with No Teeth, which explores racism, depression and mental health, while championing individualism and free expression.

Hardcore punk band Mundo Primitivo’s Melissa López chats about what’s happening in her home country Colombia (mass protests, increasing social inequities and decades of institutionalised corruption), the punk community, her deep love of nature, spending time working in the Amazon rainforest and her art.

Nice Biscuit co-vocalists and multi-instrumentalists Billie Star and Grace Cuell discuss EP Create Simulate, new music, making stage costumes, working through anxiety and self-doubt, and grounding yourself through being creative.

Briana Hernandez and Raidy Hodges from Chicago band Spread Joy talk beginnings, their debut record (one of our favs of this year), new music and writing short, snappy songs that say “fuck you”.

In a rare English-language interview, 60s French yé-yé revivalists Fleur’s singer, Floor Elman gushes over The Beatles, vintage fashion, and the importance of family. She gets deep about spirituality, creativity and motherhood too.

Billy from Research Reactor Corp. yarns about some of his favourite songs.

48 pages. A4 size. Limited Edition. 

Available here. (U.S.A. pressing coming via totalpunkrecords.com)

GIMMIE RADIO JULY 2021 (2.0)

Alright, so last month we posted June’s playlist, and in the stupor of being so ultra focused on completing the print issue planned for July, we mistakenly listed it as the “July 2021” playlist.. but never fear, here is the real July playlist! This month features music from Smoke Bellow, Dr. Sure’s Unusual Practice, Tropical Fuck Storm, Genesis Owusu, Eieieio, Blonde Revolver, Nice Biscuit, and a bunch more! We hope you enjoy.

MOD CON’s Erica Dunn: “A plea for honesty and a real searching for truth in these sorts of times”

Original Photo by: Jamie Wdziekonski. Handmade collage by B.

Gimmie have loved Naarm/Melbourne trio MOD CON since we first heard their debut release in 2017, the MOD CON/Fair Maiden split 7”. In July we featured guitarist-vocalist Erica Dunn on the cover of our first print edition, and now we’re incredibly excited to premiere the film clip for song ‘Ammo’, the first single off upcoming sophomore album, Modern Condition. We chatted with Erica about the song and clip, and of finally playing live shows again, plus we get a sneak peek into the new record, due out October 1 on Poison City Records.

ERICA DUNN: I’m walking my dog, Poncho. We’re just strolling around in soggy-arsed creek-land.

Nice! How have things been since we last spoke a couple of months ago?

ED: Things have been busy. Sometimes I’m like, it’s a rat race in my mind! [laughs]. There always seems to be a lot to juggle. I feel like it’s a strange new era where, because we’ve been locked down, you have to clear your mental expectations if your mental health is going to be ok; you have to get really present. When the lockdown is lifted it’s fucking crazy the adrenaline kicks in, you feel like everything is on, and you have to make the most of it! There’s also a new gratitude for when you are able to work and do stuff. It’s just, let’s fucking go! [laughs].

You’ve finally got to play some live shows again.

ED: We [Tropical Fuck Storm] were pinching ourselves thinking that the gigs with King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard happened! We played every capital city without a hitch. It was incredible, it felt like normal life. We’re playing a MOD CON show on Sunday and the capacity is forty people, you just have to roll with it. We’re supporting Exek on Saturday night too, they just released one of the best records I’ve heard in ages! There’s only 100 people able to attend, it’s like a parallel universe.

We love that Exek album too!

ED: Shows have been varying degrees of normal. It’s always great to play though. Playing a show to forty people a year ago, might not have seemed worth it, but now I’m like, fuck it! The venue can sell beer and we can party—do it while we can! We have to take it as it comes. It’s hard to know where boundaries are when booking things because it can change so quickly, it’s all go, then stop, then go again. We’re about to release an album into a very different world than when we have previously.

[Erica talks to Poncho: “come on, up you get, in the car!”]

He’s old!

What kind of dog is Poncho?

ED: A mystery boy! [laughs]. He’s probably a Ridgeback mixed with a Staffy. He’s getting on to be thirteen now. He needs help getting into the car, but still loves to cavort around every day. We did our loop of the Darebin Parklands, which is so beautiful.

That’s a lovely way to decompress after rushing around doing things all day.

ED: For sure. There are times when I’m so busy or it’s freezing or raining and I’m like, fuck this! But then I always feel better afterwards.

Yeah, I get that too. Especially if it’s wet or cold, you kind of feel like you really accomplished something. I find that when you push yourself to do something and you do it, then that filters out into other parts of your life and you can start to achieve more and more.

ED: Yeah, that’s a great way to look at it. I’m going off to boxing class later, that’s the real decompression! [laughs].

We’re premiering the clip for your new album Modern Condition’s first single ‘Ammo’; can you remember writing the song?

ED: I was talking to the girls yesterday about it when we were having a practice. It was actually the last song written for the album, which is funny because it’s the first song out. It was the wild card song. It was the last one to get lyrics, I wrote them on the second last day of recording with John [Lee]. I just moved house and it was in the same week I spoke to you last; we just finished recording the record.

The song is not exactly how I have gone about things in the past. We had the riff, structure, tension and trajectory of the song sorted, and in the jams, I was yelling mystery words. In that coming together, we all recognised there was a vibe, an angle, to the song and the stuff I was spontaneously yelling. I had recordings of those jams and captured a couple of the bits of imagery that I was on about. The genesis is, that it was a bit of a mad, haphazard one [laughs].

One of the things we especially love on ‘Ammo’ is the drums!

ED: Raquel [Solier]! Fuck yeah! We were really running on a mad schedule and a couple of things interrupted the recording, [bass player] Sara [Retallick] got real sick and couldn’t make it, and there was a snap lockdown just before we were to start recording, which was meant to be our final pre-production-type thing.

There was a couple of days that Raquel and I did that was a guitar and drums day trying to nut out mystery question marks about a few songs. She came up with this crazy fucking rhythm for this song. It’s so sick! The subtext right there, is that it sounds kind of military-esque, it’s very explosive. She’s a wizard! She’s complicated and it’s fantastic [laughs]. We have a lot of back and forth, she often writes rhythms based on the lengths of my lyrics or parts of phrases. She’s much more adept at musical knowledge and language than I am. I get too fucking muddled and am like; where’s the one?! [laughs].

[Laughter]. I’m excited to hear the full album. How amazing is that remix that Ela Stiles did for ‘Ammo’?

ED:  It was something that we did on the last record too, we approached Jacky Winter to do a remix for us. I don’t know if other artists get this certain hang up, but if you record something it’s strange, it’s like, is that it? It’s very finite in a way and then it’s out in the world. I’m interested in melodies and melody writing and playing around with ways of doing things, it makes sense to chuck out a remix and have a different perspective; another layer on all the ideas that are in there. You can see people’s reactions to it as well, for some people it’s another way into the band. Remixes freak some people out and others think it’s bangin’! It’s another way to explore the world of the song.

We’re definitely on the it’s-bangin’ side of things!

ED: Same!

It’s always cool to hear a song in a new context.

ED: And, it’s fun! Ela is another musician, composer, producer that has such mad chops! I have a lot of respect for her. It’s so cool to see how your song comes back at you and you can see things that someone else picked up, and what they have as the backbone, how they put a whole new spin on it. When I first heard it, I was driving in the car and I was like, far out! It raises your heartrate for sure! It’s anxiety inducing in a good way, especially how she pulled out the melodies.

Let’s talk about the ‘Ammo’ film clip. It was Oscar O’Shea that filmed it?

ED: Yeah, Oscar is someone that is so positive and excitable. He’s a can-do problem solver, up for anything. The clip, artwork and all the things that come beside releasing a song and album, are the stepping stones in which to explore and springboard some of the ideas at play in it. The clip is a play on sitting in a society that is always throwing shit at each other and navigating that, hoping it doesn’t stick, hoping that it doesn’t fly up in your face. It was a couple of packets of Golden Circle pancakes and crumpets, and a few friends on the side chucking them in our faces. It was a challenge trying to eyeball the camera, get the lyrics out and seem unphased [laughs]. It’s an analogy, sometimes I feel like that in life. It was a fun way to build on what I’m ranting about in the track.

It looks cool visually. Did you cop any crumpets to the head?

ED: We got a couple! [laughs]. I definitely got a couple in the face; I could definitely do a blooper reel! Raquel is Kung fu trained and did a couple of badarse, sick moves at the end. She grabs one out of the air without even paying much attention to it, it’s super cool!

I noticed in the clip she was reading The Tao Of Pooh [by Benjamin Hoff].

ED: Yeah, how good! I wanted her to bring along a prop. She was reading it at the time. She’d come over for a cup of tea and she brought up that she had been re-reading that and finding pearls of wisdom in it. I was like, fucking bring that to the clip, it’ll be perfect! That was legit on her bedside table at the time we made the clip. It sat perfectly in this world of trying to be present while everything is exploding overhead. Then we were playing around with the flour and the milk, it was evoking smoke and explosions, which was cool fun to experiment with.

There was a bit of a collab on the clip too. Carolyn Hawkins from Parsnip and School Damage did a bunch of the stop motion.

When we first saw the clip, we totally thought it was reminiscent of her style, that’s so cool it actually is her work!

ED: Yeah, it’s got her all over it. She’s another person that we thought of working with because she’s got the mad prowess, great vision and she understood what we wanted straight away. I sent her an old clip of the Sesame Street [sings] “one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten…” old school thing. I was thinking about “ammo” and thinking about it in all these different contexts, weaponry, and objects in our lives gaining agency. She nailed the undertones of aggressiveness and the sinister aspect that simple objects can have, especially en masse. It’s not overdone or in your face. That’s how I feel at least when I watch it. Part of me is like, woo hoo! Look at those little forks fly! Oh my god they’re getting power! They’re growing and stockpiling and conspiring with each other! [laughs]. There’s an edge to it. Props to my housemates too, that are still wondering when they’re getting their bottle opener back, and our forks!

I love that you’re all such nerds and there’s so much thought that goes into everything you do.

ED: Yeah, it’s true! I feel like there’s two ways of looking at things. In the past, album releases like this have a big emotional weight for me, they can be fucking stressful. You can think, argh! I’ve already put all of my spirit into making the record and now there’s all these other strange hats you have to wear as a musician.

The other thing is, you can see it as extra opportunities of getting to collaborate with people that you want to work with and make it really fun! This experience has been completely fun. I am completely enamoured with what Caz has done, and all of the mad ideas with Oscar; same with Ela. It’s all fun new ways to see the song. A new dimension.

I love that there’s a light-heartedness to it too. The things you’re singing about can be serious, but then the clip give them a levity.

ED: It’s definitely crossed my mind that the song is not prescriptive, I’m not saying there’s a better way or that I have an answer, these are things that are going around in my mind and this is an avenue in which I can explore them. Having a light-hearted aspect is part of my personality, there’s a tongue-in-cheek-ness. Often, I realise retrospectively that I’m asking questions in my lyrics. It’s definitely an exploration.

It’s also a double-sided coin, the band is really serious and aggressive, we play live shows and there’s not much mucking around, the things that the three of us bring to a live show can be pretty staunch! However, the flip is that we’re in love with each other and when we’re playing, we’re having a really good time, it’s just the best for our mental health and for our relationships, it’s what the band is built on, and we’re always laughing. That gets represented in the music and all we put out, in some way.

I’ve always loved the quote from Gareth [Liddiard] where he said: MOD CON is like a cross between The Bangles and Black Flag. I thought that’s pretty on the money, because you have that aggression but then also pop sensibilities.

ED: [Laughs] Yeah! I think he was chuffed about that quote being pulled out about our last record. Maybe it’s just the two bands Gaz knows?! [laughs] Only kidding! I do think there is a crossing of a couple of worlds.

With the new album being called Modern Condition is the title a reflection of the album’s themes?

ED: Yeah. We had a long car trip together recently, we played a show three hours outside of Melbourne, and we were sussing out what the album should be called. We wanted it to be another MOD CON-ism, keeping Mod in the title. I think this is going to be two of three, there’s probably going to a trilogy. This section “Modern Condition” is a bow that can be tied between all of the songs, it’s really exploring human sensibilities. People talk about the human condition, but this is what humans are up to in these kinds of circumstances. If I was going to pull out some overarching themes of this album—it’s mostly a plea for honesty and a real searching for truth in these sorts of times.

“Ammo” is the first cab off the rank to represent that. It’s having a little investigation and inspection of the human condition in modern times. I feel like the backdrop of big scale and small-scale weaponry is the first investigation, without wanting to sound mega highbrow or whatever the fuck! [laughs]. I’m still trying to work it out for myself. It’s investigating myself too; what are my default positions? What am I defensive about? Doing that I’m also trying to investigate how to be open and how not to always be on the default and being defensive and collecting ammo, shit to chuck at another person.

I feel that finding your truth and actually living it can be a very hard thing. I’ve been going through that the last few years of my life, but I can definitely say since I found it and have been living it, nothing but great things have happened.

ED: You’re absolutely right, it’s a life journey! It can be totally confronting. But, once you have realisations about some things in your life, you can’t go back.

Please check out: MOD CON bandcamp; on Facebook; on Instagram. All things MOD CON at Poison City.

Full Power Happy Hour’s Alex Campbell: “We’d be a much more compassionate society if we all listened to each other a little bit better and understood more about mental illness, and the societal and political issues surrounding it”

Original photo: Marnie Vaughn. Handmade mixed-media collage by B.

Meanjin/Brisbane indie-folk alt-country five-piece Full Power Happy Hour’s songs have beauty and depth. Their self-titled debut album is sublime. Gimmie interviewed guitarist-vocalist Alex Campbell.

Last time we spoke was almost ten years ago! You were doing punk/riot grrrl band Gunk, and Slubs zine. Your latest band Full Power Happy Hour’s alt-country/indie-folk is quite the departure from Gunk’s sound; can you tell us a little bit about your evolution as a musician and towards this different sound? I know that folk and country were your first musical loves when you were growing up.

ALEX CAMPBELL: So long ago! I suppose I ended up in a punk band then, really just because two of the coolest people, Canna and Laura asked me to be in a band and I probably would have said yes whatever genre it was.  But it came at the right time, I was learning to be a feminist and was pretty angry at the world so punk/riot grrrl was a good vehicle for that. 

When my sister bought me my first guitar when I was fourteen, I started off playing folk songs, they were the first songs I learned on guitar, and I was in various choirs as a youngster, we sung Jazz, folk and country. I have always loved a lot of different types of music, so I like writing in different genres. I’ve been wanting to start a folk band for years, and it’s finally happened yay! It’s nice playing gentle reflective music now.

60s folk songstresses like Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Peggy Seegar are inspirations; what is it that you appreciate about them?

AC: They are all great song-writers who often got overshadowed by dudes, same old story. I think also, it was because they wrote protest songs, I mean folk and punk have a lot in common in that way, I guess they were just sort of subtle about it sometimes, because maybe they had to be in order to get a platform in the first place in the 60’s as women. I suppose I was just really into their music at a formative time in my life and so they were big influences. 

Full Power Happy Hour have recently put out a debut self-titled full-length, with the songs having been written around eight years ago, many first as poems and then played solo before you had the band together; how did it feel at first playing solo after being in Gunk? 

AC: I used to busk at the markets on the weekends when I was teenager so I’d had some experience performing by myself, but then playing gigs solo as Alekka, it was always pretty scary, and it took me a long time to feel ok with being vulnerable and alone up on stage, singing about personal things… it’s much better having the rest of FPHH with me up there now!

What was it like making the transition back to a band and hearing your songs really fleshed out with FPHH?

AC: It was the best feeling. I’d been trying to get a band together to perform and record these songs for years, so it was kind of a relief. I’m bloody ecstatic that I’ve found a group of deadset legends who just got what I was going for, and are passionate about the music as much as me.

How do you go about capturing various moods and emotions in your songwriting?

AC: Hmm, I write the songs as poems usually, so lyrics first, and that comes about from like writing in a diary, getting my feelings out, and then I just play around on guitar and see what chords and melody I can put to the lyrics and it just goes from there…

Lyrically on the record, mental health is a theme that comes through; are these written from personal experience? Why do you think it’s important that we have conversations about mental health whether that’s in a song or via everyday conversation?

AC: I’ve only really just got to a point in my life where I’m ok with talking about my mental health with people other than my close friends and family. I used to just write cryptic lyrics about it haha, because like many artists I use songwriting as a coping strategy for making sense of feelings and experiences, dealing with trauma. Art has always been great for that, and that’s also why people consume art, because when you can relate to a song, it can make you feel better because the song seems to be about what you’re going through so then you don’t feel so alone. It’s essential that we have conversations about mental health for that reason, to make sure people know they aren’t alone in their struggle, and to get rid of the shame surrounding it.

As a teacher I see my job being a lot about making sure the kids I teach grow into compassionate critical thinkers that will always ask questions about society and the world in order to make it a better place. Learning about other people’s experiences helps people to see different perspectives and realities. I feel like we’d be a much more compassionate society if we all listened to each other a little bit better and understood a bit more about mental illness, and the societal and political issues surrounding it. So many people waste their lives, and struggle to have healthy relationships with themselves and other people, because they don’t know how or are too scared to take care of their mental health. We need to talk about it so we can grow as a society in a regenerative and restorative way. That’s my two cents.

The album was recorded over a few weekends with Nell Forster at The Moon Room in Meanjin/ Brisbane. I understand that she gave you a lot of coaching during that time; what’s some helpful things you learnt from her guidance?

AC: I suppose we learned a lot about the recording process from Nell, and just got some really good music writing advice. She just gave us guidance about how songs would sound better with or without certain vocal or instrumental parts, or like when we wanted to go for a certain sound or mood in a song, she had a pair of fresh ears to listen to our songs and give us suggestions, she was so generous with her advice and support.

Can you tell us about the day making the video for ‘Old Mind of Mine’? Where was it shot? What is your fondest memory?

AC: The clip was filmed on Turrbal, Jaggera, Jinibura and Kabi Kabi country mostly at Loop Growers and lake Samsonvale. Finn made some curried egg sangas, I made some fairy bread, we got dressed up and got to hang out in the countryside being silly. Marnie and Nathan were so patient with us, and did an amazing job capturing this wholesome feeling that we have as a band, because we are all just a bunch of good friends, and so the fact that it looks like a holiday home video of friends is super authentic because that’s what it was.

‘Old Mind Of Mine’ expresses the importance of getting away from the city and having nature in your life; have you always had a strong connection to nature? What’s your relationship to it? Did it grow even greater during lockdown?

AC: Being in natural spaces calms me down but I haven’t always felt this way. My Dad grew up in the bush so we were a very outdoorsy family and were going camping all the time but I had a bit of insect and snake phobia so was always kind of reluctant on these trips. But as an adult that’s really changed, and I’m lucky to live near an area of bushland with a creek that’s really well looked after by the community. Being near any body of water really just re-sets me, when it rains, the creek is majestic. I try to walk down there every day, and during the lockdown I definitely valued it even more.

What kinds of things are influencing the most recent songs you’ve been writing?

AC: On the next record, there’s a big theme of friendship and family, I think I’ve now written a song about every one of my friends (they don’t know which ones though!), but I have a few new songs dealing with past traumas and the relief of getting clarity and growing and making peace with all of that. There may also be a couple about climate justice and shitty politicians…

What’s something you’ve been interested in lately that’s had you really engaged that you’d like to share with us? 

AC: I’ve been obsessed lately with Sydney band “Sunscreen”, The Weather Station’s latest album, Little Simz latest album, and Electric Fields has gotten me through my final prac at Uni. Also, two podcasts I’ve loved over the last few months are Oh My Dog, a locally made dog appreciation podcast, and a podcast called Nothing Much Happens, which has helped me improve my sleep so much this year.

Please check out: FULL POWER HAPPY HOUR bandcamp; on Instagram; on Facebook. Full Power Happy Hour out now on Coolin’ By Sound.