Perth Punks Aborted Tortoise Reveal new ALBUM with song and video premiere

Original pic taken from video by Thomas Cahill. Handmade mixed media art by B.

Aborted Tortoise return with new LP – A Album – their first full-length since 2017’s lauded An Beach. Today we’re premiering the first single ‘The Sun’ along with its super fun video. Gimmie caught up with the band to find out about it all.

What’s life been like lately? What did you get up to today?

ALEX: Been great thanks! I recently moved to the country about two hours south of Perth and it is bloody serene. I’ve set up a budget studio in the new place and it’s been super liberating being able to demo tracks whenever I want without worrying about annoying the neighbours cos they’re so far away. Today I drove back home from Perth after a wicked Halloween party on Saturday night with our sibling band Ghoulies. Had a heinous HJ’s lunch on the way back and I feel crook. 

What’s the best and worst things that have happened to you in the last week?

CHARLES: Best: The Unknowns dropped a hell good ‘Monster Mash’ cover. Worst: One of my students drew me a picture of what I would look like if I had “good hair”. The pigeon out the front of my house has not returned to its nest and I’m panicking.

You’re announcing the new Aborted Tortoise album; what can you tell us about it? What’s it called? How would you describe it?

CHARLES: It is called A Album, we would describe it as A Album.

ALEX: Correct. It’s got 11 songs and clocks in at around 23 minutes, therefore it is technically A Album. Ultimately, it’s just an attempt to remind people we are still a band and want to remain in the optimum position in people’s alphabetically sorted record collections. It’s going to be out through Bargain Bin Records in Australia, Bachelor Records in Europe and Under The Gun Records in the US. All three labels are amazing so it’s been sick to work with them all at once!

I understand that you’ve had the album recorded for a while now. What did the writing process for it look like? What are some of the main things that inspired it lyrically?

ALEX: Yeah, we recorded it a very long time ago, maybe December 2018? That’s fucked to think about, I didn’t realise it had been that long. The writing process was more or less the same as the last LP. No real concept or grand ideas, just a collection of unrelated songs that we had built up that needed to be recorded. As such it’s pretty all over the place in terms of subject matter. Anything from being shot into The Sun, being born, being consumed by ooze, and sanctimonious bozos is fair game in this wretched band. 

What track was the most fun to write? What made it so?

ALEX: Definitely ‘Amniotic’, the one about being born (obviously). That one stemmed from a story one of our friends told us. They knew someone in primary school who swore blind they clearly remembered being born which is cursed. To us that was the funniest thing we’d ever heard so we all wrote the lyrics in the studio during the LP session around the idea of being born as a fully self-aware human. Lyrically it’s our most collaborative effort so far, we just sat in the control room and wrote it in about 15 minutes.

CHARLES: We have never had particularly clever or meaningful lyrics, but we hit new lows when we write together haha. The entire ending segment was improvised on the day of recording and just got stupider and more ludicrous with each take. It was very self-indulgent, but we had a lot of fun.

Sonically, is it a continuation of your sound on last release Scale Model Subsistence Vendor 7” or did you try some new things this time around? Did you have any reference points from the outset of the creative process?

ALEX: We wrote Scale Model Subsistence Vendor over a year later than the new LP, so everything is a bit all over the place chronologically. I’d say both releases we’ve pushed pretty hard to make the interplay between the guitars more interesting rather than just having Tom and Charles both play the same part at the same time. I can’t say we had any super direct reference points but at that time we were all listening to the first two Uranium Club LPs so that’s probably rubbed off in an indirect way. There’s a wee bit of keyboard on a couple of the tracks too which is something that we’ve been keen to do for a while now which is new for us.

You recorded previous Aborted Tortoise releases, starting with the Do Not Resuscitate 7”; did you record the new album? What did you enjoy most about the process?

ALEX: Yeah, so I recorded the last two 7”s but the new LP was recorded by Brod Madden Scott at Tunafish studio. He recorded An Beach as well. He’s a really great engineer and guy so everything went super smoothly. Recording yourself is a blessing and a curse because on the one hand there’s less pressure as it’s just the band in the same room and there are no financial constraints. At the same time though worrying about 1000 different things on top of needing to actually play properly can be a bit stressful. It is much easier in the sense that you can get things to sound exactly how you want though without things getting lost in translation or without external influences muddying stuff up. At the end of the day though I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing so we decided to record the LP properly with Brod and I reckon that was a very wise decision.

Pic by Thomas Cahill

We’re premiering the new song ‘The Sun’ along with its film clip; what’s the song about?

TOM: The song is about The Sun, but also the idea of getting launched into The Sun as a way to die. We’ve also had this idea of being the first person on The Sun, as a kind of milestone for humanity. This song expresses that sentiment.

Where did the idea for the clip come from?

ALEX: We were kinda stuck for ideas for a fair while but ultimately decided on depicting the band playing amongst various sun-scapes. Initially the plan was to go out to some sand dunes or a salt lake on a hot sunny day and film there but the weather has been uncharacteristically shitty for Perth this time of year, so The Sun hasn’t been its usual reliable self. Instead, we opted to go the safer green screen route with our friend Thomas Cahill (Bunkyvids) who did a fantastic job rounding up us idiots and teasing out a semi-coherent video.

What do you remember from filming it?

CHARLES: Skeletons and John not helping pack up.

ALEX: We only filmed it maybe two weeks ago so it’s all still fresh in my mind. Lots of skeletons and Crown lager (as a treat). We spent over $200 on KMART skeletons. Money well spent.

Like most bands, Aborted Tortoise haven’t had the chance to play live much in the last couple of years. Last we spoke Connor was overseas in Germany, and when he finally returned you started rehearsing again. You played a show in July this year; is there a part of the experience that you’d completely forgotten about?

ALEX: Yeah, the whole Covid thing obviously really fucked things up. Connor had moved to Europe so we were taking a break from live shows as is. Though we did have grand plans to meet him over there at some point for a tour but obviously the pandemic rendered that impossible. Connor ended up coming back though and once everything calmed down a bit in WA we did manage to sneak in a couple shows around our limited lockdowns. We have made a conscious decision to keep live shows a bit sparse though, at least until touring is more feasible. That July show was really rad, we were just stoked people still gave a fuck enough to come watch us because for a while there I think people assumed we were no longer a band. We had a ripper night though and would love to play a couple more shows here and there. Playing live is always the best part of being in a band. 

Have you ever gotten nervous before you’ve played a show? 

CHARLES: I think everyone has unless they’re a filthy liar. I still take nervous poos pre show.

What’s your favourite release from this year so far? What do you appreciate about it?

ALEX: Aw geez that’s a tough one. Can’t say I’ve been listening to a whole lot of new music lately which is a bit stupid. Though we have all been religiously listening to The Spits’ VI. Kinda cheating but it came out 366 days ago today so technically counts? Anyways, that album is unstoppable. The lyrics have to be the greatest shit I ever heard but that’s what you expect from The Spits. They scratch an itch that no other band can personally.

What’s five things that have made you really happy this year?

ALEX: 1. We’re all crypto gremlins now so Shiba Inu’s recent spike has been nice.
2. Connor bought a sailing boat recently.
3. Connor and I recently started whittling wood so have been trading ideas on how to carve spoons and the like.
4. The prospect of a return to near normalcy (???)
5. Adding to our plastic skeleton collections.

‘The Sun’ is the first single taken from Aborted Tortoise’s second LP, A Album. A Album is out on November 8 through Bargain Bin Records (Australia), Bachelor Records (Europe) and Under The Gun Records (United States).

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Alex Patching of Perth Punk Band Aborted Tortoise: “I became obsessed with four-tracks, thanks largely to Get Real Stupid the first Reatards 7-inch”

Handmade mixed-media collage by B.

We really dig Aborted Tortoise with their wild, driving, rapid-fire, jangly, buzzing punk. Their latest release is a concept EP – Scale Model Subsistence Vendor – about Coles’ Minis, the stupidity and frustration of the frenzied obsession and the pointless consumerism people buy into. We chatted with drummer, Alex Patching.

How did you first discover punk rock?

ALEX PATCHING: Personally most of my initial exposure probably came from the skate videos I used to watch when I was younger. The influence of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtrack also can’t be overstated. My dad is a massive rock dog so I didn’t really grow up with much punk being played aside from maybe the odd Sex Pistols song. Initially I got really into the bigger names (as you do) like Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat etc. but eventually started digging a little deeper and got really into the lo-fi cassette stuff that’s been so popular on YouTube over the last few years.

You all grew up together before Aborted Tortoise was even a band; tell us a little something about each member?

AP: Connor [Lane; vocals] is The Tony Galati of cryptocurrency (WA reference – sorry). Charles [Wickham; guitar] is a reality TV addict/Coles Minis enthusiast. Tom [Milan; guitar] is a medical physicist/renaissance man. John [Peers; bass] is a rock pig/gamer and I’m a subpar historian.  

All of us (except Connor) went to the same high school, so we were all more or less familiar with each other long before the band was a thing. Tom and I have known each other since pre-primary and have a long and vibrant history – I have vivid memories of playing AOE at his house in primary school, the one you used to get in Nutri-Grain boxes. We used to make mazes filled with various hazard like crocodiles and lions and force innocent villagers to escape.

The four of us had a short-lived high school band which we fucked around with before starting Aborted Tortoise just after we graduated. We needed a vocalist, so we ended up recruiting Connor who I’d known for a while through a wider group of friends who used to go skating.

What’s the story behind your band name? How did you come to putting the words “aborted” and “tortoise” together? It’s has a nice ring to it!

AP: Haha, thanks. There was talk of changing the name at one point but we decided against it and now, for better or worse, it’s what we’re called. Its eye catching at least?

From memory we were hanging out in a carpark at this lake near where we live and there are all of these signs warning the public of tortoises crossing the road. Pretty sure I just saw the sign and the words came out. It’s far less heinous than the two pages of alternate names that we had lying around so we decided it would be the band name.

Aborted Tortoise are from Perth, Western Australia; how does your environment influence your music?

AP: I’m not sure it does influence our music per se. It does influence where we play in that it’s far more expensive to tour living here than it would be if we were based in Sydney or Melbourne or something. It’s not like we can pop over to a neighbouring city for the weekend with any ease, so we have to get used to playing the same five venues to the same 50 people. Thankfully we have the internet to peddle our wares because if we had to rely solely on the local scene for selling merch, things would be a bit grim.

You once describe your music as “like Chuck Berry on crack”; what key elements do you think make the Aborted Tortoise sound?

AP: Hahaha that quote is edgy 18-year-old me to a tee. Certainly early on, particularly on the first EP, there was a pretty strong element of traditional garage and surf like the Sonics or Dick Dale, so there was lots of blues scales, and most of the lyrics (at least on my behalf) ripped off a lot of the song concepts from those bands.

That said we’re a totally different band to the one that recorded our first EP. I think now we try to use the dual guitar thing a bit more interestingly rather than just having two guitars playing power chords. There’s also definitely a sense of humour and immaturity because we don’t want to take things too seriously. We have the most fun when we’re taking the piss.

At the start of March you released your Coles’ Minis inspired concept EP, Scale Model Subsistence Vendor EP; what sparked the idea?

AP: We had the idea of doing some form of concept EP and Charles had written a song about Coles Minis so we ran with that idea. Charles reckons he went to some movie night at a friend’s house and saw a bunch of Coles Minis on display around the place and got unreasonably (I say reasonably?) annoyed about it. The rabid presence of makeshift marketplaces and swap-meets for them online were also an inspiration.

Was it hard to write all the EP songs to theme?

AP: Honestly it probably helped a bit. We don’t often write to a consistent theme and we just choose ideas based on what we think is funny. Everyone had an idea about what part of the Minis process they wanted to respond to so we split the writing duties like that. Any parallels to the actual minis process are purely coincidental, but we made some educated guesses. Very happy to have finally used the word polyethylene in a song though.

You recorded and mixed the EP on a 4-track; how did you first learn how to record? Are you self-taught? Can you tell us a bit about recording process?

AP: In the pre-Aborted Tortoise days we used to badly self-record stuff with a USB mic into a computer, but we had no idea what the fuck we were doing and consequently the recordings are heinous. I ended up studying sound at Murdoch Uni which was fun but only maybe 40% was relevant to my interests. During that time I became obsessed with four-tracks, thanks largely to Get Real Stupid the first Reatards 7”, and in the end I learnt more by just playing around with my four track at home than I did during my degree. I just used my other bands, and my friends’ bands as guinea pigs to figure out what I was doing.

The first Aborted Tortoise release that I recorded and mixed was the Do Not Resuscitate 7”. That release was done mostly live on my Yamaha MT50. That machine shat the bed during that session, so the second side of the 7” was recorded on a different four-track that we borrowed (cheers Tom Cahill). When we were doing takes of 20XX the tape was speeding up as we started playing so it sounded like we were taking off or something, it was fucked.

Subsequently, for Scale Model Subsistence Vendor I reverted back to using my first-four track, my Tascam Porta 02. It’s probably the most basic four track you can get that isn’t just a tape deck. It’s technically a four-track but it can only record on two tracks at once. The only mix functions it has is level and pan control so essentially the mix had to be decided on before pressing record, and all the instruments were squashed together on two tracks as a stereo mix.

Connor’s place has a neat granny flat which we have kindly been granted access to, so we can record in there for free. The set up for Scale Model Subsistence Vendor was super basic; we just chucked all the instruments in the same room, popped a few mics about and played some takes, tweaking the settings on the desk as we went. Once we were happy with the mix, we just played the songs through and got them done in a day. Vocals were done separately a week or two later and that was that.

What’s is the most memorable show you’ve played? What made it so?

AP: Definitely a major one was when we went to Melbourne around 2015 to play a couple of gigs. We played a show at The Grace Darling with Dumb Punts who were kind enough to chuck us on a bill with them. The set itself wasn’t very memorable but at some point, someone knocked over a pint glass and it smashed on the stage. Later during Dump Punts’ set, Tom fell over straight onto the smashed pint glass with arms outstretched and badly cut up his hands, so we had to bail to the hospital so he could get stitched up which took all night. Tom still couldn’t move his fingers when we got back to Perth, so he went back to hospital only to find out that he’d actually severed some tendons in his hand, and the fuckhead doctor in Melbourne hadn’t properly checked it out. In any case it’s miraculous that Tom can even play guitar anymore. Hopefully that doctor got fired.

Some honourable mentions: that shit house party in Yanchep, Chaos Club 1 + 2 (for all the wrong reasons), Camp Doogs (both times).

Outside of music, how do you spend your time?

AP: Charles is in his final year at uni studying education so he can finally morph into Mr. Wickham and boss kids about.

I’ve just started studying honours in history part time, so I’ve got two years of uni ahead of me before my life starts truly resembling Night At The Museum. Charles and I both work together at the same store of a popular technology chain selling unnecessary shit to annoying techies who have nothing better to do.

Tom works at a hospital as a medical physicist doing complicated things to complicated machines that I don’t fully understand but its fucking sick nonetheless.

Connor had been residing in Europe until coronavirus kicked off big time so he’s back for the time being. Probably plotting his next crypto move.

Finally, John works in disability support, and has recently logged 200 hrs of the new Call Of Duty.

Please check out: ABORTED TORTOISE. AT on Facebook. Scale Model Subsistence Vendor available via Goodbye Boozy Records.