Sleeper and Snake on new LP Fresco Shed + first single ‘Flats’: “There’s all these people with power next to disempowered people… AND it’s all on Stolen Land. Everywhere you look is a little snapshot of this…”

Original photo Mia McDonald. Handmade mixed-media art by B.

Melbourne duo Sleeper and Snake, Amy Hill and Al Montfort, are set to release new album Fresco Shed via brand new independent Australian label Lulu’s Sonic Disc Club (from the folks behind Lulu’s record store) and the UK’s Upset the Rhythm.

Sleeper and Snake craft beautiful and delicate songs about tough matters, their songs are political without being overtly so, you have to dig deeper, they make you think. Al and Amy skillfully and uniquely tell stories observed from their local surroundings of trains, farmers, corrupt handshakes, of Pentridge prison and the Melbourne war memorial. Through laid back alto and tenor saxophone peppered lo-fi soundscapes and poetic words, Fresco Shed sparks imagination and charms the listener.

Gimmie chatted to Al and Amy about the forthcoming LP and song “Flats” which we’re doing the Australian video premiere for today. We also talk about their other projects in the works.

What initially inspired you to write a new Sleeper and Snake album Fresco Shed?

AMY: Good question! [laughs].

AL: Yeah.

AMY to AL: You’re just always writing music, endlessly… it’s gotta go somewhere.

AL: We were writing a lot of Terry songs together…

AMY: We just enjoy playing music together.

AL: I guess…

AMY: Some of it didn’t suit that.

AL: Yeah. We had saxophones so we were making a lot of music with them.

I wanted to ask you about using saxophone, because that’s kind of a less traditional instrument to write songs with; have you been playing for very long?

AMY: No, not really. Al got one…

[Laughter]

AL: Yeah, I got one. I got a tenor sax from EBay from a fancy rich suburb in Sydney for 200 bucks! [laughs] …maybe six years ago when Total Control were up there for a gig. I didn’t bother getting any lessons, in case you can’t tell.

AMY: I tried to play it once and I managed to get sound out of it and he pestered me into playing [laughs]. Georgia from The UV Race plays saxophone and she had babies recently so she wasn’t using her saxophone, I managed to borrow hers and that’s what I’ve been playing. We thought it would sound quite cool to have the tenor and alto saxophones together. It seemed like a fun thing to do.

AL: Yeah. Amy just picked it up and was way better. She was a total natural at it straight away.

What do you enjoy about making music?

AL: It keeps me sane-ish. I think any kind of creative outlet is really important for people. The process of writing lyrics is a really great outlet for me to get through the day, to make things compute and it helps this horrible place make sense.

AMY: I think it’s just fun!

[Laughter]

Making something from nothing is the most fun!

AL: Totally!

AMY: Yeah. It’s also been a real social thing for me, I get to hang out with my friends and we do music together. It’s always been what you do, go see bands and play music together.

How have you guys been dealing with not being able to be as social and do those things, especially play live?

AMY: It’s pretty weird. At first it was almost like a little bit of a holiday from it. By playing in numerous bands we’d find ourselves playing something like four gigs a week, which is quite insane when you’re also working fulltime [laughs]. The first lockdown it was kind of a bit of a novelty but it starts to just become quite odd, I feel a bit odd. There’s a lot of people that you don’t see anymore because you’re not going out to see live bands. Your life feels a bit like it’s on hold, I guess most people would be feeling that.

I think so. I’ve been going to gigs my whole life and this has been the longest I’ve gone without going to see live music. Right now in Brisbane a handful of venues have brought back a live shows but with a small capacity and it’s sit down at tables, socially distanced; you pay the ticket price and then you have to pay a minimum of $40 each extra on top of that which is redeemable in bar tab or venue merch. That means for my husband and I to go see a local live band it can cost around $120; we don’t drink and we’re not going to spend $80 on soft drink and we don’t need venue merch, so these new rules excludes us from going to do something we’ve done and supported our whole lives.

AL & AMY: Whoa!

I can understand venues are in a weird spot with having limited capacity and not having been opened for a bit but to basically enforce a alcohol minimum to see bands is really weird.

AL: That is really weird.

AMY: Someone was telling me that Cherry Bar here in Melbourne was trying to gauge interest, they want to do a gig where there’s some hotel and it must have a courtyard in the middle and the rooms have balconies that look down on it; they want to have the bands in the courtyard and then you book a room, so it’s a festival where you have to have your own room. It’s insane.

Wow! Totally.

AMY: You have to have money to be able to do that!

Same with the bands doing gigs at drive-ins up here. It’s something like $200-$250+ per car to go.

AL: Whoa!

Yeah, it puts going to a show out of the reach of a lot of people, especially with many people losing their jobs.

AMY: Do you think people do it because they think they’re supporting live music? But then it’s so inaccessible for so many, it’s so weird.

Yeah, the kind of crowd that end up being able to afford it are the ones that go to a festival like Splendour In The Grass just for the experience… its crazy to me that festivals like Splendour have a stall/tent you can go to and get your hair done and a nail bar! I mean, what the actual fuck?

[Laughter]

Is there anything that frustrates you about making music?

AL: Hmmmm [thinks for a moment]… dealing with promoters. I think there are a lot of good promoters that have their heart in the right place, but I think the money making, money obsessed side of it…

AMY: It’s a bit grim!

AL: It is pretty grim. Even what’s happening now with the shutdown, I know a lot of the venues are keen to open up because there’s people that work for them and the landlords need money from the venues, the business owners need money and they’re pushing this stuff more than the artists I feel. I feel like the artists and the fans are like, let’s respect this, it’s OK…

AMY: We’ll just have a break. There’s a real push from the business side because they’ll go under if they don’t have the chance.

AL: I feel like maybe there’s not that much interest in the cultural, artistic side of musicians/artists… it’s more about the bottomline. That can be frustrating.

AMY: Some people probably love it, if they’re in it to make money [laughs].

AL: Yeah, totally.

Photo: Mia McDonald

I grew up in the punk rock community so I’ve always been very wary of the music industry.

AL: Yeah. I went to a lot of punk gig growing up, there weren’t many at pubs, there were many at cafes during the day or DIY venues, house parties, and they went along just fine without these huge bars making a lot of money off of people drinking themselves to death… I’m not quite straight edge but…

AMY: I guess there’s that thing that musicians often get paid in their bar tab to a certain degree which… it’s a bit of a weird normality that that’s what you get.

I’ve been listening to the new Sleeper & Snake album Fresco Shed all afternoon since I got a sneak peek of it, it’s so cool. The opener “Miracles” is an instrumental and has a feel about it sonically that is kind miraculous and magical sounding.

AMY: Thank you.

AL: “Miracles” is inspired by Scott Morrison when he won the election and was like “it’s a miracle… I’ll burn for you” and he kept on saying all this stuff about miracles [laughs]. It was really upsetting.

AMY: [Laughs].

That’s like how in the US Donald Trump said that the pandemic will “disappear… like a miracle”.

AL: A miracle! Ugggh… Love that! [laughs].

I love how Fresco Shed has a real gentleness to it but then the themes are very political and serious.

AL: Yeah. It’s funny just making the music at home because we don’t play through amps very much with this project. Because we’re doing it like that and playing at home using saxophone and that, it does become gentle in a way.

AMY: You don’t have to be loud.

AL: Maybe it’s just sad and defeated?

AMY: Sad?! [laughs].

AL: It’s that side of politics… it’s the sound of defeat [laughs].

I saw press photos and there was an abstract hand-painted “fresco shed” in the pics; did you make it yourself?

AMY: We were getting quite crafty in lockdown.

AL: [Laughs].

AMY: Al’s always trying to make papier-mâché things. In Terry he made the papier-mâché Terry. He likes to get crafty.

AL: Yeah, I like to get crafty! I was really proud of the corrugated iron type roof.

AMY: We envisioned a real shed covered in fresco paintings but then all we could physically achieve was a cardboard box [laughs]. We like making the art and being hands on in that way. We had a lot of time on our hands.

We were nerds and zoomed in on the photos to check out the paintings better and we noticed that each picture correlates to song themes on the record, you have the V-Line country train, Pentridge prison, crooked handshakes…

AL: It’s conceptual but literal [laughs].

AMY: Al told me what to paint and I just painted it, that was the rule! [laughs]; I said I’d paint it if he told me what to paint. They all relate to the songs.

I really love the image of the “farmer full of feelings”.

AMY: [Laughs].

AL: That’s one of my favourites, I think. That person definitely looks defeated!

That image is related to the song “Lady Painter”?

AMY: Yep. The farmer full of feelings has just watched a Scott Morrison press conference [laughs].

That song even mentions the “fresco shed” right?

AL: Oh yeah.

AMY: That’s where the title comes from.

We’re premiering the video for your song “Flats”; what’s that one about?

AL: We moved to a different suburb a year and a bit ago, Richmond is an inner east suburb of Melbourne…

AMY: No one we know really lives here, everyone lives north side. We moved to a suburb that’s kind of wealthy…

AL: It’s diverse, it has a lot of public housing but it’s really rich as well, heaps of wealthy people. You really see gentrification at that umpteenth level, how extreme it can get…

AMY: All the apartments going up and stuff. It was during summer and we were going for walks and we were talking about ideas and things and that kind of came up and that turned into a song.

AMY to AL: Did you write it?

AL: I think we both wrote it while we were walking around taking Tramadols [laughs]. We were walking by the Yarra River, it runs through the whole thing and you really see the worst of Settler society here…

AMY: All the wealthy people have their houses on the river and all the wealthy schools row on the river.

AL: There’s all these people with power next to disempowered people… AND it’s all on Stolen Land. Everywhere you look is a little snapshot of this.

It’s always boggled my mind since I was a kid, the world always seemed to me to have enough for everyone but, then there’s some people that have so much that they don’t even need and then there’s people with nothing, no place to live. I remember observing that as a kid and thinking it was so weird and wrong.

AL: Yeah, totally. Moving to the suburbs that are much older, the juxtaposition between these two things are in your face. Another aspect of the song is about the privilege we have as white Australians, we don’t have experiences the same way… we might not even be from wealthy families or whatever but we benefit from it every single day. The “flats falling into the floor” lyrics is a reference to the Opal Towers in Sydney, all these apartment building falling down and such wealth being made from that stuff, it’s disgusting!

Totally! Do you have a favourite track on the new record?

AMY: I like playing the ones that we just play saxophone on together, they’re really good to play.

AL: They’re all good ‘ey! [laughs].

What do you love about playing saxophone together?

AMY: I think it’s just so new for me. To be playing a very different instrument than what I’m used to and having to work out how they sound good together… literally I don’t know some of the notes on it and have to figure it out [laughs]. Because it’s new it’s exciting to play. Challenging!

Musical experimentation must keep things creatively interesting for you; was there anything new you tried writing or recording this release?

AMY to AL: I don’t’ know if it made it on to the record but you were clanging on something, weren’t you?

AL: Oh, yeah. I was banging on a pot.

AMY: I don’t know if it sounded any good [laughs]. We just like to try weird things. We do that though with all of the bands to a different degree. Nothing ground-breaking.

AL: We recorded on the 4-track, which is what we usually do with Terry and Primo! too.

Photo: Mia McDonald

Toward the end of the song “Lady Painter” there’s some cool weird sounds that I couldn’t work out what was making it?

AL: That could be the organ, Nan’s old organ!

AMY: The Funmaker.

AL: Yeah, it’s called the Funmaker!

AMY: It has this one level of keys…

AMY to AL: Do you think it’s broken? Or is that just what it sounds like?

AL: That’s just what it does.

AMY: We didn’t even effect it, that’s just what it sounds like.

AL: I’ll plug it in… here we go! It’s pretty crazy.

[Al plugs in the organ and plays]

[Laughter]

I feel like fun is a really important part of what you both do?

AL: Yeah.

AMY: It’s sort of like a hobby, what we do to relax and blow off steam and hang out with our mates.

Did you start creating from when you first got together?

AL: It took a while. Maybe Terry was the first band that we wrote together for, that’s four or five years ago.

AMY: We’ve been together for ten years. It took us five years because we just had our own separate bands.

AMY to AL: You were pretty busy because you had ten bands or something like that.

AL Too much going on ‘ey! [Laughs].

What’s something you both do differently when writing songs?

AMY to AL: You remember them, that’s one thing.

AL: I remember more of the riffs than some other people in the band [laughs]. I rush, I’m always keen to get things done…

AMY: Whereas I work more slowly.

AL: Not slowly though, I think more thoroughly.

AMY: I like to think over things.

AL: Amy does things properly and I rush it [laughs]. That’s what the report card says! Maybe that’s from just being in bands that tour a lot for a while… UV Race and Total Control would write a record, finish a record… we’d jam a lot and write a lot to have a record for touring; maybe that has affected my song writing style?

AMY to AL: You want to churn it out…

AL: Yeah, I want to fucking churn it out!

AMY: I’ll think about something for three months. 

AL: Which I think is better! I listen back to stuff and I’m like errrrrr, I wish you told me to chill out on that.

AMY to AL: Yeah, like… you need to do those vocals again!

[Laughter]

Did you do the Sleeper & Snake stuff in a few takes?

AL: I’ll always be like, that first take was good!

AMY: He’ll tell me to put something on it and I’ll be like; this is a demo, right?

AL: I’ll be like, yeah it’s a demo. Then I’ll be like, OK, let’s send it away for mastering now!

[Laughter]

I love when you sing together on your songs; what kind of feeling do you get doing that together?

AL: It’s pretty fun!

AMY: I’m like, oh god! [laughs].

AL: Singing is so fun. I think we both love singing and we try to egg each other on.

AMY: I sing high on some songs on the record. I think I sing better when I sing high but I really don’t like singing high. I’m always trying to go low but it always ends up that, nah, I’m gonna have to go up. It’s all figuring out harmonies.

Is there anything else that you’re working on?

AL: We have a few demos in the can. We’re got most of the new Terry record done.

AMY to AL: You’re still working on that Dick Diver record?

AL: Yeah, there’s a Dick Diver record that’s been 75% recorded about two years ago…

AMY: Sleepless Nights have been working on another record but that kind of stopped with Covid. Our drummer just went to Perth, we were like; why did you go to Perth?! There’s a few things in the works but everything is a bit on hold.

AMY to AL: Truffle Pigs?

AL: Yeah, Truffle Pigs! That’s Steph Hughes from Dick Diver, Amy and myself. It’s more like Soakie, country Soakie…

AMY: It’s a concept album. We’re always doing bits and bobs. Al writes songs and we figure out which band it sounds like [laughs].

AL: You write so many songs too; what are you talking about? [laughs].

AMY to AL: Noooooo. I write a riff and play it for a little while and then I forget it and then you remember it and turn it into a song [laughs]. You’ll be playing and I’ll be like; oh what’s that song?

[Laughter]

What are the things you value in terms of your creativity?

AL: I value collaboration and maybe a level of improvisation, especially in a live setting.

AMY: I enjoy that. Performing is good as well. But, we don’t’ get to do that at the moment. I do get really nervous though, but I enjoy it a lot [laughs]. Sometimes my hands will be shaking so much that I can hardly play the organ.

You could never tell you’re so nervous. We watched the live Button Pusher performance recently, which was great!

AMY: It’s just a physical thing I guess, it’s so weird. I’ve been playing for so long and it just never goes away. I still get so nervous! I think it’s a good things though to have some nervous energy.

Please check out: SLEEPER & SNAKE. Fresco Shed out in September via Lulu’s Sonic Disc Club (AU, NZ and Asia) and Upset The Rhythm (UK) pre-order HERE now. S&S on Instagram. S&S on Facebook.

Maq of Melbourne punk band The Faculty: “All snappy dressers… just people with a lot of heart and soul and warmth and love to give”

Photo courtesy of The Faculty. Handmade collage by B.

We love The Faculty! Punchy and fun, and punk and fun, and explosive and fun, and cheeky and fun, and really rock n roll and FUN!; did we mentioned fun enough yet?! Next month the Melbourne punks are set to release new EP, Here’s To Fun. We spoke to Maq from The Faculty to get the low down!

You’re currently laid up recovering from back surgery; how are you doing? How have you been passing your recovery time?

MAQ: I’m doing really well thank you for asking! I collapsed on a walk to A1 bakery and ended up having an emergency discectomy on my spine, crazy shit but feeling all the better for it! Recuperating at my mum’s house on the coast and getting there slowly but surely. I had my staples taken out yesterday so I’m no longer a cyborg but I’m able to go for very middle age style strolls along the beach and take photos of the sunset. To pass the time I’ve been watching Tik Toks, reading about celebrity scandals (Heidi Fleiss & yachters) and giving the Stan account a good rinse haha.

What first got you interested in music?

MAQ: My parents had me and my brother when they were fairly young and they were avid RRR listeners. When mum was pregnant with me she went and saw Fugazi play in Geelong, nothing could stop her. On our yearly holiday to Cactus Beach in SA we’d listen to a selection of tapes over and over that were really eclectic and reflect both my parents all-over-the-shop taste to this day – Supergrass, Kraftwerk, Smashing Pumpkins, The The – all big favourites in the car. I think I gained musical sentience when I discovered The Ramones though. That was when everything changed.

Growing up in Torquay for the first part of my life, my brother and I were into skateboarding and we got into a lot of music through skate videos. There was one skate video Sorry that had John Lydon as the narrator and it was the first time I heard The Stooges and it set off a firecracker in my ass. From there on I met a bunch of skaters in Geelong who shared a lot of music with me. When I was about 13 my first boyfriend was Zak from Traffik Island and he had the coolest music taste I’d ever heard. He still does now I reckon. I knocked around with that crew with my best friend Hanna and every party was soundtracked by Johnny Thunders and The Sonics and shit. Basically thankyou to my young horny-for-skaters self ‘cause that got me into the good shit.

What was the first show you ever went to? What do you remember about it?

MAQ: I don’t know what came first – Robbie Williams at Vodaphone Arena or Area 7 at St Kilda Fest. I remember Robbie covering Kiss or Nirvana or something and all the old birds really getting hot for him – I remember just thinking he was a bit “bad” and I wanted to be like that myself. Like he’s naughty but he’s still a bit of a dork, I can relate to that. Area 7 was the first time I’d ever been in a moshpit. Watching people skank and stuff really tripped me out and set me on a little ska phase. We’ve all had a ska phase. Embrace your ska phase.

Photo : Jamie Wdziekonski

What was it that drew you to making music yourself?

MAQ: When I was a kid I had a drumkit and I’d practice along to punk and try and emulate it. My dad’s mate who was in a cover band was my drum teacher and he’d teach me like paradiddles and stuff and I’d be like “ok Elvis Costello when are we gonna learn the good shit? I wanna know how to play like I’m in the Ramones” – I was never any good. I kind of let it go for a long time and got into DJing and doing radio. It was only with The Faculty that I decided to finally fulfil a lifelong fantasy of being in a band. A real Riff Randall complex.

What inspired The Faculty to get together?

MAQ: All the other members of The Faculty are incredible musicians and have been in some absolutely unreal bands – Meter Men, Franco Cozzo, and Whitney Houston’s Crypt. I’d never been in a band I was just a wannabe but I think I was feeling bold one day and chucked a status on Facebook “Who wants to start a band”. James who plays guitar and I had known each other since we were about 13 and used to DJ underage at Streetparty events haha, Tommy I’d known vaguely from going to gigs, Lorrae and I worked together. They were the people who replied. A total motley crew. After our first practice I asked the gang if we could add a fella in who had really good hair and a cool cross earring and that was Al who then took it up to the next level on second guitar. The band works because it shouldn’t – we are all really different but somehow that makes us, us. There’s something for everyone in The Faculty.

What’s something you can tell me about each member of the band?

MAQ: Lorrae (bass) is a legit witch and powerhouse of a woman. She is the most inspiring, strong and badass woman I’ve ever met. She runs the label Our Golden Friend amongst a myriad of other things and she has next level psychic energy. James (guitar) is in like 1 billion bands and is an absolute workhorse both physically and spiritually. I think he is powering half of Melbourne on his rock n roll energy. Tommy (drums) loves WWE and being naughty but in the best way like teehee naughty, he also looks better than any of the fellas who take their top off when he takes his top off. Fellas love taking off their top don’t they?  Al (guitar) is a superstar. He is training to be a hairdresser and is like one of those freakish people who can pick up any instrument and be like rreeeeoooowdiddleydooo. All snappy dressers too and just people with a lot of heart and soul and warmth and love to give. For a punk band were all quite sensitive and in tune to each other’s needs and vibe.

In June The Faculty are getting set to release new EP Here’s To Fun, in the spirit of the title; can you tell us about one of the most fun The Faculty-related times you have ever had?

MAQ: I think every time we hangout is pretty funny. We do chip reviews on our Instagram and we all love memes a lot. But the funniest Faculty moment was when we were recording, Tommy took off his clothes and James hosed him down in the backyard. I think we got it on some kind of camcorder. I think Al Montfort who recorded us was probably like…. Dr Evil voice: Riiiiiiiiiiight.

The first single from the EP is called ‘Chrissy Moltisanti’ is inspired by the character from The Sorpranos, right? What sparked the idea to write this track?

MAQ Sure is! Christopher is my love-hate character from the show. You wanna root for him but he is an orboros. The song is about having someone in your life who wants to be a “made man” like Chrissy, someone super aspirational to the point where it’s kind of endearing but they just keep getting in their own way and behaving like a derro. A lot of the EP is lyrically related to a breakup but I wrote that before that even happened so maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think men should really consider ethical non monogamy before they go and fuck people’s shit up. There’s also vague themes of the Moreland Hotel because I like the decor and I wanted to put Metallica lyrics in a song and try and get away with it. I also wanted an opportunity to really yell at fellas who are total dickheads and stare them dead in the eye and pretend I’m just singing a fun little ditty about The Sopranos. It’s nice to have the protection of being in a band to be a bitch although I did tell a fella I hope his dick falls off recently ‘cause I heard he’d been a drongo so maybe I’m just a regular bitch haha

When did you start writing for the EP—how did it come about?

MAQ: It’s funny because the songs are quite old now – a couple of them have been in our set since day dot (P2P, The Locks) so the stuff I was writing then I have probably either dealt with those emotions or forgotten about whatever was pissing me off. We have a nice process I reckon.  We all kind of collaborate together at practice, people will bring riffs and ideas musically. Often I’l have a bunch of fragmented ideas in notebooks and my phone and then the band will jam out the song and I’ll just fill in the blanks with the lyrical themes and jigsaw the themes or little bits of writing I have to fit the patina of the song were writing. The way I write songs is usually to have two themes going at once, one might be something personal and the other just some bullshit I fancied in an action movie. We are all pretty busy in our day to day so the EP was pretty much the only songs we had going so it was quite easy to put it together ‘cause it’s all we had haha.

Can you tell us a little bit about the recording of your new EP? I know it was recorded and mixed by Al Montfort and mastered by Mikey Young.

MAQ: We were so lucky to have Al record the EP for us. That man is worth the lore. He set up his gear at Tommy’s house in Coburg and we recorded it live in the room we always practice in. Al made us all feel really comfortable and had a few tips but was never overbearing or like that producer from 24 Hour Party People, he was a gentleman. We also introduced him to bubble tea and got him in on a chip review.  It was pretty special for us that he agreed to doing it, I’ve been a fan of basically everything he’s ever done. I went to a Lower Plenty show on my own once when I was like 19 and he and his partner Amy chatted to me for ages and were such rippers and I think so many of your heroes you can meet and be like disappointed but those two were the most warm and beautiful people and that extended to Al’s process as an engineer. Mikey did a fantastic job as always and put up with our daggy old questions and made the EP sound even better than we thought possible. There’s a reason these blokes are the Kings.

Is song ‘Alexis Texas’ about the porn actress? How’d this song get started?

MAQ: HAHAHA. Kind of. Its only when someone holds a mirror up to you that you realise some of the stuff you spout off is so silly haha. I was really obsessed with this other porn star’s Instagram where she would post herself getting these like skin treatments where they’d cryogenically freeze her in a tank thing and I wanted to write a song about that but her name didn’t sound as good as Alexis Texas’. It’s a good litmus test that song, shows you who in your audience is a horny bugger. One of my good friends like blushes whenever we play that song which has become a running joke. #Teamtexass

What’s the song ‘Mr. Sardonicus’ about?

MAQ: Ooh, it’s about this really unreal movie Mr Sardonicus which was directed by this legend William Castle. Castle was like a kind of Kmart version of Hitchcock but made films that I think are just as compelling. It’s about a man who becomes a ghoul and I wanted to write about it and when I was trying to beef up the lyrics I just kept thinking ghoul…Misfits…Danzig!! So I then turned it into a song about how I wanted to see Danzig and Nick Cave have a death match. Like Celebrity Death Match. Remember that show? I remember watching that on Foxtel at nanna’s and loving the Gallagher brothers episode. And it’s also about how I didn’t want to clean my room. Slice of life, y’know? LOL!

What music/bands/songs have you been loving lately?

MAQ: Contrary to the music I play, I don’t listen to a lot of punk outside of the fabulous gigs my peers play. I am usually listening to country music or something I found on a YouTube vortex. I reckon I have the music taste of a Mojo Magazine reader, always waiting for a new Roxy Music bootleg or B sides ahha. But lately I’ve been gagging for Mink Deville, Levon Helm’s solo albums, this song On The Road Again by Rockets, Amanda Lear, Spotify playlists my friend Charlie makes me that jump from like Yes to Killing Joke and the Delta Goodrem Megamix on Youtube from her Mardi Gras performance. I think a lot of what I listen to is symbiotic, whoever I’m around and what they like fascinates me. My housemate loves that Delta Megamix and at first it shit me how much he wanted to chuck it on now I’m like mouthing the bits where she’s like “How am I guys” along with him.  Locally my favourite band is Bitumen. They are the sexiest, coolest and most interesting band in the world. Pure sex magic. I’m gagged for that new band Shove I think they are formidable and I always listen to Constant Mongrel like over and over again and love seeing Future Suck live. Parsnip rock too – virtuosos, we’re so lucky to have them! Moth rip and anything and everything Union Jerk records. I keep up with the Lulus-wave stuff with fellas singing songs about men in companies and shit like every man and his dog but amongst the mix there’s some real standouts that are mostly hot chicks making hot shit.

Outside of music what are some things important to you?

MAQ: I love movies big time. I have a film night ‘Top Of The Heap’ which is on hiatus at the moment due to the current situation but the energy of that is being kept alive in a movie group chat I’m in Movie Magic with some nears and dears and most of my life is consumed by watching De Palma movies and screenshotting hot dudes in blue jeans in neo noirs. I’d like to think I have two lives. One as a big mouthed psycho fronting me band and wearing latex and mouthing off about horny shit and then my truer self which is a celibate straight edge nerd who is a meme farmer and obsessed with videos of people stepping on cakes in TNs and shit.

Why don’t The Faculty put out?

MAQ: You’ll have to watch the movie Ladies and Gentleman, The Fabulous Stains to find out.

Please check out: THE FACULTY. The Faculty on Instagram.

The UV Race’s Marcus Rechsteiner: “I just take my clothes off”

Handmade mixed-media collage by B.

Melbourne band The UV Race bring a lot of fun and joy to people’s lives with their humorous, clever, raw punk rock. Vocalist Marcus Rechsteiner is a sweetheart and as genuine as they come. We chatted with him on the one year anniversary of their LP Made In China (out on Aarght! Records).

How’s your day been?

MARCUS RECHSTEINER: Good. I’ve been at work.

What do you do for work?

MR: I work with people with disabilities.

Nice. How did you get into that line of work?

MR: A long time ago I started volunteering.

What inspired you to do that?

MR: Because I had no work [laughs]. I had a family friend that was teaching music at a disability organisation in Warragul where I grew up. I volunteered. She ran music classes and was paid, I just volunteered. Then I started volunteering at the local pool helping people go swimming and then the organisation that used the pool, I started working for them.

So now you get paid!

MR: Yeah [laughs]. It’s really good.

How have you been going with everything that’s happening right now in the world with the lockdowns and isolation?

MR: I’m getting used to it. I was looking forward to some things that can’t happen now but health is more important. I was going to go see Eddy Current [Suppression Ring] and I was going to go to Jerkfest; hopefully they can happen at a later date.

Is there anything that you do when you’re feeling stressed or down or overwhelmed to cheer yourself up?

MR: [Laughs] Not really, I just talk to friends or watch TV. I live by myself so it’s nice having my own space.

What have you been watching lately?

MR: I don’t have any internet so it’s just free-to-air TV. I usually just watch 7Mate or Channel 9 has their own version of 7Mate. I like car shows and American Pickers.

Recently, you came back to Instagram after a break; what made you take a break in the first place?

MR: I had it around 2011 and there was a lot of sepia-toned photos at the time and people going crazy on the filters and felt it was a bit misleading. People would take photos of that day and then putting the sepia-tone on it so it looked like the photo was thirty years old! It really annoyed me but apparently that was just a craze at the time and only lasted a few months and then went on to something else. It really annoyed me at the time though so I got off it. I felt all the filters are misleading, like Photoshopping photos, which some people love; I don’t like it.

With all this staying at home and no gigs one of my bandmates in Luxury asked me to get it so we can do a live performance, which hasn’t happened yet. I mainly got it to do performances on it. [You can follow Marcus here].

Is having connection with people a reason you like being in a band?

MR: It’s a great way to meet people, yeah. I got friends all over the world and that’s through music. It’s a really good icebreaker, you play a gig and then people come up and talk to you after, whereas if I just went into a bar or a gig without playing,= I find it a lot harder to connect with people. It’s a great way to get to know people. Most of my friends are in Melbourne that I met from music.

How did you first start singing?

MR: [Laughs] Well I can’t play any instruments so that was the only option I had really. Al [Montfort] and I went to high school together, we grew up together and have known each other for about twenty years. We were in the same class in Year 7 to Year 12, we started high school together in 1999. He was always into music, he was into pop punk music and I got into it as well. He started playing in Straightjacket Nation when he was 17. We had always talked about being in a band together but it didn’t really happen until 2007.

Is there an instrument you wish you could play?

MR: A guitar is pretty cool [laughs]. Doing a mad solo would be pretty fun! There’s not really something I wish I could play. If you have an instrument and sing it’s hard and when I sing I like to put a lot into dancing and interaction—I feel that’s my instrument. It also always lets my bandmates focus on their thing while I’m doing my thing out the front. It works out well. I’ve just been trying to learn how to play a washboard. Jake Ausmuteants-and-lots-of-other-bands gave it to me a couple of weeks ago! I’m planning on doing a country band with a friend of mine so I’ve been practising the washboard, it keeps me entertained.

That’s awesome! I remember when I was a little kid and I’d go visit my grandma and she had a washboard in her laundry room that she actually used to wash clothes with like in olden times!

MR: [Laughs]. That’s awesome!

Before UV Race how did you express yourself creatively?

MR: I probably didn’t. I didn’t realise how important it was until I joined the band and I really enjoyed it. If we haven’t played for a month or two, I’d be really keen to get on stage and express myself, it’s a good release. I don’t think I would have ever been in a band if it wasn’t for being friends with Al. None of my family are really into music. Our friendship has really brought that out for me.

Awww that’s so lovely. Do you ever feel nervous before you play?

MR: I just get excited now! When I first started I was pretty nervous. At our third show we had James [Vinciguerra] from Total Control drumming ‘cause Dan [Stewart] was bringing out bands and doing stuff with another band at the time. When James drummed for us he was drumming faster than Dan usually would, I was shaking my head not very happy, and people in the crowd said they were having a great time and loved it but they could tell I wasn’t into it because I kept shaking my head. I was like, ah, ok, I have to hide my emotions a little bit more. Even if I’m not feeling the best I try not to let on because I’ve had experience where I’ve watched other bands and you can see someone is in a down mood and you’re enjoying the music but they’re bringing you down. Most of the time I’m having a good time anyway.

Do you ever find it hard to hide your emotions? You seem like a real honest, wear your heart-on-your-sleeve kind of guy.

MR: I am! I try channelling what I’m feeling into the performance and get it out on stage. When I first started… I don’t want to say I went over the top but, I guess I didn’t really know what I was feeling at the time; now that I’m a bit older I can actually recognise my emotions and be a bit more in check with them.

So maybe you’ll do more dancing on stage to get things out?

MR: Yeah! Or sing a bit harder [laughs].

I’ve heard you have a good memory; do you remember what happened one year ago today?

MR: Hmmm….. [laughs] no.

You released your Made In China LP!

MR: Nah, I didn’t remember, that’s crazy! I didn’t even realise that. That record had been recorded three or four years before that. When it finally came out I kind of felt disconnected from it. Not in a bad way though, it was just strange that it was finally out. We’ve slowed down a bit though with bandmates having babies and us all being in our thirties now. It’s crazy it’s been one year since it came out!

What do you remember from recording it?

MR: Not a whole heap [laughs]. We had a few people we did the recording with, we recorded it with a guy called Texas Tom and then Mikey [Young] did some stuff and Al. I don’t particularly like recording that much, I find it a bit hard. I don’t really focus that much, like my memory doesn’t focus that much.

You like playing live better?

MR: Oh much more! Yes! I find it a lot easier when people are in front of me and I’m on a stage. When it’s just me and I have to nail every word in the right spot, I just don’t really enjoy it that much.

Is there any songs on the album that are significant for you?

MR: ‘Belfast Belle’ [‘Irish Girl’] that was about my girlfriend at the time, we’re not together anymore. It’s the first and only proper love song that I’ve done in The UV Race.

I really like the song ‘Fairly Free’ that’s one of my favourite songs. Al and I wrote that together. It’s kind of about having a good time, you always know that it’s either going to end or you’re still constrained by society’s perception of things and how you really need to act; you could be getting a bit loose but you know there could be consequences down the track. It’s basically about how no one can ever truly be free, that doesn’t really exist.

What’s the song ‘Why Die’ about?

MR: I actually forget that song [laughs]. A few people have mentioned that song to me and I try to place it but I totally lose it. I think I know it, I actually really struggle with that one.

What’s your favourite songs to play live?

MR: I really like ‘Raw Balls’! I like ‘I’m A Pig’ too and ‘Burn That Cat’. I like our songs with lots of energy.

I haven’t got to see you play live yet but from what I’ve heard and seen in videos online, UV Race shows can get pretty wild and people come to shows wanting to see you go crazy; do you always give them what they want or sometimes want to do something else?

MR: Usually, it depends on how hot the room is. If it’s really hot I just take my clothes off [laughs]. Sometimes it’s hard though because if you’ve done something in the past people expect that. It also depends on how the crowd are, if they get into it, I get into it more. I find that when we play places outside of Melbourne like say in Brisbane, people get a little crazier there because they don’t have as many opportunities. Even in Sydney people get into it more. I feel like Melbourne is a little spoilt sometimes, because of how many bands and venues there are.

So getting naked on stage is a comfort thing ‘cause a room is too hot?

MR: [Laughs] Sometimes. Sometimes it’s an attention thing too.

You wear some pretty cool costumes too?

MR: I haven’t worn too many lately though, I haven’t been that organised. I used to have friends that would make me some. I want to get back into wearing them. Last year we had a spy themed gig, but I couldn’t find any spy outfits. I wanted to be Austin Powers but I couldn’t find any outfits big enough for me so I ended up going as the wrestler Macho Man Randy Savage! Everyone was wearing berets and trenchcoats and I’m in this jacket with crazy threads on it and wearing a cowboy hat—that was fun!

All photos courtesy of The UV Race Facebook.

Who are the musicians you admire?

MR: I really like Dee Dee Ramone because he was the coolest Ramone, he was the cheeky one. I like the brats! I like Ol’ Dirty Bastard, I feel he’s the best of the Wu-Tang Clan, he makes sense but he doesn’t make any sense [laughs]. We he raps he kind of makes sense but it doesn’t, he does it really well. I don’t have many others.

Do you have a favourite UV Race-related story?

MR: Ummm… there’s one I can tell you but you probably shouldn’t put it in the interview [laughs]. I love it but it’s a little bit wrong, I’ll tell you though… [Marcus tells me but I’m not publishing it to respect his wishes].

I read somewhere that you did a show in conjunction with an art gallery exhibition and the theme was ‘time’ and you sang songs about time like Cindy Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’?

MR: Guy Blackman and I did a duo together, it was called Guy & Marcus Blackman Experimentation Project. Joel from Liquid Architecture was doing this thing where he did this bus thing where he got a group of people out to a gallery. Part of that was to do with the concept of time and doing karaoke on the bus so that’s what I did.

I know The UV Race always like to challenge yourselves creatively; are you working on anything now?

MR: Not as we speak. We’re still trying to finish the sequel to The UV Race movie. We’re trying to get that done and record the soundtrack for that. We still have some songs we need to record for that.

How’s it all going?

MR: [Laughs] Slow. We’re not spending that much time together though. It’ll get done. It was filmed a fair while ago. The sequel is a bit crazier because it’s set in space. The first one is kind of like Blues Brothers, I’m trying to get the band back together after blowing our recording money gambling. We break up and it’s set five years after that where I’m trying to get everyone back together but they’re doing different things. In the sequel we’re in space and crazy space stuff happens. [Laughs] It’ll be fun to see the final product.

I can’t wait to hear the music that will accompany you guys in space.

MR: It’s a bit more synth-y as you would expect.

Do you have a dream project you’d like to bring to fruition one day?

MR: [Laughs] No, not really. I’m doing what I like at the moment.

You mentioned the country project…

MR: That’s a bit of fun with my friend Eileen. I’m in another band called, Luxury.

What’s Luxury sound like?

MR: [Laughs] It’s hard to describe. It’s a bit rocky and bluesy. Lots of guitar solos. It’s fun and upbeat. It’s humorous, I sing about not typical subjects; we have a song about ghost love, we have a song about Narwhal the whale. It’s a little bit sillier.

What do you get from songwriting?

MR: Self-expression, expressing how I feel. I love making people laugh and people think. I like to think that I have a different way of writing lyrics to how other people do, I like sharing that with people.

How do you write? Do you have a notebook to write down ideas?

MR: Sometimes. Mostly I use an iPhone now and put it in my notes, that way I can copy and paste to and send it to everyone else.

What’s the last song you wrote?

MR: Some stuff for the country project I’m doing. I haven’t written much UV stuff lately. A song I wrote for Luxury recently is a song ‘Single And Eating Pringles’ about not wanting to change and to make myself more available… I could lose weight but then I could eat Pringles, so I chose the Pringles [laughs].

What’s one of your favourite things to do?

MR: I like going on adventures with friends. I like doing things I’ve never done before or going to places I never have before. I love to travel, that’s probably my favourite thing to do.

Where was the last place you went before everything got locked down?

MR: I went with a friend and her son to a billy cart race! That was fun. That was in the Dandenong, they shut off the main street and kids raced their billy carts down there.

That’s pretty cool. Did you ever do stuff like that when you were a kid?

MR: I grew up on a farm. I had “paddock bombs” and motorbikes when I was a teenager and used to muck around with my friends. I had a pretty adventurous childhood doing things with my dad on the farm.

What was it like growing up in the country?

MR: It was good, I liked it a lot!

How do you find it when you go to the city being in an urban environment?

MR: Right now I live in the middle of the ‘burbs because Melbourne is so big. I live 45 minutes from the city but an hour from where I grew up in Warragul. I have to get out into the countryside every couple of weeks just to recharge. I just have to see green grass, I don’t like starring at buildings all year round.

Do you ever find you get too much stimulation being in the city?

MR: Sometimes. I usually try to find a quiet spot. I have a bar I go to in the city that my friends work at that can be quite quiet, it’s pretty chill. You can find places that aren’t so busy.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

MR: I have another story I could tell you that you can print that’s UV Race-related. In 2011 UV Race was touring on the Big Day Out festival. We were on a side-stage called Lilypad, they’d have weird entertainment and bands play.  They had an area where there were inflatable pools setup and there was a rainbow archway, we were all hanging out in the pool and the singer for Rammstein walks up and we’re like, “Come in the pool! Come in the pool!” [laughs]. He looks at us and says [Marcus puts of a German accent] “Maybe later” and he hit the rainbow archway with his hand and he walked off. That’s one of my favourite stories. They were scary! They were very intimidating.

Vid by Tim O’Driscoll.

Please check out: THE UV RACE. The UV Race on Facebook. Made In China via Aarght Records.

Xanthe & Zephyr of Terry: “Music is good for exercising feelings that are a bit awkward to deal with in other ways”

Original photo: courtesy of Upset The Rhythm Records. Collage by B.

Terry are one of our favourite Melbourne bands. They’re always on high rotation at Gimmie HQ! Being the nerds that we are, we have all their releases. Terry is a 4-piece: Zephyr Pavey (Eastlink, Total Control, Russell St Bombings), Xanthe Waite (Mick Harvey Band, Primo), Amy Hill (Constant Mongrel, School Of Radiant Living) & Al Montfort (UV Race, Dick Diver, Total Control). Jangly guitar, nonchalant male-female vocals, relaxed-sounding rhythm section and playful, intelligent songwriting make Terry a real treat. We interviewed Zephyr and Xanthe!

Why is music important to you?

ZEPHYR: Music is good for exercising feelings that are a bit awkward to deal with in other ways and it is generally a fun way to spend time with other people.

What inspired you to first start playing music?

Z: I can’t remember. My family love it so it’s just been around… just became aware white male privilege probably relevant to how I’ve strolled on up and grabbed the mic without a second thought. My grandma just sang me the school song she wrote for Nabiac Primary School in 1989.

Everyone in Terry plays in other bands; why did you decide to start Terry? I know the seeds of it were sown while on holiday in Mexico.

XANTHE: Yeah, I can’t remember the exact conversation. We were hanging out a lot at the time and we went to Mexico City for a holiday together, that’s where the discussions began, like “wouldn’t it be fun”! I hadn’t played guitar in a band before, Zeph hadn’t played drums so it was definitely conceptual before we actually started jamming. I think we just liked a lot of similar music and wanted to hang out more!

When did you realise you had something special/interesting/cool musically?

Z: Not sure it’s any of those things, don’t really think about it beyond making tunes.

What is the role of humour in Terry’s music?

Z: We aren’t very analytical about ourselves, it’s sort of just our normal way of communicating.

Two couples make up Terry; what’s the best part about creating – making music and playing shows – with your partner?

Z: Romantically speaking it means we avoid separation anxiety, also great logistically because there is no driving around to some other bandmates house after a show and when you share a room and on tour it makes all the bed sharing a bit more comfortable. I guess we have also really honed our communication to the point of blurred identity too which makes all the creative and administrative discussion a bit easier.

All four of you sing; how do you decided who will sings which parts?

X: That’s a fun part of songwriting with Terry. It’s organic how we figure that out. Someone will write a demo but then we play around with who sings what at practice. Often we’ll all be singing to start with but find parts tricky to play and sing at the same time, so some of us drop away… other times it’s more intentional or gendered, depending on what the song is about.

Are your songs solid before you record them or do they change much when you’re recording?

X: Generally we record pretty quickly; in that we won’t have played the song a lot before it’s recorded but the core of the idea will be there. We usually work from demos written individually or in households rather than writing a song from start to finish together. So sometimes recording is a process of figuring out how the song should be structured as a band. And we really get into overdubs, and then have to figure out how to play them live! The core idea is there but the songs do evolve/ change as we record them.

On your LP, I’m Terry, there seems to be a lot of car-related references; where does this come from?

Z: We all got cars at the time and it was awesome. Also probably because suburban Australia is inconsistent public transport wise and very sparse geography wise so the three Australians in the band have grown up around some kind of deep automotive experience. Also scared shitless of cars full of men driving around.

Terry recently released a single “Take The Cellphone/Debt and Deficit Disaster” for Sub Pop Singles Club subscribers; can you please tell us a little about each song?

X: These two songs were in the Terry archive that we loved but hadn’t released.

‘Take the Cellphone’ was written thinking about youth/recklessness/innocence. I’ve recently started studying law and was amazed to learn the age of criminal responsibility is 10 years old in Australia. I guess that song was crudely thinking about how easily kids can fall into trouble with the law and how problematic that is. Raise the age!

‘Debt, Deficit and Disaster’ was a song we wrote initially as part of a soundtrack for a French TV film about a surf gang in Biarritz we were working on. The production company dropped us half way through which was lucky in the end because we repurposed a lot of the songs for our own use.

What is one of the most fun moments Terry has had playing live? What made it so?

X: We’ve had so many fun/ funny moments playing shows with Terry, it’s hard to pick one. A few that come to mind… Our last London show was really fun, we played with the Homosexuals who are one of our fave bands so that was thrilling. Playing in Cuneo, a tiny town in the mountains in Italy in the basement of a guy’s house where the locals all came and seriously made us play every song we have written, I think we played a few songs twice. We were paid in risotto and focaccia for that show, it was a good one. The last show we played was a fun one too, it was at the Thornbury Bowls Club with Ripple Effect Band who were visiting from Maningrida NT. They are so good.

Do you do anything else creative beyond music?

X: I went to art school and still take photos, occasionally I do something with them but mostly just take them. Amy paints, Zeph also takes photos and has been spending quite a lot of time on our balcony fixing up old furniture/making things out of wood. Al made a life size papier mache Terry that we cart along to shows and sometimes paints too. So we are all pretty creative and into making things.

What’s next for Terry?

X: Zeph and I are living in Sydney at the moment and Amy and Al in Melbourne so we are a bit slower than usual because of the geographical distance but we have some songs we’re working on so…more records, and more shows that will probably be cancelled because of Covid-19.

Please check out: Terry’s bandcamp. @talkaboutterry Instagram. Upset The Rhythm Records.