It’s here! Our biggest Gimmie yet! Issue 4. Two covers to choose from!
We chat in-depth with Tessa & Alda from D-beat band Jalang! They’ve released Australia’s best hardcore record this year. We explore the album themes: politics, religion, feminism and queer rights in South East Asia and beyond. A really important chat.
Gareth Liddiard from Tropical Fuck Storm speaks about new album ‘Deep States’, songwriting, creativity, fanboying and collecting weird shit.
R.M.F.C.’s Buz Clatworthy talks, a new album in the works, lockdown being a creativity dampener, finding inspiration in films and friends.
We yarn with Emma Donovan and The Putbacks. New record ‘Under These Streets’ draws on soul, R&B, funk and the protest music of Indigenous Australia—a dynamic portrait of Blak pain and joy in all its complexities.
Amyl and the Sniffers’ Amy Taylor and Bryce Wilson check-in to tell us about their new album’s journey, experiencing depression, keeping busy and the power of music.
French duo Heimat play off-kilter experimental-pop with folklore influence, cinematic-like soundscapes, and vocals in multiple languages. A chat on experimentation.
Old Home vocalist Dylan Sparks gives us a peek into their visceral performance poetry coupled with spontaneous musical composition.
We speak with Louisiana band Spllit just days after a hurricane hit their area. We adore their lo-fi weirdness. Next level music.
70’s acid-folk legend Howard Eynon has had a storied life: appearing in films including Mad Max, supporting Hunter S Thompson’s tour; performing in theatre. Recently, he’s been working on music with Zak Olsen. A brilliant chat.
Julian Teakle of The Native Cats and Rough Skies Records selects some of his favourite tracks for us.
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!”]
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!
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.
We’re excited to share Gimmie print issue two with you! In-depth interviews with:
Zach Choy from Crack Cloud tells us about the new record in the works! We deep dive into the importance of storytelling through music & art, collaboration, and creating longevity for a creative collective doing things your own way, continuing to look out for each other, and not letting the industry burn you out. Inspiring stuff.
Joey Walker from King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard gives us a look into their new LP Butterfly 3000, songwriting, of initially being profoundly inspired by Indigenous musicians as a child, talk of new Bullant + more!
Brisbane band, Guppy (f/ members of Clever, Cured Pink & Come Die in QLD) have been blowing away the Brisbane music community with their live shows, we believe they’re the most exciting and original new band in Australia (big call, we know!). They’re currently putting finishing touches on their debut album recorded by Dubsy from Blank Realm. We chat with them about their DIY creative world & bringing light and fun to weird times.
We get insight into the heart and mind of one of Australia’s most vital underground documentarians photographer Jamie Wdziekonski aka Sublation! We talk craft, his journey, knowing better & doing better, having purpose in your work, new projects in the works incl. a book of photojournalistic documentation of Indigenous social justice rallies in Naarm over the last 6 years!
Hideous Sun Demon’s Jake Suriano put together a tour diary for us! + told us about early days in Perth, democratic songwriting, realities of touring, studying to be a teacher’s aide, the joys of working as a furniture removalist, community, & new Dr Sure’s + Kosmetika.
First Nations musician Swoon frankly shares his beautiful, isolating, confusing, eye-opening, hard, journey in discovering and exploring his identity, and in healing family intergenerational-trauma; channeling it into EP Rainbirds. A powerful read.
Plus, a super cool contribution from Parsnip & School Damage’s Carolyn Hawkins, & other fun stuff!
Smarts’ new album Who Needs Smarts, Anyway? is one Gimmie HQ’s favourite releases of 2020. Frenetic, fun, clever, tight songs to lift your spirits and make you smile as we close out a year that’s been challenging for most of us. Gimmie spoke to bassist (and person behind Anti Fade Records) Billy Gardner.
Yeah, and at the time you’d just put out your 61st release on Anti-Fade.
BG: I think that was Living Eyes, maybe.
Yeah. And now you’re at release 73 with the new Smarts record, I think!
BG: Yeah, I’m putting at tape out [TB Ridge as the Director – Rock n Roll Heart – next week, that’s 74.
BG: Yeah, getting there.
What kind of stuff have you been listening to lately?
BG: Um, honestly, not heaps of stuff. Like, nothing new, really. I haven’t listened to too much new stuff this year. I’ve been listening to lots of stuff that my Mum played me when I was growing up. Classics like Toots and the Maytals and Ike & Tina Turner and stuff, and at the same time I’ve been going through a bit of a Metallica wave over the last two weeks—that kinda happens every few months.
Rad! So, has Smarts had a chance to practice since the lockdown has ended?
BG: Nah. Not as a full band since maybe like May. So we’re pretty keen. I think we’ll be able to do it in the next fortnight or so. There’s a few new songs that we’ve all sort of like made up in our own time, if you know what I mean, to work with.
Oh, nice. Is there anything in particular you’ve found yourself kind of writing about?
BG: No, I actually haven’t written any lyrics yet. I’ve just been making lots of riffs. I feel like it’s been a really dry year for lyrics. I just have no new inspiration this whole year, you know what I mean?
Do you think everything that’s happened in the world has sort of affected that?
BG: Yeah, well I feel like I usually get heaps of ideas from travelling and doing stuff and just getting out of the house, which I kind of haven’t really done at all this year. It’s been a pretty wild year.
And you keep a lot of memos in your phone for song ideas and that kind of stuff?
BG: Yeah, totally. There’s a lot of like little, loose, 30 second to 60 second riffs in there.
Do you just sing them into your phone or do you just like actually play them?
BG: Ahh, depends. Usually play ‘em, but sometimes sing them; that’s just like maybe if I have a riff in my head and I’m not near a guitar or anything. I feel like they’re usually the better ones, and I have to learn them on guitar later.
I know creative ideas kind of come from everywhere, is there times more often than not that you get them?
BG: Yeah, I feel like it usually goes in waves. And I haven’t really been on a wave like that for the last month, or even two. But maybe like six to eight weeks ago I had a bit of a wave and a whole bunch of things came at once, and I was playing guitar every night. But I’ve been busy with like the label and other stuff lately, so I haven’t been doing as much of that.
You play bass in Smarts, and I know your Dad used to play bass in Bored!, I was wondering if he kind of inspired you to play bass? Because I know you started playing drums, I think?
BG: He definitely inspired me to play music. But the whole bass thing sort of came later. I do get to play his bass. I love playing his bass! It’s an old Fender Precision from the ‘70s, he’s got a Rickenbacker too, which is very special, but I think I prefer the Precision. I don’t know where the bass thing came from, maybe it was just like something different. I feel like with this band a lot of riffs are made on bass and then we’ll bring in the guitar later. Where in other bands I’d make riffs on guitar and bring the bass in later. So it’s kind of just a natural way of doing things a bit differently to what we’re used to. I saw this band called Vodovo in Japan about three years ago and they didn’t have any guitar, they just had two bass players, and that was definitely a big influence on Smarts.
Cool. I heard that when you came back from Japan you had the idea of the band name Smarts, because you were in Japan one of your friends you were with kept saying everything was “smart”.
BG: Yeah, yeah. So Ausmuteants toured Japan in mid-2017, and saw Vodovo for the first time, and was getting a bit restless to do something a bit different, and our friend Shaun was just saying everything was smart, like you’d say something and he’d say, “That’s smart!” It was like his term of the tour, and I kind of thought Smarts was a cool name.
When you started you were just a 2-piece, you and Mitch?
BG: Yeah, I felt like we’ll just start it like that and just make a couple song and then try and flesh it out in to a live sense, and then it grew a lot there once we brought four people into the mix.
And you and Mitch play in Cereal Killer and Living Eyes together as well?
BG: Yeah, and Wet Blankets. I’ve been playing in bands with him for years.
How did you guys meet?
BG: In high school, actually. He’s a year younger than me and I met him on his orientation day and he was about to go in to Year 7 and I was going in to Year 8. We had heaps of mutual friends. We sort of had heard heaps about each other already and both skated and stuff, and we just kind of kicked it off from there.
I figured you guys had known each other for ages, because as far back I could see you had worked together heaps.
BG: Yeah, we had this funny band before Living Eyes called Hideaways when we were 14. Pretty cute.
Did you play drums in that one?
BG: We all switched around. So I played drums on a couple songs, sang a couple songs. I did really play guitar or anything back then.
What did that used to sound like?
BG: Kind of like a way more garage version of Living Eyes. Living Eyes sort of came out of that, as the bass player for Living Eyes was in that band too.
Wow. It’s nice to find out about all the connection and everything.
BG: It was extremely like garage days of like jamming in garage, quite little.
Then with Smarts, you added Jake and Sally and Stella. How do you think, when those guys joined, your sound started to evolve.
BG: Um, yeah, well that’s when it became much more interesting, I think. Especially bringing Sally and Stella into it. Although they were never in the band at the same time. Sally was originally in it, and she had never been in a band before, so that was cool, seeing her get all excited about playing music and stuff, and she brought heaps of cool bits to it like the keyboard line in ‘Smart Phone’ is like huge and that’s her. And then Stella came later, Stella actually came in after we’d recorded the album and played saxophone over the top of everything and really made it shine.
I was going to ask you what you love about having saxophone in the mix.
BG: It’s the best, I love everything about it! I think it’d be cool to work on new stuff with Stella, because we haven’t written songs together yet but we will now.
And with Smarts it’s a real collaborative process?
BG: Yeah, Smarts is so collaborative! Although Jake’s written a couple songs where he’s brought it in pre-written, and we’ll learn them and maybe add a tiny bit or like do a bit twice as long as in his version but not really change it. But all the other songs, me and Mitch’s songs, they’re all just brought to the band and we’ll extend it from there.
With the new album, Who Needs Smarts, Anyway?, four of the tracks were on your first release, Smart World, I wanted to ask what do you like about the re-recorded versions?
BG: Mostly the fact that they feature everyone. Because the first release is just me and Mitch, so like a few people asked us why we did that, and that was just like because this is the full band version, and it’s got sax and keyboard and we’re all on our designated instruments now instead of it just being me and Mitch messing around, so I feel like it’s a whole different thing!
When you recorded, you kind of recorded the bones of it over a weekend and then people came by your place and did overdubs and stuff?
BG: Yeah, we just recorded it real basic. Just me, Mitch and Jake over a day and a half. We got a space in Geelong from like 3pm one day and set up and started recording that night, and then just did a whole day the next day, and then just took it back to Melbourne and over the next couple weekends people took turns at coming over and doing overdubs and really didn’t rush that, we sort of did the overdubs very slowly and it was a lot of fun days. So it was very layered. We kind of double tracked everything on the album except the drums and bass.
What made the days so fun?
BG: Just like hanging out and taking our time with it and having a few beers and stuff. It was always very fun.
And you enjoy recording?
BG: Yeah, we’ll I’m actually doing less of it these days. I used to record way more bands than I do and just felt like it was taking a little bit out of music for me. So I’ve sort of just been doing much less of that and keeping to my own stuff and you know, I’ll still record a few things here and there, but I don’t really wanna do it as a job or anything.
I often find people do get that after a while, like a lot of people I’ve talked to get that feeling.
BG: Yeah, I think I’d rather spend time on my own music a bit more than recording other people’s bands. I like doing it but I don’t wanna do it all the time.
Do you have things outside of music that you like doing?
BG: Yeah, just general stuff like me and Mitch blew up this little blow-up dinghy and took it down the river the other day. That was funny. Nothing out of the ordinary, just hanging out with people, cooking food and stuff like that.
What’s one of your favourite things to cook?
BG: Probably Mexican.
BG: Um, yeah, are both good. I guess they both have their pros and cons. Maybe I’ll say burritos, just because they’re a tiny bit less messy. But when it’s a good night for it, I love a good taco sesh!
I always find though, tacos tend to go soggy quicker.
BG: Are you a hard shell or soft shell taco kind of person?
BG: Yeah, me too.
That’s what a real taco is!
BG: Yeah, I grew up with the hard shell ones, and now I’m all about the soft.
Yeah, totally, I always tend to cut my mouth on the hard shell ones, believe it or not.
BG: Yeah! [laughs] Have you ever put a soft one around a hard one?
I haven’t actually! I’ve heard of this, but never done it.
BG: I’ve heard of it too, it seems insane but it makes sense because then the hard shell doesn’t all break up in your hands.
I wanted to ask you about the cover photo for the album. I noticed there’s lots of references to the songs.
BG: Yes! You did? Well, I’m glad someone noticed that because I wasn’t sure if we really got it, because a few people have asked about things and I felt like I had to explain that but you noticed it, so thank you!
Yeah, totally, like as soon as I saw the obvious thing, which is the Cling Wrap. You just see it and your just like; wait a second, that’s that song! and then it’s kind of like ‘Where’s Wally?’ or something and you’re moving around the picture and you’re like going this is this, and like the globe is ‘Smarts World’..
BG: Yeah, yeah.. Did you spot the Maccas wrapper in the bin?
I did! I had it up on the computer first and I was looking at it, and I was like, “that looks like a MacDonald’s wrapper” but then I couldn’t see if it was or not, so then I had to go get out the 12” LP copy that we’ve got and I’m like trying to look at it.. Because I’m thinking it has to be a MacDonald’s wrapper because of ‘Golden Arches’, but then I know you guys wouldn’t want that overtly out there on it, so it’s more subtle…
BG: Nah, yep, well, thanks for picking up on that! I’m glad you noticed.
What else can you tell me about it?
BG: Well, it’s like a rip off of a Fall record cover. Did you notice that?
BG: It’s not like an album, or one of their covers you’d see quite often, but it’s a 12” single for ‘Couldn’t Get Ahead’. It’s got Mark E. Smith sitting at a desk, and on the desk there’s like a pack of Marquis biscuits and a few references there. But we thought we’d do it with no one at the desk, because it’s like ‘Who Needs Smarts, Anyway?’ and the chair’s kind of looking as if someone’s just got up and walked away from it.
Yeah, totally, and I noticed the PP Rebel sticker.
BG: Yeah, well, that’s my laptop!
We’ve got the sticker. We put it on a magnet. You know how in the mail you get magnets from Real Estate places and local businesses?
BG: Yeah, and plumbers and things..
Yeah, we just got one of them that was the right size and stuck it over one, and it became a PP Rebel magnet for our fridge!
BG: Ahh, that’s genius! I might have to do that. I’ll keep my eyes out for some magnets.
So is there anything else you’re looking forward to doing creatively in the future?
BG: Just making more music really. I kind of haven’t done much of that this year, so I’ve got some catching up to do. Maybe some more artwork stuff, but that’s not really my field, but I wouldn’t mind doing some cut and paste things here and there.
When you’re writing stuff, is it just you start writing stuff and then you decide what band they go to?
BG: Yeah, I ‘spose, yeah, and even sometimes switch it up later, like I might have a song in mind for a certain band, but that band won’t be doing anything for a long time, and I’ll use it for a different band.
Are any of your other bands looking to do anything soon?
BG: Umm, probably more Smarts. We’ve got a few songs on the go, none of them are finished but have like maybe 7 or so half done, like riffs and stuff that we’re gonna start piecing stuff together. I don’t know what else, maybe there’s a couple Living Eyes demos that have been sitting around for a long time, maybe we’ll get there one day and record them.
As far Anti Fade Records goes, we’re not going to see anything til next year now because Smarts was the last release of the year? Oh, and the tape…
BG: Yeah, TB Ridge As The Director, which is Tom Ridgewell’s solo project, that’s coming out on Friday, and then yeah, that’s the end of the year. Will have to start planning 2021!
Dianas dropped a beautiful, dreamy sophomore album Baby Baby last month, it twists and turns through tracks as polyrhythms unfold, and their melodic interplay and charming vocal harmonies build around them. It’s dream pop, but it’s no nap, it’s a wild and energetic lucid dream. We caught up with them to explore their Perth-based beginnings, their move to Melbourne and the crafting of their new LP.
How did it all begin? How did Dianas get together?
CAITY: Nat moved into my house something like nine years ago and soon after broke up with her partner so we started hanging out a lot. Nat had been playing acoustic guitar for a while and writing songs, and I had stolen my brother’s electric guitar with the intention of learning to play but hadn’t got very far. We kind of just started playing together and tentatively writing songs whilst drinking a lot of cheap wine and generally annoying our neighbours. It’s kind of funny because I remember that as a really good time and Nat remembers it as one of the worst of her life, but either way that cocktail of boredom and heartbreak was essential to get us started because we’d probably have been too shy and awkward otherwise.
NAT: That story pretty much sums it up! It was definitely one of the worst times of my life but also the best, and the absolute best thing in my life has come out of it so it all balances out. Some of my fondest memories are learning how to play Best Coast, The XX and other extremely indie covers on bass and guitar together and just thinking it was the coolest. Also Caitlin taught me how to play bass!
What’s the story behind the name?
CAITY: We don’t have a good story behind the name. I’d love to say it came from the goddess Diana, of hunting and the moon, but actually it came from an op shopped Princess Diana portrait that had been tastelessly defaced for a party and was lying around our lounge room.
NAT: We were literally sitting in our lounge room naming stuff we could see so it was either Dianas or Sofabed. Fun fact we were originally called Undead Dianas but thankfully dropped the Undead before our first show.
What kind of musician would you say you are?
CAITY: A lazy one. I never had enough motivation to learn to play anything properly – despite the fact my mum is a music teacher who tried repeatedly to teach me piano – until Nat and I started playing together and writing songs. So maybe I can say a collaborative or a creative one – I’m never going to be a great guitarist but I love the process of turning ideas into songs especially when the input of other people makes it into something bigger than the sum of its parts.
NAT: That’s a hard one! I’m all over the shop. I really enjoy trying to fit in with other people and what or how they’re playing, move with them while still trying to fit in whatever it is that I want to do or hear. I think similarly to Caity I’m not really the kind of musician who gets great joy out of being totally technically proficient, but can take pleasure in playing with others and for others, trying to make something out of nothing.
Dianas are originally from Perth; what prompted the move to Melbourne? Nat wanted to pursue sound engineering, right? Was it a hard/big decision to move the band there?
NAT: I was always staunchly against the idea of moving to Melbourne, cos it just seems like the ‘classic’ Perth thing to do, but I also really wanted to get into sound engineering, and Melbourne was the best place for it. I didn’t really admit to anyone at home for ages that I’d moved out of embarrassment for totally flipping, and I planned to only come for 5 months but still here 5 years later! Caity and I initially did a long distance thing, flying between cities to play shows, but eventually she missed me too much and followed me over here
CAITY: I was staunchly for leaving Perth at some point so yes, I followed Nat here. I guess I figured I’d have at least one friend and something to do even if I couldn’t get a job!
What do you think of Melbourne now you’ve been there for a little? How is it different to Perth?
CAITY: It’s colder – I do miss the sun and the beach. But there’s a bit more going on culturally (sorry Perth) and in terms of the music scene there’s a lot more venues to play at and local festivals and things going on.
NAT: Quite a few winters in and I’m still not used to how goddam cold and dark it is. But I’ve also really loved getting involved in the music scene here, although there’s some similarities, it’s pretty different to Perth I think, obviously way more bands and venues, but there’s also this collective feeling of experimental space. Also being able to explore up the coast and make new friends all over this side has been amazing.
You recently released your sophomore album Baby Baby into the world; what do you love most about the record?
NAT: I just love how ‘us’ it sounds. We’ve put so much of ourselves into every aspect of it, from obviously the writing and playing together, but then the whole recording and mixing process to all the design and videos and releases. I’m not sure how I’ll feel in the future but I’m just honestly really proud of this thing that we made.
Can you tell us a bit about the writing of it; what was inspiring it lyrically? Do you feel there’s an overarching theme? I picked up on love, relationships, self-love and a mood of sadness.
CAITY: I think those are themes that are always present in our music and how they show up just shifts and changes depending on where we’re at personally at the time. The lyrics are usually pretty simple and direct but hopefully capture a specific mood or feeling that other people can relate to. The inspiration is mostly just our own little lives; trying to navigate our way through life and love and defining ourselves as people, the sadness and hope in growing up.
One of my favourite tracks on the LP is closer ‘Learning/Unlearning’; what sparked this song?
CAITY: ‘Learning/Unlearning’ was just me trying to tell myself not to have regrets about the past – a self-help song! I think a lot of women especially can look back and see that the way they thought about themselves and allowed themselves to be treated was ill advised and damaging, and it’s hard sometimes not to see that as wasted time. There’s a lot of bad ideas we internalise that take a lifetime to unlearn, so it’s really about going easy on yourself and allowing for the fact that you have to go through things to learn from them.
I also really love the piano, drums and bass combo in song ‘Jewels’; how did that song get started?
CAITY: ‘Jewels’ started with just the piano and vocals, which Nat and Anetta then added their parts to. We had a song on our last album that was just piano, bass and drums that we really liked so I suppose we were going for something similarly simple, but then we ended up adding lots of different vocal layers to the second part in the recording and it became a bit of a different beast. We really like this song though, possibly because it’s the newest and we’re not sick of it yet. We actually only had a chance to play it live once before all our shows got cancelled!
You recorded the record at Phaedra Studios, Nat recorded it; why did you decided to self-record? Can you tell us about the sessions? What were the best and most frustrating bits?
NAT: It sort of started off from a place of necessity, I’d dipped my toes into half recording us on our last EP, as the result of another tumultuous breakup leaving us without our usual recording engineer halfway through the recording process. I was a bit hesitant at first that I’d be able to do it but Caitlin said I should and I just do what she says. (Caity’s edit: not true)
Having the space in the sessions just by ourselves was really amazing. There was no pressure to try and fit in with anyone else’s views or notions, we could just be ourselves and get down and do it. In the past we’ve maybe struggled with communicating what we want or how we feel, but I think that we’ve learnt and grown a lot over the years and there were only minimal tears this time – a record! I think the hardest part was just trying to keep up the confidence and objectivity that what we’d done sounded good, I guess the flip side to doing it ourselves is we then only had ourselves to look to. I just had a really fun time mixing it too, I learnt a lot and had a lot of space to experiment. I think there was only one thing in the end that we had to compromise on (too many delays in a chorus vs not enough!), and I’m real happy and content with how the album sounds as a whole.
Dianas harmonies are really cool; how do you approach making them?
CAITY: Usually one of us just starts singing and the other one joins in when they feel like it. We’ll keep going over things until we find something we like, but it’s not really planned out. At this point it’s just kind of assumed that we’ll both sing in one way or another on a song, rather than have a single vocalist. At least I’ll usually make Nat sing along with me because my voice is kind of weak on its own!
How did you first find your voice? Is confidence something that’s come to you over time? Do you really have to work on it? Are you still working on it?
CAITY: I don’t know if I would ever have got up onto a stage if Nat hadn’t encouraged (forced) me to – or even maybe sung at all. I tried to make her be the front person and just sing the songs I wrote herself but she refused, which I’m now thankful for because I really enjoy it. We’ve definitely become a lot more confident on stage than we used to be, which has just come from time and practice, but we are shy people by nature and can tend to be a bit too self-effacing at times. I think we’ve learned to own our voices a bit more and have hopefully stopped with the “what I don’t even know how to play a guitar hahahah” interview style/stage presence. But it is something we are constantly working on yes.
Baby Baby’s cover art is by artist Tamara Marrington; how did you come to her work?
NAT: We’ve known Tammy for a while (I guess since Perth days!) she’s one of those artists who just elicits a complete emotional response from me, I don’t think there’s been an exhibition of hers I’ve been to where I haven’t had tears streaming down my face. She was very patient working with us and our often indecisive natures, and we’re just so happy with how the record looks
You’ve made videos for the tracks off your LP (people can watch them all over at Baby TV) ‘Weather Girl’ is a favourite; what was the thought behind that one? I really love the fullness and chaotic-ness of this track!
CAITY: I just wanted to make a video about witches, but the kind of less cool TV witches of my childhood from shows like Charmed or Sabrina. The track was always pretty chaotic and only got more so when we recorded it so it seemed like a good fit for a narrative music video involving love potions and a stabbing (sorry spoilers).
As well as doing Dianas Nat does Blossom Rot Records; what’s one of the coolest and hardest things about doing your own label?
NAT: It’s been really cool to just do things on our own terms, in our own way, and on our own time – not having to stick to anyone else’s schedule or run anything by anyone. I think the hardest thing has just sorta been having to write about my own band and trying not to sound too wanky. Definitely looking forward to working on some other releases! It’s also great working with Sophie, I feel like we balance each other out perfectly, she’s the boot to my scoot.
What’s next for Dianas?
NAT: I’m not sure about the others but it’s actually been a bit of a relief for me to be able to slow down, and not get too wrapped up in the constant next step motion. Having said that it will be really really nice when we’re able to play again, we’d love to reschedule the tour we had booked at some point but I’m not in a massive rush to do so until its super safe and would be enjoyable. I think for now I’d love to get back to our roots and sit at home together with some cheap wine and write some more songs 🙂
CAITY: Personally I have not found this time to be a relief at all, and I’m definitely looking forward to that tour. Looks like we’ll be waiting out the winter though so revisiting our roots sounds good – I think I’ll splurge on some nicer wine this time around though.
Melbourne label Roolette Records put out great music by great bands including Pinch Points, Junior Fiction, Hearts & Rockets, Zig Zag, Kosmetika, Disco Junk, LVIV, Surfbort and more! They’re definitely a label we get behind. We caught up with them recently to find out more about what they do and their passion for music and community.
On the Roolette Records site it reads: Love. Music. Friendship. Community; what is the importance of these things in how you operate?
ROOLETTE RECORDS: Hey! First of all, thank you so much for wanting to interview our label, we appreciate it. We’re super big fans of what GGGZ has been doing so we’re super stoked right now!
LMFC is our little ‘slogan’ thing that came about very organically through conversation with our friends about what makes our community so special. We decided to use it going forwards as it’s a great reminder for us to always stay focused on those positive things but it also serves as a warm, welcoming introduction to our record label.
How did you first discover music?
RR: Growing up my mum Gail (hey mum lol) played music in the house constantly, especially in the morning. She would turn the radio on full blast to try and wake me and my brother up for school, and we got super into music from a young age as a result. She has dope music taste as well so introduced us to her favourite bands growing up like The Clash, Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Carole King, and INXS (strictly their first album only!).
What one record have you listened to more than any other? As a music fan what do you appreciate about it?
RR: Although it’s still fairly new, I think ‘Friendship Music’ by Surfbort is definitely one of my favourite and most listened to albums. What connects with me the most about it is the joyful rage that permeates the entire album. It’s angry, chaotic but also somehow feels like a big warm hug. It’s also a very special album for me because we were fortunate enough to release it in 2018. If you haven’t listened to the entire album, do it!
What was the first concert you went to? What do you remember about it?
RR: I have vague memories of seeing the Wiggles and the Hooly Dooleys when I was really little. But the concert that I remember the most was Nikki Webster at an RSL back in like, 2004 maybe? It wasn’t for her first album unfortunately and it was kinda past her prime but I got a picture with her and she signed my ticket stub. Both of which I have lost now haha but she did play Strawberry Kisses and it went off!
What inspired you to start Roolette?
RR: We started Roolette as a bit of an experiment! Didn’t have a clue what we were doing and just sort of made it up as we went along. Our friend Sarah Cardamone came up with a logo for us and off we went! It all didn’t really start properly until Private Function’s ‘Rock In Roll’ tape. That was when we were like “shit, I guess we should actually do this label thing.”
Are there any labels that you look to as a guide because you like the way they do things? What is it about them?
RR: Burger Records is a huge inspiration for us. Besides being a super fun & great record label, they’re nice people that work extremely hard which is what we aspire to be too! Collaborating with them in 2019 for Pinch Points’ debut album ‘Moving Parts’ was an eye opener and we can’t thank them enough for their support.
When starting the label is there anything you wished someone would have told you that might have be very valuable to you?
RR: You mean like specific label advice or something? Probably not. It’s one of those classic things like, if you could go back in time and do everything perfectly, would you? Those early days were just so informative, as mentioned we had no idea what we were doing at the start so every little step was a huge learning curve.
Worth noting that we had a lot of friends and family encouraging us which was very valuable.
Is there any commonalities in the artists that you choose for your label?
RR: Style-wise, not particularly. Personally we love a whole range of music so we try not to only release one certain genre. The biggest commonalties the artists have is that they’re all super amazing musicians and genuinely lovely people who have all been really great to work with.
What do you love most about the cassette and vinyl formats you release music on?
RR: Releasing music on a physical format is one of the best parts about running a label. There is always something so magical about finally getting to hold the finished product in your hands after all the planning and hard work that goes into creating it. We also love helping bands make it a reality. Being musicians ourselves, we totally understand the joy of a physical release and it makes us really happy working with bands to create something new.
Is there a release you’ve put out that has a special significance to you?
RR: I think it will always be the Surfbort ‘Friendship Music’ release I mentioned earlier. The whole experience was really magical. We collaborated on that release with Cult Records (founded and run by Julian Casablancas) which was mind blowing and it was also the label’s first time doing vinyl. We were lucky enough that Surfbort were actually coming to town so we were able to have a dope ass launch party at Last Chance Rock and Roll Bar, which was also coincidentally on my birthday. So, yeah, the whole release was super memorable and Dani, Alex, Sean and Dave from Bort as well as the team from Cult and the crew at Last Chance have the biggest spot in our hearts ❤
What releases do you have coming up?
RR: We have a bunch of super amazing things coming up soon that we haven’t totally announced yet. But we have just had Hannah Kate and also the Vovo’s jump on board, so you can keep your eyes peeled for more news on both that bands (and more!) soon.
What’s the last thing you listened to that totally blew you away? Can you do your best to describe it please?
RR: We were listening to this sick band from Germany recently, Lassie. Their second EP ‘Just a Couple of Dudes’ really knocked our socks off. It’s a wild, fun and energetic blast to the face which has been great while in iso haha.
The new Cumgirl8 album has also been amazing to get into. They’re from New York City and the album has this sort of lo-fi 90s vibe that really compliments the vibe of the songs and lyrics. It came out on Muddguts, a really cool label you should check out!
We’re also once again/constantly playing ‘The Smile Sessions’ by The Beach Boys at Roo HQ which always blows us away and inspires us to write really wild music. Do You Like Worms, Wind Chimes… Wow.
What’s something that you see the Australian music industry lagging in? What’s something that could be done better?
RR: Diversity. It’s a never-ending problem in our industry and while our industry, specifically our cities community, has made great strides in that field in comparison to other countries/communities, there is still a very long way to go. It’s something we’re constantly working on and thinking about as should everybody! It doesn’t take much effort to be inclusive, whether you’re a band or label or even a punter. The first step is to just be a bit self-critical and ask questions. There are so many amazing resources online that cover a broad ranges of issues that can be really helpful.
How vibrant do you feel the Australian independent music community is right now? What do you see that makes you either optimistic or pessimistic about the near-future?
RR: It’s super vibrant. What makes this community so amazing is the way it is able to navigate and operate under adversity. From the artists we’ve been speaking to, it seems like everyone is still focused on continuing to create and release music in iso which is so amazing. It is just really sad that the backbone of our industry, live music venues, are being super impacted. It is a very tumultuous time for everyone in this community at the moment and the uncertainty of if and when we will be able to return to business as usual is a very sobering reality. But like I mentioned, this community knows how to overcome challenges so I have optimism for the near future.