Perth’s Anti-Fascist Punks Last Quokka: “Today Western Australia had the third Aboriginal death in custody in the last two months which brings the country to about 440 since 1991”

Original photo courtesy of Last Quokka; handmade collage by B.

Political punks Last Quokka are set to release album four, unconscious drivers (out September 4). Their music is urgent and timely, their lyrics conveying emotional, thought provoking social commentary.  Gimmie interviewed them to find out more.

Last Quokka are from Perth “the most isolated city on the planet”; can you tell us a little bit about where you live?

TRENT (vocals): Perth is pretty great… Love the sunshine and lots to do. It’s especially great being able to leave the house without a face-mask and go get a parmy at the pub. Isolation definitely has its perks. Personally I am really happy with the support and love we get from the close friends around us, we are surrounded by great people and I think sometimes that is more important than location.

RAY (bass): Perth is a really strange place. While it can be dominated by conservative yuppie assholes, there is also a really incredible local music and arts community that produces some of the most committed artists and activists in the country. We feel very lucky to be a part of such a rad community of folks doing what they can to make the scene and broader community a better place. It’s also just really beautiful, especially the forests down south.

KIRILL (guitar: Perth is a great place to live, we have forests and beaches, sand dunes, rivers, walking trails. We have an amazing park right in the middle of the city called Kings Park, it overlooks the city and swan river and makes for a great picnic spot. The weather is great too.

JOSE (drums): Perth it’s a strange place.

I know that everyone in the band is from different places – Jose is from El Salvador, Kirill from Russia, Ray from Fremantle and Trent from the northern suburbs of Perth; how did you each discover music? What were things like growing up for you?

JOSE: I use to listen to a lot of Latino music, get those hips to shake. And I Remember always listening to the same Frank Sinatra tape over and over again. As I got much older, I listened to a lot of hip hop, that’s actually where I think my love for drumming and music really started. I couldn’t break dance very well to the hip hop music so the next best thing was drums.

TRENT: My first ever album was John Farnham – Whispering Jack and my excellent music tastes cascaded from there. I used to love Rage Pop of the 90’s and early noughties. I still adore it actually, give me some Killing Heidi or Vanessa Amorosi, cover me in sparkles, put me on a dancefloor and watch me groove. I think my first movement into punk music was when I saw the video clip for Joy Division’s song ‘Atmosphere’ and fell in love with the feel of it. I was a pretty angry kid; the northern suburbs will do that to kids that don’t fit the pre-bogan mould – so I started journeying into punk music from there. For me, punk was a way to validate my anger of growing up surrounded by people that didn’t understand me and always feeling like an outcast. I connected online with a lot of people from all over the world in similar situations and I started to feel accepted.

RAY: I grew up listening to my mum and dad’s records, I don’t think I bought my own album until I was 17 when I also started playing in my first band with a bunch of much older hectic, drug-addled street punks. I grew up down south in Gracetown, what was absolutely incredible. I don’t have any siblings so just spent my childhood hanging with my dogs at the beach. I reckon the best thing about WA is the coastline, it’s why after moving away a few years ago I moved back.

KIRILL: I started playing guitar when I was maybe 13 or 14, I was playing Euphonium in high school band too. Worked a summer job at a metal fabrication shop and used the money to buy my first electric guitar and amplifier. After that it was the usual run of grunge and rock and playing at patries.

What are some of your all-time favourite bands? What do you appreciate about them?

TRENT: A Silver Mt, Zion – I find this band so inspirational on so many levels, especially politically and they have been blowing me away for decades. I can’t see myself ever growing out of love with them; Joy Division – there is an authenticity and darkness to their music that I find really honest and comforting; Death Cab for Cutie – they make cute music and have always kind of been there for me as a comfort, they often unlock a lot of emotion for me; Eddy Current Suppression Ring – because they’re fucking Eddy Current; Salary – a local band from here in Perth that hit me right in the feels all of the time; Propagandhi – they are the package deal.

JOSE: My taste changes so often, but I think what I’m currently drawn to is 60’s Garage Rock, like The Sonics or The Electric Prunes. Raw “Rock’n’Roll” with really nice melodies.

RAY: I am huge fan of the 90’s Washington D.C. Scene, bands such as Fugazi, Minor Threat, Fire Party etc. I’m really interested in what Ian Mackaye and others did with Dischord Records. That unwavering commitment to DIY has really inspired me.

KIRILL: I like oldies like ACDC, Metallica, Slayer, Pantera – there’s mad energy about those bands that seems to be lacking in most popular bands today. A while ago after watching the documentary “DIG” about Brian Jonestown Massacre and Dandy Warhols, I got into those bands too. There’s also a bunch of Soviet and Russian bands that I listen to as well.

What have you been listening to lately?

TRENT: I am actually completely obsessed with pretty much everything Phoebe Bridgers has ever done. She is phenomenal and will be with me for the rest of my life. Outside of listening to her on repeat every day, I just discovered an album by a band called Life Without Buildings which they released it in 2005 and it was their own ever album – but it’s excellent.

RAY: Speaking of Fugazi, I am really enjoying the new Coriky album (featuring members of Fugazi and The Evens). But I’ve also discovered Katiny Slezki from Yakutsk in Siberia and The Hu Band from Mongolia who are both amazing.

KIRILL: Been listening to a band from Greece called Villagers of Ioannina City.

JOSE: Allah-Las, Ty Segall…

What initially made you want to be in a band?

TRENT: It was a bit of a running joke in my friendship group for ages – “fuck Trent, you’re loud, have a lot to say and don’t shut up, you should be a vocalist”. Problem is, I couldn’t sing. But it turns out that doesn’t matter with Last Quokka.

JOSE: I just love make art and music. That’s why I wanted to be in a band.

RAY: I think I’ve always wanted to be in a band, ever since being a kid and flicking through music mags, there was always something so romantic about it, from the leather jackets to the tours and everything in between. But as I got older I thought more about the idea of being in a band as being a part of a community and creating a platform for ideas and action. And once I started playing I just got addicted to the catharsis of performing.

KIRILL: I just wanted to play music, the band thing is cause and effect type of thing.

Last Quokka are an anti-fascist punk band; why is it important for you to let people know this? What does it mean to you?

RAY: This is something we often discuss as we all share similar political values and are all united in our anti-fascist and broadly anarchist politics. But lately we’ve been debating whether it is necessary to describe ourselves as such or just let our lyrics speak for themselves. Personally, I think it is important to be openly anti-fascist as fascism is no longer a relic of the 20th century. We are facing the rise of very real and dangerous fascist movements, the world over. While it may not be significant if some random rock band in Perth is anti-fascist or not, for the sake of history and global solidarity, it’s still important to use any opportunity to declare our opposition to the forces of control, domination and exploitation… Also I guess I hope it inspires some local folks to take action.

TRENT: Look at the world we are living in at the moment. Abuses of power have become so commonplace that nobody even bats an eyelid anymore. We have such a small minority of people with all of the wealth doing whatever they can do grow that wealth and maintain power, and the people, largely, support them in that quest. It’s completely absurd, we have the working class hating their unions, we have disunity, and slowly our freedoms are being eroded away. Rather than uniting to resist, change and overthrow this toxic power, we are fighting with each other. Today Western Australia had the third Aboriginal death in custody in the last two months which brings the country to about 440 since 1991. Surely that’s enough to unite people to create change, but white Australia largely allows this to happen. The struggle against oppression is all of ours. Unfortunately, most of the population has fucking Stockholm Syndrome and have sided with their captors. I mean, it’s becoming an insult to be anti-fascist? The media is perpetuating divisive messages to prop up political parties of their choice and maintain their business interests. The world is a copybook of the 1930s and we saw how that turned out. And we have a huge recession on the way. We have to resist now. Fucking Bazil Zempilas is running for Mayor of Perth, surely now is the time to scream from rooftops.

Can you remember what it was the first got you interested in politics?

RAY: I grew up surrounded by political activism, with both my parents being active in environmentalism and other causes. But I clearly remember the moment I wanted to get involved in activism: I was living with my mum during the September 11th terror attacks and when the towers went down my mum was devastated. I couldn’t understand why she was so upset, but she said she wasn’t just crying for those who had died in the towers but because now America would invade Afghanistan, Iraq and eventually Iran and she was crying for the hundreds of thousands of people who going to suffer as the result of the US-led wars to come. Of course not not long after that the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and I got involved in the anti-war movement.

TRENT: Punk music started it… I was 13 years old when the war in Iraq started and that’s about the same time I started listening to punk. I started applying the critical lens that punk music was giving me to messages in my family, school, government, and on a global scale such as the invasion of Iraq. I started wanting to do something about it and started organising small actions at school which pretty much only I would attend.

I saw that you attended the Black Lives Matter protest rally in Perth. BLM is something that has very much been in the forefront of a lot of people’s minds especially of late and it’s stirred up a lot of thoughts, feelings, emotions, discussion and action in the community both locally and worldwide; what’s something important you’ve been learning?

RAY: It’s been incredible to see so many people organising and taking to the streets to demand justice. But I’ve been thinking a lot about how these kind of movements can escape the media cycle and the unfortunate online spectacle that seems to consume most contemporary movements. I’m not sure any of us have learnt the answer to that but it’s great to see people trying to build community that exists beyond one off events and rallies.

TRENT: I have been learning Noongar language on-and-off for the last couple of years – first at Langford Aboriginal Association with Merinda Hansen and now with Sharon Gregory at RePlants in Fremantle. I find it is important to listen and learn about injustice and act in solidarity, and it is also important to understand and learn. It’s great fun as well, you get to understand Noongar culture at a much deeper level and my love and appreciation for it continues to grow. Other than that, I have just been supporting those around me who have to cop racial oppression every day, being there in solidarity is hugely important. I have been trying to use my own privilege as much as possible to challenge the status quo.

JOSE: We need to listen and help those in need. Really Listen!

Your song “Colony” is a commentary on Australia colonialism; what inspired this song? Why was it important to you to write it?

RAY: To be honest despite being politically conscious people we don’t ever set out to write political songs and we’re not really a ‘political band’ or at least don’t try to be. The songs are usually just a reflection of whatever we are talking about or thinking about at the time. But I guess this issue is really important to all of us. Personally, I think that in order to address any social, economic or environmental justice issues in this country we must first deal with the ongoing effects of colonialism.

TRENT: We are on stolen land that was never ceded, it is quite simple really. The British Empire and the Nazi Party have too much in common for me to be comfortable with us not calling that out.

“Privilege” is about online trolling and macho right-wing keyboard warriors; what first sparked the idea for this song?

RAY: Pretty sure it was something to do with an uber annoying local facebook group here in Freo and Trent and I were arguing with a bunch of privileged yuppie dickheads…

TRENT: Haha, yeah Ray and I are part of a Facebook group called ‘Freo Massive’ and it is a breeding ground for neo-liberals to spout their privileged shit. We actually took a bunch of quotes from one of these privileged dudes and turned it into a song.

RAY: Actually I’m currently banned from the group…

Your latest release is a song called “Wake Up Geoff” which is about Western Australian premier Geoff Gallop; why did you chose to write about him?

RAY: We should probably make it clear that none of us are really fans of politicians and I think it started out as a bit of a joke… We don’t really ever think about what songs we’re going to write… But we’d been chatting about how bizarre it was that given how much shit has shifted to the right someone like Gallop seems like a radical lefty.

TRENT: Yeah he was just a long way better than the shit we have to put up with now.

You’ll be releasing your fourth album unconscious drivers in August; what’s the significance of the LP title?

TRENT: It has a couple of meanings and I think its best we let the people make up their minds on what they make of it.

Can you tell us about recording it?

TRENT: We recorded with Stu and Dave at Hopping Mouse Studios and it was mastered by Mikey ‘the dolphin’ Young. It was such a fun recording process; they were great people to work with and bought some great ideas and enthusiasm. It took one weekend and then a number of week nights… plus lots of beer.


RAY: It was such a joy recording this album with the guys at Hopping Mouse. Stu and Dave totally get where we are coming from and are just absolutely lovely people to work with. I think we all really wanted to get it sounding as swish as possible, being our fourth release and also I guess we’re really proud of these songs, so they deserved to be done right.

KIRILL: It was over two sessions about six months apart plus some overdubs. Most tracks are maybe third of fourth take I reckon. Definitely not a perfect record in terms of technical aspect and Stuart had to cut’ n chop a few mistakes I made here and there. In terms of energy and feeling I think it’s bang on. The last track we just made up on the spot, played once, then called Madeline in, she listened once to what we recorded and then just nailed the violin part first go – well I guess that’s what professional ‘mussos’ do!

What’s your favourite track on the new album? What do you love about it?/What’s it about?

RAY: That’s a hard one, I think with any songs you have favourites that change. I definitely enjoy playing “Colony” the most live at the moment. But i’d say my favourite track is “Punks in the Palace”. It’s all about the hope and despair we all find ourselves in and that maybe hope will win out. It’s just a real high energy and kinda emotional song, plus it’s a kinda nod to the 90s indie grunge stuff that we love.

Trent: Yeah “Punks in the Palace” is my favourite track on the album, I really love each element of the song a lot. Kirill’s guitar midway through the song gives me spine tingles.

KIRILL: “Conversations” starts off pretty slow n rocky but when it breaks it’s like “ohh wow ok, this is music now!”

JOSE: The “secret” track at the end.

Is there anything that you’d like people to know about that’s important to you or that you’d like more people to be aware of?

RAY: I think people are pretty aware of a lot of things these days. Our collective problem is one of organising, how we can project power and create alternatives to all of the capitalist bullshit. I’d personally love to see more physical community, DIY events, spaces, gardens, collectives etc and more thinking more about what unites us all, our common interests, passions and struggles rather than what divides us.

JOSE: Empathy.

KIRILL: There’s a bug goin’ around, wash your hands people and cover your mouth when you cough.

TRENT: Follow ‘Trent Steven’ on Spotify and follow my playlist that’s called ‘emotional regulation…’ it’s got some ripper tracks on there and is guaranteed to get any party started.

Please check out: LAST QUOKKA; on Facebook; on Instagram.

Geelong Punk band Vintage Crop’s Jack Cherry: “The first big thing for me was listening to Eddy Current Suppression Ring…”

Original photo by Chelsea King. Mixed-media art by B.

Vintage Crop are set to release a cracker of an album! Serve To Serve Again captures sardonic, disenchanted, unromantic story telling from the grind of the day and observations of the world in a bold 12-song package. Gimmie spoke to vocalist-guitarist Jack Cherry.

JACK CHERRY: I’ve had a nice day so far, I’m on holidays from work and I’m just taking it easy.

What do you do for work?

JC: I clean swimming pools, clean and maintain I should clarify, little bit and bobs. It’s a funny kind of job.

It would be nice to be outside a lot for work.

JC: All day, which is great in summer and not so much in the winter [laughs].

When did you first become interested in music?

JC: I’ve always had an interest, I think most people probably do, it’s a part of everyone’s life when they’re kids. I don’t think it was until I was twelve or thirteen, my brother asked me what I wanted for Christmas one year, and he steered me in the direction of a drum kit. I was like, yeah, I’d love to play drums! I wasn’t very good at it for a while. I wasn’t into anything outrageous, maybe just The White Stripes or the Foo Fighters, that was probably the first kind of inkling.

What did your parents think about you playing drums?

JC: We lived on a farm and the drums were set up in a different shed from the house so it wasn’t really an issue for them, which was nice.

What was it like growing up on farm?

JC: It was cool. We were there since I was a baby and I didn’t leave there until I was twenty. For the first twenty years I could make as much noise as I wanted! We’d always practice at my place, it was easy.

Photo: Chelsea King.

What made you move to the city?

JC: I’m still in Geelong, just not on a farm anymore. I’m ten minutes down the road on the other side of town now. I’m in a block of units at the moment so I can’t make much noise here. Geelong is pretty laid back, as long as you’re in a house, I don’t think people make too much of a fuss. We practice at our drummer’s house now and do a couple of hours a night and no one seems to have a problem with it.

How do you go about approaching your song writing?

JC: I wonder if it’s normal or not? I just play around with the guitar for half an hour or something until something half descent comes from it. I’ll play that riff or chords for two or three days until some idea for words come along and then I take it to the band. I don’t write much down. I just play around until something cool happens and take it to the band and they do the structuring and adding their own parts. I find it hard to write for everyone, it’s hard to not only come up with the parts but it feels like a dick move to come to the band and be like; you’re playing this on bass; you’re playing that on guitar; you play this drum bit on the drums. I feel like everyone is happy if they write their own parts.

When did you start playing guitar?

JC: When I was about sixteen. I had three to four years solid of playing drums and then it got to the point where I can’t really play a full song on the drums. I can’t invite people to come listen to a song and just whack the drums for two and a half minutes. It’s more interesting learning how to play the song on the guitar.

You mentioned that you don’t really write stuff down when you’re making songs; do you ever forget something really cool?

JC: Surprisingly I remember most things. I might forget the phrasing of something or the song itself; like I’ll know what I’m meant to play but can’t remember how to play it. It’s so infuriating to have the base of it but to not remember the intricacies of how I used to play it, that sometimes weighs on me. If it’s really important I will record it but I try not to, I try to keep it free like that because maybe someone in the band might have an idea for it and they’ll change it again and make it even better. I try not to lock it in too strictly otherwise you could stop it from turning into something even better!

Do you feel the new album Serve To Serve Again has an overarching theme?

JC: I tend to look back on things and retrospectively apply things and go, oh, that’s what I was looking at with this. I’d have to have a real think about it to give you something. I know that there’s something there but I don’t consciously write to a theme. There’s probably a theme there but I haven’t really nailed it yet.

I find that a lot of Vintage Crop songs have a social commentary, observations of life in general, themes of entitlement, privilege.

JC: Yeah, that’s something that subconsciously finds its way in. I try not to be too loaded in my lyrics but sometimes things just come out that way and stay that way, and it just works. A lot of the time I’m not consciously attacking anything or poking fun at things, it just comes through. I figure that’s obviously what I must feel about things or what I must have intended to say or feel because, again I feel if it’s too edited it loses the flow. I keep it as it is and that’s probably a better depiction of how I’m feeling and thinking.

How long have you been working on the record for?

JC: We did the Company Man 7” in January of last year, that was recorded six months prior but we’d been working on that for six months. It was originally going to be a full album, we originally had a few ideas that we took off of it and we moulded those into new songs that we sat with for a year. We had three songs a year ago and we went on tour to Europe in April and came back and said, let’s take a break and we’ll come back with some ideas. We probably didn’t get flying until September when we really knuckled down and said, we’ve got half an album let’s finish it. We took our time with it. We got it through ‘til February and that’s when we recorded. Give or take it was about a year from start to finish.

Where did you record it?

JC: We recorded it Frankston in Singing Bird Studios with Mikey Young. We were just happy for him to record it so we thought we would accommodate him and go down to Frankston, it’s about two and a half hours from where we are. We thought if he’s agreed to do it, we’ll do it on his terms [laughs]. We thought he’s the best man to ask for, he’s done everything that is in our scene, he’s the man for the job.

We really love the song “Jack’s Casino” on the LP.

JC: That one is the last one we wrote for the album. I came in with the idea three weeks before we recorded the album. Because it’s pretty fast and it doesn’t take much, you learn the things and play them really fast. I think it’s one of everybody’s favourites because it feels so fresh. It’s maybe indicative of where we’re going after this album. It seems like there’s always a couple of songs an album that will sound like maybe what the next one will be.

What‘s the second one?

JC: “Serve To Serve Again” the title track. It incorporates synths into our sound, it’s a lot better than the other stuff we’ve done, I think it takes a lead. We’re all happy with it. It’s exciting to change and get a new instrument in there to sound new and fresh.

The whole record is so solid. The three songs I love the most – “Jack’s Casino”, “Streetview” and “Serve To Serve Again” all appear in the middle of the record.

JC: Track listing was something we did think a lot about. It’s interesting that the three in the middle were the ones that are your favourite, because we thought the middle songs would be a really strong core for the album. The first three or four songs are the more single worthy songs and then the second half of the album has “Gridlock” which is the lead single, we thought we’d put the lead single on the B-side just to even things out. It’s interesting that you’d pick out the strong core as your favourites, it means we did a good job I guess.

So often we love the songs that aren’t the singles. What can you tell me about “Serve To Serve Again”?

JC: We wanted something more… my vocal patterns tend to be say three or four words then break. Say three or four words then break, we wanted it to have a bit more flow in the words. I took a bit more care to ditch the style I usually work with and be a bit more consistent with the vocals, to fire the vocals off a bit faster and really think about the words themselves and fit them all to a theme and keep it strong. The song itself may be a bit repetitive but if the lyrics are firing over the top… it gives us a bit more to work with.

Do you have any vocal inspirations?

JC: I’m very conscious of trying to do too much with my voice. When we first started I had kind of an American accent thing going on. It just sounded weird to me to use my normal voice. I think the first big thing for me was listening to Eddy Current Suppression Ring where it’s his voice amplified, that’s pretty much what I’m doing with mine, not trying to sound like anyone else, just trying to make sure I’m capturing my own voice properly. My favourite vocalist are the ones that amplify their own voice like Sleaford Mods, The Fall. I think that’s where we’re at with the vocal stylings.

When did you start feeling more comfortable with your own voice?

JC: Just after TV Organs came out. With the band, I was doing it on my own for the first couple of years, 2013-2015 was just me doing bedroom recordings and putting it on Soundcloud. They’re definitely not available anywhere, they’re definitely all gone! [laughs]. That was me, and I was struggling with the vocal thing, the songs weren’t great. After we did TV Organs and people were interested and came to shows it was like, oh… the voice isn’t too much different from what I was doing but I figured if people like the music I’d be more comfortable with my voice. Someone told me once that people will forgive a slightly out of tune voice if the music is good. If people are interested in the songs than making my voice sound more like myself would only be a good thing.

I’m always drawn to unique voices rather than perfect ones that all sound the same, I like character.

JC: The more you try to make it perfect it loses quality, it loses feeling.

Is there a song you’re proud of writing?

JC: I like them all, I think they’re all good. Maybe “The Ladder” on the new album, I think it came out well because there’s lots of different parts, it sounds tough but it’s interesting. The chord we use in the song, I don’t even know what its’ called, it’s like a minor diminished chord, it’s a really unusual chord but we use it and it almost sounds normal. That might be the song I’m most proud of.

I really love all the Dragnet stuff you do too! What inspired you to start that?

JC: It was last year at some point. Because of the ways we write things in Vintage Crop, it’s collaborative. With the ‘Crop stuff everything is recorded and mixed and mastered and sent off, maybe over a six month period. With Dragnet I wanted something that was just done on the spot. I was recording demos on my own, I play all the instruments and I’d finish it and that was the end of the song. Once I had a bunch of songs I’d just release it. We did. I put out a cassette and it was six songs and I got friends to play the show and gave the tapes away for free. It was fun and we thought, maybe we should do it properly.

Polaks Records in Europe wanted to do a vinyl release of it. I don’t like to do things slowly so I had a couple of other songs that I didn’t put on cassette that I thought I’d include on the vinyl release. He’s got it pressed already. I think Dragnet for me is immediacy. Getting it done straight away as opposed to the process we go through with Vintage Crop.

There’s a song called “Networking” on the record; what’s it about?

JC: That one is… a comment about people in music scenes in general. Everyone is very self-aware, there’s a lot of judging of other people but also judging of yourself. A lot of times you can feel like people are saying things about you or feeling certain things about you but they’re really not at all. I think maybe it’s a depiction of insecurities around people who are essentially just copies of yourself. Someone in a music scene, a lot of the bands that sound the same is because they have the same influences and they do the same thing; everyone’s kind of the same and it can get really competitive. You feel like you have to outshine these people or you feel like these people don’t like you or you don’t like them… it can be pretty… phwoar… ugly! The lyrics work for that. I don’t know if it comes across but that was the feeling behind it. I don’t think that deeply about the lyrics but there is definitely feeling behind it. It’s a good way of summing up how I’m feeling.

That song then rolls into next track “Music Business”.

JC: Yes. That one is a bit of fun. I did a music business course a few years ago as a one year thing. I didn’t want to go to uni and didn’t have much of a job so I thought I should do that because it was better than doing nothing. The music business course was very pretentious. It wasn’t aimed at me. It really made me see what my ambitions were and it was not to be someone in the music industry. When I say “music industry” I mean more the mainstream in Australia. That song is silly and makes me laugh when I think about it all.

Very with you there. I went to do a music industry course and I started off going to a shorter-course of it to see if I liked it and the lady that was doing it was the absolute worst! I ended up getting an internship at a major label on my own merits and I later found out it was usually her full-time students that got those places… anyway, it came up in class that I’d gotten the placement and she started treating me horribly and said in front of the whole class “You’re just getting people’s coffee!” and some other things that were trying to demean me. I never went back to that class again and thought, if this is the industry I don’t want to be a part of it.

JC: Aww that’s terrible. When I was doing the course it was around 2016 and I started getting into the local scene. Anti Fade Records was from Geelong where I was from as well and all of the things I was learning at the course, I looked at what Billy from Anti Fade was doing and was like, he’s not doing any of that stuff I’m learning?! I learnt the class was more geared to people that care about stuff like Triple J or artist management. I don’t need that stuff. I’m just better off talking to Billy about stuff and doing things like he does.

By the end of the course I had properly got Vintage Crop going, we were playing a couple of shows and starting the recording process. I started my own little record label. I thought, all of this stuff is in spite of the course! I wanted to do it my own way and not how I was taught.

What does success mean to you then?

JC: Having fun! To be completely basic about it, it’s just enjoying it. Sometimes I have trouble when people want to make a career out of it, it’s traditionally not a career, it’s a hobby. I have a full-time job and music is the fun thing I get to do every weekend and sometimes after work, that for me is a success. Doing it for fun and not hurting anyone, I think the rest of the band feel the same way. You have to keep yourself in check with it sometimes, especially now with an album coming out and you have to practice, do press, to make sure everything looks good and sounds good… it’s like, yeah, but don’t get carried away. At the end of the day we’re happy with the songs, artwork and that Upset the Rhythm and Anti Fade are putting it out—that’s the success! We’ve already kicked the goal. Now we’re just enjoying it all.

What was your European tour like?

JC: It was amazing! We were there for four and a half weeks, we did 29 shows in 32 days, it was ridiculous. To meet people and hear new bands and see new things was incredible. We made so many connections with people. The only downside was that I got really sick, in the second last week I came down with glandular fever. We soldiered trough, we wouldn’t change anything. It was my first time overseas and I was really put out by it all, at least I was with friends. If I was on my own it probably would have been a different story.

Outside of music of music, what’s important to you?

JC: Family and friends. I’m really invested in the Black Lives Matter movement. I’ve been doing my part where I can. I don’t like to promote things by social media but, I do like to do things like donate money where I can and help people if I can. I go to rallies.

As a POC I find it’s more helpful for people to do things offline and just in their everyday life, like if you see/hear racism happening, call it out! If you see someone that looks uncomfortable, go stand beside them and say “hi” and make them feel comfortable. Having conversations with people and helping educating people and your self helps too.

JC: The more you post, the more you can perpetuate arguments. I think the actions you mentioned are more valuable than sharing something on Facebook.

Please check out: VINTAGE CROP; on Facebook; on Instagram. Serve To Serve Again is out on Anti Fade Records and Upset The Rhythm (UK) August 8.

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.

Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s Mikey Young: “Just make music and the world will take care of the rest… it’s nice to let people get to something in their own time”

Handmade collage by B.

Eddy Current Suppression make stripped-down, barebones, raw, punk, rock n roll. In 2003 they started as friends hanging out making music, all these years later they’re still friends hanging out making music. At the end of last year the Melbourne band released album, All In Good Time, we caught up with guitarist Mikey Young aka Eddy Current to get a little insight into how he came to doing what he does and ECSR.

Why is music important to you?

MIKEY YOUNG: I don’t really know. I can’t remember ever not loving it. I just do and I have no choice. Certain chords and melodies and sounds make me feel so fricken happy and excited and and bummed out and full of regrets.

What inspired you to first pick up a guitar? The first song you learnt was Devo’s “Mongoloid” right?

MY: Yeah that and Peter Gunn Theme in Grade 4 guitar at primary school. Both easy to learn one stringers…once again really not sure why though. Seemed fun to learn I guess. Maybe my bro had started playing drums by then so it seemed logical. I stopped after primary school for a year and a bit then got psyched again in Year 8 and bought an electric.

When you started Eddy Current Suppression Ring I understand that you didn’t really have ambitions or expectations; what’s one of the biggest surprises you’ve experienced over ECSR’s existence?

MY: The whole thing has been a surprise, still is. Even that people cared about a new album and the upcoming shows so much. It may seem naive but we really don’t realise most of the time that people care so much. It’s really nice. Maybe the biggest surprise was the AMP award. I tried to give a speech but I was a mumbling fool. Rob Solid saved the day.

Personally what do you get out of playing live?

MY: I can be overly analytical when playing live, worrying about sound, pockets of the audience, all kinds of things, but when it’s right and I forgot everything and I stop thinking about where I am and what’s happening, that can be pretty glorious. The response from the audience can be pretty overwhelming and heart-warming too. Also, in all my bands, I get to play and travel with my best friends and family. Getting paid to do that is a pretty sweet deal.

After creating music for all these years, what still makes it exciting for you?

MY: Trying to make music I can’t do very well. New toys, new collaborations, probably that the most. Making music with new people is the best thing to kick me out of a slump

What does it mean to you to still be doing ECSR in 2020?

MY: Same as ever. I really longed for that simple approach to music again and I missed hanging out with those dudes. Being in a band is the best way to force me to hang out with my friends, or else I get lazy and reclusive and a year goes by and I haven’t seen people I care about. Jamming over the last year and having no expectation from the outside world was really nice. It’ll be a different kettle of fish playing live again but I feel like it’ll all be ok.

In December last year you released album, All In Good Time; what got you writing? How did it start?

MY: Golden Plains jams in 2016 started some ideas. Then they got shelved for a while and we got busy with other things. Family, work, other bands…Brendan, Brad and I started jamming for a while with a drum machine in a real quiet fashion while Danny was busy and we wrote a bunch of songs. Maybe half the songs from the LP are from that time. Hence the slightly mellower vibe. Over the last year, time opened up for Danny again and we got back into it for real.

What was the concept or significance of All In Good Time’s cover art?

MY: No concept really. My partner Raven painted some shapes as an idea for it when we were struggling to nail something. It was great but a little too painty so we computerised it and made it all blocky and rigid and changed the colours and that’s what came out. It happened really quickly. I like it.

As far as publicity for your work goes; why do you prefer to take a low key approach?

MY: To try my best to not make external things matter. Just make music and the world will take care of the rest. I’m not chasing a career in any band I’m in so I have no need or desire to force what I/we do on the public. I think it’s nice to let people get to something in their own time.

Previously you’ve said that when things with the band get to a certain size you “just want to run away and start something else”; where does this feeling come from?

MY: I’m a wimp and a homebody that doesn’t really want to be a full time rocker. Chasing the joy of starting something new. Small shows are often more fun than big shows. Money talk and contracts make me feel weird sometimes. Not dealing with being in a band and attention as well as I could. All those things and a few more.

As well as being a musician, you’re also a producer; what do you enjoy most about collaborating with other people?

MY: Aaah I don’t know if I’m a producer. I wouldn’t call myself that. Most bands I’ve recorded and mixed, I’ve been pretty hands off and just try to be the engineer and let the band sound like the band. I don’t really inflict my personality and tastes too much on a band unless forced to. I’m not great at being assertive.

What are the things that matter most to you?

MY Heat, food, water, family, friends, partner, music, books, films, football, internet.

Please check out: Eddy Current Suppression Ring. ECSR Facebook. ECSR bandcamp.