Original photo courtesy of Sooks. Handmade collage by B.
Sooks are a punk band from Boorloo/Perth, Western Australia via Brazil, that we discovered this year when they released debut songs ‘The Bends’ and ‘Bushfire’. The members also play in other bands, Asbestos Face, Lounge Tourist and Wound Honey. Their DEMO 22 cassette rules! Check them out, they may become one of your new favourite bands. Gimmie caught up with the four-piece for a chat.
What makes Sooks, Boorloo via Brasil? What are the music communities like in both places?
KYLE [guitars & composition]: Our beautiful drummer Rudah is originally from Sao Paulo.
RUDAH [drums]: It is impossible to answer this question without talking about politics, which would make this answer too long, but basically there are a lot of similar things between the punk/hardcore scene in Perth and in São Paulo (where I came from). At the same time, I think in Australia people play punk music because they like it, other bands play punk to express their feelings and to protest for improvements in people’s lives, while in Brazil we make punk music as way to fight for our basic rights that are not respected or they were stolen from us and to protest against corruption and political decisions that affect everyone. A hypothetical situation, Australia is worried about fixing the roof of the house, in Brazil we don’t even have the land to build our house yet.
Like Australia, Brazil was invaded, colonized, indigenous peoples were enslaved and many people brought from different parts of Africa were used as slaves. There was no historic repair. There is no regret or intention to fix this dirty past. Femicide is something that shames us too. Brazil is the seventh country that kills most women in the world. Since President Bolsonaro (alt-right) took office four years ago, Brazil has returned to the world hunger map and the number of people living in extreme poverty has increased too much. Punk in Brazil fights against all this. Nowadays, unfortunately, Brazil is a country that flirts with fascism. That’s the main enemy, but I hope this is going to change in the future.
About music, I reckon in Perth there are many places for bands to perform. In Brazil bands are struggling to find a place to play. The media hardly gives space to punk and hardcore bands. They always prefer other musical genres that are more traditional in Brazilian culture, so that’s one thing hard to explain and people in Australia will never understand it… and honestly, they don’t need to understand that, but many friends have asked me about politics, culture, punk scene and why I decided to move to Australia. Anyway, I love my friends and my bands (Sooks, Nervous and Asbestos Fence).
ANGE [words, vocals & guitars]: We love having Rudah in the band, he’s so passionate about social justice in both Australia and Brasil – thanks for your answer Rudah we love you.
Boorloo is the Noongar (Indigenous) name for Perth where we live and make music. We want to highlight that sovereignty of this land has never been ceded and First Nation peoples are custodians of the longest continuing culture in the world, which is why we use this traditional name. Rudah has put it eloquently, we are a lucky country here in Australia but we have a ways to go, especially in our journey to reconciliation. My hope for the immediate future is that we finally establish a treaty and begin, genuinely, to decolonise.
Sooks had their first jam in January 2022; what do you remember about it?
KYLE: Ahh well, I remember booking the first rehearsal before I even had any fully formed songs ha-ha! It gave me a deadline to consolidate my ideas such that I had something to pitch to the “band”, so we weren’t just staring at each other in the room. From memory I wrote the first 4 tracks in less than a week.
ANGE: I remember having a lot of fun with wonderful humans and having a sore throat the next day – that jam was the first time I’ve ever tried yell-y vocals! I am an average singer so learning how far I could push my voice was a challenging and fun experience.
MORGIN [bass and vocals]: I remember being very nervous and worried that I wouldn’t be able to play fast punk riffs with a pick (I’d always gotten frustrated using a pick in the past and given up), but I was super excited to start a new music project with my close friends. I couldn’t wait to see what Ange was going to come up with lyrically and how she was going to sound as a punk vocalist (I had high expectations and she only exceeded them)
RUDAH: That summer, Kyle and Angie invited me to start a new project. They said it was just to record some songs and release them online. I think things started to happen in such a natural way that we kept rehearsing and playing in gigs. It’s really good when the energy is good. Kyle, Angie and Morgin are amazing people.
You were set to play your first show a few months later in April with Sweat, but one of you got Covid; what was your first show like when you finally got to play it?
ANGE: This was a bummer to miss but I guess the reality of playing shows right now. We were lucky enough to be approached by Sweat again in June and played their EP launch at The Bird (a bit of a live music institution) which was a blast!
KYLE: Yeah and we actually go an opportunity to fill in for our sister band Nervous for a hardcore show at North Perth Bowlo in May. That ended up being our first show and it was good to get the ball rolling. I remember there being lots of crossed arms and blank looks across the room. There’s footage on Youtube of Ange trying to jump around and make up for the lack of crowd movement.
MORGIN: On the drive to the North Perth Bowlo gig I just remember feeling like I was going to vomit. I had only memorised my bass lines the week prior so was veeeeery worried I would make lots of mistakes (which I kind of did haha)
RUDAH: I remember that night it was really hot and there was a sink and a fridge behind the drums. I was literally playing drums in a kitchen. It was a special night. I really like playing gigs that don’t have a stage. I don’t like big stages. I think this goes against the essence of punk.
All live photos by Tom Tufnell.
Members are in other bands and/or have been in many bands previously, can you tell us a little about them and of how Sooks came together? Why did you start making music together?
KYLE: Rudah and myself have played in Asbestos Fence for a number of years now. I responded to an ad online of his and we bonded over a mutual appreciation of Fugazi. Half of Asbestos Fence are in Nervous . Morgin and I have been friends for ages, and she plays bass in Lounge Tourist, an excellent local post-punk outfit . Ange plays solo and also in Wound Honey and I figured her lyrics would work wonderfully in a punk setting. Oh, and she’s my partner. I guess I cherry picked the members for the band and wrote songs knowing what everyone would appreciate and enjoy playing as a unit.
How did you discover music? Is there an album or band that had a really big impact on you? What do you appreciate about it?
KYLE: Great question! I had to think about this – hearing Eddy Current definitely spurred the ‘aha moment’ when I realised I could potentially write songs and be a member of a band. My introduction to the world of this kind of music was through the discovery of post punk, listening to bands like Wipers, Gang of Four, This Heat (to name a few) for the first time and then going down the rabbit hole.
These days I discover most of my music through Bandcamp – trying to listen to everything that comes out on labels like Iron Lung, Static Shock, La Vida Es Un Mus etc.
ANGE: Seminal albums for me would be Bjork’s entire body of work, In Rainbows by Radiohead. More recently, releases from Perfume Genius, Wet Leg, Mitski, Angel Olsen, The Beths, Big Thief & Parquet Courts
MORGIN: I owe all of my music knowledge and ability to my Father. He was the bass player of a cover band throughout my younger years, so I have memories of attending rehearsals/ watching gigs and even getting on stage as a ~10 year old and singing with them. My childhood was filled with the music of The Beatles, Prefab Sprout, James Taylor, Prince and loads more. My Dad continues to be my biggest musical inspiration and the reason I play music. I actually used his vintage Harmony bass guitar when I first started playing shows and didn’t have my own.
RUDAH: Music has always been part of my life. My grandfather worked at the first vinyl factory in Brazil (Odeon). He used to make that label that goes in the middle of the vinyl. Sometimes he made a mistake on purpose and took the vinyl home. My mother told me that instead of taking toys to school, I took vinyl.
Musically speaking, I grew up listening to a lot of Brazilian music (MPB, Bossa Nova and Brazilian rock bands from the 80’s) and was also introduced to many bands by my father, cousins and friends. I remember my dad introduced me to Nirvana in 90/91. My cousin showed me the Ramones around the same time, right when Brain Drain came out (the last record with Dee Dee playing bass). Afterwards, I started looking for more bands, but at that time it was very difficult. In Brazil we exchanged letters with fanzines and made compilations on tapes. Skate videos were really important for us to find out new bands too. It is worth mentioning the importance of MTV in the 90s. This happened in a pre-CD era. Sorry, I’m feeling like the old lady from the Titanic movie lol
We’ve heard you describe your music as “big, dumb, punk”; what influenced this sound?
KYLE: Ah yes, this meme! I don’t know how it started but I struggle to describe our sound beyond an amalgam of a bunch of very simple first-wave sounding stuff. We generally use tried and true progressions leaning on a bunch of tropes that make our songs familiar-sounding, but I can’t think of any one specifically?
ANGE: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! That being said, I am no punk expert and I think in some ways my distance from a lot of punk music can be a boon. I am always trying to come up with unique phrasings or so-dumb-its-smart wordplay to keep it interesting. Not to say that all punk is dumb! I just put thought into trying to have a different vocal style or delivery in every song to keep things fresh.
RUDAH: There’s a Brazilian punk band from 80’s called Os Replicantes that used to say: be punk, but don’t be dumb. There are several ways to interpret this.
Artwork by Francesco Goats
We love your Demo that came out in August this year; what can you tell us about writing this collection of songs? What does Sooks’ creative process involve?
KYLE: I generally have a half-cooked idea then we workshop it as a band. Lyrics are usually written on the spot by Ange, and we have a new song by the end of the rehearsal. Occasionally, I’ll go home with my tail between my legs and work something out before reconvening and trying it again.
ANGE: There’s always giggling from Morgo and I as we watch Kyle try to explain to Rudy what he wants from the drum sound (with Rudah doing his bombastic Brazilian style anyway). The whole band end up teasing Kyle a bit for cracking the whip and being our ‘chefe’ (boss)
RUDAH: My mission is to play drums in time and put all my energy into the songs. I show them some ideas and beat variations, but basically Kyle and Angie already have some ideas to show me. It makes my job easier.
What’s your personal favourite track on your debut release? What’s it about?
KYLE: ‘The Bends’ – it feels the most visceral and I love Ange’s vocals. It’s about toxic relationships coming to an end.
ANGE: ‘Idiom/Idiot’ – Short, fast, loud. I challenged myself to write a nonsense song entirely made up of idioms but it ended up being a statement on the complexity of the English language and how we tie ourselves in verbal knots trying to communicate a simple point.
MORGIN: ‘U.D’ – it goes hard from start to finish and Ange kills it with all the vocal gymnastics. It also has a powerful message about all the bullshit in the world (‘Bushfire’ is my favourite to play live – love the doom groove)
RUDAH: NFT. I don’t know what it is about because I can’t hear anything while I’m playing drums (sorry, bad dad joke).
Demo was straight to tape recorded live by Will Hooper at Stable Sounds; why did you chose to do it this way?
KYLE: I guess I’m responsible for spearheading this ha-ha. I am a big fan of all the releases he’s been involved with, and the fact he prioritises getting a true live sound. I believe the tape hiss and snarl helps but I’m no expert. From my limited experience lots of other producer types don’t work this way. There’s a certain energy in his work and I’m hoping that was captured in our demo.
ANGE: I love recording live but this was my first time recording to tape. I really enjoyed working with Will, it felt pretty effortless and we managed to smash it all out in the space of a weekend. The scariest part of the whole thing was trying to figure out if I could do a better vocal take each time! If you re-take the vocals, you lose the previous take. The immediacy of being pressured into making those choices was kind of cool though and forces you to leave your perfectionism at the door.
RUDAH: I had already recorded on tape in this analog system in Brazil a long time ago (98/99). I particularly like this format. Will is an amazing guy. It was a pretty cool experience. We had a lot of fun that day.
What are some great bands local to your area that we should know about?
KYLE: The local music scene here is shockingly good. As far as punk is concerned everyone needs to hear (in no particular order) No Future, Krimi, Helta Skelta, Ghoulies, Bikini Cops, Semtex 87, Paranoias, Aborted Tortoise, Cold Meat, Gaffer, Total Defeat, MSOL, Nervous – Basically everything that comes out on Helta Skelta & Televised Suicide Records.
ANGE: Didion’s Bible, Yomi Ship, Nika Mo, Sprawl, Grievous Bodily Calm
RUDAH: Whenever I have free time, I go to gigs to meet new bands. I’ve seen a lot of bands since I came to Perth. I really like all the bands that Kyle and Angie mentioned, besides them it’s also worth mentioning the bands from Another Rat Records and the Black Diamond Lake band.
What do you do when not making music?
ANGE & MORGIN: Collaging and drinking zooper dooper-based cocktails
RUDAH: Running, crossfit, playing soccer and FIFA on my PS.
What’s something really important to Sooks?
ANGE: Social justice & work-life balance.
RUDAH: Making music without forgetting our roots.
KYLE: Having an excuse to cancel plans.
What’s next for Sooks?
SOOKS: We’re super excited to be playing ALT fest at Badlands Bar on November 12th and will be cooking up new music in the very near future.
Find Sooks on bandcamp + @sooksband