Meanjin Grit Hop band Spirit Bunny: “We feel strongly about diversity and social responsibility, supporting community and grassroots art and initiatives”

Original photo: courtesy of Zang! Records. Handmade collage by B.

We love Meanjin/Brisbane Grit Hop trio, Spirit Bunny, a joyful explosion of noise from multi-instrumentalists Kate Thomas, Joel Saunders and Cam Smith. We’re super excited to bring you the premiere of first single ‘Paper Handshakes’ from their upcoming sophomore album on new independent label Zang! Records. Spirit Bunny’s sound is a perfect storm of circuit bent Casio noise and C64 synths with phat beats and whimsical melodies.

Firstly, congratulations on signing with Zang! Records. We’re really excited that Spirit Bunny has new music to share with us. We’re really digging your new song ‘Paper Handshakes’! Where did the song name come from? I’ve heard that Spirit Bunny songs often start with a title before music and lyrics are written.

SPIRIT BUNNY: Thanks! We’re super happy and excited to be able to share some new stuff again. ‘Paper Handshakes’ actually had a different, working title until right at the last minute. That’s pretty normal for us – a lot of our songs start off with working titles that are related to how the songs sound or what they remind us of. A good example of that is ‘Gold & Brown’ from our first album, which in its very early stages of being written reminded us in mood of the song ‘Golden Brown’ by The Stranglers. Sometimes those working titles then inform the lyrics and themes, which are almost always the final part added to the song. So it almost always goes music, working song title, lyrics, and then sometimes a proper song title if we decide the working title is no good (or embarrassing). This song had an embarrassingly mundane and meaningless working title.

What inspired it both musically and lyrically?

SB: Musically we wanted something that was upbeat and really punchy. We started the writing of the album with a couple of more downbeat or weirder songs, and thought we should perhaps write a pop song. Which is what we did, or at least it’s what we consider to be a “pop song”. It was one of the first songs for the record where we started experimenting more in-depth with dual and duelling vocals, something we tried a little bit on the last record. Lyrically it’s about the sway that people with money hold over decision makers, and how that doesn’t always benefit the greater good.

How much did the song change from its beginnings to what we hear now?

SB: This is one of the songs that just kind of came out and didn’t need a whole heap of tweaking, it came together pretty easily (which can’t necessarily be said for the some of the other songs from our forthcoming album). The only significant change came right towards the end of recording, when we invited our friend Keeley Young (of Claude and Requin) to play saxophone on it. That’s something we experimented with on the new record, getting our friends in to replace our parts but playing them on an instrument that we don’t normally use, to try to get some new and often more organic sounds into the mix. So on this song, Keeley multi-tracked her saxophone to replace some of the chordal parts that Kate plays on Commodore 64.

What interests each of you in what you create as Spirit Bunny? I know you’ve all had many other bands and projects.

SB: It’s probably the most democratic and collaborative band any of us have been in, which can be challenging but also very much worthwhile. It’s definitely a project where if you were to replace any one of us you’d end up with a completely different thing. When we first got together we had an idea of what we wanted to sound like, but ultimately what came out is Spirit Bunny. It really pushes each of us in different ways, both technically and in what we’re comfortable with in terms of our roles in the band. For example, Kate is kind of the musical core of virtually every Spirit Bunny song and that’s not something she’s done in her other projects.

Photo: courtesy of Zang! Records.

It’s also very different from any of the other projects we’re involved with. Some musicians like to play in a bunch of bands that are all of a kind, but that’s not something we’re overly interested in.

Spirit Bunny shows are pretty special, there’s an amazing synergy between you; do you ever have trouble capturing the spirit you play with live in recording or do you see live and recording sound-wise as two different things?

SB: The first record was definitely a pretty close representation of the live version of the band. The new album is perhaps very slightly less so, although the majority of the record was still built around the way we would play the songs in a live context. We did try a few new methods of writing and recording this time, with a few of the songs being partially constructed in the studio instead of extensively hashed out in the rehearsal room. We also tried to incorporate a few more textures this time, and to give some of the songs a bit more space than on the previous album. We definitely try to capture the energy of our live shows, though. That’s really important, and I think both albums go pretty close to achieving that.

What’s something surprising that people might find interesting about the way you write or record?

SB: We’re all multi-tasking in this band, each playing multiple instruments at the same time. Kate plays two Commodore 64s, Joel has two of his unique circuit-bent Casios plus a bunch of noise boxes, and Cam has his looped beats alongside the acoustic drums. So everything can get pretty layered and dense for a trio, but that’s what we actually sound like. It was a bit of a focus on this record to strip that back a bit sometimes and give the songs some room to breathe.

You use circuit bent keyboards/Commodore 64 synths; where did your interest in using these come from?

SB: We like repurposing obsolete or outdated technology in a creative fashion, giving it a second life that’s perhaps outside its original purpose. It’s cool to make something that’s somewhat futuristic and hopefully forward-looking with elements that could sometimes be considered somewhat ‘retro’. Also, these instruments have inherent limitations and we like that those limitations can force us to come up with novel solutions. An interesting example of that is that the Commodore 64 has virtually no dynamics, and Cam came to Spirit Bunny from bands that were highly dynamic so he had to rethink the way that his drums were going to function in this new context, where if he played quietly he was going to be drowned out but if he played loudly he would drown everyone else out. The answer ended up being adding dynamics to the drums via the density of the playing, rather than playing softer or louder.

What can you tell us at this point about your sophomore album you have coming up?

SB: Firstly that we’re really happy with it. There’s been a lot of work to get to this point. It’s been good to welcome some new people into the fold to help us get the record to the finish line, whether it’s been various friends of ours adding their own flavours to the record sonically, or teaming up with Zang! to get the record out into the world. Listening to it now, it seems like real growth from the first album. The songs are simultaneously more extreme and also more accessible, more dense and also more spacious. It’s been a journey of discovery for us as much as it is for anyone else, perhaps more so. From within the band, everything we come up with seems to be greater than the sum of its constituent parts.

What bands/albums/songs have you been obsessing over lately?

SB: We’ve been listening to Deerhoof’s two new records a lot, always listening to lots of Deerhoof. We love the new Party Dozen album, in a way we feel like they’re kindred spirits in the Australian music community. Similarly with the new Wax Chattels. Angel Olsen’s All Mirrors is a record that weirdly influenced some of the sounds on this album, in terms of some of the mellotron arrangements and a kind of chamber-pop sound we attempted to incorporate in parts (with varying success).

We also listen to lots of local stuff, and there’s been heaps of really good local releases lately. The new Ancient Channels is fantastic, which some of us are involved with in some ways (Cam recorded it, and Joel now plays in the live band). Zang! labelmates Gold Stars have a fantastic debut album. Local Authority, Ultra Material and Relay Tapes all put out some great shoegaze and dream-pop records recently. Nathan John Kearney put out a lovely solo record, It’s Magnetic have a wonderful debut album. There’s new Grieg. We’re looking forward to the new Apparitions record. There’s so much stuff.

What’s something that’s important to Spirit Bunny?

SB: Musically we just want to make something that excites and challenges us. On a more important note, we feel strongly about diversity and social responsibility, supporting community and grassroots art and initiatives. We delved into some of these issues lyrically on the new album, which we also did on the first one but often in a more oblique way – this time we were a bit more overt in the presentation of some of these themes.

Please check out SPIRIT BUNNY. SB on Instagram. SB on Facebook. ZANG! Records.

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMY: Good question! [laughs].

AL: Yeah.

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

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

AMY: We just enjoy playing music together.

AL: I guess…

AMY: Some of it didn’t suit that.

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

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

AMY: No, not really. Al got one…

[Laughter]

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

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

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

What do you enjoy about making music?

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

AMY: I think it’s just fun!

[Laughter]

Making something from nothing is the most fun!

AL: Totally!

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

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

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

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

AL & AMY: Whoa!

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

AL: That is really weird.

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

Wow! Totally.

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

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

AL: Whoa!

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

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

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

[Laughter]

Is there anything that frustrates you about making music?

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

AMY: It’s a bit grim!

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

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

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

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

AL: Yeah, totally.

Photo: Mia McDonald

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

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

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

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

AMY: Thank you.

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

AMY: [Laughs].

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

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

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

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

AMY: You don’t have to be loud.

AL: Maybe it’s just sad and defeated?

AMY: Sad?! [laughs].

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

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

AMY: We were getting quite crafty in lockdown.

AL: [Laughs].

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMY: [Laughs].

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

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

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

That song even mentions the “fresco shed” right?

AL: Oh yeah.

AMY: That’s where the title comes from.

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

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

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

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

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

AMY to AL: Did you write it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AL: They’re all good ‘ey! [laughs].

What do you love about playing saxophone together?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: Mia McDonald

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

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

AMY: The Funmaker.

AL: Yeah, it’s called the Funmaker!

AMY: It has this one level of keys…

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

AL: That’s just what it does.

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

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

[Al plugs in the organ and plays]

[Laughter]

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

AL: Yeah.

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

Did you start creating from when you first got together?

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

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

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

AL Too much going on ‘ey! [Laughs].

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

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

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

AMY: Whereas I work more slowly.

AL: Not slowly though, I think more thoroughly.

AMY: I like to think over things.

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

AMY to AL: You want to churn it out…

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

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

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

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

[Laughter]

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

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

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

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

[Laughter]

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

AL: It’s pretty fun!

AMY: I’m like, oh god! [laughs].

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

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

Is there anything else that you’re working on?

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

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

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

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

AMY to AL: Truffle Pigs?

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

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

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

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

[Laughter]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leipzig punk band Lassie live on the “most dangerous street in Germany”

Photo: Johann Von Cargo. Handmade collage by B.

Lassie are a punk band from Germany. We LOVE Lassie.  They answered our questions “in a simulated interview environment – an online doc where everyone can write at the same time while seeing what the others write. So might be a bit chaotic but that is maybe close to the real thing!”—perhaps mirroring their chaotic sound. Today Gimmie is premiering their new release the LASSIE/EX WHITE – SPLITTAPE. It’s officially available on May 1st on cassette (it’s a great time to get it because bandcamp are once again waiving their fees so artists receive all your money).

Lassie are from Leipzig, Germany, and one of you are currently in Berlin; what can you tell us about where you live?

MARI: Three of us Kathi, Shreddy and me live in the east of Leipzig (we  actually even live in the same house ) which used to be cheap and still is referred to either as “most dangerous street in Germany” by many (quote from a shitty German TV documentary about the neighbourhood ) or “the new Berlin“ (quote every hip dad).

KATHI: Leipzig is like New York in the ‘80s (quote from some experimental musicians…)

TEUN: …and artists

KATHI: …it’s true except there are less POC and more Nazis.

MARI: You can imagine this neighbourhood as a nice mixture of a never ending variety of Arabian restaurants, meth addicts yelling at you on the street and hip people showing off their vintage Fila trousers. Also the area we live in is officially a “Waffenverbotszone“ which means a zone where weapons are forbidden, haha yeah even like pocket knives etc. and there are these ridiculous signs all around (attached) with crossed baseball bats and knives. Officially they put them up to handle drug criminality but there is really just lot of racial profiling going on. The house we live in is actually really cheap because we have got about the sweetest landlords you can imagine, they are a Christian couple, motorcycle enthusiasts who are dedicated to supporting socially, healthy, community -focused, affordable living – OH MY GOD I SOUND LIKE THE MEMBER OF A CULT! PS: FRITZ lives on another planet.

TEUN: …planet truck stop…

KATHI: …where all you do is camping and riding trucks.

If we came to visit you; where would you take us?

SHREDDY: Flughafen (airport) Halle/Leipzig.

MARI: Shreddy is quite the dedicated aircraft spotter, she has an impressive collection. I‘d take you to RISOCLUB it is the local RISO print shop run by our neighbour and friend Sina, who really is the unofficial mayor of the east. At RISOCLUB a of stuff comes together, we print posters for shows or covers for tapes there, have parties and exhibitions and do a tape compilation called CLUBHITS. It is only 5 minute walking distance from where we live.

 SHREDDY: My favourite place in Leipzig is probably the big cemetery in the south called “Südfriedhof“. It is close to “Völkerschlachtdenkmal” a big war monument.

 MARI: Yes that‘s beautiful (the cemetery).

KATHI: Lindenauer Hafen. It‘s an abandoned building and you can go all the way up and the one side is open and you have a really nice view.

SHREDDY: Kessy and me would go party with you!

Photo : Johann Von Cargo.

How did you head down the path to being a musician?

TEUN: My parents thought it was a good idea to give me drumming classes to train my arms for some reason. They came to regret it quite soon when the neighbours started to complain with increasing regularity. Then I played in some high school bands shredding ACDC covers LOL.

 KATHI: I played the Piano ‘til I started to go out and be a stupid teenager. Later I figured that that if you play synth you can still hang with the cool kids.

 MARI: Then reality hit you hard and you were stuck with us. I started learning guitar when I was 11, my major influence was Nirvana and then Mudhoney which I still love both.  There was a squat in my hometown and my friends and me had a rehearsal space there. A concrete cube filled with high jump mattresses which could only be entered via a fire escape ladder, so we always had to use a pulley to get in and out our stuff for shows. The squat eventually got evicted (with police lowering down on ropes – crazy!) but since then I‘ve always been in bands because I really love it.

SHREDDY: I think I started to play acoustic guitar when I was around 13 years old. I liked to sing so pretty fast I wanted to write songs by myself. As a teenager I listened to loads of sad guitar music, probably a bit too much haha. But I also felt influenced by other music somehow. My best friend at that time and me became really huge fans of Sonic Youth, which are still one of the most important bands for me personally (I adored Kim Gordon, of course). Actually Lassie is the first band where I play electric guitar.

Can you tell us a little bit about Lassie’s musical journey?

 KATHI: Why is nobody answering this question?

 MARI: I saw you starting!

 Why did you erase this secret information?

KATHI: Because then I‘d have to write so much and I’m hungry.

SHREDDY: Yes, when can we finally eat?????????????

MARI: Hahaha, so should we meet in the backyard? To say it with the words of the late Gene Simmons: “Our idea was to put together the band we never saw onstage: we wanted to be The Beatles on steroids.” “This ain’t a karaoke act, it’s five warriors standing together: love it or leave it it’s real.” “What we’ve created is perhaps the five most iconic faces on planet earth.” “People think Kiss LASSIE is the same thing as U2 and the Stones, that we get up onstage and play some songs, but they don’t have a fucking clue. The commitment involved to being in KissLASSIE is unmatched by any band in history.” Shreddy and me where playing in our friend Leo‘s (he is in PARKING LOT now) band KNICKERS, he also had another band called THE STACHES and since they were pretty busy at that time, we wanted to have our own band and started writing some stuff. Maybe the others can tell what happened next, it‘s unbelievable!

 KATHI: …..Marian asked me if I want to play in their band and I said yes.

Photo: Andrea Shettler of the great GYM T0NIC.

Why did you call your band Lassie?

MARI: We had a lot of names lined up and where unsure, one who came very close to making it was SEGWAY COP, which eventually became a song since we couldn‘t waste that hahahaha.

SHREDDY: I still have the list with all the name ideas!

MARI: Great let‘s have a look!

TEUN: Mari wanted to call it KKKevin but the rest of us were afraid of attracting an alt-right following.

KATHI: I was away on the final decision day, got a call and it was between Lassie and something else but I don‘t recall what. So I think I chose Lassie. BUT I really liked KKKevin.

MARI: Yes me too but I am glad we didn‘t take that name, it would be awful  for a lot of reasons, took me some time to realize. Unable to decide, we were looking for band names we really liked for their simplicity and one that came up was FLIPPER. Okay I am getting an angry call from Shreddy here because SHE came up with the name!

SHREDDY: Dude that phone call is not angry.

MARI: Okay a lovely call then „DUDE“.

 SHREDDY: Embarrassing (but it is true, I was listening to ‘Get Away’ that evening which is my favourite Flipper song).

 SHREDDY: So other names we had on the list were: Snack, Jessies Girl, German Band, Coochies/Kooties (?), Chemnitz, Chemtrails, + Support, Angelo, Spock, KKKevin, KKKaufland,

The Rod Stewarts, The Wedding Planners, The Rockers, Blink 110, Star Foam, PMS , Los Karachos, De Windhupen, Der Knecht, Foampeace, Telefoam, Telesatan, Worf, Plenum, De Klingonenallianz, De Cheffs.

TEUN: Phil Collins!

SHREDDY: Ahayes- I loved “Phil Collins”!

MARI: Ahh so many good names! In case you, dear reader will use one of them, please let us know! I‘d love to see Jessie‘s Girl or der Knecht come to life!

SHREDDY: We charge good prices!

KATHI: I think I‘ll have a band called Telesatan.

How would you describe Lassie’s style?

 MARI: Flamboyant.

 SHREDDY: What does that mean?

MARI: It‘s French for stupid.

Photo: Johann Von Cargo.

What influences your music and makes your feel inspired?

MARI: Right now during the crisis. I feel inspired often and then again fall into a state of apathy, then I will just watch TV, play games or listen to music. Some of the things that inspire me: other music, Point and Click Adventures, Love and Rockets comics. At the moment I love staying home and reading The Lefthand of Darkness, watching V the Visitors, playing Kings Quest III and listening to Alien Nosejob.

TEUN: I‘ve been reading Vonnegut he‘s very funny. Listening to Les Posters (nice new release on Refry) and the new Cowboys album. Also No Trend. And cooking! I‘m making a lot of traditional Italian stuff but also getting into fermentation lately. Does that make me sound like one of those wannabe food influencers? Anyway I‘ve been also discovering some painting I really like. Very into Rasmus Nilaussen, Jon Pilkington, Katherina Olschbaur.

SHREDDDY At the moment I am feeling inspired by reading Sartre and listening to J.S. Bach and watching movies on VHS directed by Jean Cocteau (French artist).

MARI: Is that how you see me?

SHREDDY: Yes, I see you as a French bohemian.

TEUN: It‘s because of the hat.

MARI: We brought home an 8-track recorder to work on new stuff, I know I don‘t find it inspiring to work with that because it gets frustrating fast, but it‘s still fun, maybe we have to figure it out better.

SHREDDY: I already tried and read a lot but some things just don´t seem to work. I was listening to ‘Nebraska’ by Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen yesterday and a friend told that it is recorded on a 4 track. I nearly cried.

MARI: That is exactly what the Boss wants you to do!

TEUN: Beautiful album tho, my fav by the Boss.

SHREDDY: Definitely.

KATHI: I watch Buffy, play the Sims Medieval Times and got to like practicing power chords ‘cause we all try to record stuff in our flat(s) and the only instrument that we have enough of for everybody are guitars.

SHREDDY: PS: Actually I finally got inspired when we watched Troll 2 last Sunday.

MARI: haha NILBOOOG!!!!

Gimmie is premiering the Ex White/ Lassie – Splittape; what’s your song QT Enhancer about?

TEUN: It‘s about someone who is a dick at the office and thinks he owns his time and that of everyone around him and kisses ass to become an executive someday but then winds down on a company trip with all his colleagues.

MARI: It is a work of fiction though, because none of us have ever worked in an office. It is also about time being a financial asset. Which is horrible.

KATHI: I thought it’s about Fritz.

MARI: PSSSST!

KATHI: I meant another Fritz.

MARI: It came to my attention that there are also ‘Company Man’ by Vintage Crop and ‘Company Time’ by Set Top Box, I see a pattern here!

Art: dima_hlcll.

What’s your favourite Lassie lyrics? Why? What do they mean?

MARI: My favourite is: Born and raised to be depressed and on the radio they play GO WEST / Be yourself but don‘t try too hard, no unemployment cheques, back to the start. It is about East Germany after the fall of the wall, referencing The Pet Shop Boys‘ song ‘Go West’ and the Monopoly game.

TEUN: I like the lyrics to Segway Cop: Getting dressed…pedal to the metal leaning forward I‘m the king of the street. It has the nicest cadence and lyrical build-up to it, culminating in: It‘s gonna be a glorious day. I like that the song is written from the perspective of the cop who‘s feeling great about himself.

KATHI: Still receiving phone calls on my deathbed.

SHREDDY: My favourite are the ones from ‘Go West’ too. I really like when Marian is singing the line: who is paying rent for a filthy cage? From the song called ‘Deposit Bottles’. And of course: I see Suzie / riding a surfboard / smoking weed on the beach/ posting iced latte / short pants for the fans / nice tan / a million likes on Instagram. My personal goal in life.

We love the visual art on Lassie’s releases; who’s behind that?

MARI: Shreddy did the cover of the first tape, the second we did together, the single illustration comes from Teun, the album is illustrated by Anna Haifisch, the new tape is illustrated by Dima from Russia haha that sounds funny – he is a guy I met on Instagram. I lay out most of the releases and designed some shirts.

TEUN: What about the French dude?

MARI: He did an illustration for a shirt right, look him up Aldorigolo on Insta. Johanna aka Shreddy does a lot of awesome illustrations and comics Check out her WE ARE DEVO sci fi comics! Teun is a crazy painter. The two studied together. And me I do printing, design and illustration too.

Art: Anna Haifisch & Fuzzgun.

What are you working on now?

SHREDDY: Beach body.

KATHI: Nice tan.

MARI: A really annoying Red Land Destroy Deck.

KATHI: You are not are you????

MARI: MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAH.

When you’re not making music what would we find you doing?

TEUN: Making tacos, fishing.

SHREDDY: Drawing, rearranging my room, collecting cute animal pix.

MARI: Playing Magic THE GATHERING with Kathi and her boyfriend THE JUPP (SHOUTOUT), we are trying to get LASSIE endorsed by WIZARDS OF THE COAST but the others are not really helping…

SHREDDY: What is WOTC?

MARI: The company that owns Magic.

 KATHI: YES MAGIC!

MARI: We got into Magic again on our last tour, I can recommend it to every touring person, time flies, YOU WILL ACTUALLY BE SAD THE DRIVE IS OVER ALREADY disclaimer: you will also destroy your social network and annoy the shit out of the people around you.

SHREDDY: I hate board games and card games, so obviously I always feel super bored during touring.

MARI: Thanks for the interview – this was nice! BYEEE.


Please check out: LASSIE. Phantom Records. Find Lassie members online: SHREDDY. TEUN. MARI. Friends of Lassie: ANNA. DIMA. ALDORIGOLO.