Sydney punk band ARSE’s guitarist-vocalist Dan Cunningham: “I was really frustrated with everything in my life…”

Handmade collage by B.

Sydney punk trio ARSE’s straight-forward, minimalist, and most importantly honest music, captures the daily grind of the modern world in all of its anxieties, pressures, stresses, and frustration. Gimmie spoke at length with guitarist-vocalist, Dan Cunningham.

How did you get into music?

DAN CUNNINGHAM: From a very young age my parents got me playing music as soon as I was old enough to do so. It’s been a lifelong thing for me really, it’s in my family as well, I have cousins, aunts and uncles that all play. There’s always been music in my life and it just made sense to go for it myself. When I got to high school, I started playing guitar and that’s where I met Jono [Boulet], who also plays in ARSE. He and I have been on the road musically, and literally, together for years; we’ve always played in bands together. I’ve always been in bands, ARSE is the most recent one.

I know you did bands Parades and Snake Face too! You’ve gone from doing Parades that sounds pretty indie pop to doing a punk band with ARSE. Often when people are younger and in their teens, they’re really angsty and the music is aggressive and as you get older you mellow out more, I feel like you guys have gone the opposite!

DC: Jono and I have always had a punk band of some kind or another going at all times, even during Parades we had Snake Face as the side thing. We’ve always bonded over that kind of music. As we’ve gotten older, we’ve even said it out loud, at this point we’re in our 30s now… it’s insane when you’re doing music and you get to that point, it feels a bit ridiculous to be doing a kind of indie thing, unless you do it really well and you really think about it and it’s coming from a really visceral, honest kind of place and you do it convincingly, then it works. For us, we’re just at the point where we want to keep playing music together. At the time we started this band, it just felt like the absolutely right thing to do, especially for where I was at in my life, to do the band I always wanted to be in. Jono has always been on the level. We just did it and it felt like a really natural thing to do. We had zero plans for this band, to be quite honest. We started it three years ago.

I understand at the time you started the band you were going through a real depressive period in your life?

DC: Yeah, somewhat. I was a bit wayward really… just, life never turns out the way that you want it to, which is a sad reality. At that point I was really frustrated with everything in my life… which is totally normal I think, anyone can relate to that. At that time there was a real lack of music in my life, at the bottom of it all I think that was the root of a lot of my problems. I just needed to fill that space, that void in my life, it was absolutely the thing that I needed to do—that’s how the band started really. That’s something I only realised much later though, maybe after a year of doing it.

Was there a reason why there was a lack of music in your life at that time?

DC: Circumstances. I was at university studying and I didn’t have the time to do it, there were other personal things going on, it was a tumultuous time. Doing what I was doing at university I was pretty conflicted about it taking up so much of my creative time. There were a lot of questions about whether I was doing the right thing? As you get older I think you’re more aware of time, how you’re spending it and if you’re being honest with yourself in that. That’s where I was. I’m still kind of there [laughs] in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of those questions still hanging around. At least music is more of a thing though, it’s a clear and present thing in my life. I feel a lot better about everything.

What is ARSE for you?

DC: It’s an outlet for a lot of stuff. I do it with two of my best and longest standing friends which is a huge thing, just getting to create something with them! We get to spend a shitload of time together. When we play shows we love to hang out, often playing a gig is an excuse to go grab dinner somewhere, for me it’s something to do—that’s’ the most important thing to me. I love playing out of Sydney. Before lockdown we’d spend a lot of time in Melbourne, last year [2019] we went down five or six times; every time we play down there it gets better and better. Melbourne is such a great place to hang out. They’re really going through it right now with the Coronavirus. Knowing the people I know down there through playing in the band, the cultural aspect of Melbourne is its greatest strength and right now they’ve completely lost it, it’s pretty devastating. ARSE for me is to make connections, that’s a really valuable thing in my life. The music is the most fun I think I could have, doing that, getting up there and turning everything up to 11! Really feeling it! When you play it’s really a bit of a heighted state that I can’t get any other way.

I saw the podcast you were on recently and you mentioned that playing live was almost like a meditative experience for you.

DC: Yeah, absolutely. I’m definitely not thinking about whatever is going on in my life when we play, that’s a hugely underrated thing. We also mentioned that in the world of music there is this innate relationship with music and substance abuse and all that sort of thing, we see that when we play ‘cause obviously we’re playing shows all the time and spending a lot of times out in the evening, playing pubs, venues, where there is alcohol everywhere – which is totally fine, do whatever you do. For me, after a few years of getting on stage with a few beers under my skin and feeling maybe not as present as I could have been, now it’s really valuable to me to really be present and to just take it all in—to really be there for the moment. If I want to have ten beers after, well, that’s a different story, but when I play it’s really important to me to take stock of the moment, because moments are fleeting, moments are all we have at the end of the day, experiences and things like that. It sounds new age or something but that’s just where it’s at for us. I don’t know if that’s a bummer for some people, because I think people want punk bands to be bit lawless and fucked up basically, there’s an image there that people really connect with. It’s not our thing, it’s not what we set out to do.

One of the reasons I really love ARSE is because music-wise you are very traditionally punk rock and what people may expect from a punk band but then your lyrics are intelligent, at times philosophical and there’s a lot more going on there then what it might seem at first though. I feel like you have a lot of deep thought happening there.

DC: Thank you! I think about what I’m writing, if for no other reason than… for me,  a lot of the band is writing the things that I would want to hear or that I would be stoked on if I was hearing the band for the first time, that’s always in the back of my mind. I’m a huge fan of music, music is my life! Even when I’m not playing it. I’ve been in bands where you’re not into the music that you’re making, which is a really weird thing to do. I reckon there’s so many bands playing right now that don’t love their own music, that they just do it for some other reason. For me the only reason to be in a band is to make the music that you want to hear—that’s all we’re doing. It’s definitely what I try to do with the lyrics. I really nerd out on the lyrics of all of my favourite artists and bands. The lyrics are half of the picture for me, music is one part and then if you’ve got the lyrical side happening as well, those are the things that make my favourite bands.

Same! One of the first songs of yours that I heard and that really resonated with me was ‘NRVSNRG’.

DC: Cool!

You have no idea how many times I’ve listened to that song, especially in the car on my way to work every day, I could so relate to what you were saying. The lyrics are so honest. I’m listening to it and I’m like, “yeah buddy, me too!

DC: Awww that’s amazing. Thank you for saying so.

What’s the story behind that song?

DC: That was a really easy one for me. Some of our songs you don’t want to know how long I’ve spent on the lyrics, it freaks me out. I definitely get stuck in a kind of feedback loop when I’m writing stuff, I’m in it big time right now because we’re using the downtime to try and put out new stuff. I’m working on lyrics to a whole bunch of things at the moment, it’s kind of a bit of a pain in the arse. That song was not one of those instances, I remember being surprised at how easy that one was to do. The music was really straightforward and I didn’t need to fit things in anywhere, I could just go for it. A lot of the time when I am playing guitar as well, a lot of the lyrical side of things has to fit in with how I’m playing because it’s too hard to do live, it’s got to be feasible for me to be able to sing and play at the same time. That one was really easy for me because I don’t really play anything in the verses in that song, I had a chance to do whatever I wanted.

What you’re singing, the lyrics, is that how you were feeling at the time?

DC: Absolutely! It was a really natural thing to put all of that down, I was surprised at how well it worked, that’s what you want. I always want to get a result where I feel like it wasn’t written by me, that it was written by someone else; that’s the mark of a great result, that is the pinnacle of that feeling for me. I don’t know who wrote that song [laughs], it hit all the beats for me.

How good is the bass line in that song!? It has such a groove.

DC: Yeah, that’s Jono. He brought that to the table. That whole song is a great example of every piece falling into place. I would say in a way that is our most well-known song. When we play it in Sydney, that’s the one that everyone knows, I think it’s because it’s probably the most relatable.

I’ve noticed that at your shows. You look around at everyone in the crowd when you’re singing it and it really feels like everyone is like: I get you! I feel it too.

DC: Yeah, that’s it.

I like how you guys have a real minimalist kind of drumming.

DC: [Laughs] Yeah, we do. There’s a few things going on there with the drums, the big one is that it’s a bit of a, I don’t want to say experiment… Tim [Watkins] our drummer is a really incredible drummer, very talented, we just wanted to see if we could focus his energy completely, we didn’t want him to have all these extra bits of the drum kit to play with; we wanted him to have three things to hit. It’s so tempting to be all over the drum kit, he is that guy, he’d be all over it if he could! There’s only three of us in the band and we wanted to have every element going at 100%. The best way to do that with the drums is just to give him a couple of things to do. It helps us write the most effective song if we only use a couple of things.

You mentioned the song ‘NRVSNRG’ was easy to write; what’s something that’s been hard to write?

DC: Probably the EP, Safe Word. That was definitely harder, because we were trying some stuff, we were seeing what we could do differently. There was a lot of trial and error in that. There were also some time issues. It was a bad time to try to write a record, in our lives there were a lot of things going on; there was a lot of juggling of things. Lyrically as well I was trying new things. We’re still happy with the end result, but it didn’t come together easily. The odds were against us.

It’s been really cool now to have the time to think about what we’re doing; that’s one upside to the lockdown pandemic situation we’re all in.

What kinds of things have you found yourself writing about now?

DC: I think I’m definitely trying to get to that place where things lyrically need to come from the heart, which sounds a bit wishy-washy but I’m really trying to connect with that and things I’m feeling and try to put that into songs where we can play with new ideas. Musically, we’re in the early stages. Jono and I are just trying to figure out how we can be the best version of what we do. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, we’re just trying to hone in on the things that we love about the band and try and do better. We’re chipping away. We hang out once or twice a week and throw ideas around. At the moment we have a lot of stuff to go through, we have a big pile of trash we’re working our way through [laughs]. We’ll pull one or two things out and finish them.

What do you love about writing lyrics?

DC: I’m a writer for my work. I write for websites, that’s my bread and butter. For as long as I can remember, even as a kid, I’ve always had music going and I’ve always had writing. I studied journalism at uni. Like I said before, I really nerd out on great lyricists and lyrics. Writing is something I can’t not do—it feels good to be doing this. I feel like it’s what I should be doing.

Do you have any favourite lyricists?

DC: Definitely. I hate to be obvious, but someone like Gareth Liddiard [Tropical Fuck Storm / The Drones] for me is one of the most underrated lyricists; he is rated but he could be rated better!

Totally! He is one of the best Australia’s ever had.

DC: Yeah, he’s one of the best Australian songwriters of the last thirty years. That’s not gushing either, that’s the truth. He’s kind of like the gold standard. I feel like what he does is uniquely Australian, I think only an Australian could do the thing he does really well.

The way he delivers the vocal as well, it can give you chills and make you feel. It’s really emotive and he’s really great at creating an atmosphere.

DC: Yeah. I’ve read a lot of interviews with him as well and he kind of brushes off his talents in a way like, “Oh yeah, I just wrote this thing.” You can tell there’s so much work went into what he does. It can’t be mistaken; you just know when someone has worked really hard at what they do. He may be blasé about what he does but he is way better than people realise.

I also really like Nick Cave, for all the reasons I just said before, an Australian songwriter that’s undeniably Australian in what they do. These are big figures to have looming over me as I’m trying to write [laughs]. I’m not saying I’m anywhere near the talent of those guys.

You’re very talented at songwriting. I can tell there’s a lot of thought behind your lyrics.

DC: Thank you. I’m really glad when we play that the thing people often approach us with after we play is that the lyrics really resonate with them. For me, that is the ultimate compliment. I really appreciate that.

You meditate, don’t you?

DC: A little bit. It’s something that I’ve dabbled with for a long time and Jono’s done a little bit here and there. I’m always trying things. I’m always trying to be healthier. I think it’s an age thing. I’m always trying to create habits that I can carry into my later years because there’s people in my family and people that I know that are close to me in my life that never cared about that stuff and now in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s they’re just fucked! I don’t know how else to say it. Just surviving and not living. It goes for mental health as well. We’re of the generation now where there is a huge focus on mental health, it’s being taken more seriously. There’s not a person out there that doesn’t struggle with some form of mental health. I’ve certainly had my share of issues. There’s no one I know that hasn’t. For me meditation – it’s not something I do as much as I could or should – is something that I’m mindful of and work on.

So, when you’re doing it it’s mindful meditation that you’re doing?

DC: Yeah, a real basic one. I got really into it for six months, to the point I was doing it almost every day. I look back on that time as a time of better mental health. I’m currently trying to steer the ship back to that period.

I’ve been doing it on and off for around twenty years now and I know for a fact that my life is always better when I do it.

DC: You can’t deny it’s impacts. What type do you do?

I’ve tried a lot, like you I like to try as much as possible. I’ve struggled a lot with mental health and my whole family has had most major health problems you can think of, so I can really relate to what you were saying before about loved ones being fucked. At different points in my life different styles of meditation have helped but I always come back to the mindful breathing in, breathing out, simple meditation.

DC: Yeah, that’s the one.

I’ve been doing the mindful breathing one lately but when I breathe in, in my mind I say, “I’m breathing in, I’m alive” and you acknowledge that you are alive and that you’re here now. When I breathe out, I say in my mind, “I’m breathing out, I smile” and that’s appreciating that I am alive and that I should make the most of that. It’s as simple as that.

DC: Amazing! That’s a great lesson for anything really. You just have to find the thing that works for you.

Exactly! And, everyone is different…

DC: Yeah, so it might not work for someone else but if it works for you, fuck, you’ve just got to do it, right?

Right!

DC: I never thought that something like music and my practice of music, that mindfulness, by extension meditation, could play into the musical part of my life. There’s a relationship forming there, which to me is something worth pursuing. It’s great! Anything that’s going to improve your existence and whatever time you have left—you just have to do it.

*More of this interview can be found in our editor’s up coming book, Conversations With Punx, alongside in-depth chats with Ian MacKaye, Martin Rev, Brendan Suppression, Keith Morris, spiderxdeath, Rikk Agnew, Geza X, Steve Ignorant and many more.

Please check out ARSE on bandcamp; on Facebook; on Instagram.

Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson: “Things got quite emotional and that turned into inspiration…”

Handmade collage by B.

English duo Sleaford Mods discovered their signature “shouting over beats” style by accident; known for its punk spirit and radical heart of working-class, social commentary and observational themed lyrical content giving a snapshot of the challenges of daily life. Latest album Spare Ribs takes us beyond what we know and gives a deeper personal insight, Williamson getting introspective and reflecting on his early days, partly inspired by time spent in lockdown due to the global pandemic. Gimmie caught up with Jason to chat about the new record.

How did you first discover music?

JASON WILLIAMSON: As a child, through films really, and children’s television and the records my dad would play.

Why is music important to you?

JW: I just connected with it as a person more so than I have with anything else. I find it… not an easy thing to communicate and express myself in, but it’s more of a suitable thing; I just naturally connect to it.

I was listening to the song ‘Fishcakes’ from the new Sleaford record Spare Ribs and reading about it, you mentioned that when you were a younger you had spina bifida and that you went through spine surgery; during that time were you listening to a lot of music? How were you passing the downtime?

JW: No, I wasn’t, I don’t think. I was in hospital for about a month. There was a lot of sleeping. A lot of trying to figure out what I was going through and why. I was too young; I was only thirteen. A lot of it was I just didn’t connect with much really. I was just a young kid doing whatever I was doing.

Can you remember when you first wanted to start making your own music?

JW: When I was about twenty-one. I really got into indie stuff, Stone Roses and The Wonder Stuff I was listening to a lot of, and I joined a few bands in college. I tried singing and I realised that it was something that I could do.

When making things, what are the things that matter to you?

JW: That it satisfies my own needs and whatever those needs are. Generally, it’s got to be good, I’ve got to think that it’s good, I’ve got to feel that it’s good. That is obviously something that is tailored to my own tastes. It’s quite a personal thing. I have to feel that I’m satisfied with it, ya know what I mean?

Totally. When writing Spare Ribs what were you feeling? What were you working through that writing and getting this stuff out was helping with?

JW: I just kept going back to the idea and refining it with each of the songs and studying it, like I do with any album. Just to make sure what has been recorded and submitted is up to scratch. It’s just a fine tooth combing process. It’s quite tormenting and quite intimidating going into the studio, even if you think you have ideas, it can be quite frightening, it’s quite terrifying, ya know what I mean? [laughs] …’cause especially with Sleaford Mods, it could fall on it’s arse at any minute because it is so minimal, there’s not that many components to it. It’s really just that… going back to the personal process again.

I find a lot of Sleaford Mods songs to be observational and more about outward kinds of stuff but I feel lately you’ve been writing more personal songs.

JW: Yeah, that was down to the kind of history with the operation and my back, which I got a back injury over the summer doing too much exercise in the house, I couldn’t go to the gym during lockdown. I went to see a specialist and they brought all the operation up again and I only found out then that I was suffering from spina bifida; that’s what I was born with, a really rare form of it. Things got quite emotional and that turned into inspiration and content to put into songs. A couple of them especially ‘Mork n Mindy’ and ‘Fishcakes’, the last song on the album—they deal with my experiences and memories as a kid.

When I’m listening to those two songs in particular, you can really feel that emotion in your voice. There’s almost like a real sadness in there, it’s really emotive, it was making me teary. I could feel your pain, you guys captured that so well.

JW: That’s really nice to know actually, that it evokes those emotions, I think it certainly did for me… especially ‘Fishcakes’. I tried to give over that experience of what it was like growing up in the early ‘80s. But I didn’t want to make it a self-pity type song; I was quite concerned about that. I think I did eventually pull it off though. It’s really nice to know it evokes those emotions in people.

It gives another layer to Sleaford Mods; it gives us more understanding about you. Everyone goes through stuff in their lives and when you hear someone else being so honest, you can really connect with that.

JW: Thank you.

Were those two songs hard to record?

JW: No, not at all. I just got on with them. I knew what they needed. Once Andrew [Fearn] got the gist of what I was after, it was just a case of pressing record. We did ‘Fishcakes’ in a couple of takes. It was pretty sort of “bom bom bom”.

Was it called ‘Fishcakes’ because that’s what you used to eat a lot growing up?

JW: Yes, well, where I grew up, the housing estate where I grew up on, it always constantly smelt of fish cakes… or occasionally smelt of fish cakes! This really massive scent of it, it would drift down the street and that did remind me of being a child growing up in that period.

Another song on the record ‘All Day Ticket’ is another track I feel is personal with a lot going on there.

JW: ‘All Day Ticket’ talks about karma, about how somebody can find themselves in a great position but all of a sudden that position will just vanish and they will hurtle back towards the old way they used to live, which wasn’t great. It’s about them connecting to the reasons why they’re back in that crappy position, whether they admit that to themselves or they blame other people for it. So, this is what that songs about; its kind of about karma, about taking stock of your responsibilities and being honest with yourself.

Did you find yourself doing that when writing and having a lot of downtime because of the pandemic to reflect?

JW: Yeah, a little bit. Some of it, the pandemic, made me quite angry, in how the government handle it and are still handling it and how we are as a nation in England still ruled by an aristocracy, all of these things were exposed even more I thought during the pandemic. It made me really angry, that went into it. Also, a lot of recollection. A little bit of soul-searching perhaps… ‘cause you’re just stuck in the house all the time. It’s also laced with the usual trademark humour that we do that I still find quite interesting.

When reflecting and soul-searching, have you ever tried mediation?

JW: Oh yeah, I do a lot of meditating, especially at night. On tour I do it a lot as well. It’s definitely something that I have looked into.

What kind of meditation do you do?

JW: Phone apps, where it’s someone talking, you eventually fall asleep, stuff like that. I find it quite useful really.

Before you mentioned karma, that and things like meditation are from Buddhist philosophy; have you looked into that?

JW: It definitely can be… a bit of Yoga Nidra, Pilates, but I generally haven’t dived into any of that. As you get older you kind of pick some of that up anyway, don’t you, naturally if you’re in the position where you’re thinking about yourself as a human being and how you’re moving forwards and how you cope with life. You eventually connect to stuff like that.

Is there a philosophy that you like to live your life by?

JW: I don’t know really. Just to carry on and keep doing and being as alert as I can be and to make the right decisions in a controlled and calm manner. I think learning to incorporate patience into everyday things is the real, real goal. Being calm can attribute much more to a positive experience on a daily basis than not being calm, ya know what I mean… taking stock and stepping back and not panicking is something I am increasingly finding myself wanting to move towards.

It can be a hard thing to cultivate in the climate we find ourselves in with everything that is happening in the world. I walk out my front door and there’s something that can make me angry.

JW: Oh god yeah, don’t get me wrong! There’s a barrage of stuff out there that on daily basis I suffer with really badly, in the sense of frustration, in the sense of being aggressive, but when it comes down to it, when you’re on your own and you’re at the point when you’re going to boil over, that’s where I try and step back now. I find that’s becoming increasingly more possible to do.

When you first started Sleaford Mods, what initially inspired you to do it?

JW: I really like the punk aspect… I accidentally found this formula of shouting over beats and realised very quickly that it could be something bigger than that initial discovery. Also, that it could carry so many approaches because before I was only doing a traditional approach which was guitar and vocals, a traditional band setup, which I found quite restricting. When I stumbled over this formula, this really early form of it, that’s when I started to get other ideas.

I was so excited when I first found Sleaford Mods, it made total sense to me being someone that grew up on both punk and hip-hop, you combine two things that I love and doing so it made you unique. You have so much spirit and I believe what you’re saying.

JW: Thank you very much, that means a lot!

Is there anything that you haven’t talked about in regards to the new album that you’d like to?

JW: The two guest collaborators Amy Taylor from Amyl and the Sniffers and Billy Nomates who is an up-and-coming singer in England, those two for me really did transform the advancement we made in production on this album. We really took our time to make the production on this album better than the last one. The inclusion of those two have definitely completely changed it. We’re really happy about that.

Please check out SLEAFORD MODS. Spare Ribs out now via Rough Trade. Watch Sleaford Mods live in Brisbane, Australia. Watch Amyl & the Sniffers do a Sleaford Mods cover live on Gold Coast, Australia.

The Damned’s Captain Sensible: “You make the best album you can on limited resources and try to push the boundaries a bit.”

Original photo: Matt Condon. Handmade mixed-media collage by B.

Captain Sensible is a co-founding member of UK punk band, The Damned. They were the first British punks to release a single, full-length, tour America and play CBGB. In the ‘80s they evolved beyond their punk roots to become one of the initiators of a new sound that would become known as goth rock.

Along with Damned bandmate bassist Paul Gray, and drummer Martin Parrott, Sensible formed outfit, The Sensible Gray Cells, born of their love of garage psych. The end of 2020 saw the release of new record Get Back Into The World, aptly titled and a positive, pro-active sentiment for getting back into life after most of ours has been somewhat side-lined by the global pandemic, lockdowns and disruption from our normal daily schedules and socialising.

Here’s to a greater year in 2021 for us all! What better way to kick it off than a Gimmie chat with The Captain!

CAPTAIN SENSIBLE: Hello Bianca! It’s Captain ‘ere!

Good morning! Are you a morning person?

CS: No, I’m not! I’m very much an evening person. In fact, that’s probably why I do this bizarre job of twanging a guitar for a living—I come alive in the evening. I’m terrible in the morning, I was always late to work when I had jobs and was always getting in late and getting fined or my wages docked. In the evening I’d go right through to the next day if there’s enough booze [laughs].

Is there anything you do in the morning that helps get your day started?

CS: Oh crikey! I just drink plenty of tea and hope my brain cranks into to gear, I don’t think it’s quite there yet [laughs]. You can probably tell; I’m bumbling a bit and I’ve allegedly been awake for three or four hours already.

From what I know of you, you seem like a pretty positive person.

CS: Yeah, that’s my outlook on life—every day is a holiday. I always look for positives in everything; even what’s going on at the moment, you take each day as it comes. I’m finding it funny the stupidity of it all, laugh rather than cry, that’s my thing.

Have you always had this outlook?

CS: Yeah, pretty much. I remember when I was a kid – my name is Ray, it’s not really Captain [laughs] – my aunty used to say I was their little ray of sunshine. The funny thing is that in The Damned I am the jolly Captain spreading fun and frivolity wherever he goes and Mr Vanian is the Dark Lord, we’re so completely different in every respect. He loves film, I never watch TV and I love audio and sound and playing around with that. I like football, he hates sport. We are absolute opposites, but somehow we don’t tread on each other’s toes and it comes together in the studio and on stage, that’s the dynamic.

That’s really cool to hear that even though you are so different you can get along to make such great art. Often these days people disagree on things with someone else and they can’t be civil to each other so it’s nice to hear that people that are opposites in so many ways can still be in harmony.

CS: Having said that he probably does find me a little bit annoying occasionally [laughs]. Especially going back a few years, I was a bit of a one-man party. I won’t go into it, you can find the stories online of chaos, nakedness and debauchery, blah, blah, blah. Sadly, now I’m too old for that behaviour and I’m more known for making a nice cup of tea.

I look at these new young-fangled bands and I think; where are the stories of mania and chaos and trashing stuff? Where is it? Being in band is a license to behave as bad as possible; they’re not doing it, it’s disgraceful! [laughs].

Who or what inspired you to play guitar in the first place?

CS: I did a few jobs when I left school. I was a typewriter mechanic, which was quite fun because you used to clean the typewriters with methylated spirits and of course you can get quite inebriated just breathing the damp cloth, that was fun.

I did landscape gardening. I’m responsible for a lot of housing estates in London… I can go round if I’m travelling on the train to London and I see all these trees that I planted forty-five years ago; they’re massive now, taller than the high rises on the estate they’re next to, five stories high.

Then I worked for an art centre called the Fairfield Halls. I was only the toilet cleaner, somebody’s got to do it. On Sunday’s they used to let me do the rock shows, they’d give me a little uniform and I had to show people to their seats with a little torch. One day T-Rex and Marc Bolan was on the stage and he had 2,000 screaming girls after him. At the time I couldn’t get a girlfriend and I thought, ‘I want his bloody job!’ Nobody is interested in a toilet cleaner but put a guitar around your neck and suddenly everyone wants to know. I went out the next day and bought a Fender Telecaster.

I sat in my room and practiced for two or three hours a day. I actually took it into work as well. After cleaning the fourteen toilets I had to do each day, I didn’t’ really have much to do for the rest of the day until the audience was let in and they got used. So, I used to take my guitar and sit in the toilets and practice.

Did you enjoy it when you were staring to learn? Was it a challenge?

CS: I would say yeah to anyone wanting to play. There’s a point where the difficulty of contorting your fingers into chord shapes, when it starts to not be an issue, it’s about three or four weeks in; if you can get past that initial period where it’s hurting your fingers, it gets much easier after that. You just have to persevere for a few weeks.

I’m excited to be talking to you about the new Sensible Gray Cells record, Get Back Into The World. I know that both yourself and Paul [Gray], who’s in both The Damned and SGC with you, are both very into garage psych. When you first heard garage psych was there a moment it really clicked for you and you were like, I really love this, this is for me?

CS: Yes, absolutely. When I was a school boy, The Beatles were so big they dominated the whole music scene. I thought they were a bit sugary, until the end when I think they found an edge. I thought all this ‘…Hold My Hand’ stuff and the syrupy melodies were a bit much and then The Troggs came on the scene and The Kinks with ‘You Really Got Me’—it started getting a bit gnarled and grunge-y and riff-y. That pricked my ears up and I really started to listen at that point. Of course, it went into a golden period of garage psych around ’67 – ’68 with the scene from America and bands like The Chocolate Watchband and The Seeds. The Electric Prunes I particularly liked; I was so happy I got to meet them and play with them a couple of times. They’re fantastic people and still on the go. There was a point where I became obsessed with that sound.

In the ‘70s we had glam and heavy rock and punk rock but as much as I dig parts of these scenes, certain bands, the garage psych thing sounds fresher to my ears, it never sounds stale. You have a band in Australia called King Gizzard [and the Lizard Wizard], they do it really well!

Photo: Alison Wonderland.

Totally! We love them. I know for you the origins of punk came from that garage psych scene and bands like The Chocolate Watchband and The Seeds.

CS: Exactly! That’s the thing that unites Mr Vanian and myself, and Paul. We’re all lovers of that scene—that’s where punk came from. It’s very basic, you could call it caveman rock, it’s not sophisticated, highfalutin or pompous like all that prog rock stuff, which was ludicrous with all its ten-minute drum solos.

I used to go to gigs, I used to devour concerts when I was a teenager. Every week I’d go to two or three shows. It was an education. I was learning what to not do as well as what to do. The ten-minute drum solos were definitely on the “no” list [laughs].

You once said that punk is an ongoing discussion about the world we live in and of society and our corrupt political system. I feel like the discussion is still going and I feel like you’re continuing to carry on that conversation in the punk spirit even on your new album.

CS: Yeah, that’s probably why we don’t get played a lot of the radio! Punk is a protest movement; it’s very much needed. What can you say about politicians? To say they’re all corrupt is an obvious statement, they’re all beholden to whoever pays the money that’s donated to their campaign funds; who pays the piper calls the tune really. That’s corruption if you ask me.

I know that you’re a Socialist; how did you get into that?

CS: Yes, I am a lifelong Socialist. I would say that the left-leaning movements don’t bear any relation to socialism that I know, anti-war and ‘ban the bomb’ and supporting unions and terms and conditions for workers against the corporations and all that stuff. Socialism at the moment doesn’t seem to be pushing any of those issues, it’s more concerned with… what? I don’t know. I’m not for any of these… like the Labour Party in Britain, there was this brief moment where I thought [Jeremy] Corbyn was the future but they destroyed him the media, they did a comprehensive job on that poor old git.

Are there any aspects from the early days of punk that have stayed with you?

CS: I’d go back tomorrow, as rough and ready as it was. I was sleeping on people’s floors for two years. I’d go back given the chance now, it was such good fun. I didn’t have any money. Even when we were on Stiff Records, I was on something like nine pounds a week, that wasn’t even enough to pay my train fair; I was always getting chased by ticket collectors. I was quite good at running. You go to the pub and when someone turned their back, you’d steal their beer! [laughs]. It was such good fun! You just had a feeling it was you against the world. I never thought it would become popular to be quite honest. All the big bands at the time were Genesis and Yes and Electric Light Orchestra, they were huge, playing stadiums and we’d get ten or fifteen people in the pub watching us. All of sudden punk rock became popular. I suppose there were other people, not just us, that were getting bored with the stadium rock. So, it was a real surprise when it took off.

What’s the significance of the title of your new record Get Back Into The World to you?

CS: People, especially youngsters, spend a vast amount of time online, much as I like a bit of retro gaming, the idea of sitting in front of a screen for more than thirty or forty minutes drives me nuts! People do that all day, it’s not just going to kill their eyes, they’ll need high strength glasses by the time they’re twenty-five or thirty. It can’t be doing much for our brains. We’re doing everything online, the shopping… It’s just “get back into the world”! Get on your bicycle. Despite the government’s rules right now, go out and socialise.

What do you like to do to get back into the world? I heard you bought a kayak.

CS: I did. I do like to go kayaking and out on my bicycle. I have a bit of an if-y back but if I’m careful I can slosh around for an hour or so. It’s really good fun. I kayak if we’re on the road. I kayaked in Perth near a cricket ground; is it called the WACA?

Yeah, it is.

CS: There’s a place next to that and you can get a kayak there.  I did one in San Diego too, this bloomin’ great big sea lion suddenly appeared next to me as I was sloshing around. It was absolutely massive. It was quite a shocker how massive these things are. It swam next to me for a minute and then disappeared beneath the surface. Good fun kayaking [laughs].

There’s a song called ‘Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn Ya’ on the new album and it talks a bit to the theme of health; what else helps keep you healthy?

CS: Well, ‘Don’t say I didn’t warm you” was the words of one’s parents coming back to haunt us now. My and Paul’s ears are just so damaged. If I go to a pub, just the sound of people jibber jabbering and clinking glasses and cutlery it drives my ears nuts and I can’t concentrate on the conversation so I have to shove napkins in my ears. It’s really sad actually, what forty years of loud music can do to your ears. Would I change anything? Yeah, if I could go back, I might turn the amp down a little bit. It’s just such fun standing there with the amp cranked to the max with your guitar! What can you do? You can deafen yourself with headphones.

You’re a vegetarian, aren’t you?

CS: Yeah, I’ve been a veggie for a fair old while. The idea of eating meat doesn’t appeal.

Didn’t you spend a weekend living, and recording with Crass and that helped inspire that change in diet?

CS: It was a very interesting week that. They put me up in their squat, it was very nice of them and they’d have discussions around the dinner table every day. I was a bit of a football hooligan in a punk group and after a week with them I was a vegetarian and anarcho-socialist—they reprogrammed my mind! [laughs]. I have to thank them for that. I found some sort of sense of the world in that week.

It sounds like it had a big impact on you.

CS: It did! There was a lot of laughing as well. We made a record together, me and the Crass guys called This Is Your Captain Speaking. We were shrieking with laughter when writing the lyrics. I think you can get a message over quite well with sarcasm… this is what I said to them because their music is very angsty and rough. I said, you can do the same message with humour and melody, and that’s what we tried to do. So, it’s basically Crass with melody. I think it worked.

Totally! I know the criteria for what songs you wanted to include on the new album, partly it has to have a strong memorable melody; where’s your love of melody come from?

CS: It’s from the record I bought as a kid. We had Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys and songs like ‘Good Vibrations’ and ‘God Only Knows’ which were incredible tunes. I used to like the songs that were really epic like ‘Eloise’ which The Damned funnily enough did a cover of when I wasn’t in the band, I thought that was a terrific idea. I like the idea of three-minute song that’s absolutely epic and goes through a bunch of moods. There’s another one by The Hollies called ‘King Midas In Reverse’ that’s absolutely epic. I’m not saying our material is anything close to that but I just love melody. Secretly I’ve been trying to get as close as possible to writing the perfect pop song as I can with my limited talent. The song I feel that gets closest to that on the new Sensible Gray Cells album is ‘Black Spider Memo Man’, it’s a real tuneful piece. It’s actually about… funnily enough, there’s two songs on the album about the British Royal Family. ‘Black Spider Memo Man’ is about Prince Charles because he writes these Black Spider memos to members of parliament, which he shouldn’t do; the Royal Family should keep out of politics.

The other song is Paul Gray’s tune about Prince Andrew… how can I say this? Hmmm… let’s just call him the nonce! [laughs]. The song is called ‘What’s The Point Of Andrew?’

What are the things that are important to you when you record?

CS: Just making the best record you can even with limited resources. Both Sensible Gray Cells records were recorded in people’s garages in back gardens. The first [A Postcard From Britain] was in a doctor’s garage in Wales and this one was down in a back yard in Reigate in Surrey. You make the best album you can on limited resources and try to push the boundaries a bit, try to do things that you have not done before. I find it really boring to make the same album over and over again. Some bands manage to do that really well but it would drive me to distraction.

There’s a lot of instrumental passages on the new Sensible Gray Cells record that are really quite melancholy and do stuff I’ve never done before. I was listening to a lot of Peter Green’s [Fleetwood Mac] guitar playing, he had such a beautiful tone and economy in his playing. Instead of a flurry of notes and twiddle-y diddley I was trying to pedal back and play something more thoughtful.

I feel like the guitar on this record has a really bright feel to it.

CS: Yeah. I was doing some tunings as well and using some kind of an Arabic Middle Eastern scales rather than your standard rock stuff, just trying to do something interesting.

Do you research that stuff when you’re wanting to incorporate something new?

CS: I do, yeah. It’s difficult to say what bit is the defining aspect of one’s record collection but, for me it’s anything that’s interesting and melodic, there has to be melody in it. I listen to a bit of Bollywood, I like that. I like Eastern music, a bit of Japanese. It’s a good fun. The only music I don’t really dig is country and western because it tends to never do anything that will surprise you, it’s pretty one-dimensional.

How great is the cover of the new record?

CS: When the photographer showed us that picture it just tied everything together, from the lyrics, the album and the crazy time we’re living through in 2020. He took that photograph last year; he was on a holiday in the Mediterranean. He came across this scene with all these tables laid out and it looks like the image of the virus. It was a really great coincidence that it was so perfect. His name is Antony and he lives across the road from the house with the garage we recorded in. We used to go down the pub with him and he showed us the picture and we were so shocked at how brilliant it was. He actually went down with the Coronavirus and they shoved him on a ventilator. He’s been telling us about that ghastly experience. Being on a ventilator wasn’t good for Antony, he only just survived.

Is there creativity in any other parts of your life beyond music?

CS: [Laughs] No, I’m pretty stupid actually. I didn’t do much at school. I’m obsessed with going out on my bicycle and I really like old retro computer games, Pac Man and Donkey Kong stuff and the old Mario games, Ridge Racer… I don’t know why but I just play them over and over. It’s really fun! Now I’m actually finishing some of them, but when I was younger, I’d get bored of them and go from one game to the next. Now I actually try to finish them. I’m on one at the moment on the Gameboy Advance, it’s called Advance GT 3, I got 4/5th’s of the way through it but now it’s starting to get hard [laughs].

Please check out: The Sensible Gray Cells on Facebook; The Captain on Instagram; TSGC on Instagram. Get Back Into The World out now on Damaged Goods.

Punk from Mexico! Huraña: “We talk mostly about being a girl, a punk girl, a tough girl, a sad girl sometimes but always fighting against the people who want to hurt us.”

Original photo: courtesy of Huraña. Handmade collage by B.

When Gimmie’s editor came across Huraña from Mexico this year she was super excited, falling in love with their lo-fi scrappy, punchy punk with hints of ‘80s hardcore, layered guitar and reverbed drench delay-laden vocals sung in Spanish. Gimmie interviewed bassist Daniela to learn more about where they live, their community and release Brujas, Cholas E Inventadas.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

DANIELA: I play the bass in Huraña. I love cats, big black clothes, tattoos and hair dye. I’ve been playing with Huraña since the beginning, which was like two years ago. I love music, I love playing music with friends, going to concerts and everything that has to do with music. I’ve played the bass for like seven years now and I would say that what I enjoy the most is making a lot, a lot of noise.

Huraña are from Chiapas, Mexico; what’s it like where you live?

D: We live in a small city called Tuxtla Gutiérrez, which is the capital of Chiapas. You can find all kinds of people. The weather is mostly hot, we actually have a song called “Odio el calor” which means “I hate hot weather” because we do hate it a lot. I personally like the city, but sadly there is a lot of insecurity everywhere, police brutality, murders and assaults all the time, that has turned Tuxtla into a dangerous city, but still, not as dangerous as other cities in Chiapas.

How did you first discover punk?

D: I always liked rock and metal music, so that lead me to punk. I got into it when I was invited to a punk band, I was insecure at first because I thought I wouldn’t be as good as they expected, but it came out naturally and it was a lot of fun playing, because before that I only had been in metal bands, cover bands and experimental rock.

How did Huraña get together?

D: We all come from different bands that no longer exist, and we all have played together at some point. We used to have two vocalists but one of them just wasn’t into it, so she left, also we recently got a new drummer, so we are in the process of getting all together again, but it has been very fun and exciting to create new stuff, and also we all enjoy extreme and noisy music so that definitely helps when it comes to understanding each other when we play.

Where did your band name came from?

D: Huraña comes from “huraño” which is a term used mostly when a cat is shy or grumpy or doesn’t like being with people, being petted or any contact at all, it’s also used in people or dogs, but cats are like that almost all the time. We are all cat lovers so we kept the name as a way to express our lyrics, our type of music and our love for cats.

What is the punk scene like where you are? What are some bands we should know about?

D: There aren’t many punk bands here, maybe like three including us, so there is not much to say about that. My favourite local punk band is Cabronas, their songs, lyrics and the attitude of the lead singer are great and contagious, they have just released their material on Bandcamp so you should definitely check them out. I also really like Zoque Caníbal which is more a ska punk band, but the drummer is awesome and a lot of the guitar riffs are very punk-ish.

This year you released 7-inch EP Brujas, Cholas E Inventadas on Iron Lung Records; what was inspiring you when writing songs for it?

D: Our lyrics talk about what we do, what we think, what we stand for. We talk about feminism, women empowerment, harassment in the streets, fake friends and allies, our generation and similar stuff. Sometimes we do funny themes like “Odio el calor” saying how much we hate hot weather and sweat. The lyrics are written by Chax, the guitarist, and Tania, the lead singer. In “Brujas, Cholas E Inventadas” we talk mostly about being a girl, a punk girl, a tough girl, a sad girl sometimes but always fighting against the people who want to hurt us, the fake friends and the danger that’s out there in the streets for us.

Can you tell us about recording it?

D: The recording was very fast, we did it all in a few hours, except for the collaboration with the saxophone which had to be done the next day, but we got it all together pretty quickly. A friend of ours came from CDMX to record us, so it was all chill, fun and natural. I enjoyed a lot.

We really love the reverb on your vocals and the delay on the guitar; what influenced your sound?

D: We have different influences and we take inspiration from what we listen to and what we like. I guess we have always looked for a deep, dark sound, something that is not like the other punk bands in our city. We wanted to sound like a hardcore band but also like a goth, post punk band. I personally take my inspiration from goth bands, post punk, death rock, and similars.

Why did you choose to cover a Vulpes song “Me Gusta Ser Una Zorra”?

D: Tania, the lead singer, and I studied together in college, and back in those days we used to love that song and sing it all the time because we felt so related to it. We wanted to form a punk band and play that song, so when we finally got the chance of playing together, we suggested the cover to the band and they agreed. Also is an awesome classic punk tune that we all enjoy, and the only cover we have done.

What’s something that’s important to Huraña ?

D: I think that the most important thing for us as a band is staying true to ourselves. We can’t sing about one thing and do the opposite in our daily lives. Also having each other’s back, and always enjoy what we do. We think that punk should be supportive to us and our community, that it should be honest and straightforward, so that’s what we try to stick to at all times.

Is there anything else that you’d like to tell us or share with us?

D: I could just say that I’m very happy that our music is being played in places that are so far from us, and that we received so many different comments and critiques from different sources. We are very grateful to Iron Lung Records for helping us reach a great audience that are enjoying what we do. We will keep working on new songs and doing what we like to do. Thanks a lot for this interview and for taking the time to listen to our music.

Please check out: Huraña on Instagram. Brujas, Cholas E Inventadas out on Iron Lung and if you’re in Australia get it at Lulu’s in Melbourne.

Byron Bay punk band Mini Skirt’s vocalist Jacob Boylan: “Super frustrated by purposefully hateful and bigoted right-wing pigs.”

Handmade collage by B.

Northern New South Wales band Mini Skirt play Aussie pub punk that captures the climate of current-day Australia, things aren’t always picturesque and idyllic; the vocals are urgent and frustrated while the music has a rawness and melody sonically painting a picture of the hope through the struggle. Gimmie interviewed vocalist Jacob Boylan about this year’s debut LP, Casino.

Mini Skirt are from Byron Bay; how would you describe where you live?

JACOB BOYLAN: The area is absolutely beautiful. It’s also more and more like Hollywood but can’t complain about too much.

Where does the band name Mini Skirt come from?

JB: Pulled it out of our asses. Pretty much the best we could come up with the time [laughs]. We don’t really think about it too much. I don’t think any of us even really associate the actual article of clothing with the name anymore.

What do you enjoy most about music?

JB: That you can listen to it in the car.

What first got you into it?

JB: I think probably my dad’s tape/CD collection. And then Eminem.

How did Mini Skirt get together?

JB: Over a beer and a yarn at the Railway Hotel.

You’ve released debut LP Casino this year. Previously you’ve mentioned that often your songs come from your observation of things; what kinds of things were inspiring this album while writing it?

JB: The lyrics were kind of compiled over a year or so, so there are a few different things and different moods that kind of get tapped into. A lot about being frustrated by the echo chamber of the elite lefty PC police and at the same time being super frustrated by purposefully hateful and bigoted right-wing pigs. It’s all about the tightrope baby.

I especially love the first track ‘Pressure’; what kind of place was this song being written from? Were you feeling pressures in your own life?

JB: A little bit. I just felt like I was working heaps at the time and felt like having a sook about it. The song didn’t help much though, I still sook to my girlfriend every night.

Was there any song on the album that was a challenge to write?

JB: I personally struggled a bit with writing a chorus for ‘Face Of The Future’. Sometimes they take a bit of panel beating, but generally they come together fairly naturally over time.

Can you tell us the story behind the album cover image with the band’s name and the album title written on the shop window?

JB: I kind of had the rough idea of having our name and album written on a corner store window where it would normally say “Fish’n’Chips” or whatever. Then one day I drove past “Skimmo’s” in the Lismore Industrial Estate on my way to work and was like “That’s the shop!” Long story short we called up old mate and he was sweet with it so we got our friend Nathan Pickering to come out and do the signwriting and our other mate Parko to come and get the pic. Pretty iconic. I think we were all pretty stoked. The shop owner wanted us to leave it up, he was a legend.

The album was recorded at The Music Farm in Byron which is a historic recording studio first born in the 1970s; how did you come to record there? What was the space like?

JB: Our dear friend and the Mayor of Byron Paul McNeil was managing The Music Farm and it’s one of the most crazy and beautiful properties I’ve ever seen so we figured that was the spot to record. It’s so good in there. Paul did a great job setting it all up.  

You recorded with Owen Penglis from Straight Arrows; how’d you get together? Did you learn anything from working with him?

JB: Indeed! Through Nick from Nick Nuisance and The Delinquents, we hit up Owen and he was psyched. I think he was mainly just psyched for a holiday. But he didn’t get much time for recreation. We learnt that he’s real good at pinball and that he’s a total badass.

When you think back to recording; what’s the first memory of the process that pops out at you?

JB: Going for a swim out the front with Owen each morning before we went out to record was pretty classic. Just watching Owen in general was pretty great. Also seeing all the stuff we’d been putting together for over a year finally come together into something tangible.

What have you been listening to lately?

JB: Right now, I’m listening to ‘Russell Coight’ by Shadow feat Huskii and Vinsins. I know a couple of us have been listening to a fair bit of country. Cam and I always listen to a fair bit of hip-hop. Jesse was listening to Underoath the other day. Also, The Floodlights album is excellent. Other Jacob said he listened to the new Flatbush Zombies album the other day when he was cleaning his house.

What do you do outside of music?

JB: We all work full time. Surf a bit. Watch the footy. Enjoy our fair share of neck oil. I’ve got a print studio I spend heaps of time at. Jacob has a motorbike, so that’s pretty cool.

The world’s a pretty weird and uncertain place at the moment; what helps keep you positive and get through?

JB: I just got a pet Lorikeet, his name is Raffy, he keeps me pretty happy. I can send a photo if you want!                           

Please check out: Mini Skirt on bandcamp; on Facebook; on Instagram.

Rotterdam’s Lewsberg: “Perfection is boring.”

Hailing from the Netherlands, four-piece rock band Lewsberg came to our attention while listening to an episode of 3RRR’s Teenage Hate radio show. Their latest release LP In This House is elegant, stripped down rock n roll with simple, eloquent storytelling. Gimmie spoke with vocalist-guitarist Arie Van Vliet and guitarist Michiel Klein.

Why is music important to you?

ARIE: Music makes things easier.

MICHIEL: Easier in the way that it can help you deal with the absurdity of life.

A: Yes, exactly.

What interests you about making your own music?

M: Why only listen to music? Or carefully try to reproduce old music? Why not make your own music?

A: Sometimes I am so bored of making music, of tuning my guitar, of singing our songs again and again, of the music industry, that I almost decide to quit playing and start doing something completely different. But in these occasions, I’ve always realised right in time that nothing else would give me satisfaction either. So I guess that’s the reason why I keep on making music.

M: And you still wonder why people call you a nihilist? I think it’s important to realise that you can make music without having to follow the ‘rules’ in the music industry or in society in general.

Lewsberg are from Rotterdam; what’s it like where you live? Can you describe your neighbourhood for us?

A: Rotterdam used to be a pretty rough city, unpolished, with a lot of concrete and with a lot of space for outsiders of all sorts. Until very recently. A couple of years ago Rotterdam started changing, and all the imperfect buildings and people had to pay the price. Rotterdam these days is a city where the streets are tidy, the flowers blossom and the people smile. But I miss the Rotterdam that welcomed anyone, the city where you could park on the sidewalk and pee against a bus shelter.

M: Rotterdam was not a city that welcomed you with open arms when I moved here around twelve years ago. You had to make an effort and have quite some stamina before it started to feel like home. But I think this is a good thing. Things shouldn’t come too easy.

I understand that the band’s name was inspired by writer Robert Loesberg and that reading his first novel Enige Defecten changed the way you looked at language and how it can be used completely; can you please elaborate on this a little and tell us how it changed the way you look at language?

A: I always thought pleasing people was the main goal of writing a book. Or maybe even the main goal of creating things in general. Until I read ‘Enige Defecten’, and I realised that you can use language in a completely different way. That you don’t have to take the reader into account. That you can decide to annoy a reader. With the way you use language, or with the stories you tell.

Another thing I found out while reading ‘Enige Defecten’, is that I have a preference for rather boring stories. Stories that don’t have a start or an end, everyday scenes, thoughts without morals.

Photo by Cheonghyeon Park.

We really love the Lewsberg sound: bare-boned and not hiding the mistakes; why was it important for you to not hide mistakes?

M: I’ve never understood people who say they want to write the perfect song. Perfection is boring. It suggests that there is nothing left to add or to change. It’s static. It leaves no space for alternatives. And I think alternatives are very important. There is not just one way, the right way. There are a lot of ways, all with mistakes. Why do people think it’s important to hide mistakes?

A: Now we’re talking about hiding mistakes… That’s the thing that really frustrates me about how Rotterdam, or the world, is changing. That most people think the world is a better place when all bumps have been eliminated, when all mistakes are erased. But they’ve never asked themselves why this would necessarily be a good thing.

I know that you don’t make your songs lyrically personal and that you write more from the perspective of an observer about everyday ordinary things; what inspired you to write this way?

A: To be honest, I think I am an observer. I have never really been a part of anything, I’ve always been the witness. I feel comfortable in this role, it makes me feel at ease in almost every situation. So actually, it just feels natural to write this way. This is just the way I experience things.

What was one of the most interesting things for you about writing or recording your latest album In This House?

A: We recorded our album during a heat wave. We never had such warm days before in the Netherlands. Most people stayed inside, because it was too warm outside. Henk’s studio, where we recorded, is a dark and cool place in a narrow alley in The Hague’s city centre. We forgot about the heat outside while we were working on our music. I’ll never forget the feeling I experienced each time I opened the front door of the studio, right before walking into a hot, bright, silent world.

What was the idea behind the minimalist cover art of the album?

A: I don’t think it’s really minimalist. There’s actually an entire world behind the black surface.

M: I see it as an invitation for people to fill in some of the blanks for themselves.

Being a native Dutch-speaker; how does your limited knowledge of the English language shape or contribute to your song writing process?

A: The boundaries of a language that I don’t fully have a grip on, make it easier for me to write. When I write things in Dutch, the words leave my pen too quickly. I like language when it’s compact, when it doesn’t say more than needed. When you write things in a language that isn’t your first language, that’s one of the things you get for free. Besides, writing in English makes it possible to write with the necessary distance from the subjects I want to depict.

I enjoy how you have different versions of the same song – single versions are different from the album versions and live versions are different from the recorded versions; what was the thought behind having the different versions?

M: I once read this great quote by Matt Valentine (MV & EE / Tower) in an interview: “It just seems ridiculous to play things the same way each time, I mean, you ever brush your teeth the same way?” And although Lewsberg is not a psychedelic improvisation outfit like Tower Recordings, this remark is just so relatable. He also talks about “making sure the emotion of the environment is captured”. I wouldn’t use these words exactly but obviously the environment is very important in relation to how songs are performed. The environment can be different things. Is a song placed on a single or an album? Where is it placed on the album? Where is it placed in a live set? Because a previous song will affect how the next song is being played. Where is the performance taking place? Is it a crowded place or almost empty? There are just so many factors that can and will influence a performance, both during recordings and live shows, and I think it’s good to be conscious about this and embrace it.

A: That’s one thing we really enjoyed about the recent shows. That we played in circumstances we had never played before. We never played shows for a seated audience before, we never played shows for only fifty people in a hall with a capacity of four thousand people before, we never played five shows in three hours before. Completely new circumstances, that allowed us to play our songs in a different way, both intentionally and unintentionally.

You played your first live shows in nine months; how did it feel?

A: At first I wasn’t really looking forward to it. I didn’t touch my guitar for almost six months and I hadn’t missed making music at all. Plus I didn’t feel the urge to be on a stage after six months of isolation. But looking back on these first live shows, I have to admit it was nice to be on the road again. Though it was exhausting to talk to people after the shows. After spending so much time without seeing too many people, I wasn’t used to talking to strangers anymore. Sometimes people were really emotional about the gig, because for many people it was the first gig they attended in 2020.

I’ve heard that you love to read! What was the last thing you read that you found really fascinating? What was it that piqued your interest?

M: Lately I’ve been reading some of the poetry by Hendrik de Vries, a Dutch poet and painter from Groningen, a town in the North of the Netherlands, also the town where I was born and grew up. He started his literary career around 100 years ago. He was something of an outsider, literal in a geographic way, but also because he was really traditionalist in the way he structured his poetry in an age where experimenting with free verse was the trend in avant-garde circles. The language itself is also kind of old-fashioned and archaic but very personal, wild, melancholic, scary and dreamlike. Surrealist in a way. It’s not poetry that I can understand or fathom, but the images and atmospheres it conjures are just so strong. Fascinating is the right word.

A: I didn’t read a proper book for ages, but thanks to the lockdown I discovered reading again. I read a lot of Dutch books, from dead writers like Gerard Reve to young writers like Marieke Lucas Rijneveld. And I loved reading the first two books of Danish writer Tove Ditlevsen’s Copenhagen Trilogy. Now I’m waiting for the third book to come out in Dutch. All these books have in common that nothing is really happening. If a writer can put that nothing into words, I’ll read the book. But if I had to pick one book that really left an impression this year, it’s Bell Hooks’ The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, an explanation and denunciation of patriarchy. I read it in August, and I still think about it almost every day.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

A: We’ve started a label recently, called Soft Office. The first release came out today (on Friday, November 13th), it’s Austin-based band Chronophage’s second album The Pig Kissed Album. If you like Lewsberg, it could be interesting to keep an eye on these releases, since this is the music we like. You can find more info on Soft Office’s Bandcamp-page.

Please check out: Lewsberg.net; on bandcamp.

Billly Gardner of Naarm/Melbourne punk band Smarts: “It’s been a wild year”

Original photo by Jamie Wdziekonski. Handmade collage by B.

Smarts’ new album Who Needs Smarts, Anyway? is one Gimmie HQ’s favourite releases of 2020. Frenetic, fun, clever, tight songs to lift your spirits and make you smile as we close out a year that’s been challenging for most of us. Gimmie spoke to bassist (and person behind Anti Fade Records) Billy Gardner.

You were the first official person we spoke to for Gimmie!

BILLY GARDNER: Woah. Really?

Yeah, and at the time you’d just put out your 61st release on Anti-Fade.

BG: I think that was Living Eyes, maybe.

Yeah. And now you’re at release 73 with the new Smarts record, I think!

BG: Yeah, I’m putting at tape out [TB Ridge as the Director – Rock n Roll Heart – next week, that’s 74.

Nice!

BG: Yeah, getting there.

What kind of stuff have you been listening to lately?

BG: Um, honestly, not heaps of stuff. Like, nothing new, really. I haven’t listened to too much new stuff this year. I’ve been listening to lots of stuff that my Mum played me when I was growing up. Classics like Toots and the Maytals and Ike & Tina Turner and stuff, and at the same time I’ve been going through a bit of a Metallica wave over the last two weeks—that kinda happens every few months.

Rad! So, has Smarts had a chance to practice since the lockdown has ended?

BG: Nah. Not as a full band since maybe like May. So we’re pretty keen. I think we’ll be able to do it in the next fortnight or so. There’s a few new songs that we’ve all sort of like made up in our own time, if you know what I mean, to work with.

Oh, nice. Is there anything in particular you’ve found yourself kind of writing about?

BG: No, I actually haven’t written any lyrics yet. I’ve just been making lots of riffs. I feel like it’s been a really dry year for lyrics. I just have no new inspiration this whole year, you know what I mean?

Do you think everything that’s happened in the world has sort of affected that?

BG: Yeah, well I feel like I usually get heaps of ideas from travelling and doing stuff and just getting out of the house, which I kind of haven’t really done at all this year. It’s been a pretty wild year.

And you keep a lot of memos in your phone for song ideas and that kind of stuff?

BG: Yeah, totally. There’s a lot of like little, loose, 30 second to 60 second riffs in there.

Do you just sing them into your phone or do you just like actually play them?

BG: Ahh, depends. Usually play ‘em, but sometimes sing them; that’s just like maybe if I have a riff in my head and I’m not near a guitar or anything. I feel like they’re usually the better ones, and I have to learn them on guitar later.  

I know creative ideas kind of come from everywhere, is there times more often than not that you get them?

BG: Yeah, I feel like it usually goes in waves. And I haven’t really been on a wave like that for the last month, or even two. But maybe like six to eight weeks ago I had a bit of a wave and a whole bunch of things came at once, and I was playing guitar every night. But I’ve been busy with like the label and other stuff lately, so I haven’t been doing as much of that.

You play bass in Smarts, and I know your Dad used to play bass in Bored!, I was wondering if he kind of inspired you to play bass? Because I know you started playing drums, I think?

BG: He definitely inspired me to play music. But the whole bass thing sort of came later. I do get to play his bass. I love playing his bass! It’s an old Fender Precision from the ‘70s, he’s got a Rickenbacker too, which is very special, but I think I prefer the Precision. I don’t know where the bass thing came from, maybe it was just like something different. I feel like with this band a lot of riffs are made on bass and then we’ll bring in the guitar later. Where in other bands I’d make riffs on guitar and bring the bass in later. So it’s kind of just a natural way of doing things a bit differently to what we’re used to. I saw this band called Vodovo in Japan about three years ago and they didn’t have any guitar, they just had two bass players, and that was definitely a big influence on Smarts.

Cool. I heard that when you came back from Japan you had the idea of the band name Smarts, because you were in Japan one of your friends you were with kept saying everything was “smart”.

BG:  Yeah, yeah. So Ausmuteants toured Japan in mid-2017, and saw Vodovo for the first time, and was getting a bit restless to do something a bit different, and our friend Shaun was just saying everything was smart, like you’d say something and he’d say, “That’s smart!” It was like his term of the tour, and I kind of thought Smarts was a cool name.

When you started you were just a 2-piece, you and Mitch?

BG: Yeah, I felt like we’ll just start it like that and just make a couple song and then try and flesh it out in to a live sense, and then it grew a lot there once we brought four people into the mix.

And you and Mitch play in Cereal Killer and Living Eyes together as well?

BG: Yeah, and Wet Blankets. I’ve been playing in bands with him for years.

How did you guys meet?

BG: In high school, actually. He’s a year younger than me and I met him on his orientation day and he was about to go in to Year 7 and I was going in to Year 8. We had heaps of mutual friends. We sort of had heard heaps about each other already and both skated and stuff, and we just kind of kicked it off from there.

I figured you guys had known each other for ages, because as far back I could see you had worked together heaps.

BG: Yeah, we had this funny band before Living Eyes called Hideaways when we were 14. Pretty cute.

Did you play drums in that one?

BG: We all switched around. So I played drums on a couple songs, sang a couple songs. I did really play guitar or anything back then.

What did that used to sound like?

BG: Kind of like a way more garage version of Living Eyes. Living Eyes sort of came out of that, as the bass player for Living Eyes was in that band too.

Wow. It’s nice to find out about all the connection and everything.

BG: It was extremely like garage days of like jamming in garage, quite little.

Then with Smarts, you added Jake and Sally and Stella. How do you think, when those guys joined, your sound started to evolve.

BG: Um, yeah, well that’s when it became much more interesting, I think. Especially bringing Sally and Stella into it. Although they were never in the band at the same time. Sally was originally in it, and she had never been in a band before, so that was cool, seeing her get all excited about playing music and stuff, and she brought heaps of cool bits to it like the keyboard line in ‘Smart Phone’ is like huge and that’s her. And then Stella came later, Stella actually came in after we’d recorded the album and played saxophone over the top of everything and really made it shine.

I was going to ask you what you love about having saxophone in the mix.

BG: It’s the best, I love everything about it! I think it’d be cool to work on new stuff with Stella, because we haven’t written songs together yet but we will now.

And with Smarts it’s a real collaborative process?

BG: Yeah, Smarts is so collaborative! Although Jake’s written a couple songs where he’s brought it in pre-written, and we’ll learn them and maybe add a tiny bit or like do a bit  twice as long as in his version but not really change it. But all the other songs, me and Mitch’s songs, they’re all just brought to the band and we’ll extend it from there.

With the new album, Who Needs Smarts, Anyway?, four of the tracks were on your first release, Smart World, I wanted to ask what do you like about the re-recorded versions?

BG: Mostly the fact that they feature everyone. Because the first release is just me and Mitch, so like a few people asked us why we did that, and that was just like because this is the full band version, and it’s got sax and keyboard and we’re all on our designated instruments now instead of it just being me and Mitch messing around, so I feel like it’s a whole different thing!

When you recorded, you kind of recorded the bones of it over a weekend and then people came by your place and did overdubs and stuff?

BG: Yeah, we just recorded it real basic. Just me, Mitch and Jake over a day and a half. We got a space in Geelong from like 3pm one day and set up and started recording that night, and then just did a whole day the next day, and then just took it back to Melbourne and over the next couple weekends people took turns at coming over and doing overdubs and really didn’t rush that, we sort of did the overdubs very slowly and it was a lot of fun days. So it was very layered. We kind of double tracked everything on the album except the drums and bass.

What made the days so fun?

BG: Just like hanging out and taking our time with it and having a few beers and stuff. It was always very fun.

And you enjoy recording?

BG: Yeah, we’ll I’m actually doing less of it these days. I used to record way more bands than I do and just felt like it was taking a little bit out of music for me. So I’ve sort of just been doing much less of that and keeping to my own stuff and you know, I’ll still record a few things here and there, but I don’t really wanna do it as a job or anything.

I often find people do get that after a while, like a lot of people I’ve talked to get that feeling.

BG: Yeah, I think I’d rather spend time on my own music a bit more than recording other people’s bands. I like doing it but I don’t wanna do it all the time.

Do you have things outside of music that you like doing?

BG: Yeah, just general stuff like me and Mitch blew up this little blow-up dinghy and took it down the river the other day. That was funny. Nothing out of the ordinary, just hanging out with people, cooking food and stuff like that.

What’s one of your favourite things to cook?

BG: Probably Mexican.

Tacos? Burritos?

BG: Um, yeah, are both good. I guess they both have their pros and cons. Maybe I’ll say burritos, just because they’re a tiny bit less messy. But when it’s a good night for it, I love a good taco sesh!

I always find though, tacos tend to go soggy quicker.

BG: Are you a hard shell or soft shell taco kind of person?

I’m soft.

BG: Yeah, me too.

That’s what a real taco is!

BG: Yeah, I grew up with the hard shell ones, and now I’m all about the soft.

Yeah, totally, I always tend to cut my mouth on the hard shell ones, believe it or not.

BG: Yeah! [laughs] Have you ever put a soft one around a hard one?

I haven’t actually! I’ve heard of this, but never done it.

BG: I’ve heard of it too, it seems insane but it makes sense because then the hard shell doesn’t all break up in your hands.

Photo: Jamie Wdziekonski.

I wanted to ask you about the cover photo for the album. I noticed there’s lots of references to the songs.

BG: Yes! You did? Well, I’m glad someone noticed that because I wasn’t sure if we really got it, because a few people have asked about things and I felt like I had to explain that but you noticed it, so thank you!

Yeah, totally, like as soon as I saw the obvious thing, which is the Cling Wrap. You just see it and your just like; wait a second, that’s that song! and then it’s kind of like ‘Where’s Wally?’ or something and you’re moving around the picture and you’re like going this is this, and like the globe is ‘Smarts World’..

BG: Yeah, yeah.. Did you spot the Maccas wrapper in the bin?

I did! I had it up on the computer first and I was looking at it, and I was like, “that looks like a MacDonald’s wrapper” but then I couldn’t see if it was or not, so then I had to go get out the 12” LP copy that we’ve got and I’m like trying to look at it.. Because I’m thinking it has to be a MacDonald’s wrapper because of ‘Golden Arches’, but then I know you guys wouldn’t want that overtly out there on it, so it’s more subtle…

BG: Nah, yep, well, thanks for picking up on that! I’m glad you noticed.

What else can you tell me about it?

BG: Well, it’s like a rip off of a Fall record cover. Did you notice that?

No.

BG: It’s not like an album, or one of their covers you’d see quite often, but it’s a 12” single for ‘Couldn’t Get Ahead’. It’s got Mark E. Smith sitting at a desk, and on the desk there’s like a pack of Marquis biscuits and a few references there. But we thought we’d do it with no one at the desk, because it’s like ‘Who Needs Smarts, Anyway?’ and the chair’s kind of looking as if someone’s just got up and walked away from it.

Yeah, totally, and I noticed the PP Rebel sticker.

BG: Yeah, well, that’s my laptop!

We’ve got the sticker. We put it on a magnet. You know how in the mail you get magnets from Real Estate places and local businesses?

BG: Yeah, and plumbers and things..

Yeah, we just got one of them that was the right size and stuck it over one, and it became a PP Rebel magnet for our fridge!

BG: Ahh, that’s genius! I might have to do that. I’ll keep my eyes out for some magnets.

So is there anything else you’re looking forward to doing creatively in the future?

BG: Just making more music really. I kind of haven’t done much of that this year, so I’ve got some catching up to do. Maybe some more artwork stuff, but that’s not really my field, but I wouldn’t mind doing some cut and paste things here and there.

When you’re writing stuff, is it just you start writing stuff and then you decide what band they go to?

BG: Yeah, I ‘spose, yeah, and even sometimes switch it up later, like I might have a song in mind for a certain band, but that band won’t be doing anything for a long time, and I’ll use it for a different band.

Are any of your other bands looking to do anything soon?

BG: Umm, probably more Smarts. We’ve got a few songs on the go, none of them are finished but have like maybe 7 or so half done, like riffs and stuff that we’re gonna start piecing stuff together. I don’t know what else, maybe there’s a couple Living Eyes demos that have been sitting around for a long time, maybe we’ll get there one day and record them.

As far Anti Fade Records goes, we’re not going to see anything til next year now because Smarts was the last release of the year? Oh, and the tape…

BG: Yeah, TB Ridge As The Director, which is Tom Ridgewell’s solo project, that’s coming out on Friday, and then yeah, that’s the end of the year. Will have to start planning 2021!

Please check out SMARTS on bandcamp; on Instagram. Who Needs Smarts, Anyway? out now on Anti Fade Records.

London Sistah Punks Big Joanie’s Stephanie Phillips: “I really love The Ronettes, it was quite a big inspiration for the band when we first started”

Original photo: Liz Rose Ridley. Handmade Collage by B.

Big Joanie are a Black Feminist Sistah Punk band from London and one of the newest addition to the Kill Rock Stars label. To celebrate their signing they’re releasing a split 7-inch with on KRS with Charmpit and are working on a new album for release in 2021, following up their acclaimed 2018 record Sistahs. Gimmie’s editor interviewed guitarist-vocalist Stephanie Phillips for her book, Conversations with Punx – featuring in-depth interviews with individuals from bands Ramones, DEVO, X-Ray Spex, Blondie, The Distillers, The Bags, Bikini Kill, The Slits, Black Flag, Bad Brains, Fugazi, Crass, The Slits, Subhumans, Le Butcherettes, The Avengers, Night Birds, X, and more. Coming soon! Follow @gimmiegimmiegimmiezine for updates – we wanted to share some of the interview early here with you.

STEPHANIE PHILLIPS: I remember when I first found Poly Styrne, it was a really opening moment it was so weird to find out there was this Black girl doing all of this stuff in London in the ‘70s. Finding her when I was a teenager was really important for me.

Same! I had that same feeling all the way over here in Australia. You listen to the lyrics that she writes, she’s such an amazing writer and creative person.

SP: Yeah, yeah. I’ve spoken to her daughter [Celeste Bell] at Decolonise Fest. I really enjoy her work, it’s miles ahead of everyone else at that time.

Why is music important to you?

SP: It was always my first mode of expression, it always allowed me to connect emotionally with the world in a way that I couldn’t really get through other outlets. Music allowed me to envision an idea of myself that was based on the people that I really loved. I really loved Yeah Yeah Yeahs so I could imagine myself as Karen O, imagine myself having that kind of confidence. I loved The Distillers and wanted to be Brody Dalle. It was like living my dreams through these different frontwoman.

I think we all have wanted to be Brody Dalle!

SP: Yeah!

Did you grow up in a musical household? Did you always have music around?

SP: No, not really – my dad sometimes had some reggae CDs – it wasn’t really that musical. The only thing is that my brother could sometimes play the keyboard or play trumpet at school but he didn’t really pick those up. It’s really just the kind of thing that I was interested in and wanted to pursue on my own really, it was my own hobby. I would go through music magazines and look at new bands, find new CDs. Eventually I asked my mum to buy me a guitar for my sixteenth birthday and I started learning and playing Riot Grrrl songs on the guitar, that’s how I started.

When you found Riot Grrrl did that open up new stuff for you as well?

SP: Yeah, definitely because I guess that was my first introduction to feminism; that was my first introduction to using music as politics and enacting politics through your art. It was really important to have those kind of role models at that time because even though I was quite a shy teenager it was nice to have some place where I could find that outlet for expression and anger, everything like that. It reminded me that even though the world was a bit weird… growing up there was someone that thought like me somewhere in the world and there were other people that listened to the bands like me, it wasn’t that unusual at all.

What inspired you to start Big Joanie?

SP: When I started Big Joanie I was already in a feminist punk band. I was in the London punk scene but it felt very, very white at that time. There wasn’t really any conversation about race or racism or white privilege or anything around that. I was sick of being in punk spaces and having community there and then going to my Black Feminist meetings, different anti-racist meetings and having a community there but never having them meet up, never having them link up. A lot of what I’ve done over the years is working through finding community and creating community. I knew that there was no way that I was the only Black girl that liked punk, I thought there must be someone else. It was something that I wanted to do, to have a band that was of Black punks. I didn’t really envision how long it would last but I just wanted it to happen at some point.

When I saw an advert for “First Timers” on Facebook, which was a gig where everyone plays their first gig as a band and everyone has to be playing something different to what they’d usually play or playing a new instrument, it’s a great opportunity to start a new band. I put a shout out on social media and found our drummer Chardine [Taylor-Stone] and our original bassist Kiera [Coward-Deyell]. We got playing and we played First Timers and at that gig we got a second gig and we just keep going, that was in 2013, it was a long time ago.

First Timers sounds like a really cool thing. When you’re playing there, everyone is on the same level, like you said, everyone is starting a new band or playing a new instrument. It sounds like a really encouraging kind of space and concept.

SP: Yeah, that’s definitely the idea. They’re still doing them now. The idea is that the crowd is as welcoming for you as you would need them to be on your first gig. It’s trying to get more marginalized people to start bands and get involved in DIY culture. For our gig it was really welcoming and inclusive. People were ready to hear whatever you created because they knew you only just started a few months ago, it was meant to be quite haphazard and rickety, that was the whole point, you don’t really know what you’re going to hear. I still go to First Timers gigs when I can now, it’s always a really fun event and really heart-warming.

I wish we had one of those here.

SP: It’s one of those DIY punk things that someone starts it and then maybe someone will start its somewhere else, there’s no copyright on it.

Last week you were really busy; I’m assuming it was with Decolonise Fest that you do?

SP: Yeah, yeah. We’re part of the Decolonise Fest Collective. We had an online version of our annual festival last week, it was quite a new thing for us. We were busy trying to organise everything, get it all ready, because it was running for a whole week. It went really well and we really enjoyed working in this new format. It’s kind of weird to have a festival online, I guess that’s where we are today.

I imagine it would allow more people to participate in it as well?

SP: Yeah. It was more a global audience. People often have said they can’t always get to London or they’re in a different country but have heard about us but they’ve never been able to get to the UK. Having it online has shown a lot more people that Decolonise Fest exists and shown them what we’re doing.

For people that might not know what Decolonise Fest is; how would you describe it to them?

SP: Decolonise Fest is an annual festival based in London, England and it’s created by and for punks of colour. It’s a festival that’s created to recognise the history of punks of colour, recognise the input that we have made into the genre and to celebrate the punk bands that are around now so we can hopefully inspire more people to create punk bands of tomorrow.

That’s such a great idea. It makes me want to go out and do those kinds of things here in Australia, it would be amazing to have more of that kind of community here. So many times I’d go to a punk show and I’d be the only person of colour there and people would say things like, “It’s so good to have a Black punk or a Brown punk here” meaning me and I’d just be like, what?!

SP: That’s a weird thing to say. The good thing about Decolonise Fest is that we can create a community for punks of colour so you can talk about those weird interactions and create your own space. We want to create the idea that people can set up their own Decolonise Fest, hopefully take our idea and make it their own. Hopefully there could be a Decolonise Fest in Australia and different countries around the world.

I know there must have been many great ideas talked about and experiences shared at this year’s fest; was there anything that stuck with you or something important you learnt from the week?

SP: That people are really open to finding ways to connect and create community. I was worried that having things online would feel too impersonal but it felt like people really wanted to find different ways to chat and connect, and talk in the chat boxes when we stream video on Twitch, be able to start conversations in that way. It’s reaffirmed that what we are doing could create a support network and community for different people.

I wanted to talk about Big Joanie’s songs, your songs; I’ve noticed lyrically a lot of them seemed to talk about love, relationships and the human experience.

SP: Yeah, yeah, I guess so [laughs].

When you write; what’s your process?

SP: It depends, it’s everything in every way. You can start with a guitar riff and then try to find a melody for it and try to mouth words and see what fits. Sometimes I keep lyrics in my phone and sometimes I write them before I write the melody or have the guitar line. It happens in every way possible.

What is writing songs for you?

SP: It’s about the process of writing. I really enjoying not knowing what’s going to happening and surprising yourself—that’s one of the most important things. I don’t set out to write about a particular theme or an idea, you play and see what comes to your mind and circle around the idea and keep going deeper and deeper—you create a stream of consciousness piece of art in a song format.

Do you have any other creative outlets?

SP: No, not really [laughs].

I really love your song ‘How Could You Love Me’ it has a very Ronettes-feeling to it.

SP: Yeah, I was feeling very Ronettes-y.

I love your Ronettes poster on the wall that I can see. It’s the best. They’re the best!

SP: Yeah. I really love The Ronettes, it was quite a big inspiration for the band when we first started, of just really loving those Girl Group harmonies and that feeling and sensation that comes from that era. I guess it’s really hard to recreate because it’s the sensation of people being young and not having any cares really. It so invigorating and interesting, I always want to listen to it and hear what’s going on.

Same! I really love Sister Rosetta Tharpe too! I think people forget or might not even know that she was a pioneer and started playing electric guitar and rock n roll before rock n roll.

SP: Yeah, yeah, exactly! She’s such an interesting guitarist, she kicked that all off. People don’t always know the real history of rock and what was actually involved and going on, they think Elvis [Presley] just did something and the Beatles did something and that’s it.

[Laughter] Yeah! That’s why it’s important to have conversations about these people and to look into history. As well as making music you also do music journalism and interview people.

SP: Yeah. I’m a trained journalist, I started off in journalism first, I’ve been working as a journalist for over a decade.

What attracted you to journalism? Was it telling stories?

SP: I guess, yeah. Telling stories and having the ability to create a narrative is very important and interesting to me. Being able to communicate is really interesting, that’s why I centred a lot of things around writing in that way. I wanted to write music journalism because I was interested in music. I wanted to be involved in it in every way, that’s why I’ve done everything [laughs].

I know that feeling. I first had the feeling when I was a teenager and there were so many great bands in my area and all the music papers and magazines weren’t covering them and I got a zine from a friend and had the realisation I can do this! I went straight to my bedroom, started listening to music and started to write my own zine. From there it keep going and I haven’t stopped.

SP: That’s amazing! I haven’t made my own zine yet but I love the idea of zine culture, creating your own platform, surpassing the usual kind of press and publishing industry, it’s really interesting.

The way that the music magazine/publishing industry works, I hate it! I don’t really care for the music industry either. I like existing on the outside of that. I find things to be the most exciting not in there but on the fringes where people can totally just express themselves without censorship or compromise—creating your own community is far more exciting to me.

SP: Yeah, definitely. That’s where things start. There’s so much going on… I think about the scenes that I’ve been involved in in the UK, they’re hardly ever reported about but there’s just so much interesting music being created here, there’s so much interning music being created in what feels like predominately female and queer punk scene as well. If you looked at the average music press or what is being reported as the “band of the moment” you would think its all CIS straight white guys. That isn’t whose making the most forward-thinking music today… it’s not white men [laughs].

I’d love to read a zine made by you and hear all about what’s happening where you are.

SP: It’s a really interesting music industry here and there’s a lot going on. There’s so many different scenes even though it’s a small island, there’s so many different scenes in London; there’s multiple punk scenes that never actually intercept and never really know about each other. It’s hard to cover it all I feel.

What’s Sistah Punk mean to you?

SP: It was a phrase that we came up with to describe ourselves with for our first gig. They asked us what we wanted to describe ourselves as and we said, Black Feminist Sistah Punk, just because it’s a very literal description; we’re Black punk woman, we’re into punk. It can also be something that people can use to find other Black woman that are into punk and other Black Feminist punks. There weren’t too many women in punk bands in London at that time, we felt like we needed to specifically say that we are Black Feminists because it was important to us and we thought it would be to other people.

It’s still something important to you all these years later?

SP: Yeah. It’s still literal because we’re still Black woman and Black Feminists. It’s still important to declare who you are and who your identity in a world where being a Black woman and being a black Feminist and having an opinion is still not the done thing [laughs]. It’s still important, it’s still punk to be Black and female and opinionated!

Whenever I read interviews with Big Joanie you always get asked about feminism and race; do you ever get tired of speaking about these subjects?

SP: It all depends on the context of the interview. It could be from the context of someone not knowing about feminism and race and just wanting to ask the generic; what’s it like to be a woman in music? What’s it like to be a Black woman in music? That’s not really very interesting because the question is aimed at a white male audience in its nature; it’s trying to open up what’s it like to be a Black woman for people that aren’t Black woman. Is it’s discussing the inherent nature as who we are as individuals and why it’s important for us to talk about ourselves in the way that we talk about ourselves then I don’t mind. It’s about us taking the reins of the conversation and taking control, explicitly stating, what we do and why we do it.

You have a new release out ‘Cranes In the Sky’ a Solange song that’s on Third Man Records and I know as a young person you really loved The White Stripes; how did it feel for you to put out something on Jack White’s label?

SP: I really loved The White Stripes when I was younger, I guess everyone did! I can’t remember what the first record I had was, maybe it was Elephant. The last two years of Big Joanie has been a lot of strange happenings every day, bumping into people that you just read about in magazines and having to be normal people around them because you have to do a job [laughs]. We just bumped into Thurston [Moore] and Eva [Prinz], it was like, oh that’s Thurston from Sonic Youth [laughs] he looks like Thurston, in real life! …which is very strange, I can’t remember the first time I heard Sonic Youth because they were an omnipresent force around all the bands that I liked and listened to, people wrote songs about him. It was weird to imagine that he was a real person.

With Third Man it’s a strange connection between what raised you and what brought you up into the musician that you are today and circling back and meeting those heroes. It’s a really strange experience but we’re really happy that Third Man are interested in putting us out, that they liked the single!

It sounds so amazing! Why did you decide to do the Solange song?

SP: I don’t know if we ever discussed why we’d do it, we all automatically decided to do it one day [laughs]. It was a song that we we’re all listening to and that we loved, everyone we knew was listening to it and connected so deeply to it as an album, because it spoke specifically to the female experience. We thought it would be a fun song for us to cover. It took us a while to figure out what was going on in the song, it’s a weird jazzy song and we don’t do jazz we’re punks [laughs]. When we figured it out I think it became one of our best live songs and people always love it. It’s nice when people recognise it when it gets to the chorus.

Have you been writing new things while at home because of the pandemic and lockdowns?

SP: Yeah. As with most freelancers I didn’t get any furlough, there was a furlough scheme for people who lost their jobs in the UK, I’ve been working all since. I’ve been working on a book on Solange Knowles, I’ve finished that now and it will be out next year. I’ve been writing lots for different places, different music magazines, content writing, those kinds of things.

What’s something that’s really important to you?

SP: My morals [laughs] and sense of self. As you move into different arenas in life I think you can get tested maybe, there are some things that can through you for a loop. I guess it’s one thing that I’d never want to give up on is my idea of right and wrong and doing things for the best. That’s not always a good way to go into industries like the music industry because there’s going to be a lot of being tested and people trying to brand you and make money off of you; staying strong on that is what I would want to do and what I believe in.

That’s why I’ve stayed on the outside of things and why I’m putting my book out myself. So many times people try to change what it is or they’re only interested in the “big name” people or this or this… I’ve interviewed so many bands and it’s been the first interview they’ve ever done, sometimes that can be the most interesting interview and can have the most interesting ideas.

SP: Yeah, that’s true! You can get a lot from people that are just staring out and need that help or need that conversation with someone like you. That’s the thing, people always go up to people once they reach a certain level and they just forget about everyone underneath. The people coming up are the ones that need more help really.

Please check out: BIG JOANIE. BJ on Facebook. BJ on Instagram. Decolonise Fest. Big Joanie on Kill Rock Stars. Big Joanie at Third Man Records. Check out Stephanie’s writing work.

Massachusetts Punk Band Landowner’s Dan Shaw: “In the creative process you can just become paralysed because you have infinite choices… having restraints placed on what you can do, forces a really focused kind of creativity”

Original photo: still taken from video filmed by Ben Goldsher. Handmade collage by B.

At Gimmie we’re big fans of Landowner! We love their clean guitar, repetitive rhythms, and sharp, socially conscious, thoughtful lyrics. They’ve taken punk and stripped it down to its barest bones making for an impactful, unique twist on the more traditional sound listeners expect from punk. We chatted to vocalist Dan Shaw about latest album Consultant, his journey into music, job as a Landscape Architect and his exploration of the similarities of designing landscapes and of making music—interesting stuff!

How did you first discover music?

DAN SHAW: I have parents that are really musical. Growing up they listened to classical music mostly, that’s how they met, and they bonded over that. My older brother is twelve years older than me and he’s also a musician, he got into industrial and grunge. When I was a little kid I was hearing Skinny Puppy and Nirvana, more kind of rock music that my parents weren’t listening to. I ended up hearing a big diversity of stuff. Later in middle school, getting into music on my own and learning how to play guitar was kind of planting my little flag in the ground and saying, this is what I’m into! This is my thing that I’m all about! It took me a little while to discover it and to be doing it on my own but once I did, I never turned back—it made a lot of sense to me. I’ve been obsessed with making music ever since.

What kind of music did you find that was your own?

DS: What I first started paying attention to, which I think a lot of people do, is the stuff that is easiest to hear with little effort because it reaches you. Like I mentioned before, the grunge bands like Nirvana, they were my favourite band in 8th grade. It didn’t take too long to seek out the stuff that influenced them, the more obsessed I got with that band the more I started to learn what influenced Kurt Cobain. Luckily he was really vocal about all the underground stuff from the ‘80s that inspired him. By the time I was in high school I was discovering The Meat Puppets and Fugazi, who quickly became, and still to this day is, my favourite band. Once I discovered that Washington D.C. and Dischord Records scene, that’s when I really started to find music that resonated with me a lot, that post-punk thing. Then I started learning about the British post-punk bands too like Wire, the Fall and Gang Of Four. Those were big discoveries that got me the most excited and that have stuck with me to this day.

The next major step shortly after that or during that, was discovering local underground music right around me. Going to shows as a teenager and discovering that, oh, you don’t have to be a big famous person on T.V. to be doing this. It could be that I’m in a basement and the person standing next to me turns out to be the lead singer in the punk band that’s about to play, that basic thing just blew my mind the first time I went to a basement show.

I had a similar kind of revelation when I discovered my local scene. It gives you a sense of, hey, I could do this too! I think that’s part of the beauty of punk rock, that anyone can do it.

DS: Yeah! As a result of that I kind of put aside the idea of needing to be a big famous musician that “makes it”. I achieved my goal the first time I played music in front of twenty people at a house show. It’s like, there, I did it! It’s great! I’m grateful every time I’ve got to do it again.

Was your first band Health Problems?

DS: I was in a few other bands before but Health Problems was my first band that started touring more seriously and really released albums. I’d always been striving for something like that, it took until my mid-twenties when I started that band to really link up with the right people and circumstances to get out there a little better.

As well as playing music, you’re also a Landscape Architect and you design public spaces as well as other urban planning; what got you interested in doing that kind of work?

DS: Initially it was the creativity aspect of it. I was in college, in my first year doing general education, then I had to pick a Major. I learnt about Landscape Architecture and it seemed like a good way to do something creative that requires artistic skills but was also a safe practical thing. The more I got into it, the more I fell in love with it and realised you can make a difference in the world around you, in society, by doing public work; that’s why I’ve worked with public sector clients in the professional sector—working with communities and helping them envision the future in places where they live. It’s very fulfilling.

I know that fulfilling feeling of working in the public sector, I work in a community service in my city’s libraries. I prefer a job helping people rather than selling them something they don’t need.

DS: Yeah, this work can give you a sense of purpose. It’s still a job at the end of the day and can be frustrating sometimes certainly but, for me it’s a good path to be on.

I understand that you did your thesis in grad school on similarities between the creative process in designing landscapes and composing music as an analogy, for better understanding your own creative process; I’m really excited to hear more about this and to hear of what you found out about your creative process exploring this?

DS: I did a graduate degree in Landscape Architecture and for my thesis project it occurred to me, really no one reads your thesis except you and your advisors, so I decided to take a more personal deep dive on what makes me tick as a creative person. Because I think musically and I work as a Landscape Architect; could the two creative processes inform one another? If they could that would be a pretty cool, productive thing in my own little way that I operate. I ended up looking at a lot! The nature of music, how it’s different, every time it’s performed, the performance is different from last time and in the case of jazz, where it’s improvised off of a rough basic composition, that to me is more similar to how I design landscape, compared to something like architecture.

To make a musical analogy, designing a building is a very engineered predictable thing, that would be like a composer writing a score of sheet music and it’s all done very precisely to a tee… something that makes designing landscapes so fascinating and challenging and interesting is how the designer isn’t fully in charge of the outcome of a design landscape. You’ll design a park in your neighbourhood and in thirty years the vegetation that I planned is going morph and evolve into its own ecosystem; the way people use the park is going to be hard to predict and it’s going to take on its own ownership by the community. The designer’s role is to nudge it in the right direction and then the improvisation takes over, with society, with ecosystems and things like that.

A lot of my thesis used musical sketches to diagram the process and change over time that landscapes all have. To better understand what the role of the landscape designer is, it’s like the jazz composer that comes in with the basic theme but then the group improvises on it and takes it in a new direction from there.

What were the things that you found out about your own creative process exploring that?

DS: I’ve found that adapting to unpredictable circumstances is really a core, important thing. When I was doing that thesis project I had a practice space where I was making my rough musical sketches and I was trying to make sense of it all… I spent more time making the last Landowner album then I did on this thesis, it was really just a capstone on my schooling. I’m trying to cram in all these ambitious, burning questions in a short amount of time, in the middle of it my practice space got shut down and we all had to leave because the building closed. I suddenly had to adapt my way of working in this thesis project to a new circumstance where I didn’t have access to my music space anymore. What I ended up doing was, I had the jams that I had made, hours of stuff that I had recorded earlier in the semester and I turned to editing those sound files and creating sound diagrams and improvisations out of what I had previously recorded. Adapting to the circumstance is something that I have carried forward… the band Landowner exists because it’s something a lot like that.

A few years later where I lived in an apartment in Massachusetts, I had landlords right through the wall and I couldn’t rock out really loud, I was like; how can I make music that sounds really cool without the space to be loud? I was like, I know! I’ll make this clean, dinky-sounding version of punk with a drum machine and a practice amp, and that lead to Landowner’s sound. I deliberately embraced the creative constraint that I found myself faced with. That’s something I was forced to reckon with during the thesis, utilising a creative constraint that was forced upon me. Ever since then I’ve always found that that really yields focus and deliberateness. In the creative process you can just become paralysed because you have infinite choices, I’ve found that actually having restraints placed on what you can do, forces a really focused kind of creativity. That’s usually more consistent and satisfying to me.

Previously you’ve mentioned that when doing your thesis you felt kind of crazy; why?

DS: Because of what I alluded to a second ago of how, I was in my early-twenties, I went to grad college and I had this feeling that I was just going to crack the code, I’m going to figure it all out… I was trying to connect all the dots at once in the way that I operate. When you’re in grad school and you’re doing a thesis, it ultimately is a pretty limited time in your life, you can’t necessarily tackle the most grandiose ambitious things in a thesis. I’ve learned in retrospect that a thesis is the thing that kicks you off to bigger and more ambitious projects that you’ll do more long term. At the time I was trying to condense it all into one action-packed, nutrient dense two months! I almost felt like I had lost my mind doing it just because the students around me were pursuing more button-down “here’s an innovative way of harvesting stormwater in landscape architecture” and it was very concrete; then here I was saying that maybe music and landscape architecture is somehow creatively the same if you really look at it from a certain way. Once I had committed to it and I was half way through the project I couldn’t turn back. I was like, god, now I ‘m forced to make sense out of this madness… and I did. I felt like I had bitten off more than I could chew though [laughs]. A little bit over-ambitious, hopeful and grandiose!

I like the idea that you were exploring between creating a physical environment and then making a place you mentally inhibit with music.

DS: Yeah and that is a conclusion that I came to when doing that project. I thought maybe I could make a representation of the park I’m designing, musically. But then I thought that wouldn’t make sense. I could draw a picture of the park or a diagram, visual media, or I could make a soundscape representation, I could take a field recorder and record what the birds and traffic sound like, that could represent it in a literal way… but then I realised that music and creating a physical real space that’s built with shovels, concrete and plants and sticks, in reality are two completely different things and I had to accept that. I realised that I cannot represent Central Park with my piece of music better than any other park can represent Central Park, they’re just different places. Then I was like, ah-ha! Music is a place mentally, it’s a space. If I think of it that way, that by composing music I’m designing a space that people mentally inhabit… that might yield clues of how the creative processes are linked but it’s not that music represents landscape. We’re getting really, really deep into the tunnel here of the particulars [laughs].

I’m fine in the tunnel, like I said, I found the ideas you were exploring fascinating. Since I was a kid I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about music. When you record a record and your music gets pressed onto vinyl and then I buy it and put it on my turntable and then the energy you made the record with fills my room and transfers to this space I’m in—that just still blows my mind. I love that in Landowner’s music there is a lot of repetition, then all of a sudden you’ll get a transition that’s kind of jarring…

DS: I’m fascinated by repetition in music. My other favourite band is Lungfish and they’re pure repetition. With a Lungfish song you’ll hear the first riff and then that’s all you’ll hear for the next four minutes except the lyrics change continuously throughout the song. The idea of music being a place you inhabit, that comes especially to me with repetitive music because you start to trust that the repetition is going to continue after a few passages have been the same, in the space that is created there I find that the only things that’s actually changing is my own thought patterns during the passage of repetitive music and brings a kind of self-awareness to the forefront—it’s meditative. It feels like an environment for the listener to be themselves, instead of trying to keep up with spazzy changes in more busy music, which can be good too, that’s a whole different thing. There is a hypnotic aspect to repetitive music that I really like.

You just said something too, which is important to me, if music is really repetitive it brings all of this attention to places where there are transitions, those transitions become all the more important because of that—all the more striking. You put your trust in the music when it’s repetitive and then when something happens it catches you off guard, it wakes you up! I like being surprised by music and waking up several times during the course of a band’s set during a show or during the course of listening to a record… like as soon as I have it figured out something a little bit surprising happens.

There’s a punk band here in Australia called Arse, when they play live there’s this one song they do and there’s this part in it where they just play that one note over and over and over for a really extended period; after a while it’s almost as if it makes people in the crowd feel uncomfortable and uneasy because they’re not used to that, they’re waiting for a change. It’s really cool to watch the band do it, they have the biggest smiles on their faces.

DS: My old band Health Problems used to do stuff like that. We didn’t have a rule of using repetition all the time per se but, we would try to be aware of the psychology of watching a show and how to mess with what makes it interesting. We’d do stuff like that, one note ‘til it makes people feel uncomfortable and right when you find that limit, you change it. One of my very favourite bands that opened the doors to me of the power of repetition was an Australian band called My Disco. Have you ever seen them?

I have. I’ve interviewed them many years ago.

DS: Cool. Their stuff from the 2000’s. Their recent stuff has departed in a more experimental direction, their first three albums though were a big revelation to me when they came out.

Lyrically there always seem to be a lot going on in your songs, there’s a lot of layers to them. When you’re writing lyrics, do you have an idea of what you want to write about and then build around it? Or do they come in other ways?

DS: Most successful times I have writing lyrics is when I‘m carrying around, almost all of the time, a pocket sized spiral bound reporter’s notebook. When an interesting little phrase just pops into my head, I might not even know what it potentially means, I just write it down. At the end of the month the notebook is full and I read through the composite of interesting, evocative phrases. Some will be more developed lyric concepts too. I develop things into lyrics for a song or draw on those. I try to be ready to catch ideas during the day that are inspiring to me. The other half of it is work, time spent sitting in front of the laptop with a word document opened trying to type it all out into an arrangement that means something and makes sense. It’s a balance between the mysterious inspirations of an evocative phrase that has some potential coupled with then trying to tease out some real world meaning from it.

I’ve hit my head against the wall trying to sit down and write a song from scratch about a topic, for me that’s a lot harder and it ends up sounding preachy and annoying; I’m usually not as satisfied with those efforts. If I trust the mysterious lyricism of words and follow the trail of things that seem intriguing to me, that usually leads to something more worthwhile. With the Landowner stuff I try to resolve it into something that does has some kind of statement about the world that we live in.

A lot of phrases that I pick up on are little expressions you hear people say and the musicality in speech and refrains in conversation; things that sound ordinary that we hear over and over again catch my ear. Something like that might spark an idea for an entire song.

Is there a song on new album Consultant that has a real significance to you?

DS: I was thinking about this today, the lyrics that are the most concise and satisfying to me on the new LP are the song ‘Being Told You’re Wrong’ [laughs], which is so ridiculously brief. It captures a lot of what I’m trying to say in such a short, ripping little song. The lyrics are basically saying that; if you’re such a tough guy, why can’t you handle being told you’re wrong, without kicking a tantrum like a child. The sound of Landowner’s music is trying to tease the idea of what tough music is, instead of being all thick and heavy with distortion it’s clean and dinky-sounding but still aggressive and fast. The lyrics to the song also call out what it means to be big and tough and strong, if you’re a big muscly tough guy but then you dissolve into a childish fit if someone questions your opinion about something and you can’t handle being told you’re wrong! It’s expanding the idea of toughness that it needs to include self-reflection and critique, which it so often doesn’t. “Being told you’re wrong” is a phrase I’m really satisfied by, it’s one of my favourite ones.

What about the song ‘Stone Path’?

DS: I like the lyrics to that because it is about something in particular but I let myself be a little loose with the writing in it. The song is basically about racist housing policy in mid-20th century United States where Blacks weren’t able to own property, they were denied mortgages… that’s multiple generations of people of colour that could only rent and couldn’t capitalise on selling it. The first lyric on ‘Stone Path’: now that it’s on your radar, you recognise it everywhere; that’s the culture becoming aware of the messed up dynamic of something like that more and more. A hand tipping the scales, that’s the hand of law makers sixty years ago, eighty years ago, unfairly tipping the scales in the favour of whites arbitrarily just inherited out of hatred. The song is about, my belief is, when we inherit the results of racist policy we can’t undo those injustices by trying to be colour-blind and turn a hopeful blind eye to it, deliberate racism can only be undone with equally deliberate justice. That idea is at the core of the lyrics of ‘Stone Path’. The title has nothing to do with the lyrics, that was my working title when the song was an instrumental and it just stuck. In this case it’s almost suggestive of what the song is talking about, the idea that we get stuck in these grooves in society, it sounds like it’s a well-trodden path that no one questions that they have just been on for such a long time.

Like I was saying before, sometimes I don’t worry if I don’t know the meaning of the words right away, it can all come together by just modifying some of the words here and there, just pointing things in a consistent direction. Things can make sense after the fact. That song title is a fun example that.

On the song ‘Confrontation’ your good friend and your bandmate from Health Problems, Ian Kurtis Crist does guest vocals!

DS: Yeah. When we play the song live the bassist of Landowner Josh Owsley normally sings that part. It was a mistake in the studio when we were recording ‘Confrontation’ with the band all together, I gave Josh the wrong note. I asked him to sing the backup line in a ‘C’ but it was supposed to be a ‘G’, he recorded the whole thing an octave below my lead vocal. I listened to it after and realised I made him do the wrong thing, it was a little too late to go back in and set up the microphones and redo everything, and maybe it’s a fun opportunity to send it to Ian and get him to do it. He’s one of my best friends, I like the sound of his voice and thought it would be well suited to the song. He recorded it in his home studio and we mixed it in and it sounded really good.

Is there anything you find challenging about song writing?

DS: The most challenging thing for me has been writing lyrics, I get hung up on lyrics. Since words really mean one thing or another in the brains of human beings, whereas the meaning of music is a little more forgiving, it’s a more abstract thing. Words are so loaded, if you chose just the wrong synonym or express it a little different then how you meant it, people are going to interpret it differently. I feel bothered by the drafts of the lyrics until I know they’re just right and they resonate in me. I spend the most time on the lyrics. One of my goals is for it to sound spontaneous and conversational, with a few exceptions, it’s the part of the song that takes the longest.

The last song on the album ‘Old Connecticut Money’ I think I wrote 90% of those lyrics in one go. My pen was moving, I was at work on a break, I had this idea and I wrote it all down. I could almost read it out of the notebook and it just fell into the song, but for me that’s pretty rare. Lyrics are something that I toil over.

On Landowner’s previous album Blatant there’s a song called ‘Significant Experience’; have you had a really significant in your life that you could share?

DS: That song is another good example of where I wasn’t writing about one particular thing, I was trusting the overall mood of lyrics and ability to evoke thoughts with that combination of words.When I was putting those lyrics together, I was thinking about how the most significant, moving experiences that people live through in their lives tend to be those things that shape their political outlooks and beliefs in the world. When you come to an impasse in a political argument let’s say, usually the reason you can’t get through to the other person or the other person starts to shake and get in a rage and can’t even get words out, it’s usually because there’s some really significant thing that they lived through that’s welling up, it’s important to realise that all people carry things like that around with them. That’s what’s often behind dysfunction in how we communicate. Right now, that’s the most I’ve intentionally thought about those lyrics or put it into words like that. I just let the lyrics be the lyrics and just try to get them across, I’m not decoding them most days.

Please check out: LANDOWNER on bandcamp. LANDOWNER on Instagram. LANDOWNER on Facebook. Consultant out now on Born Yesterday Records.

*NOTE: more of this interview can be found in our editor’s upcoming book, Conversations With Punx. Featuring in-depth interviews with individuals from bands Ramones, DEVO, Black Flag, Bad Brains, Fugazi, The Stooges, Crass, Misfits, Bad Religion, The Clash, The Slits, Subhumans, Descendents, PiL, X-Ray Spex, Adolescents, Agnostic Front, Operation Ivy, At the Drive-In, The Avengers, Youth of Today, Night Birds, Cro-Mags, Gorilla Biscuits, X, and more. Coming soon! Follow @gimmiegimmiegimmiezine for updates.