It’s here! Our biggest Gimmie yet! Issue 4. Two covers to choose from!
We chat in-depth with Tessa & Alda from D-beat band Jalang! They’ve released Australia’s best hardcore record this year. We explore the album themes: politics, religion, feminism and queer rights in South East Asia and beyond. A really important chat.
Gareth Liddiard from Tropical Fuck Storm speaks about new album ‘Deep States’, songwriting, creativity, fanboying and collecting weird shit.
R.M.F.C.’s Buz Clatworthy talks, a new album in the works, lockdown being a creativity dampener, finding inspiration in films and friends.
We yarn with Emma Donovan and The Putbacks. New record ‘Under These Streets’ draws on soul, R&B, funk and the protest music of Indigenous Australia—a dynamic portrait of Blak pain and joy in all its complexities.
Amyl and the Sniffers’ Amy Taylor and Bryce Wilson check-in to tell us about their new album’s journey, experiencing depression, keeping busy and the power of music.
French duo Heimat play off-kilter experimental-pop with folklore influence, cinematic-like soundscapes, and vocals in multiple languages. A chat on experimentation.
Old Home vocalist Dylan Sparks gives us a peek into their visceral performance poetry coupled with spontaneous musical composition.
We speak with Louisiana band Spllit just days after a hurricane hit their area. We adore their lo-fi weirdness. Next level music.
70’s acid-folk legend Howard Eynon has had a storied life: appearing in films including Mad Max, supporting Hunter S Thompson’s tour; performing in theatre. Recently, he’s been working on music with Zak Olsen. A brilliant chat.
Julian Teakle of The Native Cats and Rough Skies Records selects some of his favourite tracks for us.
Forming just over a year ago, nipaluna/Hobart-based band RABBIT are releasing their debut 7 inch on Rough Skies Records (home of bands we love: Slag Queens, All The Weather, 208L Containers and The Native Cats) today. The quartet give us three high energy, power-pop gems. Overdriven guitars, catchy riffs, solid driving rhythms, and melodic vocals singing songs of love and heartbreak. Songwriter and guitarist, Bobby K, tells us about the band’s formation, recording the EP, and their inspirations.
RABBIT is inspired by forgotten power-pop groups and new wave punks; who are some of these inspirations and what is it that you appreciate about them?
BOBBY K: There’s a demo by Peter Case’s band The Nerves that I come back to a lot. I stumbled on a lot of these old power-pop songs because they were made popular by other artists. The first Cyndi Lauper record has a couple; Robert Hazard wrote Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, The Brains wrote Money Changes Everything. The Nerves wrote Hanging on the Telephone which I only knew as a Blondie song until I started sniffing around its roots like a truffle pig. There’s so many truffles underfoot hey, The Flamin’ Groovies, The Records, Vibrators, The Soft Boys, The Only Ones, Television Personalities, Buzzcocks, The Motels… plus all the Oz punk stuff like Celibate Rifles and Birdman and Saints. What ties the truffles together for me is sharp, simple songwriting – I’m always a lovesick fool for a pop song but rough it up a bit with overdriven guitars and demo-quality recording and you get me all buttery. Recently I got hooked on the Buffalo Springfield song Burned – prime example of perfect guitar pop, and coincidentally almost the same title as a RABBIT tune from the 7”.
You wrote and recorded the demos for the three songs on the Gone 7” yourself on a Tascam 4-track tape before forming the band. Who or what first got you into music?
BK: My Aunt Lou played me a tape of a Welsh choir when I was about 6 and I guess it got in there pretty deep, pretty powerful music. Neil Young taught me guitar, Bill Ward taught me drumming. I studied classical music at uni too, but it wasn’t much chop and crushed me into a tonal box from which I’m still trying to escape. Nahhh, I like tonality, it’s comforting. Anyway I’ve been in heaps of gross punk bands since I was 13, and one that was pretty good, and now I’m in RABBIT.
On your Instagram there was a vid of you playing guitar with the caption: upstrokes are for arseholes. Where does your love of the downstroke come from?
BK: It’s a worthy commitment! I got it from Dave Gibson (Funeral Moon/Spacebong/Ratcatcher). Dunno where he got it from but probably The Misfits or The Ramones or The Slayer [sic]. Have a look and a listen next time you watch a guitar band, upstrokes are so floppy and limp. There’s nothing worse than listening to limp floppy upstrokes, nothing, except like if you’re running back to your car because you’re two minutes overparked but as you get back the inspector is taking a photo and the ticket is there on your windscreen and you were too late, and you try to protest but the inspector just simpers at you, and then later you’re at the pub and there’s a band playing and IT’S HIM, THE INSPECTOR, and he’s playing third wave ska! That’s worse! But it’s the same thing! Also, the tone and attack of downstrokes rips.
How did the band come to be? How did you meet each band member: Maggie Edwards (vocals), Sean Wyers (drums) and Claire Johnston (bass)?
BK: I was living in a sharehouse with Magz around the time I was recording the demo. My singing voice sounds like Leo Kottke’s farts on a muggy day, so I asked Magz to sing on it. Even her retching is sonorous. I think I met Clairey at the Brisbane Hotel one night and she put her name in my phone as ‘CLAIREY MEGABABE’. She’d heard the demo and was super keen, so we tried to get a band together with her on drums. I went overseas for work and it fizzed, and then she kicked it back into life last year, she put the word out and pulled it together with Sean on the kit. I’d met him a year before when I showed up at a rehearsal space for a weekly blast beat practice and his metal band had muscled in on my slot. They went to the pub for an hour while I sweated it out over his snare, and eventually I moved into his spare room. That’s how Hobart works. Clairey is still MEGABABE.
Each of the songs on Gone speak to various aspects of love and/or relationships. Can you tell us about the writing of ‘Gone Gone Gone’? What sparked it?
BK: The songs on the demo came out of a singularly painful and traumatic breakup, sort of diversionary processing tactic or something, dunno what was going on upstairs but I chucked it all into writing loud pop songs. Somebody in France was very kind to me when I was low, dusted me off as I was passing through so I stayed with them for a few weeks and eventually got a flight to Dublin and drank a million pints with my Da and then BANG, wrote a song about it. It’s in G major and it’s got a bunch of suspended 4ths which try to convey the feeling of vomiting in the rain in the front yard of a BnB while your Da takes photos of you from the rental car. Berlioz for the 21st century or whatever. Actually, the lyric in the chorus came out of a dream I had many years ago and I never knew what it meant but now I sort of do.
You made a film clip for ‘Gone Gone Gone’ directed by Joseph Shrimpton; what do you remember most from filming it?
BK: Shouting SHRIMPTON a bunch. I’d just met Jo that day and was pretty excited. They’re really nice! It was an easy film shoot – mostly I just lay on a mattress and read a book about chess while Clairey had a bath. Magz and Sean had an argument about a lamp. SHRIMPTON!
The songs were recorded with Zac Blain (A. Swayze and the Ghosts) in a sharehouse on Muwinina Country. How did the collaboration come about?
BK: We just asked the guy because he’s a ripper. We more or less all knew one another, so it was an easy thing to organise. Sean and I were living in the old sharehouse on Warwick Street (where the video was filmed), the neighbour screeched at us like a bat, Zac was an absolute pleasure and he gets where RABBIT comes from. He’s got cool spectacles.
Can you share with us some details of the recording of ‘Burnt’?
BK: More room mic and less close mic in the drum mix, Bonham style for Seans. Two almost identical guitar tracks panned L/R – one through a Fender Bassman and one through an Orange Rockerverb II, same set up for every song on the 7”. Clairey’s bass guitar signal attended the Zac Blain School of Wonderful Works and graduated with a Certificate III, and Maggie just sings everything perfectly, every time. That’s what she does.
How did the song ‘Love Bites’ change from the original demo version to the final recording version we hear? We especially love the dual vocals!
BK: Well, Love Bites wasn’t on the demo that went up on bandcamp, it was a later song that I demo’d after we’d started rehearsing. I recorded it really rough for the band to hear and Maggie filled in a missing verse. It still changed quite a bit from my demo to the band recording… the dual vocals are more contrapuntal on the 7”, I think on the demo it was more of a straight harmony. Clairey reworked the bass part and made it more harmonically colourful. Sean and I are very different drummers, so the drums were bound to feel different. I’m an absolute slop-fest octopus while Sean is much more precise with his fills. The brief I gave to Sean for Love Bites was “play it like Mitch Mitchell, y’know, like just put shit everywhere”, but Sean hits ’em harder and more solid than Mitchell, so there ya have it!
Rabbit are nipaluna/Hobart-based; what’s the best and worst bits about living where you are?
BK: Worst bit is how the gaming industry dominates pubs all around the state and there’s relatively few venues to support live music and there’s not much we can do about it.
The best bit is how everyone drives 10ks under the limit and the sky always looks like an ice-cream cake.
What’s one of the most memorable local shows you’ve attended or played and what made it so?
BK: We recently played at Junction Arts Festival in Launceston and after our gig we went and watched a friend’s band Broken Girl’s Club, and I was standing on the grass in the dark with Sean and he taps me on the shoulder and shouts over the music ‘OI, BOBBY LOOK AT THIS’ and I look down and he’s holding a handful of wriggling worms.
Ohhhh, also there was one at Altar where the sewage backed up and flooded out onto the dance floor and The Bonus didn’t get to play because it was a public health emergency.
What do you love about making music?
BK: It’s the only thing in the world that I ever want to do, and I GET TO DO IT.
What else should we know about you? BK: I used to go for the dim sim but now I go straight for the corn jack.
The Native Cats make beautiful, poetic music. We’ve been fans of their sonic art and have been watching them evolve for almost a decade now. When corresponding with the Cats’ Chloe Alison Escott (vocals-electronics) about having a chat, we were encouraged to go as deep and challenging, and unrelated to music with questions as we like. Both Chloe and Julian Teakle’s (bass) answers gave as a little more insight into the people behind the music.
Tell us a little bit about how you spend your days of late.
JULIAN: I work in a large public library, so that has been pretty busy recently, with changing restrictions on access. Slightly returning to normal now, but we know what to expect if something akin to these times happens again/continues. Pretty quiet home life, running the label [Rough Skies Records] I operate with Claire from Slag Queens. Having bursts of song ideas for the Cats, and other unfinished non-Cats outlets. Really missing playing gigs, was looking forward to touring on the last 7’.
CHLOE: This seems like the best place to start from: these past few months of Covid isolation have been utterly devastating for my mental health, as has been the case for so many others. I’m very fortunate in a lot of ways, with a steady place to live in a city that the virus has seemingly barely reached, with a job as a transcription typist that has simply carried on uninterrupted. But my friends and my life as an artist and a performer bring out the best in me, and being cut off from all that felt like being cut off from everything I actually like about myself. And you’ve sent me a wonderful list of deep and challenging questions, and I’d love to dive headlong into each one, but I’ve had very little to do with my spare time for three months except roll depressive, solipsistic thoughts around and around in my mind. So I might dodge some of these as part of my current project of getting back out of my head and into the world. I mean no disrespect! You’ve caught me at a difficult time!
Are you an optimist or a pessimist? What’s shaped this view?
JULIAN: Both I guess? On the same issues/subjects sometimes, it’s really affected by my mood at the time.
CHLOE: I’ve always been an optimist, on every scale from the personal to the global. The work is in staying focused and informed and never being complacent or naive in my optimism. No reassuring inevitabilities, no necessarily linear progress, no “all the racist boomers will die out and elections will start going our way”, no faith in electoral politics to save us at all, honestly. As I write this, we’re about two weeks into worldwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism, two weeks of sustained direct civilian action that has dramatically shifted public opinion not only on police brutality but on the very notion of policing itself, and has already achieved so much more than years and years of incrementalism from politicians and business leaders ever could. I can’t claim that I expected this to happen! But my optimism has always been in believing that it could.
Can you please share with us a life changing moment that has helped shaped who you are today?
JULIAN: Deciding to return to study and Tasmania when I was 28. I’d been living in Melbourne for three years. I was pretty over aspects of my job and living in a bigger city. My last 16 months there was marked by the death of my grandfather, having (not properly diagnosed) glandular fever and my band breaking up just when we staring to get somewhere after some rough times. It was pretty shit.
Coming back to Tasmania was a reset of my life, I’d could use what I learnt in Melbourne, and I felt like I really progressed in a musical sense. I had a better idea of what I wanted, and what I didn’t. I learnt to love writing and playing music again, with Matt & Lisa in the Bad Luck Charms, then Chloe with the Cats.
Who has had the most prominent influence on your life? How so?
JULIAN: I’d say my oldest friend Alex Lum, we met at high school, lived in the same suburb and we both dug sci-fi, comedy and music. He is a year older so he was going to gigs just before I started, so he’d give me heads up on the cool local bands to check out when I started going to gigs. In fact his whole family were super welcoming, we had kinda different backgrounds, his folks were University educated so it was good be exposed to varied cool shit in Claremont Tasmania in the 1980s. Alex and I shared a lot of stuff, worked on projects together and had some crazy fun social times. I wish we’d formed a band in retrospect
Is there a piece of art or music that you’ve had a profound experience with? Can you tell us a bit about it please?
JULIAN: I had a day at work where I was doing some repetitive processing work, I had a Discman to listen to stuff while I did this and there was a good CD store next to my work called Tracks. They had a cheapo copy of Funhouse by the Stooges, and although I’d experienced it in the past, listening to it that day turned me inside out, I listened to it about six times in a row while working. It’s a staggering piece of work, I feel flattened (in a good way) by its subtleties and depth. It’s not trying to be raw, it just is.
Another thing that really touched me was the movie ‘Good Vibrations’, it’s set during the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and follows the journey of Terri Hooley, who ran record stores and labels. Most music bio-pics are awful, usually glamourising shitty situations, never getting to any reality or wonder of being involved in music. There’s a reason why ‘This Is Spinal Tap, as ridiculous as it is in parts is the still one of truest of music films. Anyway, there’s a scene where Terri sees the Undertones for the first time. For me the scene, and the reactions of Richard Dormer who plays Terri conveys the pure joy of discovering music and letting it course through you. It was quite emotional for me seeing this cos I know this experience and it’s the best.
CHLOE: My first girlfriend, when I was 20, was an American on a study abroad program. We fell desperately in love, and we were together for three months before she had to go back to the US. A while later she told me she’d started seeing someone new, and, look, by 20-year-old having her first experience of romantic jealousy standards, I handled it well, but it still utterly consumed me, just a flood of overwhelming emotions with nowhere conclusive or productive to go. Then one night I was listening to Night of the Wolverine, by Dave Graney ‘n’ the Coral Snakes – new to me at the time, but it’s my favourite album of theirs now – and a song I’d never paid much attention to before suddenly appeared to me with startling clarity: the closing track, “Out There (In the Night of Time)”. In four verses the singer reflects on good times with an old lover, sees them happy in a new relationship, has a simple, beautiful, physically impossible dream about them, and ponders broader questions of imagination and possibility, and there’s a tremendous sense of peace to the entire thing. I was so young and lost and distressed in that moment, and that song gave me a way to feel. It wouldn’t have necessarily worked the same way for anyone else in that situation, but I was receptive to it, so it worked for me. Art affects and changes us all in subtle and imperceptible ways, over and over and over again, but that song at that time gave me a response I simply didn’t previously possess, and I’ve carried that full awareness of the power of a song or a film or a story ever since.
What are the things that you value most in regards to your creativity?
JULIAN: The satisfaction of a healthy and creative work ethic paying off in expected and unexpected ways. It doesn’t always work out that way, but you can attempt a red hot go I guess?
CHLOE: It saves my life, over and over and over.
What’s the best idea you feel you’ve ever had?
JULIAN: Forming a band with Chloe. It’s paid off in so many fun, challenging and satisfying ways. First time I saw Chloe play I knew she had considerable talent. I brought my experience of doing music for about 15 years, and I can be a pushy bastard, for all the good reasons, natch. It’s been weird and tough sometimes, but which band isn’t. It’s been a real privilege to be part of, and step back and witness, our progression.
CHLOE: Gender transition. The idea of myself as a woman. Nothing else comes close.
The Native Cats released Two Creation Myths earlier this year; what’s its significance to you?
JULIAN: I’ve been very happy to release the last two Cats record on mine and Claire’s label, very satisfying to have this control and see hard work pay off. I love the idea of stand-alone singles, entities unto themselves. Inspired by a lot of my favourite artists, maybe not with the times? But fuck it, this is one of the joys of DIY and independent music.
CHLOE: Two Creation Myths in particular stands out to me as a wonderful sequence of one-on-one collaborations I was fortunate enough to take part in: developing the instrumentals with Julian, which I then went away and wrote lyrics for on my own; recording with Ben Simms and being present for the entire mixing process, coming up with ideas on the spot and explaining them as best I could and watching him click and drag and bring each one exquisitely to life; devising and starring in music videos for each track, one in Melbourne with Julia Suddenly and one locally with Izzy Almaz, which is honestly fast becoming one of my favourite creative outlets on earth; and giving Molly Dyson just enough guidance and direction on the artwork for her to deliver something vivid and stunning once again. Those collaborative processes – leading and being led, being surprised and being inspired to even surprise myself – are at the very centre of what brings me joy about living as an artist.
How do you keep yourself inspired?
JULIAN: Watching and learning from friends and peers. Maybe a little envy of someone who’s written a corker tune, can be nice to get that little push. Have many friends who work in other art fields, great to have yarns about where our processes intersect and sharing ideas. The Hobart visual art scene is fkn amazing and inspiring. Funny when I find have more in common with visual artists than other people doing music.
CHLOE: When I need inspiration and I can’t find it, and I’ve made sure I don’t just need something to eat or to catch up on some sleep, I usually find that the problem is dissociation. Losing touch with myself as a unique person with moves and responses nobody else in the same situation would make, or at least not in precisely the same way. Once I’ve found myself in the crowd, once I’m fully aware of being Chloe Alison Escott and not, say, just any old anonymous interchangeable post-punk vocalist – which isn’t to say such a thing even exists! Every artist has their own idiosyncrasies, whether they consciously foreground them or not – that’s when the inspiration starts to flow again.
What is both a positive and negative experience you’ve had related to your band?
JULIAN: Playing the Meredith Music Festival in 2018 was one of the best playing experiences of my life. Normally I dislike festivals and camping, but we had a good crew of friends with us, and Meredith has a good rep for not attracting punishing dickheads. We were treated really well and played one of the best sets of our career. We also really bought our in-between song banter game.
Getting ripped off by promoters has been super rare for us fortunately, but the one time we did was for a gig we wouldn’t normally play, but we’re always up for new experiences. We (meaning I) provided backline for the headline act, which I had to transport via cab. It wasn’t the headliner’s fault, but I think bands should be a bit more aware of what’s going on around them. Anyway, it was a slog of a gig to an unfriendly audience, and then we didn’t get paid. I had to warn a few local acts about working with that promoter again. I was pretty angry.
CHLOE: I’m yet to have any negative experiences in this band that haven’t led to something positive somewhere down the line. Though perhaps that’s just my outlook on life – mistakes to learn from, opportunities for empathy, being knocked off one path and onto an arguably better one, that’s some of the best stuff life is made of. We had someone we’d known for a long time working very closely with us who reacted very badly to my gender transition. He privately messaged me about it, we wrote back and forth a couple of times. At first I thought his questions were from a sincere place and he was trying to understand, but, no, he’d made up his mind that I was misguided and thoughtless and selfish, and his questions were all rhetorical, intended to hurt me. I phoned Julian and told him that I couldn’t work with this person anymore, nervous about how he’d feel or how he might react – I’d only been an out trans woman for a couple of weeks and I already felt like a stereotype, making trouble, complaining, getting offended – but he didn’t hesitate for a second in taking my side and deciding we wouldn’t be working with this person any further. So that negative experience led to Julian showing his dedication as a friend and an ally, our bond grew stronger, and, as a bonus, our records also got a lot better from the lack of this person’s influence. But that’s an extreme example. Sometimes the negative is that someone says they don’t like the drum sound on one record and the positive is I make sure it’s better on the next one.
What are some things that bring you great joy?
JULIAN: My family, especially seeing my nieces and nephew growing up. My friends. Being able to still do interesting things with music after 26 years.
JULIAN: Greater social mobility. Free education and health. Greater access to the arts for everyone, that doesn’t talk or punch down.
Do you have a philosophy you live your life by?
JULIAN: Live, and let live. It doesn’t always work out like that, but I guess it’s a good start.
Are you a spiritual person?
JULIAN: I don’t know. Music, art and experiences feel profound sometimes, but not always. I understand how spirituality and faith can be a balm for some people. I like to be grounded in something real, but I get the appeal of some intangible something or other. I hate hippies and religious nuts and I detest the idea of someone’s increased “spirituality” being used as some psychic superiority.
CHLOE: If you watch A Serious Man and Uncut Gems back to back you should get a pretty clear picture of where I’m at spiritually right now.
What keeps you going?
JULIAN: Family, friends, music, food, good times.
CHLOE: What keeps me going even in my lowest moods is that I would like to see and take part in as much of this story as I can.
Slag Queens play passionate post-punk with serious groove at times veering into alt-pop, dance-punk territory with an evident ‘90s grunge influence. Their debut LP You Can’t Go Out Like That was on our favourite records of 2019 list and is a well-crafted collection of catchy songs—addictive even. We’re excited for the new LP they’ve currently been in the studio making. We caught up with them to get the lowdown.
What albums put you on a musical path?
LUCY: In my house growing up Mum and Dad really only listened to classical music and a certain kind of folk music (i.e. it DID NOT include Bob Dylan). Hearing the White Stripes and the Pixies when I was in my early 20s was huge. Especially Kim Deal and her bass lines/vocals have been a huge influence. I fucking love the Doolittle album and still listen today.
CLAIRE: In terms of sending me down this musical path, when I picked up the drums for Slags I was binging hard on the first self-titled album by Memphis band Nots. But also Lucy made me a mixtape and that introduced me to Sneaks and I smashed her album Gymnastics too.
AMBER: Some of my parent’s tapes that I listened to constantly as a kid are still my favourites. Neil Young’s Harvest Moon, Bjork’s Debut, Nick Cave’s The Boatman’s Call and Joan Baez are still very strong for me.
CLAIRE: Oh when Wesley joined the band he got me into listening to lots of Malaria! (Self-titled album) and The Smiths The Queens Is Dead. Wesley has excellent taste.
How did Slag Queens first get together?
LUCY: I was drunk at this venue in Launceston. Strange place; doesn’t exist anymore, like a lot of venues in Launceston. And the smoker’s area is like bitumen with a sort of indoor cricket cage thing around it. The lighting is bad. And I’m there, and Claire is there, and Gracie (our first guitarist and epic legend) is there. Oh man. I had spoken to Gracie previously about being in a band and we were talking about it and Claire was like, “I’ll learn drums”. Our first practice was in my sister’s house in West Launceston. She got me into playing bass in Bansheeland and now Mary is doing her solo thing with Meres. The start of Slag Queens was really all about trying to play our instruments and eating pizza and commiserating about work and patriarchy.
Why the name Slag Queens?
CLAIRE: We came up with the name pretty early on when we were meeting as a weekly jam/hangout. It came about in a bit of a giggle storm fuelled by Boags Reds (the beer you drink in Northern Tasmania). And it really felt right for a number of different reasons. Firstly, we thought it was funny. On a deeper level it references queer and feminist traditions of drag queens and reclaiming derogatory slurs. But also, just as ‘slag’ is the discarded by-product of processing coal, Slag Queens could be considered the sloppy by-product of the clean, hyper-serious musical ambitions of male-dominated rock bands in regional Tasmania.
For me, the name was part of this defence wall I felt like we were constructing around us to preserve the kind of raw and exciting energy of being fresh to playing our instruments and making music together. Well before some rock bro in Launceston anointed us the town’s “Shittest Band”, we had already crowned ourselves with trash tiaras. By doing so I had given myself permission not to worry about being held to particular musical standards by stupid, made-up cultural norms and to just create music with my friends. At the time I revelled in this new-found, self-deprecating freedom. However, I would say that now some time has passed and I’ve significantly improved as a drummer (and as a whole band!) my feelings about my trash tiara have definitely changed and it feels less relevant. Still in love with the name though.
Can you tell us something about each band member?
Lucy: I have a chronic inflammatory bowel condition, and it was really horrible finding that out because it feels really unsexy.
CLAIRE: I have a fake, removable front tooth. Sometimes it goes missing.
WESLEY: I also smashed my front teeth out, on a tow bar.
Amber: I almost rolled a d20 to make up a random backstory to answer this question because it’s so difficult to think of one single fact about myself. I have spent an ungodly amount of time today playing Stardew Valley.
You’re from lutruwita (Tasmania); how does living there influence your music?
LUCY: Keen to hear Amber’s take on this as someone who’s done a lot in Hobart’s music scene and grew up in the far south. For me, starting out in the North, in Launceston there was definitely always this feeling of being expected to be a certain standard/do certain things with the music and Slags was very much a reaction to that. I think other things are about being in a regional place established through violent colonisation and the labour of prisoners. To put it mildly, that kind of stuff leaves a lot behind.
AMBER: I really like the small music scene vibes. For all the problems we have with people leaving the state/very few music venues, it’s really nice growing up and watching local bands and then becoming friends with them and making new bands together. It’s a very close knit community and I think that encourages more people to try things and be adventurous with their music.
You’re in the middle of making a follow up record to last year’s LP You Can’t Go Out Like That; what can you tell me about it at this point? What direction are the songs headed in?
CLAIRE: Perhaps what’s been both the most exciting and most challenging thing about Slag Queens has been that we’ve had changes to our line-up. Each line-up has understandably brought different flavours to the sound, especially because we do our songwriting quite collaboratively with everyone in the same room (currently the shed out the back of mine and Amber’s house).
AMBER: A lot of the new songs have moved further away from the punk-leaning sensibilities of the previous album and into a space that I can’t really put a genre to. I like it. It’s weird.
WESLEY: Because Amber and I are definitely chaotic in alignment, It’s become much more hard to steer the reigns, I’ve got no idea where it’s going, but it’s a fun ride.
What’s been lyrically inspiring the new songs?
LUCY: New songs are mostly about what’s been happening down south in Tassie. The housing crisis in particular. But also, I’ve been writing a bit about fashion – because I love fashion but it’s also really gross for so many reasons that I won’t go into here – you already know how fucked the fashion industry can be.
One of the new songs is based on Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend. I enjoyed that book despite some mixed reviews but I was totally in support of the main character – this little loner girl, angry, righteous, hard to like, focused. I don’t know if Donna Tartt is really a revolutionary writer and she’s coped criticism for the way she writes her female characters but I liked Harriet.
Apart from that, I don’t know. It’s weird times. A lot of lyrics I write by making up sounds that later become words or by automatic writing. So sometimes I don’t really feel like I choose an idea and then develop it, it’s more that I write stuff and then we try to work out what it means.
You recently helped The Native Cats make a video clip for “Sanremo” the B-side t their Two Creation Myths 7”, I know that they’re good friends and have helped mentor you; in what way?
CLAIRE: I can’t actually remember the first time I met Julian and Chloe, but I think I might have met Julian at our EP launch in the front bar of The Brisbane Hotel in 2016. I learned about Rough Skies Records (Julian’s label) earlier that year when I went to see Powernap at Launceston’s The Royal Oak. The room was pretty-well empty but I loved it nonetheless. When I saw the 7inch they had on them I was just amazed that some guy in Hobart was doing short vinyl runs for bands like Powernap. I probably would have fallen over either from laughter or just straight-up shock if someone told me that I would end-up running Rough Skies with Julian.
What Julian has done for me beyond simply sharing his wisdom of having been around the scene for a long time, is he’s believed in me and consistently made me feel like I can do stuff. I’m not sure if other women in music have had this experience, but since taking on Rough Skies with Julian, I’ve been confronted by comments that I’m bossy or rumours/comments circulating the scene that I hadn’t “earned” that position (I don’t know if these are true sentiments that people hold but hearing them has had an impact on me). Julian – and Chloe for that matter – have always made me feel like my organisational skills and musical taste are valid and valued. And also having them believe in the music we’re making with Slags – not just appreciating our songs but really understanding our context – that’s a massive compliment.
Speaking of video clips we really love your “Real 1” clip; can you tell us a bit about making it?
WESLEY: We really wanted to do something collaborative and work with some people we knew. We thought that it would be really nice to work with local fashion designer Lychandra Gieseman who makes size- and gender-less wearable pieces, and film maker Caitlin Fargher. Caitlin and I went on a bit of a scout and we found this (semi) abandoned quarry, and agreed it was perfect. After working with Lych to pick and match some of their pieces, we went to the quarry and danced and had some fun. It was a really nice and simple way of getting all the shots and then Caitlin came back super-fast with the edited version.
AMBER: I was suuuuper hungover and I had in my mind that if we borrowed a BMX I could do cool tricks on it. Turns out it’s actually really hard. I have a newfound respect for BMX riders.
We really love your debut LP You Can’t Go Out Like That; can you tell us the story behind the album cover please? It’s so fucking cool! We had it on our Fav Album Covers Of 2019 list.
LUCY: We were very, very honoured because Launceston artist, Andrew Leigh Green, agreed to do some photography for us. I’d never met him but had some friends model for him. Andrew is one of those incredible artists who no-one’s heard of (probably contributed to by the fact that his insta/fb is constantly being censored).
Anywho, the shoot. We rocked up to Andrew’s house and he came out wearing pyjama pants and carrying a plastic shopping bag and was just like, “I’ve got a great location scoped out!” So we headed up to this place that turns out to be the old rollerskating rink where, as a 13 year old, I would blade around to M People. Now it’s covered in possum shit and there was this bath in the middle of the rink, which Andrew threw this pink shawl over. And then hey presto, it’s not a bath, it’s a vortex, an opening, an arsehole, a vagina, a mouth.
I loved working with Andrew. I felt very connected to his experiences of growing up in Tassie and going to outer suburbs schools and being a bit of a weirdo and copping shit for that. I loved how excited Andrew was about the shoot. He was just constantly saying “beautiful” and talking about how “magic” shoots could be. And there was definitely that energy. Like something cool and special and accidental//preordained was happening.
Slag Queens are on the brilliant compilation series Typical Girls’ 5th edition with the song “Waterfall”; what’s some cool bands you’ve found through that series? We have all volumes, they’re such killer compilations.
CLAIRE: Ah you’re so ahead of me, Bianca. I only discovered this series when we were asked to contribute and they really are excellent! The band I’ve been most excited about finding through this volume is Vital Idles. They remind me of The Raincoats and Pylon, but also sound like they could be a Melbourne jangle band – turns out they’re actually from Glasgow. I also really enjoyed the tracks from Snob, Helene Barbier and Mr. Wrong.
What’s been the best and worst show you played; what made it so?
AMBER: I think everyone has different best and worst shows. Best is always when everyone is in a good mood, the crowd dances, and we all look hot. Worst is when someone is in a mood or we’re all tired and hungover, we can’t hear each other, and there are no vibes on stage. My favourite ever show we’ve played was at a festival called Panama in March. Transcendent.
CLAIRE: The worst gig was definitely in Melbourne a couple of years back. We had driven all the way from Adelaide very hungover. Instead of being able to get a nap in our accommodation, I had to use our hire car to drive around Melbourne to pick up gear. Lucy’s sister had come over from Tas with her band for their first mainland show and they were due to open around 8.30pm. But the guy bringing a guitar amp was super late and I felt like he was never going to show up. From memory I think he turned up around 8.45/9pm. After a bunch of line-up changes we had unknowingly booked a band that had pissed a lot of people off recently. This, along with there being a couple of big shows on that night in Melbourne, meant very, very few people came. At the end of the night I collected the money from the venue and paid all the bands only to find out after that we needed to pay the sound tech. I had to send my bandmate to the bar to get money out to pay him. I still get anxious thinking about that gig.
What other things do you do outside of the band?
WESLEY: Doldrums, which is Lucy and I. Doldrums has played half a gig and hasn’t rehearsed in 12 months, but we should because I try to recite poems in German which and sing over Lucy’s porridge-like synth. I also do a solo radio noise project and a multi-media art practice. I also tell people not to touch things at MONA.
AMBER: I have a solo electronic project called, Slumber, and an emo-country band called, Dolphin. I like to garden and plot the downfall of capitalism.
WESLEY: Me too, we also play chess together.
LUCY: I’m doing solo stuff too which feels weird. Slag Queens is also about to start an online Dungeons and Dragons game.
CLAIRE: I’m a social worker and work in the area of sexual and reproductive health. I also run Rough Skies Records with Julian Teakle (The Native Cats) and have started doing Jonathon Van Ness’s yoga sessions in my living room with my housemate, Louis.