Split System, featuring members of Jackson Reid Briggs & The Heaters, Stiff Richards, Doe St, Speed Week, The Black Heart Death Cult & No Zu, annihilate with ‘Demolition’ the first single from their forthcoming debut album. It harks back to raw, unbridled 70s Australian punk rock n roll and ploughs straight-ahead with melody and passion. Split System tell Gimme about their individual musical journeys, albums that shaped them, new music they’re loving, the new single and their album slated for an October release on Legless Records.
What kind of music were you obsessed with when you first discovered music?
JACKSON (vocals): I started by listening to my dad’s David Bowie and Beatles CDs etc. and making tape compilations using everything he had.
MAWSON (guitar): My dad played in bands my whole life, which surrounded me with rock n roll from an early age, but I think discovering Eddy Current Suppression Ring was a turning point for me. Growing up in Frankston and realising there was so much more outside of the bubble that I was immersed in—ECSR was the gateway drug.
RYAN (guitar): Nu nu-metal and pop-punk were my first loves. When I was 15 or so, I started getting into the classics like the Ramones, the Stooges and The Go-Betweens.
DEON (bass): The first album I owned was Silverchair’s Neon Ballroom on cassette, which I picked up from the local 7/11. From there I moved on to some metal and punk classics – Iron Maiden, Metallica, Misfits – that really got me into playing fast-paced, heavier music.
MITCH (drums): My old man was into music, so naturally I became obsessed with our record player (which I’m still running). I raided his vinyl collection and the bands that stood out for me as a 6-year-old were Pink Floyd and Dire Straits. From that day Floyd has been the one obsession that hasn’t left, but Dire Straits have snuck back in in the last couple years, I think it brings me a nice level of comfort.
Can you tell us a little bit about an album that was/is a really big deal for you and why it made an impression on you?
JACKSON: When I was in year 10 my friend Ryan gave me Television’s Marquee Moon and Modern Lovers s/t and said let’s make a band and that really was a big turning point in my life musically.
MAWSON: ECSR – So Many Things, it blew my mind in my younger years and to this day remains one of my biggest influences.
RYAN: Pink Flag by Wire is a thumper. I like the way they sabotage the songs by ending a chorus where you’d usually repeat or repeating something else ad nauseam. Honourable mention to Fever by Kylie Minogue.
DEON: I’d have to say The Velvet Underground – Loaded. ‘Sweet Jane’ is the stand out track for me. Lyrically and musically this album hits the mark front to back.
MITCH: Jimi Hendrix – Band of Gypsys. How could you not love Buddy Miles and Billy Cox with Hendrix! Best grooves ever!!!
What’s a song, band or album that you’re loving right now? What do you appreciate about it/them?
JACKSON: I just heard the s/t album by KPAX (krah) a band from Belgrade, Serbia. It was recently released on Doomtown Records. It’s raw and makes you feel that heat on the street of a big hectic city.
MAWSON: Future Suck & Cutters; what’s not to love about em’.
RYAN: The new Future Suck single ‘Hell for Leather’ goes hard – good people making good music. I’m digging a band from Hobart called Rabbit – catchy power-pop, can’t beat it.
DEON: Exek and their recent release Advertise Here. Experimental post-punk dub of the highest quality. Probably one of the most important bands.
MITCH: Clamm. Really digging their energy, I saw them live at NinchFest this year and they totally owned the stage
How did you end up on a musical/creative path? I know all members of Split System play/played in other bands: Jackson Reid Briggs & The Heaters, Stiff Richards, Doe St, Speed Week, The Black Heart Death Cult & No Zu.
JACKSON: I started properly playing in bands in probably grade 11/12 with some mates from high school. From that point on, I didn’t care much about anything else and spent my least favourite classes sitting in a storage room at school playing guitar. In grade 12, I got a job collecting glasses at a bar in Fortitude Valley and saw a lot of great Brisbane bands playing there. A few days before I turned 18, I quit and started spending most nights drinking and watching bands there.
MAWSON: Playing music was always my escape from some of the harsher things going on around me. Jamming heaps with friends just eventually lead to the right combination of people at the right time.
RYAN: I started playing in bands when I was in high school living in Launceston. I was playing in a couple of scrappy punk bands, who had to share bills with metalcore bands to get a gig. We eventually got some gigs in Hobart and connected with some great bands more aligned with us. After moving from Tassie to Melbourne, I didn’t start playing in bands again for almost a decade.
DEON: As a kid I remember my older brother always playing guitar, so I guess that kind of rubbed off on me, we had a few old guitars laying about the house, which I’d noodle on. As a teenager I went on to play in various garages/sheds with mates bashing around and making noise.
MITCH: I started learning the drums as an 11 year old and by 14 my cousins mates were after a drummer, i had a quick try out and made the cut. Our name was THC lol. We managed to a get a gig at Broadford Festival which was ran by the Hells Angles, as a 16 year old i thought was pretty rad. Someone was shot there, yikes!
You only had one jam together before lockdowns happened. What initially brought Split System together?
MAWSON: Well, initially it was Jackson’s idea to get a couple of us together to try and fill some space while we yo-yoed in and out of lockdowns. The first jam Jackson jumped on drums and Ryan, Deon and myself just mashed out a bunch tracks we had in the back pocket. Everyone gelled pretty well so we got Mitch to come jump on the kit and the 7” got written then and there.
RYAN: I think another bloke was lined up to drum, but didn’t show up to the first jam. Thankfully we’ve got the salami making, hog smokin’, bongo playing, shagadelic bad boy that is Mitch McGregor.
Gimmie are premiering Split System’s new single ’Demolition’ from your forthcoming debut album that will be released in late 2022; what’s it about? What was the process when writing it?
JACKSON: Ryan sent a few early versions of the chords through and at the time I was working securing a building that was about to have its neighbouring building demolished. So, naturally the lyrics began to take shape while I was up on the side of the building doing all sorts of shit and thinking about the building beside it getting knocked down. Around the same time my partner had just given birth to our daughter and it all sort of just fell into place lyrically through those two situations.
Split System released a self-titled 7” earlier this year on Legless that was recorded remotely with everyone recording their parts at home and sending them to each other via email; how is your debut album different from the EP? Was it recorded with everyone in the same room?
MAWSON: That first 7” probably reflects the lack of time spent writing in the simplicity of the tracks, but we felt like it had good energy and it was a great excuse to make something out of the down time. The LP is definitely a more complete package, even though we still had limited time to get everything finished we’re pretty happy with the direction its taken.
RYAN: I dig the rawness of the 7”, however the LP is a lot more hi-fi.
What kind of headspace were you in recording the new album?
MAWSON: We recorded live at Rolling Stock Studios with Andy Robinson over a weekend. Working with him just felt like any old jam, a few takes of each song… was super chill and easy.
MITCH: When you have Andy ‘Rowdy Robo’ Robinson at the helm ya know its gonna be a ripper of a sesh, plus he’s easy on the eyes too!
What themes does the new album explore?
JACKSON: Half of the lyrics were written when I was sober and half when I’d started drinking again. There’s probably a bit of that is in there. I stopped drinking when my partner became pregnant with my daughter, so I could clear my head a bit and prepare myself for another kid. I’d say there’s a lot of subconscious anxiety littered throughout the album as well as a bit of hope for change and clarity. I usually just listen to the instrumental versions of the songs until a line or something pops into my head and then go from there.
Do you prefer writing, recording or playing live most? Why do you enjoy it best?
RYAN: I love all elements of playing music, but you can’t beat mucking around and having a jam.
MITCH: The rush playing a live show to a whole bunch of folks! I love it.
What do you do when not playing music?
JACKSON: Labour for a construction company, play with my kids, and try to keep healthy so I can keep up with them.
MAWSON: I clean windows.
RYAN: I do social work for a crust. Apart from that, bugger all.
DEON: Watch other people play music and graphic design.
MITCH: I love cooking in my spare time, when I’m not doing that I’m listening to music while knocking cabinets and furniture up.
What does the rest of the year look like for you?
MAWSON: Stiff Richards and Jackson Reid Briggs both have Europe tours over July followed by some well needed holidays for everyone. After some time off we will be coming into September/October ready to go. The LP will be coming out some time in October with a stack of gigs to follow.
MITCH: I really can’t wait for the LP to come out and play some shows, the record is something I’m really proud of. The gang that is Split System are a bunch of legends and I’m stoked to be playing with them, bring on the tours!!
What’s making you happy right now?
JACKSON: Family and having some drinks!
RYAN: The Carlton Football Club not being complete shite.
MAWSON: Not working!
DEON:A long black with a dash of milk.
MITCH: Watching the salami I made cure. Yum!