Song of the day (Australia) – 150: Witch Hats
I’ve thought about this next entry, a lot.
I want to balance out this series of being Australian with old and new, otherwise I’d just pack it with Lighthouse Keepers and Hummingbirds B-sides. And I can’t find a link to Melbourne’s own proto-Riot Grrrls Matrimony… oh wait. That’s a lie. Here’s their MySpace page. Let’s not get too diverted, though. I want to post something current today, OK?
So here’s my interview with Kris from Witch Hats from The Vine, last year.
Blah blah blah. Quit fucking with the atmosphere. Creatures soaked in alcohol forgot to get their stomachs full. He was crippled by the boredom of his decisions. You’re starting to make me think, about the bloodstains in ma kitchen sink. Blah blah blah.
There’s a moment in the interview that follows when Kris Buscombe – the suave, self-lacerating singer with Melbourne’s Witch Hats – accuses me of not being able to count when it comes to detailing how many songs are present and incorrect amid the sensurround sleaze of his band’s new EP, Solarium Down The Causeway. He’s wrong to do so. I’m perfectly able to count: five blistering originals, and one that’s a direct rip from Boys Next Door’s second album. Oh, whatever.
As I (approximately) wrote on my very own blog, sometime during the week: I want to shout this band’s name from the balustrades, proclaim in every pungent barroom and unfinished street in the land, bow down to their vicious, sullen beauty and insouciant swagger, fuck with the dregs of humanity and call it a new religion. I want to roll through the crowds, ducking and scowling, punching the chaff aside. I want to dance naked in the fire-light, calling and carousing, and giggling insane as the house collapses round my feet. I want to lie sprawled on the stairs, tinnitus pounding a rhythm to my brain. I want everyone to know, everyone to know about The Majesty That Is Witch Hats. I don’t ever want this feeling to die away again.
Interview follows. My questions are in bold, in case you can’t tell the casual geniuses apart. And I’m the one originally from the UK, now living in Brisbane.
1. Your new EP Solarium Down The Causeway was recorded in California. This leads us to our first three-part question –
1.1 What’s wrong with Victoria?
Apart from being a gigantic eroding paddock, months away from apocalyptic fire, Victoria is OK. When you are away on some crazy tour in California, wanting to record music in California, you record in… California! An excited gang of Australian dicks ending a three-month American tour, foaming with new music to record – an audio documentation of our first international tour. Let’s cross “band writes album on the road” off the to-do list of clichés. By the time we piled into the concrete tomb of a milk factory they call The Creamery (a warehouse recording studio in Oakland), we were in perfect mental condition: deranged, tortured musical soldiers pulling into port, bound by temporal insanity floating face down in the trenches.
Our tour manager kindly ‘borrowed’ almost all of our money and had flown home without us. Things were getting pretty hairy but the recording managed to maintain a sense of celebration. Prior to this tour we’d only played in Australia, rarely doing more than one show a week. The boy at the recording desk was passing out during takes and our guitarist got a case of gout. He was limping around with a flagon of black cherry juice trying to cure him self. We also managed to fire a pistol out of a skylight in the ceiling.
That is all I remember really.
1.2 Which building are you specifically referring to in the EP title?
It’s not a building, Everett. Maybe they are in the UK – thousands of people lining up for a bit of artificial sunlight? [Fuck you, it so is. A “room built largely of glass to afford exposure to the sun”, to be Wikipedia precise – ET]
I’d seen some ‘California babes’ sunbathing on beach towels – not at the beach but in the Los Angeles Terminator 2 aqua ducts. The title makes a vague and confused reference to that. It’s also part of a lyric in ‘Fucking With the Atmosphere’ where its meaning changes and becomes a metaphor for looking back on an event with contrasting perspective. “What is that doing down there?” But more than anything, it’s just some words I liked the sound of put together!
1.3 Why the fuck aren’t you influenced by Animal Collective? What’s up with that?
I’ve never heard their music. To make an assumption from pictures I’ve seen of that band in magazines I’d ask, are they part of all that Internet dork music?
2. Your new EP Solarium Down The Causeway features the sort of music that makes critics want to use the following words: caustic, spiky, post-punk, rotten. This leads us to our second three-part question –
2.1 What’s wrong with Australia?
“Don’t get me started on the western lifestyle in Australia! I hate it although it’s all i ever wanted!”
I couldn’t think of an entertaining way to answer this question so I asked a crazy Lebanese woman and received the strange answer above.
2.2 What is the most musically fertile period you’ve been exposed to?
When I was 14 or 15 years old, I went to see Foo Fighters play at Hobart Festival Hall. Opening for them that night was a band called 50 Million Clowns who played music unlike anything else I’d heard at that point. It was so un-musical in a piercingly interesting way. Like discovering a giant X in the desert sand and instantly digging, I discovered a wealth of Tasmanian bands like The Stickmen and Sea Scouts after this experience.
These bands sparked my interest in music when I was a teenager sneaking into bars witnessing totally unique visceral rock music played by very strange-looking people in bad clothes. That was my light-bulb moment.
2.3 Why the fuck aren’t you influenced by Radiohead? Don’t you want to be making money?
I dunno, why the fuck aren’t we? Cause they are a mentally bloated mixture of awful genres? Cause they look like you’d fall asleep talking to them? Actually I don’t know anything about Radiohead that’s probably why. Maybe people with wonky eyes shouldn’t play music? As far as money goes, I’ve written four songs on the new Powderfinger record. This funds my less commercial endeavours. I also wrote three Silverchair songs in the mid-90s.
3. Your new EP Solarium Down The Causeway contains five songs, some longer than others. It sounds like it might have been made by a band from Melbourne, if you get my meaning (and not many do). This leads us to our first five-part question –
3.1 What’s wrong with Brisbane?
Brisbane is OK. Are you referring to those odd emails I sent you ages ago? I was surprised someone like you would choose to live there, lumping you in with the stereotypical view of pasty British people whinging about heat and stuff. I guess it’s a bit backwoods up there but most of Australia is.
3.2 Are the five songs contained therein written around specific incidents, and if so please elucidate. And if not, please elucidate.
There are actually six songs if you look carefully! I’ll try and give a brief synopsis of each one. The themes are kinda messy:
3.2.1: ‘Stomach In Your Hair’
Glowing out the window, darts of fire taking off, bits of plastic melting in the heat, dumb music floats across the street as confused drunks attack a house with their stumbling bodies ‘tripping’ in every direction. Sometimes I get flashes of a thousand different nights hit me in a blur-inducing fever.
3.2.2: ‘Check the Center’
This song is about zombies who demand flesh medium-well, preying on sun burnt people ‘bronzing on the brown sand’.
3.2.3: ‘Pleasure Syndrome’
There’s a bunch of random themes here. One day is a dart thrown into a calendar. I can’t be bothered elaborating much on it. Play it in reverse for a backwoods sound.
3.2.4: ‘Fucking With the Atmosphere’
I’ve answered this one in an upcoming question.
3.2.5: ‘Sessa (son of a silo salesman)’
I kept catching segments of surreal American television shows on the tour that led me to believe (after getting several stories mixed up) Howard Hughes strangled someone to death with a telephone chord. I got the name ‘Sessa’ from a flirtatious and inviting message some mysterious 14-year-old girls left attached to our tour van in Milwaukee.
3.2.6: ‘I’m Paroling’
This is a brief story about someone getting out of gaol in 2008 during the Olympics. What the fuck?
3.3 Most noise bands sound like their songs are going to fall into ‘War Pigs’. Yours sound like they harbour a desire to mate with ‘Nick The Stripper’. This pleases me, because I’m old. Fair comment, and does it still please you while you’re young? Please elaborate. Who is Phill Calvert? I know, but other people might not. Please elaborate.
We’ve had Birthday Party tags thrown at us for a long time for lots of reasons. They are an influence for sure but no more than say The Fall, The Scientists or The Beatles. Actually the guitars would be the key. Thanks Rowland.
Of course working with Phill Calvert invites further comparison. Phill Calvert was their original powerhouse drummer who parted ways with [The Birthday Party] before they recorded their last two EPs. He is a tremendous fellow who I’m pleased to call a close friend. He’s been a huge help for years now in lots of areas. He’s also got the coolest house I’ve ever seen (a swanky converted church) that he shares with his lovely wife Julia.
3.4 ‘Fucking with the Atmosphere’ – is it about that I suspect it’s about?
Most people think its addressing environmental concerns (nahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Gary) in song form. It’s actually a snide attack on someone who was bothering me immensely at the time of writing it. It’s an insult song to a particular person, my ‘Idiot Wind’ perhaps.
3.5 Have you all got a belly full of fire?
There is a small fire warming a Caramelo Koala leaving room for Fredo the frog.
4. Your new EP Solarium Down The Causeway is out, presumably some time around now. I have the word association game for you to play now. Type the first three sentences that come into your head upon seeing the following words…
Craig was acting irresponsibly when he danced on that soiled package of lumpy biscuits. I wasn’t using satire I was deadly serious in that song you’re thinking of, leaving IOU’s in Chocolate girls envelope bursting with fat bloated cellulite fingers making contents for your stomach. It’s not sinister to marinating in your own sadism.
5. Your new EP Solarium Down The Causeway is not any of the following (list five, in full)…
5.1 Used by Greek women as a musical contraceptive.
5.2 Dangling proudly from Flavor Flav’s neck as he snorts coke from Morgan Freeman’s ear.
5.3 Found in US Marine ‘Welcome aboard Yankee’ gift packs.
5.4 Having sex with a comatose television addict, asleep on a burnt couch.
5.5 A dart thrown into a calendar with plans to flunk a course in propaganda.