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Truth Decay: Housewives Interviewed

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Housewives is a Sydney punk five piece. Comprising members of Ghastly Spats and Teen Ax, the group has just released their debut 7 inch through R.I.P. Society, and will tour Melbourne later this week. As the interview below with vocalist Lincoln Brown shows, the band took a while to settle into its current line-up of Sam Chiplin (Teen Ax), Lincoln Brown and Heather Swan (Ghastly Spats), Will Harley and Dean Adam.

The 7 inch showcases one of the most frenzied and horrid punk vocalists in Australia at the moment, and while there’s a strong sense of gutter humour laced throughout the band’s songs, the primal energy of their live shows can verge on horrific at times – SP

How did you all meet one another?
I’ve known Heather since year 7, we went to high school together. We met Will when we were 16. We were at a friend’s house in Hornsby Heights [in Sydney] cause we grew up around there. Heather, Will me and some dude were the only ones awake and we were tripping. At one point in the night me, Will and that dude went down into the bush land with guitar, bongos and a trumpet that didn’t have valves and had a tribal jam until we got attacked by leaches, haha.It was just after Christmas and Will got one of the bigger iPods as a present, so he no longer needed his smaller 8 gig one. So he gave me it to me when he left after sunrise. It had some of the best music I’ve heard up to that point and took me a year to get through it thoroughly. It had Killed By Death stuff; The Reatards, Razar – you know, good shit. I saw him a few days later and asked him if he wanted it [the iPod] back, [because] we had only just met when he gave it to me and we were tripping. But nope, he wanted me to keep it.

Heather was living at this place on Cleveland Street in 2011 called The Shop. Dean was one of the people who would hang around there a bunch like me, so we got to know him like that. Will has known Chippy for a while, and Heather and I met Chippy not longer after we met Will, but never really spoke to him until a few years later when Will, Heather and I had already started jamming. Then we started hanging out more and more till he joined the band and now we’re ‘bff’.

Was there always the plan to form a band?
Heather and I had already been playing in Ghastly Spats for a while when I decided I wanted to start a more straightforward punk band. When I told Heather and Laura (Hunt, also in Ghastly Spats), Heather immediately wanted in as she’s a huge Killed By Death fan. I told her how it would be great to get Will Harley in the band as he is the biggest KBD fan I knew, and turned me onto it in the first place. Luckily enough we saw him at a gig not too long after that and hung out with him all night and when we asked him he was keen.

So we were looking for a drummer and Jack Mannix had mentioned to Heather recently about how he wanted to drum for a band again, as that’s where he started in his first band [with Kiosk]. So I think we had two jams with Jack on drums, Heather on bass, Will and I on guitar and Heather and I singing. Then Jack moved to Melbourne indefinitely and Chippy already mentioned to Will that he was keen to drum in a band, so we asked him. But after Heather, Dean and I just moved into a new place with some people “housewives” had a jam with Dean on drums. But I still wanted to give Chippy a try on drums which Dean was cool with but asked if he could still do something in the band. And I already had the idea in my head that I could put down my guitar for a few songs and do the whole “frontman” thing so I got Dean to just play guitar instead.

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I know that you guys write songs while together and jamming, most of the time. Do you feel part of this intuitive collaborative songwriting is integral to the band and its energy? Have you ever written in a solo situation for the band?
It’s easier to come up with obnoxious lyrics when I have to yell them to hear myself above the instruments. What I think is great about our band is that Chippy and I still write guitar riffs even though we’re not playing guitar, and those guys are more then happy to play them. [At the same time] Will, Chippy and Heather will write some lyrics and i’ll write the rest of them about what I think those lines mean. It’s very collaborative and yeah, I think that’s what makes it great.

Most of the time it’s like that: some one will have a riff ready and we’ll try and flesh it out into a song when we jam. Sometimes also i’ll write a whole song: riffs, lyrics, structure and bring it to a jam. We also try and come up with songs on the spot. Chippy is the master of it. Our shortest song ‘Piss Rip’ and its brother song ‘Piss Rash’ are songs Chippy wrote in his head on the spot in less than the time it takes to play them. Pretty amazing thing to watch, haha.

Live, Housewives to me is a band of extremes – sometimes blisteringly good, and sometimes fucked up and incomprehensible. Is this an unspoken, unplanned dynamic ? Is the live thing something you plan?
I agree and it’s definitely not planned. The thing is even when we play bad, ie “incomprehensible”, people still tell us it was great. I think if we ever will play a bad set it will just be dull and lifeless, even if everybody hits all the notes right. We’ve played shows where I had no desire being there because I’ve been pissed off by someone in the band but that still just makes me want to go harder, like it’s an opportunity to let it out. But I think most of the time it just obviously has to do with how much we’ve had to drink.

Does drinking add to the energy or detract? Is there a fine line or a blurred boundary?
It’s always kinda been about hanging out, drinking and playing music. I don’t think we’ve had a practice where at least somebody isn’t drinking. There is a line, for instance when I have to tune a guitar before we play because they’re too drunk. But at the same time if we played completely sober I think it would be a little dry. But more importantly the shows are better when the audiences are drunk.

What are your most memorable live shows to date? And your most forgettable?
I reckon our most forgettable was in August at Midian, we were on first and were tired from playing in Newcastle with Pop Singles the night before, and just played an extremely tight and dull set. My favorite so far was probably when we played Blackwire with Kitchen’s Floor, Ruined Fortune and Sewers. Perfect amount of chaos. Nathan Roche still says our first gig was our best which really pisses me off, every time after we play I ask him if that has changed. It was a pretty funny gig though. It was in April 2012 at Dirty Shirlows with his band [Camperdown & Out], Family and Convent who had all been around for longer, but for some reason Dan Grosz [from Family] said we should headline and we did, and every one including the audience was wasted and I think I requested our own encore even though we had no more songs, haha.

Do you think you’re on your way to making in your mind the band you envision? Or is Housewives some happy compromise?
I think it’s different from what I originally imagined, but I think it’s better. I mean it’s not that much different, punk is such a simplistic style that there is only so much you can do with it. But I think we’ve pushed it in our own way and by that I mean every individual has helped mold it into something that is a bit different. I feel that punk and rock n roll as an art form can reference itself a lot but still remain exciting and original because it’s more about individuals expressing themselves in the moment. I think I can be more successful doing that in a live scenario than something like performance art. I’ve seen amazing performance art, but usually I find it a real bore. I’m much more affected by bands like Deaf Wish or Whores.

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You’re very young Lincoln – how old are you? I hear that you have been playing in bands through all of your teens. Care to explain this history to those who may only know Housewives? Were you always really into music from a young age or was it a gradual progression? 
[I was born in] 1992, I’ll be 21 in August. I started playing guitar when i was twelve and started jamming with friends not long after that. While I was in high school I played in a few bands that had a few gigs here and there but nothing really worth mentioning. My first good band was Ghastly Spats which Heather, Laura and I started in 2010. I guess like most people, leaving primary school and starting high school was when I started to get into music more. I remember a friend’s brother taught me how to play a riff from a song I liked on guitar and it was easy, so that’s when i wanted to learn guitar. It kinda snowballed from there.

Do you write the lyrics? Live, the lyrics are somewhat muddied – do you purposefully sing them in a way that is hard for the audience to understand?
I guess I write the majority of the lyrics. Sometimes someone else will come up with a song name or a line or two and I write the rest of the song from that. Heather wrote all of ‘Special Power’ except for the second verse, which I wrote. I don’t think the way I sing the lyrics is [due to my not wanting] the audience to understand them – I’m not shy about them. I guess it’s hard to understand them cause I like to yell, it feels good. I love the whole rock n roll scream and shout, roll around on the floor thing. And sometimes I wanna sound like the guy from Young Identities, and sometimes I wanna sound more like Anal Cunt.

Care to write some of the lyrics out and explain their origins?
Okay, here’s the first verse from ‘Fuck You Or Fuck Yeah’:

Ate some face cause it felt good
What an idea, had nothing to lose
Can’t stop now, a mission man
Bath salts and some truth decay
Total recall is no good
Comes on fast and is hard to disprove

That song is kinda about how the things people do when they’re trying to have a good time can affect other people negatively. It’s also about those cannibals that were in the news last year, how people thought they were on bath salts or something and that turned them into zombies. I know that’s how I’ve felt when I’ve done shitty ‘Designer Drugs’, ie legal cocaine.

***

Housewives is touring the east coast next week. The dates:

Melbourne- March 1st @ The Gasometer w/ Radiant Living, Cocks Arquette, Gentlemen
Melbourne- March 2nd @ The Grace Darling w/ Dead Boomers, Sky Needle, Encounter Group
Sydney- March 22nd @ The Old Fitzroy w/ Oily Boys, MC Madcunt, Angie
Brisbane- March 30th @ The Spring Hill Hotel w/ Sewers, King Tears Mortuary, Cannon, Pastel Blaze
Nambour- March 31st @ Time Machine w/ King Tears Mortuary, Bitter Defeat, Scissor

First and third photos by Patrick Mason.

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