Room For Error: Ill Winds interviewed

image Born in Berlin, Jack Dibben and JF (Ill Winds) have been making music together since their respective moves to Europe in 2011. Calling on sombre sounds from the Belgian coldwave fold of the early ’80s spliced with hints of the Neue Deutsche Welle, Ill Winds’ music is both uniquely electrifying and terrifyingly isolating.

Despite being largely comprised of old material, Ill Winds’ latest cassette release on Hidiotic Records represented a maturation in sound for the former duo, now trio. Adding a synth to their new recordings brought a new element to their sinister brand of post-punk and signified a willingness on songwriter Jack Dibben’s behalf to embrace electronic sounds and instruments. Now situated back in Australia after a 3-year stint abroad, Jack Dibben discusses the musical landscape of Berlin and the future of Ill Winds.

When and how did Ill Winds come about?

Ill Winds came about at the beginning of 2011. At first we were going under the moniker 3D Meat, but we changed it pretty quickly. JF and I had just moved to Berlin under completely unrelated circumstances; JF in pursuit of his studies and myself in pursuit of an Austrian woman who happened to be moving to Berlin to undertake studies. My eldest sister knew JF, twigged and sent us on a blind date. It all followed from that. Marijn (Denegaar, synth) came into the picture later.

Much like the Post-Punk and Coldwave of Belgium and Germany in the early ’80s, Ill Winds music sounds similarly sinister with analogous music arrangements. Did you find that you were better placed in Berlin/Europe musically?

Well yes and no. I found a lack of band culture in Berlin and Vienna particularly. In that sense it’s pretty different from London, Barcelona, Melbourne and Sydney. It seems like everyone in Berlin is making or listening to techno, and that’s where the vast majority of the musical energy is channelled. It’s like at some point in the ’90s most Berliners decided that actual instruments were archaic and moved into the electronic/digital realm, never to return. However Berlin is certainly much more strategically located and in that sense more conducive to playing in a band. The geography of Europe and the ease of getting to so many major cities naturally lend itself to touring and thus opportunities to play with and to different people.

Do you feel the city influenced or shaped your music in any way?

Naturally, being in Berlin shaped my music; that’s the nature of music, it’s shaped by your surroundings and state of mind. The weather, the feeling of being a part of something bigger, political tension, culture shock, living day-to-day, no security, the threat of having nowhere to turn. It also very much instilled a love of techno. I was hesitant for about two years, attending the odd CTM Festival event, trying to keep an open mind, but really just turning my nose up at a majority of what I heard; possibly based on the on the precedent that it was electronic. Just dipping my foot from time to time. Then out of nowhere; BAM. I was at Berghain every other weekend. Shirt off, cap backwards, pumping my fist and losing brain-cells.

Many artists/musicians move to Berlin to hone in on musical pursuits. What’s the city like in terms of a musical community? Could you rely on the support of other bands for gigs and such?  Do you feel Berlin as a city lives up to its romantic ideals?

It’s odd. Berlin doesn’t really have a music scene like what exists here in the big Australian cities. But this Argentinian band Mueran Humanos – who, from what I could tell, were one of the only worthwhile bands based in Berlin – always encouraged us in a positive way. Our good friend, life coach and guru Olle Holmberg, who produces music as Moon Wheel, has also been closely involved in everything we have done, from putting on shows to recording. We were getting gigs from our either our label Noisekölln, other club or party nights or shows that we’d put on ourselves or through friends who just liked the band. And there was always an interesting touring act from one place or another that was mulling around looking for a show on their way through which I could pick up. Regarding romantic ideals: God no. I urge anyone with any romantic ideals regarding this place to dispel them unless they constitute any or all of the following: ubiquitous expat culture, 30¢ beers, good cheap beer, techno, 6 months of grey skies and dull weather, seasonal affective disorder, Currywurst, Käseleberkäse, scrimmaging through abandoned buildings, East German and Nazi memorabilia, “street art”, FKK (naked Germans), Schlager, etc…

It seems as though Ill Winds shows are few and far between. Do you enjoy playing live? How do you feel the recordings translate into a live context?

We love it. But it can be tricky. There’s not that many parts to the whole band, and in my mind’s eye that should make it all easy to execute, but when push comes to shove is proves exceedingly tricky at times. We all live in different cities these days as well, which doesn’t make it any easier to organise and play shows.

You’ve just released a tape on Hidiotic. Most of the songs on the tape are old songs that have been recorded a few times. Do you feel as though these tape versions are the perfected product? Have you written new material?

We released a cassette in 2012 with that Berlin label Noisekölln, which was limited to a run of 50 copies. 30 of which were sent magazines, a handful of which we got reviews from. However I feel that these latest recording are for that matter much more true to form, or moreover ideally what we’d like to sound like live. If what you’re getting at in the second part of this question is trying to ask me why are the older songs on here all I have to say is I have no idea in slightest. Stupid ain’t it? JF and I are working on new material and a new release at the moment, which will not include any of the older songs. I swear it.

There is some great synchronization between bass and drum machine, coupled with interesting guitar interplay and synth layering. What does an Ill Winds songwriting session usually consist of? Is it a solo venture or does JF weigh in too?

The thing that I’ve found with song writing is that it’s always different, so that’s almost impossible to answer. I never know where the idea is gonna come from, and rarely where it’s going to go, at least initially. I have to just go by gut instinct. But this is most definitely a band where everyone gets to contribute to the composition of a song. Everyone writes their own parts, but at the same time everyone gets their say whether those are used or not.

A lot of the songs on the tape feature a repeating lyrical phrase or motif. Is there any unifying theme/s or notions that runs throughout the lyrics in your music?

To start: hysteria, anxiety, solitude, occultism, paranoia, ideology, iconography are all themes that come to mind.  We might jam and I might just chant this mantra of whatever would come to my head or notes I had made over whatever we were playing at the time. However this was an experiment for me when I started doing it or at least as experimental as I was willing to go at that time. I didn’t care so much about the actual contents of lyrics themselves, rather it was just another instrument, and that repetitive nature became a stylistic motif in what can only be called our “sound”.

Tell me about your new project ‘Subterranean Rain’. Does it provide a different outlet for you than that of Ill Winds?

Yep. And I think that it’s solely for that purpose. I tried making JF play ideas I would come up with in my own time. And it’s not like he would outright refuse. He just wouldn’t play them. Ideas I might add that that I enjoyed the idea of working on. So i just kept working on them and over time it has become a distinct project.



Deleted Scenes: Standish / Carlyon Interviewed


Deleted Scenes, the debut record by Standish / Carlyon, seems like a complete reinvention. The duo of Conrad Standish and Tom Carlyon made up two thirds of The Devastations, and while that group’s last album – 2010’s darkly sensual Yes U – contained hints of what’s offered on this debut, the sounds on Deleted Scenes are likely to seem jarring to fans of the older band. On this record, the duo has joined an entirely different orbit. The trappings of rock music have been emphatically cemented over, finally.

Deleted Scenes sounds like a strange combination of 1980s smooth pop and the darker industrial leanings of that era. If you can imagine Roxy Music playing with a drowsy early Coil, with all the proto-techno associations that may conjure, you’re kinda close to the mark. The new album is surprising, sure, but it feels like an honest and – most importantly – natural progression. It reconfigures The Devastations as a strange pop band shackled to a rock ensemble. Listen to Deleted Scenes divorced from what you think you know about these songwriters, and you’ll find much to enjoy. Basically, it doesn’t sound like a couple of rock guys dabbling in something weird. It works.

I spoke to Conrad Standish over the phone last week. At the time he was about a day into an effort to give up cigarettes “after years and years of abuse”. He nonetheless dealt with me very graciously. The duo is playing the Gasometer in Melbourne on Friday night with Roland Tings.

For a little bit of context surrounding the references to HTRK, Conrad is married to Jonnine from that band.

The new record is a pretty big stylistic shift for you, would you agree?
It doesn’t necessarily seem like that to me, because things evolved over a few years [during which] I guess it looks like we were inactive. It doesn’t feel that way to me, it feels like a fairly natural thing. If you hadn’t heard anything from us in the last couple of years, it could seem like a shock. On the last album in The Devastations we were exploring a bit of this stuff, so it’s not that weird.

Why isn’t this a Devastations record?
I don’t know really. It certainly wasn’t a conscious thing where we wanted to get rid of Hugo [Cran, drummer for The Devastations]. I guess it’s not a Devastations record because we don’t want to have a drummer, basically. Maybe two years ago when we started to write for this, we were enjoying the dynamic of just the two of us, so we felt like it was important to make it a new thing.

Does it feel like starting again?
It does actually, for sure. It really does. But that’s cool too.

Are there any difficulties that come with starting again, after having established a name?
I don’t know, it’s probably easier in some ways because I mean we had kinda a name I guess, but the hard thing for us was learning how to do this shit live. I guess we came from a trad band arrangement, so learning how to do a lot of these things was a learning curve live. But it’s been good largely, we’re really enjoying it.

You said before that the shift is natural to you, but the audience might not see it that way. Was there anything that triggered this shift? Was it London? Were you getting fed up with rock music? What was the reason?
I guess I was getting fed up with rock music. But also just years of slowly hearing about new things, and getting influenced by different things, and years of living in London. I guess that [living in London] got me into dub in a massive way. My wife and I used to live in a Jamaican area in London and we were exposed to that vibe, it rubbed in. It’s five years worth of listening to records. It’s nothing too sinister.

It must be strange coming back to Melbourne. Melbourne at the moment – and I guess always has been – fairly fond of traditional rock ensemble music.
You do feel that, but there are lots of interesting people working in other fields.

In terms of other fields, what are you enjoying?
Angel Eyes I think is really good. Superstar. Kangaroo Skull. Zanzibar Chanel has been a good addition to the live scene. HTRK, but they’ve been around for a while. Roland Tings. There’s a lot that’s happening here.

I’ve only listened to the record about five times, but…
Is that enough? Is five times enough for you?

It’s not always, but I think I have a feel for it. One of my impressions is that previously I’ve found your songwriting very frank and vivid. The “child bearing hips” in ‘Sex and Mayhem’ come to mind, and the song ‘I Don’t Want To Lose You Tonight’. But now your lyrics seem more cryptic. It’s not as visually vivid. Has your approach shifted?
I still think it’s very visually conceptualised, but I’m writing less about myself now. When I was younger I would take everything down in almost like a diary entry way. I feel like that’s how a lot of artists approach songwriting when they’re starting out. But yeah, I’m less interested in myself and more interested in other things outside of that. But I won’t tell you what those things are, but I’m writing about those things. Escapism really. [laughs]


I was wondering whether there was anything philosophically connecting HTRK and Standish/Carlyon at this point in time? The sounds aren’t exactly the same, but they share a bit in common mood wise, I think.
I know that this is probably going to come up a bit. You know, we’re family obviously. Years of living overseas with each other, me and Nigel shared a lot of music with each other and have done for years. It is safe to say that quite often we’re interested in a lot of the same things, which I guess is a natural progression of being around each other all the time for many years, and having many highs and lows.

One thing that I’ve identified on the new album is an ‘80s adult pop aesthetic – particularly the canned handclaps during ‘Moves Moves’, and a lot of the synth lines remind me of smooth radio pop from the ‘80s. Do you identify that in your music?
To a certain extent. I love a lot of that kind of stuff – The Art of Noise is quite a big influence. I love these dudes that make highly highly chic but weird kind of pop. I guess later period Roxy Music, the Avalon album was the height of yuppie fantasies. In fact I was quite interested in yuppie culture when I was writing the record. But you’re right – I love ‘80s adult pop.

You’ve spent a lot of time in London, Berlin and Melbourne over the last ten years. In which of those cities have you felt most creatively potent?
In all honesty, London. Though all three of those worlds have things that have attracted me to them in the first place. My wife and I moved home to Melbourne last year for family reasons – we had to be here to deal with emergencies – so it wasn’t a planned move home. But there are certain things about the Melbourne scene that I like. It’s easy to get things happening here. In London it can be a pain in the arse even to get to a show, lugging amps in cabs… it can be difficult. All three of these places have very intense vibes to them, and I get different things out of each of them. But in Melbourne, it’s so expensive to live here at the moment, I’m not even sure how long I can stay.

I noticed the same thing in Sydney, moving from London – traditionally it’s been the other way around.
When we first moved over to Berlin in 2003, it felt like a city full of runaways. That was a really fun vibe, and there were loads of Americans, loads of weird Norwegians, and everyone was on the run from something. It was this weird island. When we first arrived, reasonably quickly we were taken under the wing of Einsturzende Neubauten, which felt hugely validating for us and exciting. I was in my early 20s. I couldn’t believe that we were in this world all of the sudden. But it’s a lifestyle over there that can really wear you down. That’s what it did to us.

What kind of lifestyle? Is it hard to get work? Why was it hard?
It was hard to get work, and we were surviving off our music at that point. It was more the fact that it’s a 24 hour culture. There’s always something on, and I don’t think that any of us at that point had the self-discipline necessary to know when to reign it in. We had a winter there where every night we’d be home at 8 or 9 in the morning, and we’d wake up at 4 in the afternoon, so we’d never see sunlight, for months. That does things to your brain.

Did Berlin influence the more electronic leanings on Yes U and on the new record?
No. It was more London than Berlin.

Have you always played around with the electronic instrumentation, or have you learnt it recently?
It’s something that I’ve had to learn, but I personally am still a bass player. Tom mainly handles the electronic side of things. I know my way around an 808 but I’m not a sequencing whiz by any means.

Now that the record is finished, do you like it?
Yeah, I really like it. It’s been finished for a while. The fact that I still like it now after longer than I’ve ever sat on a record, yeah I think it’s great. I’m super happy with it. We now just want to move onto the next thing, mentally at least. So we feel like we’re ahead of the game.

Is there any anxiety with how the record will be recieved?
That’s something that you can’t control. You can’t force people to like you, and while I’m sure every artist will say things along these lines, everyone wants to be appreciated, but there’s nothing you can do about that. You just have to do what you do. Me and TOm make music for ourselves. If other people are into it, that’s great. We can’t afford to worry about whether anyone will like it or not.


Standish / Carlyon will play at the Gasometer in Melbourne on Friday night. Their debut LP Deleted Scenes is out through Chapter Music in May.

New Music

Listen + Q&A: Privacy – Jupiter EP


Berlin-via-Australia producer Privacy sent me his debut EP the other day. The simple techno 4/4s on Jupiter aren’t startlingly original, but they have a primal momentum that vaguely recalls a sleazy, 1980s subterranea. The soundtrack to something banned. Sonically, it’s reminiscent of Gatekeeper’s first EP, before that duo’s sound shifted into a more multimedia/”consumer affairs”/Distroid style. This is markedly more minimal, but the mood is similar. In the PR, Privacy says of the EP that it “appeared, and all full of curiosity and concern of large and heavy mass of the planet.” Which makes roughly shit all sense, but it’s evocative in a way, y’know?

Anyway, interest piqued, I sent Privacy a couple of simple questions via email. Listen to the EP and read at the same time for a true multimedia experience.

First of all, who are you?
Obviously, for Privacy reasons, I can’t tell you that.

You’re an Aussie ex-pat living in Berlin. When did you move? What did you do previous to Privacy?
I’ve been living here since mid 2010. Prior to that I was running post-punk and early electro parties in Australia.

What attracted you to Berlin?
The music scene was the main point of interest, I suppose. Beyond that, Berlin is a comfortable and affordable place with a super relaxed atmosphere. It’s a nice place to pursue your interests.

Is this the first Privacy release? What else is in the works?
Yeah, it is… and it’s one that was a long time coming. It was recorded quite awhile ago. Other than this, right now there’s not too much solid. I’m working on a few collaborations with friends, one being a track with these guys Vosper from Canada – who I’d really recommend checking out. I’m also running my party series, Void, here in Berlin… and also occasionally playing live, all-hardware, techno shows with a few friends. That one is really fun, it’s nice to bring the music away from the computer.

What influences Privacy? What kind of music do you listen to?
Mostly just Chris Isaak.

Will any other artists release music on the Void label?
Who knows? Right now the label thing is a bit of an experiment. It’s not something I really planned for, so it’s kind of nice to just give it some breathing room and see where it goes. There’s definitely some artists I’d love to work with though

Have you seen the Total Recall re-make? What did you think?
No, but I watched the original again the other week. As for the re-make… I’d rather read this.


Privacy’s Jupiter EP will release January 31. It can be ordered from Juno.
New Music

Watch: Moon Wheel – ÁlæifR


Moon Wheel – the solo project of former Pissypaw member Olle Holmberg – will finally spawn a proper release next month in the form of a self-titled Not Not Fun cassette, following a split cassette with Ill Winds last year. The now Berlin-based artist recorded this track in 2010 while he was sharehousing in Melbourne with members of Fabulous Diamonds and Superstar, living the rock ‘n roll / elegant Australiana dream. “I was inspired by having lots of spare time, lots of instruments and music equipment laying around, and having been introduced by Matthew Brown to Austrian meta-musician Clara Mondshine,” he told me in an email.

The track below, ‘ÁlæifR’, was the very first track Holmberg recorded under the Moon Wheel name, and will feature on the cassette. ÁlæifR translates to ‘ancestor’ in ancient norse, and is the Scandinavian root of Olle – the artist’s name. The clip was shot in Sweden by Holmberg and Hannah Schiefelbein in the summer of 2011.

‘ÁlæifR’ won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who has listened to and absorbed some of Moon Wheel’s other publicly available material (both of which also feature on the cassette). It’s probably the most immediate though, its gentle retro synth melodies and muted percussion recalling several modern takes on ye olde BBC Radiophonic Workshop sonics. The Mondshine influence is very apparent too. We await the full cassette with mouths unflatteringly agape.


Desperate Heat: White Hex’s Jimi Kritzler Interviewed

Jimi Kritzler is one half of White Hex alongside vocalist and songwriter Tara Green. Together they create grainy, minimalist rock music with a focus on repetition and mood. Heat, their first LP, was initially released on European label AVANT, and is now also available on Shaun South’s Melbourne based Nihilistic Orbs label. It was recorded during an especially frigid Berlin winter amid a period rife with hedonism, as Kritzler explains below.

Kritzler speaks to me over the phone from Melbourne, where the duo moved shortly after arriving back in Australia. He’s about to go on an extensive US tour with his other band Slug Guts, and has also finished writing a book about the last decade of Australian underground music, which we also discuss during the interview below.

How did you and Tara meet?
We’ve known each other for so long, since we were teenagers. We always vaguely knew each other and then one day after five years we were in the same town. She turned up on my doorstep and then a day later she’d moved in, and we started doing White Hex. After a few months we decided we were going to disappear, so we went to Egypt for a while and then moved to Berlin for a while, and that’s where we recorded the record.

Yeah, we went to Egypt I guess to see Egypt, but also to write some tunes. It was just after the riot so there were no tourists there or anything. It felt like a really weird place, very rigid, but you could just tell that everyone was ready to get wild. We were just laying in a resort pool looking at the pyramids a lot. It was nice, it was a good place to escape to.

You guys were based in Brisbane before you left.
Yeah, we were both there, that’s where we initially came up with the idea that we were going to do it, and we just started writing songs in the lounge room of this crack den of a house. It was good because we’d just wake up in the morning and that’s all we had to do, just write songs. Most of those songs became Heat.

On the press release it mentions you both lived in a “decrepit old house for neighbourhood criminals, junkies, scumbags and teenagers.” How did you find yourself in a place like that?
That house is weird, it’s been in Brisbane for a long time. It’s one of those houses where it’s super cheap to live there and there’s always a lot of people there at once. Unfortunately the wrong – or right – combination of people, depending how you look at it, moved in and it turned into a strange drop-in house for a lot of people. It ended up being a really fun house, and then quite a horrible place, a place people generally avoided. I remember after one tour I got home and moved all my stuff out, because I couldn’t live there anymore. Tara moved out the same day. We live in Melbourne now, after returning from Berlin, but we went past the house recently and it’s now completely rid of all its old residents and it’s a nice house now. If you could afford to live there with one other person it’d be a nice house. Sorry, I feel like I’m talking about real estate now. [laughs]

That’s okay. Heat does sound like the kind of record that would come from a place like that.
Yeah, I think it reflects the time well, and I also think it reflects our time in Berlin really well. Just how cold and wild it was. It was a strange six months there of -17 degrees, and we were living in this apartment in Kreuzberg writing songs, and Olle Holmberg was recording it. Suddenly all these people from Australia were there, just friends: Nic De Jong from Naked on the Vague was there, DX [Straightjacket Nation, UV Race, Total Control] was there, Mitch Tolman from Low Life was there, Anna from Holy Balm was there, for some reason all these people had converged there. It was a really interesting time, but the songs reflect that weird ten month period quite well.

It sounds like it was a good time though. On the other hand, Heat sounds quite bleak, especially ‘Holiday’.
Really? I thought that was an uplifting song, I thought it was going to be a pop hit, I thought it was going to get me a 41k! I understand your perspective, but I also think there’s a subtle optimism too. Sorry what was the question, did I answer it?

Yeah, basically it sounds like you were having a good time but generally speaking Heat sounds like a dark record.
I think that’s the thing: it’s that thing where you’re having too good a time. I’ve been in America and in Europe during Winter before but this particular Winter there seemed like a morose cloud hanging over things.

What do you mean?
Without going into too much detail, I’d say it was a lot of our own doing. Without going into detail. I certainly, with a lot of Berlin friends, had a good time. I guess when the good times keep going and the weeks keep going by… it happened every day. And then you wake up and it’s snowing outside and it’s difficult to keep it going. It does get a little bleak, I guess.

Tara’s vocals sound quite exhausted.
She’s a very patient woman [laughs]. I agree. I’d never heard her sing before we recorded, and I personally think there’s a beautiful lethargy to them.

So Tara’s the main lyricist then?
Yeah, she writes all the lyrics, I stay well clear of that.

Do you write them in Slug Guts?
No. On the first record I did, and then the second me and JD did, and then the third it’s all JD.

We’ve spoken about environmental influences, but what about sounds, or other groups?
[Long silence] Gianni Rossi, this Italian disco guy from the ‘70s I love, he did really contorted electronic music. Chris & Cosey a little bit, Les Rallizes Denudes, mostly the repetitiveness and simplicity of that. They’re the three we come together on. I know Tara’s ultimate band is Mamas and Papas, so maybe on some dream melodic level she thinks maybe we can write a song that reaches the apex of their ability to melodicise with each other. But I guess also stuff like Dark Day, where it’s just very primitive and simple. Just using the instruments they have in a very repetitive way, but the songs are still very strong. Using minimum tools to create the strongest songs possible, and I think all those bands do that. Aesthetically, I’d say [fashion designer] Karl Lagerfeld also, definitely.

How is being in Melbourne? Why move back there instead of Brisbane?
I think we’d just come back from living in Berlin, and it was just never on the cards to go back to Brisbane. If I stayed there it wasn’t going to end well. It’s not a place I ever want to return living to. Melbourne is just aesthetically a lot more beautiful and it’s just a better city to live in. Certain things have happened in Brisbane, and a lot has gone down there in the last year. There’s too much history and certain things have just changed so dramatically, certain events have happened, and I’m happy to leave it all behind and start afresh in Melbourne.

You mean events of a personal nature?
I guess so. Last year and earlier this year was a pretty intense time. Things just got a bit out of control. I think there was definitely a period where it really blossomed in that city but I also think it’s just not a city where we could ever live again. The period when it did blossom, when Blank Realm, Kitchen’s Floor, Slug Guts, Brendon [Annesley] of Negative Guest List was just starting to do a lot of his magazines and starting the record label, I think that was a really good time then. Then a lot of bad lifestyle decisions were made by a lot of people and certain shit went down and Brendon passed away… it’s not a place I want to live in. It’s never going to happen again. I feel like I have more friends in Melbourne now anyway, it’s neither here nor there.

Do you feel like that was a golden period in Brisbane?
I don’t want to romanticise it, as in it was a “glory period”. There were just good bands. I guarantee, give it a few months – it’s probably happening right now – there will probably be some phenomenal young kids doing something great there and they’ll put on shows and do what we used to do, break into cinemas and play shows [laughs]. Things will get exciting. It’ll be a good place I’m sure. But you’ve gotta change your circumstances sometimes otherwise you won’t grow as a person. If we had visas I’m sure we would ideally be living on the beach in Spain, or in Paris or America somewhere. But we’re happy here. We’re content in our Carlton North home.

Someone told me you were writing a book about Australian music.
Yeah, it’s completely finished. It’s thirty interviews with like, HTRK, Eddy Current, Circle Pit, St Helens, Lost Animal, Stabs, Whores, Witch Hats… fuck I’m trying to remember. A lot. It’s a ridiculous book with really detailed interviews. It’s all done now. Briony Wright, who’s the editor at large for Vice, she’s helping edit it and we’re just hoping and working out how it’s going to be released, with publishers and all that. We’re trying to make it become something more than just a bunch of words on a page. I think it’s a good document of a certain time in Australian music. It’s an interesting read I reckon, because there’s a certain personal quality to it. When I was sitting down with the people I interviewed we’d usually known each other for some time, and the rest are friends of friends. So there’s a real personal tone to the interviews. It delves pretty deep into people’s personal life and stuff. I really hope it comes out as a book. It was a pretty arduous piece of work to undertake. It’s hundreds of thousands of words. So if you know anyone…

You must be fairly busy. Slug Guts have a good work ethic: you release records regularly and you’re about to go on tour.
Yeah, we leave in two weeks for thirty shows. That’s to launch the third album [Playing In Time With the Deadbeat], or fourth if you include the live record. So it’s a thirty date tour. It’s a little bit haphazardous because Falco the guitarist can’t come with us. It’s a bit shit, but that’s life. Unfortunately Cameron the bass player can’t do it, so we got Albert Wolski who played in the Nevada Strange and the Jack Mannix band. He’s been a dear friend for a long time so he’s coming on the tour. It should be interesting, a month long endurance test.

It’s interesting you mention the Nevada Strange, because just before they released their EP Down By Law,  you guys had just released Down On The Meat. It felt like there were a lot of dark rock bands emerging at the same time. Did you have much connection to those Sydney bands back in 2008/09?
Totally. When we first toured Sydney our first shows were with Naked on the Vague and Circle Pit. Then we met Nevada Strange and Atrocities and instantly bonded with them and have been great friends ever since. Atrocities not so much because they’ve all gone their separate ways and there were so fucking many of them. Definitely we felt a kinship with Nevada Strange, we had very similar interests.

I agree that during that time there was an uglier element, compared to today, where there’s a more nice guy, “nice bloke next door playing indie rock” [mood]. You’ve got Woollen Kits and all those kinds of bands: honest indie rock, whatever they call it. I’m not slaggin’ them off, they do what they do and it’s not my cup of tea, but I just don’t relate to it as much [as I do to the music that was around] when we first started. I guess it was slightly uglier and more fucked up. We’d go down and play with Whores, Nevada Strange, Circle Pit. Then Stabs and UV Race in Melbourne. Stuff like that. There was a kinship with those bands for sure.

It seems that a lot of those younger bands that were a bit darker – Nevada Strange, Circle Pit, Slug Guts – were often accused of not being authentic, or not true to the current condition, whatever that was. I remember the Mess+Noise review of your first record in particular.
That turned into this legendary thing. People would come up to me and say “have you bashed Rene Schaefer yet?” When that review came out I understood his point, but to be honest, we have far bigger problems and far more interesting lives to worry about [rather than] some guy writing a review who doesn’t know us, who is saying we’re not authentic. We’ve just got better things to do. I think the ultimate thing was a couple of months later someone played me his band and I thought, “fucking hell, this guy doesn’t have a leg to stand on”. It was some Sleater-Kinney tribute band or some shit like that. It’s the same as the nice-bloke-next-door indie rock thing, there’s a dividing line: you either turn up, play in a t-shirt and sing about how your centrelink cheque is due next week, or you do something more fucked. That sounds really inarticulate, but I hope the point comes across somehow.

I think because we’ve never hid anything. We’ve always done exactly what we wanted and tried to have as much fun with it as we can, and sometimes that’s caused some enemies or whatever, and it’s been at the expense of other people maybe not having as much fun. I stand by what we’ve done. Four people with not a hell of a lot, we did what we did and it’s fine. I don’t think anyone should get too academic about it. At the end of the day you can write 1000 words about authenticity but if the songs are rubbish, I don’t give a fuck. That’s all I think about in either band.

So White Hex will be an ongoing concern, Heat isn’t just a one off?
Yeah, definitely. We’ve been writing quite a lot. We’re buying more equipment and we’re excited about what we could possibly explore with it. but it’s definitely going to be on our own time: it’s purely for our own satisfaction. I’m sure we will tour and put out more records but it’ll be when we’re ready. We’ll only release something when we feel it’s definitely the best record we can put out. The reason we put out Heat so soon is because we really loved the songs.


White Hex’s Heat is available through Nihilistic Orbs. They will launch their album on September 14 at the Gasometer Hotel in Melbourne.