New Music

Listen: Excess EP


Here’s Kitchen’s Floor’s Matt Kennedy as you’ve never heard him before. Excess is a five-track EP composed entirely on keyboard, and the mood stands in contrast to anything else he’s ever released before. Each short track (none exceed three minutes) explore a different angle on the same drowsy and atmospheric theme, ranging the darker shades of ‘Domestic’ through to more propulsive moments like ‘Ratchet’. There’s a vague sense of unease about the tracks, but this is far outweighed by a more contemplative mood: ‘Excess’ could probably withstand comparison to strange ’80s sci-fi theme music, while ‘History’ is almost bright and hopeful.

Excess will have a release through Heavy Lows in the coming months. In the meantime, this EP is available on a pay-what-you-want basis at the Excess Bandcamp page.


Kitchen’s Floor USA tour 2011

USA original Tour Poster

After six months of planning and many sleepless nights excited about the idea of living the rock n’ roll dream, we had organised close to 30 shows for Kitchen’s Floor in America. As the dates loomed closer, we still didn’t have our plane tickets booked. We had applied for three different government touring grants and assumed we would get approved for at least one of them, the plan being that one of these would fund the cost of our flights. With a month to go before the tour was due to begin we found out we had been rejected by all of them.

Kitchen’s Floor had a new album ready for release (Look Forward to Nothing), the shows were booked and we had made promises, so there was no way we were going to cancel this tour. We would just have to be frugal, or something. Liam (Kenny, then bassist) and I stocked up on duty free vodka and Xanax, and got a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles. It was an enjoyable event that I can barely remember, although the passengers sitting near us would probably say the opposite. As we were preparing to land I was warned by a stewardess that unless I sobered up, then there would be a real chance I would be refused entry into the country.


The plane landed and as soon as I had stumbled out I was escorted into a customs interrogation room and spent the next couple of hours under a fluorescent light being cross examined by US customs agents. They were tough and asked me some deeply personal questions, all the while mocking my scruffy clothing and general poverty. I kind of understood the situation and co-operated to the best of my ability. Eventually they decided I was more of an idiot than a threat and they let me go, but we missed our connecting flight to New York and as a result spent a pleasant day at Santa Monica beach.

Arriving in New York the next day we travelled to Williamsburg where we met up with Joe (Alexander, then-drummer, who had caught a separate flight) and made ourselves at home in Craig Dermody’s small fifth floor apartment. Craig originally hails from Melbourne and fronts the bands Scott & Charlene’s Wedding and Divorced. He had been living in New York for most of the year and by this time was employed as a bouncer at an upmarket club frequented by celebrities such as The Strokes and Macaulay Caulkin. He had once refused Kirsten Dunst entry, having no idea who she was. He was reprimanded for this oversight. I bought a guitar, a white Fender Mexican strat which was a little nicer and more expensive than what I needed (all I wanted was a cheap Squier that I could knock around), but there aren’t many choices when you’re left-handed.

Kitchen's Floor in New York

Kitchen’s Floor in New York

We played our first show of the tour that Friday night at a bar in Brooklyn called Bruar Falls. While we were playing I remember thinking “whoa, we actually did it.” After that, we were meant to play Sunday night in Philadelphia but were stranded in New York because of a hurricane the news was calling ‘Irene’. The city closed down the roads so we were trapped, but we had plenty of beer so we passed the time by drinking and hanging out with a cool retired flight stewardess turned cat lady.

Matt Letterman Tourist

Matt Kennedy being a tourist

The roads out of the city were re-opened after a few days so we drove down to Philadelphia where we met Siltbreeze chief Tom Lax. We also played a show with Watery Love but I got so wasted I can’t really remember it, which is a shame as Watery Love are one of the greatest bands I’ve ever heard. We spent a few days at Siltbreeze HQ hanging out with Tom, who was a great host. He cooked us fine cuisine and shared my passion for WWII documentaries and drinking. From Philadelphia we drove back to New York and then on to Boston where we met the band we would be spending the next 3 and a half weeks with – Fat History Month.

Fat History Month consisted of Shaun (guitar/vox) and Mark (drums). They were like a two-piece post rock outfit fresh outta 1997 or something. Coming along for the adventure was a nice homeless guy called Greg, who said he did not live in Boston. Greg would become an invaluable merch guy and generally good natured ‘roadie’ who always wanted to sleep in the van even if we had a house to stay the night. Around this time Liam was diagnosed with ‘strep throat’ and it cost something like $200 to cure it courtesy of the American health care system. Morale in the camp was high however, and we played the ill attended Boston show with a stoic pride. We played again that night at around 2am at a burnt out party where no one really gave a shit about us.

Using Boston as our home base, we spent the next few days playing the smaller college towns that surround it – Lowell, New Haven, Northampton and Binghamton.  Lowell was a pretty grim introduction to small town America but the people who put on the show were those amazing kind of genuine punks who did a fine job organising it all.

We arrived a few hours late to the New Haven show and I got the impression that the people there were kind of angry at us for that. I understand. All I really wanted was to see Estrogen Highs play that night and they did not disappoint. In Northampton we played at a small record store called Feeding Tube Records. We arrived to a fridge full of beer and some great record store guys who gave us free Creedence Clearwater and Simpson’s cassettes. That was an awesome highlight, as they provided some much needed quality tunes to play in the van during the infinite hours of driving ahead. In Binghamton we played in a sweaty warehouse with a bunch of local tech head post rock dude acts. I was told by some tech dudes after the show that all of the other bands had blown us away, which was fine by me. I remember going to an ATM across the road to find out I only had $50 left in my bank account which was really depressing considering the tour had barely begun.

Kitchen's Floor: somewhere epic in Washington

Kitchen’s Floor: somewhere epic in Washington

We left Boston for the last time and started the drive to the West Coast. The first show was at a place in Columbus called Carabar where we were given unlimited free buffalo chicken tacos. Psychedelic Horseshit played and everything was pretty alright. There was an after party at Matt Horseshit’s apartment where I ended up being the last person awake which is always a lonely feeling. I left Columbus feeling good though, the city had a lot of charm.

Cleveland was next, a rough place I had heard. We played at Now That’s Class with Obnox and Puffy Areolas. Mind blowing. Only about twelve people actually came to see the show though which was a shame as it put us on bad terms with the bar owner and effectively killed the free beer we had been getting all night. I ran out of money around this time and I think I was heavily constipated as well. We played a town in Indiana called Bloomington next. It was a rural kind of area; the house we were playing seemed to be in the middle of nowhere and gave you the feeling of being in a horror movie. I met a guy who told me he had heard we were doing a show and had driven something crazy like 8 hours from another state to see Kitchen’s Floor play. He was down on his luck, lost his job and his girlfriend, was sleeping in his car, vaguely suicidal etc. I tried to make the show worthwhile for him although I’m not sure how he ended up.

Iowa City was next, the show was at a bar and restaurant place called The Mill. They gave us a big complimentary dinner and I drank a few beers at the bar as Metallica’s ‘Orion’, among other hits, blared over the jukebox. Quiet little relaxing moments like these had become very important to me, and kept me in a tolerable frame of mind. The show was fun and we ended up partying with a bunch of Iowa City punx in a big empty attic next to a house that doubled as a convent. I fell asleep on the couch to Jurassic Park playing on a TV, waking up at around 4am to find the house completely dark and silent, except for a wasted sleepwalker who was blindly urinating all over the kitchen. I still wonder if the residents of the house thought it was me who gone done that.

Permanent Records LA Flyers

From Iowa City we drove to Chicago where we played an afternoon in-store show at Permanent Records. They had gone out of their way to accommodate our arrival; they even gave us t-shirts which was great because by now I did not have any clean clothes left. Later that night we played at a bar called Crown Liquors Tap Room. Someone put Pantera’s ‘Walk’ on the jukebox and Liam and I gladly drank a beer to that. Some guy called Mikey introduced himself and said he was getting a lift to LA with us and I was like ‘oh ok’. Mikey was alright. We spent the night at Matt from Heavy Times’ apartment. He was an excellent host who seemed to live to party. Very little sleep was had but I left Chicago feeling like I had made some new friends.

The next stop for our touring juggernaut was Minneapolis. It was a Sunday night and I was messed up from sleep deprivation, hunger, constipation and alcohol abuse so I wasn’t in a very good disposition as we arrived. My mood improved when we got to the venue, which was a warehouse near train tracks with a distant view of the city skyline which I thought looked oddly similar to Brisbane. I watched a band I had never heard of called Le Deux Magots.  The guy played guitar exactly how I like it to be played – simple yet brutal and weird in that individualistic sense. They were a nice surprise that lifted my ailing spirits.  Teenage Moods were another band playing that night and were also very enjoyable. They reminded me a lot of Straight Arrows (who co-incidentally had played Minneapolis the night before). We stayed at a house that Courtney Love had lived in during the 1980s.

After that was a brutal 22 hour drive from Minneapolis to Missoula. We drove day and night across the vast dinosaur desert state of Montana. Everyone in the van was tired, filthy and depressed. I was stressed out and delirious from lack of sleep, but I couldn’t sleep due to anxiety and paranoia. I don’t mind dying but I don’t want to die in a car crash and this seemed like that kind of scenario. We had joked at length about the van crashing early on in the tour but by now it seemed like the most logical conclusion to the trip. The drive went on and on and my mind had long turned against me but we made it to Missoula without a single fatality or violent nervous breakdown.

I went for a walk but was so mentally fucked up I got lost and spent four hours walking repeatedly up and down the main street in a pathetic daze. The town was the birth place of David Lynch and it had somewhat of a ‘Lynchian’ vibe, I guess one would say.  The show was in a house but they were still charging admission to help out the touring bands. A guy gave me a big bag of granola instead of paying and that was fine by me. Another guy told us his name was ’67’ and a lot of people appeared to be on hallucinogens. Missoula felt like the Nimbin of America or something. Mordecai played and it was the highlight for me. I slept that night in the corner of a room normally reserved for the cat.Joe New York Merch Desk

The next destination was Seattle, Washington.  We celebrated as we crossed state lines by blasting Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana over the van stereo like no one had ever done that before. We met Adam who had organised a show for us at the Comet Tavern and was letting us stay at his house. He drove Naked on the Vague around when they had toured America and he also plays in the band Little Claw. A very amicable guy. He bought us pizza and we ate it in a baseball field. The show was alright too.

As we were driving out of Seattle the next day our van was making weird death noises, so we stopped and had it checked by a mechanic, who told us it was fucked. We decided to take a risk and drive to Portland anyway, only just arriving in time for the show. We saw Rob and Hart from Eat Skull, who we had brought over for an Australian tour earlier in the year. They were as wasted as ever. One of the other bands playing that night was selling hash brownies and I ate a whole one while forgetting I can’t mentally handle weed, not even in delicious brownie form. I freaked out and spent most of the night hiding in a basement.

Most of the next day was spent waiting for the van to get repaired and it became obvious we weren’t going to make it in time for the show in Sacramento. We arrived just after 2am but were still able to do a live session for college radio station KDVS Davis (they didn’t seem to mind that it was so late). It was situated on a ‘dry’ campus, but what was surprising was that a bunch of students had waited up all night for us so there was a crowd of about 20 people packed into the small recording studio. It felt humbling as we played through our little rock n’ roll set to a polite sober applause.

The next day was busy. We were playing at an afternoon BBQ in Oakland and then also a show that night in San Francisco. The BBQ was put on by Ned and Oscar who had toured Australia with Eat Skull earlier that year as well. It was a sunny day and I was glad to not be in the van so I celebrated by drinking a lot of beer. I don’t really remember playing the show at the BBQ. We drove over the bay to San Francisco where we were playing at the Hemlock Tavern. It was really cold. Mikey Young was at the show and that was cool.

It was our highest attended show of the tour so far but it was a disaster. I could barely play the songs and soon enough people were throwing things at me and shouting ‘you’re drunk! Get off the stage! Fucking idiot!’. I passed out in the van and woke up the next day with everybody angry at me. The drive down to LA was quiet and a little tense. We were playing at the Los Angeles Permanent Records store and once again we were given t-shirts and even pizza.  I will love Permanent Records forever.

Flagstaff Flyer

From there we started heading back to the east coast, this time through the south of the country.  We drove along Route 66 for a long time and made it to Flagstaff in Arizona where a show had been organised in a basement. The people were eccentric and very friendly, the night climaxing with a raging dance party. I almost had ‘Flagstaff’ tattooed on my arm and still kind of regret that I didn’t. We spent the next night in Midland, Texas. We weren’t playing there but a very nice Texan lady put us up for the night, made us macaroni n’ cheese and showed us some southern hospitality. Next was Austin where we did a radio session for KOOP then played the nicely named Beer Land venue.

KF Goner Fest

Onward to Memphis for Goner Fest! We pulled up at the home of Bruce Saltmarsh, an ardent supporter of Australian music and chief of the Easter Bilby distribution label. He had held an ‘Aussie BBQ’ that afternoon which Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys had played but we arrived too late to see that. Straight Arrows, Royal Headache and Deaf Wish were also in town so it was definitely party time. The next few days and nights were spent watching band after band, drinking beer after beer. Memories are blurry. I had been looking forward to the Icky Boyfriends reunion show the whole trip and that was a hazy highlight. There were so many Australians around and some Americans were even calling it a music invasion.  It felt like there was some hype floating around, and the pressure to live up to it was quite exciting.

Aus Invasion at Goner Fest

Aus Invasion at Goner Fest

I was a little nervous before playing our set but it turned out alright. Afterwards Shogun from Royal Headache told us we had been invited to someone’s house for dinner and he had the address. Liam and I followed him and soon we found ourselves walking through the dark streets of Memphis a little lost as Shogun recited the high local homicide rate for us. We found the address but it was inside a complex surrounded by a large fence. We couldn’t work out how to use the intercom so we climbed the fence and people immediately came running out screaming at us. If we hadn’t acted like clueless Australian tourists we probably would have been beaten up or something. The girl who had invited us laughed hysterically at our stupidity and the dinner was pleasant.

By the end of Goner Fest I was well and truly sick. Almost a month of solid drinking, sleepless nights on hard floors, constipation, infrequent showering, horrible roadside food and countless hours trapped inside the van had taken its toll on my mental and physical health. My right arm felt numb and sore. I assumed that I had damaged a nerve or two from having slept on floors for so long, as I would often wake with the arm crushed under me and with severe pins and needles.  I felt pain everywhere and I had no money to buy medicine or food. I felt weak and nauseous, self aware that I did not have long to live.

Matt at Goner Fest.

Matt at Goner Fest.

We left Memphis and started the drive back to New York. We played a small town called Murfreesboro but by that point I had stopped caring about living the dream. It was a party hosted by very nice people and many wanted to meet ‘the Australian band’ but I just couldn’t play the role of the charismatic international touring artist. They had Super Mario World on a Super Nintendo and I spent the whole night playing that alone instead. I cut our set short after only 10 minutes, my sense of purpose broken.

I was in an even shittier mood at our last show in Staunton, Virginia.  It was a Monday night and I was hoping it would be quiet and there would be a quiet place where I could lie down or something. It was the exact opposite, as everyone there seemed intrigued that a band all the way from Australia was playing in their town on a Monday night. They had no idea who we were but I got the impression they thought we would be like AC/DC. A couple of minutes would not go by without some loud drunk guy start yelling at me, asking me about what I thought of America and so forth. I went back to the van, locked myself in it and tried to nap. Unfortunately some guys followed and found me lying in there. They started bashing on the van door and were screaming “c’mon man what’s wrong wit you! You’re in Staunton buddy!! PARTY!!!”.  There truly was no escape so I held back tears and went back inside the venue. We started playing and there was a big drunken mosh pit. I don’t think anybody was really listening to the music, it was just loud and we were weird Australians to them. I think we made a good impression. A really nice girl let us stay at her house that night and I had my first decent shower in weeks, which probably saved me from a violent nervous breakdown.

The last stretch to New York was anxious as everybody in the van just wanted to get away from each other and go home.  The last thing we did was a radio session for WFMU in New Jersey and that was more than a worthwhile end to our American performing duties. We then arrived back at where we had started, Craig Dermody’s apartment in Williamsburg. We said goodbye to Fat History Month and Greg, then said goodbye to Joe who had an earlier flight than Liam and I. The next day I pawned my guitar for less than half of what I had paid for it, and then Liam and I caught the subway to JFK airport.  We flew to Los Angeles and then fled the country. It was an agonizingly long trip back and then when we arrived in Sydney we started the Australian tour.

Sidney last photo


2012 in review: artists and Crawlspace editors


This is a collection of reflections and lists from Crawlspace editors, as well as a handful of the artists we’ve featured in 2012. Editor Shaun Prescott opens proceedings. Brace yourself.

At the beginning of the year I hated writing about music. I wanted to stop and work full time on a novel, which pretty much signals the end for any writer (unless they manage to complete that novel and it’s okay). The sentiment wasn’t born of dwindling interest in music, but more the brutal logistics of making a worthwhile outlet work. These are the logistics (pageviews / unique hits = revenue) that render a lot of the music we cover on Crawlspace virtually non-existent to outsiders.

For someone whose taste has always been driven by the written word (that’s old-fashioned at best and illogical at worst, I know) it felt like there wasn’t enough writing about Australian groups that would have made me dreamy as a teenager. Things that you read about that make you think, “wow, that sounds incredible and I must track it down,” or “why would anyone listen to that? Help me understand.” Stuff that opens up whole new avenues and ways of listening. If I hadn’t discovered groups like Castings, or Moonmilk, or Naked on the Vague, or Alps, purely by accident upon moving to Sydney in 2005 – where would I be? Crawlspace is largely a response to failed pitches.

The thing is, most of Australia’s best music is often only heard by the people who make it and by their peers. In Sydney, you see the same people at all the good shows. This is healthy enough: that’s a community. Music doesn’t always need to amount to more than that. But in other ways that’s just not good enough. As a believer that reading about music should be about discovery and, sometimes, re-aligning one’s understanding of what they already like, it just made sense to make this website. I also unapologetically believe that 99% of Australia’s music media is ignoring this country’s most important art, instead slavishly covering what the overseas market or the established local “industry” deems fit for consumption. This longstanding habit is an absolute fucking stain on a media that is meant to excite, educate and actually be there when something remarkable is happening just down the road.

Diplomatically speaking, there’s so much to discover, and there are heaps of bands that I wanted Crawlspace to cover in detail this year that never got a run: Collarbones released an incredible record that I greatly admire. Southern Comfort finally released a proper piece of wax. Newcastle’s Grog Pappy label sent us a package we haven’t covered yet (there is something in the works, though). Teen Ax released a great tape that I couldn’t quite articulate the appeal of.

Crawlspace has kinda defined 2012 for me, thus the tiring prologue. Sorry about that. Here’s the business:

  • 2012 has been a year of great songs. Circular Keys’ ‘Eurogrand’, Kitchen’s Floor’s ‘Bitter Defeat’, Nun’s ‘Solvents’, Lower Plenty’s ‘Nullabor’ are all favourites.
  • I feel like Breakdance the Dawn is the strongest LP-oriented label in Australia: their hastily packaged CD-Rs usually communicate one single idea incredibly well. Often they feel like transmissions from a world that is vaguely similar to mine, yet it’s somehow melted, fraught with illogical dream-state segues. Girls Girls Girls and Club Sound Witches both provided highlights.
  • My favourite LP this year was WonderfulsSalty Town, which I still haven’t reviewed, but will. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a record that captures small town loneliness and neurosis quite as effectively – and it’s not even (completely) about that. It’s a tough record to swallow. It’s emotionally challenging and confronting.  A close second is Mental Powers‘ LP.
  • Woollen Kits are a group I’ve maintained total ambivalence towards up until now. I’ve heard the 7s and bought the first LP, but found all astonishingly dull. They wouldn’t let me in. Magically, Four Girls did. Prosaically speaking I think they simply became better songwriters.
  • The best punk rock record of the year is Taco Leg‘s. Many thought my review suggested otherwise. Sorry about that.
  • Fatti Frances’ Sweaty EP is something I think about regularly when I’m not listening to it. It’s so strangely modern in its positioning of love and lust, and whether there should be a versus there.
  • If Australia celebrated new music as tirelessly as it did the old, than Midday Music: Brisbane 2012 is an essential a document as Lethal Weapons and… a bunch of other old compilations that people fawn over.
  • Melodie Nelson’s To The Dollhouse is objectively one of the best records in 2012, but I’m quarantined from all things MN because she’s one of my best friends. So don’t trust me. Listen for yourself. She also made the logo for Crawlspace. Thanks for that.

Anyway, without further ado, over the page is a series of reflections and lists from some of the groups and artists Crawlspace has covered since it launched in August this year, as well as our writers. We humbly thank everyone who participated.


Only More Downer: Wonderfuls Interviewed

The first publicly available Wonderfuls recording was a 7 inch on Negative Guest List Records. When it was released in early 2011, I read a vaguely interesting press release about it, something about the singer having spent time in a psych ward and, most memorably, some brief discussion re: “piss fisting”, but despite it sounding right up my alley, I ignored it.

Fast forward roughly a year, and Wonderfuls’ singer Bobby Bot (aka Robert Vagg) is in town, playing drums in Kitchen’s Floor for their Bitter Defeat 7 inch tour. Bobby and I had agreed to meet at the Townie in Newtown on Sunday, and it was an interview I was very much looking forward to. Thing is, on my way to the pub I listened to Salty Town, Wonderfuls’ new LP, and it spooked me. It’s just so utterly sad. It took the wind out of my sails.

Since receiving the mp3s a fortnight ago, I’ve kinda hidden from Salty Town a bit, sneaking the odd listen now and then when I thought I could handle it. It’s light years away from the demented songs about pissfisting found on the duo’s first 7 inch, which is the most thoroughly fucked recording of 2011, probably. On Salty Town, Wonderfuls deliver quiet, confiding songs that are equal parts straightforward and bleakly impressionistic. Here, recognisable narratives derail into horrific aberrations.

Take this sample from ‘North’ for instance, which recounts an adolescent’s daily experience in a small town: “I was given an orange ticket / sent home to watch a pornographic film / with a son of a mother who was an… addict / she lived on the wrong side of the ward of this place / painting landscapes is what people done there / or was it just for you?”

Wonderfuls is cousins Bobby Bot and Danny McGirr. The Brisbane duo formed in 2004, but didn’t release anything until the 2011 7 inch. According to Bobby, the name Wonderfuls was inspired by a quote by Sebastian Hawk in the Mike Leigh film Naked. “Have you ever had smoked salmon after sex Louise? It’s rather wonderful!”, Bobby recited to me. It’s a bit odd that this innocuous quote should inspire the name of such a band, but after our interview Bobby also explained Wonderfuls is meant to evoke something “foreign-sounding”, something “strange”, something mystical. Something outside of daily existence. Something literally wonderful.

Bobby is a lovely guy. It turned out that we had actually met before, in 2009 during an Extrafoxx tour. He’d come into the 2ser studios to be interviewed as part of that group, and I remember him sitting quietly in the background. He barely muttered a word. During our current interview however, he broke into song on a couple of occasions, which seemed a bit out-of-character at first but increasingly made sense. Over time his incredibly deadpan sense of humour began to emerge, shedding new light on some of the songs on Salty Town. He said that he subscribes to a belief-system called ‘Wonderfulism’. At the time of our interview, Bobby was unsure how Salty Town would be released, but he’s currently selling a CD-R edition independently (see the bottom of this article for details), with an LP version slated for 2013.

Bobby is also a visual artist of some repute, specialising in sad monochromatic face portraits, as below:

How’s things in Brisbane?
Yeah, Brisbane’s good. I started to really enjoy it probably about two years ago. It [the music scene] was something I got involved with by being persistent and not going away. I chose not to go away and everyone had to accept that I wasn’t going anywhere [laughs].

What bands have you played in besides Wonderfuls and Kitchen’s Floor?
I did play in Extrafoxx when it was a two-piece, which was just Conwae [Burrell] and myself. We did a tour a couple of years back, in 2009. I’ve also done Sounds From The Ward, which was a more experimental noise thing, also with Danny [McGirr]. It’s had a couple of different line-ups across a couple of different shows.

Wonderfuls is your songwriting project, right?
Yeah, definitely. Well it’s the two of us. It’s been very much a personal thing between Danny and myself. We’re cousins. We both moved to Brisbane from the Gold Coast – I was living in Beenleigh, and Danny was living on the Gold Coast – and we both moved to Brisbane in 2004.

So 2004 was when it started?
Yeah. Danny was living in Paddington – at LaTrobe Terrace, which is right across the road from the infamous 116 house [depicted in several Kitchen’s Floor film clips]. It started out really as… [trails off]. I’d say I was really sick at the time. I was on a lot of medication and I couldn’t function normally. We’d sit in the bedroom and paint, and record. All that early stuff was almost unlistenable, but there were a couple of fragments that did sound okay.

And are those fragments that appeared on the first 7 inch?
Yes. I met Brendan [Annesley, of Negative Guest List] at a show. I was in a bit of a state, and I’d seen him around, so I said “hey cunt, listen to this! It’s the best fucking punk song you’ve ever fucking heard in your life”. I played it through MacBook speakers and he said “yeah that’s good, want to make a record?” Then the next day, or a week later, we met at Fat Louies to have a chat. We didn’t really say anything really, we just sat and drank. We didn’t really need to say more.

No business deals signed or anything?
Haha, nah.

So you must have recorded a fair bit of material between 2004 and when the 7 inch came out.
Well yeah, when we went through them there must have been close to a hundred recordings. Some of them went for thirty seconds, and some went for up to seven minutes. Some were bordering on being so bad they were funny. But yeah, there was quite a bit. We actually lost a lot of material as well, thanks to computers burning out, etc.

The songs on the 7 inch are pretty diverse. They definitely don’t sound like they’re from the same session.
Yeah, definitely. The songs ‘Pissfist’ and ‘Hated Man’ are both from the same period, 2004-2005, and the other two are from about 2006. Actually, ‘Young Hearts’ was from a later period and it was a very different style. We experimented a lot, but [what resulted] was mainly to do with the mood. There would be times when I’d just turn up from a bender or something and Danny wouldn’t say anything, he’d just put some headphones on me and press record, and I’d do something.

What kind of stuff were you listening to during that period?
I don’t really listen to much music nowadays. Raw Power was a big influence for a song like ‘Hated Man’. I listened to a whole array of music during that time. I was listening to a lot of Swans, but otherwise I can’t even remember what I was listening to during that period, to be honest. Raw Power was a big one though. I was going to a lot of shows and clubs as well. During that period there were still good goth bars that existed in Brisbane like Faith, the Alarm Bar. They were all on Saturday night and they were all goth. Going to them was a bit of an influence I guess.

Are the songs on Salty Town relatively new, or were they written over a period of time, like the 7 inch?
‘Relapse’ is an older song. That was from 2004, but it was just never properly recorded then. It’s quite an important song to me personally, and I thought it needed to be done justice and recorded properly. All the other songs are very new. ‘Salty Town’ was a song I wrote the lyrics down to in their entirety and took to Danny. Danny and I have been playing music together for so long that we both get this feeling – he knows exactly what the song needs. It goes vice-versa.

There’s a pretty massive shift sonically between the 7 inch and Salty Town. Salty Town sounds like a very personal record.
Well yeah, that’s a path I’ve always wanted to go down – very slow, and more to the point of telling a nice, nostalgic story. Not that they’re all complete stories. A lot of the songs, like ‘Changes’, are riffs that Danny has already got, and I’ll be listening to it, having a cigarette and listening to him play, and I’ll get this overwhelming nostalgia, and this whole story from a childhood memory will come flooding in. I could just hear it straight away, and I knew what the lyrics would be, and I knew how the lyrics would sound. I’m happy with the direction we’re moving in.

When you say nostalgia, what are you nostalgic for?
Growing up in the country, in rural New South Wales: Forbes, Parkes, West Wyalong. I moved to Queensland in about 1989. Memories of family, moving around a lot. Danny also moved around a lot with his family. We come from a pretty big family – and we spent a lot of time around farms, so the landscape of that area has influenced us. But generally the songwriting just started going that way. About five songs are about memory, but then there’s also stuff that is more recent, and then there are others that are just really mystical. I think ‘Salty Town’ is about accepting that you may not be happy, and that this may be as good as it gets.

Maybe it’s to do with getting to a certain age, but is there a reason you’re feeling nostalgic now? The older songs on the 7 inch certainly don’t show any trace of that.
No, that 7 inch was total pain [laughs]. I guess I am getting a bit older. It was a pretty wild time back then. I think it’s natural for things to mature, to become more serious. I just feel like I really have something to say and I want to take it in a serious direction.

One of the great contrasts between the 7 inch and Salty Town are the album covers. On the 7 you look utterly sick, whereas on Salty Town you look quite morose, but also quite confident and healthy. Are the covers meant to signpost these changes for the listener?
I hadn’t thought of it that way, but now that you say it it kinda looks that way. The photographs are actually from the same period. The photograph on the cover of Salty Town was taken the day we’d done ‘Young Hearts’ [from the 7 inch, the only one to be recorded near that record’s release]. It was summer and there was sweat pouring off me. But yeah, it does look that way. Probably it was a subconscious thing. The EP is complete chaos, you can just tell by looking at the cover that it’s not going to be pretty, whereas the other photograph is still quite sad but quite hopeful.

One of my favourite songs on Salty Town is ‘North’. It’s a song about a small country town, and there’s a weird tension between it being lovely on the one hand, and then very ugly on the other, especially with the references to killing pigeons and watching porn. What’s the story behind that song?
[Laughs] Well a lot of the stuff in that song did happen. The parts at the school fete, I have quite vivid memories of that. I did really enjoy that primary school, the clay tennis courts, the witchetty grubs. But then there are other parts that are purely made up, for other reasons. I’m not sure what they are. In a way I think it’s exaggerated, but I did go to a kid’s place back then where it was just a mum and her son, and I’d go there after school sometimes. There’s a line where it says that the mother was an addict, and that she was on the wrong side of the ward. I like to deliver lines that don’t make sense at all: where it’s hard to hear. I like people to question whether they heard something right.

It feels like an innocence to experience song. There are all these very wholesome set pieces contrasted with some very ugly parts.
For sure. I don’t know where those [parts] came from on that part of recording. A lot of it just comes from what I think sounds right with the music.

You mentioned ‘Relapse’ before. On the press release that accompanied the first 7 inch it said you’d been in a psych ward, so I gather that song is directly related to that experience?
Yeah, exactly. The whole thing. I was there for about ten nights in 2001, and the thing is… I’ve spoken to people who have also been in [a psych ward] and they have no memory of being there, or they choose not to remember, or they were too dosed up to remember, but for me it was a very vivid experience. I can almost remember every single detail. I felt I needed to have one song about that experience. A part of it was when [afterwards] I moved back to my mum’s house, and we were living in a house in Beenleigh. I was just in the house wandering up and down the hallway, and for some reason it made me feel good.

No pressure to answer in detail, but what were the circumstances?
I don’t want to go into it. I dunno, I was just 20 or something. Something wasn’t going right. I could feel something not going right for years before that. With the songs I’m writing now, with the nostalgic songs, I feel like there are a lot of issues that I’ve never dealt with or confronted, things that should have panned out better. There are moments when I asked why is this happening. But I don’t want to go into it.

The record is very sad. It’s hard to listen to at times. Are you scared to release it, or are you worried how people will interpret it?
No. I think – like any form of art – that I want it to be seen and heard. But I can definitely understand why it’d be difficult to listen to at times.

Now that Salty Town is recorded, do you think Wonderfuls will keep going in that direction stylistically?
[Long pause] It’ll only get sadder, only more downer.

Aside from these songs reflecting the way you feel, what appeals to you sonically about sad music?
I find there’s always a part of it that makes me feel really happy. It always makes me feel really happy. I also like the experience of it, it’s a very isolated thing. You don’t put it on with ten people at your house sitting around having some beers and smokes. When you listen to a sad record you do it by yourself, or at 4am in the morning with another mate or your girlfriend. The sun’s coming up and you put the record on to help you sleep. I also want to play it up loud though.

There’s one happy song on there called ‘Change’ – it’s a more upbeat, happy song. It still sounds pretty sad though [laughs]. Actually, maybe there’s nothing happy about it at all! I think going in another direction would be more about lyrical content than the sound itself changing. But I don’t want to do things the way they’re meant to be. I don’t care about the right way to write a song or the right way to structure a song. But I’d still like to write about what’s happening now, rather than the past.


Wonderfuls has released a limited edition eleven track numbered CD-R of Salty Town, limited to fifty copies only. The CD-R comes with a printed black and white booklet with drawings and photos by the band members, as well as an A3 black and white poster. The CD-R also contains a couple of alternate track outtakes. Contact: .


Watch: Brisbane 2012 Documentary

Remember that documentary we mentioned a couple of weeks back about Brisbane’s weird music scene? Well now you can watch it in its entirety. Unlike the cut that was screened at Sound Summit, this version includes an interview with Per Purpose guy Glen Shenau. It’s essential viewing if you’ve got even the vaguest interest in Australian music.

Also featured in the documentary are interviews with Joel Stern (Disembraining Machine, Sky Needle), Scraps, Kitchen’s Floor, Matt Earle (Breakdance the Dawn, xNOBBQx) and Blank Realm. It is directed by Josh Watson.