You recorded Going to Hell in Australia with Ben David of the Hard Aches before COVID-19 travel restrictions were put in place and you played all the instruments on the album yourself, except for percussion. What was your recording experience like?
Well the actual experience was great to be honest because we were in the middle of nowhere pretty much in the Adelaide Hills and we saw koalas and kangaroos which was really, really nice like right next to the studio. But as far as the actual recording process went like you just said yeah, I played all the instruments pretty much, so we did it like a multi-track recording which is how I normally record with my band anyway. But as it was just me, we had to do basically a guide guitar track and a guide vocal track and then record drums over the top of that like playing along and then bass and then guitar and basically layer up from there. So it ended up being quite a lot of tracking which was kinda tiring but because, you know, it’s my project and I was really invested in it, so I really enjoyed it. It was a great experience.
Was there a difference between writing and recording your 2019 solo EP, Gigantic Disappointment, and writing and recording Going to Hell?
We literally recorded at the same place, the same people, everything so I think because we’d done the EP and we had time to sit with the way that it sounded afterwards and after it came out and everything, we kind of knew production wise what we wanted to do differently. I practiced drums a lot more before going into the studio and then we had a few different techniques when it came to mixing the record and recording in terms of mic placement and things like that. So I think kind of the main differences were in the changes we’d made from learning things, but nothing huge but just lots of subtle little changes.
The album shares your experiences with coming out and the worries and anxieties that come with that. Did you find writing the album was cathartic?
I guess so, not every song on that album has that theme. It’s just kind of like it comes up quite a lot due to the timing of when I wrote it and stuff, that’s how that ended up being one of the main themes on the record. And I think basically I tend to write songs when I’ve been thinking quite a lot about different things or if something’s bothering me that’s when I’ll write a song about it. So in that sense yeah, I found it quite cathartic but then I find that with any songs that I write because they’re always about something that I’ve been thinking a lot about at the time. It was kind of like documenting, some of the songs are almost like a documentation of when I was coming out to the people around me, not that it was this massive, big thing but still just the way that I was feeling about it. And a lot of the songs were kind of written, I suppose, in hindsight not necessarily alongside what was happening at the time. If that makes sense.
That does. So you wrote the songs to make sense of what was going on, like a snapshot in time.
Yeah, yeah basically.
Was there a song or songs in particular that helped you work through your experiences the most or does it all kinda come together?
Yeah, I think in terms of like queerness, that song “Whiskey”, which is all about coming to terms with the fact that you’re gay and then also the song “Going to Hell”, I think those two songs are kind of the most direct – they kind of confront that issue in the most direct way compared with the other songs on the record. But I think that there are a few others that kind of bring it up but those two probably stand out the most of that theme.
Your lyrics are very personal, and many people can and do relate to them and there is a feeling of community, I found, around your album. Do you have a message for anyone who is currently struggling with their own sexuality?
Yeah, I think I do. Like I was saying a minute ago, there are other themes on this record, it’s not just about sexuality but I think the reason why I wanted to call it Going to Hell which is one of the songs that is about that basically, the reason that I wanted to make it super obvious and make it so that people knew explicitly what the content was about was just so that some people if they were feeling in anyway similar to me, before I wrote this record and while I was writing it, that they might find some sort of familiarity or comfort in it.
So I guess the message is kind of within the record but it is just basically about when I came out I was really worried about what people would be saying about it, not necessarily when I came out but the reasons why I didn’t come out earlier basically, because I just was so sacred that wasn’t how I wanted my life to go. But actually, literally one of the best things I ever did was I started living as a gay person because everything just got better, and I think that that’s a message that I wish I’d heard when I was younger. You’re conditioned to believe that being gay or being queer or being trans or any of these things that people can’t help about themselves are like really, really wrong and things that you really want to avoid and you don’t even want to associate with. And that was something that I was told from a really young age and not that I believed it because I knew that it wasn’t true, but because I knew that it was everyone else’s opinion. It made me feel that I would have such a hard time if I came out but actually, obviously everyone’s experience is different, but from my point of view I wanted to share my experience and that experience is that it was a great thing that I did and I feel like I’m having a way better time because of it.
That’s really good to hear. That’s awesome. It’s good to hear good stories after so much…
After all the horror of 2020.
Yeah for sure.
Do you feel that the punk scene has become more supportive in recent years?
I do. I think that every aspect of our kind of culture and our society has come along leaps and bounds in the last three years even and I think with a lot more awareness of LGBTQ+ culture and rights has been huge, it’s been like a really amazing few years. But I think that the danger is there’s an illusion within the punk scene that we’ve reached a stage where we don’t need to still fight for people’s rights and the punk scene is an inclusive place when it completely is not an inclusive place at all. And just because attitudes are changing there’s still way more work to be done. So I think there has been a massive change towards a better place for people who need to be actively included but I don’t think that it is in any ways an inclusive place, I think that is still ahead of us.
How would you want to see it become more inclusive, what are the next steps?
I think that there are a few. It depends who you’re targeting within the scene because I think that people often kind of think that just by having a positive attitude towards people who need including that’s going to change things. That shit is not cool, I think people need to take action, myself included. I’m so lazy and so I take things for granted, I take other people’s activism for granted all the time, so I’m absolutely saying this to myself as well and it’s always good to remind ourselves.
I think that if you’re a promoter there’s work to be done in actively diversifying bills and making sure that you’re not – that you’re definitely not having just all white bands, all male bands, all straight bands. It’s not just something that you can, you know, you can’t just say ‘ah yes I love queer bands’ but never, ever put on a queer band. Active change happens from action, so I think that’s definitely a thing where people who are putting on shows or people who own record labels, and bands themselves as well. Bands have a lot more power than they let on you know. Bands decide who they take on tour, bands decide who they promote, they have platforms, they can speak out about it. So I think it’s just about looking at what your role is within the scene and if it’s just that you just go to shows, well then you could talk to your friends about the music they’re listening to, support – maybe watch where your support goes and diversifying who you’re listening to. You’re still listening to amazing music but just thinking a little bit more about what kind of music you’re listening to. Is it the same old stuff that is constantly championed that does not need to be championed for this moment or is it like a really well-rounded cool bunch of bands, I just think that’s cooler anyway you know. I may have gone off on a mild rant there. [laughs]
No those are all good things that should be put in place. It’s an ongoing process.
Yeah for sure.
So you mentioned diversifying what you listen to what are you listening to right now?
I’m not the best at finding new bands and definitely that’s something that I’d like to start doing more of and sometimes I get a little bit lazy with which bands I’m finding out about. At the moment, well not at the moment in the last year or so, I’ve been really into this band called Scared Paws from England – actually they’re from Scotland and they’re really amazing. Right now I’m really, really digging this band called Big Joanie as well which hopefully people have heard of. They play – they’re from London and they played with Bikini Kill and they also played on the last Sleater-Kinney tour and the last Sleater-Kinney show in London. So they’re doing some really big shows which is amazing at the moment. And then I’m also getting into a lot of the bands that Get Better Records are putting out. There’s a band called Suzie True who have just put out their album on Get Better Records and I really, really dig it. People should check it out for sure.
Those are all good bands everyone should definitely check those out. Your song “80 Days of Rain” focuses on the environmental crises that have been brought about by climate change. What do you think is one thing that everyone can do to help combat climate change?
I guess the obvious one is if you’re able to, just cut down on your meat consumption and dairy consumption. I think that’s quite a well-known thing hopefully by now but obviously that has a massive effect on the environment. I don’t think that there’s many other things apart from maybe travel that would affect the environment which one person who only is looking at their own consumerism, consumption can do. But also just buying less new stuff is a really good one and I think probably the biggest thing you can do is talk about it and raise the issue with people because – for every issue basically I think that as one person your actions can only do so much unless you inspire the actions of other people. So talking to people about their own share and also trying to raise awareness of how massive corporations have the most disgusting amounts of climate footprint like it being non-comparable. But yeah, I think talking about it is a good one.
Staring the conversation.
Yeah for sure.
The last song on your album, “In the Darkness” is a great anti-fascist song and it expresses the need for more people, especially women to become more politically active. Do you see yourself becoming more politically active and would you consider running for office in the future?
Well for myself no, I don’t think I could ever do anything like that. I’m not very – I’m too lazy. I’m not a good example to people because basically I get really, really annoyed by things that I’m passionate about and I get really vocal about them and then I get overwhelmed and stop reading and leave the conversation for a bit and then I come back to it and then I get annoyed again. And it’s these things where I have waves of motivation to talk about politics and then I have waves of wanting to just be creative in my bedroom.
So I think that taking it to the next level, trying to become smarter with it and learning more about politics and more about the things that are wrong in our society would be a great thing to do because people do have to take that responsibility on. But at the moment, I feel like I’m a bit distracted with other things like studying and music and working and stuff. But I mean, I think it’s an aspiration for sure because now is as good a time as any to try and change things that are broken in our society. But for me personally, I’m definitely not in the right frame of mind. [Laughs] Basically – I admire people who can do that, but I think that I would find it too overwhelming.
That’s fair too. It seems like a really big commitment. Do you plan on putting out more solo music?
Yeah, I think so. I hadn’t really planned as such to put out this record before I wrote it, you know it just sort of happened. But I think that now there’s been this whole process of actually getting records made and joining Get Better Records and my kind of project has become more of a proper thing that I’ve been really enjoying kind of doing that I think I would like to continue doing for sure.
Do you have ideal writing conditions?
I do have ideal writing conditions! I like there to be no one in the house and I like to have loads of other stuff that I should be doing so that writing becomes this sort of procrastination. And that’s basically the only time – and also I need to be, I need to have read a few books recently so that my words aren’t really, really bad and I need to be really annoyed about something then I’m going to write a song that I like. Otherwise, I don’t like any songs that I write at all and that can go on for a year or so.
What books help you the most? What are you reading now?
Well, I’m not reading anything at the moment which is probably why I’m having writer’s block. I’m trying to study at the moment, I’m doing a course. I can’t think right now. I know I have been reading – I have started reading Kim Gordon’s Girl in a Band which I’m looking forward to reading more because I think I’m going to get some inspiration from that. And also a book I got called Lesbian Life. Which is basically – I haven’t started it yet, but it looks really classic. Some sort of eighties historical but also kind of Virginia Woolf -y style look on the lesbians from the 19th century. So you never know there might be some inspiration in those.
What would you say is next for you? What are your next steps?
Well, I’ve been trying to think about this the last few days because I would really love nothing more than to have a tour booked soon. But I think because of the current state of affairs with COIVD, I just don’t want to book a tour that is then getting cancelled because I think it is just stressful and I’ve done that a lot with my band Muncie Girls over this time. We’ve been booking shows and then cancelling them then booking them again and it’s really stressful so I’m basically waiting until I can see a time when it’s going to be safe to book another tour. But yeah, I’m just going to keep trying to write songs and hopefully have a record written because it’s a long process, so I need to start that sort of soon.
A new solo record or a new record with Muncie Girls?
Hopefully both, yeah that’s the aim. I don’t know when the time will come from. Muncie Girls have some songs written and demoed already so we basically just need to get back into the studio and get some more songs down.
How does that work now with all of the COVID restrictions?
So it doesn’t work right now [laughs]. We recorded some demos before the COVID restrictions came in so, yeah that was a long time ago now. So again we’re waiting. We all live in different cities and we can’t travel to see each other or jam or anything but we have been talking about recording remotely some demos. So kind of pass them around, getting some drums in there, some guitars, seeing if we could work something out like that.
Going to Hell is available now via Get Better Records.
Photo Credit: Gingerdope