West Thebarton are set to release their debut album Different Beings Being Different on May 18 through Domestic La La. We wanted to find out more about the Adelaide garage-rockers so here guitarists/vocalists Heals, Josh and Tom, bassist/vocalist Salt and vocalist/guitarist Rev take on our A-Z challenge!
A song that made you want to make music?
Heals: ‘Everything Zen’ – Bush
I specifically remember singing this with my Dad all throughout my childhood, consistently changing the lyrics and messing about with it. My Dad’s collection of music back in the 90’s definitely shaped how I perceive and interact with music today. Although I didn’t play any instruments for 5-7 years after this time, it stuck with me all the way through. Let’s be honest though, who doesn’t like Bush? They’re fucking sick.
Best rider you’ve had?
Heals: We played a festival two weekends ago that provided us towels. That’s right: TOWELS! We have NEVER had towels before in all the numerous shows/festivals we have played across the country. The feeling of wiping your sweaty, gross post-show face after show into a towel compared to my upper sleeve is a feeling unmatched. Although, the first things we did with them was 1. freak out that we had towels and 2. whip each other for 10 minutes until we were all sore and calmed down.
Take note promoters, a band of 7 need towels at every show.
Craziest moment you’ve experienced in the band?
Heals: Getting caught in the middle of a fight between two guys living in a house next to our hostel, and 15-20 teen kids throwing sticks and rocks at said guys living in the house in Melbourne’s inner north. The two guys came out of their house with sickles (thats right, sickles) threatening to kill these kids if they did it again. Of course, this made the kids furious and wanting to fight. They almost exchanged blows in the middle of the busy main road before the cops arrived and the kids ran into the night. We were just 7 band friends getting read to play and instead we almost witnessed a murder..
Deepest lyric one of your songs features?
Rev: “I’m spent, I’m spent, I’m better off dead” – from Reasons
It’s a bit of a dark lyric, but this lyric really is fucking deep. I was over at one of my best friend’s houses, he’d broken up with his long term partner about two or three months prior to this night¬ and they were having one of those post-breakup ‘try to be BEST friends’ kind of relationships. Best intentions aside, he’d get stoned and call her or she’d get drunk and call him every weekend, and from the outside looking in, it was a fucking train-wreck. Anyways…. One night when I was at his house, she called, he answered, neither of them were under the influence of anything for once. I sat in silence for about two hours while I could hear them crying, yelling, apologizing and finally agreeing that they shouldn’t contact each other anymore. He was spent and a wreck, pretty hard to see your best mate like that, but at least that was the end of it all for him.
Easiest song you wrote?
Rev: Anatomy without a doubt. When I was growing up, there was this huge hill down the road from where my parents lived, where we’d go kick the footy, roll down and occasionally, see who could run down the fastest. One day when I was running down, tripped, and ended up in a world of pain. Never really forgot that incident, so naturally, it fit quite well into a garage rock song.
Favourite song in your set?
Rev: Hmmmmm…… that’s a tough choice. Can I pick two?
Bible Camp is nuts to play. There is just some kind of swagger when we play it live that makes my blood flow fast and when we kick into that chorus, it’s like the set stops for a second. It helps that the chorus is probably my favourite chorus I’ve ever written.
When we wrote Reasons, a lot of things were happening and changing within the band and the network around it. I swear in the month it took for this song to be written, the band was hit with more than its fair share of relationship breakups, death, friends moving away and all the other shit that comes in your mid-20s. Whenever we play this song, it’s a bit like we’re living in that moment again, but also, as we play through the songs ever-growing crescendo, there is a feeling of euphoria that grows amongst us. It’s one of those songs that we always nail and given that I’ll never write ‘Heroes’ because Bowie did it first, this is as close as it gets for me..
Guest you’d most like to feature on your record?
Tom: Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth doing some cool spoken word vocals to weave around Rev’s vocals. I feel like it would be a great dynamic – more gravel than my Dad’s drive way.
Hardest thing about being in a band?
Tom: Being consistently bullied by Josh Battersby.
Interesting fact about one of your members?
Tom: Healey drinks one glass of milk before bed every night. If you walk into his room at 3am to offer him a glass of milk, he won’t get mad, no, he’ll just thank you and politely decline as he’s already had one.
Jokes you have in the band?
Salt: Too many – most of us live together across two different houses about 500m down the road from one another. The amount of in jokes and weird vocabulary we use with each other would make you question our collective sanity. My favorite current joke is a pleasingly simple one. Tom, one of our guitarists, has been changing the prefix of Josh Battersby’s surname. Guitarists! Josh works at an Italian restaurant, so now he is Josh Spaghettersby. When he’s late to practice he is Josh Latetobandpraccersby. There’s a million more variations on that single joke. Maybe not a million, sorry.
Key to writing a song?
Rev: Get seven people to put their minds together until a #1 hit is under your belt….
But in all seriousness, I think that the key to writing a good song is just making sure that it’s natural, unrushed and reflects what is in your head. This could be a story from when you were a kid or what you had for breakfast, as long as there is a strong kind of connection to the song and it’s unrushed, you’ll be right.
Longest distance you’ve travelled to play a show?
Josh: When we had just begun touring we thought it fit to get in the car and drive 24 hours straight (2000km’s) from our home in Adelaide to a show in Brisbane, (kind of like driving from London to Warsaw). We were jammed into an old sedan, there were four of us and we each did a 6-hour shift. Oh yeah, we had to drive home after the show too.
Most inspiring musician you’ve experienced?
Rev: A few years ago I did the whole ‘backpack-around-Europe’ thing and managed to grab some super cheap tickets to Primavera festival in Porto, Portugal. I caught some real good acts that year, Run the Jewels, Ride, Caribou, The Replacements last show (literally breaking up on stage), but then there was Patti…. Patti. Smith. I’ve idolized her music, lyrics and general aesthetic since hearing Horses when I was fourteen or fifteen. I try not to build myself up for these acts, as most of the time they haven’t lived up to what I think they will be…. But FUCK…. Patti was amazing. Started with Gloria, ended with Gloria, no filler, all killer. She was amazing to the point where my partner and I had goosebumps in the Portuguese summer.
New band you’d recommend?
Rev: A band from Melbourne called Press Club have just released their debut LP and its made of frantic rock n roll, with gritty punk vocals. 10/10 next question please…
Opening for this band would be ideal?
Rev: Look. There’s probably a fair few on this list, but opening for King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard just makes sense. 7 of them. 7 of us. There would be enough guitar amps and drum paraphernalia, and I guess most important, the fans would probably go nuts for both bands. Full disclosure…. We’ve opened for them a few times before and like Nostradamus before me, the predictions were true, only times we’ve ever opened for a band and not had to organize extra amps.
Place you’d most like to tour?
Salt: South America please. Thanks.
Quote you’d like to pass on to our readers?
Salt: How foolish to set things in order, when we’re not lords of tomorrow! – Lucius Seneca
Reason for the title of your forthcoming release?
I would say that our new record “Different Beings Being Different” is a lyrical collection of different stories about different people going through different things, a lot of them very intense and emotional. It is a particularly emotional record, with a lot of heavy topics, a lot of personal experiences being brought up and talked about in the songs. So the title works cohesively because it’s made up of all of these really intense, separate experiences that influenced each song individually.
See us live at?
Josh: Saturday Reading & Sunday Leeds festival, as well as the Boardmasters and a bunch of other shows we’re still working on.
The old days of music were better than the current, do you agree?
Josh: Heck! That’s a tough call. I feel that to be able to properly comment on this I would have had to have been alive and experiencing music during these olden day times. I imagine what it would be like to wake up to bands like Sonic Youth/MBV releasing albums such as Dirty/Loveless and touring to your part of the world and I’m quite easily lured into thinking ‘Wow, those would have been the damn days’. Alas, I just don’t have that perspective and I feel I’m missing something that I never had. Having said that, the aforementioned bands have had a pivotal influence on our (or at least my) musical tastes and writing.
New music is super exciting for a bunch of reasons, nothing beats going to local shows and seeing a band you hadn’t heard of before, or if a local band you have been following for a while starts touring/releasing rad new music and bringing cool bands from interstate to play at your favourite pub. It’s also awesome following how each band goes about their thing, whether that be they play the same pub every weekend until the end of time, branch out to other cities/continents or just record and release without having a live component to their act. In Adelaide, where we live, there a bunch of artists at the moment putting a lot emphasis on touring and I feel there is a good culture in our city where everyone wants to see each other excel and is happy to share resources to help make that happen. It seems that a win for one is a win for all!
Overall, I find the Old vs New debate to be a tricky one as I feel both offer a completely different experience, I’m going for the good old fence sit and conclude that I like it all!
A final thought that I often wonder about is when you find an old record or cd at a record store/op shop/dumpster that you have NEVER heard before, does that make it new music??
Josh: Nothing on our end I’m afraid, although the boldest attempt at merchandise: a screen printed bucket hat.
We sold one at one show, they never ever made it back onto the merch desk again – due to the item being quite.. lame.
Variations you’d like to do on any of your songs?
Salt: I would love to play a double bass and do a lounge jazz version of our record. That would be insane.
What do your fans mean to you?
Heals: Well, I guess they’re the reason why we are where we are today. Sometimes I still can’t fathom to think why anyone would like the music that I am involved in. All in all, I fucking love everyone who supports us as a band. Just don’t ask us to do any shoe brews or ‘shoeys’, that’s gross as shit. Thanks.
X-rays or any treatments needed for band related injuries?
Rev: In my other life, I work somewhat with x-rays, so what a fitting question….. There’s seven of us, so when we play a smaller stage, guitar heads and human heads for that matter can clash. So far I think I’ve, chipped four teeth, had my forehead cut open a few times, same as my strumming hand, a plethora of eggs on my head and a self-diagnosed broken rib. Only had x-rays on my teeth though, I’m terrible at following up these things.
You’re late for a show, whose fault is it?
Tom: Josh Healey, because he forgot to drink his milk.
Zoo animal that best describes the personality of your band?
Rev: African Wild Dogs.
We travel around in a pack, and even when not travelling, we generally hang out with each other a lot. That, and supposedly they greet each other with ‘affectionate face licking’, also known as the West Thebarton handshake