Photographs and interview conducted and edited by Kate Farquharson
Earlier this week, I chilled out pre-rehearsal drinking goon and chatting to Katie, Jess and Joel from BANG! BANG! ROCK ‘N ROLL about early beginnings, the Sydney music scene, and why they’re on the edge of something exciting.
READ ON for the complete interview!
WHAT’S IN A NAME? WHY BANG! BANG! ROCK N’ ROLL (BBRNR). HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THAT?
Joel: We got drunk and were looking through itunes at songs and albums that were rad, and narrowed it down from the ones that weren’t taken.
Jess: It was a choice between two right? What was the other one?
Joel: The Dirty Dirty.
Jess: And was that taken?
Joel: Yes. And Bang! Bang! Rock ‘N Roll was suitably ironic, yet appropriate and awesome.
Katie: And Memorable.
Joel: Yeah, and memorable, and not hard to pronounce like Vignettes – our old band.
SO THAT’S BY ART BRUT?
Joel: Yes, Art Brut.
Katie: and Christian Chinchilla approved it.
Joel: The guitarist from Art Brut, so he said on Facebook.
FOR ANYONE WHO HASN’T SEEN YOU GUYS LIVE, OR HEARD OF YOU GUYS, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE BBRNR? I KNOW EVERYONE HATES GENRES, BUT IF YOU HAD TO LABEL IT…
Joel: Garage rock, proto punk, blues rock, indie rock, rock n roll, Bang! Bang! Rock ‘N Roll – a genre, and a band and a song.
Katie: I like to say that we’re the party soundtrack.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING SHOWS. YOU’VE GOT A COUPLE OF INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT SLOTS, DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT THEM?
Jess: Playing with Andrew WK!
Joel: Get the party started.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? EXCITED?
Katie: Yeah, It’s going to be a good night.
Jess: I weed myself when I found out.
Katie: [laughs] You weed yourself at the first one! Bass Drum Of Death – it’s going to be rad balls. I’m gonna get so drunk.
Joel: Yeah. We’re supporting Bass Drum Of Death, and Andrew WK, and we’re playing the Hat Party at Oxford Art Factory on the main stage. And we’re playing in Bateman’s Bay, which is like a small town on the South Coast [of NSW], and it’s like a headliner thing, which will be pretty cool. And we’ve been offered a show at the Lansdowne but we may say no…
Joel: Last time we played there we got offered that Jimmy Barnes gig. We played at the Lansdowne and this old dude with a massive beard came up to us and was all “Aw, Jimmy Barnes’ me cousin, and he’s playing this cancer charity foundation fundraiser and you should play with him!”
Jess: …that was at The Townie!
Joel: Oh, that was at The Townie? Ahhhh!
Jess: Yeah, and his number is still in your phone!
Joel: But then at The Lansdowne some guy came up and said that he wrote songs, and he had three hundred songs that he wanted us to play. He then gave me a drink of bourbon from a jug.
JOEL, WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO PLAY A DOUBLE NECK GUITAR? I KNOW THAT IT’S NOW BECOME A BIT OF A VISUAL SIGNATURE OF THE BAND.
Joel: HAH! The ultimate man symbol of penis. It’s like, Jimmy Page is one of my idols, and y’know, I was thinking of getting a Danelectro like his. Yeah, what he plays live is an awesome guitar. Then I found out that you can get double necks for cheap on Ebay, so I got one instead, and it’s so much cooler, and everyone is blown away by it, in it’s sweet ironically cool glory. I love it. [Looks to the girls], don’t act like you’re not impressed!
Katie: I’m not impressed! I’m the one that received it remember? I was in my pyjamas and it was in a giant cardboard box, and I had to pose with it because Jess thought it was so funny.
Jess: I thought you were joking when you told me.
THE NEXT ONE IS FOR THE GIRLS, FOR JESS AND KATIE. WOMEN HAVE ALWAYS BEEN IN ROCK ‘N ROLL. BUT ON THE SYDNEY CIRCUIT, IT’S HARD TO IGNORE THAT THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN BANDS ARE MEN. WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES OF BEING A GIRL IN A BAND?
Joel: I’ll fill this one for you!
Jess: Joel is actually a woman.
Katie: Yeah, he does have lady parts.
Jess: Um, I find that you get judged a little harsher.
Katie: They always think that you’re the girlfriend of the band, or that you’re just a friend or something, and when they see you carrying instruments they’re all “Oh, OH you’re actually playing? OH, you play an instrument?
Jess: And I feel like you have to work twice as harder to be judged as half as good.
Jess: – And that’s about it.
SO YOU’RE STILL NOT JUDGED AS BEING ON PAR.
Katie: [Shakes head defiantly]
Jess: Yeah, not really.
Katie: Especially playing drums as a girl, there’s not many girls that play drums out there.
Jess: Yeah, it’s a shame that that’s still there.
THAT THERE’S STILL A STIGMA ATTACHED TO IT?
Jess: Yeah… but it’s still fun though!
Katie: It is fun to challenge people’s perceptions, “Yeah, we’re good, shut up!”
MAKE THEM EAT THEIR WORDS.
Katie: And their shit.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE VENUES TO PLAY AT?
Katie: I like The Standard. The Standard was awesome. Spectrum is good. That one night was a bit shit, but the place in itself is good.
Joel: I thought the Wolfden [At Phoenix] was rad. In the basement: all concrete, awful sound, but the vibe was sweet. And one of your [motions to Jess] favourite things, the warehouse party was cool.
Jess: Yeah, Wholebean Café was rad.
Joel: Yeah, and I’d love to play at The Annandale, and I’d love to just stop by and do a couple of shows at The Hordern [Pavillion], and maybe Acer – we’ll see.
Katie: It’s not called Acer anymore, it’s called like Tampax Arena.
Joel: But yeah, The Standard and any of those warehouse things, where it’s dingy and still cool and get close to the audience. Oxford Art Factory, we’ve played some good shows there too.
Katie: Yeah, that’s good too.
WHAT DO YOU GENERALLY THINK OF THE LIVE MUSIC SCENE IN SYDNEY? DO YOU THINK IT’S GOTTEN BETTER OR WORSE IN THE PAST YEARS?
Katie: I think it’s gotten better. There are more venues opening up.
BECAUSE EVERYONE ALWAYS SEEMS TO BE TALKING ABOUT LIVE MUSIC BEING IN CRISIS…
Joel: It’s been in crisis since like… 1942.
Katie: It’s been in crisis since whoever it was decided to put pokies in pubs, and make, y’know now you have a choice whether you listen to music or not. You can be in a room, you can be outside and smoke, but I think it should be all open like in The Standard.
Joel: What do you think Dino [Jess]?
Jess: I think it’s harder to find out about gigs, I think that’s the thing. Like there’s a lot of warehouse shows, but it’s more word of mouth.
SO YOU HAVE TO BE VERY IN THE KNOW?
Jess: Yeah, you have to know the right people.
Joel: And street press doesn’t help enough!
Jess: Yeah, and the street press is more mainstream, and focus more on International acts than local bands.
Katie: The local section is in the back of Drum Media section in the last five pages after the big touring acts. Who thinks, “Hey, I want to see something local”, after they’ve read about … Silverchair or something. There’s not much support. Even if it’s free, some people can’t be arsed to come out.
Joel: There needs to be more people in venues.
WHAT BANDS/MUSICIANS ARE INSPIRING YOU AT THE MOMENT, WHETHER THEY BE LOCAL OR INTERNATIONAL? WHO HAVE YOU BEEN LISTENING TO A LOT?
Joel: …Andrew WK and Bass Drum Of Death were big influences looong before we got the supports for them!
Katie: But Bass Drum Of Death, yeah.
Jess: At the moment I like, well from last year, Total Control – they’re from Melbourne and at the moment, Disappears from America, I think they’re from San Fran, and then just like… punk.
Joel: I’ve been listening to some Meatloaf.
Jess: Oh yeah, Meatloaf! We want to do a rock opera for our second EP.
Joel: There’s going to be like forty tracks and eight CDs.
Jess: And if we win that Competition…
Katie: There’ll be lots of lightning and rain.
Joel: But yeah… Bass Drum Of Death is a big influence on us. I am quite influenced by fictional band Sex Bob-Omb from [the film] Scott Pilgrim. And then earlier stuff, like, coming out with guitar was stuff like The White Stripes, The Von Bondies, and The Hives and The Vines, and earlier influences like the entire punk movement of the 70’s, and the Proto Punk movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s, and the garage movment of the 60s. Everything from all of those things is always a big influence on me. If it’s noisy and angry, and angsty, I love it.
Katie: …and slightly blues-y and feely.
WHO WOULD YOU KILL TO PLAY ALONGSIDE?
Joel: I would love to just play with my idols Nickleback… and just… wow, and go on stage and sing along to ‘Someday’ with my good friend Chad…
Katie: Chad Kroeger.
Jess: His name’s Chad, fuckin’ hell.
Joel: He wears jumpers over his shoulders… But I mean, playing with Bass Drum Of Death is going to be a dream come true. I’d love to play with Wavves, and just anyone who’s influenced me ever. [To Jess] Do you have a dream band?
Jess: I can’t answer that, it’s too hard.
Joel: You love the Foo Fighter’s don’t you?
WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON FOR BBRNR?
Joel: We’ve written a whole lot of songs, and we want to do another EP, but for the time being our first EP is about to come out. We put it out a year ago, but now someone wants to release it properly, and we thought, “Oh yeah, that’s probably a better idea than just having it on an internet website that no-one will ever look at!” We’re playing a bunch of rad support slots, and hopefully that will launch us into some sort of recognition.
Joel: yeah, some kind of stratosphere or ozone layer, some kind of air based place. But essentially the goal is to just quit our jobs, and play music, and even if we’re playing to thirty people three times a week, and as long as it pays the bills I will be happy.