Terry and School Damage are two bands from Melbourne. To be reductive, both are punk bands. But they’re not the mohawk-y, safety-pin punks – more the kind where de-tuned chords and a lack of traditional vocal training become assets. Admirable in their lack of giving effs about that sort of thing (although they definitely give effs about the world they live in).
That’s not to say both bands can’t write excellent three-minute pop jams. School Damage has joyful keyboards dancing all over wonky bass lines and Terry’s lyrics are full of sardonic wit – swamp rock for the fun apocalypse.
School Damage is Carolyn Hawkins (Chook Race), Jake Robertson (Ausmuteants), Jeff Raty and Dani 'Damage' Hakim. They make less than three minute pop songs that are sticky like old bubble gum.
Terry is a true-blue Aussie scarecrow, literally. His band mates are Amy Hill (also of Constant Mongrel), Xanthe Waite (Mick Harvey Band), Zephyr Pavey (Total Control) and Al Montfort (UV Race, Dick Diver, Total Control). They’ve just returned from playing their groovy dirges in a tour across Europe.
Ahead of their dual album launch at the Tote tonight, the bands email-interviewed each other about robbery in Antwerp, who’s worse out of Richards and McCartney, and Australia’s colonial history.
School Damage: How did you come up with the album title Remember Terry?
Al Montfort: I was walking around the war memorial in Melbourne and was thinking about Australian's skewed, warped or bigoted idea of public memory. I thought that if we must "remember" exclusively white, male and colonial aspects of history as intrinsically "Australian" then this should have the piss taken [out of it] in the most facetious of ways.
SD: How do you approach making songs? There is a real variety of styles [on the album] from sweet pop tunes to songs with a heavier, more discordant feel.
AM: Sometimes you wanna boogie with your mates without being hit on by a creepy man. Sometimes you feel the social contract made with the state is taken advantage of in the most violent ways, by the police, judiciary and executive.
SD: What’s the story of Terry, the scarecrow fifth band member? We noticed a Euro Terry, who looks slightly different to the Aussie Terry. How did you arrange that?
Amy Hill: Euro Terry travelled in the van with us throughout Europe and was groped and manhandled by drunks and punishers from Dublin to Slovenia. The perfect diversion. Euro Terry is the love child of Chris and Kimberly from [record label] Upset the Rhythm! Handmade from newspaper, balloons and polystyrene and dressed in the finest op shop garb West Wycombe had to offer.
Xanthe Waite: Terry also witnessed a robbery – our bags were stolen out of the back of our van in Antwerp and Terry was in there with them. Would have caused the thieves a fright/laugh/confusion!
Zephyr Pavey: Don't take anything you care about on tour, all of our belongings besides instruments and the clothes we were wearing were stolen from us in Antwerp. I heard that’s why Slipknot got into boiler suits.
SD: What’s it been like playing in Europe?
ZP: Certain European countries expect you to play for at least an hour, it’s awful! We spent more time in southern Europe this time; these countries have better weather and food. If you compare Germany and Italy on the food available at petrol stations alone, you wouldn't give a second thought to playing in a basement in Cuneo to 10 Sepultura fans, instead of a well-attended club show in Berlin.
XW: Favourite band of the tour was Holiday Inn. They are from Rome. They play kind of fuzzy harsh-suicide synth hits. Holiday tips? We went to Procida, an island off the coast of Naples before the tour began. It was inexpensive and super nice. It’s a productive island too with small vegetable and fruit gardens all over.
Terry: Were the songs on [the new album] solid and complete before you started recording or did they become beasts of their own during the recording process?
Dani Hakim: Some songs were pretty fresh like Tall Poppies and Distance – we finished them during recording because we were still learning them … There is always a structure we are working from.
T: While recording the basic tracks [for Remember] in North Melbourne we ate the veggie laksa at KL Bunga Raya, which has very delicious chunks of perfectly cooked eggplant in it – we sat at the same table in the window every time. Option two was Kathmandu Cottage; excellent Nepalese curries, phenomenal paneer and harrowing Titanic-esque music on the stereo. What did School Damage eat during recording?
DH: We had the luxury and convenience of recording at my house. I love any excuse to try to elaborate recipes ... I made sofrito – a slow-cooked jammy tomato sauce with capsicum and paprika – served with roasted eggplant, which I hope was also very delicious, and sourdough bread. For dessert I made tiramisu from a family recipe. Good food is a key thing for our practices and recording. Is the secret ingredient to rocking out maybe eggplant?
T: We are in the last days of a 24-date European tour. Throughout the trip we listened to the Paul McCartney biography (36 hours) and the Keith Richards autobiography (23 hours). Both are pricks! Which one do you guys hate the least?
DH: I have not read the books but I’d say as people, I hate Paul McCartney the least.
Carolyn Hawkins: I’ve been trying to teach myself guitar recently and Keith Richards' guitar tunings have frustrated me. Plus I've been thrashing Ram by Linda and Paul lately – so Paul wins.
This interview has been condensed for publication.
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