RENDEZVOUS: A Quick Catch Up With Noughts
“The thing I found as soon as I came to Australia and specifically Melbourne for me, was that the local music community really rallies behind punk music no matter what gender, age or background people come from. There’s no bias, and as long as everybody treats everybody with respect, then literally anyone can jump on stage at a really great venue and have a great time making music.”
Today, post-punk outfit Noughts release their fuzz-drenched, self-titled debut EP. Driven by aggressive guitar and passionate vocals, their sound is balanced out by a subtle persistence that will likely send you into a state of hypnosis. Originally from the UK, the band have settled in nicely to Melbourne where they are part of one very healthy music community. We caught up with the band to chat about their new EP, their October Tote residency and how making music in Australia compares to their homeland.
As always please press play below to enrich your reading experience.
Your new EP is a pretty powerful collection of noisy tracks. Can you tell us a bit about the recording process?
Tom: Strangely enough, even though the outcome was pretty noisy, the recording process was actually really serene. We recorded the tracks in a little suburban house in Coburg North. Max runs Cellar Session Studios from his home and has converted half the house into a control room and live studio and the whole place has a great vibe. We spent a few days tracking the songs live while playing with his dogs and chatting about music, it was genuinely a lovely experience. Max was really keen to capture us raw, live and un-produced, but he actually inspired us to get pretty creative with the noisy side of things, offering suggestions of strange ways to create feedback to give the recording a bit more depth.
What’s the Noughts creative process like? Who writes the songs?
Tom: Usually, I write and demo the base of the songs at home and bring them to practise but from there they evolve and change as a collaborative effort. It’s pretty hard for me to program drums to do anything more than just the basics, so as soon as Rich and Sean get their hands on the song it often turns into a different beast altogether, as the rhythm section gets more interesting. I'm a firm believer that art should never be permanent so even though we've recorded a few tracks, they're still changing and evolving as we play them live. It’s always good to keep things fresh and play something that’s a representation of the band in its current state.
There’s something really therapeutic about listing to fuzz-drenched music. Do you get the same feeling creating it? Are you trying to push any particular message via your music?
Tom: Absolutely, there's a beautiful feeling when all three of us are playing hard and locked into something, for me it’s fairly intimate and I guess it’s the essence of why I make music. In terms of pushing a particular message, there's certainly nothing intentional or contrived, however most of the songs on the EP share quite similar themes. They're a bit of a scathing attack on the state of modern society but honestly, they're nothing but the frustrations of a transient mind, petty arguments that crumble as they're formulated and are lost in confusion and lack of cohesion. I'm certainly no-one to preach.
What’s the weirdest instrument or technique you used while recording the new EP?
Tom: As I mentioned before Max pushed us to get some pretty strange effects out of our instruments and the one that comes to mind is towards the end of 'Feel My Eyes'. I was attacking the strings with a metal slide which created this kind of intense-squid-like-warbling-sound, I love it and do a bit of it live towards the end of our set. It’s pretty far from the blues sounds the slide was invented for and I think that’s why I like it so much.
You’ve self-released your new EP via your new label ‘Weird Place’. Can you tell us a bit about the new label and what you plan to do with it?
Rich: I think initially we all liked the traditional idea of letting someone else put out our music on a record label but soon realised that today you can do it all yourself. Our EP is coming out on a limited run of tapes which are looking really nice and we are super excited to finally show people the finished product. Weird Place is still in its infancy but we hope to be soon putting other bands’ music out and setting up gigs around Melbourne through it. We also want to start filming conversations with local record labels, promoters, venue owners and general Melbourne music characters to get an insight and some tales from people you don't normally hear from.
You’re originally from up North in England. How does it compare making music in the UK and in Aus?
Sean: I guess more than anything the influences we draw from just become a lot larger. When I left the UK just over 5 years ago there was a real lull in the punk scene, particularly up North. People in the music community on a local level were very status driven and it was difficult to get up and running as a band if you weren’t seen to be ‘cool’ or marketable. Coincidentally it’s thriving now, with really daggy scrappy groups like IDLES and Shame at the forefront of a return to really strong British punk records with really strong messages due to the shifting political landscape and socioeconomic discourse happening in the country at the moment. The thing I found as soon as I came to Australia and specifically Melbourne for me, was that the local music community really rallies behind punk music no matter what gender, age or background people come from. There’s no bias, and as long as everybody treats everybody with respect, then literally anyone can jump on stage at a really great venue and have a great time making music. The strong messages are still there but the community just feels more inclusive to me. Another great point is that there is such a huge audience for community radio in Australia which gives pretty much anyone a chance to be heard.
You’ve been gigging a lot this year. Who are some Melbourne bands everyone needs to know about?
Rich: I'm not sure if I have seen a better live band in Melbourne then Grim Rhythm when we supported them at the Old Bar. I love Eternal Smoko and everyone should check out their first tape release for good old Aussie punk rock fun. Other notable mentions from who I've seen live are Vintage Crop, Liquid Face (NSW), Gonzo, Slim Jeffries, Zeahorse (NSW), Civic, Shepparton Airplane and Spacejunk.
You have a residency at the Tote this month, things are bound to get a little rowdy. What do you want people to feel when they walk away from a Noughts gig?
Sean: I guess we just want people to feel like they’ve seen something a bit different and they’ve got an insight into who we are as a band. We always said we want to play shows that we would want to attend ourselves, so putting the residency together was awesome really because that’s exactly what we got to do. There’s a heap of bands on the line-up that we have either seen before and loved, or want to see again, so to get the chance to throw it all together on the same roster was awesome.
Finally, you obviously have an ear for music. How do you go on the dance floor?
Sean: Depends how many drinks we’ve had! I guess the confidence goes up but the co-ordination crashes. After our first show at Yah Yah’s there was a full table of empty glasses, some northern soul blasting and some pretty suspect dance moves going on, but I’m sure we all thought we looked pretty footloose at the time!
They play the Tote:
Saturday 13th October (with Mesa Rosa + Dragoons)
Saturday 20th October (with Lost Talk + Jackson Reid Briggs & The Heaters)
Saturday 27th October (with Dark Fair + Product)