Album Walkthrough: Private Function tell the stories of Whose Line Is It Anyway?
On their second album Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Melbourne pub-punks Private Function tackle everything from border towns to Lenny Kravitz.
Header image by David McKinnar.
It's difficult to find a band quite like Private Function, even if their sound isn't anything specifically new. Since their 2017-released debut EP Six Smokin' Songs - and its infamous, Bryan-featuring cover art - the Melbourne group have solidified themselves as heavyweights in this pacing and distinctively Australian 'pub-punk' sound, one that takes the often light-hearted and fun lyricism of pub-rock and gives it a bit of a heavier, rough-around-the-edges twist that takes it into more punk-like territory (hence the term pub-punk).
With everything they've put out since their debut EP, Private Function have done everything they've done to bloody sell this sound, which is what separates Private Function from the pack. They're known for their ferocity, whether it's through their always-unexpected live shows - everyone who has seen Private Function will have something to say about their live show - or in recording, where the group move with a pace that would leave you out of breath just from listening to it. There's also that characteristic Private Function charm, something that makes you want to put down your headphones and take a trip to the pub to have a pint or ten with the five-piece. There's something indescribable about them that just makes them feel like the most brilliant, coolest people out there.
On their second album, last week's arriving Whose Line Is It Anyway?, this charm really comes to the surface, and when combined with the album's whiplash-causing rush, it's an album that feels defining of the Private Function rise thus far. Whose Line Is It Anyway? feels like a rollercoaster, one that'll strap you in and take you around and around and around before it spits you out some 32 minutes later (which considering the album's 13-strong tracklist, says something about Private Function's short-but-sweet charm).
It's as chaotic and unexpected as their live show. One minute, the album will move with thickly-layered punk guitar and dominative percussion that somehow keeps everything in check, but then just a song later, they'll move into stadium-ready glam-rock, like the reimagining of Spinal Tap but in a local pub with VB-wielding blokes making up the entire audience. Even within just one song, Private Function's continuously growing sound will take shape; a stripped-back bridge giving you a quick two seconds to breathe before the onslaught of gritty punk comes rushing back in once again.
However, at the core of Whose Line Is It Anyway? (and the thing that keeps it all in-line, and Private Function-esque) is its lyricism, and Private Function's ability to make even the most serious of topics feel light-hearted, just like a standard pub conversation over a few drinks. Throughout the course of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Private Function really tackle everything. One minute, they'll be yelling about border towns in a quarantine struggle. The next? Covering Lenny Kravitz in a nod to the Triple M heavyweights. They'll sarcastically re-invent half-assed radio indie then finish the album with a radio advertising jingle; share urgent messages about Australia's then-bushfire crisis amongst songs that feel plucked from a surfing highlight reel. Private Function can do it all.
You can take a dive into the album below - its well worth the time - alongside the album's track-by-track walkthrough, which has guitarist Joe Hansen break down the album's creations one song at a time.
Oh, and when live shows come back again, make sure Private Function are well on top of your list of acts to go see - they're always worth it.
I Don’t Wanna Make Out With You
This was the first song we had written and the first song to open the album. It’s fast, it’s short and it’s straight to the point. There’s lots of yelling and it’s fun to play. What more would you want?
Our primary methodology in songwriting is just to write songs as if they would be jingles. Pick a topic and try and write the catchiest thing you can to encompass it. “Wodonga” rhymes with a lot of words so it was easy to finish the lines without too much thought. This is probably my favourite song on the album. The chorus has been stuck in my head ever since we first drunkenly yelled it to each other at the pub (where most of our songwriting ideas come from).
This one is a solid rock song with a groove designed to put bounce in the mosh pit, to paraphrase Fred Durst. Compared to the fast power chord punk on the previous tracks it’s very progressive. This one is great.
Give War A Chance
After our brief change of pace, we’re back into the fast power chord punk rock. There are plenty of “Woah oh ohs” which I think haven’t been utilised enough since the 1990s. The lyrics aren’t really as violent as the name might suggest so it’s fun for the whole family. We’re surprisingly wholesome, I swear. After the two melodic guitar solos on the previous tracks, we’ve got one here that’s a real face-melter.
I think this is the best song on the album. It’s long since been overshadowed, but we wrote this when the most pressing issue in Melbourne was the nearby bushfires and the city being covered in smoke and dust early this year. Such simpler times. It even has two different choruses, which is a bold move with a solid payoff. It’s also the first time we’ve employed duelling guitar solos, which I think is just great. If you get an album from another band that doesn’t have them you should get your money back.
Evie Part 4
We love all things rock ‘n roll, and Stevie Wright/The Easybeats are no exception. We weren’t content with lovingly appropriating a bunch of his riffs on songs already, so we figured we’d cut out the middleman and just do a sequel to the Evie trilogy. This one is a duet with Jade from the band Dicklord. They’re great.
Are You Gonna Go My Way
This song is originally by Lenny Kravitz. While on tour, we’re big fans of listening to commercial FM rock radio staples such as this. We heard this on the radio together driving back from Ninchfest early this year. We jammed it once without listening to it and recorded it not long after. I’m still not sure if we’re playing it right, but it’s too late now. I think it’s close enough.
Stop Liking What I Don’t Like
I wrote and sang this song. There’s a lot of bands that get played a lot on a certain radio station that I’ve made fun of in the past but I don’t think I’ve ever really listened to, so it made perfect sense for me to write a song that sounds like what I imagine them to sound like. I have no concept of whether this song is good or not, but if it’s on the Hottest 100 I apologise.
This song is fast and has more double guitar solo madness. That’s what makes it cool. You’ll love this one.
Irresponsible Dog Owner (I’m An)
This is one of the first songs we had written for this record and is sung by our bass player Joe. The lyrics are really, really funny. If the rest of the record was too serious for you then consider this one the comic relief.
Black Eye Blues
This song has some smooth vocal harmonies from Chris and Aidan. I think we were listening to a lot of Steely Dan and other 1970s soft rock around the time we wrote this one. Mix that with some early Devo and you got this belter.
Our other guitarist PJ also plays in the New Jersey surf punk band Night Birds and the main riff reminds me of them. It might just be early 1980s California surf-punk a la Agent Orange worship, but it fills a gap that I haven’t heard many other Melbourne bands doing. It’s got that cool double-snare surf beat in it that I really love but don’t utilise enough. File under: THPS soundtrack.
Grabbing My Butt
Chris originally wrote this song when entering a contest that an international band was putting on. It harkens back to our cartoon/advertisement jingle methodology of songwriting. It’s over and out in about 30 seconds, perfect to fit a radio ad cart.
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