EP Walkthrough: The Buoys detail the rush of Unsolicited Advice For Your DIY Disaster
On their today-arriving third EP, the Sydney four-piece depict a journey of self-discovery through punchy punk-rock.
Header image by Maya Luana.
If you're not keeping up with The Buoys, you're missing some of the most brilliant punk-rock in Australia at the moment - and you're also incredibly well behind the curve. Since their initial introduction in 2016, the Sydney-based four-piece have consistently delivered blistering punk rock to the highest echelon, taking observations from the world around them and channelling them into impactful and often-quick-pacing bursts of brilliance, which over the last five years, has emerged as some of Australia's favourite.
It's something that was front and centre of their debut EP Soft Boy in 2017, which brought the jagged-edge charm of The Buoys to the centre spotlight for the first time. Then, came last year's All This Talking Gets Us Nowhere, a debut release via their new label home at Spunk! Records, and one that armed The Buoys with one of the year's best local releases. It addressed everything from gender equality and capitalism to shitty workplaces and under-par bosses, using short-yet-sweet explosions of energy to grab your attention and get their point across - something All This Talking Gets Us Nowhere most certainly did.
Now, a year later, they return with a third EP titled Unsolicited Advice For Your DIY Disaster, an inwards-facing collection of tracks that see The Buoys strive to newfound heights, and capture the heart of their sound in the process of doing so. Spanning six tracks, Unsolicited Advice For Your DIY Disaster highlights the evolution The Buoys have managed to pack into their last year, whether it be the personal evolution that thrives throughout the EP's detailed and intimate lyricism, or in the growth of their sound, and how they continue to add new textures and layers into their sound.
Unsolicited Advice For Your DIY Disaster welcomes both sides, often at the same time. There are songs such as Lie To Me Again, which witness lead vocalist Zoe Catterall reflect on past relationships with an emotional conviction that grows in energy as the single crescendos in sound itself. Songs like Call It Quits look further inwards too; the perfect follow-on from Lie To Me Again as it builds on the story and further amplifies The Buoys sound while doing so.
Then, there's Drive Me Home, a moment that feels like the pinnacle of The Buoys' discography thus far, and one that seems to emphasise the strengths the Sydney four-piece reach on their new EP. "I was messing around with an acoustic in bed when I came up with the riff. It had a pretty different vibe and feel to what we‘d worked on together in the past, so I nearly didn’t send it to the girls because I wasn’t sure if they’d be into it," says guitarist Hilary Geddes. "I remember trying to capture a sort of yearning that’s also wrapped up in a bit of joy. Something makes you feel warm and fuzzy amidst the melancholy."
It's a spark that comes in the EP's final moments, but one that really moves The Buoys and their musicianship forward. As a whole release, Unsolicited Advice For Your DIY Disaster does that better than anything else they've released thus far; the EP going further into the emotions and experiences that fuel each of the band's four members, as well as the grit and personality that comes as they interpret that into their music, and the evolution that's showcased in that side of their work.
Unsolicited Advice For Your DIY Disaster brings it all together, and you can take a dive into it below, as well as track by track walkthrough from the band breaking down its themes and creation one song at a time:
Zoe: It’s funny to think back that the working name for Bad Habit was ‘Pop Song’ and that it nearly didn’t make it onto the EP. All it took was changing the strumming pattern to make it into what it is today, less of a bop and more of a punch. Playing the guitar straight gave it the energy it needed to take off.
Tess: Bad Habit was the last song to make it onto the EP, we nearly ditched it. I think because it started off as the weakest song, we chucked heaps of energy into making it stand strong against the others. Also, who wouldn’t get off to that tambo when it comes in during the verse.
Hilary: This song has had many different versions and structures. Working on it to get it to the version you hear now on the EP almost felt like a bit of an archeological exercise, scraping off all the dirt to find the good stuff underneath. Totally worth it though - this song is a turbo hit with a guitar solo that wouldn’t be out of place in a Power Rangers episode.
Courtney: Honestly, this song went through so many versions I genuinely can’t remember the moment it came together. What I do remember is that the opening guitar line with that opening lyric and I just knew that we had made an absolute banger. Listening back with Fletcher as it burst into the chorus, certified it ALL.
Z: A heck of a lot of my writing inspiration happens on tour and when life is at its busiest so when the first lockdown hit Sydney, it’s safe to say my writing needed a re-think. I started experimenting with narratives that weren’t totally my own and that’s around the time I started writing Carpark. Everyday going to work, I used to park my car at the same time as this complete stranger. I started to fantasise asking him out, or for his name, and even fantasising that he might be doing the same.
T: Zoe would call me at 7AM because there had been ‘a sighting’ of carpark boy. I would be convincing her to stall so that they ended up walking side-by-side, and geeing her up to say hi! I wrote a song about you! She never got the guts to though, haha. Yet I still received those 7AM calls…. Anyway maybe it’s creepy telling a stranger you wrote a song about them?
H: Ah carpark boy! What a saga! Can’t speak for the others but I lived for carpark boy updates during the 2020 lockdown. I remember Zo first messaged me about the opening riff and we had a chat about what chords to fit underneath and potential next sections and I got so excited hearing it. Some old school Strokes vibes that came wrapped in a warm bubblegum hug.
C: Aha, the best part about Carpark is the story behind it. Zoe would come into rehearsals and tell us about the carpark cutie at work and how she would wait those extra minutes just to get a glimpse of him. This song I feel like it came together really quickly…the crew may say different. It was very much that feel good bop that just made the room warm once we got it all together :)
Z: Best Friend is ridiculously fun to play live, it’s soooo heavy and it’s a huge release of built-up tension and frustration. At the time of writing, I’d been questioning my friendships with people that just wanted to be around for the good times or popped in to say hi when they needed something so that’s why you can hear a lot of anger in this one.
T: I love this song, it really has big 90s rock vibes.
H: The guitar solo in this song was a late addition. We only added it in during the Studio and I’m so glad we did. I think it’s my favourite thing to play on the album. Big Frusciante energy - lots of wails and bends. I’ve also always loved Tess‘ drumming on this track. It‘s kind of bitsy and stripped back in the verse which I love and then gets so heavy later on - she’s the queen of gear shifts and really making the song soar.
C: Fletcher literally pulls out the BIG GIRL GUITAR on this one just to really thicken out the heaviness we were going for. I strictly remember we were trying to figure out the guitar solo for this and we were all deep into that days session. Hilary just starts freaking shredding all these lines, I looked over at Tess and just didn’t know WTF was happening, it was darn good though. Was absolutely in awe of making this track, it's BIG, NAIL BITING Rock music, can’t wait for everyone to literally just turn the volume 11/10 on it.
LIE TO ME AGAIN
Z: We’d just finished demoing a bunch of songs for the day when our producer Fletcher Matthews asked if we’d been working on anything else. I’d had this voice memo in my phone of simple open guitar chords with lyrics written top to bottom over them, it just came out so fast, I had a lot to say and needed to feel it out. I truly didn’t know what to expect when I’d shared it with everyone. Seeing their faces when I was brave enough to look up was heartwarming, it was pretty unanimous that it would 100% have to be on the EP.
T: We rehearse weekly, and a huge part of that is catching up on each others lives. So we live Zoe’s romantic life as she is living it - and when she goes through a breakup, we are there, with her through it. We understood how sad she was from this breakup, so this song breaks our hearts as much as it does hers!
H: When Zo first started singing, the crack of vulnerability in her voice was enough to make you start bawling right then and there. Listening to it was like having your heart ripped out in solidarity right along with hers. She’s the queen of making you feel all the feels, our Zo.
C: All I can say is this was the only track that I snuck in some acoustic guitar on and that for a last-minute addition to the recording of the EP, Zoe played the first chord and opening lines and I knew the song had to be on there. It’s certainly the darkest track on there but it for me holds dearest to my heart and putting this one together with Fletcher was absolutely mind-blowing and heartbreaking all at the same time. This is my personal favourite track and I will never stop loving it!!!
CALL IT QUITS
Z: I’ve probably never been more stoked with a song than Call It Quits, it was my favourite from day dot, I guess because I was writing about unfamiliar territory for me; uncertainty. I’d entered a grey zone for one of the first times in my life and that terrified me, and what resulted was a song about towing the line between calling it off to protect both parties or risk it to maybe not even get the biscuit, lol. This outro actually wasn’t going to make it into the song, but I fully threw a tantrum to keep it in (sorry Fletcher lol, love you). I don’t know, the song itself is very much a story, but the outro is a summation of the overarching theme and to round it out like that felt so right and pulled my heartstrings a lot.
H: This is a massive song which such huge peaks and troughs - Courtney and Zoe’s interplay with the backing vocals is a real *chefs kiss* moment. I sent it to my brother really early on and he was into it (which is a very big deal!). The electrics in my guitar stopped working when we tracked this song so I used one of Fletcher‘s which had extra frets. That’s how the (imo pretty ridiculous aha) bridge line was written. It’s not that often that I bend that far up the next!
C: Making harmonies for me is one of my favourite things to do and I feel like this track really lets it shine, I had a ball vocally with Zoe. Fletcher again pulls out the Les Paul and holds it up to the monitor and sends this incredible howling feedback. That set the tone for the track, that light drive which then explodes into the chorus, lyrically on this Zoe goes genius level. The outro just saws, thick and heavy and I personally love singing those repeated lines. Can’t wait to hear the reaction.
DRIVE ME HOME
Z: It made perfect sense to end the EP with Drive Me Home, it’s just so warm and full of hope, it manages to lift me out of any bad mood. It’s pretty damn lovely to have a song that looks back retrospectively to acknowledge harder times whilst also holding onto hope that it will all be okay, and to have the instruments match that feeling is just out of this world.
T: This is my favourite song on the EP. It has this nostalgic warmth of summer. I love the momentum. I always imagine listening to it while driving with friends to a summer holiday, with the windows down and hot summer air blowing our hair back.
H: I wrote the riff to this about a month after our last gig before lockdown. It had a bit of a yearning energy to it because I think I was really missing playing shows with everyone. I nearly didn’t send it to the girls because it was pretty different to everything we’d written so far. But Tess in particular was into it straight away so it was a bit of a confidence boost and I’m really glad we kept it on the EP!
C: Hizza came into rehearsal with this incredible riff, I think at the time we didn’t quite know what to do with it. We are at our best when we are in a room just jamming ideas. We toyed around with a lot of different feels, thinking back on it, when Fletcher turned the speakers up on this the chorus and outros completely shocked me, in the best possible way. That outro is uplifting and I know our listeners will feel that too.