Interview - Violent Soho
If you can name a bigger rock band in Australia right now I'll eat my hat. They just tore Groovin' The Moo another one follow summer festival dominance, and are about to embark on a MASSIVE, almost completely sold out national tour (it's probably sold out by the time you're reading this), but not before they head to Perth a few days early to play Circo Festival (tickets for which you can still get HERE). Hannah Valmadre got on the phone to frontman Lulke Boerdam to talk 420 sets, Culture Jam, and the current state of affairs in Brisbane.
So you’re in your hometown of Brisbane at the moment, what are you up to?
I did some writing this morning, everything was quiet but I wasn’t getting anywhere, so I put on a movie from my childhood on in the background and I started to write.
Wait, what movie?
Oh it’s just an old war movie called Memphis Belle, it’s from 1990. I don’t know why I started watching it! I just thought, 'Ah fuck it, I’ll put this on', because I was frustrated, but maybe I’ve discovered a trick! [laughs] There are heaps of songs that I have written when you pull out a guitar and you’re not even thinking about writing and you actually get something done.
It seems inspiration can strike you at the strangest of times!
Yes that’s it!
And speaking of inspiration, the title of your last album Holy Ghost, that’s a literary reference from the book Culture Jam by Kalle Lasn, is that right?
Yeah it is! I’ve always been a fan of that kind of left-wing… maybe not ‘literature’ but article writing from Canada. I got into it when I was younger through a magazine called Adbusters. It’s always a good read, there’s always a cleansing of the brain. If you think about it, we do see thousands of advertisements a day, and it’s kind of like a mental cleanse from all the other media. It’s strong and alternative and they do take a different viewpoint and make you think about things differently.
So I found Culture Jam, well my brother actually found it, but I was just in the middle of writing the last few songs for this album and I was reading it, and this quote, “We sit around on couches, buying what we think makes us who we are, like a hungry ghost.” I thought it was a really strong phrase, a really great way to put it, and it really struck me. I related to it. I thought that sums up in a few words what a lot of this album taps into. I wouldn’t say that the whole album is political, but I do think there are some truths in that. It’s such strong imagery.
Yes, I agree with the strong imagery. When it comes to writing songs by the sounds of things you gain inspiration from real life experience but also things you read. Is that the case?
I’d say so. For example with our song In the Aisle, talking about inspiration striking you in the oddest places, is based on someone. It’s about this guy who would drag his cricket bat into my friend’s bar. You know The Grates? They’re still writing and stuff but they’ve started a bar, The Southside Tea Room, and John told me over a beer one day about the guy who would bring the cricket bat in, and his own black and gold tea bags. Rather than ordering their tea of coffee he’d make his own tea with his black and gold tea bags, as if out of paranoia [laughs].
I really hate lyrics that are mediocre or boring. When I look back on the lyrics I have written, it’s usually like a mash-up from anything that I might have read from Culture Jam or Adbusters and reality or childhood memories. The main question is does it have feel, does it say something expressive, does it feel right. I will keep going through revisions of songs and lyrics until I get to that point where I feel that it meshes nicely.
I think it is that quality of your lyrics that really makes Violent Soho stand out. There are plenty of Brisbane bands that are having ‘a moment’ right now. I know you’re friends with the likes of Dune Rats and DZ Deathrays…
Yeah, they’re legends.
Is it gratifying that you’re all enjoying a certain level of success right now? I’m not trying to lump you all together, you all have different qualities in your sound and production methods. But surely it must be nice to enjoy this moment alongside your friends?
Yeah I think it’s awesome. What makes it even more special is that we know all of those guys personally. Like, the DZ Deathrays dudes, when we started playing gigs, they were showing up when they had just turned 18. When we came back from the States, we knew DZ Deathrays were doing really well, but, fuck! They’re doing NME tours in Europe! [laughs] After that we met Dune Rats and they’re the nicest guys who write good music too. I’m very happy that Brissy bands seem to be doing awesome things at the moment.
You guys certainly are! Your dance card looks pretty full at the moment; you’ve got a national tour coming up in July, and you’ve just finished up Groove In The Moo, how was all of that, particularly playing the 4.20pm time slot?
Yeah [laughs]. It was really funny when Michael put up that Instagram photo of the four spliffs, and I thought “(scoff) that’s such a boring photo, who’s going to like that?” and it’s our most popular photo on there! Obviously I underestimated it. Our band found it hilarious that they put us on a 4.20 time slot, so we had to take advantage of that fact, and it was the last show of Groovin The Moo so that was an awesome way to end it; to be able to walk out, spliff in hand. It’s what we’ve always dreamt of [laughs].
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you’ve got the same 4.20pm time slot for Circo Festival that’s coming up in Perth too. Do you guys have any backstage rituals before or after your shows?
Oh we do? That’s awesome! The one that has seem to have taken a hold recently is – I don’t even know when this started – saying someone’s name with our hands in, like an American football team or whatever. But recently we’ve been dedicating our set to Ben Gillies wife! (Who is on that Real Housewives on Melbourne show) Besides lighting one up and dedicating the show to Ben Gillies, that’s about it! We’re usually pretty chilled about the whole thing, either that or we cover it up extremely well! I think because we’ve been doing it for eight years, we’ve had our worst fuck ups in history, making huge mistakes on front of thousands of people, if we stuff up now we just think, 'we’ll do better tomorrow' [laughs].
That’s very resilient of you! SO what’s on for the rest of the year once your SOLD OUT national tour wraps up?
Well, I’m going to Europe for a month. I’ve been trying to do that for a freaking decade now. Stupid band keeps stopping me! I’m going for my honeymoon, I’m getting married. That gives the rest of the guys a bit of a breather as well. James just had his first child, which is awesome, so we’ll have a nice little break. Then when I get back we’ll start, or we’ve started to already, do some more writing.
The other thing we’ve spoken about is maybe doing a regional tour. When we got back from the States a few years ago we went on a decent sized tour with Jebediah which covered most of the country and a lot of regional spots, then we did one with Children Collide which was really regional, so we’d be pretty keen to do that ourselves. We could do 4-5 shows a week, '80s pub circuit style! [laughs] Whether that will make any money, and if that is a viable option, I have no idea. It would be great to go the places we often miss out on, playing in smaller band rooms. We can’t put any dates on our next album or even think about recording until we’ve written the damn thing so… I’d better get cracking!