INTERVIEW: Rag ‘N’ Bone Part 1, July 2015
Out-takes from an interview done for GAPE Zine Issue #1, spend some time with Perth post rockers Rag’n’Bone as we chat about Radelaide, scunge and the Perth scene.
Why Rag N Bone?
KIERA: So I guess we were going through a few different options – we started jamming way before we ever had an idea for a name – and we were like, “oh yeah, we should come up with something!” So we had Summertime Dark, was an option.
AXEL: Still could be honestly, it’s not too late to change. What have we got to lose?
KIERA: But I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the rag’n’bone man or the rag’n’bone men… how they used to collect heaps of junk and people’s food and bones and chuck them in a cart and wheel them down the street… and I dunno, we just felt that that was appropriate for our music because it’s a bit of a mix.
AXEL: Unfortunately though, there is a rapper in the UK called Rag’N’Bone Man.
SARA: And there’s also like a Dutch dude, Danish dude who’s like a folk dude? He’s solo. Maybe the next time we release something we should do a split…
KIERA: With Rag’n’Bone Man?
SARA: Nah, with Summertime Dark! B-side, Summertime Dark.
KIERA: But yeah, that’s how it came about, I just kind of suggested it and everyone was like ‘Yeah!’ Suitable.
JAMIE: We were divided, let’s be honest.
KIERA: Summertime Dark was definitely a… strong contender.
RICHARD: By the time that this gets published it will be over, but what are you looking forward to?
JAMIE: Going on location with the band.
AXEL: Looking forward to all those tinnies so you can fart like a trooper for the last half hour of the flight.
KIERA: I think I’m looking forward to actually seeing Adelaide because I’ve never actually gotten off a plane there…
SEVERAL, INC RICHARD: Radelaide.
RICHARD: Adelaide’s the new Melbourne.
KIERA: Oh yeah. I believe in Adelaide.
AXEL: I’ve been to Adelaide a few times – I like it because it’s on a grid. Because in Perth, everything’s so windy and like…
JAMIE: … all over the place.
AXEL: … and sprawled out. Adelaide, when they first built it, they’re thinking, ‘You know what? We should probably build this on a grid! We’re thinking of the future!’
KIERA: So you’re looking forward to the grid of Adelaide…
AXEL: Nah, I’ve already seen the grid. I’m looking forward to you guys experiencing the grid, and I’ll be like ‘look at this! Look at this street! It’s perpendicular to the other street…!’
JAMIE: You can see from one side of the city… to the other side of the city!!
AXEL: And Sir Donald Bradman Drive, that’s a great drive.
KIERA: … that’s a great drive…!
AXEL: And College Park, that’s pretty good, the Botanical Gardens are great… I’m looking forward to you guys meeting Matthew Vecchio. There’s this guy in Adelaide who lives with my friend Rob, Matthew Vecchio, who’s like… the crem de la crem of people. The top one.
JAMIE: By what measure?!
KIERA: We’re playing with a band called Scum Vegas in Adelaide, they’re an Adelaide band, and they’re friends with Axel. And I’m also looking forward to just making friends with those guys, and then they’re going to drive us to Melbourne… I don’t know if I’m looking forward to—
SARA: I don’t even know how we’re going to go spending a week straight with each other, let alone the other bands…
JAMIE: There’ll be a lot of beer.
RICHARD: So it’s Adelaide, Melbourne… are you going up to Brisbane or Sydney…?
KIERA: Yeah, Wednesday-Thursday in Adelaide, Friday in…
RICHARD: Give ‘em an Australian tour proper, if they’re gonna fuckin skip out Perth…
KIERA: Yeah exactly! Stick it to them!
RICHARD: That’s what I’d do, I’d just do a tour like Perth-Adelaide-Brisbane-Hobart.
AXEL: I’d love to go to Hobart again.
KIERA: Oh man I wish we were playing in Hobart! I’d love that. And I think Dark MoFo is on right now so it would be amazing.
JAMIE: No better time to go.
SARA: I didn’t think of that. We should have. We didn’t even like consider it…
KIERA: Uh, we did…
AXEL: I know two people in Hobart, and they’re both over 40, and they live with their dog. Not sure if they were gonna help us getting a gig.
RICHARD: What’s the definition of ‘scunge’? It sounds like what’s behind your ears or under your fingernails after you haven’t showered for three or four days.
KIERA: You’re nailing it.
AXEL: We’re gonna be covered in scunge by the time we get to Melbourne. I’m not gonna shower. We should have a competition, see who can keep their socks and jocks on longest.
SARA: Without getting a yeast infection.
AXEL: Nah you get extra points for yeast.
KIERA: There’s a really cool description that I found on urbandictionary.com –
RICHARD: I think scunge is a real word. I’ve used scunge before. Scungy.
KIERA: I think it should be a real word! Because you don’t have to explain it. Everyone knows what it is. This is what I found, along with many other descriptions, on urbandictionary:
Slime or dirt that is both unidentifiable and nasty, and possibly likely to give birth to sentient life in the future.
“Urrgh man, what the hell is that scunge at the back of your fridge?”
by degarbie August 28, 2007
KIERA: Yeah. Unidentifiable grunge.
AXEL: I remember I tried to write a song once called ‘Unidentifiable Grunge’.
KIERA: Scunge! You wrote scunge.
AXEL: Yeah. Better name for it, easier to say. One syllable versus what… eight.
KIERA: We refer to our music as ‘polished scunge’ because we’re sort of like a… clean scunge.
RICHARD: There was a genre of Australian girl grunge called Grot Girl, bands like Clag, their album was called Pasted Youth… anyway…
KIERA: Clag is a great word.
RICHARD: Blustik tastes better though.
JAMIE: Not sure about that…
RICHARD: Let’s not get into this debate… so you’ve got two Perth dates during that tour.
KIERA: It’s Mojo’s tonight, actually, and then when we get back we’re playing the State Of The Art Festival, which… I don’t really know how that happened but I’m very grateful and happy about it. We’ve been wanting to play that for a couple of years, and I think we were just at the right place at the right time and the right person saw us and asked us to play – and possibly the right band didn’t get back in time… so we were the next option!
RICHARD: One day, you could be that band!
AXEL: It’s as close to royalty as we’ll ever get! Maybe we should like, slag all over the stage and try and get Kim Salmon or Gareth Liddiard to step in it and be like “ahhh they stepped in my slag ahh!”
AXEL: Well I’m not his biographer or anything…
KIERA: You could be. There’s careers in everything!
RICHARD: The only way you make any money in music journalism is by biographies.
AXEL: “Gareth Liddiard was born a baby, in…”
KIERA: But yeah, it’s a cool lineup, You Am I are playing, and just like actual bands that we would not go and see…
RICHARD: Who do you like?
AXEL: Drowning Horse. Probably the best. Fuck it, they’re the best.
KIERA: I recently went to the Bakery and saw Sex Panther and French Rockets, two bands that I hadn’t seen before, because I think Sex Panther had reformed? And that really excited me, ‘cause they were both extremely different genres but I just loved both bands. It excites me that there are bands like that in Perth that I can just go and see for like, ten dollars.
JAMIE: I’m really digging Methyl Ethel at the moment. Awesome band. Yeah, and I saw HAMJAM for the first time last night; I don’t know how it took me so long to see them, I’m always—but they were great.
KIERA: Another band I really like is Night Signals [ed: now defunct] who we’ve played with quite a few times and they’ve got this awesome new wave rock thing going on. They’re just so fun.
SARA: [thinking] I’m not sure who I like at the moment…
KIERA: Love Aborted Tortoise.
SARA: Do love Borty Torty.
AXEL: Pat Chow – cross promo! [ed: Jamie plays in Pat Chow.]
SARA: [laughing] I actually really like these guys – The Moonlight Wranglers – who have stopped gigging – but I really do like their stuff and I’m really looking forward to seeing them gig again to be honest – they excite me. You know when you see something and it’s like “fuck yeah!” and then they don’t play again for three years and you’re like, “argh!” I can’t reaffirm it in my mind!
AXEL: Yeah, that was the first time I saw Drowning Horse, like, two and a half months ago.
SARA: Yeah, Drowning Horse are great.
JAMIE: Can’t go past The Love Junkies.
SARA: Tangled Thoughts Of Leaving are great. The Love Junkies just deliver.
KIERA: [singing] Deliverrrrrinnnngg…
Performing Live vs. Recording
RICHARD: Speaking of gigging… some bands, like The Church to throw right back, or my friend Alex [Griffin, of Ermine Coat] really hate performing live – and some live for it. What about you guys?
KIERA: Definitely. [laughter]
AXEL: Yeah—wait, what was the question?
RICHARD: Do you guys like performing live or—
AXEL: Oh faark yeah of course of course!
KIERA: Actually, I find it very difficult to connect with artists that do the home recording thing, and then release a lot of music and that becomes really popular online and on the radio, and then they do their first gig – I find it very difficult to relate to that because I find we’ve actually developed our sound through playing live? Our sound and our attitude and our presence has all been created and developed through live shows.
JAMIE: We’ve changed so much since we started.
KIERA: So without that I’m not even sure what we would be. But I guess it’s a genre thing as well. When you’re doing electronic music it’s a more solitary thing. It’s more personal and reflective. When you’re doing it live, you just wanna… lose your shit, haha!
AXEL: [reflective] There is a sort of like… exhibitionism… [snaps out of it] But at the same time I knew people who were like—
KIERA: And it seems selfish as well like—
AXEL: Well yeah, pbbbt! You could make an argument that all art is selfish, but anyway—[Sara laughing] – when you talk to someone and they’re like, “I really hate performing live, dah-dah-dah,” I don’t really understand it, to be honest. Because, it’s like a different form of selfish. The selfish is not like – giving out to other people… you know what I mean…?
KIERA: You’re not throwing it in other people’s faces.
AXEL: Yeah! You’re keeping your selfishness very insular rather than giving it out to other people.
KIERA: I think there’s things about playing live that you just can’t get…
AXEL: Yeah, happy accidents…
RICHARD: You’re an exhibitionist, is what we’re saying…
KIERA: Like………. yeah…..? But I still get nervous for every single gig.
JAMIE: I was gonna say: you still get nervous.
KIERA: If I don’t feel nervous then I feel… weird. If I’m nervous I’ll be like, [anxious breath] “Oh no, maybe I’ll… do okay?” You know? But once I’m up there I feel like this adrenaline and confidence just comes out of me that probably doesn’t in any other part of my life so it’s actually quite nice and comforting!
JAMIE: It’s a good outlet, playing live, I think.
SARA: D’you know, I think the first time, as someone playing a rock instrument, I think the most formative experience is when you first do it – or you first play to a room full of people. So I think like… for me, I can’t beat that. That’s the most fun part, and that’s the reason you’re inspired to do it. It’s the best part.
KIERA: It’s definitely the best part.
SARA: I think it’s our strongest part as well.
KIERA, AXEL AND JAMIE: Yeah.
RICHARD: What artists inform your sound?
AXEL: My dream is to have it as a huge melting pot, because life works that way, and I think influence works that way too. I don’t know, hopefully you can hear some fuckin like…! I was listening to some good Gregorian chant on the way over, that’s pretty good! I don’t know if you can hear that in the music but there you go!
RICHARD: Is that good driving music, Gregorian chant?
AXEL: Yeah, it’s pretty… therapeutic. Especially driving in the rain, it’s like…
KIERA: And then also like, that Brazilian music!
AXEL: Yeah, Tropicália.
SARA: Maybe we all have shared bands that we listen to, but I think we all listen to different stuff for our own instrument. So Axel takes guitar stuff from a bunch of guys, and I don’t listen to Savages or The Birthday Party for bass referencing…
JAMIE: I find I have very different taste to everyone in this band. And that’s probably what helps us…
KIERA: It balances us out!
JAMIE: When it comes to trying to find a genre, when you have so many random influences in one band… a lot of the bands that these guys have got me on to – I love them! – but I’d never take drums from… like I’d be listening to Led Zeppelin and stuff like that when it comes to drumming. And I just listen to a lot of folk…
AXEL: You do, don’t ya mate.
KIERA: That’s why you’ve got the silver touch, mate.
RICHARD: [To Sara] Who would you listen to for bass?
SARA: Well of course Tracy Pew [The Birthday Party] is a thing, but I really enjoy the Stranglers.
AXEL: [imitates Stranglers bass]
KIERA: It’s really groovy.
SARA: Yeah but no, what I think I enjoyed is the real digging in, you know? It’s simple but it’s…
AXEL: It’s not fartin’…. not fartin’ bass.
SARA: No, not farting, but he digs in you know!
AXEL: That pisses me off, a fuckin farty bass.
SARA: [over Axel] Mclusky for bass….! A lot of the stuff… you know I grew up listening to a lot of punk. But it influences me sound-wise rather than bass-wise… like I listen to a lot of motown, but it doesn’t influence me bass wise. It’s a bit too round.
The rest of this interview can be found in part 2, and in GAPE Zine Issue #1, published by Alexis Late, October 2015.
Tags:2015, aborted tortoise, adelaide, alex griffin, axel carrington, clag, dark mofo, drowning horse, french rockets, gape zine, gareth liddiard, grot girl, hamjam, interviews, jamie gallacher, kiera owen, kim salmon, led zeppelin, matthew vecchio, mclusky, methyl ethel, music writing, pasted youth, pat chow, perth, rag n bone, rag n bone man, sara mcpherson, savages, scum vegas, sex panther, state of the art festival, summertime dark, tangled thoughts of leaving, the birthday party, the church, the drones, the love junkies, the moonlight wranglers, the scientists, the stranglers, tracy pew, you am i