I saw Deaf Wish a few weeks back at this great little show in Melbourne. The Stevens, EXEK, New War, Totally Mild, and Sugar Fed Leopards all played as well, but Deaf Wish were fucking standouts. Absolutely brilliant. It was loud, unhinged and magnetic, filed somewhere between The Men and Pissed Jeans – intelligent, desperate and gnashing rock ‘n’ roll.
Deaf Wish have their new album ‘Pain’ coming out August 7th. I’m pretty keen for it, and you should be to. So read the interview, peer into the soul of your new favourite band, and then grab a cup for all your drool to spill into until ‘Pain’ gets released.
R: Having been around for so long, how have you perceived changes in Melbourne’s music scene, and to a wider degree, Australia’s?
DW: Heckling has almost disappeared. Ten years ago I would look around the room and see the big personalities and just make a mental sidenote in preparation. So when they arked up I was ready. Mick’s here- he fucked a tiling job in Werribee on Wednesday, got him covered. Damo’ll probably fire one off, he drove into a parked car last weeeknd. It was part of the pre-game, make sure you go onstage armed up. Nowadays they just clap and whistle. I look at the stage floor and think: “What strange hell is this??”
R: It’s really hard to pinpoint or pigeonhole you guys, especially on earlier records. Has unpredictability been a constant for Deaf Wish?
DW: Bunch of freaks jammed in a room for no real reason except to see what happens. Did you ever have one of those children’s science kits that have a picture of 8 years in lab coats curiously looking into a test tube? You open them up and just mix everything together trying to make something explode and then it does and you’ve burnt your face off and eaten magnesium? That’s Deaf Wish.
R: You all contribute vocals and songs to Deaf Wish – has that caused tension or has it worked as a positive, making the band multi-limbed?
DW: Multi-limbed like a Voltron! Cats for arms and cats for legs. No tension at all. It’s just the way it’s always been for us. No one is the boss, we all have a go.
R: How has recently reconvening in Melbourne affected the band?
DW: It’s cold here. Winter is long and dark and can make you sad. We love Melbourne. We have trams and footy ovals and no fucking sun for 4 months.
R: The first two songs from ‘Pain’ are super short – what is it about a simple, brutal song that makes you write that way?
DW: Rationing ideas. If a song has 3-4 changes, hey man! That’s 3-4 songs. Break em up.
R: ‘Pain’ is the first album on Sub Pop – how does it feel to be another link in a long line of Aussie bands signed to the label?
DW: Feels good.
R: How has working with Sub Pop differed from self releases and Homeless?
DW: Homeless did a one-off re-issue of our first LP before our last tour, it was handy on the road. The self-released stuff was to avoid asking for a release when the state of the group was so confusing. I did it. I was bad at it. Lazy, distracted. I enjoyed driving to all the stores and chatting about music with all the shop owners but then forgot about the money or the emails. On the other hand, having owned our own releases is great on the road, where the sales keep us rolling around.
R: “Eyes Closed” seems like on of the most gritty songs you guys have recorded since “Mum Gets Punched in the Face”. It feels like you’re goading a reaction from the listener, which is rare for a band nowadays, would you agree?
DW: File next to “Mama Said Knock You Out” and “Get In The Ring”
R: Apparently everything on the album was recorded in three takes or less – was that something you specifically set out to do? Why not take more time with the record?
DW: I actually hate that this gets mentioned so much. It’s not important. We basically will go into a session and work ourselves up to a wild-eyed state and try to stay like that for as long as possible. We will do 2-3 takes of a song and move on to the next one. Any more than that, we start to hammer it flat. So if all three takes suck, we’ll come back to it later. It’s important to us not to get stuck when we are ripping them out. Got to keep moving through it, stay in the noise tunnel. That’s what I was trying to say with that. We also love layering harmonies and messing around with overdubs. We all love Big Star so we are always trying to slot in more vocal layers. I dont think this process is unusual for a band like us. I’m sure it is quite common, actually.
R: I managed to catch you at a rare show in Melbourne a few weeks back – are there any plans to make it up to Sydney and around Australia?
DW: Yes, I reckon over Summer would be a nice time to visit the beach! See what we can get happening. I love Sydney- nice bread and sea breeze, Triple 8 Chi-town, Wentworth, Cristian Sullivan and Jetta on the wing.
‘Pain’ is out August 7th on Sub Pop Records. Pre-order here.