Australian punk legends Frenzal Rhomb released their new album Hi-Vis High Tea a couple of months ago and they are set to play the Gov in Adelaide this weekend.
Playing on Friday 11 August supported by one of The Upside News’ favourite Adelaide bands, punk outfit Bitchspawn, this gig is one not to be missed.
Guitarist Lindsay McDougall took some time out of his recent road trip to chat with us about the album, the tour and Kyle Sandilands’ colon.
Speaking with me from Duck Point in Victoria, Lindsay talked about the band’s 25th anniversary and how it all started for him.
“When I was 18 I had no plans, well I wanted to be in a band, but I had no way of doing it. And then I got lucky. A couple of months after I turned 18, I joined Frenzal Rhomb and had to convince my dad,” he laughs. “We were lucky that our manager, who’s still our manager today, has a shrewd financial mind, or at least he’s very good at saying lots of numbers, because he convinced my dad who’s a chartered accountant that Frenzal Rhomb’s a worthwhile business concern. So my dad let me drop out of university and even used some of the money that we’d been saving up for me to go to uni to buy me a guitar and an amplifier.”
“So, that was my silver spoon entry into the punk rock world. It’s like being dropped off at the top of the punk rock street by your dad in his fancy car and being stacked down like a real cool punk rocker, and turning up at the gig with the Gibson MG and the Marshall JCM 800 that my daddy let me buy.”
And the band’s parents haven’t stopped being involved in the band that is famous for songs like ‘Punch in the Face and ‘Mum Changed the Locks’.
“I have so many great photos of my dad wearing ridiculous Frenzal Rhomb shirts, as we all do. And the Bucket Bong video clip from the Sans Souci album has all of our parents in it and it’s a glorious testimony to the lineage and genealogy or something like that,” Lindsay says.
Hi-Vis High Tea is Frenzal Rhomb’s ninth studio album and the band have learned a great deal from their vast experience in making records.
“The single biggest lesson is probably to learn the song before you go into the studio. A lot of people spend a lot of time mucking around in the studio trying to get shit right. We still do to an extent, but the thing we learnt when we recorded these last two albums in the same place, is that if you know what you’re doing, they’re going to make it sound fucking good. And I love going in there and knowing what guitar parts I’m going to play, and being whipped to play them as good as possible,” Lindsay says.
“And then once there’s a good idea on how the song’s going to sound, the people who are making the album for us, Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore, they know what to do; they know what buttons to press, or what knobs to turn to make the guitars sound like they’re fucking roaring and angry and coming at you and stuff, so, that’s a pretty important thing.
“The other thing is not write shit songs. This is a mistake we made a few albums ago on Shut Your Mouth. I think every band’s got that album they don’t talk about, and that’s that album. It was just an album full of shit songs, although some people are very forgiving of that album.”
But far from being an album to be forgiven, Hi-Vis High Tea contains Frenzal Rhomb’s signature contagious riffs, belting vocals and cheeky lyrics, and it’s awesomeness was largely due to a broken arm.
“This is our second album recorded at the Blasting Room,” Lindsay says. “We’re so spoiled there because they make things sound so good. So you really have to step up your game because you know that if you write a shit song it’s still going to sound good and it can trick you. But so we definitely, definitely enjoyed making sure the songs are good.
“A bit of it happened by accident. We were ready to go and record but then Gordy [drummer] broke his arm. So he was out of action for nine months, which is horrific for him and a really hard road back and a lot of really full-on physiotherapy and mental anguish as well, not being able to work and provide for his family. But for us it was fucking great because we got to write a couple more songs. We were like “Wow, this is cool, we got all this extra time”. It’s not like it’s a record label demanding that we release music because we are the record label as well. So in the end it was like a really shit Robert Johnson style deal with the devil: in return for some kind of okay songs, Gordy gets his arm fucked up.”
Going completely off topic, Lindsay and I start chatting about Kyle Sandilands and the time Sandilands threatened to never play them on a radio station they’ve never been played on.
The side track continues as we discuss rumours about his alleged multiple gold toilets that are reportedly constantly blocked by the wet wipes he uses.
“Now there is so much to unpack in that, so much. Twelve toilets, all of them gold-plated. All of them blocked” he says. “
We’ll leave it at that for now, but speaking of a possible damaged anus made us think that was an excellent name for a Frenzal Song name, which was a convenient segue into Lindsay’s favourite track from HI-Vis High Tea.
“I go in stages, I don’t know why, I love ‘C*nt Act’ at the moment because it’s beautifully radio-proof, and it makes us feel better about not being played on the radio,” he laughs. “It’s not because it’s a bad song, it’s because it’s got swear words in it. And it was very fun to write. But listening through the songs, the very first song on the album goes for 35 seconds and it’s called ‘Classic Pervert’, and I’m very much enjoying that now.
“I didn’t really know too much of what it was about it, because Jay wrote it, until I understood the lyrics, and it’s basically about how hipster Australian musicians these days with their hip guitar, tiny shorts, their questionable moustache and weird 70’s hair and sometimes you can’t work out they’re guitarists or just paedophiles from the 70’s.
“The song ‘Black Prince’, which is, I think, a very laboured metaphor about Jason’s relationship with his wife, a very beautiful metaphor. It’s just a really nice, slowish power pop number. It’s about a fucking cicada.”
To hear these songs and more from Frenzal Rhomb’s catalogue spanning 25 years, get along to see them at The Gov this Friday night. Tickets are available HERE.
By Libby Parker