Amyl & The Sniffers bring back comfort to us

Photo by Jamie Wdziekonski

Self described as like the 30 second headache you get from snorting a popper from a dodgy corner shop, the Australian punk quartet talk to us about their new record, life on the road pre COVID and the current state of live music in their home country.

The new record Comfort To Me comes out in September, how will you keep yourselves busy until then?

Ah, I’m just excited to be doing stuff again. I like being really productive and busy, so it’s really nice that I have emails to reply to and interviews and shit. I’m really just excited for people to hear the music I reckon. In-between now and then we got this single, “Guided By Angels”, and then we got a couple others coming in before the album said, it’s just that kind of cool shit, I guess.

What’s your most pissed off track from the new record?

I feel like all of them have the flavour of being pissed off in my humble opinion. I feel like Nazis do stuff in a way where it’s genuinely upsetting but then there’s songs like that “Don’t Fence Me” in which is a liberating pissed off where it’s like, “I’m so pissed off that I can do whatever I want and fuck, cunt”. I’m going to live free and ‘Capital’ which is like the world’s really crazy and I’m just a flesh sack on this rock doing whatever I’m doing.

I noticed that you’re not all living together in the same place anymore, what’s that been like?

It’s nice, I think it kinda needed to happen really. We had just got off the road, touring non stop for two years which meant not having homes. And then we went into a house together for a year locked down, like, fucking locked down, but it was sweet during lockdown with the rest of the band. We were so comfortable with each other. And we spent so much time with each other. So doing lockdown together was fucking actually real, real sick. But then yeah, it’s nice to have your own space. We are all pretty much the same person, we all saw the exact same things every day all our senses were like, shared. So there was nothing that anyone could bring to each other that was new. We couldn’t be like, “Have you heard this band? Or have you met this person?” Because it was just us, forever.

Amy, out of both collaborations you did with Sleaford Mods and Viagra Boys last year which one was your favourite?

Funnily enough, both experiences were pretty similar because it happened during lockdown. So I just had a little recording setup at home. And I’d just go over and over and over and over again, just in my head being like, “Well, that take is fucking shit”. But they were literally exactly the same. And then the Viagra Boys one was different because one was a cover. So that was just lyrics already written that I was singing along to. And then the Sleaford one was an original. So I got the Sleaford lyrics a bit and took a bit more time with it and stuff without pre planning because I’d like send over a demo of like, “Oh, Jason, what do you think is like, to be honest, I think it’s the bottom of the barrell”. And then he’d just be like “No worries. I’ll try again”. And the videos were filmed on the same day, just one after the other with a slight outfit change! 

How did your friendship with Georgia Maq (Camp Cope) come about?

That’s a pretty new friendship, I don’t know how it happened. I think the first time I met her I was at a shop in Melbourne. And she’s like, “Hi, I’m Georgia”. It was literally just something really simple like that. We just knew each other from like, peripheral, but she said hello first. And then after that, we’d just message on Instagram, reply to each other’s stories, like emojis and stuff and, and yeah, we’ve just been hanging out here and that which has been pretty nice over the last year. We went to get our nails done the other day, actually! I think she’s a great songwriter and lyricist. So yes, I love Camp Cope. I feel like I’m listening them as someone in a band with entry level understandings of social issues and stuff like that. But I’ve always been drawn to the way Camp Cope can articulate their politics and stand up for stuff all the time. And it’s really inspirational because I don’t know a lot about that stuff. But I actually learned a lot from people like that. And bands like that, who like, take the time to share information. So that’s another dope thing about them.

If you could pick a dream lineup of Australian bands to tour the world with who would you choose?

We’ve been jamming EXEK a lot, they’re fucking sick. We love Total Control a lot, they’re so much fun. There’s also Concrete Lawn from Sydney, also Low Life, we’re big fans of them and vice versa. Australia is actually pretty small so any band that has over 100 followers on FB or more than 10 people who go to their shows, you kinda just know them. There’s a good chance you’re friends with them or if not at least mutuals!

What was it like to work with PHC Films for the “Guided By Angels” music video?

It was great, it’s a lot of fun to work with them. It’s all one big crew and we’re pretty good mates with them. John Angus Stewart, the main guy who runs the company is super talented and a very, very hard worker. I think we’re planning to work with them for all three of our singles too. We just did one on the weekend. That was pretty crazy. So I don’t know if I can tell you much about it. But it is intense to say the least! I ran and jumped onto a moving truck. They just make these really cool things and they work really well with challenges, especially working within small time limits. They’re just different to everyone when you work with them because they, come to you with an idea. Then that’ll be that kind of thing rather than a collaboration soon away. It’s their own kind of special work and it’s pretty cool.

What influences did you take instrumentally this time around?

With the songwriting it’s not influenced by any kind of one specific artist. I’m not good enough at playing bass to be like, “Maybe I can like oh, fuck around with a quick punk song” or something or this, then I kind of just just a lot of just nailing lay and lock down a lot of noodling around. And also, in comparison to the last album, I was playing around for a considerable amount after that. And then just from the sheer numbers of shows, we all improved as musicians as players so much. So then that just kind of like the natural progression after that, of just improving just our instruments, then it’s just kind of gone up a step in like, riffs and whatnot in composition.

You said prior to 2019 you had never toured that much. What lessons did you learn over that two year period?

So we started in 2016 and then our first overseas tour was in 2018. And before that, the longest tour we’d ever done was like five days over like a month. We couldn’t sell out in the country towns at that stage and stuff so and that was just supporting somebody else anyway. And then all of a sudden that was like, we got to London and stuff and played some gigs and they’re all like chock a block. It was like, “Well, this is pretty crazy”. A lot of it was basically just been chucked in the deep end really. 

Interesting, did you feel like there were times where you felt out of your depth?

Literally all the fucking time mate. When shit hits the fan it gets old fast. You don’t have real human interactions and you’re sitting in a new city every day, just cooked and tired. Sometimes I lose my voice and I won’t really talk to that many people for weeks on end. And then the only interactions I have will be someone being like, “You’re great”. Or someone being like, “You’re shit”, or like someone interviewing me. So it’s not an accurate representation of  humans, and how they talk. We can sometimes be a wreck and I’m just like, “I don’t know what the fuck is going on”. And then as well, you get confused because like, you’ll go somewhere and they’ll be like, “Ah, you’re like, so cool”. And then you’re like, “Am I famous?” And then you’re like, “No, I don’t know”. You just don’t know what’s going on. Basically, it’s really fucking weird.

So you don’t mind being called a ‘party band’?

Nah not at all, if the party is happening its usually us starting it.

I’m quite sad that I didn’t get to go to your album release show before All Points East two years ago.

Ah gutted, we were all super jetlagged and had been drinking since 11am, I think the show started at 2am? I was wearing some really nice shoes and some guy licked my foot whilst I was playing. I absolutely lost my shit, was like ‘FUUUCK’, cleared the pit and pointed right at him. My friend went to punch him in the back of the head and I was like “Don’t fucking touch him he’s my fucking problem cunt.” It was in a warehouse with 80 people and I just thought “Oh fuck this is not a good way to start!” Like, why would you lick my foot? Get out of my fucking party bro.

What is the state of music like in Australia at the moment?

In May we managed to do four shows in Melbourne because stuff was opened up, but it was actually three hours out of the city and just like small Australian, like waterside pubs. At the moment it’s just a waiting game, up and down really. Plans for shows get announced, it looks good, something gets booked properly in and then a week later it’s done for. There’s been a couple of cool gigs outside underneath bridges and skateparks but it would also be nice to see if there was activity at some actual venues. I’ve been going to seated shows to try and get some money back to our mates, its the least we can do.

Is there a particular venue you want to shout out before we wrap things up? 

Yes! There’s this venue in Melbourne called Last Chance, we lived with the owners during lockdown and every friday night they would bring us a hot meal, like chicken and chips and sometimes dessert. They just really look after the music community and are open till 7am every weekend. They’re just really good people and I back them. 

Comfort To Me is released September 10th via Rough Trade Records, pre-order here.

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