Exhaustion are Australian three piece Duncan Blachford (Snawklor, Cross Brothers), Jensen Tjhung (Deaf Wish, Lower Plenty) and Per Bystrom (Ooga Boogas, Leather Towel). Their debut 'Future Eaters' on Aarght! just started streaming last week on Mess+Noise and is fast becoming a favourite in this parts. These eight new songs play out prowling guitars, howling vocals, crashing rhythms and gulping bass transmitted through a wall of murky fuzz and distortion. It all comes together in a way that brings bands like Les Rallizes Denudes and Fuckin' Flyin' Aheads to mind whilst testing the limits of where that paranoid/brooding free-noise sound can go. I got to talk to Duncan to find out more about the record, here's what he had to say...
Most of us are just finding out about Exhaustion now through this record out on Aarght! Being a relatively new band, I wanted to ask if there’s a goal/message in this project that you wanted to tell us about…
If I had a goal it would be to destroy, or attain peace with, the world and the mundane nature of a working life. As a band, our goal is to create music we're proud of. We're happy with this record, we can retire now.
When I was googling to learn a bit more about the band I only found 2 search results for Exhaustion… it’s a great name, surprised no one’s ever really used it – how was it picked?
It was very literal, a feeling of pure exhaustion. Typographically, I like it, when its treated right its monumental. Exhaustion and détournement, that's all that is left in this world.
How did recruiting Jensen Tihung and Per Bystrom for the band come about?
Per heard some of my early solo recordings (Drunk Hands) and offered to drum if I wanted to start a band. It didn’t happen till now. He carts round all this scrap metal with his kit, a one man swedish Pussy Galore.
You did a tour of the US in 2008 was this as Exhaustion? How did those shows go?
That was another band I played drums in. At the time, it was four friends and an asshole soundguy, on the road for nine weeks. Played most nights, driving around North America, crashing on couches and in cheap motels. It was fantastic. I felt at home being on the move.
I was listening to one of your other bands Snawklor – the songs I heard sounded pretty ethereal, did you ever think you’d start a band like Exhaustion that was the polar opposite with this big damaged-rock sound?
Nathan Gray and Dylan Martorell started Snawklor a decade ago, doing extremely quiet electroacoustic music. They’re both great artists and improvisers, their art and music bleed into each other. I joined more recreantly on drums and my background is definitely in damaged rock, but I've always been drawn to more exploratory music too. I'd started fooling round with freeform percussion, no beats, I brought that approach to Snawklor. We have done a lot of shows but no proper recording as a trio. Sometimes we sound closer to Lightning Bolt or the Boredoms, sometimes ethereal free jazz and psychic exotica.
To my ears at least I can hear bits of Les Rallizes Denudes, Liquorball and Fuckin’ Flyin’ Aheads on ‘Future Eaters’, because in one way or another they all have this mesmerizing/paranoid/noisy approach – do you listen to those bands at all?
What was the first type of music that made an impression on you?
Hendrix and Black Sabbath. Hendrix especially. When I was about six, I saw Sex Pistols on TV one night and it scared the shit out of me. In my teens I was watching The Year That Punk Broke with no knowledge of that unmentionable youth cultural revolution of the '90s. Seeing Sonic Youth play Schizophrenia hit a chord, I grew up around a lot of schizophrenic activity, it was great seeing that captured in music.
Do you prefer playing or recording?
You gotta be playing when you're recording, so I prefer playing.
What was the setup for the recording of ‘Future Eaters’?
An 8-track reel to reel of Jensen's. Six mics. Three on the drums, one on the bass, and one on the guitar. Vocals later. Very rough and ready set up, but Jensen has a way. Did it at his place, above a psychologist’s practice. It was a renegade recording in that we thought we might get away with a 7” before neighbours shut us down. We managed to come out with this record. Almost all first takes, it was a super easy all firing session. Done. Bang.
Can you talk about “Your Memory Don’t Want You”, that one’s been one of my favs since streaming the record….
I recorded a demo of it years ago as Drunk Hands, a noisy instrumental version played on a fuzzed out acoustic. I brought it back to the fold with Exhaustion. Most of these songs relate to very personal experiences, put across in a broader way. Its about black outs, memory and our relationships with consciousness.
Over here in the UK music chain HMV just went into administration, now record buying is online or via indie shops that have managed to survive…I was wondering what the current state of record stores is in Australia?
Sounds very similar to what is happening here. It’s shrinking all the time, with a few notable exceptions. Only a few stores are lucky and smart enough to keep afloat. Small record stores that sell coffee and awesome food are probably the way to go, here's looking at you Wooly Bully
You have your own label Endless Melt – I was wondering what you’ve found to be the biggest challenge with running a label these days?
It’s a micro label of marginal music, a labour of love. It often costs me money to sell something. Luckily I don't do much business or I'd have to shut it down.
How do you manage to sustain being in bands and doing a label?
I work. I spent a long time on the dole living the dream of a rock n roll youth, but everything is so expensive now and the dole hasn’t really increased. I have a family now too. It'd be very hard to get by without a job.
How would you spend your ideal day off?
Your new album is coming out imminently – what else do you have planned for 2013?
Jensen has an artist residency in Sydney for a few months come late March. Hopefully we'll do a show up there. We're all a bit older now, touring isn’t a priority, more a holiday. We all have several bands, jobs, Per and me have families. We'll roll with the punches. I predict we'll have a new album recorded by the end of the year, release it by early next year, and a 7" in between. Put a fiver on it.
A question I always finish on “I’m full of dust and guitars” – Syd Barrett, if you were sliced in half what would be inside?
Blood, guts and the ghosts of a million forgotten lives.
'Future Eaters' is limited 250 copies - available at Goner