Really excited to be able to offer up an interview with Bits Of Shit, got to find out all about their upcoming Matador single, their recent show with Nobunny and the 5th honorary member of the band...
For the uninitiated how did you guys meet and start Bits Of Shit?
Danny and I have been mates for years – well over 25 of them. I first met Danny through my brother who was studying with him at the time. I’m a couple of years older so I was always the wise one. This is not true, of course. I am not wise and Danny and I hit it off pretty quick. Anyway, Danny went off and got married, had kids, bought a house and a dog then got divorced. During this moment of clarity, we hooked up again and started writing songs together. We’d get together once a week and ‘jam’. I would play guitar and Dan would sing through an amp. It was kind of mental but we wrote a lot of the stuff that we play during those early meetings. We even played a gig as a duo. We then decided it was time to put a band together so we hooked up with Dempster from The Sailors to play drums and later Leon from The Sailors/Ooga Boogas to play bass. This line-up worked well for a while and we released a 7”/4 track EP on my brother’s label, Lexicon Devil. But, it had no legs, they left and got on with their lives. After a bit of soul-searching Danny and I decided we wanted to continue so we hooked up with Elias (a young buck who we met through gigging) and Pete (an old warhorse from punk shows in the past).
Have any of you played in bands prior to Bits Of Shit?
Yeah. Danny and I played together in The Up Syndrome. This was a great band which also featured my brother Dave on drums and Nick from The Unfuckable on guitar. Bits of Shit still play some of the songs from that era including ‘Rock Sing’ which used to be called ‘Viva Le Rock’n’Roll’. Danny and I then formed The Orphans which became Southernhay Orphans and sorta morphed into Bits of Shit. I’ve also played in various unremarkable punk bands dating back to the late eighties including Razor Babies, Roller Coaster and Toilet Wurm. Elias was playing in a band called Buftie Boys when we met him. Pete has played in a few punk outfits such as Warrigal Road, Bill Shankly and Brainwaves who were great. Check out their 7”.
This might be the first time people in the UK find out about Bits Of Shit, is there anything you want to say – a message you want to get across through BOS?
Bits of Shit was formed as a response to a gaping chasm of shinola. We filled it with the kind of music that we wanted to hear and play. No pretense, just passion. It is also good therapy for us.
How did working with Homeless Records come about for ‘Cut Sleeves’?
Richie Ramone approached me at The Tote one night and said he was getting his record label up and running again after breaking up with his missus – a lot of good things seem to come from dysfunction for the BOSMC – and he wanted to release a Bits of Shit record. Richie is an old mate and a top bloke. His label was previously called Full Toss but he wanted a change. Like us he felt like an outsider so he settled on the name Homeless. It was good timing for us as we had just finished recording the LP at the clubhouse and we were gonna put out ourselves. Richie’s been super helpful and helped get us overseas and made sure people heard the record that we would not have bothered with.
I read that you have a release coming up for Matador? Same question, how did you become part of their singles club? That's pretty awesome!
Yeah, that one is pretty surreal. Gerard Cosloy is a fan of music, the band and the LP. When we went to the states last year he saw us play in Austin, then I met him in Memphis at Bruce Saltmarsh’s famous Gonerfest barbecue. We had a nervous chat and he asked if we were interested in putting out a few songs as part of his ‘Singles going home’ record club. Sure. Why not? We’ve recorded three songs for this and it’s due out in May. Gerard knows his shit and has a few Australian bands putting out records as part of this series including Sydney’s Royal Headache, and Lower Plenty and Dick Diver from Smelbourne. It’s really cool for us as I’m sure there are a lot of people that subscribe to this club that wouldn’t listen to our bands otherwise. In May they belong to us!
You did a show with Nobunny recently how did that go?
That was great. I was surprised that he was as popular as he is as I hadn’t heard of him before we played with him at Gonerfest – where he was great and supported ably by the Bad Sports. But, the place was packed and he was grouse. The kids love him! Gooch Palms got naked, Nobunny was a bit sick but he soldiered through and everyone traded bruises after the show. It was a great night, but a bit of a blur. It got messy. Nobunny is one split personality motherfucker. He’s actually remarkably normal…sorry mate.
What’s the most memorable show you’ve played?
That’s too hard to answer. Every show is memorable for one reason or another. “All Good in the Wood” was a blast (a guerrilla style music festival in Collingwood. Two or three bands play a venue/shop/house then everyone moves to next house for more and so on keeping one step ahead of the law). We’ve had the opportunity to play with heroes such as feedtime, OFF! and X, which is cool but those shows are not usually the wildest. It’s the local, smaller shows that are the best. Playing with mates, all together, supporting each other. It sounds naff and DC style solidarity bullshit, but it’s true. We love the local bands and those gigs are always the wildest. The states was, of course, awesome.
Do you prefer playing or recording?
Playing. Recording is a process. It makes you feel like a machine or a prisoner. I get nervous and am almost never happy with the end result. But, most of the LP was recorded in one take in my living room. That was easily the most enjoyable recording process we’ve had. Gigging is a party. Recording is work.
I saw mixing and mastering for 'Cut Sleeves' was by Mikey Young - do you guys get involved with the engineering side of things when you're recording at all?
Pete recorded the LP and all the new stuff. He gets really involved in the recording process. He loves it which is great because it means I don’t have to worry about it. He records it all analogue on a reel to reel. We all have a say but Pete does the work. He’s great. We then give it to Mikey and hassle the shit out of him. He’s a good guy though, and very hard to rattle.
‘Cut Sleeves’ has been compared with older punk, I was wondering what’s your view on modern punk? How do you think it’s changed from the 70s bands that have been referenced in Bits Of Shit's sound?
This is a really difficult question to answer without coming off sounding like a cantankerous blowhard. Punk is a difficult concept to pin down. It is outsider art. It is organic but somehow remains static. It is pure expression but also self-referential and derivative. I would say that punk is different today mainly because of the bands that current musicians are referencing as influences did not exist during the first or even second wave of punk. So, the stylistic choices current musicians are making are more calculated and informed.
Punk is academic today as opposed to the primal version spawned in the 60s and 70s. The spirit is the same although possibly not as desperate. Most of us are part-timers who treat punk as a lifestyle choice rather than an escape from an oppressive situation. But, it is that bratty attitude of punk that makes it so appealing and gives it a timeless quality. After all, everyone wants to tell the squares to “Get Fucked!” And, if you don’t like punk, then you’re a fucking square. I guess the main problem I have with modern punk is that it is quite formulaic. We all know the rules. I’m not real keen on some of the progressions that punk has made via hardcore, into metal over the last twenty to thirty years. A lot of modern punk is too metal for me. The athletic nature of modern hardcore shits me too. My band is faster and meaner than yours! What the fuck? Am I still in high school? And the posturing and cliqueiness…fuck! I blame the Cro-Mags…but then I’d have to blame the Bad Brains, then the Ramones and the Sex Pistols and I like those guys. And I don’t want Harley Flanagan mad at me either. I’ve seen what he can do.
Did you expect the warm reception 'Cut Sleeves' received? Do you follow reviews?
I did follow reviews once we received some positive ones. I was very surprised and still can’t believe how supportive some people have been. It caught me off guard because the previous record was not received as well as the LP and I was expecting to be ignored. I’m very happy that people understand what we were trying to achieve with that record and most of the references were pretty accurate.
Can you tell me about the song “F”? – so good!
F is a tribute to feedtime and their song F#. feedtime were one of my favourite bands growing up. Primal energy. No bullshit. Very intelligent. I also wanted to write a song with only one note in it. I started playing F chord, Eli came up with that great bass line on the spot and we just jammed. It was very organic. We actually recorded vocals for that song but left them out on the LP. There is a live version coming out on Anti-Fade’s “New centre of the Universe” compilation series which has Danny singing. I like the vocals and Danny often sings when we play it live but for the record we thought it worked better as an instrumental. We were channeling King Horror too hard.
How did you find Rona Green to make the artwork for the record?
I had met Rona a couple of times and own a few of her prints. I’ve always loved her work. When it came time for cover art, Rona seemed a natural choice for us. She understood the concept and I just love her distinctive line work and imagery. The cover has received a lot of negative press which I don’t understand. I love the cover and it’s the only thing in reviews that pisses me off. It’s a drawing of my dog Joan who died just before the record was finished. She was the fifth member and deserved to be on the front cover.
Record Store Day is around the corner, just wondering what your take on that event is?
I think it’s a great idea. Anything to get people into shops buying real music is OK with me.
When you first got into music what record stores would you go to – what did you buy? Have those places survived?
The record stores I used to go to were Exposure, Relic, Augogo, Missing Link, Pipe, Gaslight and Collector’s Corner. Most of these shops are gone except for Missing Link which has been swallowed up by Collector’s Corner. They were good places to get educated. In the late eighties I used to buy a lot of Australian stuff…still do. Back then it would have been bands like Cosmic Psychos, feedtime, X, Hard-ons, Massappeal, Spunkbubbles, God, Grong Grong, Lubricated Goat and so on. Sydney was where it was at back then. I was also into the usual overseas stuff. Ramones, Redd Kross, Poison Idea, Gang Green, Black Flag, New York Dolls, The Meteors, Discharge.
What’s up next for Bits of Shit?
Well, we’re taking a bit of a breather. We have the Matador record coming out as well as a seven incher on Total Punk which we’re really amped about. I reckon Danny and I will go back to our mental jams together and try and write some new tunes. We’ll hopefully get back into it in the second half of the year.
“I’m full of dust and guitars”, Syd Barrett – if you were sliced in half what would be inside?
Bits Of Shit : Facebook Website
Homeless Records : Facebook Bandcamp