AN INTERVIEW WITH GOTH DAY OUT
Hailing from Brisbane, Australia, Goth Day Out perfectly encapsulates the shifting youth culture of the city. From waiting to turn 18 to play gigs in bars to immersing themselves in the house show scene, Goth Day Out projects the sentiment of kids all through Australia desperately trying to become a part of live music. Their off kilter blend of shoegaze and punk is eccentric and intriguing. They touch on your typical suburban teen themes like self-esteem and lust but show the ever expansive thought progressions of said teens into more complex philosophies such as nihilism. While playing a vital role, the members of the band also do their part in expanding the Brisbane scene including Fin Wegener, credited with starting Kight Records to help integrate bands from the sunshine coast into the Brisbane scene. I had the opportunity to speak to him about tape culture and the 70's punk house show movement.
WHO IS GOTH DAY OUT?
Goth Day Out is my little solo project that I do. I started recording Goth Day Out in high school and the whole idea was to be recording my own music to cassette tapes using very old analogue cassette gear. I had a couple of bands break up and I decided that I’d love to start playing the Goth Day Out stuff that I had already released live at shows (that was the first EP, Duderrok). So I put together a couple of guys and we played shows together for about a year and a half up until recently we recorded the second EP, Hinterland. We focused on using a lot of noise and fast tempos and it slowly got punker and punker as it went on. There's not that big of a punk scene at venues in Brisbane so we played a lot of house parties and it was fun.
WHAT WAS THE CONCEPT BEHIND THE “MELANCHOLY FEVER” VIDEO AND WHAT WAS THE PROCESS OF MAKING IT?
“Melancholy Fever” was one of the first songs I wrote for the Goth Day Out project. It took me two years to finish it because I put a lot of thought into it. The lyrics were about being a teen and sitting in my room thinking a lot about everything that happens. I think that when you're a teenager and you can’t go out you end up overthinking a lot of things in your bedroom. I recorded that in my bedroom by myself, that was one of the first songs I actually did digitally and I would like to do a cassette version soon. The music video is all of my teenage friends at the time partying really hard. I used to carry this VHS camera around with my everywhere so the music video is a montage of footage that I got very late at night. I think it kind of builds an impressionistic view of teenage life in the Australian suburbs.
AS YOU MENTIONED, YOU DO A LOT OF RECORDING IN YOUR BEDROOM. WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS ADDS TO THE MUSIC?
I think it adds intimacy. It gives you as the player a very comfortable space where you'll add little tiny bits into the music that maybe you wouldn’t have in the studio. I work in a recording studio as well and the biggest job is to make sure a musician is comfortable and happy so that they can play their best. If I’m recording myself in my bedroom then we're already in that point and you can have a glass or red wine or a cigarette and all new things can come out. I think that a lot of the music I did record regardless of the technical quality did have a lot of emotional quality to it because it was a very special time and a very special room.
ON YOUR SOUNDCLOUD, YOU RELEASE A LOT OF DEMO VERSIONS OF YOUR SONGS. WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO SHOW THOSE UNREFINED SONGS?
One: probably laziness cause a lot of the songs I don’t do final versions as of….yet. Two: I put out the early 2014 tape version of a song called ‘Get Out’ and that version from the cassette is very improvised. That was the week that I learned how to play drums so the drumming is very obscure. Then I wrote the song on the fly as well and I laid down the guitar piece, it’s got this really long bridge and the quality of the song is very very obviously cassette and analog. I think it just comes back to intimacy where if you’re recording in your bedroom it’s almost always going to be a kind of demo quality if you’re recording live instruments. It’s just raw sound and I don’t know if anyone likes to listen to them but I do.
WHAT ABOUT THAT ANALOG SOUND DRAWS YOU TO IT?
It’s just always really appealed to me. I think one big thing, when I first started wanting to record music when I was about 14 years old, my parents and I talked about buying a laptop together but we just couldn’t afford it at the time. One of my parents friends had a little 4 track cassette recorder from the late 80’s and he gave that to me for like 20 bucks and it was sick! So I recorded my little teenage band at the time on it, The Go Getters, and then started doing the Goth Day Out stuff on it. Then I bought another cassette recorder, I bought a Porta Studio and then I bought a big Yamaha, thats wht I still use today. Then finally after dialing that in and learning all about how tapes work and recording as though I was in the 90’s I moved to a laptop for convenience. Now I work with them very integrated. I think the reason that I still like that sound is my genetic makeup just likes it. I love the microphones and I love a lot of the cassette stuff that Sufjan Stevens has done. It just sounds a bit more intimate and personal.
HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE GOTH DAY OUT’S EARLIER STUFF WITH THE HINTERLAND EP? WHAT’S CHANGED ABOUT IT? HOW HAS THE GROUP + SOUND MATURED?
The difference between the first and second EP is the first EP was mostly me alone. I'm writing songs to just play, to record. The second EP was all 4 of us writing songs to play in front of crowds and get people pumped up and we were all listening to a lot of shoegaze and Sonic Youth and Minion Threat. Those influences obviously came out and we played very fast. It was great we got a lot of good shows out of it - I think that's the difference. I think the 2 EPs definitely share some sounds but they’re also very very different technically.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT TRADEMARK SOUND IS FOR YOU GUYS? LIKE YOU SAID, THEY SHARE SOME QUALITIES. WHAT ARE THOSE?
I think that like overdriven guitars, my guitar is a lot of the time slightly out of tune and I like to sturm very fast. I think our signature sound is like My Bloody Valentine/Sonic Youth. I think it’s somewhere in between there...well that’s what I go for anyway.
YOUR ALBUM IS TAGGED AS SHOEGAZE. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS SECOND WAVE SHOEGAZE MOVEMENT?
There's a huge shoegaze scene here in Brisbane. We’ve got bands like Sleep Club and Sweater Curse who are all really tapping into that shoegaze things and I really like it. I think done well it is great and it can be a really great live experience but I think also to play great shoegaze you kind of need to push the envelope. Kevin Shields talks about people giving him the finger during the show because his amps are so loud. I think for the new wave of shoegaze to really succeed someone's going to need to find out what the next kind of push is or the next kind of insecure thing to do is to integrate the crowd into the show. It’s a very immersive kind of music but I love it. I love a lot of the American shoegaze bands coming out as well.
ONE OF THE MAIN THEMES OF HINTERLAND IS NIHILISM. WHAT MADE YOU WANT THAT TO BE SUCH A PROMINENT THEME IN YOUR EP?
I think that the idea of nihilism is becoming \a much more prevalent philosophy in of modern society than it has been maybe since the post war period and now it’s kind of trendy to claim to be a nihilist. I think that’s ultimately to the detriment to our generation because nihilism is not very constructive, however I do agree with some parts of it. I also think it’s partially due to globalization and the internet that everyone feels very dwarfed and that largely is a one way street to nihilism. When you realize how big the world is. I wrote about that a lot because I just think about that a lot. I’m a much bigger fan of the philosophy absurdism over nihilism, it’s a lot of the same principles but it’s much more constructive. So I feel like everyone should just convert.
IN THE DESCRIPTION RELEASED WITH THE ALBUM YOU SAID, “SADNESS HAS AN ADDICTIVE NATURE.” HOW DOES YOUR EP FURTHER EXPLORE THAT CONCEPT?
That largely comes from the refrain of ‘Melancholy Fever.’ The lyrics are “sadness is just a feeling/and it's so appealing/I can’t believe I’m breathing.” I was exploring that I would get into these zones of sadness but it was always a little bit appealing because it was predictable. I knew that if I was in this zone of sadness I couldn't fall any further and I could just be comfortable there. I think that is something that a lot of people get caught up in, which is really negative. It’s a bad thing to do, to just be comfortable in sadness and never try to get out because it’s predictable and easy. Be careful whether you’re keeping yourself sad out of convenience is that theme.
WHAT’S THE GIG SCENE LIKE IN AUSTRALIA? WHAT’S GOTH DAY OUT’S EXPERIENCE WITH TOURING?
Goth Day Out largely plays the Brisbane punk house party scene. I think people were a lot more hesitant to book us because there are a lot softer bands around than the faster stuff we were playing but once they did book us they were generally pretty happy. We had a couple great shows, we’ve just been writing lately since I just moved to a new house. We didn’t play much outside of the state. We didn’t tour but I used to put on a little festival in my backyard called the Kight Records Super Spicy Garden Party. The house party scene here is really cool, it’s very reminiscent of the house party scene in the 70’s in Brisbane when punk rock started growing out of a band called The Saints. People used to go to house parties every night, get arrested, spend the night in the cell, and then come back out the next night and go see another band. We’ve had the cops show up to quite a few, nothing like that, but it’s a very cool scene to be in, going to see punk rock music in houses.
WHERE DO YOU THINK THE RESURGENCE FOR THAT IS COMING FROM? YOU SAID IT WAS BIG IN THE 70’S. WHY DO YOU THINK THIS NEW GENERATION IS SO DRAWN TO IT?
Well originally it came from the government. Joh Bjelke-Petersen was in power and he was basically just a huge asshole, very very right wing made life very hard for the younger generations in the 70’s, so people were largely playing out of frustration from that. The political situation in Australia is very similar at the moment, especially in Sydney. I think we’re all very frustrated with the housing market collapse and the price of education you know, all the usual stuff, back to nihilism you know?
RECENTLY YOU’VE ALSO STARTED YOUR OWN LABEL, KIGHT RECORDS. CAN YOU TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT THAT?
Kight Records was a little idea that I started in highschool because I bought a big cassette duplicator from New York for $1,000. It was a pretty rash, sudden decision to buy that but a great decision. I wanted to make tapes of a lot of the bands that were around and help bring bands from the Sunshine Coast into the Brisbane scene because there weren’t a lot of venues on the Sunshine Coast and there wasn't a lot of stuff to do. I wanted to help bands make it down to Brisbane and I had a few connections so the way that I would do that largely was to make tapes. We would make tapes, bring them down, give them to some people, and put them in stores. The other big thing I did with Kight was the Kight Records Super Spicy Garden Party which was a mini festival that I would put on in my backyard. I really wanted to get all the kids in. Everyone would go partying but they'd all listen to DJs and I’d come down to Brisbane where there’s all these live bands and I was like ‘this is way cooler than a DJ!’ I put those on at my house and they kept getting bigger and bigger, I think I put on about 10 in 2 years ranging in size. The biggest one was 7 bands and 200 people. I got a sponsor for it at one point. I’m very happy with what I did with that. I feel really good about it despite my parents never wanting me to throw a huge party...