WORDS: CORAL DANIELS | PHOTOS: SEAN PYKE & IAIN LAIDLAW
A band who aren’t averse to irony, Violent Soho have run into a couple of coincidences recently, especially after their latest release “Everything is A-OK” has tied into a global pandemic which they could’ve never predicted. Whilst they may be on the other side of the world, they too are living with social restrictions and new rules, just slightly behind the UK. After the album was released earlier in the month, frontman Luke Boerdam says it now “Feels weird for us, the album name now has a more heavy and completely different context to it, it’s kind of bizarre everyone is listening to it in isolation, so it just gives a new context to the lyrics; obviously it’s an ironic title, but in general terms.”
That’s not the only strangely well-timed incident, though. Last year when they released ‘Vacation Forever’, billboards went up in Melbourne with the lyrics ‘There’s a baby boomer across the street and it won’t stop staring at me’; the odd thing about this is that despite being planned by their label two months previously, the #okboomer hashtag went viral the same week. So, once again it spookily looked planned – but the band are certain “they were going up regardless”. The correlation between current events and the seemingly psychic album have Boerdam feeling creeped out as the “lyrics for a couple of songs have references to isolation and post-apocalyptic imagery” too.
“WE DIDN’T GO ANYWHERE FAST. WE JUST TAKE
Whilst there can be humour found in the unprecedented circumstances surrounding this, it has meant the band have had to cancel shows. “It sucks for a lot of bands, but try I to picture it as being on hold, then we’re hoping to launch the record as we intended later in the year.” An unpredictable future for everyone is a great time to be listening to ‘A-Ok’, as it points out where society has gone wrong and how we’ve “got this amazing ability to brush problems under the rug; even now people are in denial; the record taps into trying to explain that frustration.”
With such a blunt approach to writing music throughout their back catalogue, they connect with people by “always trying to convey a feeling”, with imagery that’s “usually boring and situations that are overlooked.” Dealing with cynical views on the world but with a positive attitude, is Boerdam leaking through some Aussie culture by not taking things too seriously? Joking around not only shimmers through lyrically, but also in how they have been selling and promoting this album. Compared to twenty or so years ago,“more weight is put on the artist to sort stuff”.
“I’VE BEEN IN THIS BAND MORE THAN HALF MY LIFE AND I CAN HONESTLY SAY, THAT DYNAMIC HAS NEVER CHANGED.”
When the band were joking around and bouncing ideas off each other for promoting the album, they “thought it’d be funny to go door knocking”, in an old school approach for the digital era. Further to this, claiming you get more laidback with age, the band like to “detach [themselves] from the music.” They don’t need to live and breathe the emotions and lyrics everyday: “whenever I meet someone like that I just think they’re tossers!” Even though the gap between this record and the previous ‘Waco’ was longer than average, the band have remained together the entire time and “every time [the press] say ‘Violent Soho’s big comeback’ we laugh and say we didn’t go anywhere. We just take our time.”
Australian’s aren’t happy with how the government has handled recent events, so would Boerdam’s years working as a contractor for the government compromise their laid-back approach? Jokingly, he says “No one tells me what to write. The only time I felt in trouble for saying something was in America for the song ‘Jesus Stole My Girlfriend’. I said something like ‘Jesus was the c-word’. In Australia that word is so common, but over there you don’t say that word, it’s so rude – and I said it on the radio, live. It was so bad.”
In 16 years together, with all original members, their longevity is put down to the fact that “The core of the band is the same, we just want to make music and share it. It was about doing those things and doing them well, that’s all we cared about. The only difference now is that some of us are dads and we have a revolving door of influences. I’ve been in this band more than half my life and I can honestly say, that dynamic has never changed.” So it seems Violent Soho still has more to give; it just might take a while.
‘Everything is A-OK’ is available now via Pure Noise Records.