Vor zwei Monaten beim regnerischen Crash Fest in Hamburg sprachen wir mit Chris Cowburn, dem Drummer der Smith Street Band, über neue Veröffentlichungen, Tour-Pläne, wie es ist, wenn die Band größer wird und darüber hinaus, warum Rassisten Idioten sind. Zur Veröffentlichung der neuen 7″ „I Scare Myself Sometimes“ präsentieren wir euch nun im Folgenden das Interview mit Chris:
LT: After our last interview you released “Throw Me In the River”. What was the response by fans and critics?
Chris: Thankfully it was very good. We came out literally on the last day of that Menzingers tour, the second last time we were in Europe and, yeah, we got a lot of good reviews which is always nice. I guess more importantly was that our friends and musicians have been very respective and looked up and told us how much they connected with it and enjoyed it. And I guess how much we improved or how good it sounded. So we were really honored, really really nice to have that sort of feedback. Especially like that European tour where you last interviewed us, we left the Menzingers and the next time we saw them was briefly in the US when we played “Fest” in Gainesville. That was like maybe two weeks after that tour when the album did come out with that Songs and they were already like singing words to the new songs we play. You know, they are a band that we very much look up to, we think that they are amazing. So seeing those people showing your music some love is pretty cool. So yeah it was very well received and we are very very lucky and happy how people received it.
LT: After your tour in spring this is your 5th time in Europe, you played in front of a very crowded tent at Groezrock, sold out shows in great britain and now you share the stage with legends like “The Offspring”. What’s next?
Chris: We sort of haven’t really figured it out yet to be completely honest but what will end up happening is that we will come back in about one years’ time, so around the same time next year and probably do a similar thing where we do some headline shows, some Festivals depending on what we could get offered. The reason we don’t want to do full headline tours is, because I guess in some point like 2016 or early 2017 we gonna have a new album and we wait ‘til then and then we would be really really happy to do a headline tour in Germany and Europe in general a lot. So that’s the loose plan for now but we haven’t quite figured it out. It’s sort of every couple of year that you can have one year where you tour really hard and like promote the album and then I guess recording and releasing takes quite a lot of time. Especially the time writing, demoing, pre-production stuff and then you actual record. The whole process is quite long and I feel like that’s one thing for our band that we maybe have learned a little bit as we get older and the band goes on longer is that we maybe don’t need to rush as much to release things. Like with being a band for 5 years and got 5 releases, that’s like one release every year and then maybe we can take more time. Maybe that’s for the better. Doesn’t mean that we can’t still go on tour as much as we did. So, that’s the basic plan for now.
LT: Do you have plans for any other releases?
Chris: We have a release coming up tomorrow which is worldwide. We have four labels around the world, Australia, UK, Germany and the US. When we recorded “Throw Me In the River” we had four or five songs extra that didn’t go on the album. There is one Song that’s quite an old song in term from when it was written. It’s like a love song that Wil wrote and it’s a duet with our friend Lucy Wilson who is from Australia. I don’t know how familiar you guys are with our songs from “No One Gets Lost Anymore” but “Belly of Your Bedroom” on our first album, the female vocals on that song. So this is another song with her. Especially her and Wil sharing the vocals. 50 percent her, 50 percent Wil and we had this song recorded when we recorded “Throw Me In the River” and it did not really fit on the album, so we release it now as a 7 inch. So there is an animated video clip that an artist from Melbourne, Celeste Potter, has done for the song and done the 7 inch-artwork. The video clip will go online tomorrow or Thursday morning. I’m not quite sure yet. It’s really exciting because we sort of intentionally did it as surprise so people wouldn’t really know it was happening, it was just there. So I’m really really excited. It’s a very different song for us in terms of recent times because it’s not heavy at all. Its very strip back and almost acoustic style of song.
LT: Like “My Little Sinking Ship”?
Chris: Yeah, similar style to that. Maybe we haven’t done a song like that for quite a long time since “No One Gets Lost Anymore”, so I can’t wait for you to hear it and see it and everything. It’s gonna be real fun. I’m not sure if you have seen the Australian tour Poster we have at the moment? Like two astronauts? So that’s the 7 inch cover. Nobody knows that yet, that’s the artwork. By friday everyone will know. That’s the next thing. No plans after that yet. Once we get to the start of the new year we will start rehearsing. Wil got a bunch of new songs, we were rehearsing one already. We start doing a bunch of new things and see what happens. It’s exciting!
LT: How was the reaction towards your charity 7-inch “Wipe That Shit-Eating Grin Off Your Punchable Face“ in Australia and maybe worldwide?
Chris: The Reaction in Australia was far greater than any of us expected, which is fantastic. It may have to do with the time we released it. We organized the release and did everything at a time when there wasn’t much going on with the band when we all sort of having a holiday, having a break. So we really didn’t expect anything, we didn’t have any expectations. All of the sudden we released it, so many people were like… the 7 inch were pressed a 1000 and sold out in like a few hours and then we pressed another 1000 and they were sold out in a few days, you know? We couldn’t keep up with the interview requests and demands and stuff, which is so great when it’s something for a good cause. We didn’t really expect it to be received as well as it was. The biggest thing for us was the main newspaper in Melbourne, which is called “The Age”, got in touch with us, this is like mainstream news. And we got an interview with them and it was like a whole page with the interview on the third page in the biggest newspaper in Australia. So it’s a huge media response from that and I think it was really important for us because whether we expected that or not, it sort of started up a conversation. We were posting on our Facebook obviously and all that sort of thing. A lot of that comments, some positive, some negative. A lot of people agreed with us and lot of people didn’t agree with us but I feel like that’s important to do especially with young people like ourselves its importand to begin a conversation especially with an issue like that. We feel like Australia’s refugee immigration policy it’s like backwards it’s from the 19th century. So, to be able to bring that to the front of our community and then in terms of music community but then also the mainstream news which we didn’t expect and it was like “holy shit”, that’s great and the shows that we played after the release raised like 40000 Australian dollars which is fantastic. In terms of a overseas I guess we only have realized that when came over this tour all this issues happening in Italy or when people try to enter the UK. Which is honestly not cool and we played that song at two UK Shows we did at the start of this tour and it got a very good response and I guess Germany has some sort of similar problem, I don’t know much about Germany but I’ve heard thinks like that.
LT: Yeah those people who think that refugees come over here and want to take our woman and our jobs and Germany is not enough German anymore and all that crap.
Chris: Yeah exactly. The basic principles are the same and I don’t obviously know as much about it overseas as I do in Australia, but it’s sort of funny because we were just under the assumption that we play that song in Australia but why would we play it anywhere else, because this is about an australian issue and it is not relevant anywhere else? But then we realized on this tour it is relevant in other countries. It’s like very relevant and people did react when we play it so that’s very humbeling to know that. Completes this idea like the world is a very small place and we are very similar and have similar issues. It’s really really cool to help in a tiny way it’s still a huge problem which needs attention.
LT: Especially for Australia being an immigrant country were people from all over the world came 200 years ago and now people say “The come here and they get a proper meal, PROPER MEAL?”. I’ve been there four times. First time I was quite shocked because all those people and they have those fightful stickers “Fit in or Fuck off”… and you’re like ‘What the fuck?’.
Chris: That’s horrible, yes. That’s sort of undertone in Australia. It’s very hard to explain that way casual racism is accepted. There is an aboriginal football player Adam Goodes so he is a very famous football player. They boo him all the time. He celebrates his culture. He does like dances , he reacts to things by celebrating his culture. He gets booed for that. It’s like horrible, it’s so backwards. The argument what people say is like ‘Were not booing him because he’s indigenous aboriginal. We’re boing him because that’s what you do in football, you boo people, who don’t play for your team.” The problem is that you are not aware that this issue is attached someway to racism whether it’s not meant that way but by booing him you’re supporting that. It’s something in Australia that’s an huge issue and Adam Goodes is normally a huge celebrated athlete which won Australian of the year, he did Charity work so He’s a very well respected member of the community, so he’s not someone to be booed at. Not that I know anything about football. I can’t speak about it too much, that’s the sort about all the time of Australia in general we have this little agreement being a casual racist is okay. And I don’t know how to stop that. It’s such a complex situation. I could think personally of like situations with my own father would make similar comments to football players as it was joke but it’s not a joke it’s very serious. That’s were it stands from and it’s super important to stand it out in any form. People can do whatever the fuck they want. They can be whatever religion they want. They can be whatever sexual preference they want, whatever skin color. Whatever, it shouldn’t matter.
LT: What are you doing with such assholes at your shows? Who don’t share the same values with you?
Chris: It’s very difficult when your band becomes bigger and more popular. When you’re reaching fans from a wider community. When you play a small punk show or whatever in the beginning at general its people who have the same ideals and processes as you, respect the same things. Once you’re catching from a wider umbrella it’s perhaps those ideals are lost on some people. It’s very difficult to know how to deal with that. We had some situations but Wil is really good at it cause he’s such an honest person. In some cases he is brutally honest. He will stop the show and be just say like “You! Stop pushing this person or stop grabbing this girl.” or whatever. It’s like the most important thing for us is that everyone who is at the show feels comfortable that they can be there and be themselves and have not somebody else to fear about. It should be taken for granted but it isn’t. Personally it’s a really hard thing being the drummer. I’m so far back on the stage and I cant’s see anything about what’s going on at a show. It’s very hard for me to judge when Wil stops someone and I didn’t see anything. Again it’s a thing where I don’t know the solution but you have to continue to promote the positive message and we have done similar things with the refugee situation, violence against women or sexism at shows, we always stand up for that on our social media when thats an issue we always speak out about it and I sort of like to thing that maybe there are some people who are from that broughter audience they might have not understood that but saying an issue or something happened at the show or we post something on facebook and they thought about it and rethought about it and going on ‚okay, I shouldn’t think about it this way, I should respect women or I should be not so violent or I should not get so drunk and push my mates around or whatever‘, it’s a complex issue again but we just like want to promote taking care of each other and thats all that really matters. Wil is supergood at it. it’s been a learning curve for us in Australia ever since “No One Gets Lost Anymore” came out. More people come to shows, more dickheads and how do you deal with it – as best as you can.
LT: It’s pretty amazing to see how many thoughts you have about this.
Chris: Thanks. The thing that breaks my heart is that, you know, it’s such a fine balance because obviously we want our band to be successful and generally that success is measured by more people coming to see the band and then I see things on Facebook or whatever. Like my friends, we call them old friends now but people I call friends because they’re coming to see our band a long time since the very beginning. And then they are saying things that they maybe don’t wanna come anymore because of the crowd we attract. That sucks. Hopefully we can continue to promote the positive message that people should take care of each other at shows. That’s all I want.
LT: Sort of a fun question, don’t take it too serious: Would you rather write a song for your least favourite AFL Club or perform Happy Birthday on Tony Abbots birthday?
Chris: (laughs) I’m gonna say Tony Abbott because I really don’t know that much about football and I haven’t a least favourite Club. Thats a really cheap answer (laughing). I feel like if we would do the Tony Abbot-Birthday Song we could like secretly in Australia we would say take a piss out of him, it should be like tease him. So that’s the answer.
LT: With “I Love Life” “Throw Me In the River” has a very positive end. Was that the main message of the record?
Chris: I always start the question by saying I can’t speak for Wil cause I don’t write the lyrics but that is one I like the most about Wil. I mean “Throw Me In the River” is really fucking depressing. It’s such a sad album. And he was in a really dark phase when he wrote these songs I guess, going through a break up and all the thing that come with that but there is still like a inch of hope included in the overall message and yeah that’s the most important thing to me. The fact that “I Love Life” is the last song and that it ended with that was not necessarily intentional, but it seems like a pretty obvious place to put that song especially because it’s the big jam out song at the end, it made sense. We didn’t say that this is the song that we need at the end of the album. Just that was the way it all fit together as soon as we sort of realized that thiswas the positive song of course that has to be the last song. And I would still consider that “Something I can hold in my Hands” as the start is a quite positive song with reflection about Wil’s father or “I Don’t Wanna Die Anymore”, still quite a depressing song, but has this positive theme with not wanna die anymore. Yeah, thats what I love about that album.
LT: During this Tour you have visited many new places. What was your favorite moment and then you’re least favorite moment?
Chris: I think my favorite so far would probably be Budapest. Just because it is somewhere I’d never though that I would go. We went to a lot of places and countries that I never ever thought I would get to. And Budapest, Poland, Slovenia… Slovenia we played Punk Rock Holiday Festival and it is the most beautiful spot ever. Probably that and Budapest, which is such a beautiful city. Between when we sound checked and played I was going for a walk around to the river. This is a beautiful place, so that’s the positive experience we hadn’t any more negative experiences on this tour so far.
LT: What about the IBIS Hotel?
Chris: Yeah that was funny. I kind of enjoyed that too much a little bit. I didn’t see that as a negative situation because it was so ridiculous that it was funny and it was so tragic that it was funny. We knew we hadn’t done anything wrong and we was just like booked the hotel room and got cancelled. So the personal let us all sleep in this one tiny room and then we basically come out of this room in the morning and the new manager who was working calls the police and we were just like ‚what the fuck is happening?‘ and then the police get there and they were like ‚why are we here, what’s the problem?‘. So it was funny, I had fun. Yeah, no negative situations so far. It’s been awesome. Very fun tour.
LT: Nice talking to you! Thank you.
Interview: Oliver Stock
Fotos: Eileen Neubert
Zu Erwerben gibt es die 7″ nun im Uncle M-Shop zusammen mit einem wunderschönen T-Shirt genau hier.