It’s no secret to any Still in Rock reader that Aborted Tortoise is one of the leaders of the post-skate scene, a band from Perth (Australia) leading the dance along with a few others. But it doesn’t really see it that way. Super humble and ‘in the moment’, A.T. doesn’t have the ambition to make history or to initiate a movement, even if that’d be nice. Its only ambition is to release garage punk music that is anchored in its time, written for fun, and to dynamite some parties. Funnily, it just adds to its coolness and makes it one of the 2020s best front-liners. Oh, and before I forget, the band has composed a playlist for us, and it’s 100% soooo good. Enjoy.
Let us start with a playlist curated by
Aborted Tortoise for Still in Rock
How are you? What’s up with you these days?
We’re doing well. Connor had been living in Europe for the past six or so months, so we’ve not really been doing anything as a band, but the coronavirus outbreak meant he had to return home recently. Over the weekend, we all hung out for the first time since probably September last year, which was nice.
Things have calmed down significantly in WA, so we can hang out in larger groups now, but still no live shows for the time being. We’re just waiting for things to blow over so we can re-organise our Australian tour and start playing shows again.
I have a theory: we have seen the creation of a new genre at the end of the 2010s, and it’s about to take over the 2020s. Its name? “Post-skate” music. What is it? Speedy garage punk with nervous yet friendly voice (nothing like angry punks), a simplistic and very tight rhythm, a cathartic sound, almost chopped, anti-corporation lyrics, a mid-fi production (not too lo-fi) and bouncy melodies with a vehement tendency (listen + read). You are among the leaders of post-music imho. What do you think of it? Is there such a scene? Are you willing to take the lead with a few others?
Personally, we prefer “nu-skate”. Actually, I’ve recently just started trying to skate again for the first time in ages, so maybe we’re actually proto-skate??? Haha nah, I don’t know. People can call it what they want to, but we probably wouldn’t use that term to describe our music. Though it’s pretty flattering to hear that you think we’re leaders in anything.
You work with Goodbye Boozy Records. Tell us about them.
Gabriele is the MAN. We’ve loved Goodbye Boozy for ages so when we were asked to do a 7” we couldn’t say no. Boozy have released some of our favourite music over the past few years: Gee Tee, Satanic Togas, RMFC, Set Top Box, Frowning Clouds, Sick Thoughts, Useless Eaters, Ausmuteants, Dadar, Drunk Mums, Bikini Cops…. the list goes on. He’s a massive supporter of Australian music and is just an all-round legend too.
What are the next steps for you as a band?
I suppose the first thing will be starting rehearsals again and seeing whether or not we can still play our own music. I jammed with my other band the other, day and I’ve realised how fucking unfit I am. I can’t see us returning to playing live any time soon though so maybe we’ll start writing some new music. For the time being, we’re just enjoying being in the same city again and being able to hang out in relative normality.
What do you mean by “Do Not Resuscitate”? What’s the story behind that song?
Charlie wrote that not too long after getting his wisdom teeth out. His health insurance didn’t cover all the dental work, so he had to fork out a fair bit of cash to get it done. Around the same time, his Nana had signed a ‘do not resuscitate’ notice in her care home, mostly due to financial concerns. In the end, he intended to discuss the dilemma of paying exorbitant amounts of money to stay alive or fix yourself when you feel that your quality of life may have already deteriorated to the point that it’s not worth it.
“No Skin” is such a good track, I haven’t recovered from it. What is it all about?
Charlie says thanks, haha. He wrote the song after a customer at his old job spent the entire sale coughing into his hand, then forced Charlie into a handshake when the sale was done. It’s basically about feeling super unclean after dumb little interactions like that – like having someone cough or sneeze on you. He reckons he might just be neurotic though, hahah. It has become weirdly relevant again though, with Covid-19 and such.
The band was formed in 2013, but you have released only one album to date, An Beach (2017). It’s a masterpiece. When should we expect your second LP? Do you have a title for it already? A release date? A label? An artwork?
Thanks! That’s super kind of you. We do have a second LP that we have had recorded for a fairly long time. That would have probably been released by now but we were approached by Goodbye Boozy to do the 7” just as Connor was getting to leave for Europe, so we jumped on that while we had the chance to record something new before the break. Personally, I’m itching to get the LP released because we’ve been sitting on it for so long, but if we can’t tour or play the songs live, there’s not really much point.
In terms of content, I suppose it’s along the same lines as the first LP, but the songs are (hopefully) better. It has a similar sense of humour and energy to it. Most of the details aside from the music itself are yet to be confirmed, but the songs are recorded, and mastered, and we’re really happy with how it has turned out. Hopefully, it’ll be out sometime next year?
I’ve recently conducted a short empirical study on garage rock (link). I found out that there are more and more albums labeled as such, but the number of Google queries tends to decrease. What’s your impression from the inside? Do you find it more and more difficult to get support from playing shows and releasing music?
I think regardless of however you want to label a band’s music, people will still buy it as long as it’s good. There has never been much money in making the sort of music that we don and only the really savvy bands can make that happens. Savvy we are not. Shows in Perth don’t really pay that well if at all. But we never set out to make a living from this band, so that doesn’t really bother us. As long as we have enough time to play, and work doesn’t completely overtake the band, I’m happy.
Tell us about the music scene in Perth, and more generally, in Australia. Is it going in the right direction? What would you like to change?
The music scene here in Perth is great, but it is small. As a result, it can be a bit clique-y at times, so I guess it would be nice for there to be a bit more mixing between the smaller scenes. The pool of active musicians playing the sort of music we like is very small in Perth, so most bands have members active in multiple other bands, but I guess that’s also the case in larger cities like Melbourne or Sydney. Nationally though, Australia is doing really well, and it always has been. I just wish that flights were cheaper so that we could get out of Perth more often for less money.
We have seen many slacker bands from Australia, such as Dune Rats, The Chats, Skegss and co. What’s your take on that scene?
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Dune Rats or Skeggs, but I’ll always have time for The Chats. Those guys are great blokes and have done really well for themselves by playing great, uncomplicated music. A lot of people are really into that tongue in cheek Australian cultural commentary at the moment, and The Chats do it really well, so it’s no surprise that they’re killing it, and I’m stoked for them.
One may argue that there’s a battle between the Australian scene and the US one. Could you give us a few names of American bands you adore? (just to see if they’re up to the fight
From my viewpoint, a lot of stuff that’s doing well in Australia right now is directly derived from that Midwest weirdo internet punk scene, so the Americans probably come out on top if there was a hypothetical “battle”. Some bands are putting a more original spin on that sound than others.
Some contemporary US bands we dig include, but are not limited to Coneheads, Liquids, Uranium Club, Nick Normal, Sick Thoughts, Parquet Courts, Landline, D.L.I.M.C., Hobocop, Booji Boys, Glue etc.
Is “rock’n’roll dead”?
No. Rock cannot be stopped.
Best tour memory?
We haven’t toured that much but still heaps of good memories. The European tour as a whole was amazing even, though it was short and the shows were small. We met so many great people and had the sickest time. Going completely batty on the huge drives was pretty memorable. We did play one show in the basement of a semi-abandoned house in Trento, Italy, which was pretty amazing. The builder’s funds dried up during construction, so one of the guys that helped book us the show started renting it and built a little studio in the basement. The town is situated in a valley in the Alps so it was easily the most scenic location we have ever played. We played to maybe ten people in this tiny room, but it was super fun.
What is your favorite album of the last few months?
I think it’s a bit older than a few months, but one album I loved last year was The Serfs – Sounds of Serfdom. Lotsa drum machines, synth and all that good stuff you expect to hear on a post punk/coldwave LP. I ordered the record when it came out, but my copy was warped to fuck during shipping so I can’t even spin the record. Oh well.
How do you imagine your discography in 20 years from now? Do you think about it in terms of music history?
Good question. Honestly, I don’t think any of us really think about our music in such grandiose terms. Sure it would be great to be able to be remembered in 20 years’ time but there’s so much great music coming out now that it’s really difficult to make something to stand out. Such an insane volume of music gets released every day, but only a very small amount of it will be remembered in 20 years’ time. For now, we’ll just keep plodding along, and time will tell.