EN: Los Scallywaggs is an Australian band that, since 2013, has the mission to embellish the slacker scene. In the last few years, he has played bogan music, punk, pop… and he now wants to be the soundtrack of our long road trips. His latest EP, We’re All Mad Here, is among the best releases of 2020. I had to talk to him, before meeting him, one day, maybe…
FR: Los Scallywaggs, c’est un groupe australien qui, depuis 2013, s’est donné pour mission d’embellir la scène slacker. Ces dernières années, il a oscillé entre bogan music, punk, pop, et voilà qu’il veut désormais faire honneur aux long road trips en van à l’aide d’une musique qui me rappelle la scène anglaise. Son dernier EP en date, We’re All Mad Here, fait partie des meilleures sorties de 2020. Bref, il fallait que je lui parle, avant d’aller les rencontrer, un jour, peut-être…
Let us start with a playlist curated by
Los Scallywaggs for Still in Rock
How are you? What’s up with you these days?
We are doing well. Finally played a couple of shows after a long wait. We have added some new mates to the band so there is five of us now. Bit of synth and more guitar which feels good.
Good to hear! Now, let me start by going back in time. What was the idea when you created the band?
The idea was to make simple but loud as fuck music in your face kinda thing. I guess it’s taking its toll now because our ears are done for. We started playing heavy rock kind of White Stipes style, because it was only guitar and drums at the start. But soon discovered bands like the Black Lips and Ty Segall which threw that other style out the window. Their songs were some simple yet so fucking good to listen to so that was super inspiring and set out the new direction of where we wanted to go I guess.
You know… no-one ever mentions the White Stripes while I think the band influence is huge. Let’s jump on to your latest music. It seems to me that We’re All Mad Here is a love letter to U.K. music (Britpop)? Is that a fair assessment?
I’m not that sure about the love letter. It definitely wasn’t our intention to create that feeling, but glad that people are making that assessment. For the last three or four years, we were so embedded in creating in your face garage-style music that we just got bored of it, to be honest. We have always said we should make an album or an EP of slower songs because a lot of the time when your driving or winding down or whatever, you don’t feel like listening to loud hectic music. So it was more exciting for us as a band to take a step back and create this EP. We threw out the idea of limiting ourselves to just drums, bass and guitar, and tried to create more dynamic pieces of music which in the end turned out to be our favourite release we have done.
Very interesting. I guess you could drive listening to Illumination Zap, but We’re All Mad Here (despite the name) might be less dangerous! This EP has a real ”redneck” touch. Now, I realize how contentious it is to qualify some music as redneck, but I mean it as a compliment (as I wrote in this article, rednecks are cool in Europe). What do you think? Are you rednecks? Is your music redneck?
Redneck is American. I think bogan is the Australian version. And yeh there are plenty of bands that are bogan, I guess. Bogan is good. I think every Australian person has a bit of bogan in them whether they admit to it or not. A lot of the bands mentioned above are pub bands which I guess is bogan but they are all great bands. I wouldn’t say that we are a very pub band or bogan band at that but we will take whatever compliments we can get.
“Bogan is good”, I love it! Well… I also called your music ”slacker” many times. Not that you are not working hard, but it seems to be faithful to The Dictators and Ramones. It’s punk, it’s trash, it’s fun. Are you bothered by this label?
Nah… people can call it whatever they want if they like that’s great, and if they don’t, that’s also fine. Some of our favourite bands are slacker rock bands, I guess, so we are happy to be in that category.
Coming back to We’re All Mad Here, I agree with you that they are your best songs, imho. This is super rare; bands usually get to their best material after 1 or 2 years. How come, you think?
Everyone is different. We were super happy with the response we got from the EP. I guess it made it more special for us as we didn’t care what people thought of it in the first place. We just wanted to release something that was different from what we have always done, and if people liked it that just a bonus.
When can we expect some new music from you?
Hopefully another LP later on this year.
It seems to me that the slacker scene is slowly dying off at the benefit of more serious punk music (more engaged), although there are still a few bands around, such as Dune Rats, The Chats, Skegss, and co. With all the shit that’s happening in the world, it’s possible we might see a come back to more slacker bands because people might need some music to cheer them up. What do you think of all that?
I think people in Australia are extremely lucky and haven’t felt the effects of the pandemic like the rest of the world has. In saying that bands are still releasing music and doing their best to deal with what is happening regarding venue closures and new seating rules. People are getting over it and bands are too. It’s out of anyone’s hands. I think Australians make light of any shitty circumstance and whatever it takes to cheer ’em up, they will jump onto it. And when they’ll let venues doubling capacity… everyone will cheer up.
Man… I need to move to Australia, then. So, what’s the music scene like? It seems to be the golden age of Australian rock music from the outside. Is it going in the right direction? What would you like to change?
So many sick Aussie bands popping off at the moment. But there is a lot of the same shit as well. I can’t say if it is totally going in the right direction. Some parts are definitely going in the right direction, but sometimes I get so frustrated listening to these safety bands on the radio that actually suck and are getting ridiculous exposure. They are kinda creating their safe music that they know has a catchy hook or whatever to enhance their chances of being played on the radio. The big radio stations run the show and the music industry can base a band worth on these radio plays. I think that is what bugs me the most and what I would change. But I guess the best thing is that there are so many new bands that are popping up after all over the place since this shit covid shit started. And there have been some fucking good releases as of late, which make us believe that the music scene is going in the right direction.
Excellent! Now, I’ve recently conducted a short empirical study on “garage rock”, generally speaking. I found out that more and more albums are labelled as such, but the number of Google queries for garage rock tends to decrease. What’s your impression from the inside? Do you find it more and more challenging to get support from playing shows and releasing music?
I guess garage music is music that is rough and raw. Lots of bands are rough and raw. It can be harder to get your music playing in front of a large scale audience but I feel there is a more passionate fan base.
Best tour memory?
Touring UK and Europe both 2018 and 2019 would have to be the best experience and memories we have ever had. Can’t even begin to highlight our favourite memory. Just being there was beyond what we could have ever imagined as a band. People there were super welcoming and happy to have us in their cities. If we were to put it down to best memory of a show it would have to be Toulouse in France 2018 with Holy Wave. That show was next level. I think the Slift lads put that one on for us? Thanks, fellas.
One movie I should watch?
The Big Lebowski
You mean re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-watch then, haha. What is your favourite album of the last few months?
Smarts – Who Needs Smarts, Anyway?
Fantastic album! How do you imagine your discography 20 years from now?
20 albums that start at garage rock albums and finish large scale symphony orchestral albums. Like Metalica did.
Haha, wow! Last question: is “rock’n’roll dead”?
No. It’s around; just gotta stumble upon it.