Who Are…Royal Headache

Austin L. Ray

By Austin L. Ray

on 05.11.12 in Who Is...?s

File under: Blazing, breathless, R&B-indebted rock 'n' stomp

For fans of: The Black Lips, Ted Leo / Pharmacists, The Buzzcocks, and The Exploding Hearts

From: Sydney, Australia

Personae: Shogun (vocals), Law (guitar), Joe (bass), Shorty (drums)

Guitars are at the forefront of much of Royal Headache’s self-titled debut, but not the noodling, 14-notes-a-second variety. Instead, these young Aussies specialize in the type of songs led by jangling, major-chord strums laced with just enough distortion to make it interesting. The Sydney foursome cut its teeth in Australia’s punk and hardcore scenes before opting for something a little more mod, a little more power pop, a little more R&B. The resulting LP, which was produced by Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s Mikey Young and Straight Arrows’ Owen Penglis, is a fist-pumping, beer-swilling affair, filled with psychotic episodes, girls, love and surprises.

eMusic’s Austin L. Ray traded emails across the pond with drummer Shorty about Australia’s punk scene, the band members’ parents and the 30 additional songs Royal Headache already has on the way.

On Australia’s punk community:

I can only properly comment on Sydneyand my personal experiences in my immediate musical circle. However, I feel there is definitely a musical community which has coalesced around movements of the R.I.P Society label over the last few years. The establishment of R.I.P resulted in a nice convergence between the straightforward and immediate approach of some of Sydney’s punk/garage/rock ‘n’ roll musicians with some of the city’s more “experimental,” left-field musical artists. It’s quite a diverse bunch, and there is no distinguishable musical aesthetic, but something intangible seems to tie it together. Maybe it is just the honest, no-bullshit approach to creating music. As you can imagine, there is a lot of member sharing and incestuous band relationships.

On U.S. support:

Goner and otherMemphisfolk like Bruce Saltmarsh (Easter Bilby) have been great supporters of Australian sounds over recent years, and have been the main source point for distribution of this particular realm of Australian music in theUSA. We played Gonerfest last year.

On Royal Headache’s live show:

It’s hard to answer this without sounding like a contrived wanker, but I guess generally our shows are pretty frantic and have a bunch of live energy. We don’t play that often, so I guess we build ourselves up for each occasion.

I can see myself always being involved in music in some capacity. I’ve being playing it for almost half my life. It wouldn’t even matter if I was performing live or not. I always say that it balances me and is a plus for my general mental health.

On the next album:

We’ve actually recently drawn up a song chart in our rehearsal space. The latest tally shows we have got over 30 unrecorded songs. Most of them are not finished and still need tweaking. The main priority is to record another LP before the end of the year. Fingers crossed that happens.

On their parents and their band:

My dad has never been to a show. That’s cool. Music is just not his thing, but he is still supportive of everything I do. One time Joe’s folks drove for about 20 hours from far north Queensland to Sydney to see us play on New Year’s Eve. (Not as dramatic as it sounds — they were actually passing through town anyway.)

On “punk” in 2012:

The term has been bastardized in popular culture for almost 40 years now. Maybe it was a farce to begin with? To me, real punk must be honest and have a level of intensity. It’s definitely not apathetic. As an idea I don’t think it should necessarily have to follow any strict dogmatic political ideal. But should always have a level of conviction. At base level, I always thought punk should be extreme — extreme in its ideas, extreme in its approach and extreme in its delivery.

Actually, I really don’t know.