Maybe it’s the country’s colorful history, maybe it’s the giant beer, maybe it’s sense of frontiet, like an alternate-universe Old West (see also the amazing Western “The Proposition” for the full story), but there is noise rock and then there is Australian noise rock. From the Birthday Party’s shirtless, godless mega-throb to today, Strine (Australian for “Australian” — say it out loud) noise rock seems fundamentally looser, more chaotic, more willing to embrace truly deviant sounds.
Slug Guts are the current kings of that particularly muddy mountain, and their newest studio album, Playin In Time With the Deadbeat, their third overall and second for Sacred Bones, is one of the finest such slabs to drunkenly shimmy its way onto our comparatively tame shores in quite some time. Songs boot and rally, surge ahead and scream away. An oddly thrilling cover of Public Image Limited’s “Order of Death” is just the gravy.
Slug Guts have not been without controversy. Hell, their own label’s press release noted that band members endured “trips to the mental hospital, jail, court trials, death, rehab, and bouts of violence following thousands of kilometers spent in a van.”
eMusic’s Joe Gross interviewed Slug Guts guitarist and prime mover Jimi Kritzler about what the hell was going on during 2011, bands that inspired them and seeing the Meat Puppets at SXSW.
On the battle conditions surrounding the writing and recording of Playin’ in Time With the Deadbeat:
We recorded the record over the course of several Australian tours in this house in this fucked suburb in Melbourne, it was after our American tour to promote our last record on Sacred Bones. At the time we were going on, our indulgences and subsequent behavior hadn’t effected us that badly, a few near misses but it was only on the last Australian tour we did to promote the live album [Livin' Evil] on Negative Guest List that everything kinda hit a wall, certain members’ indulgences became more important than actually doing what we needed to do, people got violent, people got busted, people got done, cops became involved on different occasions. It was shitty but we still finished the record and moved city. Unfortunately some members and good friends stayed behind. But I think record captures this strange time really well.
On the late Brendon Annesley, a stellar young writer whose zine and record label Negative Guest List (which he started as a teenage and named after a Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments song) played a large role in defining the current wave of such killer punk such as Puerto Rico Flowers, Homostupids, Watery Love and Total Control. (Annesley died unexpectedly at the age of 21 in January.):
No part of the record is about him, but the record is dedicated to him. Brendon was fuckin’ on it. He was a fuckin’ good friend of mine and we held tight a lot of the same things: records, good writing and getting messed up. He was the guy, he breathed life and fucked-upness and humor into a stale city. We shared a lot of fucked-up and good times. I leftAustraliato live inBerlinat the end of last year, and got this call when I was coming home in minus-17 degrees, Brendon had died. It was fucked, it still sucks and the only good is that his amazing girlfriend Mariah is finishing and releasing all the records he had planned.
On their experience at South By Southwest:
[I saw bands I liked] but I saw the Meat Puppets and it was the worst thing I have ever seen, it fucking sucked. It was so bad it overshadowed the good shit I saw. I spent the morning organizing shit so I would be messed up when Meat Puppets played. They sucked. What a drag.