We’re cut off from the world, less and less now, but still. A lot of home done work. Crowds are tougher and smaller, so you gotta really commit.” – Ben Portnoy.

While many of my Australian readers are already familiar with the brand of hard charging punk rock C.O.F.F.I.N create, I was pleasantly surprised to have my face significantly melted off when I saw the band open for Amyl and the Sniffers in Los Angeles on their 2022 US tour together. From Murder Mall to Three Six Mafia, I caught up with mullet-laden leather warrior Ben Portnoy to learn more about what influences C.O.F.F.I.N.

Where does the name C.O.F.F.I.N come from and how long have you been a band?

Ben Portnoy: C.O.F.F.I.N stands for Children of Finland Fighting in Norway, we started it in the first year of high school in 2005. When we were about 12 years old.

What other bands have you guys been in?

Aaron played in Chrisfits (a Christmas themed Misfits cover band). They opened for us at the Harbord Bowlo in 2016 I think. It was their one and only show and is a joyous memory I often revisit.  Collectively we’ve been in a bunch of random associated bands growing up that aren’t around anymore: Meatswine, Doctor Fungi, Para, Leatherface, Val Halla, Holy Deception, Para.

Currently I play in Research Reactor Corp., Rare Blooms, Satanic Togas, Polute, White Dog.

Favorite music genre that isn’t covered in the music you create? 

Ben: Cuban

Aaron: Hip Hop, Three Six

Abijah: Country music

Loz: IDM bass music 

We love all of these and heaps more.

Aaron, I’m from Memphis originally so I gotta ask. What is your favorite thing about Three Six Mafia?

Aaron is asleep in the van again, only one in the band that doesn’t drive, must be nice. My favorite stuff is Crunchy Black’s solo stuff or Gangsta Boo.

Do you guys come up with different acronyms for the band or is it always the same one?

Been the same since day one. Few 12-year-olds put on the spot for a band name during a time they were heavily into Scandinavian metal.

What’s your favorite thing to sing about? 

Having the shits with something.

Top Australian guitarists (past or present)?

Lobby Loyde, Malcom Young, Kent Steedman, Deniz Tek, Spencer P Jones, Rolland S Howard, Mawson and Gaz Ishka, and Pete Wells.

Other Australian subculture icons you admire?

  • Serwah Attafuah
  • Molly Meldrum 
  • Dancing Water
  • Otis Carey 
  • Ruby Kubetz
  • Matt Mill
  • Dan Stewart
  • Susy Sykes
  • Arthur Flanders
  • Greta Batlog 
  • Silky
  • Dancing Water
  • Mike Foxal
  • Dougal Groman

Would you ever write a diss track?

Most of them are really. Kinda wanna write a couple more lovey doves ones.

What would a lovey dovey C.O.F.F.I.N song sound like?

Maybe about falling in love at Murder Mall because you discover you and someone else in there have a matching order at Noodle Star.

Or like having a crush on the 200KG key cutter/cobbler, and you buy as many shoelaces and keys as you can in order to keep visiting them, until they get suss and dob you in and you have to explain to the cops it was just cos you were too timid to ask them to join you at Noodle Star.

Seems like you need to write a song about Murder Mall? Why is it called Murder Mall?

No idea why it’s actually called that, been like that before my introduction to it. Probably got a bit to do with those toilets they had in there.

Speaking of toilets, best food to eat on the road?

Salad bars or tacos where you can find them. Eat a meal while making another for later.  One can only handle so many rolling hot dogs and squirt cheese.

Why do you think some of the best guitar driven rock ever created comes from Australia?

We’re cut off from the world, less and less now, but still. A lot of home done work. Crowds are tougher and smaller, so you gotta really commit. Too much sun.

What’s your relationship with Amyl and the Sniffers like?

We owe ‘em a lot. They’ve always big upped us and they’re some of the most genuine folks we’ve had the pleasure of playing with and become close friends with. Each member is an individual in their own right and a treat to chat and share with. We have a huge heart for them.

Now that you’re pretty deep into your US tour, how’s it been so far? Most surprising thing about the US?

This tour has been pretty life affirming and a lot to take in- in the best ways – the struggles and then the refueling feats. The sheer scope and size of everything here has us in constant awe. From the infrastructure to the engines, the coastal mountains to the mammoth redwoods, god damn.

As much as there is a whole heap of heavy problems existing in this country, there is no denying the magnificence of its landscapes, and the real heart that a lot of folks here have. I’m surprised to be loving the drives so much, and to have encountered so many people I’m sad to not be able to shoot the shit with on the reg.

Denim or leather? 

Most the band shouted “Denim!”

Although on tour I’ve been rocking this sick tasseled leather jacket my missus Nina got for me from the second-hand spot in Murder Mall which was across from our old joint in Surry Hills. Unfortunately Murder Mall has since been demolished. RIP the fun and freaks.

What’s the song “City Sun” about?

Loosely about the bulldozing of public housing in Sydney and privatization of that land. As well as feeling like an ineffective passenger of the city’s constant hurling towards being soulless.

And how would you save Sydney’s soul?

All the shopfronts and spaces that are now unoccupied from fallen business and unrealistic rents get turned into free venues, artist studios, and soup kitchens with three Michelin Stars. 

Who is the Sydney King? 

Sydney King is a hard diss track. Kinda applies to a few sociopathic cowards in Sydney.

Mainly a particular Australian painter, an absolute reeking shit stain of a human. Spose flies are attracted to it.

When’s your next release coming out? 

One thing our Covid lockdowns were kinda helpful for was writing. We weren’t constantly focused on shows, we’ve got a heap of new stuff that we are planning to record in July. New album by the end of the year!

All Photos from the C.O.F.F.I.N & Amyl and the Sniffers LA show at the Teragram Ballroom, May 4th 2022.


Low Life Interview 2021

This interview is old. Sorry mate.

What’s the best thing about being in a band from Australia?

Cristian O’Sullivan: Personally, I feel there are possibly more cons than pros, but in saying that, even though Australia is quite big and spread out, there is a pretty small community of folk that put on shows, put records out, host radio shows (well at least in the world our band exists), so from that angle there is a strong sense of community I guess.

Another positive is that there are a lot of really good bands that do not take themselves very seriously, as most folk don’t kid themselves by believing that there is a chance they can be the next big thing. Most people that we play with are very grounded and easy to get along with. One of my mates Murray was in that kids group the Wiggles and he is as down to earth as any of us in Low Life.

What’s the worst thing about being in a band from Australia?

Playing anywhere besides your hometown can be very expensive and a logistical nightmare. Most shows on the East Coast are in the main cities of each state, so you have Sydney (NSW), Melbourne (VIC), Brisbane (QLD) as your main options and if you wanna take a gamble you have Adelaide (SA) and Hobart (TAS). I love both those cities but it costs more to get there with no guarantee of people showing up! There are not a lot of options of places to play shows in between major cities.

Just to give you an idea of the size of Australia, driving from Sydney to Melbourne takes between 8-10 hours or costs $300+ return trip per person on a plane (pre-COVID). Sydney to Brisbane is much the same. Regional shows can be fun but there is always the risk of only 10 people rocking up with 9 of them being meth heads that want to see an AC/DC cover band.

When it comes to international travel, a flight to LA is 15+ hours and Sydney to the UK is like 24 hour flight minimum. Our currency is shit so the Australian dollar basically halves as soon as we leave the country.

Who came up with the name Low Life?

I’m not too sure. Greg and I were not original members of Low Life. The band started in 2010 (?) and was it Mitch, Yuta (Orion), Chris (Orion) and Finn (Eternal Dust) so it would have been one of them. That line up recorded the tape and then the Sydney Darbs 7″ They only really played a handful of shows together. Yuta quit after a gig one night (I tried talking him out of it), then Chris maybe quit not long after that. This was all before the Sydney Darbs 7″ was released. 

Mitch called me up shortly after asking for Greg’s phone number as he wanted Greg to play drums for Low Life (we had all played in another band together before) and then called me back a few days later asking me to fill in on bass for one gig they had booked with Slug Guts as Finn had gone AWOL. I did it as a favor, we had fun and then I ended up joining the band full time. After that we played together a hand full of times in a garage and then recorded the Dogging LP as a three piece. Since then we have had Shogun from Royal Headache in the band for a while, he quit then Dizzy joined, then Yuta came back. I like the evolving nature of it.

I remember when I met u guys in Memphis I decided I was gonna glue myself to you until you left.  Was that the first time you’d been there? Where did you go when you left?

That was sick and I cannot thank you enough for your hospitality! That whole trip was a shit show but you and the Memphis crew helped make it a fun time. You turned me onto one of my all-time favorite records on that trip, My Ancestors by Chrissy Zebby Tembo. Other highlights were seeing Weather Warlock, True Sons of Thunder, Destruction Unit, and watching the NBA playoffs with you Eric and Bruce. I love Memphis. I had been there a few years before, so it was not my first time visiting. When we left Memphis we ended up in LA in this crazy house in the Hollywood Hills.

One of my oldest friends is a professional skateboarder and he was house sitting this place that looked like something out of the movies. Swimming pool and shit, overlooking the sunset strip. Pretty crazy. It was owned by some famous artist guy who was in another country at the time so it was kinda overrun by all these young skate kids just partying. So many people are like “LA is so shit”…..I fucking loved it! Hahaha. I guess maybe we got lucky though.

Let’s talk about the different aspects of culture you tap into..there’s a lot of ground you cover when you talk about a Low Life fan. How do you weave between so many scenes without bumming one of them out. Does it matter if you do?

Probably sounds cheesy but weirdos, misfits and outcasts are our people, regardless of the scenes they are from or what they are into. The people that come to our shows are from all walks of life. Sometimes I’m pretty weirded out but I try not to be judgmental of anyone these days. I like the diversity of it.

Look, I’m sure we do bum some people out when we have opportunities to play bigger venues or whatever, whether it be the more musician type people that think we do not deserve it or the punks thinking we are sell outs, but at the end of the day we don’t change what we do or who we are, or how we behave. We don’t give a fuck, but if one of us in the band starts acting like a big shot they get cut down pretty quick by the rest of us!

How did the Distort lyric Zine come about?

Dan (DX) has been really supportive of Low Life since the Dogging LP. We have never included lyric sheets with any records, so he thought it’d be a good idea to compile all of the lyrics into a booklet. I’m glad it happened as I think Mitch is a genius writer. It was a funny process because Mitch had to write out the lyrics to every song and he’d been through a lot of changes in life since writing those older songs, so it was quite confronting for him. He’d ring me up stressing out about things being taken out of context or glorifying shitty behaviour. It was almost like unwanted therapy for him.

How do you know DX?

I’ve known DX for close to 25 years, I guess. We both lived in a town called Wollongong which is about an hour south of Sydney and were into punk rock and skateboarding. I remember when we first properly connected, we were at the local skate park, he was heavy into straight edge music and I needed drug money so I invited him over to my house to buy some of my straight edge records so I could get high. Hahaha.

Where does the slogan “you know who the fuck we are”  come from?

Mitch writes all the lyrics. He wanted an anthemic vibe on that song and I think he nailed it. It’s clearly tongue in cheek like a lot of his lyrics.

What’s the best way to get fucked up and avoid feeling like shit the next day?

We have all calmed down a lot with partying/abuse in all honesty. Mitch is 100% sober and the rest of us dabble in this and that but nothing like before. That doesn’t really answer your question though. Hahaha. I guess the best way to avoid feeling like shit is to either not do it……or keep doing it. Hahahaha.

How much do the Wipers influence you?

I really dig the Wipers and I know Greg does too but I don’t think they have directly influenced us or there is any one band that we all would all agree have influenced Low Life. Maybe Poison Idea or the Happy Mondays? We sound nothing like either of them, but we all love them. Everyone in the band has quite different tastes in music. Do you think we sound like the Wipers or something?

Nah, I just wanted to see what you’d say. Now, let’s talk about your latest endeavor, the clothing line with Passport. Why the collab?

Passport is a skateboard company based in Sydney. Trent who owns it is a great guy and very encouraging and supportive of people doing different shit whether it be art, skateboarding, music etc. We are friends with a bunch of the guys that skate for them as well. They have such an amazing team of skateboarders. They put out a video last year and used one of our songs and I guess it evolved from there. We back what they do 100%.

How much does fashion influence your music?

Personally, not at all. None of us are from money so if there is an opportunity to swindle some designer gear, we’d grab it. We are far from model material though.

How about football hooligan culture?

Mitch and Greg dig football a lot. I enjoy it but am more into basketball myself. I’m not sure if Dizzy or Yuta really follow sports? As far as football hooliganism goes, it think we all find that quite fascinating. So tribal and primitive. We all tend to be interested in extreme and excessive human behaviour both positively and negatively. Have you read Among the Thugs by Bill Burford? I think you’d dig it.

No I have not. How did you get into photography? Are you ever going to publish your photos anywhere?

I’ve always dug photography and decided to get back into it a few years back. I was pretty much so inspired by three friends to pick up a camera again; Luke Wawskowiz, Sam Stephenson and my wife Nash Ferguson. Nash and I did some short run photo zine/books in the last couple of years and no doubt will do more. It’s something I do for fun….almost like therapy really.

Can we talk about your new album From Squats to Lots or is it still under wraps?

It’s done man. We sent the masters to the labels to get pressed and released later this year. It’s coming out on Goner over there and Alter in the UK and a new label in Australia called LSD, which is ran by a bunch of our crew from Melbourne. I actually really dig this record, which in all honesty is not something I am used to saying at this stage of recording a new album. By this time, I am usually sick of hearing the songs but this time the process was quite different. We wrote and recorded the whole thing in the middle of the COVID lockdowns and were still writing in the studio while we were recording instead of recording a bunch of songs we had been playing for years live. 

While we were recording it, I thought it was very different to anything that we had done before, but listening back now, it kinda sounds like a cross between the last two records but with a bit more going on. I don’t know, kinda hard to explain but we are all pretty proud of it, especially given the shit time we decided to record it.




Arak James released my favorite country album of 2020. Chances are you might have missed the limited pressing of Hack the Planet into World Pieces, but luckily for you the whole thing is on bandcamp. You may recognize James as an integral member of both Glue and Institute, and Hack the Planet is some of his best work to date. I caught up with James to learn about what went into the making of this tape and to find out a little more about what it takes to whistle with an accent.

Crunchy Mag: When did you start writing country songs? 

Arak James: The first country song that I wrote that ended up released, I wrote in 2015. Probably in the month of August. It’s called “Man on the Moon.” I stole the tune, that much is for sure. I had just built a table out of a birch door that I had also stolen. Didn’t have much money and I was a terrible worker but I was always very inspired.

Can you tell us where you stole the song from? Or the door? Perhaps both?

The song is a full on adaptation of the melody from “Dark as a Dungeon,” the coal miner song. Good renditions with the original lyrics include Peter Grudzien, Willy Nelson, Ben Wallers, The Carter Family. As for the door? I’ll say the employees wear orange vests.

The description for Hack the Planet into World Pieces is pretty amazing. Who is Peter BD?

 He would be so happy that you noticed how amazing his description was. Peter BD, he is a legendary writer here in New York. He got into the ‘writing game’ by writing people emails. I met him for the first time at a bar in Bushwick and he said, “Arak, check your spam folder.” That was our first time meeting, like I said, but when I checked my spam, like he said, there was a long ass poem in there all about me and my legend. 100% gas, 30% truth.  Pictures included. Naturally he’s my first choice for any press materials these days. Check out his book called ‘Milk & Henny.’

The proceeds for your tape went to Club A Kitchen NYC. Can you tell me more about your involvement with them?

Club A is great. They provide around 2,000 meals per week to the community in need in Bushwick. They’ve grown steadily since their founding. I used to be involved hands on in the distribution of food and in grocery shopping. Now I have stepped off the line and I am studying to become a grant writer. I’m trying to play the long game.  Drop them a line on their instagram @club_a_nyc and feel free to donate money at will.

Who are some other country artists that inspire your music?

The GOAT is John Prine. I love the Carter Family. Jimmie Rogers. Elizabeth Cotton. Charlie Pride. Woody Guthrie. Dolly Parton. Lucinda Williams. Roger Miller. Tom T. Hall. Lee Hazlewood. Kris Kristofferson. Blaze Foley. Peter Grudzien. Charlie Tweddle. But also like, George Clinton, Kevin Ayers, Arthur Russel, Link Wray, Arthur Lee, Queen.

How do you feel being a person of color making country music? Does it matter to you? How does your personal experience with race influence your music? 

It Matters in a heap. Something I’ve learned as a poc is that I cannot be complicit in the system of my own oppression. If I want to make Country Music, and the only thing stopping me is a racist and altogether too normative abstraction about who I am, then the discussion is over and I’m stepping in and Making some Country Music. No matter how easy society makes it for me to gate-keep myself out of certain worlds, I will not be the vessel of my own exclusion. This applies unanimously to my decision making.

The Country Music industry is now and has always been, commercially, a super-white behemoth. But this I do not blame on the artist or the essence. That blame is passed to the market, its manipulators, and the executives producing the predominance of Country Music. For every Carrie Underwood and Toby Keith, there is an Elizabeth Cotton and Charlie Pride to whom they owe.

As for myself, I am simply an artist channeling whatever it is that inspires me to make whatever it is I hear in my head. But who am I really? By Nature and Nurture— a mixed, middle eastern son of an immigrant and a white southern baptist, with brown skin, a unibrow, and a penchant for shaving my beard. Nature says I’m out, Nurture says I’m in. But it’s still I who really chooses Country Music.

My own experience with race has given me many things— anger, depression, phobia, etc. But the vessel through which it influences my music is definitely compassion. This music, at its purest, is the music of angels. I try to speak that truth through the lens of compassion I’ve learned from understanding my own oppression and its intersection with the oppression of all unfavored peoples. We are not any of us free unless we are all free.

How would you say this tape is different than the Smokers are alive and Smoking tape you released a couple years ago?

I was recording myself exclusively with an iPhone back then. I’d had plenty of experience recording with Institute and Glue in full pro studios prior, but I was just trying to capture the moment when it came to the country music at that time. One take– record it anywhere on any guitar, email myself every voice memo from the last year and play around with it til it all fit on one tape. It was great, but as I got more interested in actually arranging these songs as full compositions I had to upgrade.

I was given a 4 track for Christmas two years ago and I 30% learned how to use it and 70% still record through the microphone on my iPod headphones. Personally, I think the result is beautiful. All I want is to execute what I want and sing loads of my own harmonies. Long story short, it is very different from Smokers are Alive and Smoking and I have learned a lot about writing and recording since then.

Now that the project is more established, any chance you take these songs or new songs to a studio? Would you lose something / gain something if you did?

I certainly would. Nothing but the door stands between me and recording a studio album. In whole or in piecemeal, new or old, I’ve got 50 or so songs. Not a single one of them was designed to be kept in low light. Ultimately I’d expect to gain something fierce by taking to the studio. Finally being able to play these songs with other musicians would be invaluable. My vision is my vision, but any plant might benefit from water by a different pail. 

Would you say your music is more influenced by the past or the present?

I been sitting here having written nothing so far on this one for 10- 15 minutes. It’s easier for me to say that all my music is channeled. For that to be possible, I feel like I have to have handfuls of really valid reference points in broad music history, but I also need to ‘bE HeRe nOw’ and drop acid now and then, so to speak. In the same way that a dream doesn’t feel particularly like the past, present, or future, I’d say my music isn’t particularly owed to any of the above. There are plenty of references in my music that in my opinion are easy to notice and trace to their given origins.  Be that something history has written or misreported, or something we are thinking about now.

What’s the inspiration behind the song “Whistle with an Accent”

Walk with me— you’re like 17 years old and you’re about to fail a history test, but you know for a fact that your teacher definitely  thinks you are kind of a boss. You’ve read more than your classmates and you consider yourself street smart for how much you shoplift and talk to strangers. So you fully fail the test before anybody else has even finished, throw up some back handed devil horns, and tell your teacher you will see them tomorrow. 

Fast forward like 12 years— this brand of self confidence, mental resourcefulness, and the ability to pivot in the face of adversity has served you well. You’ve reckoned and reasoned with the consequences of many of your own mistakes, but you’ve come out resembling that boss that your old teacher allowed to fail so many tests. You Whistle with an Accent now, and you always have.

Seems like that teacher may want a copy of your latest tape? 

What if I told you that, hypothetically, I sent her one.

I’d believe you. How does one become Heartlessly Wasted?

It can be so easy. Don’t sleep enough, don’t eat right, don’t plan your schedule, lose track of time, abuse drugs and alcohol.  Do all of this in tandem and no matter how big your heart, anyone unlucky enough to love you during this time will arrive at the same conclusion: you’re just a heartlessly wasted guy. Ripen does the arc of redemption. Cue Act II.

Favorite movie about NYC?

Men In Black

Party Girl

Henry Fool


The Warriors

Taxi Driver

Desperately Seeking Susan

Favorite quote from Henry Fool?

“Henry, what is this?”

“It’s poetry.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. I corrected the spelling myself.”

Favorite “NYC” album?

Peter Grudzien, The Garden of Love

The Templars, Return of Jacque DeMolay

Have you ever played live with this project?

As I sit and write, it is the third anniversary of my first live solo set. Valentine’s day 2018 at the Windjammer with Amour Fou and Touch. I had put it off for three years at that point, but it felt worth the wait. I remember making people cry, which was cool. Validating to my whit and whim I suppose. Quite the confidence boost. I’ve played a handful of other times as well, notably once at 10:30 am on a Sunday morning headlining a 24 hour show at the now defunct Silent Barn in Bushwick. I would play many more times if it were to be that I was asked.

Nothing quite as validating as the human tear I suppose.

I also suppose.

How would a country music tour or live dates differ from what you’ve done road doggin’ with Institute and Glue?

I figure it would be quite different. For one, I would probably drive in my Honda Civic. However, I do not really own any gear aside from my strat and I’m not as keen on driving around the country by myself as I used to be. I would need a little help for sure. I’m not so well connected in the world where this performance fits as I am where punk does so. 

Come to think of it I actually do not wish to put my civic through this. Nor myself. If I’m to tour as Arak James, there’ll be a band. And a van. And I’ll likely borrow all the same gear I always have playing in Institute or Glue. Mose and Cody will probably be there. The civic will be parked in Queens. This is what it’s like when worlds collide.

How important is the movie Hackers to you?

Between 90% and 100% important. How iconic can a  cyberpunk movie be? Hackers answers that question emphatically.  ‘Hack the Planet’ is number one on my list of fictional, can’t miss,  guerrilla webcasts. 

What do you think Razor and Blade are up to now?

They’re on twitch. Live streaming. Probably opening pokemon cards and leading r/wallstreetbets around with a twinkie on a string. There’s a lot of money in all that, money easily funneled back into hacking the planet. However chaotic or devious their behavior may seem, I know they want to see us all eating candy bars just like I do. World Pieces for everyone.

The line “its in the place where I put that thing that time” is something I hope I never forget. Thanks for doing this Arak. Any closing remarks?




Ah yes, the mandatory year end list, and right on time at that. Below you’ll find my top releases of 2020 with absolutely no explanation given as to why. New interviews coming soon, cool?

Yves Tumor – Heaven to a Tortured Mind

Arak James – Hack the Planet into World Pieces

Romero – Honey / Neapolitan

Wifi Gawd- Hot as Hell

100 Flowers – Drawing Fire (reissue)

Various Artists – Days of a Quiet Sun

Duke Deuce – Memphis Massacre 2

21 Savage and Metro Boomin – Savage Mode II (Chop not Slop remix)

Lavender Flu – Barbarian Dust

Totalitar – Sin Egen Monstandare (reissue)


TV Smith interview, 2009.

TV Smith joined the late Jay Reatard on a short US tour in 2009. He’d open the string of shows with an acoustic set, followed by Jay’s set of Blood Visions / Matador singles material, and the night would conclude with Jay’s band backing up TV for a set of Adverts classics. I missed the Memphis date so I hopped in the van and headed to Oxford the following day. Full disclaimer: this is one of my first interviews ever.

What were you doing before the Adverts started?

TV Smith: Before The Adverts I played in a school band and before that I was just writing poetry. The whole thing was a process that at some point became known to other people and then it just kind of became established. I was always just getting it out of myself and writing, not thinking this is the way my future lies.

Who were some of the first bands The Adverts played with?

We started out just as punk was starting out. We were one of the first punk bands to ever play the Roxy, the first time we played there was with Slaughter and the Dogs and Eater. I think the second or third time was with Generation X. Later we played with bands like The Damed, Ramones, The Heartbreakers. Kind of everyone really.

What were shows at The Roxy like?

The Roxy was only open until April of ’77 in its original form, so it was literally only open for 100 days, they took away the lease and some other guy took it over and it was never the same. A lot of the bands got too big for it even though they had started out at this little club…it was tiny. It had a little bar upstairs with a downstairs room. The stage was a total of six inches off the ground and I think if you got a hundred and fifty people in there it was really uncomfortably full.

Did you ever tour Europe?

We played a few shows in mainland Europe, but mostly in Britain. We did a few gigs in holland and a few gigs in Germany, we didn’t really get outside of Britain very much. We got successful in Britain quite early so we toured on the back of that. You know, we broke up after two years so we didn’t get the time to go much further.

What bands did you tour with?

The first major tour we did was supporting the Damned and we went out on a 30 day tour of Britain. Both bands were in really good shape and it was a really good tour because things were still really exciting and both bands were really trying hard. Later that year we did a tour supporting Iggy Pop and that was like a dream come true because me and Gaye were both big fans. That tour was our biggest because all the dates were theater dates rather than club dates. All of a sudden here was this little punk band that started 6 months ago and we were supporting our hero. 

Editors note: 11 years later I’m realizing how stupid it was not to have any follow up questions about the Iggy Pop tour. Ah well, hindsight is 420, as they say.

So it caught on that quick?

Yeah our first gig was January 1977 and by summer of 77 we had a hit single and we were a famous pop band.

Did you guys ever tour the US?

Nope, we were advertised to play CBGB’s once but it never happened, I never knew why but now I’m beginning to figure out how hard it is to get a visa and it makes sense why we weren’t able to get a visa. (Tv missed the first handful of dates with Jay Reatard after he was denied a visa in London.)

What was Britain’s reaction to The Adverts and the other first generation punk bands?

They were shocked, completely shocked. It was unbelievable. That’s kind of what made you think you were doing something right. We started because we didn’t like society and we didn’t like the music that was going on. They were just absurdly shocked, looking back and thinking about how people were protesting outside Sex Pistols concerts and holding up banners.




Courtesy of Rebecca Price

The mere existence of Lavender Flu makes me feel like garage rock is back in the rightful hands of those who deserve the recognition, even if there’s little to be found in that department in 2020.

2018’s Mow the Glass was awesome. 2020’s Barbarian Dust is a masterclass. If we’re all alive in 2022, maybe the rest of the world will catch on to what many of us already know to be true: Lavender Flu fucking rules.

I caught up with The Hummingbird Whisperer (Scott Simmons) and Gresham Ocarina (Chris Gunn) to learn more about their latest album.

Where does the album title Barbarian Dust come from? Drugs? 

G.O.: At band practice one day, sound and visions invaded, merciless knocking and yelling at the door. All signs pointed to a part time post post post post post new age crust punk kicking our door down to berate us mercilessly with the Nurse With Wound list. Said list was scrawled in classic punk font on a 10 foot scroll wielded and unfurled as some sort of fabric whip. This costumed warrior would yell at us to “Do Your Homework” and READ THE LIST!!! Turns out it was just the Hummingbird Whisperer banging on the door. He’d had an epiphany. The title has to be “Barbarian Dust” he said. No questions asked. We went from there.   

HW: Smart drugs

Who did the artwork and where did the concept come from? The color scheme is awesome. I feel like if it was black and white It would almost look like an anarcho punk bands LP. 

HW: That color scheme was inspired by a sick Rosemary’s Baby poster that I had and punk had nothing to do with it. Maybe a little bit of Emory Douglas….

G.O.: Thanks! We ARE an anarcho punk band. It’s interesting that the images are strangely relevant to current events. The album layout was put together a year before the end of life as we knew it. Our muse (pronounced MOOZE) is always Michael Anthony related and we follow that for better or worse. The Rajneeshees on the inner sleeve can tell you a lot. I used to live a few blocks away from their old fire bombed hotel.

So this is the first proper studio recording for Lavender Flu, What was that experience like? Anything you did there that you “couldn’t” do before? 

HW: It was cool to record where Nu Shooz recorded. Always had a soft spot for Poolside. Otherwise it was pretty much about getting good drum sounds. Was nice getting to fuck around with the vibraphone too. But really, Justin Higgins could record us anywhere and make it sound cool. 

GO: It was fun but reminded me why I don’t really like recording in proper studios. We were really just using the room to get bigger sounds then our last record which was recorded live in a one room cabin. Justin was still recording us on the same tape machine as the last records. We used a bigger mixing board this time. We were able to fully maximize the gong recording as well as the expertly played Thunderlube. 

I gotta say, this album still feels pretty free, maybe even more free than Mow The Glass? You went into the confines of the studio to really get free? 

HW: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”

GO: Sometimes you have to put on nice running shoes to truly dance like water. 

No One Remembers Your Name” might be the prettiest LF song I’ve heard. Can you talk about that track a little bit?

HW: That one came together really quick and instantly had that Big Star / Real Kids ballad feel. 

G.O:  Thank You. “Just Like Darts” and “Common at Noon” are foundational for me. I am constantly hunting for the way those songs make me feel. “Don’t go downtown to the record stores cause all your friends stop and stare.” Have you ever realized that Thurston Moore ripped off John Felice’s vocal style? We try so hard to go backwards and backwards.  Like Neil Hagerty said “Just can’t Depend on those Memories.” It seemed fitting to talk about these themes in a very traditional songwriting style. 

Was it intentional to leave “Mow the Glass” off the album of the same name?

G.O: The album was inspired by the song that hadn’t been written yet… To explain further, we were forced to open a show for Thurston Moore a few years ago and my brother was convinced Steve Shelley was an imposter. He still does not believe that was the real Steve Shelley and I am starting to think he is on to something. 

At what point did you realize you were gonna put the Burzum (read as Venom, I pose) cover on the album? What’s the history there?

HW: We started playing that song not longer after we started playing live. Originally we were gonna put it on a 7″ but since those are stupid expensive these days, by the time we were working on the album, we thought it fit with that batch of songs. Gresham Ocarina got obsessed with that song at the warehouse he used to work at.

G.O: Its actually a Venom cover. There is a deep twisted history there and I am glad you asked. I worked in a warehouse for 8 years where you walked in circles all day lifting bottles and cases of wine. There was one stereo system and it was extremely important because whatever music was being played was either salvation or made the shitty situation nearly unbearable.

We were in there for 17 straight hours sometimes. You had to work until the orders were done.  I have seen grown humans near tears in that warehouse because of Victor Wooten being played… again. I have seen grown humans nearly fight each other because some “jazz fan” decided to play Mahavishnu Orchestra… again. Into this hell walked a giant of a man who shall remain nameless. He was about 6 ft 6” and 350 pounds of bronzed muscle. He used to change out of his workout clothes on the loading dock which really confused the truckers delivering wine. A giant naked bodybuilder lurking in the corner of a warehouse is an unexpected sight.

This guy was my friend and I miss working with him a lot. He could lift three cases of wine like they were feathers. He kept trying to get me to try ‘Roids. “How old are are you Chris?” he would say “36? Its all down hill from here. Let me get you some Testosterone. Its gonna fucking change your life!!!”   Anyways, this guy played the 7 same albums on the communal warehouse stereo on repeat. Each album multiple times a day. Metallica- Kill Em All, Alice in Chains, Black Sabbath- Master of Reality, TOOL, Primus, and Venom- Black Metal. He especially loved to play “In League with Satan,” over and over and over again.

I had never heard that song before but its SOO fucking great. I was so happy to hear it instead of TOOL or Alice in Chains or fucking PRIMUS. So I was always ecstatic when “In League with Satan” was played on that stereo and it meant a lot to me because of what it was not and what it was.  The Clockwork Orange experience of the music forced onto me in those 8 years has seeped into Barbarian Dust for sure. 

Who are some of your favorite lesser known musicians from the Pacific Northwest? Past and present is chill. 

HW: From right now I would say Mope Grooves has a bunch of great pop songs. Michael O is MO and Virginia from the Mantles with some friends. Great songs and he has an album out under that name that is a total sleeper. Regarding older stuff. In the mid-late 90’s there was a scrappy all over the place band called Irving Klaw Trio that morphed into Hochenkeit. Their best stuff only came out on CD. The song “GIve Me The Message” by the Neo Boys stands with any late 70’s Rough Trade single. The Whines “Hell To Play” is a great album that came out at the wrong time.

GO: Current: MouthPainter, Barry Walker Jr. Sunfoot, Mope Grooves, Michael O, Gen Pop, Lucas Gunn, Tenses. Past: Tim Hardin    

Can you talk about the poem on the inner sleeve of the record? 

GO: Its the lyrics from a song from another one of our records. It was vaguely inspired by an unwritten Phillip K. Dick book about aliens that have no ability to hear music but want to experience it desperately so they plant their consciousness into a human in order to have ears. The symbiotic relationship allows the human to gain all sorts of new abilities as well. The lyrics have nothing really to do with this but they were written on a bus ride through Albany, Oregon.



Riley Gale Interview, 2014

Riley Gale from the band Power Trip was a larger than life figure in the underground music scene who passed away earlier this week. I called him up for an interview in 2014 and he obliged, answering my semi-loaded questions about hip hop and hardcore, questions I half knew the answer to already.

Years later I’d end up booking Power Trip at a tiny bar in Memphis, but when I heard the news on Tuesday the only thing I could think of is an uneventful night sitting at the Barracuda in Austin by myself. I don’t remember why I was there or who played, but Riley came and sat down next to me. We didn’t talk about anything important, but that’s the most poignant memory I have of him. For some reason, that interaction outweighs the time I booked his band or watched them level The Teragram in LA on the absurd tour they did with Destruction Unit.

Anyway, I thought people may want to revisit this pretty short interview where Riley talks about the formation of Power Trip and Dallas hardcore more than anything else. Rest in peace. A legend gone way too soon.

How did Power Trip first start? What made you guys want to start playing together?

Riley Gale: We started in 2008. My old band had broken up, and Blake knew I was looking to do something in the crossover, mid-to-late ’80s NYHC type of style. His parents lived in the same suburb of Dallas as mine. We got together, and he showed me some riffs. We got his friend who played drums to start playing with us, and it just kind of built from there. We played some local shows, and then a label showed some interest. Shortly after that people outside of Texas showed interest. We just have been pushing it since then.

The first label we were working with was called Double or Nothing. They kind of botched the whole thing. They lost the record and the dude kind of fell off the face of the earth. I’ve never even talked to the original guy to ask him what happened with the label. It’s ironic that it was called Double or Nothing because we kind of gambled on them and lost.

You guys have been described as a hardcore band, a metal band, and a crossover band. How would you describe your music? How important are labels like those today?

I mean, if you’re going to pigeon hole us, I guess crossover would be the label I would use. Me and Chris grew up in the punk scene and then got into metal. We all listen to hardcore, punk, and metal, and we take elements from all of it. I would consider us hardcore punks playing metal.

How were you guys involved in the Dallas hardcore community prior to forming Power Trip? Would you say that the scenes in Austin or Dallas helped mold you guys into the type of band you are?

I’ve been in the Dallas scene since 2000 or 2001. But around 2005 was when I had a local band that got kids excited about hardcore music. At that time, if 100 people came to a show it was considered a great turnout. The average shows would only bring about 40 people. When that band broke up we started Power Trip, and we were actually decent, so the shows got better. Through people’s hard work it’s become the best scene in Texas, and it’s one of the best in the country now. Without bragging, I think we helped make Dallas a place that’s worth playing. Bands used to skip us all the time but now that doesn’t happen. Everybody comes to Dallas now. The guys in Iron Age also got me into a lot of the bands I’m into now. I’d say they had something to do with the way Power Trip sounds.

Lyrically there seems to be more going on in your songs than the typical hardcore song message. What are some of the topics you cover with your lyrics?

It’s funny because I cover a lot of topics that are still pretty prevalent in the hardcore scene. ‘If you don’t like the world as it is then change it,’ ‘don’t take shit from people,’ all the cliché tropes are still present, but I tend to hide them in allegory or metaphor. I try to present typical ideas in a way that people haven’t thought of looking at them before. I’m not writing a fucking doctorate thesis, but I try to write about topics in ways that they haven’t been addressed before. It’s the closest thing I would do to poetry in a sense. I could be straight forward and say the world is doomed, and it’s going to end, or I could come up with a creative way to say that.

Do you listen to any Memphis Rap or Hip-Hop? How about any old Houston or Texas rap from the ’90s? Who are some of your favorites?

In the van and at shows we listen to all kinds of music, especially southern rap. We actually had something on our [contract] in Europe that said we got to control the house music before and after the bands. The last thing we want is more loud guitar music after 6 hours of loud heavy music. Our drummer is from Houston, so we listen to a lot of that stuff. Some of the more obscure Memphis stuff we don’t know about, but we like a lot of the big names like Project Pat and Three 6 Mafia. I listen to the Ghetto Boys and DJ Screw all the time. On my old computer, I had a full discography of DJ Screw. I think it was like 20 gigs. That computer died unfortunately, probably from a DJ Screw overdose. A couple years ago we had a Juicy Jay rip-off shirt that said ‘We Trippy Mane’, but that was before he got embraced by the frat-boy scene.

Can you tell me more about the Extermination compilation that’s coming out soon? Is that the first new music from Power Trip since your album came out?

It’s technically not a new song. It’s a rerecorded song from our demo that we just didn’t do right the first time around. One of the guys from the label that’s doing the compilation approached us about doing it and we were interested, but it was hard to find time to write a new song so we rerecorded that old song during the session that our LP was recorded in.

What else do you guys have planned for the rest of 2014? Are you guys recording new material any time soon?

We are starting this three week-tour with Mammoth Grinder on Monday in Memphis. Then we will be home for the fall and probably go back out in the winter. There won’t be any new music until next year, but hopefully early next year we will release a single that leads up to another LP.



Romero photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Hickey

I figure its best to start a new web mag with a brand new band, and Romero’s debut single is a certified smoker. Something tells me members Dave and Lana didn’t expect to get hit up for an interview this early into their “careers” but thankfully they were up for it.

Crunchy Magazine: How did you settle on the name Romero? Are you big Night of the Living Dead Fans or..?

Dave: We really struggled for a while to decide on a name… we wanted something that could eventually have it’s own meaning, like a surname rather than an adjective + noun. I’m a massive fan of George A. Romero and had floated Romero at some point, no one was too keen until I created a powerpoint presentation that explained how it was the perfect name. The fact that it’s the name of the hearse in GTA was a strong selling point. I did a full on TED talk and at the end we all hugged.

Nice, Wasn’t expecting a GTA reference. What’s the verdict on having your music be in a video game? I think video games have served as the gateway to underground music for a lot of young people. 

Dave: Oh yeah big respect to whoever compiled the soundtracks to San Andreas and Tony Hawks Underground! Those turned me onto so much interesting stuff when I was a kid and encouraged me to explore different genres. I would love to hear Romero on GTA!

Your debut single recently came out and had a lot of worldwide internet punk hype  surrounding it (does anything else matter in life?). Are we to believe these are your first songs as a band? And how long have you been a group?

Lana: The horse has well and truly bolted and we couldn’t be happier really.. We’ve been a band for about a year and a half now! They’re not our first songs, just the first to be released. Coincidentally these two songs were the last that we wrote about a month or so before going into the studio.. and we’re so lucky that Cool Death came into the picture because we didn’t have much of a plan in place for after recording.

Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Hickey

Are there any more unreleased songs from that recording session? 

Lana: We recorded six songs during the session. Two of them we have scrapped, and the other two will most likely be on the upcoming album.. possibly with a little tweaking. At this point in time we have 11 songs for the record. 

What do you guys do when you’re not doin Romero? Jobs / Hobbies / Other bands?

Dave: At the moment most of us are still working but we spend a lot of time writing for Romero and other projects – Ferg and I play in EYESORES, Lana performs with a Blues Brothers band and song writes in her spare time, and Adam has his own solo thing called Boredwalk. Adam and Murry both have a concerning obsession with NHL too.

How big is Hockey in Australia? I’ve been to a couple Kings games and the fans are the best part in my opinion. Whats the typical Australian hockey fan like?

Dave: Haha well the only two fans I know are Adam and Murry and those guys suck!! Nah, it does seem like a friendly environment as opposed to other sports. But I’m not too sure how big it is here… The NHL games look very fun and I know those guys would kill to see a Sharks v Rangers game one day. 

The lyrics to “Honey” are some of the best I’ve read in a while, and the vocal cadence is so fucking rad. Lana, were you singing the lines “Bang heads, last night I got home thinking something that you said” before the guitar parts for this song was written? 

Lana: Haha wow thanks so much! It’s funny you mention those lyrics because they were really the last piece of the puzzle for me.. the boys had the chorus down, and I was adamant that I didn’t want a ‘huge’ chorus vocally… it’s so easy to get swept up into thinking that the chorus has to be big. 

Who is the song “Honey” about and what really happened at the discotheque?

Lana: I really don’t know what happened!!? That’s the problem you see… drinking. to be honest I had a lot of unused lyrics from late nights that I threw into the Honeypot (pun intended). The song is about chicks and nightlife really…. I just wanted to sing stuff that sounded good, and I REALLY wanted to have the word discotheque in a song because it’s a sickkkk word… we don’t say discotheque in Australia. It’s just a good ol’ club ain’t it? 

Discotheque is indeed a sick word. So it seems like the song is kind of a blurry mashed up memoir to going out and partying around at night? 

Lana: Yeah it’s definitely a mashed up memoir because the lyrics aren’t exactly narrative. The girl in the red dress is real but what I’m implying in the chorus is that usually we would ‘bang heads’ or I’d be ‘at her neck’ or that we would be an unlikely duo.. instead this time I took a part of her home with me.

How do you know the label Cool Death? How did they come to release your music? 

Dave: It was an instagram thing where they saw us playing live through a friend and then asked us to play Maggotfest which was huge for us. Pretty much after that show we organized the 7” with them. Ferg also already knew Bradford through his brother from long ago. We couldn’t really ask for a better release considering how young we are as a band so massive thanks to them. 

Maggotfest seems like an amazing time, is that something that you guys had attended before being asked to play? Greatest Maggotfest set you’ve witnessed?

Dave: Ferg was a devotee of Maggotfest but the rest of us were fresh meat! I’m eternally disappointed in myself that I didn’t catch Royal Headache headline or the time they brought out Hank Wood, Dawn of Humans and Crazy Spirit. But I can vouch for R.M.F.C. – they were my favs at the last one. 

Both songs on the debut single seem to have an upbeat vibe, would you say you’re a generally positive band?

Dave: Definitely as a band we stay positive because we all love making music, but I would say we are more melancholic –  our music sounds happy but its not about happy shit. 

I really appreciated that your single came with a sticker. What band has the best stickers in the Melbourne punk scene?

Dave: Yeah those screen-printed stickers came out really nice thanks to Troppo Print studio. Brad Pot (RIP) are sticker kings of Melbourne for sure though, they’re all over every urinal – Adam even saw their stickers while on holiday in the US.

What’s next for Romero?

Lana: Well we’re in the midst of writing the last few songs for an album which we are hoping to have out by the end of the year.. fingers crossed. 

Dave: We’re so stoked with how much love we’ve received internationally, so we really want to organize overseas tours ASAP. 

Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Hickey

All photos courtesy of Kaitlyn Hickey.

Check out Romero and other bands on Cool Death Records here.