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.

PART TWO: FROM SHIT TO WHIPS COMING SOON.

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