It has been six long years since the last Frenzal Rhomb album. Finally, High-Vis High Tea was released in May. I had a rather hilarious chat to Jay about the album, the upcoming tour and a bunch of random other thoughts.
So finally you have a new album! Why so long?
Finally is definitely the word there. It’s been a bit of a process. There were a few things, our drummer broke his arm and there was the brain surgery. (Jay underwent surgery to have a Pigworm removed from his brain in 2013.)
Tell us about the Pigworm?
It was most likely during my travels through Central America as they are common in that area. It was just bad luck but good luck because one day out of the blue I had a seizure and that’s how they found it. It had been there for three years. When they removed it I was hoping that after the surgery I would have seen some improvement in my brain function, developed new skills or suddenly been able to speak a new language but nothing. I’m not different at all, at least my friends tell me that. Maybe I am! I was fearful for a while that I had an inability to write choruses, I started to write for the new album and I could only come up with verses. I’m like ‘oh no they’ve taken the chorus part!’
But no, we wrote some choruses in the end. When you’ve been a band for so long I feel a responsibility for the music to be good. When we first started I didn’t really care if it was good. Which is why we’ve only got two or three good songs on all of our early records, whereas now it’s more consistent.
It still sounds very Frenzal though.
Yeah, the album is pretty in the pocket but within those relatively strict parameters of the Frenzal Rhomb genre. We try and write catchy songs mainly about dumb shit.
It’s not really just dumb shit, there is a bit of a conscience underneath that.
Yeah! I’m glad you picked up on that but don’t tell all the boneheads that come to our shows. That’s another thing we always try and hone over the years is trying to get that balance between some kind of political discourse and complete alienation of our fans. So trying to always tread that line. I actually see Frenzal as kind of pop music fundamentally. It’s just done at speed and with lyrics that’ll never ever be played on a radio station.
Really, pop music? When the first single from High-Vis High Tea is C**t Act?
(Laughs) Yes we thought that was our last ditch effort to get played on commercial radio. We’re pretty good at commercially sabotaging our music. Or at least hiding behind making things too offensive so when they’re not played we don’t have to go ‘it was probably because the song wasn’t good’. We can say ‘they’re not playing it because of the swearing, otherwise they definitely would have played it!’.
Another song is Ray Ahn Is My Spirit Animal, why Ray Ahn and does he know?
The Hard Ons were my introduction to punk music and one of the first bands I saw live. I used to sneak into pubs underage and see them and it blew my mind. They’ve always been heroes of mine. The Hard Ons were like our forebears and even though they were only a few years older than us we kind of looked on them as like Gods. So that’s where that song came from, it’s like ancestor worship. I told him but I don’t think he’s heard it yet; I’m a bit embarrassed to show him.
And the song Bunbury, why Bunbury?
It’s a town south of Perth with a fantastic pub called The Prince of Wales that we always play at. It kind of sums up a lot of our regional touring experiences. Where it’s really welcoming on one hand but tinged with danger on the other. I feel like most people who’ve travelled regional Australia will know what I’m talking about. Bunbury is one example of that and it is a particularly cool venue. The people our really nice, and there is the ever present threat of ultra violence.
With other songs like Classic Pervert and Everyone I Know Has Mental Problems Frenzal Rhomb have still got their tongue in cheek humour and energy. They are bringing their loud, swearing, (sneaky) politically conscious and crazy live shows around the country in support of High-Vis High Tea. The closest gig is at Miami Tavern on 22 July, be there for the new album and the ‘two or three good songs’ from their old albums.