You wouldn’t think it by looking, but Violent Soho, Mansfield’s favourite sons, have now surpassed their tenth year as a band. They’ve spent the better half of those years ploughing the fields of alt-punk, only now to have the overwhelming success they most truly deserve – ARIA nominations, gold certified records and sold out tours. Guitarist James Tidswell gave Jake Wilton an update, and a retrospective, on all things beards, their 4122 post code and their mammoth upcoming tour.
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We speak just days after the band scooped the competition at the recent AIR (Australian Independent Records) Awards winning Best Independent Album and Best Independent Hard Rock or Punk Album; trumping such acts as Sia, Chet Faker and fellow label mates DZ Deathrays in each category. James was incredibly grateful for the win and, quietly, hopes he can add a few ARIA statues to the ever-growing trophy cabinet. Although before we could talk music, Blank GC had to get an exclusive out of James – where did his beard go?
“I’m not against beards, but I’m also not pro-beard”, said James. “I was just really lazy, and it became so big, I just wanted to see how long I could go for. I went for about three years without trimming it, not even the moustache. I like eating burgers and chicken wings and that […] the amount of moustache that was in my mouth every time I took a bite was just horrendous.”
While James’ insanely glorious beard of the past was somewhat of an icon – it was that great – he didn’t want to be associated with the culture beard wearers tend to credit themselves in.
“I’d be having a meal with my wife in public and other beard wearers would approach me and would want to talk beards. While I wasn’t rude, I just wasn’t interested in talking about that. And it happened a lot,” reiterated James.
Easily their most successful record to date, Hungry Ghost, is officially one year old and still Violent Soho have no plans on slowing the touring process. They’ve now signed on a secure record deal over in the States, with Hungry Ghost being released just this month, is it time for the guys finish their rein over the Down Under land and head back to America? Simple answer: no.
“We don’t plan a lot with our band. I think we’ve found not planning anything to be quite successful […] We’d love to get [back] over there, but it just has to be for the right reasons,” said James.
Therefore the Yanks are stuck with zero touring plans from Violent Soho, and the controversial bleeping in Covered in Chrome:
“It is how it is; people in America and Australia just don’t like the word f*ck,” he said.
Australia is polishing their best mosh shoes and dusting off some bruises for another Violent Soho national tour. Designed around their recent accreditation for a gold record in Australia, Violent Soho are hitting all major capital cities and a handful of regional areas in November and December.
James sees this tour as coming full circle for the band; bookending the run of shows by playing on their home turf of Mansfield. On top of that, Violent Soho have never even played there before; aside from a very select few during the filming of the Saramona Said film clip.
“We’ve been wanting to play there ever since we first started as a band, it’s really exciting, exclaimed James. “We planned the tour to stick to what we always wanted to do; playing as many small towns as possible and play in Mansfield rather than Brisbane [City].”
Growing up in Mansfield, having Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley just an arms reach away, was vital to how James perceives his band today. Having tried their hand at several underage and all ages shows in the past, Violent Soho are now making a conscious effort to deplore ageism when it comes to their gigs.
“That’s why we’ve tried to do an all ages show on every tour we do and slowly try and bring them back, for our own band at least.”
Getting all retrospective, James says that the many surreal moments for the band that continue to pile up have yet to hit him. Speaking to Blank GC back in April, James mentioned that playing the Falls Festival was the biggest crowd he’s yet to face. Survey says: you’re wrong. If you were anywhere near the Amphitheatre Stage at this year’s Splendour in the Grass, you still couldn’t even guess how many sweaty humans in bucket hats filled that hill ready to pump fists and not care who’s in their way.
“It was completely unreal; that’s the best way to put it. The best part was when we played the first lyric of the first song you just heard the whole crowd sing right on cue – they knew every word,” said James with a few pauses to extend his fixation of excitement.
“This is so far beyond our wildest expectations; and anyone who knows us would agree. We were stocked to be playing, at the start, to 50 people let alone the tens of thousands that show up to these festivals,” blurted James.
Before our time was up, though, we couldn’t go any longer before talking merch. Even if you’re not up to date on the current Violent Soho haps, there has bound to be another punter wearing one of their infamous band tees at some kind of gig. From Simpsons knock off’s to perplexing tie-dye patterns, both on t-shirts and limited edition vinyl, even to custom skateboards decks, Violent Soho know how to merch. I ask James how the guys are going to top themselves this time around.
“We’ve had some really stupid ideas through the years. But, for this tour, I think we’re trying to get some custom rolling papers, said James. “We’ve actually found some companies who can do it but who only print your name on the box. Though, what we want to do is to have our logo printed on the actual papers. It’s proving to be really hard, actually, especially in time for the tour.”
Violent Soho play the Coolangatta Hotel Saturday 8 November.