Published on July 10th, 2015 | by The Beige Baron0
Budd—the original line-up of Budd—has reformed and is playing an in-store show at Tym Guitars on August 29 to celebrate the re-release of its original 1993 masterpiece Yakfat for the first time ever on vinyl.
Every fan has a cherished memory about Budd. For me it was blasting across the Sydney Harbour Bridge at night some time in the late ‘nineties in my cousin’s ’67 Holden. Windows down, volume cranked up, number blazing. Nate was at the wheel and attempting to explain over the buffeting riffs and wind that his band Drill used to support Budd back in the day.
Following the release of Yakfat, the band featured a revolving line-up of some of Australia’s most respected heavy musicians, including Craig Westwood, Lenny and Nadia Markovic (all ex-Christbait), Campbell Robinson (ex-Mark of Cain), Finn Mcarthy (ex-Blood Duster), and Nathan Smith (Warped) to name just a few.
However, it’s indisputable that the original founding line-up—comprising Gaz, Jez, Nico, and John—was the one that burned rubber on tarmac and laid the template for everything that was to follow, at the same time leaving a landmark album for subsequent generations of riff connoisseurs to enjoy.
Seeing them live was a religious experience
With the Tym Records in-store only weeks away, I exchanged an email with Nate to celebrate and asked him what he remembered about Yakfat when it first came out.
“A close friend of mine worked on a road crew at the Sydney Water Board in the early ’90s,” he writes. “Among many unpleasant tasks, the worst he had was fixing broken main water lines in the dark hours of the morning. Whenever we listened to Yakfat (always at the highest possible volume), he would sing along: ‘Broken main, can’t get it together, broken main, can’t get it straight, broken main, can’t get it together, broken main… YOU’RE A FUCKHEAD!!!’ and then in the sewage-plant-of-a-riff that follows, we would frantically headbang and play air guitar in unison.
“Seeing them live was a religious experience, and in those days we could regularly partake in the body of Budd. The way they structured their songs with clean strumming and ever-increasing or decreasing layers of sludge was second to none.”
Tim, founder of Brisbane label and instrument retailer Tym Guitars, and the man responsible for the re-release of Yakfat on vinyl, writes:
“I admit to having a personal attachment to this band, as I do with all the bands I work with, although this one runs a little deeper and I make no apologies for it. I was at their first ever show in the back yard of a house on the north side of Brisbane.
“They played a housewarming party along with Chopper Division and Screamfeeder’s first ever show in my lounge room at a share house in South Brisbane.
“They have been friends ever since, but all of this just feels like this marriage of Budd and Tym Records is more justified, more… right.”
BNU was fortunate to be granted an interview with the whole band a few days ago, where we talk about the creation of what is surely one of the best albums to ever emerge from the Australian underground.
BNU: Congratulations on the reissue! What’s been the reaction so far to the announcement and that you might be playing some shows soon?
Nico: We are happy and excited that some people are as keen as we are to hear these songs live again.
Yakfat for me is named after an ’80s Australian comedy show segment which depicts a gelatinous, clear Yakfat sausage
Gaz: A bit surprising to be honest, it seems there are some people a bit tickled by the concept, as are we.
Jez: Originally we just wanted to give Yakfat the chance to be on vinyl like it always should have been, but due to constraints at the time it was originally released, were unable to do. We are totally indebted to Tim for all his support helping us realise our little dream to get Yakfat out on vinyl.
Reactions on Facebook have been quite amazing, people from all over the world commenting. So the response has been quite a surprise for all of us I think. Really wasn’t expecting it… very humbling and exciting.
Nico: It feels as noisily fresh as it used to be, like we are all in our 20s again without any dramas of having to be young and overworked through gigging too hard. The musical chemistry is even more intense as we remember, and as much as we are keen to work on new any stuff that keeps surfacing, we are focussing on getting all our sonics right for the Tym Guitars in-store before we launch too far into any new works.
Gaz: The songs are still much fun, is great to hear the combined wall of noise again. John has definitely got his chops still.
Jez: Playing these songs in the original line-up is intense! So much fury and so how it is meant to sound. I agree with Nico, yes it is like being in our 20s again and playing these songs we can’t help but feel the energy level of that time. Very exciting and heaps of fun like it always was for us in the rehearsal room back then.
The musical chemistry is most definitely front and centre, and new little riffs and things keep popping out all the time in between us working on the Yakfat songs.
What do you remember about writing and recording Yakfat? I read somewhere you recorded on three synchronized ADAT machines, which gives you a shitload of tracks to work with. Did you overdub a lot?
Forty-five rpm, fatter than we could have hoped for
Nico: The Yakfat recording was a different format for us as we self-funded for all our previous efforts, and this one was paid for by our label, Fellaheen. It was done at World Music studios in inner city Brisbane, and produced by us with Braddon Gilbert as our sound engineer on 24-track ADAT tape, which was a new format at the time.
We used the studio’s three different-sized rooms for experiments with sonics for each of the instruments and worked with minimum overdubs to keep our live sound as intact as possible. The record company were a bit surprised with the intensity—it seemed they were thinking we were going to tone things down a bit and go for the softer style songs like Handle It to build a mainstream fanbase, but ended up with Chopsumfuckinwood instead.
Gaz: Brad was a great engineer to work with, in his personable style and knowledge of his process, he is responsible for the crazy interludes, which I still think add much to the EP as a whole.
Jez: Without knowing it at the time, the way those songs came together and how they got recorded was a like a time capsule of what was going on for us at the time—we just wanted to push the sonic envelope in every direction.
Also, I think recording with Braddon Gilbert who had an electro/dance/techno engineering background gave the recording process this fresh, unhindered, let’s-try-anything-type attitude to the whole process. Brad most definitely brought his originality into the mix.
Gaz: I still love Fogman for the riffs/gaps, fun to play and heavy as.
Jez: All of ’em are fun to play live for me, but if I had to choose one it would be Fuckhead for the motorbike riffs and because it just never lets up. To sit and listen—Cheesecake—so many sonically driving parts to it.
John: Fogman! Closely followed by Cheesecake. Fogman has just always had that super groove. The start of the song for example—that groove… a standout song.
Nico: Chopsumfuckinwood—for the song name and the dynamic intensity of the final.
Did you know there is a woman on Facebook called Yakfat? Yakfat Mufyak. Did you name the album after a steamy night in Bangalore?
Nico: Yakfat for me is named after an ’80s Australian comedy show segment which depicts a gelatinous, clear Yakfat sausage as a fast food.
Jez: I remember Nico first coining “Yakfat” as our sarcastic dig at McDonald’s… as in, “You going down to Yakfat’s?” if someone ever said to us they were going to Macca’s. You do know there was no internet when we recorded Yakfat, yeah?
I hear a bit of Melvins coming through on this record. What were you guys all listening to around that time, and was there any album you all loved that made you go, “Let’s make something like that”?
Nico: We listened to all sorts of music in the tour van, but the plan was always to make the loudest, bass-heavy aggressive-sounding music we could manage. This always led us toward the sounds of bands like Fugazi, The Melvins, Tad, and Mudhoney back in the day.
Gaz: Bullhead and Eggnog got smashed whilst on tour, so yes, big fans. The acid had nothing to do with it [laughs].
Jez: I remember Fudge Tunnel’s Hate Songs in E Minor got some high rotation at the time. Anything heavy that put the riff out front was always appealing to us. Tad was a big fixture for us. I also remember Gaz and I being very impressed with a few bands that were quite obscure/unknown at the time, like Fetish 69 Deep Scar Man, Helios Creed, Hammerhead, Unsane.
Nico: We used the original recordings remastered from the CD by Phil from Blowhard, so we didn’t change anything other than through the mastering. Everyone who hears the record agrees that it is better than we could have hoped for with regards to the depth and breadth of sound to match our live noise. The vinyl definitely sounds better than the CD.
Gaz: Forty-five rpm, fatter than we could have hoped for.
Jez: Agreed, Yakfat being on 45 rpm has totally exceeded all expectations for me. It’s just so much more enjoyable to listen to on vinyl than CD… the new mastering has brought out the guitars visceral-ness and even the vocals are more up there. The low end is more where we intended it to be, and everything just seems to sit better. I hear so much more going on now. Yakfat + Vinyl = Superb!
I have to compliment the drummer on his snare sound. It’s so awesome. In fact all Budd’s drummers have had that awesome punchy snare, but it really gets you in guts on Yakfat. How did you get that level of pop when you were recording?
John: I thought we would try taking the chain off cause that was the sound we were into at the time and I really liked it. It was like an extreme Helmet snare sound.
Jez: I think from memory we used to tune the snare up pretty tight also…
Nico: We used the studio’s three different-sized rooms and all the microphones and recording tools we had to try and replicate the live drum sound.
I’m sure due to the nature of your music you weren’t expecting Taylor Swift-like commercial success when the album was released, but this style of music was really at its peak back in the early and mid ’90s. What did people make of you when you toured? Were you disappointed the record didn’t break through and do better in say the US or Europe? Why did you guys in that lineup stop playing together so soon after Yakfat was made?
Nico: We had a great reaction when we toured, which is why we spent a lot of time on the road. Some people didn’t get it, which wasn’t surprising given our deliberate intensity, but the people who did like our music made us want to go louder and harder.
We had offers to go and record in the Beastie Boys’ studio in New York for an album, but by that time we were close to burnt out and needed a break, which as it pans out has taken a few decades [laughs].
As it turns out, we have been given compliments and respect from all areas of the world via social media and internet connections (which were non-existent back then), so there is no disappointment as we were always trying to one-up ourselves more than worry about what anyone else was thinking.
Gaz: We played with some pretty severe noise merchants over those early touring years, total ripping fun times. I can’t imagine we gave a shit if people didn’t exactly dig it. It was the sound that mattered most I reckon, plus some free beers followed by many skate sessions till sunrise.
Jez: We were just so driven and obsessed with the “sound” we wanted to create then that nothing else mattered. We would love inflicting it on everybody like a sledgehammer. The people that loved it REALLY loved it with a passion and the ones that didn’t like it really didn’t [laughs].
The music had a definite polarization effect on people. Fun though!
Since the release of Yakfat, Budd seems to have taken a pretty collaborative approach to music. With a lot of other bands, you know, if a member leaves, all the fans wring their hands and get upset and say the music is doomed. Even with different players you have an instantly recognizable sound. Was this approach deliberate or it just worked out that way?
Nico: This line-up is the one that wrote Yakfat and we are the personnel that made the Budd sound what it is. All respect to all the music, players, and participants who came after, but the focus is back to where it all began. “Often thrashed, never beaten”, as it were.
Gaz: Big ups to all those who gave the band its various phases of sound, my fave was the Prana live line-up, besides this one, of course.
Have you ever found a particular setting on your amps and effectors and just sat back and said, “Yep. This is it. Nothing can possibly be filthier than this”, or are you constantly experimenting and trying for different sounds?
Nico: Most of our best gear is our old gear. The sounds of the guitars and bass start with beautiful guitars and valve amps played clean and driven, which give the foundation of the tone. Pedals and effects are the layers that build the fuzz and sonic tone we use for different songs and feedback segments.
We always have experimented with filthy sounds as a band and also as individuals to strive for a better or nicer nastiness. All of us could do with more guitars and pedals, although we are pleasantly contented (read: mildly smug) with our lot for now.
Jez: Never say, “Yep. This is it.” Always want to push the envelope with regards to tone with the effects, guitars, and amps. Love experimenting with different sounds… I reckon one of the great things about being in a band is that we can get to muck around with the sonics of things and then surprise ourselves.
Your band is one of those Masonic-handshake-bands for a lot of musicians and music lovers, where if you meet a stranger and mention Budd, and they realize you’re not talking about botany, you are automatically friends with them, you got to high five and mention song names and stuff. What are Budd’s “Masonic handshake” bands?
Nico: Melvins, Fugazi, Tad, Mudhoney … this could go on forever….
Gaz: Christbait and ’92-era Damaged, the five-piece, just fucking epic.
Jez: Yep. Tad, Mudhoney, Helmet, Fudge Tunnel, Cosmic Psychos, Feedtime.
With the exception of Blood Duster or Mr. Floppy or TISM, I would struggle to think of a band that’s more quintessentially Australian than Budd. Do you reckon it’s from growing up around Queensland? In your videos and stuff you seem to celebrate suburbia.
Gaz: I think Cosmic Psychos fans would have something to say here, but happy to hear that our environment comes through the sound and style. We have some jokers in the band, this line-up always did.
Jez: Yes, I agree with Gaz… I think a mentioning of the Cosmic Psychos, the grand daddies of Australian fuzz blowout riffs, might be needed here. Yes, it would be reasonable to say the environment we were immersed in living in Brisbane back then affected the musical output for sure. Lots of laughs with this line-up… guaranteed!
Which cities do you most enjoy playing? Is there a place in particular where you always get a good response? Where do you dread playing?
Nico: Toowoomba sucked. One of our first gigs was at a country hotel where the local footy team dickheads decided to beat up our drummer. The managers decided to kick us out and leave us stranded without anywhere to stay. We were saved by some local music fans that later became part of the Brisbane music scene.
Melbourne was always kind to us, with a great local scene and plenty of pubs and clubs with like-minded bands and fans.
Jez: Yes, our first trips to Melbourne were great eye-openers with the enthusiasm we were greeted with. And I think we used to resonate well with the audiences in Wollongong, too. Toowoomba was a bad experience, but made us tougher, maybe? And Newcastle was usually not fun.
Do you think you could be persuaded to do a few shows up the east coast? Is it possible you could write another album together? Any plans to reissue the rest of your 90s stuff?
Nico: The focus is on the Tym Guitars in-store at the moment, just reconnecting with each other as a band and with the songs to be able to give them justice as we wrote and played them as wide-eyed 20-something-year-olds. It would be great to do some more shows, and even better to showcase our collective thoughts musically after a few decades of playing separately. Fingers crossed.
Jez: We have had some offers to tour but we are just concentrating on what is directly in front of us at the moment, and that is of course on releasing Yakfat [Tym records TYM 035] and playing the launch for that, which we are super excited is happening for us. And then after all that we’ll see what happens.