Published on October 8th, 2015 | by The Beige Baron0
Top Image: William Adam Russ @ Right Eye Media
Meaty chops, slamming beats, and lashings of fuzz define Melbourne band SpaceJunk’s new album Bite Your Tongue, which launches this weekend (October 9) at the Old Bar in Melbourne.
Sounding a touch more polished than the band’s enthusiastically raw self-titled debut, the new LP still has the pedal mashed to the carpet with 10 blistering, tightly-wound rock songs.
The punky energy of SpaceJunk’s live shows comes through clearly, and while Bite Your Tongue might not be something you’d spin in the background over a candlelit dinner, it’d does go well with cans of beer and blackened steak on a Sunday arvo.
Sneering, low-slung fret-melters like Raised By Snakes offer a good preview of Bite Your Tongue’s board of fare.
Singer/vocalist Mark E Moon is unapologetic about the band’s straightforward approach to rock and roll: “I think we fit in somewhere in a lineage of scuzzy Oz garage rock that follows on from that Do the Pop compilation from a few years back. We’re not reinventing the wheel, just another spoke in that wheel…”
BNU: So when and how did you guys get together?
I’d been living in the UK for a couple of years and my visa was soon up, and that meant I’d be returning to Melbourne in mid-2013.
I was keen to start a band when I got home, and thought to myself, alright, who would I have playing in my “dream garage band”?
My brother Eugene was a pretty obvious choice, he’s a killer guitarist and we have pretty similar tastes in music and he’d just moved back to Melbourne too.
I’d seen Cam play drums in his high school band ShyRobyn at The Tote (he was 14 or something at the time, but fucking destroyed the kit). They blew me away, and (under parental supervision) we got talking about stuff.
Lots of folks have pointed out the Mudhoney vibe, and it’s hard to deny
He was so good but way too young and lived with his parents in the country, but I kept him in mind, and by the time I got back from OS he’d turned 18 and was keen as mustard to play again. It worked out great.
Betty Righteous was also someone that I was really keen to play with. He’d had a band called Angry Kid that was in the thick of the Arthouse scene.
I saw him play a show once where he rubbed a vibrator against his bass strings and it was unreal! It’s burned in my memory!
How did you approach recording the new album, and how was the process compared to your first record?
The process for recording the new record was almost exactly the same as the first one—same band, same room, same mixer and recorder, Matty Chow. Matty had a few new mics to play with, and we micced the drums a bit more and added two room mics for vibes.
It took a while longer, because we did a few more sessions than last time and they were a bit more spaced apart due to other commitments we each had.
The songs on Bite your Tongue are a batch we came up with and had a bit more time to work on after the first record came out. The first self-titled record was super raw and spontaneous, it was written (if you can call it that) on the spot and bashed out at eight or so jams, then recorded and released in a matter of about four months, and it shows.
I still really like how it sounds, it’s rough and tumble, and although virtually no one is aware it exists, I thought it would be tough to follow it.
I’m hearing a bit of Mudhoney coming through in your sound, maybe something in the vocals? But your sound seems to be a pretty linear progression from Aussie pub rock like Hard-Ons and maybe Cosmic Psychos.
Lots of folks have pointed out the Mudhoney vibe, and it’s hard to deny that it’s there. It’s pretty flattering because it’s tough to find a better rock ‘n’ roll band of the last 25 years (The Hellacopters, maybe) than Mudhoney. It’s not an attempt to rip them off or mimic them; it’s just how my voice sounds when I push it as far as I can. That high wail is present throughout the history of rock ‘n’ roll from Little Richard, to The Sonics, The Wailers, Creedence, and Roky Erickson, and probably a shitload of others that I don’t know. Not putting myself anywhere near any of those guys, but it’s just a rock ‘n’ roll thing like E, A, and D, 12-bar middle 8s, and Bo Diddley beats.
Betty Righteous is a massive Hard-Ons fan from way back, I’m comparatively more of a casual fan, but they’re fucking great. Great tunes, and a great sense of humour. We covered their track Nerds, which will be on a soon-to-be-released Goat Sound compilation.
The Cosmic Psychos played at the high school hall in my hometown when I was about 15. They looked like they’d just gotten off a tractor (they probably had). It was so loud and fuzzy, the hall’s sound was shithouse, but it was definitely a gig to remember, even though I didn’t really “get it” because we all listened to shit like Tool and Faith No More at the time.
I bought a copy of Self Totalled from a pawnshop on Brunswick St when I first moved to Melbourne, around the time I got my first real electric guitar and a Big Muff, and learned a few riffs like Shot the Cat and Bad Day. I never really thought about it until just now, but they’ve definitely, stylistically been an influence. Warped’s On the Make, too.
The Cosmic Psychos played at the high school hall in my hometown when I was about 15.
What’s the story with High Kick Records?
High Kick Records is a little label run by a good friend of mine, Jonno Walker. We used to work at the North Melbourne Town Hall Hotel together, he’s played in a stack of great local rock ‘n’ roll bands and I housesit/babysit his cat when he goes overseas.
He puts out his band’s records and stuff that he likes. Thankfully he likes us, because I’m terrified of having to deal with anyone that I don’t know, and he’s organised and great at getting shit done.
What have you guys got coming up?
We’re launching our new LP Bite your Tongue and doing a mini-tour in support of it—then I’m going on holiday for a month, when I get back we’re doing a Saturday afternoon front-bar residency at The Tote with a stack of legend supports, and it’s going to be sick.
SpaceJunk launches Bite Your Tongue October 9 at The Old Bar (Melbourne), and plays October 10 at The Eastern (Ballarat), October 16 at The Crown & Anchor (Adelaide), and October 17 at The Crown & Sceptre (Adelaide). See Facebook for further details, or grab your copy of Bite Your Tongue on High Kick Records’ bandcamp.