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Violent Soho

It’s been three years since Brisbane’s Violent Soho released their self-titled second album. Violent Soho came out on US label Ecstatic Peace! (run by Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore) and a favourable reaction abroad sent the band on a protracted stint of US and European touring. Returning home at the end of the touring cycle, the exhausted four-piece struggled to feel motivated about writing their next album. Frontman Luke Boerdam admits there was a touch of despair in the rehearsal room during initial preparations for album number three. “Everything sounded boring. We were writing and doing demos and nothing excited us like it used to. We were like, ‘Fuck, this sucks, none of us are getting excited about this.’” 

Travelling the world and living with their music for a couple of years altered the band’s personal expectations and Boerdam admits this hindered their progress. “When you do all of that touring your list of influences grows phenomenally. As a band we got to quit our jobs and focus on music 24/7; after two years of that you come back and the same songs that excited you four years ago just don’t do it anymore.”

 

Nowadays, Boerdam explains, the group doesn’t release new material without first reaching a mutual consensus among themselves. “We set a pretty high bar when we go to actually release something. We make sure we’re all saying, ‘Yep, this is where we want it to be.’ It’s kind of tough because you can throw out a lot of work along the way. Because you put a lot of work into it you’re like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to just throw it out,’ but you’ve got to.”

 

Violent Soho’s determined commitment to broaden their sonic palette prevailed and the results will be made public when new LP Hungry Ghost lands this Friday. The experience gathered from touring alongside the likes of Dinosaur Jr., The Bronx and Cloud Nothings was the crucial factor pushing the band to expand their sound. Boerdam says Built to Spill, his “favourite band to tour with”, were a major reference point when recording Hungry Ghost. “Built to Spill showed us how to layer guitars heaps and how to create this whole sonic soundscape. There’s a few songs in the middle of the record where we tried to work that in. It wasn’t just ten to 11 songs with the same formula repeated. We really wanted to move on from that.”

 

The thematic focus of Boerdam’s lyrics has also developed significantly on Hungry Ghost. He describes how he’s stepped away from his former preference for episodic suburban tales. “All the songs up until that point had been really simple personal stories and I wanted to shed that. I started writing about weirdo characters down the street and adventure stories. I was writing stories that I thought add an interesting imagery to [the album], and trying to have some sort of central theme to the record.”

 

The release of Hungry Ghost will be followed by an Australian tour that starts in late October and Boerman underlines their intentions to comprehensively hit the road domestically before looking elsewhere. “Basically the whole idea behind this record is to tour as much in Australia first. On the other record Australia wasn’t first. It was a bit of a shame because when the album came out we weren’t even here and it just felt weird. This time around we will do all the touring in Australia required for the record and then we’ll worry about the US and UK.”

 

BY AUGUSTUS WELBY

 

 

Violent Soho plays with Straight Arrows at Oxford Art Factory on Friday October 25. Hungry Ghost out Friday September 6 through I Oh You.