Aussie musical comedy outfit Tripod have been performing together for more than two decades now, and if the last few years are anything to go by, they’ve no intention of winding things down.
Forming in 1997, the boys known as Scod, Gatesy and Yon are veterans of the performing circuit and masters of their trade.
It’s clear that Australian audiences still value their sharp, dry wit and the colour that their music brings to their comedy, and in April, Tripod will perform at Dashville’s music festival The Gum Ball. Yon explains that although festivals can be unpredictable, they often provide a more open audience than a comedy show.
“It’s more fun really, because we’re this weird beast,” he says. “We’re sort of a comedy and sort of a band – people at festivals are really open to that stuff. Sometimes we’ll do a comedy festival and people will be there like, ‘OK, make us laugh now,’ whereas at a music festival people are up for absolutely anything.
“Also it’s cool because usually people have been watching just music, so when we come on – because it’s that mix of silliness – people can have a break. We did a country music festival one time, it went great and afterwards people came up and said, ‘Oh, thank God it wasn’t country music.’ We’re lucky really because we get to feel like a breath of fresh air by the nature of what we do.”
One of the key advantages of having been around for 20-odd years is that Tripod have reached a point where they’ve pretty much got a set of songs for any situation, no matter the crowd demographic.
“Who knows what the set is going to be? There’s lots to choose from,” Yon says. “We’ll probably try to tailor the set a little bit [for The Gum Ball] but we’ll look into the crowd just before the show and decide what we’re going to do based on whether people are really young or mostly old.
“We’ve actually got songs about technology that when we play them to young people sometimes young people don’t even know what we’re talking about, because often we’ll be talking about technology from the perspective of someone who didn’t grow up with it. There was this period during the ’90s and going into the early 2000s where everyone had to master several complicated remotes, and now it’s gone back to one or two.”
In 2016, Tripod decided to go on tour with some of the best songs they’ve written over the years. The idea was born from the desire to write a songbook with 101 of Tripod’s greatest hits, and tour the songbook, performing songs completely at random so that neither the audience nor the band members themselves would know what to expect.
“That was really enjoyable last year,” says Yon. “The way we toured the book was we had a bingo barrel and 101 ping pong balls in it. You’d roll the barrel and choose songs that way, and the actual performing was really fun. It was challenging even though we knew the songs pretty well – sometimes we’d get one and think, ‘Oh wait, how does this one go?’ It was weirdly challenging because they were sets that we would never decide to do.”
With the desire to keep performing burning deep within these three funnymen, the past five years or so have been littered with new projects designed to keep things fresh. “We need to be changing things up constantly because it’s still the same people you’re working with,” says Yon. “So a big part of it is working in different formats and different mediums. Also collaborating with other people is something we’re doing a lot more of; we did that tour with Eddie Perfect [Perfect Tripod] for a couple of years and we’ve been doing these orchestra shows, and it kind of keeps us going.”
Despite all the effort that goes into trying to find new ways to keep their live show fresh, there are a few older Tripod songs that have unfortunately become relevant again in the current political climate.
“It’s weird how we wrote a ‘Suicide Bomber’ song ten years ago and in the last few months it feels much more relevant with Trump’s immigration ban,” Yon says. “On the one hand you’re really lucky and on the other hand you’re going, ‘Fuck, this is terrible.’ There’s another one which has similar themes really called ‘Santa’s Papers’ about Santa getting sent to a refugee camp. I’ve noticed that people are posting that one a lot in the last couple of years.
“We’ve also got this one called ‘Climate Change’ and we’ve got these internal tussles about whether we should play it because it’s very pessimistic.
It’s doesn’t propose any solutions, but how do you write a comedy song about climate change that proposes solutions? We’re yet to do that, but it might still happen.”
Tripod appear at The Gum Ball 2017, Dashville, Belford, running Friday April 21 – Sunday April 23, along with Regurgitator, Kim Churchill, The Funk Hunters, Boo Seeka and more.