Melbourne three-piece Bitch Diesel play music that’s glam-rock meets Bratmobile meets Kath And Kim. They’re the wholesome babes you drunkenly befriend in a grubby nightclub bathroom when you’ve gone a bit too turbo on the piss. And they’re the kindling behind an incoming love rock revolution.
“The Charger tried to Pash Rat me at a Steve Miller Band gig back in the day,” – I think Pash Rat means snog – “and The Stang gave me her flower crown to wear at the pub footy ball (an honour I had only dreamed would one day become a reality) and professed her love for me in the dunnies,” says bassist Silver Skidmark of the moments she realised she wanted to make music with her Bitch Diesel bandmates. (The three have taken on their own personas in order to cope with the ol’ performance anxiety.)
They’ve known each other around the traps of Melbourne’s music scenes for years, but it was at the filming of their mates Mod Con’s music video that they really hit it off. It was a shared period of strife within their lives that led to a special bond forming between them; a bond only strengthened by Bitch Diesel, a term that describes cheap plonk for the girls.
“We were all in red, drinking tins, and we got thrown in a car boot together,” says their drummer, The Charger.
“I was going through a rough break-up and had to leave a band with my ex when these spunks find me with wine and whisky and offer me a spot in the band. It was the greatest day of my life,” explains guitarist The Stang.
“The feelings were all round mutual, so we formed a fully-fledged marriage in the form of this ridiculous rock and roll outfit,” adds Skidmark. And ever since tying the knot, Bitch Diesel have produced some of the biggest sounding rock and roll Australia has to offer right now.
All three grew up regional: Silver Skidmark claims to be from Lake Ballsack in Victoria; The Charger is from a banana farm in Doon Doon; and The Stang is from her family’s flower farm in “the Dandenongs.”
Their latest track ‘Power’ tells a tale of Joan of Arc’s spirit guiding the oppressed in a time where witches were still being burned at the stake – the song begins with a static buzz that flickers like a sonic flame, and was engineered by their frequent collaborator Gareth Liddiard of Tropical Fuck Storm and The Drones.
Even in Melbourne, one of the world’s most progressive and liveable cities, women and many other minority groups are still victims of patriarchal bullshit.
Together they’ve recorded everything from thunderstorms, to The Charger smashing wine bottles and a “South American Marimba-type object”, which was plucked by the Silver Skidmark to create a spaceship-like whirl in ‘The Skull’. “The Stang was certain her people had returned from Uranus,” says Skidmark.
The band are outspoken on the issue of patriarchal bullshit, and continue to call out the big egoes lurking within Melbourne’s endless scenes. “We are all victims of a system that still has massive flaws in it. Even in Melbourne, one of the world’s most progressive and liveable cities, women and many other minority groups are still victims of patriarchal bullshit,” explains The Stang. “It’s the egotistical system that needs to be taken down that is fuelled from ignorance, greed, bigotry, jealousy and hatred. The only way that can happen is through education.”
The album art from their previous release ‘Red Love Witch’ is strikingly similar to the lush, DIY Victorian wiccan aesthetic of 2016 film The Love Witch – maybe that’s unsurprising, given The Stang and The Charger work together in film costume and garment design at Vovo The Label. But where the film mocks unrealistic expectations and fantasies surrounding sex and relationships, ‘Red Love Witch’ simply sees The Stang on the hunt for a good old-fashioned root.
I try to buy only witch pedals.
“Being back on the dating scene was the inspiration for the song. I started writing it when I decided I was going to go on a slut strut after a break up and I was going to reclaim the word for myself,” says The Stang. “I’d been made to feel very ashamed about my sexuality through an abusive relationship when I was younger. The witches were a great help writing the lyrics – it was very fun.”
“In my opinion it’s the irony of the song that brings me such joy,” says Skidmark. “The Stang, who is 100 per cent responsible for this masterpiece, is a giant prude. #fakeittillyoumakeit is one of our mottos. We live and will die by it.”
Image: Jamie Wdziekonski
Indeed, the song contains cracker lines like “Don’t shave your bush, it’s extra cush … I’ll give you a tug coz you’ve got a real nice mug / Waiting for a mate to take me on a date / Don’t wanna wait just need to get laid,” and the lyrics are tucked in-between witchy guitar swirls and heavy distortion. “We are always doing witchcraft and voodoo at home and onstage. Thanks for noticing our witchy swirls. I try to buy only witch pedals,” says The Stang.
Importantly, each member of the band brings something unique to the Bitch Diesel table, and there’s no one person who dominates the pack. “There is no diva” The Stang says. “It’s a socialist collective, DIY and going forward I wouldn’t do it any other way”.
‘Power’ is out now as part of Split Singles Club vol. 2 by Poison City Records/Our Golden Friend. Read our feature on Split Singles Club here.