Interview by Shannon-Lee Sloane – The Colourful Writer
Brisbane’s resident Prog kings, Osaka Punch have delivered a hot new single, Drones which was premiered on triple j’s The Rackett with Mitch Alexander on October 15. They are set to ‘send in the drones’ this Friday night at their launch show at a favourite local Brisbane venue, The Zoo. Joined by some stellar support served up by LeSuits, Weightless In Orbit and Good Call Live favourites/family, Patient Lounge. I got to have an in depth chat to vibrant and talented frontman and wearer of gorgeously loud and often glittery jackets, Jack Venables about the new track, the music video and the launch show…
Osaka Punch have just released a hot new single, ‘Drones’ which premiered on triple j a couple of weeks ago AND of course it comes with a highly entertaining video too! How has the response been to the new release?
“It’s actually been really good. We weren’t really worried because we were really proud of this song from the outset. As soon as we wrote it we were like ‘oh this is going to please our fans’ even though it doesn’t have the weird, quirky, funky aspects that some of our other songs do. But what we were surprised at is some of the people who weren’t previously fans, like our parents *laughs* We have had really good response from people who aren’t really usually into our weirdness. Chrispy’s father actually said to him ‘oh wow, I think this is my favourite song of yours’ and we were like ‘Oh, that’s really cool, thanks for letting us know that you don’t actually like our (other) music’. Very nice backhanded compliment *laughs* Aside from that, all the responses from industry people as well has been really good. I think we are just super happy to have produced something that we are stoked with but then also pleasing fans and also converting people. That’s all we ever want to do as musicians, please ourselves and our fans.”
Can you tell me a little bit about the song itself? Who wrote it? Is there a deeper meaning behind the lyrics?
“*laughs* Yeah so the song itself was sort of written by Chrispy. Every band member then put their own spin on what was written. Chrispy had the main riff lounging around for a couple of years. It was one of those songs we were sort of like ‘oh yeah, we definitely have to work on that when we get the chance’ That is what happens when we have a lot of riffs laying around, until I start putting vocals on them they sort of sit dormant. Then once the vocals come, we sort of shape the whole song. I started listening to that track, well I have been listening to a few because we are working on the album at the moment. As soon as I had some of the lyrics come in, it was actually the pre chorus which is the “You look at me like a belligerent, when I walk I swing like an elephant” As soon as that came out the rest of the song lyrically just sort of formed around it. It is not a super deep song, it sort of changed it’s path along the way. It started out being about one thing then I was like ‘oh actually, maybe it should be about this’. So it started out being about rich people who are in the top one percent and the divide between people in society and then I heard this story about a person who had found someone on Gumtree and paid them to cannibalize him *laughs* I just thought it was a really interesting story. The song isn’t about that but some of the lyrics were inspired by that idea. So, they were taking the guy who had eaten this person to court…sorry this is getting really morbid really quick! *laughs* It is just a really weird and interesting story. A guy found someone on Gumtree and said, ‘I want to commit suicide and I want someone to eat me’ and somebody answered and then did that. The police were trying to take this guy to court for doing that and then they found that it wasn’t actually illegal to eat somebody if you didn’t commit murder. I am pretty sure the guy ended up getting away with it. So, I just thought, everything has happened in this world hasn’t it!? I can’t believe somebody has done that. There is nothing new really. It is definitely not what the song is about but it was definitely in my mind as I was writing the lyrics, you know the lyrics about being a cannibal and all that sort of stuff, it was just all these sort of like cool words. But I didn’t want it to be literal you know like singing about a guy who does that. That is a weird topic for a song to be about! *laughs* A lot of the time I write songs that are super literal. If you read the lyrics you are like ‘I know exactly what that’s about’ but I am quite happy with the fact that with this song, I had a theme and an idea and things that were inspiring me, but I was trying to write something that was a bit more esoteric. So that people could draw their own meaning from it.”
What about the concept behind the video? Was that a group effort?
“No, this was the video guy that we worked with, Dan Macarthur and this is a perfect example of people taking different meanings from the song. My inspiration and my meaning behind the song was one thing, and when he heard it, the first thing he was thinking of was people gambling and people playing cards and stuff. I think because, you know the words, ‘Not a lot of money’ and ‘when everything is over’ and ‘the end of a game’ and ‘the last to put his hand out’ he was thinking of like putting a hand out as in your card hand. So when he heard it he was like ‘Cool I have got an idea, how about this and this and this’ and I was like ‘Yeah cool man, that is completely not what it’s about!’ *laughs* but that’s totally fine because I didn’t want it to be a super literal film clip either. So, we just let him run with it. We did come up with a few silly ideas together and then we shot it in two parts. I was actually leaving for the states the next day for three weeks, so we had to get it done. When we shot the poker game, pretty much all of the really dumb stuff just kind of came up on the night. We were just being stupid Osaka Punch and we are all just good friends that were banging around like idiots. So that is where most of the humour came from, it wasn’t pre planning it was just us, you know.”
I love that your video guy had a different idea of what the song was about and that the video adds more layers to the song itself with that perception…
“Absolutely, that is what I love about those sorts of lyrics; that people can draw their own meaning from it. We were very wary of that too, we got the song played on triple j and then the next day we released it where you could listen to it but it wasn’t on Spotify or anything, there was an audio only version on Youtube just because we wanted people to sort of get their own meaning before seeing the film clip. We wanted to give our fans a chance to listen to it before getting that idea that it might be about a poker game.”
You know, sitting here thinking about the film clip as you are talking about it, all I can think of is your amazing moustache…
“*laughs* there is one part where I am angry and it’s shaking and nearly falling off my face and it was so annoying. The initial stick, ‘cos you know it is always hot when you are doing that sort of stuff because of the lights and stuff. The initial stick was fine but it started peeling off, so I had to keep putting gaff tape underneath it. Then the moustache would kind of lose shape and I would have to stick it down to my chin *laughs* I wouldn’t recommend it.”
I like to refer to Osaka Punch’s music as a ‘magical musical ear trip.’ I recall when I interviewed Reggie last year I mentioned another description a friend of mine exclaimed upon hearing you for the first time, which was “It’s like Twelve Foot Ninja and Fiona Apple had a Jazz baby!” – was that the sound you were going for when you started the band?
“*Ohhhh that’s cool. *laughs* Uhhhh no, I don’t think that was exactly what we were going for. We didn’t even go for anything. It was weird. All the band members which are all songwriters in our own right, all listen to different sorts of music. It is sort of like how Queen were all different song writers and so every song is different to the other one but it is brought together by their guitar sound and Freddy Mercury’s voice and everything. So it’s similar, we are no where near as good as Queen obviously, but it is that sort of similar idea where if you have all these different songwriters, you will end up with an eclectic mix. Whereas a lot of bands that are you know, like say Dave Matthews band which is mostly about one guy and then the band play to his music. He has a very specific sound and he can craft his music however he chooses. Our first album you can tell is a whole different bunch of eclectic mixes. There’s a few bands that we all agree on and that’s early Incubus, Mr Bungle, Tool, Red Hot Chili Peppers. We all come from the same base but then Dane listens to a lot more death metal, I listen to a lot more funk and soul, Chrispy listens to every single thing in the world and Reggie is only starting to contribute to the song writing on this release. Because we had another bass player for the first two albums, and he stayed in the UK when we came back and then Reggie joined. So How We Operate, Hall Of Shame and then Drones, they are the songs he has been recorded on. Reggie is band Mum. He saves lives too, he’s a psych nurse. He has literally saved lives throughout his life but even on tour he has saved definitely one life, the guy was a diabetic, we were on a flight and the flight attendant couldn’t figure out what was wrong and Reggie recognized what it was and gave him apple juice. He saved that guy. I am so proud to have band Mum, he’s a bloody legend.”
That is amazing, there is more to Reggie than some know! This kind of segues into my next question… Osaka Punch are known for your clever and funny music videos, your great sense of humour, your fun and entertaining live shows as well as your musicianship and natural talent. If you weren’t known for those things, what would you be known for? ..Obviously with Reggie it would be saving lives!
“*laughs* Saving lives would definitely be Reggie. Chrispy would be known for being the nicest human on the planet. Anybody who has met him would not argue with that fact. I have never met anyone nicer. I have lived with him in eight different houses and I have known him since High School and I don’t think I have ever even seen him raise his voice. Dane would be known for being the only drummer in the world who is good enough to not have his drivers license but still be good enough to get picked up by every band he has ever been in since he was a child. *laughs* Every other drummer I know has to have a licence because they are not quite good enough to get picked up by everyone. People are just willing t o do it for Dane. And I don’t know, probably my stupid dancing would be my only claim to fame *laughs*”
From the early days of The Kidney Thieves to Osaka Punch now, what has changed over the years and were you all mates before you started the band?
“So Chrispy and I went to High School together. We played in a few different bands together. We played in one in High School, we then played in one that was like an Eastern rock sort of band called Inertia. We are the only remaining founding members of The Kidney Thieves. We saw Dane play when he was like 15 and we were in our early 20’s. He is the baby of the group. We were playing in a battle of the bands against him and when we saw him, we were like, ‘Holy shit, this kid is amazing!’ The day our drummer quit we were like; ‘we have got to ask Dane.’ Chrispy has a degree in music technology and he had recorded Dane and he was like ‘yeah, that guy is insane’ and he was only like 17 at the time and we were in our mid twenties. So, we knew him but were not that close to him but through the process of him joining the band we have become brothers and we have played with him now for about 12 years or so. Reggie we did know, we were friends with him for 5 or 6 years, he was a fan of The Kidney Thieves and used to come to a heap of shows. We toured with his band, Vayer. We had a lot of fun with those guys. We have always got along with them. When we were in the UK and we found out Jay wasn’t coming back, we sort of didn’t audition anyone. We emailed Reggie because we knew he was a great bass player. The day we asked him he went out and bought a five string bass because he knew all our songs were played on a five string. The dedication was already on point. We got back home, and he had already learnt all of the songs. He was a super easy fit.”
Anyone who has seen a few of your live shows knows how entertaining you are, and they would also know that you have an impressive collection of gorgeously loud jackets. Do you have those made for you specially?
“No, I just trawl the internet for sexy little pieces that I can wear on stage and I don’t know what I am going to do this weekend because it is going to be at The Zoo and it’s November. It’s going to be hot! So, I have been trying to find a sequined singlet but I have not found one yet *laughs*”
Speaking of Friday night, Brisbane fans will be treated to your single launch show which is, as you mentioned, at The Zoo along with support from LeSuits, Weightless In Orbit and Patient Lounge. How do you decide on venues and support bands when booking a show or a tour?
“With Brisbane, we are lucky. Because we have been around for so long if a date is available, we can, not pick and choose but whatever date is available, we are in with most venues which is great. The Zoo is one of our old favourites. LeSuits are old friends of ours, we used to play with them when we were The Kidney Thieves and they are an awesome, 12 piece funk, ska rock band. They are super amazing and a hard act to follow. Weightless In Orbit are also sort of friends of ours through the jazz scene in Brisbane. There is an amazing guitarist, Brandon Mamata, he is the guitarist and singer and the brain child behind Weightless In Orbit. I have seen him at jazz gigs and he studied at JMI which is the jazz university in Brisbane. I was chatting to him one night about recording their album and I suggested he hit up Chrispy. He runs a studio called Head Atlas. They have been recording the album for Weightless In Orbit, so they are already in the family which is really cool. They are like jazz metal so it’s perfect. Then Patient Lounge, I have not seen them but me and Reggie went to Dead Of Winter this year. We got there late because we had played Melbourne with Cog the night before. We were going to enjoy the music but also to check out what bands were around that we could maybe play with. So, we didn’t see them but heaps of people said to us ‘oh Patient Lounge were really good’ so we thought, perfect. That was what we wanted, was to get some cool local acts on board.”
Find out if Jack did in fact, find a glittery singlet! Be sure to catch Osaka Punch Friday night, November 1 at The Zoo! More details below.
Follow Osaka Punch on Facebook HERE.
Event page HERE.