Kisschasy: (Dis)united Paper People – Part 1
It’s darker days right now for fans of the mid-‘00s Australian alt-rock scene. Faker have well and truly faded into obscurity, Amy Meredith mysteriously dropped off the face of the planet altogether, and now, Kisschasy are calling it a day. Ruling the landscape with unapologetically snide radio bangers like “Spray On Pants” and “Generation Why”, the Melbourne rockers won the country over with two things that you just couldn’t find from those Australian Idol wannabes: originality, and personality. But before they were taking the piss out of our politicians and making us tear up with cartoon dinosaurs, the four-piece were busting it out for bar staff and slaving over festival slots, trying to make a name for themselves in what was far from an inviting atmosphere.
The dedication paid off though, and Kisschasy finally hit the big leagues with their 2005 debut album, United Paper People. Still to this day an absolute pain in the arse to say without stuttering, UPP quickly rose to the top of the charts, scoring the band a barrel full of award nominations and a shiny Gold ARIA certification. “It’s quite a bizarre feeling,” says Darren Cordeaux, reflecting on the now-decade-old release. Ahead of their two-in-one anniversary and farewell tour, the frontman admits that revisiting the title has opened his eyes to its impact.
“Every interview I’ve done for this tour has started with the interviewer telling me that this record in particular was kind of like a gateway drug into Australian music,” he continues. “I’ve never been one of those people – and I don’t think any of us have been – who get really nostalgic and look back at our accomplishments too much, but the response has led us to realise that this really was a special record, and that’s going to make these shows even more special than we originally thought.”
The story of United Paper People begins in the summery throws of February 2005. Still buzzing off the back of two EPs released the previous year – Darkside/Stay Awake and Cara Sposa – the Melbourne blokes rushed into the studio with producer Phil McKellar, notable for having previously worked with bands like Silverchair and Grinspoon.
“We’d actually worked with Phil on Cara Sposa, and he did that EP for next to nothing,” Cordeux says. “The deal was that the record we made after that, he would get to do. I remember with Cara Sposa, I was super sick, and he still managed to squeeze the best out of me. And then when we got into United Paper People, it already felt like home to work with him.”
Of course, not all was smooth sailing this time around either. “I remember we kind of ran out of time, and we still had to do the vocals,” Cordeux laughs. “Another band was coming in to use the studio, so Phil had to get his laptop and a microphone, and we basically recorded everything in the utility closet of the studio, because another band was in the proper studio.”
After wrapping up recording, Kisschasy flew to Seattle for what would be their first international adventure, putting the finishing touches on the album with Nirvana and Foo Fighters collaborator Barrett Jones.
“I remember we were flying into Seattle, and as the plane was coming down I was like, ‘Holy shit, I’m on the other side of the world right now’,” says guitarist Joel Vanderuit. “It was mental. And the band had taken me there. This wasn’t something I had saved up 10 years for, this was what would become my job. And then when we went into the studio to work with Barratt, you look at all the stuff on the walls of bands that had been in there before you, and it’s just like, ‘This can’t be right, what are we doing here?’”
It’s at this point that the quartet would have to settle on a title for their opus. One might come to the conclusion that United Paper People is symbolic, or holds a special personal meaning for the band. And it does… Sort of.
“If I’m being completely honest, it holds more weight and is more symbolic now than it was at the time,” Cordeux imparts. “At the time, we were just like, ‘What title sounds the most provocative?’ Now, it makes sense. We were a force to be reckoned with. We were united, we had our arms joined, and we were ready to go and take on the world.”
Major label record deals usually come with the expectation that an album is going to sell. In a time when quality talent can be found with every second click, corporate attention is something reserved for only the biggest and most profitable artists. For Kisschasy on the other hand, expectations were admittedly low.
“We had major label distribution, which was EMI at the time, but I think we were really low priority for them,” Vanderuit admits, somewhat jokingly, somewhat serious. “I think we were a favour for somebody,” Cordeux laughs.
Mostly thanks to the tongue-in-cheek Top 40 hit “Do Do’s and Whoa-Oh’s”, United Paper People vanished from shelves the moment it hit them. “It definitely wasn’t expected,” says Vanderuit. “We were out playing shows and not paying any attention, not really in contact with anybody about it, and then all of a sudden we’d be driving somewhere and we’d hear it on the radio and we’d be like, ‘Oh, that’s pretty cool’. When the album went gold, we were like, ‘Holy shit, really?! That’s ridiculous!’”
As Cordeux continues, the band were too caught up in the cataclysm of touring to even notice how popular the album was. “We didn’t really have the time to reflect and say, ‘Ahh, we’re big now’. Each time we went on tour we would play in a slightly bigger room, or we would have a slightly more comfortable bed to sleep in. It’s only now, this long after, that we’re actually realising that this album carried volumes across Australia, and it’s absolutely mind-blowing,” he says. “When you’re that young and you start a band with your mates because that’s what you love to do, you think maybe you’ll get a girl out of it, or whatever. The success side of things was just so far from our brains and our consciousness.”
Head over here to read part 2 of our chat with Darren and Joel.
Kisschasy Tour Dates
Thu Oct 8th – Barwon Club, Geelong (18+)
Fri Oct 9th – Spirit Bar, Traralgon (18+)
Sat Oct 10th – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18+) – SOLD OUT
Sun Oct 11th – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18+) – SOLD OUT
Thu Oct 15th – The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle (18+)
Fri Oct 16th – Beachcomber Hotel, Toukley (18+)
Sat Oct 17th – The Metro, Sydney (18+)
Fri Oct 23rd – Pelly Bar, Frankston (18+)
Sat Oct 24th – Pelly Bar, Frankston – SOLD OUT
Fri Oct 30th – The Triffid, Brisbane (18+)
Sat Oct 31st – Coolangatta Hotel, Coolangatta (18+)
Fri Nov 13th – The Capitol, Perth (18+)