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Amyl And The Sniffers: A warm hug of raw punk

It’s a sunny Wednesday morning when BLUNT sits down with Amy Taylor, and she’s in a palpably chipper mood.

We can’t fault her: sure, Melbourne’s in lockdown, and her humble suburban sharehouse isn’t the most optimal place to be pent up in, least of all when she has to share it with three rowdy blokes. But the four of them – best known collectively as the pub-loving thrash-punkers in Amyl And The Sniffers – are just a little over a week away from the release of their second album, Comfort To Me. And in addition to being a downright riveting listen, packed with equal measures of punchy mosh anthems and searing ruminations on love and life in the middle of the apocalypse, it’s a record that took the band far, far away from their roots. 

Where earlier Amyl And The Sniffers material was defined by its rawness, incandescence and loose, carefree energy, Comfort To Me is decidedly more considered. The band spent over a year working on it (a far cry from the few months it took to hash out their eponymous ’18 debut, and a very far cry from the mere 12 hours it took to write, record and slap their seal of approval on 2016’s Giddy Up EP), they made demos for the very first time, and they even linked up with famed producer Dan Luscombe to make it all sound as pretty as possible. 

Of course, one spin through Comfort To Me will make it clear that Amyl And The Sniffers weren’t exactly shooting for Top 40 radio. It’s still adorably rough around the edges, viciously spirited and unapologetically angry. As Taylor tells us, the band’s intention wasn’t to fully eschew the loose and livid scrappiness of LP1, but rather add a few more colours to their palate – a few more spices to their stew.

It’s an evolution to the band’s sound and process, but in an authentic, fan-forward way – a meticulous balancing act between the visceral and cerebral, which listeners could enjoy in a multitude of setting. You could sit down and soak in the record through headphones, searching for deeper meaning in Taylor’s lyrics and be greeted with a goldmine of introspective musings. Or you could whack it on in the car, crank the volume up high and simply jam out to all to all the gnashing riffs, shattering drums and soul-ravaging yells.

With the record now out in the world and taking on a life of its own, read on to find out how Taylor and her team went about smashing out this career-defining opus.

The album is out! Holy shit! Congratulations! How do you feel now that you’ve finally unleashed this beast into the wild?
I’m really proud of it, and I think the boys are as well. Also we haven’t put any music out in quite a long while, and I feel like this album is a bit of a step up – it better represents where we’re at now – so it’s good.

I was reading in the press release about how the recording was “less spontaneous and more darkly considered”. Do you think having more time to work on the songs led to them sounding better?
I actually do, yeah. This was the first time we’ve ever done demos as well, so we got to listen back and kind of critique it ourselves. And we had help from Dan Luscombe, who would fine-tune a lot of things. There was more time to play with lyrics and try to fit them into the song better, rather than just going with your first go at it. But in saying that, there are still songs that were written spontaneously and then didn’t change, because I think that spirit is still really special. Some of the lyrics were written in the studio as well, so it’s got a mix of both [dynamics]. I’m glad it was like that. I think sometimes if you overthink stuff, you can really dilute it and ruin it, even though your intentions are to make it more interesting. You can try to make something sound really fucking sophisticated, but in the end it just ends up sounding stupid. 

I feel like it’s the same thematically as well, right? You’ve got songs about wanting to go to the pub and tear shit up, but then you’ve got songs like ‘Laughing’, this really poignant anthem of self-empowerment, and then ‘No More Tears’, which is really introspective and honest. How do you balance the fun shit with the serious shit?
To be honest, I’m not really sure. I guess just being a human, I feel a bunch of different stuff. I don’t want it to just be the same thing all the time. I guess it’s a subconscious thing, trying to pay attention to everything and not just write about the same emotions or the same feeling every time. Because that just wouldn’t be a genuine; I get angry, I get sad, I want to party, I want to punch shit, I want to sit down and watch TV – and all of those things are just as exciting in their own ways.

So was there an overarching vision you had for this record?
I don’t think we were conscious of that. We were just kind of doing it, and then we did it, and then it was done. We didn’t think too much about any specific message we wanted to tell, or if there was an overarching theme or anything like that. But I know that I wanted to communicate a bit more about my experiences as a woman – I wanted to represent that for myself a little bit more. But aside from that, the goal is always just to stay authentic, keep with the spirit, and try to have fun but not be a joke at the same time – just tip-toeing between all of those things.

As far as your worldview goes, how would you compare the Amy Taylor we hear on Comfort To Me to the Amy Taylor we heard on Amyl And The Sniffers?
I think I’ve changed in heaps of ways. Last year was pretty formative; I got pretty depressed and pretty cynical at certain points, and last year was probably the first time that I’ve thought critically about… Pretty much anything [laughs]. There were lots of shifts in my life, and I guess there’s a level of cynicism I hold – at least currently. But I’m still being hopeful and I’m still interested in and excited by life in general. I guess I’ve just become more staunchly furious, rather than broadly furious. Before last year, I’d just wildly be like, “Fuck everything, everything’s frustrating!” I couldn’t figure anything out. Whereas last year, it was like… It got more pointed. Now I can be like, “Ah, I get it now, this is why I feel how I feel.”

>> KEEP READING: The BLUNT review of Comfort To Me <<

Comfort To Me is out now via B2B Records