Columbia Buffet: You Don’t Survive An Atomic Bomb
It’s an uncomfortable truth that most good bands don’t get the recognition that they deserve, no matter their ability to tap into the complexity of indie and fuse it with the ultimate aspects of punk. Brisbane outfit Columbia Buffet could be considered one of those acts, but they’re slowly but surely beginning to change that, turning heads from left to right throughout our cosy national scene. With their sophomore full-length How To Survive An Atomic Bomb having just hit the airwaves, we caught up with vocalist Daniel Rogan to chat not only about their fresh release but also plans that are already set in motion for the next one.
The album started streaming this week: have you been keeping track of the response?
It’s going really well. So far everyone seems to be digging it.
Everyone describes you guys as having a “unique punk rock” sound – is that limiting at all for you guys or is that the desired label?
We’re fine with that, it’s all good! There’s a lot of influence from a lot of types of music, but we definitely have more of a punk rock influence, as well as like, indie rock. And you know, bands like Jimmy Eat World.
Is that the scene that Columbia Buffet were born out of? There’s definitely a distinction here between the ‘triple j’ scene and the mosh one.
Yeah, I guess. I grew up with more pop-punk like New Found Glory and those kinds of bands, so it all bridges into one.
Is there a band you benchmark yourselves against – like an act whose level of success you’re aiming for?
We just want to make consistently good albums. There’s a band, Nada Surf, do you know them? They’re just constantly making great albums, one after the other: perfect. Even Jimmy Eat World, [the] same kind of band. That’s our main goal, just to keep making good music, no matter what, to keep having some fun.
That’s fair enough! You guys are obviously significant members of the local scene. Do you have suggestions for bands and scenegoers on how to get more involved with it?
I guess just reach out to other bands. Everyone’s keen to hear new music and everyone’s super supportive. There’s so much good music out there in Australia at the moment, so…
Definitely. Do you want to plug any bands that you reckon deserve a bit more attention?
Local? Well, the bands that are playing our launch, they’re amazing. We’ve got We Set Sail, they’re good stuff, Deluso, they’re a new band that’s come up. In some of the southern states, you’ve got Ceres and Luca Brasi and those types of bands – they’re all awesome.
They are! Lockout laws passed in Queensland recently and we’ve had them in New South Wales for a while now. Do you have an opinion on how that’s affecting the local scene?
We haven’t noticed it too much in Queensland yet, but we’re getting down to Sydney next month so I guess we’ll find out!
Are you concerned at all about them? A lot of bands have been observing classic venues shutting down.
Yeah, I guess that’s a big problem. These venues are great, you know? Places like Crowbar, they look after people. You’re in a secure place after hours, it’s not a bad thing, so I don’t know. I think introducing these laws isn’t the greatest thing – it’s not gonna help music and it’s not really gonna help the violence either.
“There’s a very fake aspect to it… this whole new aspect of the world where a lot of people are living on social media.”
That makes sense! I just wanted to zero in on something on your latest album: you reference Dali and Gerstell, among others. How prominent is the literary and cultural influence?
It’s huge. I’m really into philosophy and all that, so I guess as a songwriter you’ve got to write about what you know. So that’s it, that all comes out into it.
Are there references on the album you don’t think many people will get?
There might be but I don’t know. I reckon a lot of it is pretty translatable; you can really relate to it in your own way.
There’s also a track called “#Hashtag”. Is that a commentary on social media?
It is a little bit, yeah. There’s a very fake aspect to it… this whole new aspect of the world where a lot of people are living on social media. There’s a little bit of dirt, but, you know, it definitely has a place, but there’s a lot of weird things happening on there.
It’s tricky because social media is good for artists and businesses and whatnot, but on a personal level, it’s completely different.
For a band, it’s great for getting new music out there and getting people to hear it.
Is there a song on this record that you want people to specifically recognise?
I think they all hold their ground. There’s a couple of ones that I would pick out as singles, but you know, the ones that we pick out as singles aren’t always the ones that other people pick out as singles.
Are you still writing?
I try and just let it come to me. I’m not just going to sit down and write a song. We’ve been doing it since we were kids. I’ll sit down and just start playing guitar and it’ll kinda come out. And I don’t really finish songs; I only come up with ideas so we can all work on it together as a band. Everyone has their own input.
You’ve got the release, which you’re touring now – what does the rest of 2016 hold for you guys?
We’re finishing this tour, we’re going down south, and we’ve already started a new recording. So we’ve got another four or five songs and we might make an EP or just keep going and turn that into the next album.
Already? That’s great to hear! To wrap up: I know it’s a Gerstell reference, but how do you survive an atomic bomb?
I don’t know if you could. I think the power in these new nuclear weapons is much more advanced. I think if it starts it’s just going to be an apocalypse.
How To Survive An Atomic Bomb is out now.
Columbia Buffet Tour Dates
Fri March 4th – Crowbar, Brisbane (18+)
Sat March 5th – Main Stage @ Chinatown Street Market, Southport for the Bleach Festival, Gold Coast (AA)
Tix: Free entry
Fri April 1st – The Captain Cook Hotel, Sydney (18+)
Tix: Free entry
Fri April 8th – The Reverence Hotel, Melbourne (18+)
Tix: $12 at the door