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First listen: Tom Lyngcoln’s ‘Raging Head’

Aussie musician Tom Lyngcoln puts to shame anyone who asserts that age mellows you out.

With a self-described “raging head” that informs the title of his second solo release, the Melbourne-via-Tassie legend is only getting angrier, and more creative, by the day. Having performed with Harmony, The Nation Blue, Lee Memorial, Magic Dirt and Pale Heads, Lyngcoln is on his own outing with Raging Head, wielding his studies in political science to venture between the personal and the state of the nation.

Tom has given us the pleasure of giving you your first listen of Raging Head, ahead of its release tomorrow on Solar/Sonar. Read our chat with him about the album below.

So that’s your school picture on the front of this album. Where did you find it?

Funnily enough, where I have my workshop is my grandmother’s old house, and so, she had family photos up of me in Tassie, and that was one that’s been on the wall, and I would pass it every day going to the kitchen. I was like… that was a lifetime ago. It was a different person on the wall. So it just kind of stuck. It was nicely faded as well and nicely damaged. So I thought, “It’s a pretty horrendous head, so the photo at least is…” I don’t know. It has something about it, but yeah. It’s also just a bit of a joke. Raging head in Tasmanian lingo means you’ve got a really severe head, and that’s exactly what I have…Raging head is just an extreme head.

In the press for this album, it says: “Lyngcoln has a self-proclaimed face like a steamed dim sum.”

It’s a little bit translucent. And it’s kind of damaged, extremely damaged, and it’s… yeah, it’s just a bad head. I definitely haven’t made it better over the years. For the back of the album cover, there’s a blood photo. I’ve hit myself so many times over the years that I physically could not bleed. I was standing there stone cold sober one Sunday night just trying to make myself bleed from my forehead, just to recreate all the Nation Blue shows and stuff, and I couldn’t do it. There’s so much scar tissue and build-up there that it just doesn’t do anything anymore.

Most people don’t go out of their way to find out if they still bleed like that. Speaking of the record, there’s a song about Tony Abbott. What was the last straw that made you write that song?

I’ve just got an ongoing catalog of things with him. I think it’s easy to forget how toxic some politicians can be, and I think we just move onto the next guy, “Now, so and so is the baddie or this one is the baddie,” but he did so much damage. And I think that a lot of the damage that he did is still being felt. I studied political science at uni. I know that there are leaders who I don’t share political beliefs with who still do a good job effectively. They’re still trying to do something positive. But he’s seriously like a Trump or something. He was a particularly toxic leader…I get a bit worried about it sometimes, just kind of the same themes repeating, but these are the things that motivate me to write music unfortunately.

What themes are those?

Well, early on, it was always growing up Hobart, there was a lot of environmental issues. I became very focused on the Green movement and things like that. So I got really involved. It was always in my head space that there was a lot of damage being done, nothing being done to stop it. So that has been a fixation. And then, I guess with this record, it’s a lot of looking back over the last 20 years to see that not a lot has changed. The music was all done probably four years ago, but the lyrics were all written in the last kind of six months, or not six months, since October last year.

So it’s not COVID influenced at all?

Not at all, actually. It was put into production just as that was kind of taking hold. So the only thing that crops up as a legitimate 2020 reference would be the first track, which is about the bushfires. And there’s a few little observations here, like Scott out shaking hands, and little things like that, little things that were in the media at the time, or sometimes I just find that images get stuck in my head. And the only way for me to get them out of my head and not kind of rage on them too much is to write a song about it, and that can be really tedious for other people, but for me, music has always been a great, big vent. It gets things out. It’s how I stay normal.

It’s such a strong, punk album, and I don’t know where the punks are right now, if that makes sense.

I agree with that. I think that maybe… they’re always there, but it’s… I don’t have any subtlety, and I think a lot of people can make a punk statement without it being too overt at times. I think a lot more people use it with more guile, whereas I’m literally like a raw nerve ending. It annoys me, and then I scream about it. It’s really direct, and I’ve always appreciated people who can go about things in a less linear kind of way where it’s just kind of cause and effect. I like the more artistic approach, but I’m incapable of doing anything else. I’m just like, “It annoys me. Here’s a record. Here’s a whole fucking record about it, and I apologise.”

Speaking of being direct, what do you think of Daniel Andrews?

Look, I think he’s doing a good job with what he’s got. I’m not a labor voter, I’m not a liberal voter, I always struggle at election time. I tend to, like a lot of people, disempower whoever’s doing a bad job as opposed to… I struggle with representation. I just don’t feel like anybody represents what’s going on with me. I think he’s doing a good job with what he’s got. I think that there’s maybe, similar to Rudd, a bit of a tendency to try and do everything himself a little bit at times. At least it projects that way. I think he’s done 40 days of press conferences straight. He’s turning up to all of them. He kind of doesn’t relinquish any power. But yeah, even Morrison, who would want to pick a politician in this time with this set of circumstances? And I think what we’re very fortunate in this country that we’ve had politicians who will actually listen to science, miraculously and almost immediately.

It’s hopefully the closest thing to an apocalypse that we’ll get in our lifetime.

And you see the breakdown is only a couple of rolls of toilet paper away. People lose their minds. I had numerous conversations during the lockdown, number one, with other people who were like, “What if crime goes through the absolute roof? What do we do? How does society keep functioning in a way that isn’t dangerous?” And yeah, I don’t know… people were looking at buying guns, all sorts of things. It got pretty hectic pretty quick. But I wouldn’t want to be elsewhere.

Raging Head is officially out tomorrow. You can pick up your copy here.