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Violent Soho

Violent Soho: Everything is fine, OK?

Violent Soho is arguably the most influential Aussie rock band of the past decade.

Their 2013 opus Hungry Ghost, led by triumphant grunge anthem ‘Covered In Chrome’, brought gritty, guitar led anthems screaming onto the airwaves of triple J and festival stages around the country, laying the foundation for a whole new movement of sunny, crusty punk rock acts.

Fast-forward to 2020 and the band, on the verge of dropping their hotly anticipated new LP Everything Is A-OK, find themselves with their entire year of plans cancelled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m in our rehearsal room – not rehearsing for any shows though obviously!” laughs guitarist James Tidswell over the phone, discussing where the band are at ahead of their next chapter with Blunt Magazine.

“The big problem with us is that it’s so hard to get us together and focus on something long enough, say a tour, to actually pull it off,” he says. “Now that we’ve just cancelled it, before it was even announced, I mean, I’d like to know when we’re gonna be able to get back together and do this.”

“The fact that we were gonna go overseas again, our first time since 2016, with all these sold-out shows…We’ve only done two shows in Melbourne in the past three years.”

“If we don’t do shows again, at least our last Sydney show was at a venue as legendary as The Lansdowne.”

It’s alarming to hear James muse about the possibility of the band never being able to get back onstage again in the wake of recent events. However, James is quick to point out that Violent Soho has only ever existed in moments between life’s other priorities.

“We focus on putting our families first – we’ve got 4 kids between all of us – and that means things take a bit longer, but if everyone can be themselves and step away from the band, it means that you can kind of weather the hype a little bit – we only exist in Violent Soho for short bursts of time,” he says.

“We never lose our minds, everyone stays fresh and eager to do it, so it’s a treat to us to be the band that we are – it’s not good to go into a buffet and eat so much that you spew, but the temptation is always there.”

When listening to Violent Soho’s music and watching the chaos of their shows, it’s hard to imagine them being a ‘sensible’ rock band by any stretch of the imagination. However, James points out that it’s because of their caution that they’re still able to fire on all cylinders today.

“We’ve been playing together for nearly 18 years…when you’ve been playing for that long, the first eight years of which was playing to about six people…you only really know one way how to do it.”

“Our manager was Dean Turner from Magic Dirt, who unfortunately passed away – he produced our first record and put it out on his label Emergency Records – we grew up with the last of that generation passing directly on what we believe is the correct way to go about things, with a level of integrity that gets overlooked these days,” he reflects, noting the effect that it’s had on his own approach to producing other bands and running his own label Domestic La La.

“We want to pass that on to other bands that are interested in that approach – be it how you make your records, release your records, what your level of participation in the industry is…I wasn’t asking to produce records, Dune Rats just hit me up to do theirs!”

“I’ve just been lucky in that I’m putting out bands that really know what they’re doing – it’s been a pretty natural thing to happen for us all with our journey through the industry.”

Despite the abrupt changes to the next 18 months of Violent Soho’s touring schedule, James sounds remarkably relaxed with the hand the band have been dealt – a sentiment that shines through in Everything Is A-OK.

Like any Soho record, things are still cynical and often take a turn for the heavier. However, there’s a notable ‘lightness’ with this LP, as opposed to its darker, heavier predecessor in WACO.

WACO 100% was more darker – more than we even realised, and when we look back on that period it was not a good time for anyone in the band,” says James of the last album cycle.

“Everyone was dealing with huge life-changing situations, but at the time we weren’t fully aware of that, we were just plowing on with the band….but it wasn’t that nice overall for everyone.”

“We lost our sunshine element on that record – which is something that we want to carry pretty strongly, and consider ourselves very ‘Queensland’ – so we really wanted to make sure that this new one was a daytime record, you know what I mean?”

It’s frustrating to know that these new songs might not see the light of day in a live setting for the foreseeable future. However, as James notes, Violent Soho has never thought too far ahead either, which is why this record even exists in the first place. 

“We’ve been playing together for nearly 18 years…when you’ve been playing for that long, the first eight years of which was playing to about six people…you only really know one way how to do it.”

That one way seems to have worked thus far. Here’s hoping for more years of the same.