“Punk Isn’t Meant To Be Exclusive” Amyl And The Sniffers Interviewed

An anarchic conversation with the Aussie reprobates...

Time differences in interviews are never usually problematic, but when you’re nursing your first coffee of the day and those that you’re interviewing are onto their first line, it’s a dynamic unlike most.

Ahead of their live stream of their recently released, 'Comfort To Me', we caught up with Amyl and the Sniffers to talk about… well, we can’t quite recall our original plan. Everything goes out of the window with these four about.

Eyerolls from Amy were a plenty as cameras were turned off, streams broke up, lamps weren’t working, and everyone turned up at different times. But what else do you expect from a punk band? Order isn’t in their vocabulary.

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'Comfort To Me' has just come out, how has the reception been so far? Have you been able to enjoy the pre-release buzz.

Gus: It seems to be pretty positive thus far. From what I've seen, which is not actually that much, but it seems to be going well.

Bryce: I haven't read any bad YouTube comments yet.

Amy: Yeah, it’s going really well. I'm really proud and happy about all the reception, like everyone seems to be resonating with it and having fun with it and relating to it. I’m so over the moon. With Covid and stuff, if this album was crap, then that would probably signify the end of Amyl and the Sniffers. But no celebration. We're still on lockdown at the moment. This is our sixth lockdown. Six weeks in it, with a 9pm curfew. It’s really strict.

Sixth, wow. I thought three was too many. I cannot imagine dealing with twice that amount. How has it been?

Amy: Difficult. Since the start of the pandemic, Melbourne where we live, I think we’re like our 220th day into lockdown. So, we wrote during lockdown, we would record in between lockdowns, and started writing prior to Covid’s existence. Like September 2019, off of the back of a lot of tours. It was a really intense bushfire season in Australia, a lot of people, including me, were feeling really, like hopeless and heartbroken about that and the environment. We were wearing masks then because there's so much smoke in the air.

And then Covid happened.

Writing the album gave us something to think about and something to do; something to be proud of. You just have to adapt. If all of a sudden, water became acid, I feel like humans would still just find a way to make it work for them. Just start licking plants and see what happens.

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Now the whole band is here, looking at you Dec, introduce yourselves.

Gus: My name is Gus. I play the bass. I'm very hungover. Um, I really want to eat KFC currently. That's a little bit about me.

Bryce: Bryce, I play drums. I just got a haircut. And I'm a bit sunburned today.

Dec: My name is Declan. I play guitar. I've just done a line and I'm watching Billy Madison.

Amy: A line of what?

Dec: Cocaine.

Amy: Awesome. My name is Amy. I'm eating tortilla chips. I’m dehydrated, but in high spirits.

Beautiful, lovely to meet you all. So, within 'Comfort To Me', it seems very clear that you’ve lent towards some heavier sounds, was that always on the cards for Amyl and the Sniffers?

Amy: We’ve always really loved heavy music. Punk, garage, a bit of hardcore stuff. We’ve always loved rock and roll, like Cosmic Psychos. Over the last couple of years, we've listened to a lot of Power Trip and Warthog. Gus really likes Vertigo and Low Life. So, yeah, the heavier music has definitely come towards the forefront. I also listen to a lot of rap, which I’ve always done, so we’ve lent into that a bit too.

Being such well-versed music fans, was it always on the cards that you could become musicians yourselves?

Amy: Not really. I didn't know what was gonna go on. I still don't know what's going on. I don't know what's gonna happen.

Bryce: I remember when I was like 13 or 14 my mom asked me to write that write down on a piece of paper what I wanted to be when I grow up. And I wrote down Rockstar. Next to soccer player and music teacher.

Declan: You’re definitely not a rockstar.

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You’re obviously signed to such big industry names; do you find it difficult sometimes to continue with the anti-authoritarian view on the world when you've got people trying to control you?

Amy: They don't really try to control us that much. Everyone we work with is pretty open. And if we were really staunch about something, they would just be happy to make room for us. It's not like they're making accommodations for us, that's just how they navigate the world. People like Rough Trade just love music and they started really organically.

A lot of the people in the music industry are grubs, but a lot of them are just people who like music and who enjoy it and are trying to make the best out of living under capitalism. Translating a hobby into a job. And that's kind of how I feel about it too.

Sometimes you have to make weird decisions, like put your song on an advert or something. For example, we said that Apple could use one of our songs at a keynote meeting, which is a huge tech meeting. It was fucking hilarious.

But in the end no matter what I do as a job, I'm gonna have to sacrifice a little part of myself for capitalism to survive, because I actually to pay rent, to eat, to enjoy my life as best as possible. We have a lot of integrity and a lot autonomy over our work and what we want to make and how we make it because, like I said, people sign a punk band and they know what they're getting into. But at the same time, if I've ever made a decision that is a bit bizarre, or a bit left of field to myself, I’m fine with that too.

Do you find that you get like a lot of people who kind of just want to jump on the bandwagon of punk and not actually live the authenticity?

Dec: Fuck the authenticity What even is it? Just a bunch of fucking dumb old cunts that just complain. Fuck ‘em.

Bryce: Gus is a poser.

Gus: Yeah, I’m a poser, what’s up.

Amy: I feel like for me music in general should be accessible. Punk isn’t meant to be exclusive; I don't think. Nobody's just like born anti-authoritarian or a critical thinker, or a free spirit. You have to be conscious about it and think about it. There’s some real gross, money, filthy, dumb cunts. But at the same time, they might introduce us to some sick cunts.

What’s your favourite song on the album?

Dec: 'No More Tears', that’s a good one, and I like…

Gus: We all just like the songs that we wrote. Dec wrote 'No More Tears', Bryce and Dec wrote 'Capital', me and Declan wrote 'Knifey'.

Dec: I like 'Snakes', at the end of record. Snakes are scary.

Amy: It flips all of the time. I really struggle to pick a favourite one because I find little bits that I like in all of them. I like 'Capital'. I like 'Snakes'. I also really like 'Don’t Need a Cunt (Like You to Love Me)' because it’s really fun.

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My favourite track on the album is 'Choices'.

Amy: Is it? Thank you… It’s about having autonomy over your own life and your own decisions. With what you do with yourself and what life choices you want to make. And just who you are really, not having people's unwanted or unsolicited opinions put on decisions that only affect you. I didn’t write it, but I dedicate it to all the women in Austin and Texas with the new abortion struggles.

A powerful message indeed. Dec, are you okay? You look very sad.

Dec: I kind of need to pee.

You can go, don’t worry.

Amy: Thank you, Miss.

Well, I think we've covered more than enough of that absolute chaos.

Gus: What? Sorry, I was on Instagram, I couldn’t really hear.

Alright, I am going to split unless you want to mention anything else?

Amy: Yes. We're going to be doing a live stream 5th October of 'Comfort To Me', in full. Everyone should come along because we’re still in lockdown, it’s going to be ages until we can do any gigs. It’s going to be amazing and really psycho. Get tickets on our website.

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'Comfort To Me' is out now.

Words: Megan Walder
Photo Credit: Jamie Wdziekonski

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