INTERVIEW: Shout Out Louds (SWE), May 2013

This ended up being the last feature article I did for the AU Review. No bad blood there at all – Larry is a genuine product, and one of the best dudes in the industry. Built up a site out of essentially nothing and gave so many great writers and photographers a leg up when few other places would – myself included. Was very happy to write for this site for the four years that I did. I also think this was a pretty decent one to go out on – Adam is very polite (he’s Swedish, of course he is) and gave a great insight into what I feel were a very underrated band in their time.

– DJY, October 2014

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The Shout Out Louds are keeping a deep, dark secret amongst their ranks. Around the mid-2000s, the band rode a wave of European indie rock bands roaring through a renaissance of cool; with soundtrack features, hit singles and world tours for all. While many bands from that period essentially burnt out, splitting with major labels and disbanding, Shout Out Louds just kept working away. They kept the exact same line-up, they never had any major public spats, they released consistently good records (including this year’s Optica) and they never compromised for anyone or anything. The facts don’t lie, and when they’re presented to the band’s lead singer, Adam Olenius, he’s simply asked one question: What’s their secret?

“I don’t really even know if there is one,” he laughs. “We were friends before we even started making albums. That was the main thing – we came together because we were friends. It’s hard to let go of something when you have such a strong, deep connection with your bandmates. Even though we’ve always been touring and still have people coming to see us all around the world, maybe the fact we didn’t really explode in the way that some of the other bands did… maybe it helped us stay hungry and want to stay creative. We’re still good friends, y’know? We still feel as though we have records to make and things to achieve.”

Optica is the band’s fourth album, which comes three years after its predecessor, Work. It was released in the first quarter of the year, and has already received some of the most glowing reviews of the band’s career. It’s a lush, intimate and engaging pop record, which sees the group – Olenius, keyboardist/vocalist Bebban Stenborg, guitarist Carl von Arbin, drummer Eric Edman and bassist Ted Malmros – expanding their palette and bringing some new, interesting sounds to the table. Although Adam still takes the central role of lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and primary lyricist/songwriter, he definitely feels as though the collective energy and force of the group is what makes the album so worthwhile.

“We were always so stuck in our own roles,” he says. “We had our own little bubble going for awhile. I have to say, though, on this record, everyone has been so much more involved. We produced this one ourselves, and it made us… I dunno, a little more passionate about being in a band. The attitude of this record is pretty strong, I feel. A lot of the songs were written in the studio, which is a little unusual in our group. Normally, I have a pretty solid idea of what I want out of the song, but going into the studio there were a lot of little fragments of ideas. I’d show them to the others, and we’d play around with them accordingly. This was the first time we didn’t go into our rehearsal space with this ideas as – like I said – we didn’t want to get stuck in our own roles again.”

“Every album we’ve done since our debut is a reaction to the album prior to it, he continues. “The Work album, which came out three years ago, was created very traditionally. We rehearsed the songs for about six or seven months, and then we went to the studio for two months – then, it was done. This time, we more or less did it the other way around. Who knows, next time might end up being completely different!” Adam points to one of the album’s highlights, “Blue Eyes,” as a song which sparked the creative process.

“The original version of that song was a fast track – it had a bit of a Sonic Youth feel to it!” he recalls. “We felt that it couldn’t really go anywhere, but we still wanted to do something with it. When we started playing it again in the studio, we started trying it out on different instruments and taking it down a step. We found that the groove sounds like a private jet landing at an airport! When that song came together, we really knew that we could create something unique with only a few elements. Even though it sounds very different to the other tracks, it really set the scene for the creative process.”

2013 has already seen the band touring extensively in support of Optica, which leads to a line of questioning regarding their return to Australia. Olenius has fond memories of the band’s previous tour, which took in the 2010 and 2011 new year period, including a spot at the sadly now-defunct Peats Ridge festival. “That place was like in the middle of the forest!” he exclaims. “It felt like we were playing in medieval times or something, that was a truly magical little spot.” As for when we can expect the band to come and play Optica for us in Australia again? “We’re going to try for a similar timeframe as last time around, so either very late this year or very early next year is the plan. It might be part of a festival, it might not. All we know is that we’re definitely looking forward to visiting you guys as soon as possible. We’ve always had a great relationship with you guys.” Ahh, those Swedes – always so charming!

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INTERVIEW: Hunx & His Punx (USA), January 2013

Yep, another Q&A. I think I was reading a lot of Rolling Stone at the time and was trying to mimic their conversational Q&A style. I’m not so sure it suits me, to be honest. I did love chatting with Mr. Hunx, however. His band are fantastic fun. This tour in particular was an obscene amount of it. This interview is pretty silly; I giggled a lot going back and looking at it.

– DJY, October 2014

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What a month to be a queer punk in Australia! Just weeks after a blistering tour from bear-friendly hardcore queens Limp Wrist, the Ramones-esque proto-punk of Hunx and His Punx have just touched down in the land of Oz for the first time ever. While here, the band will perform at both the Sydney Festival and at Sugar Mountain in Melbourne, amongst other headlining shows. We got on the phone with Seth Bogart – aka Hunx, the band’s fearlessly fabulous figurehead – to discuss new material, new homes and inappropriate zoo visits.

Hi, Seth! Where are you taking this call from?

I’m in my apartment in LA. I really love it here, it’s really nice! Everyone’s really hot, the weather’s really hot. It’s a really big city, too. I dunno, it’s just fun!

Well, enjoy LA while you can – it won’t be long before you’re here in Australia with us!

Oh my god, I can’t wait! It’s been so long. I’ve been wanting to come and see you guys for three years now. I’m so excited!

Tell us a little bit about the line-up of H+HP that you’ll be bringing with you for this tour.

Well, Shannon and Erin – who have kind of always been in the band – are coming. This guy Frankie, who is kind of a weirdo, is going to be playing guitar for us. The other two girls we had playing guitar for us got pregnant.

Wait – at the same time?

Yes! It was a real inconvenience!

What’s so weird about this new guy, anyway?

He’s just kind of perverted. He has, like, a massive foot fetish, too. He’ll be like taking pictures of our feet while we’re sleeping and stuff. He’s really hot – but I have a boyfriend and Frankie’s straight; so it’s kind of difficult.

You’ll be bringing some new material out on this tour, is that true?

We’ll be playing songs from all three albums, and we’re in the middle of writing a new record at the moment called Street Punx. Hopefully we’ll have some of that new material for you by the time we get there.

What is the new album sounding like?

It’s MEGA punk. The more I was playing fast, fun songs with the girls, the more we were enjoying them. So we just started writing like that. Plus, I was pissed off at a lot of people and needed to get some things out of my system, get some anger out. I just started writing mean songs. I’ve always loved The Germs, and I always wanted to make a California punk record – and now is my chance!

Have you guys had much of a chance to run through what you’re going to play in Australia?

Well, to be honest with you, we live in four different cities. So we don’t really play that often. When was the last time we toured? I think… [trails off] …oh, we played a couple of shows about four months ago and that’s been about it. Shannon and I just write songs at the moment in our bedrooms and just send them to one another. We haven’t even really rehearsed yet – so, I don’t know! I’m sure it’ll all work out by the time we get to Australia. I think we’re playing a skate park the day before we leave, so we’ll sort it out then.

The band have always been known for some provocative imagery and aesthetics – from the cover of the Gay Singles compilation to the band’s videos. Do you feel that you’ve drawn a lot of people in over the years because of the band’s aesthetics?

I would hope so! I just like the way things look. I just love being involved with things like the artwork, y’know? I mean, there’s one side of me that just wants to get up on stage and be punk and go crazy and stuff like that; and there’s also this other side of me that’s like a grandma – really into arts and crafts [laughs]. I want what people see on the outside to reflect the band and reflect the sound. I also don’t trust people in bands that don’t do art. I just find it weird if you’re in a band and you don’t know how to make it look the way it sounds. You really need to be involved with the entire creative process in order for it to totally work.

Hunx and His Punx seem to have always taken their sounds from everything from the Ramones to the Ronettes in their music. Have you ever felt a difficulty fitting into a “scene” – being too pop for punk and vice versa?

I don’t think we really fit in anywhere, really. We’re too “gay” for punk, and we’re too punk or too rock for most gay shit. It’s all the same, really. We’re just about being ourselves. It’s cool if you don’t fit in. I love it at our shows when there’s the big tough punk guys standing next to the weird teenagers and the gay guys. It’s so weird, and it’s so awesome. I’m so excited to see what our Australian audiences are going to be like.

Do you have any ideas of what to expect on your first trip to Australia?

I just want to see a kangaroo’s boner! After that I can sit back and relax.