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.

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2012 – A Year in the Front Row. Part One: Jan/Feb/March

So, here’s an idea I had. I go to so many damn shows, why not do a retrospective? Especially considering 2012 was easily my busiest year of gigs ever. So, here is part one of four. It’s a very brief recount of the year that was, but one I was compelled to share. Enjoy! – DJY

JANUARY

With a slew of bands still staying over from the New Year’s festivals, as well as some perfectly timed tours, my first few weeks of January 2012 were insanely busy. Within the first week alone, I’d seen old favourites Bluejuice, Italian skramz band Raein, U.S. hip-hopper Jean Grae, U.K. movers-and-shakers The Jim Jones Revue, pop-punk heroes Tonight Alive (the first of four times I’d see them this year) and mid-teen heroes The Dresden Dolls. An exhausting highlight reel of great, diverse and interesting music hanging around Sydney and Wollongong at the time.

Unfortunately, the only sour note among the lot was Jean – arriving forty minutes late on stage and proceeding to treat her fans like idiots while barely putting any effort into her rapping still ranks highly among my year’s sorest disappointments. Still, you’ve got to take the good with the bad – and, there was so much good to take.

In particular, I point to the Dresden Dolls show at the Enmore Theatre as still one of the best shows I went to this year. For two-and-a-half hours, I partied like it was 2006 and celebrated the reunion of one of my biggest high-school obsessions. Having seen Amanda solo twice before, I already had an idea of what to expect – but bringing drummer Brian Viglione into the mix sent the entire affair to strange new levels. A great one to tick off the bucket list.

Not long after that, I was headed to Melbourne for the first time ever. I had the honour of playing with former A Death in the Family vocalist/guitarist Jamie Hay – eerily enough, on Friday the 13th, the day that AditF had announced their split. He didn’t let the news get in the way of a phenomenal performance, thankfully. The weekend immediately following this show lead to my main purpose of visiting Melbourne – Sugar Mountain.

An awesome initiative from Two Bright Lakes, this night was the first of three times I would see percussive adventurers tUnE-yArDs in this month. Getting to see the delightful Deerhoof and the blistering Thee Oh Sees was the icing on an already delicious cake. The next night at the Corner Hotel, I got to see tUnE-yArDs doing her thing once again. I appreciated a total switch-up of her live set – she even started on the same song that she had closed with the day before, and vice versa! My final time seeing her was a day after returning home, at the Famous Spiegeltent as a part of the 2012 Sydney Festival. I also managed to sneak in a breathtaking set from U.K. chanteuse Beth Orton at City Recital Hall for the Festival, too. Gotta be happy with that.

Onto a far-less cultured festival, the one and only Big Day Out. I only managed to get in a single sideshow this time, but it was more than worth it. Battles shook the foundations of the Metro Theatre like nobody’s business. Having now seen these guys 4 times, I can affirm their status as mind-melting musos that you could watch individually for a set’s entirety and not get bored. That said, their MVP is unquestonably Mr. John Stanier. ‘Tis no man! ‘Tis a drumming machine! Onto the BDO itself: Highlights included the bombastic Kanye headlining set, the world-class rock & roll of Soundgarden, Cage the Elephant and My Chemical Romance and the insane celebratory dance party of Girl Talk. Despite relatively poor ticket sales, BDO was a tonne of fun.

The month finished with a quick visit to Wollongong for day 2 of the Stacked Music Festival. Although I attended almost exclusively for Sydney legends Gay Paris, there were also a few treats thrown in for good measure – local champions The Conspiracy Plan, brattish post-punks Chicks Who Love Guns and the always-delightful folk-rockers The Pennys.

TOP 5:

  1. The Dresden Dolls
  2. tUnE-yArDs
  3. Kanye West
  4. Battles
  5. Jamie Hay

DISHONOURABLE MENTION: Jean Grae, plus the shitty local band that opened for Tonight Alive whose name escapes me.

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FEBRUARY

I was eased into February quite nicely by one of my favourite events in Blood, Sweat and Beers. This show would mark the first of many times I would see positive-thinking pop-rockers Milhouse, as well as sets from Canberran bong-ripping favourites I Exist, Tassie boys Luca Brasi, country bumpkins Wagons and the brilliant Harmony. With Laneway in town, I caught a sideshow for Canadian sensation Leslie Feist, although admittedly I was going almost exclusively for her support in the delightful Mountain Man. These sweet-singing ladies subsequently wiped the floor with Feist herself, who was half-an-hour late on stage and caught up in her own self indulgences too much to make this show worthwhile.

I then returned to my second home of the Annandale Hotel for three shows headlined by Michigan post-hardcore cult heroes La Dispute. These shows were just as inspiring and engaging as the very first time I saw them back in 2009, but for very different reasons. The 2009 shows were inspiring on account of an American band doing a completely D.I.Y. Australian tour that was done out a pure love for what they do as a band.

These shows were inspiring on account of seeing a relatively little-known band playing a very unfriendly style of music managing to pack out the Annandale for three shows with a huge, hungry and wildly boisterous audience. In other words, they’ve more or less arrived in Australia. We also got some fantastic local supports at these shows: Let Me Down Jungleman, Hira Hira (shout out to Jack Wotton for doing double duty!), Perspectives, Between the Devil and the Deep, Making and the late, great Animal Shapes.

Nearing the end of the month, I got to spend some quality time with some of my songwriting heroes – namely, Dan Mangan and Ben Gibbard. The former played a wondrously joyful set at Notes in Newtown, while the latter lead his band (and one of my all-time favourites), Death Cab for Cutie, into a second headlining show at the Enmore Theatre just up the road. Despite an annoying, iPhone-ready audience, I still had a great time at my third Death Cab show.

Sandwiched in-between Dan and DcfC was SoundDave, a DIY all-day festival held at another one of my Sydney “homes,” Black Wire Records, curated by Milhouse/Between the Devil and the Deep bassist/FBi radio personality/all-round heartthrob Dave Drayton. I was a volunteer for the entire day, and was so happy to be involved. Highlights including decidedly bitchin’ sets from Epics, Fat Guy Wears Mystic Wolf Shirt and Surprise Wasp, fronted by Gay Paris bassist Dean “Slim Pickin’s” Podmore. Top stuff.

Although I gave Soundwave a miss, I still managed to wrap up the month with two great “Sidewaves” at the Metro Theatre. The first was the final Sydney show from Thursday, a band that I will gladly admit meant a hell of a lot more to most people in that room than me. I was a late bloomer for Thursday, only really getting into them later in high school. And I was a War All the Time guy, as opposed to a Full Collapse guy, which was the album they were playing in its entirety. Even so, I came out of that show with a mountain of respect for what they accomplished in their time, and it was an honour to be a part of it. Finally getting to see Circa Survive live was also a treat.

A few days later, on a rare February 29th, I got a triple-horned hardcore treat with Enter Shikari, letlive. and Your Demise. Each put on a great set with their own style and energy, but I’d be kidding myself if I wasn’t there to get properly mental to letlive. After discovering them in mid-2011, I vowed that I’d be front row centre as soon as they toured. And so it was – I screamed, I jumped, I climbed on things and I essentially acted all of the ways a 21-year-old really, really shouldn’t. And it was GLORIOUS.

TOP 5:

  1. La Dispute
  2. Dan Mangan
  3. letlive.
  4. Death Cab for Cutie
  5. I Exist

DISHONOURABLE MENTION: Feist. Sorry, babe. Maybe next time.

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MARCH

A pinch, a punch and some motherfucking MASTODON for the first of the month! Don’t mind if I do, thanks. With French destroyers Gojira and Norwegian warriors Kvelertak in tow, my brother Chris and I were treated to one of the most brutal shows I’ve seen all year. This was also the first of three shows at new Sydney venue The Hi-Fi I would attend this month, and all within a few days of one another. The very next day, I saw the delightful Ben Kweller doing his thing, while on the Sunday I’d finally get to see Manchester Orchestra live. Along with my ridiculously similar appearance to Andy Hull, I love all of their albums, especially Mean Everything to Nothing. Watching the band play “Everything to Nothing” live is one of the few gig moments from 2012 where I’ve actually teared up. Truly incredible stuff.

With Future Music Festival in town, I had yet another chance to see Die Antwoord after catching them at both the 2011 Big Day Out and at their show with M.I.A. the very next day, at which they completely blew her off the stage. Here, I found them in the illustrious surrounds of the Enmore, which was decidedly packed full of people from the Zef Side of Sydney. Despite going on late, they put on a truly fantastic show – bounding energy and a seemingly endless supply of bangers.

Next up was a return to Black Wire, to see the hilarious Battle Pope get rowdy along with Fat Guy Wears Mystic Wolf Shirt, The Reverend Jesse Custer and Jesus Christ Posse. Right there is four of my favourite heavy bands in the country, so that was more or less a dream come true. Another festival in March was Golden Plains, and from the cool streets of Portland came the femme-fatale quartet of Wild Flag. Lots of dancing to be had at their show at the Manning Bar with Love of Diagrams and impressive upstarts Unity Floors.

I’ve had the chance to do multiple shows on tours a few times this year, as evidenced back in February with La Dispute. These next two shows would be the first of two times I’d double up on some Children Collide action this year, bringing my grand total to nine times of seeing them live. For what it’s worth, they never let me down. Although the turnout for their Metro Theatre show was abysmal, they packed out the Patch in Wollongong and put on a truly hectic show for all involved.

During the final song, I decided to flip myself off the foldback and into the crowd. Half-expecting to fall to the ground, I ended up being carried all the way to the back of the venue, eventually toppling downward in-front of my bug-eyed sister, who could not believe her baby brother had just crowdsurfed like an absolute champion. Good times. Shout out to the killer supports, Deep Sea Arcade and Palms.

Nearing the end of the month, I was back at Black Wire to see two of my favourite Australian musicians, and people that I’m honoured to count as friends – Jamie Hay and Jen Buxton. I also had the pleasure of meeting Jen’s little dude, Eli. He has the biggest cheeks I’ve ever seen. I showed a world of restraint for not just sinking my teeth directly into them. Don’t tell her I said that, of course.

Oh yeah, I also saw Evanescence. The less said about that, the better. At least Blaqk Audio were pretty good.

TOP 5:

  1. Manchester Orchestra
  2. Mastodon
  3. Die Antwoord
  4. Children Collide
  5. Jamie Hay and Jen Buxton

DISHONOURABLE MENTION: Evanescence. Childhood memories tainted forever by this soulless display of mediocrity.