Beat Panic Interview-undoubtedly one of Australia's premier post-punk bands.
Beat Panic Interview-undoubtedly one of Australia's premier post-punk bands.
By Mark Jenkins.
Hello lovely Beat Panic, you seem to be the breathtaking new force in Post-Punk, let’s have the entire backstory to your glorious band?
Also, why did you choose the foundation of post-punk/darkwave etc, it still has aggression but has a brighter halo to a degree.
Scott: Speaking for myself, I’ve always loved post-punk and have had a few failed attempts over the years to get a similar project off the ground before Beat Panic.
Dave and I had been circling around the idea of doing a post-punk band, it was one of those situations where you are always talking at the pub about doing something together and seeing if it will cross the threshold from shit talk to reality. At a certain point, I started punishing Luke about joining too when I’d see him out. All of this feels like it went on for years haha. Retch also plays the drums in Dave’s hardcore band Endless Bore, so he jumped on through that and Phiney got on board through Retch as I think they were keen to do another project together.
David: As Scott says, we both always liked the music and he had spent a number of years trying to convince me I could write stuff other than hardcore and that we should start the band together. Once we got Retch and Phiney involved and actually got in a room together it all went pretty quick. I think it’s only natural there will be a bit of aggression to some songs considering our musical backgrounds.
Scott: We all come from a background of punk, hardcore and metal bands, so it is a bit of a change of pace for everyone. Dave’s such a prolific writer, I think he has written hundreds of Hardcore songs at this point, so I’m sure the chance to stretch a bit melodically is probably appealing. It had been a long time since I had to properly sing in a band rather than yelp like a wounded bird so I was keen to give that another go.
Mine, Luke’s and Dave’s previous bands would play on the same bills often. Retch’s background is as a bass wizard in tech/sludge metal mostly, he is a pretty new drummer and I think he likes the challenge of trying something completely different. Phiney has played in garage/punk bands like Bad Batch and others.
The band is still pretty new, we played our first show Halloween 2022. I suppose our defining event earlier this year was when Dave broke his arm so badly in a skating accident that the surgeons said he might never play guitar again. 4 weeks later he was on stage playing a show with half a kilo of chrome in his arm like the cyborg legend that he is.
How did you build your following, in a relatively short time, you have gained almost cvlt appreciation of your wares?
Scott: Do we have a cult? Haha. I don’t know if we’ve tried anything different from previous bands necessarily? Maybe we just hit the ground running, as we released the E.P just before our first show. Folks just seem to be responding well to the shows and the E.P for whatever reason which has been sick. Maybe there is a novelty factor for some of our mates that are usually into heavier stuff, I dunno! Either way, we really appreciate that folks are enjoying it.
David: I don’t think there’s any real answer other than we just try to make music we enjoy ourselves. We recorded as soon as possible and have just been happy there are people out there who like the music as much as we like making it.
What is your view of a worthwhile live performance, what are the successful components? I think the band does this stunningly well, with tons of dynamic energy, dry humour and often mixed-matched attire,e.g. David’s questionable shorts versus Scott’s mod meets beat poet ensemble
Scott: I tried to issue a shorts ban for the band but was roundly ignored.
Luke: Yeah if it was up to me we'd be a shorts-free band, but Dave is a free spirit and his knees won't be caged. I'd personally like us all to be in full black-and-yellow tracksuits.
David: I like shorts, they’re comfy and easy to wear. A worthwhile live performance from my point of view begins with us as a band having fun on stage and when you have a set of legs like mine it’d be a crime to deny the world a chance to see them.
(David's smoking hot legs whilst recently in hospital post a rather nasty skating injury )
Scott: I think our shows are pretty energetic for such gloomy music. I put this down to the hardcore background seeping through a bit. There is a danger of being too ponderous or self-serious with this kind of music, but playing shows is fun, so we are just enjoying ourselves. I think if a band is enjoying themselves, the crowd picks up on that too and has a good time. I don’t think any of us are keen to get up and pretend to be a bunch of fucking Morriseys or whatever for the sake of aesthetics haha.
What’s at the guts of your first release; a message, a vibe or something else.
The lyrics are honestly almost classic literature or at the very least solidly composed poetry; who are your role models or guideposts for this impressive style. Every song on the EP has a strong emotive feel as a listener I found it to be very evident, thoughts?
Scott: Geez those are some strong words, don’t really know how to respond to that haha. That's incredibly kind! As I’m just doing vox, my lyrics are my instrument basically. It is what I have to contribute, so I always want to feel like I've put some real effort into it. It always bums me out when I realise a band I like has phoned it in lyrically.
For my last band, I was doing frantic political screeds so it's been interesting pulling back to a more introspective place. Oftentimes I like to try to split the difference between the two in Beat Panic, at least in that first batch of songs. There are political underpinnings to some of the more personal songs like Sunk Cost (about trying to silence your inner class traitor). Shit remains grim out there AND in here haha. I wish I could mix the personal and political with deft concision like Billy Bragg or something but I’ll have to settle for my tortured mixed metaphors and run on sentences. I do like to get in the weeds a bit, I’m glad it works for you, not sure if it’s everyone’s cup of tea!
What is the band’s creative process?
What fosters your creativity and what hinders it?
What has being an artist taught you?
Luke: Everyone contributes to this band which is something I really enjoy. Sometimes someone will come in with a full song that we'll just tweak around the edges, and sometimes someone will just bring a riff or two and we'll all play with it until it ends up sounding like a song. Often I'll have an idea and it will end up taking on a whole new vibe after a few months playing it together. I love that feeling of excitement you get as an idea evolves organically into something approaching a finished product and everyone is into it.
David: The band is very collaborative, it’s been great having so many different strengths and styles within the band. We’ve all done bands in the past and I think a key thing we’ve all learnt is how to take on board other people’s ideas and just be open to trying different takes on a section until it feels right. We all come at songs from different angles and play in different styles, so it adds a nice variety when someone comes up with something you wouldn’t have thought of yourself.
As far as what hinders us, I’d have to say broken bones.
Scott: This is for sure the most collaborative band I’ve been in from a writing perspective. I think there is at least one song on the ep that each of us has taken point on and then brought to the band to flesh out.
Not sure of the band member’s professional roles, but Beat Panic certainly ties together art and music very well, what is that intersection about for the band?
Scott: I am a designer in my day job, so I like to do all the artwork myself. I really like to have a strong focus with the artwork, it is often the first impression of a band you have so for me I don’t want it to just be another grainy black-and-white photo of some brutalist architecture or something else rote and forgettable. Having the resources within the band to be able to do the art ourselves is nice, it helps keep within the vision of the band without anything getting lost in translation. It can be a good compliment to the music as it is coming from the same source. We are planning some video stuff soon which is Phiney’s wheelhouse, so really excited to see what she comes up with. One of us just needs to learn engineering so we can be fully self-sufficient!
What’s up next for the band?
Scott: We are booked to record at Goatsound again in July for E.P number two. It will likely be another lathe cut 10in and will be called “Welcome to the New You''. It is a bit more thematically consistent than the first E.P. Less songs about tech-bro robber barons and more songs about Warhammer.
Hopefully that will be out in Late August or early September, but we will see how we go. We are pretty keen to start writing a full-length after that. Phiney is keen to make some videos so we will get to that at some point soon too. Other than that, we will just keep trying to play fun shows, hopefully, we can expand the pool of bands we play with. Hoping to make it interstate this year if we can manage it!
How did the EP come about and what are the next recordings about and their timeline?
Scott: It was really supposed to just be a demo to help with booking shows. Retch and Phiney are mates with Jason Fuller (Goatsound), so we recorded with him. Maybe overkill for a demo haha, but it elevated it to more of a proper release. He was so good to work with and really killed it, I’m so happy with how it sounds. We also wanted a physical release, and tapes are shit, so we made a limited run of 50 lathe cut 10ins. Fuller’s work sounded so good it felt worth doing.
Luke: Yeah I think that was just the first 5 songs we wrote and we wanted to just get them down and released pretty quickly, and then keep writing and releasing from there. I'm happy we did cuz I like all the songs on that record, and now I'm keen to get 'Welcome to the New You' out soon too. I think our songwriting as a band has gelled a bit since the last EP so hopefully, that comes through on there.
What bands are floating your boat atm?
Scott: Locally, Screensaver, Body Maintenance and Gut Health are all so fucking good. I saw Pleasure Symbols again a few weeks ago and was reminded that they are an almost perfect post-punk band. Heaps of world-class stuff going on in Melbourne which I don’t think is a surprise to anyone. Super lucky to live in this city.
Non-locally, that new Home Front record is ridiculously good and probably will be my album of the year. I also have heaps of the late 70s / 80s post-punk like Blitz, The Sound, Chameleons and all that classic stuff on rotation often.
Luke: Recent bands are Home Front, High Vis, Sievehead, Bootlicker, Breacher, Molchat Doma, Ploho, The Chisel, Sleaford Mods. There's been a really great post-punk revival scene for the last few years that I've been loving.
Other than that lots of Rowland S. Howard, Blitz, the Specials etc.
Scott: Oh yeah all those eastern bloc bands like Molchat Doma, Ploho and Motorama are great! Also in heavy rotation. So much good post-punk in that part of the world.
David: Too much to mention, I’d add that I really enjoyed catching Lily and the Lovebites, Cold Regards and Burger Chef at shows recently. As far as my current rotation at home goes it’s largely just McGruff’s Smart Kids album which is far better than it has any right to be.
Final messages or witty stories for your fans?
Scott: If anyone can teach me how to style shorts so I don’t look like a little boy I’m all ears.
David: If anyone wants to invest in a tap and pipe system that is installed in your kitchen and transports cooked spaghetti and sauce directly to your home please get in touch with me.
Thanks, Beat Panic we adore you and everyone should support them well-they produce great music, they are excellent humans and also have sick merch.
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