By Danger Coolidge
Unbelievably Bad Editor
Bite Your Tongue is the new second effort by Spacejunk, red-hot red beards from Melbourne that rock a lot and roll some too.
They’re chucking a launch party for it at The Last Chance Rock and Roll Bar (formerly the Public Bar) in Melbourne on June 11, and they’ll be bringing their ‘A game’.
UB got a hold of guitarist/vocalist Mark Ryan to get the word on Bite Your Tongue…
What’s five things that inspired Bite Your Tongue?
1. Our first record, which is self-titled. It was our first batch of songs that came out really quickly and we recorded it virtually live without much thought to production value or how we would promote it. With our second record we wanted to maintain the spontaneity and live sound but fill it out a bit. Bite Your Tongue has a few different flavours that maybe didn’t feature on the first record. It’s a bit angrier, a bit edgier… I think.
2. Fender M80 amps. I was having back problems from carting around heavy heads and quad boxes so I figured using combo amps was the solution. I bought a couple of old Fender M80s off Gumtree for about $250 each because the price was right and our guitarist Eugenius had achieved one of my favourite guitar tones ever whilst using one in his high school band. They’re solid state combos that have a 1×12″ speaker, a reverb tank and are louder than anything else I’ve ever played and definitely a tone time capsule in that they sound exactly like 1991. A lot of people turn their noses up at solid state amps but we managed to dial up some pretty rad guitar tones basically as a result of being a broke band with a back problem.
3. Melbourne bands. We’ve played around town heaps now and there are so many super talented bands of all genres kicking about. It’s really inspiring and it pushes you to work hard and bring your ‘A game’ every time or run the risk of embarrassing yourself. Having said that, I can always find a way to embarrass myself.
4. Hangovers. We like a drink. Hate a hangover. Blackouts, memory loss, paranoia and making a drop punt of yourself seem to be a bit of a running theme lyrically. Other than that it’s cars and girls, really.
5. Louis Theroux. I was watching a lot of Louis’ documentaries around the time we were recording the album. The opening track on Bite Your Tongue was inspired by an interview with an inmate at one of America’s most brutal prisons. When Louis asked some shiv-wielding lunatic if he was worried about being killed in prison, he said he wasn’t fussed because he was “raised by snakes”. It was a pretty strong image so I wrote it down and applied the “Ace of Spades” formula. I should send Louis a copy of the record. He’d probably hate it.
The Spacejunk sound has elements of all different types of rock. What’s your least favourite rock sub-genre?
I like all kinds of ‘rock’ and think every sub-genre has its plusses and minuses. I used to be really into what’s commonly known as stoner rock but have gotten a bit bored of it recently. Not that it’s a bad sound; I just seem to have a shorter attention span these days. But having said that, how fun is it to plug in a down-tuned Gibson into a Marshall via a fuzz pedal and imagine you’re a triton-wielding King Neptune-type character commandeering an asteroid from out of a black hole on a mission to the deepest depths of the ocean to rescue dugong-riding Mermaids from an evil robot Octopus and being rewarded with your very own pimped-out hummer submarine with a lifetime supply of sea spliff and all the anchovy pizzas you can shake a stick at? So in answer to your question, I don’t really know.
What a fuckin’ cop-out. Anyway, how long did Bite Your Tongue take to get together, where was it made, who helped?
Bite Your Tongue was recorded at the Barbarium in North Melbourne, which is a rehearsal space we share with a few other bands such as Shepparton Airplane, High Finance, Tankerville and The Peep Tempel. It was recorded and mixed by Matty Duffy (aka Matty Chow) who has played in a stack of great bands (Dr Invisiablo, Graveyard Train) and recorded the likes of Deaf Wish, Batpiss, The Grannykillers, Tri State Lovers and more. We got Mikey Young of Eddy Current Suppression Ring to master the album because we were impressed with his work on re-issued Bored! and Powder Monkeys LPs and his rates were very reasonable for a broke-arse rock band like us. We did all the tracking live in three sessions over six weeks, figured out which were the best takes then went back and recorded the vocals over the top, karaoke style. We punched in a few of the rhythm guitar parts that I fudged in the sessions, but otherwise it’s basically a live record with all the bleed and feedback kept. We wanted it to be as raw as possible. But I really did fudge some of the rhythm parts.
Which member of Spacejunk is best equipped to survive the zombie apocalypse?
Our drummer, Cam. He’s fit as a fiddle, sharp as a whip and smart like a computer! Recently on tour he was feeling a little under the weather so he ate a whole jar of jalapeños then drank the brine after pouring it into his beer. He didn’t even break a sweat. My money’s on Cam to be the last surviving human on the planet after any kind of apocalypse.
How was the LP release rolled out via High Kick and what’s on the cards for promoting the record more?
High Kick Records is run by a mate of mine Jonno Driver who has played in some great local bands like The Lightning Strikes, Devil Rock Four and Don Fernando. He started High Kick to put out his and his mates’ bands stuff. He’s a pretty organised and trustworthy individual with a healthy dose of cynicism, which works as a perfect foil to my general disorganisation and cock-eyed optimism. We released the album initially on CD and cassette in October, the vinyl took a little longer to arrive than we anticipated, but it’s here now. As far promotion goes, I’m realising more and more how naive I’ve been and how much money you need to throw at a release to get it noticed. We play a lot live and have been fortunate enough to have some solid rotation on community station like PBS and RRR and the plan has always been to play live and tour and be as “grassroots” about it as possible, which I think is the only way to do it. We’re throwing a launch party for the LP on June 11 at The Last Chance Rock and Roll Bar (formerly the Public Bar) in North Melbourne with a whole swag of awesome bands. After that the plan is to keep touring and hopefully get over to Europe for a summer tour in July 2017. That’s the dream.
Bite Your Tongue is out now on High Kick Records.
Spacejunk launch the LP at The Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar in North Melbourne on June 11.