Canberra’s Wives on being chopped up on their latest tape, Whipping Boy

By Georgia Kinchington
Unbelievably Bad Contributor

Wives_band.jpgIn the days before we finally allow equal marriage – how important are Wives?

UB chats with Gus McGrath, bass and keys for Wives, ahead of the group’s eagerly anticipated Whipping Boy cassette launch at Black Wire Records this Saturday.

Gus also plays with TV Colours, Wet Dream, and his solo project California Girls. He is also an all ’round good bloke.



You’re from Canberra. So am I. I reckon that has contributed to me being a miserable cynical cunt. Do you think Wives has been influenced by Canberra?
I guess you could argue that like Wives has been influenced by Canberra in that we all met each other and live here, but I don’t know how much we are musically influenced by it. More so with the newer music we’ve been making, Anja (Loughhead, vocals / guitar / bass) has been focused on the dominant white male narrative presented in Australia’s history, so in many ways Canberra being such a new city almost works against us in that you can kinda see age much better in other Australian cities. We all love it here, though, city living with country benefits.

The title of your new cassette – Whipping Boy – who or what inspired the name? (I’m secretly hoping it was “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” but I’m probably alone in that)
Oh man, we all love pop music and knowing Anja’s mind I wanna say that she definitely did, but the name comes from the song on the tape, which I asked her what it was about and she said “whipping boys were created to receive punishment instead of a prince or whatever. So it’s just a metaphorical song about forcing another to suffer instead of taking it on yourself.” That being said, in another band Anja wrote a song about how obsessed she was with a Justin Bieber video so she could just be lying.

Gosh I hope so. Pop dreams. I’ve heard a whisper of a video you guys made but never released. Rumour has it it was a bit intense. What’s the story there? Is there a story?
I have heard nothing about this but I love it. Maybe it came from an exaggeration of the “Altar video that our good friend and cyber genius John Evans made? “Altaris lyrically pretty full-on (the whole LP was kinda about sexual obsession) so we kinda tried to fit that in by having weird webcam footage for the video, like Jordan had a plastic bag on his head for ages and Anja had a stocking on her face and rubbed a bottle of lube all over herself – but that’s really tame compared to what you can find on the internet. Tim [Guthrie] who drummed in Wives (this tape being his last before we turn full drum machine) once sent me this super intense Oneohtrix Point Never video that had a bunch of fetish videos in it that were just furries drowning in quicksand. We’re very happy, though, if someone will make this video for us. Anja says if this video did exist it would be “footage of people getting sodomised. Because I’m obsessed with erotic literature”.

I’d love to be involved in any way I can… creatively. Your new tape is half untouched original material and half remixes of those tracks. How does it feel having another artist playing around with your tunes? Ever worry they’re gonna butcher them? Do you have a fave remix off the tape?
It’s a little bit spooky but it’s also really exciting, especially when they’re all people we really like so I think we trust confidently in their ability. Shoeb [Ahmad]’s been a Canberra mate for ages and he has a knack for remixing so that was super easy and really cool especially cause he’s been fixated on having dub versions of Wives songs for like a year. Getting ASPS was CRAZY exciting for me because it’s undeniable that Andrea [Blake] is a synth hero, not only ASPS but Vacuum and Chrome DomeEnderie Nuatal [AKA Andrew McLellan] is also a total legend as well and I got to say his was my fava just in how extreme it is, turning what’s this quite subdued and slowly boiling song into a nine-minute jungle epic, that’s why you got to love him!


You’ve been touring all over the shop. Who has been the most fun to play alongside? Any hopes to collaborate?
Having played in this band across Canberra/Sydney/Melbourne for some time, as well as other bands for longer, means we pretty much always get to play with friends which is super cool, and even when you don’t know the people you’re playing with, 90% of the time they are super nice. I guess most recently playing in Melbourne last weekend was fun, especially getting to finally play with/see ASPS after the remix – Andrea’s really nice and funny but also played a really good and super pummelling set. No real aims to collaborate more finish doing the last bit of writing then record LP number two ASAP!




Listen to Whipping Boy:

Wives will launch Whipping Boy in Canberra at The Phoenix on Thursday, June 9, with Ciggie Witch and Zone Out, and in Sydney at Black Wire Records on Saturday, June 11, alongside Diecut, Marcus (Not Singing) and Cat Heaven. Don’t miss out, ya legends!

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