With over 200 Q&As under his belt, Shaw will be interviewing underground bands from around the world for Thrills, bringing his unique blend of wit, music knowledge and light hearted sarcasm to the blog. If you like his writing, check out his musical projects: Richard Rose, GOGGS, and Ex-Cult.
ISSUE 01: DEC MARTENS OF AMYL AND THE SNIFFERS
Amyl and the Sniffers were well on their way to a world takeover before the pandemic sidelined the band to a Melbourne residence that saw them write a brand new record among other perhaps less distinguished activities. With Comfort to Me set to come out this September and more live shows right around the corner, I caught up with guitarist Declan Martens to learn more about the pandemic penned album, which bands he’d like to lend a guitar solo to, and of course - most importantly - his hair.
Chris Shaw: What has the past year been like for you and the band? It seems like you've been under lockdown after lockdown, but just recently you've been able to play shows again?
Declan: Yeah we just played some regional shows and they were our first gigs in 14 months which felt crazy. We spent 2020 living together which seems intense but luckily after touring we know how to live comfortably around each other and not get on each other's nerves. Unfortunately, we had another outbreak in June and our first scheduled Melbourne shows in well over a year had to be postponed again.
When did you all move into a house together? What was the inspiration there? The Funhouse album? The Canterbury Apartments in LA? Hell itself?
We moved in together October 2019, there was no inspiration at all it was just the best decision at the time. After touring so long we'd stopped renting places in Melbourne and pretty much lived our lives on the road. It was originally only meant to be for 6 months and I thought it was a terrible idea at first, with COVID 6 months became 14 and it turns out hell ain't a bad place to be.
You guys just recently released your first single from your upcoming sophomore album Comfort to Me.
Yeah we have the first single from our new album out now. There'll be more singles coming out in the next few months I'm sure but I'm not entirely sure what dates they'll be out. I reckon it'll all happen real quick and the album will be out before you know it.
How does the new stuff differ from the first album?
I guess naturally we've matured. This album was more workshopped in a practice space than on the road like the first album. The recording studio and demo studio were both within walking distance of our house that we lived in together, whereas the first album was recorded on the other side of the world in Sheffield, UK. It's almost in some respects approached completely different to the album, but also similar in a way that there's the same energy and expression that was in the first album.
Where'd you record this new stuff? Was it written in lockdown or before all that?
It was recorded at Soundpark Studio in Northcote, Melbourne. We started writing it before lockdown in October 2019 and the last songs were written just before we recorded in October 2020, so it's a mix of pre and post pandemic material.
Who did the artwork for the album? How’d you find them?
Amyl by the sea by @sub_lation
Who is a band you'd love to ghost write some guitar riffs for if you could?
I'd love to write for Cold Chisel or do an album with Jimmy Barnes, I've fantasized a lot about working with him. I've also thought about ghost writing guitar solos, sometimes I hear a solo in a great song and think man I could make this song better with one of my solos.
Give me an example of a song that would benefit from one of your guitar solos? New and old?
I reckon I'd love to solo on “Bow River” by Cold Chisel. After the solo that's already in there I could come in and do my own, and then we could get a little dueling guitar thing going before the final verse comes in. I reckon would that be sick! A new song I'd like to solo on would be “Fast Love” by C.O.F.F.I.N, I got to do a solo on their song “Cecilia” which was good fun, I wish they asked me to do one on “Fast Love” too. It's my favourite song at the moment, I wish I wrote it.
Preferred guitar and amp set up situation?
I've been playing a Fender Strat almost since day one of Amyl, the one I play now I've played almost every gig with since the beginning of 2018. With amps I'll always go for a Marshall sort of amp, that 70s dirty, crunch sound is what I'm trying to achieve, so whatever amp can give me that if it's not Marshall.
Top celebrities you've met since gaining worldwide recognition in Amyl and the Sniffers?
The coolest dudes I've met are in Franz Ferdinand, met them when they were on tour in Australia and have stayed in touch with them. I met Taika Waititi in a bar in Downtown LA once briefly. I've hung with Jarvis Cocker a few times too, he came to one of our early London shows and we had a drink in a Barcelona hotel lobby. Met Dave Grohl and Jack White briefly too.
Who has the best hair in the band?
Declan by @sub_lation
Do you have a preferred hairstylist?
Silky! Silky has done all of our hair at some point, lately Amy and Gus have been embracing the home jobs. Find them on Instagram @hairstyles_bysilky out of Smith Street, Collingwood. Best mullets and shag's in Melbourne.
Leather or Denim?
Denim for me, love a bit of double denim, denim in any colour or shade too. Lately I've been thinking a lot about a leather jacket now that it's freezing in Melbourne.
Favorite drink to order on tour?
Espresso Martini is perfect for a tour, caffeinated and alcoholic, it's a good pick me up when you really need it. Otherwise I just ask for a lager.
Favorite band to play with in Australia that more people need to know about?
Hands down C.O.F.F.I.N.! We've played with them a lot in Australia and we were about to tour the US with them when COVID kicked in, they're a beautiful hybrid of hardcore, metal and rock. I love everything about them. While doing this I looked around the room in thought and my gaze landed on the only record in the room, what do you know it's their latest album. Serendipitous.
Image by @sub_lation
Favorite Australian Rules Football team and player? Or is it cricket that you prefer?
Richmond Tigers, Liam Baker. He's a little nugget defender, underrated and underappreciated. He's Western Australian like me and like my favourite cricketer, Marcus Stoinis the biggest rig on a cricket field.
How is being a fan of cricket accepted in the rock world?
Cricket is absolutely the least sexy sport in the world, I try to keep my love of rock n roll and love of cricket separate. There's a few of us out there who are both cricket and rock fans, we get it. Over in England a lot of cricket fans have introduced themselves to me but mind you they're all over 40.
Would you ever write a diss track? Who would it be about?
Yeah I'd definitely write a diss track, some of my favourite songs are diss tracks. I'd want to write one about someone who'd write one back but I'm not sure who would. Maybe IDLES? They're in the same genre and are more successful so I reckon it'd be good exposure for us, could be great for our career. But they're lovely boys and probably wouldn't write one back, I'd only diss them for being too friendly.
Most overrated punk / rock and roll band from Australia.
Eddy Current Suppression Ring really doesn't do much for me. They're really popular here and overseas but it doesn't work for me. I enjoy some of their songs a lot and me and the boys even learnt “Precious Rose.” But they're played everywhere you go from cafes to pubs to parties and that's why I think they're overrated... they're over played! Whenever I hear them I imagine going up to Mikey Young's amp and turning the gain up all the way or think "imagine if he had a Marshall, or a distortion pedal." Thanks for mastering our EPs Mikey!
Best American slang you learned since touring the US so frequently?
I love saying “ya'll.” I thought it was just a southern thing but people say it everywhere! I also love “beer koozie,” in Australia it's a stubby holder.
How did the upcoming gigs with the Foo Fighters come about?
Before we ever went overseas we opened for Foo Fighters and Weezer in Adelaide in February 2018, our first and only stadium show. The promoter was friends with our booker and got us on the bill. It's was boiling hot, nearly 40 degrees, and we got moved forward to 5:30 p.m. so the sun was still up when we played. There were sniffer dogs sniffing for explosives during soundcheck. That was our first interaction with them and I guess they liked what they saw and have asked us to play Europe with them. I met Danny Green the boxer backstage too!
What else do you have planned for promoting the new album?
There'll be another single out before the album not sure on the date yet, it'll be sometime in July. We just filmed the video for it last week and it's looking sick. We're playing Blacken Festival in Alice Springs late July, Vivid Festival in Sydney late August. And lots and lots of Instagram posts.