Pic: Bleddyn Butcher
With songs such as the Andrew Bolt-detested Tamam Shud The Drones’ Gareth Liddiard is somewhat used to creating shitstorms.
This time things are different. It’s a fuckstorm. Verily, a Tropical Fuck Storm - a new band that features Liddiard and fellow Drone, bassist Fiona Kitschin, joined by drummer Lauren Hammel (High Tension) and Erica Dunn (Harmony, Palm Springs) on guitars/keyboards. Usually side-projects take a lot of time and talk before they eventuate (if indeed they do). Liddiard and co. just went ahead and made this happen.
“Well we’d done the last Drones album and we toured around and around and around for that, and it was like, ‘fuck, are we just gonna do another Drones album?’ A lot of The Drones couldn’t be bothered because they were having kids; they didn’t want to do another lap straight away either. So we thought we’d do something different.
“We didn’t know Lauren, but I’d seen her in High Tension and was just blown away. And it’s good with Erica because she can play keyboards and guitar and she’s got a trashy Cramps thing and can really sing. And we know each other really well; Fi and I hang out with her a lot. She’s in our social group; so you know, that was always a no-brainer. But Lauren is the fucking best drummer in town. We asked her and she was down for it. I didn’t think she would be, but she was.”
Tropical Fuck Storm announced their arrival in September last year with a debut single, Chameleon Paint, released as a collaboration between TFS Records and Mistletone Records. It was the beginning of the Tropical Fuck Storm 7” Series, with a new single since released every eight weeks, the latest of which is You Let My Tyres Down.
They’ve certainly gotten right down to it. Soon after the release of the debut single, Tropical Fuck Storm were touring the US with Band Of Horses and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard.
“We’ve had a good run so far,” Liddiard admits. “High Tension made an album and then where delaying the release of it for a bit. Erica’s band – who have changed their name from Palm Springs to Modcons – they kind of did the same thing. So it’s been a bit of a TFS time for the last few months. We were lucky to get that American tour so its worked out pretty good.
“Actually, that tour was a Godsend because we were brand spanking new. In brackets – we sucked. We did 15 gigs and by the end we went from sucking to ruling within three weeks. The first half was with Band Of Horses in the South, which was really cool. We hadn’t done a great deal of gigs on the South of the US, so it was good to see more of it. Then we did the middle and the North with King Gizzard after that.
“So both legs of the tour were shit hot and it was fun touring with relatively new people. We’ve toured a bit with Erica before because she’s sung with The Drones and her other band Harmony toured with us. We had the best time.”
While The Drones have toured the US before on several occasions, this was the first time Liddiard had travelled across ‘Trump’s America’.
“Yeah, it’s different,” he confirms. “We went to Louisiana and Mississippi, went through there a lot more than we have in the past, and my impression is that the veneer was gone. It was never perfect; there was racial and economic tensions, but they used to pretend there weren’t those. That weird denial; that ‘America’s the greatest country on earth’, saying that even as you’re being gunned down to death in your bathroom.
“Now they don’t pretend that that’s the case. It’s just shit. So there’s a sense that things are bad but there’s a bit of schadenfreude going on there too.”
Tropical Fuck Storm toured overseas as a completely new band, but at home the phrase ‘Australia’s newest supergroup’ has been thrown around in various articles. Yep, that old clunker.
“The first thing that comes to my mind is The Travelling Wilburys, who I like,” laughs Liddiard, dismissing the title bestowed. “That’s a supergroup. You know what I’m saying? I mean you’ve got like fucking Bob Dylan doing backing vocals for Tom Petty.
“So we are not a supergroup. Only like five people have heard of The Drones, and as much as I like High Tension and Palm Springs they’re not U2. So yeah, I think it’s pretty funny. We’re just a bunch of musicians playing together.”
Tropical Fuck Storm will release a debut album, A Laughing Death In Meat Space, on May 4. They perform on February 23 at the Chevron Gardens, supported by FingerFingerrr (Brazil) and The Trees And The Wild (Indonesia). More details at https://www.perthfestival.com.au/event/tfs-fingerfingerrr-the-trees-and-the-wild