Redmond is the sort of songwriter and lyricist who’s going to find her way into a lot of hearts and probably break some along the way, too
Around The Sound met up with the five members of Band Of Missfits at their Stoneville headquarters on a sunny Sunday afternoon. They’d invited me to watch them rehearse, which is a treat for a journalist and always a risk for a band. After I’ve taken out my earplugs (purely for protective purposes, they’re sounding hot!) we sit down for some Sunday-afternoon bonhomie. It’s a conversation that takes in life, the universe and everything for the Missfits, via The Sound Of Music, Coronation Street, cartwheels and the band’s propensity for picking up and putting down members.
Band Of Missfits are:
Kym Redmond – Vocals and Guitar
Paul Smith – Drums
Melanie Dius –Guitar
Lee Matheson – Bass and Vocals
Jake Bignell - Guitar
Kym Redmond, Missfits’ vocalist and guitarist takes up the story.
“I did a solo album and wanted a full band, so I went online and got Paul (Smith, Drums) on board and then we got Sam (original bass player) on board and we were a three-piece for quite a while. This was around 2015. We played a gig at the Swan Hotel and Mel’s (Dius) band was there and, she was a great guitarist, so I said to her, ‘We need a lead guitarist, you’ve got to play with us.’ I think she said no at the time, but then I ran into her at the pub not long after and she said yes. Then we just played heaps and we put out our debut EP (Into The Storm) and then a year to the day we put out Higher Passage.”
"Then Sam got a girlfriend and became a bit unreliable, so Lee (Matheson) just stepped right in. He’d seen us a few times and he knew the songs. And it was just amazing.”
Apart from the recent addition to the line up, Band Of Missfits seem to be pretty stable now. Adding is always easier than subtracting, anyway. And for a band coming into 2019 hot off a WA Music Industry Association nomination for Most Popular New Band in 2018, the five members seem to be as settled and sharply focused as you’d want a band to be.
You get the sense that 2019 is going to be a big year for Band of Missfits, maybe even The One. They’ve spent a good while inventing and reinventing themselves. “Look at the name,” said Redmond. “We’re all a bit of a miss, but we fit. I like Guns N’ Roses and Metallica, but then I like Barbara Streisand and Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. I can’t pinpoint who we sound like. We sound like Band Of Missfits.”
Now, that’s the sort of moxy that leads to an eponymous debut album and overnight sensation status.
But there’s more to Band Of Missfits than unshakeable self-belief. Redmond is the sort of songwriter and lyricist who’s going to find her way into a lot of hearts and probably break some along the way, too. It’s her rawness that will win over their audience in increasing numbers.
“Songs are like pills to me. I write them when I’ve got something on my mind. Often I’ll write two at a time because obviously I haven’t finished getting out what I need to get out with the first one.”
Hearing this, I suggest that maybe Redmond writes songs instead of taking antidepressants. She gives me a look and the table is quiet for a moment and then she smiles and nods, just a bit. And we move on.
KR: “The first EP was kind of housewife rocky, kind of laid back. This one (‘Higher Passage’) is more in the direction we wanted it to go.”
LM: “I think you invented that term.”
KR: “Housewife rock songs are kind of easy listening that housewives might put on, like FM radio kind of songs. So, I just called it housewife rock, and it kind of stuck. A catchy melody that you can just kind of cruise along to. But, since we did ‘Higher Passage’ we’ve moved on from that.”
LM: “I think Jake’s (Bignell) adding a bit of edge to it since he joined, too.”
Bignell has been with Band of Missfits for around a month now. Those of you who follow the Perth music scene closely will know that the left-handed lead guitarist also turns out for Jackson Koke, a band that the Missfits have gigged with a bit. And now they share a member. So very Perth!
JB: “This is like only the second or third time we’ve jammed.”
PS: “We saw the difference straight away. It makes the songs sound more full.”
LM: “Yeah, it makes things sound a bit chunkier.”
PS: “And he brings things into a bit more rocky kind of territory, hitting those downbeats harder.”
JB: “I try to deliberately accent certain beats when I play.”
MD: “It’s great, because when we play the more sort of housewife music now, the songs are transformed again. They have a rockier edge to them. Which is the way we want to be, anyway.”
Band Of Missfits have certainly nailed the interpersonal aspect of being in a band. It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon and I’ve interrupted their rehearsal to do the boring interview thing with them. It’s like sitting with a family, maybe sisters and brothers from a blended, step-family, but one that’s more Brady Bunch than the Mansons - happy.
Redmond, sits at the table with her broken wing, “It was the second cartwheel that did for me. I nailed the first one,” surrounded by her bandmates. There’s food, cups of tea, which invoked a mouth-trumpet version of the Coronation Street theme from drummer, Paul (I want to be like John Bonham) Smith and, somehow a digression into the merits of The Sound Of Music. “I’ve never seen it,” said Bignell, maybe still trying to maintain his street cred with his new band mates. We bet he has.
It’s all good fun until, part way through our chat, it gets serious. We’re talking about the songs, often surprisingly dangerous territory.
KR: “I don’t think people listen to lyrics, anyway. I don’t think so. I don’t think people give a shit. I’d like to think they do.”
LM: “But it comes out in the way you sing, it comes out in the energy of the song. We pick up on that and we try to play it with that feeling. So, it is important. The hooks and lead lines are a big part of our sound. They accentuate your ideas and give them an atmospheric tension. It’s atmospheric and it’s melodic.”
PS: “I think there’s a danger with being too rock that you can be ‘wall of sound’.”
LM: “What we’re trying to do is let each piece have it’s life. When you have a good mix and you can hear everything clearly with the vocal parts and harmonies, that’s when you can really hear what it is we’re trying to do. That’s where the strength of the band is in my opinion.”
MD: “Probably the people who keep coming to all our gigs, they listen to the lyrics.”
But Redmond’s not really having it. The song writer in her is yearning to be taken a bit more seriously, to find a bigger audience. Given the very personal nature of her lyrics, is it any surprise? Probably not. What is a bit surprising it to find that there’s a gritty spine to this band of self-identified misfits. Not that it’s there in the first place, but that it runs so strong through Redmond, and is echoed, albeit reinterpreted, through the band’s other members. It’s an edge that will serve them well, even though it’s evident there’s some frustration at where they find themselves right now.
When asked what they’re going to do to find a bigger audience, Redmond’s response was, “I don’t know. We just need the bigger gigs. We just need people to go, ‘These guys are good, let’s get them to play support for us.’”
MD: “I always felt we need a gimmick and we should dress up.” (Ever the comedian, at least on this day.)
LM: “We’ve got the sound. I don’t know about gimmicks with the type of material we play.”
JB: “We don’t play gimmick music.”
KR: “I think with the next EP, whatever we release next, whether it be a single of an EP, we’ll definitely have someone promote it, get it out to the world, and hopefully we can get a bit more traction with it. We did get a pretty good response to our last EP.”
KR: “I’m waiting for the person who will say, ‘You guys are amazing, I want to be your manager.”
LM: “But sometimes if you don’t ask you don’t get.”
PS: “It’s a courting process.”
So, a band on the cusp, as so many bands are at such an early stage in their careers. In relative terms, getting to the cusp is the easy part. It’s what happens next that will define them. If Redmond has her way, they’re gonna fly! Once she’s fixed her broken wing, that is.
Band Of Missfits will play The Den in Inglewood on 27 April.