Braindrops is the follow up to Tropical Fuck Storm’s 2018 debut, A Laughing Death In Meatspace and, similarly, was written and recorded in the band’s home ‘Dodgy Brothers Studio’ in regional Victoria. Fresh off their first headline tour of the US, where they played sold-out dates across the country, TFS are currently touring Australia and due to play Fremantle’s Rock Rover on 25 October.
We’re not sad, soggy people, we like to have fun.Fiona Kitschin, Tropical Fuck Storm
Around The Sound spoke to TFS bass player and co-founder, Fiona Kitschin, as the band were preparing for their Australian dates.
“It’s been really good,” Kitschin told us. “We just got back from a US tour last week and it was surprisingly successful. We’ve been touring overseas for a long time with The Drones and it was sometimes successful, sometimes not, but with TFS, this was our first headline tour and it was pretty much all sold out. So, it’s going really well, which is always surprising.
“We’re just about to start the Australian tour and then we’re in Europe in November, so we’re making hay, basically.”
Speaking about new album, Braindrops, which was released in August this year, Kitschin, said, “It’s just a reflection of the psyche of the world at the moment. Everything’s just reaching a critical point of disaster, so I guess that’s what’s coming through the music. But we’re not serious people. Obviously we give a fuck about what’s going on in the world and we’re very interested, but we’re not sad, soggy people, we like to have fun. So, I guess that’s our filter for what’s going on in the world, that’s how it comes through.”
TFS guitarist and vocalist, Gareth Liddiard said of Braindrops, “We use lots of techno gear to make rock and roll because rock and roll gear is boring, and all sounds like Led Zeppelin.” When we asked Kitschin to elaborate she dug deeper into the sounds the band was searching for on the album.
“It’s really just reaching for something that’s different and modern and doesn’t sound like everything else. The instrumentation we’re using is very standard, traditional rock band set up. We’ve got drums, two guitars and bass. There’s lots of modern music that sounds awesome, but for rock music, we want to make that sound modern so to just use normal recording equipment and classic set up, it’s not going to be modern and inventive and different from Jimi Hendrix or Led Zeppelin. They were using modern equipment for their time. We don’t want to ape the old shit, that’s just boring.”
It’s a refreshing approach in an industry where bands and labels are often looking for a templated path to success that leads more to empty echoes of high-grossing artists than innovation. Choosing to swim against the tide requires equal parts craziness and guts, attributes TFS seem to have in large quantities. And their approach is paying off, as indicated by their sell-out tour of the US.
On the band’s innovative approach to making music, Kitschin said, “I think we’ve always tried to do that, but I think the older you get and the more you do it, the better you get at it because you care a lot less what other people think. It takes a while to realise what that is and how to do that.”
But that doesn’t mean TFS are deliberately obtuse. Kitschin, rounded out her comments by saying, “We want people to listen to us, we’re not pretending otherwise.”
And listening, people are. With good reason, too.
Braindrops opens with the off-kilter guitar and spoken word of ‘Paradise’ a disturbing take on what constitutes heaven (or not) with vocals that sound like they were recorded inside a volcano. It doesn’t let up until final track, ‘Maria 63’, and trawls through all manner of curiosities along the way.
This is an album that requires — no, demands — more than one listen in an age where people don’t even have enough time to look up from their phones at the dinner table. Braindrops defies the received wisdom that we all have short attention spans. Perhaps the TFS approach to making music is best described in the line from Braindrops’ second track, ‘The Planet Of Straw Men, Their only purpose is to disagree / And do it publicly, amen.
Braindrops contains layer upon layer of the TFS take on rock music. It’s cantankerous, challenging and a rewarding listen.
TFS play Rock Rover on 25 October with support from Surfbort (US) and ALL The Weathers (Tas).
Get your tickets here.