we’re confident that Filth Wizard have as much upside in them as their members want
Filth Wizard are a band that has shed a member early on, subsequently gained a rhythm guitarist and then bass player, and found within their ranks a pretty handy vocalist and song writer. Around The Sound spoke to Filth Wizard’s Moo-Ma, Jess June (drums) and Moo-Pa, Clayton Brown (lead guitar) in the beer ‘garden’ at Mojos just before they performed their second-only gig with the current line-up.
The pair arrived late in their Mercedes, having stopped in to visit their dealer to stock up on enough Peruvian marching powder to get them through the night. One of those three things isn’t true, although, based on June’s staccato outburst before even a single question has been asked, we’re not sure which one.
“What are we going to talk about? Shit! Shit! Shit!”
June is a notoriously nervous interview and, for a moment, it looked like tonight could add to that part of her legend. In the end, it was all good. As I checked my watch again to make sure we’d still have enough time to chat before they were due on stage, and Brown fiddled with a keyring sporting a rather vintage looking version of that most well-known of automotive logos, I sensed that all would be well.
Both June (The Tommyhawks) and Brown (The Limbs) also are members of at least one other Perth band. So, my first question pretty much wrote itself. How do they manage multiple musical commitments?
CB: “You don’t manage it, it takes juggling.”
JJ: “Because of other commitments, Filth Wizard are losing bookings. I don’t know, why do people play in so many bands?”
CB: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It’s not as simple as that. You also want to do different styles of music and you don't want one band to be everything that it can possibly be. You want to focus on something particularly about that band and the best way for that to go forward. Then you might start something else and it goes in a different direction. I think The Limbs and Filth Wizard might be similar genres but we both play very different music. For me and Jess, we push our own stuff more into Filth Wizard, where with our other bands we maybe take more of a back seat.”
So, a whole host of reasons for playing in multiple bands at the same time, then, but it mainly seems to be about creative drive and wanting to have an outlet for song writing that is closest to the purity of the source.
JJ: “Heavy grunge music has been the thing that I’ve loved since I started playing and I’ve always wanted to make that classic grunge-like-Nirvana rock band. I don’t care if it’s original or not, I just want to have fun. It’s carefree. We just rock out. No pressure.”
CB: “We have a lot of fun. We have more fun than productivity. "
June and Brown first met in in 2017 at a rehearsal studio when June was trying to establish Filth Wizard. The two hadn’t met before, but it seems they hit it off immediately and now, as well as being musical partners in crime, they’ve also forged a pretty tight friendship. Vocalist and rhythm guitarist Benn Burdette came along about a year later and the band gigged for a while as a trio, without a bass player.
JJ: “Even though it was us two initially, Benn has all of these amazing song writing ideas. And he sings now. He sort of surprised us with all of his ideas.”
CB: “His hidden talent.”
JJ: “Then we got Jenna (Hardie) on bass. We never had a bass player.”
CB: “We gigged for a while without a bass player.”
JJ: “She (Hardie) walked in and played, like, two notes and I was, ‘Done!’”
JJ: “That’s all part of it, you know, getting along and stuff.”
Apart from their imminent gig, the start of which creeps up on us with every passing moment, we wonder what’s next for Filth Wizard.
CB: “We need to go and record.”
JJ: “We want to go and record with Parko (Dave Parkin, highly regarded Perth studio producer). We’re thinking we’ll record a couple of songs and release a single and do a video. That’ll be the starting point for what we want to do and get out there and then we’ll just play as much as we can and see what happens.”
CB: “When you put out that first thing it solidifies you as a band that’s not just stuffing around.
JJ: “As much as it's like no pressure and we just want to have fun, we still want to be pro about it and put some good shit out there, do some cool gigs.”
CB: “You’ve got to put something out there and see what sticks. If people dig it then you know whether to keep working hard at it.”
JJ: “Maybe it could be something that goes beyond where we are now, but, who knows we’ll see where we go.”
There’s a laconic charm to June and Clayton that could make you feel like they started Filth Wizard just for shits and giggles. But they seem pretty serious about it, too, and it’s hard to imagine two such accomplished musicians putting in all this effort just to have a bit of fun and make some friends along the way. So, I asked them whether they’re chasing success.
JJ: “I personally think that you shouldn't do music for those reasons, to be famous or successful, whatever people say that is. To me, being successful it being creative, playing shows and having a good time. That’s what I call being successful, but other people might not. I think if you do music to just be those things, rich, famous, successful, that’s not really positive.”
CB: “Creating something that you like and leaving that behind is already an accomplishment. Especially if you record it.”
That’s the gamble of being a musician isn’t it? The game of Satan’s bingo you play when you roll the dice and have a crack. Just about anything could happen. That’s why keeping your head on straight and having a bit of integrity is pretty much all that counts, at all points on the spectrum of success. By that measure, it’s safe to say that June and Brown have already achieved peak success. As for the music, we will have to see. The gig they played that night saw Filth Wizard channelling classic grunge, sometimes by way of Beatles-esque harmonies and chord changes in the choruses. It’s music made for sweaty, tightly-packed rooms. There was a lot to like and, given this was only their second outing with the current line-up, we’re confident that Filth Wizard have as much upside in them as their members want.