“I would far rather play three Corner Hotels than one big venue. There’s something about the Corner – about what those disco balls have seen and heard..."
Before Kisschasy’s appearance at Good Things Festival in December, did anyone think that they would reunite?
After disbanding in 2015, vocalist Darren Cordeux was certain that nobody would care about Kisschasy anymore. But since the band formed in 2002, Australian audiences have always cared about Kisschasy.
In 2005, the Melbourne group released their debut album, United Paper People, which after 18 years, recently resurfaced on the ARIA Australian Top 10 Albums Chart in the lead-up to the band’s massive national tour.
United Paper People includes the hit singles Do-Do's & Whoa-Oh's and Face Without A Name, which have become synonymous with a generation of Australian music lovers. The renewed success of the album is a testament to the enduring appeal of Kisschasy's music and the loyalty of their fans.
Cordeux expressed his gratitude towards their fans and said, “We’re blown away and humbled by the fact that this tour has nearly sold out and our first album, United Paper People, has re-entered the ARIA charts. We’re eternally grateful to those who have stuck by us, the love we’ve received will be fully reciprocated when we return to the stage in these coming weeks”.
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In 2007, the band put out their excellent gold-certified second album, Hymns For The Nonbeliever, before releasing their final album, 2009’s Seizures. Through it all, Kisschasy maintained a devoted fanbase that persists to this day.
“We had the dates [for Good Things Festival 2022] pencilled in because these things usually have to be planned in advance,” Cordeux admits from his Los Angeles home. “I don't know if I'm showing people behind the curtain here, but it definitely helped with our confidence going into the tour.”
Cordeux continued, “When we agreed to do Good Things and they asked us to play our first album in its entirety, I was very apprehensive because I'm a believer in leaving things in their time capsule.
"I think Kisschasy had a great legacy, which is partly because we left it intact. I also didn't think people would care about us after breaking up in 2015, so it took a bit of convincing.” So what happened once the band took to Good Things stages in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth?
First of all, Cordeux was rattled by being asked to perform United Paper People in full and not a greatest hits set. Then, Kisschasy were put on the stages “very early, they put us up at like 1 pm at stage three, not stage one or two. My expectations were really low,” Cordeux admits, fully believing that nobody was going to show up that early.
The band had broken up in 2015 and hadn’t released new music since 2009. And, of course, Kisschasy weren’t even playing classics like Opinions Won’t Keep You Warm At Night. They had a 45-minute window to perform their set, and United Paper People is 42 minutes and six seconds long. “I thought it was a recipe for disaster,” Cordeux reveals.
But he was swiftly proven wrong. “When we got on stage at every turn in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, I was just blown away by the fact that people came out in droves to see us play this album and they were singing every word.
“It didn't matter where I looked, I was singing the deep cuts, and they were singing along to every song,” he continues, “It was really remarkable and made me feel very grateful for people sticking by us and it gave me an appreciation for what we created and the fact that it has managed to stand some kind of test of time, which is cool. It definitely helped with the confidence in announcing the tour after Good Things Festival.”
Now, Cordeux feels better than ever about the legacy of Kisschasy. The Spray On Pants vocalist has lived in Los Angeles for years, a city the band never toured in a country they never found much success in. “It was one of those things that I didn't really talk about – I'm one of those people who just kind of moves on and I almost shied away from it,” he shares, unwilling to lean on that massive part of his life playing music.
“I look back and realise now, 'woah, that was a big chunk of my life'. I did this thing where the stars aligned – me and these three other guys got together and made this really cool body of work,” he adds, but part of his mindset for years was maintaining the legacy of Kisschasy.
“One of the reasons why we called it a day was because of the idea of having a legacy,” Cordeux says, convinced by the reality that for some bands, the best thing they can do is break up and go out on a high. He explains, “Most bands have this window where everything aligns Sometimes it's one album, sometimes it's a few albums, but they're at their best when their stars align, they’re all on the same page, and then make their best work.
“After that fades, as they stay a band, everything they do is kind of like an insipid version of that [lightning in a bottle], then trying to relive that or trying to progress in a way that doesn't quite agree with the fans or whatever,” he adds. Cordeux attempted to try new things as the primary songwriter of the band as his tastes were evolving, but those tastes weren’t quite connecting with the other members of the band.
Cordeux admits, “I just didn't think we were making our best work as a unit anymore. So I was like, well, ‘instead of us getting to that point where our legacy is messed with, because we're no longer making our best work, why don't we just say that and admit we made our best work, and we want to see what else we can do as individuals now,’ and so that decision we made is something that… I'm not saying that we couldn't have done more. But I will say that I am definitely proud of the songs we did put out and the legacy we created.”
It would have been easy for Kisschasy to continue on – make records with diminishing returns, tour for the money, to a captive, eager audience. As opposed to what they ended up doing – disbanding and starting from scratch in many ways (Cordeux is working on new music under the moniker Daz & The Demons).
“As a songwriter, I chose to play music, not because it was easy and financially viable. I did it because it was something that I loved, that I still love and something that chose me because that's one of the few things that I'm good at,” Cordeux says.
One of the things that keeps him going every day is making the music that still gives him that feeling. “For some people, it's very respectable they do this [carry on as a band many years later], but for some people, that means they know their sound and they can just keep doing that. That works for them. And for me, it's been a constant search of discovery, it's this self-discovery and kind of figuring out exactly what I can do to challenge myself as a songwriter.”
Kisschasy are playing a massive, mostly sold-out tour, starting next Wednesday all the way until the 25th of May. As special as it is to sell out venues in Perth, Adelaide, Newcastle, Sydney and Torquay, the band’s three Melbourne shows thrill Darren Cordeux the most: Richmond’s Corner Hotel is like home.
One of the first bands he ever saw at the Corner was MxPX – he saw them before at Max Watt’s in Swanston Street in 2005 when he was underage and desperate to watch his favourite punk rock band.
“They were doing like a matinee show during the day, and then they were doing an over-18 gig at night. So I caught the train up in my tatted Chuck Taylors and I was just so excited,” Cordeux recalls with a smile, dubbing the Corner his own version of the famous New York City music club, CBGBs.
“Getting in there and smelling all the beer on the carpet, I was like, ‘this is my home; this is where I belong,’” he continues. “To come back and play that venue again – we played that venue many times, and it's always been a pinch myself moment when it's not even the biggest venue to play.”
Cordeux notes, “I would far rather play three Corner Hotels than one big venue. There’s something about the Corner – about what those disco balls have seen and heard – it's got a resonant frequency to it that Kisschasy is so in line with, and so it feels like home. I still feel grateful that we get to do it.”
Kisschasy are going on their first Australian tour in eight years next week. For tickets, go here.
2023 AUSTRALIAN TOUR
Wednesday, 3 May - Crowbar, Sydney
Thursday, 4 May - Tivoli, Brisbane (Venue Upgraded)
Friday, 5 May - The Gov, Adelaide SOLD OUT
Saturday, 6 May - Badlands, Perth SOLD OUT (opener Odlaw)
Sunday, 7 May - Badlands, Perth SOLD OUT (opener Pot Plant House Party)
Wednesday, 10 May - UC Hub, Canberra SOLD OUT
Thursday, 11 May - Uni Bar, Wollongong
Friday, 12 May - Metro Theatre, Sydney SOLD OUT
Saturday, 13 May - Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle SOLD OUT
Sunday, 14 May - Drifters, Gosford
Wednesday, 17 May - Corner Hotel, Melbourne SOLD OUT
Thursday, 18 May - Corner Hotel, Melbourne SOLD OUT
Friday, 19 May - Torquay Hotel, Torquay SOLD OUT
Saturday, 20 May - Uni Bar, Hobart (Opener, the Sleepyheads)
Thursday, 25 May - Corner Hotel, Melbourne (3rd & Final Show - under 20 tickets left!)