Adelaide’s resident thrash lords and party guru’s Craterface have been impressing many since the release of their debut album late last year. The band’s front man Ben answered a few questions for us between his busy schedule.
Start off by stating your name, what you do in Craterface and your favourite moment in sporting history?
Ben, I do vocals for Craterface. My favourite moment in sporting history was when I came 11th in AFL Dream Team last year. Would have won the cars if I’d traded Steve Johnson out for Ryan O’Keefe at the mid-point in the season. Or if I went with Gilbert instead of Malceski from the start – I had him in SuperCoach, but was too conservative. Damn. 1997 Preliminary Final Adelaide vs. Footscray is a pretty close second. The commentators were already talking about how the Dogs would do the following week during the third quarter. Adelaide was down by 22 points at 3 quarter time. Darren Jarman wins the game off his own boot in the final quarter then does the same the following week.
Can you give us a brief run down of the history of the band for those who might be unfamiliar with Craterface?
5 Adelaide dudes started playing shows in late 2007, released a 7 track demo. Toured a fair bit. Played some good shows with bad bands and some bad shows with good bands. Released our debut album last year and we toured the east coast on the back of that.
The band’s debut album “More Thrash For Ya Gash” has been out for a few months now. What was the writing and recording process for the album like?
The writing was all over the place. Tristan, drums, is the main driver of the process but we all contributed. It originally started with the 7-song 2007 demo which was mostly written by Tristan with Ryan. Four of the songs were re-recorded for the album and we wrote another 12 more between the five of us. Everyone in the band can play a bit of guitar, so we all contributed a song or two. We take a pretty callous approach to the song-writing process, not too much time touching it up. If a song is struggling to find its feet, it usually hits the cutting room floor pretty hard. Hopefully the result is that everything sounds spontaneous which I think is what works for this band.
What has the overall reaction been like to the album so far?
Mixed I guess which was too be expected. We definitely hit a chord with the older crowd who dig that sharp 90s influence we have. The kids don’t really get it. I guess the Noughties were about the 80s, so maybe this decade will have a massive 90s revival. Fingers crossed. I was definitely relieved when a lot of people commented positively about the sketches and all the little dumb in-jokes. Short Fast Loud even played the whole Damir Dokic sketch. Its one thing to play music people dig, its another to make people laugh. Honestly though, I don’t care what people think of it. We did this album for ourselves and maybe the handful of people that come to our shows. And why wouldn’t we? No one buys albums these days anyway, so fuck ’em. I hope we ate through their capped bandwidth and they thought it was shit.
Who created the album’s artwork?
An old friend of mine, Owen Lindsay. We’ve always had a similar sense of humour and he did an awesome job on the demo artwork going above and beyond anything we imagined. That icon became definitive of the Craterface style, so when it came to the album, we didn’t even really discuss who we would get to handle the work. I wrote him an email with the broad concept and left it to his own devices.
The band did a run of East Coast dates last December. How did that tour go? Any stories you would like to share from it?
Good and bad, but that’s all part of the charm. We saw Suicidal Tendencies and Ryan got naked on the first night. He also looked up a girl’s dress in Brisbane. Did our best to get kicked out of Wet n Wild. It’s harder than it would seem. Byron, really fun show with a lot of kids, but it was a weird night. Certain band members performed certain sex acts mid-set in Newcastle. Bemused lesbians looked on. Canberra is the party capital of Australia, played with some awesome bands and then we decimated the dance floor. Some guy got chucked in the back of a cop car for pissing on the main road. Couldn’t wait apparently. I feel like I’ve done disservice in explaining this tour. Too many stories to share really.
What has the band been up to as of late? Have you started writing any new material?
We’ve almost finished writing a new album, just need to put the lyrics together and tweak it a touch. There are about 20 songs floating around, most of which should be recorded. Hopefully it sees the light of day fairly soon.
How did the band end up getting a plug in Blunt Magazine?
I honestly don’t know how stuff like that happens. We received an email, sent some things out, things happen. I can drive a car, but I wouldn’t have a clue what a carburetor is. Is that anything? I dunno. I heard it on a sitcom once.
In December 2008 the band opened for Parkway Drive when Suicide Silence and A Day To Remember were unable to make the show. I can imagine Parkway Drive fans being fairly unreceptive your band’s sound, how did that show go?
That was super weird. Ryan received a phone call mid-afternoon asking us to get to the venue by 4pm so we could open the show. I didn’t really have time to think about it, just said yes and decided to worry about the consequences later. It wasn’t until we all arrived at the venue that we considered how pissed off everyone would be. Three super heavy international bands were all stuck in Perth and some shitty local punk band was going to fill in for them. When I mingled out the front there were literally hundreds of kids cursing our name. To make it worse we were in the midst of recording the album, so we hadn’t played together for well over a month and had no idea of how tight we’d sound. Turns out there were a fair few dudes at that show who knew us so the reaction during the actual show was decent, dudes were running amok, crowd surfing and whatever so it was rad. I got to live out my childish rockstar fantasies, stand on the crowd barrier and get some crowd participation.
But the real highlight came the next day when some evolution-denying, Two-and-a-Half-Men-liking creep called “Hardcore Gumby” sent this message to us over the internet:
“Ok, I’m at the Parkway drive gig and devastated that A day to remember and suicide silence and acacia strain were canceled and then they announced you were playing, I have never herd of you before and i was hoping you would be good but as you started to play my disappointment grew cause you suck so much. You are a disgrace to Adelaide music, wait no, your disgrace to music full stop, how do people even like you and seems some people have spent money on you, they must be the biggest retards in the world that don’t know good music. worst band ever…..at least you tried”
I enjoyed this immensely.
Adelaide seems to have a scene where everyone is constantly starting new bands with each other. Do any of you currently play in any bands besides Craterface?
I’m playing guitar in a new band Dick Wolf, in the vein of Converge and Trap Them. Also might be filling in on bass for The Weight at a few shows this year. Drew plays in a 3-piece punk band Stuff Box and a prog-metal band called Ridiculed Belief. Probably a few other things here and there as well. Ryan is jamming with a few dudes at the moment and Tristan is looking to do something with electric drums and keys, most likely so he’ll have more opportunities to take his shirt off.
Who are some local bands we should be checking out?
Hightime have been doing really well in a short amount of time. Female-fronted 90s punk with reggae, pop and folk influences thrown in for good measure. Sounds weird when I describe it, but they fucking rule.
Night Hag are a hardcore band who dabble in a bit of dark down-tempo stuff. They should have their EP out fairly soon, I can’t get enough of it at the moment. Dudes from a few bands you should know like Prison Bitch, The Rivalry, Space Bong, The Weight etc.
Who is your favourite current Australian band? And favourite Australian band of all time?
The Dirty Three, not heaps punk aye bro, but I fucking love them. They’ve maintained such a consistent output over the last 15 years or so, always put on an impeccable live show and Warren Ellis has a raging beard. As for all time, I can’t go past The Stockholm Syndrome f.k.a. Syndicate. A lot of bands try to recreate the kind of intensity that band had, but they fall well short. I’ve never seen anyone put themselves on the line like their vocalist.
What do you think of the reputation the band has earned as a “party band”?
I guess I feel a bit weird about it sometimes because it comes with perceptions or expectations of you as a person. After a couple years or so I’ve started to feel a bit like Slurms McKenzie in Futurama. When we play shows all we give a fuck about is enjoying ourselves and hopefully creating a good Saturday night vibe for everyone. On the odd occasion that means I drink so much that I have to lie on the ground for half the set with my pants around my ankles. But at the same time, I don’t really like being seen to glorify that whole party ethic personally and sometimes I think that means some people use our band as an excuse to get super drunk and act like a cunt. But you gotta take the good with the bad. I wouldn’t swap good times for anything.
What is the best show you have ever attended in Adelaide?
Besides Converge, it would have to be Off Minor, January 2002 in a tiny rehearsal room. 3 band members from the other side of the world with no more than 40 people in the room. They were impeccable. About a minute into “This is a Hostage Situation” the music stops and the bass just stabs one chord over and over again. Every single person in the room spontaneously put their hands in the air and just fist-pumped in unison. Sounds sort of fruity, but it was an amazing moment. Someone caught a photo of it and they put it on the sleeve of their next album. There are also countless alleyway shows that deserve a mention, one in particular Shotpoinblank just before they went to the States with Stolen Youth out the back of the Tivoli Hotel.
Who is the most annoying in the van when you’re on tour?
It’s probably me, cos I’m old, irritable and the only one who takes any responsibility.
What is the best show the band has ever played and why?
Can’t go past our album launch. Probably the most fun I have ever had. Great bands and fun vibe. The reaction was just hectic; everyone on stage, party hats, leads tangled everywhere, microphones disappearing into the swarm. Drew had his own little bar on the side of the stage with his mates getting up on stage necking beers while we played. My body was covered with bruises for a fortnight. Also had a blast hanging with my mates’ bands and we got to do the whole thing again the following week in Melbourne with the same line up.
Playing with Frenzal Rhomb was also pretty sweet, the crowd was much more welcoming than I expected. The Doctor was a really nice dude and we got to drink Nancy Vandal’s entire rider.
You’re only able to listen to five records for the rest of your life. What records would you choose and why?
“Tu Plang” by Regurgitator – This album held the title of my favourite album for a long time through high school. Such a raw and weird album, but with pop sensibilities, I could listen to it forever. It’s also very eclectic, so I guess it would help keep things fresh for eternity.
“No Heroes” by Converge – You have to have at least one Converge album in there. I toyed with the idea of picking 5 Converge albums, but that seemed even harder because then the question becomes which ones do you leave out? Especially when even their b-sides and rarities album should be strongly considered.
“The Shape of Punk to Come” by Refused – Classic. I love an album that sounds like an album, not the best few songs you could put together. And if you can manage to push it in ten different directions at once, all the better.
“Bitches Brew” by Miles Davis – Excellent record as an accompaniment for cooking or chilling.
“Evil Empire” by Rage Against the Machine – I can’t wait until rap-metal is cool again. Wait, no, actually I can. Especially when spiky haired, tribal-tattooed dickheads from the northern suburbs get involved. Doesn’t change the fact I love to get wigger as in the car to this album.
Can we ever expect to see another Girls Are For Fags show?
It would be pretty unlikely. Our last show felt pretty definitive. For some reason we headlined. We had two 2 ring-in players on drums and bass. Didn’t jam with the ring-in guys, although we never did jam with the full band anyway. Typically we’d have to revise the riffs with the band before we played because everyone would have forgotten the 4 chords. Not that we forgot which chords they were, because they were almost always the exact same 4, but the riffs were so deliberately similar, it was sometimes hard to distinguish the songs whilst in the midst of playing them. However, at this show we were so unprepared, we didn’t even bother to teach the new guys anything. Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out, I guess. So essentially you had 4 musical strangers on a high stage, with lights and all that crap, playing 4 different things at once in 20 second bursts with no exit strategy. When it came time to play, too many people had paid their money and stuck around for me to be comfortable with. I felt physically sick. I don’t think it was nerves, just an ominous sense of guilt because I felt like people were duped of their money and time by this lame and fairly obvious joke which had just gone way too far. John and I always started “bands” that never got beyond the name-and-concept stage and by whatever mistake of history this one snowballed into a nightmarish reality.
So, we’re on stage and unbeknownst to me the other 3 had decided to open with the main riff from Drain by Day of Contempt which I just rolled with it. Then as usual I tried to be as offensive as possible for a few minutes, which was spliced with a few improvised songs. Dudes really got into it, and not just friends or people I knew or even recognized. It was too bizarre. The band had turned into a parody of itself. The beast was now out of my hands, so I had to kill it. We have talked about recording the songs, but we’ve never had the momentum to get it done.
Why are Converge the best band in the world?
I thought it was pretty clear from the song’s lyrics: Killer riffs and awesome gang vocal bits, that’s all you need. Seriously though, I just have so much respect for any band that can have such an extensive and consistent output. Especially when that band has such an aversion to the obvious answer in its song writing, never playing it safe, constantly teetering on the verge of collapse; you have to appreciate it. When I listen to a new album, I constantly have this feeling like the song is going to become unstuck, go down a dead-end, but they always emerge with the most triumphant solution. The lyrics are pretty average for the most part, but I don’t think it matters cos you can’t hear them anyway, except when it counts.
What are the band’s plans for the rest of 2010?
Record and release the sophomore album. And then, who knows? Never stop ruling.
Thanks for doing the interview, any last words?
Be cool, stay in school. Renew, reuse & recycle. It’s that easy.