Sydney rockers Regular John have done very well for themselves in the past few years, from gaining mainstream attention in publications like Rolling Stone and touring with everyone from Motorhead to Dinosaur Jr. With their next album in the works, we chatted to bassist and vocalist Caleb Goman for some insight into the rock n roll lifestyle, from getting guitar strings from Lemmy to tantric sex.
Hey mate, please start out by telling us which Regular John you are and your favourite pub rock tune of all time?
Caleb King Goman on the bass. Best pub rock tune would have to be AC/DC’s ‘Long Way to the Top’. It tells it how it is.
You guys are heading into the studio to record your next album. Can you tell us a bit about what fans can expect from the new material?
Long answer – it covers a lot of ground. There’s some mellow stuff, some heavier stuff. It’s all pretty dark. There’s some really spacey songs and multi-part-prog stuff and then there’s straight up rocking out tracks too. It’s still heavy but in a relaxed way rather than an aggressive, angsty way. Lyrically, it’s a lot deeper, a lot darker. Short answer – if the first album is teenage sex then the new album is tantric.
As a four-piece you underwent a relatively significant line up change when Miles joined the band on guitar last year. What do you think he’s brought to Regular John?
Well he brings food to rehearsals which is great. He packed a lot of food when we went on the Motorhead tour too. He’s brought a fresh energy and excitement to the band. He reminds me a lot of what we were like when we first started; naïve, excited and he still believes in rock n roll.
How has the writing and recording process evolved over time since you guys started jamming in six years ago?
It’s still very similar. Some songs are written at home and brought in for the band to flesh out, others come from jams and get written very quickly. We’ll often nail a song early on in a jam and then spend a lot of time arranging it and trying it out different ways only to go back to how we first did it.
“The Peaceful Atom Is A Bomb” garnered some pretty incredible attention and praise when it was released in 2009. Could you dudes have ever anticipated the sort of recognition you received?
Yes and no. I remember hearing back the recordings and thinking we had done a good job. But I think everyone thinks that about their own music when they first record it. I didn’t expect so many people in radio and media to like it. I would have been happy if my housemates thought it was cool.
Regular John clearly identify with Sydney’s Inner West pretty strongly, not least by naming your debut EP “Marrickville 2204”. Can you tell us a bit about the significance of your home suburb for the band?
Ryan and I caught a train for six hours to Sydney to look for a house back in 2005. The only house available on that day was 13 Ivanhoe Street, Marrickville. They said it had bad feng shui so no one in the area wanted to move into it. We had Lucas who is now in Whipped Cream Chargers with us too. He’d caught the train from the Central Coast. Chris from Whores and Juan Cortez moved in too. The house was huge, had an orange tree in the backyard and a lounge room we could rehearse in. People started calling us the Knights of Ivanhoe which we later found out was a secret society in medieval times. Lots of bands formed around that house, lots of parties went on, lots of transcendence of space and time. It got pretty deep but was lots of fun too. I figured out if you put a mattress against the window it will soundproof things a little and if you put mattresses on the grass outside it will kill it off for a while so you don’t have to mow the lawn. We had mattresses everywhere. I’m working on a song at the moment called ‘Under the Orange Tree’ which is about those days. I’m quite fond of reminiscing as you can see.
You guys did a free gig at the Landsdowne just the other night, which is obviously a bit of a staple venue for pub rock in Sydney. What are your thoughts on the state of live music in this city?
I think it will continue to fluctuate, like the economy, like breathing. Bands break up and venues close down but new venues open up and new bands form. It’s the way of the universe! The main challenge is not getting old and still going out and watching bands. Remember everyone: don’t get old!
In March and April this year you guys had the incredible privilege of joining Motorhead on an Australian tour. What was it like playing alongside such a bullshit-massive band? Any highlights?
Driving from Adelaide to Brisbane overnight was pretty cool. I’ve never been in a car that long. Motorhead were everything you expect them to be. Watching them at soundcheck was pretty fun each gig. Lemmy gave me a bunch of bass strings that he didn’t want which was cool. Bass strings are expensive you know.
Which records tend to feature most prominently on the van’s stereo when Regular John are on the road?
We have a bit of a ritual now. We usually listen to classic rock radio until we lose reception, about an hour out of Sydney then I usually start off with Grateful Dead’s "American Beauty" to ease into things. "Kid A" is great for driving at 4am. "Houses of the Holy" at sunset. "Master of Puppets" wakes you up when things get hazy. Kraut stuff like Can and Neu! are good too, it keeps you focused. When everyone is sleeping I listen to H.P Lovecraft audiobooks to keep things creepy.
Are there any young local bands you’ve heard lately that are worth checking out?
There’s lots of good stuff happening. I try and see young bands as much as I can. They remind you why you go into this.
After the album is recorded and released, what does the rest of the year hold for Regular John?
Once the albums done and out, we’ll no doubt be touring again. I’d like to do another album really quickly afterwards, we’ve been writing a lot of mellow countryish stuff lately and I’d like to capture that and put something else out quickly while it’s still interesting for us. I’m still hoping the label will approve my request to record a live concert at Pompeii as well. Fingers crossed.
Thanks for your time dude, any final thoughts or comments?
I’m really looking forward to getting back out there. We’ve been away from things for too long and mediocre indie stuff is starting to get the upper hand. The kids need to hear some riffs again.
No fucking worries.