Gay Paris are a fun, no-sense, pure rock ‘n’ roll band if nothing else. Armed with a live performance predicated on high energy and enjoyment, the band has a healthy following. Currently touring on the back of new album, ‘The Last Good Party’, Killyourstereo.com catches up with frontman Luke ‘Wailin H’ Monks to talk about breakdancing to Meshuggah, partying with Ke$ha and what makes a good live show.
Hey Luke, appreciate you taking the time to chat with us today.
Anything to get out of the mundane drudgery that I am performing now (laughs).
It’s a legal grey area that’s how I make my money to support my rock ‘n’ roll habits (laughs).
You’ve started playing shows again. How have they been so far?
It has been really good. It is good to get back to actually doing the rock ‘n’ roll part of the band after spending months of getting the album and administrative side of things handled. So, it has been good to get to do our thing again. I was worried about my gig fitness. We did our first double gig in a day ever, which was gruelling (laughs). I think two bottles of wine was one bottle too much (laughs), so I was still feeling that the day after.
The album is probably the main topic at the moment, but to have it finally come out because I know you’ve been sitting on the material for awhile. For it to actually be out and have people hear it, how does that make you feel?
We are really pleased. This one, I usually get tired of songs before we release them because we’ve sat on them, but this one I got so sick during recording, I lost my voice for a few months. I thought, “that’s it, I’m done.” The fact that we actually got the thing done, this guy has got a special house that I’ve built for him. It is much more precious than the earlier children of Gay Paris, just because I was really worried we wouldn’t get it done. Now that it is available, we’ve never really done a lot of merch, but I think we sold out of our first box of CD’s, which is really nice. Usually it’s like, “hey buddy, do you want a CD?” “Nah!” (laughs). So, it’s a really good justification and it is nice to have a big stack at cash sitting at home, which I just can’t touch.
I know when you’re talking about it is probably a good thing you’re running out of the albums and I know with this, the Pozible campaign you did to fund the album, it seems to be a common practice a lot of bands are doing today. Tell us how it was going that route to finance the album?
Essentially, we had money to either tour or we had enough money to record. I just think people were willing to give us the money and I think it was an exchange of services. We humiliated ourselves for the people regarding this. We had breakdancing in Pitt St Mall to Meshuggah (laughs), we hosted a ridiculous dinner party, we re-enacted orgasm scenes from bad, early 90’s movies (laughs). We’ve done these terrible things. I still have to write like 15 hip-hop songs for people – I’m running very late with that. I don’t know if we were looking for handouts. We got the money and now the record is out and we can tour, and we didn’t have compromise on anything.
You use the word ‘humiliation’ there, but all the things you listed sound like you’re just having a bit of fun. Being in a band it can be like a business trying to manage finances. How important is it to have a sense of humour?
We’re just dudes that like to laugh and it is nice to make other people laugh [too]. I think we are a serious band, I always think of us as a very conceptually heavy band, with also heavy riffs. But there is a lot of dark humour in those heavy concepts and our live show is ridiculous – that is all translation that we are in it for fun and we want people to have fun. We are serious about having fun and I think humour is a big part of that. We’re idiots (laughs). There is not a great deal of point pushing the normal.
Another side of being in a band and the shows, I know you mentioned before about drinking wine. Obviously you enjoy a good drink. Do you have set rules about drinking such as you won’t drink before you go onstage?
No, not for me. Black Tooth [Lachlan Marks] he’ll do massive runs of shows sober because he’ll be like, ”If I have more than two drinks I can’t play the guitar.” I don’t have to worry about a lot of stuff. I don’t sound like a real singer. There isn’t much more I can do to damage my voice than I already have done. So not for me. I think I got a little bit special on the weekend. I think I got a bit too excited about being back on tour. “Oh, there’s more wine on the rider?!” There’s no exact rules – just don’t be dicks to each other. I guess situations require help getting distracted from. I pushed it too far the other day [though] (laughs).
I read last year that Ke$ha was at one of your shows. Did you get to meet her or was she just in attendance?
She came to the County in Newtown with us. She seemed to have a real thing for Black Tooth, chewing his beard. I’ve got a much nicer beard than that guy (laughs). But, also she did steal his shirt, so maybe she felt obligated to give him attention. I’m not sure how that really panned out. It was a strange situation. Just hanging out with someone with a minder, I thought that was a bit heavy. I’m not going to be around someone where I have to watch myself because I have a tendency to be silly (laughs) and I don’t want any trouble.
I know before you were mentioning stuff you did and you mentioned Meshuggah. What are your thoughts on heavier music at the moment?
In the band I’m not really the heavy music dude. I don’t want anyone to think I rap rock, but I’m from a hip-hop background. I guess I mostly listen to hip-hop and folk music. I don’t have a great awareness of heavy music because the heavy music I’m into I stopped being exposed to it. Black Tooth and Slim [Dean Podmore] are probably the really heavy music dudes. I like more stoner shit like Red Fang – they are really good. Kvelertak [too]. Great live show. I get hung up on live shows and I don’t see a lot of heavy bands that are putting on entertaining live shows. Maybe that is because I go and see older bands that weren’t as athletic as they once were (laughs).
And on the topic of live shows, it is no secret that your live shows are quite energetic and entertaining. How important is that? Because some bands sound good on record but then you go see them live and they are just standing there and it almost defeats the purpose.
I definitely think the purpose of a live show is to deliver the songs in a way that doesn’t come across on CD. There are great bands that will do that and that’s fine, but I want a night out and I want an interactive experience. I want a band to give and to take back. I might be a bit hubristic about this, I think, “we are so fucking amazing” maybe that’s because I keep telling people that (laughs) and it becomes engrained in my head? I guess I don’t want to see a band that doesn’t put on a live show. It doesn’t have to have ridiculous energy, there just needs to be a level of passion. Going to see the Mountain Goats or going to see the Decemberists, they aren’t heavy bands, but there is a movement and energy on stage that really speaks to me. Or, you can go see Grinderman, which is heavier again, and it’s old dudes just doing their thing. It speaks to a sense of confidence. It’s a willingness to let down a barrier. I don’t know if it’s a human barrier, but there’s a construct of shame in polite society that doesn’t really have any place in what can loosely be termed a rock ‘n’ roll show. And I’ll say a rock ‘n’ show, terming everything from punk to metal and any kind of music. I think rock ‘n’ roll is a live spirit (laughs). It’s otherworldly. It needs to break you out of mundane drudgery. Even if it’s a great song, I want to see the band loving what they’re doing.
Like you said, using the phrase “mundane drudgery”, what was the first record that made you want to break out of that and be in a band?
I guess for me, I wanted to be a musician when I heard Dr. Dre’s ‘The Chronic’. I guess when I heard Dr. Dre’s ‘The Chronic’ g-funk sound, I don’t know at the time I understood [it], I must’ve been 13. Gangster lyrics have been so far away, I grew up in the middle of nowhere, and I don’t know how I got to hear Dr. Dre? It was so different and that really attracted me. Also the otherness of it. When I came to Sydney everyone was into hip-hop, but when I went back home hip-hop was something very other. I think the novel aspect of it, the otherness of it was very exciting to me. When I eventually moved to Sydney and hip-hop was very mainstream, that is when I started to say, “ok, metal!” I don’t think I got into the right kind of metal? Black Sabbath was really exciting when I was 19 years old, but maybe I really missed the boat? I guess, the novel in music excites me. I don’t care what music it was but it was always lyricists that inspired me to be a musician. Hip-hop was the genesis. I never thought I’d be in a rock band, I thought I’d be a rapper (laughs). I’m really fucking glad I wasn’t because I don’t think the hip-hop climate, or certainly what is commercial, is very healthy. I think there is much better shit going on. I think the middle tier of rock ‘n’ roll is going a lot better than the middle tier of hip-hop.
I don’t think I appreciated riffs until I met Black Tooth. He really got me into a bunch of other stuff. But I will not appreciate ska music…ever! No matter what he says.
Is there a reason behind that?
Maybe it’s too happy (laughs).
I want music to move, but there is just something in that, which doesn’t do anything for me.
Obviously after these run of shows, what’s the rest of 2013 got in store for Gay Paris?
I think more touring. We’ll be finished this in the middle of July now because we are about to add more dates. I don’t know if I can say things, but there’s a tour with a band that is much bigger than us that is on the cards. Then there has been discussions about being international fancy boys for a short period of time. If all this pans out, we might have no money after all this thing blows over, and I don’t expect to come out of this with that fat stack of cash that is on my table right now, but I would like to keep this going for as long as possible. It’s called ‘The Last Good Party’ and it means it cannot stop.
Were there any final words you wanted to pass onto readers?
I would advise everyone to read more and if possible work in a field you love.
Well put. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today Luke. Hope the rest of the shows go well for you.
Thank you for listening to my bullshit (laughs).
I enjoyed it. Have a good rest of the day.
You can read Killyourstereo.com‘s review of ‘The Last Good Party‘ here.