Earth Caller are a part of the new blood for the Melbourne hardcore scene. Their combination of the metalcore/hardcore’s norms with an emphasis on social activism and protesting the very evil shit in our world is one strong one. ‘Degenerate’ embodies this sound and these worldly topics, and it’s been a long time coming for the group, after being almost 3 years in the works and going through over 20 ex-members(!) they’re finally ready to unleash their debut record. As ‘Degenerate’ has just dropped, we met up with Earth Caller’s vocalist Josh Collard and guitarist Lachlan Monty in Melbourne’s CBD recently for a good old fashioned chat.
Well Monty, we’ll get started and Josh can join in when he gets here. So first question, with the cover of the album, I’d be right in saying that ‘Degenerate’ and the focal point of the band are about endorsing and encouraging protests, more social awareness, stronger ethics – issues like that?
Yeah man, so what we’re trying to do is get people to open their eyes to what’s going on in the world, be it political or personal, be it on just basic human instinct. To really chase what’s right for everyone. For people to understand, you have to hit hard, and be real. Like on ‘Dictated, Not Lead,’ a very political song to wake people up. What it is, is raising your attention to something; bringing it to light.
For real man, I agree. In terms of Melbourne bands, only really Outright and Right Mind keep their songs socially aware, do you think that more bands should focus on these topics, and not the “Me, Myself, And I” tone?
I think if it’s honest and if they care about it, then yes. I don’t think people should write about something that they don’t really believe in, because what’s the point? A singer has a very strong skill set that can communicate with a lot of people because they like what they have to say with the music that goes along with it. So they’re given this rare opportunity to embrace the culture around them and speak their mind. If they care about what’s going on around them, then they should speak the truth.
Unfortunately, they sometimes speak about things and they’re just plain wrong, and some bands abuse the power that’s been given to them. That’s not cool. So always speak honestly about what you care about and what you care about in this world, because music speaks across all languages and to everyone across the world. If you’re given that opportunity, then don’t fuck around with it.
With that in mind, what are your thoughts on the rally that was held about a week ago, protesting the destruction of Indigenous communities, and the No Room For Racism protests against Reclaim Australia?
I thought it was awesome. I was in the city at the time and even took part in it. It was so cool to see so many people standing up to something that’s been swept under the rug.
Think back to when you were in school and about how we’re taught about the Aboriginal culture, and how we took their land from them, how we took their children from them, how they got massacred, and these people raised this land to what it is. Since the Australian government apologized, everyone thinks that it’s over. But it’s not and it’s still happening. So to see so many people flood Melbourne, and stop the city, and I could not encourage that any more. Earth Caller is all about protesting, standing up for what’s right, and for taking action. You can see that on the front cover of Degenerate. The front cover being a guy in protest, and it’s not like, “fuck the police”, it’s “fuck wrong doing”, and that’s what we’re going for.
Well put, well put dude. It was very sad to see some media outlets describing those involved as being ‘selfish protesters’, which is just fucked up.
Exactly dude, calling those people selfish – fuck you. It really goes to show that mainstream media can really alter messages and again, try and sweep things under the rug. Calling it “childish” and “selfish” – that’s not what it was at all. That was a very mature and brave thing for those people to do. I cant respect them enough for it. Always question everything; question the tabloids, and when they slip up that badly, you can finally see that they’re trying to herd you in one direction. It may not have been that malevolent as I’m saying, but it happens. People with money control those newspapers, and those people have a lot of power over these things. It’s not always going to be an honest fact, and that’s the truth.
Oh, of course man. Moving on from that, am I right in saying that ‘Your Enemy’ isn’t saying “fuck Australian cops” but “fuck cops on a global scale that enforce brutal countermeasures instead of non-permanent, non-lethal means”?
Yeah dude! Everyone takes it that we must hate every single cop because we party, drink and do drugs, and we get in trouble. That’s not it at all. We have huge respect for honest police officers, and even ‘cops’ is a sledge too. But you’re 100% correct, look at the amount of shootings in the U.S. that are rising a shit ton, and it’s a shot time period until it starts in Australia. There was a poor homeless person shot dead in Sydney the other day. They had a knife on them, sure, but they weren’t using it dangerously, and they were clearly out of their mind and they were shot seven or eight times. Like, how is that necessary to shoot them that many times?
Personally, my brother is a cop and he wants to make a difference and do some good, and that’s seriously great. But yes, it is directed at the one’s who abuse their power. It really is about trying to raise awareness to these people who are abusing their power. So don’t be the underdog when you know that the people in power are wrong, and that’s what ‘Degenerate’ is.
On the same topic, I remember seeing Stray From The Path basically saying that the police are the ones that are gonna help you out, but the cops are the ones who are going to mess you around. That was around the same time of ‘Badge & A Bullet’ too. ‘Your Enemy’ reminds me a lot of that song and also how people reacted to it.
[Vocalist Josh Collard finally makes it and joins in on the conversation]
Josh: To me, ‘Your Enemy’ isn’t a totally “fuck the cops” song. The lyrics are posted on YouTube alongside the video so you can read them, and there’s more there underneath the ignorant gangster vibe. It’s about my experiences with the cops, which has never been that great. It’s also a comment on the law and whom it works for. It serves big business and money, and consistently fucks over the little guy. If you throw enough money at something it’ll go away these days, and a lot of people don’t have those means. It’s also about what attracts people to being police officers these days, rather than the heroic traits seen in the past, with the revenue raising, it just attracts the low-grade stand over men, who want to hold power over the public. And that’s not the job of the police.
I’m with you on that one, Josh. With the album, how’d you go about getting the guest appearances locked in?
Josh: Well with Dre, we met Hellions through mutual friends and we got along instantly. So when we asked them to be apart of the song and the video, they immediately said yes and that’s grown into a really strong friendship. With Matthew Wright [The Getaway Plan], he’s been a really good friend of mine for years now. He kind of introduced me around to a lot of people. With Andrew [Neufeld, Comeback Kid], I met him when he came to town with his other band, Sights & Sounds and I met him over some drinks at Next! He told me they were coming back through to stay in Melbourne for a bit and wanted my number. Couple weeks later they called me up and I hung out with them the whole time. Comeback Kid get hotels each time they play here, but Andrew for the last few years has come and slept on my couch cause he’s a homie (laughs).
(Laughs) that’s sick as man. That’s very bro-like too.
Josh: Oh totally man, he’s great. I hope we can last as long as they have.
Hope so man. With sticking independent – I would think a lot more bands wouldn’t do that and would instead sign with a label…
Josh: The main reason for sticking independent is because we’ve heard way too many horror stories in this industry. Everyone’s complacent that there is no money in this industry, but the reality of the situation is that if there was no money, there would be no industry. From what we saw, a lot of people weren’t willing to share in those spoils, so we thought we’d cut out the middleman. We’ve always been a DIY band, before Shane Frisby jumped on to mix the record, we’ve always had a DIY mentality and we’re going to do it ourselves. We all grew up listening to punk, and if Fat Mike from NOFX can do it, I don’t see why we couldn’t have tried.
Did you get an offer from any big labels here, like Unified for example?
Josh: We did get an offer from Unified, and it was a very fair offer. We have endless amounts respects for Luke and Jaddan, and we had a few meetings to work out what that offer would entail before it was given to us. But we didn’t quite get the things wanted out of and that’s why we turned it down. There was no foul play involved.
Monty: Unified saw us in the position where we were at, and we saw ourselves in the position where we were going to be and we couldn’t see eye to eye on what we both wanted. And that’s cool too, and hopefully one day we see eye to eye with them.
Josh: Having said that, even after we respectfully declined the offer, they have been absolutely great about it. They had us on Unify, they came up to us and made sure we were all friends still. Which of course we were! They put us on the Deez Nuts tour too, so they do hold a lot of power, but they are gracious with it.
Oh, sweet! As you mentioned, you were on Unify this year, how was that show for the band?
Josh: It was a dream come true. It was ten years of dreams right there in front of me, man. I’ve been waiting that day for my whole life and it was nothing short of what I had built it up to be. It was the best day of my life.
Monty: Unify was a really special experience. I’ve played Soundwave before, and with Make Them Suffer, I’ve played some substantial sized shows, but Unify was a gathering of not only heavy music, but a gathering of liked minded musicians who we’ve known for about 6 years now. The atmosphere at Unify is what I could relate Woodstock would have been for us (laughs).
Josh: It was like Bandcamp (laughs).
Now, our original interview was meant to happen the day before Shorefest, but obviously that didn’t happen, so how was Shorefest for you guys?
Josh: It was sick. We had one of the best crowds of the day. Everywhere we go, kids are fucking shit up. But not only kids, there where like 30 plus year olds hardcore dudes throwing down in the pit too (laughs).
Awesome to hear man! With the Pledge Music campaign for the album, the last two perks really made me laugh. the matching tattoo, and my favorite, the motivational speech from Josh, did you think anyone would buy them?
Josh: Oh no way man. I did it for the lolz (laughs). If someone was willing to drop $500 on a motivational speech, I would motivate the absolute fuck out of them. With the matching tattoo, I don’t think anyone would buy it either…but free tattoo (laughs).
The best perk I’ve seen was this small pop-punk band from America, who actually put down a perk for ten grand, saying “For $10,000 we will break up”.
Josh: Oh, that’s fucking mint man.
(Laughs) I thought so too. With the song ‘Shadow Dance’, that song is a lot more personal than the other tracks on the record, and Monty was telling me a lot about it before that that song is much more personal to you, what was it like to write something much more open?
Josh: Back then; it took like a lot more bravery to do that. Knowing what your shortcomings are, knowing the lowest you’ve been, and how you’ve come back from them is important to know yourself. It was insanely cathartic to write, and it really turned out to be a very beautiful song, and that’s what I want people to take away from this. We are degenerates, and low lives by a lot of people’s standards, but like we’re also some of the most kind and understanding and most hospitable people around. That’s what ‘Degenerate’ is about – not everything is as it seems.
My favourite lyric off the album is from ‘Dictated, Not Lead’, the one which says “we’ve seen the true face of evil, we elected it”, so…who is your favourite Prime Minister, living or dead?
Josh: I like Gough Whitlam. I think if they’ve been thrown out of office, or have been assassinated, then you know that they were going to do some good shit for us.
Monty: I’m gonna say Gough Whitlam as well. He obviously listened to blackened death metal too…(laughs)
Out of ten, how much do you hate Tony Abbott?
Monty: The scale is too short, my friend, extend the scale.
It’s a nine from me, because there’s just so much comedy gold you can get out of him. It’s like George Bush – you don’t want them to be in office, but shit, you get so much comic ammunition to build up against them that you just want them to keep stuffing up.
Monty: Well, if we’re going bring that in too, then yeah, a nine, because he’s an affable nitwit. But, why would you trust a guy who looks like Lord Voldemort with a nose?
Josh: (Laughs) he does look like an un-trustworthy guy though. He looks like he would shit in your cereal and fuck your mum just for fun. He’s a dog. If Earth Caller had our way, we would see him commit Japanese ritualistic suicide on the steps of Parliament House-
Monty: In his little speedos too!
(Laughs) Jesus Christ…
Josh: He has to atone for the inter-generational theft that is going on in our government because of him and his cronies.
Yeah man, with things like that, I didn’t think they were possible in Australia.
Josh: I would say that Abbott and Murdoch, they are not done yet. When you buy and sell parliament in the way they have, then the system is broken. You can’t ever fix that. That’s something that the record touches on – a new system, a social revolution.
Right on, guys. Well, we’ve been at this for a while now (laughs), I think it may be time to wrap it up. Josh, Monty – thanks so much for this interview.
Josh: Aw no worries dude!
Monty: Thanks so much for this man!
‘Degenerate’ is out now. You can read our review of the album here.
Earth Caller will be tearing up the country this June with Deez Nuts and Antagonist A.D. Details for the tour here.