Gay Paris are an underground monolith that have set the bar for all local bands who hope to gain a national audience. 2015 sees the boys releasing their new album ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, May We Present To You: The Dark Arts’. Killyourstereo.com had the opportunity to talk with frontman Luke ‘Wailin H’ Monks about the new album, politics and beards.
Hey Luke, Johnny from KYS here, how are you going?
Yeah, good man I’m actually uh… on seek.com right now, so you know what that means…
Oh, well I hope that it’s going well.
I guess I’m not too enthusiastic on it.
You just gotta keep grinding, hey.
It’s all about the grind.
Well, let’s get this started, how’s your week been?
Well, it’s weird, there’s a post Dillinger Escape Plan hangover. It’s not the boozy aftermath because we actually were pretty well behaved after that gig, but [it’s] just the feeling that you’ve been out ‘everything-ed’. We’re used to being the heaviest band on a bill, for whatever reason when we started out we got lumped in with a whole bunch of folk and blues bands. We made friends and that’s who we toured with a lot, so to play with Dillinger it’s nice to not be the heavy band on the bill also maybe vastly aware that we are just hipster cunts trying to be metal. So there’s that shame, that’s my week to this point, it’s actually lasted a lot longer than I thought it would.
I can imagine opening for Dillinger would have been exhilarating and at the same time almost eye-opening.
Well, there’s the idea [that] you don’t go on stage and ‘out Dillinger’ Dillinger. I think we’ve got a relatively good reputation for putting on an energetic show but it’s not that. It’s a completely different energy, Dean, our bass player, was like ‘oh, we’ll out sexy them’. But man have you seen Greg? That motherfucker is sexy. I’m not outsexy-ing shit, I am haggard as fuck, so we had to agree to disagree on what we were going to do, but yeah, it’s good – it’s nice to play with a band that you desperately want to see as well.
Opening for them would have been really amazing, and earlier in the year you played with sleepmakeswaves as well, that would have been cool too.
Man, it’s opposite ends, two bands you’d never think you’re actually going to play with who you also think are good bands. That’s a massive difference, I think Dillinger’s crowd is easier to win because they’re like these guys [who] are rocking out [and] we’re okay with that, whereas the sleepmakeswaves crowd, everywhere except for Melbourne and Sydney, straight away understood that it was something different but it was something for them because we enjoy people. But in Sydney and Melbourne it was like ‘who are these rascals [who have] come to ruin our rock night, oh have they been drinking’. So it was cool, plus it’s always cool to tour with a band for a while and get to hang with them and make new pals. And no one in my band gives a fuck about philosophy, and me and Alex (from SMW), he’s an ethics major and I’m like, ‘well obviously my ethics are terribly damaged but let’s talk’, so that tour kind of also changed how I think of touring as well, so that was pretty cool.
You guys are justifiably again starting to make a name for yourselves again after an absence. What’s it like being one of the bands at the forefront of the local scene?
You know, I don’t remember yet. I can’t really experience it now. I know we were there about two years ago and then the album cycle finished and we went to ground. So I feel like it’s almost in, it’s back there. It’s not genetic obviously, you can’t change your genes. Well, I don’t change my jeans, I’ve got one pair. I just want to be out on the road again, that’s the only benefit of being at the…I don’t know, is there a forefront, is there a scene? We’ll only be at the forefront if we sell out shows so, if there are people that like the band I hope they can deal with the fact that it’s a different band than it was when we started. We played something like twenty shows last year after a year where we played a hundred shows, so it’s real different, and I think we’re different people. Whether or not people understand the songs, if it’s different musically, I’ve been too close to the whole project and Gay Paris for like six years, and regardless of anything else it’s still Gay Paris. We’re different people and I wonder if that comes out because a lot of what we push with this band is a four-headed personality as much as we push music.
You’re so much about the personality you portray as well as the music you play.
It’s a different animal, different monster, different god now, maybe the other guys are exactly where they were six years ago and I’ve just lost my head in the clouds and I ignore them because they ignore me.
There’s a fair bit of hype surrounding your upcoming album. What’s the background of the album, it seems very occult and out there in terms of its themes?
Themes, well, I think that I’ve always sung about this kind of stuff or had overarching things on the records. Last record, I was interested in ideas of salvation, this time I’m interested in ideas of maybe entropy, dressed up in occult language. I also feel that considering the way society’s morality is kind of structured around ideas that, if we admit it or not, do tend to get dressed up in traditionally mystical themes say, religion. The obvious kickback against that and the failure of a religiously infused morality that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with what’s ethical. The obvious kickback against God, for me, is Satan. That’s the easy thing to do, take a secular view on it, an arts history on it, but there’s high drama in the occult and it’s about personality. For example, Rage Against The Machine can afford to be overt in their message. I think our current prime minster is morally bankrupt. It’s nicely dressed in the language that amuses me, it may alienate other people, but I think alienation can be a good thing to experience if you get outside of yourself and look back in.
I agree that it is such a good thing to experience in music because that’s what separates a well written song or well written lyrics from something that’s just blatantly displaying the message. RATM had overtly over political lyrics, however it worked for them, but say if some local band attempted the same thing… it’s probably not going to work for them.
Yeah, here’s the other thing, this is what I’ve always done, I’ve always obscured what I’m doing. I think there’s an idea that philosophy shouldn’t explain the world, it should help change it. I don’t think my lyrics will help change the world but they’re changing how I move through the world. Hopefully it’s making me a better person, I don’t know how it’s going to help make anyone else a better person, but the research behind this record has hopefully made me a better contributor. I don’t want to just complain, I think there’s enough complaining and also there are enough love songs, so I hope this teaches me to change one other person, or make someone feel a little up on a day that they’re down. That’s good too. This is the most hopeful Ive been for the most pessimistic lyrics I’ve written.
What are some of the influences behind your sound, I notice a lot of ‘genre-jumping’ surrounding you guys?
It’s hard to name bands because I think everyone cringes when the get asked that but there is definitely a lot of genres in our music, so for example Dean, Lochlan and I all played in a hardcore/metal/mathy band and that’s what we did for like six years. Simmo played drums in like everything from ska punk to blues… hopefully there’s no ska punk coming out in our music but we’re all from diverse things and we all listen to a lot of different things. Everyone’s got their Spotify or YouTube playlist, we exist in a world where you don’t have to be tight on a genre to be comfortable, and I remember back when I still had hair, everyone was like, ‘hardcore people hang out with hardcore people’ and that was only ten years ago, and I feel like it’s really different now. I mean musicians tend to be friends with musicians. I think it’s just natural that bands are going to genre jump unless you have defined yourself saying we are this band. I’m just sitting here and it’s not necessarily a band I listen to, but Bring Me The Horizon are a completely different band than they were [when they started], and that to me has just got to be natural. You got the dude from Future Islands on Letterman doing a death growl that’s like, whether or not its funny or good or experimental, there’s no point in setting up fake boundaries like that.
I completely agree that you’ll expect bands to melt into different genres. There’s not really a need for bands to come out and, for example, say, “we’re the next Megadeth, we’re only gonna play thrash metal, we’re cemented in thrash metal.”
Well maybe you can do that if you want to play an RSL tribute set I guess, but that’s not for us. (laughs)
Yeah, it’s not super unique. I think you guys are striving to get to that point of new and unique.
To a degree, yes. I remember a few years ago the singer of Korn came out and said that they had invented a new genre of music and it was like dubstep with metal and I was like, ‘Just get fucked dude really, there are like twenty thousand remixes of dubstep metal so fuck off.’ Also, I think that we’re not breaking glass and sampling that and putting a beat behind it, it’s just guitar, bass and drums, I don’t think we’re doing something new and I’m so used to being around these dudes, and I’m so used to the way that Lachlan writes guitar parts and just used to things that aren’t Gay Paris becoming Gay Paris[ too]. Sometimes I think we’ve written a pop song we didn’t mean to and then we get told that that’s not the single you fucking idiots, so is it something new? It’s so hard to tell because it feels so old and ugly to me constantly; especially when you sit on the record for a fuckin’ year after you record it. I’ve heard so many of my friends bands record and release their albums so much faster than us and think ‘you guys have got the new sound, we’re just tired old fuckheads’.
Why was there such a delay behind recording it?
So, we had a real screw around where the dudes went to the US to record, I stayed here, so they recorded everything and they got back and we decided that the drums were unusable. There was a lot of disappointment with the process of working with the producer that we worked with, so we re-recorded everything here and we ended up having to do the bass tracking three or four times. Then I got sick and [the] vocals ended up having to be done in a couple of different takes and then it just got to the point where we didn’t want to release it around christmas, and then Simp had a kid and we’ve just been seeing when was going to be good to start touring again because we’ve got a human maker on our hands now, so it was just that there were a whole lot of great annoyances and great joys that conspired. It’s just what it is.
There will always be obstacles.
Yeah, I don’t necessarily see it as obstacles, it’s fine, we’ll start touring and summer is a nice time, we’ll have some beach parties along the way, you have to look on the bright side of these dark arts sometimes.
You guys are pretty well known for being rather open about your beliefs on LGBT rights, what are your thoughts on recent government standings about the issue?
If we’re talking about marriage equality, look see, I get up in arms on social media, I’ve had time to collect my thoughts but, off the cuff, I will say that if we are living in a small liberal democracy in the developed world [then] we need to apply the ethics that go with that that have been building from basically in latin until now. We seem to be taking backwards steps too, if not in a theocracy [way] then at least political dispositions that are informed by religious ethics that are by themselves, [and] don’t have any standing in an intellectual ethical realm. If you say you can’t have this because it’s traditional, tradition is never a good idea to grasp onto as an argument because the whole idea of the scientific method is that you have to disprove it for it to be not science, so ethics suggest that it’s the same thing that tradition is waiting there to be disproved. These ideas don’t seem to be based on law any further than saying the law can’t change, that’s absolutely ridiculous, law changes all the time, we’re not stuck with a sixth century sense of mind of Justinians fucking roman whores, so it’s absolutely nuts to me and it’s hurtful, and it damages society as whole as it sets up artificial commissions between who is a person and who isn’t. If you start denying people legal rights based on context rather than, just for instance, recently Brisbane passed a law that made anal sex have a lower age of consent to match up with vaginal sex, I think that definitely impacts in that everything should apply across the board rather than contextually. It’s something that I get upset about really quickly. (laughs)
What does the future hold for you guys? Any plans to take Gay Paris international anytime soon?
People have been asking us that for six years and we always say yeah and we don’t do it. So yeah, definitely man, we want to get back to being a band that does a hundred shows a year, I hope so. But, if we’re going to be viable overseas we have to adopt the King Parrot or the Clowns model in that this has to be our lives. I’ve got time but not money, the others have the money but not the time, so it’s up to how we see opportunity falling out after this next tour. I don’t think anyone is quite over being in this band and I still think it’s a huge part of how we define ourselves as people, so international is a goal that we keep. I have no beef with Australia, I’m happy to keep telling people that I love them, even though I fucking hate the government.
What’s the weirdest place you’ve stayed while out on the road?
There’s a couple of haunted places down in Tasmania, so they put me in the ghost room and the only thing I really believe in is the slow heat death of the universe but god, I get these little hopes when I get drunk that if you can make me believe in afterlife that’d be fucking phenomenal even if it’s terrible. So I stay up all night waiting for the ghost and you learn more about yourself when you’re willing to make yourself terrified, so that’s weird. The weirdest things happen when you don’t stay, like when you’re playing in Melbourne and you bail back to drive to Sydney that’s when it gets weird and I feel bad for the sober, Adam Simpson who’s doing the driving.
Last question, how do you keep your beard so fresh and vibrant?
That’s just my natural greases (laughs).
There’s no beard oils or anything in the concoction?
Man, I am so broke, I looked it up [and] that shit is expensive. My whole look is based on the fact that people call me lazy but I wear ripped jeans because I have one pair, I have a beard because I’m lazy as fuck, it’s just perfect that I am poor and lazy, actually that’s why I’m poor. But there’s nothing deliberate, my beard just grew and that’s what happened.
It’s coincidental you’ve rocked this poor look while it’s in fashion then.
Yeah, I’ll still be here when it goes away (laughs).
All right buddy, thanks for the chat man. I really appreciate it, good luck with the album and the tour, hope everything goes well and I hope to see your name in lights touring overseas sometime soon.
Thank you very much sir, it’s been lovely, thank you.
‘Ladies and Gentlemen, May We Present To You The Dark Arts’ is due out September 18.
Catch the band on tour in 2015. Tickets via: www.gayparismusic.com.au/
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 25 – RAD, Wollongong, NSW
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 26 – ROLLING STONE LIVE LODGE AT NEWTOWN SOCIAL CLUB, Sydney, NSW
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 7 – PUNK ASS KIDS AT ROCKET BAR, Adelaide, SA
THURSDAY OCTOBER 8 – WORKERS CLUB, Geelong, VIC
FRIDAY OCTOBER 9 –THE EASTERN, Ballarat, VIC
SATURDAY OCTOBER 10 – CHERRY BAR, Melbourne, VIC
FRIDAY OCTOBER 16 – STUDIO 6, Sutherland, NSW
SATURDAY OCTOBER 17 – PHOENIX, Canberra, ACT
THURSDAY OCTOBER 22 – CROWBAR, Brisbane, QLD
FRIDAY OCTOBER 23 – THE HELM, Mooloolaba, QLD
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 6 – THE CAMBRIDGE HOTEL, Newcastle, NSW
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 7 – THE CARRINGTON HOTEL, Katoomba, NSW
THURSDAY NOVEMBER 19 – THE PRIER, Port Macquarie, NSW
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 20 – THE NORTHERN, Byron Bay, NSW
THURSDAY NOVEMBER 26 – THE PRINCE OF WALES HOTEL, Bunbury, WA
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 27 – THE ODD FELLOW, Fremantle, WA
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 28 – THE BOSTON, Perth, WA
FRIDAY DECEMBER 11 – THE GRAND POOBAH, Hobart, TAS
SATURDAY DECEMBER 12 – CLUB 54, Launceston, TAS