Unflinching Collingwood trio, Batpiss, released their latest firey dirge-rock LP, ‘Rest in Piss,’ via Poison City just last week and it’s a record that’s filled to the brim with pounding drums, washes of scathing guitars, immense driving bass lines, and apathetic, vitriolic vocals. And it all works in tandem. Batpiss bass player and lead vocalist, Thomy Sloane, recently spoke with us about the name of the new record being dedicated to dead friends, the ins and outs of their particular sound, the response to the video for ‘Weatherboard Man’, and oddly enough, having their songs being turned into gospel tunes. No, you read that right. Yes, it’s as fucking weird as it sounds. Have a gander below!
Where does the tone and sound of Batpiss originate from – is it more the bands that you grew up on or is it also due to the childhood you’ve had and the lifestyle’s that you all live?
When we started off we were all listening to completely different music from one another and over time as we kept jamming I guess it was just a mash up of particular influences at the time from bands such as Off!, Alchemist, Howlin Wolf and The Clash. When I write songs I genuinely have a rule where no matter how many wrong notes there are for any chord, there is always one right wrong note. Paul uses this technique a lot too so that’s where we get that kinda weird guitar style from, I guess. I honestly don’t believe it’s anything to do with our childhood or lifestyle.
Fair enough! With the footage for ‘Weatherboard Man’ coming from Paul’s grandfather, has old mate himself seen the song’s clip complete with your music attached and did you guys get any odd kind of attention from non-music outlets regarding the archival footage?
To be honest, I actually have no idea if he’s seen it, that’s something Paul would have to answer. The footage isn’t in the archives, it’s Paul’s Grandfathers actual footage he filmed the day after Cyclone Tracy. We did, however, get quite a few people get in touch with us that we’re living in Darwin at the time and shared their own stories with us which was pretty cool.
That’s rad. On the album, of course, working with Gareth Liddiard of The Drones must have been fucking awesome, but what do you honestly think that he helped you with in terms of writing and Batpiss’s overall sound on this record?
What Gaz brought to the table was a different approach to things that we normally wouldn’t be thinking of. I mean, that’s why you get a producer, right? But Gaz is not only a friend, he’s a fucking unit! He thinks in ways only Gaz can think, so it was really fun mucking around with different pedals and amps and stuff and different vocal approaches. We wanted this record to be completely different to previous albums but with it still sounding like “The Piss” which I’m quite confident we pulled off. Gaz was fantastic to work with and would totally do it again.
Now, with the new record being an ode to deceased friends, do you think that that sadly departed friends would have appreciated the gesture as well as the album being called ‘Rest In Piss’? (No disrespect intended, just genuinely curious).
Absolutely. They’re all dead because of drugs and suicide and all that horrible shit and they loved our band so I personally think they’d be stoked. We all shared a sick sense of humour and I’m 100% sure they would be fucking into it.
I hope so too! Likewise, with the painting used for the album’s cover, in the PR emails for the album its mentioned that there were about a dozen other paintings on offer. What can you tell me about these other paintings? What were they like? What did they depict? Why weren’t they used instead?
Again this would be a question for Paul to give you a more in depth answer as he is the artist, but from what I gathered of the whole process was that like our new material, Paul is doing the same with his art. He’s taking a new and exciting direction and I feel like it worked perfectly to capture the content that’s portrayed in this album. He did do a bunch more paintings of these really obscure faces and we first had an idea to have them all as a collage but there was something about the face that made the record cover that really stood out and so we just used the one and that one was actually the first one he painted funnily enough. It’s also a man with a rope around his neck so I guess it’s kind of fitting right?
I find there’s an upsurge of this kind of grim, sludgy, almost-doomy rock music of late coming out of Australia, namely yourselves and Grim Rhythm. Overseas you’ve also got heavier sounding bands like Pallbearer as well. Would you attribute such bands and releases to anything in particular or do you think that such music is merely more of a serendipitous, time and place thing?
I dunno man, I think for us it’s just time and place thing. I don’t really think about other bands and what meaning this all has for one another and shit like that. For me it’s just creating with the people I like creating with and whatever comes out just happens, you know? I’m not really a philosophical kinda guy, more of a day to day moron really.
Nothing wrong with that, mate. With Nick “The Grinch” Finch of Graveyard Train fame doing a limited Record Store Day 7” and giving your songs a gospel makeover, did you know of that prior to that 7” dropping? And besides labelling it as “some amazing shit”, what else did you think of those reimaging’s?
Nick said to me one day at the pub “I’ve got this idea of doing Batpiss songs in gospel format and calling it Baptist, would you be cool with that?’.I thought he was full of shit and was like yeah mate go for it! I mean that was like 2 or 3 years ago. Word on the street was Nick and a whole bunch of people actually did it but he had a new baby at the time and you know had to do the whole Dad thing and raise his child so I totally forgot about it.
He said he would send it to me so I could have a listen but never did, so the 1st time I heard it was yeah like 2 or 3 years later after it was actually recorded and on vinyl. I was fucking stoked mate!! Totally transformed the songs. You wouldn’t even think they were Batpiss songs if you didn’t know the story behind it all. 10/10 on all parts if you ask me. Love it!
Amazing! Similarly, in stepping out of yourselves and seeing how others view your music, does it make you humble or excited (or both) that Beat, AU Review, and Rolling Stone have taken so kindly to the Batpiss way? Or is getting nice reviews something you could not give less of a fuck about?
It humbles me very much so. I mean if someone is willing to appreciate your art in any way whether that be in happiness or hatred that to me is appreciated so much. We make these songs for us (the band) and the fact that other people really get into it is a feeling only an artist can know. It’s amazing even if it would only reach one or two people. That’s enough for me.
Finally, with the upcoming tour and with the exception of playing good shows (what kind of band wouldn’t, right) what’s on the menu for you guys to see, do and experience while on the road?
Well, I’m looking forward to all the horrible jokes that will no doubt go down in the van we tend to do a lot of prank calls on the long hauls which is a hilarious and great time killer. But yeah, we haven’t toured for ages so I’m looking forward to bonding with my buddies and seeing the sites and all that kinda stuff. Basically keen to do anything to keep distracted from the real world, to be honest.
Batpiss’s new album, ‘Rest In Piss’, is out now via Poison City Records. You can pick it up here. For more info on their tour, see below.
Friday, August 11th – Brisbane Hotel, Hobart
Saturday, August 12th – Club 54, Launceston
Friday, August 18th – Crowbar, Brisbane
Saturday, August 26th – The Tote, Melbourne
Friday, September 1st – Karova Lounge, Ballarat
Saturday, September 2nd – The Loft, Warrnambool
Saturday, September 9th – Rad Bar, Wollongong