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PSYCHEDELIC PORN CRUMPETS The X-Press Interview


Perth psych-rockers Psychedelic Porn Crumpets are in the midst of an explosion. With the release of their third album And Now For The Whatchamacallit, a slot at Splendour  In The Grass, signing with Arctic Monkeys’ management and a global tour, the band hardly have a second to breathe – but that’s the way they like it. Ahead of their Perth show this Friday at the Astor Theatre, frontman Jack McEwan spoke to CAITLIN NORRIS about the band’s change in sound, touring, and the difficulties of mixing on the road.

Where are you in the world at the moment?

We’re back in Perth now! I’m just out the front sitting with Ryan, my housemate.

So obviously Psychedelic Porn Crumpets have so much happening right now. What’s it been like to release an album that’s coinciding with global tour dates and a heap of festivals? 

It’s an amazing period for the band at the moment. We didn’t know how it was gonna be received but it’s pretty mad getting number one on the vinyl charts which blew us away. That was nuts. The album itself, we were kind of rushing it because we knew all these tours were coming up so we had to finish it before all these big Europe runs. While we were in America we were actually mixing the album in the tour van so it was really hard to hear all the bass notes and how the guitars were going – but as soon as we got back we put it on the home speakers and we were like, “oh my god, all the bass needs to come right down.” So we were really rushing around before that came out, but now we’re stoked with how it’s been and it’s just sort of put us in a really cool position around Australia and obviously England – everyone always asks us how the Perth music scene is because of bands like Tame [Impala] and Pond, but it’s great that we can like, join that – or at least try to get into that bracket.

With this record, do you feel like you touched on anything or moved in a direction that you hadn’t explored previously? 

We aimed for a shorter sort of album which was, I suppose, more aimed at festivals – that shorter kind of song that didn’t go for like eight minutes and you’re not going into the ‘psyche void’. I think that opened us up to new listeners, especially around Australia. When we started playing Australian festivals everyone was trying to play as many songs as possible and we were wondering if we could do that while meandering through the album. So everything kind of feels different, but you get from start to finish without sort of realising you’re there. Adding more depth, so there’d be a bit more sub maybe in the songs or high notes – obviously we were going from small bars in Perth, so you can’t really hear the frequencies that well, but as soon as you get to a big stage you’re like, “oh my god, we sound so weak compared to that big drum and bass band or some rapper or something that’s got these mad low tones hammering into the speakers.” So we thought more about that. We were trying to make this 1940’s concept album where it was like Punch and Judy mixed with like old village sounds but that kind of went slowly out the window and eventually it turned into this album and we felt really happy with it. We didn’t know what to call it so I think Whatchamacallit captured it perfectly.

How much bigger is this upcoming tour than the ones you’ve embarked on previously?

It’s like 21 weeks and then 10 days off in August. We come back in August – after Summer Sonic (Festival in Japan) we’re back here for 10 days which is cool. It’s all these places we’ve never been before like festivals in Norway and Sweden and we’ve got a couple of shows with Royal Blood (who they share management with) as well. Right now we’re literally trying to work out how we’re gonna get from Norway to Dundee in 24 hours. We were in the Netherlands doing a festival and Bon Iver headlined and it was mad, there were so many people there and we played this tent thinking  there would be three people there to see us but we got like 4000 people crammed in this tent. I think because there is a kind of light at the moment on Australian rock music, it’s a great time and place for us to be around. Music is a lot of luck but I think you’ve also just go to jump on bandwagons while they’re there. You’ll miss the boat quite quickly if you don’t.

Did you ever anticipate your music reaching these places?

No way! We released that first album just because we wanted to. We were fresh out of uni and we were like, “why don’t we just try and do something different?” It was just a bit of fun to hang out on the weekend with everybody. The record itself just started taking off and we were really lucky with Dylan from Rhubarb Records who put it onto vinyl and then we realised how deep the vinyl market and the resurgence of that has been. Without that we would literally be unable to afford any tours or anything. Straight after that we thought if we made another record we might be able to go to Melbourne or Tasmania – I think with the third album that sort of honed in on our writing as well. Rather than writing singles we really kept that vinyl mentality which I think now we’ve solidified as our basis as a band.

The Splendour line up this year is huge and of course Porn Crumpets are a part of that – who are you excited to see?

Obviously Tame Impala and Pond, I can never get enough of those two. James Blake will be amazing. Childish Gambino which would be unreal. At the moment we’re trying to work out how we’re gonna stay alive on the Saturday and then play a show on Sunday. And I think on the Monday we have to fly to Europe. It’ll be messy, but it’ll be fun.

Is it daunting at all?

That last tour we did we took Chris from (fellow Perth band) Superego with us, so he’s now joined the band which is great. We’re trying to work out how we can evolve our sound onto these festival levels. We write songs before we play them as a band which is probably the backwards way to do it but we needed that tour to really hone in – I think Splendour for us is the pinnacle of where you’re gonna play in Australia. We sound like a really well oiled machine at the moment, playing each night trying to get the set solid and we’ve brought in visuals. We’re just really excited to play, knowing that our set is where we want it. The focus is on how we can keep stepping up. The more you play the better you get.

What musical influences did you guys have at the time of writing the album? 

On the first European tour we had so much fun – usually we’re on planes in Australia, you don’t have a lot of driving so you rarely get that chance to pass the aux chord around. But in the car we were just playing old school bangers from like Elton John, Queen and finding out what everyone was into and we were just getting that glam rock out with that pop aspect which I think you can hear on the album, it sounds a lot more flamboyant. You can hear the fun and enjoyment we had on that first tour. Sleepless nights watching the sunrise and writing all the lyrics based around those type of experiences. It was more a collaborative effort in that sense. Subconsciously just passing music to each other that was the bedrock of the album.

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