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SHIT NARNIA 5 Golden Rules for Not Being A Dickhead at Gigs

Local sadbois Shit Narnia are looking forward to playing at RTRFM’s annual multi-stage Perth music celebration, Distant Murmurs. Performing alongside Apollo Zen, Chick Spit and Debbie Downers on the punk stage, it’ll be the first time Shit Narnia has appeared on this massive bill, kicking off at 6pm on Saturday, January 27 at the Rosemount Hotel. In the Main Room punters can enjoy the live sounds of The Money War, Benjamin Witt, Hussy, DIY Rainclouds and Carla Geneve, and outside you can get a groove on with Human Buoy, Bonny Upwelling, Your Girl Pho, Shy Time, Demon Days, Toyotomi, The Whipcracker and Will Slade. With this all day, locals-only festival set to stun, JESS COCKERILL caught up with Shit Narnia’s Hugh Manning and Albert Pritchard for their hot tips on which bands to catch, and a punk band’s take on the 5 Golden Rules for Not Being A Dickhead at Gigs to not be a dickhead at gigs.

This is your first time playing at Distant Murmurs, how exciting! Who are you looking forward to seeing?

A: Definitely Ben Witt.

H: Apollo Zen i’m really excited to see, i’ve listened to their EP a bunch but I’ve never seen them live before. That should be really cool. Debbie Downers, a really cool new band who are absolutely smashing it right now. And Chick Spit, I’m pretty sure that’s Elle from Bunbury’s band. It’s cool to see some regional bands. RTR have done a really amazing effort in that regard.

Have you had a lot to do with RTR prior to Distant Murmurs?

A: They’ve helped us out countless times. They booked us for In The Pines really early on in the piece for us. It might’ve been the biggest thing we’ve ever done, in terms of crowd numbers.

H: They’ve always plugged our music.

A: It’s always a massive treat to talk to anyone there. Always very tense going in, but with [Breakfast presenter] Caitlin [Nienaber] for instance it’s very easy. She could hold your hand and guide you through the most protracted conversation, even if you were saying nothing she would carry you basically.

H: I always want to talk for longer and then it’s over. You’re like, damn, I can’t talk to Caitlin any more [laughs]. I’ve got so much to say, Caitlin!

It’s been a while since any Shit Narnia releases, what’re you working on? Can we look forward to any new stuff coming out?

H: That’s not true, Jess.

Yeah, well there was the Childsaint split EP but y’know, that’s a collaboration.

H: It was two songs! We put two songs out three months ago.

A: That’s fair actually, I’ll take the point. We’re working on it, alright. Everything takes so long to write. We’re still doing that thing where Hughie has lyrics, we try to write music that doesn’t change the lyrics much. They’re usually in a somewhat poetic form, so it’s pretty hard to get them to work, you’ll get one section right and that’ll throw out the rest. It takes a lot of time. Also we’re disorganised. BUT. We’ve basically written it. We’re going to start demo-ing in a couple of weeks. With any luck, we’ll have a full album, one we’ll be really proud of, recorded by the end of the year.

Safe to say, recent months have made the Perth scene take a hard look in the mirror to confront toxic behavior in and around our arts spaces. Why is it so important not to be a dickhead at gigs?

A: Gigs are places a lot of people want to access, and have the right to access, and when these things aren’t adhered to, people are excluded. I can only speak from my imagining, because I’ve never been in the excluded group, but it must just be awful if you want to go and see a show and it’s a limitation on you, to enjoy it in whatever way you want to enjoy it. Girls, people with disabilities… these groups have all these other objects in the landscape to navigate. They should be safe spaces.

H: Because there’s a history of marginalisation, within subcultures, within our city, we need to be working as hard as we can to be better. It’s not a fascist thing, it’s not about kicking people out. It’s about trying to educate people, work with people, and improve the communities that we’re a part of.

Shit Narnia’s 5 Golden Rules for Not Being A Dickhead at Gigs

1. Don’t be a creep, obviously.

A: You’d hope that kinda goes without saying.

H: But it doesn’t.

2. Be aware of the space you take.

H: I think basically an important thing is men need to be super aware of the way they behave in crowds. I mean, obviously don’t be a creep, but also in terms of taking up space in ways that are obnoxious and exclusionary, and not being aggressive. I have very mixed feelings about mosh pits.

A: There’s a time and place.

H: Exactly.

A: There’s way to dance in an aggressive fashion that don’t involve hitting anyone or taking up a huge amount of space, and it depends on the vibe. You don’t want to be rocking and crashing around and turning it into your show in a way. That’s always a sensation I get from it, guys want to make themselves a very active part of the performance, and they’ll spend more time turning round to their mates and acting like a hooligan than actually watching the show. Be aware, be respectful. Especially dudes, because they’ve got a track record of throwing their weight around and knocking into people. And if you just got a bit excited, just say sorry or whatever.

H: And I mean part of the problem is that alcohol dulls people’s ability to do that.

3. Shut the f*** up when people are playing.

A: We’re both shush police, both of us.

H: I was watching Childsaint at Badlands once, and there was this woman behind me incessantly talking. I just had to go up to her and be like, “hey sorry, I literally cannot concentrate on this set because you are being so loud, can you please go outside.”

A: And absolutely simultaneously to that, I was standing up front at the same show, and there were a couple of guys right next to me, one metre away from Jane who’s singing and playing. I turned to them and said, you know they can actually hear you? And then at the same time, Sam was shushing someone else! So three members of Shit Narnia were silencing different people at a Childsaint show simultaneously. Doing the rounds in the crowd like shh shh shh.

H: I mean it’s fine if we’re playing. If the band is sufficiently loud then who cares, but if like Rabbit Island is playing and someone is cackling like a mad person, that just feels…

A: Sickening, gross. Evil. Don’t make chit chat, especially while quiet heartfelt musicians are playing.

4. Be kind to the staff.

A: Be respectful of the barstaff.

H: Tip your bartender.

A: Be good to the door person. If you get moved on or something just do it, you never solve anything by arguing… maybe I’m just talking as a bartender, I mean we’re both bartenders.

5. Watch your substance intake.

H: I haven’t drunk for about the last two and a half years, so I’m pretty conscious of people not watching their substance intake. Be aware of your consumption, not just for you but the impact you’re having on people around you.

A: I guess that’s a part of rule 2.

H: I mean, it’s part of it but it doesn’t really get talked about. People talk about not being a dickhead at shows, but they don’t talk about substance abuse being one of the major reasons people behave like dickheads at shows.

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