SOUTHERN RIVER BAND Not the messiah, just naughty boys

Southern River Band have a new line up and a new single, the boogie-fried Cigarettes (Ain’t Helping Me None) and are gearing up for a trek over to the other side of our big sunburnt country. But first, they’re bringing their southern suburbs rock and roll party to The Rosemount Hotel this Saturday, March 17, with Matt Sevier, Hussy and Spacey Jane also on the bill. Lead singer, guitarist, motormouth and Thornlie’s greatest publicist Callum Kramer had a yarn with SHANE PINNEGAR.

There’s lots happening in Southern River Band land, Cal…

Well, man, there IS shitloads happening. We’ve got a bunch of  new songs coming out, we’ve got our first east coast tour on our own, then we’re coming back here after [they’ll be at The Indi Bar on April 21 for those that plan well in advance], and we’ve got Queenscliff Festival in November so that’s gonna be fucking great, to go back and keep building up over there.

And it seems like the new guys are fitting in pretty well?

Oh, the whole band is fucking a hundred percent! It’s really, really good man.

It’s no secret that Southern River Band is your baby, it’s your personality up there front and centre. It seems like it’s been a bit difficult to find the right people to back that up?

Man, you know, it’s really hard in this day and age to find people with a similar vision, and that want to actually do this properly. People want to play in a band and play around a bit, but… to use a southern colloquialism, we’re not here to fuck spiders! So to be honest, you gotta take risks to do this sort of shit and make a go of it – especially in this day and age. So to finally have found people that are willing to put it all on the line is great.

I guess it’s difficult, of course, when you originally started the band with friends, so you’ve got pre-existing friendships to consider. Getting in collaborators, you’re all committed to the band first, whereas old friends may not be as committed as you were…

Exactly. There is another old saying that you don’t do business with family. I would never have expected, when we started the band and were playing at the Thornlie Tavern, that this would take off in the way that it has. To go from that to playing over east in less than 2 years… it did start as a fun thing between mates – with one eye on the future, of course – and it snowballed quite quickly… but hey, I’m not fucking complaining!

The new single is the first song you’ve released as Southern River Band Mark II. What inspired this, other than just smoking too many durries?

I was just thinking, sometimes you’re in a kind of purgatory state, neither here nor there, and you’re doing shit that isn’t doing anything for you… it’s like having a sheep on a hobby farm – what’s the sheep doing for you? Fucking fuck all! It just sits there, it might get sheared once a year. It’s those sort of things that you think about – like, what am I doing? What’s this doing for me? I think that’s something that everyone can relate to. It’s as deep as one can get when you’re talking about cigarettes!

You mentioned having more songs coming out. What’s the go?

Well, we have an album worth of songs – but how we’re going to release them is going to be completely different, and that will be revealed in the coming months.

We really stepped it up [recording these songs] – we’re not just going in and doing what we did last time, where we just smashed a whole album out. Looking back, [debut album] Live At The Pleasuredome served its purpose but there was plenty of room to grow and improve in every aspect, I think. And we’re certain, with these songs, it’s really about fucking getting the songs to the best they can be, and putting out really killer shit.

Are you a believer in road testing songs in front of an audience before you record them?

Oh yeah man, I’m a live player, that’s my thing. I’m best in front of people, and that’s the way I find how songs work. That’s why you put them out there – if you don’t want them to be judged, then you should be playing them in your bedroom. Ciggies has been around for years, we played it heaps with the old line up, but we only now got around to recording it.

Let’s be honest, Cal – you’re a live wire, a flamboyant motormouth with the ace-est fashion sense of any rockstar in Perth – what do you say to suggestions that you’re the Australian equivalent of The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins?

I get that… if people want to say things like that, then that’s great, but I’m just me. You’re always thinking how is this going to be viewed down the tracks, because that’s what people do when they see someone, they compare it to what they know, but I’m just me.

In my honest opinion, the world needs the Southern River Band more than ever right now. We need you to get out there and purge all the bad shit away…

Man, that’s exactly what I think. The way I look at it is, everybody has tough shit going on in their life, whether it’s work, relationships, money, whatever – all this shit happens all of the time. The thing that stands out about The Southern River Band, people can just be completely in the moment and having a fucking good time, and not be thinking about any of that shit. It’s like a form of therapy. And that’s why people are coming up and telling us their reaction to it. I reckon that’s why it’s fucking the best thing in the world. To each their own, but that’s where I stand on the matter.

I’m sold, mate – I’m a disciple. You’re the new rock and roll Messiah, Cal…

I’m not a Messiah – I’m just a very naughty boy!

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