Violent Soho


Violent Soho, Brisvegas’ hot grunge revivalists, head to the Circo festival on Saturday, June 28, at Claremont Showground Pavilions, and kick off their own national tour with two sold-out shows at The Bakery on Wednesday-Thursday, July 2-3. Singer/guitarist, Luke Boerdam, reflects on the band’s rocky road with SHANE PINNEGAR.

Violent Soho formed in 2004, the four school buddies from Brisbane releasing an EP and an album before coming to the attention of US label, Ecstatic Peace. 

That label, owned by Sonic Youth noisenik Thurston Moore, released the band’s self-titled, second album in 2010 and set them on an 18 month slog through the States before the band crashed back down to earth.

“Yeah, we came back from America and it was a pretty gruelling experience to go through the washing machine of the music industry,” reflects singer/guitarist, Luke Boerdam. “We got to tour with some of our very favourite bands like Dinosaur Jr and The Bronx, and then kind’ve got spat out the other end, and ended up back in Australia.”

Abandoned by their label, Violent Soho were close to down and out, second guitarist James Tidwell was en route to a job interview at McDonalds when he got a surprise from a friend.

“That story cuts straight to the point!” laughs Boerdam. “That’s where we were when we came back from America. James was driving down the road to Maccas and his friend messages him saying ‘Have you heard about your nomination?’ ‘Oh, for what?’ ‘The ARIA Awards!’ ‘Oh fuck, I’m going for an interview at Maccas!’ You know, that’s the reality.”

Violent Soho may have been down, but they weren’t out yet, and Boerdam feels gratified at their current wave of success, having reignited their drive.

“Yeah, I really do,” he acknowledges. “It’s been a pretty long and slow crawl back to here, you know? It was difficult to go out and get work again, and do the band at nights – it was getting tough to get a rehearsal room and get the drive that we used to have, and to get excited again. We were just absolutely tired to be honest and we needed a break. So I guess just slowly, through writing another record, and getting in the room again practising that, it kind’ve just fell into place over a long period.

“We just absolutely refused to put out shit – we just said, ‘if we don’t come up with a record that we’re proud of and we want to put out, then let’s just leave it, you know – fuck it!’ (laughs).

But if we do, and if we actually enjoy it again, then let’s do it. It’s been a long trip, but yeah, it is gratifying.”

After releasing their third full-length album, Hungry Ghost, late last year, the band are off on a 14-date national tour which is entirely sold out bar one show. Boerdam is gobsmacked, to put it lightly.

“We definitely didn’t expect it to be as big as it’s become – last time we were in Melbourne we did The Corner Hotel – and I was really happy with that. We were used to doing 200-300 capacity rooms, and now we’re doing The Hi Fi Bar (capacity approx 650) – and the Hi Fi show sold out in 10 minutes, the second show sold out in 15 minutes, and I was like, ‘Holy shit – where are these people coming from?’ So, couldn’t be more stoked… really pumped.”

Before playing their own shows here, the band is bringing their guitar rock to the eclectic Circo festival line-up.

“Yeah, we’re really pumped,” Boerdam enthuses. “There’s a band called DMA’s who are about the same level we’re at, and that guy from Bloc Party – Kele – so it’s pretty diverse. I think it’s gonna be a good one.”

If there are any regrets, Boerdam says it’s not being able to hang out down South for the five days between dates.

“Oh we want to, we want to – but the way it all came together logistically was – I hope I’m not gonna get us in trouble here, but originally we said nah to Circo, because of our Perth show – we just wanted to focus on the tour. Then we thought, ‘hey we should do that festival’, and obviously flights to Perth ain’t cheap. So it’s just worked out that way, frustratingly, because we’d love to spend four days. We’re starting the tour the following Wednesday so, (laughs) we gotta fly in for Circo, then fly back to Brisbane, then fly back to Perth again!

“We love West Australia – Best. Beaches. Ever! We played down at Southbound, and we had a pretty early slot, then got in the van and went straight to the beach and lazed all afternoon. It was kind of humiliating in a way – we’re from Queensland, so we’re used to some pretty good beaches… we came back and said, ‘well, they’ve definitely got one up on us there’. They’re incredible!’”