I can’t remember where or when I first heard the song Do You Really Wanna Know by Aussie punk Brat Farrar, but I had a note on my phone about a cross between The Replacements and Teenage Jesus and the Jerks so I made sure I followed up.
Soon after I learned that a local indie label from right here in my hometown Yeah Right! was gong to be releasing a Brat Farrar single. I took that as a sign and through the magic of social media and a few Twitter messages later I was on the trail of Sam Agostino (he is Brat Farrar recording, but tours with a rhythm section). So it seems like it was meant to be that I reach out to find out a bit more about yet another sizzling Aussie act.
Sam is a veteran of the Australian punk scene with a resume that includes the Russian Roulettes, Digger and The Pussycats, the Kamikaze Trio, Pistons Misfire and the Grannykillers. As Brat Farrar he’s writing, playing, recording, mixing and mastering everything himself, and it’s impossible to nail him down – post-punk, new wave, garage, krautrock it’s all there and it’s sounds as good now as it would’ve in 1979. With two full-length records and a bunch of singles behind him now, Brat Farrar’s snotty, sneery, drum machine punk racket needs to be heard.
People say I sound like….
Jay Reatard, The Spits, Wire, The Screamers, The Wipers. Some people say it sounds like shit.
I am originally from…..
the countryside just outside of Melbourne, Australia
What music has had an influence on your sound?
All sorts of stuff. I like a lot of drum machine cold wave stuff and I especially like punk rock. I really enjoy the repetitiveness of Krautrock. Lots of Melbourne bands that have come and gone over the years too.
Tell us about your live show…
I have a three-piece live band. Bass, drums and guitar. It involves a lot of jumping around, a few jokes and beer drinking. I tried doing the live show a bit more like the record, with drum machines and stuff but I didn’t like it as much. I like seeing a band.
Is Rock dead like Gene Simmons says?
I don’t think so. One time I was playing at a festival and I was trying to get the attention of the guy behind the bar. I casually said to the guy next to me, “When’s this bum gonna take our drink orders?” The guy next to me just looked horrified and said, “you know that’s Gene Simmons right?” How was I to know. He wasn’t wearing any make up. He just looked like stage crew! Haha I’m fucking hopeless. I didn’t see him drinking so maybe he was trying to bring Rock back to life back there.
What do you make of the music industry right now?
I think it’s the most exciting it has been ever. Anyone can make music and get it heard by a big audience. Its taken the power away from a small group of organisations that had the ability to get music in front of a wide audience.
Tell us about the scene in Australia. Who is your favourite band/artist from Australia right now?
The scene in Australia and especially in Melbourne is always pretty amazing. On any night in Melbourne there will be 200 bands playing shows around town. In the garage and punk circles there are a couple of unique scenes and they are always exciting. Some of my favourite bands from Melbourne right now are Kids of Zoo, Motel Love, Space Junk, Midnight Woolf, River of Snakes and Presto. I could keep naming bands, there are so many. Then there are people like Kim Salmon from The Scientists and Spencer P Jones from Beasts of Bourbon, they are always great and pretty much play every two weeks. Cosmic Psychos play every now and again too.
How does the city’s or country’s musical history, or landscape influence your sound?
The spirit of what it means to be an Australian band definitely influences a lot of things I do. Most of the band scene in Australia is still in pubs and its a bit rough around the edges. It’s great! When you see a band in Melbourne people pretty much always yell out and interact. It can be a bit unnerving for overseas acts that play here. They think that the crowd is heckling them, but it’s just the Australian way. I guess the other big thing that influences Australian musicians is that really its impossible to make a living playing music if you stay in Australia, so people just play whatever the hell they like and most people aren’t influenced by sales or big crowds. It’s happened for years and years and it really means that people stay pretty close to their ground. In Melbourne no two bands sound the same. Everyone is aiming to do their own thing, even if its hard to get people into your sound.
What influences you lyrically?
Lyrically I just stay pretty abstract these days. In other bands I’ve played in I’ve gone for more of a straight forward story but with Brat Farrar it’s all a bit vague. I guess I’m influenced by whats going around me and stories people tell me. The usual stuff.
How did you hook up with Yeah Right! in Canada?
Tony bought some Brat Farrar records and I sent him an email to say hi. We got talking and then before long we were talking about a release. I’m pretty excited to be putting out a record with Yeah Right!. It’s a great label and I’ve never released anything in Canada, I’ve never even been to Canada. I imagine that Canada is a lot like Australia. A Commonwealth country. I’ve been told that the music scene there is pretty good too. I’d really love to play some gigs there.
If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it be?
It would have been great to see Hendrix! It would have been cool to be in the United States in the early 1980s and see Black Flag, Husker Du, Sonic Youth, Wipers and all the early 80s underground bands.
Growing up, at home I listened to…..
As a teenager I listened to Nirvana, Hendrix and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. As a really little kid I loved Michael Jackson.
What tunes are currently on heavy rotation for you…I am obsessed with a band from Toronto called Teledrome! Their record is amazing! Its been my favourite record of the last few years. Awesome.
If you could open for any band right now who would that be and why?
Reigning Sound, Hex Dispensers, The Spits, Teledrome… I love them all.
If you could only bring ONE record in the tour van what would it be?
Loaded by The Velvet Underground
When you’re not playing and have some time off, where could we find you…
I live in Brunswick which is a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. It’s a cool neighbourhood with a few great pubs and bars. It’s slowly becoming a bit of a happening place. Lots of great places to eat and a few cool record stores opening up. In Melbourne bands pretty much play every week or second week so it’s never too far between gigs. Besides that I’m in my home studio either making new Brat Farrar music or mastering records for other people.
The one thing I want you to remember while you’re listening to my music….is that it has been made for you to enjoy.
(This one’s from my daughter) What’s your favourite finger? Why?
This is probably the most serious interview question I have ever been asked! I love them all and I wouldn’t want to lose any of them. I have a soft spot for the middle one, it’s the naughty finger.
What’s up for 2015/2016?
I’m going to put out the single with Yeah Right! and another with Hound Gawd records. At the end of the year I’m hoping to put out a singles comp of all the 45s that have come out over the last little bit. And hopefully Brat Farrar record #3 early next year. Then a European tour mid next year. Maybe some shows in Canada if I’m really lucky.
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