- by Matt Dunn
Australia has spawned a plethora of great bands in recent years. One that has particularly caught my eye is a band from Melbourne called Terry. Terry is somewhat of a super group of Australian musicians. The band features members of bands like Total Control, UV Race, Dick Diver, Primo! and Constant Mongrel. The band has a bit of a cowboy/cowgirl image and seems to enjoy switching up the genres a bit. The songs fluctuate between punk, new wave, folk, indie pop and sometimes even the classic pop music of bands like Abba. Terry released their new album I’m Terry August 31st on a UK label called Upset The Rhythm. I caught up with half of the band (Amy and Al) recently via Skype to discuss the history of Terry.
Who is in the band Terry?
Al: Al Montfort, Amy Hill, Xanthe Waite, Zephyr Pavey.
Amy: I play bass, Al plays guitar. Xanthe plays guitar and Zephyr plays drums and we all sing.
How did everyone in the band first meet?
Al: I met Amy on a party bus.
Amy: That’s true. About 10 years ago.
Al: It was while my other band UV Race was playing in a town called Geelong which is an hour from Melbourne. We hired a double decker party bus. Instead of getting everyone driving down there, we stuffed all our mates into a party bus. It was a double decker English style bus. We got friends to pay to get on the party bus. We drove down to Geelong and Amy sat behind me.
Amy: We know each other through mutual friends. You’ve known Zephyr for ages haven’t you?
Al: Yeah I’ve known Zephyr forever. Me and Zephyr played in a band.
Amy: And Xanthe was Zephyr’s girlfriend. That’s the two couples in the band.
Al: I’m not sure exactly their romantic meeting story.
How long has Terry been a band for?
Al: Three years I think. It must be three years. We’ve done two LPs. One per year.
Amy: We’re just about to put out a new record though so that makes sense.
When is the new record coming out?
Al: At the end of August on the Upset The Rhythm record label. We just got the master back.
How did you get involved with Upset The Rhythm?
Al: They put on a show for my other bands UV Race and Total Control in London. And Chris was very lovely.
Amy: Yeah, he’s a legend. He’s done such a good job with our records and we’re good friends now. He’s driven us on tour and all sorts of things. He’s a bit of a mad man. But he’s stuck with us now.
Do you have a title for the new album yet?
Al: I’m Terry. I’m not sure if it’s the dumbest title for an album.
My vote is for Terry-dactyl.
Al: Didn’t Andrew WK have a band called The Terry Dactyls from Detroit? He had a garage band in Detroit before he was the party hard guy. He came out and played this festival and he’d do a section where he would play keyboard and he’d ask the audience to name a song and he’d play it. “Request a song I’ll play it!”. He’d try to figure out the words and it was pretty amazing.
Amy: Georgia the saxophone player from The UV Race got up on stage for “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio.
The UV Race is a great band. I especially like the song “Life Park”.
Al: We’re such hacks. We can’t do that live. That’s a studio creation.
Is The UV Race still an active band?
Al: Yeah, Alex who was one of the keyboardists, she left the group. Now we’ve decided to get two keyboard players so we actually have seven people in the band.
Amy: Georgia had a baby. So that put everything a bit on hold.
It seems like there has been an explosion of great bands coming out of Australia. What do you think it is about Australia that makes it such a unique place for music?
Al: I think it’s probably the isolation. We have to do something to make fun. We don’t have as many touring bands dropping by.
Amy: Even within Australia, it’s not that easy to tour the main cities because they are quite far apart. We just went to Perth recently and that’s like a four hour flight. It’s very expensive to go there but it’s an awesome place.
Al: What’s that town near Raleigh, NC that Merge Records is from?
Al: Oh yeah and there’s another bigger one near there too?
Al: My band Dick Diver played in Chapel Hill. We met a guy there and he was calling everything dank. That was the first time we heard Dank. He kept saying this one waffle place was dank as hell.
Was it Waffle House?
Al: No it was some other place. We were all vegetarians and he kept yelling “you gotta get this pulled pork or fried chicken waffle, it’s dank as hell!”
What are some of your favorite bands in Melbourne?
Al: I love Primo. That’s Xanthe and Amy’s other band.
Amy: Pretty close to home.
Al: I do a cassette label and I released a cassette by them. I think they’re the best.
Amy: Parsnip is really good.
Al: Dummkopf is a great song.
Al: Ov Pain, great band. They’re kiwis. They’re from Dunedin, New Zealand but they’re living here now. I think they’re pretty terrific. Native Cats are one of my favorites.
Amy: There’s a lot of great bands here.
Al: There’s a band called The Skids. Not the Scottish Skids but we have a modern band called The Skids here. Lowlife. They’re from Sydney, their LP is pretty amazing. Sex Tourists are such a great band from Sydney. Did you hear the new Native Cats LP? They’re from Tasmania.
Amy: They’ve been around for a long time.
Al: It’s their 4th LP but they’re great. A label from Boston put out the first two called Ride The Snake. This new one is on RIP SOCIETY. So many awesome bands. That’s a good amount thought isn’t it?
What should people check out on their first trip to Melbourne?
Amy: Lulu’s record shop. They have live gigs sometimes on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The Tote is a classic.
Al: It’s kinda like a rock bar. It’s a pub but they have heaps of gigs. It used to be an illegal gambling den. It’s former use was immortalized in a Frank Hardy Book called Power Without Glory. He’s a great Australian writer.
I was curious about the song “Chitter Chatter”. It’s the first song that got me really into Terry. Is there a story behind it?
Al: I wrote the lyrics for that one. It’s kinda about endless paranoia about the media. Conservative media in Australia is pretty insane. Just about every paper is owned by Rupert Murdoch. He owns the biggest newspaper in every major city. He just keeps on peddling hate. It’s really sad. It’s a sad song.
Amy: That song was my riff, Al’s lyrics.
What about the song “Take Me To The City”?
Al: My riff, Amy’s lyrics.
Amy: But we kinda wrote that together. It’s just about the idea of someone going out to the city to have a good time and not get hassled. Just a fun song about having a good time.
Is Terry ever planning to tour in the United States?
Amy: It’s too expensive. We’d have to get visas and it costs 2 and a half grand in US dollars.
Al: Not unless we get offered heaps of money.
Amy: We’ve looked into it a few times and it just hasn’t been financially viable. Unless we did a really long tour.
Al: We could do Canada or Mexico maybe. I think it’s cheaper.
Has Terry toured all over Europe?
Al: We’ve done two Europeans tours.
Amy: We’ve gone to quite a few places. But not everywhere.
What’s are some of your favorite places to play in Europe?
Amy: One of the highlights for me was playing in Dublin, Ireland. It was great and all the people were so lovely. We had a really good show in Bordeaux, France. It was probably the hottest venue I’ve ever played in. But everyone was just so into it. it was great. They have a few really good squats in France and people do an amazing job of setting it up. Really nice community vibe.
Al: It’s pretty inspirational going over and seeing how they work together.
Al, are there any future plans for your other band Total Control?
Al: More new songs. We hope to record another EP or album. That’s the immediate plan. We aren’t good at planning too far ahead. We’re playing at the Sydney Opera House in June.
What are some of your favorite venues to play in Melbourne?
Al: The Tote is great. We played in a record shop yesterday called Record Paradise. They’re great.
Amy: There’s a few different record shops around that do smaller shows and in store performances which is really cool for people who have albums coming out and those are always really fun gigs. But mainly The Tote is our favorite.
Have you played any shows with The Gooch Palms?
Al: We never played with them. They’re from Newcastle.
Amy: They played at one of those Cuca Cabana shows but I think that might have been with my other band Constant Mongrel. We did a record on a label from Philadelphia called Siltbreeze. We’ve got a new one coming out soon on Anti Fade records. Billy from Anti Fade is a consummate professional. In that place Geelong we mentioned a few times, he created a really great scene down there and organized heaps of shows. He put out a lot of music and recorded bands. He’s like a Melbourne legend.
Is everyone in the band originally from Melbourne?
Amy: I’m from New Zealand.
Al: Zephyr and Xanthe are from Sydney. I’m the only one born in Melbourne. I’m the only true one.
Is Melbourne the best city to visit on a first trip to Australia?
Al: You probably wanna go to Belarus or The Great Barrier Reef while you still can before it disappears from bleaching and global warming.
Amy: It’s a pretty amazing country full of beautiful sights but as far as cities go, I’d say Sydney.
Al: It’s got an amazing music scene.
Amy: And all the beaches.
Al: And the weather’s better. The weather’s better everywhere but Melbourne.
Are there really a lot of deadly animals in Australia?
Amy: Sharks, spiders. I’ve only seen a snake once in the 11 years I’ve lived here. You’ll see spiders but the ones in the cities aren’t dangerous.
Do you find that people often have a cartoonish view of Australia?
Amy: I guess so because people have this idea of Australia from Crocodile Dundee and Croc hunter and stuff like that. What do you know about Australia culture wise?
I did try vegemite. I wasn’t keen on the taste.
Al: How would you describe the taste?
It has a salty weird taste. Leroy from The Gooch Palms told me I didn’t eat it right. He said I needed to eat it some tomato and an avocado. What do you think is the best way to eat vegemite?
Al: Lots of butter or margarine. Lather it on.
Amy: But not too much.
Al: We have these things called cheesy mite scrolls. It’s like cheese and vegemite together in a bread roll. You get them from a bakery.
Is it true they don’t eat peanut butter and jelly in Australia?
Al: Yeah that’s crazy. That’s a crazy thing to do!
What’s wrong with peanut butter and jelly??
Al: Well we don’t call it jelly here. We call it jam.
Amy: Some people probably would. But it’s not common.
Al: What you call jello we call jelly. So imagine a peanut butter and jello sandwich. Peanut butter and jam? Nah.
Amy: Not for me.
Al: It’s too sweet. I think the food over in America is sweeter.
Do you see koalas and kangaroos everywhere in Australia?
Al: You don’t see many koalas.
Amy: There’s some places you could go and see a koala in the wild. Or in the zoo. But kangaroos you see everywhere once you leave the city. Sometimes I see dead ones on the side of the road. They are pretty big. You don’t wanna hit a kangaroo.
They aren’t actually very friendly are they?
Amy: Oh yeah they kill people. They have really sharp claws. They rip your guts open with their back feet claws. There was a woman jogging not too long ago and she got killed by a kangaroo because they can be massive.
Al: I just thought of 53rd and 3rd. The first time I went to America with Straightjacket Nation. We were in NYC and we went to the Museum of Modern Art. I realized it was close to 53rd and 3rd. I left the gang. Nobody had mobile phones in the band and everybody had thought I died. I’d gone to 53rd and 3rd to get a photo. There wasn’t much there actually. It was very boring.
Who came up with the cowgirl/cowboy image of the band?
Al: That’s just how we dress everyday.
Amy: I’ve always been into country music. I like the style of older country music. I’ve got another band called The Sleepless Nights. We pretend to play country music but we’re not very good at our instruments.
Al: Yeah, Amy has always dressed a little bit country and western.
Amy: We wanted to dress up because it’s just fun. and we just ended up going in that direction.
Al: We’re working on a new look. Any recommendations?
I was thinking maybe a Sci-fi band from outer space.
Al: I’ve got all these props left over from the 2nd UV Race film which is set in space so we could use those props.
What was this UV Race film called?
Al: Do you want me to read out the blurb for you? “Autonomy and Deliberation is a feature length film written directed and starring Johann Rashid and The UV Race. Autonomy and Deliberation is the most important film of 2012. Featuring many cameos from some of the finest in Melbourne music including members of School of Radiant Living, Twerps, Boomgates, Total Control, Lost Animal, Dick Diver, and Woollen Kits. Filmed in many scenic Melbourne and rural Victorian locations. This is a film about music. The redemptive quality of a good song.”
Who came up with the name Terry?
Al: I think that’s my fault.
Amy: When we started playing we thought “let’s do a band, it’ll be fun.” We thought we could tour together and go on holiday. We originally wanted to call the band The Speedies.
Al: Then we realized there was a New York power band from the 70s called The Speedies.
Amy: And then Al was just like “What about Terry?” and we were like “ugh!” but when we kept going over it, we were like “That’s the one!”
If Terry could do any commercial endorsement, what would you pick?
Al: I think about this a lot. It would for the game Yahtzee.
Amy: Or Boggle.
Al: Terry plays boggle!
Al: Vitamin water if 50 cent was still involved. Maybe Yamaha because they produce so many different things. We could get guitars. Drums.
Amy: What about nudie suits?
Al: Oh yeah, like those suits that were tailored for the country and western singers. Like the suits Porter Wagner used to wear.
Amy: The tailor who made them was named nudie.
Did Terry actually form in Mexico?
Amy: We went to Mexico City on holiday after a Total Control tour. Xanthe and I met up with Zephyr and Al. Al got really sick with tonsillitis because he had been on tour for 2 months. So we had an interesting time in Mexico and we were like “let’s start playing in a band so we can come and tour Mexico together.” Zep and Xanthe went home and then we went to Oaxaca for about a week. It was a short little trip mainly just to eat food. Even though Al couldn’t eat because he was so sick.
Have you played a lot of festival shows?
Al: We played a festival called Meredith Music Festival.
Amy: That’s a big camping festival in Melbourne. There’s two that are run from the same place Meredith and Golden Plains. One is in September and the other one is in March.
Al: One is about 8000 and the other is 10000 people.
Amy: That’s a pretty awesome fest. Boogie Fest is a bit smaller. Also Into The Wide Fest in Brisbane.
Al: Maggot Fest.
Amy: Maggot Fest is a classic Melbourne punk festival
al: nag nag nag fest.
Amy: thats’ like the sydney verison i guess.
What was it like playing a BBC radio session with Marc Riley from The Fall?
Amy: That was cool.
Al: I was a bit star struck.
Amy: He was lovely.
Al: Yeah he was so nice. I’m pretty obsessed with The Fall so I was just like scared. He couldn’t really understand what we were saying. I don’t think he could understand our accents.
Amy: The whole experience was a little bit weird. Not in a bad way but a bit like we’d say something and he’d be like “uh huh” like he didn’t understand.
Al: my guitar amp turned off. that was embarrassing. It was cool to say we played on the BBC.
Amy: we had a bit of trouble getting in there didn’t we?
Al: Yeah, it was confusing.
What is the BBC studio like? Is it big?
Amy: That was in Manchester. It wasn’t huge. It was in a big complex but the actual studio wasn’t really big. But everyone was super nice.
Al: The set up at our location community radio station is fancier than what they had.
Have you done any radio or TV gigs like Top Of The Pops?
Al: That would be great. Can you imagine Terry on top of the pops.
What are the talk shows like in Australia?
Amy: There’s a late night music show here called Rage which has guest programmers. Touring bands will sit on the couch and play the bands they like. Probably the main music thing here.
Al: They’ll play music videos for four hours or so. Whatever the time is now, if you were in Australia and you just got home from a show or something. You’d watch Rage until 3 or 4 in the morning until you pass out on the couch.
Would Terry ever do the show Rage? What music video would you have to play?
Al: I think about it all the time. I picture myself on the couch all the time requesting things. That band Royal Headache guest programmed and that was the best thing ever.
Amy: Because you get to go through their archives of all the stuff they have.
Al: I’d play The Bill Wyman (bass player for The Rolling Stones) video for “Je Suis Un Rock Star”.
Amy: It’s outrageous! You’ve gotta see it!
Al: It’s a pop song from 1981. I think it was a number one. It was even before Jagger and Richards had their solo records I think.
How long does it take to record a Terry music video?
Al: All in about a day.
Amy: We do it all ourselves. It’s pretty unprofessional which you’ve probably noticed. We pretty much just get it all together. We did get someone to film “Take Me To The City”. It doesn’t take long. We certainly don’t really put a lot of budget into it. We kinda do everything ourselves. We don’t like applying for grants or use record label money.
Al: Up until the last record, we recorded everything ourselves as well.
Did Terry play with NOTS when they toured Australia?
Al: Yeah we did. it was great. They tour a lot don’t they? Total Control played in Washington DC and Ian MacKaye came.
Where should people go online to hear Terry’s music?
Al: Bandcamp or YouTube.
I’ve heard that Danzig won’t autograph bootlegs if a fans asks him too. If someone had a Terry bootleg, would you autograph it?
Al: Yeah, probably.
Amy: I’d love that. Bootleg away. I’d say good on ya.