It’s hard to even talk about Ausmuteants without sounding like a raving madman or a dedicated music nerd. They have this really cool sound that boarders on the early 80’s disco synth that permeated mainstream and an extremely dirty post-punk snarl to offset the dissonant pop melodies and infectious synth lines. I’m not usually too much for bands that are big on synth but the seemingly random madness of Ausmuteants really sweeps me off of my feet every time I hear it. There’s a healthy dose of The Mummies lo-fi, take it as it is approach to recording music that has slowly evolved throughout Ausmuteants back catalog that’s extremely interesting to hear. Coming from Australia these days most of the stuff that you hear about is either dead ahead punk rock or some serious retro-psych but Ausmuteants are out there doing their own thing and they’re doing it damned well. The synthesizer feels a lot more like a keyboard or something warbling and spouting off these deranged melodies that crumble and implode on themselves dissolving back into the catchy harmonies and beats of the songs. I dare you to listen to this music and not tap your foot. Guitar freaks have no fear either as there’s some seriously gnarly fuzzed out guitar gurgling and chocking, sputtering out these mangled post-punk riffs the entire time the bass and drums must be interwoven in some sort of ancient ritual, because they are summoning the thunder! With such a strange, seeming hodge-podge of influences and such a brash approach to the creation of most of their music Ausmuteants could be just another one of those dime-a-dozen post-punk bands wallowing in their own well deserved obscurity, instead they’re brazenly burning their own trail into the treacherous Aussie to international music scene and casting their vote for wildly original music garnering a dedicated listening base, rather than caving to some absurd notion of appealing to everyone. If you need some Spits, Chrome or The Screamers in your life and have long since exhausted their back catalog but need something more, something new, something new and individual I suggest you give the links below a listen because this is going to be right up your alley… One of the Kurts had some time while waiting for the Metro lately and had a chance to fill us in on what we’re missing so dig it brothers and sisters, Ausmuteants!
Listen while you read: https://soundcloud.com/ausmuteants
What is Ausmuteants lineup right now? Is this the original lineup or have you all made any changes over time?
Kurt: Synth, singing
I love trying to figure out what other bands people have been in but I have to admit that nothing beats cheating… Are any of you in any other active bands at this point? Have you released any music with anyone else in the past? If so can you tell us a little bit about that?
Kurt (synth/singing): Frowning Clouds, Leather Towel, Wet Blankets, Hierophants, School Damage, The Solid Beam, Frenzal Rhomb, Cleaners From Venus. Kurt: Living Eyes, Wet Blankets, String Theory, Anti Fade (label). Kurt: Bonniwells, Cancer, Councilor of Aging, Pink Muscle, Saliva Twist. Kurt: Eye Gouge, Love Shy, Anarchoi, Regurgitator
Where are you originally from?
Kurt (synth/singing): Central Coast of New South Wales / Geelong / Wellington / Canberra.
What was the local music scene like where you grew up? Did you see a lot of shows when you were growing up? Do you feel like it played a large role in shaping your musical tastes or the way that you play today?
Kurt (synth/singing): I and Kurt (guitar) used to go to a lot of hardcore punk shows held at local PCYC’s (Police Citizen’s Youth Club) because they were all ages and we’d see bands like Straight Jacket play with touring bands like the Regulations and Limp Wrist. Then the dumpster diving dreadlock’s kinda did my head in and I stopped going to those shows.
Was your home musical at all? Were either your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely involved or interested in music?
Kurt (synth/singing): Kurt (drums)’s dad used to play in the Geelong band BORED!, he has a very good record collection. Kurt (bass)’s dad likes some of our statuses on Facebook, so he knows what’s up. Kurt (guitar)’s dad likes to buy TV series and throw out the covers. My dad is really into bands like The Kinks, The Who and lots of old blues guys. I’m sure all of them had a very big influence on what we do.
What do you consider your first real exposure to music?
Kurt (synth/singing): AC/DC Powerage tour, 1978 on the Australian program RAGE.
If you had to pick one defining moment of music that changed everything for you, a moment that opened your eyes to the infinite possibilities of music and blew the gates of perception open, what would it be?
Kurt (synth/singing): The solo in Freebird.
When and why did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?
Kurt (synth/singing): Chicks love wimpy guys with feelings.
What was you first instrument? When and how did you get it?
Kurt (synth/singing): Onyx Strat copy for Christmas 1996.
When and how did the band meet?
Kurt (synth/singing): When I moved to Geelong and joined Frowning Clouds I met all the other Kurts. Originally we thought we would start a band called The Kurts, because it was uncanny that we all had the same first name. But the idea got old very quickly.
What led to the formation of Ausmuteants and when was that?
Kurt (synth/singing): Kurt (drums) and I were just sick of all the three chord garage music in our home town. It kind of lost its spark. Being a longtime fan of The Screamers and Chrome and beginning to find an interest in disco, I thought we’d try something different. The other two were into a mixture of hardcore, post punk and disco. Also we all had the same name.
Is there any shared creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?
Kurt (synth/singing): No fat chicks.
I’ve only ever read your name and I must admit that I think I know how it’s supposed to be pronounced but I’ve still not quite wrapped my head around the intended meaning of the name. What does the name Ausmuteants mean or refer to? Who came up with it and how did you go about choosing it?
Kurt (synth/singing): We were playing music sometime in 2011, and afterwards we were sitting around drinking some tang while listening to Os Mutantes. We thought it would be funny to rip off their name but make it AUSSIE.
Where’s Ausmuteants located at these days?
Kurt (synth/singing): Geelong / Melbourne – OSTRALIA (Australia).
What’s the local music scene like there?
Kurt (synth/singing): Better than most places.
Are you very involved in the local music scene? Do you book or attend a lot of shows?
Kurt (synth/singing): I used to go to a lot of shows, but I play a lot of shows. So now I can’t really be bothered as much. I like to see friend’s bands and I’ll always try to make it to an outta town band that I like, or a local Total Control/Constant Mongrel show.
Do you help to record and or release any local music? If so can you talk briefly about that?
Kurt (synth/singing): That’s mainly Kurt (drums). We usually get our friend Mikey to do it. Tom (The Wuss) Hardisty is also the other head honcho in Australia when it comes to recording.
Do you feel like the local music scene has played a large or important role in shaping the way that you all sound or in the history of Ausmuteants, or do you think you all could be doing what you’re doing and sound like you do regardless of your location and surroundings?
Kurt (synth/singing): I think seeing Total Control in 2009 definitely had one of those “Hey, they are playing good music that isn’t about loving/hating girls, maybe I can try that” effect on me. We have all been into weirdo post punk type music for a while, so we would probably still be doing a similar thing.
I am coming to terms with the fact that I’m not awful at it, but I somehow feel like I’m selling a band short or something when I try and describe their sound with our giving them an opportunity to speak for themselves. I just feel like whatever I see in the music is going to be muddied by my own perceptions, interests and stuff. How would your describe Ausmuteants sound in your own words to our readers who might not have heard you before?
Kurt (synth/singing): Fake synth punk.
Can you tell us who some of your major musical influences are? What about influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?
Kurt (synth/singing): Individually: bands from Killed By Death, Can’t Stop It, Messthetics, compilations… Country Teasers, The Fall, Chrome and John Douglas. As a band: Chrome, The Screamers, Ramones and Regurgitator.
Can you tell us a little bit about Ausmuteants’ songwriting process? Is there someone who comes to the rest of the band with a riff or more complete idea to work out and finish with the rest of the band? Or is there a lot of jamming that takes place amongst the band that you all work out and distill into a song over a process of exchange among the band?
Kurt (synth/singing): For the stuff that’s already been released, generally it’s me or Kurt (drums), but the newer stuff it has more of a band feel. It’s better that way.
Do you all enjoy recording? As a musician myself I think that most of us can really appreciate the end result. Holding an album in your hands is one of the greatest feelings in the world, but getting there, actually getting everything recorded and sounding the way that you want, well that’s a horse of another color. How is it recording for Ausmuteants?
Kurt (synth/singing): Recording Ausmuteants is fun. We just have delicious food, and sometimes Kurt (guitar) brings pornos.
Do you all do your own recording DIY style with your own equipment and personnel or do you utilize studio environments when recording?
Kurt (synth/singing): Yeah, sometimes. Sometimes I forget that I have a 4-track.
Is there a lot of prep work that goes into a recording session for Ausmuteants where you get all the changes and the arrangement worked out just the way you want it? Or is the recording process more of a flexible one where things have a little bit of room to change and evolve?
Kurt (synth/singing): Nah, we have a practice or two the week before. Then we work out all the four-part harmonies and record each note individually so we can give each note its own EQ. Our Amusements album had four-hundred and fifty-six tracks per song with at least eleven different plug-ins on each track.
Can we talk a little bit about your back catalog now? Your debut release was a full-length for ANTI FADE records, Split Personalities which was originally released as a ultra-limited cassette and later released as a still pretty limited run of 100 CD-Rs. Was the recording of the material for Split Personalities very different than your earlier single? Was it a fun, pleasurable experience for you all? Who recorded this material? When was that recorded? Where was that recorded at and what kind of equipment was used?
Kurt (synth/singing): I think it was recorded early 2011, maybe May or June. Very pleasurable. This is just Kurt (drums) and me. It was recorded on a couple of different 4-tracks that Kurt (drums) had. I can’t remember what they were called. We mixed it all on the free program Audacity. I remember we miced up the snare through a fuzz pedal, into a small practice amp and recorded the first song while on the phone to my mum. It was limited to 33 copies, later done on CD in an edition of 100; we may have some copies left.
You released the Ah… What An Ugly Face Every Face Is 7” in 2012 for Heinous Anus Records. Was that a limited release or is it still in print? If it was limited do you know how many copies it was limited to? Can you tell us a little bit about the recording of the material for that single? Where and when was it recorded? Who recorded it? What kind of equipment was used?
Kurt (synth/singing): Ah… What an Ugly Face Every Face Is. This is just Kurt (drums) and me again. These songs are recorded the same way as the previous cassette, maybe on a better 4-track? But we put a lot more time into them. I think they sound pretty good for what they are. I bugged Will and Lincoln who play in Housewives, the best band in Sydney, and also run Heinous Anus Records to put out the 7”… I didn’t even have to convince them, which I found odd. The best part about this 7” is that Sam Wallman the best artist in Australia, did the artwork for it. Limited to 300.
You started off 2013 strong with the awesomely titled 100 Ausmuteants Fans Can't Be Wrong... 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can single again for ANTI FADE records. Did you all write the four songs that made up 100 Ausmuteants Fans Can't Be Wrong... 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can specifically for the single or had they been around for a while looking for a home? Can you tell us about the recording of that material? Is that a limited release and if so do you know how many copies it’s limited to?
Kurt (synth/singing): Kurt (guitar) brought a porno to the recording session. These songs all originally appeared on the Split Personalities tape but were rerecorded with the whole band and Mikey Young, you know what bands he plays in, because we thought he could make them sound better. We were right, as per usual. Although I think somewhere in between the two would be best, the new ones were pretty polished. Limited to 300 copies again.
You also released your sophomore full-length Amusements on Aarght! And Agitated Records last year (2013). Did you all try anything new or radically different when it came to the songwriting or recording for Amusements? What can our readers expect from Amusements? I know a lot of Aarght!’s stuff is limited to a couple of hundred pieces, if that the case with Amusements?
Kurt (synth/singing): I wanted to have a mix of songs that ranged from disco to post punk. I tried not to blatantly rip things off, but post-recording I’ve realized that Duran Duran and The Monks have been pretty heavily plagiarized in the songs “Flushing Problems” and “Bad day”. “Bad Day” originally came from me trying to do a weird synth version of The Kinks “You Really Got Me” and “Flushing Problems” was me trying to do a Spits song with a disco beat. Recorded in the same session as the Bon Jovi 7”, two days in Geelong with Mikey, where we recorded twenty-three songs, most of them done live. We overdubbed the right hand of keyboard and vocals though. We originally wanted to release all twenty-three songs on different 7”s and an album but a range of friends with music know-how advised us to not release garbage. My friend John Fitness was very honest in what he liked and disliked. Stan Richardly from Aarght Records was a huge help in making this record better. He spent lots of time arguing with us as to why certain songs needed to be dropped and spent weeks helping us arrange the album so it flowed better. I think this album is as good as it could be for our first album, despite having some songs I wish I never wrote; “Stepped In Shit”. I think the next one will be recorded a bit grittier, I think we were all just trying to go for a real hi-fi kind of sound because lo-fi has been done to death. Maybe we’ll settle on a nice medium from now on. Aarght did 600 LPs and Agitated did 300 CDs maybe? I’m not sure of the number, sorry.
Where and when was the material for Amusements recorded? Who recorded it? What kind of equipment was used?
Kurt (synth/singing): Allen Kelly’s studio in Geelong. 2012. Mikey Young. He used a Sebotron and Logic with some nice mics and a nice attitude.
You are just getting ready to drop a 7” on Goodbye Boozy Records one of the absolutely best labels going on out there. Can you tell us what’s going to be on there and when it’s scheduled for release?
Kurt (synth/singing): Gonna be out in a month. Also got a 7” coming out on Easter Bilby Records pretty soon. The Goodbye Boozy release is called, Felix Tried to Kill Himself. I had glandular fever (mono) when on a European with my other band Frowning Clouds. On the plane home I felt like killing myself. I watched the movie The Odd Couple with Walter Mattau, Tom Hardisty’s doppelganger, and Jack Lemon. There’s a scene in the movie where Felix (Jack Lemon) loses his wife and job in the same day and tries to kill himself several times while his friends are playing a game of poker. It made me feel better, so I wrote a song about it. The recording is just me and Kurt (drums) recording at Kurt’s house on his new Sebotron interface and Logic pro, a step up from Audacity, huh? But because it’s such a small run, I feel we’ll rerecord both songs with the whole band for the next album.
Does Ausmuteants have any music that we haven’t talked about? Maybe a single, or a song on a compilation that I might have missed?
Kurt (synth/singing): There’s a song on Anti Fade’s compilation New Centre Of The Universe I can’t remember what the song is called, but it fucking sucks. Don’t bother with it. The comp is pretty good though. We did a bunch of covers early on, just after the Cassette. We were going to release them on a cassette, but then we realized that they were so much shitter than the originals that what’s the point?
With the release of the Amusements album late in 2013 you all were so busy with other stuff you didn’t get a chance to do a proper album release show for almost four months. Considering how busy you all are, is there anything in the works or planned as far as upcoming releases go or are you all taking it easy for a while maybe working on some new material and or working with other projects?
Kurt (synth/singing): We’re all busy with other bands. Frowning Clouds had an album released the same month as Amusements. Four of our bands are simultaneously releasing 7”s with Goodbye Boozy. Hierophants are recording an album next week. Living Eyes recorded an album last week. Leather Towel just mastered our album last week. Everybody wants to play shows. Touring takes time. Can’t please everybody.
With the completely insane international postage rate increases that have gone on the last few years I try to provide our readers with as many possible options for picking up import releases as I can. Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up your stuff?
What about our international and overseas readers?
Kurt (synth/singing): Saturno Records.
And where’s the best place for our readers to keep up on the latest news from Ausmuteants like upcoming shows and album releases at?
Kurt (synth/singing): The YOGHURT BLOOD Facebook.
Are there any major goals or anything that Ausmuteants is looking to accomplish in 2014?
Kurt (synth/singing): Spend more time with our girlfriends / give up music.
Do you remember what the first song that Ausmuteants ever played live was? Where and when would that have been at?
Kurt (synth/singing): Our first show was in Queensland two states away, with COBWEBBS, Keep on Dancin’s, Hierophants, Bonniwells and Living Eyes. We had only practiced once and we played four songs. From memory they were “Bushfire”, “Sugar Coated Speeches” (dud song), “Morse Code” and “Carbon Monoxide”.
Does Ausmuteants spend a lot of time out on the road touring? Do you enjoy life out on the road? What’s life like with Ausmuteants on tour?
Kurt (synth/singing): We enjoy it. But we rarely do it.
What if anything, do you all have planned as far as touring goes for 2014?
Kurt (synth/singing): Would love to go to America, but 2015 is definitely more doable.
Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with?
Kurt (synth/singing): The Real Numbers, Constant Mongrel (Interview here), Nun, UV Race, Total Control, Straight Arrows, Tyvek, Nobunny was surprisingly good, Pronto, Multiple Man, Useless Eaters, Cobwebbs… There’s a bunch. We try not to play with bands we don’t like.
In your dreams, who are you on tour with?
Kurt (synth/singing): Kate Bush.
Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?
Kurt (synth/singing): One time we played with our shirts off.
Do you give a lot of thought to the visual aspects of the band, like artwork that represent you on flyers, posters and cover artwork, that kind of thing? Do you have any defecto or go-to artists that you turn to with those kinds of needs? If so, who is that and how did you originally get hooked up with them?
Kurt (synth/singing): Sam Wallman’s artwork on the first 7” was killer. We like to keep it black and white. I love the artwork that bands on either side of punk (proto/post) did. Real shitty photocopies. Think The Gizmos, early Tuxedomoon, Crime, Television Personalities, Swell Maps… Y’know, I don’t need to name drop more.
Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music? With all of the various methods of release available to artists today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the methods that they do. What about then you’re listening to and or purchasing music? If so, why?
Kurt (synth/singing): I don’t think this question makes sense. But I’ll give it a shot. I prefer releasing music on vinyl. Because
a) it sounds the best
b) it feels great holding it
c) it is expensive to press, so you don’t want to release throw away garbage
d) you get what you pay for
I like to buy it because of points a b and c. I think cassettes sound pretty good, but I never play them and don’t like releasing them for that reason. I have no problem with digital files. I listen to my iPod all the time and it sounds fine.
Do you have a music collection at all? If you do, can you tell us a little about it?
Kurt (synth/singing): All of us have a pretty big record collections with most of the names I’ve already dropped. After rent, I probably spend the remaining money from my paychecks on records and food.
I grew up around a pretty large collection of music and it seemed simply endless when I was a kid. I was encouraged from a pretty young age to listen to and enjoy it and I remember wandering up to these endless shelves of music and grabbing something completely at random. I would pop it into the player, kick back in the bean bag, read the liner notes, stare at the artwork and let the experience transport me away. Having something real and concrete to hold in my hands always made for a more complete listening experience, and allowed for this rare and brief glimpse inside the minds of the artists responsible for creating it. Do you have any such connection with physically released music?
Kurt (synth/singing): I used to always buy records at random. I very rarely do it now, unless somebody who’s taste I trust (Dan at Distort or John ex Wooly Bully) recommends me it. I’ve also grabbed some random records from this shop in Melbourne called Round and Round. It is hands down the best affordable record store in Australia. If you got the cash, maybe you should check out Vicious Sloth though. Generally I listen online before I buy something, because I’m not made of cash and it is 2014.
If you can’t tell I love my music. But there’s always been one major problem that bothered me more than any other; portability. Digital music has all but eliminated that problem overnight, but the real game changer has been the combination of digital music and the internet. Together they’ve not only exposed people to an entire cosmos of music that they otherwise would never have been aware of and for bands willing to promote an online presence it seems to be somewhat levelling the playing field allowing them to get their stuff out there and interact way more easily with their fan base. On the other hand illegal downloading is running rampant in the industry, or what’s left of it, and the face of what most of us grew up with and consider to be the music industry is rapidly changing to say the least. As an artist during the reign of the digital era what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?
Kurt (synth/singing): I illegally download everything. If the bands care, fuck them. Maybe they should have got a proper job if they care about money. I buy records that are worth buying. The majority of the stuff I download on a whim, I wouldn’t buy because half the time it’s generic.
I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can, but even with all the time that I devote and all the methods that I utilize keeping up with even one-percent of the amazing stuff going on out there is absolutely impossible. Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to that I might not have heard of before?
Kurt (synth/singing): My girlfriend just played me the new recordings of her band Chook Race, Hit Factor #1. As stated earlier, my favourite local bands, apart from the ones I play in, are Total Control and Constant Mongrel. There are hundreds of great ones, and thousands of terrible ones.
What about nationally and internationally?
Kurt (synth/singing): I like a lot of the stuff on Total Punk Records. I just picked up a cool record by Lumpy and The Dumpers which I’ve been spinning a bit lately.
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this, I know ti was extensive but hopefully it something you can look back on it ten years and really have a good document of where the band had been and where you were headed from here, I know it’s been awesome learning so much about the band for me personally! Before we call it a day, is there anything that I possibly could have missed or that you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk about with me or my readers?
Kurt (synth/singing): Nah, I think the forty-eight answers covered most things we’ve done in the past few years! Hopefully some kid misses the train and has a spare two hours to read half of this interview!
ROVE LIVE RULES
(2012) Ausmuteants – Split Personalities – Cassette Tape, CD-R – ANTI FADE records (Cassette tape limited to 33 copies, CD-R limited to 100 hand numbered copies)
(2012) Ausmuteants – Ah… What An Ugly Face Every Face Is – 7” – Heinous Anus (Limited to ? numbered copies)
(2013) Ausmuteants – 100 Ausmuteants Fans Can't Be Wrong... 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can – 7” – ANTI FADE records
(2013) Ausmuteants – Amusements – CD, 12” – Aarght!/Agitated Records
(2014) Ausmuteants – Felix Tried to Kill Himself – 7” – Goodbye Boozy Records (Limited to ? copies)
(2014) Ausmuteants – ? – 7” – Bilby Records (Limited to ? copies)
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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