Ah, Batpiss. The loose trio produced one of the best balltearing releases of the year in the form of Nuclear Winter back in the first half of the year. Yet this interview, conducted with bassist/vocalist Thomy Sloane, was actually conducted back in May, the same time Nathan and I interviewed another excellent Melbourne band White Walls. Why has it taken so long to air? Because I had been holding on to this for their album launch shows up here in July – that never happened. Then I was holding it for when they would launch the album at a Sonic Masala show slated for October 12. But that ain’t happenin either. Why? Because the bloody Nation Blue bloody asked em to bloody support them on a little covert tour, didn’t they? The same day I have a wedding to attend (not my own, but a close friend’s). Fuckers. No, it will be a killer show this Saturday night down at Crowbar (with the excellent Roku Music and new anomaly Greig filling out the bill). So here is the interview. (Yes, Thomy does speak like this; and yes, I laughed a lot).
SONIC MASALA – Hey Tommy, how are you man?
THOMY SLOANE – umm…fucking working on the door (at the Tote) at the moment. So if the band starts Ill ask someone to cover me if it’s too loud.
This is the flyer I saw. OFF! was a dream come true for Black Flag head Thomy...
SM – Cool, Ill get stuck in then. I can’t remember exactly where I had heard of Batpiss originally, because you haven’t been around all that long – it may have been on a flyer that I saw in Melbourne back in February – and so it feel you have leapt out of nowhere to be slaying it down there.
TS – Yeah man, fuckin ahh, it’s pretty new ay? We’re blown out by it all too, we’ve only been doing this for a year and a half. Shit’s just worked out for us, we haven’t really had to do anything, we’ve just been lazy pricks and shit’s just fallen in our laps, which is lucky for us I guess. We’re spun the fuck out over it hey!
SM – (laughs) The funny thing about your album Nuclear Winter is that its brutal but it does sound like there's some kind of manic glee in the entire process, there's no, as full as it can be it is not a serious endeavour…
TS – Totally. There’s nothing serious about us. We get labelled and put alongside these heavy as hell bands, but you listen to the record and…we’re not, you know? We’re the opposite in some ways. There are heavy elements for sure…but I don’t even think its heavy! (laughs) The album itself has real diverse shit in there; some of it’s pop I reckon…
SM – (laughs) Really?
TS – Yeah, yeah. The ‘Loose Screws’ chorus is pretty poppy, same with ‘Portal’ I reckon.
SM – That’s a pretty warped take on pop.
TS – Yeah, pretty much (laughs) Well not pop, but catchy. Catchy can be the word; I don’t wanna be in a pop band, fuck that.
SM – (laughs) Not with a name like Batpiss, that’s for sure! Where did the name come from?
TS – It came from Marty our drummer. We were drunk as shit one night, trying to come up with a band name. We came up with heaps of stupid ones, then that came up. We –
(Noise as the band starts up. The next three minutes is Thomy trying to get someone to take the door; lots of expletives; finally he works something out and things quieten down)
TS – So sorry dude! Where was I? The name? Yeah, so, do you really wanna know the long story?
SM – (laughs) That’s up to you, do you want to tell it?
TS – Ok…(sigh)…I went on this date with this chick at the Tote, and at this time of year bats hang out in the trees. It’s a clear arse night, and I’ve seen them piss on someone before in the beer garden. So that’s happened to me; it was a clear arse night, so it clearly wasn’t rain. And the girl was like “Oh, what was that?” And I was like “Ah, nothing…I'll be back in a sec.” I just live around the corner so I'm fucking running home, ripping my fucking shirt off that’s covered in fucking bat piss, ran back to the pub and ran into Marty, and I was like “Dude, I got pissed on by a bat!” He laughed and said “We’re called Batpiss, that’s it” And yep, that’s it. How good is that?
SM – (laughing)
TS – We came up with heaps of other stupid names afterwards, because it was just a joke at the start. The whole band thing – Marty and I only played songs that went for one minute. Then we got Paul in on guitar, we started writing different shit to suit him, and the name stuck.
SM – So the name literally fell from the sky?
TS – It literally did, and it covered me! (laughs)
SM – So you said you brought Paul in and started changing the dynamic of the band, were there any influences or goals that you had at the very least?
TS – Yeah, well, all three of us love different shit, like Marty our drummer is heaps into doom stuff, and I enjoy old punk rock, Black Flag and all that punk shit, and Paul our guitarist is heaps into blues – he’s one of those dudes who can just play mad shit. So I think it’s just a blend of three different people throwing whatever they want to the mix. There’s no boundaries, like we don’t say “We’ve got fucking do this or fucking sound like this!” We just sit around and fucking jam out, so things start fast and end up slow, that kind of thing. And there’s no real band influences either. If it was anything like that, it’d be local bands around Melbourne I reckon. Just got a dark Melbourne kinda sound, you know? We’re just a bunch of weird cunts, really…
SM – (laughs) Yeah, that you are! It’s funny you should say that, because one of my favourite bands at the moment is The Spinning Rooms, and there’s a certain level of affinity that you guys hold with them too…
TS – Oh majorly man, I reckon those guys are awesome! I actually live with Pete (Dickinson, vox/guitar for The Spinning Rooms). I absolutely love what they do and once again I think they’ve got that real dark underground Melbourne kinda sound, that noisy kinda thing. Whatever they do is fucking rad and I’ve definitely taken influence from them for sure. Mainly the noisy guitar and Pete’s vocals as well.
SM – It’s just something else, isn’t it? I’ve known Tom Lyngcoln since 2011 when I came back from the UK and he was starting up Harmony, who’s a goddamn legend, and…
TS – Who’s that?
SM – Tom Lyngcoln? He did your album?
TS – Oh, yeah, Tom, sorry I couldn’t hear for a second. Yeah he’s a fucking legend.
SM – Yeah, and he recorded the Spinning Rooms stuff, so it’s clearly a sound that he is gravitating towards as well, or at least is searching him out…
TS – Oh majorly man! I don’t know what it is about him hey. He’s got such an ear for good shit. I'm not saying that about us, though, the other stuff he does, including the bands hes in. He’s totally onto it.
SM – He sure is…
TS – And he’s the most humble dude to work with, man. Recording was completely stress free with him. It’s a fucking pleasure to know the guy.
SM – (laughs) He puts his neck out for anyone that he thinks is the real deal, he’s a great guy…
TS – Fucking oath. He’s someone where it’s like if you don’t get along with him, then you must be a fuckwit. (laughs) If you can’t like this guy then there’s something fucking going on with you, mental issues or some shit. He is just a fucking good dude.
SM – Stepping away from the gushing for a second…
TS – (laughs) Yeah, that was getting a bit like that…
SM – You said that Nuclear Winter was an easy recording process, you did it all at the Tote in your rehearsal room, is that right?
TS – Yeah. Well me and Marty work at the Tote, jam here, we know what the room’s like, it’s just around the corner from my house, so why not, you know? It’s where the band fucking started, so we feel at home here. Plus we don’t have to fucking pay any money, which is luck because we haven’t fucking got none, plus all our gear’s here so we don’t have to lug it anywhere. Tom has a portable studio he can take anywhere with him, so he set up a bunch of shit and we recorded it live.
SM – Nuclear Winter kind of sounds live, but it sounds so good. When I heard it was all recorded in the Tote rehearsal rooms, well, I know you can make anything sound good from anywhere I suppose, but it’s a sleeker production that still sounds brutal, like it can break down at any time…
TS – Yeah, it’s got a real roomy sound, not like it’s in a sterile environment like a studio. There’s lots of bleed in it. It’s pretty much how we sound live, and I didn’t want to capture anything else. You know when with bands you see them a bunch of times then you hear the album and it sounds really polished? I wanted the opposite, to say “Nah, this is how we kill it” and press play. I think it’s come out sweet, I'm really happy with it.
SM – With songs like ‘Loose Screws’ that are more straightforward rock tunes, then there are songs that are slower, stretched out, dirge like songs – it’s an album that truly showcases what Batpiss has been able to achieve over the past year.
TS – Totally man, and I think that’s to do with the different stuff we all listen to as well. You can be heavy without being metal, and the riffs on the albums prove that I reckon. It’s good to be diverse, rather than be labelled as a punk band or a whatever band. We play fast paced songs, medium paced shit, it’s all good.
SM – Do you find yourselves being corralled into heavy sets or heavy lineups that don’t really suit you, or sort of diverse acts that don’t really gel together?
TS – Yeah, we get thrown onto lots of doomy sort of shows and that always flips me out because all the bands before us are heavy as fuck, and I'm thinking “Man, we’re gonna sound like the Spice Girls coming after these guys!” I don’t know, I feel we’ve always played shows with different genre bands as well. I prefer to play mixed-genre bills. A good band’s a good band, you don’t have to all sound the same to have a good time. And that’s where I think we’ve branched out to a lot of people as well. A lot of people who listen to country or folk grew up as little punks, everyone’s had their day listening to hardcore shit, and Batpiss might take them back to that. I don’t know…
SM – Well you had a pretty eclectic lineup for your launch too, didn’t you?
TS – Yeah man that was nuts. And once again I think the scene down in Melbourne is so strong dude. Every fucking band is seriously got their A game on. All the bands we picked for that were bands that we’re mates with. We couldn’t do a launch where you have one or two bands support you, we though “Fuck that! We wanna get them all!” So we made a party out of it, and it was off the tap man. Every band was on the money, and we were sitting there shitting ourselves, thinking that it had all backfired on us and we were the worst band to be finishing off such a fucking awesome lineup. I don’t know, I reckon it all worked out in the end.
SM – (laughs) Just going back to the album for a second, the artwork is pretty cool, where’d that come from?
TS – That’s our guitarist; he does all our art. He’s a freak at drawing, like you go to his house and the place is covered in pictures he’s drawn, all like skulls and that kinda shit. I reckon he’s got a distinct kind of style about him, and it’s good for us too because then our releases can be seen as Batpiss just from the drawings. His artwork is off the chain! That’s fucking nothing compared to a lot of his other stuff, it’s pretty loose.
Shit indeed. A wild guy from a wild band. Make sure you can get to the show at Crowbar this Saturday – Ill be the guy in the spew-stained suit – but if you can’t get there, you can pick up their excellent album Nuclear Winter through Every Night Is A Saturday Night Records here.