Mass Movement’s Ginge Knievil has turned punk rock Michael Parkinson once more and sent his Welsh carrier pigeon to Australia to chat with Scott Lee Andrews. Yes, he of Midasuno, Exit_International and Mutation fame, among others. The fucked-up raconteur talks Ginger Wildheart, Jaws of Deaf, Japan, 60ft Dolls’ Carl Bevan, Placebo, indie horror and a whole lot more. Oh, and what’s that? There’s a new band on the go? You better read on, rock fans!
Interview by Ginge Knievil.
Photo credit: Aaron Brice.
MM: Hello, Scott. You were a busy boy in 2017 with your fingers in loads of rock ‘n’ roll pies. You must be well proud of what you achieved.
SLA: Ginge – it was one hell of a year. Had a great run of shows with my best pals in Exit_International which was so much fun and really well turned out. Our chemistry is one of a kind and I sorely miss those lads. Then it was consumed by the Mutation Dark Black campaign. It was really intense. Those fingers you mention were in performance pies, logistical pies, so many fucking pies. Some of those pies took a lot of cooking, some tasted like shite and some were super fucking tasty. The Great British/Australian/Japanese Bake Off was a total success. You don’t normally get grey pies, but my hair came back from tour like that!
MM: Co-writing, and then touring the Mutation album with Ginger Wildheart must’ve been a dream come true. You guys seem to bounce off one another when it comes to making a racket. What’s the recipe for this chemistry?
SLA: Absolutely – a 20 year dream come true. It was a shared need for the balance of extremes, melody and exorcising mental health issues. The writing and recording process was very natural and due to my general lack of a clue in terms of recording and production, we achieved some very creative, interesting results. The duo set-up allowed us to get through so many ideas in a short space of time. The rehearsal and touring period though saw the demons come out and that was not a very pretty place to be. It was exactly what the press we had done to build the record up had mentioned in manifest. I felt really privileged as Ginger has his pick of incredible musicians to work with. The project really pushed me into a new level of musicianship. It was initially strange forming such a close bond with one of my heroes and… You know the rule!
MM: You returned to Japan to play some shows. Is it true that the fans there are as dedicated and obsessive as the UK is led to believe, or is that just some rock ‘n’ roll fable? [laughs].
SLA: Once you return from playing Japan, in my experiences anyway, you are changed forever. The love those guys and gals have for music and the people who make it is not found anywhere else on the planet. Everything you hear is true. Turning up at the airport to fans waiting with gifts? Check! That’s just the tip of the iceberg. They make you look at yourself and think “fuck, I’m quite a shitty person compared to these folk.” Really eye-opening. I signed some Midasuno CDs in Tokyo for fuck’s sake! The guys are so cool and the ladies are insanely beautiful.
MM: Under the guise of Jaws of Deaf you’ve released what seems like a million tracks online. Is there any scope to take this beast live or is it just a recording vehicle to get all that music out of your brain?
SLA: To make it relatable, I have a Samsung J3 and every couple of days I get the “storage room is running out… please delete data blah blah” message. That is what song writing is for me. In my little studio room there’s papers masking-taped to the walls with riffs and chord ideas, lyrics, etc. My phone’s voice recorder has ideas on when I’m wandering to the shops. It’s just who/what I am. I originally did it to get some funds in when my Visa stipulated I could not work for a few months when I first moved to Australia, then just ran with it. I had a bit of a crisis of confidence last year when I realised I don’t have a “sound” to latch on to. My voice is not that great at the best times so it’s not that. Then I understood the EPs are like little mix tapes; no two songs alike, so that became something I could identify with my thing. Keep the output interesting and varied. To truly do it justice live, I’d love it to have a Rocky Horror Picture Show vibe, a really interactive perverse party. I don’t have the money to hire the production!
Some of the tracks were ideas I brought to Exit_International for album number 3 but we dropped. It was nice to have the ability to “kitchen sink” the fuck out of the songs. I did then do a few shows with my laptop supporting Funeral for a Friend in Melbourne for a few nights and it went down really well, but really wanted a band to back it. I’m going to strip back some of the tracks and start doing REALLY LOUD acoustic shows over here soon. I miss running my mouth off in front of a room full of people. I hope I can hotch-potch a line-up for a few UK shows when I come over next. What I do realise is that the 3 “proper” bands I have been in, all have people who have tattooed the bands on them. Such a huge compliment and something very few people I know could match. I have always loved bands over solo artists. Elliott Smith being the biggest exception to that rule. I love being in a band, like that early Manic Street Preachers “Us vs The World” rage. That doesn’t exist anymore.
MM: Exit_International played some UK shows in early 2017. What with you now living in Australia, is the band still a going concern and can folk expect more from you guys in the future?
SLA: The magic is still there. There’s a “magic triangle effect” being in a three-piece and if anyone said no it would be over. We still talk all the time and the angry, hilarious energy is very present. Geography makes this difficult but we are finding ways around things; something the internet has good going for it! I’m finishing up the artwork/sleeve for the Live in Newport vinyl we are releasing this year via Undergroove Records. That’s all I want to really let out of the bag at the moment.
Adam’s drumming skills are incredible these days. Not a case of improvement, but his palette has broadened so he’s like a really professional player now. Fudge let me track some vocals on a track he recorded as part of his yet to be released solo album and it’s a track I’m proud to have contributed to; one of the best things I have ever worked on.
MM: With Jaws of Deaf, and previously with Exit_International, you worked with Carl Bevan (60ft Dolls). I’m surprised you both made it out alive! [laughs]. What’s it like creating a noise with that madcap Newport oik?
SLA: Carl Bevan is a force of nature. The Black Junk sessions involved a stupid amount of drugs, costumes, and missing dogs. We did attempt to document it visually but that went tits-up. It was very much an “of the moment” session; very hazy but so much fun. Well, I think it was! What we lacked in time keeping and professionalism was countered in vibe and the results. Although, the first mixes we heard back following the tracking session were all treble. Good job, ketamine! He is a brilliant, dangerous man and was the fourth member making the record. We saw his member one night during the sessions. He stumbled around his living room when we were trying to sleep, with a t-shirt on but nothing below eating a bowl of cereal at 4 in the morning. It was batshit! When he worked on the JOD stuff with me, we had the safety of distance thanks to the internet, but it still managed to get a bit mind-melting on occassion. I love him. I hope we get to do some E_I related stuff again one day with him.
MM: It’s well documented that you take influence from Placebo and others in that vein. Are there any surprising left field inspirations that may shock those who are familiar with your work?
SLA: Placebo changed the way I looked at guitar. I have never been a lead player. Solos and fret wankery have never appealed to me. I fucking hate it! I dislike even trying FX pedals in shops; all the usual types peacocking their riffs ‘n’ licks. I just hit a note and play with feedback [laughs]. Placebo were my introduction to weird chords and strange tunings and that has stuck with me ever since. This was pre-internet, so had to tab and work everything out by ear, and failing that grab bootleg videos from record fairs to work the stuff out. I gravitated away from power/proper chords when writing songs from there. That was really exciting for me. That ear training really helped me prepare for the Mutation tour as there was some mental riffs to get to grips with there. I take pleasure in trying to write stuff with stupid chord shapes. A mate said to me recently he was surprised how poppy my stuff could be, thinking I was a metal head. I’ve never really liked metal at all. Sounds like I’m arse-licking a bit, but working with Fudge, crafting songs with him, informed me so much of how bad I was at editing. Keeping things brief, he had a huge impact on me. I’m a slow learner, the penny drops much later than the average bear.
I’ve been quite public about my love of the Belgian rock scene. The bands over there really have something sexy as fuck that dulled my taste for normal rock. I’m a huge Katy Perry fan. I love Babylon Zoo’s back catalogue.
MM: And are there any bands we should be checking out?
SLA: Shht, The K, and P.H.F. are some new-ish bands who fucking rule, in my honest opinion.
MM: I know of your love of B movie horror flicks. Where would one start with this film genre and, here comes the impossible bit, what are your favourites?
SLA: Ah, that’s a toughie. I would say it’s more a case of independent and under the radar horror that’s my bag by definition. Mainly, because the works are not hampered by major studio intervention, meaning more fucked-up results. Right, if rock bands were films – say stuff like Green Day or Against Me! are the Insidious’s. My preferred films are a bit more Oingo Boingo in comparson. I’m a big fan of the Creep films, there’s some incredible films that came from Europe like Martyrs in the 00’s. Stuff like The Loved Ones, I Saw The Devil, Ex Drummer – fuck, it is hard to give example! I like to have a bad taste left in my mouth. I’m more of a horror snob than a music snob for sure. Try a book called Beyond the Darkness: Cult, Horror and Extreme Cinema by Phil Russell if you want to go straight for the hard stuff.
MM: What can the world expect from Scott Lee Andrews in 2018? Somehow, I can’t see you resting on your laurels and twiddling your thumbs Down Under.
SLA: Fuck no. I’ve just released the 9th Jaws of Deaf EP and working on number 10 as we speak. As I mentioned earlier, the plan is to get JOD live as a solo acoustic thing over here. I imagine it will take me a while to find the right kind of crowds. I see the first few shows leaving the singer-songwriter types scratching their oiled beards and “what the fuck-ing,” and that is fine by me. To me, I use my songs like people post on social media. Communication has changed so much over the last 10-15 years. I get shit off my chest in my songs. They are not flippant, reactive statements and the resulting comments are pretty positive. Imagine writing a post on Facebook; it takes moments to just ping online and the shit begins. Writing lyrics takes time, revision and more importantly I need to ensure my thoughts are permanent and non-retractive. I like that.
Also, a completely new band formed by a lovely fella called Stev Kanter and myself. Stev is from South Africa. Great story here – international scale musical incest! So, there’s a brilliant UK band called Horsefight formed by one of my great friends Luke, who was originally from Brisbane. Now, I got to fill-in with the Horsefight line-up when Paul Mullen (ex Yourcodenameis:milo / The Automatic; now Young Legionnaire / Losers) wasn’t available. Denzel, one of my best mates, drums for Horsefight and is also the Mutation live drummer. Now, when Luke came to Australia last year he wanted to do a gig in Melbourne, called me up and said we would play with the original Horsefight drummer, when he formed the band in Australia going back a few years. We rehearsed for a few hours then played a killer show that evening. The drummer was this lad Stev, who is a fucking blast to play and hang with. Luke had been a mate of his for 16 years and told me to keep in touch with Stev, and alas we decided to get together and start making music. The original plan was to assemble a three-piece, but having the experience of the Mutation tour where I was triggering samples and noises, we have decided to keep it a two-piece. We haven’t decided on the name yet, but aim to have a video and recording out in the next 2-3 months and then gig like cunts. There will be nothing like us over here that is for sure.
MM: Thanks for taking out the time to chat, Scott. As with these Mass Movement interviews, the final words are yours. Rant, rave or say what you like; the parting shot is yours. Go!
SLA: Thank you Ginge and MM for the offer to chat. Congrats to you and your lady Charley on your little human. Please check out my bandcamp page if anything I’ve said makes no sense whatsoever! See you soon.