If their profile is anything to go by, the trio from Lennox Head (NSW) that is Lunatics On Pogosticks have been making tunes since before they were born, although they didn’t get together as a band until 2011. In that time they’ve released a couple of rather well-received indie punk EPs, most recently Slug Cat and Snail Dog. We caught up with guitarist and vocalist Calum Newton for a quick chat about their latest work.
Hey guys, congratulations on the release of your EP Slug Cat and Snail Dog, please tell us about your process of writing it. Who predominantly writes the songs or is it much more of a collaboration?
Hey, I guess I do most of the song writing. At least I did originally and pretty much most of the stuff on this EP. Bryce and I have definitely been working on more stuff collaboratively as of late so our next release will be a bit more collective in that sense. Also we play things as a band now before recording demos or anything like that, so by doing that we all get much more of a say in what’s happening with structures of songs and so forth.
You’ve recently spoken about recording at home as compared to in the studio. What did you learn from the comparison and will it affect how you record in the future?
I really enjoy recording at home. The only struggle with it is it’s hard to distinguish if something sounds radio friendly enough or polished. It’s real easy making a rough tune and just mastering it to death through compressors and limiting it till it is loud but that doesn’t cement that it’s going to be a good track if you know what I mean. So I just have to be weary of how lo-fi things are, try and keep it in a nice mid range where anyone can tolerate to listen to it rather then it just be a total wall of unwanted noise and things like that. Then again we might turn around tomorrow and do exactly that on our next release haha. I guess I just really like the flexibility of it all. Plus I don’t feel all that comfortable singing with an engineer I’ve just met so it’s also more comfortable in that sense as well.
What is the story behind the Slug Cat and Snail Dog characters that feature on your EP cover, how did they come about?
They’re actually taken from ‘Snail’ a book by Eric Dando. They’re just pet names that these two characters call themselves but I thought it’d be kinda cool to be more literal about it. It’s also just a bit of an ode to that book cause it’s really nice. I read it just before moving down to Melbourne and it really helped to get my syked for that. Eric Dando actually sent me an email, which I totally read in the tone he uses in his book, saying we were infringing on his copyright. I think he might’ve just been playing though cause he never replied after I sent him a fanboy response saying how much I dug his book and stuff. Oh well.
How did you develop your sound? Your unearthed page lists you are ‘indie, punk’, would you agree that you’ve created your own sound that’s out of that genre though?
No way. We’re probably one of the easiest bands to label under a genre. We’re not really going out of our way to break down any walls between genres or anything like that. We dig punky, garagey, pop tunes so we play them.
Likewise, how did the band’s name evolve, was there a short list of other names you had before deciding on Lunatics On Pogosticks?
I was 15 at the time and Bryce was a fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and use to sing their songs a lot. He said that line from Apache Rose Peacock and it stuck with me that night when I recorded some guitars in my eight track, so it just sorta stuck. There’s loads of better names we’d probably change to if we weren’t so lazy.
If you could collaborate with any three alive or dead artists, who would they be and why?
Sonic Youth, Radiohead and The Sonics cause they’re all amazing and they make killer music.
You recently played Live It Up festival in Brisbane and shared the line up with Parkway Drive, Violent Soho, and a few other big names. What was the experience of playing as part of a diverse line up like for you, got any stories to tell?
That was real fun. It was sick being backstage for Violent Soho I’ve gotta admit. They’re definitely such a sick live act. They totally live up to everything people say about them. We hung out with The Creases for a bit and they’re total babes. A couple pals of our came as well and they were stoked to hang with Allday for a bit so that was cool. It was just real nice. Underage gigs like that are so solid.
What do you do in your down time when you’re not rehearsing, playing or writing, have you got a day job or are you currently studying anything?
I’m studying at VCA at the moment doing a fine arts degree majoring in contemporary music. It’s pretty good. I wouldn’t say it involves much downtime though unfortunately haha.
What’s the best advice you can give to upcoming artists looking for a way to get their foot in the door?
Put some songs up on bandcamp for free and just hit up obscure indie blogs looking to post about new and upcoming bands.
You’ve played a few FReeZA events and you’re set to headline the Kingston FReeZA Push Start Battle of the Bands, what do you like best about playing all ages gigs?
It’s a super nice atmosphere and FReeZA is so so so nice to us it’s incredible. They had sandwiches last time and a big box of M&M’s. Legit they’re great.
Now that you’ve got an impressive handful of releases under your belt, supported a whole bunch of cool artists, and are about to embark on a tour of the east coast this September, what else is on the cards for the rest of 2014?
Well I hope to release a new single when we’ve finished the tour but maybe I’m being a little too hopeful. We’ll wait and see. We’ll definitely be putting something out either at the end of this year or early next.
Stay up to date with the latest news from Lunatics On Pogosticks at www.facebook.com/lunaticsonpogosticks