West Thebarton’s force to be reckoned front man Reverend Ray has a chat with Rabbit Radio in the lead up to this year’s heavily anticipated Marrickville Bad Friday block party. Ray gives us a detailed insight behind prevalent thrasher track ‘Bible Camp’ and it’s sentimental significance, some highly awaited new music, and festival talk in the works.
RR: With Bible Camp & Moving Out receiving heaps of traction; how does it feel knowing the audience’s response?
Yeah it’s been really cool, like Moving Out – we opened our set with that for a long time. So I think a fair few people already knew the song and surprisingly it kind of just went, pretty bomb-so on the radio and people really getting into it so it’s always awesome seeing people kind of jumping ‘round at Moving Out. And we ended up flipping it from the set opener for the set finisher, and it’s actually been really fun because like for instance when we played at Falls there were a couple of people that made signs with the song’s lyrics at the end. And that was pretty funny.
And yeah, Bible Camp is probably one of my favourite songs that I’ve ever written. It was just really cool to see people like kind of scream out the chorus for that. ‘Cause I really like the chorus, like I’m not much of a chorus writer to be honest. But I really like that chorus. And I was always like, ‘ahh ya know is it too simple, blah blah – is it whatever..’, and then you see people in the crowd that you don’t know and that you’ve never seen before, and there just there singing this chorus. It’s just really cool so it’s been awesome and I really can’t wait to kick off the year for gigs ‘cause we really haven’t played any since Falls Festival at the end of last year.
RR: Yeah awesome. I guess it’s like you said, that particular song Bible Camp it’s got this ragged thrash sound mixed with manic lyrics. So can totally see how the crowd gets fully into it which is awesome!
RR: On that note, I wanted to mention the storyline behind Bible Camp. So I can kind of gather a bit of reasoning as to why that’s kind of your favourite to play. Not only the amount that the crowd gives back to you but being a pretty cathartic number – and given the pretty devastating story from what I’ve read that captures tragic romance that was inspired from a violent incident of homophobia you’re Mother had witnessed when she was younger. How did this one actually come together as a song?
RAY: Yeah it was a bit of a weird thing, like I just remember I was trying to write songs one day. Well not even trying to write songs but trying to write lyrics to this chord progression that we came up with, and I had just this first lyric where I was just like ‘aw gees’, I had this story going through my head where I was like, ‘this really reminds me of the opposite of this story my Mum told me’. Because when I was a kid my Mum told me this story of when she was in college in the Philippines, you know super religious country. She was friends with a couple of guys and they were hooking up you know, as young people do! And after a couple of weeks of these two guys getting together, one of their Dad’s caught wind and came in and started bashing one of them in the middle of the night.
RR: Pretty intense..
RAY: Yeah that was super intense and with that story my mum was like, ‘at least you don’t need to put up with that shit now in 2013 or whenever I went through uni’. But yeah like this story for Bible Camp is kind of like the opposite to that, it’s like a happy ending but sort of like a melancholy ending. Because you’ve got two lovers and you know they’re having this great time but after this camp’s done it’s just like, ‘oh, well shit I guess I might see you ‘round sometime’. The story is really based on moments in your life that you’re really found of, or moments especially with people. And you can really look back on and you sort of wonder ‘what if?’, or ‘what happened if we stayed in touch?’, you know – all of that kind of stuff. But sometimes it’s really nice just to have that moment.
RR: Yeah absolutely! Nice.
RAY: Sorry, I waffled on a little bit there! Haha.
RR: So essentially you had like one line for a song and then this story just sprung to mind and that’s how it pretty much came about!?
RAY: Yeah, pretty much. And the chorus as well is really just like kind of wanting and essentially putting your life in the line for someone. Like you don’t give a shit about your safety or anything or what’s going on peripherally. All you really care about is, is being with that person because it makes you feel so good, it feels like ecstasy.
RR: Well on that note as well, obviously it’s a pretty expressive and emotive number that you guys have – has anyone approached you whether it be in person or online or whatever being able to relate to it in whichever way?
RAY: Um not really – like, I have a feeling that some people would assimilate to it and some people would kind of like have that feeling. But, I think with every song that I write I try to make these songs so people can try and feel those emotions flipping around. Like fast-paced, raw-garage and then big meaningful lyrics. I guess the intention was to never really write a song for someone to focus wholly on the lyrics. So yeah, I haven’t really had anyone reach out but, I had these stories in my life all the time and I know they happen.
RR: Being a band of 7, which is quite a large number for most bands - but what is the band’s process when making new music? Instrumentally and lyrically in that sense.
RAY: Well I write most of the lyrics, um a couple of the guys have written versus for songs here and there. We all kind of put together the ideas for the instrumental bit, cause yeah I’m a pretty terrible guitar player (*laughs), a lot of the other guys are much better than me. But when I’m writing lyrics I really just like to think of stories. I guess I’ll kind of describe it like Bible Camp here – pretty much every song I’ve ever written is based on a story. Whether it’s real, or whether it’s made up in my head or something I want to happen. They’re all just kind of like stories. So, that’s how I approach lyric writing.
RR: Having released 3 songs last year , and in respect of new music - is there anything on the horizon for you guys?
RAY: Well yeah, there will hopefully be something a little bit after Bad Friday maybe!? Haha. Yeah, we’ve got a fair bit of stuff coming up. We did a bit of recording last year so, hopefully we can share that one with the world pretty soon.
RR: Awesome – looking forward to it!
RR: So you guys have tackled some big festivals including Falls Fest in Byron, Bigsound, Big Pineapple, GTM; have you guys got any big names coming up? Cause I did notice on the bands website that there’s a bit of a gap from pretty much after Bad Friday write up until August period where you’re playing at a music festival over in the UK.
RAY: *laughs* Ahh, yeah – funny you mention that haha. Yeah we’ve got a few things going on ahh. Yeah, we’ve got um you know we’ll be playing shows all around Australia. We really wanna come and visit everywhere, well at least all the states soonish. So we might, might not be doing that with the release of something. But then yeah, we’ve got a couple of festivals lined up for the middle of the year – both in Australia and overseas. So I really can’t wait to announce that all cause it’s so exciting so yeah. We’ve got a bit planned.
RR: So you mentioned July yeah?
RAY: Ahh, the middle of the year..
RR: Middle of the year – alrighty. Well, no worries that gives us a good indication without ging any further.
RAY: Yeah *laughs*
RR: Do you have a particular festival that you really want to play at – whether that be in Aus or overseas?
RAY: Yeah, when I was a kid I reckon if you asked me this question – I would have said Glastonbury! But I think I really wanna play this festival called Roskilde in Denmark. It’s so intriguing because, right after high school two of my best friends – they went to Europe and and I didn’t go with them and they were like ‘oh yeah man, we went to this awesome festival, it’s called Roskilde and it’s like a 6 day music event – it was awesome and would have been right up your ally’.
RR: Any Aussie ones?
RAY: I reckon I really wanna play Boogie Festival – or actually make that Meredith Festival!
RR: And what do you reckon about the rest of the band – reckon they’ll all coincide with those 2 decisions?
RAY: I reckon Meredith is a real popular one!
RR: So you’re all playing at Blenheim Festival the day before Bad Friday – are you all going to be in fine form for us the next day?
RAY: Oh yeah definitely! Well Bad Friday is run by the Rule brother’s, Music & Booze Co and their son Jack – those guys have helped us out soo much in Sydney! Like they’ve honestly been our biggest backers there, they’ve helped us bring us up that way for the first time by ourselves and pretty much every time we play a show in Sydney either they’ve organised or haven’t organised, they’re there. They’re just really nice people and I think we’ve got to pull it through for them. From experience, I think we play a little bit better when we’ve had a big night the night before.
RR: Seems to be the way for a lot of the bands actually.
RAY: Yeah I think a lot of bands would say that probably.
RR: Probably used to that tour life anyway by now.
RAY: Yeah, we’re getting pretty used to it!
RR: On that note, what is your go-to hangover cure?
RAY: Ahh that’s a bit of a trick question, cause I rarely get hangovers.
RR: Oh, you’re one of the lucky ones!
RAY: Yeah I know, and my girlfriend always curses me ‘cause she gets really bad hangovers – so she always hits a Panadol and Nurofen combo with a Powerade and some kind of toastie. But one of the guys in the band gave me a really good tip – he has a nice can of coke and it makes me feel a bit better when I am a bit seedy.
RR: Even better – frozen coke.
RAY: Aw, I really need to try that out! And you know what; I’m one of those weirdos that goes for a bit of a run. And in the middle of it I’m like, ‘kill me now’, but then when I get home I’m like, ‘aw geese, I feel so much better!’ So maybe sweating it out is my cure.
RR: You guys posted on your IG account that you are playing Bad Friday with a ton of your big time faves at the moment – who are you guys excited to see?
RAY: Aww, I’m a little keen for the Secret Headliner!! *laughs*
RR: Who’s your best guess?
RAY: Hmmm, let me think about this one? *Sarcastically thinking *laughs* .. I’m thinking it might be… ‘The Angels’.
RR: Or are you just saying that cause you know, but you can’t say!?
RAY: *laughs* I actually haven’t heard anything through any channels, but I can definitely take a very educated guess. But I probably shouldn’t take that educated guess *laughs*.
RR: Yup, well we’ll leave it at that!
RR: What is 1 thing that you’re looking up to most in the lead up to the event? Apart from the Secret Headliner.
RAY: Probably The Belligerents, Ecca Vandal, and Pist Idiots are who I’m really keen for. We played a show last year with Pist Idiots and they were awesome. And The Belligerents are just our mates, and Ecca Vandal is just nuts on stage. So yeah, I can’t wait to play and it’s going to be one of those festivals where you get all your gear packed up straight away so you can watch everyone.
RR: Last question for you, and I’ll let you go – but what are the 4 key ingredients that make West Thebbies?
RAY: Well number 1 would be – I’m not gonna say the street address but it would be the main house on Carlton Road in Torrensville. Which is where the 4 of the members live, so obviously we spend a lot of time there so that’s probably a nice place to start.
Second would be – Fender offset guitars. Because either every guy in the band has either had one or uses one or has flirted with the idea of having one. Cause we all just love them so much!
Well I’d say passive aggressiveness is definitely one.
RAY: And one more.. I’d say probably West End Draught.
RR: Ah yup, beer of course – can’t not.
RAY: Yeah, and West End especially. Geese, we go through a bit of it *laughs*
Interviewer Kristen Smith