From the sun-drenched Australian Gold Coast, home to tween punk musical ‘sensations’ Operation Please and, on the upside, miles and miles of beautiful coastline and eminently surf-worthy waves along with a frantic booze-fuelled nightlife, come a pair of guys in the full flush of youth with a healthy disregard for careerism, (Alex Wall, the drummer, says “I look at people at who are like 25 and are still in bands and just reckon they’re losers. I think I might quit when I’m 25 and get on with my life.”) and a bristly, sneering attitude tempered by their good humour, love of ‘partying’ and a genuine, if incongruous, love of Rhianna.
Bleeding Knees Club have been slamming out brash, brisk garage rock for just over a year now, having learned their instruments, to a degree at least, only six months prior to their formation. They’re now selling out clubs across the globe (and most recently causing quite a stir at SXSW) pulling in young, frantic punters drawn to the front by ever-so-naughty Youtube hits like ‘Teenage Girls’ and ‘Boy In Love’.
Wall explains the logic behind forming the band: “Well we’ve been friends since we were like, three years old. I lived down the street from Jordan and we both had no jobs and nothing to do so we would just hang out and play guitar. We would just kind of listen to music and we kind of taught each other how to play and then we got a drum kit.” He’s equally straightforward on the matter of the attitude of more experienced bands they play alongside saying, “they’re really jealous because they try really hard and we don’t try at all… Sometimes it’s just easier to listen to music that is fun.”
Feeling that an oft-made comparison to that other two-piece, the White Stripes is, in Alex’s words “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard” the band prefer to draw their influence from a fresher set of upstarts. Jordan Malane, guitar, describes how they’d listen to the likes of Wavves and Black Lips ”really loud and try and play along”, and while there is plenty of both of those bands’ chafing clatter in the Bleeding Knees sound, there’s also plenty of room for a sweet tune – Wall professing a love for both Vivian Girls and Girls calling the latter his “favourite band ever.”
Coming from a disparate Queensland music scene where, says Jordan “All the bands are into different music… everyone has their own thing” and where the bigger name bands only come through town “once every four months… When a good band does come we get really excited”, they began their recordings humbly, in the back of a shoe shop. But Alex describes the differences between that and the album recording experience as minimal. “It actually wasn’t too different. The place we recorded the album was just a small room, so it was kind of the same deal but it was in Brooklyn which is like way, way cooler.” Also way, way cooler was the addition to their ranks of Dev Hynes on production. “That was a really cool experience,” notes Wall, “he is a really cool guy and he was really chilled out. He didn’t really tell us what to do, he just gave us little hints and stuff. We toured with Lightspeed Champion in Australia, that’s how we met him.” Malane adds, “I was a big Test Icicles fan back in the day and then the Blood Orange album is so good.”
Talking of the new album Nothing To Do, Alex describes the songs included as being “sort of just reflections on our teenage years. Looking back on what I valued and what I missed because I wasn’t cool enough” he notes in a rare downbeat moment, before enthusing “I want everyone to hear it!”
Answering charges of whether their material could be considered overly juvenile he says “I always think about that. People like say ‘you don’t sing about in depth stuff’ but that’s ‘cos I’m only 22 and I haven’t really experienced anything in depth so why would I sing about it? I don’t really dwell on stuff because it ends being crap. If you over think things sometimes they just sound kind of lame so I just try to get everything out as quick as possible.”
With another record’s worth of material already in the bag (Alex notes “Yeah, we could record an album tomorrow I reckon…”) the imminent future seems bright for these boys. While they resist the term ‘buzz band’ (Wall: “That is kind of like offensive. No one wants to be a buzz band. Buzz bands crop up and die the next day.”) they do admit to their lives have changed an awful lot and very quickly. “We don’t really have a life, we just travel all the time. We tour constantly. Before we used to like hang out and go to the beach everyday and now we just hang out and in the airport everyday” says Alex stoically. In amongst some chatter about punching “Chris Brown in the face”(fully approved behaviour there) and warning, laughingly about the dangers of band life – “don’t start a band. It will ruin your life” – the boys discuss their respective drinking skills and how all the free drinks in the world will get you in the end, however young.
But there’s a lesson Alex needs to share with us and it’s one that these unleashed surf-punk terriers will no doubt adhere to in the coming months and maybe even years : “It’s like Rhianna said, you should always party”.
Nothing To Do is available now through IAmSound.