Punk is not dead. Having their latest hit ‘Pub Feed’ reach #21 on the Triple J Hottest 100 this year, The Chats continue to reap in the joyride of punk rock excess. With a debut album High Risk Behaviour coming out in March, the band have already been praised by rock titans such as Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme, Nirvana/Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl and Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner. What is the root of their rising popularity?
Somehow three larrikans from the Sunshine Coast have created a formula that suits their aesthetic as a punk band. Their image is typically mirroring the Australian bogan stereotype, sporting mullets and wearing footy jerseys, smoking ciggies (darts) and drinking tinnies (beers in can form) and causing a ruckus. In combining outlandish larrikin behaviour with Aussie slang wordplay, the group eloquently bring out a body of work that should be appreciated as art because of its satirical and authentic nature.
Three Teenagers from Queensland Who Decided To Form A Band After A High School Project Were Not Expecting To Blow Up Into The Mainstream
The origin of The Chats was not something of a miraculous divine nature but a casual fun past time shared between mates. The band’s influences stem from classic punk bands such as the Ramones, The Clash, The Misfits, The Stooges and Aussie punk bands: The Saints and The Cosmic Psychos and rock titans AC/DC.
Josh Price, the band’s guitarist and backup vocalist told the Triple J team at ABC that it, “It all started in high school for a music assignment”.
Price at the time wasn’t in the band to start off with. He recalls singer and bassist Eamon Sandwith and drummer Matt Boggis always playing together, before being asked to join the band.
“Next minute we were jamming every lunchtime and writing songs,”said Josh Price.
After the end of high school, the trio continued playing, writing and gigging at house parties.
What makes the signature Chats’ sound so compellingly hypnotic is their musical recipe contains a simple set of ingredients: piss taking conversational banter, easy catchy bass riffs combined with a steady back beat of drums with strung out guitar chords. The trio describe their sound as ‘shred rock’ as it relates back to their times rehearsing in a shed after high school, as Price recalls, “We’d jam in our mates shed four nights a week, because we had nothing else to do.”
The Chats’ simple punk formula that doesn’t give a shit about contemporary mainstream music and listeners are digging it.
‘Mum Stole My Darts’ was the first song that the band had composed together during a lunchtime break at high school.
There is definately a British punk aesthetic with a twist of Australian humour in Sandwith’s vocals: ‘Mum stole my darts/She kicked me up the ass’, followed with ‘She drained my goon sack/And won’t pay me back’.
The band clearly do not possess the songwriting prowess such of a Lennon/McCartney, Courtney Barnett or Billie Eillish, but rather possess the good old subversive nature that is rooted in the punk genre.
The Chats are bunch of average looking guys, sticking to the basics of what they know, how they grew up and dealing with the external things happening around them. Beneath all of that there is something that demonstrates The Chat’s own signature sound.
Their music style may be simple but The Chats aren’t being poster boys for a typical bogan punk band. According to Sandwith, “People say ‘oh you guys are just a joke’ and well, we’re not really… We like playing music, we enjoy it, but we like to make it fun for everyone… We wanna talk about funny things that everyone can relate to.”
With determination and non stop jamming ‘Smoko’ was born and met with unexpected acclaim.
Their hit track ‘Smoko’ which is about the slang term for having a short ciggarette break at work propelled them to a global audience, amassing 9.3 million views on Youtube. The song is undoubtedly clever in its simplicity, illustrating a satirical representation of workers abusing a ciggarette/tea break.
‘The Chats songs are cut from the same cloth – they’re simple, funny and distinctly Australian.’ Triple J
On recounting the pre-Smoko fame, Eamon Sandwith recalls, “Some people liked us, but most hated us. I remember once we got booed off and people threw beers and stuff at us.”
But ‘Smoko’ seemed to capture people’s attention. Was it the music? The bizarre satirical imagery of Australian culture? It is both. The dilemma that is crucially frustrating possibly every other artist is how clever this trio is in constructing music that is succinct and driven and therefore not overly obscure. This formula in providing catchy riffs with humorous punk lyrics seems to work in gaining popularity as demonstrated by their recent track ‘Pub Feed’ reaching #21 on this year’s Triple J Hottest 100.
These are guys who are simply having fun and doing what they love.
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The trio do feel humble and lucky that they have supported artists such as Iggy Pop and Queens of the Stone Age on their Australian tours.
Looking back on the journey so far, Sandwith said, “We never considered our music to be anything special, and when you hear that people like them listen to your shitty music it kinda freaks you out. Iggy, QOTSA and Foo Fighters were all bands we listened to/admired as kids, so it’s a total spin-out for us.”
A Revival Of The Aussie Punk Genre
The Chats are already establishing themselves as one of Australia’s newest generation of rockers that carry the ethos of Aussie punk. The Chats generally don’t give an arse if their music or image is not taken seriously. Purely representing themselves for the music they come up with, the band is not afraid to be political and the essence of punk is of course sticking it to the man. Eamon Sandwith recently released an acoustic guitar driven tirade to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison about not doing enough for the victims who have suffered from the Bushfire crisis.
Rockers like Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and Iggy Pop are taken back nostalgically when listening to The Chats.
Dave Grohl was the individual responsible in showing the music video ‘Smoko’ to The Queens of the Stone Age front man after it went viral. Homme said The Chats reminded him of when “everyone” just “couldn’t stand” Queens Of The Stone Age back in the day. Homme remains adamant how powerful a band such as The Chats can impact a listener’s taste or understanding in music, saying,
“And then one thing happens you know, you sell 20 records and you never know who those 20 records went to. They could have gone to the most strange buffet of human existence that you can imagine. I think that’s what was always really fascinating to me is not how many people liked it but how much did they like it. You know? The funny thing about music is it’s never wrong. You know? You show me, show me who you think the worst band in the world there is and I’ll show you 300 people that are willing to die for them. You know what I mean? Because it means something to them. And in a certain way I’ve always felt like I’d rather have people that really understand the music half as many of those as it was double but they did get us.”
The Chats Releasing Their Debut Album High Risk Behaviour
After releasing two EPs, The Chats, and Get This In Ya, The Chats have announced their debut album ‘High Risk Behaviour’ will be out in March 27th this year on their own founded record label Bargain Bin Records/Cooking Vinyl Australia. They are expected to play at 2020’s St Jerome’s Laneway music festival which will be held in Sydney’s The Domain for the first time.
The Chats’ lastest single coming off the debut album is called ‘The Clap’ which humorously depicts a young man (Josh Price) experiencing a tragic STI affliction of gonorrhea.
“We just never thought that this would ever happen, we never thought that we’d be travelling the world playing for everyone… We’re just three dudes that fell into this and we see that we’ve been given a great opportunity and we’re not gonna f*ck it up”.
Why are we tuning our ears to The Chats? The magical substances of the punk genre contains elements of subversiveness, angst, and youth. Perhaps, we like listening to The Chats because we need to be reminded of our own individualism, perhaps people need a raging perhaps after a long stressful week at work or an escape from the mundane qualities of perpetual existence. Or maybe we just really enjoy The Chats bringing listeners a bursting tinnie of raw hooligan energy with slapstick Aussie comedy making fun of Australian stereotypes.