Amyl and the Sniffers started as a joke, and progressively got a little less serious every time they picked up their instruments.
Part of a new wave of punk from Australia’s East Coast, the Melbourne outfit emerged from a shared house with a slew of grimy riffs and dirty jokes, reminiscent of second wave UK punk – think UK Subs, Discharge – mangled with US underground sounds and eye-catching so-naff-they're-cool haircuts that recall the long lost Australian youth cult the sharpy.
On the phone to Clash, though, lead singer Amy Taylor is all sweetness and light, her buoyant, polite tone mingled in with a slew of often outrageous, swear word laden remarks.
“We’re just at the pub,” she says, slurping through a straw. “I’m having a pineapple juice and a sandwich. I’m having a great time.”
“I think this trip, ‘cos it was so short, was just to see if cunts actually like us over here and if it’s worthwhile coming back. I think we will. It’s all gone pretty well so far.”
It’s an admirable piece of under-statement. One of the breakouts from The Great Escape, Amy and the Sniffers hook up with New York art-punks Bodega later that evening for a sensational one-two at North London’s Lexington venue. Onstage, Amy spits, snarls, and jives her way through the set, while the band lurch from powerhouse riff to wailing solo, forever one step from genius, and utter, absolute chaos.
“I just love energy and doing whatever I want,” she says when asked about the stage show. “I think any other day of the week if I was walking down the street and did the stuff I did on stage, someone would probably bloody arrest me. But it’s cool because it’s sort of lawless in a way.”
“I love energy,” she slurps, “and I love seeing everyone’s faces when they’re just sweaty and jumping around and everyone’s having a good time. It’s important that we have a good time and it’s important that everyone else has a good time.”
Debut EP ‘Giddy Up’ emerged from a house share – the material was written and recorded in one night, a means of downtime from their “shitty jobs.”
She takes another slurp and continues: “I’d been scribbling down stuff in my phone for ages – just like notes of lyrics and shit, ‘cos I like doing that - and then we literally just wrote it that day. The bassist and guitarist were DIing so they couldn’t hear each other, so they just made it up. You can kinda hear that in the recordings.”
“We all just lived in a house together,” she continues, before grasping another slurp. “The boys played instruments in other bands and stuff. We just got home from work or whatever and just recorded it. We wrote it, we recorded it, we made up the name and then we put it out the next day, next morning.”
“I just wrote shit,” she says, with a near-audible shrug. “I always did crappy jobs and stuff, and I wanted to use my brain in a different way.”
Follow up EP ‘Big Attraction’ was released via Burger Records in the United States, while Damaged Goods pressed up both EPs for a limited run vinyl release. Astonishingly, it sold out. Even more astonishingly, so did the Lexington. Word is out, it seems, on one of Australia’s most outrageous punk outfits.
“It’s bizarre. It’s so weird,” she gasps, before heading in for another slurp. “We sold out the Lexington. It’s not like a bloody arena, but we thought there’d be like five people here. I’m fucking very surprised. It’s pretty unreal.”
This is only the tip of the iceberg, of course. Clash recently ran a deep dive into the punk scene on Australia’s East Coast, and there’s a plethora of new groups erupting out of the area’s underground scene.
“I reckon it’s healthy,” Amy says. “Everybody’s making really cool shit and putting in a lot of effort to it and just having fun with it.”
So that’s where we leave Amyl and the Sniffers: a bunch of deviant children enjoying illicit behaviour and the odd pineapple juice.
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