WORDS BY NADENE BUDDEN
Image by Giulia McGauran
Ahead of the release of their debut album God I’m Such a Mess, out 13 November, I was lucky enough to sit down with Melbourne bubblegum punk rockers Cry Club. Covering everything from music inspo to matching suits, Lady Gaga to Sasha Velour, it’s obvious the band pulls from a wide range of influences, giving them a unique perspective and easily making them one of the most exciting acts in the country.
Nadene: How did the Cry Club start?
Heather: It was the end of 2017 and I was on Facebook and was like, ‘Who wants to join my cute cover band of Siouxsie and the Banshee. Then Jono messaged me and was like, ‘What if we did that, but it wasn’t a cover band’.
Jono: Because for full context, I’d sent Heather demos a year prior and said, ‘Hello, can we figure out some stuff for these?’ And they were like ‘Yeah, let’s do that’. And then I heard nothing. And I thought, okay, well, if we’re gonna do it this time, you actually have to come over my fucking house and I’ll sit you down!
Heather: We wrote our first song Don’t Go, which is a staple of the live set, which is also on the album. So it’s a nice little full circle moment that the very first song that we wrote is actually on the album.
Nadene: Where does your striking stage aesthetic come from?
Jono: I honestly think a lot of our live show elements have a history in drag. We spent a long time playing in a bunch of different kinds of bands. And I just gravitated towards, at least personally, the things that were more of a spectacle.
Heather: I need to be extra as well. I remember early on one of our biggest core values was if we’re pop artists, we don’t want to look what a pop artist looks like. We don’t want to look like what you think a punk artist should look like. We just want to be like ourselves. I think it’s genuinely just an outward expression of personalities.
Nadene: Where do you get those amazing matching suits from?
Heather: My parents live in China and my mum has this tailor she goes to who can just make you clothes if you bring something that fits you, or even it doesn’t fit you. I had this jacket I couldn’t wear anymore because it was shredded, I’d worn it to death. So I took the jacket in and was like, ‘Can I get this jacket? And also these pants and I want that fabric’ and she put them all together! It was amazing.
Nadene: You have a few frequent collaborators like photographer Giulia McGauran, how important has that been for your creative process?
Jono: Working with Giulia established our visuals from the very first shoot. I love the way she thinks about things. She understands what we want to portray but she runs it through this really cool filter of Giulia-isms. It’s really great to be able to have a long term relationship with these people where instead of it being the one off where we worked with one person one time and that’s it, now we can explore a wider territory with these people if we have the opportunity to. With Giulia, leading up to the album there was a discussion prior where she was like, ‘Okay, what do you want the album to be?’ And I wanted it to be the logical conclusion to what we’ve done so far. Which is the most absurd, extra, the most dramatic…
Heather: campy, drag-y, craziest, most obnoxious thing.
Jono: Her photos inform your expectations for the live show. I feel like you have a better understanding of what you’re gonna get. But also the inverse – if you see a photo of ours and go ‘Oh, that’s a bit much’ you probably shouldn’t see us live!
Nadene: This is your debut album and you’ve already been announced as part of the Splendour In The Grass lineup! How does that feel?
Heather: There were a bunch of festivals that got cancelled at the end of last year because of the fires. It was huge to be announced because it was one of our big, audacious goals that we thought couldn’t happen until later on.
Jono: Especially not having an album. Even the smaller bands on the lineup like Idles who are only small comparatively are so far down the list. You’ve got literally the biggest bands in the world as some of the mid-card bands.
Heather: If we do still get to play it, it’ll be cool that the album will be out. Instead of hearing a song like Lighters, they’ll be able to sing along, which is cool. And we’ll get to see a real festival crowd. I’m excited. I love it.
Nadene: Were there any changes to God I’m Such A Mess during lockdown?
Jono: Splendour was going to be the first date of our album tour, then in March everything started becoming a big question mark and we needed to shift to being more reactive. If we’d put it out in May it would have existed in a world like Chromatica by Lady Gaga which should’ve have taken over the entire goddamn world. But it didn’t because you couldn’t play it in clubs. It breaks my heart.
Nadene: When they do open the clubs though!
Heather: Oh god yeah, we’ll be like…
Jono: Can you play it again?
Nadene: Play it in full, the whole album front to back!
Heather: Just Chromatica II into 911!
Heather: I also think it was a good choice because we were interested in writing songs in lockdown. It was a coping mechanism, and some things weren’t quite finished. If we put it out in May like we wanted to I think we would have rushed a lot of things and we wouldn’t have made some of the decisions that I’m really happy with now.
Jono: It’s hard to know whether or not things would have been better or worse. There’s an alternate universe where we put out our first album in May.
Nadene: There’s also an alternate universe where Lady Gaga’s Chromatica is playing at clubs.
Heather: I want to be the DJ.
Jono: Even if they request other songs just ‘Nope, playing it again’.
Nadene: What have the main inspirations been for the new album? What’s the sound?
Heather: Everything from DFTM onwards that we’ve released as singles is going to be on the record. God I’m Such A Mess is essentially the statement of who Cry Club has been from when we started in 2018 until now. There’s a lot of inspiration that’s changed. Jono’s math rock background also feeds into things accidentally. We’ve never been one of those bands that thinks we have to write a certain type of song; we’ll just write whatever ends up being a good song regardless of style.
Jono: If I opened my little demo folder, I’ve got like 130 something ideas in it.
Heather: That’s not an exaggeration.
Jono: I operate from the perspective of, let’s say I write 130 instrumentals, let’s say 75% of them are worth singing. Then 50% of those are actually any good. We can never assume that everything we’re going to do is great, so you can kind of skirt around that by getting the maths on your side.
Heather: A lot of our inspirations are more visual. I’m a theatre nerd and one of my favourite things that we studied was like this performance artist called Romeo Castellucci. There’s this hierarchy of what’s important in theatre – the first is plot, and right down the bottom is spectacle. And Castellucci was like, fuck that, flip it. The most important thing is spectacle. To some extent, that’s how I’ve always operated. Along with the spectacle of sound as well. The 1975 I think were one huge influence, especially from Matty Healy.
Jono: The whole A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationships era, it’s all fair game. The only thing that matters is writing big, good songs. I don’t think anyone who listens to that record really cares about what the genre the songs are.
Nadene: When a performer has a certain aesthetic that they perform to it kind of meshes everything together.
Heather: Yeah, definitely. Like Sasha Velour. The way she thinks through everything and the logic behind it is incredible. It was really cool having drag artists on the last tour. From an audience perspective we had people be like, ‘That was my first drag show and I loved it!’
Jono: A huge thing for us is was wanting everything to exist within the same world. You hear the song, you see the cover art, the music video, you see us play live and the drag performance on before us, it all makes sense together.
Nadene: Now for the Temporary Dreamer signature question, if your debut album God I’m Such a Mess was a colour, what would it be and why?
Jono: Maybe I’m just attached to the cover art but something from that.
Heather: Like my hair where it started out real neon green and faded a bit. That really ugly green, or blood red.
Jono: Yeah, definitely. Ugly green. Embracing the ugliness. If you see the album cover and go like, ‘Nah dawg’ it isn’t for you. It’s like a defence mechanism. You make it ugly and as fucked up as possible and no one can say it’s ugly. Because you can go ‘Yeah, and it’s great!’
Cry Club’s debut album God I’m Such A Mess is set for release 13 November and available for preorder here.
Their latest single Lighters is now available to stream, or watch the music video here.