On the sixth of August last year GODSWOUNDS made a sudden announcement about their return as well as the release of Death to the Babyboomers on vinyl. Being the fan that I was, I decided to ask if they wanted to do an interview, to which they promptly agreed.
Lachlan and I met up on the twentieth of the same month and discussed a few things pertaining to GODSWOUNDS. Rather than feeling like an interview, speaking with Lachlan felt much more like a fairly relaxed conversation.
I should have had this up a lot sooner than now and there’s not any excuse for sitting on it for so long.
In typing up this interview, I’ve tried to preserve it as much as a conversation as possible, but unfortunately some things (such as the relaxed tone of everything) has been lost in translation.
With that out of the way, here’s the interview.
Ez: So, Lachlan.
Lachlan: Hi Ezekiel!
Ez: So, there was one thing that I wanted to ask.
Lachlan: Yeah, go for it.
Ez: Tell me about the history of GODSWOUNDS.
Lachlan: Okay, cool. So, um… I first moved to Sydney in about probably 2004, 2005 and I’d come out of… basically running a theatre company and I did that kind of backwards and forth from Sydney to Melbourne on the Central Coast – I’m from the Central Coast of New South Wales.
Lachlan: And, um… I kind of did that for a while and I was like, “y’know, I’m sick of doing theatre”, and I wanted to do music. Music was always a big part of my life. I was working at Allan’s Music in Waterloo at the time and I started meeting different musicians. I started playing with Muel, the drummer from GODSWOUNDS in a band that he had which was sort of this hip hop / funk band and I played with him in another band called Tinderbox which was sort of a post-rock band that sort of established themselves in Sydney for many years before I was in it and they were kind of part of that Bird’s Robe Collective thing when those guys started it. So I kind of played in a lot of different bands and kind of felt like “What do I wanna do constructively myself?”. So the first thing I wanted to do was incorporate kind of chiptune.
Obviously I grew up playing video games. Particularly kind of a Nintendo-style video games and particularly probably Mario compositions – things like that affected me quite a lot. Well actually, this particular game called River City Ransom; the compositions were fuckin’ amazing. It’s incredible and it’s really indicative of the Nintendo compositional approach which at that stage was like, you’ve got chiptune limitations trying to push themselves to sound more like guitars and things like that. I love the sense of disorientation that they’re kind of going a little bit beyond what they’re doing.
So I thought “What I’ll do is I’ll get a couple of Game Boys, I’ll start doing some chiptune music and I’ll sing over that”, and I thought it would be comically interesting if I did a black metal chiptune band. That was my first idea and I kind of composed a bunch of chiptune black metal and then I did a variation that was sort like hardcore. I tried a few things and then I found good old Tom Gilmore from the band Ten Thousand Free Men & Their Families. He’s an amazing chiptune composer in Sydney. I don’t know if he does 10k Free Men anymore, but he was doing that anyway, and I thought “Fuck, this is doing it so well, I’m not going to fuckin’ do that”, so I had to abandon that.
I was like “Well I still love this as a compositional element, I kind of come from this post-rock background. What interests me? Kind of big, compositional music. Maybe I’ll take the value system, the structure, the intent of video game composition and employ that in a band”. So that’s sort of a starting point.
I eventually bullied Muel into playing with me on drums and I gave him a bunch of horrible, horrible notation. It’s all notated and I gave him pages of this shit and he had to sit there and learn it. It’s horrible and I feel sorry for him.
Then Simeon, who was playing in a band that would support Tinderbox every now and then – I asked him to join and play bass and he came on board as bassist. Then we went through a whole theatre of different guitarists ’cause it’s a very ugly band to play guitar in as it’s not a typical guitar band.
A lot of the compositions of guitar parts are probably closer to classical composition. …5th chords and open E riffs, so it’s probably not going to be funky a lot of the time so it was very hard to find a guitarist.
There was this lovely guy, the first guy who played with us called Joe Lee. Joe Lee was this guy who came into the band thinking it was going to be a little bit difficult for what it was. He inherently had a connection with us through video games. He was a very talented guy. He played guitar, he sang as well.
We played our first gig at Candy’s Apartment and from that we got offered a tour in Taiwan for six months which was really strange. It was really fuckin’ strange. So we agreed to it. Simeon can’t make it as he has personal responsibilities and things like that, so now we have to go “How do we reconfigure this for a three piece?” as we don’t have a bassist anymore.
Essentially what we ended up doing was putting a bass on a stick and took turns. So we kind of played bass a little bit, so I’d play bass a little bit when it was necessary and I would move back to the microphone and keyboard and we kind developed this set around the concept of that really stripped down, a lot of synth bass, kind of video gamey stuff. We were leaning on that sort of stuff a bit more, electronically more now.
These guys that were booking the gigs turned out to be a little bit… like… um… one was so crippled by ADHD. that he could barely focus long enough to book a gig, so now we’ve got a manager of the band whose essentially our tour manager who was kind of messing us up.
So essentially we had to get rid of our tour manager while we were in another country where we don’t speak the main language, so we had to start from bottom up booking gigs for the next six months.
So, we do it. I picked up enough Mandarin so I don’t die. Muel does the same thing. Joe Lee does his best to do the same thing and we start becoming part of the scene over there. So essentially, we were more alive in Taiwan than we were in Australia. I think that’s a big part of what crystalised our approach.
We played something like two gigs in Australia and then we went to tour for six months in Taiwan.
The interesting thing about the scene in Taiwan and Taipei which is where we were kind of playing is that it’s really, really supportive across genre. There’s no sort of schism or split between it. So it’s quite possible that you’ll see an electronic band playing with a death metal band. I mean that quite literally. There was a concert for a band called Go Chic and they’d open for some of my friends in a grindcore band (Ashen) and it’s ridiculous. Imagine Peaches playing with Napalm Death. That’s essentially what you’re getting with the constructs of how these gigs are. I thought it was just so fucking cool that people were coming along to hear unique things.
Taiwan is known in the metal scenes from a band called Cthonic which is spelt c t h o n i c just to fuck with you. They’re kind of a folk black metal band. Do you know these guys much?
Ez: No, no I don’t.
Lachlan: They’ve got the erhu, or the Taiwanese equivalent of the erhu, which is like the Chinese violin. They’re a black metal quintet. They’re very politically active. Obviously Taiwan is a very nebulous and ambiguous place in politics. It is a place that has its own identity that has been usurped by China. It believes that it’s an individual country, but China is not allowing it to become its own identity.
So these guys are kind of a voice for this country and their politics, but they’re also a black metal band, so politically minded people, regardless of their age will come to a black metal gig. So you’ll have a grandmother who is 75-years old in the front row of a black metal gig enjoying it. I couldn’t even understand that at the time. It was amazing.
You’ll have black metal karaoke over there and black metal cover bands that do essentially karaoke version of black metal.
There was a guy that really helped us out called Steve Leggat who ran the Taipei Times. He really helped introduce us to a lot of the different guys in the scene and from there we met another dude called Joe Henley who, I don’t know if he still does, but he’s a journalist over there and he ran a metal booking group called [Taipei] metal – very clever name. We met him and started doing gigs, so we ended up on kind of a lot of metal bills, playing with a lot of punk bands and stuff like that.
We did a festival called The Lost Lagoon Festival which was huge and we got to play at Fu Jen University in Taipei as well, which was literally us playing to a fucking university. An Australian, weird-ass band playing, weird semi-video game rock music with screaming in it to about 5,000 people. It was just fucking weird.
So that was a big part of cementing us as a band. While we were over there, Joe Lee ended up actually quitting and not wanting to play guitar with us over there which is fair enough ’cause as I said it’s not the funnest thing for a guitarist to do, be in our band as it’s very hard to play. But we kind of lucked out and Jeff Stoddard from Front Line Assembly – When I was younger, I was really into industrial music, all that sort of stuff – he played on a particular album called Caustic Grip which is kind of fun, sort of dumbass fucking mid-90’s industrial sort of shit where it’s all industrial machine samples and pigs screaming and all that sort of crap.
But he became our guitarist while we were over there. Jeff started playing gigs with us and then from there we ended up touring from Taiwan into Japan and we played a couple of gigs in Tokyo, we played some gigs in Osaka and Kyoto as well, which was great fun, which sort of felt like us cementing our identity. You know, it’s kind of coming back to the birthplace of Shigeru Miyamoto, so it kind of felt like you were going full circle, and then we went back into Taiwan and then we went back to Australia, so we came back to Australia as a band that had spent more time in Taiwan than Australia.
We had this weird fused identity of us playing music that we wrote in Taiwan so some of it’s in the pentatonic minor scale most known in Chinese music… We had songs that featured Taiwanese language and Mandarin in it as well, so there’s this weird kind of fusion of that. So then we kind of came back to Australia and played some gigs to much confusion here and built up a bit of a local following ’cause we thought it was probably appropriate for us to now kind of play some gigs in Australia.
So we did that for a while and then we wanted to record our first album so I contact a dude that I’m kind of a big fan of as a producer called Toshi Kasai. Toshi Kasai – I’m presuming you know Toshi… awesome dude – So Toshi’s probably most famous for working with the Melvins. He’s an amazing sound engineer. I think he had some kind of technician involvement in the Lateralus Tool album. He’s a pretty renowned dude in the scene over there but I really love his work on the Mevlins records.
After they went onto Ipecac they did these records and they kind of expanded where they had two drummers, with, um…
Ez: Oh, yeah!
Lachlan: Coady and Jarred from Big Business.
Ez: (a) Senile Animal, Nude With Boots and The Bride Screamed Murder.
Lachlan: Totally, yeah. Senile Animal was an amazing album for me. I love the expanse of it. I love the size of the album. I’m a really big fan of the early Melvins sludgy ugly stuff and I really love the Bootlicker, Maggot and Crybaby trilogy ’cause it kind of is so fuckin’ weird and I love the whole Kevin Rutmanis effect on them where they kind of became almost a noise band for a bit.
But the size of (a) Senlie Animal is just so huge and a lot of it’s Toshi’s production, his understanding of how to record drums and stuff like that.
We had this first E.P. which we had to make really quick so we had something in Taiwan to sell and it’s very sort of lo-fi. It has this lo-fi element which I really, really enjoy, but I always felt that we could have done a lot better on the drums and the guitars and a lot of the recording there.
So Toshi was sort of my answer for that. It would have been awesome if still had that sort of lo-fi quality but with this massive sound in the drum kit and kind of big, sort of orchestral sounds but with the mixing with the lo-fi sounds. I guess sort of like taking the element of the early Deerhoof records and then taking an element of Pet Sounds and something like that, that kind of amalgamation of those two points and Toshi helped us do that.
So then we ended up going to L.A. and we recorded the album with Toshi. It was just Muel and I essentially in the band at that stage, so we had to do the guitar ourselves and we had to do the bass ourselves. Obviously Muel did the drums. Tracked them in a ridiculously quick time which allowed us to do everything else. He essentially did ten songs in five hours or something like that. Just one take, one take one take one take. We made him do two takes ’cause we obviously need two takes but we used the first take for pretty much everything he did. He’s an incredible studio player. After we did that I did the guitar.
Jeff Stoddard managed to come over from Taiwan and did some guitar playing with us as well but predominantly I did the guitar playing. Then we got Toshi to do a lot of it too, so Toshi ended up playing a lot of guitar on the album and then Greg Burns from a band called Red Sparowes – I was really into this band called Red Sparowes, kind of late 90’s, 2000’s… have you heard of those dudes?
Ez: I’ve only heard of them because of an artist whose name I can’t remember right now played in them and the only reason why I know of her is because she supported 40 Watt Sun last year.
Lachlan: Ah, okay. Is this Emma Ruth Rundle?
Lachlan: Emma Ruth Rundle played in Marriages with Greg Burns and Greg’s the bassist on a couple of songs on that record as well. So we just met him in L.A. and there’s this cool thing about the L.A. scene… We’re just hanging out and people come up and they’re like “Oh hi!” and I’m like “Who’s that dude in the studio?”.
“Oh, that’s Greg Burns from Red Sparrowes and Marriages.” And I’m like “The fuck?!” And then, Greg Burns is like “Oh you’re a nice guy, yeah I’ll play on your album”. So then we end up getting all these awesome guests, right?
So we end up getting Greg playing on the album, one of my all time heroes – probably one of my favourite vocalists from one of my favourite bands from all fucking time, Oxbow – Eugene Robinson. Like holy fucking shit, having him on a song was just incredible… um-
Ez: Wait wait, so this is on Death to the Babyboomers?
Ez: What song’s he on?
Lachlan: “Car Eater”. That’s Eugene.
Ez: …Of course. Of course. Sorry.
Lachlan: Nah dude, don’t worry about it! It’s all good.
Carla Kihlstedt from Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Book of Knots and more recently she’s doing stuff with Matthias as well ended up singing on a track as well, and of course Dale from Melvins ended up playing drums on it as well, so some really crazy shit happened when we were over there which is really exciting and really fun and that’s that Los Angelean sense of context.
Because it’s a scene there and it has this sort of village feel that just by being part of it, you end up working with all these guys [which] reminded me of Taiwan again. It’s a real sense of community in these countries and identity of what their music scene is and who’s apart of it and everyone kind of wants to help out.
I remember one afternoon we ended up at Helmet’s house, hanging out with Helmet and they tried to explain the Superbowl to me. They couldn’t ’cause I’m a retard and I had no idea. I’m just like “can I just [eat dip] and pretend to understand what’s going on?”.
I remember hanging out and having Korean Barbeque with Fuckin’ Page Hamilton with Toshi cooking and it’s the most surreal feeling, sitting there with that.
That’s kind of that Los Angelean scene, it’s a community of these guys.
So we kind of completed that and we came back to Australia and we put that out and kind of sat on it for a little bit as we really didn’t know what to do with it. We put a lot of work into it production-wise and musically, but we didn’t really know what to do with it commercially or marketably. We got a little bit of help from some of the guys from L.A., England and France who responded really well to the album, so we ended up releasing Death to the Babyboomers through our own record label which was essentially…
We had some interest from some other guys, but there was nothing that they do that we wouldn’t do anyway, so it’s like an uncomfortable relationship sometimes with your friends who have labels and things like that ’cause there’s an expectation that they would need to work on it as hard as you would. So it kind of felt a bit, l would be a bit chidish or arrogant to go, “You put my album out” and then I’d be the dude calling them up every day going “What’s happening, what’s going to happen next?”. You know, you can kind of fuck up a relationship ’cause they’re just like me. They’ve got a day job, they’ve got a normal life. I can’t expect them to be putting everything into my album ’cause they’ve got four or five albums themselves that they’ve got to deal with themselves plus I don’t know if they’re cleaning things for a living or whatever, you know, hellacious thing they’ve got to do with their life.
So we ended up kind of self-releasing it, we did some local gigs here in support of it, stuff like that which was super fun.
Oh. I forgot to mention, obviously during the recording process Danny Heifetz came aboard, from my favourite band of all time, Mr. Bungle, which was huge. Absolutely huge. I’d known Danny previously through Allan’s Music, cause he bought drums and stuff and I played this one gig with him. It was a hilarious covers gig, it was just him and me at the Coogee Diggers Club which was really, really fun. Eventually I asked him “Do you just want to come and play a couple of songs?” He ended up playing a couple of songs on the album. Then after that, Muel was sick for a tour that we were playing in Sydney so Danny came on board and played a whole set with us, and then Danny said “You know what? I know you originally wanted two drummers. Is it okay if I stick around?”, and I said “Fuck yeah, absolutely.”. And then we ended up with the two drummer set up from then on after that.
So then we ended up launching the album in Sydney and playing some gigs around and that was pretty much it for a while. I took a little bit of time off after that. I moved back up to the Central Coast and grew vegetables and stuff for a bit. Still stayed in touch with the guys, still did a lot of other experimental music projects and improvised music projects, but sort of stopped it and then I ended up moving back to Sydney, back in with Sam Sheumack… Sam came on board just before we went to Las Angeles, but we just couldn’t pay the poor bugger to come over and hang out with us and play over there, so he ended up recording his parts in Australia, and Sam – you’ve got to understand has come after a bunch of guitarists – we had Joe Lee, we had Jeff Stoddard, we had a dude that was like the main player in a band called Slimey Things which was a big sort of…
Ez: I know Slimey Things.
Lachlan: You know Slimey? Okay, cool, cool.
Nick played with us for a while. A sound engineer / producer guy from a studio called Brain Studios played with us for a while. I know it was horrible for all of them. Not kind of socially, but physically they’d have to do it.
Then we met Sam. Sam was playing in this band which was like a transgender / transvestite thrash metal band called Mechanical Black. He was kind of the lead guitarist in that. He was sort of looking for session work and stuff like that so I got him to play some gigs at the time ’cause essentially we didn’t have a proper guitarist. He loved the music and he wanted to come on board and he could fuckin’ do it. He could actually play this horrible shit and do it with a smile on his face. He’s an exceptional player and has a great feel and attitude.
He’s got a lot of technique and he doesn’t have this weird arrogance about it. There’s a a lot of kind of messiness in his playing. He’s very kind of skungy and ugly which was kind of important to what GODSWOUNDS was aesthetically as far as the music goes, and physically maybe.
He became a big part of that music as well.
After I moved back to Sydney and was living with him at his little house in Burwood, that’s when we toured with Regurgitator. We ended up playing in Queensland and Sydney gigs. Danny couldn’t make those gigs unfortunately, but Chris who is another great drummer in Sydney stood in for him so we still had the two drummer bits, which was amazing. it was great, and that pretty much brings us to now.
Ez: So, there was roughly a two year gap there though, nothing happened.
Lachlan: I stopped. So for the last two years I had to take a break. I had been doing this, essentially, for seven years straight. I had some ugly shit happen in my life sort of around the time just before we went on tour overseas and I sort of had to recheck in about what I wanted to do.
A lot of what GODSWOUNDS has basically come from a happy place and I was concerned that I would poison it with attitudes and stop it from being what it is. Of course I just wanted to sit back a bit and get my life in order.
What’s really interesting though is when you think you’re done with something or when you’re away from something is that quite often it will come grab you and pull you back into it, which is kind of where I’m at now.
So I took two years off to essentially just be an adult, really. There was still stuff here and there that I was doing, little bits of music, little bits of improv shows, but nothing to do really with GODSWOUNDS. But then we got approached by Toshii to do the Joyful Noise recordings release with the vinyl records and we had to go help with that and that kind of leads us to now where we’re starting to prepare for another couple of album’s recording.
Ez: Ah, fair enough. Well, welcome back.
Lachlan: Thank you.
Ez: *laughing* (I hadn’t thought far enough ahead for further questions).
Lachlan: You’re doing fine man.
Ez: Well, we’ve already answered “Why is Purple” so we’ll move on.
Ez: Right. Spain. Forgot. So with the first album, you had tracks written, I imagine they were road tested first before they were recorded and now they’re on vinyl, of course. Other than Toshi asking you to prepare it for record, any other particular reason?
Lachlan: What do you mean?
Ez: Well, you know, a lot of people will put out a record for better audio fidelity, some people put it out just because and some people do it because they don’t think a record is complete until it is on a different format.
Lachlan: Well, I was sort of resistant to being on a record for a long time. Simeon, the bassist and Sam were really aggressively prodding me with a stick at one stage to do a vinyl release of it but I didn’t think it was financially warranted. The majority of our sales have been digital. They haven’t been through a physical medium and I thought that would probably translate to vinyl as well, so I wasn’t particularly interested.
We do some shirt sales. We do some CD sales, but the majority is downloads. Unless we’re at gigs, obviously Brisbane and Sydney people are buying CDs as they don’t know how else they’re going to find us so it’s kind of like the situation you were in, right?
Lachlan: So I didn’t really know if we were established enough for it to be valid. I don’t know i that’s insecurity or whatever, but it’s sort of like I wanted to be in a situation where it was sort of valid for us to be on vinyl more than anything else and Toshi was that validity.
I guess that’s the only reason why I didn’t before and the reason why I suddenly did it was that there was that opportunity there. There was an opportunity that I didn’t have any identity with or connection with until Toshi said “You know, I believe that this is good and Joyful Noise might want to hear this on vinyl and let’s do this”, and then and only then I was “fuck alright, let’s do it”.
Ez: Fair enough. You mentioned before you ran a theatre company.
Ez: Do you think that working to theatre has affected your approach to music?
Lachlan: Oh fuck yeah. Absolutely.
There’s the obvious effect of theatre as you have an awareness of yourself and the pretense of performance.
Having a sense of humour on stage is for me really important to what it is, but also being part of a theatre company really affected how I approached the compositional side of things as well.
There’s a sense of dynamic in theatre in what we write. There’s a lot of our songs up until recently that were instrumental that would have kind of little moments of singing but the majority of what’s going on wouldn’t have a lot of singing in it and that comes from a narrative or just an idea of a theatrical setting.
I think that comes from my time running a theatre company; understanding that sort of structure and I guess kind of creating an image through the musical medium.
Ez: How much of your writing do you think is improvisational vs. pre-composed?
Lachlan: Oh, most of it’s pre-composed. I’d say, maybe 98% is pre-composed and when it’s live it turns into another monster.
So there’s enough room in GODSWOUNDS for everyone to be themselves. I’m not too much of a fascist when it comes to telling people what effects to use, how to play, things like that. It’s very important [that] you have the identity of the musicians in the music.
You just invite people on board and then twist their arm until they do it exactly the way you want it; what’s the point? Why have these characters, these interesting guys if they can’t be themselves?
So that’s a big part of what the band is as well, but as far as the composition process, yeah. It’s me, sitting in front of Sibelius – which is like a music notation program – with a guitar and a keyboard and literally putting black dots on a white screen. That’s where it starts.
Ez: So with people having enough space to… *there was an odd sound that could be heard*
Lachlan: Sounds like a juicer, or it’s shredding a pig.
Ez: Oh man, it’s certainly one of the more pleasant sounds I’ve heard in a while.
Lachlan: Oh really?
Ez: Where I work… the thing is journalism is kind of more of a hobby thing for me so I have a day job too and I study because – as a mature age student – I got sick and tired of reality. “I’m done, I’m out. I need to get a thing that doesn’t allow me to have a job. Um… but at work today I noticed that there was a kind of humming. A whirring of machinery and I couldn’t tell if it was air con or just a computer, but it kind of bothered me a bit. It bothered me more than that did because that you know, you know?
Ez: It’s just one of those sounds that you’re very familiar with it. You know it, but until that point it’s been unknown.
Lachlan: It’s the sort of thing that stabs your tongue in the back of your gums until you start bleeding, right?
Ez: Yeah, and then you start saying Cthulu fhtagn and… but anyway, that was a rather pleasantly unpleasant sound.
So essentially saying there’s enough room for everybody to have their own identity within a set framework.
Lachlan: Super super important. I think that’s a really good point you’ve raised there Ezekiel. That’s my play background right there. So I right a play and I put the play down and everyone learns their lines but they act it out in their own way and they develop their own characters and things like that. You’re 100% right.
So what I do is I write a script which is the notation and then they all act it out. They kind of do it in their own way. Their personalities, their performance is really important to me. That’s a really good point you’ve nudged in on there. Well done. And I know that you meant to do that and-
Ez: Did I?
Lachlan: It was completely presupposed and you’ve lead into this really well.
Ez: Oh please, please.
Well, if my winging it is you seeing it as doing everything-
Lachlan: You can edit that out. It’s not winging it. This is four months of study and analysis. Maybe it can be winging as it’s more impressive, isn’t it? Just coming up with stuff on the fly.
Ez: Yeah, and it’s better that way. I mean, I can’t give you all the work, I have to have some for myself.
Lachlan: Absolutely, of course.
Continued in Part II.