It’s December 31st 2010 and Violent Soho, a four-piece from the Brisbane suburb of Mansfield, whose sound lies somewhere between The Smashing Pumpkins and the Powder Monkeys, are tearing apart the stage at Melbourne’s Ding Dong Lounge.

The house isn’t empty by any means, but it’s not exactly packed either. The band had dropped their self-titled sophomore album back in March, which received critical acclaim and some traction on community radio, but hardly proved a smash.

When frontman Luke Boerdam is reminded of that particular NYE gig, he remembers it immediately and recalls the sentiment many of the fans gathered in the room no doubt shared: how are these guys not the biggest thing in Australia?

Fast forward a couple of years and one very important album and Violent Soho are the biggest thing in Australia, with a new record titled WACO and a jam-packed tour that’s ready to propel the band even further into the stratosphere.

“It was a bit frustrating, because it was like being in no man’s land,” Boerdam says of the days when Violent Soho was, far from selling out two Tivolis back-to-back, struggling to get noticed and working day jobs when they weren’t on tour.

“Like, most bands would call getting signed as making it and we had that,” he adds. “We’d be signed to labels and it’s not like there wasn’t love for the band, but there just wasn’t that last piece of the puzzle where it just spread.”

That last piece was 2013’s Hungry Ghost, which Boerdam has no qualms in referring to as the band’s breakout album. “We just needed the right album and that was Hungry Ghost, or at least that’s how I look at it,” he says.

“I mean, in the ’70s, labels would sign bands to these elongated contracts and it would be a few albums before they broke, but nowadays it’s like labels expect that to happen instantly.”

“I think we needed some time and to go through some experiences before we could make Hungry Ghost. That’s when we finally had people sharing the record and talking about it and got a real fan base.”

Of course, none of it was planned. Hungry Ghost came right as the members of the band, which includes guitarist James Tidswell, bassist Luke Henery, and drummer Michael Richards, had come to what Boerdam calls their “mature realisation about how this band was going to play out”.

“When we made Hungry Ghost, just the fact that we were making music and still touring, whilst working our day jobs, that was success to us. We were just happy to keep working jobs and putting out records,” he explains.

“We were just happy to keep working jobs and putting out records.”

“That’s when it exploded.” And if you’ve listened to Hungry Ghost, you’ll know that ‘exploded’ is aptly put. “For me, I didn’t think anything of it. The one thing I do remember thinking was I really, really, really didn’t want self-titled to be our last record,” says Boerdam.

“We were all getting older and we’d given most of our twenties to the band and there was no guarantee on how long we were gonna stick around. And I just remember thinking we have to do a better record.”

“So with Hungry Ghost it was more, for me personally, just proving a point that this band could make that record. After all this work, this is it, we’re laying it on the table.”

“We’d gone through years of just never going through that next step of gaining traction and I just kind of accepted it. Even after Hungry Ghost came out, but ‘Covered In Chrome’ seemed to do something and from there it just kept steamrolling and getting bigger and bigger and bigger.”

So, as one of the biggest success stories to come out of Australian music in years, how does Boerdam, who says he’s seen the band he’s put 10 years of his life into on the verge of collapse more times than he cares to admit, view success?

“If you asked me when I was a 16-year-old kid, I would call what Violent Soho is now a success, like gold records and all that,” he says. “But having grown up a lot, obviously, and learning so much about bands and music and living it, I look back and think man, if you can pull a band together at all and release music you like releasing, that is seriously an effort.”

“That’s success. It’s hard, it’s not… the amount of times this band has tiered close to breaking up [is ridiculous]. Any band, it’s the truth, it’s not easy to work a day job and make music at night or play a gig. Life’s just too easy now, isn’t it?” he laughs.

But whilst all of the band members have quit their day jobs and now focus solely on keeping the monolithic Violent Soho machine running, Boerdam explains it’s no walk in the park. As a roadie once told a fresh-faced Henry Rollins, then the newly minted singer of Black Flag, “This ain’t Van Halen.”

“I look back and think man, if you can pull a band together at all and release music you like releasing, that is seriously an effort.”

“What is different is when you get an audience and all of a sudden you can sell out bigger venues, there’s a lot of negotiating what type of band you want to be,” Boerdam says. “All of a sudden you’re getting offers from these weird companies going, ‘Do you want to wear these shirts or these shoes onstage?'”

“And you’re wondering where that came from. And we’d decided what band we were but now that there’s weight behind the band it’s like, what kind of band do you want to be? And I didn’t realise the amount of work of keeping it going.”

“It’s just constant emails and phone chats, even the amount of interviews, and they’re great, it’s necessary and I enjoy talking about the music, but I’m still blown away by the amount of work that goes into it.”

“I didn’t even know the Gold Coast Bulletin would be interested in talking about this. I mean, I’ve done interviews with Tone Deaf for years, but the Gold Coast Bulletin? Like, what? [laughs]”

“That’s the stuff we’re still learning about. There is work involved in being a band with this much exposure, but luckily it’s been building for 10 years. It’s not like we haven’t gone through enough shit to know how to navigate this.”

So, having proved they have what it takes to be a big band on Hungry Ghost, what are Violent Soho looking to tell us on WACO? “That we can do it again.”

“It’s not like we wanted to do an OK Computer or make another breakthrough record, but for a lot of bands it’s tough to do a follow-up to a breakthrough record, because so many fans just want a 2.0,” Boerdam explains.

“But to do that would be to throw out everything we learnt about how to make music on Hungry Ghost, which is to be ultimately selfish and play your cards and say no, this is what we think and how we like our music, and with WACO, it’s a more mature version of Hungry Ghost.”

“It’s using the same platform to leap off even further. And if we can achieve the same sentiment and character of Hungry Ghost but take it further, that’s what I wanted personally from this record.”

“I wanted to prove this band’s here to stay, Violent Soho is going to keep making records and they’re going to change every year, the sound will change, the band will change, but Hungry Ghost wasn’t it, it wasn’t just this one hit miracle album that came from luck.”

Violent Soho’s new album, WACO, is available now via I OH YOU – get it here.

Violent Soho National Tour Dates

w/special guests DZ Deathrays and Dune Rats

Tuesday, 10th May 2016 – SOLD OUT
The Tivoli, Brisbane (18+)

Wednesday, 11th May 2016 – SOLD OUT
The Tivoli, Brisbane (18+)

Friday, 13th May 2016 – SOLD OUT
The Tivoli, Brisbane (18+)

Saturday, 14th May 2016 – SOLD OUT
The Forum, Melbourne (18+)

Sunday, 15th May 2016 – SOLD OUT
The Forum, Melbourne (18+)

Monday, 16th May 2016 – NEW SHOW
The Forum, Melbourne (18+)

Thursday, 19th May 2016 – SOLD OUT
Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide (AA)

Friday, 20th May 2016
Metro City, Perth (18+)

Thursday, 26th May 2016 – NEW SHOW
Enmore Theatre, Sydney (AA)

Friday, 27th May 2016 – SOLD OUT
Enmore Theatre, Sydney (AA)

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