The road for Brisbane alt-rockers Violent Soho has been far from smooth. Yet, after hitting another year, their frontman has plenty to celebrate – especially since dropping latest album WACO in March.
“I think this is the time when you stop counting (laughs). I turned 30 when we started recording WACO, and that kind of blew my mind because we did that a year ago. We’ve already released it and I was like ‘Man, that went quick!’”
Boerdam firmly stands with one fan’s take on the record, agreeing that “every song has purpose”.
“For me, it’s not the singles you put out but all the songs in between that will paint a whole image and take it somewhere, like ‘Low’, ‘So Sentimental’ and ‘No Shade’… They show this other side of the band which isn’t just for a party, with a use-one-pedal formula. There’s more to explore. Songs like ‘OK Cathedral’ on Hungry Ghost as well created the whole world for the record.”
“Lyrically, ‘WACO’’s the one that resonated as really applying to the whole thing. This album has become Hungry Ghost’s older sister. It’s darker, and the lyrics tied it all together. So for that song to become the title track… that was pretty important.”
Yet even with this mindset, there’s still room for a “happy accident”. Here the vocalist drops a funny anecdote involving personal favourite ‘How To Taste’, and playing around with some demos on his MacBook.
“I was working on this other, more epic riff, and I accidently looped a section of it. It kept looping, and I was like ‘This is awesome!’ I always remember it being one of my favourites. It’s funny because it’s such a basic riff, but it’s got that perfect mosh tempo and it’s almost addictive. I love it.”
Boerdam further brightens at the mention of hidden gem ‘Golden Days’, a track which didn’t make the cut and ironically still hasn’t seen the light of day.
“What happened there was that classic thing where ‘Low’ was better. It really went somewhere and was such a good album-closer, so there just wasn’t a good spot for ‘Golden Days’. There are B-sides from Hungry Ghost around as well that I always forget about. But James’ point was that ‘Golden Days’ was next to ‘Like Soda’, and I said ‘I’m not feeling it, ‘Like Soda’’s crap. I’m sorry, I’ll do better next time.’ Then people were like ‘Fuck you, man. It’s the best!’ (laughs). So I called James saying ‘‘Golden Days’ is the only good one, I don’t know why you guys like this.’ Then in a few more days, they’re like ‘No, ‘Like Soda’’s a single. It’s really good.’
“Luckily I’m in a band, because I obviously wouldn’t run a good label (laughs).”
While he may not oversee Poison City or Chugg Music any time soon, Boerdam certainly shares a killer dynamic with guitarist James Tidswell, describing him fondly as “actually a pretty smart dude”.
“I hate face banter and don’t like talking in the middle of songs. Sometimes I get in the mood, but then looking back I’m like, ‘That was such a stupid thing to say’… Like in Adelaide, I just told people to ‘Fuck off’ and they weren’t doing anything wrong (laughs)… I am more introverted, onstage especially, whereas James enjoys talking to the crowd and does a pretty good job.
“He really understands where I’m coming from with the songs and helps protect it in a way. We’ve just been friends for so long. James joined the band when he heard a demo. He called me up and was like ‘I have to be in this band, this song is so good’. People expect the frontman to be the lead and be confident, and that’s naturally not me. I find that egotistical, male lead singer ball play irritating. It doesn’t make sense.
“It’s good for me because I feel like he (James) takes some weight off my chest.”
The four-piece certainly felt the pressure when they moved to Brooklyn together prior to their sophomore release Violent Soho back in 2010, playing shows relentlessly and experiencing the darker side of the American music industry. Pausing here, Boerdam reflects thoughtfully on those moments.
“If I think about the time in my life where it was like ‘Wow that was crazy’, it’s when we all lived there together… There was like nine people in one apartment. Then just driving in a van and touring… That was so horrifying and awesome at the same time.”
For the introspective vocalist, it was “the final nail in the coffin that just cemented who Violent Soho are”, leading to the boys “ending up in our parents’ bedrooms broken in debt”.
“We went through touring with bands who run mainly independently, and just released all this guitar music. We picked up all these influences over there, like with The Bronx… Then we grew up a bit when we got back and realised that the only people that really know how your band should be is the band itself. We’ve lasted 11 to 12 years, and it’s because we don’t treat it like a job. We turn up to practice and be serious when we have to, but you make space in each other’s lives where there are more important things going on… It just makes it fun and never stressful.”
This extends to the banter shared before every gig as the band put their hands in like a sports team. The frontman recalls how they’ve dedicated shows to various people over the years, from Silverchair’s Ben Gillies the first time round to “an old NBL star from the ‘80s”.
Ironically, the frontman turns the most sentimental here as he remembers former manager Dean Turner, who passed away in 2009 after a long battle with cancer.
“When we played at Laneway Festival this year, because of our history, we did do that one for him. That’s probably the one where there wasn’t any laughing at a big joke. He was a big part of our band.”
Be ready for a quadruple threat when Violent Soho storm the country with The Bronx, Luca Brasi and Tired Lion. Check out their Facebook page for more info.
AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
Friday October 28 – Licensed/All Ages
Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
Saturday October 29 – Licensed/All Ages
Festival Hall, Melbourne
Monday October 31 – Licensed/All Ages
AEC Theatre, Adelaide
Friday November 4 – Licensed/All Ages
Red Hill Auditorium, Perth
Saturday November 5 – Licensed/All Ages