To celebrate LISTEN’s new website we’re interviewing a bunch of local Australian artists to profile them on the site. Introducing Piss Factory:
How would you best describe your music?
We’re The Ramones
How did your band / musical project start?
Through zines, as it happens. Our singer/guitarist Scout began the zine Piss Factory in a bedroom in suburban Sydney a few years ago, and was soon making lo-fi bedroom music under that name too. There’s a few years’ worth of that audio stuff up on our bandcamp you can still readily get down your lugholes.
Our bassist Thomas met a zinemaker called Chiara at a zine fair and, because he lived in Melbourne and she lived in Canberra, they were pen pals for a while. Chiara now runs the Girls Rock! camps across Australia and is generally magnificent. Thomas asked Chiara’s band Madam Acne & The Screw Ups to play a gig he was putting on in Melbourne, and the singer happened to be Scout. It was an amazing show. Thomas went home to listen to Scout’s solo stuff too and was smitten by it immediately.
Bianca held a zine launch for her series ‘Miniatures’ at Sticky Institute in 2013 and Thomas was behind the desk that day. They hit it off straight away. A few months later Thomas was organising an Old Bar show and asked Bianca if her new group The Girl Fridas would like to play their first live performance on the same line-up as Scout. Scout and TGF very quickly became firm allies, regularly travelling interstate to be on the same bills as each other.
In 2015 when Thomas was made redundant from a shitty office job he travelled to Sydney that weekend to see Piss Factory play at The Red Rattler. Scout had usually performed solo at gigs but was being backed up by rockers from local act The Nuclear Family. Thomas, by now a huge Piss Factory fan (or ‘pissbaby’ as they’re known in the business), still says it was one of the most electrifying moments of his life seeing those songs played that fucking loudly into his face.
When Scout moved to Melbourne a few months later and decided to start a more permanent three-piece version of the band, Bianca joined on drums while they were looking around for a bass player. Thomas hadn’t really even touched a bass guitar at this point but didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to be playing songs he loved so much, and has been learning on the fly ever since.
TL;DR = three m8s formed a band.
Do you make music with a political focus? If so, what is your focus? If not, why not?
Great question! Scout writes all the songs and a lot of them are autobiographical, and we believe that the personal is political, at least it is in the way that Scout approaches it. A lot of the songs are about anxiety and lethargy, and other symptoms of low self-esteem, and we think it’s important to question where that comes from in the first place, particularly society’s role in creating that. I think the three of us are angry and exhausted with the way things are, but also have a sense of the absurd, and want to prove you can be frustrated at the world while still not taking yourself so seriously. Scout’s art practice is heavily influenced by Dada and maybe its teachings have seeped into her songwriting somehow, only without making it impenetrably (for want of a better word) ‘weird’. We’re not weird people, we feel awkward and uncertain a lot of the time, we want to let people know that’s not fun but also entirely understandable. We think our music is accessible and won’t outstay your attention span.
But yes, we do have some songs that address particular socio-political issues. Our new tape has ‘We’ll Have Our Manic Pixie Dream Girls Quiet Pls’ on it which is specifically about ‘bro punks’, the cishet dudes who feel they have a monopoly on rock music / that women should play a subservient role in the music industry, which makes zero fucking sense. It does it by caricaturing a guy like that and his deification of John Lennon, focusing on his unwillingness to confront how problematic that is. We’ve also started playing ‘Insufficient Funds’ which is about how our generation has been screwed over economically but still gets given the blame. Millennials have been said to have ‘killed’ everything from the diamond industry and the housing market to napkins, doorbells and breakfast cereal, as if businesses and brands know better than we do about what we want and what we can afford. Maybe it’s not entirely our fault that we can’t get on the property ladder, Brenda.
What has been the biggest highlight as a band?
It was knee-tremblingly satisfying to put out a live album on our friend Tim’s record label YNTPM (RIP). That felt like a good milestone. It was recorded through the desk at Last Chance to an audience of about three people. The artwork looks great ‘cos Scout found a Spirograph in the attic. There was an attempt at onstage banter that night, which is not particularly ‘on brand’, but it got cut out. Thomas tried and failed to flirt with Scout’s parents at one point.
It’s a sappy answer but it also feels stupendous every time we get to play with a band we love, which has happened a lot. Our bucket list has so many buckets crossed off it already. Hopefully you know who you are.
Who are your biggest influences musically right now?
In terms of a local band we’ve not played with yet, we’re all really into the RVG album, it’s made our hearts crumble into pink sand. Our (unfortunately not literal) European bedfellows Mixed Infants and The Threw Ups sporadically offer up unpolished gems that give us energy. We listen to The Slits together a lot.
Scout is into circuit-bending at the moment, inspired by electro-punks like Heat Wave and DIY synth enthusiasts such as Helena Celle. Who knows if that will seep into our new soundz. Thomas likes Hextape who is on a not-too-distant wavelength in that regard, and in his quest to find funkiness from across the globe has been devouring the new Dean Rodney Jr album this week. Bianca’s basically only been listening to Terry for the past month and who can blame her.
Where can people find your music?