It’s been the busiest year for Frenzal Rhomb in quite a while both on and off the stage, their new album ‘Smoko At The Pet Food Factory‘ was released, multiple tours under their belts and it’s next stop Big Day Out for the band, who’ve managed to play a quarter of the BDO festivals over the years. No doubt they’ll have something up their sleeves for the festival for which tickets are on sale now. Deborah Konopnicki recently caught up with Jay to chat about the year that has been, the latest album, their secret love for metalcore and more. See below to check it out.
G’day Jay! How have you guys been?
Yeah, good! Just trying to think what we’ve been doing! We went to Darwin which was good! It was about 20% Juggalos but I like that in a crowd.
Your 10th record “Smoko At The Pet Food Factory” came out in August, absolute ripper of an album too. How are you guys feeling about the record?
Yeah good! It’s a lot of fun. I think that it’s a lot better than the last one. People seem to be enjoying its styling’s.
How are you enjoying playing the new tracks? There are quite a few interesting ones on the record.
When we can play them it is very enjoyable. Sometimes playing new songs can prove a little bit challenging. We’re playing more off this record then the previous record at least. We’ve been playing maybe five or six songs, which in a Frenzal Rhomb set is quite a lot. We’ve got so many records now that my aim is to release 20 records and to play one song off every record.
So would you say that people – in general – are being more receptive to the new CD than the last album?
Yeah! People have been very receptive to this. Even if they don’t know that they like it, they seem to like it!
You recorded the album with a bit of a music icon in Bill Stevenson who I had the pleasure of chatting with last year. How did you find working with him?
Good! He’s a true eccentric that guy, and he smells terrible and is enormous but he’s a real sweetheart as well. I enjoyed it. From my point of view being the vocalist, the vocals with him were kind of brutal but I think that he really got the best out of my voice for better or for worse. What you hear is really the best that I could have done. After every line he was like “That was shit… do it again!” I’d do it again and he’d be like “That was flat… do it again!, ah that one was flat too… do it again!” and so on. It took me like six full days to do the vocals. It was four full days of singing and it was good! There was never any malice in his directions he didn’t want to fuck around.
I read a little bit of what Lindsay thought about the process, saying that he found it to be like a bit of sensory deprivation where you guys were all locked in separate rooms and had to work things out from there. How did you find that?
Yeah it was good. I was a bit concerned at first that we’d all go a bit insane and it would be a form of torture but as it turned out it was quite a refreshing way to record. We hadn’t really done it like that before. My fear was that because we had such a production line that the actual sound of the record would come across like that but I don’t think that it does at all. I think that it still sounds like a band.
Just touching on Bill again for a second; you guys are all massive fans of the Descendents so it must have been pretty exciting to be a part of their first every tour of Australia last year with No Sleep Til!
That was really great. Having been a massive fan of Descendents for a long time it was very exciting to see them play. It was also very exciting when we were recording over there to have them rehearsing in the next room. We were sleeping at the studio. Sometimes they started to rehearse a little bit too early but it was still very exciting to be lying there and going “That’s actually the Descendents playing next door”.
So there are so many great tracks on this record. I think that “Mummy Doesn’t Know You’re A Nazi” became my favorite the second that I heard it. What about yourself? Do you have a favorite?
I like that one as well and I like “Bird Attack”. We actually did a film clip for “Mummy Doesn’t Know You’re A Nazi” but it’s yet to see the light of day because it’s so disgusting. That’s saying something if we’re censoring it ourselves! There’s a lot of masturbating to Nazi porn. It ended up being too much. Even though the song only goes for a 1 ½ minutes or whatever it was still too much to look at.
Do you think that you’ll release it one day?
Well I hope not for the sake of you and everyone that might want to see it.
Now you’ve just got me curious!
I should have just not said anything…
So there are a couple of moments on the record where you guys turn into a fully-fledged metalcore band. That was no doubt a result of being the most brutal band on the No Sleep Til lineup last year right?
That’s right! It was the result of being such massive Parkway Drive fans that I wanted to try our hand at what the kids like these days for a change. We gave it a red-hot go! Lindsay played a baritone guitar for those parts, which is a guitar with an extra string; an extra low string on it. I didn’t realize that it was a trick for all of those bands to get that sound. Either that or you tune your strings down so low that they’re just slapping around the neck. It’s something that I’m sure you’ll be hearing more of!
You must enjoy playing that stlye?
I like doing it! I like singing in that kind of style because I don’t have to worry about notes so that’s always good. Or lyrics!
Yeah, you could just scream nonsense and most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
For the record you wrote about 150 songs and whittled it down to “the good ones”. How on earth did you come up with 150 different ideas?!
Well it takes a long time but they’re very short! We normally have a success rate of 7 or 8 to 1. I’d write like 7 or 8 songs and I would present them to the band and we’d demo them in my little studio. Some or all of the band members would say “That’s fucked! That one’s fucked! That’s shit! That’s one that we should never ever talk about again… “. They’ll all sit somewhere in the hard drive with the “Mummy Doesn’t Know You’re A Nazi” video clip. We tried this time where everyone has the power of veto. Anyone who didn’t like something – even if everyone else liked something – but if that one person didn’t like something then we’d chuck it in the bin. That lead to a lot of corruption. People tried to buy each other’s veto’s through various things. Then we decided for majority rules in the end. We had this massive list and provided a spread sheet, which is probably the most punk rock thing that you could do, which is hand around an excel spread sheet with all of these songs on it! So we all voted on the different songs. It just ended up being the songs that had the most votes ,which seemed to be the more positive way to do it rather than telling everyone that their songs were fucked.
It’s the first record that you’ve released in close to five years. Were you itching to get out there and write some new music?
Yeah definitely but we also didn’t want to just get out there and do anything. We would rather waiting longer and not just putting any old thing out. We could have just put something out a couple of years ago and it would not have been as good for us I think. We thought that if we were going to do a record that we were going to do it popularly – just top shelf sort of stuff.
I guess the time off would have built up a lot of anticipation especially because you were still active with playing shows during that time. I guess you could really see it when the album shows were announced back in August with the tickets flying out the door. Were you expecting that after a bit of a break releasing records?
Nah, I’m always so grateful when people turn up to the shows because that’s the only way that we do it all. That’s really the pay off if people are coming to the shows. I was really stoked that there were so many people that were still interested. Next year will be 20 years that we’ve been doing this so it’s really nice that peoples till show up and make idiots of themselves!
I guess that playing at Big Day Out is a nice way to celebrate in style!
That’s right! I was speaking to someone before that was giving me this awesome statistic. Because we’ve played five Big Day Outs and they’re in their 20th year that Frenzal Rhomb has played a quarter of Big Day Outs.
That’s a pretty impressive stat to have next to your name.
Yeah, and it sounds like more when you say it like that.
How are you guys looking forward to next year’s line-up?
It’s terrific! It’s a terrific line-up. Kanye West, we’re looking forward to seeing him a lot. He’s proved to be at least humourous! I heard that last time that he was out here or at one stage when he was out here that he drove onto the stage in black Mercedes. I love that shit. Hopefully there will be something like that. And Soundgarden – I have a bone to pick with them. Is it Chris Cornell that’s the lead singer? Last time they played the Big Day Out, which was one of the first ones if not the very first one that we played. I was standing at the bar with my last $5 and I bought a mixed spirit with some sort of soft drink in it. I was standing at the bar at the after party which I think as at The Hilton and I mean, who can afford to drink in there! So I had it sitting on the bar and Chris Cornell comes over and just sort of looks around, picks up my drink, starts drinking it and walks away. I was like “Hey! Fuckhead! I can’t afford that!” anyway, he just sort of walked off being all that. I haven’t forgotten that.
Are you going to confront him at Big Day Out?
I think I will! I think that’ll do it on stage.
Do have anything special planned for next year? Maybe a theme to celebrate your 20 years coinciding with the festival?
Well we’re thinking of a giant inflatable pie cart with a quarter of it in purple and the rest of them in green, signifying all of the Big Day Outs and the five ones that we’ve played. We’re not sure! We’re going to do something but we’re still in the prototype stages at this point.
Just finally for today; what is on the cards for you guys for the rest of this year?
Rest of this year? Well we’ve just done both New Zealand and Tasmania so I think that we’re just going to lay low until Big Day Out at this stage.
FRENZAL RHOMB – Smoko At The Pet Food Factory
Instores now via Shock Records.
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CATCH FRENZAL RHOMB NEXT ON THE BIG DAY OUT – Tickets on sale now
22nd – Gold Coast || 26th – Sydney || 29th – Melbourne
3rd – Adelaide || 5th – Perth
www.bigdayout.com for all the details