A Proper Adventure

11 April 2012 | 9:52 am | Steve Bell

“I think the most we’ve done before is three in a row and we were slobbering messes on the third night."

It's hard to say when contemplating the inaugural overseas trip by Brisbane's own scions of rock'n'roll debauchery HITS just who should be more afraid: the five band members or the unsuspecting countries about to be rocked (figuratively and literally) by their impending arrival. Anyone who's seen HITS in all of their live glory know that this is a band which routinely takes no prisoners as they decimate everything in their path, but will also be aware that it's not a given that the volatile outfit has the grounding and preparation for the offstage component of the trip to last the distance. Even the members themselves can throw scant light on the subject.

“It's more shows in a row than we've ever done before,” guitarist Tamara Bell offers nervously. “I think the most we've done before is three in a row and we were slobbering messes on the third night, and now we have to do over 20 shows in a month.

“And we're still getting offered more shows, so it could end up being something like 25 by the end,” muses frontman Richard 'Evil Dick' Hunt, with a clear glint in his eye. “We're going to three countries: Netherlands, Belgium and France – most of the shows are in France. We were supposed to go to Germany but that didn't happen, and we tried to go to Spain but they don't understand us.”

Five weeks overseas is a long time by anyone's reckoning, let alone for one of the most incendiary bands ever to come from our fair city, but from all accounts the planning began innocuously enough.

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“They were hassling us to go over there,” Bell recalls. “[French band] Dimi Dero Inc came over here for shows and stayed in our lounge room one night, and next time they came back we played a few shows with them: they said, 'Do it!', and we figured that if they can afford to do it then maybe we can afford it as well. Then we became friends with [French rockers] The Holy Curse on Facebook – of all places! – and they really got into our music, and were playing one of our songs live, Sometimes You Just Don't Know Who Your Friends Are, so we struck up a friendship with them and that gave us one more reason to go. Plus there's nothing that we'd rather do as a band than go overseas, it's something that we've always wanted to do at some point.”

“Plus our record is apparently selling quite well over there,” Hunt continues, “and people are saying, 'You should go overseas because people are talking about you in Europe'. Gentle Ben sent me a text one day and said they were playing our record in a few venues and bars in France while they were there, and other people we would play with who have played overseas before were saying, 'What are you doing? Get your arse over there!' We've done quite a lot of Australian tours and it wasn't so much that it was getting boring, just that the adventure wasn't there anymore. So we went, 'Well fuck it, let's have a proper adventure! A mega one!'”

“Plus there's a real little path mapped out for 'Brisbane garage rock drinking fuckwits' – there's a good little touring path for bands like that over there!” Bell laughs. “We've played a lot with the New Christs, and they were really pushing it and saying how good it is and how many venues there are and how well they look after bands – they're bloody mad for it!

“It's been amazing speaking to the venues,” Hunt marvels. “They give you accommodation, they give you food, they give you alcohol, and they're paying you as well! What could be better? Although I could think of a few things...”

You'd imagine the hard-rocking and hard-living HITS members would be keen to pace themselves whilst on foreign shores to ensure they last the distance, but that concept is dismissed offhand.

“Our theory is that you don't get hangovers when you're somewhere completely different, because there's so much to see and do that you don't have time,” Bell opines. “That's the theory... I think we're going to let biology sort that out.”

“I'm hoping that we reach a natural equilibrium, but I reckon that will be after the 'death day' which will be about day four, when you want to cry and go home and you're sleeping on someone's dog mattress,” Hunt offers. “I have been thinking about all this, because I smoke so many cigarettes that I'm worried about losing my voice – because I scream a lot too.”

“Richie asked a singing teacher about it the other day,” Bell laughs, “and she said, 'There's not much you can do about it in your position – you just need to drink water.' Like that's going to happen!”

Apart from their explosive music, one of HITS' most endearing traits has been that they've always done things their own way and at their own pace – one of their maxims being 'it's not a race' – and this doesn't look like changing any time soon. They've begun demoing the songs which will hopefully end up as the follow-up to their 2009 debut long-player Living With You Is Killing Me (according to Hunt, “the songs are still definitely HITS, but we're just heading in a direction that I can't quite put my finger on – a bit quieter and more melodic”) and will get around to that on their return to Brisbane, but first they have some shows to raise money for their impending European jaunt.

“You don't get that much out of being in a band except for how good it feels and the songs you make, so why not travel the world if you get the chance if people will put up with you?” Bell ponders. “It's funny, I was just remembering one of Richie's maxims today, and it was, 'If you don't think that your band's the best band in the world, you shouldn't be in it'. What I think is special for me with HITS is the whole approach of 'it's not a race' and how it's about enjoying each other and making good songs, and there's no real goal – there's no target – and we're not chasing anything but good songs and a good time.

“Yeah,” Hunt agrees. “We manage ourselves – or we mis-manage ourselves – and we go around and play gigs with people we like and bands we like, and we get offered good shows: I feel really fortunate. But we've worked hard as well, so I'm looking forward to seeing whether we can push it, in our own way, which is not by not pushing it.”