Private Parts

1 August 2012 | 12:52 pm | Samson McDougall

. “It seems there’s just amazing bands all over. It feels like people in Brisbane kind of look outwards; it may a generalisation, but it feels really fertile everywhere and there’s really good things happening all over. Or maybe I’m just paying closer attention or something.”

There's been a steady stream of 'em in recent times, driving down the Pacific, or the Newell or the New England Highway from the relatively balmy climes of Queensland to the increasing gloom and damp of their southern neighbours mid-winter. Tape/Off, Idylls, White Hex and now Martyr Privates (the latter two both containing past or current members of Slug Guts, who've just made the move south permanent) have all packed their beanies and travelled south this winter, and those in punk circles are bloody happy they have.

To mention Martyr Privates are the new outlet for ex I Heart Hiroshima and Slug Guts guitarist Cameron Hawes may give readers the bum steer. There's maybe a tinge of Slug Guts in there, but Martyr Privates' sound is far lighter on the sleaze and, though no walk in the park, wanders on a far sunnier side of the street. As far as drawing comparisons with I Heart Hiroshima, forget about it – there just ain't any to draw. What you get with Martyr Privates is a full-sounding washy dirge of guitar that's heavy on repetition with echoey vocals. They're a new band, with only a couple of songs laid to tape thus far, and they're taking their works in progress on the road.

“For us, it was just time to play outside of Brisbane,” says Hawes. “It seems there's just amazing bands all over. It feels like people in Brisbane kind of look outwards; it may a generalisation, but it feels really fertile everywhere and there's really good things happening all over. Or maybe I'm just paying closer attention or something.”

They're packing Hawes' (some would say crazy) parents' Pajero and hitting Newcastle, Sydney and Melbourne on their first journey south, a tour they're splitting with fellow Brisbane act Sewers. Though it almost seems counter-intuitive to head in this direction at this time of year, it will allow the band to brush up on their material before having a crack at recording on their return. “Half the motivation for us driving [is] to spend some quality time in the Pajero,” Hawes laughs. “Apart from practicing for this tour, we've got a bunch of songs that we haven't recorded. We're hoping to come back and record a full-length; that's our plan at this stage. Hopefully we'll have something out by early next year.”

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

The two recorded tracks Martyr Privates do have to date were songs that preceded the floods of 2011. Though the heat and humidity of Brisbane are all too often referenced with regards to the city's punk rock scene, Martyr Privates were, last year, affected by Mother Nature in a more tangible sense. “This was one of the first songs we wrote and it was during the floods,” Hawes says of Bless. “All of our gear was stranded, we practiced in a storage shed just around the corner from where we lived, but we couldn't get to our gear for close to a month, which was really annoying, but we managed to write the two songs before then... Literally like one or two hundred metres from our house there were buildings that were completely under, y'know, the McDonald's just down the road's arches were just peeking out of the water. There were mushrooms growing in the living room of my house.”

And on what to expect of their sound, Hawes is a little lost as to how it's best described, though bandmate Sam Dixon finds it a little easier. “I don't even know what dirge-rock is but we're certainly repetitive,” Hawes admits. “It's probably out of necessity because we're just lazy; we come up with one part and find a way to repeat it without it getting boring, hopefully. Sam described [single] Native Son and said something funny about it on the [band's] Facebook. He described the riff as something like turning your balls into a pretzel.”