"If You're Not Dead You Should Be Able To Find Something That Inspires You"

9 March 2016 | 5:11 pm | Hannah Story

Gareth Liddiard says you should be able to find a muse "everywhere".

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It is 38 degrees in Gareth Liddiard's home in Nagambie, Victoria. The air-conditioner is broken, and no one can come to fix it for a week: "It's shit."

So begins our chat with The Drones frontman — it's casual, littered with "fucken"s and "kinda"s. His distinctly Australian drawl is warm, literally and figuratively. He laughs and jokes easily, the conversation derailing at times. We talk about the pretentiousness of U2, about gender politics and Wu-Tang Clan - Liddiard is a "'90s Wu-Tang guy", but he didn't catch their live shows last month. We mention the gender breakdown in the audience was dramatically skewed to the Y chromosome. "You think like Method Man or GZA, they sound sexy to me, in my limited hetero way of what that is. If I was a woman I would be less likely to go and see NWA than Wu-Tang, or anything else but Wu-Tang, except Public Enemy..." he trails off.

"I don't know how to say it without sounding like a granddad, but it has more groovy beats." 

Liddiard describes the new Drones record, Feelin Kinda Free, their seventh, as "groovy": "There's more, I don't know how to say it without sounding like a granddad, but it has more groovy beats." He laughs. It's a direction that comes as reaction to what they've done before, and the fact that "We spend half our time listening to shit like James Brown or Wu-Tang Clan or Missy Elliott anyway, so it was like 'Let's try and make people dance.'"

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To make a groovy record he says they turned the drums up. "Usually we went and did everything based around the sort of Iggy & The Stooges thing where you just crank the shit out of the guitars, and you can't really hear the drums. But then if you listen to something like Talking Heads or Joy Division or anything like that, the drums are really loud, and that's not even stuff like Missy Elliott or hip hop. You just do that, and then you go for a groovy beat. We've always avoided grooves, because people would enjoy them too much. It's worked out well because it meant we still had an extra round in the chamber, because sooner or later we're going to run out of ideas I'm sure."

It's a playful record too: "Music really should be play otherwise it's just really earnest and dull and doesn't have any spirit. It's boring," Liddiard says. He says you can find your muse "everywhere", "in a bottle of scotch or in a partner or a friend or in some sort of abstract idea of your favourite writer from the 19th century".

"If you're not dead you should be able to find something that will inspire you, otherwise you must be really dull. That's what I think. Because there's so much shit out there that's weird and wacky, and now you can just get on Google and within five or ten minutes you should be able to find something that'll stimulate your imagination."

He himself sticks phrases and ideas he comes across on the internet into songs for a laugh, like for instance 'koro syndrome': the fear that your genitals are shrinking and will disappear. "I like mass hysteria, I guess I was reading about mass hysteria, like UFO sightings and even something like 'reds under the bed', y'know everyone can share a psychological kind of cul-de-sac for a while on that, and they don't seem to realise they were so far off the mark. And koro syndrome is just the funniest version of that where you just think your dick is shrinking, everybody thinks their cocks are shrinking, it's so fucking funny. So the minute I heard about it I just went 'Right, I've got to put that in a song.'

"Music really should be play otherwise it's just really earnest and dull and doesn't have any spirit. It's boring."

"You'll stick it in a song like Private Execution, something really heavy, you'll stick something really stupid like koro syndrome in there. It's ridiculous, and the world is ridiculous, and I kind of just take things from everywhere and try and stitch 'em all together, and put 'em in a context that they should be in, and then you get something interesting, you get some kind of electricity, a spark. "

Liddiard has spoken to The Music before about their difficulty in making the record in the midst of a 'party', surrounded by friends in inner city Melbourne. In the end, how did they do it? "We learnt to get things down while we were getting down. It took about three months and it was fucking annoying at the start, because we had a studio in Fitzroy, which is close to all our inner city friends, all our hipster mates, you can put that in there. So they would [think], 'It's a studio, what do you do? Oh well the band are there so let's go get stoned and drunk and just do what you would do if you were in a movie about The Doors or something,' you know those music bios?

"We just got used to people just being silly buggers and doing all sorts of shit, like gambling. They were fucking gambling, there was a gambling room, a gambling den. They would be gambling and they'd be listening to fucking Michael Jackson, and we're in the other room, which is only like three metres away, with the door open, recording an album — and it actually worked, it worked really good. Because Michael Jackson is good when you're trying to make a groove-based record, it's good to stick your head in the gambling room and hear what Quincy Jones would do."