The Musician Who Doesn't Like To Party: Winston Surfshirt Plays 'Two Truths & A Lie'

5 March 2019 | 12:07 pm | Uppy Chatterjee

"People tend to think that I like to party and I do not. I do like to party – but I’m in bed by 7pm."

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Hip hop/soul sextet Winston Surfshirt have made a pretty notable mark on the Aussie music landscape in just a few short years. It’s testament to their odd style – funky basslines and beats, woozy vocals, a touch of old school funky hip hop with horns.

With fans in Sir Elton John and Zane Lowe, the band’s leader is sort of eccentric… and very British, though he doesn’t think so. The self-confessed Harry Potter fanatic jumps from topic to topic quickly and peppers his speech randomly with sassy little ‘yahhh’s, but he’s a fun interviewee. It’s refreshing to hear him reject the traditional hard-partying ideals of most musicians, instead opting for a party “right outside my bedroom door” and explaining how he’s “allergic to life”.


Winston: Well, a lot of people wouldn’t expect me to be British.

Uppy: This is true. I was sort of surprised because I haven’t actually heard you talk before. Do you have a story about when you moved here?

W: I did not WANT to move here. I was holding onto the door frame leaving the house.

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U: And how old were you then?

W: I was about 12. And apparently I was crying on a plane for like 24 hours. I’ve been told – I choose not to remember that memory. But I also think it has something to do with me not enjoying flying. I can’t stand flying.

U: Oh really?

W: Which sucks when you’re a musician, because we have to travel a lot.

U: So where were you from in England?

W: I grew up in West Sussex which is near Brighton, pretty much. And then we moved out here and stopped playing football.

U: Football – AFL or soccer?

W: Soccer football – I’m like painfully obsessed with football.

U: Who’s your team?

W: My team is unfortunately Portsmouth.

U: Are they good?

W: No, they’re shockin’. We’re a lower league team. But we survive and we have fun.

U: Well, that’s the most important thing hey?

W: Exactly.

U: So going back to your move – why did you guys move? Your parents got a job down here or?

W: My mum and dad came out in the ‘80s and got their citizenship and all that stuff. That’s the strangest thing – I’m British but also not, because they had my older sister and then they had me and then they moved back there when I was like eight months or somethin’. Me and my older sister were born in Australia in Manly where I live now, it’s really weird.

U: Do you like England now when you go back?

W: I love it. I still think of it as home, but also think of Australia as home.

U: I’m pretty surprised you haven’t lost your accent in like 15, 20 years?

W: Yeah, me and my elder sister when we came back, like I said I just didn’t wanna leave England. I was really patriotic. My sister lost her accent within a week, yeah riiiiighto. We both just got bullied about our accents and I was like, no I’m not having nun’a thing. I dunno, it just never went away. But my friends are CRAZY English compared to me. I sound very Australia to them.

U: You must watch Harry Potter every week to keep the accent going.

W: Have you been in my house?

U: Why, is it true?!

W: WHO doesn’t watch Harry Potter once a week?

U: Now it’s been added to Netflix! All of them have been added to Netflix.

W: Get out! I know what I’ll be doing tonight. I’ve never seen a Star Wars, I’ve never seen a Lord Of The Rings, Harry Potter though…

U: Me neither!!!

W: Is this therapy? I’m just reliving my childhood.

U: You can treat it as such!


W: I’m allergic to life.

U: Tell me more.

W: I’ve just got chronic hayfever allergies – as soon as I lie down, I’ve got asthma. I gotta get me puffer.

U: Oh yeah?

W: Yah. Really bad asthma.

U: Have you had that your whole life?

W: Yeah, ever since I was a kid.

U: Have you had any really bad attacks?

W: I had one where I thought I was GONE. I thought I was gonna freakin’ die. I was at the neighbour’s house back in England and I’m just allergic to cats.

U: Oh no!

W: So we move to Australia and the best thing to do was get a cat. My family got a cat instead of a dog and I’m allergic to cats, so we had this fluffy tabby cat that we had to shave every three months because I couldn’t LIVE. It was awful. Poor little cat. I have a dog now though.

U: Awwww. What was your cat’s name?

W: Ummmm Molly. She got stabbed in the eye by a possum, or another cat, and it went gold. It was crazy.

U: She didn’t die right?

W: Nah, she lived, we ended up having to move to a flat. She was probably 10? But we gave her to a friend of ours with a house.

U: So you’re not allergic to dogs!

W: I’m not allergic to dogs, but strangely enough… I’m allergic to little dogs [giggles]. Like Chihuahuas and things.

U: They’re not even fluffy!

W: Apparently it’s something to do with what’s on their tongue or something, like they’re a little marsupial.

U: Okay so do you have any food allergies?

W: No, but that’s how boring my life is. I mean, it’s not, I get to eat WHATEVER I WANT.

U: Totally, you get to eat up a storm. I can’t imagine how people live with like, nut or garlic allergies.

W: Oh my god, my godbrother’s got… I don’t even know what it’s called. It’s not lactose intolerant but he can’t have any sort of butter or milk or anything. And if he’s having steak, he can like, taste the milk in the cow and his tongue starts tinglin’ and he says “I have to stop eating this.” He’s like all-of-the-above intolerant.

U: Okay, tell me about your dogs.

W: I have one called Poppy. She’s microchipped as Stevie Nicks but I wouldn’t have that, and I wasn’t allowed to call her Yoko, so we called her Poppy.

U: She’s adopted or?

W: No, we got her when she was like eight months? She got flown down from Brisbane or something from a breeder. I’ve never had a dog and I turned the cage around and she was up the back all timid and scared, been on a bloomin’ plane.

U: And stole your heart.

W: It’s really embarrassing – I burst into tears.

U: What breed is she?

W: She’s a pugalier, so like half pug and half cavalier. One dog’s enough, it’s like having a Tamagotchi but in real life.


W: People tend to think that I like to party and I do not. I do like to party – but I’m in bed by 7pm.

U: What is your ideal sort of party then? Is it cheese and crackers… and Harry Potter in the background?

W: Drinks and chills, and it’s outside my bedroom door and when I’m ready, I’m going to sleep. Everyone else can have like, seven drinks and be at the same level that I’m at after one. And then I’ll stay at that level but I’ll be ready for bed.

U: Riiight. I get sleepy with alcohol too. So how do you cope with like festival afterparties and stuff? People must wanna hang out.

W: That’s the thing, I’m trollied after a gig. I’m absolutely trollied. I used to drink lemon and honey tea for my throat, because I’m just not a very good singer. But someone told me licorice is good for your throat, so I started trying – I’m just looking at a bottle right next to me right now, oh my gad – I started trying Sambuca, you know Galliano? And now I pretty much have that on stage with me, if it’s clear I can put it in a water bottle. So I’ll drink that because it soothes my throat, if I’m not having an asthma attack and don’t have my puffer, I can have a sip of that and it opens my throat. I’ll feel better for a bit.

U: Ahhhh.

W: But I’m dependent on it at gigs now, so by the end of every gig I’m just smashed.

U: So it’s definitely on your rider then.

W: YAH. If it’s not, I’m like, ‘YO, we need to go to the bottle shop.’ Now all the boys in Surfshirt love it now. But yeah, I wish I could be a party animal. I see some guys in other bands and they’re like ‘YEAHHH’.

U: And you’re like, ‘I’m going to sleep now, byeeee’. Nah but I feel you, I think there are more non-partying musicians than we think, but no one wants to talk about the non-partying musicians because the wild stories come out of the partying ones. But like, I’m sure half of all musicians are like you and want a chill night after a gig.

W: Yeahh.

U: Have you had a wild night though, where you got dragged into it?

W: Yeah I mean, as much as I say I don’t like to party, yes to that question. Hundreds, and I’m sick of it. The last time was maybe one in Perth, we have two guys in the band Bustlip and Julio and they love to party. I think Julio went to bed and I went out with some people and we ended up at a place called Jack Rabbit Slim’s in Perth with Confidence Man and Snakehips in this little back room, and they had these video arcade games. I think someone broke it, to be fair. I hate to…

U: Tattletale?

W: Yeah look at me, little snitch over here.

U: Was it Confidence Man?

W: They’re the loveliest people.

U: Did they break it though?

W: Noooo. [laughs] They like to party though. They teach me how to party.

U: And you’re like ‘naaaaah.’

W: No, I partied that night! Then I remember walking home and having an argument with Polographia, about our hotel being one way and I was looking at a map and the other two guys walked about 1km in the wrong direction before they realised. That’s as much as I remember from that night. And Dan [from Polographia] being sick! Cheeky geezer.

Winston Surfshirt’s new single, For The Record, is out now.


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