25 April 2012 | 9:00 am | Benny Doyle

Along with Melbourne peers like Graveyard Train, Brothers Grim and the Puta Madre Brothers, The Toot Toot Toots are yet another choice cut of dark country blues goodness from the Victorian capital. More movie soundtrack than standard band fare, the quintet are not so much creating songs as complete and complex stories. Their new record Outlaws transports the listener to Gomorrah Fields, a gold rush town that is rocked to the core by rape, murder and deceit, and follows the bloody vengeance journey of a single émigré named Eli. Sounds incredible, huh? It is. In the midst of a subtle midweek wine haze, co-frontman and trombone acrobat Ferla opens up about the success the five-piece have found mixing stage and sound.

“Both Dan [Eucalyptus – vocals/guitar] and I have theatre backgrounds,” he says. “We both did a performing arts class and we both just love telling stories and love performing and that was where the whole performance thing took off. I guess it's easier for us to write stories than it is to just sorta come up with nothing,” Ferla levels. “I think some of our first songs that were written without a concept driving behind it were awful, like one of our first songs was called Sandra Bullock's Baby and it's just a love letter to Sandra Bullock. It was just all these ridiculous ideas that got turned into songs, but now we've got a purpose driving a whole album, it has made it come together for us, just giving us something concrete to really work towards.”

To find these dangerous and at times rightly disturbing ideas and inspirations, one would naturally assume that the headspace would be equally as volatile. Ferla, however, explains that keeping an arms distance from your own self is key, as is maintaining a smile, even when it gets vicious.

“It's so easy to become self-indulgent with negative emotions, so I think for us at least we try, even though we are dealing with quite heavy topics and that type of thing, we try to keep a sense of humour about it, a sense of lightness,” he informs. “Like, you've got the drama but you don't want to make it too murky.”

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Although there were many false starts and characters that didn't go anywhere, the boys toiled for 18 solid months, delivering a barroom brawl of an album and one hell of a protagonist in the form of religious zealot Eli. Through the music you can feel his maddening vigilant emotions burst through the surface, both Ferla and Eucalyptus more than slipping into character for the occasion. Although there are no plans to go completely cabaret on us just yet, this commitment to colouring their music with more than simply personal emotion is a key fact as to why The Toot Toot Toots live performances are quickly becoming the stuff of legend.

“I think people have a good time if they feel you're having a good time,” Ferla responds. “I know when I go to see a show I'm always empathising with the people onstage, and that can be a great thing when the people are having a good time and when they are in their element, or that can be a horrible time when people are awkward onstage, y'know, because you feel the awkwardness. So I think that is something that we've tried to work towards, making sure that we are having a great time and then everyone else can join in.”