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Busted Head Racket Returns With Their Weird Excellence of Outsider Synth-Punk on "Junk Food"

The Newcastle-based trio Busted Head Racket have just unveiled their new 8-track EP Junk Food, a deranged surrealist onslaught of mutated synth-punk that goes haywire through pummeling rhythms, drilling synths, and lo-fi, chorus-soaked vocals. The title track comes with a new visually spunky video that we have the pleasure in premiering today. Along with the video premiere, we also caught up with bassist-vocalist Arden Guff to discuss how the once bedroom solo project evolved into a trio, relocating the project to Newcastle, and how the new EP and visual came together.

Photo by Jed Kirbyshire

Originally starting out as a solo bedroom project for bassist-vocalist Arden Guff, Busted Head Racket, have been one of leading bands in the current Newcastle punk scene. Their radiant energy of unrestrained and hyper-accelerated synth-punk recently earned them an opening spot for rising Nashville punks Snõõper. Following up last year's split tape with weirdo German punk Teo Wise, the trio that now includes Guff, keyboardist Dave Cunningham, and drummer Riley Gardiner, have a new 8-track EP out today called Junk Food. Previewed back in April with the buzzing lead cut "Clowning," the band also returned with a new visual that's paired with the ripping-hot title track. To celebrate the release, we also caught up with guitarist-vocalist Arden Guff to discuss how the once bedroom solo project evolved into a trio, relocating the project to Newcastle, and how the new EP and visual came together.

Paperface Zine: Take me through the origins of Busted Head Racket. Arden, this started as a solo project initially for you right?

Arden Guff: Originally I started BHR during Covid when I was living in Sydney. I was heaps inspired by Sneaks, I loved the idea of just drum machine and bass (I'm not very good at guitar). I met Dave through my partner and he offered to play synth. We'd meet up and run through the songs with a drum machine. Our first shows kept getting cancelled because of the Covid lockdowns here and then I got sick of Sydney and moved to Newcastle, which is two hours north of Sydney. Riley moved in with my partner and I when we moved to Newy and he played drums so I thought I'd ask him to play. Once we got a drummer, it really changed how I wanted BHR to sound and I feel like this new EP reflects that.

PZ: What's something that you admire most about this lineup?

AG: I really struck luck with having the boys both in my life as mates and in the band.

Dave is an absolute wizard master! He is an insane freak that has amazing knowledge on synths, tones, gear and everything analogue. Riley is no technique 100% style when it comes to drums, every time, we play he gets tighter and faster. After shows heaps of people say things like, "I couldn’t keep my eyes off the drummer, he is insane!" We all get along well which makes life heaps easy.

PZ: A lot of your music seems to be about the simple things or observations in everyday life. How would you describe your approach to writing songs?

AG: That's a cool take on our music. I don't put heaps of thought into what the songs are about. I like short, fast songs with hooks and I think the songs reflect that. Most of the lyrics have a loose meaning but they more come about because of a feeling I have. I guess in short I don't really think too much about it.

Photo by Jed Kirbyshire

PZ: How did last year's split with Teo Wise come about? It got some tape treatment from Detroit’s Painters Tapes!

AG: I really adore the music scene overseas and pretty much emailed every small tape label I could find on Instagram (sorry if I subjected you to that). Teo runs Spyasola Records and was heaps keen to work together so we decided to do a split and we've since become really good friends, I love the internet! I met Chuck [Charles Stahl] from Painters Tapes the same way. Hopefully one day we will meet them all when we eventually tour overseas.

PZ: Today we're premiering the music video to “Junk Food” from the new EP. Take me behind the scenes and tell me what it was like putting it together?

AG: The music video is a little silly and was heaps fun to put together. The concept was pretty easy to come up with seems the song is really simple and just lists off junk food. We filmed most of it at Dave's house and all took turns coming up with something silly to do. It was a collaborative effort. Safe to say we all had a bellyache at the end of the day though.

PZ: What did you enjoy the most about putting together the stop-motion animation for it?

AG: I love making art, clay rules! One day when I have more time, I'd love to do a whole music video just claymation but for this video I thought I'd incorporate just a little something.

I actually did the music video for Ghoulies' "Mothman" which came out a couple weeks ago that was heaps fun.

Photo by Jed Kirbyshire

PZ: How exactly did this EP come together and what were the recording sessions like?

AG: We recorded the EP at my house and pretty much finished the recording and mixing in 3-4 days. Dave owns this hectic mixing desk from the '80s and a reel-to-reel tape recorder, actually his broke the day before, but luckily we could borrow one off our mate Owen.

Like I said before Dave is a wizard we are really lucky that we have someone in the band that knows how to do all that stuff. He made it sound so good. So far I've written all the music but for the next release, we want to try collaborate and write together.

PZ: What was the idea behind the cover art?

AG: I'm a hoarder of magazines the boot of my car is lined with them, I love collaging. I thought I’d make use of them. The photo of us we took the last day of getting the EP completed in the backyard.

PZ: What are you looking forward to the most touring Australia in July with stops in Melbourne and Sydney? I see the last show of the tour is at a secret spot in Newcastle.

AG: I'm keen to play Melbourne again. I love Melbourne so much I wish I could live there. The Newcastle show was meant to be a house show, but there's this awesome Ramones tribute band from Newcastle called the Marones that's full of old blokes that have been in the band since the 1980s! Anyway I asked them to play and they said yes so now we've moved it to a local bowling club. They rock so hard so I'm most excited for that show.

Junk Food is out now on Painscale Records. Stream it below and check out the upcoming tour dates.


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