During their North American tour last fall, The Chats played at The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto. Following their set, I caught up with bassist-vocalist Eamon Sandwith and guitarist Josh Hardy backstage about what it's been like becoming friends and touring with their pub punk heroes Cosmic Psychos and emerging out of the Australian punk circuit into the greater world.
Are you constantly being told how this or that band is the new greatest wonder? Of course you are, superlatives have a way of spreading like germs especially in the information age. However here's a band that truly deserves the most praise: The Chats. Comprised of bassist-vocalist Eamon Sandwith, guitarist Josh Hardy, and drummer Matthew Boggis, this Sunshine Coast trio know their attention quite well to all-killer-no-filler, pub-wrought garage punk. In 2017, the group exploded in popularity with the viral clip to their scrappy anthem "Smoko" and later fulfilled that absolutely thrashing, rapid-fire promise on their debut LP High Risk Behaviour, which was released on the band's own label Bargain Bin Records (Dennis Cometti, The Unknowns, Aborted Tortoise). The group then scored some absolutely massive stadium gigs supporting Guns N' Roses, The Strokes, and were later even covered by The Wiggles — all truly bizarre. Their latest album Get Fucked is packed with infectious guitar riffs, witty humor, and an unruly charm from down under. It is faster, more furious and more direct than anything they've done before and it exhibits the trio at the height of their powers.
During their North American tour last fall, The Chats played at The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto. Following their set, I caught up with Sandwith and Hardy backstage about what it's been like becoming friends and touring with their pub punk heroes Cosmic Psychos and emerging out of the Australian punk circuit into the greater world.
So first tell me what's it like being back in Toronto?
Josh Hardy: It's been good! We played at this same exact venue around this time last year. We went to Play De Record earlier and that was pretty cool. Our mate Theon works there and I got a copy of Teenage Head's Frantic City.
Eamon Sandwith: Like every city, we pretty much just hangout, go to a record store, and just go on a walk before we have to get on-stage.
What have been some of the coolest spots you've visited so far on this tour? JH: Both Chicago and Seattle were really cool. San Diego was a blast too. It was the Schizophonics' first show with us for the tour and hometown one for them. They're a great band! So what's it like crossing the border and now being in Canada? Is it different at all compared to playing in the states? ES: The one thing for me is losing that hour of sleep because of the differing time zones you go through while touring. I go to bed sometimes thinking I'll get about eight hours of sleep then wake up and the time isn't what I expected at all. Weather I guess can be weird too. We went to the Grand Rapids yesterday and that was cold. I feel like in America, every state has its own different little quirk with that. In Australia, all the states are so far apart, the weather doesn't change that much unless you go from Queensland to Victoria, but here it changes in between distances with different states. So how exactly did this tour come together?
ES: I saw the Schizophonics right before Covid-19 happened in Brisbane. I didn't know much about them at the time and then I was just totally blown away. Then we later sorta became friends on the web and they got the Unknowns to support them while touring Australia so we thought it'd be nice to chuck them on this tour. I also just love watching them play every night. Sarah [Greenwell] of Gymshorts was driving the band Thick around one of the tours we did with them in 2022. We stayed in touch and later realized we had the same manager so when we were planning this tour, she asked if they could come and we said "hell yeah of course!" It was a no-brainer.
What has it been like playing shows over the last few years with your heroes Cosmic Psychos?
ES: It's pretty sick. We've done enough shows with them over the years to the point that they're family. Plus when you smell those blokes' farts for twelve a hours a night, it sorta knocks them down the pole [laughs].
What has it been like splitting time between The Chats and The Unknowns? Would you ever do a double-duty tour?
JH: That'd be tough every night [laughs], but you know when I first joined The Chats, there were these Chats and Unknowns leg of matinee shows up in North Queensland during the height of Covid. Both Eamon and I had play two sets four nights in a row.
ES: That was pretty brutal. This year has been alright playing in both bands because with The Chats, we solidified what our plan was going to be. We're also all in the same crew so it all works out.
In 2022, The Wiggles covered "Smoko" for their double-album ReWiggled comprised of covers of some of their all-time favorite songs. How the hell did that happen and is Murray Cook really the coolest one?
ES: I've had mates go to the same parties as Murray so I reckon he'd be the coolest one. I think The Wiggles were one of the first shows I went to as a kid so having them cover "Smoko" was a no-brainer. When I was listening to their discography, I realized a lot of their songs could work very well as Chats songs and we probably could've done an entire album worth of Wiggles covers [laughs]. "Can You (Point Your Fingers and do the Twist?)" was the perfect one though especially when incorporating that solo. It was a lot of fun.
You're both incredibly humble for your success with The Chats and still very much intact to the local scene. Who are some of your favorite bands to see back home? ES: Tee Vee Repairmann and The Prize. Those two are at the top, but Gee Tee has been absolutely killing it as well.
JH: Civic is always great too.
ES: In Brisbane, I love seeing Piss Shivers and Toy. WA bands like Ghoulies and Aborted Tortoise are fucking killing it too.
Following this tour, what's next for The Chats?
ES: We've been writing some new songs. We just got to get everyone in the same room and play it together. We're pretty bad at all being in the same room at once.
Get Fucked is out now on Bargain Bin Records. Purchase tickets to The Chats' forthcoming Bargain Bin Tour in February here.