Following last year's limited debut cassette EP, Sydney trio Itchy & the Nits are keeping the budget freak flag high with their soon to be released debut LP The Worst Of Itchy & the Nits, out March 22nd on Total Punk Records (Theee Retail Simps, Cherry Cheeks, Tee Vee Repairmann). The debut LP is twelve tracks of innocently contagious hooked-filled bubblegum punk with primitive guitars, punchy rhythms, and bright pop melodies that brings to mind gutter-budget girl groups à la Nikki and the Corvettes, The 'B' Girls, The Headcoatees, The Brentwoods, and The Donnas. Along with today's premiere of the power pop stomp "Square," we also caught up with the trio to discuss how they all met, the recording of the debut EP, and their list of things to do when visiting America in May.
First tell me what you've been up to lately? What have you been listening to, reading, or spending a lot of time doing?
Eva: I've been working my butt off tryna save up some cash for America! And I can't stop listening to Peach Kelli Pop! And me and Beth have been having heaps of jams and writing new songs for a new album!
Cin: I've been writing an art history thesis. Last book I read was Honour & Other People's Children by Helen Garner!
Bethany: I've been watching more TV than ever!
Tell our readers a little about your background. Where did you grow up, what was your childhood like, and what inspired you to start playing music?
Bethany: Me and Cin grew up in the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney and our dad played in bands when we were kids so we used to go to the shows where we were allowed. One of the gigs we were right at the front and Cin pulled my pants down in front of everyone so it's a surprise I wasn't put off for life… But Cin and I still always liked the idea of being in a band together!
Cin: In my defense, I was only in Kindy at the time but I've been chasing that high ever since. Hoping to one day reenact the event at a gig of our own! (Kiddiiiiiing)
Eva: I grew up in Inner West Sydney! I used to walk dogs for money when I was 16 and then take my cash into the city and buy records! I started playing guitar during my really intense Beatles obsession when I was 11, but never really made music till I was a teenager! It was awesome when I realized you didn't have to be a fancy pants guitar player to make music!!
Take me through the origins of Itchy & the Nits. How did you three meet and decide to start a band together? Were you playing in any bands prior?
Beth: Me, Eva, and Charlotte (who used to be in the band) worked together and those two started a band in high school called Primordial Soup (lol!!!) and they found out I had a drum kit at my house and said I should be in their band! I said I would if they agreed to change the name :^P and Cin joined a year later when we needed another lovely lady to spice things up.
Eva: Heeey we thought of Primordial Soup when we were 16!!!
Besides making music, what's something you love to do when you all get together or a fun fact everyone should know about Itchy & the Nits?
Itchy: Since we all live pretty far away from each other, when we all hang out we try to do something a bit special like going to the bar in Centre Point Tower! Last time we all saw each other, we went to this fried chicken place that does really hot chicken and we all like to show off so we all got the spiciest option and we all had to pretend we could handle it.
Today, we're premiering the single "Square" off your forthcoming debut LP out March 22nd on Total Punk. What inspired it and what can you say about the making of that song?
Eva: I guess it was inspired by party poopers / debbie downers / negative nancies!!!
Beth: And when we realized square rhymed with yeah we were ready to start writing.
The debut LP is very much in the same vein as The Headcoatees, The Brentwoods, The Donnas, The 'B' Girls, and Nikki and the Corvettes with its snappy, blown-out bubblegum-garage punk. What do you remember most from the recording sessions with Ishka Edmeades (Tee Vee Repairmann) and how exactly did the twelve tracks come together? Were these five new tracks recorded separately from the seven on the Wartmann Inc. released tape?
Itchy: We recorded the five new songs with Ishka after the tape had come out and Richie from Total Punk had asked if we'd wanna put out an LP and we said yeah!! Recording with Ishka was so fun and relaxed and he gave us some good direction by adding extra percussion bits. Jen was making us margaritas the whole time which made the embarrassing bits easier! It was hard to not keep getting distracted by their cat Egg McMuffin playing with her mouse on a string.
How did the songs progress from their initial demos? Were there any that turned out entirely different than you had expected while experimenting with ideas?
Eva: They definitely got much faster!!! Whenever we're nervous we play extra fast so I think originally they were slower! We also weren't planning the backing vocals in "Square" but added it when we went back to record more with Ishka!
What song from the debut album is your favorite (and why)?
Beth: "Tie Me Up" by The Gizmos because it's fabulous and I wish we wrote it
Cin: "I'm Not Listening" 'cause it's fun to play
Eva: I like "Square"!!
I'd say my favorite out of the bunch is "Goner." What can you say about how this track came together and the story behind it?
Beth: It was one of the first songs we wrote that wasn't about having nits or fleas and it's a bit silly! It sounded completely different when we first tried to play it, like a lot slower! It sounded like that song "Bad to the Bone" and we almost gave up on it
What were the inspirations behind the cover artwork? Reminds me a bit of '60s psych-pop records from the Beau Brummels or The Incredible String Band!
Beth: In the H.R Pufnstuf movie there's a scene where Witchiepoo turns herself into a flower to trick the good guys so that was a bit of the inspiration for our faces in the flowers but we also just wanted it to look a bit cartoony and nice!
How excited are you to be playing the Total Punk Corporate Retreat bonanza in Portland and playing other shows along the West Coast in May? That Los Angeles show with Vaguess and Tube Alloys is stacked! Also are you playing the Vietnamese restaurant turned punk venue Billiard Hoang in Seattle?
Cin: We're so excited! Yeah, we're playing at Billiard Hoang! Yum! Maybe there'll be some pho in it for us. Richie organized everything and is a total hero! Can't wait for Vaguess and Tube Alloys. And the Total Punk Retreat lineup is the stuff of dreams!
Eva: So excited!!!!
What are you looking forward to the most and what places are on your list to visit? Do you plan to play in America more in the near-future?
Beth: We're really excited to see bigfoot! Cin's boyfriend Dave [Forcier] is a photographer so hopefully he can take some pictures of him that aren't too blurry! We don't have any more plans for America yet, but we definitely wanna do the East Coast or something at some point!
Eva: I'm so excited to see a squirrel! And maybe some cool birds!
Cin: Maybe see a UFO or two in Nevada and eat a diner pancake!
What are your thoughts on Sydney's current punk circuit and who are your favorite bands that readers should check out?
Eva: It's awesome! There's always cool shows on and everyone is so lovely! I love all my friends' bands but my most listened to would probably be Tee Vee Repairmann and Carnations! My favorite Sydney band to see live is The Horribles because the drummer Bethany is a total dreamboat!
Cin: The Sydney scene is great 'cause everyone is nice and fun, and since everything pretty much happens on one street so you're never too far away from the flying fox zip line thing in Victoria park. Check out Dirtbag!
Beth: All the Sydney people make the best music, I can never believe my ears! Satanic Togas are my fave and The Escape's, which is me and Cin's dads band :^P I just started listening to Perfect Actress and they're so fabulous, but I haven't seen them live yet!
Lastly, what else is happening in the Itchy & the Nits expanded universe? Will there be more tunes from Dr. Crotchet and Mr. Aphrodisiac?
Itchy: Definitely lots more song ideas, and hopefully a live performance one day, maybe at some open mic nights to start and then maybe they can get into the Sydney dance scene! They'll be joining us on the west coast so if they're up to it maybe they can do a show in a discotheque!
The Worst of Itchy & the Nits is out March 22nd on Total Punk Records. Pre-order the 12" vinyl or tape here.