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Premiere: The Judges Twist Around a Rush of Primal Rock 'n' Roll on "The House Always Wins"

The Judges have finally greeted us with the lead cut to their forthcoming debut album Judgement Day, out November 24th on Anti Fade and Total Punk Records. Comprised of vocalist Sam Hill, guitarists Zane Gardner and Austin Haire, bassist Billy Gardner, and drummer Mitch Campleman, the band's debut single "The House Always Wins" is footed in delightfully gritty garage punk swagger, creeping around rock 'n' roll's sleaziest corners with its propulsive guitar riffs and pounding drums. Along with the premiere, we also caught up with Hill to discuss The Judges' origins in the Melbourne scene and the making of his band's anticipated debut album.

Photo by Frankie Napier

Paperface Zine: What's life been like lately for you? What have you been listening to or spending a lot of time doing?


Sam Hill: Life is beautiful. Zane has been in Europe. Ozzie has been in Europe. Billy has been in Japan. Mitch and I have been floating in sensory deprivation tanks and expanding our consciousness. I've been listening to lots of ambient music and '70s jazz. We've all collectively been revisiting Creedence Clearwater Revival, Howlin' Wolf, Funkadelic, etc. The real shit.


PZ: How did you all meet and form The Judges?


SH: We've all known each other for years. These guys were jamming and they needed a singer, so I said "Let me be the singer," and they did, because they knew it would work out, and it has. It's beautiful.


PZ: Take me through The Judges lineup. What has it been like making music and playing shows together and also what do you admire about one another?


SH: Oz and Zane play guitar. Mitch plays drums. Bill plays bass. I am the singer. It's been great. Making music is really easy. We all admire each others amazing talent, style, good looks, and intellect.


PZ: The Judges are a supergroup of sorts in the Melbourne scene, but tell me what other bands have you all played in?


SH: No no no… You are mistaken. This is the first band any of us have ever played in. You can call us a supergroup anyway if you like, but we all basically learnt to play our instruments during the whole Covid lockdown fiasco.

Photo by Frankie Napier

PZ: Take me through the origins of this new track "The House Always Wins." How did this track come together and what was the initial vision of it?


SH: Well first there was a riff. Then using a combination of both intuition and musical theory, we developed and expanded the track into a relatively standard "pop song" format with both verses and choruses. Once the lyrics were completed and we recorded a take, we were happy with, it was mixed, and is now the composition which you now hear today. Hopefully now that it's been released, it will have a life of its own, which will eclipse any initial (total lack of) vision that we had for the track.


PZ: What do you like most about this song and why did you make it the lead cut to the forthcoming debut LP "Judgement Day"?


SH: We enjoy playing it, and people absolutely love hearing it. It's a fun song!


PZ: What was it like putting this album together and when and where was it recorded?


SH: We recorded it in a secret location, at a beautiful lakeside studio a few hours out of Melbourne. We did it ourselves and it took two days. We alternated between bathing in the lake and playing our songs. It was really easy.


PZ: Did you draw from any specific inspirations when writing the lyrics to the new album?


SH: Well I read a lot of books, and I watch a lot of movies, and I think a lot. So all that information percolates in my brain, and then I yell disjointed fragments of my thoughts and ideas over the music. Then I refine all that until it's coherent or at least suits the music. Most of the songs are about power and control.

Photo by Frankie Napier

PZ: How did you land on the name of the album?


SH: It was the obvious choice!


PZ: Musically, do you feel any pressure to conform to what people may expect from this album especially playing shows over the last year in the Melbourne scene?


SH: No. Every show we've played has been better than the last. And let me tell you something — if you're making music based on some preconceived notions of what you "should be doing," you shouldn't be making music. Do your own thing! Be yourself! It's very very very boring to do otherwise. Making something just to please others is a complete waste of time. It's never memorable.


PZ: What can listeners expect from this new album especially with it being a split release on Anti Fade and Total Punk?


SH: A five piece band playing rock & roll music. Like Keith Richards famously sang: "It's only rock & roll, but we like it."


PZ: Aside from the new album, what else is on the horizon for The Judges? What shows do you have coming up before the end of the year?


SH: We're playing in late October, and then in late November. After that, we'll play more shows and release more music. The saga continues. Thank you so much!


Judgement Day is out November 24th on Anti Fade and Total Punk Records.




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