The Rollicking, Gutsy Charm of Pist Idiots
With their debut album Idiocracy now out in the world, Sydney's gritty pub rock quartet Pist Idiots break down the long-awaited album and tell us how they captured their blistering live sound in the studio.
Stumbling out of the Sydney underground scene, Pist Idiots' reinvigorated stream of unhinged garage punk and rumbling pub rock is thrashing through the barriers of conventional rock music while also bringing it back to the fore.
Forming when they were still schoolmates in Revesby, New South Wales, Pist Idiots is comprised of lead singer and rhythm guitarist Jack Sniff, bassist Tommy Quine, lead guitarist Joe Quine and drummer Jonathan Sullivan. After releasing three EPs (Pist Idiots, Princes, and Ticker), the band finally released their anticipated debut album Idiocracy, released through Space 44 and Flightless Records with an exclusive vinyl pressing. Produced by Alex Cameron (Bad//Dreems) and Chris Collins (Tigertown), the new album balances the group's
onslaught of commanding rock 'n' roll swagger and punchy power pop while also bringing out their softer side. For instance, the cruising opener "Another Clown" is a heart-pounding melodic blast where the band chugs along to the wonky motorik rhythms and enormous hooks and "She Yells Jack" specializes in the melancholic form of radiant and singalong jangle pop. You also get the essence of their sweaty and high-energy live shows on rugged cuts like the the distortion-laden "Screw" and the chaotic title track. However at the heart of it all, Pist Idiots is just four mates having fun and making oddly charming music for the moshpit.
Recently, the band announced a run of national tour dates across February and March 2022 in support of their new album. This will follow the band's national tour as the main support for Skegss alongside Dumb Punts and a string of regional shows in January. These upcoming shows will be the band's first chance to play songs from their debut album to a live audience.
Ahead of the first sold-out show this Saturday at the Odeon Theatre, we caught up with Sniff who breaks down the long-awaited debut album and tells us how they captured their blistering live sound in the studio.
Paperface Zine: Well first, congratulations on the recent debut release! Tell us, what's it been like finally having it out these last few months?
Jack Sniff: Man, it's been such an awesome feeling to have something that we all worked so hard on to finally be out. The feeling is quite surreal.
How did you all meet and form Pist Idiots? Also, what was your vision when starting the project and where did the comical name come from?
We're actually all schoolmates from back home in Revesby (South West Sydney Suburbia NSW) and there were never any expectations or vision in the early days. We were just mates playing music that we liked in Jon's garage. The name came from us signing up to a battle of the bands night at the local pub, we were all in dispute of what we should perform under until our mate Karl said "Pist Idiots" and it stuck ever since.
If somebody asked you on the street to describe Pist Idiot's sound and style, what would you tell them?
Our sound is pulled from a lot of influences like punk, hardcore, country and classic Australian music. I love storytelling and ballads at the same time. I love something straight to the point, no bullshit that can get you going.
What things are likely to inspire you to write and how do your original ideas develop into songs?
We all do a little bit of songwriting, some more developed than others. But the general gist is to get an idea of something and bring it to the group so we can collaborate into something that we can all get around. As far as inspirations go it's pretty honest, a thought process, some commentary, elaborating on experience. Sometimes a lead line or a melody can influence words and that can spark up the creative process. Sometimes it just works, like catching lightning in a bottle, right place, right time. You can have a song in the works for years and it never gets to where it needs to be because the music wasn't right or vice versa.
How have you guys progressed as a band with the new album compared to the three previous EPs?
Honestly leaps and bounds, our musical knowledge has gone through the roof. Joe's bought an old desk and is into recording and mixing. Our playing ability is a lot better and while recording this album we were the tightest we've ever been and it shows. We're all pushing ourselves in our craft and brought up in an area where being creative isn't necessarily the most popular thing.
Your long-awaited debut album Idiocracy is a rush of cheeky and hard-hitting punk and gritty pub rock that's uniquely Aussie. Take us through the recording of it.
Thanks! The process of recording was done over the space of a couple of months and perhaps it was the most prepared we've ever been to record. We demoed maybe 16 songs one time in the Yarra Valley in Melbourne on this beautiful property with heaps of kangaroos, then again in an abandoned church in Bendigo (old gold town on the Victorian/NSW border). In between Yarra and Bendigo, we fleshed out the songs at Jonos Nans house deliberating over structures, verses, parts, songs to keep, songs to cull. We went down to Bendigo to work with our producer Alex Cameron to put the final touches on the songs that were the front-runners before we locked into two weeks of recording at Def Wolf Studios Kurnell.
While working in the studio, was there an essence to capture your blistering live sound?
We were all in the zone, pretty focused on what we wanted to achieve. But the essence was don't stress we're best mates hanging out all day making music, drinking and having a time. Tried to make the recording process not much different to a live show, play loud, play intense, have a laugh and get it done. Also the thought that if we were not recording we would all be slaving away at our jobs.
Were there any songs on this release that turned out way different than their initial idea? Were there any that really surprised you?
A couple songs we introduced some keys, violin, harmonica that really changed up the dynamic and it was pretty refreshing, but at the same time not all that surprising. More surprising was probably our own ability to push ourselves musically.
Since you recorded the new album during the pandemic, were there any unexpected challenges while recording it?
Yeah so Sydney and most of Australia were faced with strict lockdowns, essentially curfews where only essential work was exempt. There were border closures and all sorts of things so it meant that getting in-and-out over the border within certain timeframes was required. It also meant pushing the release of the album by about a year, postponing national and cancelling international tours. So yeah a couple unexpected challenges, but everyone was in the same boat and things are clearly much better now.
What are you hoping listeners take away from this new album? Are there any lyrical themes attached on the new album?
Our songwriting is very honest, experience-based, observational, songs about our own trials, tribulations, frustrations, wins and losses. The tracklisting is definitely meant to be played on vinyl, and played loud.
You're supporting Skegss alongside Dumb Punts on a national tour that kicks off this Saturday night at a sold-out show at the Odeon Theater. Then you got your own regional and national tours coming up between the months of January and March. What makes you excited about playing shows again and heading back on the road?
Fuck I can't wait! Touring and playing shows is the best fucking thing in the world. When you play a good show, I haven't had a high to compare it too… surprisingly.
Idiocracy is out now through Space 44 / Flightless Records.
Stream the new album below and purchase tickets for the upcoming tour here.