The Speedy Combative Nature of It Thing
Following a pair of singles in 2019, the Hobart-formed garage punk outfit It Thing unveiled their cruising nine-track debut EP Syrup last year through Marthouse Records. The EP is expertly delivered through fast-paced power pop and cleverly tight post-punk that seep with the band's personality. We caught up with It Thing to get the scoop on how they formed and how they embraced their influences on their debut EP.
Formed in Hobart's beloved Brisbane Hotel beer garden, the garage punk band It Thing have developed a reputation for playing fierce and blistering live shows since 2019. However once the pandemic struck in early 2020, like many other bands, It Thing was quickly forced to restrict playing shows, leading them down the path to finish recording their debut EP Syrup, released last year through Dougal Shaw's label Marthouse Records. The four-piece, half of whom now live in Melbourne, consist of frontwoman Charlotte Gigi, guitarist Caleb Yaxley, bassist Tamara Kempton and drummer James Nutting.
After releasing the singles "Who Walks Your Dog?" and "Borrowed Time" in 2019, Syrup is an anxious and agitated listen that ripples between the band's barrage of sharp power pop and nervy post-punk with a skewed pop sensibility. Through the clamorous atmosphere It Thing creates with their dizzying power chord riffs and sticky hooks, Gigi adds a kiss-off quality with her prowess while weaving in a healthy dose of social commentary and stating a sense of empowerment. On notable tracks such as "Dress Code" and "Pet Snakes," the band fuses their genre influences (Ramones, Plasmatics, Screaming Sneakers) to shrewdly create an unnerving and tightly wound tenacity with their angular extravagance.
To dig deeper, we caught up with It Thing to get the scoop on how they formed and how they embraced their influences on their debut EP.
Paperface Zine: Hey congrats on the debut EP! What's it like having it out now?
Tamara Kempton: Thanks! Love that it's out, doing its own thing. It felt like nine months it was waiting.
What have you been up to since its release?
Charlotte Gigi: Just getting riled up and excited to start playing again. We don't live in the same city right now as a band so we haven't been able to play due to the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Caleb Yaxley: I've been working too much, I quit one of my jobs though! I was a portaloo dude. That was shit.
What was the vision when forming It Thing?
Caleb: It was one of the only "Hey let's start a band moments" that actually worked out. We had no expectations, we just had a jam and clicked and had like three songs by the end of that.
Charlotte: Yeah pretty much that's it. We all met down the pub and just got it going. Personally, my vision was to write very straight forward music. Just short punk songs anyone can enjoy.
How would you describe the way each four of you shape the band's sound?
Tamara: I'm kind of an outsider, the others are really into punk and rock music and bring a really genuine sound. I listen mostly to EDM so I come up with whatever gets me bouncing and it seems to work.
Charlotte: I think we all do have pretty different music tastes, we all enjoy a decent amount of the same artists, but all have different influences. I think that makes things a bit interesting.
In your music, I definitely hear a bit of the Ramones, B-52’s and Shonen Knife. What records do you think helped influence the musicians you are today and why?
Caleb: Chaz [Charlotte] seems to draw inspiration from so many artists I love, but don't really draw direct influence from. I can just chuck metal riffs out there and she'll just power through. Personally I'd say Judas Priest, The Melvins, The Saints, Sonic Youth and At the Gates.
Charlotte: Yeah I definitely think The Ramones are a top one for me. I love The Gun Club and Bad Brains, Divinyls, just a lot of new wave and punk.
There's a bit of a kiss-off quality to the nine tracks off Syrup that cruise through hyper-speed instrumentals, hooky yet hard edged power pop and itchy dance-punk beats. Take me through the recording of this EP.
Caleb: We went up to Ferntree and I ate heaps of candy, we live tracked everything with Callum Cusick, pretty much just recorded everything clean the first day and added distortion, FX and overdubs on day two. It was super weird playing the outro to "Pet Snakes" and having no idea how it was going to sound.
A lot of these tracks also feel like confessions. What influenced the songwriting here and how did your original ideas develop into songs?
Charlotte: Haha I don't think they're confessions for me because a lot of them aren't necessarily secret or anything. Lyrically I have no idea what the specific influences are. I think conceptually drawing influence is one thing, but lyrics are personal. I love basic abstract lyrics. For me, all the words are just one-liners I keep written down and when we jam it develops more.
Were there any songs on here that turned out way different than their initial idea? Were there any that really surprised you?
Tamara: Most of the songs during jams have an outline, start, and finish. it's bridging the segments that's usually the most different at the end of the process.
Caleb: I think we have a loose and improv driven approach to our initial ideas and then build upon the qualities we enjoy about them. It can be surprising, but we like surprises.
Tell me about the EPs cover art. I love how it's a hand-sewn quilt with patches representing each of the nine tracks. What makes the cover special to you and what’s your favorite patch and why?
Caleb: Molly Turner has been my best mate since 2008. She's done some other covers before this, but we all share this as our first vinyl which is pretty special. My favorite ones are the digger and the boat.
What's it been like working with Dougal Shaw's label Marthouse Records and how do you think it's going to help / influence you guys in the future?
Tamara: Dougal is a legend.
Caleb: Dougal has been super cool, helpful, and transparent about everything and his support has made us a lot more confident about this release.
Charlotte: Yeah I just think having a base like Marthouse Records in Melbourne is super valuable to us, playing in a new city is really hard especially when you're based in a small town.
You have a tour coming up in February that includes a show at The Old Bar with special guests OUZO! and Our Carlson. What are you looking forward to playing live music again?
Charlotte: We're going to be playing as much as we can in Melbourne now that the borders are open and it's going to be so great, we haven't been able to play together at all since we recorded the EP due to the lockdowns.
What can we expect from It Thing in 2022?
Caleb: We will write our first country record which will go on to win the golden guitar in 2023 after Charlotte's angular country wailing makes every Australian simultaneously cry.
Charlotte: Yeah guess I'm going to be pretty busy doing that haha. A lot of gigs at least!
Syrup is out now through Marthouse Records.
Stream the new EP below and purchase tickets to the upcoming show here.