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A Blast at 100mph: The Visceral & Auditory Assault of Civic

Civic's commanding frontman Jim McCullough on the recording of his band's debut album, Future Forecast, and their collective musical ethos of street-savvy punk sentiments.

Photo by Robyn Daly

This is an extract of the cover piece to our next print issue. To read the full feature, pre-order a digital or print copy of Paperface Zine Issue 3 on Etsy or Bandcamp.

Within the first two minutes of Civic's adrenaline-fueled debut album, Future Forecast, you can practically hear the spit flying from commanding frontman Jim McCullough's mouth on the melodically blazing opener "Radiant Eye," the first taste you get from the Aussie punk rockers at the height of their powers.

Since 2018, the Melbourne five-piece have been puncturing eardrums with their impressive rush of unhinged garage punk or "gutter rock classicism," extremely fast tempos, and propulsive noise rock that's tightly wrapped with an unholy urgency and familiarity. Incorporating early strains of caveman pub-wrought punk that evokes the days when The Saints reigned supreme in Australia's underground scene, there's a healthy dose of jangle and melodicism that's wedged in-between the band's heated intensity. Instead of tip-toeing around edges, they annihilate them.

Comprised of vocalist Jim McCullough, guitarist Lewis Hodgson, bassist Roland Hlavka, drummer David Forcier and new recruit, guitarist Jackson Harry. Since the pandemic, Forcier, who's also a respected underground photographer, has been stuck in his hometown of Canada, dealing with COVID-19 border closures and residency hurdles, thus drummer Matt Blach (Beans and The Murlocs) has been filling his role in the band's energetic live shows. Civic is the music of familiar faces from a whole bunch of bands in Melbourne's underground scene including: Cuntz, A.D. Skinner, Leather Lickers, Drug Sweat, Pregnancy Scares, Planet Slayer, The Snakes, Whipper, Barbiturates, Polish and Cobwebbs. Civic first assembled in 2016 after McCullough and former guitarist Darcy Grigg were in a bowling alley in Japan bonding over the conceptual ethos of a band that sounded "all screwed up."

"I'd known Darcy from shows and the pub and I'd run into him and some of his mates in Tokyo when I was on holiday," McCullough said in an exchange through email. "After many Kirin cans from the vendor and a bunch of gutter balls, we got to talking about music. We agreed on the need for more bands in Oz that sound like The Saints, Radio Birdman, Celibate Rifles, you know that sort of thing. There's a formula and sound that we all love, that we feel shouldn't be dead."

Early on, Civic had a space at Irene Warehouse, where one of McCullough's old bands would practice. After a few jams, before they knew it, the band composed "New Vietnam" and "Call the Doctor" — two brutal blows of bristling punk that would be central to their highly sought-after debut EP New Vietnam, released through Anti Fade Records in 2018. The two cuts were patched together even before they even settled on a name. According to McCullough, they played their first show as Diamond Dust, named after the Andy Warhol painting, but to Lewis' suggestion, they changed to Civic. McCullough described how most of their songs come together while jamming.

"Sometimes it's a riff on the spot or someone will have one in the bank that they'll bring to the table. I generally just mumble my way through a new song when we're jamming it, and try to find a melody. Then later I'll sit down with a demo and flesh out the lyrics. We all know what it needs to sound like and what we want to hear. Hence why we started doing it. What we are doing is not a new sound, but we are just trying to keep the flame alive."

Following the reverberating rock 'n' roll of the Those Who No EP in 2018 and the cruising Selling, Sucking, Blackmail, Bribes 7" in 2019, Civic got in touch with Eric Moore, the founder of Flightless Records and former drummer and manager for King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, who expressed interest in working with the band early on. In November of 2020, Flightless released the turbo-charged Radiant Eye 7" that blasts magnificently with its muscular power chords and a ripping brass section from Stella Rennex (Parsnip, Smarts). Its B-side is a blistering run through of The Creation's classic riff-driven debut single "Making Time." Four months later, Flightless would release Civic's eruptive debut album, Future Forecast, a brooding and refreshingly direct first offering that's a full-bodied throwback to another era.

"We wrote all the music for Future Forecast in the jam room and had a load of phone demos. Flightless had something they were working on and asked us to come into the Gizz studio to lay down a track. There was a day of studio time available with Sam Joseph. There were supposed to be two bands going in that day but the others bailed, so we just decided to lay down everything we had. We'd bought an interface after NV so we could track stuff ourselves. We did a bunch in our old jam space we shared with Total control, Terry, and Faceless Burial. We fucked around with it all for way too long, then Dave got deported and the pandemic happened so we had to kick into gear and get it done. I would say that every release we do, we try to make it sound different from the others. Future Forecast sounds like an album, and that was the goal."

Future Forecast is out now via Flightless Records.

Stream the new album below.

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