Lauren Confos is one of the hardest working people in the Brisbane, Australia punk rock community. You can find her working tirelessly behind the scenes (like recent ConversationsWithBianca.com interviewee Celene Skullz) making things happen! Her work comes together under the umbrella of her recently launched, Fuck The System DIY. Lauren manages local band The Scam and has helped work on promo for international punks touring Australia such as The Casualties, The Exploited, Guttermouth, Mad Sin and more. When not doing all that, she also works at Pushworth Group as a Tour Administrator.
What’s your story? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
LAUREN CONFOS: I’m 24 I love going to gigs, organising gigs, managing The Scam, making clothes, accessories and jewellery. I play hockey. I love my awesome husband, family, my two awesome puppies and friends. Love records, cute clothes, skulls, bows, jumping around like a mad man.
What inspires you to live a creative life?
LC: I have a lot of energy and I love to organise and create. It’s so much fun making your own stuff and doing whatever you want. It’s a wicked feeling when you get to wear something that you really love and is unique because you created it. I prefer to organise things myself or with the help of my husband or a few others because you’re in control of the situation, you know things are going to get done, I found it a lot more stressful and a longer process if you’re relying on others. It’s sick organising gigs too as we usually get to pick the line ups so usually we have wicked bills with mates or rad local bands that are just so much fun to go too.
What’s your personal motto?
LC: You only get out what you put in.
How did you first come to punk rock?
LC: I first got into Punk when I was around the age of 16. I went to some local all ages shows before that but, it was more whatever all age shows I could get into being underage. Meeting my husband Con played a big part in me being into punk, he showed me a lot of bands. When we started going out, we would go to a lot of all age Brisbane punk shows. He was from the Gold Coast and there wasn’t any all age punk shows happening down there. The band Neighbourhood Swine started up and we would book, or they would play a bunch of shows, so I got into more local bands through that. We also booked some Vicious, Zombie Ghost Train shows which introduced me to a lot of older punks.
Shed 5 opened which was an all age DIY venue which was sick because I was 17 and Con was 16. They would put on a lot of punk shows and ’Swine used to play their a lot and we started hanging down the coast more as there wasn’t really any all ages Brisbane shows happening anymore and the Shed was a rad place where anyone could go and hang out with mates and listen to rad original music.
My first real encounter with random interstate punks was when Con and I instead of going to schoolies went down to Melbourne. It blew my mind it! It had a huge scene and it was wicked, drinking in alleyways with punks. We snuck into a pub, it happened to be a good mates of ours now, Dik from No Idea’s birthday; we got to watch Bastard Squad and a bunch of other bands – it had a real welcoming atmosphere down there. Next day we went to the Tote and saw No Idea and the Knockabouts play. No Idea dedicated some songs to us as we met them the night before as I was going on about Punk Girl as that’s Con’s and my song.
After I turned 18, I started going to more gigs and hanging out with a bunch older people who really took us under their wing showed us a bunch of wicked bands, times and advice. They really help opened my eyes to a lot of things and started showing me the ways of how the punk scene is so welcoming to all who want to be part of it, the sick after parties you can have and how to always help your mates out whenever possible.
Later down the track, The Scam started and we did more shows with interstate bands, touring as much as possible; things really started to take over even more. I felt like I started to get it more, after going on tour and having people you’ve never met before welcoming 20+ people into their homes; meeting people for the first time but it feels like you’ve known them a lifetime! Or how people will go nuts and jump around like mad men but never hurt anyone on purpose and helping someone if they fall down because the music takes over them.
Punk shows to me are the best, I feel at home at a gig. I for one absolutely lose my shit and go nuts when I hear sick bands live, it’s the best release of all your energy – be it happiness, frustration, anger. You feel part of the show; you can jump up and sing along. I feel bands feed off the crowds energy. I don’t mind being the first person to jump around and try to get other people jumping. You really see how the punk scene is the greatest thing to be a part of, all I wanna do is go to sick local shows or put on rad gigs with The Scam and other sick punk bands. My husband and I have opened our house to any punks out there who wanna play shows up here (QLD) we’ll book their shows and give them a place to crash. The more you indulge yourself in it the more it takes over you and becomes your life.
What does punk mean to you?
LC: Punk to me means being yourself and accepting people for who they are. Being opening minded and up for discussion. Living life your own way but as part of a community.
What’s one of the single most important things you’ve learnt from being a part of the punk community?
LC: To be yourself and accepting people for who they are.
You’ve recently started Fuck The System DIY; what’s it all about? Why did you decide to start it?
LAUREN CONFOS: Fuck The System DIY is my page (on Facebook) I created and is about promoting DIY, creating, organising gigs, band management, promotion and publicity, plugging local gigs, bands, music, local independent business and DIY creators. I’m in the middle of setting up an Aussie Punx doco/Youtube episodes called Up The Aussie Punx – Get Amongst It with Whisper Revolution. As I was talking about earlier, my husband and I have set our house up so we can have touring bands crash when we’re organising gigs for them. I try to help people get volunteer work in the music industry or at local gigs when I can. The page showcases my fun creations (pictured above) I make, clothing, alterations, etc. too. I have some other projects I’m planning to do down the track too.
I decided to call it Fuck the System DIY for a couple of reasons, the main reason is because ‘Fuck the System’ make your own stuff, do your own thing; get out there, get involved and get creative—just get amongst it people!
Currently what are your favourite things to create?
LC: My favourite thing to create at the moment is dresses. I’m having lots of fun making some pretty cool 50s style halter neck dresses. I’m using pretty cool, stand out, fabrics and customizing them by adding bows, pearls and a bunch of different things.
How would you describe your own personal style?
LC: I’m a girlie punk. I love to wear cute skirts with ripped up band shirts, knee high socks, high waisted belt with my jacket or a cute dress covered in patches with my jacket. I love my boots and creepers. I love out there fabrics, band patches, skulls and bows!
Style-wise who inspires you? What is it about them that you adore?
LC: I don’t really know. I don’t really look at anyone anymore. I’ve found what I like and do that. I get inspired by looking at new lines from companies like Hell Bunny, Kreepsville 666, Sourpuss, My Little Rockabilly and Too Fast. I love finding cheap clothes for around $1.00-$2.50 and altering them, I get inspired to make rad outfits from that.
In February you organised International Punk Solidarity weekend for Indonesia Punx; tell us about that project.
LC: In December last year, 64 punks were taken away for moral rehabilitations, having their heads shaved, clothes burned, forced to pray after they were deemed being a social disease for being Punks by the local Ache government. I wanted to try to do something as I felt this was horrible and a complete violation of human rights. I decided to set up the International Punk Solidarity weekend in support of the Indonesian punks, where we could all stand together in solidarity for our Indonesian punk brothers and sisters doing the things we all love to do go to gigs, drink with mates, dress the way we want etc.
All shows were free entry, I tried to put the event out there and on the net for as many people to get involved to help out, put on, play or attend shows we had a bunch of awesome people who got involved. We had about 10 events. I ended up finding Punk Aid a non-profit organization that put together “Punk Aid: Aceh Calling” an online complication that all the funds raised went to Movement Records in Jakarta, Indonesia where. They were getting CDs printed for the punks that were affected and to raise funds to keep punk happening over there. 4 of the Australian shows raised money, we raised $1,126.30.
You also work for the Pushworth Group; how’d you score that gig? What do you do there? What’s your work day like?
LC: It’s a funny story there; I reckon my job was predestined for me. I’ve been doing volunteer stuff in the music industry since I was 15. I was volunteering at a battle of the bands in Zillmere the night before I was stage managing the Visible Ink Festival. My friends at the time thought I left when I was actually helping out so they left me out there when I lived in Logan. The band that was headlining the battle of the bands was actually a Pushworth band and the person who was doing my job at the time was there. She ended up giving me a lift home. I told her about all the gigs I use to put on and all the different things I did. She ended up giving me pass for one of her shows and told me I would be perfect for her work when I get older.
When I was in year 12 at school, I decided to do a school based traineeship in hospitality. While doing my traineeship, I would tell my case manager about all the stuff I would do. She had another traineeship through Pushworth too and decided to call them and tell them about me—she thought I’d be perfect for the job. I ended up having an interview with them, they liked me so much they decided to keep a traineeship open for me when I finished year 12. I started with them the first week of January 2006, when I was 17. I’ve been there ever since.
I do tour administration, which means I do all paper work for the gigs that I manage. It’s a lot of contracts, worksheets, deals and payment sheets, invoicing, setting up ticketing, following up money, chasing contracts to be signed, doing ticket updates, sourcing supports and a bunch of other things. I’m also involved with the festival management, bill producing, and publicity for some projects. But mainly it’s a lot of paperwork! I sit behind a desk and pretty much nonstop following up and process things all day. Don’t get me wrong I love it but people have a different perspective of what working in the music industry actually is.
Do you think having formal training is important to what you do?
LC: It’s important if you’re going for a government or council job not so much for where I work as I’ve learnt on the job. I did a lot of things before that though such as an introduction to the music industry course when I was 15. I was on the Youth Arts Queensland advisor committee; I was on the Visible Ink, Logan Youth Events event teams too. I would put on my own shows, go to any free workshops I could find or be a part of anything I could in the music industry. Along with being the student council secretary, on a number of committees and an executive of my school, I was working two jobs doing year 12 and a school based traineeship in hospitality. They could see I was keen to be a part of the industry, I had a little bit of experience and I was eager to learn.
The music industry is more about who you know, if you stand out from the crowd and what you’ve done. There really aren’t many industry jobs out there. I’m lucky as Pushworth is the largest agency in QLD and one of the longest standing agencies in Australia and we work with most agencies. We’re more of a ‘360 agency’ as we also help self-manage bands, build bands careers, we can advise on where to record, help set up publicity, and a whole bunch of other things, so it’s not just bookings bands gigs at Pushworth which again then limits the number of jobs out there. I really can’t think of too many other than a few music agencies or jobs out there that aren’t working from a home office, as part time work, for their own band, at a venue, at a recording or rehearsal space or a council/government job. I’ve meet a lot of people who are studying or have done creative industries or event management and they rarely end up in the music industry because there really isn’t any work out there. I tell people to look for council or government jobs because you’re more likely to land a job there then in a tiny independent company. I know I’m not leaving my job anytime soon, I’ve already done 6 years and I can’t imagine anyone else who has a full time job to leave it either.
If you’re really passionate in getting involved because you want to be part of the industry and want to help out at shows then let me know as we have shows or events that we might need volunteers to help out with. The work might not be super exciting but we’re always willing to give everyone a go whenever we can if their serious about it. I’ve learnt majority of what I have to do for my job at work. I started off doing a Business Administration Certificate III Traineeship and while doing that at work and my job at the time – reception, data entry and a bunch of different things – I would assist Angie the person doing my job at the time anytime I could. She was my mentor and she really showed me the ways of tour administration. I started contracting a couple of gigs and doing some worksheets, ticket updates, chasing the outstanding contracts and I knew that was the direction I wanted to go into at my work. When she decided to move on, I applied for her position and I ended up taking over it. But the music industry is forever changing and you’re always learning new things. I believe you learn more doing the work then studying about it.
You’re manager for your husband’s band The Scam; what do you think are the biggest challenges for independent bands?
LC: I think the biggest challenge for independent bands is finance there really isn’t money in punk, if we had the money we would be touring more, head overseas and would have more merchandise.
You put on a lot of gigs, what are the biggest headaches involved with organising shows?
LAUREN CONFOS: Probably getting people to turn up would be my biggest headache as some people can be a bit slack with how hectic people’s lives are, expenses drinking out etc., but that’s not been bad lately. I put shows on for fun so there aren’t too many headaches involved.
Tell us a little bit about the music community and culture where you go in Brisbane.
LC: Well there are a couple of promoters in Brisbane putting on regular shows: Fuck The System DIY, Scum Records, MJM Audio, Punkfest and the LeMurd guys, who I see are really keeping the local and interstate bands playing regularly. I would say it’s more surrounding suburbs gigs for punk shows then inner city as Brisbane is quite spread out and a lot of the inner city venues have shut down or aren’t interested in punk gigs. I really love going to the Brews Brothers shows it’s my new favourite venue. It’s this little space in Woolloongabba with a great chilled out atmosphere, where sick local punk bands play which is all ages.
What’s been your favourite gig you’ve attended so far this year?
LC: International: Toxic Holocaust at the Zoo in January! They were one of the raddest bands I’ve seen. Australian: The Scam, Half Pints, Worst, Footsoilder and Last Call February gig at the Nash Geelong. Plus the Bender festival DIY festival, raising funds and awareness for suicide prevention, showcasing great local bands plus it had a great sense of community.
What bands have been making you excited lately?
LC: The Scam and too many Aussie bands to name plus The Offspring, The Exploited, Misfits, Toxic Holocaust, Municipal Waste & Zeke.
So far what would you say is your biggest achievement and biggest failure in regards to all you do?
LC: My biggest achievement would probably be landing my job and being able to do everything I do. My biggest failure in regards to all I do is probably not having enough time at times. Sometimes I can take on a lot and with everything I do it sometimes leaves me with limited time to get everything I have to do done which can cause a hell of a lot of stress. When it’s done though, all or a majority of the stress leading up to it was worth it. But I don’t really have any regrets, you only learn from your mistakes and in the end they’ve helped shape who I am today.
What projects do you have in the works?
LC: I got a couple of gigs I’m working on at the moment and making the Up The Aussie Punk – Get Amongst It with Whisper Revolution. I’m attempting to do a band, we’re just starting out now but I’ve always wanted to do it so I’m giving it a go. I just finished making a baby blanket for my nephew that was born last week and I’ve started making a custom handbag for one of my customers. I’m hoping to set up some creative days where people can come together and create whatever they’re into creating, do a bit of clothes and supplies swap/sell plus a couple other things but too early to name.
Get involved, get in contact with Lauren via Fuck The System DIY.
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