I saw The Gooch Palms – guitarist-vocalist Leroy MacQueen and drummer-vocalist-thereminist Kat Friend – live for the first time last year at The Waiting Room, and I gotta say, they blew me away! So much so, that they’ve quickly become one of my favourite Australian bands. They’re catchy like nobody’s business, simple, scuzzy, super fun, high energy rock n roll. US punk zine Maximum Rock n Roll recently called them “punky electronic space music” commenting “it seems like the band goes out of its way to remove the catchiness, but they can’t do it. It’s so catchy the band can’t remove the catchiness.” The dynamic duo is going from strength to strength having just played the Big Day Out festival as well as being featured on the much anticipated compilation Nuggets: Antipodean Interpolations of the First Psychedelic Era. They’re about to hit my hometown, Brisbane! If you want to see a “bloody awesome” show with “good use of buttocks” head into Alhambra Lounge this Sunday (January 27). Doors 8pm. $15 entry. Also on the bill: Velociraptor & Tiny Migrants.
The Gooch Palms started around 3 years ago, you guys had been playing music together for a little while; when was the moment you realised that you were actually going to have a band?
LEROY MACQUEEN: Kat wanted to have a go at playing organ (she’d never played an instrument before) so we had a jam or two and decided to book a gig to work towards. We had just moved to Sydney and didn’t know any one yet, so I recorded myself playing floor tom and snare to use as backing tracks for the bunch of songs we’d written and we went from there. About a year ago we ditched the backing tracks and Kat took over on drums.
What is your recollection of first meeting?
LM: We met about 8 years ago at a pub in Newcastle. I was only 17 but knew the bouncer so he used to let me in. We were just good friends for 2 years before eventually getting together. We never thought we’d end up in a band together!
What are the best and worst parts of being in a relationship and being in a band together?
LM: The best would be the convenience. We can rehearse whenever; we can share a room or bed on tour which makes it easy. And we’re usually thinking on the same page as we have the same interests and influences. We also don’t have to leave the other one behind when we play other cities, which is cool. There aren’t any real negatives, we both like to party and have a good time, so it’s just a whole lot of fun.
How did you first get into music?
LM: We’ve both been into music since birth. I played drums in the school band when I was 9 and have been in gigging bands since I was 14. Kat has always loved music and was so excited to start playing organ and then drums even though she had no previous experience. Now there’s no stopping her!
You guys just made a clip for Watch This Space [featured below] in your backyard. What kind of neighbourhood do live in? Are there any interesting characters around the traps you could tell us about? If we were visiting with you what would you show us?
LM: We live in Islington, it’s the main drag for hookers and there are a lot of drug dealers living around here. The Nomad’s club house is a few streets over too. Then there are a lot of students and old people. But our street is pretty normal except that it’s on the train line. The neighbours think we’re real weirdoes. Our grass is a meter tall and our house was an old junkie squat which we’ve turned into a colourful homely shack. We dubbed it, The Gooch Farm. We like to have bonfire parties and we rehearse a lot in the front room so I’m sure we’re pretty hated. If you came here we’d probably just take you to the beach, there’s nothing else to show any one here. We get a lot done as there are no distractions.
What are some things that The Goochies are really passionate about?
LM: We’re really passionate about music—we’re listening to music 24/7! Kat is really passionate about the environment and animal rights which has rubbed off on me over the years too. We also really, really, really love pizza. We tried going vegan a few times but cheese pizza will be the death of us.
I love the space theme for your release R U 4 Sirius? Where does the outer space fascination spark from?
LM: I LOVE space. LOVE!!! I love watching space shows on TV and talking about space. Did you know that Siruis is the brightest star in the night sky? I know that because I love space.
Musically, what do you feel are the key things that make up The Gooch Palms sound you’ve dubbed ‘shit-pop’?
LM: I was in a band for years with the drummer from XTC’s son. Their music has been the biggest influence on me since then. I just love any music that is catchy. I don’t care if it’s a top 40 hit or the most lo-fi piece of shit recording. My favourite genres are new wave, punk, metal, thrash and good old fashioned rock n roll. I draw inspiration from all those things and more. We write pop songs but can only portray them in a lo-fi and minimal way so we just call it shit-pop.
What’s the most challenging thing for you in regards to songwriting?
LM: Lyrics by far. Neither of us like writing lyrics. It’s hard. I can write a melody but I’ll just make up sounds that don’t make sense, as soon as we have to put words to the melody, it gets challenging.
Is there a community or musicians you feel like you belong to or have an affinity with?
LM: Yes and no. We don’t belong to any scene here in Newcastle. We really only play with The Nugs. But that’s cool with us. In Sydney we play with some great bands but we still wouldn’t say there’s a community that we belong to. We only seem to play with out of town bands in Melbourne and the only place I would say that there is a real sense of support and inclusion is Brisbane. We friggin’ love it up there. All the bands are so supportive and everyone is awesome!!!
The Goochies were recently included on the Nuggets: Antipodean Interpolations of the First Psychedelic Era compilation, what did that mean to you?
LM: It was cool to be asked to be a part of it. We loved doing our own take on a classic and it has opened a bunch of doors for us too. Overall it has been an awesome experience.
Recently when I was telling someone about the awesomeness of The Gooch Palms they asked me “Is that the band where the guy gets naked?” What inspires you to get nude on stage? What are the pros and cons of going sans clothes?
LM: It’s all pros. I love being nude and it’s amazing that I can just whip my pants off and people don’t care, they actually seem to really like it, which makes me want to do it even more. Photographers love taking photos of me naked but then get sad when they realise they can’t use them online as they are too rude. It’s all tongue in cheek (pardon the pun) I’m not out to offend anyone. Well maybe…
What was your favourite moment of your recent Big Day Out set? Nice work on surviving playing outside on the hottest day in Sydney history!
LM: My favourite moment was seeing so many kids going crazy despite the intense heat. A few of them were even wearing Gooch Palms shirts which was amazing to see. It was a surreal day in general. Goochies at the BDO, ridiculous!!!
Who are your favourite performers? What is it about them that you dig so much?
LM: Young Axl Rose (pre-corn rows) he was my first favourite front man and is still in my Top 5. There are the obvious ones—Iggy [Pop], GG [Allin] and [David] Bowie. Dee Dee Ramone is one of my favourites too. We named our cat Dee Dee ’cause he is cool like the real Dee Dee.
I love the Anthrax inspired Goochies rollerblader shirt, who was the genius behind it?
LM: I have the real Anthrax shirt, it’s my favourite shirt. Kat just designed our version one day as a joke and it looked so good we decided to get some made up.
You both have tattoos and I know Kat got a tattoo gun for Christmas; which is your favourite tattoo of your collection? Does it have a significance you could share with us?
LM: My favourite is my Beavis tattoo on my upper thigh. It’s him chucking a moonie. I can relate to it on a higher level.
Outside of Gooch Palms what other creative things do you do?
LM: None. Kat’s the creative one, she’s always doing some crafty shit that makes a mess.
What’s next for The Gooch Palms?
LM: An album, touring more, world domination…all that jazz!
For more The Gooch Palms.
*Photos courtesy of The Gooch Palms fb. BDO live photo by the very awesome Philip Erbacher.