Allday hits WA this week, playing Wednesday, October 15 at YMCA HQ (all-ages); the Prince of Wales, Bunbury, on Thursday, October 16, and Amplifier on Friday, October 17. MEG CRAWFORD checks in with him.
Aussies love a larrikin – it’s part of our cultural identity and it’s also part of what makes Tom Gaynor, better known as rapper Allday, so damn popular.
He’s got an endearing larrikin streak that’s about a mile wide – he looks variably angelic or like he’s about to set fire to something. Let’s start with a story about his fabled Nana and apologies in advance to the Gaynor family but the tale’s too damn funny not to recount.
Allday loves his Nana – he even puts her text messages on his Facebook page, which are usually praising him for keeping his swearing in check, because, God knows, Allday fucking loves a good cuss. It’s hard to imagine just about any other rapper doing that – posting his Nana’s texts that is, not the profanity part. That’s not the story though.
“She’s pretty game,” he says. “Nana sued a supermarket when she got Legionnaire’s Disease from some potting mix and then she gave me some of the money to go to India, which was pretty sick. She also flipped a car once and rolled it like 100 times down a cliff, but she survived because she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt – she bounced out of the front seat, which got smashed, into the back seat. She was 70 at the time.
“She’s indestructible. I’ll be very sad, but very surprised if she ever dies. She’s 80 now, but I think she’ll be alive until the technology catches up to keep her alive forever. She’s like the Terminator. It’s probably over-sharing, but she’s in a full-on relationship with a boyfriend and they’re definitely getting it on.”
Who knows if it’s true, because he also describes himself as a “fat fuck superstar” on the basis that he eats 1000 packets of Skittles for brekky each day, neither part of which statement is accurate: Allday’s a vegan, he doesn’t even eat lollies and the dude’s all arms and legs. Who cares really whether he’s gilding the lily? He’s too damn funny for it to matter.
There’s also his excellent Lily Allen story, which comes from his recent support gig. He had wanted a selfie with her but went one better.
“I got to meet her briefly,” he explains gleefully. “It was accidentally in the bathroom – in her bathroom and I shouldn’t have been in there. It said ‘artist’s bathroom’ though and I thought, ‘oh yeah, I’m an artist.’ I didn’t realise that they meant ‘the artist’. She just looked at me while she was cleaning her teeth and I said, ‘I’m not supposed to be in here am I?’ and she said ‘nuh, but that’s alright’. So, I left. She did give me a bottle of wine and a little card that said ‘thank you for joining me on tour’ though, which was sweet. I think she has a crush on me. In fact, you can say that I’m 100 per cent sure she does.”
A shitload’s happened for Allday recently – in the space of two months he’s dropped his excellent debut album, Start Up Cult, to wide acclaim, he’s been on a massive tour in support of the same, he’s done the Lily Allen support, he had his phone nicked by (in his words) a “fuck-face cab driver”, he broke up with his girlfriend and he’s moved in with his bro. That’s huge – it’s enough for someone to deal with in a year, let alone two months.
“Yeah, what an arsehole, having my phone stolen was the most intense part,” he chortles. “I’m actually pretty good, though. I had a wild couple of weeks after the break-up and I’ve probably done a bit less music than usual. I went back to Adelaide and partied pretty hard, but I’m really getting back to work now because I want an album out by mid next year. So now, I’m living with my brother and my friend and I’m loading my body up with vitamins and water and just trying to be a happy individual.”
He’s also been getting mobbed. Query whether Allday feeds the frenzy though, because he’s definitely more engaged with his fans than most. For instance, he ran an Instagram competition to select a lucky few to go on a ‘mobile listening party bus ride’ to preview Start Up Cult. In the lead up he’d assumed he’d need to have a skin-full first and just wanted it to be a big fat party. So, what happened?
“Well, I thought at first we were going to be able to bring alcohol, but then I realised that the median age was quite young, so we just ended up taking a lot of selfies and hanging out. They also asked me a heap of questions and got me to call their mates. It was good just to do something a bit extra and special for those people – they’re the ones who post me like a 100 times a day and send a text to everyone in their phone every time I drop a song.”
He also committed to phone calls with 100 fans who pre-purchased the album for 10 minutes each. You’d think the potential for awkwardness would be pretty high, but Allday was unfazed when talking about it beforehand.
“I used to work in a call centre,” he said at the time. “This’ll be more pleasant than that, I’m sure.” Back then he and his record label (the boutique hip hop outfit, One Two) assumed it’d only be about 17 hours’ work, but it turns out that it’s been a bit more.
“I’m still doing it,” he sighs. “So many people don’t answer their phone, though. I guess it’s because they’re working. It’s not actually that intense, I just ask them how they are and about what’s going on in their life – it’s nice. Also, I can ask what’s their favourite song on the album and what do they want to hear on the tour, so it’s a bit of market research.”
It almost seems like Allday doesn’t have much of a filter or maybe it’s the danger of social media – it’s just too damn easy to over-share. Take a few recent Facebook posts – on Wednesday, August 27, he reported not having showered for two days (come on mate – there’s no excuse for that) only to follow it with a selfie a few days later in which he was swathed in three towels and 10 mates were tagged, which kind of suggested that there was a large party in the shower going on. That’s all getting a bit rock‘n’roll isn’t it?
“I didn’t tag those people,” he laughs. “They tagged themselves – it’s just something that goes on. I don’t really get it, but they want to show that they were there in the shower with me. I put it up in the first place because I just realised that I always have three towels and I thought ‘this is something that a prince would do’ so I shared that, just like I share everything else. Anyway, when you have long hair, you need at least one separate towel to wrap it up in.” That’s actually true.
Undoubtedly he’s backed by a very canny PR machine, but his engagement with fans appears to be completely genuine. Interestingly though, while he’s still the fan’s darling, there’s been a wee backlash. Maybe it’s that old adage about familiarity breeding contempt, but he’s had to contend with accusations of being a no-show at an Espy after-party bash (he was there) and being too snotty now that he’s famous to respond to fan mail (bloody hell, give the lad a break – he’s swamped and he answers the mail himself).
He’s also becoming increasingly aware that there’s some responsibility that comes with fame. Allday’s demographic has been pitched (not by him) as being between 13 and 16, although, according to Facebook it’s more like 18 to 24. He raps a lot about chasing tail – appropriate for the latter but not so much the former.
“Yeah, that only got presented to me when I’d finished the album,” he reflects. “I was with my Dad and my uncle and they took me aside and were like, ‘do you realise you’re speaking to a lot of people now and can have an impact on the psyches of young people?’ So, I definitely feel that responsibility a little bit but I also feel that I’ve gotta make my art and they’re my stories. Maybe people listen because they relate to it. Who knows? Anyway, I was listening to Eminem when I was a kid and I didn’t put my girlfriend in the trunk.” Good point dude.