Who is Terry? Is he man? Is he legend? Or is he a Melbourne folk-punk band taking Perth by storm this weekend? There is no way to know for sure, except to listen. Terry the band feature Amy Hill (also of Constant Mongrel, School Of Radiant Living), Xanthe Waite (Mick Harvey Band, Primo), Zephyr Pavey (Eastlink, Total Control, Russell St Bombings) and Al Montfort (UV Race, Dick Diver, Total Control). They’re playing Fremantle Arts Centre this Saturday, March 24, with support from Jill and Alsy (The Triffids), Cold Meat and Debbie Downers, and again on Sunday night at 208 in Maylands with Wild Tone, Terrible Signal and Cold Meat. Their third album, I’m Terry, will be out in September, but Perth crowds will get to hear it ahead of release, along with older favorites from their last four records. JESS COCKERILL had a chat with guitarist Xanthe Waite and drummer Zephyr Pavey before they head West to find out why Terry likes ferries, and what’s up with the cowboy hats…
Terry’s sound is quite difficult to pin down. I’ve seen several attempts to describe the band: dolewave, country, punk, pop. How do you see yourself?
Z: Broadly speaking I would say we are definitely a punk band, because of how we operate. There’s no contracts, there’s no grants. We book shows with our friends and bands we know. There’s so many bad things about music that we keep it pretty close and try to make it enjoyable for our friends. We have no career ambitions whatsoever. That probably sums it up.
X: It’s always evolving, and I think that’s the important thing about it. We’re such massive lovers of music. We all play in other bands [Dick Diver, UV Race, Total Control, Lower Plenty, Constant Mongrel, etc.] and together, and apart.
Z: We all probably love British punk, the Buzzcocks. I always wanted to sound more like the Buzzcocks, and it’s never ever worked, because I don’t know how to play drums that well. And ABBA, of course, cos we’re two couples as well. Blondes, brunettes… actually no, there’s too many brunettes in the band. Maybe Al [Montfort] can bleach his hair. Anyway, it’s this weird funny couple thing. It’s a vibe.
The ABBA influence definitely comes through in your strong hooks; Terry is real earworm music…
Z: Yeah, just super annoying, stuck-in-your-head stuff. I think that happened naturally, you can’t force out a whole series of songs that are that catchy, we’ve only got one that’s really catchy.
How do you feel about the ‘dolewave’ label?
Z: Dolewave is a pretty funny label. It’s pretty shitty. I think at the time none of us had been on the dole.
X: We all work really hard. Casual employee-wave might be more appropriate.
It doesn’t always sound punk but there’s definitely a lot of animosity towards Australian nationalism, from what I can hear in the music?
X: I feel like Al writes a lot of the political songs, but we all have an interest in watching the car crash that is Australian politics at the moment. What we’re writing about is what we’re digesting today.
Z: I wouldn’t even say we’re politically active people. It’s observations from living here, working casual manual labour jobs, seeing the shitty our grandmothers and mothers lived.
What’s with the outfits?
X: I think that was the country ABBA glam thing again. We love the idea of putting together an outfit for the band, for the performance, just using what we had lying around.
Z: As we are two heterosexual white couples, dressing up as cowboys or whatever, and being into ABBA seemed to be this kinda horrible colonial nightmare type thing. Beating it to death, making it look as silly as it is.
X: We’ve been trying to come up with improvements on the outfits, maybe something futuristic. I think Amy’s got a full silver outfit in the mail. We need to go more ABBA, more glam. Getting into an outfit while performing is good, it helps you get into the mood.
How do you deal with being two couples, in a band, touring? Could be a difficult dynamic for some…
X: We all get on so well, that’s why we started the band. We were hanging out together all the time anyway. Obviously travelling together and spending so much time together is something tricky…
Z: I think that’d be irritating regardless of whether you’re two couples or not.
X: But we work it out really well, considering the pressures you get put under on tour.
What’s been your favorite place touring? Any shenanigans to report?
X: We’ve been to Europe twice, and New Zealand. We’ve been to Brisbane a couple of times, and Sydney quite a lot. And Tassie. We played in Launceston, which… no-one plays in Launceston. But this will be our first time playing in Perth.
Z: We played in the Mornington Peninsula the other week, which, although it’s close [to Melbourne] you never seem to get to. We played in Geelong the night before, at Jerk Fest, and then we got the ferry over, the Sorrento to Queensford Ferry. We are very interested in touring where there’s ferries involved. In Europe you get ferries everywhere. It’s a much nicer way to travel. Beats the airport, for sure.
That’s not really shenanigans though… We’re just a pair of couples who like ABBA and bootscooting and an early night.
X: Actually, Zeph got detained at the border in the UK.
Z: Oh yeah… Xanthe and Amy are British citizens so they had their passports but Al and I are just through-and-through settler freaks, and our visas hadn’t been approved. So cos we got a ferry into the UK, they didn’t check our passports, they didn’t really care.
X: Another benefit of catching ferries!
Z: It was only a brief detainment, they read me my rights and told me I’d done the wrong thing, made me swear that I wouldn’t play the show we were booked for that night in London. But she said, if I get in here and look it up on “the Google” and find out you played that show… well, when she said “the Google” I figured I could get away with it.