Now a four piece, Perth punk icons The Painkillers launch their latest EP, Garage Sale Girl, at Mojos Bar this Saturday, September 20, with support from Donny Rat, Emu Xperts, Aborted Tortoise, Python (reuniting for one show only!) and Catbrush. TRAVIS JOHNSON caught up with Joe Bludge to hear his thoughts regarding this auspicious occasion.
Garage Sale Girl came about due to a scheduling mishap, it turns out. For the special occasion of drummer James Baker’s 60th birthday, The Painkillers had added a couple of members to their line up, in the form of Richard Lane on guitar and Big Dog on bass. A couple of gigs supporting Tex Perkins’ The Ape and local KISS tribute act KISStake were lined up.
“Then I saw your mate, (X-Press Managing Editor and KISStake member) Bob Gordon, down at The Pines and he said they’d been cancelled.” Painkiller Joe Bludge recalls. “So we had this band sort of ready to go, so we thought we’d do this EP.”
It all worked out for the best: The Ape shows were ultimately rescheduled, plus we got a new recording from The Painkillers, a band whose activity has been somewhat intermittent of late, owing to Baker’s activities with old bands such as The Beasts Of Bourbon and The Scientists.
Consisting of five tracks, the Garage Sale Girl EP came together rather quickly. “We sort of did without the preproduction,” Bludge tells us. “We sort of skipped that part. We were able to muddle our way through the songs and work them on the run. Normally the band has a few songs that we haven’t recorded yet and we’ve got them kicking around, and so the songs on the EP are the ones we nominated to do from that bracket.”
There is one song on the new release that stands out from the pack, being unique not only amongst the tracks on the EP but in terms of the entire Painkillers oeuvre: Animals. “It’s rather a long song – eight minutes, which is really unusual for us. We rarely go over three minutes, but I guess changing formats leads to interesting things and possibilities, so this was another thing we did on this EP that we couldn’t normally do.
“It’s a sort of ‘us vs. them’ song, which was a pretty banal polemic for a long time but now seems really extraordinarily relevant, given the taking over of democracies like ours happening, and even little punk bands like us are appalled by it. Most of the eight minutes is me adlibbing to the best of my ability. I guess it’s inspired by Patti Smith and the sort of stuff she did in Horses. It works its way up to a crescendo, starts off slow and works up fast, soft to loud… so that’s the eight minute one.”
Looking at the broader cultural context, Bludge predicts a rise in political music. The current state of play demands it.
“I pretty much hope so,” he says fervently. “Otherwise we’re pretty fucked. There also seems to be a lot of middle of the road music coming out. I’m a bit surprised. Sometimes I feel like a lot of songwriters aren’t as politically astute as they used to be, but I don’t know – I move in pretty limited circles. But there needs to be. I think everyone needs to make a stand at the moment in their own way or pitch a battle somewhere.”