For those of you that cherished the glorious racket bands like The Boys made back in the late '70’s or the Exploding Hearts made in the early 2000’s: I ask you to turn your attention to a land that the Romans referred to as Terra Australis Incognita meaning “the mysterious land of the south.” The same land where many years ago mighty beasts like The Saints, Radio Birdman, and The Scientists once roamed. Yes, the island nation known to the world as The Commonwealth of Australia. These lands are fertile with rock n’ roll once again and the primal punk rock sounds of yesteryear are buzzing through the outback once again. Sydney’s Black Heart Breakers took what they learned from power pop, back alley glam rock, late 70’s punk and recorded a debut LP released last year that is sure to go down in Australian punk rock history, if not the world’s!
Interview by J Castro
First off, who’s all in the band and what instruments do you play?
Hayden McGoogan – Lead Vocals/Guitar
Ed Barnes – Bass
Sean Anderson – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Steve Woodward - Drums
How did you all meet and decide to play music together?
HAYDEN: Sean and I have known each other since high school, and have been playing together for close to 7 years. We clicked through having similar tastes in music and passion to play it. Woodie was a mate of ours who has played in a bunch of Sydney bands, so when we decided that we wanted to make this band he was the first guy who we hit up. We met Ed through a love of punk rock and beer.
What’s life like for a punk band in Sydney, Australia these days? Is there a decent scene you guys are part of down there?
HAYDEN: There’s a bit of scene in Sydney, and in the other major cities, but it’s not really a thing, and in particular the style of Punk/Power Pop that we play. We’re fortunate enough to have some of our best mates play similar enough music to put on a pretty darn good lineup together.
Typically, people don’t associate Australia with punk but there have been so many great bands that have come out of there. Are you guys into bands like X, Radio Birdman, The Saints and stuff like that? Has early Australian punk rock been a big influence on you guys?
HAYDEN: The Australian punk scene rivals any other punk scene. Of course we love those bands! A huge influence! And you can imagine how fucking amped we were, only 6 months after our album release, to be opening for Radio Birdman on the last leg of their 2014 Australian tour at Manning Bar. Deniz Tek & Anne Laurent actually came to our Album Launch at the Gladstone Hotel previously, which was also a huge blessing. Other influential classic Australian bands include The Angels, AC/DC, Rose Tattoo and Cold Chisel.
You guys released your debut album last year, can you tell me a bit about it: where it was recorded, who produced it etc..?
HAYDEN: After Sean and I put all the songs together, we (Hayden McGoogan, Sean Anderson Steve Woodward, Ronnie Simmons) immediately all jumped in a room and started bashing them out. After less than 5 rehearsals, we went in to record the drums and bass for the album at The Lockup Studios in Sydney with Daniel Antix. (Rhythm section really did their homework!) After that, we took it to my makeshift studio and finished it. We completely self-produced it, no outside influence.
You guys said you recorded your album before playing any live shows first. Looking back, do you wish you would have now?
HAYDEN: Not at all. I really dig the fact that we did it first. It immediately gave us a foundation to build of, and a set of songs that people could feel and connect to from the first performance. After our first gig, you could immediately buy our music. I like as well that no one really does it, “it’s that weird thing that Black Heart Breakers did.” It was fucking hard in a way too, but a lot of fun and love.
Have you ever written any song lyrics you regret for whatever reason and are there any particular subjects you like to stay away from in your lyrics, is so why?
HAYDEN: Me personally, I don’t regret any lyrics. They’re a representation of how you were feeling about something in that specific moment in time, even if that feeling changes over time. I pretty much stay clear of political and/or world events. I more just stick to what’s going in my life or someone else’s.
What are some of the worst or most distracting things people do at you shows that drive you nuts?
HAYDEN: Not turning up! Jokes aside, there’s nothing really that is that distracting. When people spend your whole set on their phone that can be a bit annoying, but that’s not really that bad.
It’s time for the “beauty pageant question” part of the interview: Name the single most influential person in your life and how this person made such an impact on you?
HAYDEN: There’s not really a single person, of course there is all of our favorite bands: The Beatles, AC/DC, Ramones, and Beach Boys as well all the bands that we play with. It’s great playing a gig with all of your best mates and they’re watching you and you’re watching them and you’re both really digging what’s going on. Those bands inspire you to play better each time.
In your description about yourselves on your Facebook profile you said you guys are “the newest band to give a damn about rock n’ roll.” Do you feel like there’s a rock n’ roll revival going on?
HAYDEN: You’ve got rock n’ roll bands from all corners of the globe that really give a fuck and make excellent music. There are the Biters in Atlanta, the Cry from Portland, Black Heart Breakers from Sydney, Kotzreiz from Berlin, Prima Donna from Los Angeles, and countless others. Ronnie and Woodie’s half Sydney/half Berlin project AUTOBAHN OUTLAW just released their debut record RU12 through GoldenCore Records / ZYX in October & it’s incredible! Kick In the Teeth! I think there is a global community that really cares about and loves rock and roll.
Why do you think rock n’ roll music that used to be so wildly popular with youth culture has now dwindled down and gone underground and been replaced by hip hop/electronic music?
HAYDEN: I just think it’s the times and what’s played on radio. The general listener listens to what’s played on the radio or at the nightclubs and at the moment that is electronic music. But with the internet now, everyone go and find there whatever music they want.
What lies ahead in 2015 for The Black Heart Breakers?
HAYDEN: Black Heart Breakers are working with Verboten Music Company and are currently setting up an east coast tour of Australia to take place in June in promotion of the 2014 independent release Black Heart Breakers. New songs have started making their way into the set, such as “I Want You” and “High School Lovers,” and people are digging them, so we’re hoping that an EP will be out by the end of the year.