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October 2022

The Chats: "The people who get it, they get it"

The Chats are continuing their conquest of brazen pub rock in their second album 'GET FUCKED'.
Published: 3:01 pm, August 19, 2022Words: Connor Fenton.
The Chats: "The people who get it, they get it"

Since their viral single 'Smoko' blasted onto the scene in 2017, Queensland three-piece The Chats have developed exponentially, releasing their debut full-length in 2020, days before the numerous Covid lockdowns. Two years later, with a slightly different line-up after the departure of guitarist Josh Price, lead singer and bassist Eamon Sandwith details the making of their new album, 'GET FUCKED'.

"It was good; we spent a few days [in Southport], writing songs at our mate's bar," Eamon starts. "It was a cool experience to write somewhere else, but yeah… it's a total shit hole." The new location helped inspire the most prominent feature of The Chats' output in this album - the brashness. "It was cool; it was like we were in our zone, almost."

For an album that brims with such insatiable electricity, it's hard to believe that the bulk of the writing was done with a simple trip to the pub, but it's an approach that sees the band in their element. "We're not crazy songwriters or anything; we just get together and have a bash on the guitar or whatever and see what works. If you can think of a funny idea for a song then that definitely helps, but it's kinda just whatever works."

Comedy is abundant throughout the record, with almost every character on the album mocked or exaggerated into the absurd. "'Ticket Inspector' I wrote after I got done for not paying for a train, and I thought, well, that's just bullshit," Eamon casually recalls of his inspiration for a song that paints a scornful caricature of the public transport scourge. Lyrically, it pulls no punches; "Suck it up; you get what you're given. It's dishonest work, but it makes me a living."

The Chats have harnessed an innate ability to make intoxicatingly punked-out songs from even the smallest spark. Even the album's hectic opener '6L GTR' is named after a set of vanity licence plates that the band spotted on a car while loading gear at Brisbane Airport. The band found it hilarious. "We were like, 'When he's fangin' it in his car, what's in his head? What does he do?'"

Although the band's sense of humour stands at the forefront of their music, there's no mistaking them for a comedy act. They touch on the mostly unmentioned issue of racism within Sydney's surfer community in the late-90s with 'Emperor of the Beach', a song that harnesses all of the incorrigible character of The Chats while showing clear disdain for intolerance. "The people who get it, they get it," Eamon explains. "I don't think we're a joke band, but we're a band that tells jokes."

The band have grown to trust heavily on their instincts, making music with a shoot-from-the-hip stance that never seems to miss. Even in the studio, they took a remarkably lax approach. "It was maybe eight days or something, but we were real fucking lazy." Eamon shakes his head, half proud, half embarrassed. "We would start at ten, then go have lunch at the pub from twelve until two, then we'd go 'Fuck, we should probably go back and start recording some shit'. Then we'd go, 'Yeah, that's good enough', and call it a day at three or four."

'GET FUCKED' was certainly not built in a day, but it wasn't thrown together either. Despite the band's slouched ethic, their music has never been tighter, with every riff and every rhythm more precise than on their previous record. There's an obvious development in this album that can come only through playing for so long together and having the confidence to not overwork the music. Eamon laughs as he says, "We're not in there meticulously, selecting each part and going 'We could do that better!' We're just like, 'Oh, sounds like the song, so that's good enough!'"

"The work ethic was just terrible, but because we had allocated ourselves like a week to do it - which was more time than we needed, we were just trying to be safe - we were like, 'Ah, we've still got like four days, let's just go home'." The result is a phenomenally kinetic sound, played fluidly and naturally like an insane live set. "I don't wanna make a record that sounds flawless and perfect, and then when people come sees us live, they're like, 'Wait, this sounds way better on the record.'"

After the release of 'High Risk Behaviour', the band parted ways with original guitarist Pricey in the middle of the Covid lockdown, leaving them somewhat unsure on how best to carry on. "I didn't really know what was gonna happen," Eamon remembers. "At the time, it was like, 'I don't know what the point of this is, I don't know if live music is ever coming back to the point that it was at'." Thankfully, their good pal Josh Hardy, of neighbouring band The Unknowns, stepped up to the plate. "He kinda saved the band, in a way."

With Josh on board, Eamon found himself with a sounding board that helped keep the new record fresh. "It's just good to have someone else's opinion. If you trust your own opinion too much, then you can get too weird or whatever." He tells us, "It's good having someone else there like, 'Actually, that sounds a bit shit, what if we did this instead?' And you're like, 'Fuck! That's way better than what I was doing'."

With new life breathed into the band, 'GET FUCKED' is a rich, grotty tapestry of the smaller slices of life - even down to the rising cost of living and people's attitude to retail staff in 'The Price of Smokes', a recollection of angry customers from Eamon's days as a Coles employee. There is no concept too pedestrian for The Chats to prestidigitate into a golden track that breathes grimy punk and encourages mosh pit behaviour.

The future is absurdly bright for The Chats, with a gargantuan summer touring Australia with Mean Jeans and a winter of supporting Guns N' Roses. It's clear to see that 'GET FUCKED' is only the beginning of their mammoth impact on grotty punk rock. 

Taken from the September issue of Upset.The Chats' album 'GET FUCKED' is out 19th August.

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