Written by James Reynolds
My ear drums and expectations where absolutely shattered as The Gooch Palms finally returned to Canberra to tour their new album ‘III’, bringing with it their highly energetic and manic stage presence. On a freezing, miserable night the UC Hub opened its doors to a small but committed crowd ready to get amongst it and raise the heat.
Up and coming Canberra locals ARCHIE opened up the stage with their blend of Australian surf rock and lo-fi synthesizers, followed by teenage darlings Surf Trash and their festival sized punk rock sound.
The Gooch Palms (Consisting of guitarist/vocalist Leroy Macqueen and drummer/vocalist Kat Friend) took to the stage in matching leather jackets and ripped in to some fan favorites from their earlier albums. From the get go it felt more like watching your mates play rather than an internationally touring act. I will say that I’ve never seen a band interact more with an audience and get genuine laughter back.The pair fired off jokes about Canberra, Newcastle and tour stories between songs. Around half way through the set Leroy said that he had a present for the Canberra crowd, stripping down to a pair of green jocks and an exercise bra shouting “UP THE RAIDERS”. This was followed by passing his Guitar to a bloke in the front row who ripped in to a solo without missing a beat; the whole gig was an absolute spectacle to say the least.
The Goochies had well and truly won the crowd by the last song, ending with an unreleased track entitled ‘One More Song’. The show finished with immense applause from the crowd and gratitude from the band who were more than humble to their fans.
After the gig Leroy was kind enough to give me some of his time for a small interview:
“Wow Leroy that was a phenomenal set, you did great out there”
Leroy: “Thank you so much”
“I want to start with a quote from Dave Grohl I heard recently; he said something along the lines of ‘those Australians are bringing something to punk rock that was different from everything else’. How do you feel being part of this in 2019?”
Leroy: “I know who he’s talking about, he’s talking about The Chats, and at their age with their success are the most switched on, level headed blokes… Dude with touring America as much as we have you hear all the time ‘the Australian scene is so on right now’, but the Australian scene is always been on! The best scene and the best bands are from here… And I challenge anyone who doesn’t believe that!”
“What did you parents listen to and how did that influence your sound?”
Leroy: “Umm, they didn’t listen to music per se, as much as they just loved music, a lot of music in the house. A lot of Phil Collins… You know what I like that my parents did, they bought a lot of soundtracks; Forest Gump. You got to hear to a lot of different music. My dad used to have a sick ‘Music of Sopranos’ compilation, But really the reason I know any bands are from surf movies.”
“Any particular ones?”
Leroy: “Lost across America, which had dead boys, Iggy Pop, The Cramps, Blondie; it was just like relentless. When I was in America I found a second hand VHS of it and I don’t own a VHS player because I’m too young for that era, but I own a copy of my favorite surf movie on VHS.”
“Might have to go to Cash converters and pick one up.”
Leroy: “Yeah I might go down to cashies and watch it. I’m not going to buy it I’m just going to put it in”
“How did you feel about the venue and your openers tonight?”
Leroy: “This is sick, Uni bars can be quite sterile a lot of the time but this is the second time we have played a Uni-Bar in Canberra, and it’s just sick. We thought that Surf Trash where going to say no to coming on tour. There’s a running joke that anyone that goes on tour with us blows up. We’ve taken Hockey Dad, Skegss, Pissed Idiots, TOTTI. It’s just how it rolls, so long as they don’t forget us.”
“I saw some old gig photos of you completely stripped off on stage, it that as liberating as I imagine?”
Leroy: “It’s super liberating but we live in a completely different time. I never realized the consequences of it when we kicked off. It was all fun and games at the start but we wrapped it up because what if you brought a friend along and they were not in to it? We try to be as inclusive as possible for everyone.”
“That‘s understandable, how did the nudity start?”
Leroy: “Well the fact that the Gooch Palms shouldn’t have played tonight. When we stared out Kat had never played drums, I’d never played guitar before. I’d never been a lead sing before in a band, I’ve always just played bass or whatever. I just started getting naked because we couldn’t play… It was like a ‘look over there’ and it worked for a few years then it just kind of snowballed heaps. We had a few awkward nights supporting acts who weren’t in to it so we stopped.”
“You have an amazing presence for a two piece, did you ever think of expanding?”
Leroy: “Absolutely, but I think it’s one of those things where we might as well just start a new band. It works for some bands, I see that Polish Club have a bass player and it works because they are sick, but we are just an abrasive band. I think it wouldn’t work for me or Kat either. We have already started a new project with a bunch of other people down in Melbourne.”
“What’s that called?”
Leroy: “Don’t know, no name yet. But it’s basically just Kat and I not wanting to jeopardize this (The Gooch Palms), because we don’t care if it doesn’t get bigger than this, we are stoked that people even show up. To bring someone else on is just not very Gooch Palms.”
“What would be the direction of this new project?”
Leroy: “It actually sounds like early Peaches… Or like Crystal Castles. It’s like glitchy electronic punk. That kind of sparked from us doing the Triple J like a version with DZ Deathrays, where we just got to sing. When it ended Shane (of DZ Deathrays) said ‘that was kind of fun’. And then when Kat and I hopped in the car to go home we were like ‘that was so much fun’, just singing and not having to play an instrument. We’ve met some people and it might never happen but that’s the beauty with not tampering with the Gooch Palms. Kat has a few solo songs that sound great… The Gooch Palms will just keep going… we will be here longer then the dinosaurs existed. You will find a fossil and open a rock and we will just pop out.”
The Gooch Palms will be returning to Canberra supporting Grinspoon on the Chemical Hearts Tour on the 18 of October. I look forward to seeing them again.