Exploding into popularity with their latest record If This Is All We’re Going To Be…, Luca Brasi have hit 2017 running. With a Hottest 100 appearance, sets at Laneway Festival and Party in the Paddock, plus announcing a huge national tour for July, the Tassie outfit have a huge year ahead of them.
We sat down with Tyler Richardson (vocals, bass) on International Women’s Day to talk festivals, Tassie, #ItTakesOne and what needs to be done to make the music scene safer for everyone. And of course, about the inevitable Essendon AFL Grand Final appearance.
Since you guys released If This Is All We’re Going To Be…, you’ve kind of skyrocketed a bit, so you’ve been playing things like Unify and Laneway, how does it feel playing those festivals in comparison to smaller pub shows? And what do you prefer playing?
Yeah it definitely feels so bizarre to be in that realm of the festival world. We’ve done a few [festivals] before the album, but we kind of were the outsiders, nobody knew who we were or gave a shit sort of thing, but to be playing those festivals and to be known a bit more than we were is crazy. To have that many people there knowing who we are and stoked to see us— being booked for those things is crazy. In comparison… I still don’t think we’re ever going to beat, for us anyway, smaller club shows, I think that’ll always be our home. You’re always going to feel a lot more at home – or we are – in that scenario for sure. But festivals are amazing, they’re so much fun to turn up, literally have no stress, play and then you’re done. It’s so much fun.
How are you finding fitting earlier songs into the setlist on festivals like that, or are you feeling kind of pressured to stick to the newer songs that people are going to know?
We had this exact discussion recently, y’know we’ll throw in a few old ones, and there will be a very sparse amount of people singing along to them at a festival. At a club show of our own, you’re still going to have at least like a good percentage of people that have been there from the very start or know the back catalogue, whereas at a festival, you’re pretty much hoping to connect more to the people that might have heard you on the radio. You want to be able to play a good show so you end up feeling pressured to play the ones that people might know a bit more for sure.
Your music has this really intrinsic and deep-rooted sense of place in it, and that place is Tassie. Why is Tassie so special and how important is it to convey a sense of place in your music?
I just always feel like when we started the band we never really meant to do anything out of it, we were just mucking around playing guitars and drinking at parties, and the only reason we ended up doing anything is because of our mates here to support us from the start. Y’know, our first show we played to like 200 people and it was insane, which I don’t think that anyone really gets the chance to do. We were so lucky because of our mates who we grew up with, and they’re still our best mates now. Tassie’s such a big part of that because it’s such a small place and people are really close knit and feel so related to each other – and generally are probably related to each other too – but we were really lucky that we had those people there. Our mates from high school were the people that were at our first show, and still at our shows ten years after that, and we were so grateful to have done the meagre amount we’ve done and we’re so stoked that Tassie let us do that. It always will be such a big part of who I am and who we are and what our music is. I think it’s always going to be that way.
Do you feel that the market for sort of Aussie grassroots punk bands is growing?
Yeah I feel like these things go in a kind of cycle. Hopefully we’re not just part of a cycle or a trend, but I feel like guitar bands at the moment are doing quite well in Australia. There’s a lot of bands out there that are similar to us that are doing good things. I always feel that, with our band especially, bands like The Smith Street Band really paved the way for that to happen and that era allowed us to do more things. Plus bands like Violent Soho are just ridiculously big – guitar music is coming back in a big way.
What’s the best way for someone to support independent music in Australia?
I still think a band’s artist Bandcamp is a really good start, they still are a really good income source and you still can find great music like that. But going to shows is the only chance that bands really have to make any money. Going on tour is still the only way bands see any income and get to keep doing what they are doing at the moment. With record sales being what they are, even a number one record is still probably sold a pretty relatively small amount of copies compared to what it would have ten years ago. Going on tour is really the only way to make enough money to go on the next tour, I guess [laughs], which is usually what it boils down to. Live music is always going to be the best way to support anyone. Go and watch the band.
If you can’t express yourself in any way other than hurting someone, then I don’t understand what you’re doing at a show
Back in November you announced that for a week, the profits from your Bandcamp catalogue was going to Minus 18. Why that particular cause?
That was around the time Trump got elected and a bunch of our mates in America – and Australia as well – were really upset by this. Us included, but minority people and people that are very underrepresented – trans and gay and lesbian, or non-gender binary people are so underrepresented and this is a terrifying thing. The thing that [Trump’s election] signified was that minorities were going to be stamped out or treated like shit, and it’s terrifying. And people were really, really freaked out and upset that the world’s gone so far backwards that this could be something that could happen. And in Australia, LGBTIQ youth is just… they really have no funding put towards them, they’re still treated absolutely horribly in the school system, there’s no real support place for them— and Minus 18 are doing amazing things and trying to engage youth and give them a leg to stand on. That is so important that if we can do anything to help them, we really want to do it.
You were big advocates for the #ItTakesOne campaign last year. Punk shows in Australia at the moment, they have a lot of dickheads, every time I see you guys or Soho or Smith Street Band, there’s always a bunch of dickheads. Are we doing enough to stop abuse at shows, and what more can be done?
I really don’t think anyone can ever be doing enough until it doesn’t happen anymore. I know that’s easier said than done. Awareness and the fact that it’s being talked about is obviously huge, but giving it lip service for five minutes and then not worrying about it again is something that Camp Cope haven’t done for sure, y’know they’ll never stop this message and I feel like we do have a responsibility to keep going.
I know that coming up on this next tour, we have a few things in place that we’re going to try and keep pushing forward. I think letting go of the message is something that can happen so easily, y’know, an incident happens and you get some publicity and someone will get a pat on the back for it, and then they’ll feel good about themselves and then that’s it, you never hear it again.
I still don’t think that the music scene is a safe space – the fact that girls are still reporting this stuff happening means that there’s definitely not enough being done. And I think that – as bad as it is – so much of our exposure has come from being on the radio, but obviously that’s going to bring a wider variety of people to a show. I’m not saying that this doesn’t happen at smaller DIY punk shows as well, but I really feel like the bigger the range of people means that these things are going to keep happening, and it’s just… I’m so flabbergasted and totally bewildered and completely lost for words. The fact that this happens — [playing shows] is something that you wanted your whole life to happen, and then you’re standing onstage and that’s the reason why people have a chance to assault people. There never can be enough done. I don’t know what the next step is, how to stamp this out, but I think Camp Cope are the best model at the moment. Their show in Hobart, I talked to some people and they just reckon that it was the most amazing, caring environment where people do not even dare to think that an assault is going to happen. I mean, I guess people saying that it’s not going to be tolerated is number one.
Where is the line drawn between having a good time and having a mosh, and being a dickhead? Because that’s another thing I’ve found with shows like Violent Soho especially, y’know, people will defend being a dick by saying, “It’s a moshpit!”
Yeah, that’s it too! It’s a place where people think they’re separated from society and the real world. Like, I know you’re in a mosh pit, but you’re standing in a venue in a city and you’re not removed from everything. You’re literally in a group of people, as if you were walking down the street. I completely understand that a mosh pit is a mosh pit, but at the same time, a mosh pit doesn’t mean that it’s a no holds barred free-for-all. If you can have a good time and express yourself and not affect someone else’s space to any sort of degree, then that’s great. But if you can’t express yourself in any way other than hurting someone, then I don’t understand what you’re doing at a show. A lot of people are like, “Oh, what’s the point? What are you playing music for if you don’t want to this to happen” and I can’t believe they can really mean that. They look at you and go, “It’s rock ’n’ roll.” Who gives a fuck what it is? I don’t want to play in a band where that happens.
It’s a sort of thing where on one hand, you’re like, “I don’t want to do this anymore,” but on the other hand, you’re like, “Well, I have a responsibility to say something.” I think that’s the biggest thing – if you have some sort of platform and you don’t use it or you shy away from it, then you’re probably just as big a part of the problem.
With International Women’s Day being today, who’s been the biggest female influence in your life?
I think my mum’s been the biggest female influence in my life. Now that I’m old enough to appreciate and to really think about the sacrifices she made to make everything in my life as easy as it was. It’s incredible to think about the sacrifices that she made in her own life and she worked every single day, worked all these jobs and was still home to look after me and anything she could ever do for me, she did, and will still do for me. I’m eternally grateful to have a strong person who doesn’t give a shit about what anyone thinks about her, as long as her kids are alright. She is just incredible.
What are some of your favourite bands with female members?
I am still such a gushing Camp Cope fanboy [laughs], they’re such amazing people and their music absolutely rules. I made sure that I had a good spin of the record on the way to and from work today. And listening to the radio was incredible too, listening to Ecca Vandal, who’s awesome – I hope that Ecca gets to do all of the things that she ever wants to do in her life, she’s just incredible and she’s such a strong, amazing woman.
You guys played Unify this year, which — at the time the lineup was announced, it was 117 men and 2 females. Do you have any thoughts on that lineup in particular, or even just how we can encourage more women into playing music and playing especially heavy music?
Yeah, I mean… we put our thoughts out there and [we] were quickly… given a little heads up that the situation was being, uh… how did they word it? Was being monitored. Then we were just like, “Alright, we’ll do this show and we’re not going to do any promo or anything,” Yeah, that was… pretty disheartening. Once you sign onto a show, you don’t get told the lineup or anything like that, and to see that come out and then to say a few things about it and get that sort of reaction back is not really ideal. I totally think that it’s a flat-out boys club, and not that we play in a heavy band, but it’s still… it is a boys club. I mean, we played a festival on the weekend and there was a female running the stage, and that’s such a rare thing to see and the fact that I noticed that she was a female managing the stage really stuck with me, that it was something that is out of the ordinary. I often think of how bad it is that I notice when there’s a female doing sound or stage managing or anything like that. It usually is a male person. I really don’t think that the music world as well is overly welcoming to females at all.
I watched her on the weekend and how members of some other interacted with her, and it really felt like she wasn’t confident to have her voice heard in everything that was happening, even though she literally was managing the stage. And that’s no fault of hers, y’know she may have that position but it didn’t feel like she had the authority that comes with that role.
How do we change that?
I have absolutely no idea. For me, I work in a high school as a teacher, and I listen to the language and the boys from grade seven to twelve speak about girls at the school when they don’t know I’m listening, and it’s incredible how deeply [sexism is] ingrained. These kids are twelve years old and they’re saying things that are completely unfathomable. You don’t learn this stuff at a later age, you learn this stuff from… I don’t know how old. I guess you learn this stuff as a boy from when you’re five, you learn from everything. You learn from your peers, you learn from a guest depending on who your parents are, but the school culture definitely promotes this. Kids are learning this stuff super young and the language they use to talk about some of their classmates that are girls is incredible. And it really drives home how young this is happening, like these are twelve year old kids talking like I’ve heard 40-year-old guys down the pub talk about women.
It makes me think that this stuff, it’s gotta be talked about by parents to their kids and especially fathers to their kids, and in school as well. It’s gotta come up. The respect that I haven’t heard from some of these kids is totally mind-blowing. Some of the conversations I’ve walked into and I’ve tried to tell kids: You can’t talk about people like that. It makes me realise how young this is happening. And they have no idea that this is not fundamentally wrong, they just… this is how they act, and they don’t realise, which is amazing that they’ve never been pulled up on it.
Last question: If you got a call up to play the AFL Grand Final, what song would you play?
[Laughs] Fucking hell. This has been talked about a few times. Fuck, I have absolutely no idea. What song… I’m just going to assume that the Dons are playing that year, so… I’m just trying to think of a classic-era song. When I was like, six is when the Dons won the ’93 Premiership. I’m trying to think of like a classic— all I can think is “Holy Grail”, it’s ingrained to me as the TV Footy Song! That’s such a huge question. We were going deep tonight and then I just got slammed with that! Maybe “Holy Grail”, as lame as that sounds – it’s always just such a big footy song and… maybe we’ll just play the Dons’ theme song. Whatever Sheeds [Kevin Sheedy] wants – whatever he wants me to play, I’ll play that.
That’s probably the best answer I’ve ever heard.
Whatever he wants me to play, I’ll play it [laughs].