A Conversation With … Tropical Fuck Storm

Gareth Liddiard’s wild and tenacious energy has found a new iteration in the form of Tropical Fuck Storm. A founding member of the Drones, Liddiard and a host of other big names such as Fiona Kitschin, Lauren Hammel from High Tension and Erica Dunn from Harmony merged together to form the psychedelic supergroup with an algorithmically unfriendly band name.

Now, with an album under their belt and a score of gigs starting with Yours and Owls at the end of this month, it’s time to talk cannibalism and what meat and space have to do with each other with front man Gareth Liddiard.

BYO: I have to ask, there must be some sort of story behind your band name. Enlighten us!

GARETH: We had a recording studio in Fitzroy, and we felt like it needed a name, and so one of our mates was just like ‘ay, let’s call it Tropical Fuck Storm’. When we needed a band name later on, we just thought we’d use it for that as well. Band names are really hard to come up with.

BYO Have you had any negative reception to the name?

GARETH: Not really! We kind of expected that. The most negativity we got is just from fuckin’ Facebook. They hate swearing in posts. You can do a Facebook live video where you just walk up to someone and shoot them in the street, but you can’t put ‘fuck’ in it.

Otherwise no, we haven’t, which is great. The internet has been great. Definitely these days people don’t get freaked out by eccentricities like they used to 10 or 15 years ago, so that’s really freed us up.

BYO: You’ve just released your debut album A Laughing Death in Meatspace; how does it feel now that it’s finally been released?

GARETH: It’s nice to finish the record! We’ve been together for a year, and the whole year has just been a huge rush. Touring a lot, writing a lot and recording a lot. It was something we needed to do, and it felt like it was the biggest rush in the world. It came out well though, which is good.

BYO: How did you guys come up with the name and artwork for it?

GARETH: The artist is a guy called Joe Becker; he just does all this crazy stuff! I was looking around on the net one day, and I bumped into his stuff - it’s not like he’s well known or anything. We needed a cover and I just wanted to do something radical and so I found his email and he said, ‘Cool, yeah sure’. It’s a great cover.

The name sort of just came to me. ‘Laughing death’ is this disease that you get from eating people; eating their brains. In Papua New Guinea, certain tribes have a funeral ritual where they eat the brains of the diseased person. For some reason, only the women and children were allowed to eat the brains; the brain was meant to have proteins and certain materials in it. But when you eat it, and it goes into your brain, you get the human version of Mad Cow disease, and they die laughing. It’s called ‘Kuru’. It’s pretty interesting.

So yeah, that’s the laughing death part.

Meatspace is what all the tech heads in Silicon Valley call the real world. It’s like a derogatory term for the real world. If a tech head meets another tech head, he’ll say something like ‘Fuck me, I got a parking ticket in meatspace yesterday’. You know what I mean?

BYO: Yeah I get you!

GARETH: It’s weird.

BYO: Where would you say you get the inspiration for your songs from? They’re very angsty!

GARETH: I don’t know, life I guess! Haha. It’s not like I have to look for any of it.
I kind of just wake up, go outside, and it’s all there laid out for you. Maybe it’s just me; I’ve always been like that.

BYO: Yours and Owls festival is very soon; what is going into your prep for it?

GARETH: We haven’t really thought about it. I think the next day after we play Yours and Owls we drive back up to Sydney and fly to America, so most of the prep is going into the American thing we’re doing straight after. Only The Drones have played Wollongong, so this will be the first time for Tropical Fuck Storm.

BYO: Do you guys have a ritual before going on stage? Drink a Redbull, have a banana?

GARETH: Yeah, we drink. I’m not proud of it but that’s what we do. Then we just sort of try our best and go out there and play our music. I’ll usually have like half a Redbull with a lot scotch in it so I can get a good kick without spewing out my guts. If you drink beer and go and sing, you’ll be burping the whole set.

So Redbull was a good guess!

BYO: What’s your main musical philosophy you try and live by?

GARETH: Use your imagination and don’t hold back really, let it all hang out. If you’re really putting it out there, people respond to it. Let your freak flag fly, really. People are either going to get it or they’re not, and the ones that get it will be thankful that you bothered to break through the mundane normality of life.

You can stream A Laughing Death in Meatspace now. Don’t miss Tropical Fuck Storm at Yours and Owls September 29 to 30.