New from the Perth punk scene is Sly Withers, a four-piece consisting of dual frontmen Sam and Jono, bass-player Shea and drummer Joel. Drawing influences from the American Midwest emo/Philly punk/indie rock scene, the group aims to use Sly Withers as a platform to challenge standards and behaviours in the punk world. The young and ambitious band are challenging the idea of a boys club, advocating for inclusivity, positivity and individualism at shows. With the release of Gravis EP last Friday, the group are making their first strides towards this national quest.
Gravis EP, which is the band’s first EP since 2016’s Sly Withers EP, is a strong showing from the young group. It presents their distinct sound, while establishing the thematic beats of their music. There is a clear connection between Sly Withers and the punk-pop bands of the early 2000s, such as Blink-182, Green Day and Good Charlotte, whose music video for “Motivation Proclamation” directly inspired the film clip for the EP’s opening track “Sad Guy”.
In March, Backyard Opera was able to sit down with Sly Withers to discuss “Sad Guy”, an appropriate lead single that shows both the band’s powerful rock storytelling and strong emotional resonance.
In March, we wrote, “The softer introduction has the band begin this sad tale of heartbreak, before the heavy drums and overdriven guitars jump in to match the intensity. It is simple but powerful, playing on relatable feelings and catchy lyrics. The music video has the band rising from the raw end of a bender to a trashed house, metaphoric of the messy relationship in the lyrics.”
Next up is “Lately”, featuring fellow Western Australian prospect Carla Geneve. It has a very similar pop-punk sound to the rest of the tracks, with a raw energy that evokes images of dense mosh pits and furious head banging. The balance between singer/guitarist Sam and Carla’s voice, who only ever sing in unison, is an aural representation of the bands overarching theme. As the two sing, the song feels like an anthem for all to sing along to, affirming their theme of inclusivity in punk.
On this theme, Sam said: “Inclusivity is a huge thing for the punk community because punk has always been about taking the misfits, the people who don’t feel like they belong, and giving them a safe and welcoming space to be themselves. I think the punk scene is also an important voice of opposition to a bunch of injustices that are present throughout our society at the moment in areas including (but not limited to) race, gender, sexuality.”
“Irrational” is frontman Jono’s first opportunity to shine, and he manages to perfectly match Sam’s intensity and punk styling. While the chorus and guitar riff is less memorable than other tracks, Jono is able to give an authenticity and realness to the verses. He comes across as down to earth and a genuine Western Australian, singing about wrestling DVDs and irrational fears. Lines like “that’s a nice dress, wouldn’t want to see it rip. That’s a nice life, wouldn’t want to see it turn to shit,” are catchy and memorable.
The next track, “Canine”, is the EP’s most fun song. The upbeat, dynamic drum beat is combined with a bright guitar melody to move away from the emotional depth of the EP’s previous half and towards an infectiously happy tone. It is definitely the most pop influenced song, which results in it being effortlessly enjoyable. This is then immediately balanced out with “Good Days Bad Days”, which is the most introspective of the EP. Jono’s vocal melody is synchronised with the deep, crunchy guitars. Along with some lyrics ripped straight out of the 2000s emo scene, this has a powerful effect on the song’s tone. These elements combine to create a commendable song that should be repeated more than once, as the lyrics confront troubles and feelings that every modern young person can connect with. Particularly strong is the breakdown towards the end of the song, where the band uses overdubbing to have Jono harmonise with himself, reminiscent of Blink-182’s Mark and Tom at their best.
The final track, “Checkout”, is a close contender for the song of the EP. It is the perfect catharsis for this six track EP, building to a powerful crescendo. As the longest song of the EP, it progresses and builds, with Sam returning to centre stage and telling a sweet love tale about a checkout girl. The listener doesn’t have to ever fallen in love with a retail worker to know how real story could be. He tells a story of a man visiting a corner shop just to see this girl. Whether it’s the sad admission that he’s been there multiple times in the same week or that he doesn’t even finish the items he buys, every line is full of emotion. Sam goes all out and his vocal performance isn’t just the best of the EP, but the best the band has ever done. The chorus best sum up how good this story is,
“If you were my checkout chick, maybe I’d have a reason to quit and be happy with all that I’ve got. Yes, I’m happy not having a lot, just a couple of ice coffees and a bag of Doritos, that smile to last me till I fall asleep out again…”
Gravis EP is a fantastic introduction to one of punk’s new emerging stars. Sly Withers are taking their Gravis EP Tour to Sydney on November 15th at the Lansdowne Hotel.
Tour Dates //
Thur, Oct 31 – Stay Gold, Melbourne
Sat, Nov 9 – The Foundry, Brisbane
Thur, Nov 14 – Crown & Anchor, Adelaide
Fri, Nov 15 – The Lansdowne, Sydney
Fri, Nov 22 – YMCA HQ, Leederville
Sat, Nov 23 – Badlands, Perth