Interview with HEY GERONIMO (Q&A)
HEY GERONIMO have just released a new single “Mutant” and it is getting great reviews. One of our gun interviewers, Julie, managed to catch up with the band recently, and here are the results.
Congratulations on the soon-to-be released Single “Mutant” on 14th I have listened to the song over and over again because I love it; it’s catchy and boppy (is that a word?). The song is about an apparently embarrassing meeting with a much admired Courtney Barnett by Pete Kilroy, where Pete had one too many bevvies to calm his nerves and embarrassed himself. I suggest most of us can relate to that, I know I can! Songwriting is such a great way to tell stories. How come you chose this story to write a song about?
Well, it started as a bit of a joke, but then as we worked through the song we started to really dig the tune! You can write a song about anything, really. Once we got rolling on this it was easy though, just because the story is so ridiculous. Didn’t need to make anything up!
I had to look up “dystopic” and I found the following meaning: “An imaginary place or state in which the condition of life is extremely bad, as from deprivation, oppression, or terror.” Why has “Mutant” been depicted as “dystopic”? Was it a quite terrifying or, at least, extremely unnerving experience?
Not really. That description is probably more suited to the other tunes we have in the pipeline.
“Why Don’t We Do Something?” is catchy and playful and as my Amnplify colleagues are discovering, the song made me get up and dance around my loungeroom which tends to confuse Oscar, my Maltese/Shih Tzu. Is this one of your earlier songs where you realised you could definitely morph into a very successful band? How do your fans respond to these kinds of indie-pop songs when you play them live?
TBH we’re moving away from those type of songs. They were good for a few years ago, but the vibe of the band has evolved a lot in the past 12 or so months.
In Bake a Cake, you describe the track as having a “cool, beefy groove” with apocalyptic themes and the video shows many “Funniest Home Videos” type moments. However, you have also said it’s a song that you can dance to (I completely agree) and forget about life for a while (which is one of my favourite lines from Alanis Morissette’s song “All I Really Want”). What inspired this song and what can we learn from it?
This was a song written by the dearly departed Greg Chiapello. I’m not going to lie – we don’t know what it’s about! Learning from your mistakes is the obvious answer? I think it’s that simple actually.
With “The Girl Who Likes Me”, you sing about being in love with a girl who likes you but isn’t in love with you. With so many love songs written throughout time, I love that you describe this song as an anti-love song. Is it an autobiographical, unrequited love experience? If it is, do you still yearn for the girl? And what does protein powder have to do with it?
Protein powder has nothing to do with it! Yeah, I actually live with that girl now, so it was a happy ending.
You describe your song “One Way Driver” as a little like the Beatle’s “For The Benefit Of Mr Kite”. Was that intentional or did you realise it after you had written it? Surely lots of songs are, in varying degrees, derivative?
We’re unashamed of our influences, but it’s very rare that our songs really sound like another band. This one just went that way. We think it was the everlasting fill that Tony did in the tune. Just made it feel Beatlesy.
With “Carbon Affair”, you wrote about the Brisbane floods a couple of years ago. The song has pertinence right now, given the floods the South East of Queensland are experiencing after the cyclone they have just had. Why did you feel inspired to write this song?
At the time it was just everywhere. It consumed everybody’s lives over that period so it was hard to think about anything else.
“Finale” is about dying in a nightclub fire. You said that the fire alarm went off in the green room at The Beresford in Sydney because they had a small fire but no one on the dance floor could hear the alarm. Fortunately no one was hurt. Why was this story of interest to you?
At the time it was bizarre. It was really weird. The alarm was blaring and nobody could hear it. Was just so surreal!
You describe “Garble Arch” as a kind of “Every Breath You Take” type sequel. Have any of you been stalked? What was the motivation for writing this song?
That was just one of those songs written from the point of a character. It just came about. Isn’t about anyone in particular. Just tries to set a mood I guess.
Pete, with “Laser Gun Show”, you said “If this tune was a person, I would take it out the back to the pool and put it underwater until the bubbles stopped”. After I stopped laughing, I thought that this was quite the visual you were depicting. How did you come up with this rather torturous song homicide?
At the time of saying that, the tune just wasn’t working. It was so damn frustrating. We were actually convinced the song was no good. The mixer, Steven Schram, saved the day on that one.
As someone who has visited India about 7 years ago, and found the culture confronting, to say the least, especially the poorest people I’ve ever met, being some of the most joyous people I have ever met, how did you all find India?
We had a great time. Primarily because it was just so different to anything any of us had seen before. We met some really cool people, and were very grateufl for the experience.
I love “Boredom”, especially because it captures the dull, lifeless feeling of boredom so accurately. It’s like, I have nothing to do, so I’m bored, and because I’m bored, I can’t think of anything interesting to do, which is boring, and around and around we go, not doing or achieving anything and wasting a whole day being bored. What a bore. Your song, however, is not boring at all. Why have you always wanted to write a song like “Powerman by The Kinks? And was the Helter Skelterish vibe a conscious decision?
Powerman is a song that just rocks. I guess it was that simple. We wanted to write a hard rocking song! The BVs were the little takeaway from Helter Skelter .
In “Bermuda”, you took “a journey along a seabed in a sort of yellow submarine-esque journey, except along the East Coast of Australia”. You guys award the band member with an ice-cream (yum) if he writes the best song, so Ross won the ice-cream. You have said that you like the “cool little keyboard and guitar hooks in this; they’re so gloopy and whimsical.” Why is this your favourite song? And for non musos like myself, what do you mean by “gloopy and whimsical”?
It’s just a good song. The parts are good, they’re original, they sound nice and the lyrics are great. It’s performed well, and feels just the way it should. Re: gloopy? I think you’d have to ask Pluto what that means!
Your influences are The Beach Boys, Weezer and custard. As a custard fan, there’s no need to explain. I get it. Soft, gooey and sweet. Delicious. However, can you share some of your favourite songs by The Beach Boys and Weezer and why you like them?
Haa, well Custard was an influence just because it made weird cool… for us anyway. Beach Boys is about the harmonies for us, and Weezer is just about un-cool rock. Everybody else at that time was so cool!
In reference to “Carbon Affair”, Gemma Pike said, “Pretty much the sweetest little chorus I’ve ever heard”; Sorbs said, “Loved it the first time I heard it and hooked the second time. Want to hear more from this band. Pity I’m not in Brisbane, really want to see them live”; in regard to “Why Don’t We Do Something?”, Dario Western said, “Bright summery pop number with a great 70’s vibe to it and a nice psychedelic chorus to it. With the super fun and crazy video getting almost 1 million hits on YouTube, this song should have been a chart hit”; Dom Alessio said, “It’s like there’s a party in my ears and everyone’s invited – then everyone turned up and formed a hand-clapping backing choir and one dude busted out a rad guitar solo.” How do such positive reviews feel? Do you allow yourselves a moment to delight in such favourable feedback?
It’s nice, for sure, but not really. There is much more to be done!
In 2016 Hey Geronimo released their debut album CRASHING INTO THE SUN to widespread critical acclaim. CRASHING INTO THE SUN became one of the best-reviewed independent Australian Records of 2016. Praise for the album came from The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Rolling Stone, and The AU Review, amongst others. Other highlights of 2016 included performing on triple j’s Like a Version, being nominated for a Queensland Music Award, and adding Sydney based songwriter Pluto Jonze to the line-up.
“We believe that if your band stops evolving, it dies. Every one of our favourite acts reinvented themselves at various times of their career, and we’re very conscious of that. If you churn out the same old thing over and over, you become very creatively redundant – and then you’re cooked. That’s why we’re doing something a little different for everybody in 2017”
– PETE KILROY
“Hey Geronimo live on pop’s fast and curious side. Think jangly riffs, sped up lyrics, warped vocal loops and crashing riffs aplenty.” – SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
“There is a remarkable consistency of style and vision… Every tune has moments of melodic perfection worth of The Beach Boys” – THE AU REVIEW
AMNPLIFY – DB