Ensconced in an recording studio on a cold, rainy night for The Blow Waves’ weekly band rehearsal, Sydney Star Observer is here to talk songs, sex and success with the homo cock-rock combo. After a quick smoko, the guys arrange themselves on a couch next to their instruments, red wine is poured into tumblers, and conversation can begin.
Assembled are Matt Doll, lead singer, main songwriter and the group’s most well-known member thanks to his work in previous bands The Mavis’s; Jamie Wave, the effete, golden-locked guitarist who previously played with Love Outside Andromeda; Byron St James, their handsome yet reserved keyboardist; bass player and far-from-grizzly bear John Pants; and drummer – and baby of the group – Jezz.
For those who haven’t already twigged, these aren’t their real names.
“They’re all just nicknames. Mine’s Matt Doll because of my last band, The B-Dolls…and it’s got a bit of tranny to it as well,” chuckled the charismatic frontman.
Matt originally formed the group after writing a batch of songs himself, some of which appear on their latest EP.
“I wasn’t sure whether the songs were going to be for a solo thing, and to be honest I didn’t really want to do a solo thing,” he said. Slowly but surely band members came on board, meeting through gigs and mutual friends and uniting over shared musical passions.
“We’ve got a shared love of great older pop music,” explained Jamie, “but we all go away and listen to our own different styles of music.”
“Jezz doesn’t know half the songs we do, he’s too young,” said Byron.
“Jezz is still waiting for his first pube,” teased Jamie.
The band’s new, self-titled EP release is the fruition of a long fundraising slog, coming almost a year after their debut single, the infectious Little Bitch. Matt said releasing their music independently is well worth the effort: “The other option is you have a record company lending you the money with high interest, and then you don’t own anything you’ve actually produced. We prefer to do it ourselves.”
The group members all agree that, despite the prevalence of downloading, simply chucking their songs on iTunes wasn’t an option — as old-school rock nerds, they prefer the rush of holding a physical EP in their hands.
“Even vinyl, we’d like to release our stuff on vinyl. And you can’t sell someone a song off iTunes after a gig — it’s better to have the physical copy to give to fans,” Jamie said.
“I also look at an EP as another stepping stone to our sound, on the way to making an album,” continued Jezz.
“Even since I’ve been with the band in the past year, the sound has changed heaps.”
With the songs covering topics like robot sex, gay superheroes and late-night shags, the EP makes for diverse, addictive listening, all with the same clear love of classic pop melodies that earned Matt’s previous band The Mavis’s such a loyal following.
Nominating the fizzy new wave track Night Rider as my own favourite, I’m surprised when Jamie lets out a barely stifled laugh.
“Sorry. The subject matter of the song just makes me giggle. When people say how much they like it, I wonder if there’s something subconsciously connecting them to it… on the sexual D.L.”
“That’s probably the most fun song on the EP, they’re all quite dark. Pop, but dark,” said Jezz, helpfully steering the conversation away from my own peccadilloes.
Which brings us to an interesting topic. A rock group comprised entirely of gay men is something of a rarity — even gay faves the Scissor Sisters dilute their on-stage homo action with the presence of Ana Matronic — and the Blow Waves clearly have no qualms about playing to gay crowds, as their gigs would attest. I asked the band if they feel they have a primarily queer fanbase.
“No. I hope not. I like to think we’re for everybody,” said Jamie, causing some discord among his bandmates.
“Sure,” countered Jezz, “but it’s the gay community that’s giving us attention.”
“That’s right,” John nodded. “It’s really great to play fundraisers like we did at Sircuit (the group played a benefit gig for Positive Attitude at the Melbourne gay bar back in April), because the gay community did help us a lot at the beginning. But we’re not defined as a gay band — we don’t want to be stereotyped as that.”
“It was a unique atmosphere that night at Sircuit,” said Blow Waves’ manager Fred Porter, the unofficial sixth member of the band (the Brian Epstein to their Beatles), who’d arrived to watch them rehearse.
“There they were, an all-gay male band on stage playing to an all-gay male crowd. It was fantastic.”
Despite their reluctance to be pigeon-holed as a gay party band du jour, Matt acknowledged the support they’d received from their fellow homos.
“The scene’s changed a lot,” he said. “I used to play gigs like Midsumma with the Mavis’s, and we’d have the hardcore fans up the front, but everyone else would seem quite scared of this loud rock band. Now, the scene seems to have opened up to new sounds like ours a lot more – it’s great.”
info: The Blow Waves play the Supper Club on Saturday, December 12 from 9pm.