Violent Soho

Subscribe to Mixdown Magazine

Violent Soho


Reflecting on their recent performance at the Enmore Theatre, vocalist and rhythm guitarist Luke Boerdam elaborates on the band’s rise from support act to alt-rock poster boys. “We were kind of like in a moment and we were like ‘fuck man, pretty sure like 10 years ago we played the same room supporting The Grates.’ I think about that at the time and so much has changed in that period. We went to America, we kind of got drilled into the ground with touring and we came back a little bit broken.”


“We were kind of plucked from our nice little Australian music hub and dropped into this monster,” he continues. “It went from recording down the street at Bryce Moorhead’s studio to recording at studios where Black Sabbath and Oasis recorded. In hindsight, it was something we weren’t ready for. It is interesting now, looking back at how much we learnt.”

It was Soho’s three-year stint in the US that Boerdam continually refers to as the defining influencer of Hungry Ghost – the band’s breakthrough album, which saw them receive ample airtime and a string of festival shows. Returning to their quiet home in Brisbane after a chaotic period in the states, Boerdam admits that it’s experiences like those that have shaped the band’s sound.


“Hungry Ghost is really that whole experience wrapped into a record,” he admits. “For me it was real. I hated Self-Titled (2010). I was proud of it, but so over it and so over the stigma of it – those were the songs that were attached to us. With Hungry Ghost, we were all working jobs back at home and thought ‘this is it, we’ll play two shows and we’ll keep putting records out and just make it in Brisbane.’ Then it just exploded. So a lot changed in those 10 years. I remember thinking if I’m still in a band before I’m thirty, then I’m a fucking idiot. I had my 30th birthday while recording WACO [laughs].”


The aforementioned WACO tour saw the band play sold-out shows and raising the bar in iconic venues like the Enmore Theatre, the Forum and The Tivoli. What made the tour special was the feast of local talent that Soho dished up, with music-mates DZ Deathrays, Dune Rats and The Gooch Palms coming along for the ride. After the widespread success of the tour, Violent Soho was quick to announce another tour, which is set to kick off in October. Keeping it real, the humble Mansfield lads are sticking with the same winning formula, this time bringing long-distance pals The Bronx (who reside in L.A).


“They’re amazing!” Boerdam explains. “Kids that haven’t even heard of them will explode because The Bronx will walk into a room and fire people up. We used to tour with them in the U.S, that’s how we met them and we’re all fans. When we were recording Hungry Ghost, we stopped and played a show with The Bronx, so it’s awesome to play with them. We have always had a really good relationship with those dudes and I think they’ll absolutely rip it up. I’m really looking forward to it, and we’re very lucky with Soho, I just like it how we get to pick friends. We really care about the supports we pick and we really make sure we have really good line-ups to offer.”


“I think its better for touring as well,” admits Boerdam. “We toured with the Arctic Moneys a while ago and they’re a huge band. They’re great, but it kind of sucks because you don’t even get to say hello, it’s kind of this weird thing. This happened a lot in the U.S and it makes touring way more boring, it kind of sucks. It’s such a better environment when everyone is on the same page.”

With WACO being released earlier this year, the band’s status has steadily increased as a major festival draw-card. Having eerie dissonant sounds and lyrically powerful songs, WACO saw the band venturing in to darker themes, evoking and building on their sound from the impact of the Monstrous anthem-heavy Hungry Ghost. When going to record WACO with their long-time friend and producer Bryce Moorhead at Shed Studios, the band’s expectations and rising success were charging ahead hoping to meet somewhere in the middle.


“With WACO, there was a weird hump to get over,” Boerdam says. “Recording WACO, it was straight after recording Hungry Ghost and we never had these expectations on the band before. With Hungry Ghost it grew so big over this long period of two years and it was really this expectation, all they wanted was for us to write more.”


“I think WACO delivered on we wanted it to be,” he continues. “Hungry Ghost and all this stuff was in the same vein but it has its own identity and that’s really important. It’s weird, you write all 
the songs and record them and by the time you think you’re over it, you’ve heard it so many times. Then live it’s different. It’s a bit more energetic compared to mixing, and you’re not playing them over and over and listening back. I’ve started writing the next record and I’m already thinking about figuring out where we’re going to take it next, I’m really excited actually.”


A key player in the Violent Soho success story is Australia’s ever-growing alt station, triple j. Boerdam attests to the in influence that the station has on Australian audiences, explaining that the revival of alt-rock in Australia is largely accredited to their support.

“Triple J really opened up the playing field for alternative bands,” he explains. “For a station to really neglect a genre when they’re pulling people into venues, I don’t think that’s right. But I think basically with whoever’s been involved in the past year, bands like DZ [Deathrays], [The] Smith Street [Band] or us are on a whole new level. Venues are starting to fill up and it’s kind of proving that there’s something here. And it’s not just these bands; there is a fuck-load of them. Even on the hardcore side of things like Parkway Drive, they’re basically selling-out venues that are so much larger than some of the artists that get played way more just because it might have a radio-friendly sound. It doesn’t really seem right.”


Now three albums in, Violent Soho seems to be acting as one of the beacons for other talented artist to shine through and open up the playing field in Australia. Their sound and thunderous music has been shaped by their experiences and attitude towards being true to who they are and keeping it real when making music.


‘We’ve always done it that way. We’ve always been honest with our music and if it sounds good and we like it and if it’s connecting with it, then that’s right,” explains Boerdam. “It’s very organic for us I think, considering we go into the studios with three or four chords. We basically work with completely different sounds and effects that we have worked out in the studio. I think that’s where the interesting side of rock music or alternative music is going and it’s not dead. I honestly thought that there was a time where people thought this whole genre was really going to die out and we’ll all just be listening to electronic music. I just think it’s still got such a pocket, because there are still the live shows. It’s pretty energetic and it’s something you can really connect with. It’s very raw.”

WACO is out now via I OH YOU. Violent Soho are touring nationally October – November. For tour dates
, head here. 

PHOTO CREDITS: Kane Hibberd (Cover) + Mitch Lowe (Crowd Shot)