Violent Soho’s Luke Boerdam talks to Pedestrian about getting signed to Thurston Moore’s (Sonic Youth) label, playing a private performance for Rick Rubin and the physical tolls of touring in a band with all the vehement passion of VIOLENT SOHO!

For anyone unfamiliar with Violent Soho do yourself a favour and cast your eyes on their film-clip for Love is a Heavy Word before you get well involved in the interview below.

PEDESTRIAN: I was reading the blog on your Myspace and it said you spent some time recently in Rockfield Studios in Wales…can you tell us a bit about the studio?

LUKE BOERDAM: We released an independent album last year called We Don’t Belong Here. That was a self funded album we released and afterwards we toured around Australia. Eventually we went overseas and did a bunch of showcases and got signed to Thurston Moore’s label Ecstatic Peace. That label’s co-signed with universal, so therefore we had to re-record the album. What we’ve done is taken a selection of songs from the self-funded album and some new ones. We have now finished recording, but at the time the label had to go for producers and everything, and we eventually got Gil Norton who produced The Pixies, one of our biggest influences.

And so yeah, we ended up in Gil’s choice of studios which is Rockfields near where he lives. It’s in the middle of the country side and has a lot of history. When we first got there we were given a tour of the place and our guide showed us where Oasis recorded half of What’s The Story Morning Glory and the dart board that black sabbath played on etc. So it was an amazing studio absolutely in the middle of the country side, it was a half hour walk to the nearest town.

P: You mentioned getting signed to Thurston Moore’s label Ecstatic Peace…how did that come about? Did Thurston get in touch with you guys?

L: That’s a good question because when you’re in a band you don’t know. Once we picked up some Triple J airplay and toured around Australia we picked up some international interest. Our publicist and Mushroom Publishing in Melbourne who we have a small publishing deal with, sent out our CD internationally. We were actually originally just going for anything overseas, because we had been playing together for a few years. We wanted to just hit New York and go down the East Coast in a van or whatever. But we ended up getting industry interest from labels in the UK and America, so we set up a showcase tour. And one of the names that popped up was Thurston Moore. Someone had sent the CD to Universal and then they sent it to him because his label is a subsidiary of it. At the showcase in New York he was up the front jumping around, head-banging and loving it! And at the end of every song he was like “Yeah! That’s really fucking awesome!” and yelling out for everyone (laughs). We ended up having dinner with him and talked about heaps of bands that we all love and obviously from just talking to him we had to go with his label, it felt too right. We didn’t go over there with the intention of coming back with a label, but we found ourselves two months later back in Australia with a deal.

P: So are you guys in touch with Thurston on a daily/weekly/monthly basis?

L: No we wish. We have some phone calls and emails back and forth but he’s a pretty busy guy, he’s still doing Sonic Youth. We have more contact with his business partner, but we keep in touch as much as we can.

P: Do you find the minute that you get that endorsement from someone is an absolute legend, that it opens up doors for you?

L: Yes and no. People in the industry will review our CD or our live performances and they’re going to see that we’re signed to Thurston Moore’s label and they’re not going to give us any breaks. They’ll still listen to the CD and judge it like they would any other CD. But yeah it’s more the fact that your signed to a label that has opened doors for us. It’s the money. Once your signed to a label and there’s $100,000 being thrown behind recording a record, all these people want to be involved. So Gil Norton’s going to look at producing it because he can get paid his normal fee and people like Andy Wallace are going to look at mixing it.

P: What’s on the horizon for the next 6 months?

L: We’re hitting America in September to mix the album, then once it’s mixed we start touring. We will have at least two and a half months straight of touring across America and that’s an East Coast/West Coast tour. And essentially we’re a touring band…it’s always been us from the beginning.

There was a feeling last time we were in America that they got us. I think Australia gets it, but i don’t think UK gets it as much. We love Australian music but all our influences are mainly American, the crisp of it being The Pixies, Nirvana. Sonic Youth, Mudhoney etc. So when we get over there they completely understand where we’re coming from, from the grassroots up. We’re really looking forward to it.

P: How does it compare emerging from a somewhat limited scene in Brisbane, in terms of venues, to playing all over the world?

L: When we first went over sees we were wondering what the bands were going be like, were they going to be pompous artistic wankers who are going say, “get out of our way!”, or are they going to be really nice and friendly and have this vast knowledge of music that we haven’t tapped into…but we got there and they were exactly the same! (laughs). They were exactly like Australian bands, they come up and say hello and their music sounded pretty similar. There’s also of course bands who’s music you don’t like but are just as friendly, you have sound guys who are assholes and venue owners who yell and refuse to pay, but it’s exactly the same in Australia. (laughs) The only difference i’ve noticed is that in America their shows are cheaper, and i think perhaps people go out and see more shows because of it.

P: I see you’re going to be touring Australia with Talons soon…we did an interview with the guys a few months ago. Are you looking forward to that?

L: We’re so glad to be touring with Talons. We’ve done some shows with them before and they’re fucking incredible! We’ve done tours with bands that wouldn’t necessarily be in our grain just because we tour with everyone and anyone we can just to tour. For example we’ve done a national tour with Faker before, and that’s not our thing. But we did it, because it was ten dates across Australia and we’re playing music that the kids have probably never heard, so at least somebody is giving it to them. But it’s so good to do our own tour and have a band like Talons who we really respect.

P: Your live performance can be pretty brutal with lots of head-banging and hair flying around the place…have you ever walked off the stage with any injuries?

L: (laughs) We played Download Festival in the UK and i got a pretty big head blow from James. James fell off the stage once, cut his eye and had to go to hospital to get stitches (laughs). Henry’s also fractured his wrist and had to bandage it up. He did that overseas and the funny thing was his other hand was already bandaged because he cut it trying to make a bong!

P: When you were writing about the Download Festival on your blog you mentioned that once again you became the most unpopular band on the festival…?

L: (laughs) It’s funny because no-one in the whole festival had even heard of us. We were up against all these emo and metal bands at a festival twice the size of Big Day Out, and we were playing on the first day at 11 am. It’s just a funny saying we have, but realistically we had a couple hundred people turn up to watch us and it was really great.

P: From all the traveling around Wales, America and the UK etc, what was the strangest thing you’ve seen? Or even just one of highlights?

L: There were lots of highlights like seeing Stonehenge etc, but to be honest one of the funniest memories i’ve ever had on tour was something James did driving between Brisbane and Sydney. We get so damn bored on that drive, and James hates being bored. So he says, “I wonder if you can smoke a cigarette out of your asshole?”. So he lights this cigarette and i was like, “Your not going to do it, but i’ll film it anyways”. He’s in the front seat and i’m in the back of the van. He then passes the cigarette to Michael, bends over and pulls his pants down while Michael puts it in his asshole. It was so funny, it actually worked! It was puffing in and out, but we had to take it out because his ass was beginning to burn (laughs).

But as a band playing in front of Rick Rubin was pretty huge. Even bands that have done a few albums and toured constantly don’t even get a chance to meet him, and we got to play in front of him.

P: How did that happen?

L: That was in America. Rick Rubin’s A&R dude hooked up a private show in Malibu in Rick’s live recording mansion where Weezer had just done The Red Album . We rocked up and there was a platter of food and we got to pick what instruments we wanted. I requested a Mustang and a Fender Jag and a Strat, expecting generic American ones. They turned up with these 20 thousand dollar guitars. It was pretty awesome. Rick got ushered in and sat down and said, “O.k play”. They gave us instructions and everything. Before we played they said, “O.k, you’re playing four songs. And if you look over at Rick and he nods his head you play two more”. They’re that specific. We looked over at him and he said, “Yeah yeah, two more!” So we played them and then he said, “Another one!”. (laughs) We got to chat with him afterwards about our favorite bands and he wished us all the best and said he really enjoyed it.

P: What was his live recording mansion like?

L: They hire it out, its not like Rick’s own mansion or anything. But it’s this acoustic 400 seat theatre and all the seats have the same density as if it was filled with 400 people. So when you record in this room its sounds as if there’s 400 people sitting there. It was completely decked out with all the modern facilities.

P: Is there anyone else random you’ve met along the way?

L: No not really. Walking down the street in L.A we saw Pink. That was really funny, we’re on Santa Monica Boulevard and we look over and see Pink on a trapeze and then down on the beach there were these girls doing bikini shoots. It was a very L.A experience (laughs).