VIVA LAS HI-VISC

Photo: J'aime Fazackerley Photography

Hot on the heels of the release of their second album High Visceral {Part 2}, ATS catches up with singer/guitarist/songwriter, Jack McEwan, to delve into the trippy world of the hilariously-but-awkwardly named Psychedelic Porn Crumpets – starting with the name itself.

“We were jamming…” McEwan explains circuitously, “and we all sort of had the name The Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, but we kind of laughed it off. But then I did a uni project, where I had to brand a band, so I was like, ‘I'll do this thing called Porn Crumpets’. Then my lecturer was like, ‘you should just go with it.’

“So I put out Cubensis and Marmalade and Cornflake, from my home studio and that got a bit of attention and I was like, ‘oh, shit - we're stuck with that name now!’ We were calling ourselves Crumpet for a while, but it just doesn't have the same ring to it.”

Including the word ‘porn’ in the band’s name has resulted in some misunderstandings and unwanted attention in itself, far outweighing any raised eyebrows at their tripped-out lysergic take on rock’n’roll.

“Well, we had to change our name, legally, to PRN Crumpets,” McEwan laughs, “so when we send invoices or whatever, it doesn’t just go straight to a junk mail folder for most people.

“They're like, ‘whose was this porn subscription? What have you been looking at?’ Yeah, we always get those girls, like sexyuser425 or something, wanting to catch up with us, so we felt like, ‘sick, another chick likes us!’ and then it was like, ‘oh, okay, it's just a bot’. We're like the best bot band going.”

As for the chances of them getting through US customs unnoticed…

“The name is all over our guitar cases and stuff,” he laughs, shaking his head at the thought. “We could say we’re a travelling theatre show? That would be kind of cool. We wanted to do that, like a circus with a bunch of bands and have a little circus-y kind of thing going on with it. The music and art and performance and everyone's a bit strange there, like some sort of Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, you know that room where it's just like warped out of everything? That's the coolest scene ever.”

Getting back to reality momentarily, I remind McEwan that the new album and shows on their Australian tour to promote it were very well reviewed.

“Oh, yeah, it's been really cool,” he responds enthusiastically. “We just put it out there expecting the same vibe as the first one, really – ‘just a local Perth band’, but it's been getting a bit more national attention and on the tour, as well, we had a lot of people messaging our Facebook page that couldn't get into some of the venues, so that was a bit of an eye-opener. We were like, ‘what the fuck, where?’ People actually wanted to come watch us rather than us being, like, ‘oi, come down to our gigs’. So it was fun.

“You look back from the point when the band started to be able to not actually have to pay to go on tour. It's the little things, like being able to go, ‘let's get some breakfast’, and then hanging out with people. We were hanging out with Brad (Heald, bass) from The Vines, which was so cool, and (Byron Bay trio) Skegss, and having this mutual respect for each other. You're always going to feel like a little band, I suppose, just popping your head above water trying to wade and find a paddle or something.”

The songwriter says High Visceral was always destined to be a two-part thing, and the album’s names were inspired by their day jobs.

“When we first started recording, we had a lot of material straight away and we did talk about doing a double LP, but you can't really come out with a double LP straight off.

“For {Part 2} it was a lot easier because we were like, ‘well, if we can do one album now, then we'd only have to have a six-months-to-a-year break between releasing the second one’. So we knew we had a bit of firepower if the first one was taken quite well - which fortunately, it was.

“And yeah, ‘High Visceral’ was like a pun, because we were all doing construction, so we were in high vis, but then we were like, ‘we're the high viscerals’ So Australian!”

Psychedelia usually goes hand-in-hand with a pharmacopoeia of mind-altering chemicals. Does McEwan need to engage an altered state of consciousness in order to be able to write music that goes as left-of-centre as The Porn Crumpets does?

“Not really, I don't think so,” he says dismissively. “We were having fun, obviously, like most young people finishing uni, having a bit of free time and just writing songs as a hobby. But I can't write anything on drugs. A couple of days after, I suppose, you have some weird trains of thought but I think some of the best songs I wrote are just completely in a sober state.

“It's weird though, because I did a whole case study at uni, actually, on where creativity comes from, and you can just keep getting lost in so many different aspects, and I found escapism was the best way for creativity to come about. So the first album, I was at uni doing graphic design, and my way of procrastinating would be to write a song. So I'd end up spending the whole day on that, when I should have been creating a brochure or something for some publication.

“I'd be, like, ‘wow, look, I made a song - but I haven't got anywhere closer to doing my assignment!’ So now it's swapped round - I'm thinking about writing an album, so it's not so free-flowing, it's almost like you're thinking about it too much. Maybe if I had another project going which is more important, the music would come?”

McEwan was born in Milton Keynes, near London, and moved out here about a decade ago, when he was in his early teens. He credits Perth’s status as The Most Isolated Capital City In The World with creating such a vibrant music scene.

“Because there aren't any other cities to travel to, the music scene here has evolved so it is like the cream of the crop in WA, really. You can't just go from Sydney to Wollongong, play a gig, or down from Brisbane to the Gold Coast to Byron Bay - and an East Coast tour will cost every single penny that we've made that year to be able to achieve that.

“So, in Perth, it's like you're competing with a lot of other great musicians, but also you can see where the gaps are and what you can write and where your band would kind of fit. Also, everyone hangs out together as well, so you make sure that you communicate and hang out and you can jam with whoever you want.”

The PPC have another national tour lined up through August and September, and then thoughts must turn to their follow-up to High Visceral 1 and 2.

“I'm really keen to start writing the third album,” McEwan enthuses, “just getting on some strange ideas and jamming with some other people and see what kind of ideas come about. We want to do a space opera, because my friend's a playwright and he's in Fringe and stuff, so we're like, ‘what could we do?’ Like, maybe some sort of Mighty Boosh-esque space opera. That could be on the cards, I don't know.”

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets headline the Badlands Bar First Birthday Party on Friday, August 4, along with FOAM, Moana, Flossy and Woolly Mammoth. More details - https://www.facebook.com/events/127503487847559/

SOUND CAPSULE

Jack McEwan’s Top 5 Psychedelic Porn Crumpets influences:

  1. I was listening to a lot of The Vines - that Highly Evolved album has got some beautiful parts in there.
  2. A lot of Nevermind, by Nirvana and their kind of heavy riffs, Breathe and that kind of stuff. I like that chunky guitar sound with the bass.
  3. Obviously, Tame Impala and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard.
  4. All of us are Led Zeppelin fans!
  5. Flying Lotus. I was listening to so much of that and learning points, like Cosmogramma, that album's so amazing, the way it transitions. I'm really fond of hearing the melodies mixed in with some strange sort of rhythm, and then it just kind of blends into one whole album and you're like, ‘wow, what did I just listen to?’ And it's only after the fifth or sixth listen you start picking out what the instruments are within that, so he's definitely a big influence on how we compose - obviously not our genre or style-wise, but just for the understanding how to construct a song, there's no-one better.
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