There can be few more buoyant musical scenes worldwide than the one currently emanating from Melbourne, perhaps understandable for a city with more music venues per head than anywhere else in the world. At the heart of much of the most interesting sounds coming out of the city are the various members of Terry; not just with their own releases, as they also contribute to the likes of Primo, Total Control, Dick Diver and many more besides. Even ignoring all their other projects, Terry are impressively prolific, their latest album, I’m Terry, released last week on Upset The Rhythm, was the band’s third in as many years, and impressively it’s also their best and most ambitious record to date.
I’m Terry is a record that both develops Terry’s sound and holds onto the energy and angularity that made them such an intriguing prospect in the first place. Throughout I’m Terry, the band seem to walk an intriguing line between the internal and private domestic world, and the wider political landscape. Recent single Bureau, referenced crashing markets and intrusive CCTV, while Crimes seems to tackle the eroding of civil liberties, and Jane Roe references the pseudonym of the plaintiff at the heart of the landmark Roe vs Wade case that shaped American abortion law; Jane Roe, real name Norma McCorvey later went on to become a pro-life campaigner. Musically too it’s a more diverse set, from Carpe Diem with its meandering keyboard line and dead-pan vocal delivery through to the downbeat and genuinely quite creepy, Under Reign and Ciao Goodbye, a rare moment of beauty in their often bruising sound. Throughout the record, Terry seem to be pushing their music into new directions and moving their sound to unexpected and wonderful new heights.
Terry kick off their two week UK tour tomorrow night at The Garage in London, and ahead of those dates, the band’s Zephyr Pavey, jet lagged and wandering around South London, took some time to answer our questions on political music, black comedy and what people can expect from the Terry live show.
FTR: For those who don’t know, who is Terry and who are the band Terry?
TERRY is a latent man of mystery. Terry is also a band from Melbourne, Australia. Divide him in half and you split the genders, into quarters and you get Amy Hill (also of Constant Mongrel, School Of Radiant Living), Xanthe Waite (Mick Harvey Band, Primo), Zephyr Pavey (Eastlink, Total Control, Russell St Bombings) and Al Montfort (UV Race, Dick Diver, Total Control). Guitars, bass, drums, all four sing.
FTR: You’re releasing your third album, I’m Terry, what did you differently from previous records?
We had a friend record it (we have done it ourselves in the past) which allowed us a little more of a live style as Al didn’t have to reach over pressing buttons and checking levels.
FTR: You’re all in other bands, how do you know when a song is a Terry song, rather than a song for one of your other projects?
If it has way less hardcore psychosis than Straightjacket Nation, isn’t as good as Primo, and wouldn’t benefit from additions by Andrew Murray, James Vinci, Harriet Stewart etc then it is definitely a TERRY tune!
FTR: Do you take it in turns to write the lyrics or is it a collaborative affair?
No set rules, just whatever the spirit decides! Some lyrics have been collaborative and other entire song/lyrics have been singular visions.
FTR: This is the third Terry album in as many years, is it a decision to be that prolific, or have the songs just come together quickly?
The songs have come quickly (though much slower from me personally!) recording is very accessible and streamlined nowadays, plus Upset The Rhythm have had the faith to keep releasing them.
FTR: To me, I’m Terry sounds a slightly darker record than your previous offerings. Does it feel like a different mood to you?
Maybe because it doesn’t have the sort of easily identifiable funny tunes like hot heads, it seems a bit darker, but not sure if it was intentional, it just sort of worked out that way, we don’t really force it, pretty natural state sort of stuff.
FTR: Their seems to be a political edge to your music, do you think this is rare in contemporary bands?
I’m not sure it’s that rare, things are pretty fierce politics wise in our neck of the woods! Music is pretty odd though, meaningful change on huge structural level occurring because of a cool song isn’t going to happen (and the pigs would just murder any person with the potential to do so like Hendrix and Coltrane) so maybe some people are singing about the sun and palm trees as a relief to the horrific intensity of their existence which is sweet, we basically just look around and go “fuck”.
FTR: A lot of your songs seems to contain a certain black humour, do you feel music can be taken too seriously?
For sure, humour can definitely be over done too! All about balance, salad must accompany Linda McCartney’s sausages.
FTR: There’s a lot of good music coming out of Melbourne at the moment, why is it such a successful time for the city?
There’s plenty of crap but flexible jobs, housing isn’t as expensive as some other places and there’s a LOT of venues willing to have bands. And there isn’t a huge music press and record industry like the UK (just a small pathetic one) so no one (except for few delusional and tasteless toys) has their creative spirit crushed by being told they will be the “next big thing”, trying to make a music career results in absolute garbage music.
FTR: What are your aspirations for Terry?
Make cool songs, look cool playing them and stop being a part of alcohol culture.
FTR: You’re about to tour the UK, what can people expect from the Terry live show?
Left wing treason, lasers, guitar tuning at the start, slam dance, Amy’s poems, me dropping sticks or adjusting drum seat heights. T-shirt, record and badge sales. PC gone mad, cool songs and us looking cool (aka sweaty) playing them. Demands for Australia to become a republic, who is the PM? Just a great display of cheek from the southern colony.
FTR: What’s next for Terry?
Playing at a bunch of farms around Victoria and one Brazilian dance club. Then releasing a 7″ called ‘Whose Terry’.
I’m Terry is out now via Upset The Rhythm. Click HERE for more information on Terry.