Regurgitator are set to rock The Gov this Friday promising plenty of awesome tunes off their new album Headroxx and plenty of fun times. Things definitely don’t look like slowing down any time soon with everything that is going on in the Regurgitator camp. I spoke to Ben Ely about the album and upcoming tour as well as “a pretty far out” kid’s album which sounds super cool.
Another tour, how exciting!
Yeah, we’ve just put out a new record, so it’s been a while since we did the last one, so yeah, we’re pumped, and we’re excited about it.
It seems a bit ironic that it’s called the Life Support Tour, when the band seems to be so far away from needing a defibrillator or any sort of life support.
Ha! I don’t know why our manager called it that!
Are you still amazed that each tour continues to get bigger and bigger with the band even stronger than ever before?
We’re quite flattered actually. Well we definitely didn’t think about that when we started the band, we didn’t even take it very seriously to start with, it was just something to do on the weekend, and then it seemed to take off and here we are twenty-five years later. It is quite a shock, but we’re quite flattered. We get all these young people to our shows, and the last two we did, I went up to them and asked them how they know about our band? They said because their parents would play our music to them when they were little, and now they’re old enough to come out to the clubs. So it’s quite flattering playing across generations.
Do you find that you are able to enjoy it a lot more? It looks like you’re having a lot more fun and taking things a lot less seriously.
Yeah, we are. I don’t know why. I think maybe because we don’t do it as often as we did. When we were younger, we’d be on tour constantly, and now we’re not. So when we do it, we seem to really appreciate it a lot more, and I guess the longer we go on, the more we do seem to appreciate the amount of time and the amount of experiences we have.
We have a pretty relaxed way of being together now as we used to fight a lot and take it really seriously… now we don’t. So we do it for fun, and I think people seem to enjoy that kind of vibe more than we used to project when we were young and serious. That’s the thing with the modern world, I guess. It goes back to pop music post-Beatles, everyone was all about the young people and their culture, I guess it’s still like that but when you get older you do seem to develop a certain amount of expertise and I feel like when I see footage of us when we were younger, I think we actually are playing way better than we did when we were being played on the radio all the time.
Every tour it’s all about the outfits and the production. Are you feeling a little bit more pressure to step up the outfit design and what you might be doing in terms of the shows?
Not really! We’ve got some things planned and but we’re going to really try to focus more on the songs this tour because we’ve got a new album out. We’re going to try and play all those right so we’re focusing more on the music than the outfits at this stage.
How does the creative process work now that you are all living in the same city?
It still works the same way. We just fly to each other’s cities and catch up and work. That’s not so unusual in the modern world. People travel for work and stuff, so when we do a record, we’ll get together. Quan and I’ll bring all the demos of the songs we’ve been writing, and then we’ll play them to each other. Then we’ll both decide if it’s a Regurgitator song or if it’s not, or if it is, does it fit on this record? We write separately, then we get together to produce and mix each other’s music and help play on each other’s tracks. We support each other in that way and that generates our sound I guess.
Are the ideas clear in the beginning or do they really start to take shape as you’re working through them in the studio?
Some are. Some are really clear and some are really vague. The song Not Alone on the record, I think I recorded that fifteen different ways in all these different styles. I tried it in all these ways, and I just couldn’t get it to fit until I did it in that way that’s on the record. So some songs take a lot of chiselling to get together, and some just kind of just happen really quickly. So yeah, it’s quite different for each one.
Do you find that you’re harder on yourself now in terms of what you’ll let go on the album?
I think I probably don’t care as much actually. I think when we were younger, we used to really sweat over it and get really hard on ourselves about it. We used to really fight and struggle with each other about what went on and what was the best decision, but I think we were probably holding on a bit tight. Now we are a little bit more carefree with it and I think that’s a better approach, really, when it comes to art. I think the best art is done freely, easily and then you just do a lot of it and you pick out the best pieces and stick it on the wall or the album or whatever it is.
So it’s about the art now rather that a number one chart single or radio hit?
Yeah, that’s exactly right. I think all of that’s behind us. I asked this artist that I met who I really like, Ben Adams. He’s on Instagram under the name Freak Street, and he does all these skeeze Japanese horror stuff at work, with colours and I asked him to do the cover. He submitted it before the album was done, and it was quite garish and full on looking. Then we changed the music to suit the artwork and we did the album as more of a fun experiment. We had fun with it and I think generally it comes out fairly well to make stuff with that kind of process.
So where did the ideas come from? What sorts of music, films or books were you getting yourself immersed in before writing for this album?
Well it’s funny. We called it Headroxx, because when we got together and played each other our songs, we realised that each song was about us struggling in the modern world. Our family environments with kids, bills, politics and just how we feel. A lot of the lyrics are about that feeling a little bit mentally dysfunctional in the modern world. I guess that’s why we called it Headroxx because it’s fun play on feeling a bit strange in the mind, if that makes any sense.
Is it a well-oiled machine when it comes to recording the album, or did you have sort of the usual sorts of dramas or hassles that come along with making an album?
No, there’s not really any dramas. We get on, we haven’t really had a fight for years. I can’t remember the last one we had, and because we’ve been playing for so long, I feel like we can. It’s all done fairly quickly and I think most of it should be done quickly.
Beyond this tour what’s the plan for Regurgitator?
It’s our twenty-fifth anniversary next year, we’re planning a whole bunch of things like special releases and stuff for that. We’ve also written a pretty far out kids’ album. It’s actually quite listenable if you’re an adult. It’s quite strange because we have this juvenile kind of way of relating to each other and because it’s for kids, it’s more of a true collaboration between Quan and I. We’ve invented all these really weird characters and they will appear on the record and in the stage show. The plan is to try and get that out into early next year.
An awesome way to open the door for the next generation of Regurgitator fans?Yeah, we really like doing it. It’s just super juvenile and fun with some really ridiculous songs, we have these weird characters that we’ve made with strange costumes for them. It’s a very silly show. It’s a lot of fun.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Catch Regurgitator on the following dates…