Custard formed in Brisbane in 1990 and spent a decade recording albums and touring the world. Classics such as Apartment, Music is Crap, Schtum and Girls Like That (Don’t go For Guys Like Us) literally fell from their fingertips. They split up in 1999, no one seems to remember the reason why. After waiting the obligatory ten years or so, they returned to the studio in 2015 to bash out the album Come Back All Is Forgiven. People liked it just enough for Custard to do another album, 2017’s The Common Touch. Now, here we are, it’s 2018 and Custard are playing The Gov this Friday night. We speak to Glenn Thompson about the goings on in the Custard camp.
Great news that Custard are coming back to Adelaide. Feel like it has been way to long, has there been a lot of pressure from fans to come back to Adelaide?
A couple of people on the internet asked us to come over to Adelaide so we decided to do it. We love the internet, and we’re happy to go to South Australia to play to people from the internet. Really happy. What we euphemistically label “tours”, are really just weekends away for us. We never play more than three shows in a row these days, and we make sure we enjoy every aspect of the trip. The accommodation, the meals and how the hire car handles are all very important. Our world used to revolve around the band, there were endless hours spent in the Tarago, but now the band is a side car to our lives.
What was the catalyst to getting Custard going again?
It’s so long ago I’m not sure anymore. It seems like it must have been really easy for us to reform because I can’t really remember it very well. If there was some watershed moment, fistfuls of cash on the table, or bitter contractual obligations I would have a vivid story to tell. However I do not. So… it seems we just picked up where we left off. Basically somebody asked us to play a gig in Brisbane in 2010 and we couldn’t think of a good reason not to.
Do you think now you enjoy it a lot more with a lot less stress and expectation?
It has always been fun. Heaps of fun. But for some reason it seems better now. We put it down to being totally content with who we are and what we do. We have nothing to prove. We used to try to please everyone around us, now we just please ourselves.
Are you surprised that there’s been two albums relatively quickly?
The first new album was calculated to a degree, we were gigging again and it felt weird not having any new songs to play. Even in the ‘90s the exciting part of the set was the new songs. Still, that album came together despite our plans. We were organising to go into a studio with a producer but it fell through, so I mic’ed up the gear in my studio when everyone was in town for a rehearsal. We ran through the new songs in a weekend with the computer set to record. Some months later, after many late nights overdubbing and mixing I had managed to make it sound a bit like a record. The last album just happened really quickly. David had a bunch of new songs and booked a studio. Paul couldn’t make it so we recorded half the songs as a three piece and booked another studio a week later when Paul could attend. He overdubbed the first songs and played live on the second batch. He was only in town for twenty four hours all up. We’re very efficient.
Is the process of making albums for Custard different nowadays?
So yeah, I suppose the recording process has change a bit. We used to spend a couple of weeks in big studios here or in the USA with producers, engineers and A&R people from the record company. The landscape has changed these days. Both David and I have learnt to record and mix and have our own studios we work in. I didn’t used to know how anything in the studio worked, but now I’m obsessed with it all.
Being out of it and coming back in can you believe how much has changed in the industry and how quickly?
The industry has changed, as it always has when new technology develops. The mechanics of recorded music, how it is made and how it is listened to has been digitised for more convenience and worse sound (though that is improving). However a lot of things remain the same. Playing a gig is exactly the same. You clear your mind, plug in, step up to the microphone, count to four and go. Social media has appeared and it has enabled us to connected with people who listen to us more easily, though we used to have an “internet chat room” back in the days when Netscape Navigator and AltaVista were the portals to the world wide web.
Are there plans for more new music and tours?
The truth is we have no plans beyond the weekend of the Adelaide gig. There is Perth the next night then an empty void. Something will probably materialise but we’ll have to wait and see.
I read somewhere where you said you didn’t want to be a cover version of yourselves – is that what you still think?
If we were a Custard cover band we’d probably play some of our old songs better than we do. We don’t seem to be able to make it to the end of Nice Bird anymore, and that was the first single from We Have The Technology. Some songs sound better than ever though. It would be great to share the bill with a Custard tribute band. We could split the set list into who does the best versions.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Be sure to catch Custard on the remaining tour dates for a while…