The Growlers – Live Review & Interview
Before playing the last show of their Australian tour, The Growlers’ Überchiller/bass player Anthony Braun Perry talked to James Booker about how two broken knees and the fondest of brotherly love is the source of his power…
I rocked up at The Wild Things Gallery in Manlyvale and was super excited straight away. The place looked totally awesome. It’s basically a jived-up warehouse space with sweet hippie surfer vibes. It suited the Growlers’ last show in Australia perfectly – the place was beached out to the shit. There were surfboards lining the walls and ceiling and there were surf things being projected onto a mezzanine space, from which the owners were perched swinging their feet, surveying the madness to come. After getting a free (FREE!) goddamn Corona (FREE CORONA YOU GUYS) from the bar, courtesy of the glorious Sailor Jerry team, I found the guitarist of my band [Doc Holliday Takes the Shotgun], Maxo, talking with Anthony and The Growlers’ tour manager, Kurt, of Strange Yonder. Maxo had driven a bass amp over for The Growlers to borrow for the night and we had arrived a bit early so Kurt asked if the four of us wanted to chill for a smoke in one of the back rooms.
We started talking about the Skype interview I had done with Brooks, The Growlers singer, a few weeks earlier…
So when I spoke to Brooks he said you’d been to Australia before, right?
Oh yeah man, it was super cruisy. After I finished highschool I came over here to surf different spots up and down the East Coast. I made a bunch of friends too.
Do you dudes skate as well?
Yeah man I used to love that shit! I don’t do it anymore cos I broke both my knees but I used to go out all the time. It was a while ago though, like when you’re younger and you say to yourself “I’m gonna be skating my whole life”. I was giving it a go here and there after I broke my first knee but when I broke the other one too I had to stop. Ha Ha.
Hectic man, that would have hurt so much!!
Oi who’s your favourite Australian band, bruh?
Oh Goons of Doom fer sher man, we’ve played with them before in the States. They’re the coolest dudes too.
So who do you think would win in a fight between (support band) Tomorrow’s Tulips and the Growlers?
Aw man, Tomorrow’s Tulips are all really tall…
Ha! Yeah dude I saw Brooks talking to one of them before, craning his neck and shit.
Yeah, well Brooks isn’t the tallest dude either haha. Actually he’d probably say he was the best in a fight cos he did karate or something. That or Kyle I think. Kyle ‘cos he just goes crazy man…
That’s scary! What about you though?
Man I’ve never really been in a fight, not to say I’m a pussy or anything, I’ve just never been in a situation you know? Like, I could fight if needed to.
Sure, sure dude. *Pats Anthony on the back*
Haha, fuck you man! I don’t know, I have two older brothers and we used to wrestle all the time when we were younger. I’m really close with my brothers. We hang out lots when I’m home, playing music together and stuff. They used to kick my ass all the time though…
Right of passage dude! So do any of The Growlers have side-projects?
Yeah man, me and my brother actually are In a group together called Cat Signs. I play guitar in that band. It’s lots of fun.
…At this point in our chat The Growlers’ guitarist Kyle bursts into the room holding two pink pills shouting “WHO WANTS CAT PILLS?!” and everyone burst into laughter. Apparently the night before, when they couldn’t get to sleep, a girl gave them some veterinary antibiotics designed for cats. I think he wanted to see if it would make him drunk faster… Anyway, Anthony and I finished our smokes and went back into Wild Things Gallery to catch some of the festivities.
Goons of Doom were first up and were not received as I thought they should be. The band played an awesome set of punk-ass garage tunes, which got pretty brutal at some points, but remained fun and adhered to the surf vibe of the night. The crowd were quite dispersed for most of the Goons set, aside from about 30 fans and a few hilarious sprouters (Editors note- ‘hot ladies’) getting up for a jive, most of the people in the joint didn’t seem too fazed to catch them from a distance, perhaps conserving their energy for the impending boogie. I want to commend the Goons of Doom guitarist/singer for strapping his guitar on upside down. I don’t know why you did that man, but it’s totally rad.
Next up was Tomorrow’s Tulips. These guys totally love to jam, they probs love the 90s too cos a lot of their tunes were delightfully nostalgic – that washed out 90’s sound. Such reverb, very Fender Mustang, wow pretty blonde dudes. They were a really interesting transition from the balls-deep Goons of Doom and really grooved stuff out. Their set was very intricate with lots of different sounds and song patterns, I should like to watch them again, as I’m sure this band gets better with more listens. Heaps of my friends said that Tomorrows Tulips have some really interesting lyrics as well, but I was too busy zoning out to hear the words unfortunately, ha.
I should mention that the whole night leading up their set, The Growlers were walking around the Gallery getting drinks and having a jive, overall seeming approachable, which I really like in a group from overseas. I asked Anthony what it was like to have kids from another country come and pester you “cos they like your band” and he responded with instantaneous conviction that:
“It’s totally awesome!”
So, by this point Wild Things Gallery was very much packed, with only a small space between the back of the crowd and the few people on the outer balcony catching one last ciggy. The Growlers opened with the downbeat groover, Tijuana. Brooks Nielsens’ vocals were every bit as wavy in melody yet smooth in texture as they are on record. Being a surfer dude, it made me wonder whether he had the bright idea of waxing his throat one day after doing his board. The spookiness of Salt on a Slug got a few of the bigger Lords of Dogtown-looking dudes in the crowd moving everyone else around with them, which was pretty fun. After which, came a short intermission while Anthony took off a pair of springed moon boots he’d been dared to wear for the whole set – which is an arguable effort given the band were only 6 songs in of 25.
After Brooks convinced one of the girls up front to put on the moon boots the set continued with crowd pleaser, Someday, which had everyone singing along. Fuck me, were they getting down to it too. Everyone was grooving out and running around the space like maniacs in a beach baby playground! Drummer Scott Montoya’s stamina was definitely a notable thing, not missing a beat the whole set. Even after shouting “WATER!” to the gallant rescue of a bearded fan with a water bottle during one of the songs, tempo was kept. No one seemed to want to stop dancing or appeared to be tiring after the band had been playing for nearly an hour as One Million Lovers, a sure crowd favourite, led into the only track sung by guitarist, Matt Taylor, People Don’t Change, which was another pleasant surprise for many of the true fans attending the night.
Overall the band’s set was a balanced mix of songs from all their records and singles, indeed the last five songs of their set were all from different points in their discography. They finished their set with Sea Lion Goth Blues, perhaps their most sunburnt track, and almost seamlessly moulded into the crowd for hangs and congrats after it was finished.
All-in-all The Growlers’ last Australian show at Wild Things Gallery’s reopening was quite a special night. More than a few of my Northern Beaches mates exclaimed their excitement to have discovered a cool new venue so close to their homes and everyone who managed to get a ticket for the night left with a big smile on their face having witnessed some genuinely hectic music from some genuinely hectic bands. Come back soon, The Growlers.
Review and interview with The Growlers by James Booker.