How Amyl And The Sniffers got together to record and release their debut EP in one day
At face value, you might wonder if Amyl and the Sniffers are on a ‘70s rock culture trip. After all, lead singer Amy Taylor has a haircut that’s equal parts Bowie, Cherie Currie and Broadmeadows sharpie.
The band’s three-chord punk rock riffs would bring a tear to Kim Fowley’s eye. Then there’s Amyl and the Sniffers’ catchy track 70s Street Munchies, with its subliminal references to Eskimo Pies and Chico Rolls. And wasn’t sniffing amyl nitrate the cheap narcotic pleasure of many a ‘70s nocturnal gathering?
Amy Taylor laughs when I make the superficial observation. “I suppose it’s just what interests me and influences me,” she says. “Growing up around my parents, who grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney, that’s what I’ve been around – muscle cars, shit punk music, that kind of stuff.”
Amyl and the Sniffers started out as an impromptu bedroom recording project. “We all lived together, so we all got home from work and study,” Taylor says. “Callum, another guy who I lived with, had all this stuff set up in my room, ready to record. So we sat down for four hours, we wrote and recorded and he mixed the EP and that day we put it out. ”
When Taylor says the band ‘put it out’, it was uploaded to the band’s newly established Bandcamp site where it’s remained for the last few months. Amy and the Sniffers did commit the songs to tape to sell at the band’s EP launch in early March. A vinyl and CD release is in the works – and another run of tapes. “Other than that it’s a free download on Bandcamp,” Taylor says. “Some people will chuck us a dollar or five dollars, but I’m just happy for people to hear it.”
But back to the genesis of Amyl and the Sniffers. “I’ve always loved music and I’ve always loved the energy, and I love going to gigs,” Taylor says, when I ask about her musical pedigree. “I always wanted to do something in a band, but I’m pretty shithouse at instruments so I guess it worked out well that the boys wanted me to sing.”
When the tape rolled in the band’s first recording session, there wasn’t much of a strategic plan to shape Amyl and Sniffers’ sound. “We all have our different influences, Callum and Brian were more influenced by the garage-y sounds of Melbourne,” Taylor says. “But Declan our guitarist was more influenced by ‘70s Aussie pub rock, like Rose Tattoo and AC/DC. I’m between both of them, with a bit of Nancy Sinatra in there as well.”
Last year Amyl and the Sniffers had the honour of supporting Runaways singer Cherie Currie on her first Australian tour. Currie’s performance, spurred on by a negative review of a show earlier in the tour, in which Currie was criticised harshly, was “awesome”.
But Taylor’s own enthusiastic dancing in the crowd while Currie was playing earned her the ire of the venue bouncers, who threatened to kick her out. And then after the show Taylor put Motorhead on the jukebox, only for Currie to request that the music be turned down. “It was weird,” Taylor laughs. “Maybe she was tired.”
But Amyl and the Sniffers have had no such problems when they played in Hobart at the Brisbane Hotel, a venue Taylor says it’s one of the band’s favourites. “When bands visit, the local punters put in the effort and go and see them and they get down and appreciate it more,” Taylor says.
And Taylor was especially impressed with their accommodation at the Hobart. “We stayed upstairs,” Taylor says. “The bathroom was classic. There was this red light in there. You’d go in there, shut the door and it was like being in a pool with red ink in it. And there was no hot water, so you had this cold, red shower. ”
By Patrick Emery