How Cosmic Psychos have continued to play unabashed, unpretentious punk rock for decades

How Cosmic Psychos have continued to play unabashed, unpretentious punk rock for decades

Words by Dan Watt

“I love being in this band. It’s a unique thing. You can’t put your finger on it but it has a certain something, I’m gonna ound like a bit of wanker but you could say, je ne sais quoi.”

That is Dean Muller, the drummer for rock band Cosmic Psychos. A band that, when rounded out by guitarist John “Mad Macka” McKeering and vocalist/bass guitarist Ross Knight, produces music so raw and abrasive that it borders on belligerent. To frame it another way, this band’s music is so devoid of pretence, describing it as anything other than Aussie punk rock is convoluted.

Yet paradoxically, in a cluster-fuck worthy only of Cosmic Psychos, the band has emerged as one of the most influential outfits from Melbourne’s renowned 1980s punk scene, a scene that featured the likes of The Boys Next Door, X, The Scientists, and I Spit On Your Gravy.

“There is such a healthy unique Aussie scene at the moment, like there was back in the old days. It has never really gone away but it is just really healthy at the moment,” asserts Muller.

Muller is referring to the Australia-wide garage rock scene that reverberates pure Australian brogue and rallies around the idiomatic speech of their birthplace.

The most celebrated exponents of the contemporary scene that emanate the same tone as Cosmic Psychos include Amyl and The Sniffers, Drunk Mums, Pist Idiots and WOD. On top of that sample Mueller takes exception to two acts from this scene, “Pist Idiots. They’re lovely blokes and a great band. Their song ‘Fuck Off’ is just so great. And that band CIVIC, have you heard them? They are incredible.”

Whilst it is nice to imagine that Cosmic Psychos have pushed their way back into the broader consciousness purely off the strength of the music, Muller credits the 2013 documentary on the band, Blokes You Can Trust, with helping to introduce ‘The Psychos’ to a younger audience.

“An element of oldies are always buying our records and coming to the shows but I think since the doco came out it tells the story of the band so well people watch it and go ‘Geez they’re not the foul mouthed yobs we always thought they were, they are actually fairly decent human beings beneath the façade and the four inches of fat,” he laughs. The film was made by local film producer Matt Weston who incidentally is in two very important local acts of the last two decades, The Nation Blue and High Tension.

Whilst celebrating their legacy and thoroughly enjoying being able to reach a younger audience, Muller is quick to point out that the publicity and profile stimulated by the documentary is not why the band have kept touring and releasing music – since 2005, Cosmic Psychos have released five albums.

“The reason why the band sticks together, well I can’t speak for myself, but the other two are pretty good blokes, they’re easy to get along with. We just have a laugh, we don’t take it too seriously at all.

“It is far from a chore being in Cosmic Psychos. We only play gigs on weekends and recording albums basically just involves sinking piss with a couple of mates and nailing the songs first run through.”

Whilst ‘mateship’ and ‘sinking piss’ are quintessentially Australian character traits, Cosmic Psychos found out just last month that identifying too strongly with the national identity has its dangers.

“There was an incident recently where someone was wearing our t-shirt quite prominently at one of those United Patriots Front rallies and we had to immediately nip it in the bud by making a statement condemning the association. Anyone who was a genuine fan of our music would know straight away that we do not support hate speech or segregation.”

Cosmic Psychos come to the Estonian House as part of Brunswick Music Festival on Thursday March 7. Head to the festival website for tickets.