In the face of indefinite hiatus, Wet Lips reflect on their own brand of punk

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In the face of indefinite hiatus, Wet Lips reflect on their own brand of punk


When I sit down with Wet Lips at their rehearsal space, I’m conscious that I’m eating into their time practicing. “It’s ok, our rehearsals are 80% talking and 20% playing music,” drummer Georgia Ehrlich laughs. Now with only three shows left before they go on an indefinite hiatus, the band are feeling equal parts nostalgic and fired up to go out with a bang.

First up is Golden Plains which the band cites as an important milestone in their six years of playing together. “The year Sleater-Kinney and Eddy Current played was amazing,” bassist Jenny McKechnie says. “They’re my favourite bands and when I got into them they both didn’t exist anymore, then they both reformed and played the festival in 2016. To be able to play there is super special, it’s a huge cultural icon for bands in Melbourne and the alternative music culture here.”

The band are also part of a Brunswick Music Festival lineup curated by indie label Psychic Hysteria and featuring Plaster of Paris and Fair Maiden at the Brunswick Mechanics Institute. “I think it’s so cool to be able to go to a gig that’s not a live music venue,” Grace Kindellan says, guitarist and lead vocalist of the band.

“I really wish there were more gigs going on in Brunswick because selfishly they’d be around the corner from our house,” McKechnie adds. “It’s good to bring it out of Collingwood and Fitzroy because most people who play and enjoy music can’t afford to live there anymore. It’s starting to make less sense that it’s where we have to go all the time to see music.”

With both the Psychic Hysteria lineup, along with the band’s own event Wetfest, featuring a diverse lineup, many look to Wet Lips as leaders of the progressive Melbourne music community. “We play with bands that we love the most but they’re also artists that take responsibility for their position of influence and think critically about what their art means,” McKechnie explains. “The scene is completely unrecognizable now from when we started six years ago.”

When asked about their highlights as a band, particular importance is placed on their set at the Marriage Equality Street Party which took place the day that the ‘Yes’ result was announced. “I’m tearing up thinking about it,” says Kindellan. “It was one of those moments in history where things changed. I’d been feeling uncertain and angry about so many things and then to just be so sure of one thing, that I love my girlfriend Jacey, and for that to be recognised was so relieving and powerful.”

When looking back on the show Ehrlich comments on just how monumental it felt to see Grace playing solo and making such an impassioned declaration of love. “Jenny and I were side of stage and left Grace up there to pour her heart out to what felt like millions of people watching. She was so strong.”

As for what they’ve taken from their time as Wet Lips so far, each member reflects on their personal growth, along with their connection with one another and their community. “Through this band I learnt that it’s ok to express unpleasant, difficult parts of being a human, and being a woman, and that being angry and playing punk music is a legitimate form of art,” Kindellan muses.

“Joining Wet Lips has brought to me another way to work with people, communicate and learn,” Ehrlich says. “Listening to other people’s opinions and having the same drive and eagerness has been amazing.”

“It’s gone from being 19 year olds messing around just trying to have fun to having to go through this very intense growing up process,” McKechnie reflects. “This band is such a huge part of my identity so it’s terrifying to not have that anymore, but it’s also something that a lot of people in their mid to late 20’s go through. You realise ‘Right, these are my formative years, where am I going to go from that?’”

“It’s been incredible forming a music community that exists outside of that macho culture, and not having to look to that anymore for validation or support.”