We chat to the music mind-benders before their Braindrops tour kicks off.
Tropical Fuck Storm have never been ones to play by the rules in the realm of music, and their recently-released sophomore album Braindrops pushes further away from the norm.
The follow up to last year’s A Laughing Death In Meatspace, TFS drift further left-of-field through their exploration of sonics, structure and surrealism.
“I’ve never been part of anything going on ever. I don’t really see it like that. If rock‘n’roll is a river, or pop music is a river, they’re sort of floating along it but I’m never really floating along,” say frontman Gareth Liddiard. “I’m always sitting on the bank and taking a broader view and taking it all in and then vomit it all up. I don’t do what is happening today.”
Recorded in Liddiard’s home ‘Dodgy Brothers Studio’ in regional Victoria with Mike Deslandes, Braindrops is representative of its name. With its corridors of deranged psychedelic pops of colour, dismembered funk accents, eerie rock landscapes and post-punk decorations, it meshes worlds and ideas derived from Liddiard’s wide scope of, somewhat unexpected, inspiration.
“I listen to anything, whether it’s electronic music from the 1950’s or Hungarian music from the 1920’s. Whatever is good and whatever works, I’ll do that. So there’s always tonnes of weird angles to throw at the music whenever it’s time to make a record. We just try to bang out anything; we don’t care what it sounds like. There’s lot of different shit, but the common thread is that it’s all really sloppy,” Liddiard says.
“It reminds me of a Led Zeppelin album, they used to go all over the joint with different styles with something new every song, but at the same time there is a common thread and I think that everything is so loose and messy and everything just goes berserk essentially.”
While the musical arrangements are (purposefully) sloppy, the songwriting shows great thought and depth. Liddiard explores psychological manipulation and emotional attachment, which is most notable in ‘Maria 63’, ‘The Planet of Straw Men’ and ‘Who’s My Eugene?’.
‘Maria 63’ explores fascism through a narrative about Nazi witches and aliens, while ‘The Planet of Straw Men’ deep dives into both psychological and sociological conditioning at the hand of social media and the comment section.
The Erica Dunn-led ‘Who’s My Eugene?’ uncomfortably presents the controversial case of Eugene Landy who used psychological and drug-induced manipulation to exploit Brian Wilson, though it’s packaged as a love song.
“Every time we make a record, we try to do something slightly different to the last one and the last one was kind of political I guess. It was sort of about what’s going on in the moment and we didn’t want to do that to death. When you make a non-political album what do you make – I guess the obvious answer is an album full of love songs, so we kind of did that,” laughs Liddiard.
Even though Braindrops isn’t overtly political and Liddiard doesn’t subscribe to the compartmentalisation of genres sonically, his punk attitude remains intact and has been further pushed by touring buddies, King Gizzard & the Wizard Lizard.
The kings of DIY have influenced their writing and operational processes, paving the way for the industry non-conformists. TFS take full control over everything they do from the entire recording process to the booking of bands and venues for their upcoming national tour.
“We’ve been hanging out a lot with King Gizzard and watching them work at warped speed, so we feel a bit slow if we don’t put an album out every day. We feel unworthy if we’re sitting around on our arses, so it’s good hanging out with them because they make us work,” Liddiard laughs. “But we’re completely DIY, we choose bands [to tour with], we don’t have anyone managing us – we’re unmanageable so we’ve kind of had to accept that.”