It’s not a nationalist thing by any means, insists The Currency’s guitarist/mandolin player Greg Stainsby
It’s not a nationalist thing by any means, insists The Currency’s guitarist/mandolin player Greg Stainsby – it’s just celebrating another angle of Australia’s convict heritage. And considering how many fascinating stories spring to mind when talking about the colonies and the first immigrants, it’s little wonder The Currency have fashioned an entire band based on the tales of bushrangers, stowaways and scoundrels via folk-rock and celtic-punk.
“We’re trying to get some new stuff we’ve been working on into our set,” Stainsby explains of the band’s upcoming comeback show following a winter hiatus. “We basically do songs that deal with obscure histories of Australia. We’re just doing one at the moment about the infamous Battle Of Brisbane where the Australians got in a fight with the American servicemen who were stationed in Brisbane.
“We’ve also got another song about the Paraguay commune which talked about Australians leaving Australia to go and create a sort of ‘ideal community’ in Paraguay,” he adds further. “We just love delving into those topics; they’re really interesting when you do a bit of a research. I guess it’s also a celtic-punk music thing. You’ve got bands like the Dropkick Murphys who have been pushing the Irish thing, for example, though the difference is that they’re barely Irish!”
The Currency’s songs are ballads, in the truest sense, as Stainsby explains. Short stories about days long gone as much as the struggles of street life in the present age, this is one band that refuses to cater to a particular scene. “I guess there are a few generic celtic-punk bands and we definitely do not want to be another one of those because there are heaps of them,” states Stainsby.
“We’re always trying to define our own thing, and you can believe that it’s a big task to create that. For us, it comes down to songwriting… and not about the clothes that we wear on the stage or how many tattoos we’ve got. We lost our drummer Travis (Demsey) and had a new one come in, his name is Johnny (Gibson), so our fans have seen a bit of a change in us recently. Travis just let us know that he wasn’t up to the touring with the band and we bumped into Johnny, talked to him, had a bit of a jam with him and he was great. We also had to re-learn the songs with him, really, and we gave him a fine-tuning so he fits in really well right now.
“What he does is pretty much what Travis did on the record, but he adds his own character. He’s also got tattoos and piercings which we were a bit worried [about] because the crowd liked us how we were, so we weren’t too sure how a new member would go down. It’s turned out better than we could have imagined, though,” he muses.
And while Demsey was no longer willing to dedicate himself to the grueling time spent out on the road as part of a touring band, it seems new drummer Gibson definitely is. According to Stainsby, The Currency are currently mid-preparations to play shows in Japan after scoring a deal with Japanese label Uncle Owen.
“They’re pretty much into the celtic-punk thing over there and they were happy to put out our record,” says Stainsby. “I’m not too sure how we’ll go down over there but I guess you never know until you actually tour. Hopefully it will create some sales and we’ll be able to promote it properly.
“I just think it’s great that they’re interested at all!” he laughs. “We would like to travel a lot more and we’re certainly doing the east coast over this summer, then we’ll try to get out to Japan. The gigs are always fun – we put on quite a show and the music is the kind that is quite danceable.”
Finding a fan in Flogging Molly member Matt Hensley last years, it seems most people can’t resist a good dance or a mosh when The Currency takes over the stage. Recalling some of the band’s highlight gigs, Stainsby says meeting Billy Brag has been pretty well up there.
“When we played with Anti-Flag we had Billy Brag come back stage afterwards,” enthuses the guitarist. “It was so much fun meeting him! But Flogging Molly were so great. We played about two nights with them and we even went out drinking with them after the shows. On the second night that we played, we had their accordion player Matt Hensley get up on stage and join us for one of our songs which was an absolute privilege – that was really awesome!
“We also played with the Dropkick Murphys, and even though the singer sort of chatted to us for a bit, we didn’t really get to hang out with them very much. Still, they did a good show, so I guess that’s all that really matters.”
Marking their comeback to Melbourne’s live stages this month, The Currency are also spreading the joy about their debut album recently coming out on iTunes. According to Stainsby, it’s simply the way to go in the present market…
“Well, we first put out the album on our own label Haul Away Records. We’ve been getting help with distribution through Poison City which is run by a friend of ours in Melbourne. With the collapse of the CD industry, it really means that DIY is now viable and the only way to do it properly.
“It’s a good thing,” he points out, “because you can get yourself up online but also get distribution just like any other band on a label. So it’s really all come down to marketing now. I’m an optimist about digital sales.”
THE CURRENCY’s latest, self-titled album is out now through Poison City.