Group Seizure write anthems for the Rascal Revolution. The heartbeat-altering insistence of the drum machine, the fuzz wall of bass, and the goading chants all add up to a manifesto that the kids can really believe in: hyperactive electro-noise.
Ive never seen anything like you guys before, says bassist Bry Gagliardi, imitating a sloshed punter post-Group Seizure show. These three misfit kids play loose, loud and raw. Shit gets ripped out and broken, guitarist/vocalist Pete Dickinson wryly notes of their drunken live shows. Pedals lost after a Ding Dong show were deemed stolen until a taxi driver kindly returned them. As for the spine of their sound, if anything goes wrong with Jack Furphys keyboard/drum machine, he rues, Its pretty dire. In Tasmania, a borrowed bass is gaffer-taped back together while Bry still played. Its a pretty common Seizure experience, he says.
Its an expensive way of doing things, Bry continues, leads are almost disposable to us. Pete plans to get a soldering iron to assemble their crate of leads, and Brys amp is currently in the shop. Its not intentional, just bad luck when a guitar might be dropped twice and one time it wont get a scratch and another the input jack would snap off. Pete grins, I guess you go hard or not at all.
Despite having a refreshing sound, theyve managed to find a niche, celebrating a little too much after an Espy show with The Nation Blue, to the detriment of the following nights album launch support of Sydneys Further at Ding Dong. Jack wryly puts the sloppy effort down to technical difficulties which equals a collective hangover.
The band have been playing separately and together in Shepparton since their early teens, previously as Schadenfreude, then as The Rent Boys as a five piece.
Its what you do, you finish high school in Shepparton and move to Melbourne, says Bry says about the hometown where they all attended Catholic school. They agree that you come to the big smoke or stay there and impregnate a netballer. With the option of being in a Green Day cover band or a Rage Against The Machine cover band, they had to leave the single-venue country town. Besides, being called The Rent Boys wouldnt go down so well once the local footy meatheads found out what it meant.
Pete suggests the two excised members were more partial to country-boy grunge, which sent the trio on their Melbourne sojourn as Group Seizure two years ago. We wanted something a bit weirder, Pete muses, it was too noisy for them.
The fear is that when describing the given lineup of vocals, guitar, bass and drum machine, nave folk might conjure up a mental imprint of Def FX or some other dance-rock miscegenation. Wheres the drummer? people may shout over the din. Blunt Magazine described them as a cross between Nirvana and Kraftwerk. The comparison to Bleach-era Nirvanas ragged hooks is very apt, but the Kraftwerk comparisons end with Jacks stage tee-shirt. Far from being cold and clinical, Group Seizure bleed warm fuzz. Their blaring static is packaged into simple punk riffs and tense heart-stopping beats.
When Tom Lyngcoln from The Nation Blue took a recording from Tasmanian post-punk legends Mouth to get remastered at Lindsay Gravinas Birdland Studios, he heard Group Seizures five-track self-titled EP. It was destined for an indie release but almost immediately Tom emailed them to say yes, he must release it on his budding Solar/Sonar label.
A tyrannical producer might well have smoothed out the textural white noise that defines the Group Seizure sound, but Bry says of Gravinas mixing, He was in the same headspace as us, to keep it raw and noisy. Also, for something that sounds so spontaneous live and on plastic, its surprising to hear they practice twice a week. The feeling of immediacy in their songs isnt reduced by the knowledge that it takes hours for Jack to program the drums for each tune.
Petes in charge of the incendiary slogans that make up their lyrics, but he admits If theres anything they dont like, well talk about it. Bry Is Highs most satisfying repeated mantra is Gods own prototype, probably because it was lifted from Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. Jack muses, Three Steps was ripped off as well, from something on Four Corners, and Pete admits Piece Of Me could easily be Travis Bickles signature taunt. Theres pop culture references all through there, he notes, saying the title for Smoke Is A Poison Kiss was lifted from some fridge magnet poetry at Jacks house.
The band has managed to support themselves interstate, even over the Strait to Tasmania. They were best and worst received in South Australia. Adelaide people enjoyed it, Jack posits, before Bry remembers the heckling. Youre the shittest band weve ever seen, Pete recalls to laughs all around, although they surmise that it was actually members of another band doing the yelling. And they still arent sure if it was serious. Its like a real rite of passage to get properly heckled, Jack laughs.
All agree that a bad reactions better than no reaction at all. At the recent Espy show some meathead decided to stand front and centre, with arms crossed, giving them the eyeball. You just have to get up in their face, says Pete, who despite Tae Kwon Do training with Bry, would be a scrappy fighter at best. Just make guitar faces at them until they go away.
For a band with one five-track EP, itd probably serve them to fill out their set with a cover or two, to give it the Group Seizure throttle. They do Jesus And Mary Chains Upside Down Brys choice. I like their balance of noise and melody, he says, I sorta aspired to that, to make it as noisy and fucked-up as possible but keep that undeniable melody.
Along those lines, I ask the three which other band they would be in if they could. Pete picks Primal Scream, The rider would be awesome. Bry chooses The Icarus Line, but in their first incarnation, When they were more spazzo. Jack posits Architecture In Helsinki to roars of laughter. I like the collective aspect, theyre awesome, he says with no defensiveness. Then he adds, Im a big Beach Boys fan, to unanimous approval.
Regardless, all three seem more than happy to be impish instigators in Group Seizure. They scoff at careerist questions, Pete admitting hed just like the band to be able to support itself. Amidst a discussion on request shows, Bry is suspicious, If a band is telling me to vote for them on Channel V or something, its a bit removed from the music. And thats the last thing Group Seizure would want to be. From seeing them in riotous trance on stage and hearing their jolting tunes on the EP, thats the last thing they could be.