Since forming in 2004, and particularly following their albums Hungry Ghost (2013) and Waco (2016), Brisbane’s Violent Soho has played a massive role in regenerating Australia’s love of hard, heavy sing-along rock. It’s unsurprising that their biggest influences are largely ’80s and ’90s alternative and heavy bands, ranging from icons like Nirvana and Pixies to Aussie favorites such as Silverchair, The Vines, and You Am I. Check out their playlist, compiled by singer and guitarist Luke Boerdam and guitarist James Tidswell, and read on for Boerdam’s comments on his top picks.
Pavement, “Cut Your Hair” “I always worry that there are lyric phrases in [Violent Soho songs] that are actually ripped from Pavement and I just haven’t realized because I listen to them so much. Lyrically, Stephen Malkmus is just so genius. In Soho lyrics there’s a lot of abstract crap going on—well, it’s not stuff that’s directly relatable. I think there’s a lot of that in Pavement songs too, but you get that feeling and you connect with it and you understand his attitude and that there’s something deeper there. And you should think about the lyrics. I feel like Pavement defined the ’90s more than a lot of people give them credit for.”
Built to Spill, “Hindsight” “I think their whole body of work is just awesome, when you really give the albums time and really listen to them. Not just because of their music but because of who they are as a band. We got to tour with them for three weeks on our first American tour. If there’s any band that’s influenced us in how we play music together, how we tour, how we work together, it’s that band. The way they approach music—they did this show in Williamsburg where one of the guitarists was late because he was at dinner, so they started the show without him. Then he just rocked up and plugged in his guitar halfway through the fifth song. No one complained or said, ‘Where were you?’ They really just had that [mentality of] ‘This band is about music, it’s not about you, it’s not about being a business, so who gives a f**k if you were at dinner.’ You just learn a lot from those guys.”
You Am I, “Heavy Heart” “A lot of our early influences were passed down from brothers and sisters or whatever. I’d been heaps into Jeff Buckley and Radiohead, stuff like that, but my brother had brought home You Am I CDs from HMV. They were the first Australian band that I really fell in love with, and it later opened me up to bands like Jebediah and Grinspoon. It’s funny, we were in America and You Am I came up a lot while we were talking to other bands. There’s a lot of respect for them out there.”
Title Fight, “Numb, But I Still Feel It” “Man, it’s such a good song. They’re one of those way younger, newer bands that came through with a heavy sound that’s not hardcore. They might have seeds in that scene and sounds going into it, the guitar tones and stuff, but there’s something about it which we relate to. We instantly all gravitated toward that type of new music that was coming out. It has all the energy. It really worked its way into Hungry Ghosts, maybe more than people realize. It was definitely a changing point where it gave us a newer lease on life and what we sounded like.”
Smashing Pumpkins, “Geek U.S.A.” “We didn’t know Pumpkins were considered lame and dorky until we got to America. People were like, ‘You listen to Pumpkins?’ And we were like, ‘We do.’ All I know is when I was 14 I got Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness for Christmas, and it didn’t leave the CD player for like a year. There was nothing else like it—it’s an experience. An album should be an experience, from the artwork and the opening track down through the tracklist. It’s the whole package, and I learnt that from Pumpkins. It’s still a go-to record.”