FT'D: The Backs - Ear Beers (10" EP)

The name Ear Beers certainly understates the intensity of this offering from The Backs. It’s no summer’s day, no casual long-neck in the park, The second EP and the first physical release for The Backs (on 10” vinyl), is more like a straight bottle of rum, harsh and raw but it certainly gets you firing on all cylinders. Paul Holden’s pummeling beats, Pat Murray’s enveloping basslines, filled out by Tom Thomas’ noisy, rattling guitars and sharp, tongue-in-cheek lyricism. It’s a warming liquor in the depths of a chilling Melbourne winter.

The Backs are certainly a product of the darker, nefarious side of Melbourne’s musical history. The undeniable thread through garage rock and noisy post-punk, the Nick’s, Rowland’s and Jonnine’s to the contemporaries, the Adalita’s, the Erica’s and Garreth’s.. to The Backs. Having recorded and released the EP through Marthouse, we spoke to singer/guitarist Tom Thomas (whose parents named him so that he would “walk to the beat of his own drum”) about the creative process behind Ear Beers, and how he feels obviously having let his parents down.

WHO: We are The Backs. Awake, intrigued, thirsty. Paul drummed on the EP before he was captured and taken up to Lismore in the back of a Wicked Van. Thankfully we were able to capture Chrisso to replace him shortly after. Tom and Muzz have been here since the beginning.

WHAT: Ear Beers is a rumination on some important subjects, and some less important ones. Overall we tried to tell stories. Some of them are already well told but we wanted to look at em from an untold perspective. Julian Knight’s Mum, Bradman’s less regarded teammates. The music is noisy, stripped back and lively.

WHEN: This all started back in January when we thought we’d better hit Marthouse Studios in the old Brunswick SLSC before it was demolished and became gentrified. We had 5 songs but some of them became longer. They all became more tender. We then plugged away bit by bit until today, when it’s out. We tend to create songs in bursts. It seems that I like to create the most when I’m lying in bed trying to fall asleep, which is profoundly annoying because inevitably I wake up and it’s gone. Imagine how many great Backs songs are out there dead in the ether. Brings a tear to the eye.

WHERE: Ear Beers was envisaged, created and recorded in the heart of the Brunswick SLSC heyday. It was a time of immense camaraderie and creative energy. It was hard to exist around it and not be up to something. You can actually see the evidence of this on both the front and back covers of the record. Dougal bought and learned to use a tape recorder so we thought we should chuck our songs down on that. When punters hear it we hope it takes em to a sticky pub, pint in hand, footy on the big screen.

HOW: Being a raw az 3 piece, we wrote the songs and then basically recorded them as is. The only overdub we did was swinging a guitar around in front of a hotted up amp for the entire duration of the EP and recording the feedback. On the night, our longtime friend and collaborator Oliver “Ratdog” Shaw wandered in with some of his poems and chucked them on the recording. We tried to stop him, but he’s a poet and we’re just rock musicians.

WHY: We’re an artist because it’s financially rewarding, self esteem preserving, easy, quick and great for your anxiety. We create, honestly, because it’s the best and most law abiding way to get your demons out on the reg. It’s also lovely to be able to share your art with your friends and help and support one another’s endevours. That’s the most rewarding bit by a mile.

The Backs - Ear Beers 10"
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The Backs play The Tote on November 11 as part of the Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice residency.

Keep up with all things The Backs over here. And buy the record.

Marthouse Records