On Power, Teenage Dramatics and That ‘Electric Glitter Boogie’
Hailing from the fruitful Melbourne punk scene, Power quietly released their debut LP Electric Glitter Boogie, in late 2015 in limited numbers. The response was immediate and glowing — the record was a ripper, mixing proto-punk with pub rock and the snotty nihilism of hardcore. Soon thereafter, Electric Glitter Boogie started to move, a U.S. tour ensued and the record was picked up for reissue by In the Red Records.
With that Electric Glitter Boogie reissue out now and word of a NEW LP coming soon on In the Red, we shot a few questions to vocalist / guitarist Nathan Williams about the release, Australian punk and more. The results of our conversation are below.
Australia has such a strong punk scene, including bands that have branched off to move into indie, post-punk, etc. What do you think it is about Melbourne that's so inviting to punk music?
Well, I dunno about "inviting." I don't think that's the right way of saying it. Maybe "accommodating" might fit a little easier, 'cause I know a hell of a lot of people who got into punk the same way. You grow up in the suburbs, a while out of town, with some mates you don't remember the names of anymore. You wind up getting your hands dirty doing the rounds of shit-kicking teenage dramatics, get in a bit of trouble, and have a little fun before the boredom starts engulfing you so much that you find yourself sneaking into one of the finer inner north establishments after an hourlong train ride for a pint of filthy Carlton Draught and a R.M. Williams [boot] to your left eye during a gig. We're lucky here to have such a strong lineage of punk — not just Melbourne, but the whole Down Under — that connects and resonates and compels you to do something about it. For better or worse, we're spoiled for choice here, and should take advantage of it.
Power did a run of U.S. dates around the Gonerfest last year. What were some of the highlights, and do you plan to return to U.S. shores again?
Mate, that was a brilliant time. Gonerfest was up there. We were foaming at the mouth that night, so we put on a good show. You see, it just so happened that the Saturday night we played coincided with the AFL Grand Final [Australian rules football]. This is a big deal regardless of whether your team is playing or not, but [Matt] Penke [Penkethman, drummer]'s team got in by the skin of their teeth. Lucky for the Yanks, we convinced him to stay in the USA and finish the tour, 'cause he was ready to click go on a ticket home and an Uber to the MCG [Melbourne Cricket Ground]. Anyway, we smashed the set and headed straight to the pub, where the Goner boys set up the game on a TV for us, and we can't thank 'em enough. The Doggies won, and we celebrated well into the night and ended up getting hosed down with the fizzy water traps at the bar, which was both refreshing and a good sensation. Driving 'round with our U.S. buddies Dano and Logan was a real pleasure, and so were all the bars — both boozers and the Clif kind. We'd love to get back over and do it again when we can.
Power are very much rooted in proto-punk — specifically taking notes from Stooges, MC5 and even countrymen like Rose Tattoo. What do you think it is about those bands that makes them immortal, and do you think that quality will ever live in a new band again?
I reckon they put out great albums, put on entertaining live shows and get to the heart of rock 'n' roll, which is both primitive and sophisticated and doesn't make all that much sense, but makes you feel something you can't get from anything else. The quality does live, and has continued to. It's music that gets right to your bones, rattles 'em and leaves you clutching your beer with a shit-eating grin on your face.
Members of the band have served in Kromosom, a noise-focused band in the vein of Disclose or Gloom. Is this band almost a reaction to playing in something so caustic and almost devoid of melody?
We've all played in hardcore bands prior to Power. Penke played in Kromosom, Isaac [Ishadi, bassist] in Soma Coma, and I played in Gutter Gods. I guess it's a kind of reaction, but it was a real natural progression. We just kept getting on the piss together and wound up doing something easy and honest together. That's the whole point of it. Doing something that feels right, brings us joy and connects us together.
What is the current plan for new material? Anything ready and on deck?
Oh yeah, we got a second album done. It's gonna be called Turned On. That'll be coming out later this year. We got the last one done in about six hours, and with this one, we got to take our time over a few days and work out all the kinks. I'm really proud of the thing. It's a real ball-tearer.
Cool Death is run by members of the punk scene in Melbourne. How do you think their work has helped bring a spotlight to the incredible Melbourne scene?
Their mantra, "the only rule is cool," seems to be working, 'cause the releases have all been great. They've been able to pick the crème de la crème of Australian music and get it out there for all to hear about it. What separates them from other labels is their conviction and dedication to put out records they feel a personal affiliation to. This allows them the space to give the records the attention to detail they deserve — not just for listeners, but for the musicians, too.
What do you think is the best current Melbourne band?
Look, to be honest with you, I don't have a favorite, so here's a bunch of 'em that get me going: Miss Destiny, Enzyme, Sistema En Decadencia, Rabid Dogs, Scott & Charlene's Wedding, Terry and Straightjacket Nation.