A unique band with an unrivaled catalogue of singles a clutch of albums that are the top of any garage punk chart and the constant rebirth and pursuit of recognition The Hip Priests are relentless in their pursuit of the next-best song they seem to effortlessly write and release 45’s play memorable sporadic shows and on the verge of releasing a brand new album. Maybe the stars have aligned and finally 2019 will see an industry wake up and public catch on to what they’re about. How could I resist not slinging a few questions at Lee and Austin about what’s coming and whats been happening in the world of The Hip Priests (which usually is quite a lot)…
A new album? What made you decide to get back into the studio to record a full-length album?
OZ– In all honesty, there weren’t really any plans to do one, we were gonna carry on churning out the 7 inches. But I’ve never been totally happy with any of the albums we’ve done, either the Recording or the mixing has always been rushed and I wanted to do one album I’d be properly proud of where everything was right. So I mentioned it to Lee when we were playing in the US last year and twisted his arm until he Agreed haha.
Lee- I’d sworn I wouldn’t do one but then, yeah, Oz persuaded me. Part of it, too was that we had yet another person then fuck off (Joe Blow) and, in my/our own odd twisted way, we then think we need to go and show everyone again. I’m forever saying I’ve had enough n part of that is we just hit a point where it was evident, despite our ‘successes’ that we’d hit some bullshit Rocknroll glass ceiling.
Can you reveal the title?
Oz– We could but we’re gonna keep it under wraps for now until we know how it’s gonna be released.
Lee– Nah – I’m gonna piss Austin off and tell you (I’m sure that it’s been mentioned online anyway). It’s going to be called ‘Stand for Nothing’. I first heard it as a negative/pessimistic expression but then realised how amazingly it also tied into the Malcolm X Quote ‘A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything’. It then gave it that potential duality of meaning and then I just loved it and resisted changing it. Most people will likely just read it as another ‘Oh the Priests are pretending to be all nihilistic again’ thing anyway.
How many songs will be on it? Did you get a label yet mate?
Oz– The plan is that there’s gonna be 10 songs on the CD and 11 on the vinyl. As you know mate, we were on the verge of signing with SPV Steamhammer at the end of last year and actually had a draft contract but in true rock n roll cliché style, that all went to shit and we’ve since been looking for another label to release it. Ideally, it will come out on a bigger label that can sort us some PR and better distribution, as that’s what we’ve needed for a few years but we’ll see. If not we’ll do it the usual way I guess…..
Lee – As Oz said, we recorded 14 so ones gone towards a single and two have been left aside for the moment. We’re still trying to sort out who’s definitely doing it.
How did the writing process go? how do The Hip Priests work? from inception to recording?
Oz– Slightly different to usual in that Lee actually recorded rough demos of the songs this time and sent them round to the rest of us, which made it a quicker process to learn them. We then knocked them around in rehearsal until they sounded right and went in and recorded them. We also did the album over three-weekend sessions this time rather than one long, painful week of recording which was way better for everyone’s sanity! In typical Priests style though we did end up squeezing in an extra tune a couple of days before the last session just to get another 7” down!
Lee– Yeah, I bought some cheap as little Boss recorder and did rough as fuck demos with me just playing a couple of tracks of guitar and doing a couple of tracks of vocals. I guess it helped with also deciding what we’d work on and what we perhaps wouldn’t. The album started to give ideas of second guitar parts here and there. I guess the main thing that’s different on this album is the writing itself in that I’ve taken on different subject matters and characters even on this one. I really didn’t want to do another album that primarily about my fabricated ego, getting fucked up and/or fucking.
You’ve gone from a four-piece to five what was the reasoning behind this move? What have the two new boys brought to the band? Introduce us and let us know a bit about them?
Oz– We’ve talked about getting another guitarist for a long time just to fill out the sound. In smaller venues we’d get away with it through sheer volume but when we played some bigger festival shows it was noticeable in places that it was lacking an extra guitar. Mike had been pestering us for a while to join and as some of the ideas Lee had for the new album were needing a bigger sound, we decided to give him a shot. Having just auditioned drummers and found Des we couldn’t really be arsed with auditioning again for a guitarist so we just told Mike to come down and if it worked he was in, simple as that. It does sound fuckin huge now too and Mike’s got the rhythm side of things nailed. I guess what they’ve brought to the band, as well as their playing, is some new enthusiasm cos the rest of us are pretty jaded haha.
Playing shows sporadically around shit island to a rabid audience of people who actually “get it” must make up for those that don’t get it? Are people afraid of the Hip Priests? Songs like the last 12″ (‘No Time’) left the listener in no doubt about how you view what’s going on here in 2018 is the album going to be songs of a similar vein?
Oz– Haha, I’d rather play to a bigger rabid audience, to be honest, but garage/punk ain’t ever been a big hit in the UK really has it? Rather than being scared of us, I think most people are still oblivious to us as, despite everything we’ve done, we’re still kinda under the radar to most people. The album’s a perfect mix I think, there’s some similar stuff on the state of the UK as well as tunes about wasting yr life playing this stuff, surviving as a band for over 10 years, the narcissism of social media……just no songs about fucking.
Lee– I still think people here especially don’t get us and we’ve never been welcomed into any of the Island’s nepotistic ‘punk rock’ scenes or it’s middle-aged seaside specials. We still exist totally under the radar – and because we’ve always been committed to the idea that we’d never beg or brown nose anyone it’s been a hindrance. But then again, how many other UK underground punk or whatever fucking bands are on their 24th 7” single, 4th album and get invited onto bills with the Hellacopters, etc. “Hey, boys – you can come to Holland all expenses paid and play with RFTC, The Turks and the Hellacopters or play with The Anti Nowhere League in some bogging seaside town?”. Haha. As regards ‘No Time’ being a prelude to the new album. Yeah – I guess it was in a way. It’s pretty fucking dark in many places. I’ve always been socially and politically aware but it wasn’t something I’d really allowed to come into my writing, bar just expressing anger and admittedly worthless negativity but then I got to the point where I simply couldn’t stop it. I could have rattled off 14 songs about the state of the UK but chose to kinda make it snapshots of other things too, none of them very cheery though! Hahaha. From the sociopathic psychos that you might find in any town (actually written the day after meeting some scary bloke in le Pub early this year) to Mainstream brainwashing media, Zombie Social Media, broken relationships, woeful self-medication, etc I imagine it’s sounding like a laugh a minute!
You’ve played with some immense bands over the last few years and taken your blitzkrieg to mainland Europe – is there a different take on what you do over in Europe is there less judgment of a band like The Hip Priests?
Oz– They just understand rock n’ roll better in Europe and support live music in a way that the UK doesn’t. Some of the festival lineups we’ve played on have been ridiculous in terms of bands we love (The Hellacopters, Zeke, RFTC, New Bomb Turks and Nashville Pussy all on the same bill!) and that would never happen in the UK. In fact, you’d be lucky to ever get The Hellacopters or the Turks back in the UK.
The album will be out in early 2019 are there any other plans you can reveal that are being incubated? Tours? Singles?
Oz– A lot depends on who releases it at the moment but there should be another 7” before the end of the year to keep you going and we have a couple of other spare tracks from the album sessions too. We’re working on a run of shows in the UK with Scumbag Millionaire in early 19 too but waiting to see what happens album wise before we confirm it.
Lee – Can I say the word ‘retirement’ again?
The Spasm Gang are a supportive bunch and when the band release a new record they tend to be limited numbers that get hoovered up straight away and when they become available on sites like Discogs they fetch silly money the rabid bunch are around several hundred strong what are the plans to expand that mentalist club and what exclusive goodies have you got in the pipeline for the album.
Oz – Yes, they’re a loveable bunch of nutters and obsessive collectors, pretty much like the band members! There’s actually 200 out there, from Australia to Brazil and everywhere in between, which is pretty amazing for a little band like us. Weirdly enough, we’ve never really pushed it so it’s organically just grown through word of mouth. Yeah, we always do an exclusive SG version of every release for members only, there’ll be one for the album but no idea what it will be yet.
Lee – You liar – I told you my mental new hair-brained idea for the album giveaway in the van the other day! I’m not saying here though! Yeah, the Spasm Gang fucking rule. The loyalty some of them have and effort they make for our little fucking group is sincerely humbling – even for a massive arsehole like me Haha. When people travel around the world to see you it’s pretty mind-blowing…
Lee you write all or most of the material now must be a great time to be Lee Love with such horrible so and so’s in charge of powerful countries and so many people breaking cover with right-wing agendas and racist views it’s like shooting fish in a barrel for you, isn’t it? Would you like to write with anyone else? if you had the chance who would you look to for a helping hand not that you need it obviously but as a vanity project?
Lee- As I said, I could easily have written a whole album on how fucked up, scary, unfair, inequitable and more this nation and the rest of the world is starting to look but tried very hard not to.. I’ve never felt so fucking angry and depressed about it, how much worse it might get and what my son might have to fucking contend with. For this band to have overnight become some kind of agitprop band would have been a step too far.
As regards writing with someone else? I don’t know. Mind you, Oz wrote some lyrics on this one which I then adapted and made fit some tunes and it wasn’t long ago we did the Motherfucking Motherfuckers thing with our Bitch Queen boys but that more turned out that Harry rattled of half the tunes ‘n’ I did the others. Maybe the Priests are my vanity project Haha! It’s what happens somewhere between my ludicrous ego clashing with my crushing self-doubt. Actually, I’ve written a few super Aussieproto punk things recently which I might keep aside for something else for some fun. Perhaps I might sing ‘em too as I did a couple on the MFMFers. I don’t know, many days I just wanna stop and try to be ‘normal’ whatever the fuck that’s meant to mean.
Having played some superb festivals over the last few years and touring with your European boyfriends in Bitch Queens who else is doing it for you musically?
Oz – The Scumbag Millionaire album that’s about to drop is a scorcher for sure and Bitch Queens have a new one on the way too. Grindhouse from Aus are the best garage/punk band I’ve heard in a long, long time and hopefully, they’ll make it over here next year so we can hook up for some shows. I just got the Powerline Sneakers album (ex Bored!) which is fuckin great too.
Lee – I still listen to the same old Scandi/garage/rock ‘n’ roll shit I always did. Grindhouse are my biggest faves in a while – alongside all our mate’s bands like the Queens, Flash House, Rotten Foxes, Deathtraps etc.
Is this the best record you’ve ever made?
Oz – Without a doubt. Best songs, best playing, best production.
Lee – Yes. Everything else we’ve done there’s maybe a tune or lyrics that make me cringe a little. The lyrics on these I’d happily publish. It sounds like us still but I/we tried hard to change things a bit and fuck with arrangements, the usual kind of guitar parts, etc. I hope it’s noticeable! Haha
Who will be the first Hip Priest to record a solo record
Oz – Hopefully, nobody’s that much of a dickhead
Lee – Cheers! That’ll be me then. Haha
Right, it was time to let these two go about their business and with all that news in mind maybe its time to start getting excited about the new album when its released in early 2019. Easily one of the most prolific bands to release records anywhere and the UK should be proud to have them. when they play check em out when they release a record buy it you won’t be disappointed I promise you and if the last single is anything to go by they are getting better and better maybe they’ve gone through puberty and are growing into well-rounded adults… Nah they’re still the filthy – rude – foul mouthed garage punk rock and rollers they ever were its just they know what they’re doing now either that or they do a good job trying. God bless the Hip Priests!