What does Perth sound like?

Vin, from Hideous Sun Demon. @harry_bowman

Vin, from Hideous Sun Demon. @harry_bowman

Harry Bowman

Harry Bowman

Vin, from Hideous Sun Demon. @harry_bowman

Kristy Clark, ECU Reporter

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Dave Warner, the musician behind the 1978 song Suburban Boy, once said that “Whatever Seattle was to the US, Perth was to Australia.”

The city of Seattle, which fostered the likes of Nirvana and Soundgarden, shares a common theme with Perth, being far away from the larger cities of its nation that are considered to be the ‘cultural hubs’. In our case, Sydney and Melbourne.

While Warner might have said this about bands of the ’70s and ’80s, Perth still is home to many emerging acts gaining popularity both over east and internationally, cultivating a music culture that is uniquely Perth.

Dr Laura Glitsos, Adjunct Postdoctoral Fellow at Curtin University, who also works as a professional vocalist, took a particular interest in the matter, dedicating research to the rise and fall of women in Perth music, from the late 1950s to the early 1970s.

Dr Glistos told ECU Daily that: “Perth is often framed as ‘having a sound’ in the wider Australian discourse, especially with the rise of ’70s inspired psych-rock in the past few years.

“The Perth industry is so wildly diverse and produces so many great bands emerging from various genres, ranging from metal to folk to blues to country to pop and so on.”

When asked about the incentive to stay in Perth, Dr Glistos said: “It is a viable and popular career choice for many artists.”

“The ‘moving to Melbourne’ ethos has been challenged by the choice to remain in Perth instead,” she said.

“Perth artists are finding that Perth is an international hotspot for creative activity and are focusing on diversifying their portfolio, that is; collaborating on different projects, playing across a range of acts, using networks to integrate music with other creative endeavours, like installations or different kinds of live shows and so forth.

“Despite some challenges, Perth is a sensational city for live music and the insane amount of talent we produce is really a testament to that fact.”

RTR DJ and ECU academic, James Hall, told ECU Daily that: “I think being based in Melbourne certainly makes it easier, and cheaper, for bands to tour.

“From Perth, it’s an expensive endeavour to play shows on the east coast, based in Melbourne is much easier to head to Sydney, Brisbane and such.

“When it comes to touring, which has always been crucial in bands developing their sound and fanbase, being based in Melbourne makes life easier and people more accessible. ”

However, Hall remains faithful:

“Distribution is digital, production is digital, the same hindrances aren’t there anymore. There’s a surprisingly vibrant and diverse music scene in Perth right now”, he said.

One of the Perth bands making waves in the local scene and elsewhere, are Freo locals, Hideous Sun Demon.

Hideous Sun Demon describe themselves as “Novelty Spy Rock”. It’s not hard to understand what this might mean once you’ve witnessed one of their gigs.

Possessing the energy of a jackrabbit and stamina of the likes of which you have never seen before, the band is an impressively captivating live act.

ECU Daily caught up with the band’s bassist, Jake Suriano, to discuss Perth and its nuances.

When asked about his opinion of the ‘Perth Sound’, Suriano relayed that: “There was a psych wave with Tame Impala and Pond popping off.

“I’ve also noticed younger bands coming up now influenced by that stuff.

“There also seems to be a lot of strummy garage stuff. I guess garage and punk have always been popular here given its simplicity to start playing.”

A common occurrence of Perth musicians is cross-pollination through several bands. Musicians will commonly feature in one or more acts, often on the same night at the same venue.

Along with Hideous Sun Demon, Suriano has played extensively in the alternative/indie rock band, Kitchen People.

He accredits the repetition of talent to the small, isolated nature of Perth.

“Everyones knows everyone after a few months of playing.

“It’s quite a nice, friendly community. I guess our smaller music scene forces bands to share members.

“It’s super fun to try different instruments and styles if you have the time to commit to multiple projects,” he said.

Angelique Tuffnell is a young, avid gig-goer and music reviewer, she told ECU Daily about her love of live music and why it makes her tick.

“I make the time to go to gigs because the feeling of live music isn’t something that can be replicated at home – you miss out on the between-songs banter, the thumping feel of bass and drums reverberating your sternum and all of the happy accidents that happen on the fly.

“With the Perth scene as thriving as it is right now, there’s the added benefit of potential bragging rights. Being able to tell your grandkids that you “saw Tame Impala before they made it” is a worthwhile story.”

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What does Perth sound like?