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Amyl and the Sniffers perform in The Current studio

Amyl and the Sniffers – studio session at The Current (music + interview) The Current
  Play Now [9:54]

by Mac Wilson

October 06, 2022

Ahead of their show at First Avenue in Minneapolis, Australian punk-rock band Amyl and the Sniffers visited The Current studio for a session hosted by Mac Wilson. They played two songs from their latest album, Comfort to Me, after starting with a cut from their 2019 self-titled release. After the music, the band spoke with Mac Wilson about how they spent their time during pandemic-related lockdowns, and the approach they take to keeping their sets lively and fresh every night.

Watch and listen to the full session above, and read a transcript below.

Interview Transcript

Mac Wilson: Hello friends, my name is Mac Wilson, I'm from The Current, and I'm in The Current studio with Amyl and the Sniffers, all the way from Melbourne, Australia. Thank you for coming in today. 

Amy Taylor: Hello.

Mac Wilson: I was looking at what you're going to be up to in the next couple of weeks or months and you're on a bill with the Beths, and then Paul Kelly. Paul Kelly is not a name that's familiar to I think 99.9% of Americans. And he's apparently a very, very beloved figure in Australia. So can you try to contextualize the importance of this particular guy?

Dec Martens: I guess like he's folky, folk-rocky, sort of Australian....

Fergus Romer: Australia's Neil Young.

Dec Martens: Yeah, that's a good way of putting it. Yeah.

Fergus Romer: Pretty much.

Mac Wilson: Okay. I was trying to put in my head like whether he'd be like a Bruce Springsteen, but a Neil Young. Okay, that's that's a good way of putting it.

Fergus Romer: Is he more Springsteen? I don't know.

Bryce Wilson: Yeah, more Neil Young than Springsteen.

Dec Martens: I would say he's more Neil Young.

Amy Taylor: That's true.

Fergus Romer: Like, he's the guy.

Mac Wilson: So are you going to gear your set in any particular way when you're playing with somebody who's as massive as him in a couple of weeks?

Bryce Wilson: Not at all. 

Fergus Romer: Not one little bit. No, we just do what we do. That's all we can do.

Amyl and the Sniffers perform in The Current studio
Amyl and the Sniffers performing in The Current studio on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
Erik Stromstad | MPR

Mac Wilson: So it was great watching your performance a couple of minutes ago as you went through three songs like back to back to back, and the name of the last song that you played was "Guided By Angels" and it reminded me of the experience of seeing Guided by Voices live, where it's just one song after another; it's like everything is planned out and it's completely effortless going from one song to the next. When you put together your setlist for any given night, do you kind of plan it to go exactly seamless, or do you try to shake things up as you go along?

Amy Taylor: I try and write a setlist new every night, which I think the boys get a bit sick of, but I like the variety because when we're playing the same setlist every night, I feel like a bit like a dancing monkey or something, so it's fun to shake it up. But I try and just, I don't know, it feels almost mathematically fun, like when you can get it in the right order, you're like "Ooh, that feels good." And we usually do it in blocks of three, then have little break, drink break, say g'day. Blocks of three, and the reason we do that is just because someone really early said, "You should play in blocks of three," and we thought, "All right let's try that." Now we just don't do anything else.

Mac Wilson: That's really fun, because here on The Current every year on Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, we do Block Rockin' Weekend where we play three-song sets of The Current artists, and that's basically how you plot out your set, so we'll have to keep that in mind as we do Block Rockin' Weekends from here on out.

Amy Taylor: Yes, please.

Mac Wilson: Another bit of slang: What does "gacked" mean? 

Amy Taylor: Um, "gacked" is like a term when you've had too many drugs, usually like amphetamines or ecstasy, and you start, like, gurning and your eyes get all [clucks tongue]. So it's pretty much, yeah, the sensation of being like extremely high, I suppose. So "Gacked on Anger" is basically saying you're, you know, so angry, like, "Come on, yeah!" You're almost excited, because you're just like, I don't know, when you get that much adrenaline when you're pissed off, you kind of just feel like doing crazy stuff.

Mac Wilson: So it seems that every artist who comes in lately, it's kind of like asking, "What did you do on your summer vacation?" It's like, "So, how did you spend the coronavirus pandemic?" So apparently all of you were in the same location, the same house together and you were able to do a lot of work together. Can you walk us through what that experience was like?

Dec Martens: Yeah. Well, we were living together just before the pandemic started. And yeah, when the coronavirus hit, that's when the nightmare started, I guess. But yeah, I guess like, you know, we had strict laws about like, who you could see or when you could go out or whatever. So we kind of had it as an advantage that we were living together, that we were able to work together. We had a storage unit not far from our house; I think it was within the five-kilometer radius that we were allowed to be in. And that's where we wrote Comfort to Me, in there; the album. So yeah, we didn't do any writing at home. It wasn't like that. We're not the Grateful Dead, you know? We're not. We don't do that shit.

Amy Taylor: But as well, I feel like, so we had lots of lockdowns. So, I think we had maybe like six or seven? So in the lockdowns, usually we didn't do any writing, and then in between, we'd be writing. So we had a lot of time just sitting on our hands, doing whatnot. Like, the boys played a bit of — what game were you playing on the...?

Dec Martens: FIFA.

Amy Taylor: FIFA, they played a lot of FIFA. I took up reading; I never really read a book before, and now I read all the time. And we'd just watch crap on YouTube. So there was a lot of idle time as well. We can't paint the illusion that we were working hard the whole time.

Mac Wilson: When you hear Americans talk about lockdown, you've got to think that we're kind of ridiculous when we say “lockdown” because it's not the same thing as it was in Europe or Australia. So was this literally, like, you could not leave your house, or only for like certain amounts of time a day?

Amy Taylor: Yeah, you couldn't leave more than... for a lot of the lockdowns, you couldn't leave more than five kilometers from your house. You couldn't leave for more than an hour a day. Eight p.m. curfew; if you're caught out at eight, then you had to like, prove where you're going or whatever. Yeah, so that was what happened a fair bit.

Mac Wilson: So you've had the record under your belt for about a year now. And as you're debuting it still, a lot of these songs for the very first time for a lot of these cities that you're playing in, I was gonna say, what are the ways that you keep it fresh, but by mixing up the setlist every night, that seems to be one of the ways. Do you feel like you're already planning for the new record, or are you just kind of finding yourself with the one that you just put out? 

Amy Taylor: I think the latter. We haven't done much writing or any thinking, not much thinking either. So we've just been celebrating Comfort to Me and playing it live, and I think we're still having fun doing that and seeing people's reactions to that. So this year is kind of just dedicated to having fun playing it live and being out in the world. And then next year, we'll put our heads into writing some more things, I suppose.

Mac Wilson: We are here in The Current studio with Amyl and the Sniffers. Thank you for stopping in today and chatting about your music and what you've been up to.

Amy Taylor: Thank you. Thanks for having us.

Mac Wilson interviews Amyl and the Sniffers
Mac Wilson interviews Amyl and the Sniffers — left to right, Fergus Romer, Bryce Wilson, Amy Taylor and Dec Martens — in The Current studio on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
Erik Stromstad | MPR

Fergus Romer: Appreciate it.

Mac Wilson: Cheers.

Songs played

00:00:00 Gacked on Anger
00:01:58 Maggot
00:04:49 Guided By Angels

Song 1 is from Amyl and the Sniffers’ 2019 self-titled album; songs 2 and 3 are from the band’s 2021 release, Comfort To Me, both albums released in the United States on ATO Records.

Band members

Amy Taylor – vocals
Dec Martens – guitar
Fergus Romer – bass
Bryce Wilson – drums


Guests – Amyl and the Sniffers
Host – Mac Wilson
Producer – Derrick Stevens
Video Director – Erik Stromstad
Camera Operators – Erik Stromstad, Peter Ecklund
Audio – Eric Xu Romani
Graphics – Natalia Toledo
Digital Producer – Luke Taylor

Amyl and the Sniffers - official site