Downhill luge, psychedelics, and fuzz pedals from the ’70s: Holy Serpent and Earth Tongue have a chat

In case you missed it, this May Melbourne’s doom preachers Holy Serpent are joining forces with Wellington-based stoner duo Earth Tongue. Two huge bands riding a three date stretch together… we can’t wait.

In the lead-up to these gargantuan shows, we pitted the bands against each other for a chat.

Holy Serpent

Big riffs, new tunes, trade secrets: before Earth Tongue and Holy Serpent set Australia on fire with a joint tour, we hook the pair up for a chat.

Earth Tongue interviews Holy Serpent

EARTH TONGUE: You guys have been an active band in Melbourne for a few years now – what’s the most memorable/weird/awesome situation you’ve found yourselves in at a live show?

HOLY SERPENT: Hmmm that’s a tough one, it’s all been weird thats for sure. Lols. We did learn early on that using psychedelics before playing live makes it a little too weird. As for memorable, supporting Acid King at the Northcote Social Club a couple of years ago was pretty cool. They’re a band that each of us has liked for quite a while. Touring in New Zealand last year was awesome too. That was with Brant Bjork and his band, the shows were great and we got to do a fair bit of sight seeing… visiting Rotarua and going on the downhill luge track they have there was super fun. We cant wait to go back there, even if it’s just for more luging.

EARTH TONGUE: To us Wellingtonians, Melbourne seems like a pretty amazing city for music. How is the scene at the moment for heavy/slow/fuzzy stuff? Any good new bands you can recommend?

HOLY SERPENT: Well yes Melbourne is a very amazing city for music, the heavy music scenes of any sub genre has a solid fan base here, which is awesome. There is some great slower heavy stuff happening all the time. Some newer bands that have gotten my attention lately, to name a few, are Religious Observance, Spawn, and Pseudo Mind Hive.

EARTH TONGUE: You guys have been working on a new record – can you tell us anything about the new tunes? Has much changed in your sound since Temples?

HOLY SERPENT: We have been working hard writing the new album. The songs are sounding great and the whole thing is slowly coming together. We will be playing a few new ones to kind of road test them a bit. See how we like the feel of them played live. As far as direction goes, the new songs are a bit more direct and have more energy. A few more hooks going on and such. Definitely heaps of sick riffs though.

EARTH TONGUE: We’re just about to record our debut full length album. Can you give us any wise wise words before going into the studio? What’s the secret to the sick tone on your recordings? Any pedal tips?

HOLY SERPENT: Good to hear! Well all I can say is if the tones sound right to you, then it is! Forget what some other schmuck says. Other than that… err, play good? I dunno. Pedal tips? I think I’m using mine wrong, you don’t want tips from me on that. As for secrets, they stay that way!

EARTH TONGUE: What’s your favourite album from the 1970s?

HOLY SERPENT: Hmm, one favourite album, from the ’70s, you sly fox you. Everyone knows there was no good music made in the ’70s. Nice try.

EARTH TONGUE: Do you blaze before or after a live show?

HOLY SERPENT: Why, are you a cop? No comment. This interview is over!

earth tongue
Photo: Lily West

Holy Serpent interviews Earth Tongue

HOLY SERPENT: How did you come up with the name Earth Tongue and what does it mean?

EARTH TONGUE: An Earth Tongue is a kind of mushroom that looks like a tiny black tongue coming up through the dirt. They’re pretty awesome. Gussie came up with the name years ago when she was trying to name her other band, which ended up being called Mermaidens. She saved the Earth Tongue Bandcamp profile for safe keeping, so when we started talking about starting this band it seemed pretty obvious. There’s no deeper meaning, we just feel it goes well with the band’s retro sci-fi aesthetic and looks good on a t-shirt – what more can you ask for in a band name?

HOLY SERPENT: What is Wellington like to live in and what’s the music scene like? Do you play there often?

EARTH TONGUE: Wellington is great. Gussie grew up here, and I moved here to go to uni about seven years ago. It’s a really chill, walkable city surrounded by really beautiful coastline. Everyone talks about the shitty weather, but it really isn’t that bad.

The music scene is tiny but really passionate and varied. The city is so small that there’s only a few bands for each genre – I could probably only name one or two other bands doing the heavy psych thing like we are. This means the shows we play here are often part of a mixed bill with indie bands and electronic acts which keeps everyone pretty open minded. I think it’s a pretty special music scene that generates some really amazing and unique bands. Some of our favourite Wellington bands: The All Seeing Hand, Orchestra of Spheres, Hans Pucket, Womb, Unsanitary Napkin.

HOLY SERPENT: You both have other bands that you are in, tell us a bit about them?

EARTH TONGUE: Gussie’s other band is Mermaidens, a dreamy three-piece psych/post punk band who released their second LP last year on Flying Nun Records. They’re doing great things in the NZ scene and working on their third record at the moment which will be out next year. Ezra also plays in Onono, a reasonably new five-piece psych-pop band, which started as the bedroom project of frontman Jonathan Nott. They’re gaining some good traction in NZ too. They just released an EP and will hopefully be coming to play in Aus in the not-to-distant future!

HOLY SERPENT: What is the strangest musical equipment that you guys have messed around on?

EARTH TONGUE: Hmmm… that’s a hard one. I have a pretty strange 1970s fuzz pedal called a Royal Double Effects Machine RFC-1. Even though I’ve played in several heavy bands over the past few years I’ve still never actually found a use for it because the tone is so utterly brutal. It gets you right down in the pit of your soul. Maybe we’ll test it out on this tour

HOLY SERPENT: What can fans expect from these upcoming shows in Australia, what will you be playing and do you have any new music coming out?

EARTH TONGUE: While we’re over in Melbourne we’ll be recording our debut full length album so we’ll have plenty of new material to showcase. Expect a positively disorientating set of huge riffs, delicate melodies, otherworldly hooks and sick outfits.


Grab all the details for the upcoming Holy Serpent and Earth Tongue tour below.

May 5 – Bar Open, Melbourne – Details
May 11 – Sooki Lounge, Belgrave – Details
May 12 – The Edinburgh Castle Hotel, Adelaide – Details