“It’s always so exciting”: The Buoys look back on their golden year

It’s been a golden year,” Zoe Catterall sings in The Buoys’ latest single Gold. And it’s true… with a string of increasingly successful singles and increasingly high-profile live shows under their belts, the past 12 months have been very kind to the Sydney four-piece.

So, shortly before they journey up to Brisbane for their debut BIGSOUND performances, we caught up with the band to chat all about their new single, the evolution of their sound, and those notoriously wild Pist Idiots crowds.

This article appears in print in Happy Mag Issue 13. Pre-order your copy here

Photos: Dani Hansen

They give it their all every time… I think we’re similar in that way. It’s always so exciting“: Before they make their BIGSOUND debut, we chat to The Buoys.

HAPPY: Congratulations on getting the new single out! How does it feel having another one in the bag?

ZOE: It feels good, especially with this one.

Tess: We are all really fond of this song. It was this song that we were working on for a while—it was much slower and had a really different feel to it. Then one rehearsal, we were just fucking around, and we added a dance beat or something. We were like ‘oh my god, this is it‘, then we finished it in that session. We’ve been in love with it since then.

HAPPY: You’ve been releasing stuff pretty consistently. Have you been taking it song by song? Or have you recorded a bunch of songs and are staggering the releases?

ZOE: It’s been an accidental two-part process, with the first part never finishing. We released a few singles that we wanted to be on an EP, but then we recorded these new songs… and we’d just changed so much. Together, on a record, they wouldn’t have suited. So we kind of started from scratch again. We’ll release an EP next year.

COURTNEY: It’s kind of fun just releasing singles.

ZOE: It’s so fun just releasing singles! I don’t really want to release an EP and only have some people listen to all the songs… I want everyone to hear all of them.

HAPPY: So where was the break between these two phases? When did you decide to start again?

ZOE: Let’s see… we did Blues Point Road first, then Arm Wrestle, then Make It Clear… they were supposed to be three singles off a six-track EP. But then the direction of writing changed so much.

TESS: I think we outgrew what we recorded before we released it.

HAPPY: With that change in direction, was it a conscious effort to take the band in a new direction? Or was it a natural evolution?

ZOE: It just happened. We had every intention of finishing off that EP, but then we realised that they didn’t actually suit. We also changed to recording live, then we realised that we’ll never not record live again.

TESS: Also, in the beginning, when we released that EP, we hadn’t been playing live for very long.

ZOE: We’d known each other for two months.

TESS: Eventually we considered ourselves a live band, and we wanted to record in a way that captured that sound.

HAPPY: How did this band come together then? If you only knew each for two months…

ZOE: Well, Tess is still Buoys 2.0. The Buoys have actually been a thing for three years now. It was Shelly (Tuppaware Party) and another one of my mates—we were originally a three-piece. Shelly came in for a little bit, then she went.

HAPPY: Shelly played in The Buoys?

ZOE: Yeah, Shelly wrote Frequently with me. She wrote the second part of the verse. I had written the first line, then got stuck. So she wrote the second line, then I word Diarrhoead the rest. But yeah, The Buoys were a Cronulla band for quite a bit of time. Then I went travelling, the drummer moved to Japan, and when I came back I moved to the inner-west, and that’s when I met Tess. From there, it all changed.

TESS: Hillary is the newest member. How long do you reckon you’ve been with us for?

HILLARY: First gig was at the end of May.

ZOE: Woah! It feels like you’ve been with us so much longer.

HILLARY: Well yeah, we’ve played a lot together.

COURTNEY: It’s kind of like going on school camp or something… you get to know each other really well.

HAPPY: Yeah, you’ve been touring pretty extensively for a while now. How’s that been?

COURTNEY: We’ve been having a nice little break actually.

ZOE: Yeah, we haven’t had this many weeks off in ages. We made a rule ages ago that we would only accept gigs playing for bands we really liked, or those can’t-say-no gigs. Then those gigs just kept coming up, so we kept saying yes. I don’t care how tired I am.

HAPPY: Any bands you’ve been particularly stoked to play with?

ZOE: Personally, Body Type.

TESS: The Garden! I love The Garden.

ZOE: Shannon & The Clams.

COURTNEY: DZ Deathrays.

ZOE: Oh yeah, I love playing with DZ.

COURTNEY: And they’re just the nicest guys ever.

TESS: Actually, Pist Idiots are really the best to play with. They have such great crowds.

COURTNEY: Oh yeah… Melbourne (laughs).

HAPPY: What’s the story with Melbourne?

ZOE: That was scary. We were the opener, the room was packed, and people were chanting between songs. We even got full chants for an encore… as an opener. The room was just flopping from side to side.

COURTNEY: The monitors on stage were rocking.

TESS: The thing that really kicked it off for us was the Peter Bibby tour.

ZOE: Oh yes, that was our first tour!

TESS: I hadn’t done anything like that before, and realising that these people are super nice and that they want to talk to you and support you… it was super nice. We toured with them and Buddy Dingo. When Peter Bibby pulls a good crowd, they’re a fucking good crowd.

ZOE: He’ll just keep playing.

HAPPY: Yeah, he played one of our most recent mag launches, and it was absolute madness.

ZOE: Yeah, I remember that night. It was crazy. With those three bands… Bibby, DZ, and Pisties, they all have the same attitude. They never view it as ‘just another show’, they give it their all every time. I think we’re similar in that way. It’s always so exciting.

HAPPY: So you do manage to maintain that energy, even at the end of a gnarly tour?

ZOE: Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I have had instances where I’ve been so exhausted… but the second you get on stage it completely changes. It’s impossible to stay down.

TESS: These next few months are going to be tough. Maybe ask us again at the end of October.

ZOE: Yeah, because we’ve got this tour, then straight up to BIGSOUND, then we’ll disappear for a few weeks, then we’re back off touring around the country with DZ Deathrays.

HAPPY: Yeah BIGSOUND’s coming up real hot! Are you excited?

TESS: Oh yes! I don’t think we expected anything or felt like we deserved anything, but we really wanted this one. Then one day I had like 20 missed calls from Zoe…

ZOE: It was actual torture. I couldn’t get onto Tess, and I was calling and calling and calling. Then, when I finally got onto here, there was no reception. I was running around the house in my undies, then I was like ‘fuck it’, so I ran onto the street to get reception and screamed ‘we’re going to BIGSOUND!’

HAPPY: Are there any other bands you’re really keen to see up there?

ZOE: I’m really keen to see Pinch Points.

TESS: I really wanna see Teen Jesus & The Jean Teasers.

ZOE: I’m also really keen to see what Tones & I’s setup is like. She is blowing up.

Catch The Buoys performing live at BIGSOUND at the following dates:

Tuesday, September 3rd – The Outpost, Fortitude Valley – 9:40pm
Wednesday, September 4th – Crowbar Black, Fortitude Valley – 8:00pm

More info here.