It’s almost Winter in Australia, and to me, that can only mean two things: Rat season and Rat Columns. When I think of rats I think of the cold climate in England. When I see photos of Rat Columns’ front man, David West in black and white, I can’t help but draw similarities to Ian Curtis circa 1979.
Slow-fi post-punk music from Rat Columns is perfect music for drowning out the sound of the actual rats in your roof this winter.
Rat Columns is a solo project by Perth’s undermined music man, West who likes to stay in San Francisco for long periods of time. He now settles in Melbourne but is not so new to the Australian scene. You might have heard the cool echo that is his voice when listening to either Australian punk outfits, Rank, Xerox or seen him perform in Total Control. Lately in his spare time, West has played around with another Australian band, Lace Curtain before touring the States.
West has a baritone voice which is both deep and hypnotic. His songwriting is ridden with imagery of desolated streets in Melbourne and boardwalks in San Fran, which equals to perfect music for the winter season as you leave work for home on a Tuesday evening.
I have a feeling that even my bad dancing skills can be looked over if I claim to be doing the Ian Curtis epilepsy dance while listening to Darkness* by Rat Columns. This song is coupled with bold drumbeat, blown out guitar strumming and distorted mummers of relaxing hum.
West himself has said that he wants his music to sound sad and happy, bittersweet. Having been in a number of heavy bands before, he wanted Rat Columns to sound more intimate and veered his sound towards finding a happy medium between miserable and cheerful.
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West likes winter bands, The Smiths, My Bloody Valentine and The Cure, but doesn’t seem to be plagued with various troubles and 80’s doubt like these ensembles were. West is more into pop songs, so he says. He claims that a ‘soft vibe’ comes to him naturally because he is unable to rock, although I might beg to differ.
Rat Columns is home-grown yet musically fluid in they way that it can take you to different spaces depending on the chosen song and the time and place you choose to play it. Right now, I’m playing Rat Columns in my apartment to drown out the sound of real life rats in my roof, and it’s doing just the right job.
This winter, head across the Tasman to Hobart’s Dark Mofo Festival on the 21st of June to catch a unique solo set from West, alongside the rest of the festival’s lineup Client Liason, Colin Stetson and The Julie Ruin.
*We literally couldn’t find this track anywhere. We think it might have been removed or something – which sucks because it sounds awesome!
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