As they gear up to headline River Sounds festival 2022, we chat to Regurgitator about their epic return to live shows, and new music on the horizon: “I still pinch myself. We are so lucky.”
Back bigger and better than ever, Regurgitator are set to headline the long-awaited return of River Sounds festival this year. The legendary Aussie rockers have spent the first half of 2022 touring across the country, celebrating the 25th Anniversary of their aria-winning album, TuPlang.
Aside from taking Covid-related hiatuses that began in 2019, the group have embarked on a number of new creative ventures since we last caught up with them, including launching a children’s album, travelling around the globe, and writing new music for a forthcoming record.
Now, ahead of their headline performance at River Sounds festival next Saturday (20 August), we sat down with bassist, Ben Eli and frontman, Quan Yeomans to chat all about Regurgitator’s “magical” return to live shows post-Covid, teenage nostalgia evoked by ’80s rock, the joys of embracing your inner child, and new music on the horizon.
HAPPY: River Sounds kicks off pretty soon. How’s it feel to finally be taking the stage at the festival after three false starts thanks to Covid?
BEN: It’s funny hey? Post-Covid, you kind of expect no shows to happen, so when they do, it feels like some kind of magical dream where everything goes right and you did remember to put your pants on when you left the house… and you did actually fly and not fall from the sky.
QUAN: I feel like pretty much everyone else whose plans have been dicked around by a bunch of really aggressive tiny guys with overbearing small-man complexes. Very glad that these social luxuries I may have previously taken for granted are once again available to partake in.
HAPPY: ’90s nostalgia is very much alive in the music scene right now. You’ve mentioned in the past that Unit was your favourite out of the three records you guys launched during that era. It’s gone on to be an absolute timeless classic, with a lot of emerging bands in Australia embracing that sound in new releases right now. What’s your favourite thing about that era of alt-rock? Is it exciting to see up-and-coming acts revisit that sound?
BEN: I do look back very with fond memories of that time in our lives. The sounds of that time definitely had a great energy about it. Distorted guitars, fast beats and stage diving was still a thing. Then we shifted our direction with Unit and consciously went for an 80’s vibe. We were teenagers in the 80’s so that sound for us is a romantic dream trip for sure. It’s a style everyone loves. All that money and cocaine that went into producing some timeless classics resonate with the young and old. What’s not to love about that era?
QUAN: I did enjoy the commitment to shitty snare sounds and comfortable stage attire…I love seeing the unbridled energy young artists bring to the scene and Baker Boy rules! Playing again recently I’ve realised how lovely it is to reconnect with old faces and sounds from the past. I totally get the nostalgia trip. It’s a bittersweet indulgence to enjoy as you get older. All the people you stepped on to get to the top, smiling and waving as you slip back down the ladder passing them on your way back into the infernal abyss of obscurity.
HAPPY: You took a new creative direction in 2019, with the launch of a children’s album, The Really Really Really Really Boring Album. What inspired that decision to start writing music for kids?
BEN: As a band, we all have kids. We wrote a lot of songs with our kids, and I guess the album was a vehicle to drive all those songs around in – go to the park, visit Nana, go to the cafe etc. It’s not something we intend to do forever, it was a moment in time I guess. It was a super fun project though, inventing all the characters and fully embracing our juvenile child state was hilarious. As older gentlemen, that’s a super fun thing to do for sure.
QUAN: I believe we all came to the realisation that we were all really really really really bored and also dads. Kids music seemed like a natural conclusion.
HAPPY: You guys celebrated the 25th Anniversary of your aria-winning album, TuPlang this year, playing shows across Australia. How does it feel playing those tracks live today?
BEN: Oh yes! That was sooooo much fun! Music has the strange ability to teleport you back in time.
QUAN: It reminds me of how unapologetically noisy my youth workplace was. Endless amounts of shouting and excessive use of distortion. In many ways performing the old records is like playing dress-ups and pretending to be your younger, more belligerent self. It’s invigorating!
HAPPY: Do you still feel connected to them in the same way you did when you wrote them?
BEN: Physically playing and singing those songs take me back to that period in my life. All the thoughts and feelings come flooding back… memories of lost loves and overwhelming emotions take over when performing that record for sure. Like looking through an old photo album that’s hard-wired into your brain without any trigger warnings.
QUAN: Yes and no. It’s a strange snapshot of your own brain at a very different time in life. You’re reminded of how it used to respond – its once desperate speed of operation and frightening needs. Occasionally I feel like I’m covering a stranger’s music, like, what is this shit, who wrote this and why?? Mostly I’m just grateful to be able to continue to do such a surrealistic and fun job.
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HAPPY: Is there any new music in the works?
BEN: Funny you mention that. We are writing and recording our first album in years. It’s been really great to have a break through the past few years of covid. It actually makes you really appreciate being in a band and doing what we do. We have been so so lucky to have this band. We have a lot of gratitude for all the people who have supported us over the years and allow us to do what we do for a living. I still pinch myself. We are so lucky.
QUAN: Yes. We are chipping away. We recently had a short recording session up in Queensland which was a nice way to get back in the saddle before falling out again and snapping some vital ligaments. I must say, I am absolutely thrilled to be playing in Bellingen. It’s a beautiful town and munching on a malawach from Zaatar on the river bank, followed by a visit to the Bellingen Gelato Bar last summer count as a memory I’d be happy to repeat over and over again!
HAPPY: Thanks for chatting!
River Sounds three-day music festival kicks off next week, August 19–21, at Bellingen Showgrounds in NSW. Grab your tickets here.
RIVER SOUNDS MAIN STAGE
ALEX THE ASTRONAUT
TEEN JESUS & THE JEAN TEASERS
THE GOOD LOVE
THE LAZY EYES
THE STAINED DAISIES
Interviewed by Amy Davidson.
Photos by Amy Halpin Imagery.