It was back in 2017, with the release of An EP Called Night, that we were first introduced to the gritty and gut-wrenching sounds of Society Of Beggars. The Melbourne outfit have since gigged relentlessly around the country, building themselves as one of the Aussie live circuit’s most consistently hard-hitting bands.
With the release of their latest single God Mode, the group have shown no signs of slowing down—no signs of even considering it. The new single, which has arrived alongside a gloomy and enigmatic new video, sees the band at the their most passionate and explosive. They stomp through their signature concoction of searing post-rock instrumentation and resonant, baritone vocals to deliver something trully spell-binding.
So fresh off the track’s release, we caught up with the band to chat all about it, old-school video games, and the prospect of starting a cult.
With an epic new video for God Mode fresh under their belts, we caught up with Melbourne-based outfit Society Of Beggars for a chat.
HAPPY: Hey, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?
SOCIETY OF BEGGARS: Hey, I’m not too bad, thanks. I’m preparing for our God Mode tour in November, which for me, involves a lot of meditating and pacing around my house, in equal measure. Monologuing in the bathroom mirror. Smoke in mouth. Gun in hand. That sort of thing. Psyching myself up for it, Hunger Games style. Really, it’s all a bit nerve-wracking because we are beginning to build up a little awareness to what we are doing and people are telling us, very eloquently, that they feel a very real and deep connection to our songs. So, we want to show respect for that. They’ve taken the time to follow what we’ve been doing and come to our gigs, so we’re focused on giving that energy back to them in our live show. I remember a dude from another band, after seeing how bummed we were following a particularly shitty set, telling me we were ‘taking it all too seriously’, he was kind of right and trying to cheer me up, but that’s also part of what we do. We take the whole fuckin’ thing seriously. Not ourselves or most other aspects of human adult life. But music, definitely.
HAPPY: We’ve been loving God Mode! How does it feel having the track out there in the world?
SOCIETY OF BEGGARS: Thanks so much, that means a lot. You guys did a write-up for our last EP that was really beautiful and articulately written. I was in Adelaide with probably about 38 members of my close family when it came out. We were all buzzing, so thanks for that. It feels weird and strange and beautiful to have the song out, you never know how people are going to take something, you know? When we wrote it, we were demoing in our little cocoon at our drummer, Dibi’s home studio, if it sounded alright, we’d all go outside, get fucked up and listen to it with his dog. So, I count my blessings that’s it’s come out in real life and sounds good to non-dog ears as well. I’ve definitely learnt to let things happen and bear my scars and all that, so doing that and having people feel it and reciprocate it so deeply is really satisfying.
HAPPY: Could you tell us a bit about the song?
SOCIETY OF BEGGARS: I was in a zone at the time. Which happens to all of us, one way or the other. Some of us for the rest of our lives. Other than that, I think it’s the listener who takes the most meaning away from it. It was my brother and our guitar player, Jim, who came up with the title God Mode. It’s a cheat code from nineties gaming culture, and I think an effort to maybe comfort and strengthen me after our dad passed away. A lot of people who don’t understand gaming complain about it, but for us as brothers, it’s a warm nostalgic thing, not some anti-social, anti-going-outside bullshit that people try to pin on it. Commander Keen, Doom and shit. A lot of that 90’s gaming influence is in this next album that we are doing. That and we were also listening to a lot of the Aussie band, God, around the time of writing.
HAPPY: The video is incredible too! Could you walk us through how that came together? Who was involved?
SOCIETY OF BEGGARS: Thank you. It was exhilarating to have this thing come out that is like a real shot in the arm, as far as looking and feeling different to the other videos we have done. That’s all down to Bridget Mackey, our director, at first I wasn’t sure about having all my dancing in there but she made me feel comfortable and gave me the confidence to let it all out. She paired it with beautiful videography from Aaron Farrugia and an awesome performance from Kasey Gambling, our actor. My ma told me on the phone the other day she thinks my dancing is a mix of ‘Traditionalist Rock Frontman’ and ‘Drunk Greek Man at a Wedding’. Which makes sense, from my upbringing, watching them all dance. She’s got more insight into it than me. I was a spaced-out kid. Still am.
HAPPY: How did you approach the writing/recording of this new track differently to past material? If at all…
SOCIETY OF BEGGARS: The biggest change is having our bassist, Nicoli, who joined the band in 2016, be a part of the songwriting and arrangement process. She’s got a great way of knowing when stuff works and when it doesn’t. Just having her sort of say to us, ‘Hey this part is a bit lame’ makes us go back and revise it, almost always to something better. When we were writing, it was totally just for us. We weren’t thinking, okay this one will be the single or anything. We were just trying to get through a tough time together. After my dad passed, I truly wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it without him here, so, having the band to work through all of that with and being able to come out on the other side with something original and unique to us was liberating. To me, that’s how you help create a new counter-culture in Rock n’ Roll music, letting your listeners hear that real shit with real feeling. Even it makes you uncomfortable. That is true alternative music.
HAPPY: Is this going to be a stand-along single? Or is it a taste of more to come?
SOCIETY OF BEGGARS: I don’t like being wasteful with any parts we’ve written, so it’s usually been the business of getting six songs ready for a six-track EP or whatever. This time around we ended up with close to forty different demos for what will probably become a ten-track album, so there’s a lot to choose from. God Mode is the first taste but there’s plenty more to come. A lifetime’s worth of agony for our haters.
HAPPY: Are there any other artists you’re really loving at the moment?
SOCIETY OF BEGGARS: I’m a music obsessive. At any one time I have about 58 different songs playing inside different tabs in my head at once. I’m constantly making playlists. I’ll make you one. Do you want me to make you one? I can. Aside from all the awesome artists that will be playing with us over the next few months, I’ve been listening to a lot of old gospel music, Danny Brown, The Black Crowes, Deftones, Talk Talk, Michael Kiwanuka, Little Simz. I’m one of those people who can literally stay up with anybody all night discussing any kind of music. Seriously. Let’s hang.
HAPPY: What else is coming up for Society of Beggars? Any other exciting plans in the works?
SOCIETY OF BEGGARS: We keep working until we gain a cult-like following or become an actual cult. Whichever comes first.
HAPPY: Cheers for the chat!
SOCIETY OF BEGGARS: Thanks so much, appreciate it.
God Mode is available now. Watch the video above.
Catch Society Of Beggars live at any of the following dates:
More info here.