These New South Wales on nipple tape, astrology and Iggy Pop

Various members of These New South Wales are sitting around a café table. It’s BIGSOUND and as we talk, they, well mostly leading man Jamie, talk about the band, its history, its influences and where it’s all going. Key takeaways from this conversation are that TNSW are a group striving for longevity, their second album coming out in November and no, they aren’t doing the nipple tape anymore.

At BIGSOUND 2019, we sat down with These New South Whales to chat about their upcoming record, and why they retired they nipple tape.

HAPPY: What drives you as artists?

JAMIE: Well, as an artist you just want to make – create – stuff, right? So the driver is just to keep [creating stuff]. If I feel I’ve spent time not doing that, it doesn’t take very long before I feel dejected and anxious. It’s just about making stuff. And for us playing shows is the most fun thing that we can do so we gotta keep making [recordings] so we can keep doing that really fun thing and taking it to crowds.

TODD: And to keep changing, not just doing the same old tricks and keep innovating in terms of what we play, what happens in the live show or in terms of what TV content we create.

HAPPY: Some of you come from an acting background, right?

JAMIE: I’ve done some acting and Luke, who used to be in the band, had done some acting as well. Frank, who is a new addition and is the new drummer, has also done some acting.

FRANK: Jamie and I actually met out the front of an audition in 2006.

HAPPY: Was it an, “Oh, this guy looks cool,” kind of thing?

FRANK: Yeah, we just chatted and said hello to each other.

HAPPY: It’s funny sometimes how musicians and other creative people can sniff each other out…

JAMIE: Me and Frank are both Pisces.

FRANK: Our birthdays are one day apart.

HAPPY: Tell me about the astrological compatibility of the band…

JAMIE: There is just a similar kind of soul energy. Would you agree Todd, about Frank and I? We’re different people but it’s a similar sort of soul energy.

TODD: And funnily enough, Luke and my birthdays are a week apart. But we’re different star signs. Luke and I met in a CD shop down in Adelaide. So musicians sniffing each other out, there you go.

HAPPY: I always wonder what will happen when the day comes that there aren’t any CD or record shops for people to meet at anymore….

TODD: They’ll meet in the Instagram comments.

HAPPY: Hey, it could happen!

TODD: But yeah, I don’t know CD shops were a fun way to spend some time. [They were] like bookshops, you’d browse, go in and be like, “I’ll listen to this one please!”

HAPPY: All those covers!

TODD: And you’d see the same CD over and over. You’d be like, “I’ve seen that one a few times, maybe it’s good.”

HAPPY: Tell me a little bit about the band’s common musical tastes. There are some punk elements, some post punk elements, and some rock elements feeding through your work…

JAMIE: I think, yeah, exactly what you just said I reckon…

HAPPY: What kind of influences did you bring into the band when you were starting out?

JAMIE: I would say I was listening to a lot of indie music back at that time. Like, a lot of Pitchfork indie music, that kinda stuff. Todd, you were probably listening to what you always listen to.

TODD: I was listening to punk and metal. We all were listening to different stuff so when we started the band, we didn’t have a specific influence or band that we wanted to sound like.

JAMIE: We wanted to sound like a punk band, but I didn’t even know any punk bands.

TODD: It sort of worked to our advantage because we didn’t know what to copy. I think that’s helped us to create something unique. Well, we like to think so anyway. It’s hard to categorise, like you said.

HAPPY: As a journalist, I think what interests me is bands that have long careers. Sometimes you feel kind of burned when band that comes into your life only to disappear a few years later…

JAMIE: I’ve been in a band like that before, but I think that [These New South Whales] are a band that’s striving for longevity. We’ve never had a period where we’ve spiked really hard and been the Hottest Act in Town sort of thing. It’s been a slow burn for us. We’d just like to continue working, continue touring, try and make things and enjoy every little success as it comes along. Playing BIGSOUND this year is just a good fit for us timing wise. We’ve got a record coming out – which is the first one in three years or something like that. It’s just good to be here in preparation for that. A lot’s happened since we played BIGSOUND last time, we released a TV show and an album, so it’s sort of a good time.

HAPPY: Could you picture yourself still doing it at 60, like Neil Young? Or Iggy Pop?

JAMIE: I could see us making music at 60, I don’t think we’d be making the same kind of music. I, personally, am not interested in being the old rock dog.

HAPPY: Not even like John Farnham or something like that?

JAMIE: John Farnham I like, but Iggy Pop? Ah, I’d like to be Iggy Pop. But I’d put a shirt on if I was him, if my body was sagging like that.

HAPPY: Do you have a favourite Iggy Pop or Iggy and The Stooges record?

JAMIE: I haven’t really listened to that much Iggy Pop though The Idiot jumps to mind.

HAPPY: Are you a David Bowie fan?

JAMIE: Fully. Young Americans, that’s my favourite Bowie album.

HAPPY: Would you ever do a soul record?

JAMIE: I don’t think so. I don’t think we’d know how to.

HAPPY: These New South Whales seem like a fairly malleable vehicle musically speaking but obviously there are some things that are too far out…

JAMIE: I think this record that we are about to put out is quite different to the first one.

HAPPY: Tell me a little about it.

JAMIE: Well it’s just a little bit sunnier sounding and a little less ‘Aussie’. You know I think [These New South Whales] sounded a little ‘Aussie’ on the first record. [The new record] sounds a little bit less like that. It’s not the Australian sort of post punk sound. I think the songwriting has evolved. It’s not as political either. [You Work for Us] had quite a clear political stance.

TODD: This one’s a little more introspective.

HAPPY: Was moving away from those elements in your sound, the post punk and the politics, a kind of natural trajectory?

JAMIE: Well no I just think that we’re a band of four white dudes. Sometimes it’s better to step aside and let other people do the talking. But the first album wasn’t overtly political but I just didn’t feel that I trying to be a mouthpiece for that you know because I don’t think that’s our role at all.

HAPPY: The nipple tape…

JAMIE: Well it’s just a stupid thing that started for no reason at our first ever recording session, 2011. And we decided, “We should wear this on stage.” And then we did it and it just stuck around. IT STUCK AROUND! Get that one on the record.

HAPPY: You wouldn’t want to be 60 and wearing the nipple tape but, right?

JAMIE: No way. I wouldn’t want to be 32 and doing that! I’m over it, it’s done! We’re over it, there’s no more nipple tape.

HAPPY: Are there any closing thoughts or comments you guys would like to throw out there?

JAMIE: We got an album coming out November 8. It’s called I Just Do What God Tells Me To Do.

I Just Do What God Tells Me To Do is out November 8th. Pre-order here.