The running gag about starting a band called ‘Reckless Vagina’ began in Newtown around 2007, by my reckoning. I agreed to join the fledgling outfit, but as a deadbeat ended up having nothing to do with its evolution. Of course I still hype them and falsely claim to be in the band. The name alone! Not to tire the phrase, but always fun to spring on the unsuspecting when talking about a gig you’ve seen, “the name for me is really an important way of expressing a sense of humour that we all carry when making music ,” says bassist Dru Hill. “We’re a fun band, or at least we try to be.”
“Well yeah, I see a lot of people going around playing music, and they’re not having fun, and they’re not feeling free,” says drummer Gene Katliakas. “Yeah but I think more than free we sound glorious,” says frontman Daniel Corboy… “That’s what the vagina’s about though, it’s about the glory and the recklessness is about the freedom,” Dru rejoins.
“Glorious freedom. That’s what Reckless Vagina is.” Got that? Their words.
They’re about fun in making music and their style has come together nicely with this mindset. Any kind of music is fair game, although they don’t get terribly dark. The core of their set is basically lyrical pop and country songs with a decent beat, written on acoustic guitars in a Newtown living room above a King Street shopfront, but what sounds like the newer material takes odd tangents from the formula. Ultimately they’re not too precious or trying to be hip with the sounds they’re making and a lot of Sydney bands have that attitude. It’s all in good fun, they know what they’re doing and it’s good to watch. There’s also an odd mix of being a ‘new’ band in the scene with players who have been around for years in various projects, some infamous, so a fresh start is always good and enjoyable in this case.
With most members coming from other bands, including Warhorse, Army Ant and Sick Python, among others, the sound emerges as a blend of their divergent sense for pop music: Oscar Clifford-Smith all for the bliss-wash of massive post-rock guitars; Dru Hill holding down walking, simple bass lines; Frank Sultana with various keyboard-related sounds, most notably the insanely cheesy but rad synth trumpets; The Pinch on acoustic guitar, glokenspiel, white strat and double drums; Gene with stomp beats and vocal melodies backing the swagger of Corboy up front.
Various folks had said good things before I made it to a show, ‘dirty Beatles’ from one, ‘actually really damn good’ from someone else. Finally I caught their April headline show at Good God Small Club with The Holy Soul, Dora Maar and Donny Benet. They struck me as a sing-along band that may end up leading venues in grand choruses, only for now people don’t know the words and its kind of loose and bopping along… swapping instruments, sounding (as others have said) a bit like Arcade Fire, a little like Ween, with the feel of a 70s to 80s band on live television and recorded onto VHS as they work through major-chord acoustic guitar work, melodic folk, electronic sing-along disco with blown out guitars and double drumming, shambolic but all together banging on some lyrical narrative about waving a dick in the wind or something.
Sydney is in a weird place at the moment and it’s hard to qualify the disenchantment lurking just below the surface of what many bands are doing, and it’s not all to do with the music. Plenty of great stuff is going on, of course, only the vibe is a little off. Something got disconnected somewhere between past residencies at the Hopetoun and the final gigs of many fine acts. Where the hell are we now? Reckless Vagina are a band I’d put forward as an indication, along with some notables on the bill for Chocolate Jesus Industries take over Mum. Things usually take ages to come together with musicians and I’d never pegged Corboy as a future frontman before he suddenly was one. Their band is good and getting better, they don’t take life terribly seriously and it’s all meant to be fun in the end anyways. Enjoy it.
Reckless Vagina headlining Chocolate Jesus Industries take over Mum this Friday July 15th at World Bar with No Art, Whipped Cream Chargers, Big Dumb Kid, Disco Club, Old Men of Moss Mountain and more.
Click attending on the Facebook event to add yourself to the discount list.