Having been around now for just under a year or so, Reckless Vagina have fast made an impression on Sydney audiences, their unique sound and engaging on-stage presence seeing them go from opening slots in the gallery bar at OAF to headlining Good God in under 6 months, playing with such great local acts as Zeahorse and The Holy Soul amongst others. Pretty good for band who a lot of people wrote off based on nothing more than their name.
Matching a punk approach with an appreciation of the rules of songwriting such as meter and melody, their music has been popularly described (and by that I mean described by me) as some highly Aussie middle ground between The Arcade Fire, Mogwai and Ween, with the band proving they are more than just a name, leaving a trail of impressed audiences in their wake. Having just put out their first video for Hit and Miss and set to support Pets With Pets TONIGHT!!! at Dirty Shirlows alongside Dark Bells, Qua and Mere Women, I caught up with lead singer Daniel Corboy to discuss the band’s creative process, playing shows in warehouses and the importance of a name.
Music Feeds: So you guys are playing supporting Pets With Pets tonight at Dirty Shirlows along with some great bands like Dark Bells, Qua and Mere Women; are you excited; it’s the first show in a while isn’t it?
Daniel Corboy: Yeah, it’s been a while, and I personally just can’t wait to play after a band called Mere Women, I think that’s great. But I’ve always liked Pets With Pets and Dark Bells, and Dirty Shirlows is always a great place to have a party.
MF: Yeah, will the fact you’re not playing in a licensed venue inspire any sort of hijinx?
DC: Definitely, that’s all I’ve been thinking about since I heard it was bring your own alcohol. It’s BYO actually, so it’s bring your own anything, it’s not BYOA, it’s BYO so I can bring my own anything, it’s very open to interpretation. In any regard I can assure people they’ll be getting something for free, obviously. You’ve got to pay to get there and you have to get all the way out to Marrickville; we’ll make sure they get something in return.
MF: So you’re a published poet as well as a songwriter; would you say the way you approach the songs is similar to how you approach poetry?
DC: It’s very similar; all the poetry comes from a sort of stream of consciousness thing, so there’s some sort of a beat and a melody there in the writing. So yeah, I guess you could say the music comes from the poetry, or really just my love of words. The love of words, that’s always a good one to go with.
MF: Yeah, well you’re a bit of a renaissance man, on top of the music and poetry you also make films. Would you say you’re drawn to a particular medium, or does it all stem from the same central compulsion?
DC: My main interest in writing started with short stories and stuff, which was years and years ago. When I started looking for a career, I wanted to be a scriptwriter because I thought that was the best way to sort of get all that poetry and music and all the other kind of creative stuff into one element, in film. So I kind of wanted to make movies and write the entire story: the characters, the setting, everything. I’d probably say screenplays are my favourite things to write, and my main thing, but songwriting is the biggest challenge, there are a lot of constraints there and there’s not as much freedom as a lot of people think.
MF: What do you mean by that?
DC: You can’t always say what you want to say when you’re writing a song, you have to pick the right words a lot more than when you’re writing poetry, because when you’re writing poetry you can do whatever you want. With music there are bars and beats and all these things I didn’t know about, so you often can’t use the words that you want; instead you have to find the words that you want to use.
MF: When it came to writing songs then, was it something you’d wanted to do for a while?
DC: I had a few written already and I just couldn’t play any instruments. I had the songs and lyrics written in my head and written on paper, but I couldn’t play them or do anything with them. So I found some friends who were interested in music, and Gene kind of saw something in me I guess and he wanted me to write for his new punk band. Since then we’ve gone from being a punk band to whatever the hell we are now.
MF: A lot of people struggle to describe the music. My favourite is uplifting-anthemic-bogan-pop, but how would you sum it up if you had to?
DC: Well, I always wanted to keep the punk element in there, and when I say punk I mean just doing whatever you want to do and not being held down, even if that sort of contradicts what I said about writing the lyrics. But yeah, it’s a lot of fun. I’ve always loved punk, not necessarily punk music but just punks themselves, punks the people, people who live and breath that sort of attitude and go ‘we’re not afraid to do anything,’ and I think in a way that’s what makes us punk. We’re not afraid to do a sea shanty, we’re not afraid to do a country song, we’re not afraid to do any of that sort of thing.
MF: Yeah, I think you can see that with the name especially. It’s funny though, as I’ve heard a number of people mention to me that when they first heard the name they had pretty low expectations of the band, but then seeing you live they say it all makes sense. You guys can get away with a lot of stuff because people will give you a chance where they might not with another band because of the sort of implied irreverence in the name. Would you say that’s the case you think?
DC: Yeah, I think so. With the name as well, we get more publicity from the name obviously than anything else, which was always going to happen, but I’m glad that our music can live up to the name in a way where, Reckless Vagina is kind of aggressive but it’s not all that aggressive, it’s kind of sympathetic but not all that sympathetic, we can do whatever we want, there are no holds barred with a name like that and with the type of people we have in the band.
MF: Where did that name actually come from, if you don’t mind me asking? I have a vision of you coming up with it at some house party watching some poor girl drunkenly embarrass herself on the dance floor.
DC: It’s actually based on someone we kind of know, and I won’t tell you who it is, but that one’s for Gene. I don’t think they know, but it is a compliment. If Gene wasn’t able to tame it then it must be something special.
MF: So you guys have just put out your first video clip, where you’re tied up and beaten throughout the clip, what made you want to do that?
DC: Whenever we make our own film clips we all want to go through a bit of endurance with a film clip so that we look like we really give a shit about our film clips. I think a lot of bands seem to not really care about their film clips and it looks really bad, so it doesn’t matter if it’s a stupid idea and it looks bad, as long as you give it some passion and work hard doing it.
Reckless Vagina will be supporting Pets With Pets tonight at Dirty Shirlows in Marrickville along with Dark Bells, Qua and Mere Women.
Watch the video for Hit and Miss here