It was only last year when Kate Berry turned her wholesome obsession with retro regional motels into a musical excursion.
OK Motels, which alongside being one of our favourite ever Instagram accounts where Kate documents rural motels from around Australia, was born when Kate stumbled across Charlton, a small town three-hours north-west of Melbourne.
Embracing a nostalgic fixation with ’70s-style accommodation and sheer love of supporting live Australian music, Kate pulled together some of her favourite Melbourne bands and put on the inaugural OK Motels event at the Charlton Motel, where people were encouraged to party like it’s 1970.
The first instalment saw Melbourne quartet Tropical Fuck Storm take to the stage, alongside Blake Scott, Cable Ties, Bitch Diesel, Affordable Repayments, and DJ Hot Wheels, while Charlton Motel 2 featured the likes of Cash Savage & The Last Drinks, Laura Jean, Harmony, Terry, The Living Eyes, Palm Springs, DJ Eric Strykert and DJ Lucky Star, and truly shined a light on some of Melbourne’s best musicians.
An event celebrating music, nostalgia and the great Aussie road trip, OK Motels returns to rural Victoria for a third instalment of its one-night music event that will see the Charlton Motel come alive with the blistering energy from Amyl And The Sniffers, the life-affirming alternative rock from Moaning Lisa, the grimy and visceral Batpiss, a dose of aggravated garage-punk from Pinch Points, the harmony-driven, fuzzed-out sounds of Moody Beaches, and a little bit of everything from Dj Hot Wheels.
Headlining the stage in a venue originally home to netball presentation nights and deb balls, Melbourne’s explosive 1970s-retro-punk rockers Amyl and the Sniffers are keen to venture to this unlikely party destination, essentially the middle of nowhere.
“We’re really stoked to get out there and see whats going on,” says front-woman Amy Taylor. “Tadpole, who hosts a show on Triple R radio asked us to play, and she’s a legend. Before I met her, I needed a pair of socks brought to a gig we were playing towards the end of a tour, and she brought some for me. I’m actually wearing them right now. Also, just keen to play in a different setting. We haven’t done a lot of rural gigs, to be honest, but it’s refreshing to meet different people and see different pubs and hear different opinions.”
Since 2016 Amyl and the sniffers have been a snarling, dirt-covered gem of the Melbourne punk-rock scene. They sport a raw, 70’s style in sound, dress, and attitude, and their records demand being played at max volume, which barely compares to their blistering live performance, which sees Amy consistently delivers maniacal, lewd energy as she careens around the stage between her mulleted companions.
Showcasing at BIGSOUND 2017, the band hit the ground running during their breakout year with international appearances at The Great Escape (UK) and a North American tour supporting Australian label mates, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. Following multiple sold-out shows in the UK and Europe in 2018, the band signed to Rough Trade Records for the rest of the world – the first Australian band to ink an album deal with Rough Trade since The Go-Betweens.
For the amount of notoriety Amyl and the Sniffers have gained over the last couple of years, it’s hard to believe they only just dropped their first album earlier this year. The self-titled LP shows big steps forward in instrumentation, songwriting, and production, and sidesteps the pitfall of punk bands becoming too ‘polished’ as they get popular, delivering a manic punch of unhinged, gritty energy, which Amy credits to being a full band effort.
“We all come together and someone will bring a riff,” she explains. “We’re playing around with new stuff at the moment and it’s definitely all four of us bringing something to each song. I always write the lyrics and singing part of it; that’s important to me. When we recorded this one, we’d been playing it live for so long so I think the fellas did a really good job. They’ve come along way since when we first started, which is lucky for me,” she laughs.
With their notoriety deservedly leaping forward, this year saw the band land an ARIA nomination for Best Rock Album, four nominations across both the public and industry voted categories in the Music Vic awards (Best Album, Best Band, Best Live Act, and Best Rock/Punk Album), alongside being awarded the $30,000 Levi’s®Music Prize last January!
“It’s pretty surreal,” Amy reveals, “I think we’re all pretty surprised and pretty lucky; like a lot of this shit isn’t even our realm or comfort zone at all and then you’re put in the same category as like Midnight Oil or something, and perspective on things change and its really pretty cool and exciting and flattering (and confusing).
“Life’s pretty crazy,” she laughs. “Even though we put a lot of effort and guts into it (OK Motels will be our 91st gig this year!) sometimes it really feels like anything could happen, we’re really excited to see what happens in 2020.”
With Amyl and the Sniffers’ music best enjoyed in a pub somewhere getting pushed around with sweat and beer all over your shirt, the Charlton Motel seems like a pretty damn good place to do that.
Tickets to what will be one helluva party are selling fast at $110, and for a small extra fee, you can cop dinner from the ‘Bain Marie Magic Dinner Menu’. Choose from country motel delights such as meat or vegetarian lasagne or chicken schnitz with chips—all you have to do is place your dinner order at checkout. There will also be
All rooms at Charlton Motel have been booked, but there’s plenty of other accommodation in the area for you to find a place to rest. There might also be a bus running from Bendigo if there’s enough interest as well.
Leave your everyday life down the highway, and come together to experience something familiar somewhere unfamiliar. It all goes down in Charlton on Saturday, November 23. Tickets on sale now and going fast! okmotels.com.au
Band Photo by Ellen Virgona