The Growlers

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The Growlers

Known for their proclivity to don outrageous costumes and makeup for every gig, lo-fi punks The Growlers are calling for your good will and hand-me-downs as they journey cross-country this month. “When we go out on tour across oceans we don’t have enough room to pack little outfits!” frontman Brooks Nielson laughed.
“Before we play shows in the States, we go to the thrift stores or fans give us their old stuff and sometimes we just find stuff on the side of the road! But while we’re in Australia I’m sure we’ll get our hands on some cool threads and get down to goofing off. We like to do things on the spur of the moment so it doesn’t seem contrived and stays fun.”
The Growlers live on a diet of sun, surf and rock’n’roll – in fact, as we chatted the laid-back Californians were jetting their way to the isle of Hawaii, their home away from home. “We have a few shows in Hawaii then we’re back for the holidays before we head back to ’Stralia!” Brooks said in his best Aussie accent.
On average the Growlers play 150 shows a year spanning across the five continents, so the news that they’d be returning to our shores so soon after sold-out shows in mid-2014 came as a surprise to many. Even more incredible, however, was the fact that they found the time to record their fifth album, Chinese Foundation, in just three weeks.
“I hope people don’t think we’re bragging, but we’ve learnt how to record and produce our albums in a very short amount of time. To us, having six months to make a record sounds like a dream!” Brooks smiled. “We’ve been together for eight years now and the guys and I have gotten pretty good at using the time we’re allowed. It works for us that way … we need a little fire under our bellies to get us in gear.”
Fuelled by their love of reverb and voice effects, The Growlers have spent immeasurable hours mixing the sound of the late ’60s with psychedelic undertones. Unable to find a pre-existing term to accurately describe their style, Brooks happily coined the phrase ‘beach-goth’ and threw a party to celebrate – and so the Beach Goth Festival was born.
“About three years ago we started putting on the Beach Goth Fest. The first year we just invited some friends to play and since then it’s really taken off,” Brooks explained. “We’re definitely considering putting a festival together in Australia. A lot of cities, especially across Europe, just don’t get the beach-goth thing, so Australia is definitely the place to do it – and I know for a fact that a lot of American bands are looking at what’s going on in Australia…
“When we said yes to doing these shows the promoters and the label sent us a list of bands to listen to and to pick our supports, and that’s generally what happens all over the world for us. The amazing thing was that every single Australian band we heard we loved. We were like, ‘What the hell’s going on down there!?’, because we did the same when we went to Europe and there were only two out of 30 that I thought were cool or that I would even WANT to be on tour with us. We could put on one hell of a festival with an all-Australian line-up!” Mahalo, Growlers.
When&Where: The Corner, Melbourne – January 14; The Karova, Ballarat – January 15; and The Barwon, Geelong – January 16
Written by Natalie Rogers, Photo by Taylor Bonin