May 2024

Level Crossing

BoomgatesBoomgatesBoomgatesBoomgatesBoomgatesBoomgatesBoomgatesBoomgatesBoomgatesText: Shannon Carlsson Images: Tristan Ceddia

Fresh from a US tour for one of many projects Steph Hughes is involved in, my sneaky early arrival wasn’t as early as Steph’s – who’s decided to be really early for everything from now on. Returning a changed girl from overseas, three-and-a-half years can seem like a lifetime ago from when you and your friends were sinking beers and sometimes getting stoned in your mum’s garage over summer. It really helps when these friends are some of Melbourne’s garage finest and you just happen to find your newest band being talked up all over the place.

Shannon Carlsson: Boomgates is one of the newest ‘supergroups’ to come out of Melbourne with all the members in successful bands already. Brendan – Eddy Current, Gus – Teen Archer, Rick – The Twerps, yourself – Dick Diver and ex-Children Collide, Sean – Trial Kennedy. Do you think you had a lot to live up to because of this?

Steph Hughes: We all just hang out and don’t think about it. It was years ago when I first started jamming with Brendan and Sean. About three and a half years ago. I was in Children Collide, Sean was in a break from Trial Kennedy and Brendan was still in Eddy Current, but they weren’t playing many shows. That was the first time we all jammed together and we didn’t really think about people’s work in other bands. We just have a really good creative chemistry. When we hang out, we come up with a good story, or words or ideas about a painting or whatever. We always come up with stuff together.

SC: How did Boomgates happen? Obviously, everyone in the band has similar musical influences. How did it all come together? So it was Brendan, Sean and you initially.

SH: We were jamming in my Mum’s garage years ago, because it was easy to jam at and free, and Brendan and me would be hanging out on the weekend anyway. It all started because he would have an acoustic guitar and we’d make up songs on the acoustic guitar together. One day we pumped up the amp and Brendan called up Sean. I didn’t know Sean and we became instant friends. When rehearsals are free, and you have beers and it’s summer and you’re all just hanging out anyway…..It was three and a half years ago. There have been times in the middle when we’ve stopped. When Rick came along, it all kind of locked and became more of something. Gus came along in the middle as well. He was initially playing bass and as soon as we shifted him to guitar and Rick on bass it was just – yes! I was in high school with Gus and we played underage shows together in different bands. He was in a metal band. He was a total prodigy and they always used to win the battle of the bands. We loved them. They would always win because they were so good. Even now I’m in awe of Gus. He has so many ideas all of the time. Everyone has always been stoked to jam together.

SC: You haven’t played too many shows so far, with Boogie Fest and Tru Mould being the most recent ones. Was it a good vibe at the warehouse? Is it different doing other shows to warehouse venues?

SH: Sure, when we put on a show we’re going to put on a good spread. We’re going to make it really good. We wanted an environment that was a bit more than a regular venue could provide. We’d met Assassins 88 recently in Brisbane and we asked them to come down. As soon as we knew they were going to do it, and Craig with Scott and Charlene’s Wedding, it seemed like the perfect thing for me to do before I went overseas for two months. We wanted to do a big send off in a big place that was kind of weird and didn’t have the restrictions that other venues have.

SC: People like going to different things and it was in the daytime as well.

SH: Yeah. I used to do a shopfront in Lygon St, called Catfood Press. Catfood got pretty heavy because I used to put on gigs every weekend and the council came down on me pretty hard. All of these APRA things were coming to the house in my name. The East Brunswick Club were getting complaints about it too. Now at Catfood, they do it a bit differently. In terms of shows, they’ve always been my favourite. Dick Diver has played there.

SC: It’s been said that Boomgates is just Brendan’s (Eddy Current) side project. What do you think of that?

SH: It’s a bit of a cop out. Everyone has bands and are doing stuff that we’re all proud of, but Boomgates is 100% about all of us. I’ve never been in a band that has divided everything so evenly, in terms of input and making songs. It just happens that Brendan’s in a band that’s a total institution. It is what it is.

SC: You used to have a radio show on Triple J, Home and Hosed, and were in Dick Diver and Boomgates at the time.

SH: I left the radio show late last year, and did it for two years. It got a bit too much. I didn’t want to work full time in an office, I wanted to do other things. I loved doing it and what I could do. I loved playing stuff I really believed in. It’s a tricky thing to get national exposure for a lot of bands. It was a really cool thing that I got that opportunity to do that. Eventually, working full time in an office did my head in.

SC: Out of all of that’s on your plate, what do you look forward to doing the most?

SH: Everything I do I look forward to doing equally. How could it not be? If I’m doing an exhibition, it’s equally as needed and ties in to all the music.

SC: One feeds into the other.

SH: It’s nice when you see it all working together, like with Boomgates and how we came together. It wasn’t just a musical chemistry, it’s an ideas chemistry. We’re all just stoked. We’re really stoked to be doing everything that we do.

SC: I thought you said stoned. We’re all just really stoned!

SH: (laughs) Sometimes. When it’s called for.

SC: Do you get ideas and inspiration from your illustrations, and other projects you have going on?

SH: We’re all just hyper-creative people. Gus is an amazing artist and Sean has ideas constantly.

SC: So everyone else does visual art in the band?

SH: Everyone. Brendan has had shows at Utopian Slumps and Hell Gallery. Everyone except Sean but he has ideas about everything. Gus is doing a fine art degree and Rick is a graphic designer. When it comes to booking gigs, we have to plan it six months ahead. Everyone is hyper.

SC: What local bands are you currently into?

SH: Anything Al Montfort does. UV Race, Lower Plenty. The Lower Plenty tapes are my favourite thing on earth right now. They’re just beautiful.

SC: It can be anywhere in Australia.

SH: I love Bitch Prefect and Dud Pills and Peak Twins. I really like Peak Twins out of all of Liam Kenny’s projects. In the whole of the country, holy shit. You have to put Sleepless Nights up there, Amy and Harriet from School of Radiant Living. They do a kind of country thing. I’ve been playing country songs too. Sleepless Nights and Lower Plenty have taken it to another place for me right now. I played a lot of Royal Headache on the radio last year. In Boomgates, I try to bring across a lot of really nice melodies. There’s a band called Pine Gap and they only played one gig, and by all accounts it was incredible. I have the CD and everyone in that band is a total genius.

SC: Were you happy with how the recent EP turned out?

SH: There’s so many that have come out. We’ve got one that we’re launching next week, a split with Super Wild Horses. There’s an EP that has come out in the US called “Laymen’s Terms and Nothing”, put out by Smart Guy records.

SC: I only have the Bright Idea 7”, released by RIP Society.

SH: I’m stoked with how that turned out. We’d written ‘Cameo’ a couple of days beforehand and ‘Bright Idea’ was one of the first songs we wrote. When we went in and recorded it, it was so easy and Mikey (Young) always does such a good job. With Mikey, it’s a pleasurable experience. You just go in there and he didn’t have mic stands. He just sat them on the chair. It was so easy. That’s how I want to record. He has such a tried and good formula. We did one take with a lot of stuff. Maybe we did a couple of run-throughs with some of them. Vocals are recorded at the same time. We just bang it out. It was so easy.

SC: What releases are out right now or coming out soon?

SH: We have the Super Wild Horses 7” split being launched in Melbourne on Friday May 6. Laymen’s Terms and Nothing is out now in the States. We always have something on the horizon. We’re always stockpiling songs, whether it’s more 7 inches or something else.

SC: Will you have an album coming out this year?

SH: We’re always working on something. We write so much and record all the time, whether that’s more 7 inches or something else. I can’t say if something longer will come out this year. Maybe not this year, will have to ask the others I reckon.


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