Jay Whalley, alongside the rest of Frenzal Rhomb, has never been prone to fading into the background. Given the insane history of these instantly iconic Australian punk gems, the stops pulled throughout this interview should have been expected. With Jay Whalley expressing his opinions on the band’s latest release and potential future projects, in his own tongue-in-cheek way, it’s clear to see that Frenzal Rhomb haven’t changed a bit.
Following the recent release of their new EP titled Hi-Vis High Tea, the band remains as ideologically rebellious as ever. With the act’s conscientious objections to hypocrisies that exist within Australian culture, Whalley states that the album was intended to address that notion. “I think [it] was talking about how it’s not just some people that are digging up our resources that are destroying our planet. It’s really all of us that are responsible for the destruction of our mother earth. Because we all benefit with the stuff we reap and the money that’s generated from mining – especially in Australia.”
With a strong emphasis being placed on the environmental impacts our culture is having on the Australian landscape, Hi Vis High Tea takes this concept one step further. “It’s probably also because we’re all benefiting from it, it’s also all of our responsibility to try and shut that shit down before we murder our children.”
Alongside this, Jay also states that the music contained within the album isn’t afraid to address closeted issues including mental illnesses, telling us “I don’t like to put in too much subtext. I don’t know, the older I get, [I find] men my age are in all sorts of strife mentally and not quite coping with things that are going on.” Songs like ‘Everyone I Know Has Mental Problems’ cut straight to the core of this complicated topic. “I know it’s not age specific, it’s just the age I’m at. And it’s not gender specific, but I seem to be surrounded by a lot of people that are struggling a bit at the moment. Everyone sort of rallies around, and we all do what we can to try and get our mates through these difficult times, but sometimes it feels a little overwhelming for the people who are looking after them as well.”
Despite these heavier topics, the band also managed to keep things playful and dynamic when recording their latest work. As Jay explained to us, the motivations behind the music haven’t changed. When faced with the opportunity to censor their music for the sake of popularity, Frenzal Rhomb are always willing to deviate from that path. “We’ve generally gone the opposite way when we have had glimpses of mainstream success. We’ve put out songs that have kind of shot us in the foot or, you know, put out songs that will never be played on commercial radio.”
When standing by songs like ‘Russell Crowe’s Band’, Frenzal Rhomb have found themselves rustling the feathers of the elite. “When we put out our Sans Souci record, Russell Crowe was [mentioned] on it, and we got a letter from his lawyer saying ‘we’re aware that you’ve written this song and it’s being played on ABC, on Triple J. But, if it ever gets played on commercial radio we’ll be taking further action.’ And [we were] like, you do realise that the song’s called ‘Russell Crowe’s Band’s A Fucking Pile of Shit.’ They’re not going to play it on any commercial radio station.”
With this newfound sense of self emerging within the band, nothing could stop them. Nothing but the emerging need for a dollar. As a Speaker TV exclusive, Jay Whalley unveils his latest project ‘C*** Head.’ “Yeah, it’s more important for us to try and write decent songs…it’s more important for us to do that than it is to make any kind of attempt to [sell out]… Actually, now you’re putting ideas in my head. I think the next record should be a commercial smash hit.” With the promise of ten million dollars emerging at the end of this mainstream musical attempt, Jay looks forward to the future.
J: “I’d actually like ten-million dollars, thank you very much. So, you can put this in history, Frenzal Rhomb, as you know it, ended at this interview.”
STV: “What’s it going to be called?”
J: “It’s terrible, but the first thing I thought of was ‘C*** Head’ [laughs].”
As Jay continues to joke about the emergence of the sell-out’s dream that is ‘C*** Head’, he continues to remind us why bands like Frenzal Rhomb are so important. In a world filled with people trained to say the right things at the right time, acts like Frenzal Rhomb break through all the shallowness with unmerciful authenticity.
When hearing of their previous issues like their public spat with Kyle and Jackie O,who suggested that their music was ‘pretty much shit’ and that the band ‘may as well take a new career path’, their importance becomes paramount. “Like, a lot of those people, they think they have the influence over the music business, but really the only people they’ve got influence over is the other people that are in their world. There’s actually this entire universe of bands existing outside of their control.”
Being unafraid to voice your opinions is one of the defining aspects of this outspoken act. Alongside this, Jay also stresses the importance of actually attending punk shows. “People complain about music being either inaccessible or not what they’re into, or there’s nowhere for them to see bands, or [they complain about] the venues that are closing. Well, the people that complain about that stuff are always the people that never go to shows.”
Rather than complaining about trivial issues, one can simply help those still trying to make a mark within this counterculture movement by actually going to live shows, and being a part of the scene that is there. “I feel like if people wanna see music, then they can. They just don’t realise that it’s actually playing. Probably they’re new favourite band’s playing around the corner from their house. You know, they’re not in that world, so they don’t really know. But there’s actually lots, and it is actually spread around everywhere.”
Whether they’re on the brink of a lawsuit with Russell Crowe or whether they’re on fighting terms with Kyle and Jackie O one thing remains certain – a real punk mentality is firmly at the core of Frenzal Rhomb.