“I’ve got mates up in Wynnum / We go cruisin’ to the Waterloo,” sings Eamon Sandwith on I’ve Been Drunk in Every Pub In Brisbane, as The Chats take us on an all-dayer around some of the city’s most famous waterholes. Not surprising considering the limited edition vinyl pressing of their latest LP, Get Fucked consists of XXXX Bitter splatter. (Personally I’d suggest XXXX Gold for new players.)
Call it great marketing or just another facet into the psyche of these humorous antipodeans, however hearing I’ve Been Drunk in Every Pub In Brisbane was met with the first wave of homesickness since moving from the city (coincidently, Wynnum) to Blighty over five years ago.
Now on the fringes of Australian culture, it seems The Chats are a divisive subject. Just a group of bogans rippin’ out ditties seems to be the overwhelming consensus. I recall a similar cynicism pointed in the direction of Courtney Barnett on the back of Avant Gardener.
It’s a case of tall poppy syndrome: us Aussies are renown for it, and The Chats have been firmly in the ire of the masses ever since their breakout single, Smoko. A band too frayed around the edges with rough and tumble argot and themes too close to the bone for Guardian readers and social media warriors who seemingly use both as a stick to beat the band with.
The Chats are all about the locality. A band projecting the realities of ordinary Australia (I mean c’mon; any band that can wrench ‘chicken schniti’ into a song has to have something about them, right?).
In some ways, Australia needs a band like The Chats. A country whereby its politicians (whether it be left or right) barely give a fuck about people outside the metropolitan areas, some could construe The Chats as an unlikely vessel to break down the boundaries of social class. Perhaps that’s an overreach and – in reality – they are just a band extracting the absurdities from the mundane aspects of everyday life. Whichever way you look at it, The Chats are most certainly a product of our times who can spin a decent yarn.
Let’s start with Get Fucked’s cover. Sandwith alongside band mates, Matt Boggis and Josh Hardy, jumped up and full of the devil as they proceed to give the camera the bird. There’s undoubted Cosmic Pyschos homage, and that doesn’t change on Get Fucked. An album filled with earworms that burst with civic vitality. Starting with the mustard gas surge of 6L GTR, as The Chats are “Fangin’ down the highway”.
With songs like Boggo Breakdown, Southport Superman and Paid Late, The Chats takes the gut-busting chords of Minor Threat and turn punk on its head in illogical ways. Melding together the staple pub rock aesthetic, here we are met with a series of songs that are truly anthemic.
The Chats don’t bring out the riffs too often, and it’s something they may want to focus on more in the future, for Struck By Lighting is the kind of song to buckle the walls. Meanwhile, gone are the days of songs like The Clap. With governments stifling the few enjoyments we have in this life, The Price of Smokes sees The Chats telling us how it is (“Those bastards in parliament ought to be hung by the necks”).
Then there’s Dead On Site – a story of a construction company trying to sweep the death of a one of their workers under the rug. The Chats aren’t having it, as they stymie this weighty tale with their usual dose of bone-dry wit; in this instance telling us how Tommy likes his steak (well done, of course).
The cynicism continues on Emperor on the Beach which sees The Chats giving the stink eye to the ’beautiful people’. A sneering tale of gym junkies showing off their prized assets in public. It’s the kind of tale the Sleaford Mods have made a living from.
Get Fucked sees The Chats do what they do best. Bringing ordinary characters to life. In many ways The Chats are reporters, either propped up at the end of the bar seeing the carnage unfold or immersed in it. Someone needed to take the mantle from Robert G. Barrett and The Chats are seemingly Australia’s new torchbearers of the rugged tale.
While they may never change the world, one with The Chats not in it doesn’t seem right. Get Fucked might not see the band attract new ears, but for those already enamoured by their devilish charm and harmless fun, it’s another pleasing offering.
Blokes you can trust? Indeed.
Get Fucked is out now via Bargain Bin Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.