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Frenzal Rhomb

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“It’s way, way worse,” voiced Frenzal Rhomb vocalist Jason Whalley when asked how their upcoming album, “Hi-Vis High Tea”, stacks up against previous releases. “It’s actually… well, every band says that their most recent record is the best thing they’ve ever done, but in our case, it’s our fourth best. Out of nine records, that’s pretty fucken good! That’s deep into the top four. But aside from that, it’s good. I think it’s good, very good. It’s got some decent songs on it. It’s fast, it’s loud, it’s stupid, and it has a very deep message which is ‘don’t be a cunt.’”

With a plethora of instantly classic titles at the ready, including “Cunt Act”, “School Reunion” and “I’m Shelving Stacks (As I’m Stacking Shelves)”, Whalley says Frenzal Rhomb has not lost any of their edge after celebrating 25 years in the industry last year.

““Cunt Act” is actually one of Lindsay’s songs,” he deferred. “When I heard the demo of that it was like he had actually written my favourite Frenzal Rhomb song of all time. It’s got the perfect balance of ridiculous and comical, and it’s catchy and says ‘cunt’ a lot. It’s got guitar solos that I like and the other stuff, I dunno, we just come up with it from time-to-time. I never went to my school reunion but I think I shame some people within the verses but I can’t really say if they are real, actual people or not. I’m not at liberty to say that at this point because they’re gonna be trolled. If they do indeed exist, I don’t want the wrath of Frenzal Rhomb fans ruining their lives.”

When it comes to “I’m Stacking Shelves”, however, the answer isn’t as ambiguous.

“Yeah, that was a time when I was working at Coles and I used to shelve ecstasy pills as a way of getting through the night shift, so I was basically putting MDMA deep inside my rectum and it was a really good way of getting through the boredom of the midnight-to-dawn shifts. It’s basically a song about sticking drugs in your bum.”

With the aforementioned song titles and relevant subject matter, Whalley still seems stunned when I ask if the band has finally given up on getting commercial airplay.

“No man. No way,” he retorted. “”Cunt Act” is for Kiss FM and Austereo. I feel like this is the one. We’re gonna crack it with this one, man, come on. We’ll get a Logie even!”

“Hi-Vis High Tea” is a step back in time for Frenzal Rhomb, with the majority of the twenty songs coming in at under two minutes and returning to that short, sharp, punchy feel that defined earlier albums like “Meet the Family” and “Coughing Up a Storm”.

“It has,” Whalley agreed. “It’s not like our middle era when we were writing progressive rock songs that went for eleven minutes. We’ve really returned to our roots. I was listening to “A Man’s Not A Camel” recently for some reason and realized that, for whatever reason, we always wrote third verses and there’s no need for that. There’s absolutely no need for a third verse. If you can’t say everything in one and a half verses, then there’s something going wrong.”

When discussing the title of the album, Whalley becomes (almost) serious for the first and only time of the discussion.

“It has to do with the fact that we’re all complicit in the inevitable destruction of our planet by digging up our resources and selling them,” he spat. “Everybody is just trying to look after their kids and do the same thing and make money and what not but what we’re actually doing is ruining our future by destroying our planet. It’s fucken death to the planet while we rip it up and drink cocktails on the fucken corpse of our Earth.”

So what is his proposal to fix it?

“We stop fucken mining up bullshit and destroying our natural resources by digging up our planet and selling it to make nuclear weapons, and instead we all get nude and live in the jungle.”
To celebrate their ninth album, Frenzal Rhomb is embarking on a national tour starting in Perth on June 16th, and returning to the scene of Whalley’s most recent brush with fan adulation where he was literally punched in the face while singing the song “Punch in the Face” at the Miami Shark Bar.

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“Oh, yeah, that was fun,” Whalley grimaced. “I like the Shark Bar because I stand on the rooftop and pretend I’m a war correspondent. That place is like Beirut in 1982! You have to be careful there and watch your back (laughs).”

But will that assault on his bodily person stop him singing that song next time?
“No, shit no,” he laughed defiantly. “Of course, we will play it. Hopefully that dude will be there again, he seemed like a real stand-up guy.”

Throughout Frenzal’s 26 year history, Whalley has often gone to pains to let the music loving public know that his band isn’t very good and should be treated as such, but it appears he has recently had a change of heart.

“I always pretend that I have this air of humbleness about me,” he professed, “but, actually, we’re the best band that’s ever lived and we’re the best band who’s written the best music and put out the best albums of any band on the planet but for me to say that out loud doesn’t sound very charitable to all the other shit bands on Earth. You have to be humble sometimes otherwise you look like a fucken cunt.”

Having recently been blacklisted by the Chinese government, Whalley admits that while Frenzal Rhomb is a self-professed good time band, sometimes their antics and what they stand for are blown out of proportion.

“Well… nothing… except for we played at a Taiwanese Independence Festival,” he revealed of the reasons why China have ostracised the band. “Apparently they didn’t like that. So now we’re on this Ministry of Culture blacklist, which I think basically means that we can’t get played on the equivalent of Today FM in China, which we probably wouldn’t have gotten played on anyway so I don’t really think it’s a massive deal. I don’t think that we’re gonna go to jail or be disappeared in some sort of Chinese gulag, but you never know.”

When pressed if Frenzal Rhomb is the type of band who goes looking for trouble or are just unlucky, Whalley remains indignant.

“We’re neither,” he shrugged. “People are just generally stupid. People like to make mountains out of molehills, especially these days when you might get 2000 likes for putting some kind of mysterious fact on Facebook. I dunno, I guess people just love a good outrage.”
Fans hoping for a live DVD or album are sadly out of luck, with Whalley defending the bands right to be bad in the moment rather than for eternity.

“I love living in the midst of our concerts,” he expressed. “I love keeping the memory that they were awesome. I fucken hate YouTube because all of a sudden you look on there and there’s some guys phone footage of what you thought was the best show that you’ve ever done and you look at it and go, ‘Oh man, we were shit’. I’d way prefer to live with the memory, even if the memory was a lie. The only way we’d ever do a live record is if we did it and then replaced all the instruments and the only thing we kept from it was the audience clapping.”

Written by Kris Peters

Disclaimer – Jason Whalley has never been serious about anything in his adult life, except maybe the birth of his son, so anything that comes out of his mouth should be treated and received as such.

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