AMYL AND THE SNIFFERS
Melbourne sharpie revivalists atom-smash punk and boogie rock to blow the doors-off the bottle shop.
There is a haircut in rock so uncool it dare not speak its name (often): the mullet, as variously sported by Bono, Michael Bolton and The Jam’s Bruce Foxton. Alarmingly, this may soon change thanks to the exponentially rising stock of Melbourne’s Amyl And The Sniffers, an unalloyed bunch of head-kicking punk racketeers whose post-gig rituals include hacking off fans’ locks to emulate their own unrepentant long-at-the-back couiffage; and, as their name suggests, snorting the semi-legal gay scene drug, amyl nitrate. “Because of our name, loads of kids bring amyl to our gigs,” explains 22-year-old singer Amy Louise Taylor (hence their ‘Amyl’ moniker). “Our bass player Gus thinks they should bring more. It’s pretty good, but it does give you a headache…” The Sniffers’ mullet look is a knowing nod to the mid-’70s Melbourne-centred ‘Sharpie’ scene, a now much-mythologised pre-punk subculture based around a skinhead/glam image, gang violence and back-to-basics boogie rock from acts like Coloured Balls, Skyhooks and an embryonic AC/DC. Those touchstones, together with a classic Ramones/Slits four-chord armoury, gleefully stoke the Sniffers’ sound. But it’s Taylor’s bogan sass and lyrics about Melbourne punk lowlife – titles such as Blowjob, I’m Not A Loser, ’70s Street Munchies and Mole (Sniff Sniff) speak volumes – which elevate the group into a genuinely thrilling crosscultural experience. “I don’t think of the lyrics as funny or shocking,” says Taylor, whose musical heroes are Nancy Sinatra and Dolly Parton, and, as like her bandmates, has home-made tatts and is partial to a drop of ‘goon’ (cheap wine in a box). “I just sing what I’m thinking. I’m not trying to be shocking or sexy, it’s just stuff in my brain.” The band formed one day in February 2016, when Taylor and her St Kilda housemates Declan Martens (guitar), Callum Newton (bass) and Bryce Wilson (drums) decided to write and record some songs in her bedroom. Twenty-four hours later, the raucous Giddy Up EP was posted on Bandcamp, eventually attracting the attention of Flightless Records – home of King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – who funded 2017’s super-punky Big Attraction EP. A change of bass player – in came ginger-haired Gus Romer (“he already had the right haircut”) – followed, as did support slots with Foo Fighters and Oz punk legends Cosmic Psychos. The Sniffers are set to visit the UK later this month, where their growing cult has seen their London Lexington show sell out weeks in advance. “It’s growing organically,” says Taylor. “A lot of people hate us, but I don’t care.”
“I’M NOT TRYING TO BE SHOCKING, IT’S JUST STUFF IN MY BRAIN.”
Amy Louise Taylor
Celebrate the mullet: outback rowdies Amyl And The Sniffers (from left) Gus Romer, Amy Louise Taylor, Bryce Wilson and Declan Martens.