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Roy Irwin

Roy Irwin

Interviewed by
Ben Coley
Wednesday 4th May, 2016 2:18PM

It’s hard to pinpoint Aucklander Roy Irwin’s music. It’s part punk, part pop, part shoegaze all put through a lo-fi blender to give Irwin his own distinct sound. Never one to overthink releases, Irwin now has an impressive back catalogue and has routinely released new material over the past few years. Earlier this year, on Valentine’s Day, Irwin released his album S.O.D.A. which local label 1:12 Records also pressed to vinyl. Judging by the lyrical content on the record you can hear there is a wry, bitter and dark sense of humour going on in Irwin’s brain, but don’t let that fool you, the music is uplifting, catchy and will get stuck in your head for days. We chatted to Irwin about S.O.D.A and to see what is actually going on in that brain of his…

Hey Roy, let’s start with an easy one, what is your favourite soda?

I mostly just like the carbonation, but there are many great sodas. I miss passion fruit Mirinda. Passion fruit frenzy Mountain Dew is quite similar though. Cactus Coolers are pretty good. A classic Cola. Sparkling water with some fresh lemon and tiny bit of cayenne pepper. God damn. Did you know there is a Soda supermarket in Los Angeles? I am gonna go. They have a cucumber soda!

Holy smokes! You're making me thirsty. I am gonna have to try that cayenne pepper trick. Sounds spicy and delicious. So I understand S.O.D.A actually stands for Some Other Dumb Asshole. Can you explain the meaning behind the title?

Every person is someone's idea of a dumb asshole, regardless of who you are. I've got a dark sense of humour so for me it's a way to feel comfortable and have a sense of unity on a fucked up planet.

You also play with a band which goes under the name Roy Irwin’s PISS - Is this another case of your dark sense of humour, can you tell me a bit about the band?

My friend Clay suggested we call ourselves Roy Irwin's PISS at my album release after months of me being obsessed with the word and him tattooing it on my leg. PISS is Kim Martinengo on drums (GAYTIME, Smoking Daggers), Matt Rapley on bass (Bloodbags, The Admiral) and Vincent Lum on lead guitar (Hang Loose, Conjurors).

 We have been playing together for a few months now, It’s the first time I’ve played my solo shit with other people and it’s actually clicked. They are all great musicians. Just four dudes with a desire to rock hard, it's a wild world, baby.

You've had a prolific output over the past couple of years, releasing many albums, EP’s and singles - and you even released another EP, Chrome Lord, last month. Can you talk a little about your recording process and did it differ for the album S.O.D.A?

Recording is a process of learning. I don't approach recording in a specific way but I did spend more time doing S.O.D.A. Usually when I'm writing and recording new material I'll try do a song or two a day. It just depends on where I am mentally, I guess.

Is releasing a lot of your music in demo form a way for you to clear your mind? It doesn’t seem as if you are the type to work on a song for a long time. I also get the feeling that making music is almost therapy or druglike for you….

It's all of the above. I’d prefer to spend a few hours or a day on a song rather than a couple of weeks or whatever. For me it's about capturing that moment and if I spent too long doing one thing I'd get fucking bored and lose interest altogether. I like to wake up, come up with a melody as I'm starting my day and then just record. It's mostly improvised. It's fun and I get shit off my mind.

I think overall there is a melancholy feel to the album, and at times is lyrically bleak, yet the music has an melodic upbeat tone. It’s quite contrasting. Can you elaborate on the overall feel of the album, were you trying to convey any themes or feelings across?

The subject matter speaks for itself as I was pretty depressed and in a bad situation. All I wanted to create was an album that was good as a whole record from start to finish. I wanted it to sound like a brain high on solvents.

You recently played a Jay Reatard tribute night. Does his music directly influence your own, because I definitely see similarities. Who are some of your other favourite artists that directly influence you and your sound?

Jay’s songwriting and approach to making music had a huge impact on me. He seemed to do things on his own terms and has a massive back catalogue of great music. It's hard not to be inspired by that. Chris Knox is always a big influence and most recently I'd say Lou Reed, Cocteau Twins, John Cale and Destruction Unit.

was released on vinyl by 1:12 Records. Can you tell me a little about how you came to work with them?

1:12 Records is David Perry and Kim Martinengo who also plays drums in PISS. They do small runs of records and print/ fold covers by hand. I met David at the first Dirtbag Radio Awards I think, and he asked me if I'd like to put out a record. Then a week later David, Kim and I all got drunk and went to Mudhoney. They are both really great dudes and they really care about the music they release. I might sound biased in saying that I think 1:12 Records is the most important independently run record label in New Zealand but you just have to look at the records they have released and the way that they are doing things. It’s plain to see.

What’s in store for the rest of your year?

More shows and I'm gonna record songs for another album. Probably a small NZ tour in July, and then in September I'll be going to the states to play shows with PISS.

Finally, who is your Some Other Dumb Asshole?

Ah man. There are lot's. Paul Reid, John Key, Mike Hosking, Paula Bennett… they are all despicable cunts but we already know that don't we?

You can catch Roy Irwin's PISS this Saturday 7th May along with Magic Factory, Echo Ohs and more at F Bar in Auckland, head over here for more details.

Photo by Jo Galvin


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