The Killer Hipsters have a ‘General Manager’ by the name of ‘Luscious Johnny Leopardskin’. This says a lot even before you hear a sound.
They are borne of the raw, visceral attack that hooks us all from New York to Perth – from The Ramones to The Volcanics. It’s what John Ferrington (guitar/vocals) and Paul Volich (bass) saw in guitarist Neil Stacey when they checked him out playing in a previous band in early-2014.
“They told me they liked my guitar work but that I was in the wrong band,” Stacey laughs. And indeed, the guitarist is cut from a certain cloth, having a long fascination with the music of The Clash, Sex Pistols, Johnny Thunders and The Cult.
“The kind of guitar sounds in music that when I hear them they make my hair stand up on end,” Stacey explains. “Les Paul and Marshalls; the sound of Never Mind The Bollocks or Billy Duffy in The Cult.”
“I’m pretty meat-and-potatoes, I walk around with sheets of paper rather than recording equipment.”
With other sprinklings of Antipodean sauce in the form of The Saints, Beasts Of Bourbon et al, the band that has come to thrive as The Killer Hipsters are united by punk rock instincts and a sense of everyone having their say.
“Tommy (Marsh) our drummer is crucial,” Stacey explains. “He turns my guitar riffs into quite something else and even changes the timing on them as well. It’s really quite an easy process. We’re lucky, we all get on and give each other space to play as well.
“I’ve been in bands before where you own your own song. I find that really stressful because everyone’s trying to get their song played… but if the band owns the songs the best songs get chosen that way.”
Having hit Perth stages later in 2014, The Killer Hipsters released their self-titled debut album in mid-2016.
“It sounds pretty raw to other people but to me it sounds like it’s quite produced because I like those live noises and feels in the background of an album,” Stacey explains. “I listen to a lot of live albums because I love the rawness and the spill and the pick-scrapes. So for me at the time I just went in and played my parts and it was done, then John and Paul spent a bit more time on it.”
This was followed by regular gigging and a vinyl EP release, Next Big Thing, which was released in late-2018. Stacey feels Next Big Thing is a bit more considered across the board, with a protopunk tightness that tips its hat to their future.
“It’s a lot more layered,” he notes. “We became a little more savvy with the sounds of those songs, and the playing was a lot tighter as well. Even in guitar bands, it’s really the drums and bass that make things heavy.”
As the sound was being consolidated on the EP however, evolution was on the agenda with the introduction in 2018 of a new vocalist, Christabel Ellis.
“Bel used to play in a cover band with Paul and Tom,” says Stacey, “and they have the discipline you need to do that. John and I are a bit more loose at times, so that has actually worked well.”
While guitarist Ferrington graciously stepped aside as lead singer, he still sings four or so songs in the Killer Hipsters’ set, so along with drummer Marsh who takes lead on Next Big Thing’s title track, the band are now a triple-threat in the vocal stakes. Some of the older songs have been transposed to new keys, complementing the vocal evolution already at play and new songs are all their own, with the same creative openness that has always characterised the band continuing with Ellis’ inclusion
“Bel writes much happier songs that me,” Stacey laughs. “She just gets on with it.”
Plans are afoot for a new EP release in late-2019 that will include brand new tracks such as Pawn, I.O.U. and a guitar-driven ballad, Nothing Changed, complemented by re-imaginings of previously-recorded songs, Bill Posters, Crystal Meth and Your Crowd, with Ellis’ vocals bringing some new light through older windows.
The Killer Hipsters tunes are available right on i-Tunes and Spotify, but rest assured the new EP release will again be loving pressed on vinyl. In the meantime, as a band that loves it live, expect them soon on a stage near you.
Self-titled debut album out now!
The killer hipsters Tour dates