Femme Punked Up Grunge is how Sydney’s BOYSCLUB describe their sound and I think that they have nailed the description. Not afraid to speak out, the band is using their platform to raise awareness and break down barriers.
There’s a movement that has been around for decades. A relentless, dominant, monumental movement that aims to capture the attention of the general public. To break down the barriers of misogyny, discrimination and violence. To stand for something greater than oneself.
BOYSCLUB is the result; the punk band; the voice; the change that they want the world to make. Influential with their words, BOYSCLUB stokes the coals of a fire that needs to grow and burn and transform, bringing the norms of society down and rebuilding into universal acceptance, tolerance and compassion for every human being.
For fifteen years, Sera Doll (lead singer / guitarist), Ava Noir (guitarist), Lou Harbridge (bassist) and Skarlett Saramore (drummer) have been an active voice in the Australian music community. Recently combining their shared passion – equality, their love of heavy music to create something powerful – and to stand for something more than themselves.
Focusing their music on topics from queer empowerment, domestic violence, violence against women and drug addiction, their shared experiences and skill sets create an equally impacting sound, a grunge-punk that they have made entirely their own. BOYSCLUB are preparing to release their debut album in early 2021, exploring the relationship between the band members and the society they live in.
I got to catch up with Ava and Lou for a really in depth chat around the first two singles that Boysclub have released.
First off let’s talk about ‘She The Atrocity’ obviously you wrote this one Ava
Ava: I actually really like Atrocity. It’s very different to Lovesickin terms of style, it’s a lot heavier. Lovesick is very kind of polished and it is the ‘pop’ song. I thought we’d come out tits swinging with Atrocity and then Lovesick to just bring people in a bit more. The song name and the line in the song ‘She The Atrocity’ was actually Sera’s idea. The way we write, especially with lyrics and vocals, is we will jam and record that and whatever scratch vocals Sera does in the jam room is recorded. Whoever is working on lyrics just goes off the phrasing and melody that Sera is singing, and we write the words to that. It just so happened that I wrote the words for this one and it came out the way it did. I never write with any intention of subject matter, that’s just what came out. It was just a slab of self-loathing.
It hit 30k listeners in about a week!
Ava: Yeah it built massively. I don’t know what the deal there is. Like how do these people now about us!
Lou: More so than Lovesick I think. We got a lot of listens in the UK as well
Ava: Yeah the UK thing was really good. We reached out to a girl in the UK who has her own online radio show, Alex Holcomb, she played Atrocity over there, which was really cool. Its bizarre that global reach and how things spider web out into the world. Covid has actually been very beneficial for us. A lot of people thought it was strange starting a band in the middle of a pandemic and trying to build it. I think it’s working in our favour a bit in terms of we’re not jumping in and playing shows to early. Instead we are putting music out there and creating videos so when we finally do play a show people will be hungry for it.
You guys touch on some pretty heavy topics. I love that you are doing that.
Ava: I don’t like to shy away from that kind of stuff. I write very bleak lyrics. It’s what I feel. So obviously She The Atrocity being what it is, it’s a very trans heavy subject matter. But it’s not happy trans subject matter, it’s fucking miserable. While I’m transgender, I’m happier now than I was essentially pretending to be a boy, but at the same time it’s not the greatest thing either. I see being trans as some kind of shitty consolation prize. Making the most out of a shitty situation. And with that there are still a lot of things I don’t fucking like at all. While I’m much happier in some respects in others its just a fucking pile of shit.
The whole mental/emotional side of it would be difficult.
Ava: It was quite easy when I went from realising I was trans and then going down that path. But it brought on a lot of body image and just not being happy in that. Being worried about going out and seeing old friends, just things like that. The fear of not being accepted. Dysphoria is pretty shit, it’s not there all the time but when it comes up its really bad. That’s the whole point of the chorus in She’s the Atrocity. It’s like “mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the vilest of them all”.
I tend to write very visually, so it all paints a picture. The same with Lovesick. I wrote the lyrics for Lovesick and what came out came out! I was like fuck I hope Sera is okay with this. Essentially it ended up being a song for her. Her struggles with addiction and stuff. She loved it and that was awesome. I didn’t want to romanticise addiction because it’s a horror story. A lot of addiction stems from mental health issues and lack of support. The system is so flawed. It’s waiting list after waiting list. If you’re already in crisis and you can’t access the help you need. A lot of doctors are happy to just throw anti-depressants at you, and while depression is a fucking massive problem a lot of times depression isn’t the cause of things it’s a symptom. Instead of trying to get to the root of the problem. So people tend to self-medicate be it through alcohol or drugs. The other side of it is fucking horrible.
Addiction shouldn’t be treated as a criminal issue. Yes people do turn to crime as a result of the addiction. But addiction itself is a health issue and it should be treated as such. The governments just let people down. The amount of times I’ve spent in emergency departments with friends when they have been suicidal, and the government just don’t give a shit. And if it’s not your first rodeo you can talk your way out. If you’re suicidal and know the right things to say to the psych you can get out of hospital. People are smarter than that system.
This is what I am loving about you guys. You’re not afraid to talk quite bluntly about all these issues.
Ava: I think people need to. Especially now with the world being in the situation that it is. I think people are sick of the shiny façade on things because that’s just not the way things are. You can live your life inside this bubble of happiness but if you look around you can see that shit is just fucking crumbling.
News, especially global news, is so accessible these days. That’s why you have all these massive movements, like the Black Lives Matter movement. It sucks, this is stuff that should be going on every day, that people should be aware of every day. But it takes essentially one event and people are like oh this has happened we need to support this thing. And then a week later its like ‘back to your scheduled programming’. Nothing has changed, there is still a lot of work to do.
Lou: That’s the thing you have one small victory, and everyone is like ‘oh we’ve done that cool’
Ava: A topic I can relate to as well is when we had the Same Sex marriage plebiscite. Everyone was support this, support this and the second it passed a lot of queer people like ‘We’ve got our right now the fights over’. No its not, there are still a lot of queer people out there struggling. Trans people especially, we are still fighting for certain rights. There are so many hoops that I have to jump through. I can’t even change my gender on my birth certificate unless I have surgery. That’s not something I care to have because I am pretty fucking happy with where I am at. But I have to have surgery and essentially butcher myself in order to appease some government rule. It’s fucking shit.
We are in 2020 you shouldn’t have to. It shouldn’t be like that.
Lou: I feel like we say that all the time though.
Ava: I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that religion is still so intertwined with politics. People are still trying to appeal to that very conservative base. Even the elderly base as well. I work in a nursing home and a lot of the residents I work with are pretty chill about the whole thing. Sure I get misgendered a lot, but they do accept me.
When we had the Lovesick premiere someone posted a comment on line just whinging about it saying ‘Boysclub’? but there all women! I thought you’ve just proved our point. The whole world is a boy’s club, so we get to have the name!!!
There is so much entitlement there. You’ve done something I don’t like so therefore I can assault you or you can take it in the much heavier direction of I find you sexy therefore I can rape you. It’s fucked. It’s not all men but if you’re not part of the solution then you are part of the problem.
That’s what I love about the metalcore community. They call that shit out and they aren’t putting up with it any more.
Back in the day when I was a dude in bands and playing in those metalcore bands. The amount of horrible shit I would see and hear but just didn’t know how to do anything about it. The stories coming from some of the guys mouths, holy shit. This shit has been going on in the scene as far back as its been around, as far back as Elvis even.
Yeah it’s always been there. I think the majority of people have just gone enough is enough. More people are starting to call the behaviour out and say it’s not fucking okay.
Lou: Yeah I think the ‘Me Too’ movement was very helpful for that.
Ava: Yeah it was.
I’m pretty vocal about this. I’ve made sure that all the younger girls know that if anything happens to them at a gig to come and find me. Or to make a scene so that the people around them know that something happened. I won’t tolerate that shit.
Ava: Even in situations like that some people go to the police but a lot of the time the police are hopeless anyway. Sometimes they don’t do shit about assaults, its so fucked.
We just have to keep speaking out
Ava: As long as people are aware that shits not tolerated and there is nowhere for them to hide in the scene. People need to continuously call out shitty behaviour, even if it’s for something inappropriate online. If we don’t then they are going to think its okay and it’s fucking not.
I think a lot of stuff over the years has been swept under the carpet or made excuses for shitty behaviour. Which is not okay either.
Ava: Fuck that. Bring them down.
Okay what’s next for you guys?
Lou: Hopefully a show!
Ava: We’re actually working on the next couple of single now. We are about to shoot another video which is going to be cool. Our next single is called ‘Villains’ and I’m not going to say anything more about it. The video is going to be fucking awesome, hopefully that will be out by the end of October.
Lou: We’re just writing. That’s what we are up to this afternoon.
Ava: We’re just going to spend the arvo tidying up some songs so that we can hit the studio soon.
So you have an album on the way not just an EP
Ava: I’m so done with EP’s. What I would like, actually no I’m not going to say that!! Actually I will say, but I’m not going to tell you what it is exactly. I need to hold some cards to my chest apparently cos I say to much shit lol. I want to release an album and then an EP and then another album. I want to make them different things to each other.
Lou: The next ones a jazz album!!!
Ava: It’s just Frank Zappa covers!!!
Lou: Yeah I’ll get a double bass!
Ava: They’re just so big. It’s funny because Lou is actually a guitarist and I am a bass player. I’ve always played guitar and written on guitar and I just got sick of being in bands and playing bass and writing on guitar. Then you have the guitarists change your song. I want them to be played how I wrote them! When we started the band it was just me and Skarlett and we were still in our old band. That went to shit and feel apart. On our last tour we were driving just listening to bands we love, like Australian bands. We were like this is the shit we want to do. This is the stuff we are passionate about so let’s just fucking do it. Let’s put together a band that’s all women just so we don’t have to deal with dudes anymore. So we got Sera in and we were going to ask Lou initially, but she was already in another band with one of Skar’s friends and Skar said she wasn’t going to poach anyone. So I was like fuck we can’t do that. We went into the jam room because we couldn’t find a bass player, I was playing bass for the first couple of jams and we wrote a bunch of songs. Then I think it was around January and I saw a post on Facebook about Lou’s band doing their last show and so we got Lou in.
Lou: I still remember getting that text from Skarlett about lunchtime. I thought don’t reply straight away!! I gave it a couple of hours and just replied with okay send me some demos.
Haha don’t appear too keen!!!!
Ava: We got into the jam room again. We have written so much shit and it’s all been pretty solid. And we are still evolving as a band musically. The album is going to be really cool and the songs cover quite a bit of ground. Some stuff if quite poppy and I do use that term loosely, it’s pretty pop for what we are. Other stuff is a lot faster and punkier.
So you guys wouldn’t have played a gig together yet either?
Ava: No. We’ve never played a show. We actually did a live stream from our rehearsal space.
Lou: Which we buggered up royally!
Ava: There’s some pretty good songs there and some even better ones coming in the works. Even being part of the band, I’m very excited to see where we go next. This band isn’t one where one person is sitting at home writing all the songs. All the songs are written in the jam room, so everyone is involved in the process. I usually take the recordings from the jam room because I record them on my phone, and I’ll start the demoing process. I’ll sit there and program Skarlett’s drums to what she is playing in the jam room.
Lou: She does a very good job with that process.
Ava: Then I put some guitars down and get Sera to come around and do vocals. It kind of expedites things but everyone contributes. Some one sparks the idea and it just goes from there. I’m excited to get this stuff out because we are just so close to finishing the next two singles.
Where do you guys draw your influence from?
Lou: All different places
Ava: We all bring very different things to the table. We all listen to such a wide range of music. Personally, I just see us as a rock band, and it is an extension of us. I could rattle off a bunch of bands that we love but none of that relates to how our band sounds. I’m really bad though if I haven’t picked up a guitar for a while and I’ve been listening to a lot of one particular band, which I do so much, I’ll pick up the guitar and write something that sound exactly like the band
Lou: I think we are all guilty of that though.
You guys have been around the scene for around 15 years in different bands.
Lou: Yeah we’re old! But this is the band that we have all always wanted to play in.
Ava: I’m having so much fun doing this. I like the fact that, while there is a lot of pressure in terms of people are actually interested in this shit, we have to keep it up!! And don’t fuck it up. Obviously when we released ‘Atrocity’ we were like how are people going to perceive this. What’s going to happen? People really dug it. Cool, here have a pop song next! With a lot of candy and shit as a metaphor for excess and addiction. The video for Lovesick was a lot of Skarlett’s idea and Ash, Skarlett’s girlfriend, who does our artwork and designs the merch. Skarlett also does a lot of the social media and business side of things too because she excels at that, she is so good. And we’ll just get in the way and annoy her, which I do anyway. I’m like the bratty sister.
So you’re the bratty band member?
Ava: Yeah. I’m definitely something…. I’m the seedy one in the band, everyone can attest to that!!
Ava: There’s always some kind of trashy story about me. I’m the only single one
Lou: We’re all living life vicariously through Ava!!
So another 5-6 weeks and we can expect the next single?
Ava: End of October is the tentative release date. At the moment we are just getting this merch sent out to people. Our vinyls are finally ready too. When we got the test press I went to Skarlett’s and we listened to them at normal speed. Then for fun we dropped it down to 33rpm. You have to listen to the vinyl at 33rpm!!
Lou: It’s basically Silverchair.
Ava: Lovesick sounds like some weird Nirvana B-side and She The Atrocity sounds like Godflesh or something, some industrial doom thing.
Anything else we need to know guys?
Ava: There’s a lot more stories to come. Topics that I have touched on with the lyrics that I have written are pretty heavy topics. Again because I don’t know how to write anything else. It’s just catharsis, it’s putting stuff out there so I’m not holding onto it anymore. I can’t really speak for Sera’s lyrics and where she has come from with things that she has written. While I’m happy to talk about my lyrics and the meaning, I’m happy when people put their own meaning onto things. The meaning that they put onto something if you tell them that it is wrong they can’t really relate to the song as much.
Lou: It’s always fun as a reveal later though once you have a set idea of what a song is about and then you hear what the writers intention was.
Ava: I’m just stoked that people are receptive to it all and are really enjoying it. I still giggle like a school girl reading the reviews and stuff like “oh they like us!!”
I like these girls too and am eager to see what Boysclub bring us next. Lovesick is out now on all platforms.