Sydney – Vocals
Liam – Bass
Matt – Guitar
Daniel – Drums
Brisbane punk rockers PhD are set to release their debut EP ‘Keep Dreaming, Weirdo’ this Friday. I had an hilariously epic chat with the band and I don’t think their were many topics we didn’t cover!! . They had also promised to tell me some whacky stories… they did not disappoint.
Okay guys hit me with your whacky stories! I’ve been waiting for this.
At this point the guys lost it laughing!
Sydney: All of them??? You’re in for a wild ride.
Matt: You’re in for a treat!!
I watched the video clip for ‘I’m An Alcoholic’ and I couldn’t stop laughing.
Sydney: That was a fun one.
Liam: That was a fun one.
Sydney: Not that we would know…..
Liam: Um yeah a lot of us don’t remember that filming.
Matt: He says a lot but he really means himself…
Sydney: We had a whole time.
Liam: That whole video we filmed on our phones. We actually just put them in the corner of my room. I was living with my parents at the time and I asked them if they minded if we filmed the video in my room but I didn’t actually tell them what the video was. So we showed up and just said we were going to have a really fun day and we shut the door! I don’t live with my parents anymore……
More laughing!! By this stage I am thinking that there is going to be a lot of that in this interview!
Sydney: Totally unrelated probably.
Matt: Let’s just say Liam’s parents weren’t happy that day.
Sydney: They love us anyway.
As long as the love is still there.
So you guys have an EP coming out on the 7th May?
Sydney: We sure do. I’m so excited.
Oh hang on let’s take this back to the beginning. How long have you guys been playing together?
Sydney: All of us or individually? We have had some change arounds.
From the beginning.
Liam: The band started quite awhile ago, back in 2017. We didn’t actually do anything, we weren’t good, until about 2019-2020. That was when Sydney and Matt joined.
Liam: So PhD has been around for awhile we’ve just been doing house shows and rehearsing. We have been active with myself, Sydney and Matt since 2019 and Dan has been in the band for about six weeks. He’s very, very fresh. When doing the drums for the EP he actually hadn’t heard any of the songs yet. We were just like you can do it, and he did.
Sydney: He’s still on probation!!
Dan: That one was very improv you have to admit.
Liam: He did well.
Matt: He is still on 3 month probation though.
Dan: Yeah I haven’t got my staff card yet.
Sydney: We have hit a road block every time we have tried to record something, it’s absolutely obscene. The first time we went to record I caught chicken pox. We had just started recording and got some things down and I said to the guys I didn’t feel too good. I thought it was the heat because we were recording in a small studio with no air con and it was about 40 degrees outside. I was doing my make-up for our photo shoot and I noticed a blister. I messaged my mum cos they kept coming up and off we went to the doctors. I had to test the guys and tell them I couldn’t come in for anymore recording. There where all theses messages in the chat like “WHAT!” I was quarantined on this two seater couch in my parents apartment and every time I got off of it she would double spray it. It really was a glimpse into the future…
I have been that mum (laughs) With five kids you didn’t want them all getting sick at once.
Sydney: Yeah it was a whole time. We did get it done eventually though.
Liam: Right before doing that our previous drummers knee gave out a week before recording so he couldn’t play anymore. And then we had Covid.
Sydney: It was really quite bad, his knee kind of blew up.
So then you had to find another drummer?
Liam: It was really quite stressful. We couldn’t rehearse, we couldn’t meet anyone. It was a really good learning experience.
At least all the bad luck seems to have happened at the beginning of your career!
Matt: Yeah that’s fair. We did get a little bit lucky with Covid because our producer wasn’t going to be able to record us and then he got an extra week because he had booked time to go interstate but wasn’t able to go. That gave him an extra week to help us record.
Sydney: One at a time! We could only have one person in at a time to record their part due to restrictions.
Who recorded it for you?
Liam: Our good friend Angus Honeychurch. He’s like a pop artist who..
By this time Sydney was in hysterics rolling around the room.
Obviously there is another good story in that Sydney?
Liam: He is an absolute Lord and he’s a really good producer.
Sydney: He’s insane.
Matt: He also hates being called Angus!!!
Sydney: Yeah I can’t believe you did that to him Liam. He’s going to come find you and put you in the ground.
Liam: At least it means he will read the interview (laughs)
Sydney lost it again at this point.
Sydney: We love Gus.
So you found your drummer and recorded the EP.
Dan: That drummer wasn’t actually me though. There was another one before me as well. I’ll let Liam explain that one….
Liam: There’s nothing to explain really!! Our first drummers knee broke and our second drummer was in a lot of bands and didn’t have time to do this anymore. And here we have Dan. And Dan you are on our EP!!
Sydney: You have two whole songs. OMG each drummer on our EP has two songs.
Liam: That’s wild.
And poor Dan has to learn them all!! How many songs are on the EP?
Liam: It’s a five track EP which is exciting. There are three songs.. wait is it five?
Sydney: I thought it was six.
Liam: Yeah, yeah its five.
I love this, when you ask a band about their EP and they start talking amongst themselves about how many songs it has (laughs)
Matt: There is a song that we have out as a single that isn’t going on the EP because it doesn’t really vibe with the rest of the songs.
Sydney: Ah yes that’s right.
Matt: This happens every time we talk about the EP.
Liam: So it’s a five track EP. Two singles you have heard and there are three new ones.
Sydney: And lots of love.
Will you drop another single before the EP release?
Liam: No we will not be. One of the singles is premiering, our song ‘Signal Lost’, on the 3rd of May on The Faction’s new music hour. That will be the only taste people get before the EP drops.
Sydney: I am so excited.
That’s good getting on the new music hour.
Liam: Yeah it was really lucky, we just emailed them and they hit us up and here we are.
Okay lets get back to the whacky stories! Is this where you get your inspiration for your songs?
Liam: Yeah. So ‘Panic’, I went to a house party with one of my friends and we had quite an extensive night. I woke up the next day absolutely terrified because I had been at a packed house party the night before and I woke up and everyone had disappeared. I went to sleep with all my friends and no one was there when I woke up at 6am. I was terrified. I started walking around this house wondering where the hell everyone was, where did they all go. I was really afraid and then this old guy that I had never met before walked out of the kitchen and was “Hey nice to meet you.” I was like who the fuck are you? You weren’t here last night… Turns out he was my friends grandpa. I was like, “Why are you here?”
Sydney: Hey Gramps!
Liam: Um so yeah that’s what ‘Panic’ is about. Being terrified the morning after a house party.
So where were they all?
Liam: I don’t know. I never found out where they all went. They all just left apparently. I went to sleep at 2am and woke up at 7am, I was asleep for 5 hours, so when the fuck did they leave. People were passed out and then they just woke up and obviously left.
In a group?!?!?
Sydney: They are probably still at a Hungry Jack’s somewhere…..
Okay so now I am nearly crying from laughter along with Sydney….
Sydney: ‘Panic’ is a very odd song. It is strangely structured and very strangely written. I remember joining the band with a lot of music theory experience, and I have sung in professional choirs, and I remember them saying oh alright you can learn this song, which was I’m Not An Alcoholic’ which was like a fun little party trick. Then Liam sent me a message saying, ‘Hey you can learn this one too’. I was like “WHAT?!?! What is this??” There was one line I had to completely rewrite because somehow, with no blessing from God, he had fitted 15 syllables into an eight beat bar. I was reading the lyrics and thinking that can’t be right, surely not! I told him that something had to change and that everything was wrong and theoretically it was not possible. Please help. Awaiting a response. Love Sydney.
You obviously sorted it???
Matt: We worked it out in the end. When I first joined the band the first song I learnt was also ‘I’m Not An Alcoholic’
Haha funny that is the first song Liam makes everyone learn!!
Matt: The way I learnt the song was Liam had his notebook that he would hand write out the individual notes on the guitar that I had to play. And how many times I had to play each note.
Liam: I think I might still have them…
Matt: Liam doesn’t have the best handwriting either. I would be messaging him saying “Hey dude what is this?” “How many times do I play this again?”
Liam: It’s seven, nine, nine – eighteen times (laughs)
Matt: We got there in the end.
Sydney: We write all of our music by vibes alone.
Dan: I learnt those two as my first songs as well. I didn’t really have any trouble with I’m Not An Alcoholic but when it came to Panic.. They only gave me about a week to learn the two songs. I really had a bit of trouble with Panic because it has a few different tricky spots in it. I had to learn a whole new technique to be able to play the song but I think I managed that alright. The tricky part was when I get to the audition they were like ‘Oh yeah so we don’t play it at this tempo that I sent you. We play it way faster”.
My face is really starting to hurt from all the laughter.
Dan: So I played it a bit faster and they were like yeah faster than that as well… We went 30, 40, maybe even 50 bpm faster than what they had sent me and I had been practising for a whole week.
Sydney: He did great.
Matt: We are known for playing all of our songs faster than they were written. Every time we play a song live at a gig we play it was faster than intended and we usually fall short on time. We never go over our set time!!!
Sydney: We did hit what is surely a world record for the amount of songs fitted into a set.
Liam: We did a show at Southbank JMC and we had a ten minute slot, they said play whatever you want for those ten minutes. We were looking to play four songs in ten minutes and we did it. We went start to back and we crammed it into 9 mins 57 sec and every other band played two songs.
Sydney: We had the time of our lives.
You’re the value for money band!
Liam: None of the other bands had set lists and they kind of looked at us like it’s a ten minute slot??? We know!!!
Sydney: They were all like acoustic duos bar one rock band. Then it was just us!
Have you guys done many gigs?
Sydney: Yeah we have played heaps.
Liam: I think about 15 shows so far and we have 8 in the next six weeks which we are really excited for.
I think you guys are one of the funniest interview I have done to date. I’ve had to use my asthma puffer cos the laughing has given me an attack!!! Drastic Park are the only other band that have caused that!!!
Sydney: Local punk band murders interviewer!!
Dan: Via Zoom call!
Liam: That’s going in our bio!
Sydney: Drastic Park is a cool name.
Not if you type it into the search engine!!
Liam: Oh yeah. We have the same issue.
Yeah I found that out, lots of doctor sites come up!
Sydney: That was the point.
Liam: Yeah it was the point.
Dan: We should tell her that story.
Liam: The reason we are called PhD is because our original drummer’s nana said to him you have to either die in the military or get a PhD and become a doctor.
What a call!
Sydney: This was the compromise. I love her though; she is otherwise so sweet.
Liam: So that’s where the name came from.
What about interstate touring? Is that something you are looking at doing.
Liam: Yeah once this EP drops that is something that we are looking at doing. We want to go up and down the coast here and Covid permitting be able to go interstate. We are a bit sceptical to try and book that at the moment with how things change so quickly.
Sydney: The hard part was when we started picking up shows and playing it was the start of 2020. That didn’t pan out to great. Fortunately when we had that few months of restrictions that was when we got our new drummer, so we spent the time teaching him all our songs. By the time the restrictions eased he knew all the songs and we could go straight into playing.
Did you so much writing during those times, did the EP come out of that?
Liam: Parts of it did. Signal Lost did.
Sydney: Signal Lost is probably my favourite song on the EP. Recording it and getting it so close to coming out has built my love up for it, I am so excited for people to hear it. It is so fun; it has our energy as a band. It has some really interesting moments in it. I wrote that song at home with my acoustic guitar, bringing it to the band we had this collaborative moment which changed the whole song. It became so cool and it was so much fun to work with everyone on it. A lot of the time Liam and I just bring songs forward. That song in particular kicked off a really good trend where we now work together more on the instrumentals of songs. These songs feel really collaborative and like they have a piece of everyone. It’s something that I really love about the songs that are coming out on this EP.
You’ve probably settled into more of your own sound now too.
Sydney: Absolutely. The song also very nearly killed our producer. I thought he was going to just have to tap out!
Seeing as everyone is involved in writing where do you all draw your influences from?
Liam: My biggest influence is a punk band from Milwaukee called Direct Hit. They are signed to Fat Records and they have an album called Wasted Mind. There was this moment I remember, listening to the first track off of Wasted Mind, it was building and building and talking about how the record was for young people not old people because if you are old you won’t like it. And you have guns and we are afraid of you. Then, this is my favourite part, it goes ‘Fuck you get Punked’. I heard that for the first time and I thought holy shit that is how I want us to sound. It is incredibly similar to how we sound.
Matt: Where do I start? One of my favourite bands from the last few years is a Sydney band called Dear Seattle. A lot of their music has shaped the way I play guitar. The way I want my guitar to sound, in the event that I do write a small g it’s also the way I guitar part it’s how I want that to sound. I don’t write music much but they have shaped a lot of the way that I play it. I grew up on the Seattle grungey stuff like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. I think bands like Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Dear Seattle and Waxx from Brisbane have shaped really shaped me.
Sydney: You guys don’t want to listen to me talk about music! My parents were in high school in the 90’s so they listened to a lot of NOFX, Hole, Verruca Salt and it was really that scene growing up for me. Shaping into my own music, I was so immersed in the 2000’s emo scene. Since before I can remember people have told me that my favourite band is My Chemical Romance and it still is to this day. My brother introduced me to Panic at The Disco, Fallout Boy and Evanescence. It’s all of those big vocal bands. Muse as well, Matt Bellamy is one of my biggest vocal influences. It’s those bands that have really moved me forward in my music and to think in a new way. Especially theoretically and with the way I can move my vocals. You wouldn’t hear it in our songs but I did classical vocal training, so its really call to hear bands that have that heavier sound with these beautiful vocals over the top.
Dan: My musical journey is probably one of the whackiest, weirdest ones you’ll hear. I grew up out in the country so my mum and dad used to play a lot of Carrie Underwood and stuff. Being the youngest in my family when I went to high school I found Disturbed and all those kind of bands. Basically by year 12 it was Slipknot and those good bands. Heavily down into the metalcore rabbit hole. Bring Me The Horizon and all those sort of bands. I played in a rock band at school but funnily enough I also played jazz in high school. The conductor needed a drummer and he begged me to come and play even though he knew it wasn’t my music. I found that I ended up liking a whole heap of music. I think the guys have seen that in what I wrote for the EP, especially in Signals Lost where they let me have the reins for that part. So I came from metalcore and when I finished high school I really wanted to get into a metal band and then I saw Liam’s post on Brisbane Music Scene and thought this could be fun. I messaged him and he sent me Alco and Panic, then I was like yeah this is probably a little bit of a mistake!!!
Sydney: He was right!!! (laughs)
Dan: I thought nope I’ll go anyway, its experience, and here I am.
Sydney: I forgot to mention Avenged Sevenfold but I do want people to like me!!
Just quietly I’m a fan of them too.
Sydney: They were a band that I listened to with my brother and we bonded over.
They cop so much shit but I think they are good.
What else do you want people to know about you??
Sydney: Just please like us!
Matt: Buy our EP please.
“Keep Dreaming, Weirdo” is out on Friday on all platforms. If you get the chance to see PhD live I have a feeling that you are going to be in for a treat. These guys are as hilarious as they are talented.