From: Sydney, Australia
Genre: Punk Rock
Australia is an odd place; breeding advanced social experimentation in the upper echelons whilst at the same time maintaining a slow but steady drip of evolution to the masses. Still a new country in terms of the developed world, this has resulted in things being a bit behind compared to its Western counterparts and the Punk Rock scene is no exception. This is a positive thing, by the way, where Skate Punk has not been forgotten and continues to permeate with ferocity through the cracks of basements and dive bars right across the country. There is an article forthcoming on the Aussie Punk Rock scene, but for now it is of great pleasure to introduce one of Sydney’s stalwart Punk Rock bands; Ebolagoldfish.
Starting out almost fifteen years ago the band have gained a strong following and reputation on the punk circuit, having performed across the country on several occasions and continuing to put on regular local shows in aid of honing their craft to define the sculpture it is becoming today. Whereas their first official full-length effort Menage’ Abattoir set off down a Dub and Ska path, it seemed the band were quick to change their direction after realising more brass was needed in order to facilitate the sound and although both front men (brothers Andy and Gavan McDougall) actually play brass instruments, they decided to leave those elements aside for other projects and continue with just the essentials.
As is the unwritten rule for all humble and aspiring punk rock bands, one must at least acknowledge NOFX and Propagandhi in their list of influences… Where the first album indeed takes heed from the likes of NOFX, the second, 2009’s Break Up Sex is a more advanced offering, better produced and slightly (term used loosely) more political in regards to social awareness. Not to say the band were ever particularly puerile in their artistry, but there is an obvious shift in maturity as they transition between albums. In fact the first album remains a lot more advanced than the majority of other Australian punk rock bands, who despite often churning out superb riffage and harmonies, have nothing else to sing about besides going to the bar and getting drunk; such is the Australian culture unfortunately. There is a difference between being young in terms of skill and young in terms of intelligence.
Which brings us to the band’s magnum opus, 2014’s Prophet and Loss. Marketed (again, term used loosely) by the band as an epic fantasy journey, they put a lot of effort into the packaging of this release, with its professional artwork mirroring the sound and production value of the recording itself, alongside more intricate arrangements and conscious esoteric lyrics. They are professionals, after all… as bassist Gavan stumbles on stage, eyes glazed and projectile vomits half way across the dancefloor during their live show. Yet no matter how intoxicated the vessels behind the instruments, there is rarely a flaw in performance as the band powers through, tight as you like, with complimentary harmonies and break downs only accomplishable by a true blood connection. It is not your standard “Punk Rock” sound either; I had to send the record to a musician friend to put the finger on exactly what it was I was trying to describe and he knew the answer right off the bat; the Ebolagoldfish sound is a cross between Bad Religion and The Smiths. How ace is that.
All the best bands have that unique sound and how it is that Ebolagoldfish haven’t found at least overseas distribution yet is baffling to say the least, especially when newer, less talented, bands have come along and risen up in their place. Again, maybe this is just a reflection of sedentary Aussie culture, or maybe the band really don’t care for recognition outside of their circles. They are a self-professed “live band” after all, which could just as well be an excuse to record whenever they can be bothered. Maybe one famous family member is enough (older brother Lindsay McDougall is the guitarist for arguably Australia’s most famous Punk Rock band, Frenzal Rhomb). But at the end of the day, artists come at a price and you can’t have it all. Just be thankful that there is a band putting out this type of sound and enjoy as much of it as you can, while you can.
That being said, Ebolagoldfish do have some new tunes and plan on having a new record out some time in the future. It will be entitled Good Choices, Bad Times and if new track ABCs is anything to go by, we are in for another treat.