BOGAN-Australian/NZ word: An uncouth or unsophisticated person regarded as being of low social status: some bogans yelled at us from their cars/my family are culinary bogans.
Bogans are an energetic punk band from North Wales consisting of Adam Wright on vocals, Joe Reynolds on lead guitar, Jimmy Wright on rhythm guitar, Tom Hamblett on bass and Lewis Jones on drums. They are an absolutely hilarious bunch whose music is uniquely their own full of spit, spirit, hilarity and energy and reminds me a bit of a mash up of Anti-Flag, NOFX and Rancid with a sprinkle of The Bouncing Souls thrown in. I was lucky enough to speak to these lads before they took off for a few dates in Finland and of course, hilarity ensued..
Erin: Well hello there!
Adam: Sorry, my dog is trying to hump anyone he can at the moment, and is currently getting intimate with Joes arm. I guess that’s probably an interesting way to start off an interview?
Erin: Oh please, totally normal! How are you guys?
Bogans: We’re good. We are happy to have an interview!
Erin: I know you guys have some shows coming up.
Bogans: Yes, we have quite a few including 2 in Finland.
Erin: I saw that on your Facebook page!
Bogans: Yeah, we’ve been quite lucky with that. Actually, funny enough our second gig was in Finland.
Erin: Really? Why Finland?
Bogans: We stayed in touch with a few friends that had come over years ago and I mentioned that we had a new band that started and they asked us to come over, so we did!
Erin: How’s the punk scene over there?
Bogans: It’s awesome! Absolutely awesome! They definitely like the drink over there, which to be honest so do we!
Erin: That’s my kind of country!
Bogans: Last time we were there, we got rather destroyed before we went on stage and it went down as an absolute blast and everybody loved it. I think we’re doing better in Finland than we are in the U.K. to tell you the truth!
Erin: That’s so crazy!
Bogans: Yeah, it’s weird but we’ve made a lot of friends out there and discovered a lot of amazing drinks like long drink and salmiakki. I would drink that stuff till my face falls off!
Erin: What the hell is in that?
Bogans: It’s like a salty, licorice vodka. It sounds absolutely disgusting but I swear if you try it, it will blow your mind!
Erin: So when did your dream of starting a band begin?
Bogans: Well, with us guys it started off when Lewis here, basically approached me about starting a band. When he was younger, like one of his college courses, he had to put on a gig and he got in my old band, SmackRats. Do you want to describe how it ended up?
Lewis: I had to put a gig on for our final, so exam I suppose, project. So I asked Adam’s band and I was in a band with Joe as well at the time, basically we got banned from the venue.
Lewis: Adam doesn’t know how to stay grounded for one, so he’s walking over people’s tables, kicking pint glasses off. The microphone got damaged, it was good though!
Adam: I ruined his project.
Lewis: I did pass though!
Adam: It was a messy one and a lot of drinks got ruined that night.
Lewis: Still to this day he’s walking all over bars!
Adam: Yep! Well, it’s a challenge-you gotta go for it! If there’s a bar there and you can get your head behind it and over the top and try to get a few free drinks while you’re playing. It’s a potluck game, sometimes the bar staff laugh, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes you get beer, sometimes you get a facefull of line cleaner. You just have to take the chances.
Erin: Nothing wrong with that! So after that you ended up forming the band and playing together?
Lewis: No, that was going back 10 years ago. We had other bands prior to this band and there was nothing really much going on.
Adam: I was getting a bit bored, like normal life was getting to me a little bit. So I needed a bit of fun time, really to vent out the frustration. And then I bumped into Lewis here who was up for the band and that’s how we carried on really, you know? A good way of blowing off steam.
Erin: I know you guys are kind of skate punk but then I hear a bit of hardcore influence. Who are your major influences?
Adam: Everyone’s a bit different. We all have our own taste in punk. To be honest, I don’t think we sound like ANYONE really!
Lewis: We all like Bad Religion and NOFX and Pennywise.
Adam: Yeah, I’d say we’re quite influenced by American punk bands and quite a bit of Australian punk bands.
Erin: What Australian punk bands? I’ve spent some time in Melbourne, St. Kilda.
Tom: (speaking to Lewis,) That’s where your mum’s from!
Adam: Oh yeah! The Aussie bands reflect a little bit in our music. The term “Bogan” itself is like an Aussie redneck. We do look up to a lot of the Aussie bands. It would be nice to get there one day, but to be honest, for us it would be a bit expensive.
Erin: It is expensive to get there, but once you’re there the live music scene is INSANE.
Lewis: About the live music scene, I was over in Australia and literally every bar there’d be a band playing. And Helsinki as well. I think of this other time, this festival we were playing, something small, but people will actively go out and watch a band. Where like here, in Wrexham, there’s tons of bands, there’s a few venues, and when they play no one goes to watch.
Adam: We make the best of what we get and if the crowd is small, that’s the best time to put on more of a show really! I do have a tendency of rugby tackling people. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always end well! I broke me ribs a few gigs ago.
Lewis: Second song in.
Adam: Second song in, managed to break me ribs. I was crawling around on the floor and someone decided to jump on my back and suddenly my ribs go “POP”! I swear I felt each of my ribs pop out. it was agony.
Erin: Did you finish the set?
Adam: Well, yeah! (We all start laughing.) Just kept myself inebriated and plodded on! A few whiskeys made it a bit easier!
Erin: Whiskey always does! So, how did you all end up playing the instruments you do?
Tom: I just liked bass.
Erin: When did you start playing?
Tom: About 15 years ago. I started at school.
Adam: Yeah, a lot of these guys all went to school together.
Lewis: Drums were the only thing I could play! I just like simple, fast punk beats, so I started with that and then just carried on doing it!
Adam: In all fairness though, when we started the band, you (Lewis) did learn to play some guitar to try and write the songs.
Lewis: There was a couple of years when I wasn’t really doing anything and I sold me drums and then our friend from college, John, left his guitar at my house. That was 10 years ago and he still asks for it back! Taught meself basic chords and then just came up with some ideas. Then, I was drumming for another band and you know how you can hear riffs in your head? But I could never play them to the other band. Then that band didn’t go anywhere and I sort of started the basis of the first 2 tracks of the Bogans EP and then took it to the practice room and there you go! There’s always ideas coming out of the brain.
Adam: This is Jimmy, the newest member of the band, since January.
Erin: Wow that is new! Hi Jimmy!
Adam: Jimmy has been awesome! He sort of jumped in with like, both feet. And this is our main guitarist and part time dog romancer Joe.
Erin: Hello Joe!
Joe: My mates brought a guitar over when I was like 15 or 16 and I enjoyed messing around on guitar so I went and bought one the week after that. That’s how I started.
Erin: You just fell in love with guitar and you went from there?
Joe: Yeah. And I just play all the time.
Adam: He pretty much just thinks and talks music. As for me, I have no actual talent! I have no rhythm or singing ability actually! But I can run around and rugby tackle people.
Erin: And kick over pint glasses!
Adam: Yeah! Being a front man gives me that option! Rugby tackle people while on stage and get away with it! Rugby tackle people when you’re not on stage, you get your face bent in!
Erin: Do you have any successes you’ve achieved since you guys have been together?
Lewis: People like us more in Finland more than home!
Erin: Why do you think that is?
Lewis: People generally go out to watch a gig! I think that’s it. The problem here is, people go to a gig just to watch the headlining band. Like 3 people will actually turn up and watch the entire gig from openers to headliners. I kinda like the nonchalant clap people do at the end of a song. Is it because we suck and people don’t get the music? I’d like to think it’s both.
Adam: Personally, I think the British nightlife has been murdered really, because the pub industry is being killed by Wetherspoons which is KILLING live music. Pubs have all gone a nice safe shade of light beige, Nightclubs are all very, very generic and the price of alcohol going up as well as the smoking ban has really sort of killed off a lot of the British scene. I mean, people are becoming hermits and won’t leave the comforts of home,but when we GET them out and they come to a gig, they have a blast at our show. I just think it’s a shame in our country. A few years ago, you’d get a lot more people out before the smoking ban and booze was cheaper. It’s just bloody expensive! Even drugs are more expensive! I think we got to try and bring it back a bit ‘coz if you don’t try, what’s the point?
Erin: So then would you say your biggest success is building up a fan base in Finland?
Adam: Yeah probably. I’d say that is definitely one of our biggest successes.
Lewis: The EP as well, people seem to like it so I think as far as successes go, we haven’t released a crappy thing!
Erin: You’ve gotten a lot of good reviews on the EP so that’s definitely a positive. For me, having grown up not exactly in Los Angeles, but outside in Huntington Beach which is home for surf and skate punk, so listening to your music is kind of that same thing I grew up listening to, so it’s familiar to me. I grew up listening to the Adolescents, the Vandals, NOFX even though they were from up north, all those bands. You guys have fun with it, don’t you?
Adam: Definitely. I mean, you can tell we enjoy what we’re doing. I think it comes across in the music, that and the general frustration of life. It’s a catharsis really, you know. It’s going on stage and playing music as just a way to blow off steam really. I mean, I really needed it anyway! I was going mental before I was in the band, with my humdrum repetitive computer based job and I was just fucking miserable really. It really sorted it out for me and I think that really comes out in the music.
Lewis: I just like the idea really, of having all our influences rolled into one and people can relate to it. I find it difficult to listen to new bands that define themselves by a subgenre. I can’t really relate to it. We’re a punk rock band but I think other people might try to put us in a subcategory if you know what I mean? We just want to sound like us. Play the music we like to play. So I find it quite hard to listen to new bands who aim for a particular set style in the way they sound. Yeah we are influenced by what we grew up listening to, but the final product is different. The music is just us expressing ourselves.
Although, I sort of like the idea of the next generation saying, “that’s what I grew up listening to bands like THAT”. Hopefully someone might include us in their list of influences one day, but I doubt it.
Adam: I think if you dissected our EP musically it might sound like what we were listening to when we were kids, but as a whole I can’t say we sound like any of them. The influence is still there at the EP’s heart though from allsorts of bands we listened to growing up.
Erin: Like the Queers, Adolescents, Vandals, where you’re not taking yourself too seriously. There’s not too much politics or all that bullshit in it, you know what I mean?
Adam: There’s a bit of politics in it. We do introduce politics. It’s weird. I think we sound like everybody and nobody at the same time. It’s all the people we love and none of them at the same time. It’s weird ‘coz we get mentioned in with U.K. ’82 and I don’t think we sound like the U.K. ’82 bands. At the same time, maybe we’ve got a bit of skate punk going.
Erin: It’s a mishmash of all of it but you’ve developed your own sound and your own way of doing it.
Adam: Definitely. It’s our way of doing it.
Lewis: But with each of our own influences.
Adam: I think each of us brings our own little bit to the table.
Erin: Do you have a funny story of when you were on the road or something crazy that happened at one of your shows that you want to share? Something that’s just like ridiculous? It can be as obscene or obnoxious as you want!
Adam: Basically we managed to play this gig which is referred to as “Mad Friday,” which is the last Friday before Christmas and everybody is absolutely smashed! We’re going back and the petrol light goes on. And we drive past the petrol station, we’re talking out into werewolf country, like full on American Werewolf in London, no lights for miles. No one on the road because everybody is drunk! And, the car DIES. So, I leave these guys in the car and walk in the pitch black to get some diesel, which you never paid me for by the way Lewis!
Lewis: And he comes back, puts the diesel in the car and we find I’ve drained the battery watching Simpsons videos in the car!
Erin: Oh shit!
Adam: So, we got petrol and now can’t start the car.
Erin: And no one is out driving so it’s not like you could get a jump start from anyone!
Adam: Exactly! So in the end I’m like, I’ve had enough! I go down this dark county lane again, walk miles to the nearest town again in the pitch black dark and there I call a taxi because it’s the nearest location I can say is a landmark, sorry the dog’s humping Joe again! So, I call this taxi and it never comes and in the meantime these guys managed to get the engine fixed, so I’m left there, freezing by the bloody cold river, must’ve been 4:00 in the morning. They came back to get me a couple of hours later. I’d say yeah, that’s probably one of our disasters along the way!
Joe: Or the photos…
Erin: Photos? What photos?!?
Joe: We were staying in a hostel in Finland and it was 5 in a single room. We were all going to sleep and I was naked and I decided to put my legs behind my head and blatantly exposed everything. That photo is now everywhere!
Erin: Well at least you’re flexible!
Adam: He’s the only one in the band that doesn’t really drink! He just does stuff for a laugh!
Erin: Those are the ones you always have to watch out for!
Adam: At least we have an excuse when we do stupid shit! and don’t forget the video of him eating caramelised onion hummus from his bumcrack. I must’ve sent that video to every promoter I could find. It may have put me off the smell of hummus for life but it may have helped us get a few gigs. Poor promoters didn’t expect that.
Erin: Vinyl, tape, CD or digital music?
Adam: I don’t know. For collection purposes, vinyl is awesome. But having said that, I’m cheap and generally can only afford CD’s!
Lewis: I prefer mini discs! I think it would be cool to have stuff released on vinyl but then again it just comes down to funds. I can’t even burn a CD on my laptop anymore because it doesn’t have one! For me at the minute, it’s digital!
Adam: I think digital has given us the freedom to get our music to more people easily and at less cost. So that has its benefits. But it’s still not the same as being able to actually hold something. When you bought a record or CD back in the day, you spent more time with it. Before you even got home you’d be looking through the book, ready with anticipation. I think we’re maybe missing a little bit of that nowadays, really.
Erin: You can’t get that on Spotify or iTunes.
Adam: It sort of carries on with the whole “I want everything now” image that our generation is getting. Our attention spans are shrinking. You don’t listen to an album with the same love. You don’t get to learn to love the track 7 that you didn’t like the first time you heard the album. When you spend money on buying an album you bloody well make sure you listen to it to death. When it’s digital and you’re streaming things, you’re not really listening to the whole thing. It can become background music or you’re just skipping from song to song. I listen to a lot of music in me car so I don’t always get the option of skipping tracks, so I still have that same passion for albums.
Erin: So when can we expect your next EP?
Adam: We don’t know about a release date yet but we’ve got a recording date.
Lewis: The end of summer I’d imagine.
Adam: That being said, we’re still trying to raise the money for the last one! It’s fucking expensive! So we’re all feeling a bit of that. Except for Joe. He feels nothing.
Erin: Joe, are you dead inside?
Joe: No, I’m good!
Adam: He’s very dead inside!
Erin: So what other plans you’ve got in the immediate future? You’ve got some recording time. I know you’ve got shows coming up in Finland, then also Macclesfield a couple more in the UK?
Lewis: We’ve got quite a bit going for us. Focus Wales, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it?
Erin: No, I haven’t! Is it a festival?
Lewis: It’s a 3 day festival (10-12 of May in Wrexham, UK.) and they showcase bands from all over-Canada, Japan, Wrexham, everywhere! They’ve given us a pretty decent slot which is really cool.
Adam: It is a rather big thing, especially for Wrexham.
Lewis: Loads of people come in packs.
Adam: We live in North Wales and Wales isn’t really known for being a hot spot of music. Any decent bands normally have to travel to Manchester. It is a big one, especially for our home music scene.
Erin: What’s the best thing you think comes out of playing your music?
Joe: I think it’s meeting nice people! I don’t think we’ve met one dickhead at a gig!
Adam: Yeah, we are the dickheads! It is literally getting out there and meeting new people. That’s what this band is about; us having a good time. If we weren’t enjoying it we wouldn’t be doing it! In a way I need it just to blow off steam. I work in a library nowadays! I need the contrast.
Erin: What’s the band’s favourite song to play live?
Jimmy: I’m gonna say “To What End” because people seem to know about it!
Adam: I don’t know. I personally like “Bucking Bronco” because I know Lewis absolutely hates playing it! And he has to sing backing vocals at the same time as playing superfast.
Lewis: Any of the faster ones.
Joe: I like “Cattle Battle”. It’s my favourite. It’s more technical.
Jimmy: It’s one of the new ones.
Adam: I let you introduce it live just because of how you say it! Say it again.
Joe: “Cattle Battle”. (Sounds very prim and proper and we all have a laugh.)
Erin: What about venue? What’s your favourite venue to play?
Adam: We played the New Cross Inn (323 New Cross Road in London,) the other week and it was an awesome atmosphere. The venue is exactly what you want. Although Atomic in Wrexham definitely holds a big place in my heart because it is the perfect kind of dive bar and some of the crowds really get into it. I’m sure there are holes in the roof there from where I had a someone from the crowd on my shoulders and they were just punching holes in the roof. Great times, just avoid the toilets.
Erin: I think that’s about it guys! Do you have any questions for me about anything?
Lewis: What was the best gig you went to growing up?
Erin: For me, are you familiar with the Los Angeles band Fear? It was right when they released “Have Another Beer with Fear” in like 1995 and I saw them when I was 14 at a place called Old World in Huntington Beach, California and it was the last gig they played anywhere near Orange County for like 20 years or something crazy because some racist asshole started shit with one of the band members. But, they played absolutely amazing that night. I had never seen anything like it. And it was a big deal to me because I had recently discovered the Los Angeles/San Francisco punk bands like Fear, X, the Screamers, Dead Kennedys and I was so amazed to see one of those bands play live. That and the fact I snuck out of my mom’s house to meet up with my friends at that show! I’ve since seen them several times and they always put on an amazing show, but as one of my first punk shows, that one really burned into my memory.
Adam: Cool. That is what punk should be about, creating awesome memories and having a great time. People need to do that more. I’m sure the world would be a better place if we all just lived life a little bit more.
Erin: Thank you so much for sitting down and chatting with me! I’m gonna try and see you guys play when I’m over in the UK this summer! Good luck on your Finnish dates!
Bogans: Thank you! Hope to see you soon!