FEATURE: Spotlight: Amyl and The Sniffers





PHOTO CREDIT: Amyl and The Sniffers 

Amyl and The Sniffers


IT is not like Amyl and The Sniffers

 IMAGE CREDIT: Amyl and The Sniffers

are new to the world but, for us in the U.K., maybe the Melbourne band are fairly fresh. The band released their eponymous album very recently and, whereas I shall come to that, they have been putting out music for several years now. This year has been a busy one for the gang and, with an album out, there are gigs demands and rounds of publicity. Before I come to any of that, here is a bit of biography about Amyl and The Sniffers which tracks from the start to 2017:

Amyl and the Sniffers are a punk band possessed by the spirit of seventies Australian rock. Amy Taylor (vocals), Bryce Wilson (drums), Dec Martens (guitar) are former housemates who formed the band, wrote a handful of tunes and released their debut EP, Giddy Up, all in a span of twelve hours.

Completing their line up with Gus Romer on bass, the band take their cues from a diverse bunch of legends including AC/DC, Cosmic Psychos, Dolly Parton and Die Antwoord, setting out to have as much fun as possible.

Their 2nd EP, Big Attraction, was released in February 2017, kicking off a stellar year for these young punks. Growing buzz around their blistering live show made the band a hot tip at Bigsound in Brisbane, while the band was added to festival lineups including Meredith and CherryRock17. The band and were invited to join the Cosmic Psychos on their forthcoming November/December tour and capped off the year with a sellout NYE show at the legendary Tote in their home town of Melbourne”.

From the opening track of their eponymous album, Starfire 500, the band set fire to the speakers and create this special world. That song and the closer, Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled) are the longest on the record – most of the songs are tighter and deliver that swift, quick kick. I must admit that I am not new to the band but, with their album out, I have been making up for lost time and experiencing their unique cocktail. I know there are a few Pop/Post-Punk bands with a female voice at the front but, to me, Amyl and The Sniffers are in a really strong position. Amy Taylor is able to convey so many emotions and colours. Listen to the Amyl and The Sniffers album and every song is vividly brought to life by Taylor’s relentless energy. I would not be surprised if the Australian band’s album cracked a lot of critics’ top-ten lists come the end of this year. The reviews for the record have been largely positive. NME were full of praise:

 “Loud and aggressive, for sure, but it’s singer Amy Taylor’s insightful yet chant-worthy lyrics that make this more than just a ear-bleeding exercising. ‘Angel’ is a sweet love song caught up in a whirlwind of sound (“I’m shaking, I can’t take it, bent over back all day waiting for you”), while ‘Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled)’ is defiant and empowering, while retaining the stickiness of the rough carpets of the pubs they frequent.

It’s “pub-punk” for now, but there’s a good chance it’ll take them to much bigger stages sooner rather than later. It’s not big, it’s not clever, but it’s a bloody hoot”.

Pitchfork had a slightly different slant when they approached Amyl and The Sniffers’ album:

By the very virtue of being released on a major label, Amyl and the Sniffers reverses that equation. While the group still tends to run lean—most of the album’s 11 songs clock in well under three minutes, with the whole thing rushing by in half an hour—all of the songs feel formed. Give some of the credit to producer Ross Orton. A veteran of the Sheffield scene—he played drums in Add N to (X) and floated through Pulp’s circles on his way to working on M.I.A.s’ Arular, gaining a noteworthy credit by producing Arctic Monkeys’ 2013 LP AM—Orton gives the band a beefier, bolder sound. This increased heft accentuates how Amyl and the Sniffers can sound like heirs to the sharpie rockers of Australia, a dirty underground movement of the ’70s that traded upon glam and nascent heavy metal—a sound that eventually wormed its way into the gnarly riffs of AC/DC and Rose Tattoo”.

Reviewers around the world have been bigging-up the Melbourne band since last year – in fact, the buzz has been building before then. The band are on fire right now and there has been a lot of anticipation surrounding their long-awaited album. The interviews have been thick and fast but, looking back last year, DIY caught up with the band as they set about recording their debut.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Jenn Five for DIY

The band tried to define their sound and explained how their unique flavours were compelled by myriad sounds and decades:

The point, says Amy, was to have something to bring to the table at the “house parties and shed shows” that the friends all used to frequent – raucous, DIY gigs with bands called things like Drunk Mums and Dumb Cunts all getting sweaty in pleasingly shitty small rooms. From that first EP (entitled ‘Giddy Up’) of scratchy, short’n’sharp garage rock – its four songs clocking in at just seven minutes in total – the band got their first gig. “There weren’t many people there and we fucked up heaps, but it was so fun and the best thing ever,” the singer enthuses. “We covered four songs because we had no songs to play and then the bartender [took the piss] because we only played for 15 minutes. But it’s nice when you start something new and you haven’t figured it out yet; the exciting part is learning and working out what you’re doing.”

Influenced by the garage rock scene they grew up around, as well as “bad Aussie rock’n’roll from the ’70s and ’80s: the classic Top 100 hits that your parents would listen to,” theirs are tracks that channel a different kind of punk to the influences touted around from their US and UK counterparts. Filled with a funny, unaffected bogan brattiness, Amyl might claim to sing about “everyday experiences”, but they do it in a way that seems more feckless and uninhibited than most. Take ‘I’m Not A Loser’’s claim of “My friends may think that I’m a cunt / But I pay the rent on time every month” by way of example. Led Zeppelin, it is not”.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Andy Ford for NME

There is a lot to love about the band. They are very honest and open and, when it comes to their conversation, they are often frank, funny and filthy! There is no ego where Amyl and The Sniffer are concerned – sometimes the bawdiness and crass edge can get a bit wary. The music is the thing that matters most and, when you immerse yourself in their magical blends, you are captivated and seduced. The band spoke with Gigwise earlier in the year and stated how, although they love recording, they are much more of a live band; one that has the world at their feet right now:

Singer Amy Taylor, a diminutive presence in her own right, is quick to reaffirm this. “We’re definitely more of a live band. Even our first recordings. We only put them out because we wanted to get booked so bookers knew what we sounded like and bands too so we could play with them. It’s the best feeling ever! Even if there were only ten people watching us every night I’d still feel the same way.”

Now firmly at the forefront of Rough Trade’s glowing roster. Not only for 2019 but also well into the future. While signing to such a prestigious label would be a daunting prospect to some, Amyl and the Sniffers appear to have taken it all in their stride.

“There were a fair few labels talking to us at the time,” admits Romer. “Geoff (Travis) heard about us after The Great Escape then he saw us in Hamburg along with Jeannette (Lee) from the label. After that, Rough Trade was the only place we wanted to be. They’ve done some incredible releases and have an amazing history. They take super good care of us and everyone is lovely. It’s awesome.”

“We love working them now. We’ve become part of the family,” adds Taylor. “It’s a really strange thing for me. Coming from Australia, I didn’t know that much about overseas record labels so it was really exotic and foreign coming to meet them but I’m so glad we went with them because that’s what it’s like; being part of a family. They come to our gigs and we just hang out”.

The band are all over the place right now and keen to share their stories with the media. You need to keep an eye on their social media channels because, with some hot material in the world, the band is hot on the live circuit. You can buy gig tickets and discover where the band is heading next. Before wrapping things up, I want to bring in an interview the band gave with NME and, during the chat, they talk about their start and how they decided to get a band together:

The group grew up all over Australia – Amy and Bryce are from tourist town Byron Bay, while Gus came from Tasmania and Declan from Perth. Bryce and Declan had been in bands before, and Gus would join the band a bit further down the line, but this was Amy’s first foray into music. The band met at a pub/venue called the Grace Darling in Melbourne’s Collingwood district. There was no fabled “moment” they say – Declan just recognised Bryce from a recent club night and introduced himself. A connection was made, and soon after, Declan had moved in with Amy and Bryce. No-nonsense, then.


The idea for the band came up at some “wasted kick-ons,” Declan says. Kick-ons means after parties, apparently. “We only made the first EP so we could get gigs” Amy says. The result, ‘Giddy Up’, was recorded in their shared house in 12 hours and runs for a grand total of five minutes. “The bookers never said we needed 15 minutes worth of music until we got off stage after eight,” Amy laughs. Following their instincts and making the EP as quickly as they could was the key to its magic. “The more you think about something, the less you know,” Amy says, gnomically”.

Make sure you get involved with Amyl and The Sniffers’ music and follow them on the road if you can. It is still early days for them but, from their previous songs and their new album, you can tell they have matured and are coming on leaps – even if they have kept the spit and attitude key to the core of their music. They are an exciting new band and I would not be shocked to see them appearing at big festivals in the U.K. next year. Right now, they have the world to tour and they are getting their debut record to the adoring masses. I am excited to see where Amyl and The Sniffers will head next and just how far they can go. Even though I am new to their music, I am making up for it and diving into their warm waters. The Australian band is in rude and brilliant health and it seems like they are not going…

AWAY anytime soon.


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