Aussie punks Backyard Surgeons are playing Midi Festival this weekend (22nd) and Yuyintang next week (25th) as part of their second Chinese tour in two years. We got ahold of guitarist Ryan Melder before departing for China to talk about their first trip to China, the Australian music scene and the documentary that they filmed on their first tour through the Middle Kingdom.
S247: Can you give us a breakdown of the band? And maybe a little history?
Melder: We started this band in 2007. It was just a bunch of dudes that like punk rock getting together to make some music of their own and have some fun. We have played a bunch of cities around Australia and have played with some great bands that we have grown up listening to which is an honour to say the least. In 2010 we managed to get over to China and SE Asia to play a bunch of shows, it was an awesome holiday. In a nutshell, we're just a bunch of guys that work our arses off so we can afford to go overseas and play shows.
S247: How was your first trip through China?
Melder: China was amazing. We didn't know what to expect, but it was a knock out playing all these crazy cities and just generally observing life in another country. We met heaps of great people, played some great shows and enjoyed it for what it was worth. The chaos of China definitely made us more thick skinned as a band!
S247: Were there any standout gigs on that tour?
Melder: Shenyang was a super fun show. We didn't really expect anything more than a bunch of people drinking at a bar watching us, but it turned into absolute mayhem with beer getting sprayed everywhere, people on stage, Morgan (our singer) climbing on to the PA, then the crowd pulling him up to the balcony, Matt (our guitarist) falling into the drum kit - we were stoked to be a part of it. People there know how to party.
S247: Having been through China once, were there some bands you played with that people should be on the lookout for?
Melder: The Flyx from Beijing. Apart from being super nice guys, they shred and are unbelievably tight as a band. We are playing a show with them when we come back in April so we can't wait to catch up with those guys. Another great band was Dischord, I am not sure if they are still around, but I loved them.
S247: What’s the music scene like in Australia right now, Melbourne in particular?
Melder: Melbourne's music scene is so awesome. You can pretty much go out any night of the week and be able to see a great band - in fact there are sometimes too many great shows to choose from some nights. Everyone in this city lives for live music... and sport. Smaller cities like Brisbane and Adelaide have great scenes too which are tight knit with heaps of great people willing to help bands out with shows and put out their records. Everyone is friendly and accepting towards each other in the scene and in the end, that's what it's all about.
S247: Where else are you going to promote Destined for Descent?
Melder: Wherever we can. We decided after making this record, that it was going to be a very DIY release, meaning that we would press any cd/dvd's that had to be pressed, pack all the records, do all the advertising etc. It also wasn't going to be about making money and trying to sell our product, it was more about giving ANYONE access to our music. The easiest way to do that was put it straight on the net for free download. If someone wants to donate some money to us, they can freely do so as well. It definitely paid off for us in the end.
S247: How did the idea for the documentary come about?
Melder: We were planning a pretty hectic tour of China and we knew it was going to be crazy, so we HAD to capture it on video. In the beginning, it was just going to be us with a handy cam taking really bad footage of each other, but then through our friend Tom who was booking the shows, we met filmmaker Qiao Li who was pretty interested in what we were doing and it just escalated from there. We certainly didn't know it would turn into this, but needless to say we're stoked about it all and it's pretty rad to have a momento of our holiday.
Backyard Surgeons - No Anaesthetic Trailer
S247: How involved have you guys been in the editing and production of the documentary?
Melder: Not too much really, we just let Qiao do whatever he wanted to do. I mean we watched it and made sure it was all good, but I don't think we even changed anything in the end. I think it's good not to involve yourself too much in other people's projects, especially when it's you in the footage. You look at it in a different way and also become quite self conscious about the whole thing.
S247: When can we expect it? And where can we get it?
Melder: It's out now! You can order the documentary from brokenbonesmusic.org and you can listen/download to the new record at our Bandcamp page.
WORDS: RYAN MELDER / ANDREW BYRNE