NEW DOOR OPENS: Tropical F–k Storm is the side project of The Drones’ Gareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin. Picture: Jamie WdziekonskiDESPITE being someonewho’sspent more than two decadesinthe music industry, alcohol and drugsaren’t the addictionstroublingGareth Liddiard at present.
Instead it’s the rapidly increasing encroachment of social media in our lives.
“We’re like eating ourselves in the real world,” The Drones frontman says.
“Shit like Twitter just turns people against each other. People who would usually find they have a lot in common, split hairs and hate each other’s guts.”
It’s not lost on Liddiard thathe’s making these comments viaan iPhone. For him, it’s an unfortunate aspect of modern life as a working musician.
“I’ve worked in bars and venues since high school and been around alcohol, so I’ve always had to have a shitload of self control with that,” he says.
“So I’ve lived with that my whole adult life and now there’s this other f–king thing.
Tropical F–k Storm – You Let My Tyres Down“The parallels are so obvious. The way smart phones tap in and take advantage of these weak spots in our behaviour that basically causes addictions.”
Liddiard has channelled his anger atthe hyper-politicised nature ofsocial media and it’s confected outrage into the debut album from his new band, the colourfully-namedTropical F—k Storm.
Their album A Laughing Death In Meatspace is a glimpse intoadystopian world where mankind is completely disconnected by technology.
It’swhere no one “plays chess, or cares,” (The Future Of History) and politics is “nothing but a fond f–k you”, (Antimatter Animals).
“Meatspace” is a cyber term used to describethe real world, while Liddiardappropriated “a laughing death” after reading about kuru, a deadly disease which effected cannibalistic tribes in Papua New Guinea.
Tribeswould cook and eat their dead, but an infectious protein in the brain matter would attackthe nervous system of the consumer. The practice was outlawed in 1960, but due to the sometimes decades-longincubation period of the disease, the last reported death occurred in 2009.
Gareth Liddiard Laughing Death In Meatspace is a major departure from The Drones. Liddiard and Drones bassist FionaKitschin arejoined bydrummer Lauren Hammel and guitaristErica Dunn in Tropical F—k Storm.
The alliance has created an experimental potion of prog-punk, which was influenced by Melbourne psych heavyweights King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard.
The opening track You Let My Tyres Down could have featured on The Drones’ Gala Mill, but from there, TFS take sharp sonic turns.
Tropical F–k Storm – Rubber BulliesThe 42-year-old Liddiard says the arrival of the younger Hammel,30, and Dunn,32, has injected contagious enthusiasm into himself and Kitschin.
There’s the same first-album vibe that Liddiard last experienced on The Drones’ 2002 debut, Here Come The Lies.
“Playing live, it’s not like I didn’t enjoy The Drones, but some years you enjoy the whole thing more than others,” he says.
“Even withrehearsing, I really love doing it because with a new band it’s interesting to see what happens when you jam and check out different ideas.”
Is there more freedom in Tropical F—k Stormthan The Drones?
“It’s all psychological because with The Drones we can do what we want,” Liddiard says.“From an outsider’s perspective you think that, but on the inside as the years roll by there’s a sub-conscious idea that you need to conform to some kind of idea, even if you conform to being non-conformist.
“There’s a lot ofbaggage, and I’m not putting negative baggage on that, but it’s a big organisation with a big history.With anew band is easier to move around and it’s a lot more agile, mobile and lighter.”
Tropical F—k Storm play the Cambridge Hotel next Friday.