Australian Punk Sweeps The States

Ah, Australia. The Land Down Under. That place you think of when discussing varieties of deadly animals. Not necessarily, however, among the first countries that comes to mind when you think of rock music. But perhaps it should be.

You may not recall, but the great country-that’s-also-a-continent has had some big names in the industry for years, from AC/DC, to Men at Work, to INXS — even the Bee Gees are from Australia (sort of).

Australia has been a powerhouse for rock music for decades, and recent years have been no different. Artists like Tame Impala and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have shot up in popularity over the last few years, and have become common names on festival lineups around the world.

There are two bands however that I think represent the newfound growth of the Australian rock scene more than any other, The Chats, and Amyl and the Sniffers.

Photo courtesy of The Chats

Founded around 2016, both groups have recently experienced meteoric jumps in popularity here in the US due to new album releases and placement on festival lineups like Coachella. Both bands have put their own twist on the first wave of punk music that reached US shores in the mid-1970s, and have helped revive the punk genre on this side of the Pacific.

The Chats, comprised of Eamon Sandwith (vocals, bass), Matt Boggis (drums), and Josh Hardy (guitar), first rose to fame with their viral hit “Smoko” in 2017. Known for their lyrics about Australian culture, the group describes their particular sound as “shed rock.” The Chats released their debut LP High Risk Behaviour in 2020, featuring tracks such as “Drunk n Disorderly,” “Identity Theft,” and (one of my personal favorites) “The Kids Need Guns.”

The Chats were also featured on The Metallica Blacklist, with a cover of “Holier Than Thou” in 2021.

Photo courtesy of Amyl and The Sniffers

Amyl and The Sniffers, with Amy Taylor (vocals), Dec Martens (guitar), Fergus Romer (bass), and Bryce Wilson (drums), first popped up on my radar late last year, and have been living rent-free in my head ever since. Their self-titled debut album was released in 2019, followed up in 2021 with Comfort to Me, which reached #2 on the Australian charts and includes tracks such as “Hertz,” “Security,” and “Freaks to the Front.”

Both The Chats and Amyl and The Sniffers have recently announced US tours, and as luck would have it are playing in Texas in the same week, with The Chats playing at House of Blues Houston on 4/26, and Emo’s in Austin on 4/27, while Amyl and The Sniffers play two sold out nights at Hotel Vegas on Austin on the same dates.

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