Situated on a graffitied stairwell above The Observer Building, aptly described as “skitz-grunge” by drummer Billy Fleming, the Australian surf-rock duo Hockey Dad sit fresh off stage for an interview.
Hockey Dad, consisting of Zach Stephenson (lead guitar, vocals) and Billy Fleming (drums), have embarked on their first UK/Europe headline tour, as well as signing to Brooklyn-based label Kanine Records with whom they released their debut album Boronia in August 2016. Hockey Dad is fast gaining momentum and undoubtedly their prominence will continue to surge throughout the year, their ability to make feel-good music which maintains its grittiness and authenticity is something which differs from what is usually recognised. These charming lads from Wollongong, Australia, have preserved their laid-back nature despite their success and are definitely not to be missed.
The OB show is the fifth stop on your first UK/Europe tour – how is it going so far?
Billy: All the shows we’ve played so far have been pretty good. You know, surprising turnouts and that. I’m most looking forward to Amsterdam, I don’t know about Zach but-
Zach: Yeah, and France as well.
Billy: France will be cool. But yeah – Amsterdam.
You released the music video for your single “So Tired” recently – can you tell me a bit more about that?
Billy: It was made by our friend Dave Fox who made our last video as well for “Can’t Have Them”. He films surfing predominantly but we just got him to do some music videos so that’s cool.
You’ve toured with multiple bands including DZ Deathrays – are these are your first UK/Europe shows? What’s it like playing your songs on the other side of the world?
Billy: Yeah it’s our first trip over here and it’s been crazy. I think the DZ guys have been over here a fair bit. It’s pretty cool. I kind of forget where we are. When we were staying in Shoreditch I would walk outside and be like “Ah shit we’re in London, there’s a big red bus”.
Zach: When you’re playing you don’t really think about it. A couple of times a set you’ll have a reality check like “Oh, I’m in London playing on the other side of the world”-
Billy: Yeah, like mid-set you’re just like “Don’t think!”
Zach: Most of the time you’re just thinking about not making a mistake
Billy: And not snapping a string
That leads to my question about your London shows. You had a few days to be tourists, so what did you do?
Billy: I was keen to do a lot but it’s hard to get Zach out of bed and Dan to get motivated. I wanted to do the big clock-
Zach: Big Ben.
Billy: Big Ben! Zach wanted to go to Buckingham Palace.
Zach: Yeah I just couldn’t be bothered, I don’t know. You feel more pressure from people at home to go and do stuff. But when you’re there you can’t be bothered, you want to just go drink some beers and stuff.
You played Old Blue Last too.
Billy: Yeah! All of the bands were really different so it was sick. We made some good friends and it was cool.
And you may be playing The Great Escape: Alternative Escape Showcase too at the Brighton Youth Centre this weekend, right?
Zach: Yeah, we’re reserves.
Billy: Yeah – on the bench. We tried to play The Great Escape but they wouldn’t let us. We’re not cool enough so we’ve just booked shows around it.
And you’re heading back to North America – what are the pros and cons of travelling? Are you sick of each other yet?
Billy: Sometimes I hate him and sometimes he hates me. We just get annoyed at the circumstance and not really each other.
Zach: Sometimes it’s so bad that it’s just hilarious. That’s why it’s good. If it’s shitty it sucks but if it’s really shitty it’s really funny, so I look forward to the times where it’s really shitty.
Billy: The USA tour we will be doing though will be a bit more um – we’ve never done a proper day-in-day-out tour where we’re playing every day and this one will be cool to experience.
Zach: We might hate each other by the end of it.
Your hometown highly influences your music – does being away have any impact on the creative process of writing your songs?
Billy: Not particularly. When we started first playing we just practiced and played in Zach’s shed so that was the whole spontaneous writing, but now we’re on the road we have more time to think about writing songs, but it depends. It’s a tough one – we can still write what we’re happy with away from home but maybe growing up there influenced us enough; it’s kind of pre-meditated.
Zach: I don’t think where you live influences how you write specifically that much. I wrote a song the day before in London which would have turned out exactly the same if I were at home. I suppose growing up there you get your first influences, you’ll start writing songs and once you’re in that mode it’s just the same. I don’t think like, because we’re in London I’m going to write a Joy Division song or something like that.
Billy: Yeah, unless you’re away for like ten years then probably… Technically we’re still at home. We haven’t really left.
So have you spent the day here in Hastings? Is it nice to be back by the sea? I know it doesn’t have sandy beaches like Wollongong but-
Zach: It’s so nice!
Billy: This place is really cool, we went to the skate park and went to a record store that’s just around the corner.
Zach: We got fish and chips.
Billy: It was really good. There are no waves, but what can you do?
Zach: It’s nice to be back on the coast. Like the cliffs reminded me a little bit of Newcastle – Australian Newcastle not England Newcastle.
Billy: Yeah. What does Newcastle here look like?
Zach: *bad northern accent* It’s up north mate. It’s right up north.
Billy: Yeah, [Hastings] is a lovely place.