Brat Farrar has risen from the ashes of a zillion bands…and has been making garage punk, new wave recordings in his Melbourne bedroom for the past four years. Once one half of Digger and the Pussycats, and lately working solo, as well as mastering records for other bands, Sam Agostino this year released his second long player (thoughtfully untitled) under the Brat Farrar moniker.
The Plastic Ono Band, Giorgio Moroder and Charles Manson are all referenced as influences on the new album (thoughtfully untitled), or ‘II’, and we’ve been listening non-stop while writing this – Wouldn’t Give You Up and Do You Really Wanna Know? being particularly thrashed.
The random collision of Brat Farrar and The Garb Wire is a little Twitter miracle, reminding us that human interactions can still exist in a world of belfies and trolls. Here is the result:
TGW: Where does the Brat Farrar name come from?
BF: I started making some music and I really needed a name. I didn’t want to put out a record with my own name on the cover. I was looking through some old books in an op shop and I found this cool paperback edition of Brat Farrar (the 1949 crime novel by Josephine Tey), and the name just stuck. In the book, the title character impersonates someone to win their inheritance.
TGW: Who are your biggest music heroes?
BF: The Wipers, Hendrix, Hex Dispensers, The Spits, Magic Dirt and Prince.
TGW: Your music sounds like: (to me? Twin Shadow, mixed with Billy Idol, early Midnight Juggernauts and Jay Reatard.)
BF: This is always tough to answer. Someone described it as “sonic psych punk rock”. Sometimes I dabble in a bit of cold wave drum machine stuff too. I’ve definitely listened to a lot of Jay Reatard.
TGW: Who do you dream of working with some day?
BF: I would love to have met and played with Robert Quine.
TGW: Do you see the connection between music and style?
BF: I think there is a massive link between music and style. You can be making great music at the wrong time, and be completely out of style. Thankfully, in the internet age some lost heroes have been recognised for being out of style at their creative peak, and that has been fantastic to see. I think it would be hard for a serious musician to ride the wave of a style because what do you, jump style when tastes change?
I just do my thing, I’m not too worried about what other people are doing.
TGW: If Saint Laurent got in touch and wanted to use your music for a catwalk show, what would be your first response?
BF: Can I get some free clothes too? Everyone loves a free wardrobe don’t they?
TGW: What was it like going from recording in your bedroom, and playing all the instruments on your latest album, to assembling a band for live shows?
BF: I’ve had a few different line-ups of the Brat Farrar Band since I started doing shows. It’s great getting to hear different people make a mess of your tunes. The guys that are playing in the band now are fantastic, and it’s great to play with such good musicians. In Europe, I toured with two locals which was great. This type of setup, where the band is constantly changing, is a really different experience to playing in a band, and having that pack mentality.
TGW: What is your closet favourite song?
BF: Like a “secret” favourite? I could name hundreds. I love 80s pop music, especially female singers! How about Bananarama’s Cruel Summer. Maybe Madonna’s Angel or Into The Groove. Killer tracks, all of them.
TGW: What do you think of people who pay for followers on social media?
BF: It seems ineffective. Isn’t the idea to try to attract people that are genuinely interested in what you do?
TGW: Is Coachella the ultimate festival to play at? If not, what is yours?
BF: I’ve played at lots of festivals over the years and although the music industry is becoming really focused on festivals, they are not for me. I’ll definitely play at them if I get asked, but they aren’t the be all and end all.
Once I went to Spain to play at a massive festival in a really good timeslot on a main stage. It was okay, but the night after the festival we played at a club in Madrid for twelve people, and those twelve people went berserk! They were so excited to see us – they stood around the stage and wouldn’t let us off. Then they stormed the dressing room. They were seeing their favourite band in a club!
A festival is a buffet, and a club show is fine dining.
Do you wanna wear clothes that you know 100,000 people are going to own, or would you prefer something with a more personal touch (note from TGW: we trust you know the correct answer to that one)?
TGW: What’s your favourite tour story?
BF: I’ve got hundreds of tour stories that are not fit for print. I’ve spent a lot of time touring overseas with Brat Farrar and other bands I play in.
Crazy things happen if you spend enough time in bars and clubs. Once, I got kidnapped after a show in France (seriously, they told me we were just going down the road but we drove about 30 kilometres). I was taken to this weird disco club, in the middle of nowhere. I thought it was some kind of sex club at first, but it was just a tiny disco. The DJ got on the mic and announced that I was there, he played Dr. Dre and people were buying me drinks and going crazy. It was really weird.
I ended up staying at this house that had all of these photos of people in the army posing with guns. It was frightening. The next day I was lost, so I had to walk back to town and then head off to another gig.
TGW: Which band from your childhood inspired you to become a musician?
TGW: Beck or Beyonce?
BF: Beyonce. Who wouldn’t want to dance and sing like that? And at the same time!
TGW: Have you ever been to Paris?
BF: I’ve been to Paris many, many times over the years and I love it there. I have a really good friend there and I always crash with him. I love just hanging out in the Eighteenth Arrondissement, checking out the antique flea market and going to Rue des Martyrs.
TGW: What’s next for you?
BF: I’ve just put out a new record and I’m about to put out a single in July with a Canadian label called Yeah Right!.
I have another single coming out in October and hopefully I’ll record album #3 early next year.
I’m looking at doing another longish tour of Europe in August next year.
Listen to BRAT FARRAR here
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Images published with permission from the artist.