“I worked in the takeaway and Brent used to work in the main bit, sellin’ Lotto tickets and random groceries and little lolly bags,” explains Seattle Gallagher.
Seattle is the drummer (and sometimes-singer/guitarist) of Dumb Punts, who have just released their first full-length album through Pissfart Records.
Seattle is talking about her old job at The Top Shop in Bonny Hills, just south of Port Macquarie in NSW. She and Dumb Punts bassist Brent Lockhart worked there for a stint before moving to Melbourne a few years back to start the band. I’ve just spent the past year overseas, so it’s refreshing for me to hear her Aussie surf-coast accent, replete with all those subtle Australianisms that I’d momentarily forgotten about.
“I just went to the pub one arvo and I asked Brent, ‘Do you wanna move to Melbourne?’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it,’” she continues, “So we just packed up all our shit and drove it all down.”
One of Seattle’s older brothers (she has five), Jimmy Gallagher, was already living in Melbourne and playing music in other bands, so when Seattle and Brent arrived from Bonny Hills, the three of them formed Dumb Punts. Their brand of raw garage rock is as Aussie as VB tins or double-pluggers; it sounds like it was recorded in a sweaty, beer-soaked garage by a group of best mates. Punts’ lyrics are decidedly everyday and yet irreverent, with song titles about goon, getting pissed on and shredding Croydon skatepark. Their best-known song is “Chiller”, a twangy, slower rock and roll number from 2015’s Coupla Couplas that has become a bit of a pub anthem.
Dumb Punts dropped their newest studio offering, The Big One, in late August, and while it definitely contains that reckless energy and irreverence that the band has come to be known for, it’s got an overall more diverse sound. Jimmy G’s piss-taking lyrics and snotty vocals are definitely still there (especially on “It’s How I’m Livin’”), but with the addition of keys and some slightly poppier riffs, the album rolls through a few different waves of sound. Notably, Seattle’s vocals on “Got it Good” and “Stressed Out” are more tender and catchy than anything we’ve previously heard from The Punts.
As Seattle explains, the songs she writes probably sound poppier because she’s not good enough to play really fast guitar riffs yet. “I suppose, with my songs, I’d prefer to be playing the punker ones but I’m just not good enough to do it at this point. I’m getting better but if I was to play the music that I like playing it would be all ‘70s power-pop and punk—that’s the sort of stuff that I like.”
Having three members who are all songwriters also helps to diversify the Punts’ sound. “Jimmy or Brent or I will write a song at home, write a riff or whatever, and then when we practice we’ll have a go at trying to sort it out,” she says. “It seems to work really well because it’s a good spread between the three of us.”
I get the vibe that after recording The Big One nearly a year ago and then waiting for it to be mixed, mastered and pressed, Seattle is relieved to finally release the album and keen to start touring it. “We kind of farted around with it,” she says. “It probably took longer than it needed to but yeah, we finally got it out which is sick.”
While Dumb Punts latest studio effort is commendable, it’s probably fair to say that they’re more of a party band than a studio band. Their primary motivator is captivating roomfuls of people and playing raucous gigs. Melbourne—which has become a second home for the band—is certainly the place to play wild live shows. It’s a city with a smattering of great live music venues that help to foster what Seattle describes as “a heaps good punk scene”.
Other parts of the country aren’t so lucky: during a Dumb Punts show at Sydney’s King Street Crawl in 2016, an overzealous security team at The Botany View choke-slammed Toby Two String from Skeggs after he attempted to get on stage with The Punts. The Skeggs bassist—who is a longtime friend of Dumb Punts—had earlier been playing drums with them and was attempting to go back onto the stage for another jam. When Jimmy Gallagher jumped off stage to help defend him against the security team, the gig descended into conflict. Eventually, the speakers were pulled, the show ended and the cops were called.
“That show was sick, it was popping off and it just turned to shit because the seccies manhandled someone and we didn’t want to have a bar of it,” says Seattle. “[Security] can be so rough and use their power and their force so unnecessarily… it puts a bad taste in your mouth.”
I was at that gig and it was supremely disappointing, especially since Pist Idiots and The Gooch Palms were yet to play. It seemed particularly bizarre that the security guards were totally unable to discern between a friendly moshpit and a violent one. In response, the crowd staged an impromptu, non-violent protest by sitting on the floor and chanting, “We’re not gonna take it,” until the cops came in and dragged everyone out. It’s a sad and shitty story—and just one disappointing gig for The Punts—but it effectively sums up how much harder it is to play live music in Sydney than in Melbourne.
“Whoever’s booking the venue should make their security guards aware of the type of crowd it’s going to be,” says Seattle. “They should know that if Punts are coming on—or whoever it is—the crowd is going to get wild. I don’t particularly want to go back and play The Botany View,” says Seattle.
It’s a sore spot for the band because, for them, playing wild live shows is the whole point. When I ask Seattle about the band’s ambitions, she seems to recoil from the word. “We don’t really think about it like that,” she says. “We’re a party band… we just want to travel and play good shows to big crowds and have a good time while doing it. That’s pretty much all we care about.”