Peter Bibby hates most interviews.
Not because he’s a grouch—quite the opposite, in fact—but because he loves to chat. About his music, sometimes, but preferably about Chinese medicine and marathons and English gangster films, like he did on the phone recently with his good friend Nick Allbrook for this very interview. Allbrook you’ll know as the frontman of Aussie band POND, and Peter Bibby you’ll know from previous studio albums Butcher/Hairstylist/Beautician, Grand Champion, and the soon-to-be-released Marge, dropping this Friday, September 18th.
Much like the record itself completes a trilogy of sorts, Bibby explains that the album centres around his own trilogy of ‘my poor mental state, my battered heart and my frustration… all to the tune of fun rock music.’ An album of splintered, volatile Australiana, Marge is everything that fans have come to expect from Peter Bibby’s Dog Act, and more. So without further ado, let’s hand the reins over to Nick Allbrook to quiz his good mate and fellow musician, Peter Bibby, on the new album and his all-time favourite swears.
Peter, my darling, how the fuck are ya?
Nicholas, my sweet treasure, I am quite well thank you. Sitting here in this sunny corner of the world, Fremantle, after a nice jog around Booyeembara Park, Lizzie’s roasting lamb and veggies and I have one beer cooling in the fridge. How are you going?
Why do you hate interviews?
Nick, I asked you a question… are you not going to answer? Ok then… I don’t hate all interviews, only most of them, and that is mostly because the majority of the interviews I do are focused on my music, which is by far one of my least favourite things to talk about. With all the things in the world and its history, why focus on my music? I cram enough words into those songs—why do we need more words about them as well as inside them? There’s also the matter of deadlines, which often seems much more important than what is happening in my life at the time. My house could be burning down, snake chewing on my ankle, assassin poisoned my drink and chuckling evil in the shadows but I absolutely must get those 10 questions about a song I wrote four years ago in by the end of the day or else there’ll be bloody riots in the street. Then you send it in and the answers are too short, or too long… meanwhile the poison has kicked in and I’m FUCKING DYING. I could go on and on about this, but I’ll quit while I’m only somewhat behind.
From whose perspective is ‘I’m On Fire’ written?
That song is from the perspective of a big, naughty, drug-dealing gangster. I wrote it many many years ago after watching some English gangster film, maybe The Foot Soldier. There’s a bit where the guy gives a junkie who owes him money a ‘hot shot’ (a syringe with a lethal amount of drugs inside) to finish him. As he administers the deadly medicine he says, ‘Don’t look so glum mate, it’s a freebie,’ which I found to be a pretty spooky thing to say to someone as you inflict death upon them. I thought, ‘Wow, what an absolute prick, I’m going to pretend I am him and tell a musical story.’ A songwriting technique of mine is to take a subject and write about it, in this case, from the perspective of a character who is not me, nor has anything to do with me, but intrigues me.
I notice there’s a good bit of ‘rhyming-the-same-word-with-itself’ in there. Shout outs to you for using this drastically underrated technique. Are there any artists who inspired you in this regard, any notable ‘rhyming-the-same-word-with-itself’ pioneers you care to share?
This is another reason I hate interviews—I get put on the spot and I’m not actually sure of the answer, and then after it goes to print my brain goes back to normal, away from the heat and the pressure of the interrogation, and I realise what I really should have said but it’s too late. That being said, I’m pretty sure this is a technique I discovered on my own and have nurtured, because it’s incredible and groundbreaking. That’s right, I’m saying I am the only pioneer of this technique I can think of. I know this is potentially incorrect, but I’m running with it. Maybe the headline can be: I AM THE ONLY PIONEER – ‘Peter Bibby makes bold claims about rogue rhyming technique.’ Twist my words, media scum.
Why do you swear a lot in your songs, and what is your favourite swear?
I’ve actually been making an effort to swear less in songs and in my general speech for the last little while, but that isn’t represented on this record because we recorded it three years ago and I wasn’t in this purified state at that time. I was still a foul-mouthed little sicko inside and outside of songs. I write and sing the way I speak generally, in beautiful flawless pitch and eloquent melody. The majority of what I write is lifted directly from personal experience so it’s only natural for me to write it the way it went down, which is usually with a lot of swearing. My favourite swear is probably ‘shiitake mushroom’ or ‘turkey sucking madman,’ but it all depends on the situation. Sometimes someone just needs to be called a flippin’ creep.
You wrote a fabulous song called ‘Medicine,’ and seem to be pretty clued up on the subject. You were saying recently how you’ve been seeing a super badass practitioner of Chinese medicine. Can you give me a little list of the pros and cons of it?
I am in no way any kind of pro on the matter but here goes. Pros: it seems to focus more on prevention rather than cure, and in cases of cure, it seems to want to change your lifestyle for the better rather than pump you full of weird drugs; they do cool shit like acupuncture, which is great especially when electro-charged; they have cool herbs that you cook up in funny looking pots, adding a cool routine and aesthetic to your day. And the cons: some of those cool herbs smell like arse; I’ve never experienced any negative effects but there have been reports of ill-advised herbal usage that can mess your guts up a bit; you actually have to put some work in rather than just swallowing a pill (I see this as a pro but some may see it as a con).
What are the three best things that have happened to you in 2020, and what are the three worst things?
I fell in love with running and beat my arch-rival, you, at a 21km running race, while also helping to raise an actual shit ton of money for an amazing cause. After completing said running race, I won the heart of the woman of my dreams, just like in a ski movie, but with running instead of skiing and instead of a crazy mountain party I ate some fish and went to sleep at 9:30 pm. Considering the state of the world and all the insanely catastrophic madness that has gone down this year, I can’t say very much bad stuff has happened to me, but the other night more than one customer ordered espresso martinis at the bar. That was awful. I didn’t get to go on tour, that was annoying, and the other day I got ‘Save Tonight’ by Eagle Eye Cherry stuck in my head, which was absolutely devastating.
Where would you most like to complete your first double banana (marathon)?
You’re really throwing the tough questions at me today Nick. Are you some kind of sadist? Does it give you pleasure to watch me squirm with uncertainty? If I must answer this torturous question, it would probably be through the Perth Hills somewhere around the John Forrest/Mundaring/Chidlow area, on a cool day in early spring, when the trees are all lush and green, finishing at the Wild Flower Tavern with an icy cold pint of Swan Draught, reminiscing about the good old days when the kangaroos were still allowed to hang around in the pub. I reckon that’d be pretty great. It’s my home turf and I would like to achieve such a huge goal in a place which is full of memories and nostalgia for me.
What is the worst restaurant in New York and why?
That’s easy. Katz’s Deli is by far the worst restaurant in New York because it fucking sucks. Pastrami sandwich isn’t hard to make and should not cost $59 USD.
Thanks boss. I hope that wasn’t too painful and you get well soon, you sick dog rat.
Marge is out this Friday, 18 September via Spinning Top Records, and available for pre-order right here. Make sure you give it a whirl.