Levitation: Interview with Tropical F**k Storm

todayNovember 14, 2022 48

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 Maddy Lehr (KTSW) and Keller Welton (KJHK)

Music Journalist and Programming Director (KJHK)

he image features Gaz Liddiard of Tropical F**k Storm on stage playing guitar in the center. Surrounding him are other members of the band, with Erica Dunn on the left, Lauren Hammel behind, and Fiona Kitschin on the right. The audience can be seen in the forefront. Psychedelic visuals are being projected onto the back of the stage.
Tropical F**k Storm at Levitation 2022 / Keller Welton

Going into our third day at Levitation, we were a bit disappointed about not scoring tickets to night two of King Gizzard at Stubb’s. Usually with interviews, it’s in and out, in hopes of not taking too much of the band’s time. After getting in contact with Gareth “Gaz” Liddiard, we were suddenly in the green room with two tickets to the show. We are forever grateful. There, we spoke with Gaz Liddiard, Fiona Kitschin, Lauren Hammel, and Erica Dunn.

Maddy: How has Austin been for you guys?

Gaz: We just got here! I’ve spent the whole time trying to get you guys in.

Erica: We’ve only been here a couple hours; I wore my 13th Floor Elevator socks for luck.

Maddy: Is this your first time at LEVITATION?

Fiona: Yeah, we played Austin in 2019?

Keller: Was 2019 the first time you guys were in the US?

Fiona: No, it was 2017.

Keller: What was coming to the US for the first time like for you guys?

Gaz: I think most of us have been here before. You know it’s like being on TV because you grow up seeing all the American TV shows.

Keller: Was it everything you’d hoped?

Gaz: Yeah, it was everything we’d hoped, and less, which is good. It’s better than it sounds. But yeah, we had only been a band for about three months, maybe even less, before we came to the US. Came with Gizz.

Hammel: We only had, what, two or three original songs, so we filled the set with covers.

Keller: What kind of covers were you doing?

Fiona: Fugazi?

Gaz: “Burning” by Fugazi, “Lose the Baby” by Lost Animal, “Taman Shud” by The Drones, “Natural Family” by The Nation Blue. A lot of the B-sides of the first couple 7’’s were covers. We just didn’t have time to write anything.

Keller: What are some artists that you guys find particularly inspiring for your sound?

Gaz: Wow that’s a big one. We all listen to lots of stuff.

Erica: Captain Beefheart! Roky Erikson…

Gaz: Everything. If it’s good.

Hammel: I think that’s one of the good things about having such diverse tastes in music between the four of us. We’re not all just rock nerds, or punk. We all listen to heaps of different things. And we are all constantly showing each other new bands. You know I’ll listen to something for a year and then never touch it again. But if I happen to be listening to something while we are writing, then of course it’s going to have an influence on our music. It’s not just that we have staples of bands we love that we are always reaching for.


The images features once again Erica Dunn on the left, Gaz Liddiard in the middle, Lauren Hammel behind, and Fiona Kitschin to the right. The audience can be seen in the forefront, while psychedelic visuals are projected on stage.
Tropical F**k Storm performing at Stubb’s / Keller Welton KJHK

Keller: One of the things I find most interesting about Tropical F**k Storm is that you guys just don’t sound like anyone else, ever, period. And your Spotify bio is, “music for people who are tired of the same old shit.” How do you separate yourselves from the “same old shit”?

Gaz: One thing that we have in common is that we all like music with spirit. It could be classical music, it could be Hungarian folk music, or punk rock. If it’s got spirit, even if it’s cringy, we like some cringy stuff. We’ve all played in bands for ages, so we’re just trying to do something different to amuse ourselves. It’s fun when you make something new and you’re like, wow. And we try to make music you want to listen to, but also something you’ve never heard.

Hammel: And there’s no point in starting a new band if you’re going to keep making the same music. There’s plenty of bands out there.

Keller: Another thing I find interesting about y’all is the writing, the imagery you use and stuff like that. Where does this come from? Who or what inspires that?

Gaz: I mean the main one is Bob Dylan. And then there’s a million others. Marty Sparrow, Jonathan Richman. That’s another thing that we just try to do differently than everyone else. You just got to mess with it until it’s good. Everything starts out as teenage poetry, which is a problem, and eventually you fix the problem.

Hammel: Gaz also has a master list of random things people have said, or things he’s heard. That gives us a thing to look to when we are writing.

Gaz: There’s a few rules, not many. Leonard Cohen said it’s not a tree, it’s a pine tree or an oak tree. Give the people a little more information. Spruce it up you know?

Keller: How did you guys meet the Flightless Record guys?

Fiona: They supported our old band, The Drones, in Australia back in the day. We met them 15 or 12 years ago?

Gaz: Yeah, when they [King Gizzard] were really young, it was the biggest tour they’d ever done at the time. Which is funny cause now they do tours like these.

Keller: Is there a local Melbourne musician you want to highlight?

Erica: Teether.

Hammel: All I’ve been listening to lately is Barker.

Keller: I got to ask you, the name, where does it come from?

Fiona: It’s just a stupid name, we had a studio called Tropical F**k Storm Studios. We had a label with our music called Tropical F**k Storm Records. We needed a name for a new band, and that won.

Erica: I thought it was a joke.

Gaz: The internet is demanding; you know when I first heard King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, I thought wow that’s a s**t name. But you don’t forget it you know what I mean? So, let’s just do a stunt title so you won’t forget it. The best part is with immigration, immigration guys will go, “What’s the name of your band?” We’re here for gigs, but it always makes me lighten up.

Hammel: If we were called The Baby, it just wouldn’t work as well.

Maddy: If you were a flavor, what flavor would you be?

Erica: Licking a lightbulb.

Hammel: Dr. Pepper, sweet but spicy.

Fiona: A dipping sauce with soy and chili and cinnamon.

Gaz: I’d be beer.

Hammel: Petrol.

Written by: Jordan Young

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