Formed in their
mate’s bong shed in Coolum, Queensland 2016 when all three members were
seventeen, The Chats represent everything that’s good about Australia and
nothing that’s bad: a rebel spirit, gallows humour and the endless hedonistic
pursuit of A Bloody Good Time. Cold stubbies within close reach, 24-7.
The trio met in music
class while at St Theresa’s Catholic College in Noosaville, a suburb of Noosa,
Queensland, two hours north of Brisbane, and began practicing in the shed in
nearby Verrierdale (pop: 775) during their final year of education (the
school’s website notes “Whilst
their music may not be everyone's cup of tea, they have certainly made an
impact, and they continue to Dare the Dream.”). Their name meanwhile comes from
the nearby suburb of Chatswood.
from the same fertile Australian pub rock scene that spawned everyone from
AC/DC and The Saints to Cosmic Psychos and The Hard Ons, and sharing a similar
singular self-contained approach to their art as such latter-day Aussie rock
heroes as King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, The Chats describe themselves
as “dropkick drongos from the Sunshine Coast of Australia”. It’d be difficult
to argue otherwise.
image of mullets, shorts, sports tops, thongs or a sandals-and-socks combo, and
cheap sunnies celebrates this fact. But don’t by mislead: The Chats are sharper
than you think, and they write killer songs that hold their own in any era.
Their self-titled debut EP was recorded in their school’s studio in 2016 and
featured seven joyous sky-punching tracks that combined 60s garage punk and 70s
new wave punk (highlights included ‘Mum Stole My Darts’ and the 53 seconds
bratty thrash of ‘Yeah Nah’). It was followed in 2017 by Get This In Ya,
another thrilling seven song slice of economic, stripped-down, early
Buzzcocks-styles punk tension, whose lyrics read like a litany of things to
hate for youthful malcontents the world over (overdue social security payments,
lack of bus fare, Nazis).
But where their
forefathers cut their teeth on the spit-and-sawdust circuit of beer halls Down
Under, The Chats bypassed years driving down dusty Outback roads when the lead
single ‘Smoko’ became a 24-carat bona fide viral hit on Youtube. The Chats
found themselves propelled from their Queensland shed to almost overnight
renown in all the right circles.
Celebrating the great
Aussie tradition of the cigarette break, an allotted smoking time protected by
union law, and accompanied by a lo-fi video shot for no budget on a building
site, ‘Smoko’ was a perfectly put together punk song protesting the drudgery of
dole queue angst, minimum wage life and work-place hierarchies. Were they
serious? wondered listeners / viewers. And, more importantly, who even
cares? It didn’t matter: with its pared-down pop hooks, singer Eamon’s
adolescent snarl and an unforgettable chorus, ‘Smoko’ was an instant classic of
a youth anthem on a par with ‘You Really Got Me’, ‘My Generation’ or ‘Teenage
At the last count
‘Smoko’ has had more than seven million views. Dave Grohl loved it so much he
sent it to Josh Homme, who immediately booked the band to support Queens Of The
Stone Age in Australia. Iggy Pop did the same when he played Melbourne, and
keenly quizzed the band on their lyrical content. Idles were heard covering on
the song on their recent Australian tour. At the time, singer Eamon was working
at supermarket chain Coles. Adhering to the mantra ‘Business at the front,
party at the back’ he currently maintains his mullet by trimming the front
himself every couple of weeks, while his mum handles the rest of the tricky business.
Drummer Matt, who was expelled from school for joyriding a golf buggy, is a
professional skater, while guitarist Pricey boasts of having never read a book
(Josh Homme gave him one to read, but he hasn’t bothered).
In October 2018, The
Chats brought their pub-punk (they prefer ‘shed rock’) to the UK, where all
their shows sold out within a day and were immediately upgraded, including a
memorable show at the Electric Ballroom, London, where they were joined onstage
by Charlie Steen from Shame. Not bad considering the teenagers had never left
Australia before. With two hundred gigs under their belts, The Chats began 2019
by signing a publishing deal with Universal Records and started their own label
records, Bargain Bin Records
More music followed:
single ‘Do What I Want’ (“about doing whatever the fuck you want”) and the
glorious follow-up ‘Pub Feed’ (a paean to “above average” pub food, including “chicken schnitty”, “parmigiana” and “rump steak –
well done”) in 2019, a song that seems destined to take
up residence in punk jukeboxes the world over. The Chats document the simple things in life,
with songs that transcends language to tap straight into the youthful energy
source. It’s a tricky artform that many attempt but at which few succeed. Still
in their teens, The Chats have mastered it.
composing at the age of four, but these boys were born singing anthems, and
their forthcoming debut album seems destined to be the greatest collection of
music ever made, not only in Coolum, Queensland, but the entire universe. Every
other musician should probably give up today.