After playing a couple of shows in Australia’s Northern Territory, The Chats landed back at the Brisbane airport. As they were taking their gear to the car, bassist and lead singer Eamon Sandwith saw a parked car with the license plate number 6L GTR.
“We thought it was such a hilarious plate number, we just had to write a song about this dude’s car,” says Sandwith. The resulting song, “6L GTR,” was written alongside drummer Matt Boggis and guitarist Josh Hardy.
The song was inspired by a question Sandwith had about the car’s driver: “When he’s fangin’ it [speeding] in his car, what’s in his head?” Sandwith had good reason to wonder, given that he doesn’t drive or have any idea what a six-liter Gran Turismo Racer would look like.
But here’s the thing: The Chats don’t do the kind of shout-punk where you have no idea what they’re saying under all the shredding. Their lyrics are meant to be heard. On their first couple albums, they wanted us to hear about being broke, drunk and hungry—and with their forthcoming album, Get Fucked, they seek to immerse us in dark situational comedy.
The album’s first single, “Struck by Lightning,” is a fast ‘n wild blitz in which Sandwith imagines what a strike from above would be like.
“We were just having a jam. I was on the drums this time,” he recalls. “And I just started playing this little pattern, kind of like, ‘struck by—lightnin’!’ I was like, that could work, that could sound pretty cool for a song.”
Sandwith was fascinated by fortunate folks who have survived lightning strikes. “I heard that people can’t grow their hair back and shit, which is weird—especially the whole no-eyebrows thing,” he says (this is dubious; when it comes to hair and lightning, it’s more likely that your hair will simply stand on end before you are struck).
Superstitious about being struck now that he’s written a song about it, Sandwith adds, “Touch wood!” (That’s “knock on wood” to you, Americans. The Chats hail from Queensland.)
A lot of The Chats’ songs are self-contained stories about young dudes (cue classics “Dine N Dash” and “Bus Money”). One of the band’s first big hits, “Smoko,” is a contagious song about just trying to take a damn smoke break.
Familiarity aside, the trio is one of the most interesting punk bands out there. Listening to their music, which they describe as “shed rock,” is like slamming an espresso and taking a sip of laughing gas while dancing on the roof of, well, a speeding GTR.
Which brings us back to “6L GTR, which spawned a music video (featuring the work of illustrator Marco Imov) in which the Chats boys crave a 6L GTR to replace their shoddy ol’ van. It’s full of their cheeky energy—and serves as a perfect encapsulation of the song and their style.
Clever storytellers with a fuck-off attitude, The Chats are in fine form with Get Fucked. When asked what they like about the new album, Sandwith says simply, “It’s just better. I’m really happy with how it’s turned out so it will be nice to get it out there.”
As far as the band’s songwriting process goes, Sandwith notes, “We don’t overthink it too much. I’ll come up with a song or Josh will have an idea. We’ll catch up and work it out, then Matt will come in and make it better. Then I’ll just keep some notes in my phone about some ideas for lyrics that could work for a song. Nothing too scientific about it.”
SEE IT: The Chats play the Crystal Ballroom 8:30 pm Thursday, May 26. 1332 W Burnside St., 503-225-0047. Crystalballroompdx.com. $22.50. Get Fucked is out August 19 on Bargain Bin Records.