The Chemist have been a main staple in the Perth music scene since the release of their EP, Lullaby, and have since gone on to perform at festivals such as Southbound, One Movement and Peats Ridges. Moving to Melbourne to hone their writing skills, the boys are back from the rainy city to sunny Perth in time to celebrate Fat Shan’s Records first birthday this Saturday on the 24th of March.
Colosoul writer, Aleyna Martinez, chats with lead singer Ben Witt on what has been happening since their release of Lullaby, their influences and hopes for a tiny yet inspirational record store in the heart of the Perth CBD
How was The Chemist formed?
At university studying music. Elliot approached me in the hall and said “hi I’m Elliot, can I borrow 20 bucks from you bro?”
Lullaby came out in 2010, what have you been doing since its release?
We did some tours & then cut a record last November. Waiting on her to be mixed. Waiting is also something we’ve done a bit of. Waiting sucks.
What has the response or outcome been for The Chemist since releasing Lullaby?
It seems like an eternity since that release. I think some people dug it when it came out. We’ve probably drifted out of ears in the last twelve months but the new record should give people some kicks & hopefully present us with some opportunities to play.
Are you still based in Perth?
Lived in Melbourne for a year but we left the iron on, so had to rush back home to planet Perth.
How is a [the] Chemist song born, do you do the writing or does everyone contribute?
I generally write the songs and come up with a lot of the parts. Then the band pieces it together, structure it, make sure everything is working. I do the shopping, we cook as a team.
What has been the most popular song you guys have done….is that same one your personal favourite?
I guess lullaby #1 has been the most ‘popular’, however i prefer the material we’re soon to release.
Bob Dylan, Billie Holiday and Prince are such a broad range of influences, describe The Chemist’s genre as a result of this
These influences come from our Triple J Unearthed page put up 3 or 4 years ago & was probably what i happened to be listening to that day. We’ve always been attracted to all kinds of things, and consequently probably lacked cohesion until recently. But I know who I want to be musically now, so I can better filter my interests. Where I’m at is penning folky/bluesy songs in the embryonic stage & then trying to come up with grooves & parts that aren’t obvious or standard, in attempt to make it sound fresh & have a more unusual atmosphere. Like taking a taco and putting a cheese burger in it. Not playing the first thing you hear all the time. Maybe the drum groove is based on a snare roll, or a syncopated cross stick thing, rather than “hey there people, here’s the time via generic beat.” The guitar feature might be some attempt to find an abstract sound out of the instrument, rather than a hook or whatever. Contrast some dirty sounds with verbed out, ethereal vocals through a harmonica mike. etc. etc. I’ll write a bluesy folk song & then try to electrocute it.
What would you be doing had you not formed a band?
I would be writing victory speeches for football players.
What’s next for the Chemist?
Drop this album I guess. I’ve continued writing songs & have a fair few new ones now, so I want to record another album within the next twelve months.
What are your hopes for Fat Shan Records?
I hope they prosper and can continue to be an optimistic, enthusiastic and exciting entity. Everyone knows if you want to get rich the last thing you want to do is sell records. So it’s obvious it’s about their love of music and it is a wonderful thing to see that kind of dedication rewarded and granted with the opportunity to perpetuate.
How influential is a place like Fat Shan Records in Perth?
They really go out of their way to promote local music & they don’t take a cut from local sales, very selfless and admirable. They have come into the Perth music world willing to help any band and done so with such energy and positivity, that it is inspiring. You really have to be a wanker to lay shit on them.
What do you have in store for Fat Shan Festivus, any new tracks you’ll bust out on the night?
Plenty new tunes, all material will be from the upcoming record.
The Chemist are closing The Fat Shan Festivus at the Bakery on Saturday March 24th for their first birthday celebration along with The Novacaines, The Floors, Sonspilo Circus, The Seals and High Horse. Catch them live in action on what is sure to be an awesome night.
By Aleyna Martinez