A good few weeks ago I was afforded the opportunity to speak with Chimers, a drums and guitar band that makes music, of the audible variety. My speaking with Chimers was preceded by my driving to Wollongong through cold and stormy weather in order to meet with them. I was greeted with warmth, and our conversation was one that was, whilst serious, lighter than what the below implies.

Our conversation touched on how Chimers history, performing live, and their second and (currently yet-to-be released album, Through Today.

Ez: Tell me about the mythology of Chimers.

Padraic: Is there a mythology?

Ez: I don’t know. It’s your band.

Padraic: It started in the first lockdown… March 2020. And… yeah. It just kind of started pretty quick I suppose.

The idea was, personally… we’re both a little bit older than most bands, and it’s just kind of hard to wrangle people to do stuff, so when we started there was no great plan. I just wanted to do something that was productive and quick, so I think we started jamming in March and we put out a 7-inch [after]. Did a limited run.

I think we recorded our [first] album in January ’21.

So yeah; that was the premise. To do something just productive, but the momentum happened kind of quickly as in we’re able to keep it going ’cause we can jam here [at home], so it works with our life balance.

Ez: I’ve seen Chimers described as being aggressive in a sense, but what I generally hear – from the times I’ve seen you guys play – is music borne from anxiety and tension, in a sense. There’s certainly something that sounds defensive. Would that be fair to say?

Padraic: Yeah, I think so. I’ve definitely been aware of creating tension when we’re writing stuff.
And especially ’cause we’re pretty limited I suppose in the fact we’re a two-piece.

Binx: I wouldn’t say it’s coming from an anxiety angle. It just comes to us.

Padraic: I do think tension more than anxiety.

Binx: It’s not within our… we’re not anxious so it’s not within our [music]. A lot of the songs are about a time and place that we’re reflecting on. And it depends on how it’s delivered.

Padraic: I don’t feel I’m anxious day-to-day, but maybe the state of things; I can be anxious about that.

I definitely prefer that over aggressive. It’s like when people kind of go “Oh you guys are loud!” Anyone can be loud. Is it good loud? What’s that? Do you know what I mean?

Ez: It’s the lingo of the streets: You guys are so loud.

Padraic: Pretty loud for a two-piece! Yep. Okay. Is it okay though? Good loud?

Binx: I don’t know if it’s aggressive either.

Padraic: There’s some aggressive songs, but I don’t want it to translate that way, so that way a tension an anxiety would be more…

Binx: Rather than aggression.

Padraic: I’d prefer that.

Binx: It’s interesting though, what the listener thinks.

Ez: I think you guys are just loud.

Binx: *laughs*

Padraic: You guys are tight *laughs*

Ez: You’re writing about a time and place. In that sense, I guess the music is – at least in live context – pretty noisy in a way. Do you feel that you’re writing in a sort of critical or acerbic manner? Or is it just you’re writing a more neutral, possibly positive and that’s just the way that the sound translates?

Padraic: Personally I would say it’s more a personal and political kind of thing. I don’t think it’s acerbic. I don’t know. Maybe sometimes.

Binx: From where I write, it’s personal. It just comes to you.

You might have been working on a song for a while and you don’t have lyrics, but then suddenly whatever it is; whatever’s happened on that day, these words just pop into your head and you’re like “That fits”.

Padraic: Do you mean acerbic as in like a “fuck ’em all” kind of thing?

Ez: What I mean is, when you write about time and place, are you being acerbic about what you write about, or is it neutral?

Padraic: It’s not neutral ’cause it’s personal.

Ez: I wouldn’t say that you’re being pessimistic, or cynical.

Padraic: Sometimes. In certain songs, certain bits, I think. Yeah. Like “Surrounds”, the song’s kind of about our government, high-rises, and they’re stripping away whatever culture is left in the town. Just Wollongong turning into The Gold Coast.

Binx: And then the song, “Later Skater”, that’s just about the time – a night out that we had in The Blue Mountains one night. It’s just words that came to me when I put myself back in that time which was a… fun night, basically *laughs*

Padraic: I’ve been trying to write stuff that’s a bit less personal [for the new album] ’cause we’ve definitely got some songs that are a bit too close to home for me, where I don’t want to play them over and over, and I’ve been conscious of that. Even some of the songs on the new album where one line about something, one line about something else, or just stuff that gives me an image in my head that relates to something, and not so much a full song about this one thing, and it’s like a two-and-a-half minute counseling session for myself *laughs* that I have to do in front of other people.

Maybe that’s where the anxiety comes from *laughs*

But it’s something I’ve been conscious of.

Ez: Talking about the limitations of a two-person band, structurally – and please correct me if I’m wrong – at least in terms of what is being played, notationally is very simple; especially percussively. It’s less about trickery and more about getting the job done for what the song needs. How much is that borne from jamming and actually sitting down and going “What does the song need”?

Padraic: We’re conscious of trying to make the right thing work, and we’re conscious of using dynamics because we’re a two piece, so we do try light shades, loud and quiet…

We’re conscious of trying to fill that space, sometimes.

I would say that getting the job done… I don’t know. I’ve tried to describe Binx’ drums to other people, but I think it’s deceptively really clever. When we’re playing I’m playing, so I’m conscious of what Binx is doing, but I can’t engage 100%. But when I’m listening back to mixing I’ll be like “Oh, Binx did that there, that’s cool”, so it’s kind of…

Binx: I’ve never been overly technical; That’s just not my style. I’ve been playing for a while but I’m not a technical drummer. The stuff I listen to… I play what I feel. I don’t feel like in the music that we play or with bands I’ve been in are roles where you need to be a technical drummer. I think a lot of the stuff that I listen to, it’s been delivered well, and that’s what draws me, and that’s how I play.

I feel like I play what’s needed.

Ez: The other thing as well is it’s very hard to play because…

Binx: You need to be fit *laughs*

Ez: You need to be fit; you need to have a lot of endurance to keep playing the same [thing] over and over. You’re also working with a lot more space in a sense, so any mistake that’s made has a greater risk of throwing everything off.

Binx: Yeah, absolutely.

Ez: Would you say the same for the guitar playing then?

Padraic: Yeah. That’s also an absolute limitation. Binx could do more if she wanted to, but I’m maxing it out as it is *laughs* But you know, I’d like to be a better player, but I don’t really care. If what we’re doing sounds good to us, I’m not spending hours… It’s like if these two notes sound good…

Binx: We just kind of write songs that come to us and that we like. We had no idea where this was gonna go. We were like “Let’s bring out a record; let’s play a couple of shows” and that’s all we continued to do. We’re doing it for us, basically, and if people like it, awesome. It’s good for us to be doing this, and we like what we’re doing, and maybe people will like it too! *laughs*

Ez: It seems at least to me that – whilst obviously not a big band – you’ve quite rapidly collected an audience, in a sense, and I think that has a lot less to do with the walking on stage.

Padraic: *laughs* You don’t think that helps?

Ez: I’m sure that it helps.

Binx: Walking on stage?

Ez: Look, it’s good that you’re getting your 10,000 steps per day.

Binx: Oh my God *laughs*

Padraic: Maybe that’s the anxiety. This anxiety thing is really coming through, yeah.

Ez: I think you need to do a bit more dancing though.

Padraic: You’ll be waiting for that. Yeah.

Ez: But it seems you guys are playing quite a lot.

Padraic: I mean, we enjoy it, and it’s also something that… we’re a couple and we can do it.

It’s the whole package. It’s the fact that it’s just the two of us, that we don’t have to wrangle people to do stuff. It’s pretty streamlined. We get asked about a gig; we can answer in ten minutes. We know whether we can do it or not. We’ve got a good support system; Our kids are a bit older. That’s all working for us.

But in general we enjoy doing it.

Binx: What else would we be doing?

Padraic: This is what we like doing.

Binx: We like to do this.

Padraic: We’ve had a lot of that, where people go “Oh man, you guys are working hard”, but this is not work. You still get to get up and play music. We’ve been lucky enough to do it with bands that we really like.

Ez: Obviously there are a lot of rigours of touring, even if you’re driving for only one night, that’s still a massive time dedication and gear moving in and out, unless [the venue] has a full backline which obviously means a little less gear.

Padraic: But not less driving.

Ez: No.

Binx: I think it’s [also] the relationship building we’ve done with people we’ve met. That’s been really good, just meeting some people that you wouldn’t meet anywhere else, and get what we’re doing, and it’s lovely. There’s been some really nice people.

Padraic: There’s also been reconnecting with people we knew and used to hang out with, so… yeah.

Ez: So, performing live, I’m going to assume that because you jam you don’t spend much time rehearsing.

Binx: We do.

Padraic: In saying that we can have a twenty minute jam, or half an hour, but it depends.

Binx: We don’t work Tuesdays, so Tuesday is our jam day.

Padraic: Well, it could be six loads of washing.

Binx: *laughs*

Padraic: But we can always manage to squeeze something in somewhere.

Binx: But before we go out there sometimes the songs are already in my head because Padraic has been sitting in here with a guitar playing tunes, so then the writing process can be quick, or take a bit more time. It depends.

So we definitely do [rehearse]. We’re out [jamming] at least once a week.

Ez: So – especially with the simplicity of the music – ensuring that you’re tight and well-rehearsed is important.

Padraic: Yeah.

Binx: And it goes back to you do need to be fit to be able to play this style of music as well. And I like to have a good jam session before we play a gig, so that fitness is there.

Padraic: But that’s something we’re conscious of as well. We’re not gonna enjoy it if we’re fucking up. We’re not that band.

Ez: Obviously making sure your performance is tight and making sure your fit enough to perform is great and everything, but even being on stage, how you handle drumming and having to put energy into that, and the pacing back and forth… in performance you’re generally in the moment, not thinking about “Do I have enough energy to do what I’m doing?”; you just do it ’cause you feel like you’re there and you’re alive in the moment. But is it something you ever think about when off stage?

Padraic: As in?

Binx: Being tired?

Ez: Do you have enough energy to go on stage and do it?

Padraic: Oh yeah. Definitely.

Binx: Sometimes we might be driving to a gig and it’s like “I’m just so tired”, but once you get there; once you’re on that stage, that goes away.

Padraic: And then of course you play, and then you’re pumped and it’s trying to go the other way after that.

Binx: We played in Marrickville the other day and we were up there all day ’cause we went into the studio to finish up some final touches for this record, and I was knackered. I went and hid in the van for an hour.

You have to go get some shuteye whenever you can and where you can when you’re playing gigs sometimes *laughs*

Padraic: I didn’t get any that day.

Binx: I was like “I need to go and not socialise and close my eyes and be alone for a little while”. But once you get on stage those feelings go away.

Padraic: We played the Off the Rails festival last year and it was 38 degrees or something. I’ve been here twenty-plus years and I just fucken’ struggled with that heat.

Binx: And you can’t wear shorts; you always have to wear jeans *laughs*

Padraic: Nah I’m not wearing shorts. Just can’t do that.

Ez: Yeah you can!

Padraic: Well I can. I mean, it’s a free country. I can, but I don’t want to.

Ez: Are you that concerned about image?

Padraic: No. No –

Ez: Well just wear shorts then instead.

Padraic: It’s like a comfort thing; I don’t know.

Ez: But you could wear cargo shorts and have them be nice and loose, and you could just wear boots.

Padraic: Not a boots guy.

Ez: You could just wear shoes; it’s fine.

Padraic: Yeah. I could, but I just don’t want to *laughs*

Ez: Well you can’t say you’re not getting used to the heat if you’re not taking the steps to…

Padraic: I can though..

I mean I’ll play drums barefoot. I’ll play barefoot every time.

Binx: But it was very hot that day in Marrickville *laughs*

Padraic: But yeah. You’ll never see me in shorts. On stage. Just can’t do it.

But speaking about [the day], I was just not feeling like doing a gig that day at all. It was probably our best gig, for whatever reason.

Binx: It was a good vibe, and a good few people there.

Padraic: But also if we play somewhere that has fans and stuff like that, we’ll turn them off. I like getting drenched *laughs*

Binx: But sometimes we might feel like we’re gonna pass out and suffer, and once we’re on stage you need those fans on. I always turn them off though *laughs*.

Padraic: You’re not into the Bon Jovi hair.

Binx: I don’t like the feeling of them. I need to be nice and warm. I wonder if other bands turn fans off.

Ez: For me when I’m practising it’s distracting because part of me is being cooled off; the rest of me is not, so I’d rather deal with the overall hot rather than just part of it because I start thinking about it. It’s an extra distraction to have.

Padraic: There you go. You don’t like fans; I don’t like shorts.

Ez: Excellent!

Padraic That’s the big take away.

I should’ve said shorts are off the table. *laughs*
We’ve said it now. It’s on the record.

Ez: So you have some new material. To touch on it, how much of it has to do with shorts?

Binx: *laughs* It’s all about shorts. It’s quite emotional.

Ez: But it’s a pants-length album.

Padraic: Absolutely.

Ez: Let’s delve into this new album, which I had no idea of coming into this.
You’ve written music. You’ve recorded music.

Binx: We recorded in December last year.

Ez: How long until it comes out?

Binx: We’re not sure. We’re in the final stages of mixing, and then… I don’t know. It’s hard to know what the time frame is. Depends on when it can be pressed, released, and if someone’s gonna bring it out. We’re not sure what’s happening with it.

It’d be good to bring it out independently,

Ez: And you’re doing some finishing touches now.

Binx: On the mixes, yep.

Ez: How did it come to be?Please tell me something more interesting than “We wrote it”.

Padraic: Yeah. We did write it *laughs*.

We recorded it locally. We were lucky enough to get Jonno (Boulet) from Party Dozen, and Bowen (Shakallis, Big White) to sit down and do it with us, which we were pretty happy about ’cause just really like the stuff he’s recorded before; especially his drum sounds, which obviously are pretty big for us.

Um, what else? Some mythology: live straight to tape. You know, the whole thing… not really. We booked five days and did it in three. It was easy, productive. We were pretty well-rehearsed. We were ready to go, which is part of the plan, always.

Binx: And we did work hard. Coming up to recording is the working; that’s the rehearsing a lot. There were times where I didn’t feel like it *laughs* but we did.

Padraic: There was one jam where we were trying to nut out this one bit of a song and I looked over and I said “Binx, you look miserable”, and she was like “I am”.

*laughter*

Binx: Really didn’t feel like it. There wasn’t a lot of downtime. You need to put in that time though, leading up to recording.

Padraic: We’ve worked all day and we’re out there at fucken’ 5 O’clock trying to squeeze half an hour in before we start on dinner. It was pretty hectic, but it paid off in the end.

Ez: So was it actually recorded live?

Padraic: Some of it.

Binx: It’s all recorded live.

Padraic: They’re all drums and one guitar live.

Ez: One guitar?

Padraic: And the singing, live as well. And then some I went back and did… I did a double track on all the vocals, and then a second guitar as well.

Ez: So what you’re saying is you’re letting the whole team down by doing only one guitar.

Padraic: Yeah. Can you do two guitars live?

Ez: Oh! So one guitar on each song, live.

Padraic: Yes.

Ez: So you didn’t do one guitar performance live for one song.

Padraic: They’re all live.

Ez: And you did it all to tape.

Binx: We didn’t do tape. The last one was all done to tape.

Padraic: We did it digitally. The whole process was good.

Binx: Jonno and Bowen were good to work with.

Ez: So you went in, you made sure it was all tight and everything, and it’s now been almost four months since you recorded it. What’s it like sitting on an album for four months thus far?

Padraic: It’s been okay. We kind of knew that going in ’cause Jonno’s busy.

Binx: And then it was the Christmas break and all.

Padraic: Yeah, it’s been okay. Body Type had been sitting on an album for two years that was completely finished before it [was released]. I can imagine that would’ve been some kind of ordeal.

Binx: Mixing takes time to get it where you want it to be. It takes longer than what people think. But there was the break and we’ve been busy.

Padraic: I reckon, what: Recorded in December, and mixed by the end of March. Yeah, it’s okay.

Ez: Does the album have some overall arching theme, or is it a collection of songs that just work well together?

Padraic: It’s not a concept album or anything.

Ez: Is it the best work you’ve ever done?

Padraic: It’s the best work we’ve ever done. Hands down.

Binx: I like their old stuff *laughs*.

Padraic: Binx likes the old stuff.

Ez: I’m glad you have a divisive opinion on your own music, but I must say I think you really dropped the ball in not calling yourselves Sremihc instead.

Padraic: What’s that?

Ez: It’s just Chimers backward.

Padraic: Ohhhhhhh.

Binx: *laughs*

Ez: It’s a far more memorable name because it’s awful to say.

Padraic: Sreeemihc.

Ez: Sremihc.

Padraic: I don’t know. Maybe when we’ve run out of ideas, we’ll be reborn as Sremihc.

Ez: Sound-wise and meaning-wise, what are you touching on on the new album? Same things, or? You said earlier that you’re trying to be less personal, so…

Padraic: I don’t know about less personal. Maybe less…

I mean, in saying that there’s a couple of songs on there where I’m already like “Eh, here we go again”.

Binx: *laughs* Emotions.

Padraic: Not less personal. Maybe a bit more abstract in places, I suppose. As far as, like sonically or whatever, there’s a few variations, there’s different styles of songs.

Binx: And we took more time completing them. Not that the other record was rushed, but we just thought about the songs a bit more.

Padraic: Whether that’s a good or bad thing, we’ll see.

Binx: We like it though. If other people like it, it’s a bonus.

Padraic: I think there’s some progressions in the sound, even layers-wise. Jordan Ireland [from] The Middle East came in and did some violin on some stuff, and Kirsty (Tickle) from Party Dozen did some saxophone on some things.

I think it’s a bit of a denser sound than the first one. Hopefully it’s all better than the last one.

Ez: Being less minimal in a sense. Is this an indication of Chimers becoming a studio project?

Padraic: No.

Binx: It is still minimal.

Padraic: It’s just a bit more hi-fi – maybe – than lo-fi.

Binx: Some of it as well is that we did it all on our own last time, whereas we’ve had feedback from other people. We’ve had some suggestions and help.

Padraic: Tim from Feel (Presents) has just been chipping in with little ideas or production ideas.

Binx: Which is helpful when there’s only two of us.

Padraic: Yeah, it’s really good.

Binx: Stuff we wouldn’t really think about.

Padraic: Just nudging us in a few different directions, which has been good.

Ez: How would you translate something like saxophone live?

Binx: We know a saxophone player in every town. We’ll give them the song and say “Can you play this on that?”

Padraic: We’ve got the saxophone directory for Australia.

I’m not too bothered with that.

Binx: It’s only small amounts. And we’ve played [the songs] live without them.

Padraic: We’re making more of like a Chimers big band than a studio project *laughs*

Ez: Oh, you can do the double drummer thing then! Get someone else to play the guitar.

Padraic: A full horn section.

*laughter*

Ez: I’ll ask one more thing, but before I do, has anybody [else] asked: why Chimers?

Padraic: Don’t know.

Binx: I don’t know. I don’t do interviews.

Padraic: It’s a name my dad used to call us if I was being a bit of a cheeky shit when I was young. Be like “You’re some fucking chimer”.

Ez: *laughs*

Padraic: It’s kind of got musical connotations.

When we played with Mudhoney, Steve Turner was like “Why you guys called Chimers?” And I told him and he was like “Nah I’m not happy with that”. He started googling and he started coming up with some kind of, not like… I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s not like World of Warcraft or whatever…

Binx: Whatever it was he thought it was cool.

Padraic: Some like faerie thing in games where the chimers were like some kind of… I dunno. Mystical being, or whatever. I said to shut him down “Steve, let’s just go with the earnest, nice answer that I came up with” ’cause the more he looked into it, the more I as like “Ugh, that’s terrible” *laughs*

Binx: He thought it was cool.

Padraic: But that’s where it’s from.

Ez: I don’t believe you. I mean, you won’t wear shorts on stage in thirty-eight degrees, and now you’re telling me it’s very humble. I don’t believe you. I think it’s actually mythological.

Padraic: I don’t know. My dad had lots of one-liners and stuff like that, and that’s one of them. I don’t know where he got it from.

Ez: Guess you gotta ask him then.

Padraic: Yeah. Can’t anymore, but… yeah *laughs* Probably wouldn’t have fucking told me anyway.

*laughter*