Turning frustration and anger into humour and joviality, Heat Wave’s Dead Beats is the perfect soundtrack for those too burned out on life’s issues. It’s a soundtrack of synth-heavy party punk that laughs at the futility of it all – made by a band that is choosing to face the world, lumps and all, with a sneer and a playlist of jams fit to dance to.
Being stuck in a rut is an issue that affects every generation at some point in their lives. That being said, with the huge spike in property prices on the housing market, the arduous war for equal rights for minorities and social causes plus the overall state of the world at large, it’s easy for the ‘millennial’ generation to feel the most alienated and disheartened with their current lot in life. Shit friends, racist folk, sexist dudes, politicians pushing skewed agendas, bleak dead-end towns, gentrification pushing low-income families to the fringe, cheap beer, hangovers, medication, shit sex and fractured relationships – piled on top of each other, this is the stuff that makes you want to cry with despair or laugh at the sheer insanity of modern living. Kurt Eckardt and Kalindy Williams of Heat Wave have opted for the latter with their debut tape Dead Beats.
Dead Beats takes the dreary mire of life and turns it into a dance floor. It offers dance as catharsis – the opportunity to shake off the shackles that have been keeping your soul bound and move your body to rhythms and pulses reminiscent of the way you heart used to beat before reality gripped and tightened. Call-and-response angst anthems mix with schlock horror movie concepts and the truths that ring loudest serve to buoy your frenzy rather than bring you crashing despondently back to earth. Dead Beats is proof that when things suck you can always find a release in the whirlwind of manic movement, you can still find humour in the absurdity of life and you can still find camaraderie in the similarly disaffected.
I asked the duo to enlighten me on the band’s beginnings and their approach to mixing down-and-out sentiments with uptempo pulse, making a collection of songs that’s easy to dance to, even when the weight of the world sits squarely on your shoulders.
First of all, who is Heat Wave and how did the project come about?
Hi! Heat Wave is Kalindy Williams and Kurt Eckardt! Heat Wave was formed during a long hot summer in Brisbane, although it was too hot to function. We tried writing some songs, but about two songs in our fingers became so sweaty we couldn’t play synth anymore. Heat Wave officially started playing music in the cold winter of Melbourne about a year ago.
What were the two of you seeking in a creative outlet at the time of forming?
Kalindy: I was not writing music at the time, but was seeing a lot of live music in Melbourne and I guess I was inspired by the scene here and felt really strongly about expressing myself musically.
Kurt: I had been working pretty intently on my other project, Astral Skulls, and was looking for a project that was a bit looser. We just want to play lots of shows and write lots of songs without too much concern for which direction we might be heading or what genre we’re playing. We just record what comes to mind, play it live for a bit and move on to the next set of songs.
Was there anything on your mind that you felt you needed to convey in a different way to what you’d made with other projects?
Kalindy: In the beginning I really just wanted to make a fun party goth band, It’s something I have never done before and it was kind of like the first thing I’ve approached with having fun as the priority.
Kurt: Yeah, and we wanted to be able to sing and play some songs that we can jump around to more than anything. We wanna play political songs too, but not exclusively. There might be underlying messages in what we’re doing, but sometimes having fun despite all of the shit holding you back can be the most political thing you can do.
When the two of you linked up for Heat Wave, was there any particular common ground that proved particularly fertile for the initial creative process?
Kurt: Kalindy had been playing synth as part of Astral Skulls’ live show for a while, so we were used to working with each other. We definitely share a common love for punk and post punk stuff, especially Siousxie and the Banshees, The Ramones, Lydia Lunch and the like. We share a love for DIY stuff too and believe in doing as much as we can ourselves.
How long did it take the two of you to settle on your brand of nihilistic post-punk-pop?
Kalindy: It all came about quite naturally, we both really like punk music and it was just an obvious progression!
Kurt: It’s just what’s come out from us working together. Kalindy comes up with the song concepts – she’ll come up with a melody and chorus, I’ll record her singing it on my phone and take it into our studio, write a bass part and drum pattern, then Kalindy will finish it off with the synth and vocal parts. Essentially she’s to blame for most of the nihilism! But seriously, it really has started to feel like the end of days right?
Tell me about the album and the ideas that have influenced it! In your opinion does the album have a general theme, statement or intent?
Kalindy: I guess there is a general theme of sweet darkness that runs through all the songs. Although some are fun there is definitely some sinister elements to almost all the songs. ‘Missing Kid’ in particular is pretty brutal but it also has this warm and fuzzy drumbeat that kind of makes you want to dance.
Kurt: Dead Beats is a bit sarcastic too. It drifts from stories of horror movies to dreaming of getting away from all the shit things happening in Australia, to stuff about shit people and back to another horror movie. Dead Beats is just the start – we write so many songs all the time, I’m super excited about getting it out there but also can’t wait to record and release the next one.
What did you channel into this record emotionally?
Kurt: I have to be honest that we didn’t lose much to this album. We really just wanted to have fun with it and did – we wrote and recorded it so quickly, it was one of the easiest and most enjoyable things I’ve ever worked on! Recording it was really fun: being able to do that on my own is super satisfying, and Mikey Young – who mixed and mastered it – figured out what we wanted straight away and did such an awesome job.
There’s an element of futility and frustration regarding your lot in life and certain societal structures – something that people might connect with. Does a project like this offer an element of cathartic release or escapism for the two of you personally?
Kurt: Totally! I mean, punk means a lot of different things to different people. But to me, more than a genre of music, it’s a reaction to all of the stuff that’s eating you up. Heat Wave is a good example of the fact that you don’t have to respond with straight up anger.
Playing live is also always a great release, and an amazing way to connect with people that might feel the same way. There’s always a feeling in the room when we play – half people who totally get where we’re coming from, and the other half not knowing or getting or liking what we’re doing.
Kalindy: Playing live is a form of escapism. I’m generally pretty shy but when Heat Wave plays I jump around and scream and stare intently in to people in the audience’s eyes. I once met someone briefly before a show and straight after we played they came up to me and said, “Wow, I never would have expected you to be like that on stage!”
Where do you want to take this project in the future?
Kalindy: We are already writing new songs for our next album! I’d really love to play some fun house parties when it gets warmer and we will be making a few film clips for songs off our album over the next month or so.
Kurt: Yeah I just want to record and release an album every year! It’s the kind of project that I can imagine doing forever.
Listen to Dead Beat below or purchase a tape through Psychic Hysteria, then catch the band at The Old Bar for the Dead Beat tape launch on Saturday June 10 with support from Bitch Diesel, Chelsea Bleach, V and Spit.