Words: Doug Wallen

Post-punk battlers Cable Ties come roaring back with the first taste of an exclusive 7” single, inspired by their volunteer work at Girls Rock! camps.

Six months on from their insta-classic debut LP, Cable Ties return in fiery form with ‘Tell Them Where to Go’, a swaggering anthem of empowerment. It’s as hypnotic as anything off that album, introducing loping drums and a brawny bass line before feedback-soaked guitar knifes its way through the canvas. In fact, it’s a full minute before singer/guitarist Jenny McKechnie’s distinctive, high-impact snarl even enters the fray, leaving plenty of time for the Melbourne trio to stake out a vintage pub-rock groove a la early AC/DC.

As for the lyrics, they’re decidedly timely, with McKechnie immediately shutting down “the boys club” and all their familiar bullshit reasons against a female, trans or non-binary person starting a band: “Tell them what they couldn’t do because they were too shy or too femme.” Inspired by Cable Ties’ volunteer work at Girls Rock! camps in Melbourne and Canberra, the song doubles as a DIY manifesto for anyone who’s ever felt like they didn’t belong in music, including a suggestion to steal your brother’s guitar and “just ignore them all and play.”

Reflecting on their Girls Rock! experience, McKechnie says: “It usually takes Cable Ties weeks or months to write a song, [but] we were so impressed that these young kids had learnt to play a new instrument, formed a new band and written and arranged a whole song, all within a week. We thought, ‘Bloody hell, we better pull our socks up and write a song for these kids.’ So we got the song together within one rehearsal and just played it.”

Her lyrics coalesced more quickly than usual too, again urged on by the young players: “I looked at the campers and wished I’d had something like Girls Rock! too. They’re encouraged to be loud, proud and fierce, which is something that was drummed out of me as a teenager and I had to relearn as a 22-year-old. They’re also surrounded by a group of mentors who present a much more varied representation of what a ‘rock star’ is than the usual attractive, white, cisgendered man most often presented to us in popular culture.”

Recorded and mixed by repeat collaborator Paul Maybury (Rocket Science, The Pink Tiles), and featuring backing vocals from a heap of Melbourne mates including Hexdebt, the song will appear on a two-song 7” single for sale exclusively at the band’s first-ever Cable Ties Ball. (It’s also seeing digital release through Poison City.) Slated for Feb 24 at The Corner Hotel in Melbourne, the ball puts the diverse likes of Habits, Miss Blanks, The Dacios, Simona, Miss Destiny and Eat-Man on the same bill – with Cable Ties headlining (of course). The multi-stage bash follows the band’s five-city run playing the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival in February; full dates below.

Until then, sink your teeth into ‘Tell Them Where to Go’, right down to that red-herring ending and the subsequent ambush of an outro. And whatever your background or disposition, heed McKechnie’s lyrics about outsiders triumphing, which prove every bit as universal as the song’s bareknuckle boogie thrust: “And so they thought of their own space, where they could plug in and play / Make their own heroes, make their own noise and say what they needed to say.”

Cable Ties’ limited-edition two-song 7” is available for sale exclusively at the Cable Ties Ball on Feb 24 at The Corner Hotel in Melbourne. The digital single comes out Feb 2 via Poison City Records. Learn more about Girls Rock! camps here.

Cable Ties tour dates:
Feb 2 – Adelaide, SA – St Jerome’s Laneway Festival
Feb 3 – Melbourne, VIC – St Jerome’s Laneway Festival
Feb 4 – Sydney, NSW – St Jerome’s Laneway Festival
Feb 6 – Melbourne, VIC – PBS Drive Live (sold out)
Feb 9 – Brisbane, QLD – Tym Guitars in-store (free, all ages)
Feb 10 – Brisbane, QLD – St Jerome’s Laneway Festival
Feb 11 – Fremantle, WA – St Jerome’s Laneway Festival
Feb 24 – Melbourne, VIC – The Cable Ties Ball @ The Corner Hotel

Banner image: Danny Cohen