Premiere: THE BACKS – ‘GODZILLA 1954’

Words: James Frostick
Band image: Hugene Raggy

Hard-hitting Melbourne/Naarm garage-punk crew The Backs are following up a couple of EPs with a new single – the first in a planned series coming out this year. ‘Godzilla 1954’ is a potent heater that shines a spotlight on the growing white nationalism movement in Australia and its undeniably destructive nature.

Throughout its decades-long history as the most-recognisable character in monster cinema, Godzilla has been nigh-on invincible. Even in the recent reboots the colossal kaiju reigns atop the heap (even with a few close calls, for suspense), wreaking havoc and stomping cities into dust as it battles opposing creatures gunning for the crown. A recurring theme throughout Godzilla’s history is humanity’s inability to stop it or even slow it down as it levels cities and destroys billions of dollars worth of infrastructure. For Melbourne’s The Backs and their new single ‘Godzilla 1954’, the creature is utilised as an allegorical figure representing the growing tide of white nationalism within Australia – a great stomping beast preaching intolerance, a fear-mongering goliath, a gargantuan beacon of racism engineered by conservative political and media overlords.

Sonically, ‘Godzilla 1954’ is best described as a torrent, a noisy outburst of guitar that runs roughshod over the ears. It’s a thick slab of grunt rock that harkens back about 30-odd years – direct and forceful, but potent in its catchiness. Battling against the surge is the lyrical content, which touches on the gradual and unwelcome infiltration of conservative sentiments in the mainstream, where fringe figures spouting right-wing views are given a greater platform to speak. The Backs are looking around and noticing how many of us are blindfolded, unaware of the reality we face – the threat of falling arse-backwards to the black-and-white days of 1954. It almost feels like lunacy to attempt to reason with such folk, but The Backs aren’t mincing words, taking a blunt-force approach of communication transported on the back of their supercharged rock spray. Like the fighter jets taking ineffective potshots at Godzilla from the air, The Backs might be outgunned. Hopefully more of reasonable people amongst us take notice and act – Godzilla is stomping, and it’s heading our way.

‘Godzilla 1954’ is released officially tomorrow, Friday May 15, through Marthouse Records. Keep your ears peeled for more from The Backs later this year.