Words: James Frostick
Artist image: Grace Goodwin
Melbourne/Naarm-based musician Will Weir is adding more form and substance to his new caustic post-punk project Big Bill and the Bigots, releasing the visuals for his most-recent single ‘Sunday Mourning’. Boasting unsettling vampiric imagery, the clip pairs perfectly with the unhinged Australiana imbued within the track’s rasping sonics.
Boiled down to its core elements, Big Bill and the Bigots is a project equally influenced by the sounds of Australia’s formative post-punk progenitors and the country’s blood-soaked colonial origins. If one were to conjure a musical style from those two touchstones alone you’d most likely come up something harrowed and distraught – and you’d also be pretty close to what Will Weir has created with Big Bill and the Bigots, which was only conceived in 2019. Will, a self-described “white boy on stolen land”, has created the Big Bill persona as a way to address the European settlement narrative – debunking any shred of perceived historical innocence and skewering the present-day behaviours of those still directly benefitting from colonial privilege. Sonically, Big Bill and the Bigots craft a blistering and haunted brand of Australia – music that sits somewhere on the spectrum between the gothic strine of The Birthday Party and the tortured blood-shot desperation of The Drones circa Gala Mill. It’s post-punk, sure, but it’s the kind imagined by a sun-stricken and sunken-eyed con who is coming to terms with the mounting weight of his sins.
‘Sunday Mourning’ – the first cut from Big Bill and the Bigots’ forthcoming EP Let The Empire Burn – is a guilt-wracked number that sounds partly like an admission of fault and part plea for some sort of exorcism or way to repent. Shuttered inside, Big Bill mutters about a feverish grip that surges through his blood and an infection that plagues his brain. Perhaps it’s the mounting guilt that is taking hold, or the influence of another that has him running up the walls when he is alone – either way there’s a palpable urge to be free of agony, a desire to cleanse his soul no matter the cost. The visuals for ‘Sunday Mourning’, crafted by Grace Goodwin, were filmed during isolation and showcase what a bit of imagination can do when your options are limited. The gripping accompaniment takes us from a candle-lit den to the back alleys of Brunswick West and to a graveyard, boasting foreboding visual motifs in the form of bloodied hands, roses and the obscured visage of the clip’s central figure. It’s perfectly unsettling, which makes it a wonderful addition to the lingering unease of the song itself. Watch it here: