Photo: Joshua Watson
Of all our interviews for Brisbane Noise, Matt Kennedy encapsulated most succinctly what was special about underground music in Brisbane.
He began Kitchen’s Floor in 2007 recording on a dictaphone in his bedroom, signifying his preference for dirty recordings, a style which has never left him and remains a key part of his downer-pop sound.
Three studio albums, two EPs and a live LP ensued, released across multiple labels: Siltbreeze, Negative Guest List, R.I.P Society, Quemada, Bedroom Suck Records and Bruit Direct Disques with Kitchen's Floor becoming one of the most respected bands in the Noise movement.
In 2009 Matt launched his own label and 'distro', Eternal Soundcheck beginning as a video blog focused on documenting the Australian independent music community. After releasing a documentary in 2010, it then morphed into a radio show on 4ZZZ, which in turn evolved into Underground Australiana.
A close friend of the late writer, musician and label owner Brendon Annesley, he reveals the impact of his life and death on himself and the scene, as well as the notorious gigs at "116".
What do you love about underground music?
It's a healthy lifestyle for people who don't necessarily relate to the general world. I've always had trouble dealing with humanity and have found it hard to get ahead in normal society. This community based music idea empowers the broken individual and can let them do whatever they want within reason. It is freedom for weirdos and outcasts everywhere to express themselves and create a cultural shift to their liking.
How would you describe Brisbane's underground music scene to an outsider?
Brisbane has a habit of elevating mediocre feel-good pop bands to the forefront. That's the street press and what most of the general public will enjoy and embrace here. Something about the tropical humid weather and the fact that a lot of people aren't educated or open to the idea of progressively creative music. So if you can break through that as an outsider looking in I think you will find real stuff that is happening and it can be quite rewarding. I'm so sick of reading articles about the top 10 Brisbane bands to check out or whatever and they're all embarrassing jokes.
What is it about Brisbane in particular that produces people who are into it?
The most interesting people here mostly move away to Melbourne or Sydney once they reach their early to mid-20s. Brisbane is comprised of the dregs that chose not to leave and make the most of it, like myself. It's a city that you can really make your own if you put the effort in, it can be shaped to your liking, which ain’t possible in the aforementioned cities.
I hear that the conservative authorities like to shut down underground nights. Why is this?
We're famous for our history of governmental conservatism, namely the Joh Bjelke Petersen era of the 80s where they outlawed or cracked down on anything that was fun and good. Unfortunately for them that created a great underground scene of Brisbane punk bands that fought the system and won. He is a joke and these bands are cult heroes. Razar, Young Identities, The Saints, there are heaps that thankfully did not go quietly into that good night. These days we are still stuck with a conservative government because most people seem to be fucking idiots but it always creates the anger of inspiration for subversive creative output.
Are you still holding shows in your lounge room?
The final show I held in that lounge room was on my 28th birthday last June with Scraps, Brainbeau and Club Sound Witches. It was a wild night and a worthy farewell to eight years of house shows. Things had become a bit too nuts a few years ago where people were showing up who weren't there for the music and would ruin it by being jerks. It became more stress than fun so I stopped doing them for a while. Cleaning up a completely trashed house the next morning with a severe hangover wasn't much fun either. My house has been extensively renovated recently so I've since moved into a newly built flat underneath which is just lovely.
Jimi Kritzler (writer and musician and former Brisbane resident) mentions in an interview breaking into cinemas to play shows. How often does that sort of stuff go on and was that a reaction to the authorities closing legitimate places?
There's always that excitement of playing somewhere other than a standard venue. If you can find an abandoned house or cinema or building it's always fair game as long as you have a generator to power the amps and the guts to do it. That still happens quite a bit, namely under bridges or in parks which have seen some great generator shows over the last few years.
How important was Brendon Annesley to the scene?
The most important thing he did with his writing and general behaviour was critical thought. He was extremely wise beyond his years and geographical location and he had great fun destroying these shitty mediocre Brisbane bands, as well as any other bands that caught his gaze. It was never done with extreme malice but more intellectual wit where he would explain exactly why they sucked with such bravado and hilarious eloquence it just raised the bar. He started his Negative Guest List zine as a passionate response to the tepid writing style of our street press, which was so formulaic and boring it was gross. He brought constructivity to what was happening and I think it made a lot of people think twice about what they were actually doing.
What effect did the loss of Brendon have on the scene?
Personally it's something that I don't think I'll ever come to terms with, and I know a lot of other people won't either. Brendon was a good friend, an honest and passionate gentleman dedicated to the cause of punk and rock n roll. His writing was of an international standard which I think Brisbane as a whole still hasn't given him credit for.
Was Brendon appreciated more overseas than in his own country?
If he had grown up in New York say, would he have been celebrated more?
Brendon was a self-proclaimed proud product of his environment. His writings and his music are all a reaction to his surroundings. His output was much more appreciated in the USA and Europe, because I think there are a few more smarter people over there who understood what he was getting at. There were quite a few local musicians here who hated him because he had the intellect and writing ability to destroy their comfortable mediocrity, which was something I really loved about him.
Are the zines you sell all locally made? Why are they preferred to internet blogs?
I source the zines I sell in my distro from all over Australia or elsewhere. Basically what I find interesting. Writing is an artform that is sadly being consumed as a digital only interface and I'll support these handmade printed zines as long as I can.
Who are the up-and-coming bands to look out for?
Bent, 100%, Workshop, Brainbeau, Sprot, Clever, Sewers, etc etc
Kitchen's Floor's Third Album, Battle of Brisbane, is out now