Over the years Jimi Kritzler has become a key figure in Australian underground music which is why we were so thrilled to secure an interview with him for our multimedia feature Brisbane Noise.

Inspired from an early age by Bo Diddley and The Stones he started playing in bands around Brisbane and found himself immersed in the alternative scene, ending up forming the acclaimed Brisbane band Slug Guts with three friends. Taking their influence from bands such as Pussy Galore and Birthday Party they would be part of the "so-called Australian invasion" (the burgeoning popularity of Aussie rock bands in US an Europe) and toured the US in 2012.

Meanwhile Jimi teamed up with singer-songwriter Tara Green to form White Hex, a minimalist rock band. Their 2012 debut album White Heat reflects their experiences living together in a run-down house shared with "neighbourhood criminals, junkies, scumbags and teenagers" as well as the subsequent time spent in Berlin after deciding to leave and finally settle in Melbourne.

Jimi Kritzler and Tara Green as White Hex

Jimi Kritzler and Tara Green as White Hex

In July 2015 it was announced White Hex was over after releasing two albums and appearing on four labels: Felte, it records, Avant! and Nihilistic Orbs. 

Also a journalist, having written for Vice Magazine, The Courier-Mail Newspaper, Time Off Magazine and New York's 'SUP Magazine, in 2014 Kritzler published Noise In My head: Voices From The Ugly Australian Underground.

This is no ordinary music book. Taking full advantage of his close contact with musicians over the years, his book is a compelling and viciously honest account of the darker side of music in which he interviews 50 bands on songwriting, drug-taking, mental illness, getting arrested, prostitution and more. It is the antidote to all the benign pop music you've ever been afflicted with and the bland marketing-exercise interviews attached.

Jimi kindly gave up some time to answer our questions on the Brisbane alternative scene.


In an interview about your recent book you say the stories the people in the book are telling are, for the most part, pretty ugly. Is there an inherent darkness to the underground Australian music scene and, if so, why? 

No, I think musically it is pretty light hearted and there is humour to it which is unique to Australia. It is hard to generalise though as there are so many different bands making such a diverse array of music-some of it fucked up, ugly and mean-spirited, some of it innovative, some of it beautiful.

Would you say the music explores the extremes of the human condition?

Not really, I think the music made is just an extension of people's interests and lives or in most cases an answer to boredom.

How would you sum up Brendon Annesley’s contribution to the scene? Just how talented was he?

He was a great writer and always turned me on to great tunes. Above all he was a good friend with a vicious sense of humour.

How is/was Brendon perceived by the mainstream Australian media?

He wasn't. His fanzine Negative Guest List was very much enjoyed by a niche group all over the world.

What are the beautiful moments you have experienced through music? 

I am not really sure..I guess seeing parts of the world on tour was beautiful.

How did you get into the music? Any particular bands influenced you?

Growing up my old man and ma turned me on to Bo Diddley, The Stones and Creedence. From there I discovered my own music I was into like Pussy Galore, Gun Club etc.

What does underground music mean to you? And what attracts you to it?

At this point it means increasingly little to me. I love making music and writing about it but underground music as an entity or a scene means nothing to me.

Slug guts in 2011 (Photo: Glen Schenau)

Slug guts in 2011 (Photo: Glen Schenau)

Is it true that you broke into a cinema to play a gig once? Can you say what happened?

There was an abandoned cinema in the next neighbourhood and we decided for our first show we might as well break in and play. It was wild and fun.

How does Brisbane compare to the rest of Australia and the rest of the world in terms of the sounds it produces? Is it distinctive in any way?

Brisbane is unique, it moves at its own pace and until a few years ago no one outside of Brisbane paid much attention to the music coming from it. Bands like Blank Realm have changed this.

More artists seem to be exploring electronic music - why do you think this is? Is this a negative or a positive thing?

It is a good thing when it is done well. Bands like Forces, Holy Balm, Asps do it really well.

What does the strength of the scene depend on? 

To be honest I have no idea. The concept of a 'scene' is not something I have ever enjoyed.

 

Noise In My Head is out now - click here for more details.