The Chats haven’t been on smoko this entire time. They’ve been working on a new album and gearing up for an international tour.
Last year, the Australian punk rock trio went viral with their music video for “Smoko,” a tongue-in-cheek song about being on a smoke break. After garnering three million views, the catchy lyrics, “I’m on smoko, so leave me alone,” have become an anthem for punkers around the world.
Though the song and video is a must-see classic, The Chats have way more to offer.
“We’re not really sick of playing it yet, but we’re well and truly sick of people coming to our shows to just hear that song,” bassist and frontman Eamon Sandwith tells BTRtoday. “[But] gotta appreciate your fans—it’s definitely heartwarming seeing so many people dance and sing along to our stupid songs.”
This July, The Chats released a new single called “Do What I Want,” a lo-fi gritty garage track that’s hooky and danceable, with even more screamable lyrics that chant, “don’t tell me what to do.” The song is perfect for anyone who wants to shout about anarchism or just tell authority off.
The trio head to Europe this fall after several shows in their homeland, Australia, with Nashville’s wild duo Birdcloud. Read the entire interview with The Chat’s Eamon Sandwith below.
BTRtoday (BTR): The Chats—how’d that happen?
Eamon Sandwith (ES): Matt and I became friends in grade 10 when he moved to our school. We started jamming together instantly and Pricey came onto the scene soon after to form The Chats. In grade 12 we actually started writing songs and playing at parties.
BTR: We gotta talk about “Smoko”—tell me about it. What was it like going viral so quickly for you guys?
ES: It was super weird. I remember waking up that morning and seeing that someone had posted our video on Facebook and it got like a million views. Everyone was texting me like, “you’re famous dude.” It pretty much happened over night, so it was a huge adjustment for us to make so quickly.
When it comes to what inspired the song, I honestly couldn’t tell you. All I remember is getting the chorus lyrics stuck in my head one day and then I went home and wrote the song. We’re not really sick of playing it yet, but we’re well and truly sick of people coming to our shows to just hear that song.
The Chats, “Smoko”
BTR: You recently released a new song, “Do What I Want”—it tells quite a story, did it blossom from any real personal situation?
ES: Nah, not at all. We pretty much just wanted to make a song that had “don’t tell me what to do” in the chorus. The lyrics in the verse kind of came together from there.
BTR: A lot of your lyrics are kind of sarcastic and self deprecating, which I love. What’s your writing process like?
ES: A lot of the songs I write at home by myself, then I’ll take the song to Pricey and Matt, and we’ll play it. “Smoko” is an example of one of those songs. Pricey added the little “elevator music” riff later on. But sometimes we come together to write a song, which I find a lot more fun and it takes the pressure off me quite a bit. “Do What I Want” is a song we all wrote together, we each had something to contribute to it, which was sick.
BTR: Who are some of your musical inspirations and what bands are you guys into right now?
ES: We have so many. We all love the old punk bands like Wire, Radio Birdman, Black Flag, Cosmic Psychos, Razar, X (the Australian band) and the Saints. We also love the classic Aussie rock ‘n’ roll bands like AC/DC, Hoodoo Gurus, Cold Chisel and all that. But we’re also really inspired by more recent bands like Drunk Mums, WOD, The Peep Tempel, Ausmuteants, the Cavemen and Mini Skirt.
BTR: It looks like you guys are playing sold out shows these days, do you prefer them or do you miss smaller more grungy shows?
ES: It’s hard to say. I definitely have more fun playing smaller shows because it’s easier to connect with an audience. But that being said, it did suck when we would put on a show and we’d have about seven or eight people turn up. Nowadays heaps of our shows sell out, which rules—gotta appreciate your fans. It’s definitely heartwarming seeing so many people dance and sing along to our stupid songs.
BTR: What’s your most memorable show you guys have ever played?
ES: Probably the time we played in Toowoomba. Toowoomba is a really regional and inland town in Queensland and the people there are pretty rough. We played in this tiny pub last March and there were way too many people there—it was way over capacity. When we started playing, the place just started getting torn to shreds. People were knocking over the PA, bashing each other and even climbing up the walls. We had to keep telling them to keep it kinda civil, but as each song passed they just got more and more rowdy. We got cut off about halfway through our set—it was insane.
BTR: What else is The Chats up to? You guys pumped for your UK/EU tour?
ES: Hell yeah, we can’t wait. We’ve [also] got a new album in the works and hopefully some more surprises for ya.