(NR) It’s been close to seven years since your last time here, with a few years of COVID in between to keep your feet planted. Did you miss being on the road the last few years? Is life on tour something you look forward to?

(HR) I’d rather be on tour than home. On tour or at least traveling. I didn’t start out that way but after many years of living for months at a time all over the place, I figured it was the best thing for me. So, yes, I’ve missed touring a lot and also, I wondered if live shows were going to still be a possibility ever again. When I was finally able to go back out again, it was amazing. At this moment, I’m in Warsaw, Poland. 

In Melbourne the post-pandemic setting has injected a breath of fresh air and positivity into the local music scene. Have you seen this effecting musicians and audiences around you in the US?

Yes. You see it in interviews and at shows. Both bands and audiences are into being back. I think of a lot of people, going to shows is a normal thing and being able to go to a show again is somewhat closer to how things were before COVID. 

You’ve got an eclectic taste to say the least. In a time where genre is almost becoming a thing of the past, what’ve been your favourite records of the past year?

Tamar Aphek’s album All Bets Are Off I thought was really smart, the new Automatic album Excess is great. There’s a band from Atlanta, Georgia called Upchuck on the Famous Class label who are really good. 

I know you love Hard-Ons and Nick Cave, who else are some Aussie icons of yesteryear and today who you love to listen to?

I play a lot of Australian bands on my radio show. 1-800-MIKEY, Chimers, Alien Nosejob, Delivery, The Prize, Imperial Leather, Romero, Power Supply, Shifters, Blonde Revolver, Gee Tee. This is just off the top of my head. Apologies to all the ones I’m not listing. There seems to be no shortage of great bands out of Australia. 

You’re a big crate digger, what makes a record store a good one for you? Is it about selection, personality, genre? And what is your favourite Melbourne record store? I’m always hearing rumours of you popping into Poison City…

For me, a good record store is one that takes advantage of space by curating well. Strangeworld Records in Melbourne is a must go to store. I usually arrange a day off on tour to spend hours there and warn Richie what day I’ll be there. He sets aside records he thinks I might like and I check them out. He knows his stuff and his store is packed with great records. This is the mark of a good store. The people who run it actually listen to the music and are able to recommend good music to the customers come to trust the “cool person at the record store.” These kind of relationships can go for years. 

You spoke a while back about the effect a good record can have on someone going through trouble, for example giving a young queer kid a DEVO record. What music helped you most in the harder years of youth?

When I was teenage, we had arena rock, the big bands you’d hear on the radio. We’d go see them. It was pretty good but a bit anonymous. It’s you and thousands of people. Then, we were able to go to clubs and smaller venues and everything changed. Seeing Led Zeppelin was great but standing right in front of the Clash or the Ramones, like getting sweated on by them, seeing the Cramps from up front, these were for me, life altering events. It was Punk Rock, which I got into as soon as I was able that was the big change in my life. DEVO’s album Duty Now For The Future, I don’t know how many times I’ve played that. 

What’re your thoughts on social media today, and how bands often have no choice but to dive into it as a platform to their art? Do you think the cycle of content creation is harming the creativity of today’s musicians?

I could not say how a music platform affects a band’s work. The Indie bands I listen to, they seem to make their music with no problem, there’s vinyl and downloads and it sounds good to me. They tour and I go to see them play. It doesn’t seem any different in that respect than it’s ever been. There might be a lot I’m not seeing because I’m old and I don’t make records any more. I can’t see anyone’s creativity being pushed on. 

You’ve brought up your experience being over medicated as a child. How do you think it effected your development? Do you think labels and medication are helpful for a neuro- divergent child, or did you find it more of a hinderance?

I was given a lot of Ritalin. When I was young, they were fairly throwing it down my neck. I cannot speak to what it might have done to me with any authority as I’m not a doctor but it did keep me from eating and I think that had an effect on my growth. Again, I’m simply not qualified to speak on medications and those being medicated. I have a feeling I was one thing but being medicated for something else. At this point, if I were somehow prescribed a medication for my brain, I’d never go near it. 

In 2019, you spoke about the “strong silent type” and the harm it can have on men, what do you think defines masculinity for you, or what should men strive for in today’s age?

I think both men and women, at least in the “Western World” are marketed to up to the gills. In those endless pitches, an identity via consumerism can be established. Men are supposed to do this, wear this, smell like this, like this, not like that, etc. Someone’s making money and someone else is getting played. What if men were to completely throw out the idea of masculinity, or at least treat it as merely an exercise in branding, and just be themselves. Their orientation and hormonal balance will probably steer them where they need to go, they don’t need to look at an advertisement or listen to some stupid thing their father told them (I’m projecting here) and they can just be who they are. What to strive for? Maybe a life without the role playing. 

What kind of stories and tales can your fans expect upon your return to Aus in June and July?

I’ve always got a lot to say. I’ll be about 170 shows into the tour at that point, so I should be pretty well oiled.

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