Melbourne’s Cable Ties released their third studio album All Her Plans in June on Merge Records. They were in the UK to support Amyl and the Sniffers for three dates and do a few shows of their own before heading to Europe and then on to the States. I had the opportunity to find out more about Cable Ties before they took to the stage at Edinburgh’s O2 Academy supporting Amyl and the Sniffers, chatting to band members Jenny McKenchie (vocals, guitar), Nick Brown (bass), and Shauna Boyle (drums)
If I may I’d like to start by going back to the beginning of Cable Ties. Jenny you had a folk music background but moved to Melbourne and got into the punk scene, is that right?.
Jenny: Yes, that’s right. I moved to Melbourne to go to university and I had a friend who was into punk music so she took me out to lots of gigs in Melbourne. I used to play folk music, the polar opposite to what I ended up doing! So I would go out to all these gigs and I really liked the people I was hanging out with, and I really liked the politics of the scene, there was a lot that attracted me to it before even the music. So I come to it that way. So my influences are really local Melbourne bands like Batpiss. So its this funny trajectory which means I’m a combination of folk music and very local Melbourne guitarists that I like.
And then how did the three of you come together?
Shauna: I also grew up outside of Melbourne and moved there. I met Jenny because I was going to a music festival and my friend who was supposed to come with me had locked herself out of her house so decided she couldn’t come. I went on my own and I was on the tram and I saw all these people looking a bit lost but they looked really friendly. When we all got off the tram I was like “Are you all going to the music festival?“, and they said “Yes!” I said “I think its over that way“. And I ended up hanging out with them and making friends and Jenny was one of those people.
Jenny: I have the picture in my mind of Shauna looking like she knew where she was going and me and my friends were just wandering around like stray cats!
That’s a real Sliding Doors moment, or do you think you would have come into contact with each other anyway in the punk music scene in Melbourne?
Shauna: I think so. The women and non-binary people playing punk music in Melbourne, its a decent size but its not enormous. I feel like we know a lot of people through that. I think we would have met each other eventually. Jenny was in this band called Wet Lips and I started going to a lot of Wet Lips shows and I was thinking this is cool and I was starting playing music with my housemate at that point and after a while Jenny and I were going to parties, listening to music, getting drunk and talking about having a jam. So we did.
And Nick how did you meet Jenny and Shauna?
Nick: Just going to shows, you meet people going to shows and hanging out. I’d know them both for a far while and they were keen to start a band and the third person they asked who was going to be the drummer didn’t show up twice sand I happened to be hanging out in the house jamming and they were like well do you want to jump onboard. Poor Shauna got bumped onto drums for the first time in her life in order to have a jam together and it just felt good.
Jenny: We were all bass players at the time actually and Shauna had played drums three times so got put onto drums.
The first self-titled album came out in 2017 and you were generating some interest and then Covid hit. I couldn’t believe you were due to fly to the States to tour and two days beforehand lockdown happened. At what stage was the second album Far Enough at this point?
Nick: We were going to be in New York the day the record came out. And we didn’t get on the plane. But that’s ok. You know everyone missed out and couldn’t do things that they loved and was important to them. And I think the real thing was that we turned around after that and we got back in the shitty little storage unit rehearsal space that we shared with a couple other bands and it kinda maybe felt better doing it again than it did before. And that’s great, yeah we really did miss it and we do want to do it and that’s why we do it, because it feels good.
Jenny: I remember getting back on stage and thinking “I am never going to take this for granted again”. It also felt like, well it was years really by the time we got back to doing stuff regularly and it felt like, if we can get through that and we are still together and we still want to go on tour for 35 dates and still have the level of enthusiasm that we do then nothing can stop us.
Jenny are you the main lyricist?
Jenny: Yes I’ve been the main lyricist although Shauna has a song on the new album which is very exciting. We write the music very collaboratively and then I go away and write the lyrics.
On the new album All Her Plans, the song ‘Mum’s Caravan‘ has such powerful imagery. You are commenting on the Australian healthcare system but acknowledging the support that women have to provide. But then the impact on their lives, for example with the caravan sitting for 15 years. Obviously when you wrote this album the world was in a very different place due to Covid. Did that impact on your songwriting?
Jenny: This album did end up being more personal and being more about my family and my own experiences. I think because of everything that happened, and because of that gratitude I talked about of coming back to it and really wanting to do, it was sort of freeing. You know it felt like this band is just ours and it can be whatever we want it to be and rather than putting all this pressure on myself to make everything I write about some kind of statement of intent or an album that has to encapsulate everything, I sort of let it just flow out of me a bit more. When I started I didn’t intend that album to be mostly focused on my family’s experiences of the mental healthcare system and the healthcare system but that’s what sort of came out. I was allowing myself to do what I needed to do and not overthink it too much.
But you then also have a song like ‘Time For You‘ which is almost like your version of a love song.
Jenny: Yes for sure, but I think the whole album is about love really, of many different kinds and that’s just one part. Even when I am singing about things that are difficult like relationships in families that are trying, there is still so much care and love there. The songs on the album are exploring that complicated and hard sides of it and ‘Time For You‘ is really says “things are so easy with you and that makes me so happy”.
And Shauna how was it taking the lead on the song ‘Thoughts Back‘ for the first time?
Shauna: It was very exciting but also terrifying in a way. Taking on a challenge is something that I try to embrace. When it came down to having to become the drummer for this band and learn how to do that and learning to love it and feeling like it was something that I felt really proud to be able to do. I felt the same way about being able to sing this song as well. Jenny is such an inspiration to me and I really wanted to write something that fit well within the scope of this album and work together within the themes of what Jenny was writing. As Jenny said we usually write the music and then the lyrics will come later. So we had most of the music written for this song and then Jenny asked me if I wanted to write the lyrics and sing this one. I have been progressively singing more backups on almost all the songs whereas on the first album I didn’t really sing that much. And that’s just one of those challenges of being able to sing and play drums at the same time. I like to be stimulated and if that means being constantly pushed out of my comfort zone to a degree, where sometimes the balance is a little bit iffy, sometimes you get a bit too scared and you have to reign it in a little bit. You have to do that otherwise you don’t grow as a person.
So European dates are next and then the States to support Superchunk. How are feeling that the States is finally on the horizon?
Nick: I think we’re all just feeling really delighted to get to go out and play all these shows and have all the weird chance encounters that you have going on tour. There are millions of moments along the way you couldn’t predict or plan for and some of them are big and some of them are small and they all make up the mosaic of why you want to go out and play to people everywhere. The conversations you have with people who come to the show whether its from around the corner or they’ve driven a long way, and the thing that you do, or the record that you have made has caught them in a moment and they’ve thought “I really want to go and see that” that’s a really special energy, and to get to go out and do that in a load of different places where we’ve never done it before, its going to be really awesome so we all just feel super grateful to get go on tour.