David West has some cool friends. Some of them he plays in bands (Total Control, Lace Curtain) with. On his own, the West Australian steps out as Rat Columns, a sadder pop vibe with some excursions into ambience.
After living for a number of years in San Francisco where he played in the slashing and driving post punk outfit Rank/Xerox), West is back in Australia, settling in Melbourne for the moment; he is articulate, intelligent and chilled, the kind of guy who chooses his words as carefully as he does his band mates.
NOISEY: Rat Columns songs sound like they are coming from a sad and insular place.
David West:Yeah I want them to be sad—that sad/ happy thing. Bittersweet. It’s a music that comes naturally to me: that dour thing. I’ve done so many aggressive bands before so I wanted to do something that was a little more intimate. It’s veering to more poppy stuff.
I’m thinking Sarah Records. Of walking around a dreary northern English city in the rain wearing headphones.
I like that stuff. Of course I like the classics: the Smiths, My Bloody Valentine, the Cure, blah blah blah. Sarah is something I’m familiar with but I’m not super versed in. I listened to one of the compilations once and thought it was really good. I’m into pop songs.
Even Total Control, a band with a more punk edge, has some pop.
Well it’s still songy. Mikey (Young) can’t get away from writing songs and Al (Montfort) writes songs. It’s never just texture or sound. We are all quite “songy” people. A soft vibe is what comes to me quite naturally now. I think for me it just comes down to I’m unable to rock. I’m trying to write a rock and roll song. Mikey is giving me pointers. Mikey wrote a rock song for the new Rat Columns album.
Does it have that signature Mikey Young guitar sound?
Yeah it’s kind of in his domain but because it’s got my vocals on it it’s a little bit different. But yeah that’s the one that everyone likes the most (laughing).
What’s it like working with Al Montfort, Daniel Stewart and Mikey Young?
I wasn’t as good friends with them at the start. I was friends more with James (Viniguerra, Total Control drummer) and I was kind of familiar with Mikey. My band Burning Sensation played with Eddy Current Suppression Ring in Perth. I didn’t know Dan so much but we became friends. It’s so easy. We’ve all played in heaps of bands before so nobody is a virtuoso except for Michael Young (laughs), but everyone has played in bands and so know how it all works
How has the recording for the new Total Control record been?
Good. We did the recording at this practice space down the road from Mikey’s house in Rye. It’s called the “Guitar Shack” and it has a really beautiful rehearsal room that the owner built, it had a control room and stuff but it wasn’t doing very well because there is not many bands on the Peninsula so it was sold to a Scuba Diving place. Our recording was the last thing that happened there before it got torn apart.
The owner sold it and Mikey bought some of acoustic treatment so we all carried it back to his house. So it was pretty fortuitous.
How is it sounding? Is it less electronic?
A little less—there’s still some though. It’s a little more “bandy” but then there’s some of those strange songs that are kind of hybrid. I think it’s going to throw some people for a loop.
So there’s Total Control, Lace Curtain, Rat Columns. What else is going on?
I have a new band with Andrew from Constant Mongrel and Taco Leg called Tudor House. It’s very melodic punk. We did a song yesterday that’s like a like a 90’s tribute. Andrew and I work well together. I have a tendency to over think thing sometimes his approach is more spontaneous