Imagine this: You're at work, flipping burgers or typing away or sweeping or whatever it is you do, and someone comes up to you from the street and tells you you're doing it wrong. This person doesn't work in your field; in fact, they know nothing about it. They've just decided that you could be doing it better. They're assuming you've never trained to do it, and that you've never thought about ways you could do it better. Sound hellish? Well, that's what pretty much every female musician, trans musician, and non-binary musician has to deal with like, every fucking day.
There are plenty of good songs written about this phenomenon, which should tell you just how often it happens. Cash Savage, the frontwoman of Melbourne band Cash Savage & the Last Drinks, is sick of that mentality, so she wrote another very good song about it. "Pack Animals", the latest single from the upcoming Last Drinks record Good Citizens, is a rollicking, uneasy, pub-punk track that calls bullshit on all the men who have tried to give Savage advice she didn't ask for over the years. It's a corker of a track, and today we're premiering the track's surreal new video, a cut inspired by strange internet stock photos. Watch the video, and read our interview with Savage about "Pack Animals", below. Good Citizens is out September 21st on Mistletone via Inertia.
NOISEY: What was the inspiration behind “Pack Animals”?
Cash Savage: My whole musical career I've had male audience members tell me how I can improve my show. It doesn't happen every show and I didn't think anything of it until I realised that this doesn't happen to the boys in the band. The conversation starts something like "Great show tonight, but can I offer a little piece of advice?" I don't take kindly to being told how I do my job by someone who's never done it before. I was told once I need to add more waltzes to my set. And recently I was sent an Instagram message by a manager of another band who told me how he had ideas on how I could improve the mix of my already released song. They may be small things, but they're constant, so it's like a death by 1000 cuts.
The worst part about it is that it inevitably ends with the person getting offended when I won't listen to them. It can turn aggressive, and it has in the past.
The “Pack Animals” video is kinda silly, but the song isn’t particularly goofy. Why that duality?
That has a lot to do with who I am. Lately I've been looking at stock images and thinking about how the actors are set up in 'real life' situations that don't look like real life at all, and we just accept all these photos in our everyday world.
Also, the statement's in the lyrics, and I fucking hate acting. I wanted to create something that was watchable, that didn't require a whole lot of acting talent from myself.
When you released “Pack Animals” you wrote that you ‘look forward to a time when shit behaviour is called out before it gets to that point’. How do you think we’ll get there? What needs to change?
The solution is not on me. A lot of people need to smarten the fuck up and figure it out. At the bare minimum we could all do with a bit more empathy.
Listening to and trusting people's experiences helps. Creating spaces where people feel safe to come forward with their stories also helps. I think we're moving towards a time where the average person feels more comfortable calling out shit behaviour––I definitely do. Maybe it's my age. Hopefully it's not just the circles I move in. I know it's going to take more than just pointing problems but it's on all of us to listen.
How do you think the music industry needs to be dealing with the kind of Toxic Masculinity that you discuss in the song?
What a massive question. Trying to get as many women and non-binary folks into the industry is probably helpful, and not just as musicians but also working as FOH/stage/lighting crew. There are still many parts of the industry that are male-dominated and could use some evening up in the numbers.
But it's not on us to fix this, the onus should be on the oppressors, not the oppressed to make the change.
Last year you played a show with Camp Cope, who are also calling out a lot of this kind of toxic masculinity. Which other musicians do you feel are kinda also pushing this message with you?
They do a very good job of calling out bullshit. I think just about every female, queer, trans and non-binary musician is already saying this. If people aren't hearing it, then they should be listening harder.