Georgia Corpe had the chance to ask Max Quinn a few questions surrounding his latest single The Boys and the hyper-masculinity within Australia, homegrown talent and what the future holds for the young Melbournite.
BF: Your song The Boys is absolutely brilliant and completely relatable to those who don’t quite fit in with Australia’s hyper-masculine culture. Can you tell us a bit about how you came to write the song?
MQ: It’s actually song that has its origins in a sauna. I know, so original. I go running because I find it really beneficial for my mental health, and there’s a sauna at the YMCA I go to. Sometimes I treat myself to a sauna after I run. On this particular night it was raining, and clearly footy practice was cancelled, and I ended up in the sauna with this brigade of boofy, footy boys. There was lots of fist bumping and dick-swinging (metaphorical, thankfully) and it started to occur to me that I hadn’t been around The Boys for a really long time; when I moved away from the country – where, speaking only from my experience, I have found heteronormative masculinity to be peak – it became so easy to shelter myself from the kinds of people I don’t identify with and surround myself with people who share my perspectives/sense of humour/love of puns. Coming face to face again with the kind of grotesque viewpoints offered up by the dudes in this sauna was an eye-opener for me; basically, it made me realise that it’s not enough to think that by not being part of the problem (the problem being the way that hyper-masculine discourse influences and affects our perspectives and attitudes toward women especially and also each other as young men) you’re being a part of the solution. You’re not. You’re being passive, covering your eyes and ears, and pretending that this attitudinal baseness doesn’t exist.
The other part of this song is the shooey part – one of the dudes in the sauna is responsible for that too. He told this massive story about doing a shooey, and ultimately vomiting on his own dick at a urinal. Charming, no? The shooey – historically – I believe has its origins in the punk scene in Launceston; I’m not an expert in this field but my friend Ben told me that some of Luca Brasi’s old mates brought it to the mainland. Huge if true. Anyway, for this thing that started in tiny punk shows south of the mainland to have evolved and been taken on by early-adopter footy bros also struck me as interesting. For a really long time, the cultural preamble surrounding punk shows has been that they’re meant to be a safe space for those who identify as outsiders, or belonging to counter-culture, or having a vested interest in being or feeling different and craving the support that, in my experience, alternative and punk communities provide for each other. As contemporary punk culture becomes more mainstream and as the humble shooey becomes corrupted by fuckwits, shows become less safe, and there’s definitely felt somewhat of an earthquake as these tectonic opposites have started to intersect. I wanted to make comment on that, and to reinforce that this is meant to be a safe community.
BF: I went to a Camp Cope show recently in Brisbane and even though Georgia Maq sings about hyper-masculinity and sexism in some of their songs, guys were still being jerks and making it hard for women in the mosh pit. The Boys has been picked up and played on the likes of Triple J and you are undoubtedly going to be heading out on more shows soon – are you hoping that the underlying meaning of this song isn’t lost on people at your shows? I mean, what would you do if some guy poured a beer into his shoe and sucked it down?
MQ: Firstly – Camp Cope are the best and most important band of 2016.
Secondly, this song was written with the intention that you could sing it with as much or as little irony as you wanted to. That’s why I wrote it in character as a narrative rather than as a straight condemnation. I wanted to write something that speaks to the highest possible numerator and the lowest common denominator. Like – it’s not hard for me to imagine The Boys singing The Boys, if that makes sense? I want the irony to seep out slowly and to speak to dudes who realistically aren’t that culturally disparate from me on their level. For that reason, if someone does a shooey at my shows that’s fine — but dickheadedness is vehemently not fine and will not be tolerated.
BF: Melbourne has been producing some pretty skilled songwriters over the past – Alex Lahey, Camp Cope, Tiny Little Houses. After moving from Ballina to Melbourne, can you tell us, if at all, how Victoria’s capital shapes young music songwriters to produce really cool music?
MQ: I think the main thing about Melbourne is that people go to shows here, every night of the week. I lived in Sydney for a few years too and I think it’s generally harder to get people to go to rock shows there. This was pre-lockouts, so I don’t know what that speaks to. If anything maybe it just speaks to that I either wasn’t good or wasn’t good at promoting myself. The club scene in Sydney feels like a different beast and people like Nina Las Vegas and my friend Sandro from FBi Click and the Sidechains people and a million other talented producers work so hard to foster it.
With this said, I do get the sense that there’s more of a vested interest here in developing and nurturing young musicians than anywhere else in the country that I’ve lived, and I think people are generally more enthusiastic about going out to see bands they haven’t heard of before and are open to listening and actively looking for someone new to adopt and support and make a mascot of.
BF: You’re about to play a show with the kween of indie-rock herself, Alex Lahey – are there any other local/Australian bands who you’d like to play with in the future?
MQ: Firstly – what I said about Camp Cope applies equally to Alex. She’s the best and her songs are incredibly relatable.
I wanna play with anyone who wants to play with me. I’d love to play with Mount Defiance, they’re amazing. Alexander Biggs. Rachel Maria Cox. I’d like to play with jess Locke again and Camp Cope again Ceres as many times as I can in my life. Middle Kids. Babaganouj. Alex L’Estrange.
BF: What’s next for Max Quinn? Can we expect you in the Sunshine State anytime soon?
MQ: I HOPE SO! I go back to Ballina whenever I can and Brisbane is just up the road. Let’s organise something? Someone?