“I was trying to find a chorus for ages,” says Tom Gordon of Horror My Friend, “and then I remembered we recently played a conference in Brisbane... A friend of mine went up there for the express purpose to negotiate and connect with a label that was possibly interested in a band that she managed. She just found herself in a situation - and I saw this - where the person she was trying to talk to was continuously trying to hit on her even though she said no many, many times.”
It’s an odd time in the Australian music industry. With festival after festival having male headliners and slim pickings with female artists, it’s definitely a bit of a boy’s club. Horror My Friend’s new single Pavement calls that out in punchy lyrics like, “the boys club, give up.”
With bright pink KeepCups and juices in hand, I sat down with Tom to chat more about gender barriers, social expectations, and what’s been going on in the world of Horror My Friend.
Tell me more about Pavement and the process of creating the single.
We’ve had the song for quite a while now. I think in terms of influences, compared to what we were doing with the last record, it was bit darker. A lot of the bands we were listening to at the time we’re like DIVE, from New York, and a lot of shoegaze bands. At the time of that song I was having a heavy time (not now - which is good!), so it was darker lyrically as well. It touches on it touches on themes of gender inequality, and touches on the idea of social pressures and having specific roles placed upon you – which is part of gender inequality as well. More specifically looking at the idea of being pushed into a certain job or career and that can be attested to gender roles. At the time I was working as a full-time high school teacher. That was something I had studied, but I had that job placed upon me rather than actively wanting it. It was a well, I have to do this. So it touches on the idea of that, having that full-time job, the 9-5 thing, needing that as a goal in your life, and if you don’t get that you’re not quite worth the same as someone else. Kinda just trying to break that down a bit.
Do you think it’s important to break that down?
For sure! I think that’s something I definitely have learnt over the last couple of years. A lot of those societal pressures and constructs are all kind of bullshit. And in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter as long as you’re happy with what you’re doing. I think you can put that to a lot of different societal pressures and constructs – not just necessarily 9-5. You can compare it to a whole range of different things.
How is that addressed in Pavement?
Through the lyrics. With that one… A lot of it was to do with the societal pressures in terms of careers and jobs and roles. I was struggling to find a chorus for ages and then I remember we recently played at a conference in Brisbane. A friend of mine, who manages a band, went up there for the express purpose to negotiate and connect with a certain label that were possibly interested in a band that she managed. She just found herself in a situation – and I saw this - where the person she was trying to talk to was continuously trying to hit on her even though she had said no, many many times. And it continued throughout the entire conference, pretty much destroying any hope of a relationship she would’ve had with them, through no fault of her own. All because this guy felt entitled to hit on her, and when she said no he continued to do so.
Obviously, being a straight white guy, I don’t have that much experience in terms of it happening myself, but I’ve seen it happen to people I know. I suppose it was more a comment on that as it sucks because someone in a professional capacity would have to deal with that. That kind of thing would happen in a whole range of different careers – so it was a comment on that.
How do you go from a full-time teaching job to being in Horror My Friend and touring around?
I was trying to tour at the same time and that was pretty hard. Obviously, I had more money than I did previously, but at the same time, I was just tired and time poor. At the end of the 6-month contract I had at this school – I manage a couple bands as well, so Paradise Club and Siamese – I wanted to try and explore that kind of more. In terms of a ‘realistic pursuit’ doing something like that to earn money is much more of a risk. I remember I told my parents I was gonna try and pursue that more and they weren’t particularly stoked. But, I applied for an internship at Five Four Entertainment in Adelaide and got it, and that was an unpaid internship. It meant going from working full time to doing that; to working during the day and not being paid, and working at a bar at night. Not really having enough money, just enough to pay rent, and then paying for tours on a credit card. I feel like the idea of a realistic pursuit or an unrealistic pursuit is not real? If you push hard enough, you can do it. It’s better to have tried and failed at something you really like, than just accepting something that you don’t like. It’s the work you put in before you hopefully get something else.
And the reception to Pavement?
Yeah, really good. We just wanted to put something out that was different to what we’ve put out previously. It’s a bit heavier, a bit darker, a bit less pop to what we’ve released recently. And we have been playing it live for a while and it has always gone down well live. We were like, let’s just put out something that had a good response to live rather than this is the most accessible song. So it’s been good.
You were on tour recently, what was that like?
Yeah! Really good! We did three tours in a row, one doing a main support tour with Gyroscope – do you remember those guys? The emo band from the 2000’s, which was awesome. The whole tour was sold out as well. I remember being 15 and listening to those guys so it was kinda like teenage dreams coming true a bit. We then did two tours with a band from New Zealand called Die! Die! Die!, who is one of Josh and I’s favourite bands. We got to go to New Zealand and do a whole bunch of shows with them. Which was really cool cos they’re kinda like us – similar styles. So the crowd we were playing to were great. It was just cool to go see a different country and get to play to some people and do the same thing in Australia. Yeah, it was awesome.
Anything to look forward to in the future?
Gonna release a record this year! We’re going to be doing a one-off show in April as well.
Head on down to the Crown & Anchor the 28th of April to see Horror My Friend live in a one-off headline show - tickets at the door.