Just north of the bluestone wall featured on the cover art for the Powder Monkeys' Time Wounds All Heels ("they wrote on the wall, then cleaned it after they'd photographed it," says Walker) lies a cream brick house nestled into the western cranny of Rucker's Hill in Northcote. The house's original Art Deco-tinged features are augmented with the post-war Mediterranean styling common to many houses of the area; it's also a house with a history. "That's where we recorded the album," explains Swedish Magazines guitarist and vocalist Van Walker.
Overcome by a sense of nostalgia, Walker and his elder brother and fellow Swede Cal decide to approach the current tenants to see if they can show me the actual recording room. "Hi," Van says politely through the frosted glass doors after ringing the doorbell. "We recorded our album here," he says cheerfully, while Cal brandishes a freshly-minted copy of Wino Havoc. The response is diplomatic, but unyielding - the room is now occupied, and there's no chance we can wander in. "It was a nice house - pity we got evicted," Van says.
The circumstances that led to eviction from the house are revealing - a broken bay window and front door - but don't explain completely why it's taken over two years for Wino Havoc to reach the light of day. "We put together a new line-up after that first album, and then did a couple of gigs and because we had all these new songs, we thought we'd record the new album so we'd have something to promote before we did anymore gigs - that was the idea," Cal says. "Blocko had joined the band, and a mate of his had all this recording equipment. We had the main room to do all the live stuff, and then the garage where we could set up all the sound equipment and the desk," Van recalls. "So we recorded it all very quickly, in about two days. And then me and Cal had a huge fight in the house, and smashed up a lot of the house - and then we got evicted," Van smiles.
The title of the record is a reference to Van and Cal's Taswegian social history. "The best Tasmanian interdependent record store was this place long gone now in Hobart called Aeroplane Records run by this wonderfully eccentric guy called Lyn, who was a music nut and a wealth of knowledge," Van says. "Behind the shop counter he had a front page of the local rag which he'd cut out and framed, which was a picture of uprooted trees and blown over cars after a heavy storm. The headline ran HOBART WIND HAVOC, but he'd turned the D into an O with a texta. We always thought this was a stroke of genius and promised him we'd one day use it for an album title."
SWEDISH MAGAZINE'S debut album Wino Havoc is out now.
By Patrick Emery