A few years ago Scott O’Hara was living in a share house in the inner-western Adelaide suburb of Keswick with Pat Telfer and Liam Kenny. As Adelaide suburbs go, Keswick isn’t the most charismatic. There’s the interstate railway station – the point of ingress and egress for many a dusty long distance train journey – and Vili’s Bakery, the source of some quality of late night baked fare for O’Hara and his former housemates. And then there are the other hidden pleasures that don’t appear on tourist maps. “We also had this massive drain down the side of our house, which was pretty good fun on plenty of occasions!” O’Hara laughs.
It was while living in Keswick that the seeds of lo-fi band Bitch Prefect were sown. “It was all pretty organic,” O’Hara explains. “We were all living in the same share house, and we had a four-track set-up in the house. We found ourselves sitting around and playing and recording together, and the band just formed from that. It was all fairly non-considered, really.”
The band’s striking name was also, according to O’Hara, nothing particularly meaningful. “There’s nothing to it, really,” O’Hara says. “I don’t think there was anything to it. There were a lot of projects going around at that time in the house, and lots of names were being suggested, and Bitch Prefect just stuck.”
Bitch Prefect’s lo-fi sound could be the sound of an Adelaide share house, where the days are filled with lying on tattered brown couches, necking Cooper’s Ales and pulling the occasional bong, punctuated with barely functional attendance at some largely banal job. O’Hara doesn’t disagree that Bitch Prefect’s sound is commensurate with the lifestyle of his former house, but politely refutes any suggestion that it was deliberate. “I don’t know, and if it was, it wasn’t a conscious thing,” O’Hara laughs. “There’s nothing that’s ever been too considered about Bitch Prefect. We’re just good mates. But I suppose if there’s no real direction then you just sing about what’s around you at the time – which is maybe what life in an Adelaide share house is all about.”
One such example is Bitch Prefect’s single, Bad Decisions, a catchy lo-fi pop track that apologetically recounts a series of poor decisions, suggesting a pattern of behaviour founded on imperfect judgement. “I think on that particular day Liam was in a funk,” O’Hara says. “He’d had a particularly bad night the night before – nothing really bad, but just hadn’t gone that well, and there’d been a series of bad things. So we ended up singing about all the dumb things that we’d done.”
A couple of years ago O’Hara and Kenny left Adelaide and moved across to Melbourne, initially settling in Northcote before O’Hara headed out west to Footscray with his girlfriend (“It was either go out there or keeping heading north,” he explains). O’Hara looks back on his Adelaide days with the same bittersweet affection many Adelaide expatriates do. “That dirgy sort of rock’n’roll Adelaide used to produce isn’t really coming out of Adelaide anymore,” O’Hara says. “Rock’n’roll seems to come more out of the inner-suburbs, rather than the pubs in the outer suburbs, like it did back in the day. It’s disappointing that people in Adelaide don’t know about bands like Grong Grong – we got to play with them the other night, and they just absolutely killed it. But no-one knows anything about them in Adelaide, but they’re huge overseas.”
With O’Hara’s other principal musical activity, dark punk outfit True Radical Miracle, having announced recently its decision to cease playing and recording, O’Hara expects to focus his creative energy on Bitch Prefect. “This is the first time in my life I’ve only been in one band,” O’Hara says. “It was time to call it a day with True Radical Miracle, and I’ve got a ton of energy for Bitch Prefect. These days I don’t feel the need to play in 25 bands at once, but that might change,” he laughs.
BY PATRICK EMERY
BITCH PREFECT's album Big Time is out now on Bedroom Suck records. They launch it at The Liberty Social on Friday August 17.