Bitter Sweet Kicks
Jack Davies, singer and lyricist for dirty rock outfit Bitter Sweet Kicks, is struggling with his hands-free. Amongst the scraping noises he says, “Have you heard of Seddon? I’m helping a mate pick up some gear. I’m a nice fella.” ‘Nice’ isn’t exactly how the band comes across; ‘hell-bent’ or ‘possessed by rock demons’ seem more apt descriptions. The Melbourne-bred five-piece have recently signed with Beast Records and are about to launch their mini-album (seven tracks), Linea De Fuego, which they believe will cement them as more than a great live band.
“It means ‘line of fire’ in Spanish,” Davies says. “We looked [the phrase] up, told some Spanish friends to make sure we got it right with wording and shit. And we were like ‘Oh yeah, and it’s a film.’” In The Line Of Fire is a 1993 thriller starring Clint Eastwood. “Then I get home. I’ve got this outdoor laundry and there’s a big poster of that film just sitting there that I’ve never fucking noticed. I’m obviously not as observant as I thought I was.”
The album draws from a “four or five year period” of music that Bitter Sweet Kicks have created. “We trimmed a lot of fat, a lot of old stuff,” Davies explains, “and just kind of picked the best of what we had. There’re a few old ones on this new album that we thought we’d dig up because we thought they deserved a bit of recognition.”
Bitter Sweet Kicks are often linked with St Kilda, and Davies acknowledges they spent a lot of time there when they were starting out, but laments it’s reached its “death rattle.” Thankfully there’s still places like Pure Pop Records and Lyrebird Lounge, both of which the band have managed not to be banned from. “Naw, we can’t be banned from there,” Davies cackles, regarding Lyrebird. “Campbell, the owner, is forever in our debt. I think we played some of the first live electric shows there. We started with a residency, and on the first show we completely fucking trashed everything, and we’re like ‘Shit. We’re definitely banned.’ But Campbell came up to us after and was like ‘Oh my God. I’m so happy, can you come back next week and do that again?’ The residency really built and a lot of people started showing up there. I’d like to think we helped him get it off the ground. It’s untouched,” he continues. “You can go there and feel welcome and see really good music and be arseholes, which is really rare these days.” He does admit the band have gleaned a few things since the time of being banned from venues such as The Espy. “We fucked up and completely learned from that lesson. When we play, we kind of just get all the craziness out on stage and then either behave or get the fuck out of there after the show,” he laughs.
The band have a close relationship with the legendary Spencer P Jones: “We adore Spence,” Davies says warmly. “He’s the cool uncle that teaches you shit that your parents don’t want you to know. In a good way; not dodgy or anything. Not Uncle Touchy.” He busts out laughing, then adds “We look up to him and the music he’s made. It’s been the biggest honour to be able to tour with him and play shows with him.”
When I ask where the boys manage to rehearse their massive sound, Davies won’t be specific. “We rehearse in an old bank vault in one of St Kilda’s seedy alleyways; one that still has prostitutes. No one can hear us scream in there. You have to pull the giant door closed. The door used to jam shut which is kind of scary because you can’t get reception in there. So you’d need three dudes kicking on it at the same time to get it to open. There’d be this moment of panic, ‘Argh I’m going to be in here for the rest of my life,’” he shrieks. “We’d definitely eat Johnny first.”
BY ZOË RADAS
BITTER SWEET KICKS launch Linea De Fuego at the Prince Bandroom in St Kilda, on Friday July 13, supported by King Of The North, Valentiine, and Merri Creek Pickers.