Bleeding Knees Club
Outside the Liberty Social House, scores of young hipsters smoke their weight in rolled cigarettes, laughing entirely too hard at tasteless jokes. The underground club may be located deep in the heart of Melbourne’s business district, but on this evening, the alley has the distinct feel of a house party that’s just minutes away from imploding.
Descending down the stairs into a greasy basement, the hipsters have traded their rolled smokes for cheap cans of lager. And even if anyone had a joke to tell, they wouldn’t have been heard amidst the onstage madness that is Bleeding Knees Club, a Gold Coast trio whose relentless brand of careless punk rock has turned the tiny stage and the band’s adoring crowd on their head.
Despite the relatively loose and blithe mood underground, the atmosphere teeters: one wrong move and the whole evening could turn into a bad joke. One right move and Bleeding Knees Club could cement their status as one of the country’s most effective party bands. And Alex Wall, guitarist and vocalist of Bleeding Knees Club, sees no problem with that equation.
“It’s how we started. The first show we did was at a warehouse,” says the 22 year-old over a coffee in a Albert Park café the next morning. “It’s a lot more fun. Everyone’s partying harder, there’s nothing pretentious about [the crowd] whatsoever.”
It’s the band’s ability to act as the soundtrack to the world’s greatest party which may end up being their calling card. Throughout their short set, they proved effective at making an impact quickly; mid-way through their set, band members fought with their cramped surroundings by attempting to break holes in the ceiling above them with their instruments. Still, for Bleeding Knees Club, it’s not the size of the stage that matters, but the attitude with which you approach that stage.
“We’ve played festivals. But even if we get to play larger venues, we’d still go about things with the same approach. I mean, if I had my way, I’d just play house parties everyday,” says Wall.
“But in saying that,” chimes in bassist Jordan Malane, seated beside him “We would have to make sure that we were aware of our surroundings, when playing festivals.”
“We really like what the crowd offers at smaller shows. You can’t just walk into the crowd when you’re playing a festival,” says Wall, quite literally. The band routinely made their way into the crowd, only bridging the gap even further between band and audience.
“And shows like last night, there’s not a lot of room, so you’re forced to get creative. I was practically falling off my chair yesterday trying to play!” says Malane with a chuckle.
After watching their performance at Liberty Social, one could be quickly forgiven into thinking that the band are in it just for the visceral kicks that come with being in a young band. Knowing that house parties are a dime dozen, I ask them point blank how Bleeding Knees Club view the business side of the music industry and how they plan on differentiating themselves from the hordes of other young acts.
“We take that side of things very seriously,” says Malane “It’s fun doing all these house shows and stuff but if you don’t have a manager and you don’t have people around you that understand what you’re trying to do and support you, then it’s not really worth it. We’ve worked very hard to push ourselves.”
“And it’s not like all these punk bands that do things on their own aren’t great,” says Wall.
“But you need to get out there,” he continues. “You need to be heard, you need to get your name out there. And we’ve been fortunate to have been able to utilise things like the internet to our advantage. I’ve had tons of people come to our shows, having heard nothing about us before or not even liking the kind of music that we play and really enjoyed the show, because we were able to get it out there. And the shows are actually quite different than the record.”
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind for Bleeding Knees Club as of late, with their debut full-length, Nothing To Do dropping to critical praise and tours of America including a stop at South By Southwest. They’re keeping their head above water by throwing all their energy behind Nothing To Do knowing it could be their last.
“It certainly was at the start,” says Wall after being asked if the past few months had become overwhelming for the band. “We were getting lots of hype in the beginning, and yet we were trying very hard not to be a 'hype' band. Being in a band, you can see why the industry gets to people and becomes too overwhelming to focus. So many of our favourite bands have just made one album, and that’s it.”
“It could be cool to just to do one album and call it quits,” laughs Malane, though there’s a hint of seriousness in his statement. “But we’ll see how things go”
“Even while all this industry bullshit is happening all around you, you’re still working towards being able to play good shows, release songs you’re proud of,” he continues. “That’s what you get out of it. It all levels out. You can get bummed out about some things, but after a show like last night, you can stay on a high for a long time.”
For Bleeding Knees Club, that high is only just beginning.
“Yea,” says Wall. “If I had my way, I’d play a show every night.”
BY JOSHUA KLOKE
BLEEDING KNEES CLUB bring the party to Northcote Social Club on Saturday April 21. They also play the all-ages Sounds Loud festival taking place at Queens Park in Moonee Ponds this Sunday April 15. Nothing To Do is out now on I Oh You.