1883 Magazine

Having just played on the iconic BBC Radio 1 stage at Reading and Leeds Festival, West Thebarton are the newcomers contributing to the Rock music scene. The South Australian group join the long list of rising stars to have graced the festival stage, in their first European tour. Following In the footsteps of Kasabian and Elbow who also started off on the BBC stage, the future looks bright for the seven friends. Led by raspy voiced front man Reverend Ray, the garage-rock band brings us a refreshing take on the genre.

First joining forces three years ago, West Thebarton are defying all scepticism, living and producing in one of Australia’s smaller capitals, Adelaide. With many of the city’s music dreamers flocking to the East Coast to nab themselves a record deal, they’re proving that hard work really does pay off. The locals represent an exciting new generation for their city’s music scene.

After several member changes, the band have ditched the ’Brothel Party’ from their previous name, maturing into West Thebarton. Following their reinvention and what they hope to be the groups final seven members, they debut their new album, ‘Different Beings Being Different.’

We caught up with three members of the self-described family ahead of their concert at House of Vans in London to chat about their new music and festival tour.

So, can you guys introduce yourselves and tell us who sings or plays what in the band…

I’m Caitlin and I play drums.

I’m Josh and I play guitar.

I’m Ray and I sing and play guitar. 

Your debut album came out earlier this year, how was the process for creating it?

Ray: We’ve been writing a bunch on songs for a while now. We spent some time with a guy call Dylan Adams who worked with the DMA’s (and Sticky Fingers). We really love the sound he got with guitars on the record, so we booked out a week and had him over. It was strange because when we started writing the record, I think we all wanted it to sound raw, really punk-garage. Then, when he got on board he just blew everything up. It sounded more like an 80’s Australian nostalgia record, and that’s the kind of vibe we went for. It was a week of playing around in the studio.

Josh: I really like Dylan’s previous work, mainly the DMA’s stuff, especially their first EP and album. He was so keen to record with us, Ray messaged him and thirty minutes later he messaged back like yep, done. So, he flew over and it was great. A really good experience.

So, you guys approached him?

R: He’s such a normal dude, he actually doesn’t even do it for his job. He lives with his wife and child in Sydney but has family in Adelaide. So, when we messaged him and said do you want to come over and do this, he said he’d move a few things in the day job to come down and record it.

Did the album take just a week?

R: Yeah. I’ve got such a thing for albums being made in a such a short period of time. I think it’s really cool when you can just capture that sound straight up in such a short period of time. When you play around with things too much you can spoil it.

J: Yeah taking years (to record an album), it’s not how we work.

Stuck on You is the new single. What’s it about?

R: I think it was just me having to write a song about being a rat bag when I was growing up. It’s about staying at parties too late and having to find our way home, because in Adelaide transport don’t run all night and you end up having to walk home. The songs really about changing from being a rat bag to growing up a little, with everyone giving you a bit of a hard time about it.

How does the writing process work? Do you all write together or do people pitch in?

C: I’ve only just come on for the next album. We’re still hashing out our new process again about everyone bringing things in.

J: I think the best way we write is having one person write the skeleton of it, an idea for a song, then everyone else coming in and applying their own parts to it. That’s how we’ve written most of our tracks. One person has a pretty structured idea and see’s what everyone thinks. Having seven people there’s going to be so many different ideas. Some people might say that’s shit some people say it’s good, so you have to just be super honest and open about it. So far, it’s been working for us. Same goes for the new songs and what Caitlin’s experiencing. The song can be pretty much done and then Ray’s writing a link to add to It. Or I can see him sitting there, mumbling some words he’s probably had in his head for years. Then we apply them to the track.

R: Because there’s seven of us, there’s so many fucked up ideas that come in. On our previous song, Bible Camp that Brian brought in, I think originally It was some country ballad.

mimics guitar chords-

In my head at the time, all I was just listening to was fast Australian punk from Sydney. When he playing I was like na man, you gotta speed it up, and everything he did I told him faster. Eventually, that’s how we got to where it is now. I think because there’s seven of us, it’s really cool that a lot of us can have these strange ideas and say, let’s try it like that. Things just work out.

So, Caitlin you’ve recently just joined, how did the brand originally come together? I know a lot of people came in at different times.

R: The Adelaide music scene is pretty tight. Me and a couple of the other members were playing around in different bands at the time. I think we were all like well, we all hang out with each other enough, why don’t we just play together too. That’s the most fun you can have together. So, we started playing. Josh came on board after our first show, he was playing in another band at the time and then that’s kind of what happened. Some people left over time and we just got people we knew to come into the band. It’s weird, we’re more like a family and we all hang out together. Our friends all hang out and our partners hang out together, it’s kind of what Adelaide’s like.

C: It’s weird because I’m the third drummer now. Who knows when the fourths coming along hey!

R: It’s funny because you’re actually the fifth drummer we’ve had.

C: Ah yeah, technically. The other drummer moved to Sydney and I was actually tattooing Tom, who plays guitar and he was talking about his band. When I asked how it was going he said they needed a drummer. So, I played a couple of shows and next thing you know, we’re in Europe.

So (Caitlin) you played in bands previously?

C: I’d been in a few bands, but I was concentrating on work, I hadn’t played for like three or four years. It was pretty rough coming in with the speed of the songs. I was like yeah sure, I can handle this, even though inside I was like oh god. I wasn’t sure if I was biting off more than I could chew at the time, but it’s definitely been worth it. It was a great way to get back into it. I thought it was a part of my life that had faded away a little, so was good to get back into it.

J: I think we’ve settled on the band now. This is the final seven.

R: Yeah, everything just fits now.

J: You could always tell before, if someone was going to leave it would be these two people and they’re the ones that left. I don’t see anyone else leaving unless something drastic happens.

C: We’re all friends.

J: Now it’s like, if you’re going to join the band, don’t fuck around! Now we’ve got these seven members that are in for the long run.

How was Boardmasters?

J: Sick!

R: It was awesome.

C: So fun, it was such a good vibe. The whole festival is set up so well. Everyone that went was in such good moods.

J: There were so many young people there. Nothing wrong with an older crowd, but it was so good to see younger people enjoying it. Especially compared to Australian festivals, everyone was just having a good time.

R: See we didn’t take the quick route to Europe. We took the 41-hour transit, which was disgusting. We were jet lagged, we’d been on a coach and then setting up our set we only saw ten people there and thought, great. We walked off stage and 20 minutes later security must have opened a gate, because people were running over to the stage. There must have been like 500 people there. So, not bad for our first show out of Australia!

C: A fun way to get over the jet lag.

J: People come here to see music. Compared with Australian festivals, a lot of people don’t see any music at all, they just get fucked up.

And you’re playing at Reading and Leeds on the BBC Radio 1 stage?

J: Yeah, I’m so stoked. It’s pretty surreal, coming over here and playing. I’ve never even been to the UK or Europe before but have loads of family here.

R: It’s weird because Reading was our first festival booking for the tour and all of my family come from there. Then my Dad says he saw (Black) Sabbath at Reading back in the day. I didn’t even realise it had been going that long.

J: I’m really excited. It’s one to tick off the bucket list for sure.


I love the cover of you’ve got the love you did for Triple J. Who would you cover if you had to do one right now?

C: You’d have to ask everyone in the band that because they’ll all have different answers!

R: I was thinking about this the other day. Mario, you should let me love you.

C: I think literally all of us would have a different preference. I would choose something from Michael Jackson.

R: Well, we were all sitting on the side of the road singing Backstreet Boys last night waiting for our bus.

C: There you go.

R: (sings) I want it that way

J: We’d have to get those harmonies sorted out though. I really want to do Go Your own way by Fleetwood Mac. I think that would be a really cool, a good guitar song and that’s what we’re good at. But that’s a conversation we’d need to have with the entire band, as I’m sure everyone will say different!

So, the name. You used to be West Thebarton Brothel Party, how did you come up with this name?

R: When we got together we just thought we’d just play one show, easy. We rehearsed on this road called West Thebarton, then right next to our recording studio there was a brothel. We needed a name for a show, so we thought, fuck it, that would be it. Then like we were saying before, after Caitlin joined and our last drummer left we said no one is fucking leaving, this is it. We wanted to start again, fresh and not be the band where people came and left. So, the new band, new name.

J: It’s a coming of age thing. We’ve had our party fun. I think we’re associated with a certain image and we thought no, time to start again. People still get it wrong all the time.

R: Yeah people call it ‘The-Barton’.

Yeah, I think I said it like that…

C: It’s totally fair, it’s because we’ve grown up with that suburb being so obvious in Adelaide. Everyone should know how to say Thebarton if they live there. We just we feel like idiots having to correct people all the time…

J: The new breakfast hosts at Triple J hosts (Australia’s number one radio station) are from Adelaide, so they always get it right. Where as everyone else seems to always get it wrong!

Next plans?

R: We’re going to India, which is pretty exciting.

C: About to go on tour with a band called The Living End from Australia.

R: We’ve got a couple of free days on this tour that we’re going to use to write some new songs in the studio. We’re trying to write album number two with a change of scenery. Fingers crossed we can book out another week in Adelaide soon and make the next one!

Photography Yoshitaka Kono

Words by Miranda Bunnis

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