Come See Thee Oh Sees

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It’s 5pm in San Francisco and all John Dwyer wants to do is eat some soup. “I just cooked up a whole lot of it. We just got back from a huge trip so I’m pretty exhausted.”

The man can be forgiven; it’s been a big year for garage-punk outfit Thee Oh Sees (Dwyer’s current and longest-running project), with the band touring Europe and the States and topping off the December leg with a free show in their hometown the night before this interview.

The past couple of years have seen the success of Thee Oh Sees snowball, with the band playing at All Tomorrow’s Parties, Primavera and Gonerfest festivals (to name a few), not to mention a special show at Paris’s Fondation Cartier at the personal request of director Jim Jarmusch. But Dwyer, with feet still firmly planted in his DIY roots, still seems somewhat surprised by Thee Oh Sees’ success.

”We had a pretty great show,” says Dwyer, referring to last night’s gig in their hometown with friends Bare Wires and The Black Lips. “We had a line of security guards keeping the audience back which was pretty hilarious. There were so many of them in black suits lined up in front of the stage that the crowd couldn’t even see us anymore. We just wanted a bunch of people to come out and go crazy.”

Since 1997, Dwyer’s involvement in the San Francisco scene has seen him play in and tour with bands Pink & Brown, Coachwhips and The Hospitals, among many others. After so many years, does it get exhausting? 

”Yeah, it does,” Dwyer admits. “We just went to England for two shows real quick, came home the next morning to Seattle, played a show in Portland, then drove back to San Francisco yesterday to do this show at home. That’s like a 12-hour drive. And well, yeah, I feel pretty good, but I’m 36 now, and I can’t be doing a tonne of hard drugs anymore.”

For someone who’s often recognised for the time he infamously smashed a guitar over an audience member’s head during a show, this might not sound like the John Dwyer that some Oh Sees enthusiasts  expect. But Dwyer continues, “You never know. There are special instances where someone’s fucking hilarious enough to make me wanna hang out and do drugs with them or something. These days I end up staying up ’til 8am in the morning without it somehow. That’s a great feeling. I mean, what a fucking triumph, right? I own that day!”

Last summer the band – consisting of Brigid Dawson (vocals, keys), Petey Dammit (guitar), Mike Shoun (drums) and Dwyer on vocals and guitar – embarked on their first Australian tour. Thee Oh Sees played Meredith festival, followed by a run of gigs around the country including a sellout Melbourne show with local friends Eddy Current Suppression Ring, and a packed-to-the-brim secret show at North Fitzroy’s Empress Hotel.

 “We had a great time in Australia last year,” Dwyer remembers. “I had a really good time at this pool party after our show in Canberra. Oh and the Annandale hotel was fantastic, with the Eddy Current guys.”

January 2011 will see Thee Oh Sees return to our shores, and Dwyer can’t wait. “We’re really excited to play with Total Control and UV Race, they just blow my mind repeatedly.”

 He continues, “everybody that we’ve played with so far in Australia’s been really great, it’s really got it down there. Australia’s got a real brother-sister thing happening with San Francisco, and a lot of Australians come here so there’s a real good positive energy flow between the two.

So what can we expect this time around?

 “The show since last year involves new songs, more gear…. and the rest, well, you’ll just have to wait and see.” Dwyer pauses for a moment, and I can practically hear him grinning down the phone. “Oh,” he adds, “and we’ve moved in a more trip-hop direction since you last saw us.”

THEE OH SEES – Australian Tour Dates
Jan 07 – Format, Adelaide
Jan 08 – Amplifier Bar, Perth
Jan 09 – The Nash, Geelong
Jan 11 – Woodland, Brisbane
Jan 12 – The Tote, Melbourne
Jan 13 – The Tote, Melbourne
Jan 14 – Red Rattler, Sydney
Jan 16 – Summer Vibes Festival, Newcastle

Tickets on sale Friday 5th November through moshtix.com.au , thetotehotel.com and oztix.com.au

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