At Work: Amyl and The Sniffers
Seeing an Amyl and The Sniffers show comes with a couple guarantees: There’s going to be sweat, and there are going to be mullets. The Melbourne-based punk outfit doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to their live performances, and the same goes for their studio recordings. Both showcase the group’s loose, raw aesthetic; frontwoman Amy Taylor sets the bar with her aggressive, quick-hitting vocals. And the off-the-cuff feeling that’s infused into their tracks isn’t a fabrication—it was there from the beginning, when Taylor and company formed The Sniffers and recorded their first EP in a matter of hours.
“We were living together—with our first bassist—and the blokes all played in other bands,” Taylor explains. “I had a drum kit set up in our room already and we set up some other gear and, in about five hours, we wrote and recorded four songs. We came up with the band name, made some shitty artwork for it and put it out the next day on Bandcamp as an EP called Giddy Up. We called it that because I had that tattooed on my foot. I mean, if you look back it is pretty much four demos, but I like that they’re rough.”
Now, Amyl and The Sniffers are preparing to release their debut full-length effort May 24 via ATO and Rough Trade, helping them garner more attention internationally. But Taylor hasn’t changed because of the added spotlight. “I don’t feel more pressure,” she says. “If we’re happy with it, then it’s good enough. I know we’re all just keen to put the music out and keep playing and making music.”
These days, the music world clearly has its eye on Australia, thanks to acts like Tame Impala, Courtney Barnett and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard—with whom The Sniffers toured last year. But, while Taylor admits that her group doesn’t pay much attention to the phenomenon, she does appreciate hearing chatter about local bands when touring the world. (“People are naming bands like Mini Skirt or NASHO.”) The key to keeping that recognition going, though, is to not lose what got them that international shine in the first place. And with Amyl and The Sniffers, that means keeping it fast and loose.
“The kind of music we make doesn’t have to be perfect, and that’s one of the reasons it’s fun making it,” Taylor says. “I feel like a lot of life is so focused on things being correct and right and in order, but there’s room for mistakes and mess in the music we like. We’re lucky to have that freedom—we’ve got record labels worldwide now, but they’re all pretty supportive and don’t try and make us be anything other than what we are. We can still be little shits. I mean, we are pretty young, and we don’t really know what we’re doing, but we’re just rolling with the punches.”
This article originally appears in the April/May 2019 issue of Relix. For more features, interviews, album reviews and more, subscribe here.