SPOTLIGHT ON Tropical Fuck Storm

By Jackson Lembke

A storm was brewing in Perth, 1997, when lauded musician and lyricist Gareth Liddiard formed what would become one of the most critically acclaimed Australian bands in recent years: The Drones. Or maybe the storm found its beginnings in Liddiard’s childhood when he picked up a saxophone for the first time, or even earlier when the likes of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Clash started churning out the sombre epics that would help guide Liddiard’s artistic vision.

Whenever it formed, the tempest made landfall on September 22nd, 2017 when the first of many singles by Drones’ side project Tropical Fuck Storm (TFS) was unleashed.

TFS is a collective of homegrown Aussie talent that includes Liddiard and bassist Fiona Kitschin from Drones. With Lauren Hammel of High Tension seated at the drum-set and Erica Dunn of Harmony and Palm Springs joining on guitar, TFS delivers an electrifying sound colored by each members musical history. To date, the AU super-group has released three 7” singles, with each original single complimented on its B-side by TFS’ cover of one of their favourite acts; “Mansion Family” by The Nation Blue or “Lose the Baby” by Lost Animal, or the pub rock classic, “”Back to the Wall” by The Divinyls.

Liddiard’s masterful lyricism and signature, brooding tone are instantly recognizable on every track. Subtler yet omnipresent is Kitschin’s performance on bass, which can best be heard on the first TFS single, “Chameleon Paint,” as a fuzzy groove that propels the song from start to finish. Dunn’s dexterous guitar from the melodic blues ballads of Palm Springs manifest themselves in TFS as invigorated, distortion doused riffs that define synergy when paired with Hammel’s manic drum work, most notably during the tumultuous ending of the most recent TFS single, “You Let My Tyres Down.”

With Liddiard at the lead, and Kitschin managing the band, Tropical Fuck Storm is a self sustaining force of nature, and they brew every ounce of their experimental psych-rock power from behind the doors of an unsuspecting home in Nagambie, Northern Victoria. Presently, their debut album under TFS, titled A Laughing Death in Meatspace, is being concocted.

Liddiard discusses the album during an interview featured in the most recent issue of music publication, Swamplan,it’s going to be groovier, it’ll be like Fela Kuti — just endless rolling funk but more anarchic, more likely to go off the rails.”

And why stay on the rails when the conventional tracks are over trodden, worn and even banal? Liddiard’s work with Drones has resulted in the creation of poetic monuments such as “Shark Fin Blues” and “Why Write a Letter You’ll never Send,” and Tropical Fuck Storm, brings to life an unheard, twisted swamp rock fantasy that still possess the endearing lyricism and jive of these songs. The three singles released by TFS show that Liddiard is far from reaching his creative boundaries, and with each single having been released 8 weeks apart, it’s safe to say at least one more 7” will appear before A Laughing Death in Meatspace — which will be complimented by a country-wide album tour — drops on May 4th.

Until then TFS will be making appearances at Pool Party on the 17th of March, and Boogie Fest on the 30th.


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