Sometimes even the most nonchalant punks have their pinch-me moments. “I was within earshot of Robert Plant at a festival once,” recalls Amyl And The Sniffers guitarist Dec Martens. “I always thought Led Zeppelin were not real, they’re so mythical. They didn’t get old like all the other bands and keep playing.”
Did you talk to him?
“No! I said: 'Oh my god, that’s Robert Plant,' and he heard me. So I was like, that’s it, I ruined it.”
Melbourne punks Amyl And The Sniffers’ rapid progression is a source of amusement for them, and cheerfully admit that when they started the band in 2016 they had no expectations. Back then, when their only ambition was to play to mates at house parties, they recorded their first EP, the rough and raw, Stooges-meets-The Damned and Sunnyboys Giddy Up, in their shared house in one evening.
“We wrote each song and recorded it by ten p.m.,” says singer Amy Taylor. “We picked a picture for the front cover, picked a band name and put it out the next day on Bandcamp.”
Since then they’ve sharpened their self-taught skills, drawing blood on their 2019 self-titled debut album, and maintaining the same white-knuckle energy during frenetic live shows.
They started writing for their second album, Comfort To Me, at the end of 2019. But as the pandemic hit and Australia went into lockdown in March 2020, this time the writing process didn’t come as easy as before.
“During 2020 I got pretty depressed, and that definitely shaped the lyrics, but in a way that I’m proud of,” Taylor says. “I feel like some of the lyrics are messages to myself to push myself out of the slump.”
The band finished writing the album in the early months of the pandemic, locked down together in their shared house, yet that wild, nervous energy that is so integral to what they do never feels smothered. And while the record boasts fun, stomp-alongs like Security, tracks like Knifey, Laughing and Choices rail against male violence, and advocate for self-worth and empowerment.
“Any kind of job I’ve had, I’ve pretty much been touched where I don’t want to be,” says Taylor. “Knifey is my experience of being a female; you feel like you can’t walk at home at night. Every time I’m walking around at night, I’m always checking the corners, checking the back, taking weapons out trying to protect myself. But I don’t want to be violent, I just want to get home.”
All this means that Comfort To Me is very much a record for now. Just don’t expect the Sniffers to be around for ever.
“I didn’t expect us to get to a second album,” says Martens, explaining that the band might very well pull a Zeppelin themselves: record a few more albums and then fold, passing into myth. “If you’re here for a good time, not a long time, you might as well make your stamp."