Interview: Hockey Dad Chat Crazy Tour Stories, Wollongong & New Music
Windang’s finest.
Music 5m

Interview by Amar Gera

Looks like 2020 is gonna be big…

Who doesn’t love Hockey Dad? One of the most exciting bands doing it in the Aussie music scene right now, childhood mates Zach and Billy have taken their unique brand of surf rock to all corners of the world. With their love for the surf and Windang shining through, their endless releases and live shows never disappoint. Neither do their crowds. Seriously, the fans at a Hockey Dad show are hands down some of the nicest and chillest folks you’ll ever meet, even in a mosh pit!

It’s clear the boys are on an incredible trajectory, and with new music and touring, there’s no doubt that 2020 is gonna be their biggest year yet.

We caught up with singer Zach in between their Laneway shows to talk all things Hockey Dad, check it below!

I wanna ask you a fun question to start things off. In an interview last year, you said DZ Death Rays drank all the beer on the rider when you were on tour with them and forced you guys to drink every night. So, that got me wondering, out of you and Billy, who’s the biggest menace when you’ve had a couple?

I don’t know, I think we both do equally menacing things I guess, but I don’t know. I can never… I guess it’s when you’re a real menace you can’t remember what you’re doing so I don’t even know how to answer that one [laughs].

Do you have any whacky stories you can share with us?

Hmm I’m not sure, I’m trying to think of something that happened on the last tour. Maybe we’ll come back to that one. Lets circle back!

I’m holding you to that. Now onto music, how’s Laneway been so far? Were there any memorable moments at the Auckland show?

Yeah, I mean Auckland itself and New Zealand were so fun. I think we saw Stella Donnelly, she played before us on the same stage and she absolutely ripped it with her band. It was the first time I’d seen her play with her full band, so that was probably the main highlight so far.

There are some other cool local bands on the lineup as well like Ocean Alley and the Chats. Will you guys be getting up to any mischief together at the Aussie shows? I think I saw at Falls a couple years back you guys and Ocean Alley were getting on stage during each other’s sets and hitting balls into the crowd.

Yeah I think that was at Falls we had a few cricket sets lying around, and the boys came out and hit a few balls out for us haha. We might have to think of something to do for the Australian sets, yeah. Get a run up and make it a big affair!

I think I saw a pic on your Instagram from Leeds festival last year where you were hanging with all those guys backstage. What’s it like when you’re playing the same festivals as fellow Aussie bands overseas? Do you guys tend to stick together?

Yeah, it’s fun. I don’t know, we’re not looking out like trying to find each other, but we always just end up in the same spot for some reason. We kind of just gravitate [towards each other] and we all end up getting a greenroom close to each other. I think people assume Australians just want to hang out with each other, so they always tend to just put us all together haha.

I wanna mention the fire fund you guys did a little while back. It had such a mad response, with you guys having to upgrade venues from the Windang Bowlo to the North Wollongong hotel. How was the whole day?

Yeah, man it was perfect. We were kind of worried, because you know we tried to throw it all together so quick and then we had to change venues. There was just heaps of running around and hoping it would all come together. Everyone we got was so awesome too, so generous, and the day went so smooth and everyone had a good time. It was pretty much the perfect day. We couldn’t have asked for anything better.

Do you know how much you guys actually raised?

Not sure yet! We’re still working that out and counting stuff up, we should have a number pretty soon and we’ll let everyone know. Then we’ll get it out straight away, get it to the people that need it you know.

The line up was full of some beautiful local bands like Dune Rats, Jungle Giants, Pist Idiots and so many others. What was it like to see so many bands come together for the Gong in such a short amount of time?

It was really good, we pretty much just messaged a bunch of bands on Instagram just saying, “hey can you come down and help us out”, and the amount of people that said yes was amazing. Everyone was super down to donate their time to fly down to Sydney and drive out to Wollongong just to help us out. It was really nice. It was real good.

Wollongong really seems to have a great community spirit and a tight knit music community, probably best shown in the outpouring of sadness when Rad Bar announced they were closing. What did that venue mean to you guys?

Well, that venue is pretty much the reason we kind of became a band and became successful as a band. That’s where we played our first show and that’s where we played a show pretty much once or twice a week for about a year and a half. We kind of figured out what we were doing as a band in that venue and got to work on our craft. So, if it wasn’t for that venue, we wouldn’t be a band. And a lot of bands in Gong, pretty much any band you hear from Wollongong now, wouldn’t be a band without that venue.

Do you have any stories from the Rad Bar days you can share with us?

I just remember a lot of big stage dives off the stage haha, and the last night it was getting pushed to its absolute limit. People were jumping out of windows and everything, it was pretty crazy.

Also wanna say a huge congrats on ‘I Missed Out’ getting number 60 in the Hottest 100, it’s a killer tune. What was it like to see it make the countdown? It’s the third year you’ve made it onto the Hot 100 right?

Yeah it was, we were super surprised man because we put that song out so late in the year and there were so many other good Australian bands putting out music that year. We kind of thought maybe we would get in, but we just didn’t know. The song had been out for such a short time and there’s been so much other good stuff that people were voting for, so we were pretty surprised when it came on. We’re super grateful and we can’t believe we made it three years in a row. Pretty amazed by that.

Just on that topic are there any Aussie bands you’re looking at right now that you’ve sort of got your eye on, anyone you want to shout out a bit?

Yeah dude there’s a really cool band from Gong called R.M.F.C. It stands for Rock Music Fan Club, and they’re so awesome. Kind of like Parquet Courts/ DZ type of vibe. Definitely keep an eye out for them. They have an EP out right now and the whole thing is just amazing.

Do you remember what you guys were doing when ‘I Missed Out’ came on in the countdown?

Yeah, I think I was at home. We had just finished the fire fund show the night before, so we were kind of just hanging out at home having a lazy morning. We’d been so stressed out about the gig and getting all that to work that we completely forgot the countdown was the next day. So, I just woke up and chucked it on, and was just lazying around when it came on. I think I went for a surf after that.

The music video ‘I Missed Out’ is super trippy and warped in this really cool fast paced way, what was the thought process behind that vid?

We’d heard of a guy called Greg who’d done a lot of background projections for festivals and especially Yours and Owls, and we saw what he was doing with all this kind of analogue kind of treatment on videos. So, we wanted to work with him. We thought a fast-paced kind of video with all that trippy, I guess it’s kind of just distortion, on the visuals would work for that quick song. We just shot a bunch of stuff ourselves behind a blank wall, a lot of quick-cut stuff and sent it over to him and just said “do whatever you want with it, make it really cool”. And yeah, he came up with that, and it worked out really well. Looks awesome hey.

You’ve talked about how the song is a bit more reflective and sort deals with the passing of time and those people who’ve spent that time the wrong way. Was that track formed out of personal experience, or just a general nod to people who feel they’ve wasted time?

Yeah it’s probably mostly a general nod, but I guess it’s hard to write a song without a little bit of personal experience in it…some of it would’ve come from me, but there’s no specific situation I’m talking about personally, so it’s definitely just a nod. But there’s always a bit of a personal element, otherwise it’s kind of hard to write about something.

I jut wanna go back in time a bit if that’s okay, you’ve talked about how on Blend Inn you wrote about dealing with problems in a less mature way through fighting and complaining, how do you guys reckon you guys have grown from then till now?

I think it’s more of just getting older, learning life lessons and being on the road. I think traveling as well really helps, seeing different cultures and seeing how different people deal with exactly the same problems that we all have. Kind of gives you a better perspective on your own problems in life, and I think you just grow as a person and get older. You learn some lessons and we’ve definitely learned a couple over the past few years. I think that comes through with these new songs.

Just talking about traveling, any places you’ve travelled to on tour really stuck out to you?

Yeah, I really love Canada and New Zealand, they’re both really nice countries and the people there are super kind. And Europe’s so amazing, there’s just so much different culture in one small kind of zone, so you can just drive between countries and it changes so drastically. That’s probably one of my favourite places to go, yeah.

It’s been over five years since your debut EP Dreamin was released. What’s it like to see songs like ‘I Need A Woman’ and ‘Seaweed’ still get so much love all these years later?

It’s crazy man, it’s just so humbling, I love it. I’m happy to keep playing them as long as we have to if people enjoy them. I’m stoked that people can enjoy our songs even if they’re old or new. Yeah, I love it man. So cool.

The music videos for those songs are real beautiful and laid back, and really capture the essence of Windang and the South Coast, as well as who you guys were as young dudes back then. After all the success and love you’ve gotten over the last couple years, are you still those chilled out kids that just love music, the surf and a good old bevvy?

Pretty much! That’s pretty much what I do now you know, just play music, go surfing, hang out. I haven’t changed much of my lifestyle, so pretty much still doing all the main things that I love doing.

Now talking about new music, can you tell us anything about the new stuff you’ve been working on? How’s it different to Blend inn?

Yeah so for the new record we had a lot more time in the actual studio, and we worked in the same studio as Blend Inn, so we’re really comfortable with our surroundings and all the gear in there. We got more time to work on the songs themselves and how they’re kind of formed, instead of just working on sound. So, I think the song writing process is a little bit more mature and a little bit more thought out on this one. There’s also a couple of different songs on there that are kind of just real shocks, since they don’t really sound like anything we’ve ever done before. We’ve just tried to push it out and experiment and try some weird stuff. There’s a couple of weird shockers on the album and then a lot of classics, you know, good old Hockey Dad songs as well.

What’s 2020 looking like for you guys?

It’s looking like a pretty busy year man. We’re going to put the record out and then start touring. We’re going to be going all over the world once again, which I’m really looking forward to. And at the end of the year I suppose we’ll just start working on the next record once all this touring is done. Should be good.

Before I let you go, have you thought of any whacky stories from tour you can share with us?

Let me think, just trying to remember. Trying to think of a specific tour, specific story. Actually, last year when we were in Canada with DZ and Horror My Friend, we were all in this big tour bus and we had a stomach bug go through the bus and take out about ten people over the course of two weeks. That was a pretty gnarly experience, everyone getting up in the middle of the night just vomiting all over the van.

Oh Jesus, that sounds so cooked.

Yeah luckily I got away, I didn’t get it. But I think pretty much everyone in DZ got it, and I think at least half of Horror My Friend got it haha.

Damn that’s rough, I’m guessing everyone made it through though?

Yeah yeah, everyone survived. It was only a one or two day bug that wreaked havoc on the bus. But yeah, that was pretty rough haha.

Words by Amar Gera February 13, 2020
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