The Goon Sax’s James Harrison on V.I.P.P. – Volunteers in Policing Program
After a bit of a drought, I’ve got some great Hidden Gems on the way starting off with perpetual Aussie faves The Goon Sax. The band’s new album tightens their influences and gives the band a polished sound, just in time for their jump to Matador. I’m always interested to see if a band’s Gems pick matches their current sound or direction and this one skews in the complete opposite direction. The band’s James Harrison nabbed a local favorite that no doubt skimmed under the radar at home and over here. He’s chucked out any pop predominance and gone in on a noise-laden tape release from V.I.P.P. Check out how this one came into James’ life and what makes it such a lost treasure.
“V.I.P.P. are a lovely lofi pop band from Sydney,” notes James. “I remember meeting Ewan, the songwriter, for the first time and being very excited to see if what I had to chat about with him was going to be acceptable to such a guy. He had written this tape of songs which I had listened to in the car a few times and it had instantly got me (the tape was called Volunteers in Policing Program (released in 2017 on Paradise Daily). Notable line is “All of my televisions (are tuned to your favourite channel).” I think this is beautiful. Sounds to me like he’s pretty devoted to some kind of idea of somebody, nicely done. The tape’s pretty all the way through – DIY auxiliary drum kit, stabs of breath from the most human instrument, the melodica.”
“It’s quite lo-fi,” Harrison muses. “Maybe it’s made for tape. I always listen to it like that and I had a few experiences with it that inspired me to write during a productive songwriting period of my life. The melodies cut through – the earnestness, the romanticism, the sweet-hearted melodica. I also used to listen to it on a little tape Walkman I had. It kept my feet on pace whilst I observed the environment around me. It made me feel like I’m a little man on a mission to get through the lonely roads. I remember walking on the bridge that stands above the river that invades the centre of the city I grew up in. I can equate what this album gave me on my walk to being ‘a tiny bit tipsy and then the moon hits my eye (like a pizza pie)’ – totally unaware of the other people around, just aware of the trees, lights and the glossy glow that is now surrounding all I see.”
“I’m not even sure what all the lyrics are to these songs, but I’m pretty damn excited hearing them. Maybe you would be too. Let me dream big. I’m a human and I have a purpose, even just to get home. I’m excited and things feel quiet and safe around me. The album also inspires me to use chords. Listening again now, it’s divine. Notable extension of Ewan is his bands Aloha Units and Sex Tourists. Sex Tourists’ self-titled is great too. It for sure has some classics penned by Ewan that are tossed around the East Coast of Australia at hip rock parties (at least the ones i went to). I can remember people debating what the lyrics are to “Guts” by Sex Tourists.”
“But I prefer the intimacy of this V.I.P.P. tape,” James admits. “It’s divine! And the little moments I had with this album were that the melodies are condensed and pretty. If the melodies can be banged out on a melodica, then they are eternal to me.”
While most gems in this series can be hard to come by, this one is still available on original cassette and digitally through the band’s Bandcamp. Nab one while they’re still around and pair it with The Goon Sax’s latest, out this month on Matador.