With a wall of sound that Phil Spectre would be proud of (in between tantrums and drafting terrible contracts), The Barren Spinsters deliver raucous high energy in both their recordings and their live shows. The questionable facial hair sporting duo channel a Black Crows southern boogie type of Rock n Roll that's taken a trip down to the local circus; it's all about everyone having a good-time!
The band is based in Canberra and consists of Brendon Houlahan (Vocal/Guitar) and Matt Tennant (Vocals /Drums). They're (almost) all set to release their debut album. Earlier this year they released the lead single "West Of The Happiness" which did quite well, thanks for asking.
Their latest single "Hey Ruth" paves the way for their much-anticipated debut album, Ten Steps to Cynical Thinking. The track is a toe-tapping ear worm, lamenting the lack of good yum cha in the country.
Stream "Hey Ruth" here.
The Cynical Thinking Tour
Thursday 11 July – Smiths, Canberra
Saturday 20 July – Jambaroo Music Festival
Saturday 27 July - 1895 The Royal – Echuca Blues Fest
Sunday 28 July - Hopwood Gardens - Echuca Blues Fest
Friday 2 August - Marrickville Bowls Club, Marrickville
Saturday 3 August – Smiths, Canberra
Sunday 4 August – Bridge Rd Brewers, Beechworth
Saturday 24 August – Capital Brewery, Canberra
Friday 4 October – Caloundra Music Festival
Saturday 5 October – Caloundra Music Festival
Sunday 6 October – Caloundra Music Festival
Saturday 19 October – Smiths Alternative, Canberra
Saturday 16 November - Healesville Music Festival
Question: How would you describe your music?
Brendon Houlahan: Using positive words hopefully! We're sort of a rock, blues, roots kind of act, but it can vary depending on which song we're playing, as long as people are digging it, we're whatever works really.
Question: What inspired the song Hey Ruth?
Brendon Houlahan: Ruth was a former employer who used to date the manager from absurd electro/rock band TISM. Over Yum Cha she once told me a story of throwing their vulgar rap cassette tapes out of the car window whilst driving as a form of protest… the song just kind of snowballed from there.
Question: What motivates you most when writing music?
Brendon Houlahan: Mostly amusing comments or funny phrases you hear. It's not often that you hear singers singing about yum cha or day-old chicken in a bain-marie, I find that stuff mildly amusing.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Brendon Houlahan: I personally prefer writing and recording, but Matt (drums/vocals) is a natural performer. I wish I could go to one of our own shows just to watch him play. I can't, so I'll have to settle for rehearsals instead, where I can turn around and watch him play drums whilst not being rude to an audience.
Question: What should we expect from your upcoming tour?
Brendon Houlahan: Mistakes I'd say (mainly from me), but hopefully as much fun as we can get away with. We've played together for a few years now, so the on-stage banter is part of the fun. We've been known to dance up a mean 'Floss' from time to time.
Question: If you could have anyone, in the world, attend a show, who would it be?
Brendon Houlahan: Bill Murray?
Question: Which is your favourite song to perform live and why?
Brendon Houlahan: 'Hey Ruth' actually. We usually kick off each gig with it, merging it into a 15-minute medley with other songs. Being 15 minutes in length, it doesn't give the audience much of a chance to clap or show their appreciation until the end. Come to think of it, that's kind of cruel.
Question: What is the story behind the band name?
Brendon Houlahan: It's a bit of a call out to the awful way the media treated and scrutinized Julia Gillard during her time as our Prime Minister. It's an archaic phrase, poorly used as an attempted insult.
We thought we could hijack the phrase and make it mean something more positive. To us, the phrase 'The Barren Spinsters' is now associated with two dorky guys in cat shirts playing silly rock songs.
Question: How did the band come together?
Brendon Houlahan: Matt and I met playing in a covers band led by Kevin Windross, eccentric guitar wizard and all-round whirlwind of a human. He's the kind of guy that just makes you laugh. We should really give Kev more credit than we do.
Question: Which music/artists are you currently listening to?
Brendon Houlahan: I found out the other day that Matt and I both have a secret daggy pleasure of listening to 80's pop outfit 'Huey Lewis and the News'. Have been giving them a bit of a spin lately.
Question: What or who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Brendon Houlahan: Probably watching high energy performers absolutely tear the roof off a venue. Matt's a big fan of early Pearl Jam for their onstage energy, and I don't think anything rocks harder than Tina Turner & the Ikettes. I'd have no hope trying to sing and dance like that, whilst wearing super high heels. That's rock and roll!
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Brendon Houlahan: Second drummer, that's a no brainer. I reckon 'G Flip' would fit the bill. What a phenomenal drummer.
Question: Can you share your socials?
Brendon Houlahan: Facebook.com/thebarrenspinsters/
Interview by Brooke Hunter