Sometimes the greatest songs are the ones that sound familiar, reference a dozen bands, yet sound refreshingly original. Hailing from Melbourne, Fergus Miller is Bored Nothing. After years of DIY cassette releases, his self-titled new album compiles some of his early releases along with five previously unreleased songs. A quick scan of past reviews with lead you to references to Elliot Smith, My Bloody Valentine, Sebadoh and Sonic Youth. Todd and our newest writer, Sara talked to Fergus about the sound and the fury of his music.
Todd: What’s the story with burning the album cover, with a knife prominently displayed in the Echo Room video? I guess we need to ask who’s picture is on the cover, eh?
Fergus: The cover of the album is a photo I took of a friend when I was 17. We were burning the LP because we were drunk and had just chewed up a bunch of codeine we found in a crack den down the road.
Todd: I read an essay that theorized that lo-fi is a reaction to commercialization. You won’t get ruined by the evil forces that run radio, because they’re afraid to play lo-fi. Any thoughts on the subject or is your sound just a product of what you’ve got to work with?
Fergus: Haha, like I could give a shit if I get played on the radio. That’s actually really funny. I find the fact that people think of their art as a commodity the most evil thing on the planet. I make all my songs to play to 2 of my friends, because their opinions excite me, and also just for something to do, anything else that happens with it doesn’t really have much to do with me.
Sara: The lo-fi sound: it definitely has heavy reverb reminiscent of old Will Johnson and early Centro-matic…like recording on a cassette in a tiled room. Where did this come from?
Fergus: I don’t exactly do the lo-fi thing that intentionally, it’s just that I only have one microphone, so I had to record every track of every instrument one at a time with the same mic so it naturally all kind of buzzes together. I also record a lot of my stuff of second-hand cassettes and I only own one guitar and one reverb pedal, so any overdubs all kind of end up all swirling around each other.
Sara: Who is your biggest influence right now?
Fergus: BJM (ED NOTE: Brian Jonestown Massacre) & MBV (ED NOTE: If you don’t know, you shouldn’t be using this website) are always things that are spinning on my platter, but I love zines, mixtapes, letters and shopping-lists. Personality is hard to find in physical things these days, so I relish these things.
Sara: There is a lot of longing in your music, it has the feel of some serious teen angst- did any one event help make these current songs happen?
Fergus: I write in a pretty insular environment, and I work very fast, so it’s hard for me to get collaborations into fruition before I’ve finished a song. On my new album there are two tracks where I emailed a finished product to a friend (Get Out Of Here & Snacks), each one respectively, for them to lay down something on top, and it worked really well.
Sara: Who made your video for Popcorn? What was the inspiration?
Fergus: I made that video ages ago on iMovie. I love archive.org. I can, and often do spend hours on there collecting old propaganda videos that I’ll never use for anything. The song has a really intense story so I thought the video should be really irrelevant, so it’s just kind of fast moving nonsense.
Sara: There is definitely some more anger in Pay for my Drugs- more of a late 90’s feel to it for sure- does this song have any other meaning than its literal interpretation?
Fergus: Not at all, it’s fairly straight forward. It’s about a dude asking his girlfriend to buy him crack rocks because at least if he’s high he might be interested in having sex with her. That song doesn’t really fit with the rest of our stuff very well anymore, but it was fun to be able to play really loud guitars for a while.
Todd: I used to be a huge fan of Noise Addict and your music reminds me a bit of them. Am on the right track or am I way off?
Fergus: I am familiar with them, but I’m not sure they’ve every actually graced my earholes. Maybe they’ve influenced me subliminally?
Sara: I love your accompanying artwork, the simple line drawings like out of a sketchbook- whose is this? How did you find it?
Fergus: Oh, I believe you are referring to the chicken-scratchings that barely passed as artwork on my pre-album EPs. I used to hand-make about 50 CD-Rs a week of whatever new material I had and take them to the city and leave them places for people to find. I made all the covers with copy paper and drew them all by hand, one at a time.
Sara: Get Out of Here is super reminiscent of Elliot Smith, was his work an inspiration?
Fergus: I do of course love Elliott (who doesn’t?), but the inspiration for this simple song was mostly Phil Elvrum (Microphones/Mount eerie). He takes his surroundings and simple events and weaves them into an epic story of love and loss that he whispers in your ear. Sometimes I crave simplicity, and he gives it to me just how I like it.
Todd: Any plans to come to the U.S. to play here in 2013?
Fergus: I’m planning to visit for CMJ and I probably won’t be able to afford a flight home, so I’ll probably be sleeping on couches in Brooklyn and singing for my supper the next few years after that.
For more information about Bored Nothing, follow Fergus on Facebook.