Some bands think about product before emotion. Some bands think about the end destination, rather than the journey. Some bands get too caught up on what the final outcome might look or sound like.
The Chats are not one of those bands. Rather, they prefer the process of experimenting with methods before actually arriving at an end result. And if the “Smoko” music video isn’t an indication of where they’re coming from and their philosophy behind music, well, you’re missing the point. Their music isn’t something to “get.” It’s all subjective.
It all began shortly before the end of high school, when they formed and recorded their debut self-titled EP in their hometown of Queensland, Australia. The following year, they recorded their follow up EP, Get This in Ya, which included the song “Smoko,” the lyrics of which were created on a short trip to pick up a pie at a local store. The record sat online for the better half of the year, until the music video for “Smoko” was produced, and a few months later, Aussie surf wear brand Kenoath posted the video on their Facebook page when it soon went viral overnight.
Now, through a series of lucky events and hard earned opportunities, they’ve gone from YouTube viral band to touring their home country with Queens of the Stone Age. But how did they manage to pull all that off? What about these three Aussie teenagers that make them so appealing?
Simply, the sheer attitude of the music video and the song itself.
It starts with the cheekiness of their own name. “Chat” has a double meaning – it’s Aussie slang for disapproval of something, as well as the normal definition in the modern day vernacular. But there’s a slight ingeniousness to the name, one that encapsulates how they feel about music. And paired with “Smoko,” another Aussie term for a smoke break, their name further solidifies their ideals in forming the sound they coined “pub-punk.”
It’s the small details that make them so popular. Here is a blue collar, working class band that really has nothing to lose, just making music about what they know – smoke breaks. They have an affordability that allows them to make music that’s so in-your-face, not bound by any constraints or legalities. And it’s the little charm that they have which comes across through the simplicity, yet the sheer importance of how much we appreciate those little things like smoke breaks. It gives the band somewhat of a credibility, making an anthem and magnifying something so small, yet so tangible, something everyone can relate to.
In terms of performance, they’re notorious for their loud and chaotic live shows, having sold out venues around the world in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, and are about to embark on their first North American tour, which already has shows selling out quickly.
And yet, the road ahead of them is still long and winding. But I have a small hunch that these guys are going to just keep doing their thing and not give into the hype. These guys know where their music stems from. They know that energetic, visceral music comes from something impulsive. Their songs are not necessarily “about” things, but instead come from a place. And it’s funny that something so simple, and so trite, can be so connecting.