Interview: Dane Pulvirenti (OSAKA PUNCH)

Interview: Dane Pulvirenti (OSAKA PUNCH)
Brisbane’s Osaka Punch are basically a modern day Incubus, with Faith No More, Red Hot Chili Peppers and some heavier, modern riffs thrown in to the mix. If you haven’t heard their album, Voodoo Love Machine, then go rectify your life mistake and check it out NOW. It’s heavy, funky, weird and above all else, it’ fucking solid. It may also make for some nice listening music while you read this interview. Just sayin’.

Osaka Punch’s drummer/attitude-bringer and Just Percussion drum instructor, Dane Pulvirenti, was kind enough to bro down with IPHYB before band practice recently. Here’s how it went down.

With the upcoming Fall Of Troy and Closure In Moscow tour, I found that Osaka Punch is a pretty good fit for it. But with such an eclectic mix of styles, do you find you pull in a lot more listeners or that your music may put off many people?

It’s a bit of both. With people nowadays, you can alienate them through genres. But that’s part of our game – to expect the unexpected. It does have a hindrance, but I also believe that it really works with booking us, as we can be on the bill with a funk band or a metal band. It can be a challenge, but I think it’s also our secret weapon.

That’s a really cool way of looking at it. As you guys could easily play with someone like Totally Unicorn because of your humor and overall attitude, but you could also go and play with someone like Sydonia or Dead Letter Circus because of your actual music.

That’s exactly it, dude. That’s what I love about Totally Unicorn. They’re fucking heavy but they don’t take themselves seriously at all. In this industry, everyone is walking around in the shade with their sunglasses on. Just be who you are, and if that’s being drunk and rolling around onstage, then fucking own it!

Have you seen Totally Unicorn live?

Yes, I have actually, and it’s an … experience! As you said, so many bands take themselves way too seriously, of course, that can work for stage presence or for what’s on their current album. But it’s refreshing to see that you guys really have fun in your music and when you’re playing live.

Before I joined in 2007, back when they were called The Kidney Thieves, what jumped out at me instantly when seeing them live was how everyone in the audience was totally into it.

But I get it. Art is something you’re meant to bleed for, as people produce their creations off the back of a breakup, or something like that. So you could go and listen to Jeff Buckley and cry some more – I’ve done it – or you could come to our show, get drunk as fuck, and dance your ass off. I’m glad you see it, man; it’s about rocking out with like-minded people.

No, no I agree, dude. And The Kidney Thieves, was it? That’s a fucking cool name!

Oh, we were wrapped with it. But a band called Kidney Thieves from America, who had a song from way back once, challenged us over the name. We had just played Big Day Out, gotten picked up by Triple J, and they said that they’d sue us. So we said, ‘Sure, you could sue us four our ten dollars collectively’. But then it got kind of hairy and we figured we’d better not get sued for our ten dollars collectively …

Yeah, probably not! So, where did the name Osaka Punch come from then?

Oh, that was a whole democratic voting process that took about three months. The “primaries” were Tokyo Crab Farmers, Bob Gnarly, Sugar Daddy Long Legs, and all this other stupid shit. We just voted these five names from worst to the best and eventually it whittled down to Osaka Punch.

Oh, cool. But man, Bob Gnarly…I don’t know why the fuck that didn’t win!

You’re preaching to the choir! With that voting system we had, I was kind of like the Greens – I just had to go with it! [laughs]. There were definitely other names I preferred, like Wish Upon A Death Star. Like, how the fuck did that not win?!

Wish Upon A Death Star … [laughs These all sound like really good song names that should be kept for a new album.

Oh, don’t worry we’ve got them all stockpiled. Like, there’s The Metronomicon. That’s right, a metronome that’s also a transformer!

That’s amazing! With song names, and with the Stonk music video, I looked up what stonk means and I got a couple different answers. That it’s either slang for a good time, slang for an erect penis, or an old British phrase used in WWII for heavily bombarding an enemy. So am I right at all …?

[laughs] Well, it’s interesting. The band has this thing with onomatopoeias. We have a song to open up our live set called Bomp, because that‘s what it sounds like. But yes, it’s two of the meanings that you said. It’s a big thick, heavy hit to the dick via an M60 with Tommy Lee Jones shouting voiceovers at you!

[laughs] Right on! With its music video, that’s a great example of doing something different, as opposed to just the band playing in some random warehouse or in their home. YouTube has enough of those music videos, you know?

Yeah, that’s it. We wanted that simple idea that’d look great but also brings the Brisbane thing into it, as we’re really proud of where we are from. We just wanted to do something that wasn’t too complicated like the last couple clips we’ve done; just something straight forward and that wasn’t too costly.

Yeah, simple is best sometimes. Also, did anyone join in on the air playing while you were filming?

Not really, but it was kind of frustrating, as Chris was playing air guitar with his hat next to him and people would give him money. But if the whole band were set up rocking out there on the street, then we would have never gotten that money. So there was no musical participation, but there was participation on the whole ‘What the fuck are you doing?’ part of it.

Our singer, Jack, had this great idea for me to air drum with dildos. Only 0.8 of a second of me doing that was used in the clip, and I air drummed half of the track. On the street. At 8:30am in the morning. With two massive dildos in my hands. So, I’m glad you liked the Stonk clip, man. Because we’re all fucking going to therapy for it! [laughs].

[laughs]. Yes, I saw that part with the dildos and was like ‘What the fuck?’. I play drums myself actually, and I’ll just stay with normal sticks for now. But would you recommend using dildos instead of drumsticks?

Well, you know how you play with drumsticks normally?

Yeah …

Well, you don’t play the dildos. They play you. So maybe for timpani, as you want the surface area.

Yeah, I can see that. They may make blast beats a bit difficult to pull off.

Not unless they’re straight and have a vibrator inside. Then you can just turn them on and gravity blast. Yes, I’ve put a lot of thought into this. Don’t judge me.

[laughs] No judgment here! With all of the variety in your music, what bands or artists did you guys listen to help develop that sound? Because I personally hear a lot of Faith No More, RHCP, Incubus, and bands of that ilk when I hear Osaka Punch.

You’ve got it. Basically, our entire sound can be linked back to ’92, with the first Rage album, Angel Dust by Faith No More, ’93 Blood Sugar Sex Magik by Red Hot Chili Peppers, Primus etc. So all of these bands existed and then Incubus came out and wanted to be like all of them, and we wanted to be like all of them but really, we just wanted to be like Incubus. We wanted to do a little something for everyone, and by that we don’t mean the audience, but for each of us in the band.

Well said man, and there’s nothing wrong with going off Incubus, as they were a solid band!

Yeah, they were awesome … before they became “mum-rock”.

Very true! Now, there’s not a whole lot of info on this I could find, but why exactly did the band move over to London. And then why the move back since?

We went to London from 2013 to 2015. A few members were approaching 30 and that’s the cut off point for the Visas, and we were hoping that through playing here over time we’d get a label to help send us over to tour there. So instead of putting all of our chips in one basket hoping to get picked up, we just packed up our shit and went to Europe of our own accord. Obviously, we land over there and everyone goes ‘You guys are really awesome … why’d you leave Australia?’ Because you have to travel 1,000 kilometers between each show. So a lot of that was to avoid this touring circuit.

I think we did 50 plus shows over there that we self-booked, and we toured Scandinavia and parts of Western Europe since. We’ve come back with a way better collective head on our collective heads. We were just roughing it – Aussie battlers!

Man, that’s ballsy. And going overseas has improved the band, not just in your playing, but in your own personalities as well. It’s like multiculturalism; the more you see and experience, the more you understand.

That’s exactly it, dude! We went over into a market that was completely saturated and if you think there’s no money here in music, it’s worse over there. But we were comfortable here. We’d get a couple hundred people every time we played here regardless. But over there we’re rocking out to fifteen people and some walk-ins off the street of Liverpool. We didn’t sacrifice anything; we kept rocking and we kept persevering.

It made us appreciate what we had back home, both in the scenery but in the fan base we had. Our fans are fucking loyal and we’re not going to do that shit to them again. No more excursions on our own merit. Anything we do now is to share what we’ve got with the fans that share what they have with us. And that’s it. Be loyal, do it for you, and work hard.

Well said, Dane, that’s a good ideology to have I think. Especially when bigger bands that tour internationally still aren’t making as much money as you’d think, you really need to do it for the music.

That’s it, because if you don’t do it for the music, then you’re going to get upset. There are a million and one reasons not to do it, but all that matters is the one reason you want to do it. And that’s making music with your bros. Or your sisters! [laughs].

[laughs] No man, I think you nailed it on the head there. As this is your time, is there anything that you want to talk about and share with me before we wrap this up?

Well, I really do love reading every article on IPHYB. I love the name, the attitude, and how everyone there gives zero fucks. I love it. And with you man, that was a really solid conversation. It didn’t feel like an interview, it felt like I was spitting shit with a mate. I thought it was really good.

Aw, well thank you man, I am glad you enjoyed it. I think it was a good chat too! Anyway, thanks again, man. Have a good night, Dane, and I hope band practice goes well.

No worries man, thanks for the call! You rock the fuck on!

Interview: Dane Pulvirenti (OSAKA PUNCH)
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