Yo, how are you? Could you introduce yourself and what you do in the band?Hey, doing great! My name is Jelena but that probably doesn't mean much when I'm often called Yells by friends and family. I do vocals, write lyrics and bake cakes to take to practice. Aaron is a total legend and plays drums when he's not chucking the horns and shredding for I Exist. Brenton rules because he plays Promise riffs to us and does sick punk jumps and is a great mate. Melissa plays bass. She does incredible paintings, is super creative and you'll find her at various exhibitions around the city too.
Could you explain the name ‘Outright’ and its significance if any?
Outright is the title of an unreal track by an old Newcastle band called Arms Reach, and is off their 'Within Reach' 7" which is still one of my favourite 7"s of all time. Not only were they an amazing, aggressive, fast, fun and uncompromising band, but this track in particular has Kristy on guitar as well as vocals screaming the most succinct and direct lyrics that don't apologise for living against gender stereotypes. I think the word itself is honest, unapologetic, direct, up-front and wholehearted which represents a lot of what I think hardcore is about and how I try to live my life so it felt right to use it. Plus, I can't deny that sharing the concept with some great music and people that inspired me when I was younger reminds me everyday of how special it is to be involved with this and how much we can gain by embodying that concept in our lives.
What are the main influences on the bands lyrics and music?
I can't pinpoint our stylistic influences (because we are quite a varied bunch of people) and I don't like to, but I will say that our songs are a fun expression of how much we enjoy some heavy bands like Integrity, Judge, One King Down, Indecision and the usual stalwarts of Melbourne hardcore. As far as lyrical content goes I have always appreciated the intentions and attitude of bands like Trial, Inside Out, Betrayed.. so if that comes across then you can see why!
Outright can be seen to have been a long time in the making, why did it take so long to form the band? And how does it feel to finally have a microphone in you’re hand?
Outright was an idea from years ago because I've spent far too long getting restless about how much I've wanted to start something fun and aggressive with friends, have an outlet for my ideas and frustrations, and most importantly, get more involved in our scene and give back to something that's given us so much. We've had an amazing amount of friends wanting to help us achieve this but, along the way, we never quite found the right fit in our sound or quite the right timing or management of other commitments to make it happen. When news of the Arthouse's closure in Melbourne after almost 20 years came out my heart nearly broke at the thought that I might never get to play the venue I dreamed of visiting as a 13 year old stuck in front of my stereo on the south coast of NSW, and the place that became a sentimental home once I moved south of the border. Lamenting the potential failure of this bucket list goal, Aaron jumped up offering to not let it fall apart and Mel and I basically bullied our friend Brenton to join us, and we're here. It feels so awesome to finally be playing (though the boys have done it all before), just a few months from getting together. I have a lot of work to do to train my voice and breathing but it feels amazing to jump around and scream my opinions out and hopefully encourage some more back at us.
Do you feel any extra pressure being a female fronted band?
On a personal level, I don't feel pressure as a female in hardcore because I've always had a very personal connection with it for a very long time that has not, and can not, be influenced by the expectations of others. I've watched the scene change so many times into so many forms over the years that I learnt very early to not get swept up by the waves. I have some very inspiring and intelligent friends before me that served as a great example and showed me this was possible.. and I'm stubborn haha. Saying that though, I always put too much pressure on myself with anything I put my mind to or care about! I don't want to embarrass the rest of the band and I don't want to give the friends that have shown all this encouragement and support a reason for regret - but I guess a lot of us feel that at first. As a band, we might feel some pressure. There's a chance that we could have gathered some attention because of the people the band comprises of, but I try to not let that translate into a need to prove ourselves. Anyway, we're having far too much fun to let something like our body bits, let alone the expectations attached to them, define our actions and opportunities.
The song >mine alone< deals with the issues of self, especially of self control and self ownership, what were the main motivations for this?
I'm of the opinion that in our consumerist society, corporations literally try to buy and sell us in any possible way and other institutions force us to detach us from ourselves in order to fall in line and under their banner. This feeds down via cultural mores to dictate personal relationships too. Because our bodies are our vehicle for interacting with the outside world, they are the objects with which that world tries to overpower us, institutionalise us and alienate our sense of self within a structure which reinforces difference, conformity and power. Some motivations for this idea came from readings on the concept of gender embodiment. Women have practiced asceticism and made sacrifices via their body (because no one paid attention to their minds) in order to have some sense of empowerment and voice in religious societies throughout history and now, in the chauvinism of our current culture too. Fasting is spiritual. Belief is ritualised into submissive behaviour. Skinny diets are "disciplined". Sexuality is only as powerful as long as the audience/recipient is getting what they want. Strong, forceful, built up men are the hunters and protectors. It's bullshit, but it's also relevant on a wider non-gender specific scale. When it comes down to it, our bodies are the only things we have left that are truly our own, that we control and that we should rightly be able to decide how it is used and who can hold a stake in it. This is all I have and the only thing that's completely mine. No one gets to take that away from me or tell me what to do with it, or how.
Your song >Barbarian< discuss nationalism could you discuss this and what led you to writing about this issue.
'Barbarian' is a song about how I think that nationalism is inappropriately used as political tool to justify divisiveness and domination, and legitimise invented notions of identity. When achieved, this is nothing but a re-interpretation of racism and we all know that the mobilisation of that type of nationalism on a large scale leads to the real failures of oppression, torture and fundamentally, inhumane actions and ideas that completely disregard our inherent common nature. Don't get me wrong, every day I am grateful and content that I happened to be born in a country where I am able to have an educated and fulfilling lifestyle. But it wasn't my choice that caused my lucky birth to happen and it's certainly no excuse to deny these human rights for others. I started thinking about this most whilst following the conflict in the former Yugoslavia where Bosnians, Serbians and Croatians were all told that they were like cats and dogs and could never live together and share a nation, despite the fact that they had done so for centuries before and even fought together against the invasion of the Ottoman empire. I watched my cousins have their lifelong relationships with neighbours and friends disintegrate into violent tensions and destitute struggles despite the fact that they had shared their lives and homes, and cared for each other's children for decades previously. Worst of all, that false sense of identity and loyalty was then carried over to populations here in Australia who had never even lived there or experienced this culture directly. It made me sick and so ashamed.
Through the lyrics it seems that Outright is a band attempting to bring back certain ideas and ethics that appears to be lacking, what the main motivation for this?
The ethics are just what I've taken and appreciated from the hardcore I grew up on. The importance of a sense of ethic and the sharing of ideas is something I have seen dwindle over the years so, yes, I guess there is an element of consciously trying to bring that back but that's only because I think we get so much more out of this music when there's a strong message or ideas behind it, especially when it is a message that can mobilise a counter culture or empower an individual or expand/challenge a mind and thereby effect positive change in people. Plus, I'm not sure that I know how to keep my mouth shut sometimes anyway so that's what you get I'm afraid!
What motivated you guys to be apart of the show?
Dude, we didn't need any extra motivation hahaha. We're so over the moon to be given the opportunity to contribute to a worthy cause and be part of what is an inspiring concept and a fantastic fun show with great mates. The effects of the earthquake in Haiti are tragic and utterly heart-breaking but, worst of all, reflect so clearly how a nation's wealth and resources, or lack thereof, determines its capacity to recover and function and, in this case, magnifies its struggles. We've seen locally how destructive natural disasters are no matter what, but set these in a place of failed infrastructure, impoverished communities and socio-economic crime, and we see how much more and for how much longer hardship is endured. The fact that this 100 for Haiti concept supports one doctor's initiative and one feminist refugee group's dedication, and has already achieved so much with its current efforts alone, is an empowering notion and a motivating one. Outright are especially thrilled to be able to join with our friends and raise awareness of these and other similar social causes as is fundamental to the conscience hardcore was strengthened on.
How does it feel to be given the opportunity to get to play the Arthouse with Shotpointblank? Especially with it’s demise coming soon?
The Arthouse has been our home, our provider and our back bone for so many years. To be a tiny part of its history is a privilege and an honour. I'm not sure we'll ever experience another place and feeling like it again. We are all fantastic friends of the guys in SPB so I'm expecting some great fun and laughter on the night! They've all offered wonderful support, insight and motivation to the scene in everything they've done and we're grateful for the legacy they've left behind. On a personal note, it's quite special to be able to share the stage and line-up with my partner, Brett, after 8 years together so fingers crossed we don't ruin each other's songs with ill-timed mic grabs hahaha!
This may seem like an odd question to ask as you are only a new band but its one we always do, what legacy do you hope to leave as an individual and as a band?
I'll be honest and say that I don't think this band has been around long enough to look into the future and consider any overarching goals or legacies. At this stage, we're just dying to play and share and have some fun. Most of all, I would stress that each band is only one small piece of the puzzle we design and build together so I'm not one to jump on any pedestal and shout our potential influence and effect to the world. It doesn't feel right. In saying that though, I can't discount the intense gratitude we felt with the amazing messages we received after our first show. The fact that even one person felt more refreshed, comfortable, excited, welcome or uplifted by our set has already surpassed any aims we may have had. It blows my mind. We have the most kind and thoughtful friends in the world.