Bogan Punks Dole Cheque on Writing Real in Reverse
Though bogan punk has forced its way into the mainstream of Australian rock, Dole Cheque has long been Melbourne's trailblazers of the genre, willing to push the envelope to new limits. With a tongue-in-cheek take on the genre itself, they thrash their way through odes to the pokies, nan's and revs. In celebration of their anti-cyclist single, 'Single File Dickhead', we spoke to the four-piece about their reversed songwriting method and where the cast of real-life characters that inspire their songs come from.
Starting in 2015, the band was born from a humble desire to "make the stupidest Australian band possible". Drawing influence from The Mighty Boys and a need to celebrate bogan culture, Dole Cheque were catalysed by satirising one particular band's normalisation of pharmaceuticals; "We started with making fun of Dune Rats and how all their songs are about weed and stuff. We started to think, why don't they take it a step further, why don't they make all their songs about meth? Like, where's the logical conclusion of that? We just thought we'd make it quite dark".
Always affable, Dole Cheque underscore the targets and topics of their music are always selected with good intentions; "It's nothing personal, it's just a bit of laugh. We're not takin' pot shots but sometimes it's just fun to poke fun at people. It's making fun but also celebrating these things". The band's self-selected style of 'Dolewave', in the face of that genre descriptor already being synonymous with bands like Dick Diver, is exemplary of Dole Cheque's cheek; "We're not that, but we'll call ourselves that anyway for a laugh. We've got a synthesizer. We'll call ourselves wave, why not? Just get a synth and you can be wave anything!".
Propelling listeners headlong into their unadulterated world of Centrelink satire with 2017's debut single, 'Can't Buy Shards With Cash Cards', Dole Cheque's penchant for penning songs in reverse was made palpable from the get-go; "We always write the music after the song titles. It's way more fun that way. It's so easy to see patterns in music and it's so normal for bands to jam out an idea and make something out of nothing but we're just like, nah we'll do it the other way around and try and make it as stupid as possible". The band's 2018 EP, Lie On The Floor, Elevate Your Feet doubled down on their best bogan assets, whilst offering up nuance where necessary; "Our first EP had the really fast songs based around going to the pub and getting kicked, like it was a fast-paced sort of night. Then we had 'Stairway To Revs' where we have a fast bit at the start and then it goes really slow in the middle, which is meant to feel like spacing out at Revs'.
The band's latest cut, 'Single File Dickhead' pairs potent punk guitars against a twirling theremin amid a raucous crowd call bemoaning cyclists. Its origin outlines the source material for the majority Dole Cheque tracks; "Every idea we come up with is from our drummer who's a massive tradie guy that works in garbage collection. He hangs out with real loose people and hectic bogans and that's where we get a lot of our subject matter from. One day he was working with this 50/60-year-old guy who was just really pissed off at cyclists. This massive bogan bloke was driving a garbage truck just shouting at em', "single file dickheads"". In an effort to find the perfect rhyme for 'cunt', the band's chance inclusion of Rex Hunt proved the perfect cameo; "We googled him, because he's done so much crazy shit, thinking surely he's had an issue with cyclists and he did! 3 years ago he had to go to court for abusing them or something. I was so happy with how that worked out".
With a reference to their origin, Dole Cheque appreciate that many bands have since jumped on the bogan bandwagon; "Four years ago it was pretty different. Even now, bands have started to loosen up and there's heaps of bands singing about pingers and party drugs. It's not that whacky". However, even with one such band from the Sunshine Coast instantly attaining the glory Dole Cheque had worked hard to cultivate, the band retain a philosophical perspective on those with whom the bogan blood runs strong; "Fuckin' Chats (laughs). We were Dole Cheque for one or two years before 'Smoko' got really big and as soon as it came out we were just like 'oh noooo' (laughs). We were so salty, we were like, 'oh we were doin' the bogan thing first, come onnn'. I guess the difference between us and The Chats is that they live it, where we just take the piss".