Even with so little on stage, Loveboner offer one of the most engagingly manic performances you’re likely to see in Melbourne. Marked by Chris’ can-bashing and crazed vocal peculiarities that symbiose with Laura’s clean-cut shredding of her 4-string electric axe, aptly bespeckled with sparkly scratch ‘n’ sniff stickers, the DIY duo cast a vortex that crashes post-punk into rowdy country affectations. An assertive acceptance of the atypical means Loveboner have something to say and just as much fun saying it, so we caught up with them at their favourite local punk paradise, Café Gummo to capture it.
Whilst simultaneously completing their PhDs in film and American Poetry respectively, Laura and Chris bloomed from drinking buddies to significant others. Fans of the Melbourne music scene for aeons, their Wedding celebrated their artistic community, going down in folklore for making the Yarra Valley look a sham by contrast; “It was at The Evelyn and they very kindly treated it like a gig but let us put a bunch of bands on and gave us 200 people on the door. Anyone could come in and pay 20 bucks to see the bands and there are absolutely people in the photos who I don’t fucking know”.
Post knot-tying, the couple talked themselves into a series of half-truths that would lead them to Loveboner; “For a while we went around telling people we were a band and had a song called ‘What’s the Point of Yoga If I Can’t Suck My Own Dick’. We hadn’t even written it or played any music together at that point.” Though having drumming for a prior psych rock project, apprehensions arose with Chris’ untested vocal talent, leading to the improvisation of one of the band’s great calling cards; “I started off with an insecurity with singing because I’d never sung before, so if I did a funny voice it’d be all right. I’m never gonna be able to hit all kinds of beautiful notes so I might as well be entertaining, put on some voices. Put on some squeaks and groans”. Similarly, early ideas to help counteract Laura’s stage anxiety illustrate her growth as guitarist playing now sold-out shows; “It took so many gigs before we started having fun. Making eye contact with people was always hard and I was originally going to play in a box because I didn’t want people looking at me. My stage name was gonna be Box”.
With songs that warn against orgies in Deer Park, softboi’s declaring distinctions from other softboi’s and odes to the overwhelming beauty of everything on MDMA, Loveboner’s absurdist post-punk jams are given a rousing sense of unification by way of leaning into their penchant for country; “I think I grew up listening to a lot of rockabilly and country but we also lived with a band called Team Love so we started talking about how we were gonna make a country band. It’s a bit of be a funny rivalry but it just sounds good”.
Matching the music to razor-sharp lyrics motivated by “whatever’s gonna be the funniest”, Chris has taken his experience with American poetry and flipped it on its head; “Since finishing my PhD I realised I don’t like poetry that much. I like lyrics and I like fun poems but the poems I was studying weren’t very fun or sexy. My stuff is more Dr Seuss than William Carlos Williams”. However, there’s moments on many tracks that speak to deeper aspects of LGBTQI apprehensions the band play out whenever they perform; “I don’t share any of our music with my parents and my biggest fear is that anyone I work with will ever see the band. I came out as Bi to most of my friends by writing ‘Mates’. We thought, wouldn’t it be funny if everyone could be like, ‘Ooh Is it about me? Does Chris have a crush on me?’. If that makes people feel uncomfortable then too bad”. It also offers a way for Loveboner to process their points of difference; “We do a simple way of tricking yourself into going out on Main St. Humour is a coping mechanism and it definitely reframes scary things as something our friends are going to go along with”.
Among their more provocative material, Loveboner recently took on the male dominated scene they find themselves in on ‘All Male Lineup’; “We initially wrote it to try and fit as many jokes as we could but it’s also because we’re playing a lot of gigs in that situation. Some of it’s a complaint but its also asking people to do better”. Rather than merely bemoan the standard of poor female representation, the band offer realistic solutions to the issues the song condemns; “I think the secret is honestly make friends and make good friends. It is not fucking hard to avoid all male lineups. You just need to go to enough gigs and make friends with the bands that you like. I think there’s this superficial push to have diverse line-ups, even if you don’t know any bands with women in it, and it leads to real awkward nights. If you don’t know any women musicians, that should just be your gig and too bad. Have a nice shit gig and don’t fuckin’ bring us into it”.
As indicated by the backstory to the closing track on their 2019 LP, Wet Sounds, Loveboner operate as an open and accepting band of all forms of alternative sexuality, lifestyles and gender neutrality; “’Victory Lap’ came after the Marriage Equality Bill passed. That was the moment where we thought we should write a song about that whole celebration and the march. They had this gig where Tropical Fuck Storm were playing and there was this guy who kept tryin’ to pull out Gareth Liddiard’s guitar and kept shouting ‘PLAY GAY MUSIC!’. Wicked burn on Gareth Liddiard”. Expressing these values opens them up to criticism from more conservative demographics, however, Laura describes the hardships and heckles as more subversive than one might assume; “Being a woman that has access to the blokey side of the industry, you get a fair bit of condescension. The only hardships we get are backhanded ones surrounding gig offers from people who haven’t heard our music before. We’ve only been heckled once at the Toff In Town where a guy said he was sucking our dads dick. It’s one of those things that’s really frustrating because you wanna win but it was such a funny heckle!”.
Over merely 5 years on the scene, Loveboner have already garnered a cult fanbase for their eccentricities and oddities, one of which being their trademark cover closer; “We do a new one every time. Usually, its a fun pop song that’s slower and then we double the speed. It’s gotta be catchy and popular”. If all else fails to win you over (shame on you), there’s this; “Once we did ‘Closing Time’ and ‘All Star’ by Smash Mouth at the same time. I’d start with ‘All Star’ and Laura would start with ‘Closing Time’ and then we’d switch. Then right at the end we’d transition into ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’. It’s nice to say, even if you didn’t enjoy any of this, here’s something that’s quite fun”.