Music / Features
Keeping Hope -
A Chat With Cable Ties
Words by Conor Lochrie
Friday 10th April, 2020
Melbourne heavy-hitters Cable Ties had a chat with us about their new album Far Enough, and the effects the shackles of isolation have on the band that lives and breathes live performance.
It is a cruel artistic blow that Cable Ties, one of Melbourne’s most exhilarating live bands, are unable to perform their latest album Far Enough to audiences for an unforeseeable while. The trio - Jenny McKechnie on vocals and guitar, Shauna Boyle on drums, Nick Brown on bass - were poised to unleash their second LP to venues far and wide in the coming months, but as it were, the power of their noise could only be stopped in its tracks by an unseen force. It almost seems unfathomable, considering the band are essentially fire and fury, McKechnie’s virulent howl the fore outlet for the band’s chaotic but contained energy.

Far Enough is as defiantly loud as their previous work but with a keener sense of introspection. Opener ‘Hope’ circles to the closer ‘Pillow’, both considering the same theme of helplessness and of struggling to hold your head above the parapet to see a sliver of light. The journey between the songs charges at a relentless speed but the record is never enervating. And their fierce punk is necessary - the socialist progressive dream of Sanders has withered into the toxic American sky; bush fires surrounded Scott Morrison this year and seemed only to shroud his judgement further that environmental change and legislation isn’t vital. Music with anger and a message like that within Far Enough is needed to pierce an increasingly uncertain world.

I spoke with Jenny on the phone yesterday for this interview. Her voice contained a pleasantry that was incongruous to her persona on stage, and wonderfully so. She’s spoken before of how live music has been the place where she feels most comfortable exposing and exploring her emotions - it’s disheartening to think that this form of catharsis may not present itself in this year as it stands. It also begs the question, how many other Australians are out there at the moment lacking this same outlet, whether that be due to COVID-19 or lack of inclusion generally? It’s an issue that Cable Ties have been tackling for years, through programs like Girls Rock! and events like Wetfest, but again, it seems unclear whether this support can shine through in such uncertain times.

Quarantine can only shackle a band of Cable Ties’ quality so much. Far Enough remains a raucous and pointed listen even within one’s own house. Just expect, though, that their first shows back on tour will be something to behold. Read below as I discussed all this and more with Jenny.
TJ: Starting with the new record, how do you feel that your songwriting and sound has changed since the last album?

CT: Yeah, the songwriting I think has changed. This album is a lot more self-conflicted than the previous album. It’s sort of about analysing my place in the world.

In the past few weeks, Henry Rollins and Iggy Pop have shown considerable support for your record on their radio shows - knowing that these icons of punk are paying attention must feel pretty great?

Oh my god yes. It’s quite surreal! I listened back to the Iggy Pop show and it’s so cool, he was just talking over the top of the tunes. I’ll be playing the guitar solo and he sort of goes “oooh” and at one point he says “go girl!”. I was pretty much at home screaming “what the fuck, it’s Iggy Pop!”

Tell me how quarantine has affected the band - you've had to cancel some big North American shows as well as your upcoming Australian tour.

Yeah, we sort of had to cancel Australia, pretty much everything. We were going to go to America for SXSW and play for the first time over there, but SXSW got cancelled so then we cancelled the tour. That was kind of the first thing to happen. And then from there everything unfolded. It would’ve been obviously impossible to go to Europe and our Australian tour was supposed to be late April and May, so that’s not possible anymore either.

I’ve always thought of you as such a live band, and I’ve heard you speak of the comfort you feel performing on stage. This lockdown must really be a source of frustration.

We are a live band. That’s where we like to experience our music. It’s difficult to work out what we should do for the rest of the year because we can’t play live. The thing is, at least we do have a record to release - if we didn’t have that we’d just be doing nothing. Next year, by the time we do get to play live again, I’ll tell you what, I won’t be taking any shows for granted!

You’ve always been a prominent figure - and supporter - of the Melbourne local scene. Are you worried for the future of the beloved venues that you’ve grown up with after the pandemic?

It is a worry. You know, The Old Bar is very dear to our hearts and we don’t know what’s going to happen with them, but I think that the community has always been strong. The fundraiser that Liam (Matthews) put on for the staff at The Old Bar showed a lot of support for that. I haven’t even been able to properly contemplate the idea that The Old Bar wouldn’t be there after all of this. That would just be too much!

You’ve talked often in your music about the struggles of dealing with the larger music industry and record labels. How has it been since signing with Merge Records?

Merge were kind of at the top of our list, from the way that they started the label and it’s been run by them like that the whole time. It has a similar ethos and way of operating to Poison City Records label in Australia and we feel really connected with them and that they do things because they believe in music.

I wanted to ask you about the song ‘Sandcastles’ as well. What’s the background of that song?

It’s about when sometimes people try to make themselves the most perfect kind of version of themselves they can be, that they use the right language, that’s considered to be correct within their small social group and then throw out anyone who doesn’t conform to that. Then that leads to small homogeneous groups that aren’t actually affecting or creating social change.

What’s planned in the near future for the band - as much as you can possibly plan right now?!

We’re going to reschedule shows and it just depends on the way the world goes. Beyond that we’ll try and stay connected with people in whatever way that we can over social media and see what happens!

Dive into Far Enough above, and keep up with any news from Cable Ties via their socials.