Music / Features
Glass Faces -
A chat with Body Maintenance
Words by James Lynch
Friday 2nd April, 2021
Following the release of their self-titled EP in late February, we had a chat with Body Maintenance to find out a little more about the five-piece and their disorientating brand of post-punk.
Despite having no online presence and with only a couple of fairly informal releases to their name, Body Maintenance have managed to spend their first few years of existence making a mark on Melbourne’s underground music scene without ever revealing their cards. That’s not a bad thing by any means though - just as the music they make is murky and sinister yet equally gripping, they’ve maintained an elusive presence over local audiences that’s simultaneously stark and compelling. However, with the release of their self-titled EP and their first to be “properly mixed and mastered”, the band have finally removed the veil (although just slightly), revealing themselves to be one of the most arresting local bands making post-punk at the moment.

From beginning to end, Body Maintenance feels like a propulsive blur, co-existing between grimy punk fury and otherworldly atmospherics. EP opener ‘Glass Faces’ blitzes out of the gates with a relentless pulse, as layers of cloudy guitar and beaming synth tangle alongside Riley Stafford’s looming vocals. It’s a momentum that never fully lets up - moments later with the frantic ‘Sheets’ or the thunderous stomp of closing track ‘Death’s Crawl’. However, when the gears do shift on ‘Transit’ and ‘Pentridge’, the result is somehow even more disarming, as we’re confronted with the bleakest edge of their sound without shaking the constant anxiety that’s forever simmering beneath these tracks.

We had a chat with Riley (vocals, guitar) to dig into the new EP a little further.
TJ: Hey BM, for the unacquainted, want to tell us a bit about yourselves?

BM: Body Maintenance is a post-punk band from Melbourne formed by Nick Garth and myself (Riley). We started as a three-piece with a drum machine in 2017 and played shows here and there and self-recorded and released a demo tape. Shortly after, Zoe joined on drums and the sound naturally shifted. James then joined to replace our original bassist Hugh and Ella also came on board to play synth which has got us to where we are now. After some experimentation with different instrument roles over the last couple of years we're currently a five piece with Zoe on drums, Nick playing bass, Ella handling synths and James and me both playing guitar.

You’ve just dropped your self-titled EP which feels like perhaps the first “official” release from the band (following the live and demo tapes). Is that accurate? How have these songs and the EP as a whole come together?

The process of organising this record was actually pretty similar to previous releases to be honest. It was self-recorded by Nick and released on James' Unwound label. Although if you consider that this EP was properly mixed and mastered, and released as an actual 12" record rather than home dubbed tapes, then I suppose it is accurate that it's our first "official" release. We had this batch of songs ready and asked around to try and get someone to record us properly, although people would cancel/flake on days we had booked so we kinda gave up and went back to the trusty old faithful DIY method of borrowing mics and having a crack ourselves.

We got Mickey from DEN up in Sydney to mix it and he turned our rehearsal room recording into a pretty huge sounding record. We were rapt when we got the mixes back.

We shopped the record around to some labels and did have something lined up although when Covid hit it obviously threw a spanner in the works. In the end James ended up offering to release it on Unwound and it's been really great to have it out. So far, the response has been great.

Synth driven post-punk seems to be having a resurgence in recent years, especially in Melbourne, but I feel like BM’s take on the style places you a bit outside the trend. How did Body Maintenance’s sound come together, and where do you see yourself fitting in within the broader local scene?

I guess our sound came together by being equally as keen on guitars in punk as we were synths in electronic music. Coupled with being obsessed with 80s post-punk, goth and new-wave bands from quite young, it's a sound that just felt right to pursue.

Our sound has also progressed a fair bit over the last few years. If you listen to our first tape, you'll hear a pretty stripped back or minimal sounding dark-wavish tape with drum machine and more monotone vocals. Since Zoe joined on drums and with the addition of a second guitar, I suppose the sound has naturally grown into what you hear on the record which is slightly more vibrant.

I don't think we really do sit in one particular place in the scene, one week we'll be on a bill with hardcore punk and anarcho bands, and then the next week we'll be sharing a stage with some electonic acts. I guess that probably boils down to playing a type of music that traditionally bridged the gap between punk and electronic, it’s great sitting between both circles.

Are there other bands you look to as front runners in this kind of sound - both locally and internationally?

We really enjoy Bitumen, Deep Red, Voice Imitator and Bloodletter in terms of Aus bands. Technically they may not all be "synth driven" but they're certainly front-runners in Australian post-punk. Internationally, Belgrado and Spectres are bands we definitely look to. A Culture of Killing from Italy and Padkarosda from Hungary are two bands I've also been really into lately also.

With the combination of dark, grimy instrumentation but a pretty electric energy, there’s something that simultaneously feels isolating yet invigorating about the new EP. What’s it like releasing this EP after a year in isolation?

I think having the goal of getting this record out helped get us through isolation, it gave us something to look forward to and plan towards. I suppose we're quite lucky that the EP came out in conjunction with restrictions easing and the Covid situation being relatively good here. There was a sigh of relief when it came out, the record has been a long time coming even prior to Covid hitting, so it was good to finally have it out there.

And now that live music is returning, how will it feel taking these songs back to the stage? Any big plans going forward?

We're very thrilled to be able to play these songs live considering everything that's happened in the last 12 months, we've been practicing again which is really exciting. We'll be launching the record at the Curtin on April 10th with TOL. We're also hoping to play some interstate shows in June/July depending on how things pan out. Fingers crossed!

Body Maintenance's self-titled EP is out now through Unwound Records - head to to grab the EP on limited 12" vinyl.