For years, artists argued against their music being labeled by the media and listeners alike, their point being that music as such is undefined – and that different aesthetics inspire them at different times. It seems to be true in the case of Shotgun Mistress. As this Aussie ensemble’s name rightfully suggests, their sound is a journey back in time to the LA’s Sunset Strip in the 1980s. But a quick look at the band members’ respective resume can make you dizzy – it’s everything from Alt Rock to… Death Metal. Is that the reason why Shotgun Mistress aren’t afraid to get a bit more serious in their songs than their ‘80s counterparts used to…? I caught up with the band’s co-founder and guitarist Matt Wilcock to discuss this and a lot more for Rock Speculo.
Alexandra Mrozowska, Rock Speculo: You guys originate from different bands. How did you hook up and what circumstances led to the formation of Shotgun Mistress?
Matt Wilcock: I had recently moved back to Australia after living in the UK for ten years. By chance, I wound up living in the same area that both Glenn (Patrick, vocals) and Dave (Lee, drums) lived. I had done music with each of these guys separately many years ago, and having just started writing some Rock riffs, the planets aligned and we got together to make a bit of noise. I’d also played with Ben (Curnow, bass) a long time back as well, so once things were up and running, I knew he was the right guy for bass.
AM: Do you plan Shotgun Mistress to be a one-off project, or are there plans to continue?
MW: We’re totally gonna continue doing this! We’ve smashed out an album in near record time since we formed and as well as having fun and it being so rewarding to make music, we’ve been going from strength to strength with gigs, record label etc.. so we’re gonna be carrying on for sure!
AM: The group’s style is often described as the “LA Strip-era rock”. What was the inspiration to go for this particular sound?
MW: I think it’s something that we all kind of look at with a bit of nostalgia from being kids. We all love G N’R and Mötley Crüe and they’re the kings of that “title”. It’s a fun style of music to play. There are other influences in there for sure, and we all listen to quite different stuff, but it all kind of meets in the middle with this band.
AM: There are Rock/Metal fans who consider ‘80s Hard Rock to be a “style over substance” kind of thing. What’s your opinion about that?
MW: Totally with some bands I guess, but who’s gonna deny that Appetite for Destruction ain’t one of the best rock albums ever…? Even if you don’t like it, you can’t look past the sales and the influence it’s had. But… for every badass band there’s probably a few that could have spent their time practicing instead of doing their hair and makeup.
AM: Probably! Speaking of Sunset Strip era-clichés, lyric-wise some of your songs (such as “No Friend Of Mine”), convey a message that is quite the opposite of them. Do you think discussing social issues still fits this particular kind of music?
MW: Yeah, why not…? Rock’n’roll ain’t about rules or formulas. Having said that, for every song that may contain a “message” – be it positive or negative – we’ll also have a song that’s just about a badass girl that’s covered in tattoos and smashing beers.
AM: That’s the golden mean I guess. Another specific thing about Shotgun Mistress is that genre-wise, the other bands you play or played in are quite different from what the group stands for. Still, does your experience beyond Shotgun Mistress translate into what you do as a band?
MW: Totally. I’ve spent a long time playing in pretty extreme Heavy Metal bands. A lot of that stuff requires people to practice hard and really focus on their parts. The work ethic of some of the people that I’ve played with in those sorts of bands also matters. All that experience is drawn upon when I do anything musically now. I guess it makes it easy to cut through anything that wastes time and energy and really trim the fat with the whole process of being a band.
AM: Do you think fans of your other bands/projects may dig Shotgun Mistress, or is there too much prejudice between fans of particular genres of Rock and Metal?
MW: Maybe…? I guess it depends on the person. Lots of people that like Heavy Metal are into Rock music in some way – the two ain’t far removed from one another. Everyone loves Motörhead, we love Motörhead too and a bit of that influence sneaks into our tracks. People will have to listen and see if it’s their thing.
AM: When is the Shotgun Mistress’ new full-length album going to be released? Any details?
MW: We’re hoping for late this year. I think we’re scheduled to release one more single in the coming months and then the album. The whole COVID thing that’s happening now has really thrown things out of whack, for everyone everywhere obviously, so fingers crossed sooner rather than later.
AM: Speaking of singles, so far you revealed three off your upcoming album. Do you think they’re representative towards the rest of the new material?
MW: Somewhat, but personally I think some of the other tracks on the album and also newer material that we’re working on is really a bit closer to what we’re about. Maybe we’ve found our “sound” a bit more, or maybe it’s just me wanting to hear the other songs a bit more!
AM: What’s the songwriting process like in the band?
MW: Generally, I’ll have a rough song structure down, or even just a few riffs and then we’ll work on the arrangement as a band. As we’re jamming through the ideas Glenn will be working on either lyrics or melodies and usually the next time we get together he’ll have a fairly solid bunch of vocals ready. We’ll fine tune things as we go to make sure the song is as strong as it can be.
AM: What else are you up to right now beyond Shotgun Mistress? What are the band’s future plans?
MW: I’m fortunate enough in this shit time to still be working, so many people I know have lost their jobs, had hours cut down etc. so I’m one of the lucky ones. Aside from that, I’m always busy with various Heavy Metal bands that I’m writing or recording with. As for Shotgun Messiah, it’s writing-recording-gigging-repeat! Mind you, who knows when we can start playing shows again… sooner rather than later hopefully!
AM: Fingers crossed! What do you think about the way the Aussie music industry operates today?
MW: To be honest I’m not really too knowledgable about things outside my little bubble of musical existence. As I’ve mentioned, I lived overseas for ten years, so regarding Australia I’m a little bit detached. There’s a selection of people within the industry here that I always try to work with because I know that they’re hardworking and talented – audio engineers, musicians, press, promoters etc. There’s definitely a lot of talent here in all facets of the industry that I’m familiar with. It’s a shame that the industry has taken such a dive over the past few months and it’s looking scary as to how long it may take to recover.
AM: Unfortunately… So, is there anything you’d like to add in the end?
MW: Cheers for the interview! Hope there’s some people out there that check out Shotgun Mistress and dig it. And given what’s happening in the world at the moment, any bit of help that people can offer bands is greatly appreciated by everyone, be it merch sales, downloads or even simply sharing stuff on social media to help spread Rock music.
Check out one of Shotgun Mistress’ newly released singles – “Save Me From Myself” -below: