Words by Elizabeth Sharpe | @ummagummamumma
Meanjin/Brisbane-based alt rock trio Mecha Mecha released their latest single My Hero The Homewrecker last week and today they celebrate the release of the music video for the track – giving the powerful and personal audio experience the perfect visual accompaniment.
Masterfully blending the genres of Rock, Indie, Metal, Pop, EDM, and Psytrance, Mecha Mecha are not at all strangers to the world of music videos. Since their debut in 2017, they’ve already conquered heights that some will only dream of, with multiple clips featured on Rage, MTV, and international film festivals. On top of these achievements, the band continue to be rewarded for their masterful live performance with their inclusion on some incredible lineups alongside the likes of Smash Mouth, Marsha Hines, Killing Heidi, Diana Anaid and The Church.
Brothers Angelo (drums) and Walter Webb (bass/keys/vocals) took some time out this week to indulge Good Call Live with a deeper dive into the band’s influences, songwriting, experiences, and what’s next on the cards for Mecha Mecha…
Can you tell us the story behind your latest single ‘My Hero The Homewrecker’?
A: Musically, the main violin riff was actually written by Walter‘s friend as a teenager when he was like 16. I remember him playing it with his friend Rory in highschool, so it’s been in our system for like a decade. Our producer sort of coerced a very metal drum beat out of me from the control booth in the studio, and I guess I was too sick from the big virus at the time to protest it.
W: Lyrically, it’s nothing profound, just very personal. A good, but different relationship that she and I both needed at the time, helping me along from a previous long term relationship and to grow up a bit. She helped with that a lot, and was very patient with me.
It was sustained for longer than it maybe should have been, in a totally situational manner, we were forced together a lot during Covid lockdowns.
After we split, something awful happened to her and her family which sort of brought us all together, and the song is acknowledging that during this time, it was really the only time I was there for her. It’s a breakup song with a positive spin I suppose.
What’s the inspiration behind the band’s name, Mecha Mecha?
A: There’s no meaning behind it. Walter doesn’t watch anime and didn’t realise there’s an entire anime genre that shares the name.
W: Truly, it just looks great having the same word twice on a poster. The cous cous method. I think it means “Lit” or something colloquial in Japanese now though. I wanted it to be really short initially, like just “Ode” or something pretentious, but there was another band who had taken the name already.
How does Mecha Mecha balance experimenting with new sounds and staying true to your unique sound as a band?
W: We don’t try to at all, I don’t think we’re unique sounding. For a while there I was deliberately trying to write something to avoid getting labelled as a Muse or Radiohead thief, but now I’ve just accepted that being compared to those powerhouses isn’t really a bad thing, and since I’ve stopped trying to, not write like those bands did when they were younger, we’ve stopped sounding as much like them.
On a technical level, it’s cool that the role of Bass in our band is always multiplied, either emulating a synth, or a guitar using the Royal Blood method. And it goes without saying that running the violin through an electric guitar amp (Vox AC30), definitely adds some uniqueness to our sound. Yellowcard did it in the 2000s, but it had more of a supporting role, as opposed to the lead role it has in ours.
A: We’ve also tidied up our live setup, using digital mixers, amp sims and in-ears instead of actual amps, and I use a Hybrid Electronic Drum kit, which you’ll see in our next music video. That was our focus during the lockdowns.
What’s your collaborative songwriting process like?
W: I think most bands fall somewhere on the line graph between, for want of a better term, Dictatorships versus Democracy bands, the former being where one musician usually writes everything and the others are just expected to learn what they’re given, the latter being an even musical contribution between all members. I think most bands like to think they’re a democracy, though we’re definitely closer to the other end of the spectrum.
A: Walter usually writes the songs in their bass format (chords and lyrics) and Isaac and I add our own parts. Usually a lead melody and the drums, the occasional harmony. I’ll sometimes help Walter with cleaning up his lyrics, as he never writes anything down ever so it sometimes gets a bit messy.
W: I’ll occasionally make Isaac track the bass parts for the songs he plays live on, even though typically it’ll be a bass line I’ve written as that seems to be where I start. I like my bass lines.
How has your music evolved since you first started playing together?
A. Shorter songs. Easier to remember. Walter seems pretty inspired by a lot of pop these days, and less by Avenged Sevenfold thank god.
W: Yeah, just refinement. Avenged Sevenfold have always stuck to a pop-metal song structure though! Always that Intro Verse chorus Verse Double chorus solo Double chorus, like every single one of their hits. I can’t wait for their new album this year.
A: Yep. (brutal).
W: Anyway, I still try to challenge myself to write a song with as little changes as possible. I think the reason our first single was so well, or at least relatively well received is that the song was so like, familiar, like in the sort of ancestral-memory-way they talk about in the Assassin’s creed franchise, because you’ve almost heard every part of the song even when new ideas are introduced. It creates limitations on the songwriter to create as many melodies and arrangements as you can over the same chords without deviating, even when it’s tempting to move. I like to think it’s mature?
What are your biggest musical influences and how have they impacted your songwriting?
A: We grew up on some really historical, raw, world music. Like, Hungarian folk music, ‘Chantes Tziganes de Hongrie’ by Ando Drom, which our Dad seemed to play around us a lot, along with Buena Vista Social Club, The Gypsy Kings
W: Lucky Dube
A: Manu Chao
W: There’s the obvious ones too. I spent a lot of energy avoiding the M-word (Muse), but I’m actually finding it to be quite beneficial just openly saying I was extremely influenced by their sound, even mid career, ‘The 2nd Law’, came out when I was finishing school, but ‘Origin of Symmetry’ and ‘Absolution’ will forever have a huge impact on me.
A: But yeah like; Tool, Deftones, Radiohead, Nirvana, Primus, Rage Against the Machine, Jeff Buckley, Alice in Chains, Avenged Sevenfold, and Nine Inch Nails.
W: I think the only rock/metal drums that Ange actually really takes on influentially is the drumming from Deftones.
A: I love Igorrr though too.
W: Yeah but you can’t play that.
A: I’m more influenced by EDM and hip hop than rock I’ll admit. Our violinist Isaac really likes The Strokes, aaaaaaaaand…..Coldplay, I don’t know how much he likes Ween, but he’s been talking a lot about Ween.
W: I’d say Thornhill had a huge influence on me, with allowing the production to get as heavy as we did when we were producing ‘My Hero the Homewrecker’. I was listening to ‘Casanova’ LITERALLY 12 hours a day when it came out. I mean literally, I didn’t stop playing it.
Can you tell us about your experience performing at Airlie Beach Festival of Music and sharing the bill with legends like Smash Mouth and The Church?
W: I think that was a particularly big lineup, even for that festival, I remember all the papers in the Whitsundies were praising the organisers for landing such an incredibly big lineup that year.
A: Smashmouth had a heart attack on stage.
W: Yeah they got three songs in and called an ambulance for the singer, it was hectic. All the other bands in the crowd were all murmuring about potentially getting up on stage to play in their stead, which I thought was interesting. We were well and truly out of our depth, and weirdly, probably the heaviest band on the entire lineup, despite being a poppy-grunge band.
A: Definitely one of our more enjoyable gigs though, with the free food and accommodation.
W: Isaac and I got given a bottle of scotch by the owner of one of the bars we played at who liked our set so much he looked like he was in tears. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that, the expression on his face behind the bar. We drank the whole thing that night, got extremely hungover, and then had to do a TV gig at 9am the next morning, with an interview to boot. Isaac literally threw up between acts, and I got a tactical vomit out before we went onto the set. Ange was fine cause he doesn’t drink. We immediately packed up and went to another stage too. Loved it.
Which Aussie bands or artists are at the top of your wishlist to be on a lineup with?
W: Great question. SO many. That’s sort of our primary goal as a band at the moment. John Butler of the trio, because he’s heard our name a few times. Thornhill, absolutely, I feel like they’re getting more melodic and we’re getting heavier so it’d almost be a matchup, but they did come from hardcore roots. George, if they ever reformed, that’d be scary as. Violent Soho despite being closer to the Aussie punk scene sonically than we are wouldn’t be a bad matchup because of the influences we share. I dunno, a decent Triple J baby like Ball Park Music would be great, or even Hockey Dad. I’m all for taking the ego out of our music as we move forward. Locally it would be The Betty Taylor Band or Reckless Coast, those guys have been going as hard as we have since we all finished school, at the same school, in Lismore. Richmond River High School….now just Richmond River, after last year’s floods.
A. Most of the Aussie acts I like are a bit far away from our sound for it to make sense for us to play with I reckon.
Your Debut EP release was all the way back in 2017… can you share any plans for further EP or LP releases in the works? What’s next for Mech Mecha and what can we expect in the coming months?
A: Well we’re going to Earthfreq this weekend.
W: As punters.
Yeah I suppose we’ve been at this for a while, but we don’t really have any reason to stop. 2021 was a weird year for us, as for many bands, and we were fortunate enough to survive the lockdowns, where so many acts disbanded. We spent a lot of that down time building up a decent touring rig and a good live setup.
We’re shifting our focus for the first time since ‘Dealbreaker’ away from music videos, so we can just be pumping out tune after tune this year. I want to get a bunch of singles done and then maybe a physical release early next year. We’d be absolutely stoked with landing support slots with any of those bands in the last question. I’d really love to support ALT J, I think that’d be my biggest win at the moment.
Thanks to Kick Push PR