INTERVIEW: TOTALLY UNICORN

Usually, I hate straight up Q&A-style interviews. They’re boring, lazy and just show a general unwillingness to go the extra mile for your interview subject.
With that in mind, I did an interview with Mike from hardcore group Totally Unicorn that was so damn funny, it would be a crime to do anything but present it in its original context.

So, without further ado, Radar talks to Totally Unicorn about beards, beer, the medieval society and getting kicked out of their own gigs…


First off, just introduce yourself and the band to our readers
This is Mike, Drew is there, Robs next, and Clancy’s beside him

Give us a bit of insight into the band, and the kind of music you play.
Uhhh we’re 4 people and play sorta rock and roll music with more moustache

Who would you nominate as some of your musical influences, or acts that have a similar sound to you?
Clancy likes that dude from the Chilli Peppers, I’ll say that drummer from Nirvana, Rob likes Sleigh Bells and Drew is mostly into Queen.

How and when did Totally Unicorn start?
There was a merging of intentions between us and sorta like how a bullshark is more deadly than a great white, we thought it was time to try and make some decent music. We’re still trying and hopefully by our fourth double CD studio album, we’ll nail it.

Tell us about the early days of the band; your first shows, starting to build a reputation.
I don’t know how long it took for us to get enough songs together to have something that resembled a ‘set’, but I do remember it was 4 songs and went for about 8 minutes. I couldn’t afford new cymbals so just welded pieces together to make some Frankenstein kinda thing. That was a bad idea and I can speak from experience when I say “don’t weld old cymbals together to make new cymbals” – They snap and they fly at you and your friends. Yeah, so I was dressed as an overweight, retired Spiderman and I think someone else dressed as a hoof? It wasn’t worth going to, but we built a reputation.

Obviously the name ‘Totally Unicorn’ stands out, especially in relation to the type of music you play. How did the name come about?
It’s kind of a long story but Mike is deeply involved in a local medieval society and it was the name of his steed. Oh… short story.

You seem to play interstate shows pretty regularly; when was the first time you played outside NSW, and what made you think then was the right moment to do so?
I think we first went interstate was our “Raise Your Horn Tour” when we’d written 12 minutes of material, but we just played the intro 3 times and told Dad jokes to get it up to 20 minutes. Once Drew had rehearsed enough jokes about “a cheeseburger for the ride home”, we knew we were ready for the big time.

A lot of people seem to remember you guys getting kicked out of your own show at the Novotel Beach Bar a while back. First off, care to clear up what really happened at that show?
While we were playing, Drew de-robed to his underwear, ran out the back and dived onto a patron’s table knocking their beers to the ground. Then he fell off the table, rolling around in broken glass. From memory then he ran back inside and was bleeding on people and swinging on this balcony thing. Security’s all “put your clothes back on and stop goosing around” or words to that effect. I think he refused, or the set ended or something? Either way, Heavy Heavy Low Low played after us and they were good.

(Click here to see a picture from the gig, which should perfectly sum up the venue’s appreciation of Totally Unicorn’s performance)

In a few weeks you’re touring with Let Me Down Jungleman, who obviously have a really different sound to Totally Unicorn. Do you think it’s good to have contrasting bands on a lineup, rather than a few bands who sound similar?
They’re a really good band that we’re proud to be touring with, and we usually try to play with bands in different genres. It breaks up the night and hopefully you get to hear something cool and new.

Last week you released the video for “Daddy’s Stabby Surprise,” which was pretty much immediately removed from Youtube. Is there some kind of pride in that honour for you?
Not for me personally. More disgrace I suppose….

It seemed like you would have had a lot of fun making the video. Approximately what percentage of the video did you spend drunk?
I was drunk about 9 hours before I got to the set and naked about 10 minutes after I arrived. I think the other dudes were already half cut too cos they’d been filming all day. I would say drunk for 70% of the clip over 3 days – cos some of us had to work…

(To see the video, click here – WARNING: not for the faint of heart!)

The band was involved in managing the ‘Stay Frosty’ punk night at Cooneys. Are there plans for that to continue in some way, or did that get shelved along with N.E.D after the problems with the venue?
Yeah, Drew and I were putting those shows on for about 6 months I think. We were having a good time with it but after Cooneys went to shit, we tried The Beach Bar and got kicked out of there as well so I think if we start it up again, we’ll have to do it in our own venue where we’ve got the freedom to make it exactly what we want.

In light of the recent upheavals in the Wollongong music community – for instance, the closure of the Oxford; Cooneys, The Brewery and Hostage cancelling their local music nights; the Patch opening to bands, and 5 Crown Lane relaunching – what are your thoughts on local music in this town? Do you think it’s in good shape, or is it struggling?
The Brewery finished up? That sucks… $12 jugs – I like it there. But I dunno if it’s good or bad dude. We always complain that it’s shit here but I think it is what we make of it, and unless people support it, it will always die.

What could be done, or changed, to support live music in Wollongong?
You said it in a nutshell… support it. That, and making sure it’s run by people who give a shit about the music rather than cashing in on it.

Finish this sentence; Wollongong live music is…
probably out there… somewhere…

Where can people buy your EP?
From our Big Cartel and from our website/s

Besides your show with Oh Sleeper, The Chariot and MJK at the end of April, are there any other local shows coming up?
Not that we’re allowed to announce yet, no. So yes.

Grab Totally Unicorn’s ‘Horse Hugger’ EP from their Bigcartel site. Totally Unicorn kick off ‘The Dick Party tour!’ at Canberra’s Bar 32 on April 6th and Sydney’s Red Rattler on April 8th with Let Me Down Jungleman. See all the tour dates here. Closer to home, Totally Unicorn also play The Harp Hotel on April 24 with The Chariot, Oh Sleeper and Mary Jane Kelly.

Totally Unicorn – Daddy’s Stabby Surprise

Totally Unicorn – Cool Dads With Cool Sons

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