A. Swayze & The Ghosts fit a post-punk aesthetic, donning hard eyeliner, cropped leather, and occasionally bleached mohawks on stage.
A. Swayze & The Ghosts are possibly the best thing to come out of Tasmania. The band solidified their mark on the homeland, touring the nation non-stop before embarking on a UK stint last year. Now, The Ghosts boast a live set that’s fraught with discord and manic movement, mostly thanks to frontman Andrew Swayze, a towering wildcat with a stage presence that hooks you in from the get-go.
With not much time in-between heavy touring and the accompanying shenanigans, the band came back, ready to jump into the studio and record their debut album Paid Salvation. And at long last, it’s finally here.
A Swayze’s debut blisters from the outset. It’s Not Alright bleeds ’80s Aussie garage punk, filled with echoes of God’s underground classic My Pal. It challenges phallogocentric government policy, pointing a finger at the gendered inequalities holding back the nation. Just like Idles do in the UK, A. Swayze & The Ghosts merge punk power with contemporary problems through a lens critical of toxic masculinity.
It’s Not Alright delves deeper into the difficulties Tasmanian women face in attaining abortions. With a clear lack of resources and hospital funding on the island, many women have to fly to Sydney for the procedure, often feeling uncomfortable along the journey.
“So many women tell me about this terrible shit they have to deal with. It’s got to be talked about more. A big intention of that track was to be able to speak to young men, make them question their own behaviour and how they view women,” Andrew Swayze said in an NME interview.
“I could potentially influence someone and stop them from putting a woman through unnecessary shit.”
Suddenly, a hard-hitting track that the band released as a single back in 2018, has now re-surfaced on Swayze’s debut LP – and so it should! It fucking rips. Andrew commits himself to chaos and Hendrik Wipprech’s guitar works a fast barrage of Fugazi-like riffage.
On Connect to Consume, Swayze offer up an examination of the modern epidemic of social media obsession. The track’s more commercial leanings paid off, landing it a spot on the updated soundtrack of Tony Hawk’s Pro-Skater 1 + 2 video game. Of course, there’s a subtle irony to the idea that a track which critiques generational consumerism and digital networking ended up on the soundtrack for a video game.
If the pandemic wasn’t happening, tracks like Marigold are ones we’d love to go nuts to – and I’m sure some will give it their best shot. The band have just announced that they’re playing three COVID-safe shows across their home state over the next two months. Sticking true to their OG supporters, Tassie occupants are in for a treat here. Can you imagine sitting down for an A. Swayze gig, but? Fuck, you’d have to sew me to the seat.
The title track to the debut LP is introduced with an edgy Sleaford Mods-esque drum beat. Paid Salvation howls at rhythmic speed, lashing at authority and immoral power placement. If the Mods are the UK’s flagbearers of authenticity, then A. Swayze are the voice of reason for the Aussies all over.
The punk outfit approach the tracks through a consistent angle of struggle and disempowerment. There’s Mess of Me, with the quirk of Elvis Costello running like the flare of emotion when everything starts going to shit. When we can’t trust the papers and overt media control is constantly trying to deconstruct the truth: “There’s nothing we can do!” From Rich to News, A. Swayze lay down the enduring divide in all aspects of the wider economic, social, and political landscapes.
Beaches is the clear standout track, a belter that tears through with Andrew’s voice hitting new levels that verge on hardcore screamo. “Silence to the animals,” Swayze cries. Again, the band are contextualising contemporary environmental issues in this fucked-up world of ours, considering the destruction of life that surrounds us. The track takes an eerie turn with echoing reverberations that bind like a lattice, then rupture back into the chorus of a nuclear explosion.
A. Swayze are twisted at times like Viagra Boys. “We’re gonna hold our hearts and fuck all night,” Swayze repeats on Cancer, before bounding into album closer Evil Eyes, which lasts for a short and sweet 1 minute and 59 seconds, before, in a snap offering reminiscent of a real gig, the whole thing is suddenly over.
A. Swayze & The Ghosts finished off their 2017 self-titled EP leaving us in pure awe, with enough potential to be one of the best bands in Australia. With Paid Salvation, we’re still hooked.
Paid Salvation is out now, grab your copy here.
A. Swayze & The Ghosts Tour Dates
Saturday, October 17 – Uni Bar, Hobart
Saturday, October 31 – Royal Oak, Launceston
Saturday, November 7 – Pub Rock, Devonport
For more info and tickets, head here.