Midway through Body Type’s new single ‘The Charm’, the band let rip with a guitar solo that could single-handedly incite a moshpit. The song, out this Thursday, was written in response to a music industry bore who once told the group that their charm would wear off if they didn’t practise playing their instruments. The quartet hit back at this unsolicited advice, the ferocious riffing doubling as a final, triumphant middle finger.
“That is me challenging the male ego and trying to emulate it from a female perspective,” guitarist and vocalist Sophie McComish explains with a grin over Zoom. “That’s all that it’s trying to do – the wankiest, shreddiest moment I could possibly write.”
‘The Charm’ defies sexist viewpoints with lyrical eye-rolls and earworm hooks; “does it exist on a subconscious plane?” they ask at one point, before quipping: “Or am I making an excuse for your behaviour again?” It’s a stellar latest taste of the group’s upcoming debut album, ‘Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising’, dropping in May.
“The music industry is funny like that, isn’t it? It feels like there’s this chain of boxes that you need to tick, people you need to impress, before anything can happen”
When NME speaks to McComish and guitarist-vocalist Annabel Blackman, the band – rounded out by drummer Cecil Coleman and bassist-vocalist Georgia Wilkinson-Derums – are currently holed up together in Wollongong suburb Port Kembla. Wilkinson-Derums had previously been in Perth, unable to join her bandmates, but they’ve now reunited – able to rehearse, write and perform together in the same room for the first time in several years.
Body Type first formed in Sydney in 2016. McComish had just started to write songs and Coleman was learning drums, so they decided to make music together, and were later introduced to Blackman and Wilkinson-Derums through mutual pals. “We were really lucky to find each other as Sydney can be a very sparse place where it’s hard to make friends,” Blackman says now. “When you’re a bit older and you’ve never played instruments really, it’s hard to put all those pieces together.”
“I guess we wanted to see what it felt like to make music with other people who didn’t know how to do it,” adds McComish.
Gigging across Sydney, Body Type earned a loyal fanbase with wild, no-holds-barred shows, which in turn secured them bookings further afield in the UK and US. The straightforwardly titled ‘EP1’ and ‘EP2’ followed in 2018 and 2019, released via Partisan Records – home of IDLES and Fontaines D.C. – and Inertia Music.
In 2020, the band headed to the studio to record their debut LP alongside Jonathan Boulet of the band Party Dozen. Body Type were at a point where they were feeling weary of the industry and the hoops they had to jump through to get their art out there. “If we had it our way…” Blackman begins, “We’d just spit it out!” McComish finishes.
“The music industry is funny like that, isn’t it?” she muses. “It feels like there’s this chain of boxes that you need to tick, people you need to impress, before anything can happen.” She adds: “That’s not to sell the industry short, we’ve got a lot of amazing people around us who help us reach our audiences.”
“We’re our own little machine in a lot of ways,” says Blackman, “and pretty independent most of the time.”
“We wanted to see what it felt like to make music with other people who didn’t know how to do it”
The brisk recording sessions for ‘Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising’ turned out to be everything the frustrated quartet needed. “It only took us like eight days, we just went in and smashed it out and completed a project together completely self-funded,” says McComish. “I keep using the word empowering, but it did feel very empowering.”
Body Type initially wanted to put the record out the year they recorded it, but they were foiled by the global pandemic and the inability to tour it. It was ultimately worth the wait, the band say, to release it on Poison City Records. “They care a lot about fostering longevity in their relationships with the artists that they work with. And that is just so appealing to me,” McComish says of the Melbourne label also home to Camp Cope and Cable Ties.
And crucially for Body Type, Poison City supports a lot of non-male bands. “Heaps of their bands on their roster are all women, which I feel like it’s so rare,” says McComish. Representation is important to the band, with McComish recalling seeing the Melbourne trio Dianas performing live and feeling like “playing really cool rock music” was now a path open to her.
So far, Body Type’s path has led up to the exhilarating debut album ‘Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising’. It’s a wickedly smart collection of smashers that flirt with shoegaze (‘Futurism’), cantering punk (‘Buoyancy’) and slinky rock (‘Hot Plastic Punishment’). Among the musical influences on the record, McComish singles out The Strokes and Blur. “I was listening to a lot of ‘man rock’,” she says, “and trying to occupy the space that is so stereotypically male.”
The jangling indie tune ‘Flight Path’ was inspired by a trip to Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, the band spending an evening at the rock’n’roll hotel for Wilkinson-Derums’ birthday. It opens with the savage put-down of “this absolute prick of a man” McComish encountered in the foyer: “Champagne superman, give me a shout / Spit dripping ego tripping oily hair and signet ring.”
But the evening wasn’t all lost, as later on, at the table directly over from them, the group spied Nick Cave. “We were within earshot, so some of the lyrics in the song are things that I heard him say,” McComish reveals. “He was there with his gorgeous partner, Susie Bick, who’s ‘the vampire’s wife’, a lyric in the song.” A typical night at Chateau Marmont, then.
Elsewhere on the record, Body Type are inspired by modern art and literature. On ‘Sex and Rage’ – named after late author Eve Babitz’s novel – McComish recalls her dispiriting experience witnessing a sea of selfie-takers in the Louvre museum in Paris: “There’s a mosh pit for the Mona Lisa smile”. It’s a song about “finding passion amidst feverish banality”, she said in a statement upon its release: a reminder to “remember the feelings that set you aflame, and the things that make those feelings happen”.
Body Type are in the thick of promotion for their first album, but they’ve practically got the next one in the bag. The three band members who were together during lockdown kept up with writing and rehearsals, which “was sanity-saving,” says McComish, and productive: Blackman reveals “we’ve made this much music that it could be an album”. The songs they’ve been working on “align with the theme of ‘The Charm’” – more reason to tune in when the single drops this week.
For the time being, though, Body Type are keeping busy with preparations for upcoming live shows. ‘Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising’ is a record that’s meant to be played to an audience – the high-octane cuts primed for sweaty clubs and festival stages, ‘The Charm’’s epic guitar solo in particular crying out for a full rockstar moment. The band are relishing their return to the stage – and focusing on getting combat fit for it.
“I feel like you have to build up your stamina again or something especially after two years of pandemic,” McComish says. “But it just felt really right.”
Body Type’s single ‘The Charm’ is out April 28. ‘Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising’ is out May 20 via Poison City Records