Tropical Fuck Storm have returned with ‘Legal Ghost’, the second single from their forthcoming third album.
It’s a sprawling, experimental cut originally from frontman Gareth Liddiard’s pre-Drones ‘Bong Odyssey’ project with Rui Pereira, recorded at the duo’s Fremantle home back in the ’90s and recently reissued.
Liddiard spoke to NME Australia about the new single – and why the band chose to rework the decades-old recording.
“It felt like something we could do. And I mean, no one ever heard it. It’s not like we were revisiting ‘Stairway to Heaven’ or something like that,” he laughed.
“TFS has always come back around to that Bong Odyssey thing. If you’ve heard the Bong Odyssey stuff, it’s pretty out there, it’s more out there than The Drones. So we’re back to being that weird again.”
Listen to ‘Legal Ghost’ below:
Written in 1998, while Liddiard and Pereira were living in a revolving sequence of sharehouses together in Fremantle, Liddiard says ‘Legal Ghost’ was the first song he felt was of a higher standard “as far as songwriting goes”.
“It wasn’t just all about jumping up and down, screaming and making weird, horrible noises. It was more songwriting in a Merle Haggard or Bob Dylan sense.”
Lyrically, the track centres around themes of mortality and early death, and its impact on a sense of place. “It doesn’t really matter who you sleep with now, you’re just a legal ghost / It doesn’t really matter who you talk to now, you’re just a legal ghost,” sing the band during its haunting refrain.
“Some people are just kind of marked for death. They’re not going to get far. Some people just aren’t built for that,” Liddiard says. “That’s what the song is about.”
“Me and Rui basically spent the ’90s living together in sharehouses all over Fremantle and Perth, and they’ve all been demolished now. We were always the last tenants in shitholes that were going to get knocked over. It’s weird as far as the sense of going back somewhere and getting a vibe for it. It’s hard with Perth, because they fucking bulldoze it all the time.”
‘Legal Ghost’ will arrive as a limited 7″ single in September via Flightless Records – pre-orders are available here. The track will be paired with a cover of Talking Heads’ own meditation on mortality, ‘Heaven’. Liddiard says the 1979 ‘Fear of Music’ track has taken on a new meaning for him over the last few months.
“Before the pandemic, that song, to me, kind of meant if you want utopia or perfection, it’s boring. Like, heaven is a place where nothing ever happens. But then come the pandemic, everyone’s fucking lost their jobs and it’s looking kind of grim. That heaven is a place where nothing happens, that doesn’t sound like a negative anymore. It sounds great,” he says.
“I would prefer boring at the moment, because as it stands, we’re fucking unemployed along with everybody else. So, it’s an interesting song. It really changed meanings really quick and really full-on.”
Back in March, the band shared the first single from the forthcoming album, ‘Suburbiopia’, premiering the video on NME Australia. The following month, they shared a cover of The Saints’ 1977 track ‘This Perfect Day’ featuring Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers and Sean Powell of Surfbort.
The band’s last album was ‘Braindrops’ back in 2019.