15 Feb 2019

Aussie teens The Chats on going viral with 'Smoko', and touring with Josh Homme

From Music 101, 2:40 pm on 15 February 2019

The Chats are a Queensland punk trio who found viral success in 2017 with their song 'Smoko' - an ode to the Aussie tea break -  and its accompanying DIY video. Since then they’ve toured internationally and can count people like Josh Homme of Queens of The Stone Age as fans.

The Chats

The Chats Photo: © Zo Damage

The three members are now nineteen, and have only been a band for around two years. They're still still fuelled by the kind of nihilistic humour that made 'Smoko' catch on around the world- some other song titles are 'Mum Stole My Darts', 'Bus Money' and 'VB Anthem'.  

Wile visiting RNZ The Chats told me about their rise to fame, which they got an inkling of when a news crew visited them in their Queensland shed.

Eamon Sandwith [vocals, bass]: “When we put the video for ‘Smoko’ on YouTube we barely had any fans. We couldn’t even put on a show, we’d just be supporting someone and there’d be like ten people there.

“It was just surreal to see that so many people seemed to like us. I couldn’t wrap my head around it.”

Matt Boggis [drums]: “It was up for ages with like three hundred views and we’d be like ‘whoa three hundred people have seen it!’”

ES: “We’d check every day and be like ‘it got another five views guys!”

‘Smoko’ has now had almost six million views on YouTube. Dave Grohl [Foo Fighters, Nirvana] was so taken with it he showed Josh Homme, who showed Iggy Pop. Homme later invited the band to support Queens Of the Stone Age on an Australian tour.

While out one night Eamon got a taste of the rockstar lifestyle when he went to leave a restaurant to smoke, beer in hand.

“The staff said ‘you can’t do that, you can’t take glass outside’. I was like ‘yeah that’s cool, no worries’.

“And then Josh Homme magically shows up behind me, and was like [Eamon adopts a gruff voice] ‘he can do whatever he likes man’.

“And the staff were like [cheerfully] ‘oh sure, go for it man!”

“He’s just got this aura about him. He walked up to the bar and went ‘what tequila you got here?’ and they were like ‘oh we’ve got this type’ and he’s like ‘not good enough’.

“So they’d have to go into the pantry and find one he liked.”

International touring appeals to the band (they’re playing eight shows around New Zealand then heading to the UK later this year), because it  means leaving their home in Australia’s Sunshine Coast.

When I ask them about the music scene there the answer is swift: “pretty poor” says guitar player Josh Price.

Eamon: “It’s us and maybe two or three other bands.”

Josh: “There’s no venues."

ES: “It’s a real surfing town.”

JP: “You’d think they’d be into rock music but they’re all into like, DJs.”

ES: “And dudes with dreadlocks smacking acoustic guitars.”

The Chats formed at their high school, hanging out in the music room during lunch breaks (they eventually recorded their first EP at a different campus). Did they have fans in the student body?

ES: “Nah, no one really liked what we were doing.”

JP: “People would rather go to nightclubs than watch a rock show.”

ES: “We were universally hated. It was great.”

Matt: “We’d be supporting DJs at house parties. People would be like ‘get off, we want to see the DJ!’”

The Chats second EP Get This In Ya is out now. 

Remaining NZ tour dates:
Saturday 16th February - Otago University, Dunedin
Wednesday 20th February - Yonder, Queenstown
Thursday 21st February - Lincoln University, Christchurch