Howlin’ Threads

 




Sydney outfit Howlin Threads upcoming EP Of the Sea is one of Munster’s most anticipated releases of 2022. Coming off 2020s self titled EP, the new offering from the Threads features a killer credits list, featuring cameos from Penny Ikinger, Deniz Tek, J.J McCann and Kent Steedman. It’s a wonderful mix of 80s Sydney rock and classic Detroit punk. Singer/guitarist Dylan Webster spoke to us via the email machine.

Munster: Prior to Howlin Threads starting, which other bands have you played in?

Dylan: I played guitar in Newcastle band ‘The Fools’ 1990-98. After that folded, I played in a few local bands with Fools drummer Adam Fermo. He’s also on this new EP. I jammed with a great Wollongong band ‘Mudlungs’ in late 98, but unfortunately I had to quit because I joined the Navy. That was a cool group. I was right into Sonic’s Rendezvous Band at the time, and so were they. I regret not being able to continue with them.

Munster:  How did the Threads start?

Dylan: I had a bunch of songs I wanted to record so I started working them up from mid-2017. We ended up recording eight tracks as a demo in 2019. But I thought they turned out well, so five of these songs were released as a debut EP, and another two from this session ended up on the 2 x track 7” vinyl single Edge on the World.

Munster: Have you always been based in the Wollongong area?

Dylan: No, never. I’m based in Yass. Howlin’ Threads bass player Matt Houston lives in Wollongong. So far, we’ve only played gigs in Wollongong and Canberra.

Munster: How big a thrill was it opening for Radio Birdman on their reunion tour with the Fools?

Dylan: It was unbelievable to be selected for that tour. Birdman have since played a lot of shows, all around the world, but that tour was special and unique because it was the first ever reunion tour since they’d split up in the late 70s. We were huge fans. We all learnt to play based on Radios Appear! Absolutely dedicated. At the time we never thought we’d see Birdman re-form. There’d been so much build up to their reunion, and the Vivien Johnson biography did a lot reveal their story, to enhance the legend and myths. It was surreal to be on their stage with all the Birdman flags as a backdrop. Plus, MC5’s Wayne Kramer stood at my side of the stage watching us play.. just a few metres away! A once in a lifetime experience. I know the Powder Monkeys did the Melbourne support spot, and I’m sure they were as stoked as us to be part of that whole experience.

Munster: The last few years have been a bugger in terms of lockdowns, but you guys seem pretty busy, putting out a few releases over the last two years?

Dylan: It is essentially a slow burn recording project. Unfortunately, live shows aren’t really on the radar. We released the debut 5 x track ep plus a follow up 7” single in 2020, and the new 4 x track EP will be released this year. I’d like to be recording more prolifically, but it is tough to organise anything when the members of the group live so far from each other.

We also recently contributed to a European compilation release, a tribute to New Bomb Turks, put out by Heavy Medication Records. The track we covered was Professional Againster, and Lenny Curley from Tumbleweed joined us on lead guitar for it.



Munster: The latest release, Of the Sea, has a killer guest line up, how did that come about?

Dylan: We recorded the track and I invited some special guests to contribute. Penny’s vocals are superb. I had tried doing vocals a few ways, and the guide vocal cut I did was deliberately attempting to sound like Sonic Smith, but I thought it would be better with a female vocalist. I just didn’t ever think it would be someone as highly regarded as Penny Ikinger. This track was always meant for a Deniz Tek style lead break, so I was stoked that he was happy to contribute. It worked out beautifully. The outro lead line he did is exceptional.

Munster: You wrote the songs for this EP, what was it like writing a song for someone else to sing, such as having Penny sing lead vocals? Did you write that song, of the sea, with her in mind?

Dylan: I wrote this track back in 2013. It was one from the first batch of songs I wrote when I started to get back into music after a 15 year break. I tried recording it once in 2016, then jammed on it a bit for the debut EP, but it never hit the mark I wanted for it. I’m not a singer, I only do vocals because someone’s gotta do it. I’d much rather just write em and play guitar. When I was organising this new EP I asked James McCann if he could recommend a female vocalist for this specific track.. I was surprised in a good way when he suggested Penny Ikinger.

I got in contact with Penny and sent her a demo version I did in my garage. And she said yes! Anyone who does home demos knows they can be pretty poor quality, so I was super nervous to send her something I’d done so roughly at home. I genuinely thought she’d hear it then decline. But we got talking, and I sent her demos for all the songs I wanted to include on the EP. I was stoked when Penny agreed to provide vocals for all of the tracks. So, the EP really took a different and much better course than anything I could have planned. I’ll be forever grateful to have someone as gifted as Penny on my tracks.

Munster: What was the process for the recording, were the guest’s parts done on files from their home and then sent to you for mixing?

Dylan: We recorded the EP one day in Newcastle. Just drums, bass, rhythm guitars and guide vocals. I used this as the basis for inviting contributions from our special guests. Kent Steedman, Deniz Tek, and Brent Williams all recorded at their home studios. James McCann and Penny Ikinger recorded their contributions together one day at Hothouse Audio in St Kilda. I’m very grateful to Craig Harnath for his assistance and generosity to make this happen for us.

Munster: It’s a killer release, good mix of Detroit 60s/70 rock n roll and 80s Sydney rock for my money.

Dylan: Thanks. I’m very happy with how it turned out. That music style is what I do, it’s what I like to listen to. Each track has a unique feel. James McCann’s slide guitar and harmonica tracks are next level. Perfect. I asked Kent Steedman if he could ‘fill some spaces’ and he absolutely ripped it apart. Classic Kent lead lines, simply brilliant. Brent offered two amazing separate tracks for his keys, one a piano line and the other with Hammond. I couldn’t choose, so I used both! I really like how Deniz Tek’s clean, undistorted lead line cuts through so clearly… such a cool surf guitar lead break that is perfect for this track.

Munster: It must have been a great complement for you guys having all these guests on as I know some of them personally and I know for a fact they don/t deal with time wasters?

Dylan: Definitely. I’m a big fan of all of our special guests, so to have them on my songs is a big deal for me. I wanted different contributors for each track, different sounds, and fortunately all of them were up for it. I provided the most limited guidance for what I needed, and just let em do their thing. Each guest’s performance is amazing. It was thrilling to receive and hear each contribution because they all added so much, and transformed each track. Pip Hoyle was also lined up to contribute keys, but unfortunately he was busy with his role in NSW Health’s COVID response and couldn’t get it done.

Munster: You’ve had a few releases out, a few singles and EPs, is an LP in the works?

Dylan: I have a batch of songs ready to go. Enough for two LPs. Just gotta organise it all.

Munster: You have an internet radio gig as well, the Yassville Sykyline, tell the reader about that.

Dylan: I started the Yassville Skyline radio show just for fun. Community radio. I wanted a program where I could play whatever I pleased. I primarily wanted the show to be a platform to promote and support other bands (bands you won’t hear on commercial radio). The program is currently live streamed on yassfm.org every Saturday night 6-8pm.

Munster: What’s next? Trip to Melbourne on the cards?

Dylan: I’d love to play in Melbourne, unfortunately it just hasn’t happened yet. So many great venues and great bands down there.

Munster: Favorite LP to end on, if you have one.

Dylan: That’s tough! I’ve been working through all the Rolling Stones records for the past few months. I reckon I could narrow it down to a few most influential records, maybe: Curtis Mayfield Superfly, MC5 Kick Out The Jams, Stooges Funhouse, Deniz Tek Outside, Birdman’s Radios Appear.

(Editors note: forgot to put Fall in between Favorite and LP for last question. oh well).


 

Comments

  1. 'Les règlements sont faits pour les médiocres et les indécis; rien de grand ne se fait sans l'imagination.' Napoleon Bonaparte

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