Scab Baby are a hard-hitting and energetic two-piece band hailing from the Northern suburbs of Wollongong. Consisting of Tom Jones (lead vocals/guitar) and Thomas Darlington (backing vocals/drums), Scab Baby are an up-and-coming band sure to send shockwaves through your sound systems. Having formed in mid-2017, the duo have already played with the likes of The Chats, Totty, Good Doogs, Voiid and Hoon and even played at the Yours and Owls Festival of 2018. Early 2019 saw the release of their debut album ‘Scab Baby II’ and we are proud to now be premiering their music video, ‘Happy Daze’.
Today I caught up with Jones in an interview to discuss all things Scab Baby, influences, and future projects.
JACK: Let’s talk beginnings. Tell us the origin story of Scab Baby and how you and Tom met.
TOM: That’s a funny one. Tom and I met out at the front of Rad Bar almost two years ago after going to the same shows—mainly Space Boys and Hoon ones. Once we realised that both of us were dancing the weirdest out of everyone, we became friends. We talked many times when we were out about having a jam but never really got around to it. After a few months of seeing each other out, we eventually caught up at a Space Boys house party and drunkenly decided to meet up and have a jam in the morning at my place—which, surprisingly, we ended up remembering and carrying out. We jammed two songs straight away—which you would know as ‘Sludge Pop’ and ‘Dickdragger’—and instantly realised we had something special going on. We’ve been best band buddies ever since.
‘Sludge Pop’ and ‘Dickdragger’ have been fan favourites for a long time and have played the rounds at most of their live gigs. With the former appearing as a single and the latter being released within their debut self-titled EP (both in 2018), fans can thrash out to these tracks in the comfort of their own homes or in the mosh pit at one of Scab Baby’s live shows. ‘Dickdragger’ has quickly become an anthem among the Wollongong punk music scene with the duo drawing in huge crowds with the song and sing-a-longs to the hook line “I smell scum and I can smell it on you”.
JACK: That’s pretty sweet! So you guys pretty much wrote some of your most well-known songs right off the bat of getting together.
TOM: Yeah, pretty much man. I had a lot of riff ideas for songs and, when we jammed, we would just jump between them and record them on my phone (sometimes up to 40 minutes long). We would later listen back to them, sus out what were the best bits, and then write songs from that. Tom’s got a unique drum style that would allow us to do that. It was my favourite part about it.
JACK: Has that been the way you guys write all your other songs?
TOM: Sometimes. More recently we haven’t had enough time to jam so I’ve been writing songs at home and, when we get a chance to jam, we would just thrash them out until they sounded good. Most of the time I can only write lyrics over Tom drumming. It’s how I find I write vocal melodies. They’re usually just sounds at first and then they form into words over time.
JACK: Speaking of lyrics and vocal melodies, how did you come about writing the well-known “I smell scum” hook line?
TOM: Haha, Draggs came out with a song called ‘C-SCUM’ and I liked the sounds of the words. So I thought I’d try to use it in a song.
JACK: Do you often use other bands/artists to draw inspiration from? And who/what would you say are some of your biggest influences when it comes to music?
TOM: Oh damn, that’s a huge list. Yeah, definitely. I draw a lot of influence from most of the old classics bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, ACDC, Nirvana, Green Day, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, etc. But, once I turned 16, I started getting into a lot more Australian bands like Lunatics On Pogosticks, Amyl and the Sniffers, Dumb Punts, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, The Murlocs, Draggs, Cloacas, Mini Skirt, etc., which then led me to more local bands like Orphans, Hoon, Space Boys, and The Satanic Togas. After that, I think I’ve just lost count on how many bands I’m into now. I’ve recently made a list of all the Australian bands I’ve ever heard of, met, seen, or have associations with on Scab Baby’s social media. I looked them up on their social medias, listened to their music, and researched where they come from. The list is over five A4 pages long now.
JACK: Wow. That’s huge. Coming back to origins, how did you come up with the name Scab Baby?
TOM: It was originally the name for a song. I think it was meant to be ‘Dickdragger’’s original name. We both decided it was a cool band name. We looked it up to see if anyone else had that band name and no one did. There’s nothing in this world called Scab Baby. Try googling it. Besides us, it only comes up with how to get rid of scabs off babies.
JACK: Nice. You guys have a super unique name, as well as a unique sound. How would you describe your sound?
TOM: Cheers man. I don’t know, aye. I guess, due to the bizarre genre changes in and between songs, the closest thing we could come up with was psych surf garage sludge punk. It’s a bit silly but oh well.
JACK: So, the infamous Scab Baby baby can often be seen with you at your live gigs but it’s been known to go missing every now and again. What kind of anecdotes can you tell us about that?
TOM: Hahah the Scab Babyyy. Yeah, it usually doesn’t really go missing. We just get drunk and forget to grab it from venues. I mean, we have had two instances where something sus actually happened. One of them being up in Newcastle where a bunch of drunk girls took it and pretty much held it for ransom, hahah. They sent us pics of it at another pub saying we have to “come and find them if we want it back”. They ended up giving us the address to their place after ages and we went out on an adventure into the middle of Newy—drunk as—at 1 in the morning. It was so weird. We got the baby back and just went home.
JACK: Haha, that’s crazy. Following the release of your self-titled EP, what can you tell us about your recent debut album? How did all the songs come about and what was it like having it recorded and then releasing it?
TOM: We wrote the songs off ‘Scab Baby II’ ages ago. We’re pretty much writing albums trying to catch up with all of our old songs. It was fun recording them. We did it through our mate Kyle (Jory) who runs Angry Dog Records and who helped us out with all the tape stuff and everything else.
JACK: Yeah, I know you guys are close with James (Andrews) and Kyle. How did you guys come about with working with Angry Dog Records on the album?
TOM: Well, Kyle and Jamesy had the idea for Angry Dog Records ages ago. It was only recently that Kyle’s decided to properly carry through with it and he’s already sorting out, like, 6 Wollongong bands’ stuff for them. Like releases and shows. He’s got a website up as well now too.
Angry Dog Records is a relatively new record label—having their first official release with TUFF Mustard’s ‘Roadhouse Spaghetti & Other Delights’ in 2017. Since then, they have gone on to record and release music for the likes of Naughty Naughty & the Good Boys, Scab Baby, and Jarrah Ma.
JACK: So, the album is chocked full of great hits but the one track that really hit me hard was your song ‘Burn the House Down’. It’s very emotional and mellow, compared to all your other songs. What’s the song about and how did you and Tom come about writing this one?
TOM: Oh, haha, I was never going to release that song under Scab Baby. It’s just a sooky song I wrote a year ago about a personal family tragedy that I just kept to myself for ages. Tom’s the one that egged me on to start playing it at shows after we jammed on it once.
JACK: Yeah, I noticed you play some different songs during your solo sets. Is that something you plan to develop further or are you mainly looking at focusing on Scab Baby?
TOM: Yeah. I have a side solo project I’m working on now and recording currently. It has a lot of keyboard in it.
JACK: Wow. That’s something to look forward to!
JACK: So, back to your album. It’s kind of got songs with varying genres and kind of diverges from what you guys have previously released. Was that change in sound planned or was that just a natural progression in your music?
TOM: Yeah, that wasn’t planned. We chucked some old style songs in the new albums but, since we have written so many songs since we started (at least over 25), we chucked a few of the more recently written ones in because I think we were too impatient to wait for them to come out in 2 albums’ time. Haha.
JACK: Does that mean we might be able to expect a second album?
JACK: You guys have released a music video for your song ‘Happy Daze’. What can you tell us about the track and about the video?
TOM: Haha. You’d know more about the video than me, Jack. Haha. The song’s about getting stoned and having a real chill time and getting paranoid. And the video, we got you to record a bunch of little silly clips of us running around the beach and you edited some sick live vids of us at Rad. It’s pretty funny.
The ‘Happy Daze’ music video collates footage from 2018 (shot the day after Scab Baby played a support set for The Chats) and footage from Scab Baby and TUFF Mustard’s double album release show earlier this year. With shots transitioning between Scab Baby singing at the beach, hanging out in a suburban landscape, playing at a live music venue, and chilling on a couch at home, the video pays homage to classic old-school surf/skate punk aesthetics and 420 culture. The retro vibes are accentuated by the VHS-style video effects, clothing, and set decorations. Also featured in the video are two The Chats t-shirts (designed by Matisse Langbein). Check out the video below.*
JACK: Since forming as a band, Scab Baby has really made a name for itself having played with many huge acts and even gaining a spot to play at Yours and Owls Festival last year. Did you ever expect to get to where you are today as a band?
TOM: Definitely not. We were just having fun playing as many gigs as possible. Definitely wouldn’t have expected us to be where we’re at now.
JACK: What can people expect from Scab Baby in the future? Or what do you, yourself, expect from Scab Baby in the future?
TOM: We’re hoping to tour around Australia, release more albums, merch, and projects, and then hopefully tour internationally. We’ve only covered NSW, ACT, and VIC so far so it’d be mad to get into the other states.
JACK: Big plans. I can definitely see that happening for you guys. Speaking of which, I know you guys are going to be heading to Lennox Head for Beach Sounds Fest, as well as heading down to Melbourne. What can you tell us about these?
TOM: Aw yeah. We’re heading up to Lennox for the Beach Sounds Festival for a night playing with some sick bands like Candy and Liquid Face. Then we’re heading back home to do a show a few days later in Wollongong. The next day, we’re down in Huskisson doing a show at the Community Hall and after that we’re going straight down to Melbourne for a week’s worth of shows from April 10-16. Going to be mad.
JACK: That’s so sick. Do you guys have any routines, rituals, or things you just have to do whenever you tour?
TOM: Hahah. Yeah, we always play an aggressive game of spotto.
JACK: Haha, of course! Well, that’s all the questions I’ve got for you. Thanks so much for sticking around and chatting for so long.
TOM: That’s all good man! Cheers for the interview, Jack. It’s been fun.
You can catch Scab Baby at Beach Sounds Festival on March 30th or at the Illawarra Music Foundry on April 6th before they head down south. Be sure to follow Scab Baby online.