Tuesday, 7 March 2017


Flesh World were a band that made an indelible impression on me in my early to mid twenties. I was lucky to share many bills with them in The Zingers, share a member, tour twice interstate together and hang out almost daily to talk shit and get loaded.

However, it’s personally hard to accept their show tomorrow as a ‘reunion’. Vocalist Liam Osborne and guitarist Jared Styles are going to be joined by fill-in members from Whipper and Tyrannamen. When I remember Flesh World, I think of the loose, frantic drums of James White, who was later replaced by Lee Parker (formerly Insurgents/Teargas). And picking up from their original bassist Luke Dawson, the raunchy bass of Liam Haryono (formerly Pathetic Human), strumming impulsive riffs, transcending dark tones fitting of a psych meeting surf menagerie. Perhaps I maintain jilted, arrogantly believing that I was one of few that really gave a shit about the band.

Flesh World were a pulverising force that felt organic. For a decent band of teenage nomads (the original lineup) from country Victoria, outside of an inner city network, seems weirdly as rare then compared to more so now. Bryce (The Zingers/Brando's Island) and I organised for them to play a house show at our loft. We were privy to a glorious mess and a friendship was formed. Lauding the rustbelt hardcore of Midwest America at this time, I probably felt Flesh World was as close as i'd get to witnessing something akin to the stoned, flanno drenched, long hair Die Kreuzen on public access TV.

717 A, our haven for misanthropy and some killer tunes. The first encounter with FW. Pictured: Luke (behind Liam) Liam O, James and Jared. Below, the fucking retarded flyer I made for the occasion

In their duration they were overtly compared to weirder or outsider US hardcore bands (ie. Die Kreuzen, Void, United Mutation). At a time of throwing loose change away to zines from overseas, you would read pointless shit differentiating the harder edge bands ‘ignorant’ of outside aesthetic invading their pissing circles, and the noisier, mostly forgettable, bands who were described as ‘anxiety’ conducing, ‘mysterious’ or consisting of ‘asexual’ nerds. It’s also no surprise Flesh World were ciphered through these shallow buzzwords. Thankfully, it’s not a concurrent fad, to accompany visual cultural appropriations that disregard any autonomy.

It wasn’t that Flesh World followed geographical blueprints of punk past or present. There was a deeper expression bubbling out of youthful angst. I was always impressed by the way  Liam O fit an inordinate amount words within a cacophony that dove seamlessly through breakneck and smoother riffs. The unpredictability of a clean or calamitous set appealed to my own knotted sense of confusion. It felt real from younger outsiders rather than an older, established demagogue of the scene.

In my opinion, and adding to their appeal, Flesh World left heads scratched and crowds frustrated. Little moments like Jared getting a couch cushion thrown at his head post-set within a cross-armed Brisbane crowd, by some dissatisfied mongoloid, indicated a divide.

In the period of The Zingers/Flesh World partnership, we probably took to our egos of un-welcomed deviants to an excessive level. Frequently we hung out and analysed our aesthetics, talked in terms of punk ideology and laughed our arses off. I conducted an interview with Liam and Jared that I was meant to print into some retro-like punk zine I never made. I had bought a new ink ribbon for my Olivetti for fuck sake. The length to go to imitate retro aesthetic feels pretty pointless now.

Naturally there where were boundaries that had to be broken. In my view, an incongruous dissatisfaction with hardcore may have contributed to Flesh World ultimately dissipating. I really have no memory of their final set. 

This is a thought I am perhaps squaring on Liam Osborne, who has orchestrated this 2017 show. Six years have passed, there are many different things we’ve all enjoyed since, but that loose, frenetic, vortex of desperate, youthful heat has seldom been matched live since. I don’t expect that energy to be matched tomorrow, hence my initial scepticism. I mean that sincerely out of respect though. Their killer Planned Obsolescence EP is probably sitting in disposable piles of those who neglected them live. And their unreleased EP, to be released on a cassette format, is somewhat unflattering.

Flesh World, a unique and critically underrated band, ripe for a coming-of-age. Below, the interview from 2011, and some questions I recently fired off at Liam about his thoughts on Flesh World, the past and the show tomorrow.


RICHARD: So, Flesh World. How when why did it start?
LIAM: How did it start; I kept badgering Jared to start a hardcore band because of the music I was listening to at the time. Where; in James’ shed in Woodend, since were country punk apparently. Why; Just wanted to play fast music akin to the music I was listening to and our other band wrapped up, which I was glad for. I just wanted to play something better, faster and angry.
JARED: Where are we?! Where; Woodend. Why; we had already played in two shit bands, so we might as well start something good. And how? Liam already said that.
L: Covered! I’ll just say it took a while to consolidate the lineup. We got James on drums because we’d seen him play in this band D.W. We’ve known him since high school and I was blown away by how good at drums he was. I thought he was perfect because he could do quick fills really well. We didn’t have a bass player for ages, so Luke also from D.W joined, which was only supposed to be temporary, which it turned out to be.

Liam O & Liam H
R: Talk about the first Flesh World gig.
J: It was my 19th birthday! Last minute addition to the bill.
L: It was in this really cool venue in Woodend that looks like old scout hall, with wood panels and logs. It looks really rustic. We played with a bunch of shit bands. We played our full demo. One of the many bad decisions in Flesh World, we chose to cover Annihilate This Week, by Black Flag. It was fun ha ha.

R: Coming from the sticks, what were your first impressions of Melbourne, playing shows here?
L: I guess that people latched onto the music we were making was surprising to me. No one had really seemed to appreciate our other bands. That being said, our other bands were pretty bad compared to Flesh World, so it was surprising people actually wanted us to come play shows. First impressions were good. We met a group of good people who had good taste, who had the same mindset we did. It slowly dawned on us, to me at least, that it is the most non-existent, putrid, cesspool, aka- the Melbourne conglomerate that calls itself a scene, filled with fucken idiots. Jared?
J: What was the question again? (laughter) Liam pretty much filled in the gaps. First impressions... were good. (laughter).

R: How do you feel about the demo tape now?
L: I look back and I prefer it, just because I didn’t like the vocal takes as much first, my voice sounded strained and a bit weak.  As I listen to it now, I appreciate it more.  Another good thing about that demo is that when listen back to it, I can hear other bands I listen to now that I didn’t necessarily listen to then. I can hear the sounds and how they’ve inadvertently influenced that tape.

R: What do you mean by you ‘prefer it.’     
L: As time’s past it’s a lot easier to feel detached from those vocal takes and not feel embarrassed by them, and appreciate it for what it is.
J: Theres a quality of sincerity in that demo.

R: How do you think it was received.
J: yeah really good, I didn’t think anyone would care besides our friends.
L: Because we put it on message boards before we made physical copies I think people got to appreciate the music for what it was, and not for who the people making the music were and the imagery associated with it. I think once we put a cover on it, it went a bit downhill from there! Because, we chose a grainy portrait of a man with a big dong, and people got lumped into a more hideous thing that it should have been. I still like that artwork, because it more encompasses where the name came from. It looks like a swingers or porno mag, and the name came from Twin Peaks, so I think it fits nicely and we always wanted to use 70’s imagery. As far as being called mysterious or asexual, I think it’s a bit of a bummer.

R: It’s obvious Flesh World has outside influences and it’s cool to see a good band with a limited scope on punk. Talk about how this applies to your approach.
L: Jared has always been influenced by more guitar wank music.
J: That’s true!
L: He’s always been into a lot of prog and psych and right now he’s getting into jazz in a big way. I think it’s good because you’ve got more to draw from. For example I remember reading in the LP reissue of the Koro demo, how they were influenced by King Crimson, as we have stated that we are.
R: Hardcore inspired solely by hardcore just tends to end up being flat rubbish.
L: Well you just fucken’ get bands who write songs called ‘hardcore for hardcore,’ which is like the worst shit ever. State that on the record! And you just get boring music.
J: How I got into a lot of good hardcore bands was hearing about how they liked the same music I liked when I was getting into music. Looking back at their music and connections to older bands was a lot more interesting than just punk I guess.

R: Do you feel on these regards that Flesh World is considered an outsider band, or does that term not even apply now?
J: Not personally, but others may felt that.
L: I think in the current climate, being called an outsider band is the best compliment you can get. I don’t want to fit in with hardcore idiots. But also I think some of the best hardcore bands were outsider bands like United Mutation and Tar Babies etc…
R: But that’s not drawing a comparison.
L: No, I’m just saying that the term ‘outsider’ applies to bands on the fringe of hardcore.

R: To what extent did you feel getting Liam from Pathetic Human on bass helped shape FW?
J: Liam’s a lot more open to new ideas and likes to jam.
L: It’s annoying for me, because a lot of the time in practice it’s just three dudes having these long jams and I’m just sitting there waiting to play songs. It awesome because he’s a great musician but it’s pretty fucken annoying as a singer!

R: Best and worst shows so far?
J: What was our worst show?
L: Maybe, one of our Brisbane shows. The one where we played at this awful place called Fat Louie’s.
J: Nah, that was like, top five!
L: It was awful in the fact that there were huge pauses in between songs, strings were breaking…
J: Foxy Lady interludes!
L: Jared kept playing Foxy Lady. No one liked us and there was about ten people in the crowd.
R: It was funny when you head butted that guy… and the music stopped.
L: I’ll explain; I was trying to make things more interesting, and as you said, I went in to throw some people around. And the music stopped, just as I lunged into this fucken’ guy.
R: Best show?                                           
J: One of my favorites is our first show with Liam (H) at Nat’s Warehouse.

R: That was with Insurgents yeah?
L: Yeah, first show with Insurgents in 2010.
J: It kind of proved to me what Liam brought to the band and why we were better for it.
L: And I think it was one of the first times people were getting into it. I think we kind of proved ourselves with that show.

R: The new EP (Planned Obsolescence) on Pederast Prophet is great. Talk about it and what sort of feel the band has for you compared to early days.
J: Originally was recorded to be ready to take to Brisbane, but that all fell to shit.
L: It was recorded last November but now it’s coming out now in May. The most obvious difference is, that it has a lot more hi-fi sound, the guitar tone is better, it’s shaper, we’ve picked more influences. When I listen back to it I hear straightforward stuff like SSD and Poison Idea etc. But then we've also got good bits where the guitar gets more dissident. Not much more of a different feel, just more comfortable playing punk music I guess.

R: You’ve shed two original members from the start, so what impact does that have on the motivation to continue Flesh World?
L: it does wane when someone quits. I guess because Jared and I have always done bands together, the fact if one of us quit, the band would definitely stop. If people come and go, you can lose a lot of personality in the band and you become some stock-standard riff machine like fucken’ Extortion, or some shit like that.
J: It was kinda helpful that they quit. Because before they quit, they were just avoiding us outright, and it made it impossible to do anything.

Final thoughts?
J: Sometimes when you lose you win.


So, this is unexpected. What are the succinct reasons you wanted to play a Flesh World show again?
L: There’s a few reasons, one of them I wont go into. I thought it would be interesting to go into that head state again and revisit something that for all extensive purposes I have very fond memories of. It’s nice to concretise the schism between when Jared and I were 19 and now. It’s a tribute to our coming of age; that’s said somewhat in jest but there’s a nugget of truth to it.

From my point of view, you seemed relieved when Flesh World ended. But was there actually a point where you looked back and felt relieved or content? I mean, it’s hard work maintaining a rock’n’roll band, and you can be vulnerable to egotistical mindsets, for good or worse.
L: I think I wanted to keep going, I always thought we had an amazing LP in us. I have less of a belief in punk music now but still wish we made that opus. I was relieved to end that band in the sense that it was extremely exhausting to keep it going and the band was falling apart simultaneously as the social group that supported it. I think my mindset was the most egotistical or at least the most controlling.

Liam, that interview we conducted was quite vitriolic, and I’m sure I personally felt that added to the charm of the band then. A lot happens from nineteen to 25, is it easy to sing those songs convincingly and revisit the anger?
L: I am not approaching the content too sincerely; I am amazed by the lyrics and how succinct they are. I think it’s pretty amazing angst poetry. When you’re that age you’re pissed off and self-victimise a lot and I think that’s very stupid now but is important in the shaping of my psyche now and trying to understand the last 6 years. The vitriol was all part of being that age and emboldened by our self-superiority in the punk scene, which became our whole life. No regrets.

Photo: Natasha Havir Smith
I understand why you got Chris and Lewis, being long time friends and decent musicians. Did the thought ever arise track down James and Liam? Not to undervalue what Lee brought to the band too.
L: Lewis played a gig with us so that made sense, also Liam is notoriously hard to track down and we didn’t have a long time to try and get it right. Chris has a lot of personality as a drummer, different to James but compliments the band very well. They both have a good work ethic that for me is very important. As I said in the former interview you want the band to retain personality and in this instance we very much have. At the end of the day for me the band was always Jared and I so that’s all that really matters.

Dead Boomers is a perfect choice for a Flesh World reunion, based on sounds, that you had previously shared bills and the respect for Mark and Leith that goes both ways. Did much anal thought go into who should be on a Flesh World reunion in the same way lineups were plotted previously?
L: I originally wanted to have a line-up of bands that we played with when we were around so Dead Boomers made perfect sense. I also asked Straightjacket Nation but they couldn’t which could be a blessing because people would probably just go to jock them and ignore us. It’s cool to get Tash to play in her art band- The Shinkies- she probably came to 90% of our shows and let us jam at her house and was also very important to the band.

Photo: Natasha Havir Smith
I’m lucky to have been privy to the unreleased FW EP for a while now. It really stands up. Do you have any regrets about it not seeing the light of day till now?
L: I thought it was badly recorded first and then nothing happened. Lewis from No Patience wanted to release it and then that fell apart, I’m glad. Despite what he thinks, he mishandled our reissue, he wanted to push it overseas, over pressed it and missed the point that the band was time and place and geographically and socially very specific (I’d rather that 30 people had the cassette and it reminded them of what they were doing in 2011, than American punk lifers sell it on Discogs for $3 and I don’t really care if that’s pretentious). That mindset might undermine the fact that we are doing another show but is also probably the reason. I don’t regret it, as long as people who care get the tape.