Aussie Punks Amyl and the Sniffers
This is Amyl and the Sniffers. Clever name if you get it. But in case some of you skipped chemistry and never were big on the club scene...
Isoamyl nitrite is one of a group of alkyl nitrites, commonly known as ‘poppers‘. Taken by sniffing an inhalant, popper use has a relaxation effect on involuntary smooth muscles, such as those in the throat and anus. It has been used for practical purposes to facilitate anal sex by increasing blood flow and relaxing sphincter muscles,
So there ya go. Now we are on the same page.
Amy Taylor, Bryce Wilson and Gus Romer of Amyl and the Sniffers perform at The Tote Hotel in Melbourne, Australia on May 9, 2019.
Amyl and the Sniffers are a growly bar fight of a punk band. A snarl of vocals dancing on manic beats and garage beaten guitars. Amyl and the Sniffers want to have a fight with you, then buy you a drink. There is something inherently combative the way singer Amy Taylor rages on stages. It looks like what would happen if you made someone do an ounce of cocaine with some adderall chasers and then shoved them onto a stage in front of people to try and front a punk band. It’s awesome to behold.
Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers performs at Paradiso Noord in Amsterdam, Netherlands on April 10, 2019.
In a punk scene crowded with throwback garage acts and reunited 1970s bands, Amyl and the Sniffers offer a fresh and appealing energy. Taylor — along with Bryce Wilson on drums, Declen Martens on guitar, and Gus Romer on bass — have taken the aggression of days past and combined it with dead-on guitar riffs and an amplified stage presence.
Amy Taylor and Bryce Wilson of Amyl and the Sniffers perform at Market Hotel in Brooklyn, New York on July 19, 2019.
Taylor describes the first pit she went in, at 14, as “consensual violence,” though that could just as easily describe one of their shows. The band gives you a safe space — that is, a safe space for you to go absolutely nuts. “Where I grew up, it was like, ‘hippie, happy, love forever,’” she says, “and I’m like, ‘That’s not the only thing I can feel.’”
Before starting the band in February 2016, Taylor didn’t have much experience behind a mic. She’d occasionally sing at the pub after a few pints, but it was more drunken party trick than career path. All her roommates were in bands, gigging five nights a week, so one night, she decided to grab two of them — Wilson and Martens — and have a little fun. “We always joked about starting a house band, we’d sound like the B-52s,” says Taylor. “There was already a drum kit in my room, and we set up a bunch of instruments.” They recorded a four-song demo EP, Giddy Up, and posted it the next day. The first three songs were somewhat tame — fuzzed-out guitar, synth riffs — but the last one, “Stole my Pushbike,” showcased the punk band they would become. “I think 50 people listened to it in one week,” Taylor says. “I thought it was crazy.”
Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers performs at St Mary's Cathedral Square in Sydney, Australia on January 6, 2022.
They played their first show a week later, in a dive near their home in Melbourne. “We played for, like, 10 minutes ‘cause we had no songs,” she adds. That included three covers — one originally performed by one of Martens’ old bands, another by one of Wilson’s, and one a cover of the 1990s dance hit “Short Dick Man” by 20 Fingers feat. Gillette.
Amy Taylor and Declan Martens of Amyl and the Sniffers perform at Albert Hall in Manchester, England on May 31, 2022.
Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers performs at Splendour in the Grass 2022 in Byron Bay, Australia on July 24, 2022.
Even then, their shows were wild. “Our friend was wearing white pants” to that first gig, Taylor remembers. By the end, “they were covered in blood.” The band considered a more chill sound, but it didn’t really fit. “Growing up, that’s the kinda shows I liked going to the most — when you get covered in bruises or you leave with a fat lip,” she says. “It’s more fun to put energy into it,” adds Wilson. “If there’s no energy, it’s boring.”
Amy Taylor and Gus Romer of Amyl and the Sniffers perform at Enmore Theatre in Sydney, Australia on August 12, 2022.
The crew began gigging a couple times a month, writing new songs in their spare time. They brought in Romer, a bassist from Tasmania who met Martens at a bar, and went on an Australian tour. “Compared to what you do overseas, it’s not really a tour,” says Romer. “You can go, like, five cities in Australia, so we did that.”
Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers performs at York Hall Leisure Centre in Bethnal Green, London on November 17, 2022.
Amyl and the Sniffers perform at Barrowland in Glasgow, Scotland on October 29, 2022.
In February 2017, they put out their second EP, Big Attraction. Here, the band came into their own — a tight four-piece with energy and a mission. Sharpies, an Australian subculture that had been particularly popular in the 1970s, were having a comeback, and the band leaned into that scene’s aggro pub-rock sound. They also leaned into the look, shaving their mullets and sporting cropped pants and silk bomber jackets. “It was such a Melbourne thing, such a strong sense of identity,” says Martens. “Even though it was from 40 years ago.”
Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers performs at Sziget Festival 2023 in Budapest, Hungary on August 14, 2023.
A few months later, the drummer of fellow Aussie band King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard caught one of their shows, and took a liking to them. They were signed to King Gizzard’s Flightless Records in Australia, and accompanied them on a 22-date tour across the U.S. beginning in June 2018. They got so much attention that they proceeded to tour for about a year straight. “We haven’t been in one place for more than a month in, like, a year,” says Taylor. They ended up following King Gizzard to a U.S. deal with ATO Records and signing with Rough Trade Records everywhere else. In 2019 they released their first full album, Amyl and the Sniffers, a rowdy, 11-song LP that’s drenched in the sounds of the 1970s, both U.K. hardcore and AC/DC.
Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers performs at Lowlands Festival 2023 in Biddinghuizen, Netherlands on August 18, 2023.
Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers performs at The Salt Shed in Chicago on October 23, 2023.
In June and July 2022, the band opened for Weezer, Fall Out Boy and Green Day on the European leg of the Hella Mega Tour. The band hunkered down in the same home and began recording their sophomore effort, 2021's Comfort to Me. Hardened and focused, the album featured the singles "Guided by Angels" and "Hertz." In April 2023, the band toured with The Smashing Pumpkins and Jane's Addiction.
Amy Taylor and Bryce Wilson of Amyl and the Sniffers perform at Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio on October 22, 2023.
As for what’s next? Heading home, recording new music, and prepping for their next headlining tour. But honestly, the band doesn’t seem too concerned about any of that.
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