In 2016, when  16-year-old Eamon Sandwith started the Chats with his buddies in the small Australian surf town of Coolum Beach, the goal was simple. “To get free piss and play parties,” he says. (To clarify, in this context “piss” means beer.) But the high school parties were usually soundtracked by “oontz oontz” DJ music, so “nobody fucking liked us,” Sandwith says, smiling. “We always got booed.”

Then he wrote a song called “Smoko.” Bountifully, joyfully dumb, it’s all about the glory and the agony of a smoke break. Buoyed by a scrappy DIY video, “Smoko” became a weirdo internet smash. The video technically cost $5 AUD (about $3.44 USD) to make, with the whole budget going to purchase a sausage roll eaten on screen. Now it has nearly 17 million views on YouTube. And nearly five years on, it’s helped the Chats take their hyperlocal punk rock all over the world. There’s just something about the peculiar world they live in that’s beguiled regular folks and legends alike. As Sandwith told The Guardian, “When we met Iggy Pop he was like, ‘What’s a smoko?’”

On August 19, the Chats released their new album, Get Fucked. (To clarify, in this context “get fucked” means to get fucked.) Ahead of the release, Sandwith called from his well-lit home in Brisbane, a city a couple of hours south of Coolum. He was flanked by a classy black-and-white photo of a flailing Jello Biafra, his mullet cascaded behind him. Even on a video call, the thing was so hearty it was intimidating.

“I was walking around and I thought of the chorus bit in my head,” Sandwith says now of the origin of “Smoko.” “I was like, ‘Oh, that’s pretty good, I should try and remember that. And I was trying really hard not to have different thoughts.” Once he made it home, he grabbed his guitar and wrote “Smoko” in less than 15 minutes. After they shot the video, the band was excited to show it to their friends. Their immediate social circle was about as far as they thought it would go. “I didn’t think it was, like, amazing,” Sandwith remembers. And then “it got out of hand.”


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