For seven years now Grey Daturas have been simmering away in the pages of the street press, playing countless gigs, releasing innumerable (last count 23) recordings and touring in various forms overseas, most recently, and excitingly, Japan. Unlike most bands at seven years, they are a work in progress; evolving in their own noisy way. With the release of their latest and most accomplished full-length release Return To Disruption they seem to be one of the few bands who actually embody the idea of experimentalism as meaning 'you don't know where a song is going when you're halfway through it', not simply using it as an excuse to naval gaze.
Rob Mayson, guitarist, drummer and gentle sonic behemoth is quick to point out that Return To Disruption is technologically an improvement on their previous album Dead in The Woods, both of which were recorded with Neil Thomason at his Head Gap studios. "Two-inch tape, while giving you physically more space for the sounds, is expensive, so we rented two reels and laid down our tracks. We don't have any songs; when we go into the studio we just jam - we never rehearse. When we capture something that we feel has, for lack of a better word, a vibe, we use that as a foundation for what we contribute more to through overdubs and post-production. We let this album flow in two different halves, it not about tracks, it's conceptually oriented toward vinyl." Indeed, the song that would finish each album's side ends with the tape spooling off the reel.
With this much integrity toward making music, it's a rare band that can have been held at knife-point because an audience didn't dig what they were hearing, but Grey Daturas are used to objectionable punters. "In Brisbane once, we were playing at this BBQ" elaborates Mayson, "a pair of locals came up to us with a knife and said 'if you fucken don't stop playing we're going to come and cut up your stuff. I could understand if it was Jet, but this isn't music'. It was just like fuel to us: 'Wow, what we're doing isn't as comfortable as it's become to us, it still offends people. All it is is a bunch of outer-suburban kids causing a racket. To think it can stir such anger in some people and ecstasy in others, it's great." While the band doesn't always play loud, there is a genuine openness to what they play. "In almost every city we've visited we've played shows where we stripped away the drums and played entirely electronically. We play one night after the other: drums/no drums. Stripping it back to the meditative droning, pulsating, physical music, there is no attempt to be melodic or rhythmic. That Brisbane BBQ gig...it was like 'uh uh, this isn't music this is noise pollution', they were right, it's definitely something we are very passionate about."
Grey Daturas may well be one of the more amorphous bands around too, with there being a side-project for each two-person combination of the three-piece as well as each member freely joining other transient collectives. Together though, they challenge themselves to the extent that Mayson says it has irrevocably shaped him as a person. "it's been very consuming part of our lives, it's formed who we all are."
Clearly, seeing the band isn't a typical gigging experience, you're also witnessing a sociological experiment, one centred around its soundtrack. "Being improvisational, because we've been doing it for so long, means we can interpret each other's moves. The band allows for little corridors toward exploring something interesting to open up. To be blunt it's a slow evolutionary thing, it's a case of watching a relationship grow and change. If we were trying to perfect something musical we'd be writing music, but what we're trying to perfect is the communication between three people."