Peter Bibby is a rising and critically applauded Fremantle, Australia-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, whose career started in earnest when he turned 19: he quit the unfulfilling job he was working at the time to busk, eventually landing a few paying gigs. Sometime later, Bibby landed a high paying job that he wound he losing because he would show up hungover from the gigs he’d play the night before. So, he wound up playing even more gigs with a series of different backing bands including Frozen Ocean, Fucking Teeth and Bottles of Confidence while developing a unique, rough and tumble sound and approach — one that many have described as being like Shane McGowan screaming at bleeding laudanum and typhoid hallucinations while his guitar playing has been described as being like a dog drunk on rum.
With the release of his first two albums 2014’s Butcher/Hairstylist/Beautician and 2018’s Grand Champion, Bibby has been championed for being an inherently working class and wholeheartedly independent artist, further documented in greater detail in the 2018 film Chasing Palm Springs, which followed Bibby on a cross-country trip from Perth to Melbourne in a temperamental van. Since then, the Fremantle-based artist has begun to build a growing profile and reputation as a must see act, as a result of a rowdy and raucous live set — and through headlining shows and international festival circuit stops at Laneway, Falls and SXSW.
Earlier this year, Bibby released “Oceans,” the first bit of new material since the release of Grand Champion. Featuring his latest backing band Dog Act — “Strawberry Pete” Gower (bass) and “Dirty Dave” Taylor (drums) — “Oceans” is disorderly, boozy and wobbly take on garage roc that’s full of spittle, fury and howled inventive, fuzzy and lurching power chords, thunderous drumming and drunken, shout worthy choruses that reminded me a bit of Johnny Thunders‘ “Born to Lose,”and John Cale‘s “Pablo Picasso” — but much more unhinged.
“Oceans” will be included on Bibby’s forthcoming third album, Marge. Slated for a September 18, 2020 through Spinning Top Records, the album features Dog Act as his backing band. Reportedly, Marge, which derives its name from Dave Taylor’s grandmother Marge, and is an album of splintered, volatile Australiana written as a sort of soundtrack to a surf movie from hell — the sort where there’s blood in water; a dirt road leading to a dirt end; and everything is covered in diesel fumes and dust. “The Dog Act and I recorded this album in a week off in Perth between two Australian tours. We were match fit and full of beans,” Bibby says of the album. “It features a selection of songs, some fun, some completely bloody miserable. It was made better by the involvement of the fourth Dog, Mitch McDonald, who engineered the record and offered endless energy and ideas. I love this record.”
The titular Marge is prominently featured on the album’s cover art, smoking a cigarette on a beach in Darwin, Australia, seemingly watching her corner of the world go by. “I felt there was no better image than a smoking nanna to be the face of this album,” Bibby says.
“Whyalla,” Marge‘s second single derives its name from name of a South Australian steel town that had been in decline for years. Centered around churning power chords, thunderous drumming and an unhinged spittle and invective delivered vocal and a classic grunge rock song structure, the track is simultaneously a love letter and a fiery condemnation of rural Australia, pointing out the hopelessness, small-minded thinking and boredom of rural life in a way that feels full of the sort of lived-in hate, despair and abiding love you’d feel for a dysfunctional and fucked-up family member. The song’s spoken word bridge features Bibby telling some tall tales about some of Whyalla’s notable legends — but drenched with irony.
“I wrote this song a few years back after my mate Racoo asked me to write a song for a road trip compilation she was putting together. I don’t think it saw the light of day. I had a lot of help from Wikipedia,” says Bibby of the track.
Directed by Brendan Hutchens, the video is sort of a hitchhiker’s guide to nowhere in particular; the sort of nowhere in particular that somehow feels, well — American. We see Bibby getting up from camp, walking alongside a deserted road, hitchhiking until two guys — the members of his band — pick him up, They pull over to the side of the road to play and pay homage to Whyalla’s legends. Much like the video for “Oceans,” the accompanying video for “Whyalla” feels like a slow-burning fever dream.
“We shot this thing out in Glen Eagle’s Rest, due to COVID 19 we couldn’t shoot it in Whyalla,” Bibby says in press notes. “It came together nicely with the help of great friends, a great crew and a weird toilet cleaner who hung around telling us strange and creepy facts about the location. He said he was disappointed that we weren’t shooting a porno.”