Melbourne duo Cry Club set the standard for “bubblegum punk” in their dazzling, rip-roaring debut album ‘God I’m Such a Mess’, a dramatic upheaval of self and sound alike.
for fans of Paramore, Crystal Castles, The 1975, MisterWives
Stream: ‘God I’m Such a Mess‘ – Cry Club
Subverting expectations with heavy-hitting noise pop this side of punk and a stunningly bright, vivid aesthetic, Cry Club are one of the coolest bands to come out of Australia in the decade (we know it’s early, but we’re pretty sure of this). The Melbourne duo deliver a dazzling, throttling immersion of bubblegum punk in their rip-roaring debut album God I’m Such a Mess, a dramatic upheaval of self and sound alike.
I came here to be alone
and I’m staring at my phone
I turn away after everything you say,
you’ve made it clear
that you don’t wanna hear me
And I wish I’d stayed at home
A-B-C, do I need to spell it out for you?
1-2-3, times is more than an accident, I want you to
Tell me why you thought that you could touch me
Lights low but I see you clearly
Reaching out like some kind of creep
I told you not to fucking touch me
– “DFTM,” Cry Club
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Cry Club’s debut album God I’m Such a Mess,” out November 13 via Best & Fairest (produced by Gab Strum and mixed by Scott Horscroft). The self-described “angry gay guitar pop” duo of Heather Riley (they/them) and Jonathon Tooke (he/him), Cry Club cut their teeth in their hometown of Wollongong before moving south to their current base in Melbourne. Formed in early 2018, this band are the long-sought needle in a haystack; a gem in a pool of throwaway rocks. Arrestingly expressive and ruthlessly dynamic, they make a modern blend of pop and punk that resembles such heavyweights as Paramore and Crystal Castles, yet is equally in a world of its own.
While singles like “DFTM” (Don’t Fucking Touch Me) and “Two Hearts” may have helped the duo amass a modest following in their short run, nothing beats a full-length album brimming with unrelenting drive and passion. Following 2019’s EP sad, but make it fashion, God I’m Such a Mess adds eight more uninhibited outpourings of energy to the Cry Club repertoire – each of which offers its own special take on the human experience, relationships, connection, and life’s never-ending cycle of ups and downs.
“GOD I’m such a MESS,” Cry Club’s Heather Riley exclaims. “Honestly, it says it all. These past few years have been extremely tough for everyone – it’s easy to feel nihilistic or want to give up, and each new hurdle seems so much fucking bigger than the last one. This album is really about telling yourself it’s OKAY to be upset. It’s okay to cry, to be angry, to be anxious, to struggle, because if you’re honest about not being okay, it makes it easier to start walking the path towards being okay again. It’s okay to throw your whole heart and soul into something, even if it fails. Over the course of writing this album, I’ve moved states, experienced a full cycle of a relationship from first meeting to breaking up, made new friends, lost more people than I ever had before, but I’ve been able to get through it because I had Jono by my side, and have been able to channel everything I feel into this album. It’s over-the-top, yeah, but it’s also extremely honest. I love walking that line of using theatrics, drama, and genre-bending to tell a more truthful story. We’re an open book, and so is this album.”
It’s over-the-top, yeah, but it’s also extremely honest. I love walking that line of using theatrics, drama, and genre-bending to tell a more truthful story. We’re an open book, and so is this album.
Recent album singles have found Cry Club expanding their bounds while honing exactly what it can mean to be “bubblegum punk” – and unapologetically so: They keep true to themselves throughout the turbulent tempest “Nine of Swords,” the achingly tender acoustic track “Lighters,” and the restless in-your-face pop song “Obvious.” Their lyrics continually plunge into the self, cementing the fact that there’s a wealth of substance driving every moment of their music.
No sleep, no time, wonder when I stopped feeling fine.
My head hurts, I can’t move. Where should I start? Tell me what to do.
Who needs healthy coping means when you’ve got cards and stars and things?
All my shit’s in retrograde, I wonder if you feel the same?
Maybe if I draw the right card, I’ll have the chance to get better.
Maybe if I draw the right card, I’ll have the chance to get better.
All I want is to get better,
All I want is to get better,
All I want is to get better,
All I wanted…
I’m waking up, I’m stressing out
I don’t know why I always draw the Nine of Swords
I wear a smile, I play the fool,
But it feels like I’ll always draw the Nine of Swords
God I’m Such a Mess is the unapologetic introduction every band wishes they had, but few actually get.
Cry Club unleash their wrath every step along the way, letting anxiety and anger, desire and love, jealousy, selfishness, greed, and glee flow through their music; in a way, their album is a true alphabet of emotional experience and indulgence. Heather Riley’s vocals shine like a ray of gilded sunshine; their voice soars bright and evocative over an array of hyperdriven guitars and synths, pulsing drums and thumping bass.
Two of the band’s own personal favorite songs – the deeper cut “Quit,” and the crowd favorite “Dissolve” – showcase their willingness to share every part of themselves in their art; to hold nothing back, and surrender to the songs:
I’ve waited for so long to see more of you
And I’m not surprised that you’ve got better things to do
Maybe you stopped caring when I wasn’t just a call away?
It says a lot you’ve let it end this way.
Is it my anxiety that makes me think you’re sick of me?
Did I do something, or did we dissolve?
Is it my anxiety that makes me think you’re sick of me?
Did I do something, or did we dissolve?
– “Dissolve,” Cry Club
“It’s hard to really collect your thoughts about everything from starting writing songs in the middle 2017 to this point in 2020,” Cry Club’s Jono Tooke reflects. “Like, we’ve cracked 100 shows, recorded our first album, moved to Melbourne and are currently living in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Like, everything is going so right and so wrong simultaneously and everything is coming together and exploding at the same time. We’d written a song called’ God I’m Such a Mess’ which didn’t really make the cut for songs to do this time around, but the title felt very evocative of how our last handful of years have been doing all of this. Like, it’s been the best doing everything we have but there are times we have felt absolutely cursed – like being booked for Splendour, Falls, Lost Paradise etc and having them all cancelled for a variety of reasons… COVID absolutely disconnecting us from playing to our audience, but being able to buckle down on writing more songs…
“2020 has felt like the peak of the curse though, but hopefully with actually getting the album out into the wild we can start breaking past just how many things went wrong. In a lot of ways the record is very autobiographical for the two of us, so having it out there is equal parts exciting and terrifying. Will definitely have a lot of tears the day it’s out in the wild.”
Those tears will be well-earned, come release day.
God I’m Such a Mess is a powerhouse of feeling – an endless uproar that keeps us engaged, excited, and breathless from start to finish.
Whether you’re attracted to the punk, self-empowered attitude of “DFTM,” the no-holds-barred high throttle noise pop of “One Step,” the grungier dirty rock of “Don’t Go,” or something else entirely, Cry Club’s God I’m Such a Mess is a bright spark of light, joy, and sonic euphoria coming to us when we need it most. 2020 is, has been, and forever will be remembered as a shitshow – but thanks to music like this, at least we can dance and sing the year away ’til we’re numb in the face.
Experience the full record via our exclusive stream, and peek inside Cry Club’s God I’m Such a Mess with Atwood Magazine as Heather Riley and Jonathon Tooke go track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their debut album!
This album is really about telling yourself it’s OKAY to be upset. It’s okay to cry, to be angry, to be anxious, to struggle, because if you’re honest about not being okay, it makes it easier to start walking the path towards being okay again.
Stream: ‘God I’m Such a Mess’ – Cry Club
:: Inside God I’m Such a Mess ::
J: It’s always funny when you write a song and play it live for the first time because it’s just so hard to determine whether or not it’s good or even done? Being so close to stuff creatively makes it really hard to recognise what’s good, so after the first couple of times playing it live a lot of people pointed that song out and we were both like “oh it is good, what a relief”. Then in the studio, the octave guitar which is the instrumental signature of the song was such an afterthought it was only when it got to mixing that we all realised “hey, that part’s pretty cool”
H: THIS was always a song we were unsure about- it’s kind of inelegant and VERY direct, but I guess that’s the beauty of it. No minced words. No metaphors. Just don’t FUCKING touch me. All of the lyrics are something that I’ve experienced first hand, and it’s just sad to think about how many people relate to it. Every part of the song enhances that feeling of rage, the harsh guitars and the thundering synths, it gives me the power to actually stand up for myself when shit like this happens- which, unfortunately, it really does still happen.
J: One Step is the fourth song we wrote for Cry Club and has been a staple of the set since our first gig (Jan 13th 2018). For me it’s about what it’s like to see a friend go through some hard shit and wanting them to get help but them resisting making that first step to getting better. Despite being about mental health, it’s always been such a fun way to start the set because it just feels like a clear statement of intent for what you can expect from a Cry Club show
H: THIS SONG was the first song we wrote from scratch together (not building off an instrumental Jono had already written), just that confirmation of “OH we can do this!” was super cool. It’s nice to look at mental health in an empowering way, rather than in a despairing way like we so often do. It’s a “hey, I can see you’re struggling, all you have to do is reach out and we can help you get to where we know you want to be”. It doesn’t infantilize self-care, but pushes this person to take control of their life, push through the hard stuff because they’re stronger than they realise.
J: This is the song that essentially started the band, I had the chorus and the instrumental for it but needed someone to help out writing the rest of the song and Heather was the person I thought of for it. We did our first writing session together on this one and it became immediately clear that this was the thing to focus on creatively.
H: The lyrical story for this song is super interesting. It really captures the anxiety around the end of certain milestones in your life, like what’s going to happen to all your friends when you finish uni and don’t live 5 minutes away from your support network? I remember at the time being really stressed out about a friend of mine who was in the middle of doing some really amazing stuff, career wise. I had this deep fear that he was going to just ascend and forget about me, but then Cry Club started gaining a lot of traction and we started to experience that feeling from the other side. This deep love for your friends, and an existential melancholy that you’re going to grow apart at some point, but you’ll never forget them.
J: God for a song called Obvious, this one took a long ass while to get right. It’s chorus was so strong but the verses were always lacking, it took like 5 full rewrites to get them to where they are now. I’m super glad we took the time though because it’s definitely one of the most fun songs to play live – just having something so bright in the set is refreshing amongst all the tension of the other songs
H: THE MOST FRUSTRATING SONGWRITING EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE LMAOOOOOO. For someone who gets distracted easily and never finishes anything properly, being a perfectionist is the big annoying cherry on top. It’s funny that the narrative of the song just came out of the frustration that we couldn’t find the “perfect” topline, and we would both rather be out at a show than tearing our hair out over a pop song. NOWADAYS it’s a great release of all that frustration – fuck it, let’s just have fun, nothing is real, nothing means anything, have a drink at a shitty bar and yell with your friends.
J: I think by the point we got to writing Wish (originally titled Best I Can) I think I became pretty aware of what my go-to moves were in terms of arrangements and things, so it felt like we needed to stretch out what kind of songs we were writing, especially in the tempo. It ended up an audience favourite of our early sets but at the time we were only playing 20-30 minute sets so it was too much of an energy dip when we should have just had high energy sprint sets. Now, especially with headline spots, it’s been way easier to fit into the sets because there is the chance to catch our breath a little bit and play something less intense
H: It’s a running theme in our songwriting that if something’s on my mind, I can’t escape that or try to distract myself- we just run with that THING that you can’t stop thinking about. I remember we were writing this song and my paternal grandma was in hospital, and I hadn’t had the time to visit her. When I did manage to go, she kept talking about how she never expected me to visit and it was a nice surprise- it was such a fucking gut punch. Performing it now, I’m reminded of my younger sibling, who I miss HEAPS, but I’m the worst at keeping in contact with people. For the chorus, we tried to put ourselves in the shoes of someone like my sibling, who understands that you’re busy, but is still cut up about it. It’s hard to tell someone how much they matter to you when you’ve got a lot going on, and this is mostly about reminding yourself to just take those moments with the people you love while you can.
J: Because we write a lot of songs, sometimes it can be a quite slow and painful process – but it kind of raises your ability to catch song ideas as they fly past. When you’re at match fitness for songwriting it’s super easy to play a chord progression and catch whatever inspiration is in the room super easily. Lighters was written at one of these points, where during the first lockdown of Melbourne Heather and I were writing almost everyday for a variety of different things/vibes/etc – but right at the end of that sprint we had this spark show up and caught it, which turned into Lighters. Definitely one of the fastest songs we’ve ever written.
H: Our most recent little bb!! We rarely write songs together in a room from scratch- usually Jono and I choose what we’re vibin’ from his scary huge folder of CC instrumental ideas, but this one was really organic. Jono recently bought his Apollo….. thing….. which has the ability to run live autotune, and I think I was having a really tough time concentrating so he just played some chords and I started just stream-of-consciousness singing into this heavily autotuned mic. It happened in like ???? an hour??? It was a really soothing process that came out of a stupidly specific context- moving houses and finding yourself suddenly single right at the beginning of a pandemic, having this chance to lick your wounds and also start to reinvent yourself as your own person again, because fuck, now you have all the time in the world to reflect. It really captures the “pandemic” headspace- “fuck, i’m all alone, i feel sorry for myself, i miss my friends, maybe i should quit smoking?”. The production alone tells the story too, ramping up the autotune as the song unravels- the juxtaposition is so beautiful, autotune can make things sound perfect, but so impersonal, so the fight between this strong emotion and the extreme restriction of the software is my favourite part.
J: I remember writing this instrumental as an attempt to start stretching my skills out a bit more, especially when it came to the bass parts I would write. A lot of early inspiration came from the mid 00’s dance punk bands but I’d always wanted to get a motown style bass line on a song just because those were the kind of songs I was learning in my spare time to get more proficient on bass. So when the early ideas for Quit were starting to come together it seemed like the perfect moment to scratch that itch. Considering I play guitar live, it’s often pretty funny to me how many of our songs are actually driven by the bass parts.
H: OOF this is literally one of my favourite things we’ve EVER written, every part of the process was so much fun, and it really was a huge group effort. We had a writing session with Zach from Northeast Party House, and Jono brought up this instrumental that one of our managers had told us to maybe ditch, but we’re spiteful lil beans and wanted to write something for it anyway. We bounced off Zach SUPER well, and the hook came out of us just goofing around and having fun. The lyrics are funny, because it sounds really sweet until you think about how unhealthy it is- demanding someone prove to you how far they would go for love, and loudly devoting yourselves to each other no matter WHAT. Eilish Gilligan and Alex Lahey added some BVs as well, and they absolutely SHINE, Eilish sounds like an angel in the chorus, I’m still startstruck when I hear it. I’m just so, so proud of this fucky lil pop song. Watch out, The 1975 ^_^
J: This was such a trouble song for a long time – making sure the dynamic shifts up and down landed correctly was really hard, even when it came to producing the song for the record. We had played it a handful of times live prior to bringing on board our live drummer Tina, but it always felt a little off – once we added the energy of live drums though this song found its core and really solidified.
H: LOOK at this big stupid love song. I had just been on a date, and it was one of those things where you’re kind of scared about how infatuated you are. It’s a really destabilizing feeling- oh shit, I really really really like you, and I know i’m gonna fuck this up. I lovvvvve Gab’s production choices, it captures that feeling of being so giddy and manic you kind of fall apart. It’s supposed to be a happy feeling, but when you have anxiety it creates this weird feedback loop of the happy feelings amplifying your fears and vice versa.
Nine of Swords
J: I can’t remember what was going on in our lives at the time, but we both just were in the headspace where everything was just going wrong and it was all just a headspin so we sat down with this song so Heather brought up how it was like we’d drawn the Nine of Swords tarot card and off we went. The original instrumental idea for the chorus actually came from housesitting for my partner’s Mum and taking care of her dog and cat. I remember playing the guitar part on this acoustic guitar to this voice memo of the bass part quite vividly.
H: This song is CURSED and I love it. I have a habit of running from the bad things happening in my life, ignoring them or blaming them on mercury retrograde lol. A lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms I’m still trying to work through. I’d been thinking a lot about how people think “death” or “the devil” are the worst cards in the tarot deck, when it’s actually the 9 of swords, it’s so insidious- it doesn’t SOUND evil, but so many things don’t. I also really love the drums in the prechorus- that feeling of slowly becoming unhinged and breaking apart. It’s a very cathartic song, but unfortunately very cursed. The first time we played it live, our laptop that runs the tracks fell off where it was sitting and made the midi switch useless, i had to change mic cables twice because it kept breaking, jono was running to the computer to press “play” between each song. A MESS. We really wanted to go FULL Gerard Way on this song, dive into those emo roots- stuff like The Sharpest Lives and How I Disappear where he really GOES for it, that’s what really inspired the vocal performance on this one for me.
J: This song has been such an audience favourite since the first time we played it. The initial instrumental idea was me thinking “what would The Presets sound like if instead of a synth bass it was the guy from Death From Above 1979”. I’m pretty sure an Instagram live video of us playing it my housemate took actually got us on a tour early on.
H: This one is like the Anxiety Brain Anthem. Do your friends hate you or are you just paranoid? Are they not putting enough effort into your friendship or are you just being sensitive and overthinking things? It’s hard to figure out which feelings are valid and which feelings are just that devil whispering in your ear things that are not at all true. I think it also resonates with people because damn…… it sucks bending over backwards for people who just take you for granted or don’t care. And the huge key-change-evil-Eurovision breakdown at the end? Probably my favourite moment on the entire album.
J: Ah the complex one. For a lot of people this one stands out because of it’s weird time signature and atonal harmony but these things are almost mistakes on my end. From previously playing in a mathcore band and listening to a lot of harmonically crazy stuff, my sense of what is normal is a bit off centre – so I remember writing the chorus riff and putting it into ProTools and thinking “oh I fucked up” when I realised it was in 9/4. Once it came to the production and everything though it was just funny to me how cooked it was so it was fun to lean in to the abrasive and weird elements of the song.
H: Jono sent me this instrumental while I was in Japan with my family, I was so enamoured with it, I had it on repeat pretty much the entire trip. I thought FUCK yeah it’s gonna be ANGRY and POLITICAL and when we tried to write it like that, it ABSOLUTELY flopped. It was so insincere and frustrating, eventually we joked about it being a very shallow and self-centred thing. It just made way more sense- the song is absurd musically (9/4 time and all 12 tones aka Jono is an evil genius), so let’s just make it absurd lyrically. Also, the fact that the lyrics are in complete opposition to who Robert Smith is as a person? It’s art and I love it.
J: From early on this song was such a favourite of ours. It was born out of hearing SMFY by Eilish Gilligan and thinking “holy shit this song slaps we should write something like that”. It drew on a lot of moments we’d both had around relationships/etc that almost happened, like we both have completely different perspectives on who or what the song is exactly about but the experiences were so similar that it became pretty easy to write about. It’s also of the more traditional songy-songs that we have, the harmony being a combo of 60’s pop chords and 80’s post punk guitar parts. It’s been our set ending song for so long now as well because it’s just so fun to play live haha
H: I love this song so much, one of the best moments of the live set early on was when people would scream “AND ALL MY FRIENDS THINK I’M CRAZY”, it was a moment where we actually thought “Oh shit, maybe we can give this band thing a red-hot go, hey?”. That very lesbian emotion of Pure Yearning is something a lot of people relate to, the layers of sparkly synths and explosion of colour at the end make for this extremely over-the-top love song that really represents us as people.
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📸 © Giulia McGauran art © Cath Connell
:: Stream Cry Club ::