Interview: Paul Galagher – MOFOiSDEAD

Comprised of Paul Galagher (vocals & guitar), Luke Pammenton (drums), and Scotty Saunders (bass), MOFOiSDEAD come at you from Brisbane, Australia, and although the alt-rockers were only officially formed in 2015, they have a wealth of experience and many rock ‘n’ roll stories to tell. Over to Paul…

Paul, tell us a bit about how MOFOiSDEAD got started.

After walking away from a five-album deal with EMI at age 16, I became disillusioned with the workings of the music business. Jimmy Barnes’s music lawyer even described the deal as the worst he’d ever seen. Shortly after that I realised I wanted nothing to do with the industry itself, so I revelled in the live scene and all the sex and drugs that go with it. That lifestyle was fun for a while, but eventually the undeniable urge to create new music returned – and so the idea for MOFOiSDEAD was conceived.

I started writing a handful of tunes and then jamming with bass player ‘Colonel’ John Slattery and drummer Nathan ‘Queezy Beats’ Williams in 2007. Later that year I decided to move from my home on the Gold Coast (Queensland, AU) to England for reasons that, thinking back, make no sense. I just remember that I wanted to get as far away from the shady characters of the Gold Coast as possible.

In mid-2008 Colonel made his way over to play shows and record demos with me and (Producer) Damien ‘Omenators’ Dean. We went through hell trying to find a competent drummer in London, but still managed to record some bangers with minimal pounds. Now I think about it, actually visiting Stonehenge was the least Spinal Tap moment of our whole time over there.

In 2009 my patience for being poor had eventually worn out so I moved back to the Gold Coast to finish the recordings rent-free.

So what happened after that?

Colonel had returned to Melbourne in late 2008 so we continued recording in our respective home studios. We pieced an album’s worth of demos together over the next several months.

During a brief return to London in 2009 for a tour playing for army troops, I casually made friends with one of my favourite songwriters on the planet, Maria Taylor (Azure Ray). I played her a rough mix of one of the MOFO tunes I had on my iPod and she loved it so much she asked me to sing with her at a sold-out Shepherd’s Bush Empire show the next night (video here).

Also somewhere in this period I happened to meet Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses) through some friends and he liked my voice so much he asked me to audition for Velvet Revolver, but by this time Slash had already begun his solo project and had no intention of stopping, so nothing came of that.

Back in Australia things had started to go well and we were getting shit done, but then Colonel told me he needed to leave the band to focus on his new family. We played our last gig with him in late 2009.

Who did you get to step in on bass and when did they join the band?

My good mate Justin ‘Juddy’ Jeffs took over bass duties in late 2010. Around that time I spiralled into another episode of manic depression, which caused me to lose momentum, although we did play a few gigs in the months after Judd joined.

MOFOiSDEAD seemingly disappeared before the release of the Brisneyland EP in 2015. What was happening during that time?

By 2011 we were still playing shows here and there. We did two gigs at The Zoo in Brisbane in 2012 and both times someone very close to me died the week leading up to the gig … the ‘curse of MOFO’ started to seem too real.

In 2012 I was approached by (Brisbane band) The Butterfly Effect to step in as vocalist. I initially declined the offer but upon realising they were gonna get someone regardless I figured it might as well be me. That went on until 2014. Sure, there were a handful of great moments in there – a national tour and the release of single Eyes Down being among them – but after two years of writing and then rewriting every song five different ways, it became extremely exhausting and unrewarding. I eventually went into another wave of deep depression over how much energy I’d wasted on it, and for not trusting my own instincts. Anyway, at least I made some new friends along the way.

Ongoing logistical challenges ultimately led to Queezy’s departure, so in late 2014 I recruited (drummer) Luke Pammenton and that was a really positive step. The writing was great, and we released Brisneyland in November 2015. We’d started to branch out creatively and I felt like I was improving my production skills. We toured the east coast of Australia to promote the EP. Things were going good.

Sound positive! What happened next?

We did our third Zoo gig in 2015, but then… another family death. More depression, a greater sense of ‘the curse’. Had some custom “MOFO” iced donuts made for our EP launch though, that was a highlight!

Then in 2016, I was offered a chance to work with Jeff Martin (The Tea Party), who did some production for a band called A World Away, which was formed by (guitarist) Corey De Luka. I couldn’t decline an opportunity to work with Jeff; he was a bit of a legend in my books. I tried to keep it as a minimal distraction whilst still working hard on MOFO writing. That was a highly rewarding experience – a beautiful contrast to the preceding Butterfly Effect one. Walking upstairs to hear Jeff Martin singing my vocal parts at the top of his lungs was one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever received. He also said, “you make Soundgarden sound like Kindergarten”.

Lots of wonderful things were on the horizon with that band, side project even though it was, but then Corey was diagnosed with cancer and died 10 weeks later. Back to ‘the curse’ paranoia and more depression. We finished tracking a few months after Corey died in 2017.

Also in 2017, Trad Nathan from (Brisbane metal club) Crowbar asked MOFO to perform Appetite for Destruction in full for the 30th anniversary of its release. He said we were the perfect band to do it justice, which was a great compliment. After that, they asked us to do a Motörhead tribute, which we dubbed Moföhead.

Sounds like a busy time. How was the songwriting progressing?

Ah, she weren’t too bad. (Bass player) Scotty Saunders joined in late 2018, which was another very positive step for the band. Writing got a little more serious, and we were branching out further creatively once again.

It would have been wonderfully productive but my migraines and severe insomnia (for which I now have to roofie [rohypnol] myself for a solid snooze) had reached a new peak. I counted 75 migraines in 2017. Debilitating to the point where I literally couldn’t stand.

Relief finally came in 2019 when I casually mentioned my migraine problem to Maria Taylor in a Brooklyn bar at 3am and she told me about a little drug called Sumatriptan (Imigran). For the first time in my life, I now had medication that actually killed a migraine in under 60 minutes. I’d been suffering migraines since age 8 so that drug literally changed my life.

During that same USA trip, I managed to meet another hero of mine, Jimmy Gnecco (OURS). The night before his show I sent him a cover I’d done of one of his songs. He loved it so much he asked me to join him for a duet the following night in LA. Two nights later Jimmy’s dear friend Royston Langdon (Spacehog, also a hero of mine) asked me to join him for a song after seeing my duet with Jimmy.

Another 2019 highlight was being asked by Nick Oliveri to sing and play guitar for a one-off special set at Dead of Winter festival, dubbed KYUSS DIES! We played mostly Kyuss tunes and a few QOTSA tunes. Another distraction, another epic shred. (Video here.)

So we’re now up to this crazy year we call 2020. What’s been happening?

2020 involved a rollercoaster of other health issues for me causing delays with MOFO, but thankfully none of us got the Rona. We managed to squeeze out a single called Displacer in April (with minimal spend as none of us knew what the financial future looked like at that point) and it garnered much love by those who did see and hear it. Displacer felt to us like we’d accidentally unlocked a new dimension in the matrix – I can’t really explain it. In the moments of good health, we’ve been working very hard writing, recording, and shooting videos. The next two years you’ll see a lot of content released from us, even if it kills me. My flesh capsule may be a technical write-off, but there’s a lot of creative fuel in the tank when the engine does kick over.

 

MOFOiSDEAD are poised to deliver their contagious and politically charged new single, The Gospel of Engadine, which arrives everywhere on Friday 11th December.

More information on MOFOiSDEAD here.

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