Sub Pop’s Deaf Wish Descends on the Valley

Deaf Wishby Tom Reardon
Contributing Writer

You like noise. The music genre, not the noun, to be more specific. You occasionally (or for some, constantly) need new noise and when you find it, you feel whole for a short time. You are reborn in the newness of the something cool, something different than before.

You suffer for your craving because fans of noise typically won’t accept just any old noise. You, like the dozen or so noise loving peers you know about in this nerdy dustbin we call home, need good noise. The suffering itself is self-imposed and often unnecessary, but it creates pain and pain is part of the whole noisy process. The best way to dull the pain? You guessed it, a good dollop of new, good, noise.

Australia’s Deaf Wish is a tonic, perhaps, a temporary cure for what ails you, dear noise lover. Maybe it is the cure or maybe not. Either way, you have the option to give these particular purveyors of layered sound a try. Their music just got a tad easier to find as they are now a Sub Pop recording artist. Their newest record, Pain, came out in August of this year (2015 if you’ve been sleeping) and it is amazing.

Like the aforementioned longing for something new, something noisy, Pain delivers some of the better noisiness we have heard in recent years.  Deaf Wish tends to convene in Melbourne, but in reality the band is spread around the world more often than they are together and this sense of geographical space echoes in their music. Their sound bears a strong resemblance to the best parts of New York noise rock, but Deaf Wish also flies both the good punk rock flag and the post-punk flag, as well.

This noise sweats anger and drops layers of feedback through a meat grinder featuring recently sharpened teeth. You can sink your own choppers into the tracks on Pain, which build to a whirling crescendo of guitar, bass, drums, and vocals reminiscent of Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth as the album concludes with the excellent track, “Calypso.”

Jensen Tjhung plays guitar and sings in Deaf Wish, who have been kicking around our planet since 2007. The band began with a plan of being a monument to impermanence, but after eight years, is still alive, kicking, and heading to Phoenix on October 19, 2015.  He was kind enough to play along when we threw ten questions at him. After receiving his responses, we want to see Deaf Wish play live even more and maybe have a beer with the band. Here’s what he had to say:

YabYum:  So the Sonic Youth comparisons are inevitable. How do you feel about being compared to such an iconic and polarizing band?

Jensen Tjhung: Reviewers are lazy, we are heaps dumber than Sonic Youth would ever dream of being. We hang our hats on this.

YY:  How difficult has it been to stay true to your idea of not making anything that is going to last? How has this mindset helped to keep the band going…or, forgive me, lasting?

JT: That’s cancelled.  We now exist purely for posterity.LP_Jacket

YY:  Considering that seemingly each member of the band contributes quite a bit to the song writing process, how do you decide to move forward or not with songs that everyone doesn’t fall in love with immediately?

JT: There’s no love in rehearsal.  It’s the shredding of iron, the burning of steel.  We blaze through tracks primal screaming.  We lock ourselves in a room and no one is allowed to leave until we sing the chorus of FIRE IN CAIRO 8 times without fucking it up.  There’s no mic stands or leads, just greased chains and 200 mm dynabolts (expanding anchor bolts commonly used in Australia).

YY: How are shows in the states different than in your native Australia?

JT: The smell of eucalyptus follows us everywhere.

YY:  What is your favorite thing about touring and why?

JT: Stopping off at gas stations and perusing the snacks within them.  I like the service stations with fishing tackle so I can view the lures and sinkers.  Jesus stickers are fun to buy and I also like the tough sticks of dried meat that live on the top shelf in the plastic cylinder.  I never buy them I just look at them and imagine chewing one in the blazing Arizona sun.  Sometimes I walk around like Montgomery Clift after his first ride in the rodeo in The Misfits. The bit where he stands upright after the fall all concussed and tilted- that’s me on tour.  I don’t know why.

YY: Bob Log III. America’s gift to Australia or an annoying nuisance who should just move back to Tucson?

JT: I remember one year at Meredith Music Festival he parked his car on a footpath before he played.  People were real shitty about it.  I feel that was what may have turned the tide and pretty much ended his career.

YabYum: Biggest misconception about Deaf Wish?

JT: That we aren’t deaf yet.  We are.

YY: What do y’all do when you’re not busy being one of my new favorite bands? (Sadly, we just discovered Deaf Wish)

JT: Sit around crying.

YY: What’s the coolest thing about being on Sub Pop or are they really evil overlords like Donald Trump said they were?

JT: Well we hopefully get some free Goat records and some stickers maybe.

YY:  When you are on your way to Phoenix, what music will be playing when you hit the city limits…assuming you listen to music during the long, super fun drives?

JT: Yep we have the super fun tunes for the super fun road to Phoenix- Mercy Seat, Bird on a Wire, Nothing Else Matters, White Wedding… But by the time we get to Albuquerque, you’ll probably be at lunch.


Deaf Wish visits the Rebel Lounge with Froth, Man Hands, and JJCNV. Showtime is 8pm on Monday, October 19. More information about that event can be found here. Tickets available here