On Sunday afternoon I had the punk pleasure of sitting down with local lads from “The Cereal Picnic” before their up and coming gig at the Small Ballroom this Thursday, chatting about pooling pennies, communal beer, other peoples mums, and of course gritty skate punk. The band that put the “un” in punk single handedly restored my faith in that genuine punk lifestyle and happily bantered with me about drunken nights and playing shows.
As most great punk ideas come about, The Cereal Picnic were born through sweaty shows and a love of music. I was definitely curious as to where the band name came from, to which vocalist/guitarist Antwan detailed that it stemmed from eating cereal at 3am after yet another crazy drunken night out, and dreaming about taking the bowls on the road to engage in a “Cereal Picnic”. Much easier to imagine in theory as opposed to practice I was told, as apparently the risk of warm milk far outweighs the deliciously soggy reward of cereal in the sun.
Although officially only playing together for two years, some of the guys have known each other for “well… longer than I haven't known them!” Progressing from kicking around primary school together to playing the Youth Cafe in Raymond Terrace, and jumping through various punk outfits, “The Cereal Picnic” are definitely no strangers to performing on stage. Supporting some big names in the past including “Local Resident Failure” and “Unwritten Law” as well as most recently crazy ska-punk kids “The Bennies”, where “The Cereal Picnic” played their “tightest show yet”. “I don’t know what it was, we just rocked up to really play, and people were really loving our sound which is what we want to see”, fellow guitarist Adam “Gudi” Lagudi added. When asked what gig was their favourite to play, Antwan, in collective agreement with the rest of the band, pointed out; “the best gigs we’ve played have been with local bands we’ve all grown up playing with. There’s always a sense of community when you play those shows.” When commenting on the ever famous punk underground of Newcastle, drummer Woody explained that it was now less of a scene and more of a community. “You go and see your mates band play, to be there and support them, that’s whats most important… and of course drink a whole lot of beer and party hard afterwards”.
When asked what fans could expect from an (a)typical Cereal Picnic show, Woody was the first to point out “basically a whole lot of sweaty broke dudes having a really good time” to which Gudi added “If I know that everyone is having as much fun seeing us play, as I am seeing them having a good time, then I’m happy. That’s a great gig to me”.
Woody recalled one of the band’s first gigs where they were paid a “big old grand total of $5…” Through an uncontrollable fit of laughter Woody launched into what has to be one of my favourite ever band anecdotes. “…But see here’s the thing, they gave the five bucks to Gudi who in his infinite wisdom bought a beer (thinking they had all been given a crisp fiver)… This guy bought himself a beer… And then after realising his stuff up, proceeded to offer me a sip of this apparently communal beer. We should have just carried around that beer all night, taking photos with the communal beer, sipping the communal beer and framing it you know. Like framing that first pay check… heres to the communal beer!”
Self described as “The most unattractive band to ever come out of Newcastle” or as Woody so eloquently put it, “We definitely put the ‘un’ in Punk”, the guys balance Dad duty, writing and jobs to keep themselves afloat, although Antwan is quick to add “…although Gav is the only one with a proper job, thats why he’s the most angsty”.
As far as plans to record go, “The Cereal Picnic” let me know that they had spent some time at The Grove studios but were just searching for the right balance of sound. Antwan added, “We’re definitely excited about doing some recording and getting our stuff out there, there’s a lot of songs I’d like to write, stuff that comes up at random times that shouldn’t even be relevant anymore, mostly that repressed angst that comes up out of nowhere”. Woody couldn't resist chiming in with “Maybe those girls will hear it though, they might actually let your name come up in a sentence for once”. After listening to their back catalogue (which is currently available to stream on Soundcloud) that somewhat unorthodox ‘repressed irrelevant angst’ in my opinion, is definitely acting as a great backbone to some killer punk tunes.
After sitting down with the guys on that hungover Sunday afternoon, I personally cannot wait to see what they bring to the stage on Thursday night. Just some really genuine dudes happy to have a banter, get sweaty and let you buy them (perhaps another communal) beer.
The Cereal Picnic Are:
Antwan, Gav, Gudi and Woody
You can check them out:
Listen to their tracks:
At the Small Ballroom THIS THURSDAY along with some other local punk bands Smacked Youth and Family Dog. It’s honestly pocket change to go and get sweaty, jump around and support a local band playing some killer punk tunes from a group of guys who just love to play.
NOTE - From Woody: **Wil (Wagner) I want my lighter back.
All photos courtesy of The Cereal Picnic’s Facebook page and The Cambridge Hotel