You’ve never met a band like Cry Club before.
Since forming in 2018, the two-piece self-proclaimed queer band have been conquering stages and hearts non-stop. In their first year, they played shows with big names like RAAVE TAPES, Moaning Lisa & Bec Sandridge, and appeared at festivals like Yours and Owls and BIGSOUND, even before ever having released a song.
This year, vocalist Heather Riley joined the trio for their performance at BIGSOUND, decked out in matching suits with all the energy and drama that screams ‘Cry Club’ and earns instantaneous crowd love.
While they were in town for their mysterious and dramatic BIGSOUND performance (DTFM stole the show, by the way), we chatted with the relentlessly positive Heather and Jono about blokes who push too far, growing up, and the sweet satisfaction of your parents hearing you on the radio.
Cry Club sounds like a cool name for me and my girlfriends meeting up to cry over a bunch of bad romances, but where is the name actually from?
Jono: I think the name for us is a very strong descriptor of our relationship, in that when we first met each other we were bonding over TV shows that made us cry.
Heather: It’s also kinda like a celebration that it’s okay to be emotional and it’s okay to be angsty but it’s also okay to cry in a happy way, and I do cry a lot. It’s very important to me that people know that it’s not a bad thing.
Your music has been described as ‘for anyone who has ever been called too emotional, too sensitive, too much’, do you think that’s true or what do you think your music aims to say?
Heather: I think so. A lot of it comes from a bad day or a bad experience and then turning into something you’re in control of. The first song we ever released, which was Walk Away was about me being told that ‘you’re too upset’ about something that is really important to me.
It’s really not a bad thing to be sensitive, you have to be receptive to the people around you, and you have to take care of people and you have to be open to that.
What do you think gives your music life? Whats its inspiration?
Jono: I think I avoided playing post-punk stuff for quite a long time because I played in a band and it was just like a mismatch of personalities which got a bit weird so I just didn’t touch that music for quite a long time and this is me coming back to it in a way. This is what I loved as a teenager so it’s kind of, “Oh this is the music I grew up with, I want to experiment with those kind of sounds again”.
Heather: Totally. It’s like coming back to things that are maybe a bit cringey or aren’t that ‘cool’ because underneath, it’s almost like a guilty pleasure. Like when you describe something as a guilty pleasure, I think what that means is “I love this but people have made me feel bad for liking this.” And it always comes back around to that, it’s like this is the chance that two of us have to make whatever we want to make, and we’re so close that we can just go up to each other and be like, “Oi I really like this song, is that weird?” – even if one of us doesn’t like it, which doesn’t happen very often. Except recently, I am really into this band that Jono is like, “I want to like it but I don’t know”. It’s like noisy electro music that’s just obnoxious.
Jono: Yeah like I do want to love it, but I just don’t know.
Heather: But then Jono is really into Daughters which is extremely heavy, heavy music. It always comes back to, “I really want to write a song about this” and then just doing what you want to do without being scared of being judged.
Jono: And not being scared into one specific sound or one specific genre. It’s about our relationship as people. I think there are a few people that are like, “Wow this song is really different to the last song you put out,” but, well, it’s us, so it doesn’t feel different.
Heather: Yeah and you’re never going to like one thing, I think you evolve and change, even in a short period of time, like I am always evolving and shifting and moving through. Everything happens so quickly now, so we are just allowing ourselves to go with it. We always come back around to the heavy stuff and then again to the pop.
Your song ‘DFTM’ (Don’t Fucking Touch Me), can you tell me what it’s about?
Heather: That was like one of those moments where we were like ‘okay, what are we mad about?’. And we were like, “Ugh, I am just really sick of dudes pushing it”… dudes that are getting way too close and thinking they’re being sneaky, which I think is the most annoying part, like how stupid do you think we are? It’s just a big “I’m watching you” because it’s very hard in that position to start something, like do I really want to have this fight, do I really want to make or scene or do I just want to ignore it and carry on? But you shouldn’t have to ignore it. When it happens it’s almost this moment of ‘I should say something’ because otherwise, this guy is just going to keep saying or doing stuff to people until someone tells him it’s not okay, and even then he probably won’t even care.
Jono: And I feel like whoever is being creepy, it’s in the eyes of the person being creeped on to judge.
Heather: It was definitely a conversation that had been happening a lot around the time we wrote it as well. And it was something that I was always waking up and seeing, and reflecting on times where it happened to me, and that feeling is kind of inescapable when you start thinking about it. It’s like a sense of responsibility, I love performing this song because I get to say it.
Jono: Yeah like we always say at our shows, if someone makes you feel uncomfortable, let us know, and we will kick them out. It doesn’t matter if it’s our show or someone else’s, we will kick them out.
Heather: If you see us anywhere, I don’t care if you know me or not, if you’ve just seen us and know us from the band and you feel uncomfortable, please tell me because I would love to help. But it shouldn’t be on us to do that. Men should be calling this out.
Jono: Which is a huge thing. There are so many guys that are like, “Yeah I’ve got this mate and he’s a little bit weird around women, but he’s a great dude and I love having beers with him.” No, fuck that guy. Sort it out.
Heather: Yeah there’s no consequences. Obviously, if they get away with it they are just going to do it some more. But Jono is very good, a lot of the time, although its not as serious, we deal with a lot of cranky sound people that are usually men, or like rowdies that will be like, ‘What the fuck’ so Jono slides in like, “Let me talk to you about the tech stuff” (deeper voice). Jono is very good at taking a bit of that weight and softening people.
Jono: It’s one of those things. I am not the blokey guy but sometimes I have to switch it on for a purpose.
Heather: Exactly, but that’s what people mean when they say you have to use the privilege that you have been given. I am very lucky to be in a band with someone like Jono, he just gets it.
I think the best is still definitely yet to come for you guys, but what do you think the most surreal moment of your career so far would be?
Jono: There have been some amazing shows, we played a DIY show very early on, there was a projector behind us so we thought, “Let’s put on a vine compilation,” which we played and everyone in the crowd were our friends and were just dancing along. But we got announced at BIGSOUND without a song out yet so that was one of those cool moments too.
How on earth did you manage that?
Heather: I was like let’s just apply, if we don’t get in, we’ll learn something. And then we got in and we were like, “Oops”. DFTM getting added to full rotation on Triple J, was a moment that if I could have gone back to me and my high school friends that were all listening to Triple J, we would have all thought that was crazy.
It was a milestone, it’s really cool, it was definitely the moment our parents and their friends were like, “Okay this is real”, they’re not just wondering when we are going to get a real job. Like no, our song is on the radio. Even having friends message me like ‘I just heard your song on the radio, that’s wild’.
I’ve been told they are full of drama and full of excitement, but for someone who has never been to a Cry Club gig before, what should we be expecting out of your BIGSOUND performance?
Jono: We just leave it all out on the court you know. We are deliberately trying to plan out our energy over the course of the week to make sure we have everything we need for tonight.
Heather: We are just going to go full theatrics. This is our only official showcase, and although they are all important, this is the one that people star in their schedule. It’s also one of the biggest stages we’ve played on. I’ve been to Famous a lot to see other artists and it’s quite a cool venue. But we also have Japenese Wallpaper and Electric Fields playing within the same half an hour.
Tones and I actually played at Famous last night and the place is quite big so they must be expecting a bit of a crowd.
Jono: Haha, well she is the number 1 artist in the country right now. For someone who is going through this wild expansion period, she is also one of the most real people. As much as she will know she is playing to a huge crowd of people she will also just be out the back with a dart in hand like, “Hey what’s up?”.
Heather: Yeah amazingly down to earth.
We spoke earlier about sexual harassment being a societal issue you’re passionate about. What would you say is the most prominent issue for you guys/what has the most impact on your lives or music?
Jono: I feel like we, as a band, a lot of people know us to talk a lot about gender and sexuality, because we call ourselves a queer band, because realistically, seeing the presence of a queer band in Australia can be pretty dire sometimes. So being people who can represent that, is some of the most positive experiences we’ve had.
Heather: Yeah we played a show in regional Victoria, which is about four hours north of Melbourne, middle of nowhere Victoria. Extremely conservative country town, not like Wagga or Orange, country as in full country. We played this show as a part of Freezer which is an initiative that brings live performances and bands to really regional areas. We were playing at this regional town hall to a bunch of high school students, teachers and council members in our suits with our glitter tears. We were like, “What up we’re a gay a band”.
Wow. What was the crowd like?
Heather: It was very sweet. They were all sitting down and one by one brought chairs to the front of the stage. And high school students are the coolest people on earth, they are the ones who decide what ‘cool’ is. They are the future, these are the people that we need to be looking at.
But they were all really nice, after the show someone was like, “What are your pronouns?’” and we were like, “Oh my god’”
Jono: Like wow we are in regional Victoria and people use pronouns.
Heather: We had a mad chat, it was good to see that it wasn’t just a city thing or just for weird or alternative people. They are just people and when you give them a world where they can be themselves it connects people.
There are some pretty incredible acts on this years line up, are there any artists on the BIGSOUND lineup that you are excited to see?
Heather: Saw Party Dozen who are incredible – drums and sax, fuck yeah. Electric Fields, that was amazing. They are just euphoric.
Jono: Egoism, they are friends of ours, seeing them was great. Shady Nasty, they are great, I am obsessed with them. I saw Raj Mahal, there’s this whole Sydney rap scene which deserves to take over the world because they are all backing each other, all over each other’s shit and they are just incredible. There is this artist, Lauren, she is one of the most terrifying people I have seen at BIGSOUND, and she is tiny but if I caught her in the wrong moment I am sure I could die. She had these amazing green highlights and these gigantic nails. That kind of energy. I want to go up to her and tell her she’s fantastic but I am way too scared. But she does actually sound super lovely. But yeah that whole scene I couldn’t speak more highly of.
Heather: Western Sydney I am so protective of, I will fight anyone who speaks down of them, haha.
I also saw Miiesha who I didn’t know about before I came here but she was an incredible RnB, Soul type singer. I saw Yergurl as well finally, who I love, she has been on my radar for ages, she’s so cool. I love the crossover of Soundcloud bedroom pop and not-bratty, but doesn’t give a shit type sound.
If you could give any advice to your 12 year old self, what would it be?
Heather: You’re good enough. You don’t need anyone else to tell you. You’re just good enough, trust yourself. I relied too much on being perfect. I was in the world of eisteddfods and music programs so everything was about being perfect and getting good grades.
Jono: I think for me, I would have told myself to start listening to music, I was not exposed to music until I was about 14. I was aware of it, but it wasn’t played in the house so my main exposure was TV shows and movies. My first real exposure was actually video games. I remember my first class of high school was a music class and my teacher said, “No one is going to answer no to this question” and it was, “Who here thinks music doesn’t really affect their lives?”. And I was the only person who put their hand up because at that point in my life it just didn’t. Now I have been a gigging musician for about 10 years, so I can’t do anything else.
What is your best festival tip/advice?
Jono: I would say as much as you might want to hang out and do everything, be the boring person.
Heather: And for us its work, so until we have played, we are on the clock. We need to plan and have a definite schedule.