Despite the weirdness of their bandname, Adelaide’s AGAPANTHER easily won us over with lyrics like “I’m sorry for my insecurities / I’m sorry that I’m always sorry / I’m trying”. The relative newcomers and their sound come across like a band to watch. I hit the punk/alternative four piece up with some questions to get to know AGAPANTHER better. Vocalist/guitarist Kyle Kenworthy gave us the lowdown.
Who is the band and what do they do?
- Kyle Kenworthy – vocals/rhythm guitar
- Harry Mason – drums
- Dylan Kenworthy – bass guitar
- Coen Miller – lead guitar
According to Spotify, you guys landed in 2018 with the Bug Eyes, Flying High two-track. Can you tell me how AGAPANTHER came to be?
AGAPANTHER came together after my brother Dylan had seen that I was writing a fair few songs and he wanted to be involved. He asked if I’d write bass parts and teach him, if he invested in some gear – so that’s exactly what happened. We then came together as a three piece after I’d written a few songs and asked if Harry was keen to jam with us. Harry and I have been friends since we met in middle school a bit over ten years ago and we’ve always had a mutual passion for both listening to and playing music (especially the more alternative genres) so he was the perfect fit. We played a few shows and recorded the two-track as a three piece until this guy who I vaguely knew at the time was pretty much coming to every show threw it out there that if we ever wanted a lead guitarist, that he’d be keen. Before we knew it, Coen had his first prac with us and it completed the band.
To sum it all up, we became AGAPANTHER as we all get along with each other and spend a lot of time together outside of the band, regardless. We’re all very like-minded people and we share a lot in common, so it just makes sense for us to write and play music together.
“Bug Eyes” was a song written about the lack of acceptance from older generations to younger generations. It was inspired by an interaction I had once, when talking to some friends at a 21st. A middle-aged lady who I’d never met, rudely interrupted me to ask why I had stretched ears and a nose piercing, telling me that it looks horrible and questioning why I would do such a thing. I was pretty shocked. I’ve had people stare or ask about it before, but never with such an attitude or the nerve to interrupt me with what I was doing. “Bug Eyes” is more or less about the growing diversity within today’s youth and is essentially a big “f*** you” to anyone who questions our choices.
“Flying High” wasn’t as anger fuelled though. It was basically inspired by the fact that I was studying architecture at university and realised that I’m probably not ever going to (easily) get a job that I enjoy or that’s anywhere close to home – jobs are limited in Adelaide.
The two-track was meant to be a pretty easy-listening style of punk/grunge that was anthemic enough to get people yelling along – the crowds we’ve seen since that release have validated the success of those songs, based on that goal.
In your sound (and Spotify inspiration playlist!) I hear an affection for Aussie-accented bangers. Is that the AGAPANTHER dream?
We’re straying further away from that initial sound you hear in the Bug Eyes, Flying High EP, so over time the Aussie-accent in our songs will probably become less prominent. I don’t think we intentionally add in the accent either, but since “Dive”, we have been trying to make it less obvious – not to say we’re going to ‘Americanise’ our vocals necessarily, but we definitely have made a conscious effort to reduce the Aussie sound. So, I think our dream is to probably just do whatever feels right for us, to not force anything and see where that takes us. With that being said, we do love Aussie-accented bangers! We absolutely get around bands like Luca Brasi, Dear Seattle, TOTTY etc.
How would you sum up the AGAPANTHER ethos?
We have a short slogan that we use to sum up our ideology and it’s “Genre-fluid music for everyone.”
It’s pretty self-explanatory, but we write a mixture of different styles of music and that is inevitably going to draw different crowds of people towards us. We believe EVERYONE has the right and privilege to enjoy music, free from negative judgement and devoid of inappropriate behaviour. So, we like to make it as clear as possible that people should be who they want, dress how they like, love who they want to and do what they want with their lives.
The name seems obviously inspired by the flower and animal morphed together. Is the band a flowery thing with sharp teeth too? (hehe)
So, the band name came about because we coincidentally all have traditional-American panther tattoos. As we were having the conversation about how crazy it is that we just all happened to get similar tattoos, Harry looked over into his garden and slowly said “AGAPANTHER” – of course, he was looking at an agapanthus plant, and that’s all there is to it, really!
However, you’re not wrong Kel. We do love creating quite pretty, ambient sounds, and they are usually juxtaposed with quite crunchy, gritty riffs – so, hey! It’s open to interpretation haha.
“Dive” feels like the emotional honesty has been kicked up a notch from the two-track. Is that something you’ve noticed in the process of creating together and the progression of finding your sound?
Basically, I realised I had to fall back on my old writing ways that predated AGAPANTHER. I wanted to write happier songs when we first started, but I really wasn’t feeling it. There was no passion and very little honesty in them. For instance, I found “Bug Eyes” a lot easier to write than “Flying High”, because I was pissed off and I had something to say. So, I began to dig deeper and one thing that has been with me for as long as I can remember is anxiety – thus, I wrote “Dive”. I’ve always known that the best music (in my opinion) is the material that comes from the heart and soul, a piece that tells a story that can be sung honestly, so I started writing more about the topics that have made me feel more in-depth emotionally, which definitely improved our writing ability, I think.
Your newest single “Vacant” reveals something different again – far more atmospheric and open again, and does so in less than 2 minutes. Tell me about the obvious brevity of the track as well as what it means for you all.
“Vacant” was written about mine and Dylan’s grandma, who passed away in 2010 after a five year battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. The song very quickly skims over how Alzheimer’s negatively affects people and was actually written in about five minutes as I waited for the rest of my coworkers to arrive on site one morning. It came out so naturally that I didn’t want to try and force anything else into it, so we just kept it short and punchy.
Is there an EP on the way?
All we can say at the moment is that there is some more music coming in the very near future, so we urge everyone to bear with us and stay tuned!
When gigs go back to normal, who could you see yourselves playing in support of?
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, but we’d love to play with The Dead Love (again), Bloom, Bad Juju, Introvert, Whatever, Forever (whose show with us got cancelled right at the beginning of Covid unfortunately), DRAFTDAY and of course we’d love to just play a massive lineup of local bands to get live music cranking once restrictions ease too.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
We’d love to just say a massive thanks to you Kel, and for everyone to keep their eyes peeled in late November!