Close this search box.

Stay up to date

Subscribe to our weekly
e-newsletter for news and updates

Advertise with us


Photo from Accor Stadium Kiss support 2023 by Jason Rosewarne

Interview by Greg Phillips

“I mean this in the nicest possible way… I think they’re kind of nerdy,” says Regurgitator’s Ben Ely when asked to characterise his band’s fans.  “I kind of feel like we have these really amazing fans that turn up and they all look like … kind of like us, just big nerds, which we adore.” Those nerdy devotees have recently been rewarded for their loyalty, not only with a brand spankin’ new, fabulous Regurgitator album titled Invader but also with the announcement of a substantial national tour. As always, a new Regurgitator album has lot to say as well as being an entertaining entity.  The title itself explores the various ways that our lives can be invaded, whether that’s via the intrusion of social media, advertising or as Ben tells us in the interview, “this colonial idea of humans being invaders.” But can you tap your toes to it? Trick question! Of course you know that’s going to be a thing dumb-arses!

So bass-playin’ Ben, half of the brains trust of the band decides to call me up and together we dissect the heck out of their new album Invader!


Ben, the new album Invader was released on April 26th but what was the starting point for the album? Was it a matter of … we’ve got a bunch of new songs, maybe we should do an album? Is it the manager saying, hey guys it’s time to get your arses into gear? How did it work?

Well, this is the most time we’ve ever spent recording an album. The process has taken so long. I actually can’t really remember but I think it was because we had an album prior to Covid happening, and then we didn’t do anything for the whole of Covid because Quan lives in Melbourne and I live in Brisbane and I think it’s always nice to tour with new songs. So that’s usually the motivator for us to get in the studio and record a new album. But with this one, we seem to have more of a higher standard that we set for ourselves, so that’s probably why we spent so much time on it. And we wrote lots of songs. I mean, I wrote a lot of songs for this record to get to the six that I picked. It was kind of crazy the amount of writing I did’

Is that how it works? You write half the album each?

Yeah, we usually work a bit like that sometimes. It’s usually Quan has a little bit more content than me and it took a while to get it together. I usually write a lot of songs and bash ’em together in a fairly rough kind of demo format and then send ’em to Quan. Whereas Quan usually picks a song title that he really loves and works meticulously over the lyrics, and then he will record multiple versions of those lyrics in different ways. There’s a song called Dirty Old Men on the record that I think he wrote seven different versions of that song. So he’ll do that a lot, whereas I won’t do that. I’ll write just lots of different songs until I hit on what I like.

Why is Invader the title track?

We kind of wanted a really strong, just one really strong word, and we felt that that word is a word that can have multiple meanings. It could mean your phone is kind of invasive to you every day, whether it’s alerts and it sucks you in and kind of invades your life as well as this colonial idea of humans being invaders and advertising being invasive. And we just felt like it was a pretty strong word. Early in the Unit (album) sessions, we came up with the idea… oh, let’s call it Unit! It’s got multiple meanings and it’s kind of a cool title to work to. So once we have the title, then it kind of informs a bit of your songwriting as well. So yeah, we didn’t find that title until a year into writing but when we did, we felt like, okay, now we’ve got something to write to.

Is it important for the band to have something to say in your songs as well as entertain?

I think it’s always been the way of Regurgitator. I think Quan … when we first started, before our band got together, we were in a bunch of local bands and I wasn’t really focused much on lyrical content. It was more about technique and trying to become a better musician. But then when I got together with Quan and he sort of became obsessed with lyrics and then I kind of became a fan of his just because of the lyrics that he writes. I think he’s quite a clever writer. So I think it is a very important part of our band and we try and use lyrics as a kind of personal expression as well as a playfulness that we do to try and make each other laugh as well as sort of hit some fairly serious content as well. But I feel like the songs have a multiple dimension to them. His lyrics are pretty clever, I’m always drawn to artists that spend a lot of time on their lyrics and yeah, I’m kind of a fan of Quan’s because of his lyrics.

The track Cocaine Runaway has a great video with Brian Canham from Pseudo Echo. How did that come about?

Brian is amazing. We did a show in Victoria at a festival with Pseudo Echo and we were chatting to them backstage and they were just such lovely people and we really got along with Brian and straight off the bat, he was just such a lovely human to hang out with. Quan had just finished Cocaine Runaway, and he came up to me backstage and went, oh my God, I’m going to ask Brian if he’ll be in the film clip. And he just went up straight up to Brian at the gig and said, ‘Hey, will you be in a clip?’ And he was really lovely and said yes. And then he kind of threw himself right into it. He even composed the music for the credits at the end. He does a bit of sound design work and he was like, oh, could I please do the music for the end? And Quan was like, yeah, sure. And he’s a really lovely fella.

There’s a very different track on the album, The Bastard Poem That Nobody Wanted narrated by Aboriginal scholar Tyson Yunkaporta … an important track, given the name of the album and what you were saying about the different meanings of Invader… how did that track come about?

Quan read one of his Tyson’s novels, it was ages ago, a year and a half ago. He read a novel he wrote called Sand Talk and Quan became an instant fan of his, and as Quan does. When he becomes obsessed with someone, he’ll write to them a lot. So he ended up stalking him and writing to him incessantly and saying, oh, I’d love to work with you one day. And then Tyson was like, oh yeah, yeah. And Quan kept hassling him for a year and then we were due to send the album off to mastering in Chicago. Then the week before the album was due to be sent off, Tyson contacted Quan and said, ‘Hey, can you help me out? I’m making a podcast and I need some title music.’ So Quan went, yeah, sure, I’ll make some music for you. And he did it straight away and sent it to him and Tyson went, oh, I really love it.

And then literally the day before we had to send the album off, Tyson just sent us a recording of his voice with that poem. So literally an hour before we sent it to mastering Quan’s like… we have to put this on the album, have we got any music for backing? And I do composing. My wife’s a contemporary dancer and I compose for contemporary dance and theatre, and I just sent Quan a whole bunch of different musical ideas that were left over from my theatre work and Quan pieced together the music with the vocals like half an hour before we sent it away. But I really loved that poem and Tyson’s delivery, I think it’s quite clever. Yeah.

Tell me about the track with JK 47 (Jacob Paulson), Dirty Old Men, was that a co-write with him?

I think that was one of the songs that Quan wrote many versions of. The first was kind of like a Tom Waits Bone Machine kind of version of that song, this really dark hip hop kind of thing. And he sent all these versions and I think that was another last minute track where he put that together 10 days before the mastering and just got JK to sing on that track. So I think it was Quan’s song and then JK just dropped the verse on there.

It’s quite an exciting way to make an album rather than sitting down and thinking, okay, we need to come up with 10 or a dozen tracks, let’s write them but these happy accidents add a bit of excitement to the project don’t they?

Yeah, there’s a lot of happy accidents and I’ll be working in Brisbane and then I’ll be like, oh, I really want an exciting guitar solo on a song, and I’ll send it to Quan and he’ll put it down and then he’ll email it to me and I’ll bring it up and I’m like, oh, that’s a nice surprise. So yeah, there’s a bit of that going on.

Are there any particular songs of the new album you’re really looking forward to playing live?

I do enjoy that song, Cocaine Runaway, that’s quite a fun song, and we’ve kind of recruited an additional musician to cover some of the parts. So we’ve had this girl, Sarah Lim who lives in Melbourne plays keyboard and guitar quite proficiently. So I’m quite looking forward to working with an additional musician and have some more instrumentation going on stage. I guess the whole thing actually. It’s funny, you record an album and then once you write it and record it, you forget how it goes. So I’m actually sitting in my little studio practising songs that are on the record for the tour.

So compared to your other albums, will it be a difficult album to reproduce?

Oh, look, some of the songs are quite simple but some of the songs aren’t. I think when it comes to reproducing the album it can be hard because you record the parts individually. I guess the biggest trick with it is playing guitar or bass and singing at the same time because you were not doing that when writing. We wrote a bit of it together but only a few of them, so we haven’t really had that natural progression of playing and singing. So that will be the trickiest part I guess, vocalising with the music at the same time with the playing.

Tell me about the main bass you use. Have you had that a long time?

I have a few different basses. I’m kind of obsessed with seventies Fender P basses. I’ve got a few of those. But for our live show, our sound engineer is a bass player and he’s quite fussy about the bass sound and I’m always curious as to what he thinks. About a year ago I got a G&L bass guitar. With Regurgitator, it kind of needs that sharp attack, clean, sharp attack type sound, and that bass really provides that for the group. So that’s kind of my main bass with Regurgitator just at the moment. But when I record, I use all sorts of stuff. I’ve got an old Hofner, a hollow body copy I use, and I’ve got a few bass guitars and guitars lying around.

If you had to profile the typical Regurgitator fan, what characteristics would they possess?

Oh, look, I mean this in the nicest possible way… I think they’re kind of nerdy. We’re really nerdy people. We like nerdy stuff, and when we get into something we really kind of obsess about it, whether it’s a film or whether it’s a.. I don’t know … record collection or guitars or songs. So I kind of feel like we have these really amazing fans that turn up and they all look like … kind of like us, just big nerds, which we adore.

It sounds like you had quite a bit of material to choose from for this album. It bodes well for the future, I’d suggest?

Yeah, probably. It’s tricky for me because when I write by myself, I can have a tendency to get a bit goth and a bit dark and a bit not as energetic, but if I’m with other people, I’ll get really excited and play faster and do more fun stuff. So I wrote a lot of songs that  just didn’t really suit, so I’ll probably put them out as a solo project later down the track at some stage. I think there were some cool songs, but they just don’t have that Regurgitator kind of energy about it, so they got dropped.

Is there a particular side project that you’re working on at the moment?

You see with music, I love music to use music to interact socially and connect with friends by playing music rather than going to the pub and sit around and chatting. I love to get together and socialise with my friends and play music and use it as a way to connect, because music is a form of communication, so it’s hanging out and socialising. But we have this kind of common goal of writing, so I’ve got a project called Mungo Fungo, a Mungo band that I do that’s a little bit more free and improvised, and it’s three guys in a room rather than one guy at a computer. So I mean, I really love what that provides for me personally. I do love using music to socialise at school.

So how many tracks off the Invader album do you reckon you’ll play on the tour?

We’re going to try and play all of them. We’re going to play the whole album. We’re going to try and play a pretty long show. We’re going to do a lot of our most popular songs from the past. And we’re even going to try and do some medley of really old stuff from the first two EPs. We’ve been thinking a lot about this tour with everything from the lighting rig to costumes to the song, the set list and everything. So yeah, it feels like we are more passionate and into this band now than we have ever been because it’s like the older you get and if people turn up to our gigs, the older we get, the more blown away we are that we’re still doing this and the luckier we feel. So the longer we go on, the more we feel like we want to, I don’t know, kind of provide a cool show and try and do our best.

We had our photographer up at the Kiss Show at ACCOR Stadium. What are your memories of that day?

Oh my God, that was amazing. That was such a trip. I mean, that was just next level. That was like nothing we have ever done before, really even just going to soundcheck and going on stage and seeing all the pyro techniques and the flamethrowers and looking at all Gene’s basses up close and giant Black Panthers with green laser eyeballs, and it was quite a trip. There was a degree of tension and stress in the air backstage. It’s such a big show, and I was standing on stage and I looked down in between the crash barrier and the stage and I was like, oh my God, that looks like Doc McGhee, like Kiss’s manager was there, he manages  Bon Jovi too and he was down the front watching our silly little band play and he watched a few songs. He was bopping away.

I was like, oh my God. I went up to Quan on stage. I was like, Doc McGhee’s watching us. And then I was backstage and I was at catering getting some mashed potatoes or something and he walked up to me, he was like, Hey man, I really liked your band. You guys are great. And I just went, oh mate, I really appreciate that. I know who you are. And it was like coming from you, that’s a big, big compliment. Appreciate that, mate. Just seeing the fans and the groupies and going out on stage and seeing people in Kiss makeup, man, it was like an incredible dream. I mean, I started playing bass because of Gene Simmons when I was a teenager. The guitarist at high school convinced me, I used to play guitar and the guitarist in a band at high school convinced me to play. He said, bass is really cool, man. Gene Simmons does it and he spits blood and breathes fire. I was like, oh yeah, bass could be cool.

So it is quite an extensive tour coming up. What happens once the tour is done? What’s on for the band?

Once tour is done? I think we’ll probably have a little break. So we’re going to be exhausted. We’re old. We’ll probably have a little break for a bit. My wife’s a dancer, a contemporary dancer, so she’s got a show after the tour is done. So we kind of like to tag team, so if I’m working, she won’t work. And then if she’s working, then I’ll stay home with the kids kind of thing. So I’ll probably be Mr. Mom for a while.

Ben, it’s been great to chat and we look forward to seeing what you do with the Invader album on stage.

Amazing. Thank you so much for the interview. I appreciate that.


REGURGITATOR album – INVADER – out now
VINYL and CD via retail and online
TOURING MAY/JUNE – info here
Onsale via

Here’s the video for the track EPIC. The video was filmed at the recent Golden Plains, edited by Rob McCafferty, and then subjected to a texture mapping animation by Quan.

Share this