DIYFS: Swords Down – A history of emo in Australia*

(*it’s also a great song by Purplene)

So here’s an answer for the question ’what bands should I start listening to?’ WITHOUT the judgement you’d expect from elite scenesters and keyboard warriors. Take it from someone who was around when these bands were, this is where you start.

Swords Down is an online history journal that tells a story with images, links, archives and a well written narrative that ties it all together. Perfect for newcomers and great for old dogs who want to see some nods to yesteryear. I’ve loved pouring over this and reading and following the links as I’m sure you will too!

Many people have come to regard ‘emo’ as a dirty word. Depending on your understanding of its history and beginnings one might not understand how it came to be and much less it’s place in Australian underground music. Swords Down offers some insight and a bit of a bread trail to follow for these artists who contributed in some way towards what we have now.

Regarding these unsung champions, site creator and curator Carl Burnett says “There’s been a focus on this ’emo-revival’ the last year or two, which is awesome. But I caught myself thinking one day that since I’d been involved in the scene there’s ALWAYS been this group of bands going completely unnoticed to the side, often working much harder than those in the limelight, playing by much harder rules. Personally I find all of my favourite bands come from the same corner of the room despite their style/genre/whatever, it’s the DIY and punk rock ethic that aligns and endears me to them. Some of these albums came out over twenty years ago and deserve a lot more attention than they got – it’s so easy to let people know about them now so I figure why not?”

The site is more or less split into three era’s: The early days, the internet age and current stuff. A nice distinction. In fact it acknowledges that there’s a lot that could be added. Every state had its own heroes who pushed things forward, and much of that came before the dawn of file sharing and so the task falls to a dedicated few who still have CD’s and tapes to rip and upload them. Now here’s the kicker…you are invited to participate! Share your input to fill those gaps. Adding comments to the pages serves like a footnote for the content. If it’s quality, it may be included into the bigger site!

Carl says “I really want the comments to go nuts with people suggesting and recommending bands, sharing stories, memories and the like. That’s why I’ve got the comments open and allowed links to be posted in them because I want people to talk and share. I consider it to be an open sourced discussion so absolutely yes if there’s something I’ve missed I want to add to it. There are so many bands I’ve missed because I simply couldn’t get media on (Rushmore, Fahrenheit 451, the list goes on) and hopefully through the site being launched more information becomes available and I can add to it further.”

“Originally this started as a simple article I was going to put together highlighting some bands who made an impression on me in my formative years. I’ve made a few posts on the Hobbledehoy Medium page that doesn’t really get much traffic. When I got writing this, before I knew it I had a few thousand words that now needed links and media to do it any justice – hence the stand alone site was suggested. 

I encourage anyone with an interest in post-punk, shoegaze, melancholic rock or angular indie sounds to dive right in here. The lineage is filled with amazing bands and albums that are going to slay you.

Slay. You.


*as always, whenever possible buy the music from the band before digging through someone elses upload folder yeh?

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