The trio’s touring Australia as part of the Laneway Festival, before heading to the US to perform at the mega-festival Coachella where they’ll share a bill with the likes of Rage Against the Machine and Run the Jewels. Not bad for a band who haven’t even dropped their debut album yet.
“We played a few shows in the US last year and they did pretty well, so [Coachella] came to us with an offer and we thought, yeah, you know, may as well,” says Sandwith.
While the band’s songs are both quotidian and universal – everyone can understand the grind of tracking down a decent schnitty (Pub Feed), for example – Sandwith’s just as amused by the Chats’ overseas appeal as most.
“Every now and then you’ll get someone who asks you what a word means, but they respond really well – better than Australians,” he says of their international fans. “We actually do better overseas than we do in Australia. It must just be the whole Australian thing – they love it. They’ll come up to me and go, ‘Hey, can you just say ’G’day mate’?”
In December Sandwith had another brush with viral success after posting a protest song about Scott Morrison’s response to the bushfire crisis on the band’s Facebook page. The acoustic number, titled I Hope Scott’s House Burns Down, earned more than 32,000 shares.
“Yeah, I didn’t think it would go that nuts,” he shrugs. “But I think it summed it up pretty well.”
Last March the band signed with Universal Music; exactly a year later they’ll release their first album High Risk Behaviour.
“It’s got 14 songs on it. It’s going to be pretty fast, pretty good, nothing too experimental,” says Sandwith.
“We’ve got a song called Dine and Dash, which is about going into a fancy restaurant and running away before the bill comes; we’ve got a song called Keep the Grubs Out, which is about my experience with a bar in Brisbane that wouldn’t let me in ’cause of my haircut; and we’ve got a song about the Ross River virus.”
The Ross River virus? Should go off at ’Chella.
“Yeah, some of them are a bit out there. But it’s just what I think is funny or interesting,” he says. “Most of the songs I knock out in about 20 minutes. If it goes any longer than that, I’ll get bored.”
The Laneway Festival takes place in Brisbane on February 1, Sydney on February 2, Adelaide on February 7, Melbourne on February 8 and Fremantle on February 9.
Robert Moran is a culture reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age