Music / Features
Unreachable Burning Forces -
A chat with CIVIC
Words by Daniel Devlin
Friday 20th November, 2020
Off the back of their 'Radiant Eye' 7” released earlier this month through Flightless Records, we caught up with punk masters CIVIC to talk us through their latest signing, wider influences and the curious tale of forming a horn section.
Although CIVIC have grown accustomed to their 70’s gutter punk lineage, 'Radiant Eye' bursts a bubble on their surrounding sound and ethos. With steady command and a familiar grime to their performance, 'Radiant Eye' bursts with turbo guitar leads, each frantic and wailing, and comes strung together by Jim McCullough’s iconic yelp. Balancing their mucky edge, CIVIC lean into catchy hooks and dynamic shifts, engaging listeners with frequent left turns and the impenetrable onslaught of horns.

Tackling judgement through self-confidence and tight knit performance, 'Radiant Eye' finds CIVIC at their loudest and most conscious yet. Further flexing their knack for garage and punk smarts, 'Making Time' - the groups take on the 1966 Creation classic - makes up the B-side on the 'Radiant Eye' 7”. Not unfamiliar to a strong cover, CIVIC once again propel their sound and influences, exhausting their wealth of riffs for a set of rock solid ragers.

Delving deeper into the 7”, we caught up with CIVIC’s fearless leader Jim McCullough to find out more behind the group's magic.
Hey guys! How’s everything been going for you this year during lockdown? It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly nine months since your set at Golden Plains - how have you been able to reflect on that experience from your time off gigging?

Howdy, it’s been a wild ride hey. We all actually managed to stay pretty busy during lockdown. Lewis bought a lawn mower and had a lucrative lawn service for local Castlemaine folk. Dave swam back to Canada and Roland contributed to the lack of salmon in the ocean. GP was unreal, we are all itching to get back to playing our rock tunes.

‘Radiant Eye’ is your first release through Flightless Records. How did you link up for this one? Could you tell us a bit about the track?

I’d always dug Flightless’s hustle and work ethic. I had been sharing a studio with Benny Jones on the top floor of this old picture framing warehouse run by a strange little man. In between our weekly ritual of perfect pepperoni pizza and discussions about the importance of viridian green, we’d thrown the idea around about dropping a record on Flightless when we had some content. I’d always liked the H100’s lyric and song 'Picked On', the bullying aspect is something a lot of us can relate to I’m sure. I started thinking a lot about this idea of the eye of judgement from others. The sun seemed like a fitting character to take on this role, an unreachable burning force watching over us.

‘Radiant Eye’ has the usual pummel of a CIVIC track with a denser array of instrumentation and dynamics. When did this track first come together for you guys?

We always jam on Mondays. It’s kind of stupid because we already argue like four brothers normally and then the Monday drag brings out the worst, and sometimes best in us. So Lewis had this riff and the idea to start the song with this turbo solo. Then we built it up from there.

In the past I know you had Al Montfort on sax duties for your track ‘Call the Doctor’. How did the horns come about this time on ‘Radiant Eye’? Can we expect more on future releases?

We were recording with Phil Gionfriddo at the old Bake House in Fitzroy. I think it went something like this - “We should put horns on this song, actually we should get Stella to do horns on this song!” We texted Stella and she was down. She burns. Then we thought damn, we kind of need a trombone if we’re really gonna rip off 'Know Your Product'. So Darcy said he knew a guy who played trombone, so he messaged to see if he could come down. Now. Exactly 3.25 seconds later Alex rocked up with this dusty old hard case that looked like he’d dragged it from the ocean, and a gorgeous grin. He pulled this faded trombone out and started to have a hoon, but nothing. “Maybe it’s blocked” said Alex. “Anyone got a coat hanger?". I think Phil found one down the back near his tea and coffee stall, and after some digging around inside the ancient brass bone Alex snagged a cork that had somehow found its way inside. Then we had a true horn section.

Although your music tends to draw from a lot of 70’s punk sounds, ‘Making Time’ finds you tackling a 60’s garage classic. How did the inspiration for this cover come together?

We enjoy a good cover as much as anyone and we needed a B-side to the single. We have a WhatsApp with a bunch of songs we like and that one got picked out of a hat.

You also included a fantastic cover of Brian Eno’s ‘Needles in the Camel's Eye’ for your last EP Those Who No. Any other covers you’d love to tackle?

Thanks heaps glad you dig, we’d always hoped Eno was going to sue us for that. Apparently it’s in the mail. There’s been talk of doing 'When The Birdmen Fly' by Fun Things but I’m truly set on a Franky Valley cover.

What can we expect next from CIVIC?

There’s been talk of changing the band name by simply flipping the letters backwards, but I guess we’ll sort that out when we get Twitter.

We’re also planning on doing some film clips which should be fun, we may drop one before the year is out if we can find someone to let us sink their houseboat.

Will we see new recordings in 2021?

Luckily we got the LP done before COVID and before Dave got deported. So we thought it was best to just let this year flop, and then drop something early 2021.

Radiant Eye is out now through Flightless Records - head to to grab the 7" on limited vinyl.
Photo by Ben Jones