Body Type – the Australian quartet composed of Sophie McComish, guitarist-vocalist Annabel Blackman, drummer Cecil Coleman, and bassist-vocalist Georgia Wilkinson-Derums – formed in Sydney in 2016. They were all relatively new to their instruments when they first came together – McComish had just started writing songs while Coleman was learning to play drums, and they met Blackman and Wilkinson-Derums through mutual friends. After releasing a series of singles beginning with 2016’s ‘Ludlow’, Body Type gigged across Sydney and put out two EPs, 2018’s EP1 and 2019’s EP2, via Partisan Records and Inertia Music. Last Friday, they came through with their debut LP, Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising, via Poison City, the Melbourne label home to the likes of Camp Cope, Cable Ties, and Romero. It’s full of fiery, dynamic, and irresistible post-punk songs that – for all the stark contrasts they contain – are always driven by a combination of potent lyrics, frenetic instrumentals, and interweaving melodies that speak to the band’s electrifying chemistry. With each release, they’re getting better and better at channelling chaos into something uniquely their own.
We caught up with Body Type’s Annabel Blackman and Cecil Coleman for this edition of our Artist Spotlight interview series to talk about the origins of the band, the process behind their debut album, how they inspire each other, and more.
Do you mind sharing what your impressions of each other were when you formed the band?
Cecil Coleman: I already knew Soph, so I already had a first impression of Sophie. But what was my first impression of Annabel… Little weirdo. [laughs] No, I’m kidding. I love you, Annabel. God, I don’t know.
Annabel Blackman: I feel like you thought I was a baby or something.
CC: Well, we all called you Baby Belle for a while. And I guess that’s morphed into Bab? But I don’t know, I can’t remember.
AB: Well, I remember I thought you were really mischievous. I thought you were a troublemaker.
CC: I was a bit of trouble.
AB: Yeah, you were in a bit of a bender.
CC: That’s right, I was. Sophie and I liked to party back then. Mainly me. I do remember – you know when you just meet someone that you know you have a lot in common with but you’ve only spoken a few words to them? That’s what it felt like. And Georgia, I will say, I was like terrified of Georgia because I just thought she was so cool. I was like, she’s far cooler than anyone I’ve known and she won’t be my friend. [laughs]
When you started playing music together, did that immediately make you feel more connected?
CC: Yeah, definitely. I think the whole reason we started the band initially was just to be playing music, but in a place with no judgement. We’re all at varying levels with our instruments, we were still learning them, and we’re kind of just figuring shit out. When you’re writing music together, you’re quite vulnerable as well, so I guess we’ve all seen sides of each other that probably other people haven’t seen, and that’s been out of songwriting and touring and travelling. We all live together.
AB: Yeah, we’ve seen a lot of change in each other.
CC: A lot of change, that’s for sure. A lot of haircuts. [laughs]
AB: Yeah, Soph just got a new one today that’s gonna blow everybody out of the water.
CC: How is it?
AB: It’s like an inverted Todd Rundgren.
CC: Mad. All I could hope for. I’m gonna message her now and ask her to send me some pictures.
That’s a very specific and great description.
AB: Thank you. Well, I was just looking at Todd Rundgren because Cecil and I have been talking about Todd Rundgren. I was listening to him pretty hardcore when I was cleaning my house. He took me to better places. But I gotta say, I really love that period of time before we released any music and we were just rehearsing in really crappy places that had missing or broken equipment. It felt like a cool sort of club, like a secret Dead Poets Society that I got to be a part of for a bit.
How early on were you convinced that Body Type was something you were going to invest a lot of energy in?
AB: I was convinced because that was the only thing I wanted to do ever, and I never imagined it happening because I just thought I’d work a really boring job in an office. So there was no question of whether it was going to get all my energy.
CC: Yeah, I was about the same. I never thought I’d be playing shows with my best friends, ever. So it was just like, “Take all my money. Take all my energy. Take all my sleep.”
When did you feel like Body Type was it, though, that it was something special?
CC: For me, it was definitely after we play it for the first time. I remember sitting upstairs at this gig. We supported Gabriella Cohen, this band called Solid Effort were main support and we opened. We’d kind of been forced into playing, we were like, “We’re not ready, we’re not ready.” Our friend, beautiful Lorey, said, “No, you are going to open for Gabriella Cohen.” And we were like, “Okay.” And then we did it. I remember sitting with Sophie upstairs at that venue and we were like, that was really special and I think we might do something – like, something might happen. And yeah, here we are. So that’s nice.
AB: For me, I remember a different moment where I was at uni finishing my master’s, and it was just before the end of the degree. We put out ‘Ludlow’ and there was a Rolling Stone review. It was the first press sort of thing we ever got, and I remember just thinking, I feel so good. Like, I finally feel like I’ve done something kind of worthwhile. It was a really great feeling, like we achieved something.
CC: That article’s still on Annabel’s parents’ fridge, too.
Having put out two EPs before working on your album, did you intentionally go into your debut with a different approach? Your plans obviously changed due to the pandemic, but was there a vision that you held onto throughout?
CC: I would say yes. I think what probably changed in this process, I think with the EPs we were still kind of finding our feet and figuring shit out. We were still so new and new to our instruments and figuring out what vibe we wanted, and we knew that we didn’t want to be a shiny indie pop band or anything like that. And I think on this record, it was a much more collaborative process, and it’s just much more representative of out influences and the band that we want to be, and it’s more representative of our live sound as well. We were so lucky to record it when we did because we recorded it two weeks before COVID hit Australia, so we’ve had this up our sleeve for two years. But it’s kind of cool listening to it now and being catapulted back to that time and that energy. And I think it really brought us closer together. We recorded it and we were quite defiant, because we were like, we’re gonna record this album, we’re gonna pay for it ourselves, and this is how we’re going to do it.
AB: I think we directed all of our unsatisfied visions and energies and ideas into this thing. It just took so long to figure out what we wanted after we started playing, and playing in a way that we idolised other bands or other sounds. And we kind of just stopped caring about that so much, stripped it back to something simpler but more us.
During the writing or recording process, were you surprised by anything that came up? Is there anything that still surprises you about how it came together?
AB: There were so many moments when we got together and were intensively writing that I was having those moments of just fully understanding what it was like to properly write collaboratively together instead of someone writing a song and other people kind of filling in the bits. We really engaged with each other and talked about it and stacked these ideas on top of each other into songs. It just made me want to keep building those skills.
Do you each have a favourite moment or track on the album at the moment?
AB: My favourite song is ‘Buoyancy’, but my favourite part is the alternating guitar chops that Soph and I do on it. It’s probably something you can’t really hear as much unless you’re listening in stereo with headphones on or something, but it feels really striking when we play it together. That was one of those moments where I remember writing that, it felt really good.
CC: Yeah, it’s mad. We were all together, that was a moment where all of us were like, “Yeah, let’s do that bit!” [Annabel laughs] And then we’ll come back at the end and we’ll be like, “Fuck yeah, rock and roll!” One of my favourite bits is in ‘A Line’ where the guitars have a little chat.
AB: That’s a good way to put it.
CC: What I think is cool about so many of the songs and why I probably can’t decide my favourite is because I feel like we really tried for there to be a bit of variation rather than it being like a standard 4/4 indie rock song. I love playing ‘The Charm’ because it’s a different time signature, which I think is really cool. And then the tempo changes in ‘Buoyancy’ and ‘Futurism’. One of my all-time favourite parts on the album is ‘Couple Song’, though, because the triplets in the bass and when Annabel plays the guitar – you don’t hear triplets that much repeated in a song. And I just love we did. I find that quite striking to listen to.
AB: Actually, that one, for me – I feel like when we were recording it, Cec, I realized how melodic your drum playing is. It’s not just rhythmic. It’s almost tonal in the way that you’ve written the parts to the song.
CC: Aw, thanks. Yeah, I would say I’m a melodic drummer. [laughs]
AB: Obviously, because you do so many other musical things, it all informs that too.
Can you share something that inspires you about each other and the band as a whole?
CC: We’re gonna get deep now.
AB: Yeah, that’s a cool question.
CC: I feel like I get to get the front seat – it’s like the backseat, but… – to these three incredible women singing and writing constantly. I am so blown away every time by their creative, beautiful, intelligent lyrics. I’m just shocked, but not surprised. Because I feel like there’s so much wit and humour interwoven into them all. I juust feel constantly inspired to keep on getting better at drums so I can support these incredible songs, these incredible lyrics.
CC: Well, I’m sorry, I got deep.
AB: Maybe I’ll make mine Cecil-specific. Whenever I’m, like, battling internally with willpower or something, I’m like, “Just be like Cecil, why can’t you just be like Cecil?” [laughs] Because she just takes things on board. And she, beyond drums, will just do everything. It’s somewhat of a problem sometimes [Cecil laughs]. But most of the time, it’s an incredible thing.
CC: Thanks, Bab.
AB: I constantly have like a little rubber wristband that says What would Cecil do? in my mind.
Since we have some more time left, do you want to share something about Sophie and Georgia as well?
AB: I feel like everyone has qualities that I think are a bit magical. Like, Sophie has a way of sequencing things together so that great things happen.
CC: It’s true.
AB: She’s just pretty amazing at lining things up and then making the best possible situation take place. That’s incredibly vague, but she’s kind of a bit psychic in the way that she can do that.
CC: She’s like a true romantic, but in the sense that everything is magical, but it’s also real.
AB: Yeah, she has these fantastical ideas but then she believes in them and they actually manifest. Georgia – what can I say about Georgia?
CC: She’s a punk.
AB: Yeah, like a “no fucks given” attitude maybe. [laughs]
CC: She’s the fire, I would say.
AB: She’s got a pretty chaotic energy, but it somehow channels itself into spontaneous good things.
AB: Yes. It’s funny, I think with all of us, with all our powers combined, we kind of have energy bursting but also being contained and shaped and changed into other things. And that’s in writing, but also in the way that we collaborate on the whole of the Body Type project.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.