Darren Cordeux – Kisschasy ‘I Wanted to Leave on a High, I Didn’t Want to Mess with our Legacy’

It’s not all the time that you get to talk to the frontman of a band who are considered pop-punk royalty in Australia, but that’s exactly what happened when I sat down for a chat with the one and only Darren Cordeux of Kisschasy! The band are about to head out on their first Australian Tour since calling it a day back in 2015, and shows are selling out fast!

We spoke about their comeback, the Good Things Festival 2022 reunion, potential new music and heaps more!

First, I had to ask Darren where the name ‘Kisschasy’ came from, a question I’m sure that he’s been asked many times over the years, but a great story nonetheless.

It was, we kinda got together and booked a show not long after we’d gotten together. We’d work on a few little, a body of material and we’d booked a show on the Mornington Peninsula (A beautiful, coastal part of Victoria’s south-east), and we needed a name quick smart. We threw some in the hat, I can’t remember what the other’s were, but ‘Kisschasy’ was one Joel (Vanderuit), the bass player threw out and we thought it was a little bit childish maybe, and so we were like look, let’s just go with it for now!

We’ll play the show, we need a name, and then we’ll just regroup and get a better name before we play any more shows. I don’t know if it was laziness, or people knew the band name, so we kept it. Some people like it, and some people don’t, as you get older you realise the spirit of rock’n’roll comes from youth, and sometimes aimless angst, so having a name that’s a bit juvenile works.

If you grew up in Australia like both Darren and I, you’re familiar with the concept of Kisschasy (and if you aren’t I encourage you to Google it, or find an Aussie friend and ask them!), so I asked Darren if it was something that people understood internationally, or if it required an explanation.

Perhaps that’s the reason we didn’t do so well internationally! [laughs]

I mean, we never really tried to crack any other markets, we did well in Japan so we played a bunch of shows there. As far as the States, we recorded some albums and did some showcases, but I think if you’re going to make it places like that you really need to commit. We’re gonna go tour, we’re gonna get a label over there and stuff like that. I think, we had such a good thing going in Australia, and we’re so in love with our Australian audience that we didn’t feel any need to branch out. I think our sound is very uniquely Australian, and it took a lot of inspiration from bands around the world, but had a uniquely Australian lens to it, and with my Australian accent, so it was made by Australians for Australians in a lot of ways, you know?

Well, I’m personally glad that we got to keep Kisschasy to ourselves! I said to Darren, you guys are Australian pop-punk royalty, at least in my opinion.

I mean, I feel like, I used to shy away from any of that, but it’s been really cool to notice over the years, and hear we’ve inspired so many current, important bands, and so I’m not gonna use those words, but I feel grateful that our hard work was able to pass the torch down to the younger generations.

I next put to Darren what bands he would want to collaborate with, from the time that Kisschasy was initially coming up. I know personally I’d like to see a Kisschasy/Lee Harding crossover!

Oh gosh, wow, okay! That’s such a hard one, I always loved bands like You Am I, we famously covered one of their songs (‘Berlin Chair), or maybe not so famously, Jebediah, there were so many great rock’n’roll bands around at that time, and other bands like Blue Juice. I don’t know to be honest. It’d be cool to do a hybrid, like change it up, when we were making …Paper People I had a real crush on Missy Higgins and in a lot of ways she’s what inspired me to embrace the Australian accent! I thought it was really cool that she was this pop songstress, but she sang how she talked, and that really informed my decision to do the same thing.

That’s a fair point! I feel like it’s rare to have Australian bands actually sing with Australian accents.

Yeah! Especially where you come from a genre where a lot of the stuff comes from overseas. A lot of the inspiration comes from overseas, it was definitely a creative choice and something that I think worked for us. I think now you still hear that in a lot of bands that are around, and it’s been more embraced.

I took this as my opportunity to fangirl a little over Darren and the band, telling him how I saw Kisschasy play at Good Things in 2022, which honestly was all my teenage dreams of seeing you come true, and asked him what was that experience like for Kisschasy reuniting and performing together again?

It was so cool. I was very apprehensive because I like that Kisschasy had a legacy, and I like things to be in their time capsule, you know? It was good we did what we did and left on a high and I’d like to be remembered that way.

There was a few offers that came up over the years that wasn’t the right fit, but Good Things seemed like a good opportunity to come out because it wasn’t all on us to bring the people. I was very apprehensive, and I did not think we were going to pull an audience, especially as they asked us to go on one of the first bands of the day, playing a full album, not even all of our hits, just one album and on stage 3, some obscure stage at the festival.

I didn’t have high hopes and I didn’t think anyone would care. So I was mentally prepared to get out there in front of nobody! When we got out there and played in front of, however many people it was, singing all the songs it was just goosebumps material you know?

Darren took a moment before continuing.

As far as how it felt as a band, I hadn’t played a note of a Kisschasy song since that last note we played in 2015 at the Hi-Fi. We got into the room, I’d run through the set a few times at home in LA, and I was like okay, I was surprised at how quickly I remembered it. It was like, buried in my subconscious.

Then I flew to Australia, landed on the Monday, we had a rehearsal on Tuesday, then on Wednesday we played a secret show at a little Melbourne pub (The Gem in Collingwood) just to dust off the cobwebs. I was like, well, shit, we need to put together a set and play as tight as we ever did. As soon as we got in there and ran through the set, we blasted through it and looked at each other a little speechless!

Not only was it in our heads, not playing it for so long gave it this extra urgency and electricity that we’d missed. I’d forgotten what it was like to play with a real rock’n’roll band.”

Kisschasy are playing a reunion tour next month, and I asked Darren if the band were surprised at how fast it initially sold out.

Yeah that’s another thing! I was definitely, I wanted to play it down, the idea of playing half-empty big venues is sort of soul-destroying to me, so I’d rather play small venues and sell it out. The fact so many sold out and continue to as we add more shows, is incredible and also daunting. We haven’t played a tour like this in so long. So now we’re playing 3 or 4 shows in a row, now it’s 5 or 6, then a day off, then more again and more again. It’s definitely going to be an exercise in trying to stay healthy, and for me personally to look after my voice. I don’t drink anymore so that helps I think.

We shared a smile at Darren’s sobriety before I asked what were the differences going to be from touring in the early years of Kisschasy, to touring now. You’re older, and arguably more mature.

It’s funny because when we did those Good Things shows, it’s funny how many life events have occurred. Two of us are divorced, two of the members have kids, but as soon as we get back in that van it’s the same jokes, it’s the same feeling. It’s crazy how much it feels like, it’s quite comforting to see how much it hasn’t changed you know? I think as a band we’re better musicians than we were before, like we all love music so much we’ve still been playing so I think that’s the thing that makes it even more fun. You don’t have to worry about the inconsistencies of a live show. I think we’re going to arrive at these shows and play a great show, then in between, I don’t know. This tour, we only did three shows for Good Things which wasn’t really a tour. Maybe we could put a ‘to be continued’ on this and I can tell you after the tour how it went.

With a laugh I put to Darren that I didn’t think they’d manage to get sick of each other, especially with him living in LA now, I think the other guys would just be happy to have you home.

The thing is, it’s funny, when you tour with a band for so long it’s so cool. We know each other’s sense of humour, we know all those things. It’s just really comforting to know we get each other musically and personality wise, so that is great. It’s actually something I really missed, and didn’t realise I missed it so much until we played those shows last year.

I then asked Darren if he was looking forward to any shows in particular, guessing that Melbourne would be the hometown show, even though you’re all from the other side of town.

Honestly? All of them! I’ve not been in Australia for so long, other than Melbourne, so after not being in other places for so long. I’m looking forward to embracing everywhere. I love Perth, and Hobart is going to be really cool. We only really ever played Hobart a few times and it’s such a beautiful place. People there really don’t take shows for granted which I think is really cool. Sydney is like a second home to use as well, we used to spend every other week in Sydney because of our management and label. That’s like Sophie’s Choice, I can’t choose between the states. For me personally, it’s all just fulfilling.

I guess the good thing about being an Aussie band is that you can do a FULL Australian tour and not just the East Coast as most bands who tour here do!

Exactly! That was thing. If we’re gonna do this after so long, we can’t leave anything out. I’d love to do more regional shows and that’s definitely not off the table in the future. I think for now we gave ourselves a month, because we all have lives we’ve created and it’s hard to take too much time out for touring when we have other things in our lives to take into account, especially when there’s no new material to promote.

At the mention of new music, I had to ask Darren if that was maybe something that was on the cards.

Before Good Things, that wasn’t really on my radar. I’m about to put out my own record under the name Daz And The Demons, which is like Kisschasy if I took it on a time machine with me through my influences, then a time machine through their influences, so that’s been my focus right now.

But I think I’m definitely open to new music with Kisschasy. I think my main thing with Kisschasy was that I wanted to leave on a high, I didn’t want to mess with our legacy.

I think all bands have an expiration date and some bands stay past that to try relive a time they were at their best. We toyed around with a fourth album that I’d worked on, but I didn’t think it was our best material because I was trying to, I was halfway in staying what we were, and halfway doing what I wanted to do next. It just felt very compromised, and like it wasn’t as good as what we were doing before, so why patronise our fans and ruin our legacy by releasing music that’s subpar.

I think the reason we’ve come back is that people still love our three albums and we didn’t leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth.

You’ve mentioned a few times about walking away on a high, what was it about 2022/2023 that was the right time to reunite?

I think it was the fact that we’d been through something brutal as a society with the pandemic, so I thought let’s get back to the things that make people happy. Why should we withhold this from people when they want it? I put faith in our booking agent when she said that people wanted to hear Kisschasy. For me, I know my parents are getting older, my dad had a stroke a few years ago, and he in particular wanted to see me play again and so did my Mum. I don’t know why I’m being so stand-offish with this anymore. I’m just one of those people who’s always restless, always looking forward and I like things to be in their time capsule. It just seemed against my nature to go back and open this chapter again, but I’m so glad we did.

As someone who travelled a fair bit, I asked Darren if there was anything specifically Australian he was looking forward to coming back to, knowing how awful the coffee is in the States!

My favourite bar in Melbourne is called Gerald’s Bar, it’s got the best food and when I was a drinker they have the best wine, it’s just a great atmosphere there. There’s so much about it, the Australian attitude, the humour, the self-deprecation, the weather. Australia has a feel to it, and every time I land it just feels like home. Obviously the Australian audience as well, and playing for them when they’ve been here for us through our whole journey so it’ll be nice to experience that again.

I mean, I personally can’t wait to relive my teenage years again with you guys in Melbourne!

I spend half my time in LA telling people how much they’d love Melbourne if they got to experience it, I’m very proud to be from Melbourne. What’s great about Melbourne as well is the bread! There’s so many great bakeries in Melbourne that I really miss. Here they just somehow get it wrong. Breakfast food as well in Melbourne. Breakfast is just like, you have so much choice!

Melbourne has the best coffee arguably as well, right?

That’s very true! There’s a bunch of coffee shops popping up in LA claiming to be Australian-style because the world has caught on to how great it is.

Interview by Kelsey Trevan @Kelsey_139

Kisschasy’s Australian comeback tour kicks off May 3rd get tickets here

Kisschasy Australian Tour 2023

Wednesday, May 3 @ Sydney, Crowbar – NEW SHOW

Thursday, May 4 @ Brisbane, Princess Theatre

Friday, May 5 @ Adelaide, The Gov

Saturday, May 6 @ Perth, BadlandsSOLD OUT

Sunday, May 7 @ Perth, Badlands – NEW SHOW

Wednesday, May 10 @ Canberra, UC Hub

Thursday, May 11 @ Wollongong, Uni Bar

Friday, May 12 @ Sydney, Metro TheatreSOLD OUT

Saturday, May 13 @ Newcastle, Cambridge HotelSOLD OUT

Sunday, May 14 @ Gosford, Drifter’s – NEW SHOW

Wednesday May 17 @ Melbourne, Corner HotelSOLD OUT

Thursday, May 18 @ Melbourne, Corner HotelSOLD OUT

Friday, May 19 @ Torquay, Torquay Hotel

Saturday, May 20 @ Hobart, Uni Bar

Thursday, May 25 @ Melbourne, Corner Hotel – NEW SHOW

Tickets here