AS a passionate Newcastle Knights fan, Leroy Macqueen takes the attitude that "if Joey Johns played with a collapsed lung...I can do it."
Of course The Gooch Palms frontman is referencing Andrew Johns' famous performance in the 1997 Australian Rugby League grand final where the halfback crawled out of his hospital bed with a punctured lung to steer the Knights to their most celebrated of victories over arch-rivals Manly.
Macqueen's own personal tale of pain-enduring heroics might not attract the same level of folklore as Johns, but it provides an indication of just how important The Gooch Palms and music are to the proud Novocastrian.
When Weekender catches up with Macqueen on a Friday afternoon he has just returned to his Adamstown house from a doctor's appointment where he's learnt he has torn a shoulder muscle off the bone.
"I've got to go and have steroid injections, otherwise we'll be finding a guitar player to do the album tour," he says.
The injury occurred in March at South By South West Festival early in The Gooch Palms' 35-date North American tour.
Anybody who has witnessed the wild and physical rock show Macqueen and his partner and bandmate Kat Friend regularly perform, wouldn't be surprised if The Gooch Palms spilled blood or broke some bones for the cause on occasion.
So did it happen stage-diving? Or perhaps crash-tackling the drum kit?
"I was carrying some stuff back at SXSW and some gun shots rained out and people started running," Macqueen says.
"This girl just hit my guitar case and took me with it and I still had my hand around the guitar case."
In fact there were five separate shootings in Austin, Texas during this year's SXSW, which resulted in at least one injury and several arrests.
"I've never heard a gun go off, so in my mind it didn't register with us, but all the Americans knew what was up," he says.
"I reckon every cop in Austin went running towards this area, it was psycho."
I reckon every cop in Austin went running towards this area, it was psycho.Leroy Macqueen
Despite the injury The Gooch Palms' North American tour continued as the colourful duo built up momentum for the release of their third album on May 10, aptly named III.
The album finds The Gooch Palms expanding on the trademark lo-fi punk-pop sound they introduced on their 2013 debut Novo's and refined on Introverted Extroverts in 2016, which was recorded in Detroit by producer Bill Skibbe (The Kills, The Black Keys).
Following the release of Introverted Extroverts The Gooch Palms wound up their Summer Camp label and joined Ratbag Records, the home of Dune Rats and Skegss.
It enabled the duo to hire producer Dylan Adams (DMA's, West Thebarton), who offered more time to develop their songs in The Grove Studios on the Central Coast.
"With Bill [Skibbe] for the last record, he went through the motions a little bit of making us sound a little bigger than Novos, which was our comfort zone at the time," Macqueen says.
"With all the touring we did with [Violent] Soho and Dune Rats and being friends with Skegss, we've seen how much effort they put into production. That was inspiring for us.
"It's the first time we've gone into the studio with demos and they were vague ideas. Most of it was nutted out in the studio. The last two records were just songs we were playing live, while these were written for the album."
The extra studio time resulted in III being the most diverse and mature Gooch Palms album.
Their lo-fi punk sound is still present on Are We Wasted and Coast To Coast, but there's also new territory being explored.
Folk-rock ballad Yeh Nah carries the spirit of Mr Big and backing vocals from Dune Rats, while Marfa Lights, about driving along a lonely Texas highway in search of extraterrestrial life, mixes '60s surf rock with modern electronic beats.
But Macqueen's favourite moment is the closing I Get Out, their most epic song yet. It's a haunting slice of psychedelia in the vein of Brian Jonestown Massacre, but was also influenced by U2's Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me from Batman Forever.
"That one is the proudest I've ever been about a song," he says.
"I could retire. I've always wanted to write that song."
So does this new level of sophistication mean the days of pumping out three-minute punk-pop songs about Hunter Street Mail or Broadmeadow Station are over?
"There's nothing for us to put out a 25-minute punk album next," he says. "III could be the most high-quality record we do. We could even revert back to Novo's.
"I just feel like for me and Kat that it was the album we always wanted to make and we've never had the funds."
Lyrically, III is also their most expressive.
Friend's feminist anthem Busy Bleeding, about the bane of menstruation, is ironically the album's most radio-friendly moment, and on Hi-Rise Lo-Times the pair express their anger about the encroachment of apartments on music venues in Newcastle and around the world.
"Newcastle is psycho at the moment," Macqueen says. "It makes me wanna scream at the top of my lungs what's become of Newcastle."
Also for the first time Macqueen exposes vulnerability when he discusses his mental health battles in Burnout. It's a familiar story. The endless late nights and lonely days travelling took their toll in 2017 while touring Introverted Extroverts.
"There was a moment when I thought I was invincible with doing relentless touring and travelling," he says.
"I was storing it all away somewhere and unfortunately it all came out in Bordeaux, France, one day. Kat was trying to pull me back to myself, but sometimes you don't listen to the people who are closest to you.
"It took our old American housemate, who went through something similar, to pull me aside and woke me up a bit.
"I went and sought some help and it's when you realise how good it is to have good open mates you can talk to."
The Gooch Palms are expected to spend most of 2019 promoting III, but Macqueen is confident there will be no repeat of his previous mental exhaustion.
"We're having more fun about it," he says. "I think we were too focused on the task at hand and not really enjoying the small things.
"The Gooch Palms are going to be returning to heavy touring, but I feel like we've got a different way of going about it off stage."
- Newcastle's Gooch Palms return to the Cambridge Hotel on Saturday.
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