Seth Sentry's new album 'Super Cool Tree House' is released 18 June.
"Do you know what? COVID's not all it's cracked up to be. It's actually bad. That's a hot take," Melburnian rapper Seth Sentry joked on the eve of the latest Victorian lockdowns forcing the postponement of the fourth and final show of his Evelyn residency last month.
The final show will now go ahead on 18 June, which is also the official release date of his new album, 'Super Cool Tree House'.
The residency marked an epic live comeback for Sentry, who says there had been significant anxiety attached to performing again. "It's the longest I've gone without playing a show ever, since I started rapping.
"Same with Sizzle, my DJ, and same with Stevie Cat Jnr, my drummer – and same with every musician around – so there was an anxiety and a fear attached to it.
"There was excitement, but there was definitely anxiety where I thought, 'F..., we're going to be so rusty, we haven't done this in so long. Are we going to remember how to do this?'.
"I think part of it was having such a great group of people who, because it was such a small show, the tickets got snapped up really quick – they sold out in five to ten minutes – so it was just people that were really, really keen to get back out there. So that energy being in the room made it such a comfortable place to be.
"But also, doing the livestream stuff over the couple of months leading up to it I think really helped alleviate a lot of that stress and just got me comfortable performing again.
"So those two things made it such a pleasure, I loved it. For about a minute at the start I'm in my head and I'm like, 'Oh my God, how does this work?' But then it was just pure joy."
Sentry has been streaming 'raps, rants and video games' on Twitch (@SethSentryTV) for two months, and broadcast the Evelyn shows on Twitch, with over 10,000 viewers streaming the third show live and 100,000 watching it post-event.
He also made the show interactive for viewers at home. "Once we'd booked the shows in and I was already doing this Twitch stuff I was definite that I wanted to livestream the whole thing, but I also didn't want it to be just a fly on the wall kind of voyeuristic thing, where you're just watching the show from home, and you're just essentially watching other people having fun.
"I wanted to integrate it so it's like you're in the f...ing room. You're playing a part. I think that's really important, it's something that's missing from livestream events, is that interactivity where you feel like you're doing something – you matter. And you do matter.
"But historically – I say historically like livestreaming has been around forever – but historically you've never really had that feeling, you always do feel like, you know, a dirty little pervert standing in the corner watching other people have a good night.
"I'm just so f...ing over social media and the whole yelling into the void nature of it, where you just send something out and you're like, 'Oh, I hope people like me now', you know? 'I hope people listen to my music', or whatever the f..., and this is not that.
"This just feels like a hang. This just feels like hanging out with your friends three nights a week and playing video games and rapping a free style and being stupid.
"Hopefully I can keep pushing it and building up on that. I'm not sure what shape that's going to take just yet, but I'm working super hard, and that's my focus right now."
It has been six years since Sentry's last album, 'Strange New Past', dropped in 2015, during which time Sentry says "a lot has happened".
"I hit my 30s. You kind of re-evaluate as you get into your 30s, you're like, 'I've been doing this for 12 years and I've been doing it the same way for 12 years', and you get a little bored," he says.
"I left hospitality because I didn't want to work the same job day in day out, and then somewhere along the way music became a job, and I started treating it like a job, and I lost the joy of it, you know?
"Things just changed in these really subtle ways that I didn't realise was happening at first, so I just kept pushing through, being like, ‘Oh f... it, it's all me, I've got to smoke more pot or smoke less pot or start writing these hours, or maybe if I work only at nights or maybe if I work with this producer – I'll do a writing trip!'.
"But it wasn't any of that sh.t, it was just something I had to reconcile with myself and work out why am I doing this?
"Then the pandemic hit, and obviously that changed things again. I started this idea to basically release one song a week. Doing that and the momentum of that and the loose nature of the song writing, where I wasn't concerned about choruses and singles and concepts and things, or 'how does this fit with another song cohesively for an album?' – because I've always been so obsessive when it comes to structuring an album and how things play off each other.
"Not having to worry about any of that sh.t, and just write raps, actually brought my whole obsession back with it, and it was fun again. Not only did I not overthink, I didn't have a chance to overthink, because of the quick turnaround time.
"It was just like, 'bang, bang, bang,' one after the other, and I f...ing loved it, it felt awesome. It actually felt like when I first started rapping – it had that same energy for me. I was like, 'it doesn't f...ing matter, nothing matters!' And that's the way I've always operated – just write cool sh.t, who gives a f...? And in ten weeks I had a f...ing album – there you go. Done."
Sentry took the ten tracks originally released via YouTube – plus the current single 'Castlevania', which has just been added to triple j's rotation – back into the studio to tidy them up, along with UNO Stereo, who has worked on previous albums, and began to treat 'Super Cool Tree House' "like an album after the fact, if that makes sense".
Known for writing lyrics with two or even three different meanings, Sentry admitted he was proud of some of the lines he created for this record. "Let me f...ing look at my own lyrics and I'll tell you exactly the line, because there is one that I was like, 'ooh, I'm very proud of this one, I hope people notice it,' but no-one said sh.t about it," he laughs.
"Oh, you know which line I really like actually? Keeping in mind I'm not a sports fan, but my grandma used to drag me to St Kilda football games when I was a kid, and watch St Kilda lose game after game.
"So there's a line in there that says: ‘All I wanna do is win Ma, but Little Nicky's not a Saint', which is obviously alluding to Nicky Winmar and St Kilda, but then also, 'Little Nicky' was an Adam Sandler movie where he plays like a little devil boy so he's not a saint.
"So it's like this cool little triple entendre, I think it's my favourite. And also, ‘F... cops, I've got 'em pouring whiskey in their coffee cups: mug shots,' I thought that was pretty good as well."
The album and the Twitch stream have also given Sentry a chance to work more with his brother, Sam, who has done all of the animated assets and alerts for the stream as well as the entire video clip for 'Castlevania'.
"This is the first time we've worked on something as ambitious as this, and also the first time we've realised, 'Holy f..., that's too much for one person to handle', because he tried to make an entire CGI film clip in one month, and we didn't realise how crazy that was.
"So now we're like, 'okay, cool, if we do something like that again we're going to need a team'. But regardless, it looks f...ing awesome. I'm really really happy with it. It's given us a lot of ideas moving forward.
"Obviously it's super cool to work with your brother, we have a real shorthand in terms of communication and we love the same sh.t, because we grew up playing the same video games and watching the same cartoons, so it's very easy to have the exact same point of reference. I can just beat him in an arm wrestle, you know? So it's perfect."
Fans asking for Seth Sentry tour news won't need to wait much longer. "We're looking at August," he says. "No firm dates locked in, but we're looking at August and we're going all around the country."