On Their New Album Viagra Boys Explore The Darkest Corners Of The Internet

Singer Sebastian Murphy talks about his debauched personality on stage and how the esoteric internet culture inspired the Swedish post-punk band’s third album. Cave World

On “Troglodyte”, the lead single from Viagra Boys’ upcoming album Cave World, frontman Sebastian Murphy sings about an incel who dreams of becoming a shooter. †He says he doesn’t believe in science/ He thinks all the news is fakehe exclaims, before turning back the clock to prehuman times.when we had hairy arms and legs And you were still swimming around in a lake† It’s the kind of esoteric online content you see scattered across the manosphere via Jordan Peterson videos and 4chan, with references to everything from Return to Monkee to dinocore.

“The song has a lot of timeline errors because when I first started writing it, I thought a caveman was one of those fossils you find in a rock,” Murphy confesses. “I was referring to someone who is so far back that they are a goddamn seashell, like the most primitive form of life. But then I realized I was completely wrong, and a caveman is a goddamn caveman.”

He speaks backstage at the Primavera festival, the morning after a particularly rough night for the Stockholm singer, who has the blank stare of someone who’s seen better days: “I’m such a hangover,” he says with a sigh. Sitting on a bench next to a row of toilet cubicles – an oddly fitting context given the singer’s seedy onstage – he holds a can of beer in one hand and a can of snus in the other. “I like internet culture and I watch a lot of YouTube and know where memes come from,” he begins. “I saw this very interesting documentary about the cognitive compromise hypothesis, which shows how monkeys have really good short-term memories that we don’t. It got me thinking about the whole world in general, like how fucking people suck.”

Cave World, the Swedish band’s darkly comedic third album, is the result of a pandemic scrolling. With mentions of conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers, it’s in many ways a reflection of today’s society, wrapped in Murphy’s instantly recognizable sort of debauched post-punk. “I think there’s a lot of inspiration just from the demise of society and what’s been happening in the world lately and the gap between people and the extremely opposing ideas of how the world should be – and just this general sense of chaos and destruction,” he explains.

For bands like Viagra Boys, whose values ​​are progressive but whose presentation is terminally out of place, it’s hard to tell what’s a parody and what isn’t. Since the release of their debut in 2018 street wormsthe band has built a reputation for breaking the boundaries of political correctness, whether that’s mocking toxic masculinity while tapping into machismo stereotypes, or pondering themes of classism on their chaotically exciting sophomore album wellness jazz† Even the band’s name is subject to controversy: ‘Viagra’ is routinely replaced with ‘V**gra’ to prevent PR emails from ending up in spam.

a born front man, Murphy also takes on the role of the antihero, with self-conscious lyrics that often refer to his own cocky behavior. For example, on “Ain’t No Thief,” Murphy refutes someone who accuses him of stealing their coat (“I’m not a thief/ We happen to have the same stuff, motherfucker”, he spits), while insisting on “Punk Rock Loser” that he “looser than a piece of low-hanging fruit” against a rambunctious array of outlaw country rhythms (Murphy, a daytime tattoo artist, has the word “LÖS”—meaning “loose” in Swedish—written on his forehead).

“I’m trying to channel some sort of inner struggle,” Murphy says, reflecting on his debauched stage character. “When we first started with the band, everything that happened on stage was real. I’d curl up in a ball and start crying to get in here [state of] self-loathing.” He pauses. “I want to stay on stage like that decadent person because that’s how a lot of people feel — and they like seeing this bastard.”

Later that night, Murphy is a reborn man. “I destroyed my life in Barcelona,” he clearly announces to the crowd, pouring beer over his protruding, tattooed belly. He jokes that he’s the Swedish House Mafia and berates “this fucking house shit” from the nearby Boiler Room x Cupra stage. It’s this magnetism on stage that makes it nearly impossible to take your eyes off him. Blowing cartoon kisses to the crowd, he pushes the air mic and yells through the mic, “But then I come here and see all you damn freaks – freaks never die!”

Cave World comes out July 8th

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