I met Drew Gates in a poetry class where he read out his frank, lyrical writing. I discovered his unique turn of phrase, and to this day I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone else say ‘smear’ or ‘syrup lover’ quite like him. Actually, it’s ‘syruplover’ and that word belongs to Drew. He’s fronted bands, written novels and is now running a publishing house, Green Ant Press — ‘underground books for above ground people.’
You’re a writer, musician, why branch out into publishing?
Fiction and punk rock just weren’t paying the bills. I have tried every conceivable type of job and was left feeling so unfulfilled and demented at the end of the day I had to get shitfaced and break things. Writing is the only thing that doesn’t bore the shit out of me and publishing just seemed like a natural progression.
How did Green Ant Press come about?
At the moment I am publishing my own work – five titles planned for this year. Next year I have two zine compendiums planned and a photo book featuring the work of a Sydney punk photographer from the ‘90s. Publishing my work in this way is fundamentally different from self-publishing as all my work goes through the same processes it would in any other publishing house. I wanted a uniquely Australian name for the press and Green Ant was fitting. Aboriginals used to bite off their abdomens to eat – I have tried it, they are sugary sweet. Vicious bite in the front with a sweet arse.
What don’t you like about the publishing process?
I fucking hate the IT side of things. I have had to learn all kinds of IT shit and it has driven me insane – punched out several flat screens. Luckily, people throw out flat screens that aren’t that big, so I have a surplus of them. It doesn’t surprise me that a disproportionate number of IT workers are sexual deviants, rockspiders and creepy nerds. Fuck them!
It’s a difficult for publishing, especially print. Where do you think it’s going?
I think we are on the cusp of a brand new era of publishing. Five years ago was a depressing time but I think the dawn has truly broken. I believe that Print on Demand is going to be the Mp3 for the publishing industry. There are definite parallels with where publishing in print is going and what happened to vinyl when CDs came out. There was a major slump but the true music lovers stuck to vinyl (it is all I listen to). Today, there is a resurgence in popularity for vinyl but who the fuck listens to CDs?
What about eBooks?
I personally can’t read eBooks but have nothing against them. What a lot of bands are doing nowadays is releasing their music digitally and if it is popular they do a limited release on vinyl. I can see a similar thing happening with eBooks – if they are popular, a print run is done.
You’ve just released the third print of your book ‘The Crooked Beat,’ congratulations. Tell us about your novel.
Thanks! From the ages of 18-21 I travelled around South East Asia and India doing the ‘party circuit.’ I supported a smack habit by selling acid at the parties. The Crooked Beat takes place in the final months of this time. My best mate had just OD’d and I was fucked. The parties were insane, insane, insane and I didn’t care about anything except making sure they never stopped.
What about ‘Blockpanda’?
When I decided to start my own publishing house, all the constraints of writing with a publisher in mind evaporated like a puddle of rancid piss in the sun. The sky was the limit and the limit was mine to define. Blockpanda is a word I created and means something/someone that is hilarious in a completely unhinged, insane way. It is the first in a trilogy I call the ‘Psychedelic Evolution Trilogy’ – I am currently working on the sequel, Electric Spaghetti, which is another ‘odd-future’ novel about multinational pharmaceutical companies creating cult armies out of ex-addicts via detox intervention. Naturally, it ends with the radiant emergence of a psychedelic dictator called SHE.
Who does your cover art?
The Crooked Beat was done by a well-known Tiki artist in Vancouver called Dan Shnier. All my other artwork is done by my old mate Glenno, amazing stuff! I would be positively rooted for artwork if he hadn’t helped out – check out his work. Smear on over to my publishing house, Green Ant Press at if you haven’t got any dosh but still want to read some of my shit, smear on over to my heinous blog, Underneath the Stairwell.
Spending hours and hours each day writing in a darkened room, my mind spreads out and fanciful visions dance before my eyes. In one of my wild eyed dreams I envision a world covered in psychedelic bat-shit and AIDS.
Yep, that’s Drew.
You won’t find Mr Gates at writers’ festivals, retreats or applying for an art grant. He is much too busy writing to do what amounts to mutual masturbation. Drew is currently working on his fourth book. He blogs at Underneath the Stairwell and is the founder of Green Ant Press.