Yes I’m Leaving – ‘Pure Joy’ LP [Black Wire Records]

Billy J. Burke (left above) has always been a bit of a hero of mine. He was the first guy I knew with a bedroom studio, complete with super expensive mixing console, drum kit and some of the most hammered bass guitars you’ll ever find. It was at Billy’s place that I first picked up a drum machine and a belt drive turntable. Fun fact: years later he would swap me that same RX-8 for a Nirvana boxset I’d grown tired of. I still have it in fact.

Billy’s one of those guys that people would gravitate too. He just did shit at a time when everyone else only spoke about. He was never that interested in collecting music, and for me, as someone who meticulously cared for their collection, his stacks of coverless scratched CDs that would occasionally get thrown out the car window gave me heart palpations just to look at. Over the years we must’ve formed close to a hundred bands with different lineups, but it was only ever the ones driven by Billy that would actually gig and properly record. Band launches were held at his dad’s house in the suburbs for anyone that wanted to play. It was our hangout and a place to experiment with whatever instrument or recording tool you wanted to, with him at the helm.

The dude was a creative force going deeper and deeper in to sound, and we just tried to keep up. His songwriting got progressively better from a lyrical point of view and instrumentally it became increasingly raw.

This is all leading somewhere I promise. I lost track with Billy for over a decade, until Pure Joy popped up in a recent music search. Yes I’m Leaving is a three piece consisting of him on lyrics and guitar, Antony Boyd on drums and David Cook on bass. I’ve spent some time across the last few days digging through the catalogue, and the sound is epic. Incredibly raw, their sound is perfectly balanced between noise and structure. It’s intense and emotional stripped down grunge that’s about as far from background listening as you can get. Their songs are cushioned on all sides by a masterly composed wall of guitar fuzz and brutal kit drumming, accompanied by Billy’s own voice screaming through, demanding some form of feeling to come out of the listener and join in the experience.

But most importantly it’s just good music that you’ll be better for for checking out, even if you don’t like it heavy. For me personally, it’s crazy to see how much he evolved, into a songwriter and musician who’s discovered his own sound with a band.

Pure Joy is the group’s first full length since 2014, at which stage they seemed to have been releasing about an album a year, so the three year hiatus was likely a welcome break. You can instantly tell how much of themselves Yes I’m Leaving put in to each track, it’s proper blood on the microphone stuff, and has to be exhausting if under-appreciated. Eleven cuts on the LP all up, not a moment’s rest among them.

The group are touring the new album around Australia now. Check out their bandcamp page for dates, and head on over to Black Wire Records to grab the vinyl, which is limited to 250 copies. Before any of that though you should definitely read one of the best release pages I’ve seen in a while, pasted below.


“The band has been charging through a trail of performances leading up to the recording session… perhaps this is why this record gives the closest emulation of us live and at full tilt.

We hunkered down in a basement on the edge of Sydney’s suburban sprawl over a couple of very hot summer days, setup quickly, and let rip. No songs went beyond 3 attempts without being settled on, or put off until they felt right. A few bits were layered… but luckily no click tracks were hurt in the making of the record. A particularly noisy pile of weirdness was added to one song … I’m sure you can figure out which one. Vocals were added later at Zen Studios where the level of screaming could be well and truly baffled.

Many of these songs are reworked versions of unhinged USA tour sound check condensations, subsequently reconstituted in the sanctuary of our rehearsal space for maximum effect. Other songs fell out of ‘rehearsal repetition meltdowns’, these screeching frustrations occasionally getting tamed just enough to work again at a second try. Some just seemed to exist by their own assurances, those ones are the weirdest ones.

The songs are pretty direct , both lyrically and musically… either way high volume listening is suggested and encouraged.” – Billy Burke, Yes I’m Leaving, Aug 2017