Sadistik Exekution: Fukkedest Band Ever
Neurosis, James McCann, Bad Brains, Agents Of Abhorrence, Celtic Frost, Straightjacket Nation, Depression, Mastodon, That 1 Guy, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Radio Birdman, Herschell Gordon Lewis
Page 6 – The Front Bit
Starring S.U.X, The Blurters, Sir Dugless and The Greasy Belcher.
Page 14 – Ross Radiation Ross Radiation’s Family Fun Pages
Page 18 – Chesshire
Rick Chesshire shows how it’s possible to have too much salmon.
Page 20 – The Devil Wears Clodhoppers VI Part six of a never-ending interview with trash cinema legend Herschell Gordon Lewis. By Mil Mascaras.
Page 24 – Mastodon
Bearded lords of prog metal in the land Down Under. By GlennO))).
Page 28 – James McCann
From Scotland to Perth to Sydney to Perth to Sydney to Melbourne to oblivion. By Wally Nightingale.
Page 32 – Sadistik Exekution
Extreme Aussie death mental stars re-live the highs, lows and upside-downs of a monumentally fukked career. By Ergon Korsakov.
Illustration: Spider Death
Page 42 – Eddy Current Suppression Ring Vinyl-pressing punk Mikey Young livin’ on insufficient funds and overwhelming praise. By Owen Penglis.
Page 46 – Neurosis
Serious shit about serious sound from the serious Steve Von Till - teacher, parent, noise-maker. By Darkie Krebs.
Page 50 + 51 – centrespreaD UNBELIEVABLE Roky Erickson tribute by Glenno.
Page 52 – Straightjacket Nation
Ask a long, convoluted question - Straightjacket singer Dan Stewart does his utmost with questions from Rhys Davies.
Page 56 – Radio Birdman tour diary Part II
Re-formed Aussie legends rule Europe. By Rusty Hopkinson.
Page 62 – That 1 Guy
One-on-one with the weird and talented Mike “That1Guy” Silverman. By Eggs Benedict.
Page 66 – Celtic Frost
Tom G. Warrior on Hellhammer, Monotheist and why Tom Angelripper needs to shut the fuck up. By Rod Hunt.
Page 70 – Agents Of Abhorrence
Supreme Melbourne Avant-blast trio discuss this, that and grindcore. By Glenno.
Page 74 – Bad Brains
Jah be praised - a chat with legendary guitarist Dr. Know. By Danger Coolidge.
Page 78 – Firewitch In Japan
Melbourne lads Firewitch, touring the nether regions with Jap duo Ryokuchi. By Jem Witch.
Page 82 – Depression: The DNA Files
Reprinting of a classic DNA Zine interview. By Harry Butler.
Page 86 – UNBELIEVABLY Opinionated
CDs, Vinyl, Films, Books and Zines reviewed.
Page 98 – My Favourite Freak
Freak of the week: Prince Randian.
he teenage years are some of the most important, if not the most important years in a person’s life. It’s a time when one starts to become sexually aware, a time when the physical body begins developing into a young man or young woman, a time when attraction to the opposite sex becomes a significant part of life. For many youth it can be a very confusing time. The Bible recognises the seriousness of these teenage years. “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”- 2 Timothy 2:22 But much of today’s teen pop music, Britney Spears, Jaz-Z, Fall Out Boy and such, is specifically aimed toward direct disobedience to 2 Timothy 2:22. Instead of “fleeing youthful lusts”, the whole purpose of pop music is to create a feeding frenzy of teenage
lust. If you think these bubble-gum-fluffy-love-songs are sweet, innocent puppy-love tunes, you obviously haven’t listened closely to what’s penetrating your son or daughter’s impressionable, naïve young mind. The #1 chart hit “Candyshop”, by rapper 50 Cent features explicit lyrical phrases like, “Give it to me baby, nice and slow, Climb on top, ride like you in the rodeo...” The Bible, however, says: “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.” - 1 Corinthians 6:18 God says, “flee fornication”, 50 Cent says, “Give it to me baby, nice and slow.” Who do you believe is right? God or 50 Cent?
t u O d e k c a m s Y L B A V E UNBELI Danger Coolidge
shit, best rock ‘n’ roll has been written on the the of e som t tha t fac a it’s s, iou obv Though the evils of heroin are nts in junkie rock… and sometimes even about the shit. Here we take a squiz at some of the finer mome
“Heroin” – The Velvet Underground
The ultimate ode to the brown powder, a grim slice of darkness smack bang in the Summer of Love, “Heroin” from the Velvet’s classic debut, Velvet Underground & Nico (1967), presented a stark, morally non-judgmental view of the act of using and the confusion of being an addict, with the music being almost like an audio simulation. “…A mainer to my vein, leads to a centre in my head, and then I'm better off than dead…” Written around the same time, the less serious “Waiting For The Man” offers an insight into the experience of scoring.
“Another Girl, Another Planet” – The Only Ones
One of the greatest 3am drunken dancefloor songs ever, the loveydovey lyrics in “Another Girl, Another Planet” barely masked The Only Ones’ love of the precious gear. “You get underneath my skin, I don’t find it irritating…” Released in ’78, the syrupy outlook turned dark very quickly for these pasty English lads, particularly frontman Peter Perrett, who later found himself hopelessly addicted and on charges of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.
“Golden Brown” – The Stranglers
“Chinese Rocks” – The Heartbreakers
The definitive junk-punk anthem written by DD Ramone with assistance from Richard Hell (though it’s often been falsely credited), “Chinese Rocks” was rejected by the Ramones so Hell took it across to The Heartbreakers, his first post-Television band formed with notorious smackie and former New York Doll, Johnny Thunders. “I’m living on a Chinese rock, and everything is in the pawn shop!” Though Hell left to form The Voidoids, Thunders and his Heartbreakers laid down the original version for their ’77 album L.A.M.F. The Ramones grabbed it back for 1980’s End Of The Century under the title “Chinese Rock”.
Quite possibly the most respectable song about skag ever penned, The Stranglers’ sophisticated 6/8 and 7/8-time organ-grinding waltz gave them one of the most unlikely chart hits of 1982. “Never a frown with golden brown…” With a main harpsichord melody so sweet and a lyrical double-entendre so subtle that it’s still getting play on the most conservative AM radio stations today, this could very well be the farthestreaching piece of heroin propaganda ever produced.
“On The Gear” – Lubricated Goat
Veritable kings of the notorious junk-fueled Sydney scene of the lateeighties, Lubricated Goat made sure there were no mixed messaged whatsoever on the Side-Two opener of their second album, Paddock Of Love (1988). There was only one line to the song, repeated over and over again by leader Stu Spasm: “I’m on the gear, and it’s such a lovely day.”
“Just One Fix” – Ministry
Dancey electro-turned-heavy industrial behemoth Ministry were riding that Horse hard around the time of their commercial breakthrough Psalm 69 (1992). If lyrics like “Blood keeps drinking away, Certain of its destination…” seemed a tad ambiguous, the “Just One Fix” video clip wasn’t, depicting the nightmare of withdrawl with a guest appearance from celebrated junkie novelist William S. Burroughs. Despite a massive police raid on the band’s Texas HQ in ’95 that lead to charges of possession, leader Al Jourgensen continued to draw inspiration from his life as a druggo for the next decade, finally kicking the habit in 2003.
“The Priest They Called Him” – William S. Burroughs & Kurt Cobain A cataclysmic collision of two icons of junk culture – Burroughs the godfather, Cobain the celebrity “H” hound – this 1992 oddity featured close to ten minutes of tortured guitar noise from Cobain with Burroughs relating one of his old short manuscripts about a junkie trying to score on Christmas Eve in his trademark drawl. A long-distance collaboration issued by Tim Kerr Records on limited edition 10-inch yellow picture-disc vinyl, the B-side featured a laser etching of both men’s signatures, Cobain spelling his name “Kurtis Donald Cohbaine”.
UNBELIEVABLY Bad is proudly excreted by: Von Helle 10 Unwin Street, Bexley NSW 2207 Australia. Editor Danger Coolidge. Layout Faye Kinnitt. Cover Illustration Rok. Text Owen Penglis, Matt Reekie, Mil Mascaras, Glenno, Sir Dugless, Darkie Krebs, Rhys Davies, Rod Hunt, Eggs Benedict, The Greasy Belcher, Rusty Hopkinson, Ergon Korsakov, Harry Choad, Harry Butler, Jem Witch, Wally Nightingale, DX, Angelica Von Helle. Photography Rod Hunt, Richard Sharman, ForceFed Photography, Meredith O’Shea, Daniel Campbell, Tracey Kemp, Elissa, Martin Sorrendeguy, Marcus Axellson, Georgia Rose, Kieryn Hyde, Radio Birdman, Firewitch. Illustration Glenno, Ben Brown, Rick Chesshire, Ross Tesoriero, Spider Death. Printing AviVa Printing Ashfield NSW. Thanks Our UNBELIEVABLY generous advertisers, all the amazingly talented contributors, all the not so talented ones too, all the shops and distros who stock UB, weed growers Australia-wide (solidarity brothers - we need you now more than ever), Jay & the AviVa Print crew, Viking Packaging, Nurofen Plus, Sarays Turkish Pizza, Wolfgang Hindenberg, Elise Davidson, Luke Logemann, Jamie Robley, Dave Graham, Chris Fabiansson, Peter Zantey, Troy Scerri, Smeer, Jason Dreggs, Rory Banwell, Tom Lyncolgn, Ben Ralph, Andrew Haug, George Hatzigeorgiou, Nigel Melder, Mar Garvey, Lyle Siqueira, Pete Hyde, Scot Crawford, Ian Bennet, Paul Elliott, Polyester Joel, Emily Jans, Mar Garvey, Jamie Bohlsen, Natasha Bowren, Ben Facey, Sandra Buttonshore, Queen Angie, Prince Angus, Princess Phoebe and loyal UNBELIEVABLY Bad subjects everywhere. For advertising rates please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Send all review material to: UNBELIEVABLY Bad c/o Von Helle HQ 10 Unwin Street Bexley NSW 2207 Australia. UNBELIEVABLY Bad is published every now and then - when we can be fucked. All material contained herein is copyrighted to its owner. Please don't reproduce any part of it (except the bits we've stolen) without asking first. The opinions expressed in UNBELIEVABLY Bad are almost definitely those of the publisher and editorial staff, but you never can tell sometimes, so don't jump to any conclusions, okay?
Communicative Love Letters To Danger
During a recent night out with a couple of mates in Melbourne, conversation centred on the deaths of Lobby Loyde and Billy Thorpe, their Queensland origins and the impending reformation of the original Saints line-up at Brisbane’s “coming of age” festival, Pig City, later this year. My friends took the opportunity to remind me that I had left Queensland in the mid-eighties vowing never to return. They asked how it felt having been 2000 kilometres from home for over twenty years. “Just lovely,” was my reply. In the early seventies my parents took me to a tourist attraction called Bullen’s Lion Safari, situated halfway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. There on a humid 30-plusdegree day I watched a large polar bear swaying from side to side in a cage so cramped the animal was unable to turn around. “That’s not right, is it Pop? I queried. “No, no it’s not,” the old man replied, shaking his head. Ironically that enclosure was to mirror my adolescent relationship with the “Sunshine State”, the feeling of being born and trapped in a humid, cultureless cage. By the age of sixteen I was taking regular hour-long Friday night train rides from the southern working underclass suburb of Woodridge to the Cloudland Ballroom in Bowen Hills, a majestic venue frequented by generations of dancing Queenslanders. There I experienced the most amazing array of early eighties Australian pub rock bands, along with a cavalcade of international acts including The Clash and Ian Dury and the Blockheads. Dury was warned that if he sang, “Spasticus Autisticus” police would storm the stage and arrest the band. They played the track during the encore and nothing happened, but the suspense was fabulously nerve-wracking. Two things were always assured at Cloudland, everybody had to jump in time to the music due to the 1940’s multi cross-ply American GI-built dancefloor, and everybody had to jump to the omni-present mass of intimidation that was the Queensland police force. In 1982 the Bjelke-Peterson Government ordered the illegal demolition of Cloudland during the middle of the night, turning
expertly slid a slab of beer into the passenger-side window in one smooth movement. All I saw was an arm and thumbs-up as the police re-entered the King Street crawl. Jubilantly I skipped over to the gutter and retrieved the smoke. Finally I was in a big city! I’m not really sure why I’ve written this piece, suffice to say that when I heard the terms “coming of age” and “Brisbane” and “Pig City” in the one sentence I felt a little aggressive twinge in my lower back. Maybe this is a form of therapy? Maybe I’m venting? Whatever. Here’s to all the Queensland refugees who fought the law and got out of town to play another day. I’ll be raising a glass and celebrating Brisbane’s coming of age from the comfort and safety of a gaffer-taped barstool in Melbourne. Cheers, Robert Lastdrager [Congratulations on making the great escape Robert, and congratulations also on winning last issue’s UNBELIEVABLY ordinary prize pack. Hope the wounds eventually heal one day.]
Congratulations on issue #5! Thanks for sending it my way. I’m searching around to take another listen to Dow Jones & The Industrials after reading your review. Ian [Thanks for the latest postcard Ian, we get stoked whenever a new one arrives. Thought it was clever of you sending it on the back of a handbill for your band – free plug!]
Illustration: Ben Brown
it to rubble and dust before daybreak. That act of bastardry tore a lot of people’s hearts out, including mine. For me it represented the continued erosion of not only civil liberties but also artistic vitality. It was the last straw. It’s not easy to explain to the uninitiated the effect the Bjelke-Peterson Government’s political and social agenda had on the population all those years ago. Police intimidation and oppression all took their toll, particularly on the Indigenous communities, students, union workers, rock ‘n’ roll bands and anyone else of the wrong side of the political fence. The government’s righteous and wholesome media façade contrasted sharply with the reality of life on the streets. Blatant police brutality was commonplace for anyone involved in unlawful protest marches, as was the anxiety and paranoia induced by the frenzied clatter of police camera shutters that documented everyone and everything. Imagine coming home to see television footage of Minister Russ Hinze at the notorious Bubbles Bathhouse in Woolloongabba, declaring that no brothels existed in the state. The place was warped, pure and simple. The media have never focused on the exodus of bands and individual filmmakers, photographers, writers, poets and DJs from Brisbane during that era. There must have been thousands who headed south. It wasn’t about wanting to leave; it was about having no choice but to leave. The Queensland regime unwittingly became an exporter of popular culture of which the rest of the Australian capital cities, primarily Sydney and Melbourne, were the main beneficiaries. I left Brisbane with $400 and a car full of drums. I arrived in Sydney during Monday afternoon peak hour and crawled across the Harbour Bridge to the muffled roar of The Saints’ Prehistoric Sounds on my car stereo. I felt triumphant. That first night at the Sandringham Hotel in Newtown I watched Louis Tillet’s Paris Green do the business with a smokin’ Louis Burdett on drums. Celebrating my newfound freedom I wandered outside and lit up a joint, only to have a NSW Police F100 wagon pull up outside the pub at the same time and toot its horn. Flooded with residual paranoia I immediately flicked the J away into the gutter and continued to sheepishly sip my schooner. A barman appeared and launched himself onto the running board of the cop’s Ford and
Dear Unbelievably Bad, The Bugler’s health has not been good of late and I apologise for the lack of correspondence since you kindly carried my letter some time back. Upon reading your latest issue I was roused from my sick bed to comment upon your fabulous article about Adelaide’s Grong Grong. I remember first being alerted (unfortunately retrospectively) to the band’s brilliance by a track, which appeared upon the Waste Sausage compilation in the late 1980s. Some years later I was fortunate enough to stumble across their eponymous album in a Newcastle record retailer and obtain their live recording from the everhelpful Harry Butler. Whilst I was delighted with your coverage of the band’s music I was most disappointed that you virtually ignored “Dirty” Dave Taskas’ post Grong Grong endeavours failing to discuss any of the many important acts he worked with during the latter part of the 1980s and 1990s including The Vomit Brothers, Raw Sex, The Snuff Puppets and Volvox. The last of these are surely deserving of their own article and if you may pardon my indulgence I will make a few comments about them here. Volvox performed in Melbourne from 1991 to 1996 and released a number of cassettes, which have been ably compiled into three CDs by Dual Plover and Greg Wadley of Spill. Combining tape loops, samples and the playing and smashing of home made instruments into a veritable cacophony the troika of Glenn Norman, Anthony Riddell (aka Lester Vat) and Mr. Taskas also preformed the occasional show around Melbourne. Whilst Glenn and Dave were vital cogs in the machine it was Anthony who naturally garnered most of the audience’s attention. Having acquired a head injury after falling from the roof of a squat in the 1980s Anthony emerged from (in his words) a “chrysalis”-like coma as a confident, if not challenging writer and performer. An expert heckler, I remember Mr. Riddell shocking a bunch of would-be yobs and engineering students during a New Waver performance at The Punter's Club in which the band were supporting Mr. Floppy, a drum-machine propelled pop punk unit who despite their
yawn inducing sexism were capable of some hilarity. The lead singer of New Waver had already scared many of those present silly by wandering about naked, adorned with the word “Loser” on his chest, offering all and sundry a tray of Tim Tams. Those who had not fled to the front bar similarly recoiled from Anthony screaming the strangely appropriate “Wally Walpamur” over and over at the top of his lungs. Although anyone who has come across Anthony’s surrealistic written work, available in the form of various books and self-published comics and bulletins, would know that he is capable of some loquaciousness. This skill with repetition similarly saw him storm the 2001 What Is Music? Festival. Pushing the various “noise” pedants and theorists aside he merely repeated the words “Why am I a pie?” a few hundred times to steal the show. But I digress. With Volvox Riddell particularly shone, although his solo work as The Good Chamber and more latterly Ant Honey has also displayed flashes of brilliance. As good as they were on tape, though, the group were especially provocative live, with Norman and Taskas remaining fairly static on stage whilst Riddell held the floor. Two particular performances stand out in the mind. The first was at North Melbourne’s Royal Artillery Hotel aka The Arthouse. In the days before the Great Britain closed, allowing the Arthouse to flourish as a punk den, the venue was largely populated by alcoholics taking advantage of its late night license, young indie hopefuls and aging rockers left with nowhere else to play. Headlining a fanzine benefit which had interestingly mixed straight-up punk acts with improvisational ones, Volvox soon whittled the crowd down to a small audience as Taskas plunked away on a broken one-string bass whilst Norman emitted various bleeps and squeals and Riddell attempted to lick and bite all of those present whilst alternately screaming and weeping. At one point the intensity of the performance threatened to derail itself when a passing and extremely drunk office worker tried to storm the stage,
but he was soon seen off by protective friends of the band. Another equally startling performance occurred at The Punters Club. On this occasion one’s attention was not riveted upon Riddell as Mr. Taskas, whose work as a mechanic had both provided him with the necessary skills and equipment, had built a most infernal machine. Sitting centre stage, a giant compressor moved up and down squashing a fluffy toy bunny named Foodfoot (a character who also appeared in Riddell’s stories). Every time the compressor came down one feared for Foodfoot’s wellbeing, but as soon as the crusher rose he bravely leapt up again ready and willing to take more punishment. With Taskas busy keeping the machinery running Riddell busied himself passing out cardboard tubes through which most of the audience were expected to contribute musically. Instead they were thrown willy-nilly with a not a few enduring a crushing from which they did not return. Thank you for provoking such sweet memories… Yours, The Bugler [Once again, Bugler, your correspondence astounds us. Thanks for your recollections on the post-GG exploits of Dirty Dave Taskas and please don’t hesitate to set us straight on any such matters in the future.]
In an effort to encourage better communication between you – yes, you, the cool cunt reading this – and us – yes, us, the sad cunts who couldn’t come up with anything funnier than this half-arsed spiel – we’re prepared to resort to bribery. What better incentive do you need to send us a letter – yes, a real hand-written letter, not a text or email or some bum chum myspace backstabbing best buddies bullshit – than this mega prize pack containing a bunch of the coolest product around, all personally recommended by the dick-whacks at UNBELIEVABLY Bad.
One lucky UNBELIEVABLY Bad letter-writing reader will win: 1 x Jungle Fever – Stayin’ Alive CD 1 x Rainbow – Live In Munich 1977 DVD 1 x Neurosis – Given To The Rising promo CD 1 x Fire Witch – Live At The Townie CD 1 x Complete Night Of The Living Dead Filmbook 1 x The Detroit Cobras – Tied & True CD 1 x Steven Wright – When The Leaves Blow Away DVD 1 x Crazy Horse – Live At The Fillmore 1970 CD 1 x King Brothers – Blues CD/DVD 1 x Regular John – Marrickville 2204 CDEP 1 x Ramones – Mania [Best Of] CD 1 x Kill A Celebrity – Grindslaughter demo CD-R 1 x Ohana – Weak Wrists CDEP 1 x MGR vs SirDSS – Impromptu CD 1 x Meet The Feebles DVD 1 x Hemi Cuda – Thick Riffs 'n' Tasty Licks CD 1 x Child Abuse – S/T CD 1 x End Of The Century – The Story Of The Ramones DVD 1 x Mike Noga – Folk Songs CD 1 x The Locust – New Erections promo CD 1 x The Blurters – Fat, Fast & Outta Control CD 1 x Bad Brains – Live At CBGB 1982 CD 1 x Destructors 666 / $UP – No Parasan split CDEP 1 x Group Seizure – Hybrid Vigour CD 1 x Teengenerate – Live At Shelter CD 1 x Beavis & Butthead Do America DVD 1 x Slag Dog Afterbirth – Things You Hear At The Front Bar demo CD 1 x Various Artists – Trial & Error compilation No. 7 CD 1 x Super Insurgent Group Of Intemperance Talent – S/T CDEP
Best letter, as judged by Heir Danger, wins all this shit.
d a B Y L B A V E UNBELI questions
Pic: ForceFed Photography
ike an alcohol-fueled cage match between Rosey Tatts and the Murder Junkies, Sydney punks The Blurters have been spewing out dirty fast rock ‘n’ roll tunes with hate-fueled lyrics that are just a bit tongue-incheek for almost a decade. Liquored-up, drugged-out and unconditionally guaranteed to offend, we hereby present you with these 20 Questions, answered with piss-eloquence by vocalising scumfuck Jay Blurter…
1. What was the first song you ever wrote and how did the chorus go? Fuck, been a long time ago now. Oh our first jam, what a pisser… think we wrote a song called “When Loves Turn To Hate”. I’d just broken up with my girlfriend of six years and I was fuming to put it nicely. I think the chorus was just sort of, “When Loves Turn To Hate...” Top tune, the start of many to come.
hit the stage and right now we seem to be playing every show with about twelve onstage. But hell, flow a little white - top or bottom shelf - mine and Craig’s (guitar) way and we won’t be shy, maybe a Jack or ten towards our man Hooch (bass). Mmm, make that a couple my way too… fuck, give us anything, we’re hopeless. 8. What one album gets your angrier than all the others? I got a few but Utopia Banished by Napalm Death pumps me up.
2. If you had a time machine and could go back or forwards in time, what gig would you most like to attend? I’m pretty easily pleased, I’d just wanna see all the Toe To Toe shows again - best band ever... Oh, maybe an early Agnostic Front, DRI or Napalm Death show... Oh, and chuck in any Meanies show or early Social Distortion too...
9. What is the greatest Blurters song of all? Well every track is a deadset fucking hit but the best are two new ones we got “Get On Drugs” and “Dealing Drugs”. And we got a brand new one called “Give Me Fucking Jager Bomb”.
3. Describe the most ridiculous tattoo you’ve ever seen. Do I really have to? I have it.
10. What song have you had stuck in your head lately? Fuck, I always find myself singing fucking U2 songs! I don’t know what it is about that gay political activist fuck, but him and his band can make a fucking sweet tune.
4. What is the sexiest song of all-time? That tune “Well you can get this lap dance here for free.” Is it Pharrell or N.E.R.D. or one of his bands? It’s hot. I remember it coming over the loudspeaker when I was at the wrestling once and the hottest chick with the best tits I’d been perving at all night started to shake ’em to it - fucking hot, I probably got a few pulls out of that.
11. Who do you hate most? Right now I’ve got aches and pains in places in my body where I shouldn’t have aches and pains, so right now I’m hating myself and wish I was a vegan straightedge queer for most of my adult life - it may have saved me. I’m serious.
6. Describe the biggest sexual low you've ever had. The time I went down on this chick and decided I’d tongue-dart her in the arse as she did such a good job on me only to find her hygiene level in that area was well to be desired and I got a gob full of dangleberry-covered pubes. It was fucking wrong. Fuck she added me to MySpace too the other day - shocking.
12. What inspired your song “Hatefuck”? This loony bitch I used to go out with. Whilst I was at work she’d be travelling to various Westfields around the city and rolling old ladies with a pocketknife for the $15 they had in change - a rightful cunt of a chick. We’d fight like cunts all the time. Once she attacked me with a kitchen knife and she wanted to fucking stab me but I had a pillow and somehow I got the knife off her, started kissing her like my balls were gonna explode, threw her on the ground and we fucked to kill each other instead - was pretty hot actually. I was only about 20. She taught me to fuck, that chick, she was off tap.
7. What is the ideal drink/drug combo for each member of The Blurters to be at full capacity? Our drummer stays straight; he’s the only one in the band with any will-power. Fuck, the only time I’ve ever played straight has been the time I’ve done the most damage to the crowd. Anyway, right now it’s all about Jager. We try to do about ten shots before we
13. What is the most embarrassing album you’ve owned? Never really embarrassed about music but one of the gayest was a record by the ring-in singer from Van Halen, Sammy Hagar. The guy’s a total fuckwit. I had this solo record of his called Three Lock Box - total crap. Fuck knows why you’d ask him to be in Van Halen if you knew he’d put that record out.
5. Describe the biggest musical low you've ever had. Come on mate, The Blurters have never really gotten out of the gutter so we really know no different.
14. What is the worst cover version ever performed? Fuck, I can’t think of one, my Codral is kicking in mate. Hahaha, I’m on the good shit tonight. 15. List the following in order from the one you'd most want to watch on TV to the one you'd least want to watch: a) Rock Star Supernova b) Super Group c) Dancing With The Stars d) That show where INXS got a new singer because their old one was dead e) paint dry. I only get channel 10 or 2 on my TV, it’s fucked. I was pretty revved up to see Dancing With The Stars because I heard Fifi Box was on it and I’ve been checking out her tits on every billboard in town, but once I got to see what an ugly trollop she really is, I was heavily let down. That INXS show sounded like it was a fucking hoot. How sick would it be to be their new singer? The rest of the band would be too worried about cholesterol checks and prostate examinations so this new bloke could do all the pussy and the coke – sick. 16. What is the best reaction to your music you’ve ever seen from a listener/punter? Some cunt sent me a copy of our CD he’d bought in pieces - paper cover, disc and all, with a letter saying we were the most uninformed, most racist and sexist band he had ever heard. It pissed me off because he forgot to mention homophobic too. 17. What is the greatest movie of all-time? I like this really old film with Chuck Heston in it called The Omega Man. I’m not sure why. I saw it as a young ‘un and I still watch it every once in a while.. 18. What is the greatest Skrewdriver song of all? Too many to choose from. I like all the ones they wrote about racial harmony and shit like that. The split they did with Bad Brains was good too. 19. Who would you go down on last, Bronwyn Bishop or Angela Bishop? I’d line ’em both up on top of each other and lick ‘em both with one fucking huge lick. Fuck, I’d lick ’em both from the arse up too! 20. What will they write for The Blurters epitaph? Don’t give a fuck.
Part V of an irregular series by Sir Dugless.
Punk Special Edition: PREHISTORIC SOUNDS.
e here at the Great Punk Shits Laboratories are always on the lookout for the obscurist, tinniest, shittiest, angriest, nastiest punk rock wreckords that can be found. They are lovingly evaluated and the best are held up as shining examples of the glorious spirit of ’77 and all that. The worst are melted down into religious artefacts and exported for sale in various parts of South America. But it's not all leather and bristles round our way, sometimes we like to slip off the bondage trousers, put on a smoking jacket, pour a fine glass of Bordeaux and put something more refined on the turntable, in order to clear the musical palate, so that we may arise the next day ready to take on another stack of high-octane punkoid classics for your absolute edification... here then are some of our favourites...
GPS Laboratories. To be simplistic you could say that Iron Virgin are like The Sweet on steroids, “Rebel's Rule” is a gloriously overdriven ode to teenage irresponsibility, and that they would never match its brilliance before fading into the satin mists of glam history...
Billy Miranda “Go Ahead” (1959)
“Urban Guerilla”, a song written by Robert Calvert as a satirical take on the breakdown of the hippy underground into a world of political malcontents, drug casualties and people using the “causes” of the day to express their violent urges. Hawkwind themselves were no strangers to this scene and Nik Turner's flat was raided by the Police: at the time it was reported that he was being investigated by the bomb squad, in reality the Police were looking for biker associates of Turners who were suspected of committing manslaughter. Besides being weighed down by such a heavy history the actual song “Urban Guerilla” is glorious. It could almost be referred to as Hawkwinds' “Street Fighting Man” and the pummelling rhythm, tough guitar and searing lead mark this song as an effortless piece of proto-punk. The Music Machine
The Music Machine “Masculine Intuition” (1966)
This track, for me, even eclipses Nuggets favourite “Talk Talk” as the most intense moment of Sean Bonniwell and his group The Music Machine's career and I’ve always been perplexed as to why it's only a B-side, as we enjoy it more than “The People In Me”, which takes A-side status on this 45. These guys were experts at mixing minor chord melodrama with scything fuzz guitar figures and piercing Farfisa. On their best songs they marry a dense musical toughness with an exotic air of Eastern modality. “Masculine Intuition” is driven by a thuggish punk beat and detuned rhythm guitar whilst Bonniwell's strong baritone vocal implies violence and sex (in that order) so that you kinda feel that whoever he has this masculine intuition about is not necessarily in for a good time. Layers of intense fuzz complete a sinister atmosphere that must have scared the living shit out of many a parent back in 1966.
“Urban Guerilla” (1973) You write a song about being an “Urban Guerilla” with the line, “I make bombs in my cellar,” your major label loves it and releases it as a single, radio plays it and it charts, then the IRA blows up some shit and kills a few peeps and the record is swiftly withdrawn after the BBC bans it and a media backlash builds. So goes the strange story of Hawkwinds'
Iron Virgin “Rebels Rule (1974)
Just as the sixties psyche scene has its obscure classics, so does seventies' glam. The tracks that hit glam-obscuria compilations like Velvet Tinmine are by fantasticallynamed groups of yobs like Crushed Butler, Bearded Lady, Tubthumper, Stavely Makepiece and, erm, Jet. The track that stands head and shoulders above the pack is “Rebels Rule” by Iron Virgin, an over-thetop boogie anthem that matches vague rebellious lyrics with stupendous heavy glam rock boogaloo. The production is monstrous. Compared to the dry drums of many glam groups the double-tracked tubs sound positively cavernous, and the guitar break towards the end has been officially judged as “speaker shredding” using the latest scientific tests here at the
Discovered by a colleague on the hopelessly obscure Black Rock N Roll bootleg whilst residing at the Columbia Hotel in London. In a state of absolute intoxication he was stricken by a kind of madness and played it over and over throughout a sleepless night whilst the walls of his grim hotel room resonated to the psychotic nature of this ballad. It's not hard to see why; this song is psychosis incarnate. Backed by a gentle and sombre march, Billy Miranda mourns the loss of his woman and descends into uncontrollable misery and insanity. He shrieks, blubbers and moans, all the time telling her to go ahead and leave. I can think of no ballad that is as berserk as this classic, recorded for Chess label Checker in '59. Not only that, it's funny as all hell. In his belligerent state Billy tells the girl to leave and that “You know you gonna lose weight, ‘cos I fed ya good,” before declaring an array of foodstuffs he had served for his princess: Fine bread, mayonnaise, mustard and turnips. How could she leave?
“Dirty Old Man” (1965) Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg were part of NYC's East Village scene inhabited by the likes of Ginsberg, Warhol and The Holy Modal Rounders. Their proto hippy, beat group The Fugs signed with the hip ESP label to what would later be described in song as the “worst record deal since Leadbelly.” “Dirty Old Man” is from the Fugs’ first official release, an album that for the most part is a joyously ramshackle take on the beat group sound that unhinges the suit and tie stiffness of early British invasion sounds with a healthy dose of bohemian art chaos. “Dirty Old Man” is driven by honky tonk piano and a stuttering rhythm, whilst Sanders sings about being a creepy dude handing out drugs, porn and communist literature to the college students at his local university, all the while avoiding being arrested by the campus cops. Personally I think the stiff drones you see milling around our nations learning institutions could use a visit from this guy. Priceless stuff!
y l b a v e i l e b n u Unforgotten Albums #6
Bloodbath Records (1990)
ronted by a pair of wide-eyed screaming Indian brothers, stupefying Sydney skate thrash trio S.U.X. – full name Sadistic Unholy Xterminators [sic] – were one of the fastest and best bands on the scene in the late eighties. They loved to play ultra-fast and ultra-fuzzy with as much chaotic screeching as possible, projecting melody and metallic punk riffs at nothing less than full velocity. Barefoot wildmen with darkened pupils and tangled hair sticking out all over the place like great messes of wire, guitarist/vocalist Lyle Siqueira and his older brother, bassist/ vocalist Alan were two music-loving lunatic kids out of Bombay who settled with relatives in the south-western suburb of St. Andrews near Campbelltown in the mid-eighties. Although Alan played drums at the early jams, he soon switched to bass as hulking young local kid Darren Thurlow stepped in to add firepower at the back. With a classic Westie mullet and rarely seen out of his trademark cut-off army pants and muscle-tee combination, Darren gave S.U.X. an extra edge by maintaining blistering tempos and utilising a double-kick pedal even before most local metal bands knew what one was. Undoubtedly the band’s greatest influence, not necessarily in terms of their sound but just in their overall outlook, was the Hard-Ons. As legend has it, not long after arriving in Australia, Lyle landed a job at the same Yagoona electronics store as Hard-Ons guitarist Peter “Blackie” Black and his sister, Jennifer. Chiefly into heavy metal and seventies rock at the time, Lyle was suddenly thrust, via Blackie, into the world of Black Flag, Bad Brains, Discharge and the rest. S.U.X.’s maiden live performance was a scorching four-song set at Sydney’s Railway Institute Hall for Jennifer Black’s birthday party in front of a bumper crowd of around 300. Instantly accepted by the Sydney scene, the trio could regularly be seen on bills with bands like the Massappeal, Rocks, Casualty and Splatterheads at venues like the Seven Hills Inn, Max’s Tavern, the Journos Club, Sutho Royal, Burland Hall, The Evil Star and a host of other dives that either aren’t there anymore or aren’t worth setting foot in anyway. They arrived just as the eighties thrash metal/hardcore crossover was reaching a peak in the city, which suited the naturally fast and aggressive sound of the band. Far from being darlings of any one particular scene, they were still capable of blowing pretty much anyone else away with a speed barely matched by anyone. On top of that, like their brothers and mentors the Hard-Ons, they wrote great songs to provide a backbone for the bedlam.
Having played gigs around town for several years, by 1989 S.U.X. had saved up the $800 required for eight hours recording and mixing time at Down Under Studios in Kogarah (now called Standing Wave). Overseen by the house engineer Paul Tagg, a popular producer among local punk bands at the time, the eight demo tracks turned out much better than expected and local indie punk giant Waterfront Records offered to release a S.U.X. twelve-inch as part of a pressing and distribution deal. Inventing their own Bloodbath imprint label, the band employed the art skills of Hard-Ons bassist Ray Ahn for the striking front-cover design, though Ahn doesn’t recall ever receiving any money for it. Issued in a pressing of 500 the Reality mini-LP hit the shelves in 1990, and though there were subsequent recordings made by the band, these eight songs remain all that S.U.X. ever officially released. The A-Side – or “This Side” – gets underway with the title track, “Reality”, an ominous riff that turns fast and thrashy set to environmentally conscious lyrics: “Breathing… Vapour... Choking!” Fusing hardcore, metal and punk via fairly simple yet busy riffs, none of the songs follow a basic verse-chorus-verse formula, indulging instead in complex transitions, oddly syncopated drum fills, mosh breakdowns, stop/start bits; anything to keep things from stagnating. Lyrically, “Loser” is bad teenage heavy metal poetry, all “Paralysed with fear, from apprehensive eyes / Cold against the skin, try to reason why,” and crap like that. Musically, however, it’s a luminous blast of hardcore punk with tempos bordering on grindcore. A somewhat generic indignant tirade against rich bastards, “Decadence” nonetheless maintains the breakneck pace and intensity, boasting several unique touches such as Darren’s hectic drumming flourishes throughout the mosh section and the strange delay effect on the vocals during one refrain. Popular crowd favourite, “M.K.C.”, is a highly effective dose of ultra-fast Indian-language hardcore with a bluesy guitar solo stuck on top. The main line, “Machodt, machodt, machodt, beinchodt / Machodt, machodt, machodt, laudah,” translates as, “Motherfucker, motherfucker, motherfucker, sister-fucker / Motherfucker, motherfucker, motherfucker, cocksucker!” Apparently machodt, beinchodt and laudah are the only three real words in the whole song; the rest is just wailing gibberish made up on the spot. Showing a cheeky sense of humour, the band Pic: Rod Hunt
By Danger Coolidge
added a phony warning underneath the lyrics to “M.K.C.” on Reality’s inner sleeve: “The above lyrics have been taken from an age-old black magic spell. Under no circumstances are they to be recited while having sex with an entire herd of castrated yaks in Shangri-La.” Side B – “That Side” – launches straight into action with “Painted Tool”. A simple up-tempo hardcore tune with thrashy solos dotted at intervals throughout, it’s about drug addiction though done in a not too obvious fashion. “Punk’s A’ A’right” begins with a stripped-back more traditional punk rock intro, sung cleanly in a faux-English accent by Lyle, which seems fitting taking into account the dated lyrics about dressing like punks and rejecting straight society. Merging all their various musical styles, “Nails” is a quite immature Freddy Krueger-themed song done several years after S.O.D. had already nailed it, the one highlight being the pitch-shifted vocals during the “1, 2, He’s coming for you…” bit. Closer, “Burn”, starts off as a thudding, dirty mid-paced punk number about human incineration before a bit of double-kick action from Darren shifts everything into a higher gear as the band hammer home Reality’s final few bars in trademark style. The etching on the run-out groove of one side of the vinyl reads: “NZ UK EUROPE USA, HERE WE COME.” Though S.U.X. did get to tour New Zealand not long after Reality’s release, it wasn’t until their next group, pop punkers Crank, that the Siqueira brothers Lyle and Alan finally made it to the UK and Europe (twice!). Making their debut in ’96 with the Cranked seven-inch, Crank would include a revamped version of S.U.X.’s “Punk’s A’ A’right” on their ’97 full-length debut, Picking Up The Pieces. Though the band is still in existence, their last release was 2003’s Sourpuss EP. Having dropped out of the music scene for many years, Darren Thurlow resurfaced only recently for a brief stint with Sydney hard rockers The Volts.
Return Of The Laughing Greasy Belcher...
elcome back to the Stinky Slaughterhouse, a place where I butcher a bunch of bastards who thoroughly deserve to be pissed upon from great heights. This months rambling rant is fired at the klingons off the starboard bow in the general direction of the whole of the Australian News Media. These arse wilmots have been poking my pancreas for quite some time now for a number of different reasons. I could go off about that whole Cronulla Beach baiting fiasco. I could go off about the Daily Shitographs' “Muslim of the Month headline competition”, the gist of which seems to be to find a Muslim that lives near the airport and photograph his beard, then run a headline screaming: “He’s a fuckin' terrorist for sure, Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie Oi Oi Oi.” I could go off about the fuckin’ endless positive spin tripe being fed out of Iraq by foreignembedded journalists on the Australian evening news. I could go off about this whole Angelina Jolie Vs Madonna adopt-a-third-world-orphanage contest, but that’s a problem generated by western society in general, and as such, not the sole fault of our home grown puppets. The same goes for the whole Paris-Hilton's-pussy-is-on-firecampaign industry. And don’t even get me fuckin’ started on this reality TV lark. Big Why Bother, Dancing with the D-List, Tyra Blanks, Thickest Loser, fuck me
Anna Nicole-Smith - not too dead for reality TV
This David Hicks would've been home years ago
dead! That’s an idea! I’ll start my own reality TV show called Fuck Me Dead. The idea is simple: I purchase the body of a recently deceased celebrity from their money-grubbing lawyers and inevitably inbred family, then we travel to a mental home and quiz a panel of their most devoted stalkers on the dead celebrity’s private life! The winner gets to fuck the corpse on national TV. Is Anna Nicole in the ground yet? Bollocks! We could have broken the box office. I could start and never fuckin’ stop, to be honest wiv yaz. But the real thing I’m wiping my arse with this week, the real reason the dried-up dog turds of Oz news media are on the end of my shovel and about to be fired into next door's garden is this... I am sick to fuckin’ death of this country's media's obsession with “The number of Australians killed/ injured/within a couple of miles of... etc.” Every single time there’s a fuckin’ horror show overseas – be it a tsunami, a bombing, a school shooting, a plane crash, a hurricane, a bird flu, an outbreak of flesh eating bacteria – we hear something like this… “Good evening. A Boeing 747 has crashed into a Turkish hospital killing hundreds of people, as we understand it, there is an Australian man in Cyprus who was thinking of holidaying in Turkey and travelling on this plane, we have him on stand by via satellite phone. In other news tonight, a lucky escape for an Australian woman in America, incidentally thirty-two people murdered at the scene. We have a reporter over there now, interviewing her shoe, which was left in a locker on campus.” It’s akin to the scene in Life Of Brian when thirty roman soldiers storm the headquarters of the Judean People’s Front only to emerge holding a spoon, having missed everything they were sent in to look for! And I’ll tell yiz another thing before I get off the pot, if David Hicks had long blonde hair and big tits, our press would have done their damn-level best to ensure he woulda fuckin’ waltzed back into Oz to be embraced by our news reporters way back in 2002. Corby’s innocent my arse crack; she had half of Nimbin’s gross annual product stuffed in her board bag. She only got tagged when none of the airport surfs would help her to the taxi rank because her luggage was way too fuckin’ heavy. Anyway, I’ll get off the pot now. In closing I’ll tell ya somefing my farver wunce told me: “I’ll never shit you, you’re my favourite turd.” Go Fuck Yourselves.
l i v e D s r a e W ClodhoppersVI Part six of a never-ending UNBELIEVABLY BAD s. interview with the wizard of gore Herschell Gordon Lewi By Mil Mascaras.
veryone knows Herschell Gordon Lewis as the Godfather Of Gore, ancient ancestor to generations of bloodthirsty sickos. Fans respect him for the groundbreaking violence and shameless bloodletting employed on watershed gore flicks like Blood Feast, TwoThousand Maniacs and The Gruesome Twosome. But not a hell of a lot of people know about Jimmy The Boy Wonder and The Magic Land Of Mother Goose… If there is one thing HG Lewis is, it’s resilient. In the period following his estrangement from production partner Dave Friedman, around ’65-’66, Herschell flew by the seat of his pants and jumped through many precarious hoops to stay alive in the game. Burned financially by former business associate Stanford Kohlberg, he was forced to survive on the profits of the one film he still owned the rights to, 1964’s Moonshine Mountain, while continuing to work on a string of diverse projects. Though critics often refer to this period as Lewis’ mid-career slump, this was actually an immensely colourful phase of his career. Spanning everything from kiddie flicks (Jimmy, The Boy Wonder and The Magic Land Of Mother Goose) to classic exploitation (Sin, Suffer & Repent) to sci-fi (Monster A-GoGo) to smut (Alley Tramp and Suburban Roulette), for several years following ’65’s Color Me Blood Red the Godfather Of Gore made anything but gore films. Most parents doubtlessly would’ve been outraged to learn that a pornographer was making their children’s Sunday afternoon matinees, but then again, The Magic Land Of Mother Goose could be classed an outrage in itself. Allow me to present Part Six of my never-ending interview with Herschell Gordon Lewis…
Firstly Herschell, I heard you had gotten some new films into production… Well that’s just conversation. As you’re very much aware, there’s always a deal pending. And as you also are aware, when a deal is 99.9% sure, there is no deal. I have learned the bitter lesson of not assuming that anything is going to happen until something happens. I am in some deep conversation with some people in California, who insist they are going to make Grim Fairytales, but I’ve been down this strange road before and that road is fitted with potholes. So is this the Film State 51 people you are speaking with? Oh no, this is not Film State 51. Film State 51 are these incredibly nice people in Tampa, Florida, who do want to produce this but don’t have the wherewithal to do it. These [other] people I’m speaking to now are in a different universe, and they have the means of doing it, but whether they’ll actually do it or not I could only guess. We are supposedly on a deadline for them to commit, although sometimes I think I’m the one who should be committed – to a mental institution! Film State 51 also made announcements about another film besides Grim Fairytales called Back In Blood: Revenge Of The GoreCrazed Monsters, can you tell us about that? That project is intriguing because what they are planning to do is bring all my old villains together in the one film. But that’s been hanging for better than two years with the people at Film State 51. I hope they do it. But as of today, I have no projects that are actually in production. And as you are much aware, nothing counts until the day the director says, “Roll sound.” I was online today and saw what appeared to be scenes from a movie they’re calling Wizard Of Gore 2. Now, I’m not involved in that but it’s really flattering to have one of my children, I guess you’d call it, one of my children cloned. Only it doesn’t look like a clone. It’s a different project altogether. I don’t care; it’s still a pleasure to see it happen
New Wizard Of Gore
Yet further proof of the growing influence of Herschell Gordon Lewis is the recently completed remake of his 1970 film, The Wizard Of Gore. Written by Zach Chassler, directed by Jeremy Kasten and starring Crispin Glover as Montag The Magnificent, Bijou Phillips as Maggie and Kip Pardue as Edmund Bigelow, the description of the film at www.myspace. com/wizardofgoremovie says: “The story of a master illusionist who performs at underground venues, selecting female volunteers from his rave-like audiences. To their hysteria, it appears he's dismembered their bodies, but his sleight of hand has fooled them. However, female bodies show up dead from the same wounds performed on stage. Investigators are baffled, and the chase to find the killer begins.” With visual effects by Michael Shelton and a musical score by Steve Porcaro, it also features acting appearances by UNBELIEVABLY Bad favourites Brad Dourif as Dr. Chong (!), Jeffrey Combs as a geek and the Suicide Girls as themselves. Understood to be already complete, an official release date is still pending.
and for the film to have a second life. I really believe another possibility exists for She-Devils On Wheels (1967) to be remade. I think if made in a contemporary manner with a major budget, that picture could really go over the top because even in its first incarnation it did extraordinarily well.
Sunday afternoon they would substitute this live children’s program onstage for the adult’s movie. So he came to quite a logical conclusion, which was that if he put this show on film, instead of being in just one theatre he could be in multiple theatres. So he hired me to transform the live show into a movie. And all we did was stage the show and I shot it with two cameras and somehow or other my name has become associated with it, which is neither flattering nor accurate because it was certainly not a masterpiece of production by any means. All it was was a recording of a live show. I have no idea how many prints Baker made of it, but the concept was certainly logical – a matinee to play when the theatre had booked a program that children should not see.
I could imagine someone like Robert Rodriguez remaking it. Well Robert Rodriguez as I understand it had a character in one of his movies named Herschell. I don’t know what movie that was but I found that very flattering. Last issue we discussed the music in your films and the issue before that focused chiefly on Monster-A-Go-Go, this time I wanted to start by asking you about that period around ’65-’66 after your business partners had left you in the lurch so to speak. I’ve had as many mid-life crises as any human could possibly survive. That’s when Moonshine Mountain (1964) sustained me I guess for several years. It was one touch of good fortune in the midst of chaos. Jimmy, The Boy Wonder (1966) and The Magic Land Of Mother Goose (1967)… All right, let me explain those two pictures to you. Jimmy, The Boy Wonder and The Magic Land Of Mother Goose were not my movies, I just made them. There was a fella named Hal Berg, B-e-r-g, whose wife [Nancy] had a children’s program on Chicago television, and Hal Berg was determined to make his wife a movie star in that same genre. So he approached me to make this movie, which we called Jimmy, The Boy Wonder, though I think he originally called it something else, a title that is now lost to history. When I saw the script I could see that there was absolutely nothing playable in its content because what it was was an encomium to his wife, rather than an attempt to entertain people. I had the script rewritten, I was in Chicago at the time, so we went to Florida and shot the movie and when I saw it in its cutting form I could see that it was still incomplete. So we picked up a bunch of animation from an Italian producer and I re-dubbed that animation in English and I had a total of three people doing all the voices, I did most of them myself. Then I stuck the animation into the middle of that movie and I don’t know why it became playable but it became playable. The Magic Land Of Mother Goose was a different story altogether. There was a fella named Baker, I think his first name was Jack, who had a live children’s show that he would take from theatre to theatre when a theatre was playing an all adult program, because on a Saturday and
Were you kinda working on the premise that kids would watch anything? Obviously I can’t project myself into the position of a five-or six-year-old seeing this, but you see, as we become sophisticated we tend to lose our childish dreams and the sense of wonderment that lets us accept movies and other kinds of entertainment that later on we say, “Oh my gosh, I wouldn’t subject my dog to that.”
as I understand it had a character in one of his movies named Herschell. I found that very flattering.”
– HG Lewis
At the same time of these children’s films you were plotting Alley Tramp (1966) and Suburban Roulette (1967), right? Alley Tramp was Tom Dowd’s picture, D-o-w-d. Tom Dowd was the owner of the Capri Theatre at the south end of Chicago’s Loop and he had become educated to this type of movie when we played [The Adventures Of] Lucky Pierre (1961) there. So Tom quite logically said, “I’ll make movies myself,” and that made great sense economically for the owner of that kind of theatre to make movies because he was then in a position to swap his film with other theatres. So in doing that Tom became a producer and I was his director for three or four movies, one of which was Alley Tramp. We shot much of that in as primitive a manner as I could possibly imagine because production was not a factor in this kind of movie. Suburban Roulette was a different story altogether. A fella named Jim McGinn, M-c-capital G-i-n-n, had written the script
for Living Venus (1961) and he and I had been in fairly close touch. And Suburban Roulette was his script, which I decided to produce, and it was about a very timely subject matter at that time, which was wife-swapping in the suburbs. So armed with that script I made Suburban Roulette and we had our usual cast of characters in it and I shot it in Chicago in an empty house near O’Hare Airport, which is the major airport in Chicago. The house was owned by one of my friends, someone who also had other interest in that movie; I’ve forgotten the specifics. So very blindly I said, “That’s wonderful, we’ll shoot there,” but what I had not recognised was that we were right in the flight pattern, planes were taking off. Every thirty seconds or so an aeroplane would fly overhead and drown out the sound and I did not want to engage in post-synch sound, adding the sound later, so no take in the whole picture lasts for more than thirty seconds. Nonetheless Suburban Roulette did fairly well. I read somewhere that Alley Tramp was only a two-day shoot… That long?! I can’t exactly recall but Tom Dowd had no illusion about what somebody might come to see and it was quite apparent in those primitive times that all one needed was one striking scene and the word-of-mouth spread among the strange demographic of people who would go and see this kind of movie - that one scene would carry it. So Tom was the perfect producer as far as I was concerned because he had no illusions and no intention of being an auteur and I enjoyed working with him. We shot a couple of his movies in California, Linda and Abilene (1969) was his picture for instance.
HG Lewis in the eighties
made a series of films called The Daring Dobermans about some pack of dogs.
So were films like Alley Tramp and Suburban Roulette bound to do well just because of the lack of competition at the time? That’s right. And that’s what always seems to happen, as competition grows the originators drop out because they cannot compete, either in budget, or for that matter in talent, I’ll admit to that cheerfully. My little domain [in gore] was a kingdom that had no fence around it and as the invaders came in with electronic devices and moving mandibles and rubberised limbs and so on, I couldn’t compete. They also began to pepper their productions with name stars, or semi-stars, grade-B stars, and if a theatre had a choice, that would obviously be their choice. It doesn’t take clairvoyance to see disaster on the horizon. If I’m on a ship and I see a bunch of rocks ahead of me I’m gonna turn that ship away from the rocks.
the invaders came in with electronic devices and moving mandibles and rubberised limbs and so on, I couldn’t
– HG Lewis
You made Suburban Roulette in association with David Chudnow, is that correct? Yes, David Chudnow was a fellow in California, an older fellow, who had made his fortune and his reputation scoring movies for an old production company called Pine-Thomas. Chudnow wanted to make movies and he had seen Moonshine Mountain and thought it was clever, and so he became my partner on a couple of pictures. Suburban Roulette was once and another was one his wife, her name was Rosamond, R-o-s-a-m-o-n-d, wrote the script for, it was called How To Make A Doll (1968). Now I saw no sense in this at all but Rosamond Chudnow was enchanted with her own talent as a screenwriter. As you know, then and now, I’ve never had any reservation about making whatever kind of movie somebody wants me to make. I love making films. So we shot How To Make A Doll, what happened to it I don’t know, I just know it did play some dates. David Chudnow’s son Byron was a film cutter at some major studio or another, and subsequent to our relationship, the father and son Chudnow
The Children’s Films Of HG Lewis (’66-’67)
crolling down the Herschell Gordon Lewis filmography, in amongst famous gore titles like Blood Feast (1963), She Devils On Wheels (1967) and A Taste Of Blood (1967), you’ll find two rather shocking anomalies – Jimmy, The Boy Wonder (1966) and The Magic Land Of Mother Goose (1967)! HG Lewis never wanted to make children’s films – and it’s fair to say he never wanted anyone to find out he made children’s films either! – but when placed in the role of cameraman/director-for-hire working under other producers for a fixed pay packet he was not about to squabble over something as petty as genre. His first G-rated foray saw him direct the ’66 musical stinker, Jimmy, The Boy Wonder, made predominantly as a vehicle for producer/financier Hal Berg’s wife, Nancy. With a plotline about a boy called Jimmy Jaye (played by Dennis Jones) who inexplicably stops time and then moves freely around in a freeze-framed fantasyland, the concept was perfect for a low budget master like Lewis, who used it to squeeze his precious footage even harder than normal. Perhaps the most indelible part in what is a mind-searing film is the animation sequence about a magic globe cut into the middle of the picture, which was acquired from an Italian production company and overdubbed by Lewis and several others. The scientific explanations are utterly illogical, the songs totally tragic, the acting deplorable, and the chief villain, Mr. Figg, is upstaged
Well that’s it, at the end of this period we’re talking about, 1967 you completed something like seven pictures. Oh yes, 1967 was a banner year for me. I did every picture you could imagine that year. That was also the year I made She-Devils On Wheels. It averages out to more than one film every two months! With our production schedule it wasn’t that much of a strain. We were grinding out movies like so much hamburger…
by his own eyebrows – and it’s for all of the above reasons that I highly recommend you and your family see Jimmy, The Boy Wonder! At the start of a very busy ’67 came The Magic Land Of Mother Goose, made at the behest of producer J. Edwin Baker (aka Jack Baker), who paid Hersch to film a pre-existing onstage pantomime so it could be screened as the children’s weekend matinee program in movie theatres that had booked an all adults program for that week. Not a movie as such – Baker simply staged his play in a high school hall and Lewis shot it – it’s an oddity that will nonetheless annoy parents as much as it will disinterest the littlies. It’s fair to say even the most staunch HG Lewis fan can die quite happily without seeing Old King Cole, Mother Goose, Raggedy Ann, Merlin The Magician and a slightly-altered-to-avoid-copyright-litigation version of Casper The Friendly Ghost running about the place making little-to-no sense whatsoever. An eminently forgettable filmic abomination which occasionally carried the alternate title Santa Visits The Magic Land Of Mother Goose – which seems even more ridiculous in light of the fact that Santa does not even appear!* – this rubbish makes Monster-A-GoGo (1966) look like Star Wars. [*While some critics have said there were Santa scenes posthumously edited into some prints, others have claimed that no such prints exists and that the Santa title was most likely a gimmick involving a live appearance by “Santa” inside local theatres during Christmas screenings of the film – yet more proof that HG Lewis’ marketing genius knows no bounds.]
Mastodon: (LtoR) Bill Kelliher, Brann Dailor, Brent Hinds, Troy Sanders
Bloody Mountain F Men Mastodon. Troy Sanders and Bill Kelliher interview by Glenno. Pics by Rod HuNT. 24
uck it! Danger has just rung me to tell me my interview with Mastodon, arranged for around lunchtime at their hotel, will now be postponed until tonight, just before they play the Hordern Pavilion in support of Slayer. I knew it wasn't going to be as casual as a midday beer and chat, but they've gone to Taronga Zoo with Kerry King instead! I had earlier kissed my girlfriend goodbye as she went to work... at the zoo! I rang Gina and told her to look out for a bunch of ugly, metal dudes. She looks after kids during the school holidays and she had her group do the “we're not worthy” thing at them when she saw them, the kids bowing and pretending they were royalty. It worked out okay, though. Since the interview was now at the Hordern, I got to shake hands with Kerry King, have some artwork that I'd made out of an old leather jacket signed by all the members of Mastodon, got treated to some great impersonations of “Bubbles” from Trailer Park Boys (see it if you haven’t already) and finally sat down with Bill Kelliher (guitar) and Troy Sanders (bass/vocals)…
Have you had a good response to your Australian shows so far? Bill: It's been really good. Have you caught any of the support acts? Troy: Yeah, Blood Duster. They're cool dudes and a great band too. I like their records. I've seen Slayer twice with American support bands. Do you guys get that “Slayer! Slayer!” chant between songs? Troy: Well, this is our sixth tour with Slayer; two U.S., two European, Japan and Australia, so before we went out on tour we strategically planned how not to be “Slayered” between our songs.
and it's cool to lose to Slayer. It's not like losing to... Jethro Tull! Troy: Yeah exactly. We've never really cared much for competition. We never have or will. We were flattered to be honoured and invited but that's about the extent of that. Bill: It was cool just to be nominated. Troy: Going there was a total surreal, bizarre, awesome trip. It made our mums proud. Did you see many celebrities? Troy: Oh yeah, surrounded... Bill: Stevie Wonder! Troy: There's Prince! Stevie Wonder! Fuckin' Puff Daddy there... Ronnie James Dio!
How do you manage that... with a ton of extended feedback? Troy: No. We just link up the brutality and unleash the fury basically. Bill: We don't give the audience a chance to breathe. Troy: Thankfully the majority of the Slayer crowd is quite open-minded to us and give us a chance.
God, that would have made my night. What was your impression of Aussie music before you got here? Troy: My first concert, my first record and my favourite band to this day is Men At Work.
Do you hang with the guys... is there that teenager in you that remembers listening to Slayer and freaking out? Troy: Totally. Bill: After the show we have a few drinks, party a little, go out on the town, have dinner.
I was sure you were about to say AC/DC! Troy: My first record, first concert and still my favourite band. I listened to them last night before I went to sleep... still. Twenty four years later. He's a great singer, Colin Hay.
How was the Grammy awards? Troy: Slayer won. Was that for Best Metal performance? Bill: Yeah, we were both in the same category, they won,
Really!? Troy: Dead serious; not kidding.
Bill: Fosters. Really!? Bill: No! Troy: You guys have any cider here? Yeah, Strongbow, Mercury Cider from Tasmania... Troy: Yeah but Strongbow is not from here. Yeah, but our Aussie water makes a big difference... I've got a musical question; do you think you'll continue writing concept albums? Bill: Probably yeah. It's a good foundation to get our heads in the one place. It's good to have a narrative, a story or direction to go somewhere with. One song going into another... It's cool. What are your favourite concept albums? Bill: The Pink Floyd concept records. Troy: Early Genesis, Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Operation Mindcrime by Queensryche. I'm surprised you like that. Bill: I love it. I don't know about the other guys but me and Brann [Dailor - drums] love that record.
He is Scottish originally. The best singers are from Scotland via Australia... Bon Scott. Troy: Colin Hay, Bon Scott, there you go.
How did the in-store signing at Utopia Records go yesterday? Bill: It was crazy. There were a couple of hundred kids there. Amazing! Troy: I didn't think anyone would show up. We had no idea. We thought it could go either way.
Okay… Aussie beer... Troy: Aussie beer? Yeah, we've been drinking Coopers, Tooheys, Carlton Draught…
Did you guys buy anything when you were there? Troy: I got that new Nick Cave Grinderman CD… and The Vaselines, Brent [Hinds - guitar/vocals] got some Zappa.
to get down and have to write a fuckin' record. Like, woah, that's a big fuckin’ burden to have above your head. We tediously work away at it. That's how it worked in the past. Can you bring High On Fire with you next time you tour? Troy: We'll try. That would be great. We've done quite a few tours with those guys. Bill: They are fuckin’ powerful. Matt [Pike]'s a great guy. He's such a chilled guy then he gets out there and Woahhh!!!! He's so sick to watch. All of them are great. You've got a U.S. tour soon with Cursive and Against Me! - that's a very eclectic mix. Troy: We're trying to bring together a real mixture of fans. We're hoping that it works well.
Bill: I got The Exploited, Black Flag - Everything Went Black, the new Clutch record [From Beale Street To Oblivion]. You got Neil Fallon from Clutch to add some vocals to your last record. Troy: Yeah, he chimed in on “Blood and Thunder”. You guys seem comfortable bringing guests in on recordings. Do you have ideas with sounds and bring in someone you know who has that sound? Troy: Yeah, it works like that sometimes. We only collaborate with people we have a connection with or friendship and a respect for. It has a further meaning for us if we can work with, you know, Scott Kelly from Neurosis or Neil Fallon or Cedric [Bixler-Zavala] and Omar [Rodriguez-Lopez] from The Mars Volta. Bill: We should get Tom Araya. Troy: We gotta. But it really depends. Like a song may have the flavour of Neurosis, so we'll say, we should get Scott to do something in there. That's how it's worked out in the last few albums. Bill: King Buzzo would be cool. We're good friends with King Buzzo from the Melvins. Troy: That would be so sweet! Yeah, Tom Araya.... we've done more than 150 shows with those guys. And it works out that way, it’s a friendship and a respect combination.
In an interview recently where Dave Grohl interviewed you guys. He referred to “the southern party metal spirit” – what was he talking about? Troy: I think that must come out in our music because we've only ever hung out with him once… for two hours. Bill: It was like meeting someone from high school you haven’t seen in like ten years. You know, catching up. He's like one of the nicest guys in rock.
Mastodon discography 2000: 9-Song Demo CD-R 2000: S/T 7” picture disc (aka Sick Leg) 2001: Lifesblood CDEP 2002: Remission 2002: “March Of The Fire Ants” CD single 2003: Split 7" picture disc w/American Heritage (“Emerald”: Thin Lizzy cover) 2004: Leviathan 2004: Lifesblood 2 x 7” (reissue) 2006: Call Of The Mastodon (rarities comp) 2006: The Workhorse Chronicles DVD 2006: “Crystal Skull” / “Capillarian Crest” 7”/CD single 2006: Blood Mountain 2006: “The Wolf Is Loose” 12” picture disc/CD single 2007: “Colony Of Birchmen” 7”/CD single
Paul Romano is a great artist and his graphics work so well within your conceptual imagery. Do you work closely on the conceptual side or do you give him complete freedom? Bill: We give him some ideas, give him the lyrics to the songs and rough demos before we get in and record them properly and he works from that. We give him the rough skeleton idea. How did you hook up with him? Troy: He was originally working at Relapse Records when we did the first record Lifesblood when he did part of that. That's how we met him. Now it's a really strong friendship. Bill: He designed our first logo. Here’s something weird I found online. Have you guys heard of Haverley's United Mastodon Minstrels? They're strangely enough from Georgia and they were a massive black and white minstrel troupe from the1880s. Bill: That's weird.
Pure Blaxploitation.... from Georgia no less! Are you guys from Georgia? Bill: Me and Brann are from upstate New York originally. Do write new stuff while you're on tour? Bill: No,
I'm out of questions. Here take this Googled “Mastodon Minstrels” thing... and here's a copy of this comic I did seven years ago, before Metalocalypse!!!!, called Necrotardation. Troy: Thanks... we usually wait until we get home. We get in the practice room and shut the door and it comes out then. There is stuff that comes to us when we soundcheck or when we’re fooling around on guitar. There's a lot of stuff going on in everyone's head and fingers. Are you guys itching when you finally get a chance to concentrate on these random ideas? Bill: I dunno. We tour so much. It's like take a break and then get down to business and it seems every time we do, we have like a month
The show was awesome. Mastodon are amazing live. Brent Hinds vocals were a bit... er... odd but sounded cool once he warmed up and Slayer slayed as usual. The lighting was atrocious. I had a massive eye/headache by Slayer's fourth song due to the punishing strobe lights... the queue for beer was as long as the queue for the male dunnies. The smart guys went to the girl's toilets, which seemed deserted... you can do the maths on that one. Finished the night on a sausage sandwich high with BBQ sauce and onions.
“My first concert, my first record and my favourite band to this day is Men At Work.” – Troy Sanders
Drone Alone tingale.
y Nigh James “JJ” McCann interview by Wall
he first time I saw James McCann was in Sydney in the mid-nineties, fronting explosive experimental rock behemoth Harpoon. With an old junk shop guitar, a raspy, smoke-blown voice and fuckin’ fantastic hair, I instantly pegged him as a blessed child of rock, and since then he has never ceased to stop blowing my mind. Harpoon’s one and only release, ‘96’s Fork Tongued Pressed and Greasy, is well worth tracking down. I daresay someone will re-issue it in the not too distant future and everyone will proclaim it the masterpiece it is. But for me personally it was the things I saw James McCann do away from Harpoon that made me realise the enormity of the guy’s talent. I will never ever forget the 1996 Big Day Out performance by the first incarnation of Nunchukka Superfly, which consisted of Hard-Ons alumni and mainstays bassist Ray Ahn and guitarist Blackie, with Peter Allen (Massappeal, Terrible Virtue) on drums and McCann on vocals. The energy coming off the stage that evening was retarded. McCann, in what would prove to be his final performance with the group, prowled the stage like a man possessed, belting out tunes wearing a stocking over his head and a denim vest with no shirt. I honestly thought I was witnessing the re-incarnation of Bon Scott. I was shocked. I never guessed he had this boisterous bogan side to him. Turns out it was just all part of the complex character known as James McCann. On another occasion, maybe a year later, I staggered into the Bat & Ball Hotel, Surry Hills to find he was playing a solo set. Yet again he had me picking my jaw up off the floor. Though in hindsight the swampy bluesy stuff he was playing that night was almost identical to what he’s doing now, at the time it seemed so different to Harpoon, and to Nunchukka, the emotional clarity of his
You’ve moved around a lot your whole life haven’t you? Yeah, I was born in Glasgow and I lived in Scotland for a few years, then we moved out to Australia in the seventies when I was about seven. Initially we spent three years in this wheatbelt town in the middle of bumfuck, WA, a place called Narrogin. That song “Heat Of The Belt” is about that place, written from memories I have, driving around in the back of an old Holden and stuff. One thing that sticks in my mind is in summer, the smell of pine and gravel on the old farms. I went back there about ten years ago to a mate’s dad’s funeral, it was quite bizarre, going back and seeing all these farming kids I’d know, now they were grown up, a lot of them still there working the farm. When did you get into playing music? My granddad gave me my first acoustic when I was eight. He was a muso, used to play in a band, he had a few guitars. He had an electric and two acoustics but he never played them, he’d just play piano, he used to catch me crawling under the bed to get the electric out. He gave me my first acoustic and then he gave me the electric and a little Princeton amp. But I first started playing pubs when I was in Year 10 at school, when I was fifteen; this was after we’d moved to Albany [in Western Australia]. What kind of stuff were you playing? It was covers mainly, a couple of originals. I had one original called “Hot Beef Injection”! It was a bit Detroit-y, I was right into [Radio] Birdman around then and we used to do Birdman songs, AC/DC, Sex Pistols, T-Rex. What was the band called? The Swankers. We got that from Steve Jones’ band before the ’Pistols he was in The Swankers so we just stole it. Me and my mate who started the band were these kids in Year 10, fifteen
voice and the sheer honesty of his lyrics taking me aback. Not only is McCann virtually the only guy I know who can wear a cowboy hat in the city without a trace of irony, he is also one of the most honest musicians you’ll ever hear. His blues is 100% raw and exposed. On first hearing The Drones I thought it sounded similar to the kind of emotive blues with killer hooks I saw McCann playing that night in the Bat & Ball, not realising that in fact he was one of the foundation members of the group. He has done his share of drifting, and has endured many highs and lows in his life and career. The death of his sister and father in ’96 and ’97 respectively hit him hard, and he withdrew from Sydney altogether and returned home to Western Australia. While back in Perth, on Christmas Eve 1998 he met Gareth Liddiard and Rui Pereira, and a week later they formed The Drones. Though he would eventually part ways with the band before all the success, his influence over their sound is undeniable. He even gave them the song “This Time”, which ended up as the closer on their breakthrough 2005 album Wait Long By The River And The Bodies Of Your Enemies Will Float By. Though he has led a chequered life, McCann is currently settled and happy in Melbourne. He seems more comfortable than at any time since the old Harpoon days, and in the past couple of years has released more material than ever, with more on the way. His first solo album, Where Was I Then, was issued through Andrew McGee's label Torn & Frayed in 2005, while his latest, Last Night I Met The Devil, came out on CD and vinyl through Spanish label Bang! Records last year. Here’s that man McCann…
going on sixteen, and the bassplayer was my mate’s sister’s boyfriend who was twenty-eight. Everyone else we hung around with was a lot older. We were smoking dope and going to pubs and watching bands while everyone else was tucked up in bed. From Albany you moved to Perth – how come? I was in a band at the time, The Rain Dogs, and they were all moving to Perth and I had gone overseas for a couple of months and when I came back I just moved into the house with the band. Actually, it was funny, just as I arrived at the house, Gibbo [Steve Gibson], who now plays drums in The Kill Devil Hills, he was playing bass in this band and he and the drummer had just beaten the crap out of each other. I’m like, “Hey!” and then I look around and there’s blood everywhere and they’ve just had a punch up. From Perth you moved to Sydney – how come? I met Guy Maddison (Lubricated Goat, Mudhoney) when I was twenty-one, he was over visiting from Sydney and I was hanging out with him and he was playing me this Lubricated Goat stuff and I hadn’t really listened to much of that. So that blew me away and eventually he convinced me to move over. At first I moved in with Guy and Ringo [Paul Gill], who were both playing in Monroe’s Fur at the time. So I used to roadie for them and hang out in this weird sort of extended circle of people and that scene opened up a lot of ideas for me, bands like Half and Mothra and all that. Moving over from Perth at twenty-two was pretty frightening but I was just absorbing everything. I s’pose at first I just followed Guy around like a little puppy, just went wherever he went, but he took off in ’93, him and Ringo, most of Monroe’s Fur fucked off to Seattle. So you formed Harpoon to fill the gap? Basically. The first line-up was two guitars, bass and drums, so it was a really bluesy detuned rock thing and that was when we
did the first demo cassette, in like ’94. Then after that two dudes left and it was just me and Sabby [Sabrina Collins], the bassplayer, and that’s when I thought, fuck it, I’ll do something more like Monroe’s Fur, y’know just get a bunch of unusual characters together and whoever wants to join is basically in. Harpoon was a big band with weird instrumentation… Yeah we had the baritone sax from Tim Fagan and we had John Murphy (Whirlywirld, Orchestra Of Skin And Bone, Slub, Dumb & The Ugly) playing with us for a while, he was doing samples and weird noises and shit. John would just kind of appear y’know, and then disappear as well. Sometimes he would disappear before we got onstage! He’d have a panic attack and freak out and leave! So we had “The Hitter” Dave Bullock (Kiss My Poodle’s Donkey) on percussion, and Murray Shepherd (Fun Things, Screaming Tribesmen) playing the drums and we had two bassplayers; we had Gavin Lewis playing second bass but he would play it more like a guitar with barre chords and using distortion pedals. So it all just evolved from meeting all these people and asking them to sit in. Harpoon made an EP, Fork Tongued Pressed and Greasy… It was called an EP, it was seven songs, but I guess looking back on it now it could’ve been called an album because it’s about forty minutes long. Was releasing that a highlight? Yeah, that and touring with Sugar Shack and playing with Dead Moon, hanging out with those guys. Also playing with a lot of the bands that were around back at that time like Mothra, Orgasmatron... Seven Golden Vampires… Yeah, Seven Golden Vampires, playing shows with them. When
and going to pubs and watching bands
Pic: Daniel Collins
while everyone else
was tucked up in bedâ€?
- James McCann 29 29
to be around so I rocked up ten minutes before we were meant to be onstage. It was a real cunt’s trick. I just thought, I’m gonna make ‘em sweat. But the show was amazing and we went backstage and we were all going, “Fuck, that was great! That was so fucking good… Alright, see ya!” And that was it.
Pic: Rod Hunt
While Harpoon was still going you were playing bluesy country stuff, pretty much what you’re doing now, right? Yeah, I started doing a few shows towards the end, probably just before I moved back to Perth.
“I was singing
“Through The Night” one
night in Sydney
a few years back and I just
felt the tears
welling up and I was like,
‘Ah fuck, don’t cry!’”
- James McCann
we got to the point where we could get a hundred or two-hundred people and we’d get a show at the Sando and we could pack the joint out, then we had the power to get the bands on we liked so we used to go with those bands, something more unusual to make the night a different night. You were the singer in the first line-up of Nunchukka Superfly – tell us about that. I was the twenty-third person to try out as vocalist and I got the gig. I found out about it through Peter Allen from Massappeal who was obviously the original Nunchukka drummer. They’d been trying to find someone for a year so they were frustrated and chomping at the bit to play live so we did maybe two weeks of rehearsal and we were gigging. So I had to write some lyrics and shit like that. A few of the songs I felt uncomfortable with, I gave them a go a few times live and just said, “Look, I can’t sing this.” So it kinda developed and I was in it for about a year and when it got there it was really good. Our last show was our best show, at the Big Day Out in ‘96. It just went off, that was what we should’ve be striving for, that sort of energy. We all fell out personally though. I had a falling out with them when I was in Perth because my sister was really crook so I ended up staying on there and not coming back for some shows, I think it was The Mark Of Cain at The Metro or something. So I had a big spat with Ray [Ahn] and Blackie, but in hindsight they didn’t know what I was going through, there’s no way they could’ve, unless you’re experiencing that you could never imagine. It was like, “Nah, hang on, someone is dying here and I might never see them again. Y’know, fuck the show. I don’t give a fuck!” You and Peter both left at the same time right? Me and Peter were like the bad kids, we were smoking dope and taking drugs and the other two were straight-edge so I think we freaked them out with our drug consumption. Me and Pete, we bonded, like we would share hotel rooms on the road and we created our own little world. I do remember that BDO show, it was fucking amazing. Yeah, I remember someone in the front row gave me a joint and I smoked it just to piss them off, like, “I’m gettin’ stoned onstage ya cunts!” So we’d already decided that was going to be the last gig with me and it wasn’t a good scene leading up to it. I didn’t want
48 54 30
I remember that night I just stumbled into the Bat & Ball and you were playing. That’s right, I had Jim Selene (Bloodloss, Lowdorados) on guitar with me. That was when we wrote that song “Hoodoo Joe”. If Harpoon had kept going that’s what we would’ve been heading towards, that sounds like a song Harpoon would’ve done. Around that same time I recorded an album of acoustic stuff that never came out except for a hundred cassettes that I did. That was all kind of really personal shit because me sister had just passed away. And so I wrote all this stuff and I wanted to get it released but I couldn’t get any interest and so then I just thought, Ah fuck this. It was a bit like trying to sell your soul. So in the end I just gave all the tapes away. I thought it’s better to give them to someone who gives a fuck than to try and hand them out to industry people. The thing is, that kind of mellow acoustic stuff became popular later, back then it was still a pretty heavy rockin’ time. So were you expressing something different to what you’d could with Harpoon? I tried a couple of those songs with the band, like Harpoon recorded a whole album that never came out, fourteen songs that we did but we didn’t have the money to put it out ourselves and one thing led to another and my old man got really fuckin’ crook in WA so I just had to bail from the whole Sydney thing. Harpoon didn’t really break up I just bailed out y’know. My sister passed away the year before so it was like a double whammy in a year and it just turned everything upside down. I knew dad was sick and I went back to Albany and y’know he died a couple of weeks after I got there. That sort of shit, when it hits you like that, it fucking nails you and it has taken nearly ten years to figure that out because it just sort of fucks ya. One minute you’ve got a whole family and the next you’re two down and the whole family is sort of shattered y’know. When you lose two of the main strong people everyone else is running around like headless chooks. And me and mum… grief is a weird thing, families can turn on each other a bit. And being around each other kind of reminds you of everything so you just avoid each other and that’s what we did for a few years. Now everything is cool, but it just took years to sort itself out. You seemed to be drifting after that and not many of us in Sydney knew what you were up to. I was kind of high-and-dry going, what the fuck am I gonna do? I’m back in Albany where I started. So I got the fuck out of there, I moved to Perth. I broke up with my missus not long after the old man died too. I was kind of lost. I was living in this shitty little accommodation and it was like, Fuck man, everything was going so good. Things seemed like they were on the up and up with Harpoon and everything and then, bang, back in Perth with nothing. That’s when I got back together with Gibbo from Kill Devils again, he was playing congas and I played electric guitar and we had a French horn player who would play through a wah-wah pedal and shit. It was this weird little trio we used to call James McCann’s Germs, because we couldn’t get gigs. At the same time I was doing solo stuff round Perth just with an acoustic and that’s when I met Gaz [Liddiard] and Rui [Pereira] and formed the first line-up of The Drones. I s’pose this was late ’98, early ’99. It’s funny because when I first heard The Drones I thought of you right away, but I had no idea that you’d influenced Gareth in such a way. It’s a weird thing because Gaz really influenced me, because he was a bit younger and he wasn’t jaded in any way and I felt like I was at that point. And he had a real intense style and I remember one of the first songs he showed me that he wrote was seventy two lines and every line was different and he knew
all the words and I was just like, “This guy is a fucking freak.” I knew straight away, like, this might sound like I’m a bit up myself or whatever, but I knew straight away when I met him, Fuck, this guy’s gonna do something. I just had a gut feeling. But definitely Gaz and I influenced each other and we still do. We joke about it, like we steal little licks off each other and put them in our own songs. Actually, a family member of mine heard “Shark Fin Blues” on the radio and thought it was me! What was the Gutterville Splendour Six? Gutterville Splendour Six were basically The Drones with a singer. That was intense, a really fucking intense band that used to work on a lot of negative vibes. It was a hard band to be in, rehearsals were just fucking torture, everyone was just fucking down. Fucking glum man. It was twisted. Maurice [Lavel], more so then than now, was an intense character to be around, and that’s how he can write those songs. So it had to have that strange dynamic, it had to be negative to make it work. But then playing live sometimes it would just be amazing, like it would take off; really powerful. Why didn’t you go to Melbourne with The Drones, why did you come back to Sydney instead? I went back to Sydney because I thought I might be able to get something happening there and The Drones went to Sydney initially too. I arrived first and got a place in Surry Hills and then a few weeks later those guys came over from Perth and there were five of us and two dogs all crammed into my one-room apartment. It was pissing down with rain, it was one of those two week torrential periods that Sydney seems to get in summer, so we were all housebound and drinking and going nuts. Communication broke down and no one was talking, there was the pressure of being in Sydney and at a loose end, no jobs, nowhere to live, I think there was a lot of paranoia flying around and eventually it exploded into a big argument between me and Gaz. The Drones was always Gareth’s band, so we were both writing and contributing songs but he would get to decide what songs we would and wouldn’t do. And there was other issues as well with certain songs being filtered through and what was and wasn’t accepted. Basically what it boils down to is that it was never going to work with two such extreme egos in the same band. So a couple of days after that they decided to head to Melbourne. But Gaz was cool, he was like, “If you wanna come down and keep playing in the band, you can,” but I was in a relationship there and I just thought, “Nah, fuck it, I’ll stay.” Because I still had some sort of hope that Sydney would be a good move. So I formed the Lowdorads but everything had changed, the whole scene had changed. It was less underground, harder to get gigs. What was it that made you want to get out of Sydney? If you’re playing in a band then you want to be heard and accepted within the community but we only played about half a dozen times and there seemed to be less opportunity to play, not much interest. It’s like you feel ignored, and being ignored makes people react. So I s’pose the most positive thing to come out of all that was that I was just writing heaps, just not playing as much. But then you just get lost in it all and depressed and frustrated and you start boozing and you don’t fit in because you don’t play the game, or when you do, you usually blow it anyway. I was getting frustrated and trashed and telling people to get fucked, making a cunt of myself basically all round town. So in the end I just decided to move down to Melbourne and make a cunt of myself here. So your first solo album, Where Was I Then, started out as a Lowdorads album, right? Yeah, we started making it after I got to Melbourne and it was slowly put together over time. We’d record a bit every time the Nunchukka Superfly
Pic: Tracey Kemp
James McCann discography
France. I’ve been organising that the last few months. What does the title Last Night I Met The Devil mean? I’ve actually written a song called that now, so that will be on the new album. It was about a shit time in Sydney in ’96 where I thought I was being chased by demons. I think I was losing my mind, but you just never know do you. Do all your songs draw on your own personal experiences? Yeah, mostly. Occasionally I will get an idea from somewhere else, an article in the paper or whatever, but mainly it’s just drawing from my own experience. For me to do it with conviction it’s gotta be like that, otherwise I can’t fuckin’ do it. Like, sometimes I’ll sing a song and the meaning of it will suddenly hit me and I always take that as a good sign. I was singing “Through The Night” one night in Sydney a few years back and I just felt the tears welling up and I was like, “Ah fuck, don’t cry!” But then I thought, No, that’s a good thing, and maybe someone else is feeling that. It’s a good thing when you can feel it. What is your most favourite song you’ve ever written? Ah jeez, I don’t know, “Shark Fin Blues”?!
Pic: Meredith O'Shea
Lowdorads came down from Sydney. (Crow, Lowdorados) for a few The majority of it was recorded in a days…” So we organised a couple of days but there were other bits keyboard player as well, Nick and pieces that I’d work on at Gaz’s Hurle (Silver City Highway), and house. It was an 8-track so I just spent a couple of months back we 1994: Harpoon – Demo cassette time building it up. I worked on that recorded a bunch of songs at 1996: Harpoon – Fork Tongued Pressed and Greasy EP Andrew’s winery. The way we album for about a year, when musicians 2000: Gutterville Splendour Six – S/T EP were available or when Gaz and Aaron did it was just record all night, Cupples who recorded it were available. then the next day we’d listen 2006: The Drones – The Miller’s Daughter It got half finished and The Drones were to the playback and earmark 2006: James McCann – Where Was I Then getting really busy, Gaz and Aaron were where we were good and cut it 2006: James McCann – Last Night I Met The Devil also in the Alpha Males and they were up. Anything that was a minute really busy, so I couldn’t get anyone’s to say two minutes long was time to finish it. So it kinda stalled and I didn’t have any money to a keeper. Then I would come up with a lyric and vocal part and edit dangle the carrot and get these guys to come back and finish it. So the song and lay the vocal over top - almost like working backwhat happened was, there was a New Year’s Eve party at Andrew wards really. We couldn’t even remember who did what at times McGee’s winery, he has bands play out there and the best wine ever. because Rui, John and I all alternated between guitar and drums. It’s a bit of a deadly combination; Chiraz and rock ‘n’ roll. But I was Everyone was swapping, but we kept Jim on bass because he’s just so fucking lucky, and I’ve talked to Andrew about it and he says, the best bass player; some of the bass playing on it is amazing. We “No, you’re not fucking lucky, you’ve done a lot of hard work.” But I want to keep it going as a project because it was so much fun to do see it as a bit of luck because I went out there with The Drones create songs like that, instead of one person writing everything. and met him and we just hit it off right away, just got on really well. So I gave him some recordings that I’d done and it was so freaky Your last album, Last Night because a while later I was at home lying on the couch basically I Met The Devil came through with my head in my hands depressed going, “This is fucked, I’m Spanish label Bang!, who seem never going to be able to finish this album, it’s going to cost too to have an appreciation of Aussie much money.” And then no lie, right at that moment the phone swamp music. rang and it was Andrew saying he wanted to help us out, like give That was a lucky thing too, that us some money to get it finished. He was interested in this other was through Spencer [Jones]. He was stuff that Lowdorados had done, “This Time” was on it and a few going over to Spain and a week before other songs just recorded on four-track, and I said, “Nah, I got this he left I was having a drink with him in whole other album and it’s not finished, you gotta hear this shit.” So The Greyhound and he said, “Give me I gave him a copy of some rough mixes and he was into that and some of your fucking stuff and I’ll take basically bankrolled it from there, like paid Aaron and Gaz to help it over.” And I was like, “Ah, it’s only finish it off. He’s a real patron of the arts, Andrew. He’s not in it for half finished, I don’t want you to take profit. Although he’s definitely not stupid and he doesn’t just waste over half finished stuff and they just his money, he’s into just helping people get their shit out. It’s real hear it and think it’s crap.” And he just incredible. He helped start Shock Records and made some money looked at me and said, “I don’t offer to from that and so it’s like he’s giving some back through the artists. anyone y’know.” I’m like, “Cool. I hear ya.” So I made him a few copies and What is this project Selfish Gene that I’ve heard about? he took them over and Bang! Records Yeah, that came together through Andrew as well. He just rang me straight away. And now we’re rung me up and said, “I’ve got this idea for a recording with you going over, we’ve got a tour in October and Rui [Pereira] and Jim [Selene] and I’ll fly down John Fenton and November, going to Spain and
Pic: Rod Hunt
Sadistik Exekution: An oral history. Interviews by Ergon Korsakov.
Main players: Dave Slave: Bassist, songwriter, maniac. Rok: Vocalist, lyricist, artist. Rev. Kriss Hades: Guitarist, pin-cushion. Sloth: Drummer, gun for hire.
Bit players: Sandy Vahdanni: Slaughter Lord guitarist. Wrote songs and played guitar on The Magus. The Mechanic: Played drums on one song of We Are Death… Fukk You as well as live shows. Matt “Skitz” Sanders: Damaged drummer. Filled in on ’95 European Tour.
Seeds of Sad Ex: mid-to-late-'80s Rok: I always hated those metal ballads. The more heavy the sound, the more I liked it. But it wasn’t just the sound alone. I was seeking out a crazed frontman’s voice, full-on distorted guitars and a corrupt overall feeling of evil. Most importantly, it had to sound like they weren’t mucking around. It had to sound like they really were crazy and not just putting it on for the sake of selling records. Initially I played bass guitar and at that stage I was getting right into Venom and Hellhammer, followed by Celtic Frost and then Bathory. These bands weren’t pretending, they really did look and sound like they meant it – UNLIKE THE FUKKKKKKKING GAY SHIT THAT’S AROUND THESE DAYS! Dave Slave: I went to an Iron Maiden concert in 1985 at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion. This was before people were into death metal on a big scale or anything like that and I see this crazy bugger out the front in a butcher’s apron with blood all over it and he had an audience around him and he was saying to people, “I can blow bubbles, can you?” and he was spitting all over his face. That was Rok. And I just went up to him and said. “You’re a bassplayer,” and he went, “How do you know?” and I went, “Because I’m psychic, you idiot.” Rok: That first meeting was totally fukkkkkking insane, like all you fukkwit poofter readers would never understand. It
adistik Exekution deserve a tribute album. But they won’t get one because the only people who can play that shit is them. They play at a speed that renders the audio spectrum almost useless, each member of the band treating his instrument like a power tool. They’re too fast, too complex, too fucking insane. You really have to be wired a certain way to play the music of Sadistik Exekution (and even then it takes special training). There is only one Rok, one Reverend Kriss Hades, one Sloth and one Dave Slave – thank fukkkkking Christ! Very often the larger-than-life personas of the members has meant that Sadistik Exekution have been taken as some kind of novelty act. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are the fastest, heaviest, most fukked band in the galaxy and they will NEVER reform. This is their story in their own words...
didn’t take long before Dave and I were in the early stages of this thing we call Sadistik Exekution. At that time there were only half a dozen people in Sydney who were actually into this Venom, Hellhammer death metal stuff and certainly no one was actually playing it.
was the same distance again – play fast, hit the right notes, sound fukking mental. The idea was to make the most fukked band ever. In ’86 we made the decision, “We’ll move to Melbourne tomorrow,” and the next day we were in fukking Melbourne.
Dave: I introduced Rok to a few of my idiot mates, because really there were hardly any of us. I introduced him to Corpse Thundertrash, who’s dead now, and a few other guys. So we decided we were going to make the heaviest, most extreme band on the planet.
Rok: The move to Melbourne from Sydney was an on-thespot decision. One night Dave and I just packed all our crap in the back of my Holden Crypt and took off to Melbourne, arriving early the next morning, not knowing what the fukk was going on. We had no idea about the trams driving in the middle of the road or where to go first. We did know one thing though, we wanted to make an impact, and we sure set about doing that from day one.
Rok: Bathory was one of our major influences in the early days, especially the first Bathory album and the demo tape that Dave and I had. It was much more evil-sounding than most other things around at the time, and that had an impact on some of our riffs and sound ideas. Other bands that had a musical influence were Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Possessed and early Kreator. Long before Bathory, I must say we were all heavily influenced by Black Sabbath. Apart from bands, we were always influenced by heavy sounding stuff like bombs, war, freight trains, volcanos, heavy machinery and so on. Dave: A bit of Bathory, a bit of Slayer, but just music-wise, not in the attitude. We wanted to exaggerate the music beyond people’s perceptions then. For example, the difference in extremity when you compare Slayer and Bon Jovi, we had to make it so that when you compared Sadistik to Slayer it
Dave: Rok’s sister quickly rang up a friend she knew in Melbourne and so we stayed with him. He then found us a place and went guarantor for us and paid the bond. We ended up just trashing the place. We were living in Balaclava and Rok was walking around with a comical-looking pentagram on his jumper and a dog skull around his neck like a piece of jewelry. Reverend Kriss Hades: They lived in the heart of Balaclava, which is where the Jewish community live; full-on ones with the hats, the ones that do that wailing wall stuff. We got upset that they looked heavier than us. It was all about heaviness. We basically terrorized the neighbourhood, got bashed and had some skinheads protecting us.
Rok: We went to Melbourne with the aim of finding a guitarist and drummer for our band so we made up a sign and put it in a shop called Pipe Imported, owned by Daniel Janecka. Reverend Kriss Hades was the first person to put his name up on our advert and Dave arranged to meet him. I am very sure Kriss Hades has a better story about our meeting than I can tell you. Kriss: I answered an ad in a store in Melbourne called Pipe Import - now it’s called Extreme Aggression, or Modern Invasion. I was warned by the people in the shop not to go near the band because they ate their own vomit and drank their own urine. Dave: The ad was something like, “Metal guitarist that plays mental and is mental as well.” Kriss left his number there under the name Riff Raff. I thought, “That’s a fukking stupid name but we’ll ring him.” I said, “You have to be at Flinders Street Station at 12 o’clock,” and he turns up with these sunglasses with a projection of a submarine on them or something. Then I took him straight to a guitar shop and said, “You better buy this guitar if you want to be in the band.” And he did, he put a deposit on it and paid it off over twenty years. Rok: I was impressed by the way he wore all black and had this dark, mysterious thing about him, but I wasn’t sure that he understood exactly where we were coming from. I mean, he didn’t seem to be like Dave and myself in that early death metal kind of way. Kriss: It was very strange back then, there was not much music going on, it was more of a lifestyle or something like that. We had a line-up that was Corpse Thundertrash, he was the drummer, then there was me, Rok and Dave Slave; that was the first line-up. Then the guitarist out of Slaughterlord, Sandy [Vahdanni], wrote a letter from Sydney saying he’d hooked up with Sloth on drums and they were going to go halves in the songs. So [Rok and Dave] got really excited to have the guitarist out of Slaughterlord, because Slaughterlord were pretty big at the time. Sloth: I was in a band called Librera and Sandy came up to me at a gig and asked me to jam, gave me his number and said, “Come over my place.” I went to his place and he put on a Cryptic Slaughter record and said, “If you can play this fast, you’re in the band.” So we had a jam and I played a little bit faster.
Rok: Dave and I got sick of Melbourne and wanted to return to our mates and lifestyle back in Sydney, although we did want Kriss Hades to be our guitarist and maybe join us in Sydney at a later date. Our first idea of a line-up was with Hades and Thundertrash, but that didn’t even get as far as a single rehearsal. Now though, after seeing Sloth and Sandy play in the rehearsal studio, we all started having new thoughts.
Dave: Sandy, who was a friend of mine, and Sloth, who was my cousin, were already rehearsing some really original fast shit and I thought, “Okay, it’s meant to be.” Sloth: Me and Sandy worked on the songs together and then Dave Slave and Rok came into the picture when they came up from Melbourne. The first song we wrote was “Bleeding Insanity”, but then that name got changed to “Possessed Haemorrhage”. We would muck around with names and concepts before we’d settle on a name. Rok: Quite simply, within a few weeks Dave and I joined forces with Sandy and Sloth and the first real Sadistik Exekution line-up was born.
Kriss: I used to go to the rehearsals to watch Sandy play guitar because that was pretty amazing. I watched him play and went, “Oh right, that’s how you play thrash metal.” What they were doing was pretty innovative back then. Sloth came up with blast beats on his own, he wanted to take it a little bit further, kinda like Kreator, Slayer and Hellhammer sped up.
1989: S/T (demo) 1991: The Magus 1992: Suspiral (demo) 1994: We Are Death... Fukk You 1995: Demon With Wings – single 1997: K.A.O.S 1998: Sadistik Elektrokution – single 2002: FUKK 2004: FUKK II 2006: Tribute to Slayer Mag split 7” w/ Nifelheim [Demon With Wings tracks]
Dave: It was just obvious. When there’s no bassplayer that can keep up with it then things have to happen. We structure the notes and frame the music to be extreme and it takes a lot of musical skill and unless you practice for ten hours a day for ten years you are not going to be able to develop these skills. We don’t just go fast like a butterfly flapping its fukking wings. It’s more like a jackhammer on all instruments. Sloth: A lot of people play fast and then they weary out and you can hear them either slow down or start to hit softer. It takes time to learn to hit the nail on the head every time going at that speed.
Dave: We didn’t ditch Kriss, we just weren’t sure if he wanted to be in the band or not.
Rok: We all just wanted to make very full-on death metal that was also quite technical musically. Sandy was obsessed with being more technical than Slaughterlord and I remember some of the insane arguing between him and Dave about the music, as they were both right into their own ideas about riffs and so on.
Kriss: I was supposed to go to Sydney but I didn’t go. It was just like, “Jump in this fukkin’ beaten up car and drive to Sydney now.” We’d already trashed the flat and left signs saying, “Gone to Adelaide.”
Sloth: Sandy and Dave would fight about the music all the time. Sandy really wanted to perfect what he was going for, he wanted to take death metal to another level and I think he really influenced a lot of people.
Sloth: I got my inspiration from quite a few old death metal drummers and also a lot of fusion players like the guys out of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and a couple of other freaks like Trilok Gurtu. Dave: Sandy had written a lot of songs that ended up on The Magus. Basically Sandy wrote the six main songs and I wrote the intros and some of the slower bits and the keyboard tracks, the atmospheric tracks.
Sloth: I was writing lyrics and so was Rok and so we shared the lyrics and Sandy was mainly arranging the songs. I came up with The Magus concept and Rok put his two-bob worth in, but basically The Magus was a magician, he was a very chaotic magician. His wife was Cautness from the song “Cautness Darling Blood”, so that all ties in together. “Lupercalia” is about Valentine’s Day. Rok: As for lyrics, that was my main department, but all of us had some input. Sloth wrote the lyrics to “Lupercalia” and “The Magus” and “Agonising the Dead”, which was originally called “Sealords of Antarctica”. I still remember Sandy trying to show me how I can fit in the words to that song. To me his ideas sounded really stupid, so it was much better when it was changed to “Agonising the Dead”, which was more of a Dave Slave concept. Overall I mainly had lyrics about death and death metal, while Sloth had more “spiritual” lyrics and Dave and Sandy had more mental sort of ideas. But as I say, some of Sandy’s ideas seemed to me to be a bit stupid. Maybe all of our ideas were a bit stupid?
Agonising The Dead Recording The Magus: ‘'88
Dave: Those six songs evolved over a period of around three months then we gave up. We had originally planned to be a band but somewhere along the line Sandy left. At one stage he had typhoid fever, a one-in-a-million chance of getting it, but basically he just had other things to do, he was studying physics at university. Sloth: I left the band after eight months and I’d leave every week after that. I was tired of it. I got RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) in my arms from going too quick; that was it. So they were looking for other people and while there were good metal drummers around, none of them were into death metal. Also there were a lot of good hardcore drummers around, the Massappeal drummer for one was awesome, but again, that’s fast, but it’s not the same as death metal. Dave: A couple of years later, in 1988, I rang up Sandy and said, “I got money, let’s just record the songs.”
Magus-era: (LtoR) Dave Slave, Rok, Sandy, Sloth
Kriss: Dave had a really good bass rig and he basically sold it to pay for the recording of The Magus. I was there at Ramrod Studios when they were doing some of the recording. I actually play one keyboard note at the end of “Sadistikly Exekuted”. Sandy asked me to join but Dave didn’t want me to because he thought I’d get more girls than him.
Kriss: The guy who recorded it was out of the Ted Mulry Gang and he had no fukkin’ idea and he was such an arsehole. He’d already gotten the money before he did it so he didn’t do it properly, that’s why it sounds a bit fukked. He just went, “Yeah, whatever,” didn’t even turn half the tracks up in the final mix. Dave: He heard us and immediately decided we’re going to have to put noise gates on everything and then noise gates over the noise gates to get in between every beat so it doesn’t resonate. Then put a gated reverb on so you still get the reverb effect without the mess, so the reverb cuts off every time a new beat comes. Sloth: He freaked, because he had never heard anything like that before. The best description of Sadistik that I ever heard was from a guy named Con from the band Child who came in next door one night from where his band was rehearsing and said, “You sound like a washing machine.” Rok: I hated what The Magus sounded like when I first heard it. Slowly, over the years, I got used to it but I still think the recording let down those songs. Dave: Spent $3,500 at Ramrod and it still sounded like shit so I ended up taking it to another studio and spent $1,100 there, not to mention the $280 for the second-hand 2-inch tape to record it onto! Then I spent another couple of hundred dollars at a mate’s studio making extra tracks to make it a full-length album. It only went for eighteen minutes and you need forty. Rok: Let’s say I was happy to have an album out, but not happy with the way it turned out. I was also really pissed off when the Vampire Records CD version came out, basically because of how the cover looked all washed-out and orange looking, rather than the deeper red hues that I had originally painted. Dave: There was a weird thing that happened on “Sadistikly Exekuted” where a message came in the song. We used second-hand tape and there was a bit of a voice left in one little section and it came exactly as a doomy beat started and it said, “I hope someone gets my message.” It was a cover of “Message In A Bottle” by The Police and they were the only words left that never got erased! That was the fukking message and it came exactly on the fukking beat! Kovacs goes, “I can take it out right away, no problem.” I’m like, “Don’t you fukking dare! This shit happens to me all the time.” I got that fukking message all right. Kriss: As usual, by the time The Magus came out a few years later it wasn’t fresh, there’d been a whole new wave of bands come out, Morbid Angel had done Alters Of Madness for one. And that was just the fast stuff. All the doomy stuff Sadistik were doing was the same, there were whole scenes of those doomy kind of bands by then. So we were dated before we’d even released anything. That can be very frustrating if that is continually happening. Dave: The Magus is like a big production with a bad sound. The Magus is shit, it’s “Fagus” man; fukking crap.
Ultra Maximizer Of Agony Sad Ex & Self-Promotion
Dave: Me and Rok used to go into a pub and make it look like I was beating him up. He’d be screaming, “Aaarrgh, aaarrrgh,” I’d be punching him and he’d fall to the ground and when people came and gathered around like an audience we stood up and gave them gig flyers. Rok: In our first few years alone we did enough fukkedup shit to make all of Norway look like a little pink butterfly. Kriss: We were poor, so to get the money to get into other band’s gigs Dave would sell T-shirts and stickers
outside, even bring a tape player with headphones and charge people $2 a listen to the demo. That’s where half the entertainment of Sadistik was, Dave’s antics outside gigs. There was sometimes more entertainment value before the band played or at another band’s gig or at a party. He took promotion to a new level with some of the disgusting things he did to get attention. Sloth: Self-promotion; Dave drove everyone nuts with it, right down to the matchboxes, we had a Sadistik matchbox. He was always pushing, and that made the band legendary, he couldn’t shut up about it. Rok: Dave, Kriss and myself all did a variety of things to shock or annoy people. Pulling these stunts was by far the best thing about being in this band, especially from my perspective. I remember one early one that caught me off guard, back when we were in Melbourne, Dave and I wanted to shock our neighbours who were over having a drink with us. We decided to make a fake vomit and the idea was that one of us would eat it in front of them to shock them. I went in the kitchen and mixed up some WeetBix with Coopers Stout in a bowl. It really looked and smelled like spew. I tipped it on the floor and the next thing I slipped over on it and did my back in and I had to lay on the bed for a week. Dave and I tried to smoke the back-pain pills the doctor had prescribed for me. Dave: We made flyers and stickers and stuck them everywhere. There was one on Paul Keating’s car. I don’t know how it got there. The first stickers were just photocopies. I just stuck it in the machine but nobody knew you could do that, people used to ask where we got our stickers done. I was even selling the fukking things, a dollar for three of them, they cost me one cent each. Later we had matchboxes, coasters, cigarette-lighters, all sorts of stuff. I wanted to make toilet paper but it was too expensive. Rok: I must point out that a lot of people in the metal scene hated us back then. Kriss: Sadistik had a dream of being this massive band like Venom with laserbeams and a great big stage show, but I guess nobody in Australia believes that can happen so a lot of the ideas got killed. The music industry wasn’t going to have anything to do with a band like that so we got relegated to softcore porno magazines with weird UFO stories. It’s either the heavy metal band or the lady with eight arms or the deformed baby story – Picture, Penthouse, People, all those kinda mags. Dave: We got in Penthouse Magazine in ’87, just by ringing them up and telling them we did stupid things. They just said, “Well, if you’re willing to say that, we’re willing to print it.” Then we got in Australia Post, People, the list got bigger, Picture later on. Rok: There was one article in People Magazine first, which I was responsible for and then Dave and I orchestrated the Penthouse piece. There was also a very small spot for me on Good Morning Australia and the combination of those things set us up to attract more media attention over the next few years. Dave: The very first Sadistik T-shirt was made in 1986 because I had decided to go on Hey Hey It’s Saturday as a contestant on Red Faces. I went to the audition and they accepted me so I told Rok we had to get a shirt made up. So we went to some T-shirt place in Melbourne and ordered ten shirts and the guy was pissed off because it was a pissy order but we said we would do more later, which we did. The first shirt we had was the same one I wore on Red Faces. Daniel Janecka has still got the tape. I went to do a bass solo but I had problems with my amp halfway through so I ended up smashing my bass to give the show some entertainment value. Before the show I said to Red Symonds, “If you give me one point and let me gong myself off, I’ll be happy,” and he goes, “You got a deal.” He had the number 1 card written before I’d even done my act and he kept flashing it at me from a distance off camera. Then he brought the gong mallet up to me halfway through and when I hit the fukking gong the other judges sitting at the desk – I think some woman from Prisoner was one of them – absolutely shit themselves. When they cut it together later, because the show was on a two-hour delay or something, they put a shake on the film. They’ll be playing that again on The Best Of Red Faces soon.
Pic: Rod Hunt
Dave: The Magus was initially done at Ramrod Studios and the engineer was Herman Kovacs who was the drummer in the Ted Mulry Gang. When I spoke to him over the phone I said, “We’ve got some very fast music and we need a special engineer who can make it not so messy and make it more definable.” He goes, “I used to play fast in my day.” I’m like, “No. You don’t get it. This is FUKKING fast.” He goes, “I used to do 16th notes with one foot,” I’m like, “Yeah, well, not this, you wouldn’t do it with five feet.”
Demon With Wings First gig on Mars: '91
Rok: We never really wanted to play live too soon. We wanted to build up a lot of hype about the band first so that we could attract good crowds and headline shows right from the word go. I always hated the idea of slowly building up a reputation by playing to small crowds or as support act to other bands. Dave: We eventually played a gig in 1991, five years after starting the band. Rok: We had a lot of problems trying to keep our line-up together. It was mainly that Sloth was lazy and kept saying he was gonna leave the band, but Sandy also cut his hair and went a bit weird. So at last Kriss Hades moved up to Sydney and I moved back to Sydney from where I was living at the time and eventually by 1991 we were ready to play. Kriss: They called me up in ’91 and said, “Come up to Sydney, we’ve got a job for ya.” There was no job, there was no nothin’, just a disaster. I’m walking down the street in Campsie with my guitar and an art folder and a bag going, “G’day mate how ya goin’?” and these Lebanese guys want to stab my eyes out. I was staying with Dave’s parents, really nice people, but if you ever wonder how Dave turned out like he did, that’s why. Sloth: When Kriss rehearsed for the first time he could only play the theme from Halloween and a little bit of rhythm, but he got it together really quick. Later he got into classical, Paganini, Bach, and he learnt all that arpeggio junk and concentrated on his speed and eventually became phenomenal and he is what he is today.
Pic: Rod Hunt
Dave: This woman came along, Kezra (Lorenz), she was a very rough woman but she got us off our fukking arses. We never made a lot of money for that first gig, but hey, we probably wouldn’t have done a fukking gig. We just needed somebody at that time to kick us in the butt. Kriss: We got the set together – rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Then we did two gigs that were set up by this woman, Kezra Lorenz, she organised the first show at Mars on Oxford Street and there were all these meetings and everything and Sloth was the only one saying, “Don’t do it.” Sloth: I like Kezra, a lot of people don’t, but I like her. But at that time we did two gigs and we should have seen a bit more money than what we got because we pulled the crowds y’know. Kriss: We never got paid, we got ripped off. Then we went down to Melbourne on a bus the next day to play at the Sara Sands Hotel. So all up across the two gigs there were 1300 people paying ten or fifteen dollars so we worked out roughly how much we got ripped off – it was quite a bit for our first two gigs. Rok: The Mars and Sarah Sands shows were organised by a sheila called Kezra and partly organised by our first manager Danny Kaleda. Mars was packed and that was a result of our building up this reputation over the years. Sydney’s metal scene could finally see us live. Kriss: Before we played I remember there was this attitude from some people that it was going to be a load of shit. We sucked before we even got onstage. It was going to be a joke; people thought it was going to be really funny. There was such a negative attitude towards the band. I haven’t seen any band get that sort of negative crap before they play their first show. Normally it’s like, “I’m coming to see your show,” not, “I’m coming to see you suck and I’m going to throw fukking bottles at ya.” But we didn’t suck. Sloth: It was chaotic, I know that much. They ran out of beer, everyone had to drink light beer, and we ran out of songs to play. Everyone’s going, “More,” at the end and Dave wanted to do a song that we’d already done again and I said, “Nah, that’s it.” Dave: People just didn’t know what that was. And when I yelled, “Nobody move or I’m gonna kill everyone,” they really believed it.
Sloth: The Sarah Sands show in Melbourne, I remember being drunk on the bus down there and going absolutely ballistic with the booze and keeping Kezra up all night. I got there and some chick, soon as I met her, she goes, “Come upstairs.” I thought I was going to get lucky but instead she brought me chicken wings. I remember we were doing a jigsaw together; she was cool.
Magus, but not entirely. We were still learning about the process of recording and to me it was still a long way off what the band should sound like.
Rok: The Melbourne show was totally different to Sydney and people smashed heaps of our demo tapes. Basically, the Melbourne scene was getting right into the new grindcore thing that was happening at the time and we weren’t anything like that, so more than half of the crowd didn’t seem to like what they saw.
Sloth: I’d had enough. I viewed it like, “I’m doing other bands now. I’ve helped you along with your second album but that’ll do for death metal.”
Kriss: We never had good equipment and some of our early gigs were just shithouse. Amps would blow up, everything would go wrong, it was just chaos, but after a while people got into it. The audience was part of the entertainment. I remember once the whole audience came tripping and everyone in the band was tripping except me – that was weird. Dave: Some shows we were so fukking smashed that the music was fukking shit so we’d have to entertain people by doing stupid things, like kicking the first person that climbed onstage. Rok once took a bag of rubbish that he found on the way to a gig and just emptied it onto the first few rows of the audience – our biggest fans. Another time he brought a bag full of lawn clippings and threw some all over his head and the rest into the crowd and he stood there with his arms open looking like a fukking scarecrow.
We Are Death...Fukk You The Making of...: '94
Kriss: We recorded initially at Hullabaloo Studios, all on tape, no digital. We recorded four songs and they wanted more because it had to be more than forty minutes long or otherwise it’s classed as an EP. So I did that sound effects song at the end “Hades Valley” and by that stage Sloth had left the band so The Mechanic came in on drums and helped us record one song, “Astral Abortus”.
Rok: Personally, I think “Astral Abortis” was the best recording on there and a step towards what we were to do over the next ten years. I didn’t find that album as annoying as The Magus, but as far as this band goes I would rate it about a four out of ten, with The Magus being say three. Kriss: It’s a weird piece of goodness. It doesn’t make much sense.
Organized Sadistik Abuse The Changing of the drummers
Sloth: It’s not that I keep coming back; they keep coming back to me. I’m going to get a restraining order next time. Actually I need an AVO, an Apprehended Violence Order. Rok: Sloth kept on threatening to leave the band and that always shitted us. Eventually it reached a point where we simply had to try and find another drummer. Sloth: It’s a totally professional thing to do; someone leaves, you want to continue, you get someone else. Dave: Sloth didn’t want to play in Sadistik anymore, he became a Christian again for a little while. He changes from Satan to Christian, Satan to Christian, I wish he’d throw a bit of Buddha in there too. So anyway we put an ad in the street press: “Metal Drummer Wanted. Must be able to fukking bash the fukking shit out of your fukking drums or else fukk off don’t even apply.” Kriss: We put an ad in: “Wanted. Heaviest drummer. Must have double-kick...” The Mechanic found it in a rubbish bin or something.
Kriss: I was working at Hot Metal Magazine doing nothing much and with my last $12 I sent the Suspiral demo tape to France to Osmose Records with “We are Death, Fukk You” written on it. We intended on calling the album Eternal War Vomit. Dave: Hervé (Herbaut) at Osmose Records thought We Are Death, Fukk You was the name of it and loved it. I had to convince Kriss because he wanted something more tidy. That title is like (AC/DC’s) If You Want Blood, You’ve Got It – it says it all. Kriss: So we got a record deal and that was good, we got paid a fair amount, like more money than we could make on the dole. Dave: We Are Death, Fukk You was a gradual process. It took a year and a half because we were just doing a bit here and a bit there. That was done over four studios. Sloth: Dave had heaps to do with all the writing then since Sandy was gone. Kriss contributed, and virtually every album we’ve done since then Kriss contributes a song. Rok: It was made up of a few different recording sessions as listeners can probably tell. The recording was a step up from The
We Are Death...-era: (Clockwise from top) Sloth, Dave Slave, Rev. Kriss, Rok
The Mechanic-era: (Clockwise from top) The Mechanic, Dave Slave, Rok, Rev. Kriss
Dave: Someone told us they knew someone who could fill that spot and then out of the blue The Mechanic rings us after he saw the ad, just as he was going to throw Drum Media in the bin, and it turned out he was the same bloke we were trying to chase up.
do it so we had to quickly get somebody and Matt Skitz from Damaged was professional, like you know he’s reliable to do it. So Kriss and I both began to train him, because Sadistik isn’t normal music.
Kriss: We tried out every fukking dickhead but nobody could play blast beats. These days it wouldn’t be too hard to find someone who could play blast beats but back then, like they were all good drummers, they just couldn’t go fast. So we got The Mechanic, his kit was fine, he was a tough guy, and he was prepared to train in blast beats. So we stuck with him while he trained in blast beats.
Kriss: We got Matt Skitz for the tour and I had to travel down to Melbourne on a bus every week to teach him the songs. It was fukking tormenting that bus trip back and forward, ten or twelve hours, and I’d do that twice a week. But we were definitely going to Europe so there was no choice; we had to get him up to speed. Skitz has a different style to Sloth. Sloth used double and triple-stroke rolls, Skitz just blast beats his way through the whole kit. But he did it and we went to Europe.
Rok: He had to go through an extensive extreme drumming training program put together by Dave Slave before his skills were good enough to play the songs to do a live show. Dave: The Mechanic was crazy. The first time we rehearsed with him he was bashing away at his drums and the sweat coming off him was ridiculous and we went outside the rehearsal room to take a break and he just had all this steam coming off him like he was on fire. He was all red and we just thought, “This is the guy for us.” When it came to blast beats, where most people soften up, he keeps the same velocity, so per-second you’re hearing that velocity, which equals out to a really heavy sound. Sloth was like the Bruce Lee of drums; The Mechanic was like Mike Tyson. Kriss: The Mechanic would have to be the most violent individual I’ve met for a long time. Fukk he was violent. If anyone would look at me sideways he’d smash their head in; mash ‘em. Not just lightly punch ’em but ruin ’em, and then sit back down beside me going, “Sorry Kriss, sorry for that interruption.” Dave: He broke his back stage-diving at Bolt Thrower at Coogee Bay Hotel but he healed in no time. Kriss: There were a few people carried out that night. There was Kane (Jarvis) out of Volatile, he jumped off the stacks and landed on his head and got a plate in his head. There were about four or five serious hospitalisations. I think there were a lot of court cases over that. I had all these private detectives coming around my house, turns out the venue were only ever licenced to hold 150 people after all those years. I’m not sure if I should talk about this because it was heavy, there was out-of-court settlements and everything.
I'll Kill You, You Bastard Touring Europe: '95
Kriss: We had to sack The Mechanic. And then he wanted to kill us. Rok: I really enjoyed the time when The Mechanic was in the band. Maybe he wasn’t quite as good as Sloth but he was a big bloke, very Australian, he hit the drums very hard and had more aggro in him than Sloth, but eventually that also fell apart and it was back to Sloth in our later years. Dave: Osmose arranged a European tour for us in 1995 but we weren’t sure if The Mechanic was going to sort out all his shit to do it. He used to turn up to rehearsals halfway through and we got the vibes that he didn’t really want to
Rok: Skitz was very good and did the job that was required for the tour. Personally I reckon the two biggest disasters of the whole tour were that my voice totally died and I could hardly do it at all, and the other thing was Hades drinking all the time. Not once was he straight over there and he performed very badly as a result. Kriss: Osmose paid for our airfares and organised the shows with Impaled Nazarene, who were like their biggest band at the time. Absu were on the tour, they were a Texas band, and us and them used to swap over being second headliner and opener every gig. We got paid fukk all, a couple of hundred bucks for the whole thing, while Impaled were getting a thousand bucks a show. But they treated us like gods over there. Talk about getting the rock star treatment, it was really amazing.
1988: [Sloth] Nomenclature Diablerie – 888 demo 1995: [Dave] Digital Fiction – Australien/Killer Comet demo 1996: [Sloth] Meridian – Sundown Empire 1997: [Dave] Digital Fiction – Muzix 3000 AD 1998: [Kriss] Nazxul – Black Seed EP 1999: [Rok] Rok – This Is Satanik 2000: [Rok] Rok – Burning Metal 2000: [Dave] Doomed & Disgusting – S/T 7-inch 2001: [Rok] Rok – Under A Southern Sky 7” (Sloth on guitar/bass) 2001: [Dave] Digital Fiction – Australien/Sci-Fi Soundtrax 2002: [Kriss] RKH – The Winds Of Orion 2002: [Kriss] Nazxul – Live ’99 picture disc 2002: [Kriss] Dangerous Curves – High Heeled Hooves 2003: [Dave] Doomed & Disgusting – Horror Soundtrax 2005: [Kriss] RKH – Paganini - Bloodlust - Static Age EP 2005: [Sloth] Inslain – Dark Reality EP 2005: [Sloth] Sloth – Punk 2006: [Dave] Doomed & Disgusting – Satan’s Nightmare 2006: [Kriss] Bain Wolfkind – Confidential Report 7” 2006: [Sloth] 8-Ball Junkies – Sex Drugs Rock ‘N’ Roll EP
Dave: When we went over there we found out a lot of the people were fukking… different. They didn’t know how to take us. They wouldn’t even come near us in France. The whole audience was squashed up against the back wall and they were scared to come within five metres. Rok goes, “Come up here ya poofter fukkin’ pussies. What are ya, little fukkin’ girls in France?” Then the first guy comes up and he gets spat on. Kriss: We weren’t like a normal band. Even in the early days of Sadistik, you had to get used to our set. But they never got the chance because it was our first gig everywhere we played. Everywhere was just like, “What the fukk?!” Rok: One thing that Dave and I really hated and still hate is Australian bands or even metal fans trying to act like they are from fukkkking bloody Norway, Sweden, England or America. I fukkking hate that shit. If they want to be like that then they should fukk off and live over in their land of dreams. We are Australian and when we toured Europe we fukkkkkkking acted like true Aussie nutcases. We made sure the buggers knew we weren’t like them and it didn’t matter if they never understood what the fukkkk were on about.
Kriss: We would speak in these broad Australian accents and no one could understand a word we were saying. Like, “Ya fukkin’ poofter mongrel bastard.” Rok: In Italy I even told them that they were a bunch of wogs and they should fukk off back to their own country – of course, they had no idea what I was talking about. Dave: The guys in Impaled Nazarene were a bit scared of me. I was throwing a lot of kung fu kicks around their heads but missing them by one millimetre. I knew exactly what I was doing but they took it a lot worse than what it was. They were great dudes though. Kriss: Dave Slave was going crazy. You could tell he was going to lose it; it was coming. He doesn’t drink, he smokes pot, but there wasn’t much pot on the tour. He had to deal with the other bands and he likes to be the star and have everyone listen to his crap, very amusing, but they couldn’t handle one second of him. Dave: What else are you gonna fucking do? You’re on a bus, you’re watching the sights and there’s beer there, of course you’re going to fukking drink it. If it wasn’t there you wouldn’t care, you’d have a coffee. When we ran out of beer they gave me vodka and my body just doesn’t know how to relate to that and it just put me in stupid mode.
Kriss: All the bands would have drinking competitions, which I won three days in a row. I think Australians can drink more than Europeans. They go, [adopts dodgy Finnish accent] “You must drink the vodka straight from the bottle.” I’m like, “Good, as long as I’m not paying for it.” Rok: The point where Hades broke his hand was total chaos on the tour bus one night. That really made the Europeans aware of the fact that we were a bunch of insane Aussies on a mission to demolish the European metal scene. But unfortunately only the people on the bus actually witnessed it. Dave: I was drinking vodka because there was nothing else and then I went a bit stupid and someone offered me some Mogadons and because there was no pot around I had them and then I spat them out and then I picked one back up and put it in my mouth because I suddenly remembered it was the closest thing to being stoned. Then I was kinda tripping out, in some kind of dream. I remember Kriss punching me but it felt like a massage.
Kriss: We were in Germany, it was the last gig for Impaled and someone had given him alcohol, whiskey or something, and he gets really aggressive on alcohol. So he was handing out stickers and someone threw one of his Sadistik stickers on the ground, so he suddenly wanted to bash everybody. He just got worse and worse and worse then we’re on the bus and he was literally bashing everyone. He bashed all three bands up and the mixing guy, chucking people down the stairs of this double-decker bus and going berserk. Rok: Dave Slave had an extreme mental attack and basically Hades broke his hand as a result of trying to punch Slave hard enough to knock him out. It truly was a chaotic situation that we are all quite proud of and it nearly got us kicked off the tour right then and there. Kriss: The day before, me and Rok were going, “You know we’re going to have to kill him don’t you? That’s the only way to stop him.” The Absu dudes thought we were kidding then the next day they were running, screaming from
Dave Slave. He went ballistic, he doesn’t remember any of it. We slipped him a sleeping pill but it didn’t work so we held his legs down and I had to try and kill the bastard. He was like a wild animal. Dave: I kicked Kriss in the head but he twisted my leg and tore a ligament. I got up and started walking, not realising I was hurt straight away and I asked everyone if it was dream and they were like, “No it’s not a fukking dream!” and I’m like, “Okay, I’m going to bed.” Then the next morning I woke up and my leg was fukked. Kriss: The only reason they didn’t kick us off the tour bus was because I broke my hand. Mika Luttinen from Impaled said, “Kriss, I have the most powerful painkillers in all Belgium but they are suppositories, you must stick them up your arse.” I thought he was just being a pervert because they are a very perverted band, but I stuck them up my arse and they worked. Dave: What did Kriss expect, he punched me in the head, you don’t punch fukking iron. My real surname is Testaferratta and that means Ironhead. Kriss: His real name is Diamantis Testafarratta, which means Diamond Ironhead, which is perfect. You think he’d use that as a stage name. Dave: There’s also this technique where if someone punches you at a certain angle, you just lean forward and create an arch and the apex is the bone part of your head. Your nose is just a sponge to a fist, but your forehead is something different and when someone thinks they’re going to hit a sponge and suddenly they hit an arch, that breaks hands. Kriss: I played the last three shows in Italy with a bucket of ice-water, my hand was like a balloon. It was fukked. But the Italian crowds were just awesome. They were all over us like a big rock star band, trying to rip our clothes off, it was demented.
Pic: Rod Hunt
Dave: He done a good fukking job; so did I with a fukked leg. I had other injuries. I threw the sound engineer down the stairs, that hurt. At the end of the day, we’re all friends and we didn’t mean to hurt each other. I didn’t mean to be that way, it all just seemed like a dream.
Kriss: When I got back to Australia my hand had to be broken and reset but this one doctor in the city refused because he said I did it in a fight and I deserved to have it broken. What a ridiculous thing to say to someone. And it was a self-defence thing, it wasn’t like I went round bashing people, Dave Slave went mental. So a nurse said to go to Royal North Shore and there was a doctor there who could fix it so I had to wait in the waiting room of the hospital for another day and was finally seen to and they fixed it. But it took about a year to heal and by that stage my hand had locked up like a claw and I had to go through physio to open it up. So it was about nearly two years before I could play guitar again. Dave: I’ve been responsible for Kriss having pins put in his hand and his ankle, so I’ve helped make him more metal.
Sadistik Elektrokution Lords of K.A.O.S.: '97
Dave: K.A.O.S. was the best album we ever did because we put everything into it. It’s the one in the middle and it’s the best. That’s when I gave a rat’s arse, after that I didn’t. The material just came out of nowhere, it was just amazing, Kriss wrote four, I wrote more. I was just sitting in my lounge room writing all this stuff. That music was so extreme and it was in my head and I had to fukking get it out there. It can’t go to waste, it can’t just sit there, because it will rattle around driving me mental. I hum riffs until I record them and once I record them I don’t have to hum them anymore and my mind was humming about a hundred thousand of them at a time. Rok: I used to think K.A.O.S. was our best effort by far, but now I'm not so sure because I really think that FUKK and FUKK II are perhaps the same in quality. Most dickheads may not agree with that, and I'm not totally sure myself, but I think all three albums are very close, just slightly different material and done at different times. Dave: Sloth was back in the band again when we came home from Europe. It became more like, “If you do this gig you get this much money,” “If you do that gig you get that much money,” “If you do this album you’ll get this much money,” and that became a better way to communicate with Sloth. Out of all of the band members he’s more like the session muso because he didn’t really want to be in the band and changes his mind but now he’s happy to do things job-by-job for money. So that all worked out, and he got a lot less fukking money. Sloth: The relationship is strange and it always varies. There has certainly been a lot of hatred there, but there’s a lot of brotherhood as well. So anyway, they said, “We’ll give you some money if you do this record.” I said, “I need money, I’ll do the record.” Kriss: Sloth was really drunk when he turned up too. We never rehearsed, we’d just show him the songs on a piece of paper: blast beat here, Slayer riff there, slow bit here… We used to rehearse three times a week for years so by the time K.A.O.S. came around we’d just have to say, “Blast beat here for four bars, then Slayer beat here…” Sloth: Slave would orchestrate it like a maths lesson, and that little formula we had worked and we clicked, especially on that album. Dave: Sloth was smashed when he turned up and we thought he wasn’t gonna cut it. Then we stirred him up and got him angry and he just went fukking mental. There was a fight before the recording and it helped. It was done at Audio Infinity, my mate Dave’s studio. We did a lot of guitars and keyboards there for We Are Death... but all of K.A.O.S. was recorded there so it has the same sound all the way through, which we’d never had before. Kriss: K.A.O.S. was recorded at Brighton-le-Sands and after we got that one worked out we did all our albums at David Wilkinson’s studio, which is called Astral Infinity Studios. It was just a Pro-Tools studio and the drum kit was an electronic drum kit. Sloth: It’s a real drum sound and everything only you’re hitting pads instead of real acoustic drums. It’s all my drumming though, and the sound comes out as real drums,
Pic: Rod Hunt
Backstage '99: (Clockwise from top) Rev. Kriss, Dave Slave, Sloth, Rok
it’s just about getting a more kick-arse sound. You progress as technology progresses, that evolution is all part of music. Kriss: We recorded the whole album in one go and it was a really good vibe. I think it’s our darkest record, it’s sort of unrelenting, not everybody can listen to it all the way through, it’s a bit overwhelming. Sloth: It was pretty much the peak musically and the playing was good, we did well on that one, everyone was happy with that one. That was Dave’s dream to make a record like that and eventually he got his dream by sticking at it. That’s what he had wanted to do from the beginning. Rok: Out of ten, maybe it’s a fukking zero? Dave: K.A.O.S. was our peak, everything after that was just crap. It was like we’d gone up a hill and were coming back down after that because that period was when I was the most excited about it. All the riffs on the next one (FUKK) and the songs could’ve been better but we just rushed ’em. Kriss: We did a couple of gigs at Forest Inn at Bexley and we were kicking arse, I remember kicking a guy’s face in at that one. Rok incites a lot of spitting. Rok would spit at the audience and they would spit back and I worked out that you can get hepatitis from that shit. So I’m giving the audience beers up the front, I had a whole case of beers, going, “No spitting in my area, okay?” But there had to be one idiot, fucking gollied on me and I just kicked him right in the face, his head was like a football. The look on his face was good. Sloth: There was a bomb scare at one of the last show’s in Bexley, someone wanted to blow us up. The cops came, checked out the stage, someone got arrested out the front, someone was spitting at Kriss, he kicked them in the head, Rok punched some guy out, it was pretty violent. Whenever we’d cop some shit we’d give some back. Rok: There was no touring for K.A.O.S., just a few shows. From memory they were full-on shows and I think the last one we ever did was one of the best we ever did. That was at a place they called The Globe in Newtown. The crowd was very much the same as what we always had, a bit out of control, very much like the bloody band. Dave: Our last show was six years ago now at The Globe. I think we put that show on for the Osmose release of K.A.O.S., because Osmose released it a little bit after Shock released it in Australia. That was one of the best gigs we did because Kriss wasn’t so pissed, or if he was he covered it really well. Kriss: The last show I can remember was at The Globe. After that we’ve tried to get a few gigs together but Dave has cancelled them. Dave: I’m more interested in doing my solo stuff, Digital Fiction and Doomed and Disgusting. I don’t have enough of me to go around to do all of those things. I like the end result of Sadistik Exekution but I don’t like all the bullshit in between.
The Metal For The Brain 2000 no-show Sloth: It’s a good charity and it would have been good to play with Voivod that year, but it didn’t really bother me that we didn’t do Metal For The Brain. Kriss: First of all, Metal For The Brain are fucking Nazis okay. They wanted us to headline, we’re going, “How much are you going to pay us?” and they’re going, “Nothin’. We’ll give you some petrol money.” We’re like, “Fukk off. You’ve gotta pay us a couple of grand at least.” But they’re not into that idea so we say, “Alright, fuck it, we’ll do it anyway for the kids.” That sounds weird but that’s what we decided, we were going to do it for those little bastards, “little cunts” we called them. “We’ll do it for the cunts!” But then the guy who was liaising for Alchemist said, “Oh no you’re not going to headline you’re going to go on second,” then we kept getting pegged down the order so that suddenly we’re fifth on. The whole thing stunk. But then Dave breaks his leg in three places in a pub incident so we couldn’t do the gig. Dave: We were about to do it, it was all over the posters and the media and then I broke my leg. Kriss: He’d gotten an inheritance and he was filthy rich so he kept going to pubs and shouting, “Drinks on the house!” You’d go to him, “Dave, what are you doing?” he’d go, “What are you drinkin’, have to be a triple rum? What’s the most expensive drink in the house? Bang, I’ll have ten of ’em!” Dave: I was trying to beat up three fukkheads that were trying to beat up a girl in Newtown. Actually, I don’t know exactly what was going on, but at the time I was really drunk and stoned so I assumed that’s what was going on and I was probably looking for trouble. So I started punching them and I had these stupid boots on with fukkedup heels and buckles and I fell over and basically broke my own leg trying to fight someone. Kriss: So he gets in some fight and ends up with a metal pin stuck in his knee going down to his ankle. So he’s not doing any gigs. We tried to get him to play in a wheelchair but he wouldn’t do it. Dave: I wasn’t going to go up onstage in a wheelchair. Then again, it might have looked good. Rok: The events that stopped that from happening are basically the reasons why we never played live ever again. I'm not going to go into any details about it, but I will say it’s an internal band problem, nothing to do with anyone else but us.
Rigormortik Resurrektion Recording FUKK: '02
Dave: We only did FUKK for money. We said to Hervé at Osmose that we had another CD, when we really didn’t, just to see if he was interested. And he was, so we asked for $25,000 upfront. It was just like, “Oh, we’re gonna do an album called FUKK,” so says Rok. He spoke to Hervé and Hervé was excited to hear it because he dribbles in nappies over Sadistik, so I sat down in the lounge and started writing the songs and Kriss came over and contributed two songs and then we recorded it. Kriss: Dave wanted to do an album and Rok said he’d only do it if it was called FUKK, so that’s his thing. Rok did a couple of solo albums but they didn’t do that well. He realised that you have to start from scratch, like I had to. Just because you were in Sadistik doesn’t mean you’ve got a crowd, it’s not the same, you have to start all over again. Rok: The reason why I did [the solo albums] was to get some ideas I had onto recordings. The ideas weren't the type of thing Sad Ex would have done, as they were more like a mix of Venom, Hellhammer and my own stupidity. In fact, my solo thing never really turned out exactly the way I wanted it. Because of my reputation as a mental bastard and because of some of my “abstract” concepts, a few of the people involved in the project didn't get exactly what I was aiming to do. So let's say about half of the Rok solo thing was exactly as I intended, but the rest of it was just rubbish that had very little to do with my real aims. Kriss: By that stage Osmose has got the upper hand and they’re not giving us much money at all. K.A.O.S. was the best we ever got paid, that was like a real advance like a proper band would get, but then it was all downhill after that. But y’know, in business Dave would only get motivated when his phone bill was due so he’d try to do Sadistik again. He’d try and get a couple of grand out of Osmose to pay his debt; that was his motivation. Sloth: They said, “Let’s do another album,” and I said, “How much money are you going to give me?” They told me how much and I said, “Yeah, give us the cash.” Kriss: Originally it was supposed to be a double album but Osmose weren’t going to give us much money so we had to stretch it out across two albums. It’s sad that it has to come down to that but it does.
Rok: I'm not here to talk about any business matters and to be honest I can't even remember what our deals were with those two albums anyway. Dave: Rok’s yelling parts sound more Aussie as opposed to stupid European black metal vocals, which don’t sound scary or tough at all. It’s funny, for some stuff on FUKK he just made shit up as he went along. And live, when he forgets lyrics he just goes, “Blah, blah, blah, blah,” because he knows nobody knows what the fuck he’s saying anyway. Rok: The lyrics were a progression of the direction that the band had been taking over the past ten years. Maybe I had also become a bit lazy with the lyrics, but overall I think it was more of our Sad Ex direction than anything else. That direction was more punk, more aggro, more mental, more Aussie and far less of that stupid dumb gay-arsed black metal junk that had been evolving over the previous ten years. That was garbage that this band had nothing to do with and I've always hated it when we were lumped into that stupid category, so the lyrics had to clearly mark that out too, at least as far as I was concerned. Kriss: Rok comes in at the end once the music’s finished then he does his singing and that’s it. The least amount of contact with each other the better. Dave: FUKK had good lyrics but the vocals could’ve been laid down a bit better and the songs could’ve been a little bit tighter. I don’t believe 100% tightness is the go, but 95% is the best because it’s raw still. That clinical metal sound evolved because people started using click tracks and we would never use a click track. We just pull Sloth’s hair and he goes faster. Sloth: We needed a bit more time on FUKK. There’s some good moments but I think the K.A.O.S. album was the one we all got off on. Kriss: I haven’t listened to FUKK since it was done. I have no idea what that sounds like. I wasn’t really excited by it.
The Electrik Funeral Recording FUKK II: '04
Dave: For FUKK II we asked for $50,000 and Osmose agreed. Rok rang up Hervé and then I rang up Hervé and we said, “We want $50,000 to do part two of FUKK,” and he agreed. So we done the album but then he changed his mind so we had to let him have it for a lot less. Sloth: I didn’t really care, I just wanted cash, I think they did too. So it was just like, “Let’s put some shit down and get it to Osmose so he can give us some money because we need food, cigarettes and beer.” Rok: All our dealings with Osmose have been great, no problems there at all. In fact, I reckon Osmose are the only label that I could ever work with as far as Sadistik goes. The fact is, Hervé is into what we do, regardless of money or anything else.
Kriss: I was really into the idea of making one last good one so we made FUKK II. It was written the same as always, I’d write my songs and Dave wouldn’t use any of ‘em. I got a couple of songs on FUKK II. Dave: That album is a lot better than FUKK. We spent a bit more time on it and by then I was a bit more excited about making extreme music again and I got Rok to do proper vocals on most of the songs as opposed to just making stupid noises – not that stupid noises don’t suit our music. Real violence doesn’t have to have a language. Rok: Over the years the main thing that has changed about the lyrics is that they have become more aggressive and abusive, with more of a rough, punk, Aussie feel to them. But we’ve always had that mental side of things that I don’t think many of these supposed serious black metal bands can grasp. It’s funny how they try to be serious then we come along and fukk up all that shit. Kriss: I had to re-record the guitars in secret because Dave made the bass way too fukking loud as usual. Dave: We had a different guitar sound and different bass sound from FUKK, it’s mixed better, it’s mastered better. We spent more money on it and we got less back, but it was worth it to make that our last album. I don’t want to make music like that forever. I like extreme music but I’ve moved onto different forms of extreme music. Sadistik will never top K.A.O.S. so what’s the use in trying? You can’t top that album’s structure; it’s just perfect. Kriss: I’m really happy with the way FUKK II turned out. If that’s going to be the last Sadistik record then I don’t mind. Not that anyone knows about it. We’re in a spot where Osmose doesn’t really do anything. Those albums were done without a contract, they were released without me signing anything, so there’s no talk of royalties or anything like that. So however much they sell, I don’t get shit for it. Dave: You don’t see any money after the initial advance. He sends an invoice saying he’s sold ten copies in the whole world in three fucking months and I’m like, “I could’ve sold ten copies in one pub in one night!”
Fukked Up And Buried The Future Can Get Fukked
Kriss: I wrote a follow-up to FUKK II called Total Fukkin’ Kunt. I doubt that will turn into an album unless I see the band members again. I want there to be another album but
at the moment it doesn’t look hopeful. It depends on Dave. If we can convince him he’s gonna get laid then he’ll probably do it. A lot of the gigs we did were for some girl he was trying to impress. The thing is when they saw the band they were horrified. Rok: Of course there are always times when I feel like getting together to do some shows, but for me, it's the previously mentioned internal band problem that brings me to my senses and tells me that it's probably not going to happen. Kriss: We’d organised to play live in 2005. Dave said, “Let’s do another show.” Then he gave me all these rules, like everybody has to obey his rules or else it’s not gonna happen. He wanted $20,000 to do it so we actually found someone who’s willing to pay $20,000 and they wrote it all up, it was a quite serious thing, and then Dave rings me up going, “What’s all these goings on about some gig, who are these people?” like he’s completely forgotten about what he said before. Dave: Kriss talks shit. It’s not true. He just makes this shit up. Don’t believe everything we say, it’s half bullshit. Rok has a book full of lies. Rok: I know for sure that myself, Slave and Hades are all still keen to do it – dunno about Sloth – but there is a real reason that stops us and like I say, I won't go into it here. Sloth: I’m all for it. Gimme cash, I’ll be there tomorrow. Cash, I’m there. No cash, it’s over. Kriss: I thought it would be better to keep the band together but Dave wanted to go off into Digital Fiction land and do that. He’s been on TV a couple of times in chip commercials and stuff. He’d always say when he was a rich and famous millionaire he’d help me out. Dave: You’ve got a better chance of reforming The Beatles than you do Sadistik. Rok: If we ever do another show it will be because we all wanted to do it and not because some stupid idiot is trying to con us into doing it. There's always someone out there who thinks they have a chance of getting us to play, but really, they have no chance. It’s totally one hundred percent up to us. Dave: It’s like when you do a shit twenty years ago and you flush it down the toilet. You don’t go looking for that piece of shit. You’ll never find it. It’s gone man, it’s gone.
ou can believe Brendan Suppression because he isn’t capable of lying to you. The Eddy Current Suppression Ring frontman sings, or speaks, or yells, with the innocent observations of a child. It’s a seemingly transparent and honest role, but then I guess you can’t see or imagine that the same Brendan working at a digital printing store. Guitarist Mikey Young (aka Eddy Current) talks about Brendan in the same manner, though somewhat more knowingly. “I guess he totally is a naïve singer, he’s never wanted to be a singer or never planned to be a singer. He’s got no idea of rhythm either. He’s starting to understand now, but he never used to understand how music goes in fours. There was a lot of trying to get him around that. I don’t want him to learn too well ’cos it’s sort of good that he’s out of time half the time. “I remember once, at one of our first jams, we were trying to explain that he had to come in on the count of four, and he was just like, ‘I don’t know what youse are talking about, all I know is on the CD I come in after seventeen seconds!’” You can still see Brendan watching Mikey for song cues on stage during Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s blindly sets. It adds to the band immensely, even three years after their first 7inch release. Why? I don’t know – something about authenticity. “We’re like, dude, it’s never gonna be the same, it’s not always gonna be at seventeen seconds,” continues Mikey. “Now he sort of understands that; alright, it’s in 4/4 time, so four in the chorus and two on the next one. The nods [from me] he does sort of need, but sometimes he doesn’t need it as much. But I find he sings a bit more confidently if I nod to him, otherwise he’s just sort of guessing.” But that doesn’t mean Brendan’s always watching for the cue. “He did that at Golden Plains (Festival) actually. He was eyeing off someone in the audience; he wouldn’t watch me. I went to boot him but I was too late and… the problem is, half the time, if he fucks up one line he ends up singing the rest of the song one line out! He doesn’t catch up with himself. He’s getting better, he’s starting to correct himself, but half the time the audience sings it better than he does!” The Corduroy Records pressing plant sparked quite an impressive scene during its existence several years ago. It was the only place in Australia that still produced vinyl, and thusly attracted a certain type of people. As a label, Corduroy put out some fucking great records too, and treated Melbourne and the rest of Australia to some cool product that would probably not have seen the light of day without the input of Corduroy and its
ikey Young M . g in R n io s s Suppre Eddy Current ard Sharman. ch Ri by cs Pi s. li ng Pe interview by Owen
“There’s forty-year-old dudes who haven’t been to a gig in twenty years ’cos they hate every new band. But for some reason, we’re okay.” – Mikey Young
record collector sixties garage obsesso pals; like the Missing Links LP reissue, and the Digging Through the Bins compilation of Missing Links rarities, or the odd Teengenerate track, or even the institution bands of owner Nick Phillips, The Breadmakers and Shutdown 66, plus a whole score of releases by bands I never really liked that much. Out of that vinyl factory came a whole lot of inspiration, drawing in a group of guys under the age of thirty who ventured there to hang out and probably ended up with a job. There’s Mark Nelson of swamp/rock/ garage/death group The Stabs and Saucerlike Recordings, who pressed the first self-released Stabs 7” by himself. Then there’s Michael Kucyk with his Nervous Jerk and Art School Dropout labels, and Guy Blackman with Chapter Music, and Mikey Young, with his group Eddy Current Suppression Ring. Mikey was manning the manual process of pressing, and after the collapse of the plant in 2005 followed the equipment to its new home at Zenith Records, where he continues to work pressing vinyl full-time. Corduroy released the first Eddy Current Suppression Ring single, “Get Up Morning”. Its B-side, “So Many Things”, captured the band literally at inception. “There was an Xmas party garage sale at Corduroy one year,” recollects Mikey, “And me and my brother (drummer Danny Current) and Brendan got real drunk and everyone else left. Danny picked up the drumkit
and I just started playing guitar, we had a tape deck there and I just made Brendan yell into it ’cos we didn’t have a mic. “He’d never sung before and I don’t think he’d ever had any interest in singing. We took the tape home and thought it was pretty good so we ended up putting that on a seven-inch. Brendan just sorta got the bug to become a singer from there.” The inspiration flowing during that first Eddy Current Suppression Ring session was enough to at least make the band contemplate playing a live show. But certainly there was not much ambition beyond that. “Lucky we caught Brendan on a bad day and he had a lot of emotions to let out or something,” says Mikey. “We were gonna do the one gig and then quit but people kept asking us to do stuff.” Friend and bassist Brad (aka Rob Solid) was soon asked to play on the next recording, which would eventually spawn the A-side of the first ECSR single. He’s one of the few people you see playing in a garage/punk setting that people in the crowd have talked about how good he is. Like schooled good, real old style proficient at his instrument. Mikey agrees with the notion. “Yeah, he’s a fucking good bassplayer. I always used to tell him to dumb it down when we were first doing the seven-inches. He seems to have simplified it for the better – he still does cool stuff. Yeah, he’s awesome.”
The first time I saw ECSR I didn’t really get it. I kinda walked off and shrugged afterward. A year later I decided to give it another shot for an album launch, and it worked; I got it, I loved it, I realised what everyone was talking about. What hit me first was the pop-melody guitar lines. I guess I’m a pop-guy at heart. The lines are pure simplistic pop love, with the fuck you grittiness of Mikey’s amplifier. He’s a pop guy too, and he’s thought about it a bunch. “I’m a fairly unashamed pop-song-liker. I think it’s ’cos when I used to jam with my brother and we never had a bassplayer so I used to try and play two parts at once. I think in this band ’cos Brendan’s singing sort of flat and he’s not using the melody of the song, maybe I sort of make up for that by trying to do it on the guitar parts, I don’t know?” He attempts to clarify: “If I was just doing straight chords and Brendan was just doing his one note thing I think it would get a bit plain or something, I don’t know.” He laughingly adds, “Maybe I’m always just trying to add extra things so the tunes don’t seem as dumb as they are?” And the lyrics really are simplistic, off the cuff, but you can’t quite figure if they’re calculated to the point, or really just that spontaneous thing that you figure Charles Manson used to do, or make out like he did. And there’s mostly enough ambiguity so things seem more meaningful than dumb, or at least open to interpretation. “Brendan’s constantly writing. Since he wrote that first batch of lyrics he’s constantly writing shit, he can’t help himself. He’s got too many, I can’t keep up.” When I finally ‘got’ Eddy Current Suppression Ring, I was loving the “It's All Square” / “Precious Rose” 7-inch. Like a once-a-day record, at least. I still think it’s better than the album version of the same songs. I guess the seven-inch is the group still learning to play the songs, it just sounds way off the cuff, wilder or something. “It’s a different recording,” explains Mikey. “That (seven-inch) was just done in my brother’s bedroom – like it was really tiny. They were getting kicked out or something, I think the house was getting knocked down, so we took the eight-track around there and I think we just wrote “It’s All Square” that night, so there was a lot of nodding going on for that one. It turned out really good, I like those versions.” The group seem to have the advantage of picking up audiences from all over the place – you’ll find folks from
Eddy Current Suppression Ring discography 2004: “Get Up Morning” / “So Many Things” 7” 2005: “It’s All Square” / “Precious Rose” 7” 2006: Split 7” w/Straightjacket Nation 2006: S/T LP 2006: Split CDEP [live] w/Tucker B's
far out in the suburbs dancing alongside the guy who released bootleg copies of a few of the Killed By Death compilations. Mikey figures the support of a whole lot of friends early on kinda helped it along, “’cos at the start we played shows with hardcore bands, and then after playing stuff like Meredith Festival and that, I guess now we occasionally get played on Triple J (radio) and that - it’s a weird mix of people. Especially in Sydney there’s forty-year-old dudes who haven’t been to a gig in twenty years since the eighties ’cos they hate every new band. But for some reason, we’re okay.” As you watch the group, Brendan gets excited, the audience get excited, and things start to happen. Brendan will leap into the crowd and get carried above shoulders in a show of admiration, or else people can get violent. It leads to an interesting and unpredictable show. “Our friends are really supportive at the start and always came and had a good time, so maybe that made us look popular early on so I don’t know. Our first couple of shows we had like a hundred and something people there. I don’t know, there’s a lot of different people I wouldn’t expect to like us tend to like us. I used to feel weird playing with all those hardcore bands and stuff like that. I don’t know; I’ve got no idea. It’s weird trying to explain why people like your own band.” But as for the crowds’ reactions, “It was always pretty audience involved,” says Mikey. “In the last few months there’s been a couple of shows that have just been sort of retarded. Like, people almost hurting themselves and that. I mean, no one’s really got hurt or anything. Actually, a chick got elbowed in the eye the other week and I felt horrible about that. Usually it’s pretty friendly. I don’t know what’s going on there.” Eddy Current Suppression Ring are playing this year’s GonerFest in Memphis, Tennesse – the annual showcase of garage/punk/favourites of Goner Records label owner Eric Oblivian. Perfect!
“There’s been a couple of shows that have just been sort of retarded. Like, people almost hurting themselves and that. ” – Mikey Young
Neurosis. Steve Von Till interview by Darkie Krebs.
peaking to Steve Von Till on the eve of the release of Given to the Rising was a fairly intimidating experience. For starters, the guy plays in Neurosis. Since forming in the mid-eighties, the Oakland, California outfit have remained at the forefront of experimental, forward-looking hardcore. Neurosis are true pioneers who demand a certain level of respect. Second, in person, Von Till sounded every bit as heavy as his musical persona suggests. Though articulate, he spoke in a direct, cut-the-bullshit, thisis-how-it-is manner. His voice was low and gruff; it’s explosive potential obvious. In this way, it was a true product of his considerable physical size. It was the type of voice that calmly declared, ‘don’t fuck with me’. Neurosis recently celebrated its 20th year anniversary as a band. What does this achievement represent to you personally? It’s just evidence of our commitment to the music and to each other. I think there are very few bands that actually fulfill the words ‘we are committed to the music’. Everyone says it but very few follow through and, you know, here we are as a living testament to it. Did you do anything special to mark the occasion? Not really. We acknowledged it amongst ourselves pretty much personally. We put together a commemorative poster and are re-issuing some old music and live stuff, but for the most part we don’t want to focus on looking back. We’ve really been focusing on looking forward and just dove into this new record and really focused all our energies towards that, rather than dwelling on the past. We’ve always been pretty blinders-on towards the future. On your website, a message was posted recently that read, “20 years ago we sat in a room and began a conversation. After talking a couple of weeks we had constructed a vision of where we wanted to go and how far we were willing to go to achieve our goal.” In terms of the reference to “where you wanted to go”, to what extent has Neurosis arrived at this place? Or is this still very much a work in progress? It is. I’ve been equating it to the search for the Holy Grail in terms of sound and spirit. I believe it’s unattainable in one lifetime, and with that knowledge, the inspiration is infinite. There can be no end. There can be no finality to the journey. When you’re on this sort of journey it’s cyclical in nature and
Further, despite his frank manner, Von Till’s responses were riddled with metaphors and streamof-consciousness insights. As soon as the interview began, it was as if Von Till had assumed the role of religious prophet speaking from the Book of Neurosis. I was the child compelled to sit and absorb his profound teachings. Admittedly, he was difficult to follow at times. So it was to my surprise that as the interview progressed and different subjects were discussed, a different, less daunting Von Till emerged. This Von Till was a regular guy - married, raising kids, holding down a nine-to-five job and running a small home-based business on the side. He even laughed a couple of times. Still, dude plays in Neurosis…
spirals out from a core. It’s circular as opposed to linear. In that sense, it really does feel like the inspiration is infinite and it’s going to take something like mortality to stop it. With regard to the part about “how far we were willing to go to achieve our goal”, what do you think is the most significant sacrifice you’ve had to make to achieve your goals with Neurosis? If you’ve ever truly meditated and surrendered yourself to the sound that emanates from some of our music, and the spirit and the emotions that flow through it, and tried to conceive of what it might have been like to have had to conjure that up and embody that on a nightly basis several hundred nights a year for years and years, you can imagine that there’s a physical and emotional toll that has been paid. Be it that we’ve been in this band for our entire adult lives, you know? When you put yourself out there like we do on such a limb, by yourself, with no industry bullshit to hide behind, with very little… not that we don’t have egos, but the band identity itself is very submissive to the generative force. We follow the will that is the driven force of Neurosis. It spirals in all kinds of different directions and we’ve had to pay the toll to become the mediums for that in many personal ways which I won’t mention. The price is big and the price has been paid. Has it been worth it? Absolutely. No regrets. At which point did you start the writing process for Given To The Rising? That’s always a hard one to answer because we don’t
have a set thing where it’s like, ‘okay, here we are, we’re going to dedicate this amount of time to writing a record.’ It pretty much starts whenever the last one finishes, because whenever you’re in a creative mode there are ideas that haven’t gestated yet, there are seeds that haven’t sprouted yet. So sometimes you have to put them away and concentrate on the ones that are made clear to you at the time for the record. Once you put that record down, you start looking around to see how those ideas have gestated and you prune and pick and immediately start again. But it has this kind of acceleration; it begins slow with a few ideas, and then starts to snowball on itself and collect momentum until it’s like, ‘okay, these are the tracks, now we just need to dial it in.’ There’s a million different ways the songs are constructed, a million different ways they’re initiated and followed through with, there really is no set way in which it comes about. Again, we let the music drive us and let the thing that is greater than all of us individually make the decisions. In terms of rehearsing the material before heading into the studio, where did this occur? We’re kind of spread out over the western United States. We live in three different states quite far from each other, so it was a matter of flying into the same town. We maintain a rehearsal space in Oakland, California where the band originated, and we get together there, and everybody will make a couple of trips out here to Neurot Records headquarters in North Idaho, and we make trips out to Oregon to see Scott [Kelly - vocals/guitar] and throw all our ideas together. People get together in clusters and as a whole group at different times to work on different stuff and send ideas back and forth. You know, when you’ve been together 20 plus years,
you can read each other, you know what’s going on. Even though it’s unpredictable, you have a feel for what everyone’s strengths are and how to work things and you know when you actually need to be in the same room to hash it out. Once the ideas are solid, it takes a lot less time than most people might think. Being in the same room playing the songs at the same time doesn’t happen that much (in the lead-up to the recording). But again, we’re connected by something bigger so it flows pretty naturally and pretty organically. This one came together fairly quickly and then the recording process was completely painless. We recorded and mixed this record in six days in total at Electrical Audio with Steve Albini. It’s our fifth recording with Steve and he’s pretty much the only guy we could have done this in six days with. He’s the true old school, no-bullshit sound engineer. He’s not a producer, he’s truly an engineer. He knows the technical aspects of sound, and he can get a natural recording of exactly what a band sounds like in a room, instantly. And that’s what we wanted. And you record live, right? Yeah. There are very few overdubs on top. Even the layers of crazy sound that we’ve orchestrated in the writing process, we do live. There are a couple of tidbits here and there that we overdub, but not as many as people would expect. Sometimes the guitars are doing stuff and people would have no idea that they’re even the guitars, you know? Noah [Landis - keys] has got four channels of crazy sound flying at you live at any given point, and we pretty much just set up and do it, then tack the vocals on and mix the thing. Some early reviews of the new album have stated that it represents a return to your nineties sound. Do you think this is an accurate assessment? I think that’s a bullshit, lazy assessment (laughs), and I’ll explain why. I think people pick that up because of the
aggression, and that’s understandable. But if you listen to the way that the sound is crafted, when you really digest it and let it sink in, you realise that it picks up from where our last record, The Eye Of Every Storm, left off. On that record we learnt how to become one sonic voice by simplifying everything basically, as opposed to everyone playing some complex part with some shit on top. Everybody became a different piece of one part. We’ve always done that to a
certain extent in the way that we follow a flow, whether it is a dissonant or melodic one, but with that album we really honed in on how to give everything its own unique frequency. The end result was a very vast, rich, spacious and melodic record. With this new one, you can tell right away this thing sits way heavier on the dissonance scale. It’s got more teeth, a lot of thorns down the path. But it is similar in terms of the textures used. Songs such as “To The Wind” and “Hidden Faces” to my mind sound somewhat more direct than some of the material on past releases. They’re quite immediate in their impact. To me it almost sounds like the band is loosening up a little bit. Is that a fair observation? It’s hard to say, y’know. Each time, like I said, it’s this journey for this thing we’ll never reach, but each time we
get closer and closer to being able to truly communicate intense emotion through sound. Each time it becomes more and more natural. Each time we surrender ourselves more and more fully. In some ways it becomes more mysterious over time, because it seems to get farther and farther away from any sort of intellectual or cerebral impetus. It’s more a case of ‘what the hell was that? Where the hell did that just come from?’ Probably what all original artists, composers, writers or anyone finds, is that once you find a spot, it just starts coming out. I think with more and more experience, it comes easier. It’s interesting to observe that recently, some of the more prominent bands who have been heavily influenced by Neurosis, such as Isis and Cult Of Luna, have toned down their approach to create more melodic music. Even Justin Broadrick, who as part of Godflesh in the nineties was a significant contemporary, has reigned things in and taken a more melodic approach with his new act Jesu. It would have been quite easy for Neurosis at this stage to have delivered a stripped back, melodic album, perhaps an extension of the direction of A Sun That Never Sets, and connected to a large audience. Would you agree? We’ve always been the freak in the corner. We’ve never made music that was trendy or in fashion. I think our level of popularity and influence is due more to our longevity than anything else, and picking up along the way the few that are willing to take that journey with us into such intense musical territory. I have no problem with melodic music. We’ve definitely explored more and more melody over the years. For us, it never seemed so much a thing of joining any sort of club so much as ‘let’s attack our weaknesses.’ What’s easier for us to do is to pile-drive everything to absolute hell constantly (laughs). That’s what is in our nature, just complete destruc-
tion. So to be able to rein it in a little bit occasionally and do some different stuff vocally was challenging to us. We’ve always had melody intertwined; we’ve never been a completely dissonant band. Although this new one might have some of our most dissonant moments ever, there’s nothing safe about where we’re heading. When your music is representative of your own introspection, your own self-growth as well as the introspection of humanity more broadly - where we’ve been and where we’re going, the great rivers of history - while simultaneously reaching out to the universe to find some sort of cosmic truth, some fundamental truth in a world of distraction and mimicry, you just don’t have time for that petty, shallow… just even wondering what other people are doing. I think that anyone’s who’s following their passion and doing what they love to do, whatever that is, they know if they’re true to themselves or not and if they are, then awesome. That’s what we support one hundred per cent, is people following their passion. A concept that seems to be thrown around a lot at the moment is the “Neur-Isis” sound. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this? I think journalists need these points of reference to be able to communicate in words to people something complex like sound. Isis are great friends of ours and they’ve definitely developed their own sound over the years. I think it’s people trying to pigeonhole stuff. Again it’s the longevity that made us realise how foolish all that stuff is, because every three or four years it’s something different. I can’t even remember what the terms were in ’88 or ’89 but I remember going, ‘God, that is a hunk of shit.’ Just the different ways they try to describe or pigeonhole us. From our experience personally, we seemed to be more pigeonholed by what record label we were on than by what music we were actually making. If we were on Alchemy we were hardcore, if we were on Lookout! we were punk, if we were on Alternative Tentacles we were, I don’t know, art-core, if we were on Relapse we were heavy metal (laughs). It’s like, this is the same band we’re talking about here! It’s a constant stream of evolution. It’s kind of clichéd to say we’re unclassifiable or you can’t stick us in a box, but I really do think people are hardpressed to do so, and that’s why people search around to try to find these ways to link people. I mean, we run our own record label, we see the magazines and we read them and see our name used as an adjective in reviews to describe other bands. The only way we can take that is as a compliment. What we are doing, this is our life’s work
and our life’s purpose. The fact that anybody else likes it at all is completely secondary. We don’t do it for money. We don’t make a living off of it. This isn’t like our job. This is our passion. This is what we do. We have to do this. It’s a certain part of our fate. We were put here on this earth with the strange mathematical possibility of meeting each other and finding this sound and tapping into it. The fact that anyone else thinks that it’s important enough to use as a reference, to give some sort of cultural significance to it, is a great honour. I guess that’s the only way we can realistically look at that. I understand that in addition to your work with the band and label, you work full-time as a teacher. At what year level and what subjects do you teach? Yeah, I teach elementary school, which is kindergarten to eighth grade. I teach third grade right now, like eight-year-olds, and I teach everything basically. Can you see any parallels between your day job and what you do with Neurosis? Absolutely. They both take a lot of inspiration and creativity. They both tap into that fire that won’t let you quit. With music, I have the obligation to my brothers. We have an obligation to each other and the spirit of the music. With teaching I have an obligation to these children and these souls and their parents who give their trust in leaving their children with other adults. In my personal mythology of how life should be, my heroes throughout history have always been warriors, poets and musicians. The Neurosis side seems to work in parallel with teaching because you’re feeding the soul, if you’re doing it right. You’re giving of yourself. Through music and art and passing the torch of knowledge on to the next generation we’re securing our evolution and continued future as a species. And hopefully you can plant a few seeds that will create the next generation of people who buck the mundane for the inspired. And I figure teaching third grade brings out the warrior spirit in you from time to time? (Laughs) More like learning a whole new level of patience that I never thought was possible. You recently completed a string of dates in Germany and England in support of your Harvestman and solo projects. How was that? That was really good. It was kind of an afterthought. Originally I was going over to do just a week of press for Neurosis, you know, getting ready for this new record. Then I was like, ‘man, I’m spending my spring vacation just talking, that sounds like a bunch of crap, I should stay.’ So I grabbed my friend Alex Hall from Grails, did a very minimal amount of rehearsal here in the States, and…
Steve Von Till discography 1986: Neurosis – Black 7” EP (Bootleg) 1987: Neurosis – Pain Of Mind (Alchemy) 1989: Neurosis – Aberration 7” EP (Lookout!) 1990: Neurosis – The Word As Law (Lookout!) 1990: Neurosis – Empty 7” EP (Allied) 1992: Neurosis – Souls At Zero (Alternative Tentacles) 1993: Neurosis – Enemy Of The Sun (Alternative Tentacles) 1995: Tribes of Neurot – Silver Blood Transmissions (Relapse) 1995: Tribes of Neurot – Rebegin 2x7” (Alleysweeper) 1996: Neurosis – Through Silver In Blood (Relapse) 1996: Neurosis – Locust Star MCD (Relapse) 1997: Tribes of Neurot – Rebegin EP (Invisible) 1997: Tribes of Neurot – God of the Centre 10” (Conspiracy) 1997: Tribes of Neurot – Untitled 12” (Abuse) 1998: Tribes of Neurot – Static Migration (Relapse) 1999: Neurosis – Times Of Grace (Relapse) 1999: Tribes of Neurot – Grace (Neurot) 1999: Neurosis – The Doorway/Threshold 7” EP (Relapse) 1999: Tribes of Neurot – Spring Equinox 99 EP (Neurot) 1999: Tribes of Neurot – Summer Solstice 99 EP (Neurot ) 1999: Tribes of Neurot – Autumn Equinox 99 EP (Neurot) 1999: Tribes of Neurot – Winter Solstice 99 EP (Neurot) 2000: Neurosis – Sovereign MCD (Neurot) 2000: Tribes of Neurot – Spring Equinox 00 EP (Neurot) 2000: Tribes of Neurot – Summer Solstice 00 EP (Neurot ) 2000: Tribes of Neurot – Autumn Equinox 00 EP (Neurot) 2000: Tribes of Neurot – Winter Solstice 00 EP (Neurot) 2000: Steve Von Till – As the Crow Flies (Neurot) 2000: Harvestman – Lashing The Rye (Neurot) 2001: Neurosis – A Sun That Never Sets (Relapse) 2001: Culper Ring – 355 (Neurot) 2001: Tribes of Neurot – Spring Equinox 01 EP (Neurot) 2001: Tribes of Neurot – Summer Solstice 01 EP (Neurot) 2001: Tribes of Neurot – Autumn Equinox 01 EP (Neurot) 2001: Tribes of Neurot – Winter Solstice 01 EP (Neurot) 2002: Neurosis – A Sun That Never Sets DVD (Neurot) 2002: Neurosis – Live In Lyon Official Bootleg [live] (Neurot) 2002: Steve Von Till – If I Should Fall to the Field (Neurot) 2002: Tribes of Neurot – Adaption and Survival (Neurot) 2002: Tribes of Neurot – Cairn (Neurot) 2002: Tribes of Neurot – A Resonant Sun (Relapse) 2003: Neurosis & Jarboe – Neurosis & Jarboe (Neurot) 2003: Neurosis – Live In Stockholm Official Bootleg [live] (Neurot) 2004: Neurosis – The Eye Of Every Storm (Neurot/Relapse) 2005: Tribes of Neurot – Meridian (Neurot) 2007: Neurosis – Given To The Rising (Neurot)
Neurosis: (LtoR) Scott Kelly, Steve Von Till, Josh Graham, Noah Landis, Jason Roeder, Dave Edwardson
(At this stage, a person who is presumably Von Till’s daughter interrupts. He patiently tells her to turn off the TV and to finish her homework). …Sorry about that. Our office is in our home so sometimes the two mix up. So with very minimal rehearsal we just went over and gave it a try. We did a combined set that morphed from the real quiet sparse acoustic bit into the full-volume Harvestman stuff, the European melodies floating inside guitar swash thing. It worked really well. By the fourth show we had something really flowing there and I look forward to doing that again. It was a lot of fun. You’ve also recently contributed Harvestman material to the film score for a film by Italian director Alex Infascelli called H2Odio. Can you tell me a little bit about the movie and how you came to be involved? That was truly just a strange phone call one day. A friend of Kristien’s (Von Till’s wife who handles the day-to-day operations of Neurot Recordings) who works on promoting our stuff in Italy, had a friend who was making a movie. He brought the Harvestman CD to show Alex and was like, ‘Why don’t you throw that on and see what it sounds like?’ Alex instantly started cutting the film to it without having talked to me. He just liked the rhythm and the flow. So he called me up and asked if I’d be willing to do it. I’ve always wanted to do a film score with any of our projects. I’ve always thought our music, in any of our incarnations, was extremely cinematic. The only thing would be, our music is so precious, I don’t think we could tailor our music to someone else’s idea if they didn’t like what we did naturally. Somehow it would have to coincide. And luckily, Alex just really wanted me to do my thing. So I just threw a million ideas at him. He sent me shorts, he emailed me video clips, and I would just watch for a while and then turn it off and sit and just improvise with what Harvestman is, which is basically home-recorded psychedelia, guitar-based textures and melodies, and dense, abstract electric guitar things. I don’t know - I always have a hard time describing it. He loved it. He picked the pieces he liked and he and his editor flew out here to where we live in the woods in North Idaho and synched it all up in my home studio, and it was a wonderful experience. If all film scoring was like that I’d be all for it all the time. I think that was a special situation though where it just fell into place.
o T g T n o i y A PL
Nation. t e k c a j t h Straig Daniel Stewart interview
by Rhys Davies.
of sick people, smashed their way into 2007, bringing a world d sidesteps the retro traightjacket Nation have head butted soun r ll smoke inhalation with them. Thei r performances have microphones, death trips and steel-mi Thei . yore of ts grea with liberal nods to the tent! exis trap by fusing contemporary urgency nononal scale. Their image is completely the spokesperson is gained them notoriety on an internati not, or it likes list Dan, who, whether he voca with ange exch an is ws follo t Wha chip your front teeth and read bar stool, roll around in broken glass, a w thro ind, unw x, rela So . band for the this interview, FUCKER!!!!
I think I was with you and Dave (guitar) at some diner when the idea of forming Straightjacket was discussed. How have the objectives of the band changed over the years? Do you agree that regardless of a band's original intention, there is a point where you start to take things more seriously? Has SJN reached this point yet? By the way, I think you ordered a noodle dish that day. I don't think I ever asked how it was? Fuck, you ask some long, convoluted questions. I'll answer in a long convoluted manner. The point where I began to take
the band more serious than a “musical project” or whatever came when my friend Drew and I were living in a squatted yuppie townhouse in inner-city Sydney. This lasted for about a month. I'd moved to Sydney to get away from Wollongong. More on that later. The month in the squat was spent listening to a lot of Germs and Ramones records on low volume, being very paranoid of police and neighbours, basically being locked in a house with a meat pounder for a weapon, climbing the walls. Straightjacket at this stage had recorded and played a few shows, but as far as everyone was concerned it was a project band: Emily (drums) had the Execution, Dave had Pisschrist, Al (bass) was in high school, I lived in the steel city. I guess I realised at one point over this month that there was more for me in Melbourne and with the band than there was in Sydney/NSW. I didn't really trust anyone I knew anymore, aside from a few important exceptions, I felt a great deal of disgust for my life in Wollongong over the years leading up to this. It all accelerated and when the threats of police eviction came I made the decision that this band was something I needed to do. Now, moving back in time to that noodle dish. For about a year prior to this dinner, Emily and I had been talking of doing a band. I was listening to Integrity, Gehenna and Catharsis almost exclusively for a year, and wanted to do a band with Emily like that, but, you know, living in Wollongong, etc., it wasn't going to happen. That dinner you talk about probably had little impact on SJN forming: I was asked to join the band after Dave and Em had already written several songs which became our demo, but had wanted to be in a band with both of them for a long time. The original band name was going to be War Hero (Void song), which retroactively is a better name, but I had been planning a Gun Club-esque project called Straightjacket (after the Jerry’s Kids tune, of course) for months with several Wollongong scenesters, and decided to use the name for the band with Dave and Emily, who asked Al to join shortly after I agreed I guess, and the rest… The objectives of the band have changed a lot. It's hard to see now what we originally intended to do, but thinking back to the original practices, writing and recording the demo and putting it together, and the lyrics/attitude, I guess “we play to kill” is probably the easiest way to sum it all up. The noodles? They tasted better than your penis.
SJN has become synonymous with the “play to destroy” ethos employed by Black Flag, MDC and modern bands like Annihilation Time. Whilst this is obviously not some sort of contrived façade, how difficult is it to sweat it out when there are twenty people in the audience standing at the bar, not really giving a fuck? At what point does it cease to be an expression of rage/output of energy, and become some sort of aesthetic platform - “The SJN live experience” if you will? Shit, Rhys, that's a compliment; Flag is easily the biggest influence on me playing music/living. We just completed a five-show tour with Masstrauma and I thought a lot about this. We played Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra and Brisbane. We drove through the day and through the night to play these shows, which were poorly attended due to many factors, quite possibly because other bands were playing (The Evens, Strike Anywhere), quite possibly because the tour had been organised pretty recently due to my going overseas to the US. Whatever the reasons, I remember thinking about that piece of advice Dukowski dropped on Rollins early in Get In The Van that no doubt every single aspiring hardcore rock ‘n’ roll band considers when the drive has been long and the crowd seems despondent. Playing has always been hard. I'm not a very socially oriented person, and as I get older I feel more and more withdrawn from social situations, so it's a huge contradiction for me to be fronting a band and playing music, which is obviously about expression and communication. It's very hard for me to get up onstage some nights. Not because I'm nervous or anything. I wrote “Latch Key Cancer” kinda to express this. There is a certain sense of insecurity that eats me away, and it's from growing up in the suburbs and having all of my childhood memories kinda mediated through television and video games to the point where I feel I have no authentic foundation of identity that hasn't been fucked with by what I've consumed. Hardcore and punk, for me, coming out of the suburbs, was my first experience of life: pure angry music, unmediated by television and industry, played by social outcasts (the high-school losers, dropouts and fuck-ups in my town all congregated around the local youth centre, and punk for a while was the unifying music for everyone). This was all an attempt to express dissatisfaction with what I felt was this cancer, this feeling of displacement/alienation or whatever, and through it all, some sense of release from that feeling of dread and emptiness. To be honest, sometimes when we play I have moments of total comprehension of what is happening and it
"Sometimes when we play I have moments of total comprehension of what is happening and it starts to feel like performance”and it scares
Pic: Martin Sorrendeguy
the shit outta me."- Dan Stewart
starts to feel like “performance” and it scares the shit outta me and I have to bang the mic into my mouth and feel a tooth break or my lip open or my head bruise, or, fuck, I gotta leap into the audience to knock myself back into the headspace I need to be in to play this music: there is no real sense of trying to create an aesthetic platform, I am merely attempting to escape the feeling of disease that makes me want to play this music. Playing hardcore punk is a release of all of that shit, it has kept me alive. So you have a penchant for romanticising about punk rock from small, backwards, shithole towns. Why exalt such things when you yourself come from this environment? If the small-town punk rock experience is less tainted than that of the big smoke; why leave the ’Gong? Good question. Punk in Melbourne is a lot easier than Wollongong was. Punks have a lot more venues open to their music. There is an incredible record store, plenty of diet-specific restaurants, etc. Wollongong punk was a lot bleaker. I guess the people I spent time with had very different ideas about what punk was musically, but there was a sense of desperation that came with having that kinda dead-end life attitude that comes with dropping out of school, being unable to get a decent job, being kicked outta home, etc. I have so many shitty stories from living in Wollongong and being involved in the punk scene there after the original bands (most importantly, Frontside) broke up and the scene kinda collapsed in on itself: there were basically three different punk scenes, and two of them were very ugly. One involved a lot of drug abuse and death kicks, and I was only peripheral to that, being straight-edge, but I had a few friends
who were involved more in that. The other involved a lot of idealistic politics and mental illness and petty crime and death kicks, and I was a lot more involved in that. Shit, there were so many deaths, suicide, murder, accidents, just so much tragic bullshit, but punk was important as it gave a lot of people something to hold onto, even if it was only for a brief time before they found something more steady, or nothing at all. I exalt this kinda punk because it makes sense. Even if it is offensive and horrific and stupid at times, it makes sense to me because that's what life is for a lot of people. It wasn't for me, because I was constantly trying to see something beyond the steel city, but that doesn't mean that I couldn't understand the bleakness, that I didn't feel it. I guess I was at a point for ages where I was close to falling off the edge and I had to leave Wollongong. I could run off a huge list of reasons. My parents had to move house one time because my mum got shot at through her front window. She lived in the suburbs, and not even the shitty suburbs, but a nice tree-lined street. Anyone from Wollongong would have a hundred stories of the drugs, the death, the depression. I'm surprised I lived there for as long as I did. Even if Melbourne punk can be more trivial and simplified and consumer-orientated, ultimately I'm doing a band with people who know and understand punk and hardcore in the same way that I do, and that's what matters. You seem to have mellowed a bit, Dan. You don’t seem to be punching on with cops, getting in riots and burning roundabouts like you used to. What happened? Where do you stand in relation to your ideals today compared to the days of yesteryear?
Two things really affected me when living in Wollongong. One was when a guy I knew freaked out on acid with a couple of other punks and beat a travelling homeless kid from Perth to death and hid his body in a drainpipe. They were arrested and gaoled. All of that scared the shit outta me, but I felt that punk was an important thing and that if the scene in our town was more strong and people felt they had more options or whatever that this shit wouldn't happen. You could say I was kinda inspired by this to try and make the punk scene more positive. I was young and idealistic, and that is important. The other was seeing a guy cut his neck open with a knife outside my house, screaming at me and the other people inside. I can't really talk about this too much, but it made me feel even more hopeless about life and totally trivialised anything about the punk scene at the time. I realised that this was what life was like: it was bleak, it was horrific, it was harsh, and most importantly, this is what the best punk music was able to talk about without making it into some kind of uplifting message, without trying to whitewash it and politicise or “positive-ise” it, but also without romantisicing or celebrating it. This was something I'd felt for a while but the experience kinda galvanised this feeling I had, and over the next month almost ninety percent of my record collection became redundant. This is why Black Flag, Poison Idea and the h100's are the best bands ever. As for how my beliefs have changed, obviously I am still disgusted by the police and the rich people that pay their salaries, and all of the socialised oppression that keeps those people rich. I don't know why I feel compelled to say this in an interview about our band, but you asked it, son.
Straightjacket has come leaps and bounds since your initial demo cassette. From my perspective it is as if the band has grown, progressed and gelled together. You are now a more realised version of what you originally set out to achieve. How much longer can you continue playing simple hardcore punk for? Fuck, we're hardly a simple hardcore punk band. Our songs are more complex and better written than you are giving us credit for. I agree with everything else you have said. Thank you, friend. I guess you're suggesting a How We Rock is imminent. Far from it. I think we have a few more tunes in us, and then a Feel The Darkness is in order. Possibly from then, we can only decline, but this record, this mythic future SJN record is going to make you blush as you re-read this on the toilet in six years time.
Pic: Marcus Axellson
You have a tendency to throw yourself headfirst into whatever task you set out to achieve. Sacrificing sleep, health and sanity in order to get various projects done. Whilst this is no doubt an admirable pursuit, do you feel that this may result in a quicker onset of burnout?
Pic: Georgia Rose
Being an outspoken figure in the small, insular world of Australian punk rock, your viewpoints, opinions and output has always been on public display. How much do you see your involvement in music and politics as an exercise in personal growth? For example, how did you get from being a militant vegan straightedge youth crew zealot to a record obsessive, ultra-critical loose cannon getting amongst it? I'm sure you've copped a bit of a ribbing over the years? Shit, I don't really know what this has to do with the band, but I'm trying to be as honest as possible about this shit, I guess it's important to talk about. I don't like the current brand of cynicism that characterises punk, because it's the same kind of cynicism that characterises all of the mainstream culture: this snide kind of attitude towards anything sincere, towards any kind of belief that goes against what's normal and easy and conventional. It's a kind of convenient cynicism. I hate that shit. I hate hearing some jock say, “I hate hippies”. I mean, I hate hippies, but for a completely different reason, and one that is justified more in the redundancy of the hippie outlook, but ultimately the reason a jock hates a hippy is because today faux-nihilism is conventional thought. You pretend to hate everything, but you really hate everything that isn't simple, cut-anddry politics and thought. Get wrecked, get fucked up. Ultimately I would still have a lot of sympathy for communism, which ultimately is what I was into when I was younger, but I don't have the faith in humanity that is necessary to form councils and alliances. Straightjacket Nation is the only operable human collective I've been a part of. Haha. A model for a new society: SJN. Communism perfected. I can't really answer this question. I can't separate myself enough from what's happened in my life to be able to map each point, nor do I feel inclined, nor do I feel it is entirely relevant to the band. Life is complicated and fucked up and it's important to roll with the punches and not get caught up in any particular world view, be able to see the nuances, and especially not try and live up to any idea of what you're supposed to be because when you were fifteen you announced that Chain Of Strength represented your emotional capacities completely. I'm involved with music and writing and I've spent the past ten years trying to understand life through it, and as such have basically chronicled my life in the public for a lot of it, but even so it's a small part of my life, and so much shit has happened over the years that has affected my personal growth that could not be summed up in a Straightjacket song or a review of a Stooges record for my zine DISTORT. It's just now, and always, punk and hardcore have made sense and helped me to make sense of a shitty world. Of course, I've had ribbings over the years: I've had death threats, punch ups, wrecked friendships, plenty of bullshit. But that's punk. Anyone who hasn't taken a few knocks to the head for what they've said in their zine or with their band isn't trying hard enough!!
"I prefer playing to nihilists, freaks, fuck ups, sexual perverts, drug-addled losers, loose cunts, etc., so usually things work out fine." - Dan Stewart Look, I feel this is getting a little too focused on my own Fuck that. I think the problem with any band is when they personality, so just to clarify something: I am not the only hardworry about this kind of shit. The point is to play music that working member of the band. Emily organises pretty much we wanna play, to get hurt a little, to hurt a little, to work everything as far as transport goes with the band, and that is hard at it for its own sake. I think we're writing some good a big fucking deal. She is the only person in the band who can tunes and whether or not we get recognition outside of drive. So many times she's driving hours to a show and playAustralia for them is beside the point. Now, I admit that ocing it on very little sleep. And she drums harder than anyone casionally it does weigh on my mind that what I'd really like in any of the bands that we play with. She also organises the to do is play overseas with the band, but as to whether this shirts and lots of other clerical-related shit. Meanwhile, she is going to define the purpose of the band, fuck no. does a demanding uni degree and works the rest of the time. Dave does Pisschrist as well as Straightjacket, and that band How hard is it to capture the band on record? There is exceptionally busy. He does a distro and organises most of is so much stock put in ''the live show'' being the the record and other clerical shit for SJN. I remember when I measuring stick of a good band these days. How do first met Dave he was working on the record label non-stop, you bottle that energy when you are biting your nails had Dying Breed and Far Left Limit going and was working in a control booth? an apprenticeship that had him out of bed at the most bullshit Well, we have used a control booth only once for the sechours imaginable. Al has uni full ond vocal take on “Stranded” but time, he lives on the other side otherwise we've always recorded of town from all of us, he works in people's houses, and the times whenever he can and he has we recorded the vocals live (on his other bands and shit going the demo and latest recordon, but he's never complained ings) are obviously better than once. I'm constantly in awe of the other recordings, so we'll 2004: Demo cassette their commitment and work probably settle for those in future. 2005: Get Wrecked cassette ethic and it keeps me working I think we're a better live band 2005: Gimme Failure cassette harder. The point of all of this than on record, but our latest is not "shit, look how hard 7" is the closest to representing 2005: S/T 7" we are", but the fact is that if what we're trying to do. I fucking 2006: Cult Hardcore cassette anyone wants to do a hardcore hate recording, I don't know what 2006: Split 7" w/Eddy Current Suppression Ring punk band in 2007 that sounds I'm doing, I don't understand the 2007: 6-Song EP 7" the way we sound, they have process at all. I just stood in the to do it in the same way that corner and sung when I was sup2007: Live @ PBS cassette [live] Bad Brains had to do it in 1980, posed to, and it turned out good. that Poison Idea had to do it in 1990, that Nine Shocks Terror had to do it in 1999… you work I understand that your next release is going to be hard to play the shows to put out the records, to tour and to somewhat conceptual? I can’t comprehend why a write the songs, you don't expect anything from anybody, you hardcore band would ever want to make a concept distrust anyone with money, etc. Hardware. You work hard, not record. because you'll make money from it, not because you'll derive Huh? I don't know what the fuck you're on about. Maybe friends or personal status from it, not for any kind of spiritual I wrote something as a joke in an interview. Let me get deep fulfilment, but because it makes sense, because it's what life on you. I think that a lot of hardcore records are conceptual. is about, and there's no real hope or justification there at all, This is not a bad thing, it ultimately depends on whether the it just makes sense if this is who you are and this is what you delivery is good or not. And if we did one, the delivery would want to do. Back to the topic of burnout: as I get older I see be good, so you'd like it. this is the only way to do things, and I'm working harder and harder to make sure that if I do burnout, it's spectacular. I just How does the band feel about outfits that cite concame off a pretty gruelling tour and I just spent two hours temporary artists as references? Collector nerdism answering your questions to the soundtrack of Roxy Music and punk rock elitism aside, this is surely the biggest - Avalon and the Ramones - It's Alive. More questions! We'll downfall of modern hardcore? Do you think the fact see who burns out. that you cite H100s and Nine Shocks Terror as influences means you contribute to this at all? Okay, what is the point of playing hardcore punk in I don't feel this is a problem at all. What the fuck are you Australia? Does the fact that ninety-five percent of on about here?! Don't get me wrong; I like this interview Australian bands, good or bad, slip through the cracks a lot. I think you are baiting me here, right? Anyhow, your on an international level weigh on your mind at all? opinion is bullshit. I think THAT is the biggest downfall of
Straightjacket Nation discography
In a scene where having an opinion is frowned upon, how much do you think the band has alienated a large portion of its potential audience? I don't know who we're alienating, but obviously it's the right people because most of the people who come to see us seem to get what we're doing. I might not agree with them politically or even want to sit down and talk with them, but they want to listen to loud punk music and get wrecked, and that's the same desire that I have. I prefer playing to nihilists, freaks, fuck ups, sexual perverts, drug-addled losers, loose cunts, etc., so usually things work out fine. I don't like playing to macho jocks, uptight “revolutionaries” or wannabe “rocknroll” hipster types, and they usually stay away from us, so I'm happy. Look, I don't really care who we have alienated because I really don't care what most of my favourite bands are into and I expect that most mature, free-thinking individuals involved in this music will feel the same. I'm a reasonably politically correct and polite individual. If a band expresses an opinion that I disagree with, I'm mature enough to deal with that. I don't listen to music to enforce my beliefs or make me feel like a good person, that shit is for twelve-year-old kids and people who don't actually like the music. My favourite music is made by scumbags, usually. My idea of a perfect band is Poison Idea or Black Flag, but I don't go out of my way to pretend to be them. I'm not going to shoot up horse tranquilliser
because I'm into GG Allin. I'm secure enough to deal with this. I don't expect anyone who listens to SJN to agree with or like me. You’ve toured with a number of international acts now. After spending time with the individuals in these bands, how do you feel they react to Australian bands and people? For example, the Australian sense of humour is markedly different to that of the Swedes. What sort of impression do you think these people are left with when they leave Terra nullius? I think most people leave Australia realising that there is a whole bunch of shit going on here that they didn't really know about because Australia has a great deal of problems making our scene known about outside of its borders: poor record distribution, little media exposure, etc. I think that Australian shows differ from city to city, but there is a general vibe that we put out: we don't accept bullshit, you know. Glam rock never really took off here because the pub rock ethos here is: play hard and don't fuck around. We wanna throw darts, play some stick and try to cop a feel in the dunny, you know? No time for makeup, stage antics, etc. So the same thing carries
through to punk. The best punk bands, like the Saints are a great example, just fuckin’ played hard as shit. No mohawks, no posing, just hardcore rock ‘n’ roll songs. I think if anything, people are forced to not fuck around, so we get good shows out of the band, and in turn we show them a good time. You’ve done the impossible - aka a DIY tour of Perth. What is next for the band? A saunter to international shores perhaps? Like I said, I wish we could tour o/s. But, next is an LP, probably not conceptual. Then, we'll probably tour the east coast another bunch of times, play a few more shows in Melbourne, I don't know. We'll be around for a while making noise cranked up really high. I want to get a tattoo of your naked body ejaculating a wad in the shape of our logo. The wad will be flying towards a naked dude who represents SOCIETY. The meaning for the tattoo is that the punks ejaculate onto society. Hahaha. That is the future plans for our band. We'll all get tattoos of that. You will be memorialised. You'll be saying something like “Uh, guys, referencing modern punk bands is the downfall of… Oh god…” and there ya go. Bang. Pic: Martin Sorrendeguy
modern hardcore. People attempting to one-up each other on obscure reference points which obviously indicate they are more concerned with impressing their MySpace friends at their knowledge of Japanese or Finnish obscurities than participating in any real way in hardcore punk is more of a downfall of modern punk than my acknowledging those bands, and many more contemporary bands, are good reference points for what we are doing. These bands were immediate and offered an actually palpable reference point, rather than something that I never had an opportunity to experience in any way (like a Comes show in Japan may as well have been two hundred years ago for the fact that I could never have been there and therefore was so removed). But I could see Nine Shocks, or at least read about and know about what they were doing NOW that was making punk more interesting/exciting/alive, and therefore they were, as much as Urban Waste or Void or Jerry's Kids or Black Flag or BGK or Larm or Gauze or CHEETAH CHROME MOTHERFUCKERS, an influence/reference point on our band. If you've got a problem with that, you should articulate it a little better. I'm not a part of the modern internet punk culture of uptight collectors and their precious knowledge of Arabian vinyl rarities, so that world has no influence on why I do this band. And just to illustrate, Masstrauma and Sex Vid are some modern punk bands that definitely would influence what I'm doing.
RADIOS Across Europe London, UK September 12 W
e arise in Philly and head to the van, there's a drive to JFK to get out of the way and then it's on a plane to London. The States have been a success and we can look forward to a night off in London to recharge the batteries. The flight is uneventful but there's a nagging worry that we have yet to see our work papers and I am more than aware of the perils that you can face at Heathrow without the correct paperwork. PJ the promoter has said the paperwork was ready so we agree to stick together and deposit ourselves in front of an immigration officer and hope that a bit of honesty will work. The only info [band manager] John [Needham] has is a bit of paper with PJ's number on it, incredibly the unusually nice immigration guy rings PJ and although he can't find any record of our working papers in their system, he agrees to let us through as PJ has reassured him that we are legit. Which we are but I'm still amazed that we get through without too much drama. A driver picks us up and after an interminable trawl through the chaotic London traffic we arrive at our North London Hotel, a dumpy looking B&B style hotel that makes famous dumps like the Columbia look positively five star, it is just a stones throw from the venue so that makes up for it. A brief rest is taken and then me, Jim [Dickson - bass] and Matty [Wicks – crew] head out for a slap up breakfast English style... beans, chips, eggs, mushrooms - I pass on the fried bread and the gumchewing waitress looks at me like I'm some kind of loony. Phone calls are made and soon myself, Deniz [Tek – guitar], Rob [Younger – vocals] and Matt hit the tube down to Tottenham Court Road for a stroll down Denmark Streetone of the British Music scene's most iconic locations. Besides the array of incredible (and incredibly expensive) music stores- I run over to my favourite vintage drum store to see if they've still got the awesome Trixon kit I always admire, they have and they still want four thousand pounds for it. Ouch - there is much rock ‘n’ roll history to admire: we walk past the building the Pistols rehearsed in (Number 6) and the basement that housed Regent Sound, where the Stones did their early recordings. Deniz disappears into a guitar store and soon we all standing around admiring a nice Hiwatt that's on special... go on Deniz do it!! We end up in the delightful Angel Pub just down from Denmark St. Some great mates are waiting, the pints flow and the talk is light and generally rock ‘n’ roll oriented. PJ turns up with our work permits - we are legit!! I end up in a little Italian, late night, sneaky drinker with my mates Joss, Wayne and Nick. Nick and Joss are having a ludicrous argument about The Horrors (who were just appearing on the scene), it's humorous yet slightly heated, but is great entertainment and it's moments like these that make rock ‘n’ roll touring so wonderful.
London, UK - September 13 T
oday I doze and doze, choosing to miss the free English breakfast that the hotel offers for some well earned shut-eye. I arise in the afternoon and go get some hangover-soothing egg and chips, just like Sid Vicious woulda. Soundcheck gets delayed due to the late arrival of the PA but soon enough I find myself in The Dome, a magnificent looking pub in Tufnell Park. It's a great room and there's a nice PA and the hire gear is in good shape. Soundcheck is good, the monitor guy is on it and everyone's happy. There is trouble afoot though, main support is Chris Wilson & His Grooving Flames, and for some reason they've pissed off the promoter and he's kicked them off the bill. Jim is an old mate of Chris, as
September 2006: With their first ever U.S. tour complete, the reformed Radio Birdman headed over to tackle Europe. Here is part two of drummer Rusty Hopkinson’s UNBELIEVABLY Bad tour diary.
The view from the stage, London... Johnny Needham's rallying the troops for tonight's sold-out show.
they played in the Barracudas together and a few of my mates are in the band, it's a sticky situation. I slip out for a curry with Joss (who's deejaying tonite) and there's conspiracy theories aplenty as a couple of band members turn up. I don't know what to say, it's out of our hands and I feel a bit embarrassed about it all. Back to the gig, everyone is excited and Joss is spinning top tune after top tune. There's a knock on the band room door and in strolls [ex-Birdman drummer] Ron Keeley. He gives me the warmest of hugs and tells me that he's happy that I have found my way on to the Birdman drum stool. A great moment. Ron circulates amongst his old mates and I sit back, watch and enjoy the camaraderie of blokes who've shared over thirty years of experiences. The opener are now main support, they're called The Susan (a bunch of lovely ladies outta Japan) and they're quirky and different. Not as much like the 5678's as I kinda expected - at least that's how they were described to me - they've got another fabtastically Japanese take on the rock ‘n’ roll sound that seems to take in a variety of influences. Suddenly we're striding onto the stage and a wild rock ‘n’ roll gig ensues. The crowd go nuts and we are in pile-driver mode. Onstage sound is loud, ugly but clear and I feel at home amongst the sonic maelstrom, as it were. The crowd is crazy and the room takes on all the qualities of a sauna. Phew. I'm done... there's enough time for a quick chat and beer with some mates but I've got one eye on my bed and after a walk through a magnificent thunderstorm, I slide into a wonderful slumber. The next day is pretty unremarkable apart from the fact that it's a day off and I cruise the streets of Londinium looking at stuff. A couple of us head out for some Indian food for dinner, but with a 5am departure scheduled, I decline the opportunity of a drink with mates and hit the hay.
Helsinki, Finland September 15 T
he early morning flight out of Heathrow is taking place not long after the latest terrorist plot and security is super nuts but after much hassle we hit our seats on the plane for a short hop over to Helsinki. We are met at the airport by some surly Finnish dudes who are lovely chaps behind their gruff exterior. We load our shit on to a tour bus and we head to a nice hotel in the centre of town for an a few hours before check. I go searching for the punk rock record store I'd been told about and in a short while find myself with a` pretty complete selection of Finnish punk records that had me jumping around my bedroom as a teenager - Terveet Kadet, Riistetyt, Tampere SS, Klimax, Rattus and heaps of others. Seems the local paper printed a quote from me about my love of Finn-core and the record store guys loaded me up with a pile of great shit and I stagger in to soundcheck dragging a huge selection of the finest noisy Discharge-styled hardcore that Finland had to offer. Soundcheck is unremarkable and then we sit down for a meal. The venue serves the meat eaters amongst us some reindeer that is disappointingly tough and a bit bland. There's a brief chance to relax and then it's back for the gig, the support band, who's name escapes me are a six-piece blues rock group who, to this listener's ears, are pretty dull and when I spy all the members of Flaming Sideburns scattered around the room, I wonder why they aren't playing with us - they will later tell me they weren't even asked to do it, and would've loved to. Bummer. The gig itself is good but the crowd are a bit on the docile side, but they get into it eventually and we exit the stage with the audience cheering madly. Drinks are had backstage after the show and I'm introduced to the guitarist from Terveet Kadet who are my all time fave rave Finnish hardcore band. I blow his mind by telling him that in my teenage hardcore days, the band I played in, Vicious Circle, included a cover of the classic “Outo maa” on our first album. It's a five-ish lobby call so I cut out and try and get three hours sleep.
Athens, Greece September 16 I
t's 5am and we stagger back on to the bus and negotiate our gear on to the plane for a flight to Athens. By midday we have landed in Athens and we're met by some dudes who proceed to try and get all our gear and six people into three tiny hatch back cars. It's absolute chaos and would be hilarious if we weren't all so burnt out. Eventually we manage to gear in cars and distribute the humans amongst some cabs. We hit our downtown Athens hotel and immediately realise that we are close to the Parthenon. Me and Matty hit the crazy streets and manage to find the station and get ourselves to the Acropolis. It's hot as hell but really great and the view afforded from the hilltop is staggering. We finish up our tourist duties and race back for soundcheck. The venue is underground and looks about 350 capacity, so I gasp when the promoter tells me they have sold 700 tickets for the show. After soundcheck I have what may be the finest souvlaki I have ever had, and it only cost 75 Euro cents. I try to grab some kip in our spartan hotel and soon it's time to get back to the gig.
It's crammed, boiling hot and nobody can find the guy with the band room key. When he does turn up he locks us in the band room, there are no exits and it's 45 degrees Celsius in the room, we spend our time banging on the door and praying there's not a fire, which considering that everyone in the venue is chain smoking is not out of the realms of possibility. Eventually we get the door unlocked so the crew can get out to set up the stage, and a bit of fairly nice cheeba turns up to even out the mood amongst those who indulge. The gig is madness and those crazy Greek motherfuckers go nuts... by the time we hit “New Race”, the crowd is boiling over onto the stage and the international language that is rock ‘n’ roll draws band and crowd together in a tremendously enjoyable way. After the gig at 2:30am we are treated to a meal in a town square that is sublime and food and wine flows until about 4.30 and I hit my room delirious and happy.
Thessaloniki, Greece September 17 W
e arise mid-morning to go the train station for a train ride to Thessaloniki. As per most things in this country, getting us and our shit on to the train is fraught with chaos and the various local helpers are yelling in high-pitched, high-velocity Greek at the train station staff who're giving back as good as they get. It's funny, but there is a real chance
Jim Dickson, the Vegetable man, at peace in Athens.
that we will not be allowed half of our gear on the train. Eventually, folks calm down, order is restored, and we lug some of our stuff onto the actual train itself and find little spots to hide cymbals and guitars behind chairs and in overhead compartments before we head off on time. The train ride across Greece is fascinating and the world outside that is spinning past seems really interesting, but on tour you can find yourself feeling detached from all of that, so I sleep a bit and watch some episodes of The Mighty Boosh on my laptop. I even manage to order a sandwich and a coffee in some sort of pidgin Greek, elevating my personal pride to new levels. We get out of the train station at Thessaloniki and are met by Yannis, the local promoter, and his motley crew of hired hands who cram our stuff in to the obligatory fleet of beat up hatchbacks. The traffic in Athens was crazy, but the traffic in Thessaloniki is even madder and our cab driver races through the streets weaving in and out of the traffic at a hundred plus KMs, we hold on and buckle up. Before too long we find ourselves in a comfortable hotel in the middle of town. I head out to the venue which is a big complex of restaurants and venues and the room we play in is medium-sized and in a derelict building that has been converted to an outdoor venue with only sail cloth as a roof. It's kinda cool, but odd. It seems that all of the PA and lighting equipment is left here permanently and is covered in dust and rust but does seem to work. We have another excellent meal and then get some time to chill. By the time we hit the stage there is a good sized crowd filling the room and they really dig our jams. The obligatory “New Race” ending brings the house down and we pile off the stage happy and exhausted. It's a day off tomorrow so we are all happy to crack into brilliant Greek wine and chat with the locals till the early hours of the morning. The next day is spent rockin' around Thessaloniki taking in the sights and enjoying the carefree and chaotic attitude of the local inhabitants. I buy some neat football merch from a store to add to my collection of football scarves and Matt and I head out to dinner with Yannis, the promoter. He takes us to a maze-like area with tons of restaurants and a cavalcade of delights is bought out for our dining pleasure. I roll back to the hotel and finish off the night with a joint on the balcony. watching the all night chaos of Thessaloniki ensue below me.
Munich, Germany September 20 T
oday is an afternoon flight to Munich and getting all of crap on to the Aegean air flight is hampered by the fact that no one speaks English and every person considers it their right to be at the front of the queue, no matter how long they have been waiting. It's madness but eventually we make it through. The flight is even more chaos as the cabin fills with the smoke of dozens of chain smokers and the toilet has a queue down the aisle of people busying cigarettes, cigars, and lighters. The old geezer next to me is chompin' on a comedy-size stogie and the flustered stewardess is angrily motioning for him to put it out, which he ignores and blows huge plumes of smoke in her direction till she gives up. The food is actually the best I've ever had on a flight, and in reality the smoke doesn't bother me and it's enjoyable to kick back and watch the madness unfold. Going from the taciturn practicality of the Finnish, to the chaotic dysfunction of Greece to the efficient orderliness of Germany is really interesting, it's funny that all of these people live on the same continent together. I wanna go back to Greece, especially - that place is a blast. Munich Airport has a strangely calming influence on us as we wait for vehicles to turn up and transport up to our hotel. Unfortunately it's Octoberfest and all of the hotels in town have been booked out so we are staying miles out in a budget hotel that would rival a prison cell for comfort. The others head out to find food, but I just kick back and write emails and soon sleep seems like a logical conclusion to a hectic few days. As of today, we are driving for the rest of the tour and we have an equipment van and a people mover. The Equipment van is a pretty nice Mercedes that's built for touring with a DVD player and Ipod connector, so I choose to roll with Matt and Jase, the crew guys. It means I have to leave earlier and get to the venue way before the rest of the band, but it's comfy and the band van would be pretty cramped with me in there. We roll up to the first gig and it's in a nice club run with typical German efficiency. The PA and lights are top notch and the crew is efficient and speak great English. Unfortunately, due
Rob and Matty Wicks, Thessaloniki
to Octoberfest, the promoter is resigned to the gig being a bit of a stiff. People here view it as their traditional right to get blotto on huge steins of bier throughout the day and even if they wanted to rock to a Birdman show, most folks are comatose by 5pm. Still the small crowd is enthusiastic, the support band is a good one, our set is tight and I run into my old mate Tony Blades who used to play In Screamfeeder, I haven't seen him for ages, and certainly didn't realise he lived in Munich! We have a few beers and a laugh after the show before we hit the vans to hike the 50kms back to our hotel.
Berlin, Germany September 21 U
p early and it's straight into the van for a drive to Berlin. It's uneventful and we roll into the club to be greeted by some friendly staff and some nice backstage catering, I make a few connections and soon I'm holding a nice bag of cheeba which will get us through the German leg. After soundcheck myself, Matt and Jase jump in a cab and head down to Checkpoint Charlie, where there was once a wall that divided this great city. The original checkpoint is still there but, of course, the wall is long gone and in it's place are a bunch of tourist shops that provide communist era souvenirs and, of course, we all indulge. Tonight's gig is hot. The opening band are pretty horrible but the packed room seem to like them. By the time we hit the stage the joint is boiling and the gig passes by in a blur of sweat, noise and a heaving crowd of German bodies. We depart the stage dripping wet and several kilos lighter. After the show I run into my old mate James Masson, we used to play in a band called Nursery Crimes together and it's amazing to see him. He's hangin' in Berlin playing in his group called the Split Lips and is having fun. Once again, we are cursed with a hotel miles and miles out of town, so an offer of a visit to an ancient Communist-era bar has to be turned down. Dang!
Stuttgart, Germany September 22
nother day, another long arse drive ending up at Stuttgart University for a gig A run by a company called "Fucking Good Concerts". It's a typical University bar that could be in any country in the world but the PA is good and the promoter's a nice guy. I smoke up and wait around for the rest of the band to arrive, which they do and we complete another soundcheck as unremarkable as most. We get twenty minutes in our hotel before we hightail it back to the gig to watch the Finnish support band giving it some, they're okay but nothing remarkable. It’s a few hours and then we’re combing the streets of Cleveland looking for the venue, an The packed room erupts as we hit the stage and a high-energy performance is met with enthusiasm and loads of drunken German, slam dancing. We pile through a load of songs and as we hit “Aloha”, a young, enthusiastic and impossibly drunk German man climbs on the stage and proceeds to strip, he places his clothes in a pile and then rips off his undies and flies into the audience, who understandable chuck him right back on the stage and he is spread-eagled across Rob's monitors with his parts waving in the breeze. This is one more German cock than I'd planned to see today and I wish to teach him a lesson, my barked cries of "Grab his Clothes!!" are met with blank stares by the crew and so I take matters into my own hands and quickly scoop up his clothes as we troop off the stage before the encore. The security come back and say that a young man is saying that I have taken his clothes, I tell them that I want to teach him a lesson and that I wish to make him suffer for a little while... they smile and like the idea immediately. As we troop on to the stage for the encore I can hear, amidst the baying Germanic cries of “Zere is gonna be a Neu Raze!!!,” a small voice going, “Excuze me, you have my cloze,” I look out to see our nudist friend looking less than comfortable with his current undressed state and with a smile on our collective faces, we pile through a load of songs that leaves the crowd in a sweaty heap of baying Germanity. I relax have a drink, meet some locals and eventually after the security guys tell me that our friend is now in tears. I take him his clothes and he hugs me like I'm the fuckin' Red Cross or something. It may sound harsh but nude stagediving is not something I need to see and I'm sure it will be a long time before our friend nudes up on stage again. Exit stage right, let’s hit the hotel and fuckin sleeeepppp.
Solingen, Germany - September 23 A
nother day and another long drive up the Autobahn across Germany. We speed along watching the myriad of high-performance rich man toys in the fast lane leave us in their wake, but traffic conditions change and we run into a traffic jam. Jason jumps on the brakes and we come to a halt but not before gently nudging the hatchback in front of us. Out leaps a short, red-faced man firing high-speed expletive-ridden German (Well, showing my German prowess, the only word I can understand of his tirade is “Shit”) and the only thing I can think to say is “Kein Sprechen Sie Deutsche!!!” (literally "No Speak German") in my best comedy Colonel Klink voice. This sends him on an even longer German tirade, before his eyes narrow and he says “Englisch?” D'oh! Dude thinks we're English and before you can say “Dresden” he's on the nearby emergency phone to the Police, much to our dismay. After a short while the cops turn up. I'm sitting in the van trying to decipher the German language edition of Metal Hammer that Jase bought by mistake. My head hurts. The cops are cool and look very bemused when shown the small black smudge on the bumper that is the total damage to his vehicle. They say some calming words, placate Mr. Angry and get the insurance stuff sorted. They also charge us about thirty Euros as a call out fee, which I hope they go and spend on Heffeweizen and Bratwurst as they were very cool chaps.
As our friend drove away, they turned and said, not in a nasty way but in a more gentle manner as though they are explaining the actions of an errant sibling: “He is from East Germany, the only other language he is speaks is Russian, they like to do things by the book.” The police depart and we're soon tearing down the Autobahn again. Cologne streaks by and before long we are in the winding streets of Solingen. The venue is weird, almost like a gym. The first thing I notice is how tiny the PA is, whoever is mixing the mighty Birdman roar is gonna have trouble tonight. My old mate Thomas turns up to hang out and it's good to see my favourite Kraut! The stage is hot as hell and the onstage sound terrible. It's all a bit nasty. Halfway through the gig Jase comes up and says, “We're gonna get you a fan.” I'm thinking, Thank fuck, I'm melting here. The monitor guy does come back with a fan and then proceeds to set it up on the monitor desk facing himself, his balding, metal hair blowing in the fan's breeze as I struggle to hold my sticks in the sweaty sauna like environment onstage - you fucker! Jase tries to get it off him but he refuses, saying that he is too hot. Later my mate Thomas will point him out as he badgers the promoter about something and says, “Ah that guy, he is known around here as ‘The Gnome’. Look, even now he is asking for more money as it was too hot on stage!" The Gnome is a cunt.
Tilborg, Netherlands September 24 A
short drive into Holland and soon we are cruising the bicycle-infested streets of Tilborg trying to find the venue. Tonight’s show is part of ZXZW; sort of a Dutch version of.... you can work it out. I am delighted to find out that there is no soundcheck and that I am free to visit a coffee shop, eat sushi and even have a shower in our juvenile-detentioncentre-styled accom. The show is kinda unremarkable, sort of like doing a gig in front of a bunch of vaguely disinterested Dutch independent music industry folk... yes that sums it up perfectly. I go back to the band room after the gig. The other bands have stripped our rider clean. See ya.
Paris, France September 26 & 27 I
forget at what point that our day off, punctuated by a brief television appearance, became a 5am start followed by a six-hour drive to an all day taping of an eleven-song set that has to be played twice; once for camera rehearsal and once for real. But that is what is happening today. We have the address of the TV studio in Paris that John has given us punched into the GPS and now we're bumping down the highway into France. We hit the hustle of Paris and the GPS has us flying down laneways and over bridges until we hit our final destination. Problem is, when we pull up to our final destination, instead of the main studios of Canal Plus, Frances biggest Cable Music broadcaster, we are standing outside a Tobacconist. Huh?
Matty in our luxurious London digs.
Frantic calls are made and it seems we were given the right address but the wrong postcode and we need to drive to the suburbs of the city. We get the new postcode and hit the van running late and fuming. I would've much rather left a video camera in my place so I could watch later as the next 45 minutes of madness would make for truly great comic viewing. The impassive voice of the GPS, Jase asking what French swear words might be appropriate as we struggle against the insane Paris traffic, the road works, ludicrous French traffic cops doing incomprehensible gestures. Jason has never been in Paris before and it's doing his head in. At one point he turns to me and says, “Why aren't any of these road signs in English?” as traffic wages war outside. We squeeze, yell, cajole and hand gesture our van through the chaos and eventually after driving all over a huge industrial estate we find the TV studio hidden away on a huge lot… luckily lots of hands are there to help load and soon I'm sitting in a green room fumingly mad. Everybody leaves me to my funk, as I would like, and I sit there eating French chocolates and drinking coffee. Soundcheck is long but gets done. Jase is content to sit in the Van with his peace pipe, but Matty and I head off for a walk up the road in search of food. We find a Chinese restaurant and I kind of act as interpreter in a three-way conversation between a waiter who speaks Chinese or French, me who can speak a kind of French favoured by Neanderthals or the heavily retarded, and Matt who merely shudders when anyone speaks any language that's not English to him. Somehow we manage to get plates of food that don't kill us and, in Matty's case, seem thoroughly vego. I will add it was mainly due to our host's charming patience and not my Neander-French. Hearing it's a dry set, I wisely purchase several bottles of reasonable French plonk for our enjoyment and we head back to the studio.
Pip reads, whilst the rider is inspected in Hamburg.
the slogan of Romanian transport company, “Transworld Shipping” - in bold letters they declare “FROM YOU TO OTHER!” - I don't why it makes me laugh but it cracked me up at the time. Tonight’s gig is in a barn in an industrial estate on the outskirts of town. This place is a purpose-built rock barn that's seen better days and the only other gigs advertised are for a Green Day cover band and a GN’R cover band. The staff are surly but pleasant and I smoke some mood adjuster and chill in the band room trying to find a wireless signal - success. Another Soundcheck… you know the drill. Support band are Gersen, about the only current Italian band I've ever heard of. They're a bit dull. Okay, but nothing to get hot under the collar about. I think it was a good show, not sure, the audience liked it I think. Maybe I'm just hitting autopilot; it is gig ten of eleven in a row after all.
Catana, Italy September 30 A
The TV show itself is cool and the band are on fire. We redo a couple of things for the benefit of some but for the most part it's a wild ride. The studio audience seems to really dig it. I have a fun time hooning about the kit, Rob's dancing is on fire and we retire back to the green room soaked with sweat and pleased with our work. After a series of comic interludes we manage to all make it to our hotel and in to a fine bar with enough time for a bottle or two of nice wine and maybe a cognac at Jim's insistence. I awake refreshed as we are near the venue there is no getting into the van for two days, we are doing two nights at the same underground club and it's like a holiday to know you can kinda come and go as you please without having to wait around for the group to assemble. Spend a couple of days poking around Paris, taking the Metro, taking photos, looking at amazing stuff, can't beat it. At night we play high-energy sets in front of some of the drunkest, most belligerent dudes I've seen, none of whom look like they will be punching their way out of any wet paper bags anytime soon. The onstage sound is tight and Radio Birdman takes flight playing some of the best stuff we've played on this tour. The air is thick with Gallic smoke and the crowd goes even crazier when the big guns of “Aloha” and “New Race” appear, and eventually it spills over and a kid is dragged onto the stage clutching his visibly swollen knee in agony. We race to the end and I go over to chat to the wounded rock ‘n’ roll soldier clutching his denim clad knee at the side of stage, “You OK?” I enquire trying to keep a nonchalant air about proceedings. “I hurt my knee, but I will be fine my band is playing with you in Clermont-Ferrand.” “What do you play,” is my response... he pauses, grimaces and says quietly, “Drums”. Poor bugger.
Clermont-Ferrand, France September 28 W
e head south to this quaint town that's part Socialist experiment-part 14th century stone city. The train station is on Rue de Soviet Union and even better and far less Communist is Rue de Serge Gainsbourg, the street the club resides on. I walk outside to take pictures and repeat the famous mantra in my best Gallic drawl, “Whitney, I want to fuck you.” (Google Whitney Houston / Serge Gainsbourg if you don't know what the hell I'm on about). The soundcheck is long and annoying and the hairy dude behind the monitors hits me with nasty feedback four times. On blast four I make throat-cutting signals and walk off. One of the other band member's partners has turned up and is selling merch in competition with our own merch stand. John just shakes his head. I think it's rude; merch is really important on the road, it can help a tour go from losing money to making money... luckily the posters in question are overpriced and nobody seems to be buying them. The support band is The Suppositorz, a local band, the drummer is indeed the injured fellow from the other night and he battles gainfully through. They're kinda fun, young rock ‘n’ roll fans with their small coterie of mates down the front and I'm enjoying their simple celebratory rock ‘n’ roll sound. Birdman's show is solid and the kids go crazy - you can tell that they're happy to have us in their town.
Milan, Italy September 29 A
massive drive day, we have to drive to Milan through the Italian Alps. I Don't mind as this is going to be a spectacular drive and, as a fan of civil engineering feats, I'm excited to be doing the 13km Frejus Tunnel that drives through mountains into Italy. The scenery is awesome, and we are having a great time driving through the majestic alps. Castles and weird churches perch precariously on the sides of mountains and strange little villages whizz by. The tunnel itself is wild; it seemingly goes forever. Soon we're in Italy and the stunning landscape is still blowing minds. My mind is also blown by the incredible Espresso I have at the first servo we stop at. Soon, however, we descend from our nature-inspired high and descend into the stinky maelstrom of Milan's traffic nightmare. It is hell and my only memory from this part of the drive is
short drive across some boring countryside past Bologna and into Catana, a delightful, old village in the middle of nowhere. The club is a cool little place run by nice, surly folk and once the gear is loaded I head out to check out the local scenery. An old coffee shop nearby features a plaque commemorating that this was a town that banded to together to fight the Fascists - I like this place. I enter another coffee shop and watch the local football derby, the Serie B clash between the aforementioned Bologna and Catana that is playing on a miniscule tele. Nobody pays me a second’s notice and I sip a coffee and watch a pretty forgettable game of football in a completely contented state. Soundcheck. Enough said. We play late so we have time for a dinner with the local promoter, who a charming metalhead dude with a bushy mohawk and a lot of facial metal. After soundcheck we go to drop of our stuff at the brilliantly named “Meeting Hotel”. The support band are a bizarre “Ital-Indie” band with a strange eighties vibe and lots of members. They have a few fans, mainly young girls dressed like Euro Cindy Laupers. Show eleven of eleven and I am on autopilot but I have a lot of fun tonight. It actually sound good onstage and the band are all playing great. The crowd respond and we hit a hi-energy groove. We close out with the obligatory classics and then can leave the stage proud of our mammoth effort. That was a full-on run, and I hit the wine cellar to celebrate.
Drive To Madrid O
kay, so we got two days without gigs. We've also got 2000kms of driving to do to get to Madrid for the start of the next leg. Our first stop is Sete, a fishing village in the very deep south of France, right near the Spanish border on the Mediterranean. The drive from Catana starts out dull but soon gets amazing as we wind the coastal cliffs down past St. Tropez and on towards our evening's destination. The night is spent on the boulevard eating Monkfish and drinking wine. We're up early, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for another day of driving. We then head south towards the Spanish border for about 100kms. At the border they have a good look at our passports but they're not interested in searching us or anything. In fact, they're pretty friendly and discuss the merits of the bass with us. Then one comes back with our passports hands back Jason and mine and says, “Off you go.” He then turns to Matt and says, “But, you Mr. Wicks must come with us.” “Really?” stammers Matty with a look of absolute panic in his eyes. “No, is a joke, you may go,” says the passport guy smiling and we all laugh, except Matt who looked completely freaked out. The drive through Spain is spent imparting what little Spanish I know (almost all of which involves the procuring of food, drinks or drugs) upon Matt and Jase whilst playing the time honoured game, “Ze Beeg Black Bull With Ze Beeg Bollocks!” which involves shouting out the aforementioned phrase whenever you see one of those big Bull silhouettes that litter the countryside. Eventually after an age we start to descend from the plateau down into the engrossing Chaos of Madrid. My wonderful wife, Andrea (who is affectionately known to all and sundry as Boonge), is in town so I bid my fellow travellers adieu and head towards the sanctuary of our hotel and total relaxation time.
Spain - October O
kay, so I admit that once I hit Spain the hectic nature of the touring and the fact that the love of my life was in town, meant I had a pretty near total disconnect from the whole situation. The band was playing really well and that's all I needed to know. Some of the vibe from the band was weird, you could sense, erm, situations. But I just decided to disconnect myself from all of that and enjoy the shows. I stopped taking notes but can tell you that we played a couple of great gigs in Madrid, a strange one in Valencia, a rocker in Barcelona that played through some spite in my direction as I had opted to skip soundcheck and hang in a spa bath drinking champagne with a view of some of that Gaudi shit. Didn't affect my show in the slightest, in fact I reckon I played better because of the Gaudi shit. The tour ended with a show in the Azkena club in the Basque Region town of San Vitoria. It was a great show. Ron Keeley was there and we played real well. Half of me thought it would be my last Birdman show ever. In fact, as I was leaving, John said, “Are you quitting?” I said nothing. Okay, I did leave later on, but it was a much to do with timing as anything else. As I finish this diary I have a five-week tour of Europe coming up with those rock ‘n’ roll soldiers, who are in a constant state of war against the jive (Apart from Jim, he's so sweet he even likes the jive). Don't expect a diary. The day after the tour was finished we hightailed it outta there and flew to Paris and before too long Boonge and I were sitting outside a street cafe near the Rue De Gambetta, a fucking killer plate of cheese and a knockout bottle of Sancerre in front of us. I smiled to myself and thought, “I have nothing to do for the next few days.” You can't imagine how good that felt.
Stick Tha t In That1Guy interview by
Eggs Benedict. Live Phot
arely these days do we see truly original artists emerge gracing and grinding our eardrums with a completely unique style of music. Even more rarely does there exist the notion of the one-man band!!! Well, peoples, enter Mike Silverman, aka That1Guy. This guy is one of the greatest acts you are likely to see. He is radical, gnarly, awesome and all those other adjectives the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles use to describe a good thing moulded into a fivefoot something man with two hats and a steel pipe. Anyone who has been lucky enough to see him live will understand my rant, and anyone who hasn’t should go find his CDs or DVD somewhere. Armed with instruments such as a giant steel pipe and an electric When did you start playing music? Geez, I started a long time ago. I began playing the upright bass when I was eleven. I was strongly influenced by my father. Y’know I started playing bass, and that was it, bass was my instrument, I was playing it for life! So you are originally from the Bay Area? Yeah. I was really lucky to be living there at the time. The music scene in the late eighties and early nineties was such great thing to be part of. There was all this new jazz stuff circulating, and a collective sort of formed there, of which I didn’t even realise I was a part of! I was actually one of the younger ones. There was a bunch of bassplayers around and I was the youngest and most inexperienced, so it was great to be playing with all these musicians that were better than me, it really helped me develop. In the tradition of The Residents and Primus to name a couple, the Bay Area seems to breed some creative musicians… Yeah there has been some amazingly talented musicians to come from the Bay, it is great to have been part of that area. When did the idea of the pipe come about and how?
os by Kieryn Hyde.
boot, and loaded with a various assortment of crazy samples and drum triggers, this guy puts on an extraordinary show, one that is most definitely an unforgettable experience. Like many creative and fantastic musical freakbots in the past, That1Guy emerged from the San Francisco Bay Area, but due to rising notoriety has become somewhat of a travelling nomad, performing constantly around the U.S., playing with the likes of Buckethead and Tom Waits as well as making the journey to Australia once or twice a year to perform to a rapidly growing Aussie fanbase. As I sit waiting and listening to him whack his magic pipe during sound-check, I start to get pretty excited at the prospect of talking cheese, butts and birds with the man…
Well I started building the pipe in 1995. It took three years to finally complete, so in 1998 it was actually finished. I was playing a lot of jazz-type stuff around the Bay Area and wanted to do something different. As much fun and enjoyment I had playing then, I wanted to pursue the pipe idea, and eventually moved away from the Bay Area. I was playing a lot around this time. In 1995 I played around four hundred shows. Man, it was hectic!! So you built the pipe yourself? Yes, I built the whole thing myself, and installed all the electronics. The pipe is made out of stainless steel, the front length of pipe has an upright bass string mounted on it, whilst the extension length at the rear holds the tenor string which I use for my high tones. Magnetic pickups specifically designed for electric bass and guitars are used to pick up the signal. On the pipe is also several buttons use to trigger samples from my sample bank of sounds. Also I have a snare drum, and several bass drum kickers used to trigger various percussive sounds. And a smoke machine that runs through the pipe? Yeah, the smoke machine broke recently and I couldn’t find the right machine to fit in the pipe, however I just found this electronics store in Oz that had them. I was pretty amazed really. I should have bought all four of them! What else is in your bag of gizmos? The electric scorpion boot and saw? Yes, I also have the boot and saw with me, which I play at shows and on both records. Does airport security hate you? Oh man, it’s always a nightmare. I have to go through at least three to five confrontations every time I’m at the airport. It’s really bad, too, because I’m kinda the guy who likes to avoid confrontation as much as possible. Y’know putting my hand-luggage containing all my electronic effects units and stuff that is too fragile to put in main luggage, etc. through x-ray machines and stuff. All the questions involved. Air stewardesses think I’m crazy! I used to love flying when I was younger, but not so much anymore.
Do you have any strong influences you would like to note? Yeah, I love Captain Beefheart, um Miles Davis, especially his later experimental stuff, [John] Coltrane. I love jazz, which is a lot of the stuff I used to play. As well as classical music, which was something I used to study. I also really love and am influenced by comedians, for example Bill Hicks and Richard Prior to name a couple. So who have collaborated with? I read you had done stuff with Tom Waits and Buckethead. Yes, I recorded playing the electric saw for a Tom Waits record. That was great. Tom is a great guy, a real workaholic. He helped to inspire me in my progress. Also I have done shows with Buckethead in the States. It was great. It was really hard at times though. Buckethead has like thirty records y’know and he’s always coming up with different ways to play songs in shows, so I was playing the pipe a lot during this period. Sometimes I would be playing like five hours at shows! So you’re near the middle of your Australia tour promoting the release of your new album, The Moon is Disgusting, how has it been, so far?
”I have to go through at least three to five confrontations every time I’m at the airport” . That I Guy 63
”You have Tandy Electronics stores in which they sell Radio Shack brand products whereas back in the States Radio Shack is the store and Tandy is the brand” . That I Guy It’s been really fantastic! I have been getting a lot of positive feedback so far. I’m really enjoying my time here. Why did you choose to release the album here, rather than the U.S.? Well it actually just coincided with the tour. I didn’t really want to come here then go back to the U.S. and release the record. Plus we have a different distributor back home so we will be having another release back there when I get back. Australia seems to be like a second home to you? I love this country; the people are so nice. It’s really lucky and somewhat strange but I get a really positive response here, that’s why I keep having the opportunity to come back so often. It’s a beautiful country. I’d love to see more of it, but unfortunately I am often restricted by the location of my shows, which is often similar for each of the tours. Also I often play shows so many days in a row, so I don’t get that much time. I went to Tasmania recently, though. That was very beautiful, it reminded me of Scotland. Judging by the upgrade to the size of venues you play now, it seems you’re becoming more familiar in the Australian music scene. Word really spreads here. I find people really come from far to go to these big festivals and really do take something away with them and spread the word. Because of this, it’s a lot easier to gain familiarity here compared to back in the States. I hear you use the ancient technique of “howling” to the get the Australian crowds in the mood? (Laughs) Yeah it’s really funny and crazy! I do it quite often at shows like two or three
times. I just started doing because it amuses me. I howl at the start of a show here and everyone laughs and enjoys it. I do it at the end of the show and these people and howling and cheering. It never gets old, it’s cool. It kinda works with the new album, the whole howling at moon thing, I dunno…
myself, as opposed to the previous record where I did everything. It was much better because I didn’t have to stop and press buttons all the time and repeatedly re-record at a slow pace. This time with Karl [Derfler] doing the recording it was much faster, which is the way I liked to do it. Karl was really great, he has great ear for things. I play a lot more melodies on the tenor (high) string as well.
I hear that magic was in the air at Woodford Festival last NYE when you played. Yeah, have you ever been?
Is it all you, any guest musicians? Yep, it’s all just me, no one else except for my engineer Karl.
No, unfortunately… Oh it’s fantastic, it’s not like any festival I’ve ever been to. People come there and live there for seven days. It’s just really different. I don’t know. It seems like people come there not to expect something, but more just to be part of it. I’m not saying it’s really hippyish, but at the sake of sounding cheesy, it’s like a community there. I loved it. The performance is actually captured on my DVD.
The last album’s lyrics covered bird attacks and the sky raining meat, what about this album’s content? Oh I sing about the moon, fruit, butt machines, digging… I really love the lyrics. I guess I am a big fan of abstract content… Yeah so am I. That’s what I really love about Captain Beefheart, there’s so much there, and you take what you want away from it and everyone can view it different ways, that’s what I like to try and do in my music and lyrics. For example, one person may look at an “abstract” painting and see a cat, another may see a car, another may just see splashes of paint; that’s what I view my music and lyrics as.
Are we really that opposite in Australia? (Laughs) Yeah it’s really funny. When I first came here I started to notice all these things in Australia that were set up in completely opposite to back home, for example like this light-switch in this room. I started noting them down on my website, and people starting sending me more and more, so I have this whole thing on my site now! What’s the weirdest one? I think that here you have Tandy Electronics stores in which they sell Radio Shack brand products, whereas back in the States Radio Shack is the store and Tandy is the brand! Okay so about the new album: Is the moon is disgusting? No, the moon isn’t disgusting, and I really like cheese. In fact, I love cheese! I just thought it sounds good y’know, the sound of saying, “The Moon is disgusting, it’s made of cheese.” I had a dream about the moon being made of this really squishy substance, it wasn’t cheese but like it. It was really frightening. How is it different from the last album? Well for one I didn’t record this one solely by
Do you not like birds? Or just wary of them? Yeah, I don’t know, I mean I really do like birds, but I’m also a bit cautious of them too. In San Francisco they have a real big seagull problem. They have signs everywhere warning people of the attacking birds. One time I was at the zoo and saw this girl buy a thing of chips at a stall. She turned around to walk away and this gull came gliding down towards her, like in slow motion or something. As it got close, it didn’t go for the chips it just nudged the container out of her control. The container and chips began to fall to he ground. Then, out of nowhere this swarm of seagulls flocked in the direction of the chips and then disappeared. Not one chip hit the ground and the carton sort of got carried away with the breeze. The 2004: Songs In The Key Of Beotch girl was so traumatised she start2007: Live In The Land Of Oz [live] DVD ing crying! Those birds knew man! They had a plan! 2007: The Moon Is Disgusting
Celtic Frost/Hellhammer. Tom G. Warrior Interview by Rod Hunt.
nterviewing Thomas Gabriel Fischer (aka Tom G. Warrior) is something I never thought I’d get the opportunity to do. But following the re-formation of Celtic Frost, the 2006 release of the band’s triumphant comeback album, Monotheist, and the booking of an Australian tour for June 2007, it became possible. Back in 1982, in the tiny Swiss municipality of Nurensdorf, the teenage Fischer formed seminal death/black metal outfit Hellhammer. A raw, primitive-sounding trio who took the blueprint laid down by Venom to new extremes; in 1983 they issued two cult demo tapes, Triumph Of Death and Satanic Rites. By March the following year they’d recorded two tracks for the now legendary Death Metal compilation, as well the four that would comprise their one proper release, the Apocalyptic Raids EP. Come mid-’84, however, Hellhammer had been dissolved, with vocalist/guitarist Fischer and bassist Martin Eric Ain (who had joined Hellhammer late in ‘83) then forming Celtic Frost. Despite being so short-lived, Hellhammer came to be a key influence on the early Norwegian black metal bands such as Mayhem (deceased guitarist/vocalist Euronymous even took his name from a Hellhammer song, and drummer Jan Axel Blomberg adopted the name Hellhammer
as his pseudonym) and Darkthrone, and their influence continues to be heard in the sounds of Watain and Gallhammer. Celtic Frost went on to release a trilogy of groundbreaking metal albums: Morbid Tales, To Mega Therion and Into The Pandemonium. By 1988 the band had lost their way (as Fischer readily acknowledges), delving into hard rock/glam territory with the horrific Cold Lake album and destroying all credibility in the process. The final album before they split, 1990’s Vanity/Nemesis, could barely repair the damage done. Fischer took a hiatus from the music world (publicly at least), before returning with his more electronic/industrial tinged rock/metal outfit, Apollyon Sun. In 2000, his book, Are You Morbid?: Into the Pandemonium of Celtic Frost was published (Sanctuary Publishing). 2001 saw Ain and Fischer begin working together again, the outcome of which was the extremely well received Monotheist album. Their new release and the arresting live performances of the past twelve months have seen them restore Celtic Frost’s reputation. Fischer is someone who has experienced more than his fair share of highs and low both his musical career and his personal life. But during our interview he came across as being passionate as ever about music, not to mention outspoken and deadly honest in his responses.
"Hellhammer was just completely unleashed. Hellhammer didn’t know any limits, any borders, as far as extremity was concerned."
- Tom G. Warrior
You’ve played a lot of shows since the release of Monotheist in 2006. Was your touring schedule just as relentless back in the old days? No, the Monotheist tour is the biggest tour, by far, that we’ve ever done. And the reason for that is that in the old days we were cursed with a record company (Noise Records) who did whatever they could to ruin our career, literally. Their policy was to interfere with everything, to make bad business decisions, to torpedo any idea we had. Any chance we would have, they would ruin. So the tours we did back then were nothing compared to the gargantuan tour we’re on right now. Playing Australia is finally a fulfilment of what we wanted to do back in the eighties, but never could do. How does it compare to working with Century Media (who released Monotheist)? Well, so far so good. Century Media is a record company like every other, they’re looking for their profit, they’re looking to make a quick buck. But the difference is that we Celtic Frost circa-85
have now formed our own record company and we’re simply licensing our own record company’s product to Century Media. We’re not bound in an artist’s contract; we have full control of everything we’re doing, so that’s a huge difference. We’re making all the decisions, we’re generating all the material, and we have final say in everything. There was no way we could have brought back Celtic Frost (any) differently. When Martin (Ain) and I talked about perhaps resurrecting Celtic Frost in 2000 we knew it would be this way or not. We did not want to become slaves to some corporate idiot again, who have no vision and no idea what the band’s all about. So we decided to become our own corporate idiots! It must be quite a bonus then that the album has been so well received by both fans and the music press. You can never predict the audience’s reaction. When you’re playing music you’re dealing with your own emotions and how can you ever predict or plan how your emotions are going to connect with the emotions of your fans? It’s impossible to predict that. So I believe that we’ve been very lucky. We did this album first and foremost for ourselves so the positive reaction is a huge gift to us and it’s something we are stunned about and feel very honoured about. It’s very honest of you to admit that you don’t feel every Celtic Frost album has been a good album. No, of course not. Why should I say it was? We’re human beings, we tend to make errors; we’re far from perfect, as everybody knows. It’s a process of living, learning and being open about your mistakes. As a musician you’re doing them very publicly, so the only thing that’s left is that you hopefully learn from them.
I guess you can’t really afford to have regrets. I’m not a person that has regrets anyway; I think regrets are a waste of time. I do things and then believe at the time that things are right. More than once in my life it has later turned out that that things weren’t right and I’ve wondered why I did certain things. I had a hard time understanding, myself, why certain things have happened, in and outside of music. But I’m a person who likes to learn from my mistakes. I don’t sit around thinking I should have done it differently because it’s a waste of time. But what I want to do is analyse why I did something like that and try to avoid that the next time round. That’s what you call life experience. If you don’t do that you basically don’t progress. You walk in a circle and I don’t like that. Have you felt some sort of vindication, seeing things you’ve done in the past become influential years later? That’s a difficult thing to answer because I don’t really view myself as being influential… it's not up to me to make such statements, to make such judgements. It is reaffirming to see that Celtic Frost thrives nowadays, that’s what’s reaffirming. And it’s reaffirming for me to walk out of the studio with an album like we just did. This is what I wanted to do when I was a teenager and I was into heavy metal music. I was a fanatic! Heavy metal was my life and I wanted to make it the rest of my life. And I actually accomplished that. That, for me, counts for more than anything else. Was it a frustrating period prior to the reformation of Celtic Frost, when you were doing other things musically such as Apollyon Sun? Did it feel like you were treading water? No, no, not at all. I think it was very necessary. I think without that period the new Celtic Frost and the strength of
Tom G. Warrior
Pic: Rod Hunt
the new Celtic Frost would have never been possible. At the end of the 1980s Celtic Frost had completely burnt out; it was essentially a non-entity. Celtic Frost still existed in name, but it had nothing to do with the original Celtic Frost as formed by me and Martin. At that time I was panicking. I had been working with Martin since Hellhammer; Celtic Frost had been my life, every day, twenty-four hours. I could not imagine a life without Celtic Frost, which is why I continued the band for too long. I should have dissolved the band really in 1988. The band was so burnt out that it bore no resemblance to what we wanted to do anyway. When I finally had the strength to dissolve the band, it was a huge relief. It was fantastic to walk away from that, to let everything rest, to do completely different things, as Martin did too. Then, many, many, many years later, to come back with a completely fresh mind and pick up together with Martin where we should have really picked up in the eighties, after Into The Pandemonium. Maybe it was necessary to get you to where you are now? I have been working in Hellhammer and Celtic Frost all my musical life, so doing something totally different in Apollyon Sun, doing industrial music, doing electronic music, Apollyon Sun provided me with experiences I’d never had in Celtic Frost. It was a huge expansion of my technical knowledge and of my creative horizons. And I worked with completely different people; I worked with different management, with different record companies. I worked with a completely different approach to the band and I think that was extremely healthy and that was absolutely necessary. That, in turn, many years later, enabled me to approach Celtic Frost with a frame of mind that was necessary.
Pic: Rod Hunt
Similarly, I imagine doing Hellhammer first was an essential step that led to what you then did with Celtic Frost?
Frost alumni circa-now: (LtoR) Martin Ain, Tom G. Warrior
Hellhammer is a very complex chapter in Martin’s and my life. It wasn’t always easy to deal with legacy of Hellhammer, for various reasons. However, at the stage we are at in our lives now, we feel that Hellhammer was probably the most important thing we’ve ever done in our lives. Hellhammer has profoundly affected our lives, it has shaped our music and the way we perceive extreme metal, it has, for a time at least, propelled us to the absolute top of extreme metal. And Hellhammer was just, on every level, lyrically, image-wise, musically, and also as far as recording procedures, a very important experience. Without Hellhammer, there would of course be no Celtic Frost. Hellhammer is a key event in all our lives.
1983: Hellhammer – Triumph Of Death demo cassette 1983: Hellhammer – Satanic Rites demo cassette 1984: Hellhammer – Death Metal four-way split LP w/Helloween, Running Wild, Dark Avenger 1984: Hellhammer – Apocalyptic Raids EP 1984: Celtic Frost – Morbid Tales 1985: Celtic Frost – Emperor's Return EP 1985: Celtic Frost – To Mega Therion 1986: Coroner – Death Cult demo cassette [guest vocals] 1986: Celtic Frost – Tragic Serenades EP 1987: Celtic Frost – Into The Pandemonium 1997: Celtic Frost – I Won’t Dance EP 1988: Celtic Frost – Split flexi w/ Tankard [free w/Metal Hammer mag] 1988: Celtic Frost – Cold Lake 1990: Hellhammer – Apocalyptic Raids 1990 A.D. [compilation. recorded 83-84] 1990: Celtic Frost – Live At The Hammersmith 3/3/89 VHS 1990: Celtic Frost – Vanity/Nemesis 1990: Celtic Frost – Wine In My Hand (Third From The Sun) EP 1992: Celtic Frost – Parched With Thirst Am I, And Dying [compilation. recorded 84-92] 1998: Apollyon Sun – God Leaves (And Dies) EP 2000: Apollyon Sun – Sub 2006: Celtic Frost – Monotheist
What made it so fundamental? Was it primarily because it was the beginning of things for you? Hellhammer was a completely untamed band. It was a band that dealt with teenage angst, with occultism, with the emergence of extreme metal, with music that was only in the process of being born at the time. Hellhammer was just completely unleashed. Hellhammer didn’t know any limits, any borders, as far as extremity was concerned. For two teenagers, that was the perfect vehicle. It was amazing to be in Hellhammer. Martin and I, literally everyday, still talk about Hellhammer. There’s not a day where we don’t discuss something connected to Hellhammer – that’s how profoundly it has shaped our lives, even as men who are around forty now.
The time that it happened for you and what it lead to, would of course make it a vital part of your life. Are you surprised how much other people have been affected by it, even today? Of course. Hellhammer was such a personal thing; it was a small, locally contained thing, at the time. As I said, at that time, in ’82-’83, there was no extreme metal; there was no Slayer, no Metallica on the radio. It was a tiny thing, an extreme band on a local level, and none of us at the time would have ever, even in our wildest dreams, guessed that in the year 2007 people would still talk about Hellhammer – that would have been a ludicrous thought. Hellhammer was basically us screaming out into the world what was raging inside of us. The mere fact that other people connected to that blew us away. And to think that some twenty-five years later people are still wearing Hellhammer T-shirts, it’s amazing. You do realise that Hellhammer has only done one EP? Yeah. You’re not talking about a huge legacy of music. You’re not talking about a huge back catalogue. We’re talking about a bunch of crappy demos and one EP. And yet this music, even the crappy demos, it carries a certain desperation, it carries a certain magic, a certain uniqueness, because it was honest music. And I think that’s what’s lacking in so many other bands, honesty – that real desperation, the extremity, not because you read it in a magazine. There are a million extreme metal bands that want to be part of that, but the extremity of Hellhammer was real. There was no extreme metal; the only extreme metal band at the time was Venom. When we wanted to do extreme metal, we had to invent it ourselves.
You said earlier that you find it difficult to see yourself as influential. At the time, what inspired you to do what you did with Hellhammer? It came from our emotions, the situation that we existed in, my youth... I cannot describe it any other way. It was hell. And I tried to create my own world, my escape from that, from that hell, and that was Hellhammer. Martin’s youth wasn’t quite that extreme, but he too had some very difficult times at his home, and Hellhammer was an escape; our raging emotions being released.
So how does it feel now, playing early Celtic Frost songs? Do you view them in a different way, compared to when they were written? The astonishing thing is that at forty-three-years old I’m much closer to that material now than I have been for the last twenty years. I’m not saying that for commercial reasons, or to make a promotion for the concerts, this is a very honest statement. I am a very vicious person musically and I always wanted to learn more and to put more into our music. In the eighties I drifted away from that, but my life since the eighties has been very extreme, it has been very difficult. And having arrived at the age of forty-three, I guess my life has been radical enough and dramatic enough that now I feel extremely close to the anger and desperation I felt when I was in Hellhammer. It’s much easier for me to relate to that anger and the aggression and the darkness that I put into the music in the early Celtic Frost and Hellhammer days. I play these songs so much more intuitively and so much more naturally now than I have done for many years. That’s astonishing; I would never have thought that. When I was young I thought that when I’m forty I’d probably have moved away from that kind of music. But in reality, I’m closer than I have ever been before to that music. In the intermediate period, were you more content and so perhaps not as able to connect with that music? Yeah, I didn’t feel a reason to connect. Martin and I were so ambitious artistically that we just wanted to move forward. Manically, we wanted to try new things and incorporating new things. And we had the courage to do so. But the drawback was that we often strayed away so far from what the original intent of the band was.
The connection you currently feel with Celtic Frost’s earlier songs – is that a by-product of where you are now, in your personal life? We approach things completely differently nowadays. Everything is much more organic, nothing is forced. That’s another thing, when you get older. We’re not teenagers that are raging with hormones and testosterone. We used to force ourselves to prove to other bands, we’re heavier, we’re faster. Nowadays the thing I care for is good music and nothing is forced. We don’t have ambitions like that; our ambitions are to make an album that sounds like Celtic Frost. If it takes time, it takes time, we approach things so differently nowadays, there’s no comparison. I think that allows the music time to breathe, to develop, to grow. I think it’s essential to work like that. As teenagers we didn’t know that. We didn’t have the life experience to know that. Can you relate at all to some of the bands that claim to have been influenced by Hellhammer, in particular some of the Norwegian black metal bands that really took things to the extreme, musically and otherwise? Of course, I do see the parallels. Bands like Gorgoroth have basically taken what Hellhammer once did, as a prototype, and have perfected it to a level that we could only dream of. Gorgoroth are a band that has a stage presence that goes beyond anything I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of bands. Or a band like Watain from Sweden, who to me are like Hellhammer reborn, and I mean that in a totally positive manner. Watain approach their music with a certain level of respect, but a certain level of mystique. What they’re doing is not just a performance; it goes much deeper than that. That reminds me so much of the good sides of Hellhammer. Of course I can relate to that. What about some of the things that went on like killings, church burnings, etc.? That was one of the things that made it very difficult for Martin and me to be associated with the name Hellhammer. In the early nineties it was a whole different scene. It wasn’t a cool thing to say I was in Hellhammer. At that time, church burnings and murder and violence and alcoholism and all kinds of things were attached to Hellhammer’s name that had nothing to do with what we put into Hellhammer with our philosophies. It was an extremely difficult thing to come to terms with for Martin and I. especially at the time when we drifted apart and we couldn’t deal with Celtic Frost, much less with Hellhammer. It took many years for us to try to analyse and to make sense of all of that. I think a part of that was also meeting a lot of the people who were involved in these things back then, to go to Scandinavia and talk to these people and have discussions about these things. That was a very essential part of putting it all into place. Who did you speak to and what came of those meetings? We met a lot of the leading characters of the Norwegian black metal scene, or the Swedish black metal scene. It was interesting to make their acquaintance and simply to discuss the different viewpoints. Everybody’s got their own philosophy, and their own opinion, why certain things happened. Martin and I also visited some of these landmarks where churches were burnt, where things originated. It was an important philosophical thing for us to do. Were you just trying to understand what happened and why? Yeah. Our lives, whether we wanted it or not, have been connected to that, and these are significant things. We’re talking about a youth culture that was involved in murder and all kinds of things, and we were part of that youth culture. By some parties we were even named as an influence, and as a reason. So of course, as adult men, we had to go there and find out what all this was about, why our names were mentioned in that context. Did you ever feel any sense of responsibility for what happened? Yes, of course. This is exactly why Martin and I, why Hellhammer was such a problematic thing for us. Of course we felt responsibility, involuntarily. But what can you do? The fact is, certain things happen, our name was dropped in connection to these things. It would have been like hiding from the truth if I didn’t feel any responsibility. How do you feel about it all now? I’ve become a very bitter, very brutal, very hard person. And I am radically critical of religion and what the church is doing. I’m not a follower of any religion, I’m not a Satanist, I think religion is ludicrous, no matter what kind of religion. Because of that I think the idea of a church and worship and all that stuff is equally ludicrous. In my opinion all the churches
"In my opinion all the churches in the world should be burnt.”" - Tom G. Warrior
in the world should be burnt. I see that totally differently than I saw it in my twenties and in the late eighties, early nineties. Martin differs sharply, in opinion, with me, about that. But I have no respect for churches. Churches are a tool of mass delusion. And religion is one of the main reasons why human beings have killed each other for centuries. And I don’t see what there’s to respect. They’ve burnt down all the so-called heathen symbols, so shouldn’t the so-called heathen people burn down theirs? It’s ridiculous. It’s mass delusion by people who are scared of something.
All believing in the same fiction… Everybody’s free to believe whatever they want but the difference between me and most Christians is that I don’t go out like a missionary trying to force other people to believe my things. I don’t think I know everything better than other people. There’s so many times when born again Christians come up to me and they just won’t take no for an answer. They think they know better than you, and no matter what you say, they say, “Yeah, I’ve thought like that too, but you’ll see.” And I hate that fucking attitude. I’m not like that, I don’t think I have to go and convince the world of what I think. I don’t have that megalomaniac attitude, that I know everything better. I am who I am, and that’s as far as it goes. I don’t believe things, I know things or I don’t know things. And I’m fine not knowing things, I’m a human being, I don’t think I need to understand the universe; no human being will ever understand the universe fully. I don’t escape into a thing of believing, I think believing is weakness and knowing is strength. Believing is an admission that you don’t know and that you’re weak. I try to learn as much as I can, so I know more. And what it is that we don’t know, little Tom has no business finding out. It’s the crux of all religions, explaining away things that really can’t be explained, or proved. I’m not afraid of death either; I don’t need to exist in the belief of an afterlife. We have already fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty years on this planet, isn’t that enough to do something good? Only if you screw up your life on this planet now do you need a paradise or an afterlife or being reborn or what all the religions come up with. If you would actually treat this planet with respect and don’t pollute it, don’t kill one another, don’t kill all the animals, don’t destroy the environment, then this planet would be fairly close to paradise, you wouldn’t need one after death. You wouldn’t have to escape into religion, we could actually just treat each other and the planet the right way and everything would be fine. But I guess that goes beyond the comprehension of all the religious fanatics.
Exactly. And would leave them without any power, or control over people. You’re totally right. That’s what it’s all about. Religion’s basically the ancient form of politics and as such it should have died long ago, but it hasn’t. The Vatican has its own bank. What does that have to do with what Jesus said? It’s ridiculous. But billions of people run after that stuff and don’t put two and two together. I guess their faith makes them feel better, somehow. They could just listen to a Slayer album to feel better. Reign In Blood has that effect on me, I don’t need to go to church for that. I interviewed Tom Angelripper from Sodom recently and he has made some comments in the press - which he reiterated to me - about Celtic Frost and he seems to be cynical about the reasons why you have re-formed and also appears to feel a little hard done by. Because his band never stopped, while Celtic Frost broke up and re-formed and is now receiving what he views as better opportunities, and more praise than what Sodom is currently getting. What’s your response to that? Tom Angelripper should get realistic to the idea that it could also have something to do with the music. And if he had ever done an album like To Mega Therion or Into The Pandemonium it would look different for them, too. It has to do with your artistic output. I don’t think it has to do with us coming back. If we would have done a shit album after coming back Celtic Frost would be nowhere now. People would have said, “Oh my god, that’s the most embarrassing comeback in history,” and that would have been the end of that. Tom Angelripper is just a sad, delusional alcoholic, in my opinion, and that’s really all I can say. He’s been making these comments ever since we came back, “They’re going to roll on stage in wheelchairs,” and all kinds of stuff he’s said in interviews. But as the whole world knows now, that hasn’t really happened; it’s quite the opposite. The fact of the matter is that when we played the Tuska Festival (in Finland) Sodom came up to us and said, “You know, we’re really sorry about these comments, we’re all fans of yours.” And I was like, “You know what? Fuck you.” That was my reaction. Fair enough. It would be a little hard to stomach if they say one thing in the press and the opposite to your face. Well let Tom Angelripper write something like Monotheist and then we’ll talk on fairly equal terms. Until then, and that’s going to take the next three thousand years, so until then I don’t think I should comment any further. You’ve made your point clear. There have been rumours of a Hellhammer reformation. Is there any truth to that? That’s never going to happen. Hellhammer is a unique thing that happened at a certain point in time and it cannot be resurrected. It would be an act plainly for commercial reasons and I’m not going to do that. Hellhammer needs to rest. Hellhammer was what it was and it’s good like that. Celtic Frost was developed as a band that keeps on reinventing itself, but Hellhammer was a static thing about extreme metal and it did that. If I bring it back everybody would know it was simply for commercial reasons and I’m not going to do that. It’s a myth, and I’m not going to tamper with that. And of course I don’t want to aggravate Tom Angelripper anymore by bringing back yet another band; I won’t do that, okay? That’s very considerate of you. Exactly. See, I am actually a nice person. Deep down, you really do care about him. Very much so (laughs quietly). It’s quite an honour to get to interview you because I’ve been a fan for a long time. Thank you very much, Mr. Hunt.
d n i r G s t N e Ag . e c n e r Abhor s
f hn O o s J t t n n e a Ag Gr , s w e r And erviews
nt i Ben e n a . h o o n K n x e a l M by G and
Agents Of Abhorrence: (LtoR) Max Kohane, Ben Andrews, Grant Johns
rom 1999 to 2004 Heartfelt Self, Dying Breed and Far Left Limit played, toured and hung out together. This is where Ben Andrews (guitar), Grant Johns (vocals) and Max Kohane (drums) - Agents Of Abhorrence - first met. Agents are a three-piece (once twopiece) grind assault team from sunny Melbourne. If you haven't seen them live or heard their audio-terrorism, then you've managed to miss some of Australia's most unique grindcore. Through the mystical powers of the internet, I was able to glean some of their collective wisdom and find out what's in store for these DIY enthusiasts...
What is the idea behind the name Agents Of Abhorrence? Grant: I have no idea. It abbreviates well, though. Max: When we first started I was profoundly into the mid-1990’s Bay Area grind scene (No Less, Spazz, Agents Of Satan, Plutocracy, Immortal Fate, Exhumed, etc). Agents Of Abhorrence was just a name that I thought would fit perfectly - if by chance we were born ten years earlier and in SF. 625/Slap A Ham for life. What influenced you to form as two-piece originally? Ben: Less members, less stress, more hair. Max: Iron Lung’s heaviness as a two-piece and Discordance Axis’s speed ‘n’ sound. It started as just Ben and myself playing around with these influences. Two friends in a room - at first I never really thought it would get out of a Melbourne practice space. The Kill from Melbourne also influenced us as a two-piece. Grant: Eh, either me or David Dixon were gonna join eventually. If you had to pigeonhole AoA, how would you label yourselves?
Ben: Grind. Max: Grindcore; straight, no chaser. No calculators! Grant: Kinda like a cross between Spirit 84 and Morning Again. First record you bought and last? Ben: Martika S/T on cassette from at a flea market in London. Last record I bought was California, a ten-LP boxset of noise artists on the Troniks label. Twenty artists, one per side, all noise, all from California. Max: First would’ve been Ice-T’s Iceberg on cassette. As a kid I thought that the “drill through a man’s skull” skit was real. Yesterday I picked up Bill Evans Trio, J-dilla’s The Shining Instrumentals and a Mindless Mutant 7-inch. Grant: Skyscraper by David Lee Roth!!! My old man bought it for me ‘cos I loved that song “Jump”. Last was Mi & L'au S/T on Michael Gira's label, nice to drift off to. What was the response to you guys in Japan? Any funny stories re: food, attitude, etc? Ben: Don’t be a vegetarian in Japan, very difficult!! Don’t get stuck speaking pigeon English like Max did, and for the most part, the shows were awesome and people enjoyed
our take on grindcore. Max is now very fond of making sushi… Grant: Japan was great! The bands we toured with were extremely hospitable and the shows were all fun. Yeah, believe the hype, Max's sushi is great! What did you hate/like about that tour? Ben: Loved the snow and the beer, hated all the smoke in all the small clubs we played!! Oh yeah, and the coffee blows. Grant: Liked - saag paneer on my birthday, and Grover and Sharon introducing me to Umeshu. Hated - Flight Centre fucking up our flight home, that’s all. Are you planning to go o/s again as a band? Ben: Yeap, this time to North America. Max: Yes, the plan is to go to America and South-east Asia later this year. Grant: Yes, can't wait. What bands do you want to/plan to play with in the US and Asia? Max: Well, I would love to catch up with Mass Separation from Malaysia. When we first started we had tentative plans to do a split with them. They would easily be the first band to hook up with once over there. In the USA, all our friends - Iron Lung, Insect Warfare, Limpwrist, etc. There’s a lot of kick-arse fast music coming from Texas and the Bay Area that would be crazy fun to play with. Grant: I'd be amazing to play a show with 324, Swarrrm & Mortalized in Japan, but that's a little unrealistic! I'd love to see Insect Warfare, 50/50, Hatred Surge and of course Iron Lung! What has blown you away of late, either socially or musically?
Ben: The birthday party I had on Saturday night. Wild! Max: Socially, young Australians and their reactions to the world and their own environment blow me away. There is panic in our eyes and for all the silliest reasons. I’m scared of how little I am relating to the people around me more and more. Grant: Gabrielle Gonzaga knocking out Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 70 has been the only thing that's really blew me away of late. Do you think Melbourne is up its own arse or has Sydney got a chip on its cultural shoulder? Ben: Sydney has limited culture but it’s cool, I still like going and playing there and Grant loves cheese sticks. Max: I’m loving Melbourne at the moment - maybe my head’s up my own arse though! I think Australia has got a pretty wonderful musical landscape - especially considering distance and population size. Something most people don’t understand until they get out of Australia. Grass is greener on the other side attitude I guess. I’d have to live in Sydney to understand it - quick visits for shows don’t really grant me the wisdom to give anyone who isn’t in our tour van concrete analysis. However, Grant does enjoy a cheese stick in his throat in Newtown post and pre show. Grant: I live in Werribee so it's kinda hard to tell. Favourite thrash bands, new and old? Ben: Max loves No Comment, I like Slayer, everyone loves Spazz. Max: Old: Heresy, Heibel, SOB, The Acussed, Anthrax, DRI, Cryptic Slaughter, RoseRose, Hirax - off the top of my little head. New: What Happens Next - still my favourite. Grant: Old: Larm, SOB, Intense Degree. New: WHN? Exclaim, Dead Nation.
Ben Andrews discography N.I.L. – Pathogen EP N.I.L. – Unreleased studio/live EP Heartfeltself – Demo CD-R Heartfeltself – Seasons And Reasons Why EP Heartfeltself – My Heart Will Never Forget How To Feel… EP Clann Zu – Demo CD-R Clann Zu – Self-titled Rabbit EP Clann Zu – Live plus remixes EP (ltd. to 150 copies) Clann Zu – Rua Clann Zu – Eire Studio Demos EP Clann Zu – Black Coats and Bandages My Disco – Demo cassette (ltd. to 65 copies) My Disco – Collapse Of An Erratic Lung 7” My Disco – Language Of Numbers EP/10” My Disco – Split 7” w/ Off Minor My Disco – Gold [discography] (US release) My Disco – South East Asia [discography] cassette My Disco – Indonesian DVD-R (ltd. to 50 copies) My Disco – Cancer Whitehorse – Live At Pony [live] CD-R Agents Of Abhorrence – Demo cassette Agents Of Abhorrence – Covert Lobotomy 9” Agents Of Abhorrence – Silent Decay split 7” w/ Iron Lung Agents Of Abhorrence – Character Dissection 3” CDEP Agents Of Abhorrence – Character Dissection one-sided LP Agents Of Abhorrence – Split 7” w/Roskopp (coming soon) Blarke Bayer – Six Notions Of You demo CD-R Blarke Bayer – The End Of You 3” CDEP Blarke Bayer – Meniere's Disease [live at Sound and Fury] CD-R Blarke Bayer – Arctic Blast EP [collaboration w/ Black Widow] Blarke Bayer – Split w/ Bone Sheriff (coming soon) Magnetics – Silver demo CD-R Magnetics – CDEP (coming soon)
Grant Johns discography Dying Breed – Demo Dying Breed – Genocide Can No Longer Be Denied Dying Breed – Split 7” w/ Three Found Dead Hacked To Chunks – 4-Track Shenanigans Sense Of Purpose – Falling/Autonomy sampler Sense Of Purpose – Tomorrow’s Too Late Sense Of Purpose – Dismantled Agents Of Abhorrence – Character Dissection 3” CDEP Agents Of Abhorrence – Character Dissection one-sided LP Agents Of Abhorrence – Split 7” w/Roskopp (coming soon)
Have you considered a covers album… what covers would you do? Ben: Madonna, or Bowie. You guys are fans of collectable/unconventional packaging, what's next? Ben: A conventional dual-case CD, just to mix things up a bit… Max: A plain old-fashioned CD. Who would’ve guessed!? Grant: Tour CD for the States - not terribly unconventional, but very exciting! A split 7-inch w/ Roskopp is in the works at the moment also, fucking awesome band. What would be a fantasy/ultimate release? Ben: A double LP of remixes of AoA songs by Merzbow. Max: I think our next record will be my fantasy release. I get giddy over new songs so each new record is my fantasy until it’s done. Then I’m usually bummed. Fictional release - maybe a split with 324 from Japan. Grant: I've just always dreamed of releasing an LP. We did that, even though a one-sided LP on 45 is kinda cheating. So I dunno, maybe a hundred song double LP to even it out? What movie soundtrack would you have liked to be part of? Ben: Labyrinth. Bowie rules! With an unlimited budget, what stage set would you design for yourselves? Ben: One with six guitar and two bass amps, four drum-fill wedges, falafel balls on demand from Alaysa and stage-divers
everywhere!! Max: I’m not much for props but for party’s sake - two huge vats of larva on either side of us. If one of us made a mistake on stage then we get it thrown on us. It works at practice with a kettle. Grant: The setting would be Third Earth, and we would join forces with Mumm-Ra - The Ever Living, and the mutants - Jackalman, Slithe and Monkian to dominate Lion-O and the Thundercats and capture the Eye Of Thundera! Max, is it true you are dangerously hyperactive? Max: I’ve calmed down a lot, now I’m the mature age of 23. Merlot in hand, pipe in mouth. If you could put on a festival who would play? Max: Mortalized, Gate, Pure Evil Trio, Insect Warfare, h100s, Straightjacket Nation, Roskopp, Iron Lung, followed by a soul set by Millie Jackson. Love is spread. Puff Puff Pass. What are the future releases for both AoA and the Idget Child and Numerical Thief labels? Max: Agents are working on the follow-up to Character Dissection EP. Same vibe - a collection of new songs that correlate with each other played fast and loud. This will be put out in America by 625 Records. Also a split 7-inch with Extortion over in Perth is on the horizon. Extortion are amazing! Idget Child label has got some solo stuff from frontman of True Radical Miracle coming out, maybe a Pure Evil tape pending if they love me. Numerical Thief are working on releasing new My Disco material and some more stuff from [Ben's solo project] Blarke Bayer.
Max Kohane discography Far Left Limit – Skeleton Against The People Far Left Limit – Split 7” w/ Deadstare Far Left Limit – Live At The Arthouse [live] cassette Far Left Limit – Paint It Black 7” George W. Bush – S/T 7” George W. Bush – Split 7” w/ St. Albans Kids Crosseyed Hate – S/T cassette Hacked To Chunks – The Dirty Takes (rare… haha!) Terror Firma – Demo Terror Firma – Death Of Escapism Terror Firma – Throwing You Down the Stairs ABC Weapons – S/T 7” Whitehorse – Live At Pony [live] CD-R Agents Of Abhorrence – Demo cassette Agents Of Abhorrence – Covert Lobotomy 9” Agents Of Abhorrence – Silent Decay split 7” w/ Iron Lung Agents Of Abhorrence – Character Dissection 3” CDEP Agents Of Abhorrence – Character Dissection one-sided LP Agents Of Abhorrence – Split 7” w/Roskopp (coming soon)
“We're talkin’ back in the day here, we're talkin’ mad years now.” – Dr. Know
Bad Brains Bad Brains. Dr. Know interview by Matt Reekie.
or all the praising and groveling and bowing down at the feet that goes on whenever the name Bad Brains comes up, American punk is littered with people holding grudges against the band. Their D.C. brothers, Minor Threat, may have sung, “I’m out of step with the world,” but truly it was Bad Brains who embodied this statement better than anyone. They were an all-black band at the forefront of the predominantly all-white (and in some cases racist) U.S. hardcore scene of the lateseventies. Unlike many of their poorly-skilled peers, they possessed the chops of jazz musicians and used them to explore new musical boundaries. Their blending of reggae and hardcore never sat right with many punks, while their sudden conversion into pot-smoking Rastafaris in the early-eighties led to a variety of misdemeanours according to facets of the self-righteous punk community. Of all the controversies that surrounded the band, singer H.R.’s homophobia, in particular the infamous “Bloodclot faggot” incident involving Randy ‘Biscuit’ Turner of Texas band the Big Boys, perhaps caused the most consternation. But the next generation of hardcore kids getting off on watching the freshly issued Bad Brains Live At CBGB 1982 don’t know about all that stuff; they probably don’t care either. Because that CBGBs dance
floor looks a much funner place to be than dodging the limbs of barechested weight-lifting meatheads throwing faux-karate moves around these days. And the music sounds a hell of lot more powerful than whatever the fuck Victory Records just put out. Filmed across three nights from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day 1982, Bad Brains Live At CBGB 1982 is an amazing document, not only showing the crazy times of early American punk, but a unique band arguably at their most pile-driving. It’s hard to believe footage this good could sit untouched on a shelf for almost quarter of a century, so I decided to track down Bad Brains to ask why. Not long after the release of the Live At CBGB 1982 DVD, in October 2006, the original Bad Brains – H.R. (vocals), Darryl Jenifer (bass), Dr. Know (guitar) and Earl Hudson (drums) – played over three consecutive nights to farewell the now defunct punk venue. A few months later I caught up on the phone with Dr. Know (real name Gary Miller), who was chilling at his home having just inked a deal with Megaforce Records to release a new ’Brains album, Build A Nation. It was as much an honour to speak to the forty-eight-year-old veteran guitarist as it was a pain in the arse to get a straight answer out of him. After all, mere facts don’t take into consideration how the Spirit works…
Hey Dr. Know, thanks for talking to us. I love that DVD.
Bad Brains: (LtoR) Darryl Jenifer, Dr. Know, Earl Hudson, H.R.
Me too. When I first got it I was watching it in my sleep. I was putting it on until I fell asleep on the couch. Then when I'd wake up I'd grab the remote, hit the play button and go back to sleep again. I hear ya. For me that DVD brought back so much memories. I remember the concert, it was a revelation. We were very young. I booked the show. You have to realise that back in those days there wasn't the technology that we have now and that was filmed on Beta. The people who shot it only shot us for those three nights but it was a whole big thing with all these different bands, a lot of bands were on that gig. It would have been totally great if everybody would've been able to get filmed but nobody had any money. That was on Beta, which was the new technology, otherwise you had to do film, like 16mm film, and that's waaay expensive. So it was right at that transition point of technology when they had Beta cameras and the first video stuff. But the DVD, when I see it I'm like, “Oh wow!” It's pretty amazing to see, even the bit in the middle where the lights go out. Yeah well, technology! Someone kicked out the plug, we blew something up, something happened, and it was like, “Okay, the lights went out.” It was documented. That was real, y'know what I mean, it happened. Why wasn’t the footage released until now? It’s too good to keep bottled up for this long. Well we have that footage but in our early state there is not that much other footage because, like I said, the technology wasn't there. And also it was all totally underground and because technology costs so much money, ain't nobody coming down there trying to document anything because that cost bad dollars. And this is how the Spirit works. So I hear you, because when I look at it I'm like, “Wow!” For me, looking at CBGBs then, there is a lot of people I don't know, which I find
very astonishing, but there's a lot of people I do know. There are people on the stage and on the side who are our friends and family, there are people who have passed away, some who haven't, but all the memories that come up, I love that. I give thanks for so many great memories.
So it's all relative. I think there is going to be a DVD from those shows. So the Spirit works how the Spirit works and you ask why it took so long, well, it took so long because the Father said, the Spirit said, “Okay, the DVD from ’82 and now the DVD from ’06.” And that's it.
Do you view that time as a peak for that band and that set of songs a high point? Everything we do is a high point. We got together and played three shows at CBGBs just this last October , we closed CBGBs, we're talking 24 years later and it's the same thing.
Have you felt a surge of sudden interest in Bad Brains arising out of this? I know this DVD has got a lot of young kids in the hardcore scene knowing all about Bad Brains. It's all about technology and exposure and what have you. Throughout our lives as being who we are as a band... and
that's what I was saying about technology, like even when the So that was the early times of black and white crowds mixtechnology wasn't there, somehow we were able to get docuing at punk shows? mented. And I've lived through the cycle of the next generation. In America it was. There is a little bit of footage from us in When I do interviews it makes me reflect on like, “Okay, here D.C. before we went to New York and did the CBs thing. This is the next five-year process these people have gone through.” was two years before that but it was the same kinda thing. And the band get back together and play according to those Before that, when we first started we used to have gigs at cycles and that's how the Spirit works - we don't know. That's our house. We rented a house because we wanted to do our how it works. There was the first DVD, and then there'll be music. We were all working and so we rented the house and the next DVD for the closing of CBs and then all the other we used to have concerts at our house. Minor Threat would things. Throughout our history though, it's always the next come there and SOA [State Of Alert], y'know, because there generation of people that the music touched. For me, at CBGBs was no scene in DC. It was before slam dancing, everybody when we closed it, y'know I'm forty-eight years old, and there was po-going. It was a revolution, a revolution of the youth were people that were there that were let's say thirty-five, and I'm proud that I was part of that. and the music touched their lives. So I really believe that the music touches people. Now we get kids You weren't just black guys who who come along to our shows and then played punk music, though; you we have older fans who maybe have took this white boy music for moved on and don't even go out, they are yourself. lawyers and doctors, whatever, people go It's good that you know that. We took on with their lives and become who they 1980: “Pay To Cum” / “Stay Close To it for ourselves, correct. We were just are. But they will come to our concerts four kids and we were totally influenced Me” 7” and maybe they aren't even there for the by the English punk rock thing, like the 1982: S/T [cassette only] music but more to acknowledge that at ’Pistols and The Damned. The Damned 1982: “ I” / “Sailin' On” / “Big Take some point in their lives the music helped was our boys. We were writing our own Over” / “I Luv I Jah” 12” [UK] them to move forward. For me, that's the songs and the first gig that we did we 1982: “I and I Survive” / “Destroy played our own songs, we played like two greatest gift - besides my kids. Babylon” / “Coptic Times” / sets, two one-hour sets, and we didn't Seems like now is a good time for anyhave enough original music to do that so “Joshua's Song” 12” [UK] one that did something worthy in the we learnt some covers but we didn't learn 1983: Rock For Light past and maybe that is because nobody them because we were influenced by that. 1986: I Against I is making music or art that is matching It was the revolution y'know. There's black 1988: Live [live] the power of what has come before? people in Washington D.C. and somehow 1988: Spirit Electricity EP [live] I agree with that to a certain extent but we connected to that and the Spirit made 1989: Quickness it's not that nobody is matching up, it's all us who we are and that's it. 1989: Attitude - The Roir Sessions different. It's your influences and all that. [Recorded 1981] Our influences, Stevie Wonder was a big Over the years Bad Brains have been 1990: The Youth Are Getting influence, and George Clinton and Return a misunderstood band... To Forever, Bob Marley of course, this was We should be. Restless [live. Recorded 1987] the music that we listened to. The key is, 1993: Rise it's all relative in the cycles of life. EveWell the hardcore scene can scrutinise 1995: God Of Love rybody is worthy and the thing with the people quite heavily and there were 1996: Black Dots [Recorded 1978] media today and technology is that kids things like your Rastafarianism, H.R.’s 1997: The Omega Sessions EP know now. They are not copying anymore, homophobia, changing the name to [Recorded 1980] they are searching for the source, “Where Soul Brains and all the rest of it... 2001: (Soul Brains) A Bad Brains is this coming from?” That's how the Well we never changed the name to Reunion Live from Maritime Soul Brains; that was a H.R. thing. But Spirit works. I live it, so I'm really happy Hall [live. Recorded 1999] and content. People come to me and say, it's all relative, it's all relative. We were “Your music changed my life.” It's about always misunderstood and that's why we 2003: I And I Survived family. It's like; “When I first came to your 2003: Banned In D.C: Bad Brains called the band Bad Brains. It wasn't about gig I was a little fucked-up kid. And the the Ramones [“Bad Brain”] either. It goes Greatest Riffs [compilation] music helped me to moved forward in 2006: Live at CBGB 1982 DVD [live. back to our black thing, James Brown, my life.” That's what our music is about, God bless his soul he just passed away. Recorded 1982] ultimately. We have our differences in our “I'm BAD!” Our thing was always that we 2006: Live at CBGB 1982 CD [live. wanted to do the best that we could do, band and a certain dynamic or whatever recorded 1982] and that is that, but ultimately the Spirit and when you strive for that then all these 2007: Build A Nation is always going to move how the Spirit other things... basically we all fall short moves. of the glory, okay? But we didn't know what we were doing but we wanted to The DVD shows a largely mixed crowd of black and really be positive and all these things happened in our lives. But white folks... ultimately, at the end of the day, that's all who we are. That's it, That's right and that's a very good observation. Some of for real. And the music, as I was saying to you earlier, touched those kids I knew and some I didn't but that was the very early people's lives. That's the Spirit working through us. There are a days of that. We were from Washington DC, we went to New lot of stories and a lot of life, but I can go to my grave happy. York... that's what I was saying about how the Spirit moves, some of those kids I don't know, like I said the ones on the You have known H.R. a long time, when did you guys stage were friends... When I look at that DVD it's a revelation, meet? I'm like, “Oh look over on the side over there,” and enjoying all We all lived in the same neighbourhood, maybe within a half the different camera angles. Editing it was like a nightmare. And a mile radius of one another. We had a friend who had a basesound was a nightmare. The sound is the sound, it's straight off ment. I always played music, everybody always played music, the cuff, but whatever, it's awesome. I'm telling you, I see all but the Spirit was like, “Okay, you people have to get together my friends in there and I'm like, “Oh, let me pause it! Oh look and play music together.” And that's what happened. I'm telling there's so-and-so! Oh, over there, look!” I've been analyzing it you. You asked me and I'm telling you. I played music, I was in from whatever the camera angles are and the lighting. We're a soul band, we lived in D.C., we were playing go-go and soul talkin’ back in the day here, we're talkin’ mad years now. music and funk music, basically funk because we were a little
Bad Brains discography
too young for soul music. But then disco hit and we were like, “Oh shit, let's get some riffs here.” That time, like maybe from 1970 to before disco came out around ’76, was a very very great musical time. And I've seen a lot of bands. I didn't get to see Led Zeppelin, that's the only one that I really missed. When I first heard of Bob Marley, not just Bob Marley but reggae music period, I was so into it. The English people knew about that and I guess you guys Down Under knew about that, but America didn't know about that. Now here's something a little cosmic that I want to tell you. I can't remember the year but we went and played down in the ghetto and we played punk rock and we played reggae. Now people in the ghetto in D.C. didn't know punk rock and they didn't know reggae either, it was the same thing. The music they played there was called go-go, which was like James Brown music but more rap. We lived that and we went to the ’hood and did that. We were dressed like black punk rockers, we were like Hendrix, those people didn't even know Hendrix. In the 'hood you don't know Jimi Hendrix, you don't know Bob Marley, you don't know fuckin' nobody. And we did that. You’ve been making a record with Adam “MCA” Yauch from Beastie Boys, Build A Nation, when did you start that and when will it be out? We started it probably two years ago and it's been done for a year. It's been done; we just had to find a home for it. And we found a home in Megaforce Records and so it's all good. But when we first moved to New York was when the Beastie Boys were called The Young & The Useless, this is like history lessons here that I'm giving you. So all these guys like Ian [MacKaye] and Henry [Rollins] and Yauch and the [Red Hot] Chili Peppers, all these people are our friends man. We played with the Chili Peppers in L.A. just after they started because Anthony [Kiedis] had got word to us that they really wanted to play with us. And every time we go to California, Flea is always there. Flea and Darryl [Jennifer], those bass players, they fucking bond. The old school people that everyone knows about are our friends from a long time. Yeah I've spoken to Henry about it and he was telling me how he was blown away when he first saw Bad Brains. Well he's right and it's true and I respect him for saying that. Henry was actually our first, for lack of a better term, our first tech. He saw us, like he told you, and he wanted to help us out. It's not like we had a lot of equipment or anything but he was just down with us and wanted to help us. And Ian, the first rehearsals we did we did at Ian's house. This is history. How would you describe the overall vibe of the new album? Adam Yauch approached us because he's our very good friend and he's like, “I want to do a record.” And it was very
good his take on this thing, 'cos he's really into reggae and he's really into rock 'n' roll and he's just really into music. So we wanted to help us do a record and he said, “I want you brothers to do what you want to do, but I want you to go back to the old school.” So we said, “Okay, fine.” So this new record is very old school reggae and old school rock 'n' roll, that's what it is. And all the records we do are what they are, we don't try to, we can't, like, “Okay, let's sell out.” Otherwise we'd be bad rich and you and I wouldn't be talking right now.
York once when we were still living in D.C., then we came up again, that was like a transition then in 1980. So at that time the Ramones were big and the Dead Boys and The Cars were the pop band. We came in and made this next niche and we played CBGBs in mad times. Sunday night matinee was hardcore night but when we first played there we played on audition night. When you look at that DVD and see all the people dancing up in the front, when we first played there there was tables there. There were like a few rows of theatre seats right at the very front and tables on the side with candles. Then everything escalated and it became what it became. CBs always had multiple bands playing so I just decided to do this three-day thing to bring the community together so I went to Hilly and said, “Y'know I want a band from Boston, a band from DC, a band from Chicago, a band from Philly, us, everybody on the East Coast.” New York was the hub. We saw pictures of the Pistols, everybody playing there. CBGBs is the spot, there's nowhere else that compares. So we were like, “We are going to to New York and play at CBGBs.” And that's what we did.
You've had your differences within the band but now the original line-up is back together, do you feel that chemistry is there? I love when we play together. We're a lot older now and everybody has their different agendas. Obviously it's not about the money because we're not those people. But when we play is when play, that's when the Spirit makes that happen. How is H.R.'s state of mind at the moment - I've heard people express concern after he performed live in the motorbike helmet? Well that was done... I kind of felt a way about that but I kinda sat back because H.R. has always... I want to say the right words... He is a shocking person. And being who he is, the singer for our band, the voice or whatever, he has always done that from day one. So he's like, “Alright, let me wear a helmet.” So we were rehearsing for the gig and we wanted to get the mic thing together because this is what he wanted to do. I thought it was kinda cool, like something different, and also the shock element. But we had some problems with the microphone and you couldn't hear him singing. He tried it for three songs but the whole theatrical thing wasn't working. So that was one gig where he wore a helmet for three songs and we played for three nights, but everyone talks about that because of the sensationalism and shock value. But like I've been saying, that DVD is from ’82 and now here we are back in the same place in ’06 and CBs didn't frickin’ change and we didn't frickin’ change. You hear me? I'm telling you, CBs was the same and we were the same. It's history, we are history. So was it unusual back in ’82 for one band to play CBGBs three nights in a row? Absolutely. At that point we had no management and so I was kinda managing the band. We'd gone from D.C. to New
But in the end DC ended up with its own thing. Yeah well that whole thing came from us, well, not from us, from the Father. You have to really get this, like how the Father was moving everything. And Minor Threat and Ian and Henry and everybody, the whole thing. Have you seen American Hardcore?
“In the ‘hood you don't know Jimi Hendrix, you don't know Bob Marley, you don't know fuckin' nobody.” – Dr. Know
Yeah. Well check this out, in the viewing of that in New York City, Darryl walked out. Because the way that movie is, the way they did it, it's very frustrating. Me and Darryl and HR was there watching it and this is the first ever screening in New York City and Darryl got frustrated and walked out, because we got our props later in the film. I know how filmmakers like to keep people intrigued and all that but I kinda felt that way too, I thought it was a little disrespectful the way they did it, but I hung in there and watched the whole thing and it's like, “Okay, we gettin’ our props now.” But it's not about us, it's about the whole scene, it's called American Hardcore, not the documentary of Bad Brains. That's what I had to say to Darryl, the whole thing was pretty intense. We got our props but I must say it was frustrating. I will say, though, they interviewed the right people. Everyone in that film we have been friends with and honestly and truly, they all came to see us, they were all inspired by us. It's good to be a part of history.
Cultural Exchange At 130 Decibels Fire Witch / Ryokuchi in Japan. Text by Jem Witch. Pics by Patto and Jem Witch.
ith my new Corrupted album playing in the background and a pre-historic laptop on my bed, I am making an attempt at piecing together my recent four-week stint in Japan. UB HQ has given me this insane deadline. I haven’t written anything of more than a few hundred words in length since high school and certainly can’t remember the last time I wrote anything I gave a shit about. Whilst in Japan I kept notes, though now upon looking at them I begin to remember how much of the time was spent drinking the local ales...
Day 1: 14th Feb. Osaka
Eighteen hours from Melbourne to Osaka via Singapore. Not so bad - but considering we left at three in the arvo and have been under constant artificial light since then, my eyes and mind are desperate for a decent lie down. During descent into Osaka I became extremely nauseous. Basically I was shitting myself, fearing customs would discover us and send us straight home. Small time musicians fall into this shitty loophole where we can’t actually get entertainment visas but can be sent home for not having them! We arrive and the airport is virtually deserted. Tommy ticks some box on the landing form, indicating he’s had diarrhoea recently and falls subject to some intense questioning. I would have laughed more if I wasn’t so nervous. Customs is a breeze. “Do you play in Osaka?” “No.” We exit the airport and are met by Harada and Imagami of Ryokuchi. Twelve months of planning comes flooding back to me and it’s all pretty overwhelming. The drive back to Harada’s is around forty mins. Our two hosts plough through a pack of durries each and I get my first taste of the air quality I’ll enjoy for the next three weeks. It’s 10am when we get home and Harada gets stuck into 500ml tubes of the local ale, Kirin. He is the self-declared “Beer Master”. He lays down a few of the ground rules: No masturbation in his house but there are cheap whores in Sapporo if we require. Showers and internet are very “expensive” (I think, in hindsight, he just meant hard to use). Beer is free in his house. Our sets everywhere will be thirty minutes, except in Shibuya and Nagoya where the promoters have decided we’re alright and so we get a fifty-minute set. I am concerned about patriarchy, and while they do certainly have gender-determined roles, Harada and his wife Takiko seem to genuinely love and respect each other. They become our family for the duration of the tour. We hit the local Isakai for a feast and a pile of beers. I discover just how good shitake mushrooms can be. Isakai is this amazing style of restaurant that we just don’t have here. You rock up with a group of mates, pay a set amount (usually about 2500 yen or A$25 each) and food and beer flow steadily all night. Tommy and Patto struggle with the chopsticks and I give thanks for my Asian heritage. A few things strike me about the city when we walk: no one locks up their bike and the whole place is so clean. Vending machines are on every corner and the novelty of them never wears off for the duration of the tour. I crash out in a house much warmer than mine with a belly full of wonderful food, beers and spirits.
Day 2: 15th Feb. Osaka/Kyoto
I wonder if we can have a shower today? I stink. Imagami takes us to Osaka Castle, this massive castle with several moats and other cool things any self-respecting castle of its day would have had. It’s rather cool. I learn very quickly though that it’s all about eating the food here if you want a cultural experience. That might explain the two kilos we each put on by the tours’ end. We visit Sinkagura, the venue (or “live house”) run by Shibata of S.M.D Records/Birushana. The PA is bigger than the room and the place is actually dirty - which is comforting. We go to visit Shibata. I want to say thanks for putting the tour split out, hooking up the tour, etc. He’s a man of few words and most of them are Japanese so I’m at a loss as to what the hell is going on. It seems to take a very long time with little outcome. We spend the night at Imagami's place in Kyoto. He tells us he can’t cook and I believe him. His house is about the size of an average bedroom back at home. Surprisingly, getting used to living in such small quarters comes quite easily.
Day 3: 16th Feb. Kyoto
Imagami is the champion of the sleep-in. It’s into the PM before he is up and we head out for some sightseeing with his friend Rikako. She cracks me up with her impressive English delivered with a strong American/Japanese crossover accent. Kyoto is a beautiful city, the old capital. We visit Kyoto Temple, a truly enormous set of buildings made entirely of wood. It’s like something out of Middle Earth. I eat an amazing red bean soup – another dish in a long list that I'll miss daily once back at home. I’m digging the shoes-off, cross-legged sit down for every meal. We then head to the restaurant where Imagami earns a crust and are ushered into a private room where another medley of amazing dishes comes out. Tommy eats raw liver. Patto and I fly the vegetarian flag high. After dinner we head to a local karaoke club of which Imagami is a member. His penchant for Japanese pop music begins to reveal itself. Fire Witch sing “Down Under” for the Japanese crew and we get a room of Japanese singing along to “Don’t Dream, It’s Over” by Crowded House.
Day 4: 17th Feb. Osaka
Tomorrow the tour starts. Harada explains a few things, tells us he knows “secret route” to drugs, asks if we want “sleeping bag or money?” This means when we are on the road we can pay for accommodation, or just sleep in a park or something. Considering it’s below zero every night we push for the bed option. We discuss World War II and the fact Australia has a racist government. A home cooked meal hits the spot. Osaka feels more and more like home.
Day 5: 18th Feb. Kobe. Blueport
We play our first show to a modest crowd of about thirty. The whole experience is a bit surreal and I think I almost miss it ‘cos I’m freaking out so much about playing our songs in another hemisphere. There is a decent-sized stage but all bands play on the floor, which I always love. Local band Cyberne blow the fucking roof off. Like a more psychedelic and fast-paced Jesus Lizard, they are the first in a long list of bands I want to bring back to tour Australia. Seeing Ryokuchi in Japan is something else. Harada uses five amps. Imagami has the weirdest drum settings I’ve ever come across. I won’t bore the non-drummer readers with a detailed explanation. Takiko makes a two-hour train ride out to handle the merch desk. Shows over here run from about 5pm-11pm. Soundcheck is essential – a concept that amuses us. When the show is over we learn the real benefits of the early start. Isakai. It’s customary for all people involved in the show (bands, engineers, fans etc.) to
No Isakai tonight (I think this venue is the only place in town open after 5pm) so we all sit on the sticky carpet, chugging cans of Kirin. The venue owner’s band, Real Reggae Football Club, comes on to the Liverpool FC version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” These guys love weed and football in that order. They also love trashing the joint and since one of them owns the place you can’t really complain. Violence in the crowd is something I find pretty boring though. Harada sends one troublemaker flying into the stage and we see little more action from him for the rest of the night.
Local band Swim are a welcome change from the D-beat overload we’ve been experiencing. They are a three-piece with a drummer who sings, not growls, actually fucking sings! Patto is shattered to find they have no CDs. At the Isakai, Patto is given a large clump of ganja. This would explain all the photos he and Tommy took of themselves dressed in their complimentary hotel gowns, a grin from ear-to-ear.
Day 9: 22nd Feb. Okayama. Image head down to an Isakai after the gig. Around thirty of us are seated around a few large tables in a private room. Akira, the promoter of the show (and man behind the killer lead guitar on the Ryokuchi song “Homura”) gets up and gives a speech. I don’t know what he says but he’s bloody excited about it. When he finishes, and only when he finishes, everyone says “Kampai” (cheers) and you all run round the room filling up each others glasses with beer. You can’t fill your own and you can’t let your mates’ glass go empty. Harada and I discuss kick-pedal settings, racism within our government and what it’s like to be mixed race in Australia. I realise I haven’t really given it enough thought. Incredible dishes come out all night and it’s not till 5am that we are finally asked to leave. These Japanese party hard. We arrive back in Osaka on sunrise. It’s at this point I realise Imagami will be doing all the driving.
Day 6: 19th Feb. Osaka
Today is a Monday and there is no show. Imagami, ever the transport warrior, studies a myriad of road maps. I’m fairly certain I drink fish in my soup for brekkie. Vegetarianism is somewhat of an amusement and a hindrance round here. They always ask, “Is egg okay?” but don’t hesitate to throw a little fish your way. Japanese TV is hilarious. I can’t begin to explain or understand it. It just seems so extreme.
Day 7: 20th Feb. Nara. Neverland
Nara is a strange town. Feels a little like Dubbo but the locals don’t stare at me. The venue is even weirder. It’s a dead ringer for one of the sets out of that Aussie kid’s drama Ocean Girl in which kids in a submarine saved the world or something. The doors even have big rubber seals, weigh a ton and you gotta yank this big lever to open them. Sound restrictions are immense here. The rider consists of homemade rice balls. We elect to play a faster set for the younger than normal crowd and fucking nail it. Harada and Imagami take a position behind each bass rig and seem to barrack for us up onstage. Takiko rocks out up the front like some proud older sister. It’s an overload of the senses and I become very high and overwhelmed. The young crowd enjoys our fast and loud moments but seem confused by the quiet and freeform moments. Ryokuchi proceed to play an uncharacteristically sloppy set. Harada is throwing shit around the stage and his gear only works intermittently. Imagami pounds away, refusing to break the momentum. Fire Witch collectively crap our pants. It’s a scary and intimidating experience. It’s difficult to explain why. I ask Harada how to say “shitscared” in Japanese. Tonight’s after-party is considerably shorter. Walking back to the car I wonder if public urination is frowned upon here. Tommy and Patto assure me it is. Still, I can’t leave this question unanswered, nor can my bulging bladder so I go straight to Harada and ask him. He takes me across the road to the convenience store, stands us in public view under fluoro lights and we cross swords on the fence. It’s an important bonding experience; cultural barriers crumble. “Sometimes, okay!” he laughs.
Day 8: 21st Feb. Maizuru. Bad Brains
Maizuru is a small town in the large state of Kyoto. As far as we can gather, bands don’t tour here, especially overseas bands. Perfect. It’s like a miniature Japanese Twin Peaks. The venue has the most vertical staircase I have ever seen – it’s a fucking death trap. The stage is bigger than the audience space, though they still somehow squeeze a skate ramp in there. The place stinks to high heaven and has no ventilation. This is just like being back at home. Even the venue operator turns up late and no one seems to care about playing times. A crew is out the front on the street spray-painting stencils in subzero temperatures. The crowd is ninety percent crusty punks who don’t seem to enjoy either our twenty-minute noise fest or our three-minute fast songs. We use one of the favoured Witch set-ups in which low bass is in the middle and high bass and drums go either side (drums facing in towards the band). We are later politely told you just don’t do that in Japan.
Most space-aged venue of the tour; there is even a shower in the band room. Having a band room is weird enough for us. In addition to the shower there is a widescreen telly and live feed of the show so you can watch the bands. How very rock and roll. Every venue has backline but this place has it in spades. I count at least ten Marshall cabinets, four heavy-duty bass heads and one shitty drum kit. This proves to be a theme for the tour. It’s a struggle to get engineers to crank the drums in the mix. Drums are not prioritised around here. Playing on such a huge stage is a weird feeling and one I’m not really into. The line-up is rather disappointing until the last band hit the stage. GxSxD (God Send Death) play hair windmill black metal complete with matching black boots, pants and shirts. These blokes were so helpful to us all night; I thought they were employed by the venue. All of a sudden the venue makes sense. The smoke machines, the over the top lighting rig, the stage barrier. Tonight they turn the live house into an Isakai after the show. It turns out to be the most drunken night of the tour. GxSxD teach me how to hold my beer glass with the devil horns. Imagami, always looking out for us, picks out the few non-meat items for me. A drunken stumble round the corner finds us at an internet café - our accommodation for the night. This is a surreal experience. For around $20 you get six hours in an office-style cubicle with a chair and a computer. There’s an unlimited supply of free lollies and sugar water. Also the place is chockas full of DVDs, mainly Manga or porn. Sleeping in a chair surrounded by dudes in surrounding cubicles watching porn is kinda tough. I write some emails. Patto pops his head over the cubicle wall; all giggles like we’re on school camp and declares, “I don’t even wanna sleep man!”
Day 11. 24th Feb. Hiroshima. Club Border
A four-hour sleep means the posh hotel experience is a little limited. We arrive in Hiroshima with just enough time before soundcheck to check out the Atomic Bomb Dome. The Atomic Bomb Dome is a building directly underneath the “Little Boy” A-Bomb drop site. The bomb was detonated one hundred metres above the building, gutting its insides but leaving the structure virtually intact. It is one of the only pre-1945 structures left in the city. It has been preserved as a peace symbol and is a very moving one at that. We are able to walk the perimeter of the building with very few tourists. Tonight’s live house is in the red-light district, though it takes me a half hour of walking the streets to notice. Like everywhere in Japan the place is spotless. In the amusement parlour beneath the venue I try to get Patto to win some knickers on the skill tester but he’s not interested. Porno-themed skill testers are all the rage in this country. We completely clear the room tonight and sell a bunch of CDs - just the way I like it. One of the local bands is like a gothic version of Utah Saints; there’s one band I didn’t expect to see referenced on this tour. Thankfully, as seems to be the style of the Japanese crust crew, the after-party is a short-lived affair at the live house so we can get onto the seven-hour drive home.
Day 12. 25th Feb. Osaka. Sinkagura
Day 10. 23rd Feb. Takamatsu. Punch Hall
After a four-hour sleep in a chair we hit the road, bound for a ferry to Shikoku, the smallest and least populous of the four main islands of Japan. This is where no band ever tours and something that many Japanese bands would remark upon as the tour continued. The only shops we pass on the drive there are tombstone shops. We drive past a golf course, which is quite bizarre. It’s like a full eighteen-holer on a space the size of a few footy fields. The ferry ride is about an hour. With my borrowed digital camera I make a short documentary film wherein Tommy displays his multi-tasking skills – sleeping and eating at the same time. Shikoku is famous for Udon (a wheat-based noodle) and so we go to this temple where they make it fresh. An enormous bowl of Udon is placed in front of me. No vegies, no sauce. Just Udon. I’m then given a grater, a stick of fresh Wasabi and a stick of the freshest ginger you’ve ever seen. Add to that a little local soy sauce and I am in Udon heaven. The show turns out to be the best response so far. Everyone is totally stoked a band bothered to hit their town let alone an “international band”. The organiser even puts us up in a hotel down the road. The scariest man in Japan gets up and sings for Effigy (the crustiest band in Japan) and spends the rest of the set trashing anything in his path. The bass player/singer goes wherever he pleases and without fail the audience follows him round with a mic. After a long soundcheck earlier on, Ryokuchi go on tonight with no PA at all. When I ask Harada about this later he says, “Challenge.” I feel for Imagami up against five amps and the loudest bass player I know.
Ignoring my need to watch my spending, I buy up at Time Bomb, an awesome record store near the live house. I buy a Phlegm 7” which for some reason feels strange when I’ve come all the way from Australia. I resist the temptation to buy the overpriced Hard-Ons vinyl. This is as close a feeling to a hometown show as we could ever get outside our own country. Harada is in total stress mode, being the organiser of this show. The line-up is insanely heavy, the PA is monstrous and the room is tiny. Birushana, on first, absolutely steal the show and prove to be the heaviest band of the night. Corrupted have nigh on the biggest, loudest guitar sound I’ve witnessed. These guys are classic. They tuck their shirts into their pants; they know they own the scene and they start when they are bloody well ready. Unfortunately their set is marginalised somewhat by drum gear falling apart and the fact drums can’t possibly compete for volume against their amps. Ryokuchi step it up a notch when Mami, the four-foot woman behind the blood-curdling screams at the end of “Homura,” joins them from within the crowd. The crowd look confused and
before they get time to realise she’s not a nutter who just found a microphone she turfs the mic and storms out of the room. This would have to be one of the heavier nights of music we’ve had to follow up. Post Corrupted the crowd seems to have thinned a little. We go back to our roots and pull out a non-stop set. It’s a fucking blinder and for me a new level of heaviness for the band tainted only by the audience members beating each other up during the last song. I can’t deal with violence. The after-party tonight is a long and somewhat arduous affair. Tarubo, guitarist of Corrupted, is a champ and very keen to wish us well for the rest of the tour. He teaches me important phrases for the music world. I want to keep drinking with this bloke but am thrust into a corner via Shibata and Harada to chat with Chew: the drummer and “boss” of Corrupted which in turn makes him boss of the scene in Osaka. “Now, speak,” says Harada. I don’t feel entirely comfortable with this, which seems to amuse Chew. Communication is slow going. He doesn’t give too much away. So we end up talking about drum gear and Melvins. He tells me stories ’bout hanging with Dale Crover on mushrooms and I make no effort to keep my envy under wraps. I try to learn more about his Boss phenomenon. After a lengthy conversation concerning musical hierarchy I feel no closer to understanding it. After an hour or so I’m finally permitted back to the main table.
Day 13. 26th Feb. Sapporo
Today we trek to Hokkaido, the most northern island, for two shows. A taxi to the train station, a train to the airport, a plane to Hokkaido, a train to Sapporo and a lost walk in the snow for our hotel, all the while carrying our gear is a test of endurance to say the least. It’s just on sunset and it’s four degrees. A half hour's sleep in our posh hotel (for some reason this came with our plane ticket) before hitting the local Isakai to meet Realized: the band we play the next two shows with. These guys are obviously champs and very close to Harada but I can barely keep my eyes open at this point. The crash out arrives not a minute too soon. Imagami is a constant source of joy with his English narration of his day, always striving to improve his grasp on the language. I’m embarrassed to say my progress is a little slower.
Aussies. Patto and I take countless photos of ourselves posing amongst the white stuff. Activities that would otherwise seem mundane but for the fact we are surrounded by snow. It upsets us to learn that despite below-zero temperatures the ladies of Sapporo still show off ninety percent of their leg. I am wearing my mum’s stockings, my thickest pants, two thermals, a jumper, a jacket, gloves, beanie and a scarf. We play an old-school set tonight. The house kit sucks and it’s painful watching Imagami having to use drums half the size of his own during Ryokuchi. Realized blow me away; one of the only “D-beat” bands who have done so all tour. Fuji, their singer, is engaging on all fronts. He has a deathly rumble from his throat, is a beautiful dancer and scary looking dude; kind of like a Japanese David Bowie. This is one band that I can’t recommend enough. Hopefully I can convince them to tour here soon. After the show we drive out to the hills to where we are staying. Tommy and I are so buggered we sleep for most of the drive. Patto rides with Fuji and ends up in a forty-minute chase by the cops on the icy roads of Sapporo. They pull up behind us, Fuji jumping from the driver’s seat and yelling, “Fuck the polis! We are winna!!” Drink driving is a big no no in Japan. Had Fuji pulled over for the cops he could have kissed his licence goodbye.
Day 15. 28th Feb. Asahikawa. Casino Drive
Realized drives us the four hours to tonight’s show. The ten degrees temperature is difficult to comprehend and it does little to deter the women from showing off the leg. I want to buy pants for all these women. Tonight’s live house is part of an amusement parlour. I waste about twenty bucks on skill testers trying to win Nightmare Before Christmas toys. There are some really young faces in the audience tonight. One great thing about gigs in Japan is there are no age restrictions. Ryokuchi and Fire Witch half empty the room for our sets. This may have bummed me out if it weren’t for the girl who snuck backstage to feed us bakery treats. Then at the end of the show I’m confronted by a pack of nerds and a pack of babes keen to talk rock. I get scared by the young women and choose the nerds; they are my people after all. It’s about a four-hour drive back to the airport to wait for our plane to Osaka. I don’t know whose car I’m in but I kind of wish it had seatbelts. We pull up to the airport in the daylight hours of the morning. The place is deserted, it’s twelve degrees. We load the gear out onto the footpath, say goodbye to most of our convoy and pile back into a van to watch our gear until the airport opens. “We wait. Two minutes,” says Harada. “No. Sorry. Two hours.” I don’t recall the last time I was this cold. Eventually Harada finds a hotel lobby at the airport where we can get some respite from the cold and we can let our van driver go home. We sleep on the floor until the airport opens. Patto, unhappy with the cold floor, opts to sleep standing up.
Day 17. 2nd Feb. Hamamatsu. Lucrezia
Being in a big city full of snow is such a novel experience for us
Tokyo is overwhelmingly huge. You stand at a pedestrian crossing and realise there are more people within eyesight than most Aussie towns. Driving to the live house we get hounded by a pack of crazy women and their daughters who are clearly waiting for some other, actually famous westerners. I’ll never know who they thought we were but I’m guessing it’s as close as I’ll ever get to feeling famous: which I’m more than happy with after dealing with them. Tonight’s live house is really cool. It feels like it’s got a lot of history and has probably got a bit of cult status in this town. It’s got a high stage, high ceiling but not too big a room. Though I prefer small rooms with no stage at all it’s nice to feel like a “real band” every now and then. After ten shows with D-beat crust bands it’s a welcome change to play with some slower, heavier and louder bands. Bucket-T put on an awesome show and I think to myself what a good effort it is from such a young-looking band - turns out they are twice our age and have toured with Boris and Thrones. We have grown accustomed to the standard thirty-minute sets in Japan so are a bit thrown with tonight’s fifty-minute slot. Apparently someone running the show thought we were bit of alright and thus we could do with some extra stage time. I won’t lie: I was pretty chuffed with that. The amount of Aussie accents we cop tonight is surreal after so long without hearing any but our own. The bloke who owns the house I live in turns up, the guitarist from Church Of Misery (tonight’s headline band) ends up being from Adelaide, and a mutual friend of Dad They Broke Me pops up unannounced.
Day 16. 1st Feb. Osaka
A meal at home with Takiko does wonders. I go for a walk near where we are staying and realise how much I would love to live here. A vending machine that dispenses one-litre cans of beer refuses my crumpled notes. I was so close to Kirin heaven for a moment.
Day 14. 27th Feb. Sapporo. Klub Counter Action
Day 18. 3rd Feb. Shibuya (Tokyo). Cyclone
This is definitely the most boring town we’ve visited in Japan. I’m sure Patto and I ingest pork from our “vegetarian” ramen. Tonight’s live house is absolutely tiny and the whole place is a tribute to King Crimson, Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan. I count five copies The Velvet Underground & Nico dotted about the place. It’s also house to the strangest toilet in Japan. Behind what appears to be a broom cupboard is in fact a cricket pitchlength narrow passage with a toilet down the end. Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact it locks from the outside. We attempt our first ever photo shoot from within. Patto comes up with the brilliant idea of playing the same set as last night; something we’ve in fact never done in the few hundred shows of our existence. It turns out to be the call of the tour and we absolutely nail it. We sell out of T-shirts tonight, which is an odd feeling. Unfortunately, this means the most beautiful woman in Japan has to go wanting when she asks to buy one. This upsets me to no end and I urge her to write to us so we can send her one. She buys every Goat Witch and Fire Witch album instead. The DJ after the show plays a heap of Melvins, Primus and King Crimson clearly picking our influences a mile off. Sleeping upstairs from the venue is a welcome convenience but I’m just not rock and roll enough to embrace the no-shower thing.
The Church Of Misery bassplayer plays a ridiculously low slung (below the knee!) Rickenbacker from somewhere round the 12th fret. This sparks a conversation between him and myself about Hard-Ons. I learn that Ray Ahn is a hero of his and urge him to track down some Nunchukka Superfly albums. The Church Of Misery singer knocks himself for six after a failed stagedive attempt sees him go headfirst into the floor. It’s one of the higher stages of the tour. His mobility reduces dramatically afterwards. We drive straight through to the next town after the show. An altercation with the cops en route leaves me a little confused and amused. They ask for everyone’s passport but mine (not sure why) and Imagami’s car papers and want to know if we are Anarchists. When Harada returns from a scouting mission to find this in progress he loses it with the cops and tells them if they don’t get out of the fucking way we’ll run over them and their bicycles (yes, some of the cops get around by bike). To my amazement the cops scurry off and don’t beat the crap out of us! Tonight’s accommodation is at a “Cap Cell” (or maybe it’s Capsule) hotel. For a first-timer these places are a surreal experience. Even more so than the internet café. It appears to be mainly for blokes on benders or who have been kicked out of their house by their wives. For 4000Yen you get a night in a pigeonhole about 0.5 metres high and the length and width of a single mattress. The pigeonholes are stacked two high down a long hallway and you get a locker in a separate room to chuck your belongings. The hallway has the overpowering smell of dudes sweating out too much alcohol but thankfully it’s about the only place in Japan where smoking is not permitted. I crawl into my hole above a stinky dude with bleeding feet who groans all night.
Day 19. 4th Feb. Koiwa. Em Seven
I’m pretty excited about a shower about now. After getting lost in the complex a few times I find the level with showers. The showers here are all in one big room, mirrors wall-to-wall with a giant steam bath at one end. A pastime it would seem. The showers are hand-held and you sit on a little stool whilst washing yourself before jumping in the steam bath. Behind a curtain at another end you can get yourself a massage or hand job if you so desire, courtesy of the only woman in the entire place. These places are men only but I never get a proper explanation for this. As I approach the showers I become increasingly aware of the stares I’m receiving from all the drunk men. As a bloke I’ve had no experience with being treated in this way and it makes me totally uncomfortable. I chicken out and am unable to get my kit off in front of the pervs, not a proud moment in the life of Jem. I will stink for another day. We play our slowest set of the tour tonight and the locals love it. They grunt like cave people in a sign of support: a custom I wholeheartedly endorse. The sound engineer pulls probably the best sound of the tour. I try to tell her this after the show but either she can’t understand me or she thinks I am just trying to woo her. Tonight we go back to the pigeonhole place. Patto gives me the tip to have your shower at night when the crowds are much smaller and, apparently, more sober. It seems that last night while we were all fast asleep Patto ran riot between the showers and steam baths all night, avoiding a sleep in his assigned cocoon. So I make up for lost time and join him and Tommy in about an hour’s worth of bathing.
Day 20. 5th Feb. Nagoya. Huck Finn
Huck Finn is (apparently) like the CBGBs of Japan. Not that I would know. It feels a bit like the Tote in Collingwood and is the only live house of the tour with a proper front bar. Even soundcheck is a bit emotional for me tonight being our last show and all. Eternal Elysium (tonight’s headliners) go out of their way to tell us how enthused they are by our music and its disregard for trends or genre. At this stage of the tour we are fucking invincible and I have to agree with them. Before the show Harada takes us to a restaurant where everything is deep fried and served on a skewer with plum dipping sauce. Fried camembert is fucking amazing but not the best thing to throw in your guts before playing rock show. Our set is intense tonight. I don’t want it to end now. I want to do another thirteen shows right away. A Chinese restaurant Isakai after the show tonight gives me all the chilli I’ve been missing all trip in one hit. Harada takes public urination up a notch when I catch him running down the street, cock out, yelling “Jem Jem Jem Jem Jem Jeeeeem!” He certainly knows the way to my heart.
Day 21. 6th Feb. Osaka
Today consist of sleeping, eating and drinking beer.
Day 22 & 23. 7th & 8th Feb. Osaka M4 II Studio
As part of the “deal” with S.M.D. Records we arranged for two days recording at the studio Harada works for. We decide to just play live, no separation and with minimal mixing since we just played a heap of shows and we don’t speak the language of anyone in the studio. We manage to fuck up every song at least once and the still as yet unrecorded twenty-minute noise epic “Death Beatle” proves too much for us today. At the end of the recording session Akira (Cyberne), Imagami, Imagami’s drum teacher and Harada’s bass student all join in for a jam. It’s an odd ending and I barely have the energy play a beat. We spend the next day mixing the four songs we decided were keepers. I’m pleasantly surprised to find they don’t suck; in fact they are corker versions. Harada has a totally analogue set-up so we go absolutely minimal, only touching levels and EQ and refusing to let Harada use the compressor or reverb. I would have preferred to run the tape a little hotter but the end result is a fat, yet raw, tidy little memento of an awesome tour. Our last meal is at a typically incredible restaurant with the Birushana and Palm crew. I shed a little tear inside for all the beer and food I won’t see again for too long. I shed a much bigger tear for the people who have embraced us, inspired us, gone out of their way to help us.
Day 24. 9th Feb. Flight Home
I really don’t wanna leave this place. The flight home is long and boring and I get way too drunk on Baileys. Australian customs are far less pleasant than Japan’s, though that is to be expected. Patto has about twelve hours to get to his sister’s wedding and is now unemployed. I go back to work tomorrow. Tommy has a month of school to catch up on. In less than three weeks we start an eighteen-date tour of Australia with Ryokuchi. Tune in to issue #7 of UNBELIEVABLY Bad for the return serve: Ryokuchi / Fire Witch Australian Tour Diary by Harada Ryokuchi!
The DNA on i s s e r p De [Part 1] Files
e l p o e P o D y Wh
originally published d an er tl Bu y rr Ha by d te n interviews conducoriginal 1984 Smeer interview from DNA#36… A series of Depressioup rt one of the in DNA fanzine. First , pa
Hate Us? Spike (vocals), Smeer (guitar), Liddy (ba ss), Danny (drums).
epression came into being in mid-1981 as a garage band trio playing punk in a fairly rough and ready fashion. Early the following year a singer in the form of Spike turned up and they lined up a party to play at as their debut. Unfortunately the then drummer – Julian – decided not to turn up, which ended his involvement with the band. Shortly thereafter a new drummer – Revell Scott – turned up and they went on to play a couple of gigs during the first half of 1982. However Revell was so heavily into dope and such that he couldn’t get his shit together, and he too left. More salvation at hand when Smeer joined in July 1982, giving them a twin guitar attack (other guitarist was mega thrash ace Johnny Feedback). As a four-piece they rehearsed for a while, and even did a gig without a drummer. Shortly after a new drummer, in the shape of one Johnny Fishead, turned up and the band was whole once more. While hanging around in a Tshirt shop one day, they got to talking to the bloke running it, who revealed that he was going to get some gigs organised in the John Barleycorn Hotel. Depression revealed their band-li-ness, and he gave them a free hand to
1. There was a tape of an early rehearsal from sometime in 1982 (featuring Johnny Fishead) being passed around. 2. A 15-track tape issued with Issue 4 of Regression fanzine in early 1983, recorded in Smeer’s front room, although sound quality deteriorated due to problems with copying facilities. Tracks: “Don’t Give A Fuck” / “I Won’t Kneel” / “Never Again” / “Depression” / “Johnny Soldier” / “Profit From War” / “Brainless Conformists” / “Big Chief” / “Ronny Raygun” / “They Wouldn’t Blow Up The World, Would They?” / “Religion” / “Extra meat” / “Walk Down The Street” / “Pigs” / “Fuck The Cops”. 3. Soon after the above tape Depression went into a recording studio and did an official demo. Tracks: “School Kids” / “Soldiers Never Cry” / “World Leaders” / “Big Business” / “Why Do People Hate Us?” / “I Wanna Be Insane” / “Monetary Gain”. 4. Found a guy named Phil who was just staring an independent label. He approached them to do a record, so went back into the studios to redo: “Money Chain” / “World Leaders” / “Soldiers Never Cry” / “Brainless Conformists”.
Lyrics mostly written by Spike and Smeer these days, with the whole band contributing towards the music. Johnny Feedback was supposed to have been more into Crass-type stuff (heavy politics, etc) while the others were into heavier stuff musically. The two guitars gave quite a powerful sound, but also cluttered things up. Smeer and Johnny had different styles of playing, but these fitted together well. Johnny wrote a lot of the original band’s music, so his departure resulted in a marked change of style as his songs were gradually replaced by newer material. They say they’re trying to progress into different stuff (e.g. slightly more heavy metal sounding stuff, plus some slower songs) whilst still maintaining their original sound.
organise gigs there. Thus the saga of the Barleycorn began (rather like The Producers in Adelaide), and over the next few months played host to many good punk gigs before being closed due to a bunch of drunk yobbos hassling people and threatening to smash the place up. Whilst the Barleycorn gigs were going on they lost Johnny Fishead’s services – he was fresh out of school, got drunk for the first time with the band and ended up becoming a total write-off. One of the other bands playing at the Barleycorn was Genocide, and when their drummer – Danny – heard about Depression’s need, he offered to help out (was in two bands for a while). When Genocide broke up in early 1983 he joined Depression permanently. Also late in 1982 Johnny Feedback ceased to be a member of the band amongst much personal trauma between him and Smeer (he is now in End Result). During 1982 most of their gigs were played just at parties, but since the Barleycorn shows they’ve mostly done pub gigs. They did a lot of shows during the first half of 1983, then wound down a bit for the rest of the year. Late in the year they recorded a three-track single, which came out in January 1984, and made a short trip to Adelaide at the same time.
“Grown Up Strange” / “Religion” / “Why Do People Hate Us?” / “I’m Bored” / “Work All Day” / “Ronny Raygun” / “Big Chief” / “Profit From War” / “Money Chain” / “Time Bomb” / “What A Strange World” / “Night Moves” / “They Wouldn’t Blow Up The World, Would They?” / “Soldiers Never Cry” / “World Leaders” / “MX Warhead” / “Brainless Conformists” / “Extra Meat” / “Ha Ha Ha” / “Noise” / “School Kids” / Pilled Out” / “I Hate Yobs” / “Pigs” / “Daily Life” / “Don’t Give A Fuck” / “Monetary Gain” / “Depression” / “I Won’t Kneel” / “Never Again” / “Johnny Soldier” / “Walk Down The Street” / “Fuck The Cops”. (I haven’t attempted to discern between covers and originals).
Neither Liddy nor Spike had been in bands prior to Depression. But Smeer had been playing music for several years. He’d begun in a band called Lois Lane back in the mid-‘70s, then another called Desert Rats. They called themselves “punk” but were really just a rock ‘n’ roll band and he quit them ’cos he was fed up with the machinations of the music industry (they used an agency, etc). He spent the next few years sitting around writing his own songs and eventually recorded a solo tape of his stuff (used his couch as a drum kit). Soon after he joined Depression.
Danny started playing drums about eight and a half years ago. He was self-taught and learnt by following other drummers on records. Over the years he played with a variety of bands – blues and jazz – before getting into punk in 1978. His first punk band was called Wattage (other members forgotten) who played a selection of parties with Jab and The Boys Next Door, amongst others before they ground to a halt later that year. He’d started playing in punk bands ’cos he found it to be a lot more “full-on” than other forms of music, as well as having something to say. Mid-1978 he joined Squadron leader, other members being Ron Richter (guitar/ vocals), Carlos (guitar), and Alky (bass). This lasted until 1979 whereupon everyone left, leaving Richter to carry on with an ever-changing line-up for another couple of years. The reason for the mass exodus… young Ronald was a hardcore Nazi with a full-on Hitler fetish which the others couldn’t stand (all of this was reflected in his lyrics). Danny got another band going with Carlos called New Age with Graham Schiavello (ex-La Femme) on bass. They lasted for about eight months during 1980 before breaking up due to marked differences of opinion about music and other things. They did an all-original set of sort of commercially orientated punk, and it was during this time that he really began developing his current drum style. The next couple of years saw a big gap as he tried repeatedly (and without success) to get another band going, the most being a couple of gigs helping out The Zorros after their drummer left to join The Corpse Grinders. Eventually he got something more – Genocide – a four-piece band of himself, Steve (vocals), Victor (guitar and Liz (bass). They were sort of trying to achieve a Killing Joke sound, but finished up with something different but equally good. A variety of songs, some serious, some humourous – “Drink The Urine Of Christ”, “I Wanna Be Like Ronald McDonald”, etc – but eventually they fell apart in early 1983. Subsequently he joined Depression (he’d already been playing with them for a couple of months), which he now regards as the best band so far that he’s been in.
Liz had been playing guitar for quite a few years and has expended much effort in trying to get a raunchy full-on female punk band going without much success. During 1981 she had one un-named band going for a few weeks with herself on guitar, Marilyn (vocals), Sonny (bass) and Danny (drums). They could do “Blitzkreig Bop” and one original but just practicing these all the time didn’t achieve a lot. Besides which, the singer apparently couldn’t sing, so this swiftly came to an end. March 1982 and she was offered a chance to play in The Bootboys (Melbourne’s own Oi band) much to her surprise. She vaguely knew Tim the guitarist who said that they’d lost their bassist and offered her the job… To his surprise she went out, bought a bass and joined. This lasted from March to September, but gradually fell apart as Liz was the only one to take it seriously enough to do anything. Like she had to organise rehearsals, amps, pick everyone else up, tune their guitars, etc – no one else could be bothered getting off their arses. Much to everyone’s surprise they became quite popular, and although Liz was prepared to invest money and (even more) effort to really get somewhere with it, no one else was – they just wanted it to be a fun part-time thing… which didn’t last. Soon after leaving them she ran into Victor and Danny who were getting Genocide together and joined up. Since then she’s still been trying to get an all-female band going without much luck. During the middle of last year she organised a short-lived collection of people to play a couple of songs (“These Boots Were Made For Walking” and a Vice Squad cover) at a Depression gig. This went well but everyone lost interest afterwards and that was the end of that. A late report just to hand says that she’s rejoined The Psychotic Maniacs.
Depression live MRA House late-82: (LtoR) Smeer, Spike, Danny, Liddy
The Smeer Interview
be [The following interview] is intended to to s view merely a chance for Depression’s een betw ion sess be aired, not a debating elf in me and Smeer. I personally found mys and , said he t wha of e som with nt agreeme , one ever How opposed to some other things. bers mem all d foun thing I should say… I es of Depression to be amiable, nice blok their with act cont zilch had I (although manager Brian Farnan). Smeer was very g co-operative at all time, never once losin his and , view inter the g his temper durin ther views make for interesting thought, whe his all you agree with them or not. With on comments on the pro- and anti-Depressi ’t didn he rised surp I’m e thing in Melbourn are this like ons icati publ how on t commen it in fact helping to stir up trouble a bit (albe proa er neith g takin unintentionally). I am nor anti-Depression attitude in DNA. PART ONE: Outside Producers Hotel, 29/1/84 A couple of Adelaide bands went over to Melbourne last year – Perdition (on their first trip) and Debortion – and didn’t get much money for their efforts, why? Ah, I don’t know who sorted out the money but that crap about us getting two hundred bucks… we didn’t get $200 that would have been overall money that was made that night. So I don’t know how many bands played there, I think four bands were on, so the money would probably have been split up between them. So you didn’t have anything to do with the distribution of money? We did, but I can’t remember that far back what happened. But it was $200 overall, I’m pretty sure I can remember that was made. We gave money to Justified Hatred and then Debortion – did they only get $40, I didn’t know that. Yeah. Yeah, well I don’t know how much we got; I think we might have got $100 or something. They were just pissed off ’cos there was fuck all money for having made the trip over there. Yeah I know. See, it wasn’t very organised either, you know like… also, how we told ’em they had to play first, that’s a bit of crap too, ’cos we went down there and they already had their gear set up ready to go. Justified Hatred were the first band to go on that night anyway, they only had a few songs, so we were going to put them on first and we were going to play last after Debortion. We didn’t care when we played, we just decided that it’d be better for them to go first anyway ’cos they had their gear set up there already. And their PA fucked up so we had to mess around trying to get that working… had to cut up Spike’s PA and change the leads over and stuff. Depression are supposed to have made loads of money last year – is that true? Nah.
Sort of, you played loads and loads or gigs… We did lots of gigs right, but none of us work in the band, so any money that was made was spent on just living. When we first started playing at the Barleycorn we were getting about $30 a gig, some nights members made only $3 each, but that didn’t worry us – we just kept going. But then we started getting better money when we played at The Ballroom. So you made a certain amount of money but had to spend it on staying alive or whatever, but it was being said that with all that money why didn’t you do something constructive with it – like release a record or something? That’s what we’ve done now, but we never had the money to do it before. Spike spent money on equipment, I spent money on petrol, organising other gigs, putting up posters to advertise gigs… not to mention bass and guitar strings… buying equipment which a lot of bands have used over various gigs, hire of PAs, etc. I also feel that whatever money we have made and spent from the hard work we put in is up to each member in the band what they do with it. And what we do with our own money is of no concern to anyone else and is none of their business… So any money that was made was just given to each member of the band at the time, but we were a bit unorganised and we had no one to coordinate money, and that’s why we decided to approach Brian. And ever since we have, he’s sort of made us… we’ve opened up an account and any money we make, like we’ve been getting less money now, and that’s what we put into the account. That’s how we got here; we saved up the petrol money through Brian. But for ages there, like we’d sort of just play the gig, get the money and just spend it on grog and dope that night and stuff, and we just got out of it and had fun, and that’s all we did.
Why did he cease to be a part of the band? Ah, well what happened was because there was so much conflict between us it was always going to interfere somehow with the fucking band, you know what I mean? I don’t know, it’s pretty involved I tell ya. We approached him and we talked to him over in a pub, and we said, “Blah blah blah” and I said, “Look mate, I don’t think it’s gonna work…” The way it was going you know, like fucking have a meeting, is he gonna play in the band or isn’t he, and we just thought the best thing is if he doesn’t play in the band, then the problem’s not there and then we can get on with what we want to do, so that was basically why he left. So he was virtually asked to leave in the end, or… Not asked to leave, but he could sort of see it wasn’t going to work anyway you know? So the overall feeling was that there was just no point in continuing? Yeah.
One other thing I’ve heard is that there’s some sort of disagreement between Depression and some other Melbourne bands about how money should be divided up after gigs, and divided up evenly or not. I don’t agree with that ’cos I don’t think that the other bands are putting enough effort into organising gigs and that. We’re the ones who… I don’t know, we’ve organised most gigs and every gig we’ve organised people have always fucking whinged about it, right? Then those gigs fuck up or close down or whatever and everyone goes, “Oh, that was really good there.” But there’s never been many bands than can sort of get their shit together and play. And I don’t know, it’s really hard there sometimes. But we’ve always said to those bands that they should get together with us, but they don’t do it. They never fucking ring up and say, “Oh, we’re gonna go a gig here or do a gig there,” or this and that, they just wait for us to ring ‘em up whenever there’s a gig. None of ’em ring us up and say, “Can we play at the fucking Ballroom?” or “Can we do this?” or “What are youse doing this week, do you want us to do some posters and advertise a gig?” None of ’em, do anything like that, we’re the ones who do it all. And we’ve been going at it so long that I think we deserve to get paid, ’cos none of us work or anything anyway, that’s all we do – the band. So any comments that Depression overly dominate the Melbourne scene would have more to do with the fact that you’re the only ones that actually do anything? That’s right, ’cos we mainly organise the gigs and we’re probably one of the main bands that have got their shit together to do sets and organise things with other people. Like we all get out of it and get stoned and everything, but we still manage to get up there and play and go for it and do all the other things as well. The only trouble earlier in the band was because we were un-coordinated and we had no one sort of… like I’d always said we should open up an account, but we never fucking got around to it, and that’s why we felt yeah, Brian. We really needed someone to come and give us a big kick up the arse and make us get our shit together. Well the next bit is, ah, you’re supposed to be an anti-violence band… well, two things about that, firstly the story of how Johnny Feedback is supposed to have been beaten up… That was ah… that’s shit mate ’cos that was a personal problem between me and him, but I don’t want to go into that in the interview. And anyway, one thing I do want to say about that, when Johnny Feedback was in Depression he punched up one of our fucking drummers anyway. Which one? That Johnny Fishead guy at a gig, and also Johnny Feedback and I, we forgot about that the next day and we got up and played a gig together. He even had a black eye and played the gig, and we were still friends. I thought if we could manage to get up there and forget all that shit that was between us and play, that was a pretty fucking good effort.
But was there actually anything said? Oh we did discuss it… I mean, it wasn’t said, “Oh, you get out of the band…” Oh no, we didn’t go up and say, “You’ve gotta fucking leave the band,” we tried in every way to get him back into the band, you know, without that personal problem, that side of it. ’Cos as far as I’m concerned sometimes you can’t let personal involvement interfere with your music. Even if sometimes in the band you mightn’t get on that well with some members, as long as you can all get up there and produce that thing together for that particular moment, well that’s fucking worth it – that’s how I see it. The other violence thing, then, I thought you went over the top on Thursday night when that bloke was harassing you. I don’t know mate, I just saw that guy was giving everyone shit and he was running around with a cane and this and that, and he is swinging it at me and stuff like that, and I just lost me temper. ’Cos I’ve copped so much shit… Yeah, I know you were getting a lot of shit, but I thought it would have been better if you’d just ignored him. Like you went to the mic and said, “Ah, I’m not gonna waste time on this poofta, this jerk” kinda thing… And then I just went thump. That was the final provocation for him to have a go at you. Yeah, I think it was… yeah ’cos I just… I mean, ’cos how can you fucking get into what you’re doing when people are doing that?
Like pushing the PA over? Yeah, I don’t know. Like I was really against violence a lot, and I still am mate, but when people are going to threaten something or damage that thing that you’re trying to get, you know when it’s at a gig and that, I think that element’s gotta be put out. Well instead of having a fight with him why not just have him thrown out? I don’t know, like what could I do? Do you reckon I could have just grabbed him and thrown him out – would everyone have helped me? Just ignore him or tell him to piss off. Or you could have just stopped playing and had him ejected. I know what you mean though, I s’pose I just went overboard and lost me temper, that’s it… But everybody’s got their breaking point. Do you get much shit thrown at you for your voice? For my voice? That’s what that guy was having a go at you about. Oh yeah, I know, I’ve been born with a physical defect, ha ha. They sort of joke to me about it, but I don’t let it get to me. I get the same sort of thing with my stutter. Yeah well everyone’s gotta cop shit. Bit I don’t know, it got to the point in Melbourne where there was a really friendly scene, and then it just sort of happened one night that I realised that I was really going to have to physically fight people to be what I am. And it really frightened me that it was like that again… and I saw that guy was gonna cause a fight with someone or he was gonna cause trouble. That happened one time in Melbourne, there was a big yobbo giving everyone shit, and he picked on a friend of mine, and he wouldn’t have been satisfied until he’d beaten him up, you know? So what am I gonna do? I told the guy, and I did the same thing you said, I told him, “Look, leave the gig, we don’t want any trouble, blah blah blah,” and then in the end he ripped off his shirt and fucking attacked me – what am I gonna do? There’s no bouncers there, there’s no one to do it, so we fucking physically hit him and tried to throw him out. And I don’t know, maybe that’s why I got carried away with that bloke the other night. I’m not into fucking bashing people to a pulp… but the good thing about that was it was forgotten quickly and that’s what I like you know. I thought, well if I can have a scuffle and he could have a scuffle with me and everyone jumps in and it sorts it out, whether it’s me having a fight or someone else having a fight, it’s sorted out quickly and everyone’s back into it straight away anyway. So, I don’t know, people build things up too much sometimes, I think about stuff like that.
"when I walk down the street people give me shit, you know, why do they hate me?" - Smeer sort of surface thing, like people laughing at you, instead of going on about why they do that. Yeah, we do mate, we do. Other songs go into topics like that. Our songs can go into things as simple as that, and then we’ll get really involved in things… there’s stuff like big business corporations, they own the politicians, they don’t do nothing without the big business corporations. And that’s just a true fucking statement. We go into really heavy issues about the MX warheads and how it could blow you up and fucking flesh hanging off and all that. But we also sing about yobbos that we don’t like. That’s something I wanted to go on about. Yeah you know what that song’s about? Because at my joint in Melbourne these guys drove by one night and they were giving us shit about that right, and we thought, oh yeah, it’s nothing. And we were asleep in bed one night and we hear, “You fucking punks, we’re gonna piss on you,” and a loud vroom as the car took off up the road. This went on for about six weeks in a row until it got to them throwing beer bottles into our front yard, and then one night the fucking cunts had lit marine flares and were throwing them into the house. And I thought, what the fuck, this is like terrorism. You
know, and I just thought, I’ll have to go and fight someone again, just so I can live in this house in this street. And that’s what the song’s about, it goes, “Yobbos yelling out when I’m asleep, Yobbos giving me shit when I’m in the street / Throwing fire into me front yard, Speeding off fast in their hotted car.” And then it just goes, “I hate yobbos, have a few stubbies to be a man, show off to your mates to prove you’re tough,” you know? It goes into issues like that, and that’s basically what the song’s about. It’s a personal thing. I was just thinking that that song, even though it’s got a valid point behind it, isn’t it just going to promote disunity amongst people? Ah, not disunity because… You’re virtually saying, “I hate yobbos, they’re bad and we’re good…” Yeah, but yobbos are bad mate. You think it might promote friction? Yeah. I can see your point, but you’ve gotta think you can’t sing everything so that everyone can understand it like it’s written in a fucking book. It’s up to them to sort of… like I explained it to you and you understand how I talked about it then you can understand why I wrote that song because of what happened. Well, if anyone wants to know that they can fucking ask us, you know what I mean? Or they can read the lyrics or something… they can read it in your magazine, and maybe they’ll say, “Oh, so that’s what ‘Yobbos’ is.” But I can see what you mean. We thought about things like that, we thought with a lot of the songs we’re singing people might take it the wrong way, and then I thought, oh fuck, if we’re gonna do that we’re just like worrying about what normal people think too, they might take us the wrong way, the way we dress. And then we thought, well fuck it, what are we gonna do, are we gonna sing what we wanna sing or are we gonna worry about what everyone’s gonna think? You know what I mean?
The next thing I was going to have a go at you about was your song lyrics. Like “Why Do People Hate Us?” That strikes me as being a pathetic, wimpy sort of thing to write a song about. Why? You know, when I walk down the street people give me shit, you know, why do they hate me? What have I done to them? That’s all the lyrics in the song, they go, “Why do people hate us, they hate the way we look, they hate us ‘cos we’re having fun, they hate our funny hair.” Well that’s true mate, you just walk down the street and you get heaps of shit you know? And then when we say, “Why do people hate us in a country that is free, free to do what we want and be what we wanna be?” – now what’s so fucking offensive about that? Just the whole thing of “Why Do People Hate Us?” puts it at a really base level. What do you mean base level, all our songs go from one level to another anyway. Just on the surface the idea of that as a song title… Yeah, but how do you take “Why Do People Hate Us?” You seem to just see the title and to just have an idea that you didn’t like that song because its title seemed wimpy or something. Um, yeah… you got a point there. Ha ha ha. …backs down quietly. What about “School Kids”? What’s wrong with that? I’ll tell you the lyrics right. It’s about Spike and how when he comes to rehearsal he has to walk past all these state schools and all the kids give him shit for his hair and stuff, and it just sort of gets to you after a while. It’s just a harmless song, it goes, “The school kids laughing at me when I’m walking down the street, and they’re only laughing ‘cos I’m different,” you know, “Their mummies and daddies won’t let them cut their hair, their mummies and daddies don’t like them to stare,” you know. “Ha ha, he’s a dirty suck,” is what the kids yell out at us – that’s how it is you know. I thought that with that you could consider some of the implications of that, like they’re not allowed to be different. You just seem to be dealing with a really
Raw-Grind-Violence demo [live] (Test Subject)
Caution: Danger Concentrated
Been getting sent a buttload of grindcore lately, which has either got to do with the trendy renaissance the genre is experiencing or the sick interviews with Napalm Death and Terrorizer we ran last issue. Anyway, sadly it seems like there’s plenty of bands more concerned with fitting in as opposed to standing out, which is why the unbridled fun spirit of this raw demo disc from Melbourne’s 731 (a reference to Rupture’s “731 Squadron” perhaps?) is more than welcome. A project-band featuring ex and current members of Fallout, In Name and Blood, Whitehorse, Terror Firma, Demon Other and more, they throw a big-time crust-punk-grind party on this savage PBS FM live-to-air recording. Get it for a fiver from the band at email@example.com or see your local friendly grind stockist.
A Bucket Of Pus
Raw And Sore (Self-Released) Western Australian lad Matt Pursell (aka A Bucket Of Pus) is carrying on the tradition of bodge-arse bedroom rock begun years ago by his Perth elder statesman, UNBELIEVABLY Bad’s heavy metal poster boy, Angus McDeth. This is one of those rare collisions where twenty wrongs come together to make one great whopping indelible right. Pursell’s lead vocals are regularly sung in a key too low for his voice, then mixed up louder than the backing music to give it a real karaoke feel. Some lyrics are less puerile than others, but even when you think he’s being serious, you can’t take him seriously. The accompanying bio recommends to: “Check out this dude and his music, he might make you grin.” It’s true; maximum grin-ability is assured, but due to the earnestness and dead-seriousness of the artist, to break into full-blown laughter would be considered just plain callous. Move over McDeth, we just found ourselves a new poster boy.
Build A Nation (Metal Blade/Stomp) I can just imagine all the little hardcore kiddies crying into the sleeves of their Hatebreed hoodies after forking out mum and dad’s hard-earned for Build A Nation based on all their cooler friends and the bands they worship going on and on about how Bad Brains is, was and forever will be “the shit” as far as hardcore punk is concerned only to be greeted by H.R. in his weirded-out echo-chamber vocals meekly giving “Thanks And Praises To The Lord”. Boo hoo, this ain’t hardcore! But y’know what, while it ain’t exactly Black Dots either, “Lower Your Expectations” has become a fair catch-cry of mine in this age of old buggers reliving their punk rock youths, so Build A Nation is perhaps even a tad better than I was expecting, especially given the weight of cruddy albums to bear the Bad Brains logo since the mid-eighties. There are times throughout this admittedly inconsistent mix of punk and reggae tunes where
Akai Yami (S.M.D./Missing Link)
Bad Brains appear to be trying too hard to emulate themselves as young men, and other times when they just plain suck turds. But when they nail it, they still fuckin’ nail it. Some of the hardcore songs like “Jah People Make The World Go Round” and “Build A Nation” are as fast and forceful as ever, while “Roll On” and “Peace Be Unto Thee” are up there as far as the Rasta shit goes. Cheer up kids, could’ve easily been worse.
Blood Hook EP (Rose) Blood Hook’s cliché contrasty black metal artwork ripped straight off Dark Throne is a little misleading, since Melbourne this duo will likely disappoint black metal purists with a sound rooted more in death metal with tinges of black, like the archetypal spooky organ laid over the top of “I Don’t Have Sex With Dead Things”. As that title and others like “Blue Human Shoes” attest, these dudes are having a bit of fun with the genre and not taking it all too seriously – in Scandinavia I hear that’s an offence punishable by upside-down crucifixion.
Here Come The Waterworks (Hydra Head/ Riot!)
souvenir brought back from the frontline and mounted on the wall for posterity. Big Business have released one of the best of the year, you should by all means join them in their victory dance.
While there’s the obvious metaphor to kick off this review about how Here Come The Waterworks will bring tears to your eyes, I’d rather talk about WAR! When they play live, bassist/vocalist Jared Warren (ex-Karp) and drummer Coady Willis (ex-Murder City Devils), aka Big Business, face-off to one another from across the stage, engaging in fierce, epic jousts where both come out as victors in a battle won over banality in heavy rock. Back with the follow-up to 2003’s head-turning debut Head For The Shallow, their resumes looking all the more healthier for the time done recording and touring as part of a revamped and rejuvenated Melvins outfit, the beefy Seattlean duo will obviously attract more attention with Here Come The Waterworks; and rightly fucking so. If their live shows are like battle-zones, this is the shimmering war
Birushanah are one of three Osaka groups all with releases on the S.M.D. label (owned and operated by Birushanah bassist Shibata) to have toured the DIY venues of Australia in 2007. But while I did go and see the other two (Palm and Ryokuchi), and loved ‘em, Birushanah’s heavy fretless bass using traditional Japanese scales accompanied by clanging metal percussion didn’t really sound like my cup of green tea. The sticker on the front of this CD says they play “sludge rock with elements of Neurosis and Envy mixed with traditional Japanese music and industrial percussion.” To me it’s like you’re having a quiet stroll through the Japanese gardens, gongs are going off, everything’s tranquil and chilled, then after about twenty-minutes a thunderstorm hits followed by a tsunami followed by an earthquake followed by the eruption of Mount Fuji.
Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo [live] (Vice) If this wasn’t actually recorded live, would it matter so much? It’s unbelievably clear for a Black Lips record, far clearer than any of their previous output. Does it really matter, unless you’re ultra involved in defining garage rock by its “authenticity”? So far the Black Lips come across so effortlessly cool, at least on LP and through song. And so what if Vice want to release what is sort of a re-recorded Best-Of record to showcase the group for a world of new fans, introduce them to a sweaty, pukey, firecrackery, make-outy, uriney world while still maintaining their cool. I should love this, but it lets me down. Maybe it’s just that with the previous album, Let It Bloom, the layers unfolded to reveal more and more amazing elements, whereas with this record everything sits right up front, you can even the words clearly this time. There are no surprises on subsequent listens – it’s all directly into your mind first time. It’s not their regular thicket of gritty noise enclosing some suburban psychedelic haze. So essentially I guess it’s like seeing the band live… which is what a live record’s supposed to portray… so a job well done then? Thanks John Reis. [Bobby D. Bugliosi]
Blarke Bayer / Black Widow Arctic Blast EP (Heathen Skulls/Stomp)
I had to groan when I got this through the mail slot. Avant-garde noise and power electronics have bored me to masturbation for many years (that’s my excuse anyway!). And one of the chief reasons was the amount of shallow collaboration that goes on in the field – projects formed quickly by guys who had built names independently putting five minutes effort into making noise without any need to even think too much. The volume of product
Illustration: Ben Brown
being churned out with little thought or effort going in became a complete turn-off. Blarke Bayer is Ben Andrews from My Disco/Agents Of Abhorrence/ Heartfeltself. Black Widow is Robert MacManus from Grey Daturas. I owe both those guys an apology. Arctic Blast is three inspired tracks of bleak, harrowing, icy noise that makes me wonder why I gotta be so close-minded all the fucking time.
Lyden Na (Goat Sound/Shock) You can’t hate Blood Duster. To do so would be to play right into their hands. They were playing extreme metal way back when extreme metal was actually extreme, but since it’s now turned into big business and nobody is the least bit shocked anymore, they’ve had to work out new ways of getting under your skin. Lyden Na (which means “The Now Sound” in Norwegian) is their latest answer, an almighty triple Fuck You – one CD of death rock ‘n’ roll, one CD of grindcore, plus an extra downloadable album of sludgy doomy shit. Operating on the premise that cheesy hand-claps and groovy classic rock riffs are more offensive to the average grind and death metal fan than lyrics about corpse-fucking are to your grandmother, Volume 1 opener, “ThreeOhhSevenOh” (the postcode of Northcote), incites the catchiest death growl sing-along ever: “Northcote sluts and trendy cunts, Go and get fucked!” Most of the songs on the first disc have a similar swing to “SixSixSixteen” and “DrinkFightFuck” off 2005’s self-titled effort, only lyrically this time there is much bile directed toward the emo/MySpace generation. “FuckTheKids” sums up Blood Duster’s plight: “Let me tell you now that metal is in, But it’s not the kind of metal we know / The kids have spoken and I’m old news, No one comes to our shows!” But they get their revenge on country-style closer with a twist, “TheDayTheyBurnedOldEmoDown”, featuring guest crooning courtesy of Craig Westwood of ‘Duster offshoot group Young Breeder. Volume 2 features twenty minutes of world-class grind, with lyrics ranging from dumb gore and porn clichés to a few socio-political Vege-songs, while the downloadable Volume 3 is a thunderous one-track Sleep-style drone-fest. Blood Duster have given you a whole lot to love on Lyden Na, just don’t take it the wrong way.
Fat Fast And Outtacontrol [live] (Straight Up) Sloppier than a Redfern prossie, Sydney scum punks the Blurters liked the previously unreleased live version of “Compo Scam” included on the last UNBELIEVABLY Bad comp so much they’ve gone and released the whole damn gig. Which is pretty funny considering frontman Jay told me he was just handed the CD-R in a Melbourne pub one night by a random bloke who’d recorded it on mini-disc at The Arthouse in 2002. That guy is credited here as “some legend”. If you’ve heard the version of “Compo Scam” I don’t need to tell you the Blurts were on fire on this particular night, their raucous drunken playing outstripped only by their even more raucous, even more drunken between-song banter. Containing a heap of loose anti-PC anthems like “Public Toilets” (“This is for all the fags…”) and “Jabiluka” (“For all the tree-huggers…”), they surprise all with the anti-rape song “No Excuses” (“We’re a sexist and fucked band, but we know the difference between right and wrong…”). Having been around for a decade now, they’ll be headed straight for the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame if they continue at this rate – either there or Long Bay.
Knight (vocals/bass) to finally put the ’Psychos out to pasture. Never one to fuck around, however, the big unit has retained Dean Mueller (ex-Hoss) on drums and taken the somewhat logical step of employing John McKeering of ’Psychos copyists The Onyas to hold down Watts’ vacant guitar spot and continued to pump out the kind of anthems you’d expect from a beer-loving punk rock farmer in a flanno. If you’ve ever heard a single Cosmic Psychos song you’ll basically know what Dung Australia sounds like. And even if you’ve never heard the ’Psychos before, you’ll be singing along to every song by the last chorus, such is the brilliant simplicity of “If You Want To Get Out Of It (You’d Better Get On With It)” and “Flyblown”. Ten brand new three-chord screamers capped off by an older recording of Buffalo’s great ode to suppressed homosexuality “I’m A Skirt Lifter (Not A Shirt Raiser)”, which features one final wahwah wail by Robbie Watts.
Crucifixion Squad / Bladder Spasms Brother Brick
Stranded In The Nineties 2-disc (Off The Hip) Descended from the Horny Toads and Proton Energy Pills, Brother Brick was a tight ship run by captain Stewart “Leadfinger” Cunningham, a guitarist of some renown perhaps best known for his work as part of fellow Sydney-based Detroit-worshipping rock ‘n’ rollers Asteroid B612. Collected here in all its pissed-off pop glory is Brother Brick’s one and only French-released full-length, A Portable Altamont, along with numerous seven-inch tracks plus a whole second disc of live stuff, rare demos and such. One of the highlights is the seven live tracks by the original line-up at Brookvale Hotel in ’91, where they run through covers of Iggy’s “I'm Bored” and Fun Things’ “Savage”. With some real fine original rock and pop moments across the two discs... hang on... I'm flashing back to the nineties... wow! Great flannie, man... bucket anyone? [Graham Ramone]
Birthing The Giant (Distort Entertainment/Shock) One can almost smell the death lingering in the air as the major label buzzards circle the Toronto skyline. Bands that would otherwise have been destined to a future of poorly-attended regional tours and lukewarm press now boast “next big thing” status due to the sheer inundation of media interest in the area. Take Cancer Bats for example. They have the requisite tattoos, black fringes and “loose cannon” recklessness to be considered a “rocking” outfit in 2007. Their sound scavenges their parent’s record collection circa the beer drinking, pot smoking, fucking on the Camaro-era as much as it pecks at the eyes of modern influences ala The Bronx. Perhaps these hosers even prey on Entombed-style “death and roll”. In fact, upon closer inspection, a more local point of reference could be compatriots Cursed, whose organic, weighty, Southern-fried guitar sound is strikingly similar to the tones found on Birthing The Giant. Songwriting inconsistencies and bone-dry Matt Bayles-esque production issues aside, one must take their hats of to bands like Cancer Bats. Rather than swatting away the vultures and slugging it out on the local circuit ad nauseam, they have forged a musical path that will assure them guest list entry to an afterlife of obscurity, just as soon as the buzzards get a whiff of the next-Seattle. [Rhys Davies]
S/T (Lovepump United) Like over-zealous devilworshipping cult members performing musical sacrifices in the name of John Zorn, Child Abuse are a jazzy spazzy experimental metal trio from San Francisco’s Bay Area with barely the good manners to give your poor mangled ears a rest over the duration of this forty-five minute self-titled outpouring. This starts off in berserk mode and basically stays there, “Wrong Hole” coming on like the Boredoms partying with Pig Destroyer, all staccato rhythms, tech-metal riffs, death vocals, blast drumming and outlandish lashings of violent keys. A rough recording captures the true sound of the demented trio as they writhe, twist and shapeshift their way through one gargantuan musical epileptic fit after another.
Conquest For Death
Front Row Tickets To Armageddon EP (Wajlemac) Another group built around a nucleus of the powerful What Happens Next? triumvirate of Devon Morf (vocals), Craig Billmeier (guitar) and Robert Collins (bass), Conquest For Death are rounded out by second guitarist Alex and drummer Kiku. Thirteen songs in a bit over thirteen minutes, you can expect homespun old school thrash hardcore imbedded with deep metal shards and not a trace of slickness. The super-intelligent lyrics reflect the war situation, the global terror threat, governmental screw-ups and random acts of un-humanitarianism. Informed sociopolitical comment mixed with sarcasm and wit, “Circle Pits, Not Prayer Circles” is quite poignant given the religious infiltration of the mainstream HC scene of late. Perhaps a tad cliché is the “No Remorse, No Regrets” gang chorus in “War On Children”, which sticks out as the one small blight on an otherwise killer release. Currently touring parts of Africa, you’d hope it’s just a matter of time till we see CFD thrashing the DIY venues of Oz.
Dung Australia (Timberyard/Shock) After the tragic death of guitarist Robbie “Rocket” Watts [R.I.P] following last year’s comeback album Off Ya Cruet, many might have expected sole survivor Ross
Stigmata & Incontinence ’89 – ’94 (Self-released)
Bunch of weird cunts down in Canberra, no doubt about it, but this here DIY effort is the kind of awesome retrospective release there really should be more of. Basically it’s a zine/CD comprising of a discography CD full of tracks lifted from demo tapes by the long defunct Crucifixion Squad and Bladder Spasms – essentially the same band who just had a name change halfway through their lifespan – packaged within the back page of a 20-page photocopied A5 zine detailing the entire history of the group/s accompanied by old handbill artwork, zine articles, demo covers and one of Harry Butler’s famous DNA family trees. Born out of the ashes of thrash punks SSDC, there is some info on that band, but mainly it focuses on the post-SSDC period, when the members came to the logical conclusion that the punk and hardcore scene was a complete joke, hence comedy punk songs like “Dickson Scallop” and “As Straight Edge As A Circle”, and covers of “Ace Of Spades” and “Shiny Happy People”. Send AUD$6 to Norro (cheques and MOs payable to Andrew Norris) at Ocker Records: 125 Ross Street, Queanbeyan ACT 2620.
Dad, They Broke Me Lack EP (Broke Me/Missing Link)
Real brains-on-thesidewalk material from Melbourne masters of audio skullfuckery, Dad, They Broke Me, the four-track Lack is one of the harshest sandblastings your inner ears have enjoyed for a while. Beyond stoner, beyond doom, beyond drone, “Iron Sun” is a punishing heavy block of distorted noise granite – “crushing” I believe is the overused terminology here. Maintaining this same bleak, parched overtone throughout the rest of Lack, “Dead Shot” sees DTBM begin to function more as a rock band and explore a few Jesus Lizard or Zeni Geva-type scenarios with the occasional spray of blast-beat fire to keep things interesting. “Extinction Of Thought” builds up the tempo a bit more, which in turn causes severe convulsions in the rhythms, while “Spat Out Rotten” triggers seismic activity in the low end for a torturous finale capable of blanking out all conscious thought. With obvious influences such as bombing raids, wrecking balls, mortar fire, dinosaur sex, Armageddon, etc. Dad, They Broke Me are a speaker salesman’s wet dream. Dad, they broke me sub-woofers!
S/T [re-issue] (Light In The Attic/Creative Vibes) A controversial figure in any biography on either Miles Davis or Jimi Hendrix, black, ‘froed-out diva Betty Davis (real name Betty Mabry) was married to Miles while allegedly getting a bit of Hendrix “experience” on the side. But she was a sassy funk-soul singer in her own right, a bit like Diana Ross gone wild, or a female James Brown. I hear Betty is down on her luck in a Pittsburgh ghetto these days, so maybe you want to help a sister out and purchase this lovingly compiled re-issue of her criminally under-sung 1973 self-titled LP. Recorded using Sly Stone’s rhythm section and produced by the Family Stone’s drummer Greg Errico, it’s nasty, heel-stompin’, party-startin’ funk with Miss Betty oozing, spitting and melting all over the top in equal measure. If you want a funky female soul singer with spunk to spare then get back to the seventies because Betty Davis is the muthafunkin’ shit.
Inaccurate CD Reviews Caution: Danger Concentrated
17 Wounds Of Exit (No Escape)
couple of Hellacopters efforts. With expansive riffs jamming freely, ultra-groovy rock ‘n’ roll rhythms keeping everything swinging and the soulful voice of Chris Winter (guitar/vocals) bellowing about “gettin’ it on”, The Royal Rendezvous is topshelf boogie with classic production – the finest seventies album of 2007 so far.
Poland’s Exit Wounds fire seventeen rounds of devastatingly heavy modern-grindcore on this latest release. 17 Wounds of Exit sees these Eastern bloc thrashers successfully channelling the whirlwind violence of the Warsaw Uprising, the crushing lows of an Auschwitz shower party and the Rotten Sound of Regurgitate. The knuckle-dragging low-end bass would have Embury and Carlson banging their heads in shame. The vocals stay pretty pissed and gruff throughout, thus steering clear of the dungeons and dragons, zit-popping, banshee-fantasy realm that often plagues bands of this style. Had one not consulted the CD's scant packaging, one would assume that Johnny Casio was hitting skins on this release, as opposed to a real life drummer on an ultra-triggered kit. The songs are short. The playing is tight. The musicianship is technically sound. The production is huge. Fans of the genre should be crawling over their dismembered grandmothers to buy this record. [Rhys Davies]
Newcastle crew with credentials (ex and current members of The Dead Walk!, Arms Reach and Life Love Regret), Dropsaw have come up through the brutal school of hardcore that went very metal via Integrity in the late-eighties. On their Trial & Error debut, Missing Limbs, they’ve become the billionth HC band to feature a Robert DeNiro (and/or Al Pacino) sample on their record, a tough-guy quip from Casino about choosing between “the money or the hammer.” Thankfully, they at least use it in a semi interesting way by running it over the top of the foreboding metallic riffage of the opening title track. Unbridled tough-guy rage and unrelenting metal riffs ensue, with a sound poised on the fence between hardcore and metal. Even if you aren’t that into Dropsaw’s particular style of crossover (and just personally I find it a little too straightdown-the-line), there is a savagery to Missing Limbs that is hard to ignore. If you live for non-stop raging, violent metalcore with no sign of anything even remotely resembling a faggy emo chorus, Dropsaw carve out a nice line in that shit.
They are perhaps the greatest hardcore band Australia has seen ever, yet Extortion rarely opt to leave their home state of Western Australia, so as such folks like us over on the east coast are forced to live vicariously through each eagerly-anticipated release. This follow-up to their essential 7-inch and even more essential LP, Degenerate, is a ten-tracker that pummels straight over the top of you and spits in your eye by way of apology. Primed to kick heads and tear faces off, the intensity is as raging as ever, the tempos possibly their fastest yet, but there are only really a few tracks laced with the kind of hefty hooks that molested the ears so supremely on Degenerate, and as a result Control on the whole doesn’t have the same lasting impact. Opener “No Motive” is up there among Extortion’s best ever, a thirty second show of force virtually unparalleled in world hardcore at present, followed by “Useless”, another perfectly structured battering-ram that works you over several times during its short length. After them comes seven brutalising tracks (two of those under twenty seconds) made up of sheer flatout intensity and little else besides, with my interest peaking again during closer “Demolition”, a slower take on Extortion’s trademark type of violence that represents something a little different. Speaking of a little different, I hear their next album is a concept record about a guy who contracts bird flu and dies – sounds like just the kind of amazing thing that will ensure the killing doesn’t start to get too methodical.
Many Were Killed, Few Were Chosen (Rowdy Farrago) Distant relatives of English punk yobs The Destructors who existed ’77 to ’84, this rowdy punk rabble formed a couple of years ago as Destructors 666 (not to be confused with Aussie black metal phenomenon Destroyer 666) with a new line-up led by original frontman Allen “The Kid” Adams. Having released only EPs and splits thus far, Many Were Killed… is their first full-length and sees them having a dig at a few old Destructors nuggets like “AK47” and “Bullshit” as well as an extraordinarily average version of the Stooges’ “1970” where the flat, gruff vocals of Adams sound anything but “Kid”-like. If there is one redeeming feature here (besides the amazing one-note E-chord “Intro”), it’s the overwhelming earnestness on display, typified sharply by “I’ve Been Watching (The New York Dolls)”, replete with stolen “Jet Boy” riff. Doubt any second-hand stores are gonna trade me anything for it on the strength of its earnestness, though.
The Detroit Cobras Tied & True (Rough Trade/Shock)
It’s covers time once again, but on Tied & True the ’Cobras have shifted over from the smoke-filled barroom to work the cocktail lounge circuit on the road to Vegas. Abandoning the practice of polishing turds that was exercised far too regularly on their last album, Baby (2004), they have selected a batch of songs to finally grow their sound beyond its wilting country and garage roots. Never able to settle on a solid line-up, core Cobras, singer Rachel Nagy and guitarist Mary Ramirez/ Restrepo this time enjoy the presence of garage legend Greg Cartwright (Oblivians, Reigning Sound) on guitar, with long-serving drummer Kenny Tudrick (The Go) forming a tight rhythm section with new bass player Carol Schumacher (Reigning Sound). The more subtle soul-styled selections showcase the power of Nagy’s gorgeous honey-coated throat while opening up the sound of the band to justify the added instrumentation and larger-scale production. A gentle fusion of rock ‘n’ roll, soul, country, punk and blues with catchy girl-group-type vocal harmonies, this is about as sophisticated as garage gets before it starts to lose all its fun.
The Lion’s Skull later in the year, the CD consists of three previously released Earth pieces re-recorded using the cleaner tones and starker recording techniques they’ve recently adopted, plus one other track, “A Plague of Angels”, lifted from a limited-run tour-only split 12-inch with sunn O))). The more interesting DVD portion features a doco called Within The Drone filmed by Melbourne artist Seldon Hunt and comprising of interviews with leader Dylan Carlson inter-spliced with small amounts of live handy-cam footage gathered during the group’s 2006 European tour. Once you get over how much weight Carlson has stacked on since kicking the dreaded skag you should enjoy greatly the detailed insights he offers into sound theory and the processes employed by the group via these intimate backstage and hotel room conversations.
Devoured Flesh Regurgitation
Bones, Flesh ‘N’ Partysnacks (Grindhead) Broken-up Sydney splattergrinders Devoured Flesh Regurgitation deliver a posthumous release that doubles as their debut full-length and also their final farewell. As you might have guessed from the name and the album title, it’s the usual gore and splatter lyrics, which I s’pose matters very fucking little when one singer sounds like he’s got a cheese-grater stuck in his oesophagus and the other sounds like he’s trying to cough shit from his bowel up through his windpipe. The ridiculously low effect on one of the voices is hilarious, like a mic’d up cane toad routed through a double-octave PitchShifter. While the loose playing adds character to the traditional punk grind style they’re going for – think pre-Heartwork Carcass – the scrappy recording lets things down slightly. Devoured Flesh Regurgitation is dead. Now gore hounds are free to pick over the bones, feast on the flesh and enjoy the tasty partysnacks amongst “Chilli Cunt Carnival”, “Let’s Eat Vomit”, and other stupidly titled grind gems.
The Royal Rendezvous (Off The Hip) The MC5 have had a massive influence over rock ‘n’ roll (perhaps more often ideologically so than musically), especially up there in rock-crazed Sweden where Dollhouse hail from. MC5 is like religion to these cats; Kick Out The Jams, Back In The USA and High Time are the gospels; City Slang is the New Testament. Hallelujah, Brothers and Sisters! Produced by Nicke Andersson of the Hellacopters and issued locally through Off The Hip, this follow-up to Dollhouse’s 2004 debut The Rock And Soul Circus is a whiz-bang high-energy rock ‘n’ soul outpouring that pisses all over the past
Missing Limbs (Trial & Error/Stomp)
Hibernaculum 2-Disc CD/DVD (Southern Lord/Stomp) A CD/DVD release from Seattle drone innovators Earth pre-empting the release of the new album The Bee Made Honey In
Control EP (Trial & Error/Stomp)
The Hatchetmen Untitled EP (Self-released)
His Music, His Story 2-disc (Discriminate Audio)
When you get a CD as part of a “Boyd Rice Presents…” deal, you can be sure it’s gonna be pretty messed up. What’s more, this retrospective release by obscure rock ‘n’ roller Ralph Gean came courtesy of the one label ballsy enough to release Truck Drivin’ Psycho, the album by former Answer Me! zine genius Jim Goad. This set covers forty years of Gean’s music across two discs, for fans of haunting old-timey country, fifties rock ‘n’ roll and crazy novelty tunes. Disc one complies the best of Ralph recorded at various times from the early sixties to the late-nineties, from country to rock ‘n’ roll to cheesy lo-fi cabaret. Like Johnny Cash doing “The Monster Mash”, his classic ditty “Homicidal Me” kicks off proceedings with a savagery you don’t hear in a lot of country. While there is definitely a novelty aspect to it, it still holds up well, as do others like the astounding “Kill For A Cigarette”. The second disc features stuff recorded during Gean’s eight trips to Sun Studios after being “rediscovered” in the nineties, a personal favourite of mine being “Switzerland”, a warped lament about forbidden love: “She’s a neo-Nazi, and I’m a Christian Jew.” Gean’s personal life has been peppered with tragedy (at one time he was part of a Mormon splinter-sect and lived in a desert shack with multiple wives, at another he was living on the streets earning food money by busking), but having come through it all this set is an unequivocal triumph.
Gorilla Angreb S/T (Eerie Stratum)
This is the Australian pressing of the Gorilla Angreb discography CD, distinct from the Danish, US and Jap versions by its neat blue cover tone and live footage on enhanced CD. The fact it's been released in four different countries should tell you something about the touring schedule of the band, if not the fact that these are the kinds of high-energy punk tunes that people everywhere are losing their minds over. The second coming of Dangerhouse/Cali punk was in Copenhagen, Denmark: they had their Black Flags, their Fears, their Dead Kennedy's, and with Gorilla Angreb, their X/Bags/etc. Not to reduce it to being a carbon copy, but to suggest this band isn't firmly rooted in the tradition of great “song”-driven punk rock bands would be difficult and beyond me: to suggest they are as exciting and energising as those from the shitty streets of Los Angeles is not beyond me, and so, there ya go, I said it. This CD features their vinyl discography, most importantly the Bedre Tidre 12-inch EP and S/T 7-inches, both modern punk classics, and is to support their forthcoming tour on the east coast. [DX]
The follow-up to the Hatchetmen’s part live-part studio debut, this untitled effort has been around for ages but I only re-found it recently during a clean up, slung it in the disc-player, sounded good, so here’s the review... Five new songs with marginally more emphasis on production, the Hatchetmen are attempting to defy their duo status with frontman Iain McIntyre recording both bass and guitar parts to accompany Mark Parsons’ thudding drums. A sinewy stew of basic garage (with an emphasis on basic), post-punk, country and even new-wave, two personal favourites being “Spider Song” (think Brown Reason-era Butthole Surfers playing something off Hairway To Steven) and “Dustbowl Tears” (think like Deep Wound playing Joy Division). Also included are bonus video clips for two of the songs, “Trouble Girl” and “Tellin’ Those Lies Again Blues,” which both use old archival footage to cool effect. As a quick aside, McIntyre has also just released the experimental CD/DVD A Warning: Original Soundtrack, a jarring visual mash with “Casio drone” music backing.
Hooked On Spastics EP (Non-Zero) If you know much about this awesome hi-energy punk rock band, they have an obsession with spasticity and an unfailing faith that their band rules and yours probably sucks arse. Jed Whitey simply rocks harder, and this three-track single is testament to this truth. The title track lyrically explains the clinical reality of genetic Down’s Syndrome. Rumour has it that one member of Jed Whitey (Yes, Jed Whitey is not a solo artist!) is a doctor of sorts. All this talk of “genetic over-expression” is not without its detractors. JJJ honcho Richard Kingsmill took one look at the cover art, a parody of Hooked On Classics, and wrote it off immediately. Karma is a funny one; recently on a return flight from Perth the Whiteys were surrounded by a number of the “chromosomally endowed” who turned turbulence into a vomit party. Track two, “Take Me To Your Dealer” is a fast-as-fuck riff-fest reworking of an old song. Track three is a catchy rendition of the Weirdos’ “Solitary Confinement”. My only beef is that there are only three tracks. [Clownfynder General]
Spencer P. Jones & The Escape Committee Fugitive Songs (Spooky/MGM)
Melbourne legend Spencer Jones recently led the Beasts Of Bourbon to glory yet again on their Alberts debut, Little Animals, now comes a new solo effort on Spooky, Fugitive Songs. Enjoying the constant support of Escape Committee line-up Phil Gionfriddo (guitar), Helen Cattanach (bass) and Andy Moore (drums), perennial survivor Jones staggers casually through twelve fine country rock ‘n’ roll numbers and only occasionally ends up face-down in the gutter. I always thought he did a better version of “The Day Marty Robbins Died” with The Johnnies on Highlights Of A Dangerous Life (1986) than the earlier one on Beasts Of Bourbon’s The Axeman’s Jazz (1984). But in the case of “Thanks”, which closes out both Fugitive Songs and Little Animals, the slowed-down Beasts version with Tex Perkins’ smouldering drawl probably just edges out the one here, even if Jones’ frail vocal does sound more believable giving thanks for drugs and alcohol.
Johnny Casino & The Secrets
New Clothes, Old Shoes (Off The Hip) Asteroid B612 axeman Johnny Spittles’ (aka Johnny Casino) is one of the filthiest and fluid rock ‘n’ roll axemen Australia’s got. To look at his rotund frame and hear him playing those sweet licks you’d almost believe he’d eaten Gram Parsons and Sonic Smith, guitars and all. Stepping slightly sideways from his work with Asteroids and Johnny Casino’s Easy Action, New Clothes, Old Shoes is a sprawling LP that runs a gamut of styles, so huge in scope that it took Spittles two years and two different bands to complete. With Guru Brad Shepherd contributing mouth harp and banjo and a host other noted players like Scotty Nash (Asteroid B612, Brother Brick), Bill Gibson (Eastern Dark, Pyramidiacs), Kent Steedman (Celibate Rifles), Kendall James (Crusaders, Persian Rugs), Grahame Spittles (Asteroid B612) and pianoplayer Jeremy Craib (Bluejuice, Bow Campbell’s Bloody Hell) all rising above the mundane, it’s a record like no one in Australia has yet fathomed nor dared to make. Cover versions of Bob Dylan songs are liable to suck arse (Yes, I’m looking in your direction, Bryan Fucking Ferry!), but not when Spittles is around (no pun intended). The big fella was probably being funny when he selected “Ballad Of A Thin Man”, but he removes all sense of irony by brewing his own smouldering blues from the song’s essence. On New Clothes, Old Shoes Johnny Spittles chews up every last thing he’s bitten off, and that’s a helluva lot.
Stayin’ Alive (Trial & Error/Stomp) Stayin’ Alive opens with the Cro-Magnon thud of a 500-pound knife-wielding Puerto-Rican gang member falling through the glass window at A7. Subsequent tracks see these Sydney-based Croweaters tread the Hudson Rivers of Tommy Caroll Golden Gloves 1-2, and the major-chord soul riffs of Dr. Know. Lyrically, STIZZE ALIZZLE relies less on the comedic shtick of earlier releases and bases the verbal trajectory around a more serious platform. However, fear not die-hard Jungle Fever fans, for this release still features the distinctive Gabriel Delaine you-wrecked-mespokes-and-nicked-me-basketball-cards vocal delivery, the ever-popular “House Gang” dance parts and the occasional experimental mind-warp that helps this band stand apart from many of their lifeless contemporaries. Jah Blessings! [Rhys Davies]
Justice Yeldham Cicatrix (Sweatlung)
The first ever CD from blood-spilling noise freak Justice Yeldham (aka Lucas Abela) comes not through his own Dual Plover label but Sweatlung, run outta Melbourne by local legend Pete Hyde of Whitehorse/Missing Link fame. It’s presented in four parts: Part One is the “Studio” section, Part Two “Digital Soundchecks”, Part Three “Live” and Part Four “Video”. The “Studio” tracks and also the three “Digital Soundchecks” recorded on tour in 2005 are refreshingly inventive for someone who’s just blowing and biting on bits of glass, with noises ranging from VU-overloaded rumblings to weird UFO landings to random blips and bubbles. It’s fair to say a large part of what The Justice does is reliant on visuals, but he compensates nicely for the loss by offering more subtlety and variety than you are liable to hear when he rips-and-tears live. This more basic live approach is represented here via recordings from Zurich, Toronto and Chippendale, while an additional enhanced video file delivers a snippet of gruesome glass-eating footage shot in Bologna, Italy. At just twenty-three seconds in length, though, it could be considered more of a tease than a legit bonus.
Rain On Your Parade (In-Fidelity) With two of the three members comprising the better-established and more popular dynamic duo Digger & The Pussycats, Kamikaze Trio’s struggle for recognition has perhaps been a symptom of a greater struggle to find a definite identity. Though fairly unique-sounding, their debut of 2005, Danger Money (and to a lesser extent the follow-up French Lick EP), offered somewhat tentative post-punk variations on the swamp stomp of Digger, with added bass. But Rain On Your Parade is a complete jump to hyperspace, a self-assured and bludgeoning blend of bluesy garage, bullocking post-punk and fuzzedout nineties indie rock. “My Demons” takes less than half a bar to let you know it means serious business, roaring to life with a damaging Mark Of Cain postpunk attack. Fuzz-laden Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. guitars drench the title track, while the weighty as “I Came So Far To Lose” and the awesome hook in “Then I Hit The Ground” also come wailing straight outta Dinosaur country. “The Park” is like the Melvins imbued with the spirit of Satan and Pink Floyd. Unruly guitars and a creeping bassline drive the distorto-blues of “Send Me A Sign”, providing the perfect link back to the old garage-inflected sound on closer “7-to-1”. Too good to ignore, just make sure you don’t fucking ignore it okay.
Katastrophy Wife Heart-On EP (RiSH/MGM)
Ex-Babes In Toyland leader Kat Bjelland returns after a few years in the wilderness with a new EP for a revamped Katastrophy Wife through new Sydney indie RiSH Records. Accompanied by drummer Adrian Johnson, Kat shows she’s lost none of her fire, as she strums and screams the thudding and primal lead track “Heart On” with deadly emotional venom. A threadbare sound with no bass and a constant pounding tom beat means Kat’s fuzz guitar and snarling vocal dominate proceedings, her treated scream midway through like fingernails down a blackboard. Track two is her loose interpretation of “Run To Hills”, which is bound to have Maiden fans screwing up their noses worse than Nick McBrain but again shows the animal savagery in her singing and her almost primordial guitar-playing technique. A unique display of feedback, bleeding-throated screeching and finger-tapping guitar, its got balls big enough to bust Bruce Dickinson’s denim shorts.
Rejectionville (Reverberation) Led by mainstay Ian Underwood (guitar/vocals), Perth garage power pop outfit Kryptonics were the descendents of Perth psych-pop-punks the Scientists with a sound more like a punkier Hoodoos Gurus who recorded some great fuzzedsoaked tunes from the mid-eighties to earlynineties. As well as featuring the talents of future Lubricated Goat pair Pete Hartley (guitar) and Brett Ford (drums), at different times Kryptonics also boasted two of this country’s finest drummers – Russell Hopkinson (You Am I, Vicious Circle, Nursery Crimes, Radio Birdman) and Peter Kostic (Front End Loader, Hard-Ons, Naxzul, Regurgitator). This budget-priced 2-disc 37-track anthology includes their entire recorded output plus an extra CD of unreleased live and studio tracks presented in a gatefold wallet with a 28-page booklet. Covering the many different phases and line-ups, I wouldn’t exactly call this essential, but taking into consideration the fact that every track here is being issued on CD for the very first time, plenty of you older farts would doubtlessly disagree.
Caution: Danger Concentrated
The Art Of Partying (Earache/Riot!) hook you in and drag you down, he knows when to let you drift and float. The last couple of songs spiral off in an a harder direction, as he and band jam it out for over twenty minutes on the trippy closer “She’s Intermediate/Hoodoo Joe”. If the success of The Drones in 2005 gave people hope that the Australian music industry could actually validate something real and good, the continued ignorance of James McCann shows you that was merely a token effort and that nothing really changes. The Spaniards on the other hand, now they get it.
Disturb The Hive (Resist/Shock) It may have just been a matter of time until Australia’s most credible long-standing heavy hardcore band signed with Australia’s most successful heavy hardcore label, and hopefully now Mindsnare may get the extra push they truly deserve. Apparently there were a few locker-room confessionals between the band and long-time producer dw Norton after the release of 2005’s The Death about how they’d never managed to quite gun down the dirty varmit they were hunting
Given To The Rising (Neurot/Stomp)
Last Night I Met The Devil (Bang!)
The third and latest radioactive beer-bong from Municipal Waste reminds me of “Party Animals” off Surfin’ M.O.D. – a rowdy thrashin’ keg party. Though hardly a progression in sound at all, I wouldn’t say MW are struggling with the confines of being a throwback thrash band, more that they were on the money right off the bat writing and playing this kind of wicked shit. Their fans don’t want to hear a mature jump in sound, they want to hear full-tilt thrash riffage, sick mosh parts and lyrics espousing the wonders of partying, food fights and radioactivity; and that’s exactly what Municipal Waste give ‘em, fifteen times over with two bonus tracks. The production has had a beef injection courtesy of metallic hardcore magician Zeuss (Terror, Hatebreed, Throwdown), but otherwise the song remains pretty much the same. At first nothing seems as memorable as “Terror Shark” or “Unleash The Bastards”, but give ‘em some time and “Headbanger Face Rip”, “Chemically Altered” and the rest will have your head banging off your neck and your mosh-o-meter on overload. As the irresistible shout-along part at the end of killer closer “Born To Party” says: “Municipal Waste is gonna FUCK! YOU! UP!” Here’s hoping they boogieboard back to Australia again real soon.
Released through Spanish label Bang!, this second full-length by James McCann (ex-Drones, Harpoon) is more emotive blues, country and rock from the pit of his fiery belly. Like the debut, Where Was I Then, Last Night I Met The Devil utilises McCann’s favoured production team of himself, Aaron Cupples (Alpha Males) and Gareth Liddiard (The Drones). Recorded over a long stretch of time back in 2003-04, it sounds anything but piece-meal, even the rawest 4-track recording, “Through The Night”, finding a place at the heart of what is an all-over inspired release. “Knowing Smile” kicks it off with a killer hook, a fluid little George Harrison slide lick and uplifting layered vocals. Both a foundation member of and an influence on The Drones, McCann’s sound contains many similar trace elements, and here he finds room for many smoky, evocative swamp tunes, “Been Round Here”, “Black Brown And Blue” and “Town’s Full Of Smoke” among the best. A master musical craftsman, he knows when to
for all this time. Following an exchange of tactical information they blasted out the essential 7-inch fondly known as “Gasman”, kicking it up a notch in the production stakes, and in the thrash stakes as well. But with Disturb The Hive they’ve blown the fucker’s head right to smithereens. When “I Can See Blood” starts up the air around the speakers ignites with the sound of all-out fist-pumping thrash. The first five tracks are in the same mould of “Hangover From Hell” from Gasman – savage crossover thrash hardcore, like a putrid stew of Integrity, Exodus and Obituary. It’s not until Side-A closer, “Turn You Inside Out”, that they elect to deviate even slightly from the flat-out pummel of blinding thrash riffs and jackhammer drums, slowing things down in order to build the pressure back up again. A couple of more measured and diverse tracks in the middle like “Deleted” and “In This World” bring a few new ideas and allow time to catch half a breath before the no-holds-barred thrash finale. If ever Mindsnare had been overlooked, now is the time for all to turn around and acknowledge that they have remained credible by evolving at their own rate and managing to raise the bar with each release. When the Nuclear Assault cover (“Hang The Pope” – only on the vinyl version) finished I got up and gave this a standing ovation.
It gets a bit old y’know, this bloody critics blowing smoke up Neurosis’ pipehole, but goddamn it, how can you not rave about a band who after so many years of pushing the envelope comes up with yet another magical, yet seemingly effortless, new album without ever diluting what they had, nor trying to overcompensate for the fact that young marauders have now raided most of the brilliant ideas from the LPs they released fifteen years ago? Steve Albini is not a man in the habit of adding magic to performances that lack it (see all-new Stooges album for proof), but never mind, because Neurosis bring all the magic and wonder an open-minded heavy music hound can handle, drawing you into a void of no-fuck-around metallic rock. You could almost get lost in these cavernous songscapes. In fact, I’d imagine if you got this album into a darkened room on a decent stereo through a decent set of headphones with some decent smoko you probably wouldn’t come back as the same person. Like each Neurosis album so far, Given To The Rising is yet another ring in the bark of an ancient tree we can only hope will continue to flourish for years to come.
is a bit of a harsh call since it’s a term liable to conjure visions of icky plastic Iron Maiden wannabes in spandex and mascara who know karate and gymnastics, but, essentially, that’s what Palm do. The all-over package they present is pure dynamite - a white-hot meld of Converge crossover embedded with wicked seventies stoner grooves and tempered with occasional flourish of Envy-style ambience. With lengthy songs that move effortlessly from high-riding stoner to crushing emotional hardcore to dreamy post-rock, the twenty-two minute closer, “紡ぐ人 間” is more epic than Godzilla Vs King Kong.
Phantom Limb (Relapse/Riot!)
Tribal Heat In A Dead Town LP (Autistic) This should really have been reviewed in vinyl reviews a few pages over but that section was all done and dusted by the time this DIY LP from Brissy no-wave kids On/Oxx impregnated my mailslot, the sad irony being that On/Oxx broke up in October last year and Tribal Heat… was meant to come out in November but it got stuck in manufacturing hell. But anyway, it’s here now and it’s even more amazing than anyone could’ve hoped – packaging, pressing, music, the works. Opening with a clarinet honking aimlessly on a faraway astral plane, two crazy scene-stealing drummers leap in and start slapping skin with all the looseness of a horny queer on Amyl while a gravely bass rumbles along for added atonality. Ox/Oxx then proceed to fling post-punk, free jazz and no wave ideas around like a mudfight between gangs of retarded tribal natives, with primitive spaz rhythms and Zoot Horn Rollo guitars suddenly bursting out into these infectious bratty group chants. They say all good things must come to an end – they must be talking about On/Oxx.
Healing Through Fire (Mayan/Riot!) Since England’s Orange Goblin are your typical meat and potatoes Sabbath worshippers and I was raised on steak, spuds and “Supernaut”, we were always bound to get along. Healing Through Fire is their fifth album and their first new stuff since 2004’s Thieving From The House Of God. Nothing schmancy – in fact it’s their cheapest and nastiest production job so far – just groovy detuned meat and potatoes stoner rock with the occasional splash of tomato sauce on top. Again, we’re talking lowest common denominator garnish here, but to add anything more extravagant would just tarnish this perfect pub lunch. Creatively they’re a cut below fellow gutter-dwelling U.K. doom merchants Electric Wizard, Raging Speedhorn, and Viking Skull, but anyone into those bands as well as the heavier end of Grand Funk, the simpler side of Melvins or the grittier underbelly of Clutch shouldn’t find it too hard to get into the Goblin’s spirited groove.
S/T (S.M.D.) String-bend aficionados from Osaka, Japland who smashed through some parts of Australia on their second tour in late-May/early-June, Palm make bluesy doomy sludgy metalcore and live by the creed “Life Is Blues”. Maybe “metalcore”
For iceheads and metalheads alike comes a new teeth pulling, skin-stripping, faceripping release from the unfortunately monikered Pig Destroyer. Math metal, technical death and avant-grind punishment is their business, and business is booming. In fact, astronomical complexity in extreme metal almost seems like the fashion at the moment, but fuck knows why there’s all these little MySpace metal pussies losing their loads over bands like (Blow)Job For A Cowboy when Pig Destroyer have been out there doing it better for years. Phantom Limb is like a full-blown bukkake in the face of all these over-hyped fucks. Busier than a milf at a motherfuckers’ convention, it’s never laidback, always on the attack – pure bludgeoning insanity. Having said that, Pig Destroyer have gotten better at writing meatier, dare I say it, groovier riffs, and, more importantly, putting songs ahead of chaos. For fucksake, five of the fourteen tracks here top three minutes! Still operating sans bass, it’s beefier and heavier than anything PD have produced, with killer lyrics that put a wry spin on the usual grindgore fare. “I hold your hand in mine, The rest of you is scattered all over / Your rib cage is open like a Great White Shark's jaws, Your legs look so sexy out of context.” You think that’s fucked up, wait till you hear it.
Hope For Men (Sub Pop/Stomp) I was at an NRL match out at historic Leichhardt Oval one Sunday arvo earlier this year when the heavens cracked open and it didn’t stop bucketing down for the rest of the game. Braving the second half watching my beloved Tigers get done, soaked to the bone, freezing with a skin-full of larger and a bladder fit to explode, I decided things couldn’t get much worse so I just pissed in my jeans right there on the spot. It was so warm, so relieving, I’ve had ecstasy tabs that didn’t give me as big a thrill. It was almost a religious experience, and the people standing next to me soaked to the ball sacks were none the wiser. Sure, it turned cold quick-smart, and I smelled like a fucking derelict the next day when my jeans dried, but that piss sensation will be remembered long after any of the negative shit will, just like the good bits of this noisy rock enchilada from a new SubPop band that sound they're on AmRep. Prone to the odd indulgent lapse, Pissed Jeans at their best are admittedly pretty great, but they’ll never match up to the real thing.
Dual debut EPs from Adelaide spaz project Robotosaurus (ex and current dudes from The Rivalry, Love Like... Electrocution, Equal Minded, Jonestown Syndicate, Donkey Kong, etc.), Sayra Bahk Volumes One and Two correlate conceptually to tell a story that unravels like a sci-fi fantasy made for role-playing dweebs. Heavy concepts aside, it’s world class chaotic spastic hardcore/metal/grind in the vein of The Locust, Some Girls, Botch, Daughters, et al. Typified by jagged rhythms, mathy guitars, blast beat drumming and the occasional piggy squeal, song lengths range from forty seconds to fifteen minutes! Packing a ton of spirit and emotion, Robotosaurus possess an intimate understanding of the style they’re going for, and if you’re a fan of any of the above-mentioned bands I highly recommend picking up both these EPs. There’s arguably no band in the country producing kind of this spasmodic hardcore/metal/grind meld with as much confidence and/or sophistication.
reinstated former six-string-slinger Mick Cocks, who has the heritage points on board as well as the finely-honed chops (having made recent inroads in Europe with his own band Doomfoxx) to bring cred and bite to this tribute to fallen comrades. Cocks spits out the crisp opening chords of Stevie Wright’s “Black Eyed Bruiser” like a volley of poison darts before the whole band chimes in sounding bold as brass. Angry Anderson’s Little Big Man Syndrome shoots instantly to the fore. Still a menacing and powerful presence after all these years, when Angry opens up that soulful bluesy throat of his most other rock singers aren’t fit to wash his car, spit-polish his boots or mow his lawn. The songs are your typical westie rock ‘n’ roll anthems, a ballad here and there, pretty fucking rockin’, occasionally a bit crass. Of course, it’s never gonna be up there with the Self-titled and Scarred For Life, but if you’re a die-in-the-wool bogan are you gonna listen to these old fuckers bring it from the heart or Airbourne do a razzle-dazzle sports team imitation?
Ryokuchi / Fire Witch Tour Split EP (S.M.D.)
Don’t be fooled by the Grindhead logo slapped on the back of this sucker – there’s not a single blast beat or ruptured internal organ lyric in sight. Roncsipar, instead, is a Hungarian-language atmospheric industrial metal project started by Long Pig growler Vajsz Kornél (guitar, vocals, sequencers, programming) who was joined sometime after by Illés Dávid (bass, laptop). Eighties UK cold metal ala Head of David and Godflesh mashed with Euro darkwave industrial ala Skinny Puppy, Antimonumentum offers a good mix of organic and electronic sounds, though on the whole it seems a bit dated. If you’re into classic Skinny Puppy, Swervedriver, Ministry and the like you might get something out of this. Sounds like something I might’ve been into fifteen years ago, but like everything else, there’s probably a revival on the way and I just don’t know about it.
Issued to commemorate the joint 2007 Japanese/ Australian tour by Osaka’s Ryokuchi and Melbourne’s Fire Witch, this split disc offers a small dose of each band’s respective powers for lovers of heavy bass and drumming instrumentals. Two-piece Ryokuchi shit out soul-shaking heavy bass frequencies accompanied by majestic drumming that finds very little use for a snare. The best of their two tracks, “遍 照金剛-Henjokongo-” is an sixteen minute skullsmasher akin to having thick doom sludge poured into your ears until your head caves in. Maintaining the crushing steamroller pace, Firewitch and their two bass guitars and drums set-up opt for a slow build up on the first of their three tracks, “Villain”. Gradually rising to a point over its twelve-minute length, it suddenly allows all tension to dissipate as it flows into “Terra Nullius”, a ten-minute outing so subtle as to barely even exist, bar for a lively final minute where the drums suddenly explode to life to hammer home the finish. Closer “I Spilled A Lot Of Blood To Get This Meal” brings it all together – the subtlety, the explosiveness, the nothingness and the noise.
Secret Chiefs 3
Last time I saw Rosy Tatts live, which was a couple years back, Pete “Killer” Wells [R.I.P] didn’t look in the best shape, but his guitar playing was still hands-down the best thing about the band. But with the great slide-man’s passing last year, Angry and the lads made the smartest move possible and
Former Mr. Bungle guitarist Trey Spruance’s long-time project Secret Chiefs 3 utilise bits and pieces of surf, salsa, world music, electronica, metal, cabaret and anything else to lash together a schizophrenic soundtrack to an imaginary foreign film. A comp
Blood Brothers (Rose Tattoo)
Path Of Most Resistance (Web Of Mimicry)
Sayra Bahk Vol. One: Last Refuge Of The Exiled Man EP (Yellow Ghost) Sayra Bahk Vol. Two: Triformais EP (Yellow Ghost)
drawing together previously issued stuff from the band’s three studio albums as well as the ’98 live recording Eyes Of Flesh, Eyes Of Flame, Path Of Most Resistance features many different line-ups and incarnations of Secret Chiefs, from the basic trio of their namesake to a mutant tenpiece utilising instruments such as “bowed saw”, “sarangi” and “santur”, whatever the fuck that is. With several cool bonuses including a pair of screwed-up Beach Boys covers and enhanced video footage from ABC’s Recovery in ’98, the best/worst of the lot is the cheeseball version of “I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus”, with weirdarse singing by Neil Hamburger’s alter ego Gregg Turkington (Faxed Head/Zip Code Rapists/etc.).
Caution: Danger Concentrated
Sirhan Sirhan S/T EP (Self-released)
This self-released six-song recording from San Diego crazies Sirhan Sirhan comes as a spray-painted CD-R housed in a jewel case sprayed in a blend of silver and pink with the band’s name in sketchy black stencil. Guitarist/vocalist Jason “Blackie” Blackmore made up these wicked packages and also wrote the lion’s share of the filthy acidic punk tunes contained within. Recorded in a shed by Hot Snakes/Beehive & The Barracudas bassist Gar Wood, it sounds like absolute horseshit, but that’s all part of the charm. An intriguing musical nightmare of murderous, feral screaming punk noise with a sound unlike anything else out there – and I do mean “out there”. Having talked it up though, a couple of songs currently on their MySpace page sound even more demented than these, and I hear they just finished a new recording overseen by Joby J. Ford of the Bronx – expect nothing short of total jihad when that bomb drops.
Jazz Brutus (Low Transit Industries/Inertia) Showing they have much more to offer than the Detroit-style high-energy rock they’d forged their rep on, this third full-length finds Melbourne rock devils the Specimens trading in their broken-down muscle cars and taking off to some new destinations. They’ve lost none of their power to rock, merely brought in a fresh production approach and some cool songwriting ideas, adding what could almost be described as a psychedelic pop element to their existing Powder Monkeys/Hellacopters-style R.O.C.K. “I’m A Believer” is not a Monkees cover as such but it does steal the main line from the tune and in a way betrays the bubblegum influence underlying Jazz Brutus. Recorded by the band at a house in Northcote, it has a unique sound – treble-heavy and tinny, yet still driving and powerful. Bar the spacey, faraway vocals and the large amount of experimentation that has gone into pulling a wide variety of sounds, there are very few other bells and whistles – just a killer rock band bringing Turbonegro riffs and Electric Prunes melodies together in style.
Greatest Trips (All Killer) Some may remember Melbourne power trio Stiff Kittens from the early nineties, descendents of our own pop-rock royalty like the Sunnyboys, Scientists and Triffids only with a sound perhaps closer to the Replacements – pop-rock infected with surf and country influences and infused with a punk vigour. They played around the traps, released
Gonna Drop The Atom Bomb” launches in overdrive with a “You Could Be Mine” chord progression and a touch of that unmistakable Turbo magic sprinkled on top. At first “Hell Toupée” seems kinda lame, until you pick up on genius lyrical passages like: “Spent my life fighting off the pigs / Drinking beer and smoking cigs / Stealing riffs and blowing gigs / But now I’m stuck, Googling for wigs.” “Stroke The Shaft” is more toilet humour as only Turbonegro can manage: “Stoke the shaft, make it last / Not too fast, the head’s off limits!” With lyrics that show just a tiny bit more subtlety, the slower and moodier “I Wanna Come” slows the pace to deliver a “Gimme Danger”-type brooder with glockenspiel that adds a Bad Seeds-y feel, while “Hot And Filthy” just plain rocks hard. “Everybody Loves A Chubby Dude” is so ridiculous you have to laugh out loud, but the stupidity keeps in coming through “What Is Rock?!”, which has to be one of the greatest odes to the ridiculousness of the rock mythos yet penned: “What is rock?! Rock is the part between the balls and the anus of a dog or of a man / What is rock?! Rock is the possibility of choking on your own vomit, in the back of a rapist’s van...” Turbonegro may have graduated to cardboard cut out status, but shit they can still shake it.
The Vile Cherubs
The Man Who Has No Eats Has No Sweats [reissue] (Afterburn)
a couple of EPs, toured the U.S. and U.K. before carrying on that fine Aussie rock tradition of dying a cruel death in London. This discography comprises selections from the four EPs released by the ’Kittens between ’92 and ’95, including the last two, Fat Boy and Face, which have never been released in Australia before. I wish I could say Greatest Trips is a burning meteorite from the past come back to knock everyone on their arse, but it’s more just a cool stroll down memory lane for anyone who remembers Stiff Kittens fondly.
The Super Insurgent Group of Intemperance Talent Visible Idea Of Perfection (Caveman!/Reverberation)
Since I can’t name one other Indonesian rock ‘n’ roll band I’m gonna cut The Super Insurgent Group Of Intemperance Talent some slack. For some reason it just seems a hell of a lot more interesting to hear a band who grew up in West Java play AC/DC riffs with pop melodies than it is to hear a Melbourne band do the same. The SIGIT are exotic, so they’re bound to get away with shit a local band would doubtlessly get toasted for. Like if this was the latest by Jet or The Exploders or British India or some other over-supported local combo I wouldn’t even be bothered reviewing it, let alone trying to look for the positives. “Black Amplifier” kicks off this full-length debut with a stolen Alice Cooper riff and a Datsuns-like swagger, setting a solid platform for the boppy melodic rock ‘n’ roll record to follow. If you like the idea of non-threatening hard-pop-rock that sounds like it could’ve some from Sweden or Australia but is in fact played by skinny dudes from Southeast Asia, The SIGIT ain’t bad listening.
The Thought Criminals Peace Love & Under Surveillance EP (Doublethink)
Peace, Love And Under Surveillance is a limitedrun EP available to punters that attended either of The Thoughties’ two February 2007 shows at Sydney’s Annandale and Melbourne’s The Tote. Like Devo and the other more subversive new wave bands, the things Thought Criminals were singing about in the late-seventies have as much, if not more relevance now. It’s admirable that they’ve come back after so long out of the game to pick up the threads of the new wave punk sound they finished up with. They haven’t updated things a hell of a lot, merely relocated the lyrical concepts to the here and now, but the razor-sharp wordplay still slices through the bullshit as keenly on phrases like, “This camouflage is so last year / I wouldn’t be seen dead in it,” from closer “Take Over Target”. Since I was born too late to have been a fan in the first instance, it’s hard for me to be too critical at all. To me Peace, Love And Under Surveillance sounds as good as Thought Criminals ever were.
Turbonegro Retox (Shock)
It’s either the best postresurrection album so far or my expectations were so low after Party Animals I’ve lost all perspective. Either way, Turbonegro have become a parody, yet still they continue to rock. Like its two predecessors, Retox is based on the Apocalypse Dudes blueprint, but it may well just be Turbo’s punkiest album since Ass Cobra. With an intro stolen from “Holiday In Cambodia”, “We're
A reissue of the one and only proper LP by eighties D.C. garage hackers The Vile Cherubs, this limited edition, hand-numbered (I got 71 of 1000) CD release from Melbourne’s Afterburn Records comes packaged in an unreal cardboard case that houses the disc itself as well as a complex family tree and several miniature reproductions of old gig flyers. I s’pose the fact that this was the early band of Tim Green (Nation Of Ulysses, Fucking Champs) will garner interest up front, but with the nine original cuts from the posthumous ’93 Dischord Records release plus five previously unreleased tunes (including rehearsal takes and a live Yardbirds cover), anyone into fuzzy sixties psych-beat-inspired punk will take great pleasure in having their eardrums lambasted by this slab of rediscovered greatness.
At Home With You [reissue] (Aztec) Aztec Music are spending large amounts of time and effort lovingly restoring and repackaging some fine nuggets of Australian psych-beat, boogie, punk, whatever. This reissue of X’s second LP comes in a smart double-sided digipak with an extra disc of live tracks plus a 24-page booklet with extensive liner notes by Ian McFarlane. A much more ambitious and finely-crafted effort than their searing debut X-Aspirations (1979), At Home With You saw Cathy Green of Canberra jazzpunks *** *** come in to replace Steve Cafiero on drums, as mainstays Ian Rilen (bass/vocals) [R.I.P] and Steve Lucas (guitar) attempted to push the punk rock envelope. With a more complex postpunk swing and contributions from Hunters And Collectors’ brass section The Horns Of Contempt, it’s an Oz classic undoubtedly worthy of such a princely package. The bonus disc, recorded liveto-air in ’85 for PBS FM at Melbourne’s Prince Of Wales Hotel is an excellent presentation of their live power and precision at the time. There’s a rumour that X-Aspirations is next in line for the lavish Aztec re-issue treatment, and also an even more vicious one that Steve Lucas is scheduled for a chat in the next issue of UNBELIEVABLY Bad.
Love Is A Mix Tape Rod Sheffield (Bantam)
It makes sense that Danger gave this book to a female reviewer. What with the pretty pink heart on the cover and the word “love” in the title, it would be easy to assume that Love Is A Mix Tape was a girl’s book, cover to cover. But the themes of love and music are universal, and this book takes an ultra personal story and renders it relevant to almost anyone. Rob Sheffield is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, and Love Is A Mix Tape is the story of his own life using actual mix tapes that he has made or received as milestone markers. Each chapter begins with a graphic representation of a cassette insert, handwritten with the A & B sides of the soundtrack/s to his life. From the teenage years we have “Roller Boogie” - the mix tape he agonised over for the school dance. Then in 1989 there was the first mix tape he made for his future wife, Renee - and it is their love story that makes up the bulk of the book. It is a story imbued with sadness from the very beginning, as the reader learns from the opening passages that Renee died suddenly at age 31, just five years into their marriage. Mixed up with all their cute little stories about falling in love against the backdrop of sweaty rock shows and dodgy bars, Rob offers theories about the alchemy of creating the perfect mix tape and harrowing insights into the unenviable world of the early widowed. Saving this sorrowful tale from mawkishness is the vibrancy and honesty of Sheffield's memories of his deceased wife. He honours her as a real person, through her music taste, her idiosyncrasies and her hand-sewn outfits. This is a true story with a time and a place and a soundtrack that anyone familiar with the “alternative” nineties will instinctively be nostalgic about. As Sheffield philosophises, it is a time that has definitely receded into the landscape of the “past”, and he mourns its passing as he mourns his beloved Renee. If you are interested in human relationships and music, and the way that human relationships and music have a relationship in themselves, then you will most certainly be touched by this book. And if you have ever lost a lover to early death, I can only imagine this book would be unbearable. [Angelica Von Helle]
Ron Jeremy: The Hardest (Working) Man in Showbiz Ron Jeremy w/ Eric Spitznagel (Harper Entertainment)
They called him The Hedgehog because he’s short, squat and hairier than a yeti. He’s the everyman blessed with the schlong of a donkey and the low moral fibre that allowed him to stick it into thousands of unfamiliar vaginas in front of movie cameras in return for financial gain for three decades. But Ron Jeremy would have you believe he is so much more than just simply the luckiest son of a bitch in the world. Far from being a mere (pardon the pun) wank-fest for Ron to obsess over the exploits of
Literate Reviews for rockin’ bookworms
his well-travelled pork sword, this ghost-written autobiography takes pains to detail his other talents as a classical pianist, special education teacher, college lecturer and humanitarian of the century. Laying it on a bit thick at times, his frustration at being shunned by Hollywood for roles in major motion pictures reaches embarrassing levels, shaded ever so slightly for tackiness by his name-dropping of just about every celeb he’s ever rubbed shoulders with. While he does offer the occasional insight into life in the porno movie biz, it’s written in a kind of lighthearted fashion and doesn’t deliver any particularly dark tales of sleaze. And when Ron invites you, the reader, to join him in the fight to solve world hunger, well you’ve got to wonder how long ago it was that The Hedgehog’s ego outgrew his vital appendage.
cash willy-nilly, but rest assured those that do make the outlay will be richly reimbursed by the quality of this corpulent compendium. A massive 500 pages self-published by the author, Insision bassist Daniel Ekeroth, the impressive design is peppered with rare band photos, gig flyers, and album and demo cover artwork, while the heavy gloss paper stock and quality printing job go a long way to justifying the asking price. Kicking off the story in the early-to-mideighties with the exploits of one-man Swedish powerhouse Bathory, Ekeroth explains in methodical fashion all the influences that would come into play later in the decade when groups
such as Nihilist (who morphed into Entombed), Carnage, Dismember and Grave would pick up the threads to create something definably “Swedish” and definably “death”. Since death metal itself was a genre neither germinated in nor confined to Sweden, Ekeroth does a commendable job of deciding when to allow outside influence to creep into the tale without losing focus. His writing style is quite fluid for someone for whom English is a second language, and he definitely knows his shit. He fleshes out his own hypercritical insights on the music with quotations extracted from countless hours of interviews conducted with many prominent players of the scene, among them Nicke Andersson (Nihilist, Entombed, Hellacopters), Tomas Lindberg (Grotesque, At The Gates, Disfear) and Fred Estby (Dismember, Carnage). Tracing the evolution of Swedish Death Metal, Ekeroth champions many unsung bands and gives you the true insider story, as opposed to merely what was filtered out of the country through Kerrang!. He runs off on tangents about significant happenings in extremity, such as the signing of crossover/grind crew Filthy Christians to Earache Records and the rise of black metal bands like Marduk, which all contributes to placing his specific subject, death metal, in greater context. He ceases his tale around 1993, giving short shrift to elucidations on the already well-told yarn of how Swedish Death gained a second life through more melodic groups like At The Gates and In Flames. The back third of this tome is taken up with an intensive A-to-Z of Swedish Death Metal Bands, containing roughly 900 entries of groups both old and new, followed by page-upon-page of mostly crappy gig flyer artwork plus a killer Swedish metal fanzine guide. To call this exhaustive would be an understatement - you’ll be out of breath just carrying it home from the shop.
Swedish Death Metal Daniel Ekeroth (Tamara Press)
Eighty smackeroonies may seem a little steep at first, like you’d have to be either seriously into metal or earning a serious crust to just throw down the
Psychological thrillers are one thing, but bad brain movies are something way, way better. From They Saved Hitler’s Brain to Santo vs. The Evil Brain to The Man With Two Brains, I just can’t get enough braaaaaains! And standing head and shoulders above most other bad brain movies is The Brain That Wouldn’t Die. Already widely accepted as a trash classic, its awesomeness is still vastly underestimated. It’s not as horrendously acted as many early-sixties sci-fi horror cheapies – at least none with a title so gratuitous as The Brain That Wouldn’t Die – it’s quite competently filmed, and it’s got just as many memorable scenes as dead boring ones. The directorial debut of thirty-four-year old New Yorker Joseph Green, it was also co-scripted by Green alongside producer Rex Carlton. While the latter would go on to make other films such as The Rebel Rousers (1970), Hell’s Bloody Devils
(1970) and Blood Of Dracula’s Castle (1969), the former would be scarcely heard from again. The plot surrounds successful surgeon Dr. Bill Cortner (Jason Evers under the pseudonym Herb Evers), a seemingly normal, well-adjusted bloke who we quickly learn is hi-jacking body parts from the hospital to conduct his own groundbreaking biological research at home – the secret of eternal life, limb transplants, reanimation of dead tissue, shit like that.
Tenacious D: The Pick Of Destiny (2006)
It’s unfathomable that a normal rock band that could score a theatrical release for a full-length motion picture on only their second album – even the Spice Girls had two albums out prior to Spice World. “Yeah,” I hear you blurt, “But Jack Black is a movie star, so it’s easy done.” Well by that reckoning there should have been a 40 Odd Foot Of Grunts movie by now, and believe me, if that ever gets the green light I’ll be strapping dynamite to my person and heading straight down to Souths Leagues. Tenacious D are obviously not a normal rock
band. Jack and Kyle, Kage and Jables, KG and JB, you motherfuckers! They were born on the small-screen, making their name in the late nineties with several shorts on American cable network HBO, so perhaps the jump to the big screen was inevitable. However, while this film had the potential to be as huge a hit as Wayne’s World, or maybe even Wayne’s World 2, Borat bent it over the box office and fucked it royally. Bad timing. But that doesn’t mean Tenacious D: The Pick Of Destiny isn’t one of the greatest movies about rock ever. A little bit Blues Brothers, a little bit Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, at times it’s as boneheaded as Hollywood gets outside of those horrendous spoof comedies, but when it rocks, it doesn’t just strike a chord but rips a smokin’ Angus Young solo. Initially we are taken way, way back to see Jack as a young rocker kid, oppressed by his rock-loathing father (played by a respectablelooking Meatloaf). The little kid they got to play Jack Black is phenomenal, reacting with Black’s same over-the-top eyebrow moves as a poster of Ronnie James Dio pinned to the back of his bedroom door comes to life and orders him (in complete sing-song) to leave home and head to L.A. in search of his rock dreams. I’d already acquainted myself with the soundtrack album well in advance of seeing the movie so I knew most of what was going to happen, up to and including the final ultimate battle with the devil, Dave Grohl. But there were still a few unexpected surprises in store along the way, especially the over-the-top cameos by Tim Robbins and Ben Stiller, the latter playing a washed-up guitar-store employee who reveals to Kage and Jables the secrets of the Pick Of Destiny. Going into this with anything less than a Bill & Ted mentality could prove disappointing. This movie is purpose-built for bong sessions with your mates, most of whom hopefully possess as elementary a sense of humour as you do. For that reason it’s probably gonna have a much larger life on DVD than it did in the cinema. [Matt Reekie]
Illustration: Ben Brown
The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962)
An horrific car accident (a cheap tire screech followed by Cortner rolling down a hill) in which his gorgeous fiancée Jan Compton (Virginia Leith) is decapitated prompts the mad doctor to rush her severed head back to his laboratory where he and his slightly deformed assistant, Kurt (Leslie Daniels), miraculously revive it and keep it alive in a liquid-filled tray. Dr. Cortner then sets out on a perverse mission to find a suitable body on which to plonk his future bride’s melon. There is something uncomfortable about watching him stalk his victims, sizing up the credentials of each female he sees, imagining how much fun he’s gonna have when she’s the bottom portion his newlyreconstructed missus. Meanwhile, back at the lab, Jan is wondering how she ever fell for this fucking nutcase. She’s far from overjoyed at being kept alive in such an undignified manner, and complains bitterly to some kind of growling overgrown mutant who pounds on a locked door adjacent to the lab. The monster in the cupboard was played by Eddie Carmel, a Palestinian freak-show attraction billed as “The Jewish Giant” who later featured in the 1963 romp 50,000 B.C. (Before Clothing), and when he gets on the loose, look out! As if the image of the living head in a tray weren’t stunning enough, Virginia Leith delivers a seething performance as the resentful, angry noggin who draws power from the chemistry she’s floating in to stir up a freak-uprising that sees the scientist’s failed experiments turn on him: “I’m only a head and you’re whatever you are, but together we’re strong; more powerful than any of them!” Filmed in 1959, the original script called for the last reel to be shot in colour with Dr. Cortner’s head being hacked off and gnawed at by rats. But after several years of legal wrangling and censorship problems The Brain That Wouldn’t Die was finally released in 1962 with a somewhat compromised ending. With the exception of Jason Evers, all the actors and the director Green himself could not get work in Hollywood for years after making this apparent abomination, yet today it’s perhaps the thing they’re all best-remembered for. Which is really not so surprising. Featuring backyard brain-surgery, a talking severed head, a catfight between a couple of strippers, a mutant pinhead monster on the rampage and a guy getting his arm torn off, you couldn’t possibly forget this late-night cheap-and-nasty sci-fi horror treasure.
Kage and Jables Big Screen Adventure Tenacious D. KG and JB interview by Matt Reekie. Was making The D movie the only way you could logically take it to the next level? Kyle Gass: Well, I think since Jack is a movie star and I'm a wannabe movie star, it was perfect. Jack Black: The movie was always the final level; it was the last piece of the puzzle. It’s like our Mount Everest - we are finally planting our flag. With movies, though, isn’t there always like a shitty sequel that’s done on the cheap and sold straight-to-DVD. JB: Yeah the only way that we can really top it is if we became the President of Australia. Is there a President there or do you have a Prime Minister? Yeah, we have a poor excuse for a Prime Minister. JB: Has there ever been a duel, two-man Prime Ministry? No, there hasn’t. JB: Well, there will be. We shall lead as two kings. KG: We are planning a shitty sequel though, I'm glad you brought that up. But, check it out; we are going to get the money up front and then poo on you if you’re dumb enough to go see it. JB: We definitely blew our wads... But you never know when wad replenishment is going to happen.
Isn’t it every three days or something? JB: The wad replenishment? Yeah something like that, you get a fresh batch every few days. JB: Yeah, there is some kind of science to it. KG: I thought it was every hour or two? JB: You can shoot a wad every hour, but the strength and size of the wad will be diminished. Diminishing returns, Kage, diminishing returns. If you’re shooting a load every hour, then there is only like a handful of sperms in each wad. So the movie is a quest for a magical guitar pick? Who were some of the rock gods that had the pick? JB: The first guy to have it in America was Robert Johnson, and then it went to Elvis. KG: I don’t think Elvis had it. JB: What? Elvis had it! Okay then, who did it go to? KG: Angus [Young] was the last person to have it. JB: Weirdly, Miles Davis had it, even though he didn’t play the guitar. He would keep it in his ass-pocket to help him blow his trumpet better. Who else had it, Kage? Oh, the Beatles. Y’know, all the fucking people you’d expect, they are obvious, the best ones. KG: [Jimi] Hendrix had it, but we didn’t get clearance so he doesn’t appear in the movie. Yeah, the Hendrix Estate’s a fucking bitch. JB: His estate, for real, they’re really religious and they don’t want anything, like you’re not allowed to say anything about the devil. If you say “Jimi Hendrix” then you say “the devil,” I don’t know what they would do but they could sue you.
So Ronnie James Dio is in the film. Your admiration for him is well known, but did you feel a bit sheepish about asking him to sing after you had said that he was fit for the old folks home in that song? JB: He understood dude. KG: He still felt honoured that we were asking him for the torch. JB: Ultimately, we were flattering him. We were saying, “You are the torch bearer.” We’re not asking for asking for Ozzy’s torch, we’re not asking for fucking Danzig’s torch, we’re not asking for the dude from Iron Maiden’s torch – don’t want his torch – we’re asking for Ronnie James Dio’s torch. Have you asked Dio when he’s going to be ready to give up his cape and sceptre? JB: We actually already got it. He didn’t know we got it though. He was like, “Where the fuck is my cape and sceptre?” And we were like, “I don’t know,” but we’ve got it in an underground safe.
Agents Of Abhorrence Character Dissection 12” (Crucificados Pelo Sistema)
An astounding platter of wax from Melbourne supreme avant-grind trio Agents Of Abhorrence issued by German label Crucificados Pelo Sistema, one side of this highly-collectable twelve-inch contains the nine tracks that comprised the previously released Character Dissection 3-inch CD, while the other side brandishes a laser-etched Agents logo designed by visionary UB contributor Glenn “Glenno” Smith. With the outside front and back cover also resplendent in retina-burning Glenno art and one of the thickest spines I’ve ever seen on a double-gatefold sleeve, this has the goods cosmetically to stand out in any collection. And retailing for around $20 with only six-hundred produced (and Numerical Thief now sold-out of the original 3-inch), it’s a no-brainer must-own in my never-so-humble opinion.
On The Rocks 7” (Rhyme Pays) In a cold, corporate city where the pinstripes appear to be multiplying, it’s not surprising to finally see a fresh crop of young Sydney hardcore bands backlashing against all the sterility and standing up for stubborn old-school values. Casting aside any kind of slickness or fakery, Homewrecker’s debut six-tracker is a loose, classic hardcore knuckle sandwich. After a slightly false start with the grimy rock ‘n’ roll instrumental “Intro”, the five-piece let the dog off the chain with the riotous “Run For Your Life”. Singer Patrick Cahill wails like a caged psychopath – think Randy from Massappeal-meets-Rohan from Extortion – while the band sounds like they all just started playing recently having been drip-fed Negative Approach and Minor Threat since birth. An overload of fastcore blasts, mosh sections and gang vocals with a filthy punk rock heart, the drawn-out closer “Drowning” brings a bit of epic crust to the table for a slightly different flavour. Issued in various hand-numbered limited coloured vinyl runs (I got 72 of 100 in orange), this is as good as Sydney hardcore HC has been in a while.
Cloud Light Years Away 8” (Yellow Ghost) A lathe-cut polycarbonate 8” with an accompanying 3” CD containing the exact same tracks, this latest release out of Melbourne’s Yellow Ghost is not only packaged like something Three One G would’ve put out, it sounds like it too. A brutal hardcore spaz attack ala Some Girls and Daughters, Luca Brasi (named after Don Vito’s chief enforcer in The Godfather) innocently began after the four members got hammered one night and made and impromptu recording which they stuck up on MySpace just for laughs. Yellow Ghost then offered to put out a record and drummer Adrian recorded, mixed and mastered these eight tracks, of which only three breach the one-minute mark. A backwards whoosh right at the start is the entire recording sped up and played in reverse slamming into a churning pit of chaotic intensity from which they do not return. Limited to only 100 copies so get in fast.
The Pink Fits
The Pink Fits
“Don’t Ask Why” / “Just One More Dance” 7” (Outback RNR) Two side of grungy garage punk greatness from Wollongong group featuring ex-Tumbleweed dude Lenny Curley on guitar/vocals issued in a run of 300 with 100 specials on red wax with screen-printed sleeves. Previously released on the debut Off The Hip CD Fuzzyard Gravebox, A-Side screamer “Don’t Ask Why” adds a kind of souped-up seventies forcefulness to a basic sixties garage framework, bit like Slade blasting The Wailers through hard-driven Vox’s. Sixtiesgarage purist Nazis should probably steer well clear – instead of Pebbles you might end up with a rock to the head. You’d reckon no garage band in their right minds would be game enough to attempt to cover The Mummies. But not only are The Pink Fits game (whether they are in their right minds is up for debate); they are also smart enough to know that you cannot out-grunge The Mummies, so instead they deliver a cleaner, calmer version of “Just One More Dance” that rips and tears in its own way.
Smash N Grab
Smash N Grab 7” (Bash N Stab) Pig-hating Anarcho thrash punks from Sydney, Smash N Grab step up another gear from last year’s Pigs Die In Hot Cars fulllength with a four-song self-released seven-inch wrapped in trademark cover art by frontman Spider Death. With not one song about their favourite topic – hating the cops – A-Side opener “Fuck Unity” preaches zero tolerance towards the emo generation, while “Pro Death” is a doggedly anti religious diatribe filled with all the over-the-top violence the band is known for.
Heavier, faster and more aggressive, there is definite diversity across the tracks and a more confident delivery despite the cheap recording job. The menacing “Sydney Terror” is brutal thrash hardcore ala Septic Death – the heaviest SNG have sounded – while “Chemical Lobotomy” starts off with a totally wild and thrashy way about it, then it slows down and just hammers away for a tasty crust finale. Music to stab priest’s eye sockets by.
Straightjacket Nation 6-Song EP 7” (Self-released)
The scariest sounding Straightjacket Nation release so far and one of the most exciting things to arrest my ears in ages, this is three tracks per side, 45rpm of full-throttle intensity. An outpouring of pent-up rage sure to get the blood pumping, themes of fear and global paranoia sit alongside the regular “Your hardcore scene is fucked” kinda lyrics. Exploding to life with the fast and aggro “Deathcults”, it just seems to get faster and more intense, and only relents when it hits the run-out groove in the centre. Recorded with the assistance of Eddy Current guitarist and vinyl manufacturer Mikey Young, the sound captures that certain desperation ringing through loud and clear in recordings by SJN’s heroes, Black Flag, Negative Approach et al. If you’ve never heard Straightjacket Nation before start here, start now and start bloody quick. Get this for AUD$8ppd from PO Box 190 Seddon West VIC 3011 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Something Happens” / “Can't count” 7” (Juvenile) Straight Arrows leader Owen Penglis is a beloved UNBELIEVABLY Bad contributor, so of course you wouldn’t expect us to pay out on his band too hard. But then, you don’t know
how long that little prick took to get us his Eddy Current story for this issue! Having been booted out of B-grade garage cover band The Clear Spots as guitarist and dropkicked from Drones imitators The Holy Soul as drummer, Penglis decided he didn’t need them fucking losers anyways and so took his tremendous talent and terrible people skills and formed his own band of fucking losers. Straight Arrows play scungy bubblegum garage exclusively, Side-A of their debut 45, “Something Happens”, sounds like some psych-garage Nuggets-era combo recorded on four-track in a public toilet. The riff on Side-B belter “Can’t Count” stinks of “Satisfaction”, set to a stompin’ beat with bratty vocal delivery and wild, distorted echochamber production. Imagine trying to tune in an old transistor to pick up the Monkees and just hearing the melodies crackling through the interference and you’ve almost got it. A pretty killer effort for a two-time loser who can’t meet a deadline.
Sadistik Exekution / / Nifelheim Split 7” (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
Two of the planet’s most awe-inspiring extreme metal bands – Belgium’s Nifelheim and Sydney’s Sadistik Exekution – come together to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Norway’s incomparable Slayer fanzine. Both acts have enjoyed a healthy relationship with Slayer over the years, both being favourites of zine editor Jon Metalion, the Norwegian champion of extremity. Released via Californian boutique metal label Nuclear War Now! Productions, the gatefold sleeve and doublesided full gloss artwork are highly impressive, while the ultra-thick pressing delivers outstanding sound quality. The two Sadistik tracks, “Demon With Wings” and “Proxima Centauri”, are taken from the 1995 Demon With Wings single, while Nifelheim’s sole contribution, “Gates Of Damnation”, is a slice of brand spanking black greatness. With a bonus poster featuring artwork by Rok of Sadistik with both band’s logos on it, it just goes to show that just because it’s fucking extreme doesn’t mean it can’t be a bit classy too.
Spun Vinyl Reviews Danger Waxing Ridiculous
Betty Paginated #30
www.bettypaginated.blogspot.com PO Box A1414 Sydney South NSW 1235 Email: email@example.com Cost: $10. Format: A4 size. 84 pages - b&w w/ 4-col cover.
The 30th and, for all intents and purposes, last edition of Betty Paginated has an understandable air of sentimentality about it as editor Dann Lennard says goodbye to his “baby” and hello to life as a responsible parent out in the real world! Talk about going out with a bang, though, Dann has pieced together the largest, most larcenous BP yet, with a four-page article on the life and times of Miss Betty Page and a whole section of fullcolour illustrations of the pin-up queen done by a range of artists. Bursting at the staples with action, from naked D-grade celebs to vintage comic books to pro-wrestling, there is debatably no greater high that BP could have gone out on than with a six-page interview with “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. It’s a cliché I’m sure Dann’s heard many times more than he cares to count, but thanks for the mammaries, mate.
PO Box 627 Goodwood SA 5034 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cost: Free in SA. Format: A4 size. 20 pages - b&w w/4-col cover.
From that strange Mecca of fanzine production, South Australia, comes a tribute to Ugg boots, V8 utes and flannelette shirts, the name being a pisselegant pisstake on Vogue. Obviously this would be better if it were put together by genuine bogans and not just snobs taking the urine, but I s’pose real bogans are too busy polishing up the rims on the Torana for Saturday night’s street drags to be bothered dishing out advice on how to deal with yuppies and such. Issue #1 was funnier than the rest, which really says more about the limitations of the source material than the lack of effort put in. But if an article headed “Why My Pitbull Is Better Than That Half A Pastie With A Cigarette Stabbed Through It I Keep Meaning To Throw Out” sounds like it’d appeal to your warped sense of humour, chances are you might get a few chuckles out of the rest of Bouge too.
The Fallout #3
PO Box 2147 Strathpine Centre, Strathpine QLD 4500
Illustrations: Ben Brown
Cost: $3. Format: A4 size. 26 pages - b&w.
Filling what seems to be a gaping crevice for decent underground metal zines in Australia, Brisbane’s The Fallout comes of age on issue #3 with improvements made over every facet. It’s actually 28 pages, but both the inside-front and back covers are blank, so I’m listing it above as 26. Featuring a good spread of metal bands with not even the slightest trace of hardcore/metalcore, there is still plenty of diversity on offer when you consider the vast oceans of difference between sunn O))),
Terrorust and Pod People, all of whom are interviewed in here. Though the writing is nothing too flash, the reviews are from the heart and for the most part the interviews are intelligent and informative. The main area I would suggest needs improving would be the layouts, but I’m not going to be too critical. I mean, where else are you gonna read an interview with Melbourne eighties melodic thrashers Nothing Sacred – even UNBELIEVABLY Bad wouldn’t go there!
8 Derrick Street Lalor VIC 3075 Email: email@example.com
Cost: $5. Format: A4 size. 64 pages - b&w.
More of the very finest from Foffle – so much reading, so much insight, so much history, so much hilarity, all rammed into the one mind-bending 64-page tome. There are highlights all through the thing so allow me to just mention a couple, starting with the crazy free CD featuring found answering-machinetape messages, radio broadcasts, rare Ray Davis’ demos and the like. It really has to be heard to be believed (and even then you might think your ears are playing tricks!). Inside the mag proper, Foffle continues to delve into Australia’s worst TV shows with our top twenty-five most appalling sit-coms, while there is also an interview with Nirvana (the original sixties UK group). Instead of Foffle’s usual profile on some Aussie garage/psych band from the past, this issue editor Ian D. Marks goes a step further with a jaw-dropping eleven-page overview of the In Label, a short-lived mid-sixties offshoot of W&G Records that boasted the likes of The Pink Finks, The Loved Ones, The Sect, The In-Sect, The Probe and The Elois. I’m not being ageist, but older UNBELIEVABLY Bad readers won’t be able to get enough of this astounding zine.
Give Blood #2
www.myspace.com/ givebloodhardcorezine PO Box 1403 Caloundra QLD 4551 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Cost: $5. Format: A4 size. 52 pages - b&w.
A second issue of Sunshine Coast hardcore zine Give Blood sees young editor Chris James maintaining the impressively high standard of design and production set by the maiden issue. The writing has improved plenty, and you’ve gotta say Chris is level-headed and honest. He covers the bands he likes, and while that means Misery Signals, it also means Jungle Fever. And though most of the bands he’s on about are tough hardcore bands, he doesn’t put up any kind of bullshit front himself and doesn’t just spout shit for the sake. The format is the same as issue #1: shitloads of interviews followed by shitloads of reviews. It’d be good to see him mix it up a bit by providing other kinds of random garbage that go into making a classic zine, even just a few top 5 lists, a find-a-word, something to break the monotony. But that’s just me trying to balance the overwhelmingly positive with a bit of constructive criticism. Overall the way this is put together is unbelievably professional for a kid who just finished high school last year. I’ve still got a copy of an old zine I did in high school and this is so light years beyond that it’s fucking sickening. Kids today, pffft!
Long Gone Loser #13 www.longgoneloser.com PO Box 18 Modbury North SA 5092 Email: Damo@longgoneloser.com
Cost: $7 ppd. Format: A4 size. 60 pages - b&w w/ 4-col cover.
Long Gone Loser editor Damo is the only dude who says he digs the Casanovas who doesn’t work for their record company – and I love him ing for that. He’s threatening to make the The Dangerous World Of Self Publish next LGL after this his last, but I can only hope that’s an empty threat on par with Chinese Democracy. After losing countless amounts of money, sleep and credibility making a fanzine myself, I know where he’s coming from – and Damo’s been doing this way longer than me. The thing is, while issue #13 took a while to come out, it doesn’t seem to be lacking in inspiration one bit. There’s an interview in here with drummer Scott Asheton about the new Stooges album where he actually admits it sucks compared to the old stuff – brutal! Other parts focus sharply on Damo’s recent visit to Japan, with interviews with Mad 3 (I had no idea those guys were still rockin’!) and Boris, plus his infatuation with the Land of the Rising Miniskirt Hemline laid bare in a guide to traveling through the country. UB readers who enjoyed our twopart interview with Massappeal [R.I.P] guitarist Brett Curotta over the past couple of issues might Mindsnare “ad” which Billy made up himself like to check out Damo’s chat with singer Randy after the band failed to get their artwork in Reimann, which is almost like a companion piece on time – punk rock. The interviews are a tad to our own and very juicy reading indeed. Long short, and in the design stakes Billy gives King live the ’Loser! Harry Butler a run for his money, but still, Piece
un be li ev ab ly Smalltime Zine Review s
Nerf Jihad #7
PO Box 575 Gosford NSW 2250 Email: email@example.com
Cost: $1. Format: A5 size. 44 pages - b&w.
Matt Ford is a fucking genius.
Of Cake is a personal favourite of mine and I sincerely hope Billy is busy destroying Glu-stix for issue 3 right now.
TV Eye #4
5653 1 / 2 Hollywood Blvd. #4 Los Angeles, CA 90028 USA Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cost: $15. Format: A4 size. 84 pages – colour (w/DVD).
Piece Of Cake #2
PO Box 3220 Redfern NSW 2016 Email: email@example.com
Cost: $3.50. Format: A4 size. 40 pages - b&w.
Warning: Glu-stix were harmed in the making of this zine; fucking lots of ’em! Homewrecker bassist and all-round awesome dude Billy Frank slams out another Piece Of Cake (this actually came out ages ago but just missed the cut off for last issue’s reviews). This is as real as zine production gets, a hand-numbered (I got 77 of 150) copy-and-paste paradise that covers a range of awesome HC bands. Hand-written interviews with Extortion and Jaws are just two highlights here, there are also interviews with Mindsnare, Pisschrist, The Rivalry, AVO and more. The icing on the cake is the sketchy
The dudes who put together the glossy TV Eye DVD magazine have very good taste indeed. The only real turn-off is the sales pitch at the start from editor Dave Clifford, who sounds not only a little too eager for you to really like his mag, but also slightly deluded about the quality of the content. Hey, there is a fuckload of good stuff here and I recommend it highly, but the write-up about deceased Alice In Chains singer Layne Staley by Sam James Velde, for one, blows Clifford’s claim about “the most insightful and entertaining interviews and band profiles in existence today” straight out of the water. It’s work-experience-kid stuff, street press at best. There are a few decent insights to be had inside the slickly designed magazine, but the big selling point of TV Eye is the additional DVD component, which is housed inside a perforated pull-out thin cardboard sleeve found about a dozen pages into the mag. And with exclusive footage of High On Fire, The Melvins, The Bronx, Murder City Devils, Isis, Radio Birdman, Comets On Fire, Hater and sunn O))), they didn’t need to ask me twice to fork over my cash.
#6: Prince Randian completely armless and legless man, little more than a torso with a head, rolls himself a cigarette, lights it, and starts to smoke. This is the most amazing opening to Tod Browning’s controversial 1932 filmic ode to human abnormality, Freaks. The star? The one and only Prince Randian. Born to Indian slave parents in 1871 in the Berbice/Demarara region of British Guiana (now the independent nation of Guyana), Prince Randian (real name unknown) entered the world without arms or legs. Fiercely independent, the young Randian showed astounding courage and adaptability to overcome his affliction, getting about by writhing on the ground in a worm-like fashion. It’s not known exactly how the great sideshow legend Phineas T. Barnum became aware of the amazing feats of this Hindu basket-case halfway across the globe, nonetheless, in 1889, when Randian was eighteen years of age, he was taken to America. Billed by Barnum as “The Human Caterpillar”, his act involving shaving with a razor, painting with brushes, writing with a pen or pencil, cutting paper patterns using scissors, playing the flute, threading needles, and, of course, rolling cigarettes and smoking – all done by the skilful use of his lips, chin, shoulders, tongue and teeth. His exhibition attire consisted of a striped knitted woollen garment, like a giant body sock or a hessian sack, from which his head would protrude. His distinctive moustache and gold hoop earrings would also remain with him throughout his illustrious sideshow career. Aside from The Human Caterpillar, Randian would go by many other nicknames during his career: The Living Torso, The Snake Man, The Human Worm and The Human Cigarette Factory among them. As “The Amazing Caterpillar Man” he entertained audiences at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, for forty-five years, as well as working in other circuses, carnivals and museums across the U.S. Easily his most indelible performance, though, and one that continues to enthral viewers today, is his opening turn in Freaks. Actress Leila Hyams, who played opposite the freaks, recalled of Randian: “The weird contortions of the Armless and Legless Wonder as he wriggled across the sound stage on his stomach or sat propped in a chair smoking a cigarette which he had rolled with his lips – well I’ll have to confess it made me a little ill at first.” Though Randian only uttered only one (unintelligible) line of dialogue in the film - “Can you do anything with your eyebrows?” - it is believed he was able to speak several languages including Hindi, French, English and German, and for a time he studied law. Randian also claimed to be a skilled carpenter, stating the box in which he kept his smoking paraphernalia was built using his mouth and shoulders to manipulate his tools. It’s not know whether this claim was only made as part of his act, but he often joked that he would someday build his own house. By all accounts, Randian was a charming, funny man. Willard Sheldon, who had been a script clerk on Freaks, once recalled him lurking in dark corners on the set, scaring unsuspecting passers-by with a
sudden bloodcurdling yell. Married at the age of six - in accordance with the customs of his country - to a Hindu woman known as Princess Sarah, together they had four children. Travelling back and forth between the U.S. and the West Indies throughout his career, Randian eventually decided to settle in New Jersey. Sarah and the children, who had been living in the Virgin Islands, joined him in 1919 and they moved, firstly to Plainfield, New Jersey, and then to Paterson, taking up residence at 174 Water Street. After working his Coney Island patch for many years Randian died of a heart attack, aged 63, not long after his last public appearance on December 19th 1934 at Sam Wagner’s 14th Street Museum in New York City. Sydney proto-punks the Lipstick Killers wrote a tribute song in 1979 entitled “(I Wanna Be Your) Sockman”, with an image of Randian on the cover sleeve of the 7-inch single. In 1986 The Ramones released “Somebody Put Something In My Drink” on 7-inch, also with the Prince gracing its cover.