Bruce Prichard is best know as the evil Brother Love on WWF TV in the early 90s. A parody of Christian televangelists who dressed in a conspicuous white suit, tight red shirt and white tie, who claimed to preach not the word of God, but “the word of love.” Aside from that Bruce spent 22 years in WWE behind the scenes and returned recently as senior vice president. Bruce got his start in Wrestling working in Huston selling posters as a kid and ended up being a major part of putting together the show, both on and off screen and also served as ring announcer for Bill Watts UWF. IN 2016 Bruce along with Conrad Thompson started Something to Wrestle With Podcats. Each show focuses on an event or wrestler to which Bruce gives insightful and hilarious stories on the topic at hand. Bruce brings STWW to the The Thornbury Theatre this Saturday for a nice of Q and A on any topic and as well as doing impressions of some of the biggest names in the wrestling Business.
Munster: Something to Wrestle With has been going as a Podcast since 2016 and you’ve done a few live show under the Something to Wrestle With banner, is this the first time you’ve taken the live show overseas?
Bruce: This is the first time to Australia, I did a solo tour of the UK and then me and Conrad Thompson returned about nine months later. This is my first ever Australian tour and it will be interesting.
Munster: obviously the studio audience is a big difference but aside from that what will be the big difference between the live show and the podcast?
Bruce: well the difference is it will be me solo so it will be a lot more personal and intimate if you will, but with the live shows I tell story’s I can’t tell on the podcast and I do a Q and A with the audience, where ever the audience takes me is where the show will go, if they ask one specific topic we may delve a little deeper into that. I try to make every show unique and depending on what the audience is looking for is where the show will go and we’ll also have a little singing and dancing as well.
Munster: and plenty of impersonations.
Bruce: well I do more characters then actual impersonations but you’ll be getting all the characters I do that’s for sure.
Munster: the co-host is of course Conrad Thompson, I first found him like most on Ric Flair’s podcast, now he does yours as well as Eric Bischoff’s and Tony Schiavone’s, what was the pitch he gave you in terms of doing the podcast?
Bruce: well I meet him through Ric Flair, I did Ric’s show and we started working together in the mortgage business, I started working with him on the recruiting side of things, recruiting loan officers and working out mortgages, when I was there I would tell him stories. He said this would be a great podcast, I had no idea what a podcast was. He talked me into it, we did a few shows and the rest we say is history, the more we got involved in it the more its grown and I learned a lot about podcasting since the first one. I’ve become a lot more comfortable and it’s been an evaluation if you will.
Munster: some of the podcast have gone for a bit over an hour but you’ve done podcasts that have gone for three-hours, is it just depending on the topic and how much you have to talk on the topic?
Bruce: well as long as the topic will allow, sometimes a topic will only need and hour and half. We just did WrestleMania 20 and it only went for an hour and a half focusing on the show itself. But sometimes when you focus on a particular person it can go for three and a half hours sometimes four hours easy.
Munster: your history in the wrestling business is very interesting, you started in Huston selling posters for Paul Bosch, you eventually had a big hand in putting together the TV then moved to WWF and your now back as a senior Vice present, do you ever think back to that kid selling posters how the hell did I get here?
Bruce: sometimes yeah, it’s an interesting journey and as a kid it’s all I ever wanted to do and I did everything I could to be a part of it, at the time, everything kept going as I got older I did more and more and I wouldn’t change a thing. I think of it like this, I’ve never had to go to work a day in my life expect he three weeks I tried to sell cars
Munster: You were in Huston when Vince McMahon expanded the WWF and went national which of course he succeeded in, did you think anyone at the time would go national?
Bruce: At the time in the beginning it was unheard of, these territories I figured would go on for ever, and that was the model carved out, that what the goal of wrestling was to go to every territory, but when it went national everything changed.
Munster: I loved the Back to the territories DVD you did with Jim Cornette on Huston, I knew that Memphis, Mid South, Mid Atlantic and Florida were big markets for wrestling but Huston had a lot of big stars even if they only came in for small appearances, was it a real hot bed of wrestling at the time in the late 70s early 80s?
Bruce: without a doubt people always look back on it, some people only had to do Huston and made their entire week pay wise, we used it for the booking office, for example the Dallas booking office in the 70s and early 80s then we moved to a booking office to san Antonio, then Bill Watts brought in we used his office from Oklahoma and Louisiana, but one thing Hutson always maintained was its independence, Paul would book talent from outside the territory all the time and bring in talent like Superstar Billy Graham, Bruno Sammartino, Mil Mascaras, and other top guys from around the world who weren’t necessary working the territory at the time. So that’s what made Huston very special, and Paul was a great pay off guy and made people want to come in.
Munster: Who was the craziest between the Sheik, Bruiser Brody and Abdullah The Butcher?
Bruce: The Sheik. Without a doubt by far. He was very independent had his own way of doing business he had his own territory in Detroit and Ohio and if he didn’t like things he would just leave. So he was an Independent guy who made a name for himself, and he was used all over the world and made a hell of a living for a long period of time.
Munster: you have recently returned to WWE what is your current role?
Bruce: it really hasn’t been defined, I’m doing all my commitments with Something to Wrestle With, I’m still coming to Australia and the podcast will continue. That’s taking a lot of my time. I’ve made three television tapings, but we’re still working out what my day to day duties will be, but I’m not giving anything up I’m just adding work.
Munster: i know people that watch NXT but not Raw or Smackdown, Ring of Honor is doing good bsuness, New Japan has a lot of hype round it, then there was the success of All In, do you think this move into more wrestling bases product and not sports entertainment will be a thing or will these promotins cater to a small niece market?
Bruce: time will tell, there’s an audience for it and if its big and loyal enough they have a great chance of succeeding. You mentioned people who watch NXT but not Raw but I know people that watch Raw and nothing else. So it works both ways it astonishes me, especially that hardcore wresting audience, how can anyone just watch one brand, but there is a large audience that with just one brand and more power to them the goal is to get as many as you can to watch your brand and support it,
Munster: When did you first meet Jim Cornette?
Bruce: oh around 1983. Maybe 82
Munster: Was that in Mid South?
Munster: what was he like back then?
Bruce: not as crazy as he is now but very intense. Jim was starting his time as being in the business on a full time basis and this was his first taste of success with the Midnight Express, he was on road and experimenting but he was a manager that was red hot at the time, he was hard to touch, but behind the scenes he was not has tense as he has become and not as outspoken as he has become.
Munster: you were on Cornettes podcast ages ago and he asked you how Brother Love came about and you mentioned you used to travel with Eddie Gilbert. Eddie is remembered as having a great mind for the business but he never stayed anywhere long so for me he seems to not have the respect he deserves. What do you think his legacy will be?
Bruce: for those that know him his legacy will be his mind. He had a great mind for the business and very creative, he lived and breathed it and that was his bean, he was always trying to come up with new and innovative ideas and wasn’t afraid to do anything new. I hope his legacy is one of pure creativity that shined through he was also a wonderful in ring talent but I don’t think that was matched with his mind, he had a great mind that understood the business
Munster: during your WWE run what is it you’ve done your most proud of?
Bruce: for me it was the personal victories. To be a part of WrestleMania 5 with Roddy Piper and Morton Downy, Roddy in particular as I stole a lot of stuff from him and to work with him on the biggest stage of all that was a big kick in the butt
Munster: to end on I was wondering if you could say Thank You Fuck You Bye in your Jim Cornette voice.
Bruce: (As Jim Cornette) Thank You Fuck Bye Motherfucker
Editors Notes: Aww so nice he added the Motherfucker for free.
Something to Wrestle With Live this Saturday at the Thornbury Theater.
Martin Bramah is the original guitarist in the Fall, a band I may ave mentioned a few times in this publication. Bramah played guitar on the groups first release, the single Bingo Masters Break Out, and the ground breaking debut LP Live at the Witch Trials, afterwards he shortly left the group, but returned to record Extricate in 1990 a turning point in the bands history which me was the start of the second golden era of the Fall. Bramah is also a founding member of Blue Orchids, originally as Nicos backing band, which continue to this day. Martin was kind enough to speak to me from his UK base an hour before the Pies Semi final game against the Giants.
Munster: was doing some reading on you and read your first band was called Nuclear Heat, tell us about that band.
Martin: Nuclear Heat was with a young Karl Burns but we never did any gigs, we were just a teenage band rehearsing in a cellar, this was pre punk rock so there was no opportunity to play, we were a rehearing band that dreamed of playing.
Munster: are you a self taught muso?
Martin: yeah I was self taught just had a cheap guitar in my bedroom, I listing to a lot of blues so I learned some blues standards and took it from there. John Lee Hooker and Howling Wolf things like that just the standards just taught myself a few basic chords and then tried to write original stuff.
Munster: how did you meet Mark E Smith?
Martin: I kind of met him in a pretty different situation. I knew his sisters first of all, he has three sisters younger than him, two elder Barbra and Susana, Tony Friels was dating Barbra we went we met through them, her brother Mark was sitting on the sofa (laughs). We/d all hang around listening to the Velvet Underground and all that kind of stuff. And at the same time I met him at a club, I wasn’t sure where I met him first at the club or through his sister. We had a bit of a run in at a club, and we became friends.
Munster: we/re you big into literature like Mark?
Martin: not as much as Mark at that age. I was reading I loved my books but he devoted his life to literature.
Munster: When the Fall, you actually started with the name the Outsiders. Did you play any gigs under that name and was it true you where the singer to start, and was it true you were the singer because you had the looks in the group?
Martin: Not really thats something Mark said. When we first started we unnamed and I had a few songs and he owned a guitar so he played a bit because he owned a guitar but he couldn/t really play it but by the time we were the Fall he was the singer and I was the guitarist. So I was never the singer in the Fall, just when we were mucking about put it that way I did some singing. It/s something Mark would trot out in interviews not sure why, I never really ran with that, I didn/t sing until I started my own band.
Munster: When the Fall first started gigging what was the audience reactions like? It was certainly aimed at an alternative audience but it doesn/t seem like the kind of music punks would listen to back then?
Martin: yeah that was definitely the case. A lot of hardcore punks didn/t appreciate us as we didn/t ave the right uniform on for the most part, we weren/t strictly punk but it did give the opportunity to step out, before that we were more a gang then a band, we thought we were like Manchesters Velvet Underground (laughs). Our first gig I invited a couple of the Buzzcocks but a lot of doors open because of punk but punks saw us as outsiders, to a lot of punks as we were more than punk rock. We did a lot of early gigs with the Buzzcocks that kept us going. Aving said all that punk did open a lot of doors for us.
Munster: was that true the Buzzcocks paid for the recording time of Live at the Witch Trials?
Martin: It was the single Bingo Masters Break out, yes it was Richard Boon that paid for that. Which they said not to release it because they were renegotiating United Artists. So they paid for it but it was almost a year before Step Forward released it,
Munster: how long did Bingo Masters take to record?
Martin: not much time at all in think we did it in a day it was the first time we were ever in a studio. Just played live in the studio then sat on the couch for a year (laughs)
Munster: Live at the Witch Trails, is it true you booked a week in the studio but Mark lost his voice and got it back on the last day and the LP was recorded in one day?
Martin: thats true. We had five days in the studio and Mark lost his voice. We drove from Manchester to London, Step Forward was paying for it. Because we play live in the studio we couldn/t play because of Marks voice. So we just hang around and did it in the last two days. A day to record and a day to mix.
Munster: with Marks vocals he seemed like the kind of singer that can just punch it out in one take but with limited time where you at all worried about getting it all done in a day?
Martin: no we weren/t that worried. We just took it as we found it.
Munster: When Live at the Witch Trials came out did people see the group differently or where you still seen as outsiders?
Martin: we were still outsiders, that was part of the Fall. We started as the Outsiders, then changed to the Fall, we never did an gigs as the Outsiders that was our gang name. From when I first met Mark as a teenager he was most dismissive of most people and thought he was smarter than most. Turns out he was (laughs).
Munster: Were you a fan of the book the Fall by Camus where the name comes from?
Martin: Not really, theres a lot made of that, he took the name from that book but was mostly because it was a cool looking cover. Tony Friel had it, as we started with the Outsider and the Fall which where all Camus books, but it was really because he looked cool on the cover, very French looking with the black and white. And I don/t think Mark was that keen on it I think he just like the name.
Munster: you left the Fall in 1979 and rejoined in 1990 to record on Extricate, did you listen to the Fall inbetween your two stints?
Martin: Of Course, to me the golden age of the Fall was after I left and before Brix Joined. Thats the Fall I was listening to the most. That period with Marc Riley, Craig Scanlon Steve and Paul Hanley Karl Burns. Various members, but thats my favourite period, as I can listen to it as an outsider (laughs). There is good stuff and good times, and there where periods when I really didn/t want to hear his voice.
Munster: How did it come to you returning?
Martin: well I suggested we did some writing after Brix left, I just thought this could be an opportunity to rejoin. I called him up we did some writing at his place, he invited me to play with the Fall, then join the Fall, that lasted a year then I was fired (laughs).
Munster: Extricate was an interesting but brilliant LP and an LP that sent the band into a bit of an electro period which produced some great work, what was your memories of the recording sessions and with Brix leaving did Mark feel like he had something to prove?
Martin: we had just signed a major deal with Polygram, and a lot of money was thrown at us, they expected us to be big and hot property, they were expecting another Rolling Stones but it didn/t work out that way. So we recorded in Swan St in London, those backing tracks Mark was worried he said it sounded like a David Bowie backing track which he hated. It was a scrappy expensive project but it came together, there was a lot beats and experimenting which worked out well
Munster: Blue Orchards how did that band some about?
Martin: I left the Fall and just wanted to do my own thing. Mark was getting too dictorial, so I started my own band as I still wanted to make music. We got a deal with Rough Trade which we were on for a year.
Munster :Blue Orchards also where Nicos backing band in the 80s, for me Nico was the peak of coolness, so what was it like, this cultural icon all of a sudden being dropped in Manchester and being shacked up with John Cooper Clark?
Martin: i/d been a big fan of hers since I was a teenager, I loved her voice. So was very surprise when shes just living in Manchester. My manager at the time Alan Wise said oh do you know this German singer I think shes called Nico? He didn/t know who she was. She was looking for a band and he was staying up the road, we meet her at this Polish Hotel. It was a strange one, we played with her for a year or so, just live didn/t work with her in the studio, but she introduced the band to heroin. The Blue Orchards had high prospects but we had members on Heroin and was bit self destructive.
Munster: in 2008 you played in a band called Factory Star with the Hanley brothers also from the Fall, what was it like playing with those guys, and playing with Steve again after all these years?
Martin: that was great it lasted a year. The trouble was it has three times the baggage and Marks been so dismissive of ex members and I think people were reluctant to check it out. But I loved working with those guys. We did two or three Fall songs in the set and we got very little thanks it was you cant stand on your own two feet? Why are you doing these songs? Which was stupid there are some people that think Fall is just Mark E Smith which isn/t true. Steve was in the band for 19 years. As mentioned it was three times the baggage which I think is happening with Brix right now, but shes had a much better promoter. Shes also been doing a few songs off the Fall catalogue which is fine but im into that.
Munster: a few years ago you released the Battle of Twisted Heel your first solo recording what process when into recording that?
Martin: I wanted to do something different, I recorded it home, just me and an acoustic guitar playing a few folk songs. I did a few gigs that was just me and a guitar. Im not Bob Dylan I need a band behind me (laughs).
Munster: Did you keep in touch with Mark in recent years?
Martin: No, last time I spoke to him was in the late 90s, I almost rejoined a third time during the Marshall Suite period. When they had that big fight in New York and he lost the band, he was struggling financially. I was living in London so it didn/t come together. He rang me at 2am asking me to do a Peel Session that day at 10am, and I was on holiday. I just couldn/t do it, he must ave known it for weeks, but I just couldn/t make it. So that was a shame I didn/t get a third crack. So that was really last time we spoke, we had a few meetings a rehearsals, he just put together a quick band. There were a few times we were in the same club and we/d nod from a distance. I knew him as well as anyone, before he became a name when he was a teenager, he was always a bit of a loner. We were close but we also didn/t get on as well, we always had a friendly rivalry.
Munster: Dave Simpsons book the Fallen has some very mixed stories, yet everyone says the same thing, if they had the chance tomorrow to play in the Fall thatd do it in a second. What is it about that group that draw everyone in?
Martin: there a famous band for one, there aren/t that many legendary bands out there. Its partly the kudos. You/d always want another shot at it. Its contributing to being part of rock history.
Munster: Whats coming up next?
Martin: we recently did a session for Mark Rileys show, we got a Blue Orchids album coming out but were also recording the next one very soon.
Munster: And finally whats your favourite Fall LP.
Martin: I really liked Slates the ten inch. LP id say Hex Enduction Hour, or Grotesque, I liked that period, I prefer the LPs im not on as I can just listen to em as a fan.
Dave Graney is for me the best dressed man in Oz music and easily one of the five best front men to ever grace a microphone. His style, voice, attitude and fashion are complete one of too anyone else past or present, he’s a performer tailor made for 1920s American vaudeville. With long term partner Clare Moore Dave is still performing most weekends round the country and still continues to pump out original and interesting music never living off past glories. Last year saw the release of his second autobiographical book Workshy: My life as a Bludge, a follow up to 2011s excellent 1001 Australian Nights
Munster: Workshy is your third book and second autobiographical book after 1001 Australian Nights, this one you talk about life as a working muso and the day jobs you had, what was the idea to base the book around that?
Dave: I thought I’d write about all the little jobs I had to have to be a musician, I thought that was a interesting approach to talk about being a musician, it was mainly thinking about work. We have this conservative government that’s always demonising people who are unemployed and Centrelink used to be a thing to help people, now it’s a thing to frustrate people, it’s not supposed to work, in the conservative view its meant to make them get off their arse and get a job, but there are also a lack of jobs around and soon people will have to have a universal base income. All these thoughts where going through my mind and people talk about the gig economy things like that but they never ask musicians, it’s as if they treat musos as silly dreamers and hostages set up to fail, and I started to think that musicians got to all these places before everyone else, like we have no union we’re totally isolated from each other we’re totally competing against each other all the time, we’re very expendable there’s always another one coming along, and if we don’t succeed in someone else’s terms we’re failures and all that sort of stuff, its always someone else’s terms what a success is and the best musicians operate to their own levels of what a success is. But they never ask musicians about that, what it’s like, what is a gig economy? But the strength musicians have, is they might go through times where to all intense and purposing there doing something else like working a job in an expensive city. They’ll always be musicians and that makes them stronger as people. It’s what they want to do and what they want to do is what they think they are, so I wanted to write about that sort of thing it’s called my life as a bludge just as a fuck you to those conservative types, I really hate them and I hope they get there arse kicked pretty soon in Australia at least. It was pretty fun thinking of all the dumb jobs I’ve had and how terrible I was working in an office and dealing with people. People asking me what I did and wanting to know, this is then 80s, people wanting to know about you, eventually I had to say yeah I’m in a band, then you had to go through this interrogation which band do you play in I’ve never heard of you, people go through it all the time and I thought it would be funny to talk about. And at the time it seemed like musicians where treated more seriously. So it wasn’t something that anyone just did and it was quite shocking if you said what you were doing, and also the reaction that you are a fucking wanker was much stronger and who the fuck do you think you are, so that was interesting to me. And finally I wanted to write about making my own work and what it was like. Our old bass player Adele Pickvance, her uncle once said why don’t you just write a pop song and have a song on the radio and have a hit, why don’t you do that. And it sounds really simple and it is, and it should be that simple. The music business at its best is that kind of place that it’s silly and simple, and rock music really can be played by anyone some songs sound fucking great, if someone’s been playing for two weeks like Roadrunner by the Modern Lovers. You know they sound great if it’s by people that can make some dynamics, but it can be played very easily. I was thinking of all this and I came from a scene where you had to write your own material, your own story, and I thought that’s what you had to do and if you didn’t you’re a phony. Then I had a moment working in an actually music business and it was more full of people in the 90s than it was by the end of the 90s, many record shops and labels with lots of people working for them talking to each other going out to those shops talking to booking agency’s heaps of people talking, and the internet got rid of all that. It gave freedom in other ways technology wise but it took away most of the business
Munster: Melbourne has proud reputation as a great live music scene but very few musicians I know actually make a living from music, do you think that’s a disgrace?
Dave: I don’t think it’s a disgrace, our old friend Conway Savage used to always say it’s never been easy why do people think its easy to be a musicians. And if you want to do your own thing its going to be harder. And it depends on how you want to live. Most people’s idea of a successful musician is someone who has a hit and retires. People who think why is Bob Dylan still touring? Why is Madonna still making music? Its like annoying in a way. It turns back to who the fuck do they think you are? So it’s an endless kind of challenge to the performer. In some ways that’s interesting. Other places are harder than Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane, I think Melbourne has a very strong music culture. Often the voices you hear are in moments of despair and anguish and there full of joyousness but when you’re happy you really express it. But all that talk of Melbourne being in the best music city’s is often club owners, cheerleaders of alcohol business who love top trumpet that kind of stuff, it’s not perfect but it’s quite good.
Munster: you mentioned before there is no union for musicians…
Dave: there is an old one but it’s more a guild and it’s more for sympathy orchestra people.
Munster: in terms of union or government assistance is anyone overseas doing something we can copy?
Dave: I think there might be one in France where if they play a certain number of shows a year they can qualify for something like the dole, just a base income, as long as they can prove they have been an active musician and they have some history. That would be really good in Workshy I mentioned how easy it was to be on the dole in the late 70s. I left school and had a few factory jobs, but I just didn’t want to work but I saw that as my right. It was half wanting to party, partying was also part of learning to write and play songs just be in a music world, it was quite unrealistic I didn’t learn guitar till I was 18, so I saw the dole as an arts grant. And no one denied people the dole or anything you didn’t need to prove you were looking for work all you had to do was send the fortnightly paperwork you could even mail it from a different city. It was a different county back then and I wanted to write about that. People admired, if you got an easy ride, it’s a deeply Australian thing I think, if someone has a easy job or a stroke of luck fucking good on em (laughs)
Munster: you mentioned in the book you had a few office jobs and it sounds like you were actually really good at it.
Dave: Too good, I tried to avoid all the questioning about who I was and what I did outside of work by just disappearing in the work, just being unavailable and being invisible, but doing the work too well I became more annoying (laughs)
Munster: is there anything you miss about the 9-5 world?
Dave: of course the regular money I haven’t had that in years. I quite enjoy some of the simple pleasures people might find a bit boring, like on a spring day early morning getting a coffee in the city. The way people talk with each other, up until the early 90s I was doing data entry work, and a lot of musicians and actors where drifting in and out of that role. It was like dumb work that didn’t require much, I love that kind of work where my mind can wonder and I had a job I didn’t need to focus and could also write songs while I was there. And I was getting paid as well, I had a think I would always pay for rehearsals and everyone got paid in my band. Me and Clare Moore had that kind of way that’s how you have a band, you weren’t asking people for favours all the time, everyone always got paid, might not be much but was a regular thing.
Munster: the work you just described sounds like my work, I don’t need to work hard and can do my own thing like this interview right now, I’m meant to be counting letters now.
Dave (laughs) It was funny I met Wreckless Eric the other day and he famously had a job as a lemonade tester and I knew about it and for years I just imagined him sitting in a room sipping lemonade but he was describing it to me as 15,000 bottles just rattling around. He had to test the chemicals and the pressure if the gas and sounded like too much pressure. I do like hearing about musicians and what their day jobs are. Henry Rollins famously worked in an ice cream store, one of my favourite musicians Vic Godard from the Subway Sect worked in a post office which I think he still does. Jah Wobble drove a tube train Rod Stewart was a gravedigger.
Munster: Captain Sensible cleaned toilets in a theatre that Ray Scabies was a usher in.
Dave: (laughs) that’s the kind of thing that makes you think nothing can be worse.
Munster: you mentioned the title my life as a bludge is a fuck you to the conservatives but also for me an oxymoron as you and Clare Moore always busy.
Dave: I think if you’re a musician, if you work out a way to operate to be flexible or something, some people make all these barriers, the sound to be perfect or the audience to be quiet. There all good things but it’s never going to that always. If they refuse to play unless those situations are there that’s a right for their own back. But performing music is very enjoyable so I’m very sceptical sometimes about whether it work at all. Its work, like lifting gear but there’s some groups who seem quite conceptual. Like they don’t actually perform, its seems to me, what are the Eddy Current Suppression Ring? What do they do? (laughs). There one best live act in Melbourne in a year when they did no performance. What is that? (laughs). there lucky to be in that band. I have friends that had a band that would only meet on the internet once a year at 5am on some chatroom of ebay or something. But I’m told lots of people like em so good on em.
Munster: You’ve presented Banana Lounge Broadcasting on RRR for a few years now, you mentioned in Workshy you wonder if that’s actually work. How much prep goes into the show?
Dave: On the Morning of the show or just before the show. I’m lucky I work with really good people on the panel, Andrew Delany he’s really great the station gives me a lot of leeway, it’s very spontaneous.
Munster: In your two books you mentioned all the books and authors that influenced you, in Workshy you had a list that went for a few pages of all the books you read in London in the 70s, one of the last books mentioned was Elvis: What Happened? Tell us about that book.
Dave: I used to read lots of books about Elvis and lots of them came out, he had his entourage of Memphis buddies, I think that was by Sonny West, Elvis just sat around with buddies he had from Memphis lots of which he knew since he was a teenager and they were all on his payroll just to sit around with him. And they were real insiders, it must ave been one of those books, and they were all trying to cash in at the end. He had another girlfriend after Priscila and she wrote a book too. I find Elvis as a person always very interesting, people see him as a comical figure but he was fucking amazing and most of his music except for the film stuff is brilliant. And he had that funny manager that never let him tour outside of American, he never played Europe. His manager wasn’t an American citizen and was frightened he wouldn’t let back in if he went overseas.
Munster: for me, Elvis never wrote any of his own songs and he had great people round him so I don’t know if I’d call him a genius but I love that voice and you could tell he gave it his all and was very passionate about every song he sang.
Dave: I think that era of people interoperating songs was really great, we have a friend Margret Roadknight who’s a folk jazz singer, she’s in her 70s now and she’s never written any songs she interprets songs of other people it’s really great. Buddy Holly and the Beatles brought that in that an artist writes their own songs and it’s not always the best. Other people did that, the Who with Townsend writing and Daltrey singing, and Radio Birdman with Tek. Elvis was interesting too because when people would demo there songs people would impersonate him to try and get him to do their songs. His fame was, I don’t know like Charlie Caplan just unpalatable just how big he was.
Munster: you got into details of your days playing junior footy in Mt Gambier, and was told by a mate you were actually a pretty good player.
Dave: (laughs) that’s probably just some bullshit I told someone. Everyone was good when there a kid really it’s a fun game just before that age when people have growth spurts. I don’t know how much fun it would be now. Our old guitarist in the Coral Snakes Rob Heyward his son was, well he is a young footballer, and elite clubs can start to look at the you players then the investigate the parents background as well to see what they’re getting into.
Munster: last time I interviewed you I mentioned a few times you’re not an RSL Act, but that I mean if you were on the radio and they said Daves gonna sing a song I would have no idea what it is because you’re not someone who lives on the back catalogue, wheres if it was Daryl Braithwaite he’s pretty much singing Horses and that’s it, I loved in Workshy the story where a guy approached you and asked if you were “going to sing that song of yours” and he got his mate to confront you, what’s your take on that, you do Some old stuff in your set when you play live but you seem like someone that wants to focus on the newer material.
Dave: I kinda think about that. Comparable people who trust them of what they stand for and what they wanna deliver I have a few songs people associate with me Rock n Roll is where I hide is that particular song, but it’s this six seven minute song and its more musical dynamic as much as the lyrics, I can do it solo on an acoustic guitar but took me a long time to master. I have a few like Feeling Kinda Sporty or Your Just too Hip Baby there all from that era. After that there’s My Sticky weights a ton. I wrote about that in 1001 Australia nights where I come out at the grand final and sing that and make everybody cry for being a turd for ruining the situation. I’d like to be like that but I fucked up along the way somewhere.
Munster: You and Clare Moore recently were part of the 16 Lovers Way gig at the art centre where you played the songs off that particular Go Betweens LP. In 1001 Australian Nighst you referred to Robert and Grant as funny but not in a haha way, I loved that LP and the backstory behind it, what did that LP mean to you?
Dave: well I was pretty unfamiliar with that LP I didn’t know any of the songs I just picked a few that I knew and remembered from there live shows. One of them Dive for your memory was from that LP and another was Twin Rays of lightning was from another LP, then they asked me to do another one. Was great I really enjoyed it. Like a lot of people from that period I saw them more live, I was more close to them and saw than live as opposed to listening to their records. The Triffids are the same I like them, both of them there LPs are touched by 80s production and I find them hard to listen to but the same songs when they played them live they were great, they were both great humans.
Munster: in a 1001 Australian Night you dropped the word Jobber which I was excited about, are you a wrestling fan?
Munster: you know the wrestling term?
Dave: didn’t know
Munster: in wrestling it meant job guy and was a guy that would only be on TV and would always lose just to put over the stars.
Dave: hmm not sure what the context I used it in. Did you like the movie They Live with Rowdy Roddy Piper?
Munster: love it.
Dave: what kind of wrestler was he was he a jobber?
Munster: no not at all he was a star.
Dave: (laughs) don’t know much about that.
Munster: I interviewed Penny Ikinger recently and asked her about her contribution to the Salmon LP, and asked her about Kim asking her to play and she mentioned how all the parts were written for all the performers, what was that like, as opposed to show us what you got it was here’s what your playing?
Dave: I loved it, it was funny, Kim getting everyone together, everyone really liked it, Kim got everyone together and he insisted on everyone using small amps and all this and we all got together and learned it. It was a bit like a sporting team we all had roles me and Penny where kind of the rhythm section. Ash Naylor and Anton where like the flash forwards doing the twiddle stuff. Was fun, Kim was often late as he had to put his kids to bed. It was like Stockholm syndrome when someone is held captive by someone, Matt Walker came in at the end and we were flabbergasted when he said “hey Kim how bout I do it like this”, where like oh god. But everyone was on board and intrigued by the idea and willing to go where Kim wanted to go.
Munster: do you think you have another book in you?
Dave: it would be good to have three memoirs in the series but not sure how I would go about it (laughs).
Munster: Mark E Smith in his book mentioned every few months he would try and write a song that can be entered for England in Eurovision but said he couldn’t do it as writing a hit song was a skill he didn’t have. Writing songs is obviously a skill but is writing hit songs a whole different skill?
Dave: I don’t know, who knows? It’s tough. I don’t know that world, I don’t know how hits come about anymore. It used to be lots of radio play but I don’t know if that happens anymore. It used to be a world of people with quite specific ideas which is pop in a way, now it’s about niche marketing and people desperately writing songs for formats. Working at RRR I get CDs from artists and always the first few tracks, and I only really listen to Australian music, they all have their JJJ songs and there all horrible, you need to let the CDs go for a while and by track 5 or 6 the artist has relax and doing what they actually do, the ones where there trying to have a hit are horrible. But having said that I have a lot of vinyl and I love people trying to have hits people selling out I find that very interesting. Like when disco was big, everyone went disco, all these people America, the Grateful Dead, Barbra Streisand, the Rolling Stones, KISS they all just went disco, Roy Orbison tried to have disco hits and some of the results were pretty amazing. People worry about selling out and all those conceptual ideas, I think it’s great when people bust out of there little niche good on em (laughs)
Munster: what’s up next?
Dave: Just mixing a mistLY album I want to put out two albums next year, we’re going to do a mistLY album and an album just me and Clare that’s more kind of less drums and bass a more different approach to the songs, might be quieter or just guitar chords, or guitar and keys. The mistLY lp is done just mixing it. There’s a few seven minute tracks, really sprolling type groves, there’s some great songs and different version as well, I wanted to record different takes, not doing a perfect version jut different takes, about four or five will have alternative versions. The other album will be weirder in different ways.
Munster: to finish on, as mentioned I loved reading your books and reading the books and authors that inspired you, so what have you been reading this year that you recommend?
Dave: the Australian author Jane Lawson did a great book called Out of the Wreck this year which I enjoyed, it’s about a shipwreck in South east South Australia, it has a ghostly presence, some kind of animal spirit that survives like a ghost. Otherwise been reading Doris Lessing and Ralph Ellison a 40s black author read his book the Invisible Man and a book of his short stories, and I’m trying to get through all the novels of James Joyce that should keep me bust for the next six months (laughs)
Now. Part one of the story ended with our heroes 12 points up at the main break. After a fresh air break that was like circle work with the amount of times we had to pass it to the left hand side I find my seat and brace myself for what is to come. I thought a Suns player won the grand final sprint but turns out was someone from a different club. Damn, the sprint is pretty much the only silverware the Sun are ever gonna win. They truly are fucked. The Gold Coast aint suffered this much since the days of that cunt Sir Joh, who I look forward to pissing on when I get to hell. Im a fucking nervous wreck, I wish I did get heroin. As the bounce is bout to start Fred tells me to get on to the shoehorn to crush kill destroy McGovern. Game starts JFK marks 40 out. Fucking goal six point game. Adams smoothers the kick from the square Samurai scoops it kicks high ball to the Shag handballs to Langdon kicks to the Screwdriver, Eagles coming, runs it over for a throw. Adams held free to Samurai AGAIN COX CANT MARK Trav manages to grab the pill kick to Dole Cheque who tries Cox again and gives us another drop mark. He needs to lift this quarter. Eagles to Dole Cheque, he tries Cox again. FINALLY YES. 30 out, I love that American Pie. 45-33. HI 5 time, we raise our hands high in the air for the big American. GG gives our effort a 4 outta 10. Ball ends in the Eagles end Langdon fucks up the mark, probably the only mistake hes made all day, but he still gets the ball and kicks in the back of Coxs head, Dole Cheque somehow ends up with the ball high ball, Langdon stands tall but the Eagles are too string , they fucking get six points. Straightaway Samurai wins the tap to Brownlow handballs to the Gooster Adams feeds the goal 51-39. Eagles ave a shot we get the chewy on the boot rose has trusted us with and it proves good as they miss. Cox still cant mark passes off to Krebbs the Shag is giving brilliant pressure as Ryan is held. Brownlow kicks to Eagles bloke, kicks to a contest, Cox punches to Sier kicks to a contest too which leads to a throw in, as we see Scott Morrison on the box, much like Julie Bishop he gets a right royal booing from the two pubs at the Balaclava. Hmm while both got an awful reception, Julie got the worse. Doesn/t matter, there both cunts. Shag gets to ball from a hit out kicks to eagles bloke, who kicks out and payed deliberate to us. Fred says there is a god. Free to the Hyphen Sidie takes two on one Thomas to the Gooster misses 52-40. Tez says next goal is important. Im just waiting for BT to say the Eagles need the next two goals. Aww he doesn/t. Darling marks goal back to six points. Shag to Aish Dole Cheque cant hold Eagles pick up misses five point game. Cox to Trav Eagles intercept, Bruce says the Eagles are coming. They always where coming Bruce. Seriously, just retire. Please go away. Eagles kick to other Eagles, Adams pushes, and the runner gets in the way. Adams is livid. Now people ave called this a crucial point in the game and a what if? Look, there was a big distance between Adams and the Eagles bloke, it looked like he had little chance of actually getting the ball. And with a quarter to go lets not dwell on this. Anyway they score pies down by two. Round this time Nat McGuane spills beer on my notes, and given it was two weeks ago im not even gonna try and remember what happed. My notes say scores leveled at three quarter time so ill go with that. The beer on my notes was my beer, Nat said shed buy me a new one. She never did. And our great mate Bernie Two legs enters
Three quarter time
Collingwood Eagles 55 apiece.
That smoko was the longest five minutes of my life. Not sure I want to go back in. Outstanding start Dole Cheque to the Gooster bang five point lead. NOW THIS IS WHERE MY NOTES FAIL ME. Eagles point, Goosters ducks eagles post Langdon Samurai Cox. Not sure what happened I just wrote those names down in order. Darling is held Eagles mark 50 out Shag marks on the square. Dole Cheque pinned but gets it out Samurai is also held Krebbs passes to Cox marks 40 out Its a low kick looks shit but somehow goals 73-62. Sier is held Ryan passes to JFK , HES ON A TIGHT ANGLE NAILES IT BACK TO FIVE POINTS, AS Julie Bishop gets another royal whack. Cox beaten in the 50 Eagles mark leads to a throw in. Richo says marks aint everything. Again like Bruce just retire. BT says people don/t know which way its going this game. I think its his clever way of saying its anyones game. Darling drops the mark right in front of goal leads to a rush. My notes let me down, in summary Eagles chip away with points and kicks to Collingwood players, but every kick we had in the Eagles 50 for ten minutes we just kicked to the Eagles, we can by a fucking target. Adams has the ball in out 50 with minutes to go but the kick is smothered. Eagles take ball up, Krebbs charges but Ryan gets in the way with a Shepard. Goal. And ill leave the game at that.
With two minutes to go I know we aint gonna win I just wanna get the fuck out and smoke. But I figure be a good sport and watch the game out. I do, Fred and Jackie make the deflated balloons noise. I walk out. Some mutual fans offer me condolences on the walk out the door I nod and be polite but really I just want to be alone. Brad lovely aunt, the lone Eagles fan is near the door. Shes happy as she should be, I offer my congratulations. She tells me she has had a wonderful day and thanks us all for making it happen. While im gutted its nice to hear words like that. Win or loss we always come together and ave a laugh and beer after the game. Its why I love this game you can bear your heart n soul scream and lay abuse at the telly but at the end, W or L life goes on and mates are always there. Thats something that lasts longer than a Saturday arvo game of footy.
Me Pete and Gordon ave our heads down while aving a dart. Some stoopid man tells us we need a Rioli. I say yeah good onya and he quickly walks away. Pete tells us thats why he earns no bucks. After the game GG kindly offers a beer, while I throw the water ballons I was planning on throwing after the game on the bar which I offer to Sarah who looks at me if ive gone mad. While we didn/t get the result I ave loved this day. Brad comes over for a hug and tells me we played well and was one of those games one team was lucky the other was unlucky. Again I talk with his aunt, such a beautiful soul, very blessed to meet her. The Randtsa and Dave walk in for a quick beer then its off to Johnnys for the Hanks for a ripping night. As I walk home I hug Fred and he tells me hes seen so many 12 Grand finals losses two draws and two wins, today will make the next win even better. Bernie Two Legs possibly gave us the best compliment ever, saying we brought Collingwood to St Kilda.
The next day me and the two Bernies over many red bottle of wine dissect the game and look forward to next season
But on Saturday night walking home, as I walk down Tennyson Street I see some guy in a suit. We look at each other. I don/t trust this guy. He crosses the road to my side, I want to avoid him so I cross to his side. We meet halfway on the road. He says the magic words. Want some fresh air? This man is not someone I should ave crossed the road to avoid. Hes been to the game and we Annelyse what went right and wrong. Basically everything I wrote above in a five minute walk. He tells me if I know the Blue Lagoon. Its a house on Tennyson which is the living quarters of Azz and Bray, two lovely fellas who are always out the front of the place and ave always welcomed me in for a beer. Me and my new friend enter. As we greet our hosts they ask the beer question I say thanks but im just saying hello. They offer me a traveler. How can I say no? I neck the beer and leave it on a wobbly set of bricks. As I walk away and hear the Corona bottle smash on the concrete, a simple jester of beer and air, one from mates and another from a stranger, shows all that is good in the world and humanity can be alright when it wants to be, and despite the result I was surrounded by the best mates a miserably nihilist like me can ave. these people, all good souls that look after their mates and even make me see there is good in the world. Im very blessed to ave spent the day with these people, couldn/t ave asked for a better crew to kill an arvo sinking piss and watching footy. They give me a lot of joy hope I give em some too. Even the Ransta after his Anti Collingwood smack talk on the facecrock during the week was nice seeing him.
We didn/t get the result, the Eagles where just too good, but to come from nowhere and make the final and get so close, with every bloke giving it all, they did me proud. And I saw a lot of anti Collingwood shit on the facebook after the game, but mostly from people who wheren/t even Eagles fans, just jealous cunts who wished they could go for us. Well done to the Eagles you played a great game, but despite the result i/ll look back on this as one of the best days had.
Onya to GG for booking the room, cheers to Gav for cooking the party pies, jeers for not cooking the little boys.
I ave more to rant on and more to mention, but it/ll ave to wait for the end of season rant. And since it is end of seaon, it/ll come, when im asked, or when the Balaclava acknowledge its Petes birthday.
One of the most influential bands outta the UK has to be the Gang of Four. Combining elements of post punk electro and views and opinions from all issues round the world, Gang of Four where one of the few bands from the late 70s punk explosion to reinvent themselves and go with whatever style that suited em at the time. This year marks the 40th anniversary of their landmark LP Entertainment and the release of their new LP Happy Now. Guitarist Andy Gill joined me from a brief chat.
Munster: where are you right now?
Andy: im in London and its bloody cold I wish we could ave some of that nice weather you ave down there.
Munster: its 38 degrees I hate it, I/ll trade you our weather for yours anytime. Anyway, hows your morning been?
Andy: ah its fine we ave a new record coming out and a lot of my time has been spent on that with interviews and getting it done and ready, we had a new single out last week called Paper Thin, obviously this year is the 40th anniversary of Entertainment, a bit of the focus on this tour will be on that album on some of these shows. We go to America in February, that won/t be an Entertainment tour it will be a new album tour. Then we go to Japan and China we/ll be dong a mixture of stuff, when we come to Australian and New Zealand we/ll be doing all of Entertainment plus some other songs, some new songs, middle period Skrinkwrapped so it/s a mixture.
Munster: was Soundwave your first time in Australia?
Andy: for me i/d be there with Michael Hutchins and also producing a few bands, so I was there a few times by the time we/d done Soundwave i/d had a few experiences, especially Sydney and to a lesser extent Melbourne. I hadn/t got into the interior of the countryside I always found Melbourne and Sydney very relaxing, very modern international cities with the Australian carination, another band I worked with was a band called Mark of Cain…..
Munster: great band
Andy: yeah exactly. Another Australian band I worked with was Regurgitator, but they came to London for that. When I worked with Michael Hutchins that was at his place.
Munster: what process went into the making of the new LP Happy Now?
Andy: I think what different bout this record was I am usually the producer of the Gang of Four records, particularly because I got the ability to do it, so I might as well do it. But it/s a forward argument because when your there as the artist if you like and the performer you want someone else to help, use their imagination to how you go about the record. So I was keen to get co producers and mixtures working with me. I would get up at 5:30 sometimes and I would work in the studio start writing and recording things, and then the co-producer whoever that may be would come at 10:30 or 11 and then we/d do the days work after that. It was very productive. And I think one of the things I learned was its important to ave momentum don/t take your time because you don/t ave it, be in a hurry and that helps keep the momentum and process going and you see the songs quite quickly and thats encouraging and keeps you on your feet and keeps you going to the next thing. Every track has real drums and electronic stuff on it. A lot of the guitar is quite processed through various effects. I think thats the things that are different what I don/t want to do is repeat the past and ave the courage to make more songs in a similar way that I did 40 years ago its like answering questions like I did then. But the answers may ave changed because its a different era. I don/t ave time for repeating myself.
Munster: you mentioned not repeating yourself, you you mentioned playing Entertainment in full and doing shows based round the 40th anniversary, but your doing tours also on the new LP, so it seems your happy to acknowledge the past but not live in it.
Andy: thats exactly it any gig we do, one of the things I enjoy, its not like the new songs are designed to sit with the old songs, but its the same approach I always ave an idea in my head and often start with a rhythmic idea and it goes from there, and because I did it back then that/s how I do it now, but they cant sit next to each other. We may do a song from Entertainment then play something I wrote in the past six months and they complement each other in a way that’s quite satisfying.
Munster: Whats happening in the world right now that pisses you off to get the open n paper out and write some lyrics?
Andy: ah (laughs) I don/t know. Gang of Four tried to avoid using a sort of party/political line, and never be in a gage of trying to convince people and make them think a certain way. And I think Gang of Four songs, lyrically, are quite observational and quite descriptive, at first if you like, and I don/t want to sound quite pretentious, but I think any sort of political act starts with naming something, calling it what it is. And I think thats kind of what Gang of Four can be described as political because its naming things, describing things the way I see it. In terms of the world right now, the obvious ones, the rise of what people call populism, and people associate the populist movement, Brexit in Europe and the Rise of Trump. In the past we/ve tried to avoid being bout current affairs and the songs are much more, for example, Naturals Not In It in Entertainment, it wasn/t about any particular issue in 1979 but it is a description of relations taking on the political state. Right now, on the LP theres a song called Ivanka my Names On It. Its about her selling her brand when shes charging Chinese goods to America, and in the early months of the Trump presidency, there was this bizarre moment when she was being interviewed and someone said are you complicit and she didn/t know what it meant. It was almost like a comedy sketch. Moments like that im thinking shes writing the songs for me. My work is done I just ave to quote her, she does the work. Sometimes things just present themselves and youd be stupid to let them go when its there. That particular song isn/t about Ivanka but its about the whole way of thinking going on in the world.
Munster: what was it like working with Mark of Cain?
Andy: they were nice guys. They came to me and I guess it was because they felt something in common, I liked the way they came across as real straight guys, they might think im being rude but they had nicely pressed shirts and a pair of genios and a nice neat haircut, but underneath that was this hard and quite tough music so I ave great respect for that.
Damn, those 15 minutes just flew by and after asking bout the Mark of Cain I had to let Andy go as I was given no more then 15 minutes. Spewing I didn/t get to ask him if it was true that Mark E Smith really did throw coasters at him at the mojo awards in the 2000s. i/ll ask him at the Croxton.
Jack Howard certainly is the definition of a bloke you can trust. Earning his stripes as a trumpet player in various orchestras and brass bands, Jack went on to become a defining sound of Hunters and Collectors, one of the country’s best known road worries for their nonstop touring. I remember first hearing the Hunters in a Big M commercial when I was nine. While Hunters is no longer on the road Jack is always round St Kilda and beyond doing gigs, with Nicky Del Rey, the Long Lost Brother and a Sister and his wonderful Bacharach show and also getting up with a wide variety of acts playing his specialty brass instrument. 2016 saw Jack start Epic Brass, a show featuring a group of amazing singers playing a collection of classic Australian tracks, some that feature brass and others that ave had brass added for the show. 2017 Jack hit the road for Midnight Oils comeback tour, which also gave birth to Lightheavyweight, his latest solo recording featuring songs bout the cities he visited on the Oils tour. Me and Jack met at the Bakery on Tennyson Street pretty much half way between both our places. I kept drooling over the Fall seven inch he brought down, Lie Dream of a Casino Soul with the brilliant B Side Fantastic Life.
Munster: you of course are known for being a brilliant trumpet player, and you also sing, play keyboard and percussion, is there any other instruments you play?
Jack: I attempted guitar when I was younger, but failed miserably. I did play bass guitar on a Hunters track, on the Fireman’s Curse I think.
Munster: was trumpet the first instrument you learned?
Jack: it was trumpet. My dad was involved with the Brunswick brass band. He was playing drums and we started going together, and they had a junior band as well as the main band. Brass bands are a big thing in Australia, they have competitions and you compete all over the state, it’s very very serious. So I joined the junior band and the instrument that I played was the flugelhorn, up the corner. In a brass band the corner to the violinist are doing the flash fast stuff, where’s the flugelhorn was more a nice solo melodic instrument, which suited me really well. Physically playing a brass instrument is a very physical thing, you need the right mouth set up, the right lips. But it suited me really well, I was involved with brass bands for about eight years, then started playing in orchestras and in school bands. Really the traditional par for a young classical musician did all my grades, my A and B grades and theory grades. It really was trumpet for a while. I did take piano lessons for a while but just didn’t take.
Munster: What was it that lead you to the trumpet?
Jack: well both my parents where right into their music and my sisters play piano, so I was always going to be guided, not forced, but guided to some kind of instrument. I don’t know the initial connection to the Brunswick Brass band was but it’s still a connection that’s lasted a long time, I teach with a fellow who was in that band when I was ten years old, so connections go back a long long way. I think it’s a little different for guitarists because trumpeters, as a young musician, well Herb Elbert I listened to a lot, but it was kind of inadvertent as opposed to right I’m going to be like Herb Elbert, but when I was that age he was the trumpeter which was the most visible trumpeter, where’s obviously in rock bands, guitar is a more common instrument, so I think it works a little different from classical musicians to rock musicians.
Munster: So playing in the Brunswick Brass Band, playing trumpet what was your style of playing, where you a star, like a flash full forward or where you a contributor keeping things along?
Jack: I was keeping it going, with the Brunswick Brass band, I was a good player but I was no star. I was asked back years later to play with the Footscray/Yarraville Brass band who are a very famous band, who in fact won world championships. And they had an incredible trumpet/corner section. And I was recognized as a very good player but not a star. I was no Tony Locket recruit. Even though I played like him on the footy field (laughs).
Munster: When you joined Hunters and Collectors started, what did people think of the horn section? Because it’s not a set of instruments that rock pigs usually associate with.
Jack: I think what people liked about early Hunters was the spectacle. You had the gas cylinders you had this really unique sound, then you had anywhere between four and six horn players. So they were getting a show, not four scrubbers just getting up and thrashing through four chords. They were getting something very different and unique at the time. And we didn’t play on everything. We’d play probably four or five songs which grew as time went on. Those early days it was Talking to a Stranger, Rendering Room, Boo Boo Kiss, and Loinclothing, off the first EP which we performed on Nightmoves, Lee Simons Nightmoves years ago, But six horn players is gonna make it a bit of a show and people loved it.
Munster: even when the Hunters took off where you still playing in brass bands?
Jack: oh yeah. So just out of school I was playing in the Melbourne Youth Orchestra, was a founding member of the Victorian Youth Chamber Orchestra. I was going to National Music Camp every year which is where every aspiring classical music player went. In fact, the other two Hunters horn players where following the same path, Jeremy Smith and Michael Waters, so that’s where we all met. But Hunters at first was no full time occupation. My first year playing in 81, and I went back to my journals recently, and there were a lot of gigs in 81, my first gig was at the Ballroom supporting the Cure, and the next night was at the Oxford Hotel. So we got on a roll quickly. At first we didn’t get paid but eventually we got $10 a night for the six horn players. But I was playing in local musicals, like the National Theatre, Sweet Charity, West Side Story stuff like that a fairly traditional like I say young classical musician/horn player’s life. I wasn’t teaching at that time and I played in small groups I played in a Melbourne University Brass quartet with some very good players. I looked at the journals and one year early on, 81 or 82, I reckon I had maybe 20 nights of the year when I had nothing on. Whether it was a rehearsal, a classical gig or a Hunters show. I also started getting up with other bands and doing a song, Dockers, Models as time went on. But if I could find the time I would still be in an orchestra, I love it.
Munster: You went on the road with Midnight Oil in 2017 for their massive world tour, how did that come about? Did you expect to get a call?
Jack: I wouldn’t say I was expecting it, but I was hopeful. I’ve done a lot of stuff with Rob Hirst over the years, I’ve played with his band the Backsliders. I’m in a band with him Jim and Martin and Brian Richie called the Break, psychedelic surf band so I’m the psychedelic surf trumpeter. And I’d done a lot of recordings with Rob where very good friends I go up to Sydney with the kids and Fiona and stay at his place. I had a lot of conversations with him and a lot of band conversations. Because Hunters had a big year five years a go, we went on tour, did the Grand final, Rolling Stones and Springsteen all that kind of stuff. The Oils guys where very intrigued, they were asking how did it go? What was it like being back on the road? They were intrigued, and I guess of all the Australian bands, and I may be getting to big for my boots, but Hunters and Oils where the two biggest bands that had stayed out of the spotlight, I think. So they wanted to know how we went. So I was quietly hopefully I would get a call. I thought it was a matter of when then if. One day in March Rob Called, I still remember the call very vividly. It was a Thursday morning before I went to school, he called, and of course I said yes. He mentioned it was a world tour, lasting the better part of a year and away for most of the time, American, Brazil, Europe and my jaw dropped, I was in. As you could imagine very exciting.
Munster: being gone for most of the year, was it gruelling or good fun?
Jack: 99% of the time it was good fun, it was a really good adventure. And also we weren’t sleeping in vans lugging our own gear. We travelled well stayed in good hotels. We had a good crew that looked after all my trumpets and keyboard stuff, I had it very good, and they do interesting things. Because of the kind of band they are, there a bunch of smarts guys and very passionate about the environment and the state of the earth, so we’d so interesting like playing for Greenpeace, and interesting side adventures, we’d go to a lot of galleries and just wonder. And the gigs were great, the best part of it for me, and Fi was with me for most of this, was the European festival tour. Playing these big festivals with great bills. You know here it likes festivals of just JJJ bands or just heavy metal bands, these festivals had all kinds of stuff, you have rap and metals and Italian crooners on the same bills. It was a fantastic experience, and beautiful places like the French lakes and the Alps, with sensational France catering, so not a lot of downside. In terms of Homesick we had a bit of home time, but Fi was with me for a long period, all of Brazil and most of Europe. If anything I missed my dog Jet the most, so yeah I could have kept going.
Munster: and of course your new LP Lightheavyweight came from that tour.
Jack: as anyone that knows anything in the music business probably knows its 95% down time and 5 % high excitement as you do the live show. So you need to find constructive ways to fill that time, whether its going to galleries or seeing the local sceneries, you can’t exist on going to cafes and restaurants and watching TV you don’t understand.so you got to be very proactive I believe. I got out an awful lot to see things. I did a lot of Facebooking but I didn’t want it to be just photos, you know here’s me at a French festival. I thought I’d do something a bit different so I wrote some music. I threw together some beats some basslines, a bit of trumpet with the laptop open. And I came up with these bits of music with photos too, like travel logs. People seemed to like it, then I started to write a blog which was a good creative outlet. I got permission from management, they loved it, thought it was good. Had to be careful with the Oils, like most big bands you have to be careful, there very protective of their property, brand and music. I didn’t put up a single photo of the oils. I got a million Photos of the Oils and they ended up using a lot of them as I had a good vantage side of stage. And management found em very useful and they put the blogs and some of the pics I took on the Oils website, and again there very protective they don’t slap anything on there. So it became a good side project to do the music the photos and the blog, time really well spent. When I got home I really wanted to do something with that music. I didn’t want to put out a band album, a Long Lost Brothers LP for the moment, as it’s really hard selling anything these days in this environment and cost a lot of money. I kept working on it and it came out in October.
Munster: Its funny you say that because I’ve spoke to a lot of people who say when they go on tour they find it impossible to write new material, and you’ve managed to write and record most a whole LP on the road and do the blogs and photos, that’s a pretty amazing achievement.
Jack: well I was in a fairly unique position I was not in the band. My day to day press activities or band involvement activities where minimal. I didn’t need to be on hand for an interview at 2:15pm. I had none of that. I didn’t need to any of that I didn’t need to promote myself or anything like that. Also I’m a generally clean living man so I was generally in a decent state majority of the time, sleep deprivation notwithstanding. So it was a unique position, all the musical stuff I was very much involved, always there for sound check, new songs to learn, the story of learning every song they ever played, as well as unreleased tracks, so we rehearsed everything. I think they played over 100 different songs on the tour, which is unique for a tour like that. And I think I learned 50 or 60 of those, it might have just been cowbell in the chorus but for Rob it was important for that percussion there. And knowing those little keyboard parts and there were crucial parts I had to play like keyboard parts in Wedding Cake Island and Outside World. I had important parts other than the brass, but there was a lot of down time hopefully I used it well.
Munster: so when you recorded on the road was it pretty much playing the music down the laptop?
Jack: funnily enough in the hotel room the garage band stuff is all contained when I played the trumpet I blew it straight into the laptop, which isn’t the greatest mic in the world, having said that I liked all the bits that I played so much I did my best to tweet all those sounds with various effects and reveres and compresses to make it sound good when I played it into the laptop and most of the trumpet on the record was played into the laptop. It was very low technology but it worked.
Munster: I interviewed Penny Ikinger and Don Walker recently and asked them what it was like going from being a member of a band, where they never sang to going solo where they had to sing which they had never done before and took them time to get there voice on stage down. What was your experience like when you went solo after leaving Hunters?
Jack: I was the main backing vocalist in Hunters, but anyone will tell you going from a backing singer to lead is a very big step. We used to joke in Hunters I was very slowly edging my way to the centre of the stage to hip and shoulder Mark out of the way. I had these conversations a lot with Rob Hirst and Paul Hester because we all went from going to being in a big band to going solo. We had this like union of side guys, of course those guys where more than sidemen they were big parts of the bands they were in, but that was our joke going to the front of stage. I think the thing that frightened me the most was the audience interactions which is a common tale. As a backing singer I think I said about five words. Mostly cut that out. As times gone on I feel I’ve gotten very comfortable, so much the last Hunters tour I did perk up quite a bit and talked a bit, it’s good to have a voice. Bands when they come back, as the old song says Love is lovelier the second time around, everyone’s more relaxed and it’s like hey we have this fantastic thing going on. Everyone still likes us and the songs sounds great. So it did take a while, singing was fine but getting the front man shtick down was a long haul (laughs)
Munster: Epic Brass, how did that come about and was it originally meant to be a one off?
Jack: Definitely not a one off. When I had the idea it was a real light bulb moment, I thought it was a really good idea. It got to the point with the solo stuff and it’s a familiar tale with mid-level acts in Melbourne like where are we gonna play now? Let’s get a gig at the Retreat on a Tuesday. Or the Union. And it doesn’t add up to much. You’re out there doing it you put a record out but it stays at this fairly low level, and you not making any money, not much anyway. It’s a familiar tale. And I wanted, because I have this big background with Hunters I thought there’s got to be something I can do that yanks me to a bigger stage. I’ve done the Bacharach shows and that was really good, and Bacharach’s wonderful but it’s a different thing. Took me a while to narrow down the cast members of the show, and that’s how it feels like a cast now, four or five different singers, all unique singers and characters, there like an Adams Family of singers, because there not traditional singers, Penny Ikinger, Steve Lucas, Paulie Stewart, Ron Pena, Fiona Lee Maynard. Was a unique cast of singers and I certainly thought it had legs. It’s a very large outfit to put together. To attempt to tour it, we did it in Sydney, great band, Steve Kilby got up, but it’s not cheap flying ten people up. It’s got legs but it’s a special event show. I’d love to get it on a festival, it would be great for a Meredith or a Queenscliff. One of the benefits is it has this combo of post punk thread but some big hits, like the Hunters and Oils stuff and the Saints, there very well-known songs. The last one we did was even bigger, we had seventeen musicians on stage. Maybe even some reginal shows on the cards. It’s a very St Kilda show and want to keep pushing it.
Munster: you mentioned that you had this platform with Hunters and why not use it and I agree why not use it if it’s there, but while your happy to use that platform and throw in the odd Hunters song you seem like you don’t want to be someone that lives entirely off the back catalogue, and Lightheavyweight kind of shows that as its different to all the other music you’ve made over the years and your always trying to do something new as well.
Jack: well Lightheavyweight we do a few of those songs with the Brothers but it’s not the same sound as the record, it a more electronic LP, I described it as Gorillaz with brass. It’s got that drive to it. Lot of different projects, it took a while to come up with the Hunters songs, Holy Grail I was singing in quite a few different guises, and also I had quite a bit of involvement writing footy songs over the years. In 98 as Hunters was finishing I wrote this song called Thank God the Footy’s Back. It was about getting to the end of the footy season and it’s like ah the footy’s over what am I gonna do, what am I gonna watch on TV on a Friday and Saturday. Channel 7 loved it and used it as the opening for the 98 or 99 season. I got interviewed on Today Tonight, to myself I thought this is gonna be my post Hunters career because I didn’t know what I was gonna do, I was thinking this would make me a fortune I got this football thing, of course none of which happened. I also wrote a song for the EJ Whitten Legends game about Teddy. Also wrote a few songs for Carlton so I had a bit of football involvement so it ended up being a natural to perform Holy Grail, so I’ve done a big band arrangement sung it at the Carlton Grand Final Eve lunch a few times, that was a regular in my bag for a while but never did that in my own band, but now we’ve done a few bigger shows, and I’m quite happy to do them and their fun as well to play. In Epic Brass Ron Peno does Do You See What I See and Sean Kelly does Talking to a Stranger, feels easier and natural to throw a few in.
Munster: Holy Grail was of course used as the theme to Channel 10s football coverage, was that a surprise that years after the song was released it would go on to become a sporting anthem?
Jack: pleasantly surprised to be honest. Since Hunters have broken up we’ve become more recognisable and more successful when we do make a comeback then when we were together in some ways. And Holy Grail and football is a big part of that. We did it in 2013 at the grand final with Hunters and Marks done it a few times. So yeah having it on Channel 10 every Saturday night was fantastic. I’m a director of Hunters so we all got a spilt and some money out of that. And it’s also nice an older song is still recognized, in a way you feel you’ve moved on to another life, but its kicking goals and still making us a buck and keeping us in the public eye. When we came back at Sound Relief in 2009 at the MCG and when we did the grand final that was a big part of it. So no complaints.
Munster: was playing the grand final in 2013 a career highlight?
Jack: aside from the fact that it was a Hawthorn Fremantle grand final, so a nothing grand final, yes it was a mega career highlight. Hunters had done a few things at the G for a night grand final, we did an Ansett Cup Final. And we also did a match between Melbourne and Geelong in the mid-90s which was a anniversary of Melbourne and Geelong. So we’ve been on the ground before but the Grand Final was something else. I did my best to soak it all in. And as we left the ground I did a backwards umpire run to leave the ground through the gate so was quite pleased with myself (laughs).
Munster: Hunters went into the ARIA Hall of fame in 2005, did that mean anything to you guys?
Jack: yes. In my mind it was a bit of a career rehabilitation. There was a bit of a negative spot in my life, when Hunters broke up it was a bad year and I had negative thoughts from Hunters I just wanted to move on. The Channel 10 using Holy Grail happened so that was a positive. And when we found out we were being inducted we had to play. We hadn’t seen much of each other I saw a bit of Michael I see Barry and Jeremey time to time. But when we got back in the room everyone relaxed, the sound, the mega sound was fantastic to be back in. Most gigs I’ve done since Hunters where small gigs with a vocal PA, fold back if you lucky, you’re doing your own mixing. So to be back in the big environment big sound big production was great. We had a wonderful night, so it was a glittering occasion, Peter Garrett inducted us so was pretty spectacular but nothing much happened after that. Then the Sound Relief opportunity came up. It was also the Oils first gig in a long time and Peter had some negative press due to being in the Labour party, so him being on stage in his natural environment, he had a ball. So the Hall of fame was a significate moment.
Munster: How did the Hunters go in Europe and how where they received, because bands like the Hard Ons and the Go Betweens did really well in Europe and Hard Ons still are but they play to niche audience, where’s bands like Powderfinger and You Am I for most of the time play to Aussie backpackers in Europe. Hunters are kind of unique in the sense as they sold a lot of records but weren’t as mainstream as Powderfinger or the Countdown bands that tried to break Europe with no luck
Jack: we lived there in 83 for six months. We signed with Virgin off the back of Talking to a Stranger with the great video by Richard Lowenstein. But it went Pare shaped and we didn’t do much touring and we were in England with no money. We did the odd gig and the odd big gig but mostly playing to expats. We toured a America a few times through the 80s and that was great, that was on the back of Collage radio, we were with a really positive record label IRS who had bands like REM and Concrete Blond we had a great time and a good relationship. The first European tour was in 88, and Sweden we were a big deal. We played big shows and was a unique experience. In Australia people learn the sings seeing you live and the sing alongs they learn live. Where in Sweden they knew the words from radio, kind of like a pop sensation, which was astonishing for us. We toured with the Oils in 90 and a short tour in 94 which wasn’t a good tour. We didn’t capitalize in Europe and we should have done better I think. It was a combination of a financial thing and people getting more involved with their family’s more. That 88 tour and the 90 tour with the Oils, I figured on the back of those tours we could have gone back, done the big festivals go ballistic in Sweden, Germany and France. It didn’t happen for all kinds of reasons. From the mid-90s we figured we’re really strong in Australia we can still make records but we don’t know if we want the risk of going overseas because obviously it’s a business as well. It’s a funny one really, we never had that niche admiration, that people like Spencer P Jones, Kim Salmon, Died Pretty in Italy, Penny, Beasts of Bourbon had through Spain Germany and France, we never had that specific fanbase outside of Sweden in 88. Some ways its disappointing but its hindsight.
Munster: on a personal note, Athletics. You compete in shot put, hammer throw and discus and have done pretty well over the years from what I’ve heard.
Jack: still doing it, despite a dodgy back. I started athletics round the same time I took up trumpet. There the two twin things I’ve done through my life. I won school championships won Victoria Championships. Won the Australian Masters Championship about 8 years ago in the 50-55 age group in shot put and hammer. I still do it even though I’m not that serious about it, and I throw ok these days, it’s good to do, I pretend I’m still a sports person (laughs)
Munster: And you also teach music at Wesley Collage that must be a pretty rewarding gig.
Jack: I forget because I’ve been there so long and I run bands teach trumpet. Made some great records with former students making their mark in the record. I did a record a ten years ago Lost Horizon which was three ex-students, Kieron Jones, Jo Schocket and Jeremy Hopkins. Whenever I listen back I still really like it. The Bacharach band is with all teachers from Wesley. So it’s a very productive school to be part of, and to get to play all day which keeps me in practise. Brass players is different to guitarist, it’s a physical instrument and you need to keep your lips and face in shape.
Munster: what’s on for 2019?
Jack: a bit unplanned. I need to make a list, I love a list I’m a Libra love a good list. Lightheavyweight I’d like to do more with, would like to get some festival activity. Epic Brass will continue but not something we can do all the time. The Bacharach show will go on and also expanding doing Bacharach and beyond, we’ve added some Sergio Mendes and Herb Alpert. I’ve got the duo with Nicky Del Ray and that little Acland Folk trio I did the Stranger in Paradise at the folk club, and I lots of gigs on a semi regular basis, all these interesting bands asking me to play live or on their record. I’m sure there be more of that but it’s a bit unplanned. I hope for some bigger stuff for the second half of the year, I don’t know what but hope for some action. In the meantime I’ll be teaching, playing at Dogs every few months With the Long Lost Brothers and a Sister, at Claypots with Nicky once a month. So keeping my mind in play play play. Not to sound to fatalistic at 60 you’re counting backwards rather than forwards. You go how many years have I got left and how many years have I got making music left and I want to make the most of it.
Munster: and finally favourite Fall LP or release?
Jack: I’ll go with the single Lie Dream of a Casino Soul, but in particular as we talked before the B Side Fantastic Life.
Lightheavyweight out now. Jack launches the LP Thursday 24 at Memo, Acland Street St Kilda.
Now. Ive never been to River Rocks. I aint been to Geelong in bout 15 years. The furthest ive been in the last two years has been from St Kilda to Montmorency, where I discovered the towns Officer and Denis exist. I hear theres a lot of nice places in the world, but St Kilda has the Blackmolls an a Street bar. Does London ave that? My mates Johnny Kicks and Glenn O told me to come down to Getroit for this annual fest probably now the premier music festival in Victoria. With a week out from the gig I got a text from my website host and Book Club president Fred, asking me if I wanted to come down for the show as Mark had a spear tix, as there iconic band I Spit on your Gravy will be playing. How can I pass? Seeing one of my favourite bands hang out with my mates and take a road trip. And be back in St Kilda that night. Was a perfect combo. I lost count how many times people said whet the fuck are you doing here? I like how people know I hate traveling. Id rather go places where I can walk.
After a few beers with my favourite drinking buddy Lisa im on my way to Dis place where I will meet Mark and Fred. On arrival Mark and Di are out the back and im also greeted by the beautiful greyhound that also occupies the place as well as one of my favs Vic. Mark and Di are both beautiful people and very blessed Mark thought of me for the tix, really means a lot Mark, onya. Our fearless leader Fred joins us and after a few fags in the system we hit the road.
Fred tells me he has two cans in his bag one for me, such a lovely man always thinking of me and giving me fuel to continue on. However Di has told us that since its a new car there will be no drinking or smoking on the way. Mark puts his bass case on us in the back, this would ave been the perfect bar to rest our beers. Fred does take advantage of the case using it to use as a DJ bench. First song off the rank is William Shatners version of Common People, possibly the greatest cover ever. Most of the journey is covered by the great Robbie Fulks. He plays the Cigarette State song I love and his on the road song. We stop for a beer and smoke break at little rock which I later found out was 15 minutes from the place.
We arrive in time for Grindhouse, there new LP Can I Drive your Commodore is up there in the top three LPs of the year, a cracking set featuring both the Peter Russel Clark songs. The latest one off their new LP Wheres the Fucking Cheese screams stadium rock, by that I mean it has the vibe of a whole room screaming Peter Russel Clark followed by the song title. Out the back of the wonderfully named Spencer P Jones stage I see my first friendly face in Judy, while where talking the soothing echoes of Good Old Collingwood Forever in my ear, turn round to find its Max all the way from the Croweaters state. The singing of my national anthem may ave been in jest but its always beautiful to hear those words and ace to see him. Another cracking set from Grindhouse, these guys cant do anything wrong, and Simmo is one of the nicest fellas in rock. At the back I see the lovely Rosie with the great man Johnny Kicks on my arrival he screams no fucking way, im like way. Always got time for him. After the end of the set I walk to the stage to see St Kildas best barman and bloke you can trust Mad Rad and the also rad Didi. I tell Didi we need to get the Daggar there next time. Didi tells me how the Rolling Stones where charging 500 clams for a tix wheres this was under 70 bucks. I sure know what the better value is. I inform Johnny the sad news that the Balaclava has stopped the $5 schooners all day, he/s as pissed as well all are. Carbie is here with his camera on standby. Hes talking bout his car and all I know bout cars I know from Grindhouse LPs.
In the main area I bump into Tamara from HITs, such a sweetheart she is. Very glad to see her, we raise a glass and cheers to fuck everything. Speaking of sweethearts Polly Jean is here aint seen her in ages, great to see her BIT. Mick from Grindhouse pulls me to pump fists.
Dr Colossus is on next, first heard these guys at the Tote, and I found myself singing every word, thinking how the fuck do I know all these tracks, then I realised all the lines where Simpsons references. The golden years of the show that is. There Album titled the Dank had me laughing for minutes due to the reference in the Uncle Moes episode.
Aaron greets me as does Mark Ireland who/s been in outstanding form with his gig guide this year. Up next is Senor No. Must admit I don/t know a hell of a lot bout these guys. Johnny gets the attention of the singer then screams something in Spanish to which he gets a thumbs up for his efforts. As asked what the fuck, and he said was either thanks or our welcome, either is appropriate. Oh did I mention you can smoke in the outside stage. I LOVE YOU GEELONG. I see locals Simon Barbra and Jefffo if all the locals are like these people this would be a very friendly city. Senor No play a killer garage rock set, topped off by Joel Silbersher getting up for My Pal. All the oldies are wetting themselves while a group of younger people scratched their heads and say huh. At this point I see Glenn O who/s moved down here, I always got time for him and one of my favourite people. He told me hes got down to the movies earlier in the day as I slot in another fag before I get in for Front End Loader, round this point I see the other Glen, always a pleasure being in this presence. Front End Loader do an ace set, sadly no songs from How Can we Fail when where so Sincere, one of my all time favourite LPs .
book club on the road.
The Chats are on next. That smoko song must be the virial hit of indie music this year, as for the band I aint heard much of there stuff. Glen mentions the singers haircut, which looks like a cross between a page haircut and a mullet. The first track the young fella says this songs about pingaz. I like em already. Another songs bus money is a highlight of the day. These kids sure ave talent, singing tracks im sure any bored 19 year old in the burbs can relate to. As the set starts im asked if they/ve done the Smoko song, I say no. This gentlemen than puts some fresh air in my face, minutes early I got a 5 buck can of Young Henrys. Fuck $5 can of beers and air watching a band in a beer garden im in heaven. This bloke asks if I come often, I raise one finger to raise my inexperience. He tells me that he went to the first nine before moving to Queensland. He came all the way down from Queensland to be informed that its sold out he said im coming in. Fucking good on him. I do something (break the seal probably) and get back in time for the smoko song. Im again next to Judy, some strange man is talking to her, then sets his sights on me, she tells me that he was looking at her shirt. He then proceeds to touch my badges, thankfully he moves on. Smokos over, the song and mine, I walk inside for the main event but before I can I see a guy partied out leaning on a bin. I ask if hes alright, he smiles at me and has a go at my moustache, even though his moustache is what kids on the playground would say is bum fluff. I put that beside me to see the band ive been hanging to see I Spit on your Gravy. Freds up front with percussion for an instrumental to start. James gets up for some crowd surfing, and Glenn O stands next to me and I embrace him knowing this will be brilliant. Fred is up front and owns the crowd, has them eating out of his palms. He ends the gig feeding us with fruit loops. He even mentioned to Di on stage how he didn/t spill his beer. Was a killer set, Whats Happening being the highlight. Me and Glenn O discuss the set, Johnny walks past and says brilliant, I say outstanding, he says even better.
I desperately need a fag so I decided to go for one but then the Hard Ons belt out I Do I Do I Do as their opener and im up there to bang my head like an idiot and sing along. After a few songs I get the tap on the shoulder, my ride is waiting for me to get in. I hug Mark and say thanks so much for a wonderful day, Max pats me back and bid goodnight to Glen as we/re outta here.
I ask the bouncer if he/s seen a bloke with sideburns walk out, he says that could be almost anyone here. Fred walks out with a can of Melbourne, the bouncers can see this yet aint bothered. Ave I mentioned I love this place?
Jesse kindly provides me and Fred a ride back home. Fred is again on the DJ set, Robbie Fulks again get a fair play. As does the Dirty Hanks, Viv Gayes beautiful voice guilds us down the bay of Port Melbourne, as Nicky Del Ray and his wonderful country tracks takes us through the final Ks. Fred reaches his home and I get dropped off at Glen Ire Road and say thankyou to Jesse and his partner for the lift. Eight seconds later I throw up. I cross the road and pretty much throw up all the contents I guzzled in the last few days. I arrive and bid goodnight to my lovely housemate Cath, before Steve Connolly and the Usual Suspects drift me to zzzzz.
All in all a wonderful day, I want to go every year now. Brilliant people the best bands, fresh air from strangers, it felt like home Thanks again to Mark and Fred for the Tix and Mark Di and Jesse for the ride. And thanks to Glenn O for the beer, owe you one next time. Geelong is alright
Two years ago Stiff Richards blew my tiny little mind away. I head the name for a while, but finally saw them at the Old Bar slotted inbetween Ute Root and Powerline Sneakers. My jaw was on the floor like a Hanna Barbera cartoon character when I saw them. They were the most exciting band I had seen since the Bitter Sweet Kicks. Fast outta control rock n roll at its finest. While not the first band to play that style of rock, there was no pretense about them, I didn/t look at them and think oh it sounds like this and that. They were their own original band not trying to be anyone but themselves. And up front was this young fella Wolfie. Best frontman since Brendan from Eddy Current. He had a killer set of pipes on him, had this sense of danger bout him, and a presence to get even the biggest shoe gazer up and rocking out. I ran to the merch desk to buy their self titled LP, possibly the most sorted after LP in Melbourne over the last year. One person offered me $80 for the LP when he found out I had it. Like there live show it was fast and loose, some of the greatest garage rock songs to ave come out of Melbourne. Now the Stiffies ave dropped LP number two, to much anticipation.
The title track opens it, with Wolfie screaming, almost a cry for help, followed by feedback and straight into a brilliant three chord riff. When Wolfie screams DIG hes giving it every last bit of energy he has, almost as if hes screaming a demand at the listener. Also props for using the phrase cripple blisters.
Bad Disease tells us of a doctors trip and what the man in the white coat can do to fix the disease. Great punchy garage rock track under two minutes.
Taste has a killer riff just hanging in the background, half way through it has the two guitarists doing different things, but neither is louder, or neither one more in focus than the other. Brilliant production work on display here to get that dueling sound.
Ostentatious has a guitar sound Deniz Tek will be spewing he didn/t come up with. A haunting bass solo is thrown in the mix, for me the best song on the LP.
PEA slows things down. For a few seconds. The line I need Power Energy Action should be a pub sing along in the perfect world.
Do it Right Now is another short catchy punk track. All over in 80 seconds. Incredible short fast loud track. Who needs four minutes to get a song in when you can do it in under a minute and a half?
Intro closes proceedings, fun two minute instrumental showcasing how good the band is and how just a few chords is really all you need and two minutes is plenty of time to get a song in.
Not exactly a 180 from their debut, but a different sound to their first effort. A bit of industrial on one or two tracks, and two tracks a bit over a minute, DIG is a cracking second release from the Stiffies, just as good as there first. Eight tracks that come in round 25 minutes (the way all LPs should be), a fast assault to the listener, before you can process what the fuck did I hear bang its straight into the next track for another quick fire assault. Stiff Richards for me are the best live band in Melbourne right now, and there second release is a brilliant achievement to get that stage show down on record. Rock n Roll don/t come much better than this.
Best barmen: Mad Rad, Lachlan, George (Balaclava) Jules, Sean, Mel (Misery Guts), Mark, Karine (Surabaya Johnnys), Tristan (Dogs), Wade (Lyrebird)
Best Landlord: Gavan and Sonia (Dogs) Suzi (Espy) Leon (Lyrebird), Linda (Balaclava)
Best Pubs: Balaclava, Misery Guts, Dogs, Lyrebird, Surabaya Johnnys, Kent Street, Old Bar, Tote
Best Albums: Penny Ikenger-Tokyo. Jack Howard-Lightheavyweight. NQR-The Garden. Grindhouse- Can I build Your Commodore. Beat Taboo-Beat Taboo. Dumb – Seeing Green, Blue Orchids- Righteous Harmony Fist. Papa Lord God- The Sheik of Downfall Creek
Best gigs: Brian Hooper Benefit (POW) Grindhouse LP launch (Tote), Off the Hip Instore with Dino Bravo, River of Snakes, Bloody Rascals and NQR, Stiff Richards (Misery Guts), Off the Hip Instore with Mannequin Death Squad, Bits of Hell and the Hybernators. Hybernators and the Interceptors (Lyrebird), Senior No (Vineyard). Jack Howards Epic Brass (Memo), Kim Volkman and the Whisky Presets (Vineyard), Kid Congo Powers and Dave Graney (Caravan), Wreckless Eric (Northcote Social Club) Large Number 12s (Lyrebird, Dogs)
Best Record shop: Off the Hip, Strange World, Greville St, Poison City, Heartland, Polyester, Music Jungle
Best Team: Collingwood (GO PIES sorry had to say it twice)
Best Commentators: Joe Rogan, Matt Gremlin
Best CEO: Pete
Best Gate: Penogate, REMgate, toothpickgate
Best photographer: Charlie Barker, Campbell Manderson, Zoe Damage, Carbie, Fred Negro
Best Radio Show: On the Blower, Sunglasses After Dark, Junkyard.
Best TV Show: Hard Quiz, Mad as Hell.
Best Film: Can you Ever Forgive me? Death of Stalin
Best website: frednegro.com.au
Musnters Person of the Year: Nathan Buckley
Munsters Life time achievement award (this is awarded to someone who has annoyed me and others): To the neighbors who wanted to put in a buzzer for me to beep when I go outside and smoke so they can shut the window, despite the fact that the area i smoke in is at least 15 meters from there window, and they live a whole level above me and also for stealing my ciggie bin. For Shame.
And to Tanya George, one of the many terrible buskers on Bourke Street, who cried and moaned after a group of protesters staged a protest regarding Aboriginal Deaths in custody. She had the nerve to make a video saying im all for this but not when it ruins my tips. See kids, Aboriginal people are still getting a raw deal but god forbid we interrupt the busker. Priorities people.
If there is such a thing as Rock Goddess Penny Ikinger is possibly the close to the title. Everything in her style is rock n roll. From the music, the fashion, the attitude and work ethic. Pennys latest LP Tokyo, released on Off the Hip records, is eleven ripping rock/powerpop tracks, featuring Oz music royalty Deniz Tek and Japanese musicians Masami Kawaguchi, Keiichi Sakai and Louise Inage. Recorded in Japan and Australia it is possibly Munsters favourite LP for 2018. Me and Penny met at the Dogs on a shit Saturday arvo to natter Wet Taxis, Japan and museums.
Munster: You were born and raised Melbourne but had two periods living in Sydney, did you play in a band in Melbourne before heading to Sydney?
Penny: the first band I played in was in Sydney, that was Wet Taxis, I played rhythm guitar in that band. I actually rehearsed with a band in Melbourne but we never did a gig. Mick Harveys brother Sebastian Harvey was the singer. I can/t even remember what the band was called but we never played.
Munster: how did you meet Louis Tillett?
Penny: Sydney Uni. I went up to study archaeology and Louis was studying ancient history, and archaeology as well. I think he came third in the state in ancient history. And he was this weird looking guy that used to hang round the corridors in the shadows, so we would ave met via something to do with ancient history.
Munster: Lets talk Wet Taxis, you weren/t an original member?
Penny: No. Wet Taxis went through a few stages. When they first started they played what was called industrial noise, and thats what we would call experimental musical today. Other bands like Severed Heads, and Tom Ellard had a label Terse Tapes and they released some early Wet Taxis stuff. They originally played this industrial noise which was very out there, loud aggressive stuff. Simon our guitarist would use Lego motors and things to play the guitar, or record someone vomiting and then sample it into the music, again this predated what we know as sampling now. They also recorded someone crying and sampled that, they probably would ave recorded someone shitting of they could. So they pretty much would ave cleared the rooms with that style of music. Louis/s Sister Nina was trying to help them and said that her brother played in a band and they were looking for a gig, and they said what kind of music, she said Light cocktail jazz (laughs). But round this time Wet Taxies started making a change from that style, to playing 60s psychedelic rock covers, 13th Floor Elevators and the stuff from the Nuggets LPs that kind of music. So Wet Taxis started playing that style at the Britana Hotel and they used to pack it out and they had a residency there for years. Even though they didn/t play cocktail jazz (laughs). Peter Watts left the band and then I joined.
Munster: Where you behind the change in direction music wise of Wet Taxis?
Penny: No they had changed before I joined. Peter had been playing that 60s psychedelic punk before i came in, I don/t think i was a big influence on that sound. Louis and Simon Knuckey the lead guitarist were the biggest influences. Then Simon and Tim who are brothers left, they were from Dunedin, and then they left and Jason Cain and Rodney Howard joined, and thats when Louis started writing original songs. So the band went through three phases. The industrial, the 60s psychedelic, and we still did some 60s covers but Louis started writing. Then the band split round 1987 and Louis went solo and I played guitar in his solo band.
Munster: When did you return to Melbourne?
Penny: around 1991
Munster: is that when you went solo?
Penny: no I still didn/t sing I just played guitar I came back to study again, and I was with Charlie Owen then so he came down too. I played in a band called Red Dress with Cathy Green. She was the drummer and songwriter in that band. I also played with Sacred Cowboys for a while. I didn/t start singing till round the year 2000. So I joined Wet Taxis in 1983, so ive been playing for a long time before I started singing.
Munster: when you started singing was it solo or with a band?
Penny: Thats when I went solo.
Munster: You/d been playing for a long time before you went up front, where you comfortable singing at first?
Penny: it was really difficult I never really wanted to sing or write my own songs. But what happened was these bands I just mentioned, as a musician you/re always relying on other people to get the ball rolling. I realized that it was a reality that if I was going to continue playing music I needed to take the reins in my own hand because the band I was in would go ok for a while and then they would break up, so I knew I was just gonna ave to sing thats the only way I can ave control. And I didn/t think I could sing, im still not sure. But I figured singing is the hardest thing if I can do that the rest will be easy. My first gig was in Sydney supporting Louis and Charlie Owen.
Munster: do you identity more with Melbourne or Sydney?
Penny: Both, when we were in Sydney we thought Sydney rock was better than anything in Melbourne, Melbourne was a bit arty for us. Mind you Wet Taxis doing industrial was pretty arty. And in those days, now musicians play in lots of different bands, back then there was more a football team mentality about what you did. If you played in one band that was it you didn/t moonlight with another band. Now you do all the time otherwise you/re going to survive. Back then you stuck with your band. Back to whether I identity with Melbourne or Sydney I think the Melbourne aesthetic has influenced me, because something about what you grow up listening too, and I would see bands in Melbourne before I moved up to Sydney, bands like Boys Next Door. I don/t know which one I identify with. When I came back to Melbourne I came back to study, I really didn/t want to come back. But round the same time the Sydney scene dried up so a lot of Sydney musicians moved to Melbourne. When I was in Sydney I was a Sydney musician and coming back to Melbourne I thought of myself as a Melbourne musician
(photo by Gaku Torii)
Munster: You mentioned when you were in Sydney you thought Sydney rock was better than Melbourne, was there some snobbery from Melbourne musos in regard to Sydney too?
Penny: Yup, but we thought they were arty poofs so why would we care what they think? (laughs) Melbourne audiences where more hoity toity and used to a particular sounds, influenced by the Birthday Party, wheres Sydney wasn/t as interested in that. We were more into happy rock.
Munster: Your new LP Tokyo, how was that recorded, did you do your parts and the Japanese musicians do their parts in Japan and then add it together?
Penny: No I went to Tokyo to record the LP with there with the Japanese musicians. It was a big project for me to do. The first time I went to Japan was in 2008. The promotor put together a band called the white shadows and they were a great band. We played one gig and the drummer and bass player where the ones that came down recently. Then I went the second time 2010 and played with Louis the bass player and different drummer Keiichi and Masami on guitar played guitar. The second time Deniz Tek also came. I got a grant from the Australia Japan foundation to record the LP. Deniz cound/t come so he recorded his parts in Australia but everything else was recorded in Tokyo, I did my vocals and mixed here at Hot House in Acland Street. I wrote the songs with Deniz and I wanted that to be part of the project for me I wanted to write with Deniz. We wrote the songs at his place in Kiama which is near Wollongong.
Munster: The first time you went were you invited or did you just decided to go?
Penny: No I decided I wanted to go so I went on my own. I didn/t know anyone in Japan id never been there before. It took me a while to find the right people to help, and I found them through a lady called Sue Rynski. Shes a photographer. She lives in Paris, she lived in Detroit round the era of MC5 and the Stooges, so shes Deniz Teks era. She had an expo in Tokyo so she had a lot of good connections. She hooked me up with a promotor, Gaku Torii who agreed to book me shows. If it wasn/t for him the whole album wouldn/t ave come about so was very lucky. He was the first music journalist to bring punk to Japan through his writing, through his reviews and articles in the late 70s/early 80s. Hed be flown round the world to interview Bowie and Iggy Pop, so hes a very well known journalist in Japan. He published a book bout punk rock from American and England, he did very well from his writing. He was an important figure in Japan, because they love punk rock, they play it really well they get it and they understand it.
Munster: A lot of Australian bands when they tour overseas they usually head to Europe, what was it bout Japan that made you wanna go there?
Penny: I was interested in the culture and also I love travel and a challenge. I like doing difficult things I don/t like doing easy things I get bored. To me that was a bloody hard thing to do. I knew no one didn/t speck the language had no idea where I was what I was doing, I found that attractive. And I had no idea how incredible the music was. I know some Japanese bands tour Australia but compared to how many bands there are over there its all just phenomenal. I went to see what was going on, was like a mission. I went the first time on my own, the second time I got a grant from the Australian Japan Foundation, I got two grants in the end to go there. The first grant, I was at work and a friend of one of the curators at work, Julia Murray, she put an ad on my desk for the Australian Japanese Foundation. I got the grant went back took Deniz, then I applied for another one and also got it. It was very competitive as both times 300 people applied and only ten got grants. So its great they support rock n roll. Masami has played here a few times so its opened doors both sides they didn/t exists before.
Munster: in the booklet you mention one of the reasons you love Japan was the mixture of the old and new culture and how day and night are so different. It seems over there they really value there past and would never knock down old buildings like they would here, is that a fair call?
Penny: they seem to be but I don/t know all the ins and outs. I went to this great exhibition when I was there last time at the Mori art museum, that was on architecture in Japan and they talked about the building techniques of the old architecture and the shrines then they talked about how that aesthetic design, seems the Japanese ave has influences there modern architecture as well. They do ave modern buildings but the places I was staying was not the glitzy areas, I was staying the arty areas. Thats what I saw there, tiny alley ways with lanterns and old houses with bars. That area in Flinders Lane with laneways within laneway its kind of like that. Then you go into areas like the big business district, there you see the big buildings and neon lights. Its like two different places within the one place.
Munster: would you call this lp a love letter to Tokyo?
Penny: not a love letter but it seemed the best title. When I wrote the songs I had Japan in mind. The song Tsunami thats Japanese for Silver Bell, that’ a meeting place, thats where I met the Japanese musicians. Thats the rondevu point because I had to meet them at that particular spot. And it was recorded there so Tokyo seemed the most appropriate title.
Munster: when did you first meet Deniz Tek?
Penny: I knew Rob Younger, he produced the first Wet Taxis song Sailor Dream the first original song Louis wrote, my partner at the time Charlie Owen was playing in New Christs, so I knew Rob well. Before I released Electra i did a four track demo at Yikesville which was run by Shane O’Mara. Chrissy Amphlett came in to the studio, I played them to Chrissy and she said I think you can improve your singing, and I agree it wasn/t that good. So she was like the vocal producer. I did the the demos gave a copy to Deniz and he really liked it. He had his record company in America, Career, put the LP out. Deniz today is a close friend but wasn/t at the time, he just really liked the music.
Munster: He doesn/t seem like a person would say yes to everything he is offered so must be a big thrill getting him to work with you.
Penny: and write the songs with me. Im lucky he likes my music. Hopefully we/ll do some more writing together.
Munster: Salmon was an instrumental project put together by Kim Salmon which featured a whose who of legendary Oz indie acts, what was it like working on that project?
Penny: that was fun that was done quickly. That was a whole different musical experience. It was like playing in an orchestra so he worked out everything in his head and he teached us the parts. Although you/d think something with six guitarists and one drummer would be wild and crazy but really its was quite tight because you couldn/t do what you wanted you had a part, so was like an orchestra.
Munster: That must ave been a thrill him picking you for your guitar playing style.
Penny: I hope so but we played what we were told. And Kim wasn/t playing guitar. He was conductor and playing samples on a keyboard, hed sample his voice saying something like a wooo, then hed press the keyboard and mime so he wasn/t even singing. So was kind of performance art. When that LP, I think was at Sound Park and then a live record, I think in Sydney when we played with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, came out on Bang. Was a pretty brave thing to do, I don/t know if Salmon will play again I doubt it. I don/t know if the audience got it but Kims good at re-inventing himself and doing things people don/t expect, we did Mudhoney and Jon Spencer supports because they all worship Kim.
Munster: do you prefer playing solo or band?
Penny: I like both. And I play with different bands. I ave a band in Melbourne, a band in Sydney with Deniz and Jim Thompson and John Fenton. I ave the Tokyo band and a band in Paris and in America I played with another band Donavans Brain. And all the bands are completely different to each other. Donavans Brain has two guitarists as well as myself, in Japan theres Masami and Deniz and me. Sometimes I play with one guitarists sometimes two sometimes I play as a three piece. The French band has Dimi Dero and Vince from the Wholly Curse. They all play the same songs yet they all sound completely different and sound nothing like the record. Why sound like a record when you already got it.
Munster: on a personal note, you work at the Melbourne Museum as a curator?
Penny: collection manager. I work with all the indigenous objects that aren/t aboriginal. So thats objects from the pacific, Asia, Americas and Africa. Its a really interesting job and i meet a lot of interesting people. I think im interested in different cultures and different ways of thinking bout the world, thats why I work there and most of my music has been outside of Australia. So this thing bout travel im interested in different places different cultures and im interested in this sort of universality of rock n roll, how you can travel to different places and find people playing that ave a love of a similar style of music. Like a secret club round the world, with people like us that like certain music. Because we aren/t sitting in the mainstream. But its universal. Say Masami has a huge knowledge of music and listens to all kinds of music but he loves that garage punk think that I come from that influence of playing in Wet Taxis, it influence my aesthetic in music, it influenced my guitar playing and songwriting.
Munster: Whats next?
Penny: im doing an improvised performance at the state library with Ollie Olsen just the two of us no idea what we/re going to play. i/ll be doing more gigs promoting the LP but that won/t be till early next year. And im thinking next year going to Europe, playing France and Spain, im in the process of trying to work that out. Because I do all the business but I ave people round the world helping me out. Id love to write some more with Deniz. All this stuff Matt is so much work, I don/t think people realize how much work it is. And when you make these LPs you don/t walk out rich from it. And then you gotta find the money do the next one and get back on the horse. I put so much work into this Japan project and bringing the Japanese musicians to Australia im just thinking whats the best thing for me to do next. I recorded two songs with the Japanese musicians while they were here i/ll be releasing that as a seven inch single but I don/t know when. And I like things not to cut in stone right now, im going to see whats going to happen with the album and that will help direct me what I do next. If I get interest in a certain area then its a good idea to tour there so that will determine what I do.
Munster: do you ave a favorite Fall lp?
Penny: no but I did see them when they toured years ago. I thought they were great but I don/t think I ave any of their LPs but I know there music from listening to their albums at other peoples houses.