Dick Dale; Storytime, Planet, August 8, 1995

As selections for support bands go the Storytime election was the right choice on this Tuesday eve. Neither Storytime or Dale are particularly renown for their lyrical gymnastics, instead there remains their respective command of the six-stringed instrument, albeit several generations and board shapes apart.

With a second drum kit on stage caging bass freak Paul Sanbrook into a foldback speaker prison in the corner, Storytime powered through undetered on their minute stage and delivered, for me at least, a set which I can write something different about. There was of course that overwhelming ‘sand in jocks’ feel that you come to expect, and have delivered, by Storytime, but this August ’95 Storytime were meaner and a tad more creative than I’ve seen in my previous outings.

Riding smoothly between emotions, styles and tracks from their two CD releases, Storytime seem to be breaking free of the basic limtations of their non-vocal three piece format and have fleetingly turned an enquiring eye to the harder world of metal. Diversity in a Storytime set is greatly appreciated by us Perth punters.

With Dick Dale on stage the reason for my fellow community of Planet punters being what they were became apparent. A near full house of surfers, rockabillys and folk who collect vinyl were here to see the guy who was THERE, probably sharing sodas with Jan’n’Dean and the whole fifties surf scene.

With Dale’s Fender amp hanging from the ceiling as to not disturb the distinctive sound from such a unit, the ponytailed grandpa shredded plectrums at the rate of two per song. I wondered why the roady was waving his arms at the lighting guy – Dale seemed to have designated a crowd member to pass him new picks during tracks and he needed to see how worn they were while playing. No strobes for this set, just a blur of shredding plastic to inspire the crowd’s bouncing admiration.

You could take some of the comments by bemused wallflowers on board – that Dale’s last successful album was fifteen years ago – or you could, as the majority of the audience did, take in the beach and waves imagery that flowed from Dale’s shredding plastic picks as a sound of ‘ol California care free technocolor beach-dom – revved up and applied to cult gangster movies.

Yes, Dale did play Miserlou and a whole lot besides. But he also diverged a whole swag of kiddies away from televised pulp violence instead towards those soundtracks of technocolor fantasy where girl meets boy …

It certainly wasn’t a gig for trainspotters, just a celebration of the Fender amp and a guitar hero who could still wow an alien crowd.

Adam Connors

Rawkus; Nebula; Hateman Tribe, The Lone Star, August 4, 1995

Revline – Rawkus seconded by bridesmaid

I packed my flannelette skivvy and leather earplugs for this, the return gig by the ex-‘loudest pub band in the world’, Rawkus. With a new lead singer, bass player and a rumoured ‘more melodic sound’, the crowd were primed for what was to eventually become pretty unspectacular.

I choose to cut to the chase and sadly it does not involve the headline act. The second-last band, Nebula, stole the show with their diversity and realistic stage presence.

For a metal outfit which plays fast and uses two death vocalists, the clarity and memorable riffs of this bunch of dredlocked guys were really, really impressive.

Both lead members could sing and change up into their each-distinctive death growls at any turn of beat, with the choice song of the evening a combination of all their outstanding elements in a short whirlwind that they had not even named yet.

Finishing with Someday Soon, which we all may see on CD in a couple of months, I penned the name Nebula on the back of an Angus McDeth flyer with glee.

Back at the beginning, Hateman Tribe suffered from the affliction that all new metal bands have: head down thrash with scant regard for the other members. I am willing to wear that sound just because of their inexperience, and similarly, headlining act Rawkus could be forgiven for the same reason in their new, untried combination.

Admittedly with a bunch of mostly new songs, Rawkus were formulaic and fundamentally flat. The days of throwing in a guitar/double kick drum solo every fourth verse is well and truely dead, while new vocalist Duane Earl needs to develop that ‘I am a scary person’ thing a tad more without having to resort to firecrackers.

I was bored so I ate my leather earplugs.

Adam Connors

Spooky; Beaverloop; Tragic, The Loft, 22nd July, 1995

In an age where you have to squeal like Nina Hagen to be heard over the deluge of pop music releases, bands are finding it tough setting themselves apart from the norm. This is not a comment about the band Spooky, who brought us all together for their On The Quiet EP launch on Saturday night, but their friends Tragic who opened the evening to much grinding of teeth.

With a voice plucked straight from that television advertisement set in Tennessee starring Billy Dern, Tragic Jr (yes, it gets worse) sat upon his high stool while his audience member band-mates literally read lyrics into the microphone. The Tragic ensemble continued to surreptitiously sell American products to the audience, who hoped for bludgeoning weapons, until solace arrived in the form of CD debutants Spooky.

Opening solidly with the first track off their EP, the highly lauded and pacey When You Cry, Spooky immediately showed that they have the stuff which has seen Lamia and Spank succeed in Perth’s little bubble. Vocalist Rosie Rooney had no problems hitting the high notes, best illustrated on another of the EP’s tracks Stuck With You which could have failed if not for Rooney’s powerful live voice. Sometimes it is hard to bring that studio quality to the stage, but not in this instance.

Another vital element of the Spooky experience involved drummer Andrew Daly’s fast and machine-tight work at the back. With every possible space filled with a speedy tour of the kit, solidly held in esteem by their twin guitar platform, there is no doubt this band is the sum of its parts. If you regularly see Perth bands you will hardly need to hunt for Spooky – with On The Quiet their name will grow from here on in.

And like a train hitting a pigeon, Beaverloop continued their ‘Barrage Tour 95’ with their usual, if not pretty spectacular, string-snapping antics. With Loon X-Wing only firing on seven cylinders due to his theatre commitments, Beaverloop were only, well, brilliant this night. For example, Green Spinny Thing was only played at twice the pace and when the E-string snapped on Loon’s bass he didn’t succeed in breaking any on the bass he borrowed from Spooky’s Rosie. You will always know what to buy Loon for Xmas.

Adam Connors

Lost; Squadcar 95; O!; Bluetile Lounge; Tucker Bs; Sleepy Township, The Lone Star, July 15, 1995

Let’s not talk about the weather. Let’s talk about one of those events that no matter how frigid it is outside, you end up leaving with a yummy warm soul. And it all comes down to that little, definitive Perth scene – the Chapter Music and Aquamudvuv co-op.

Mr Blackman started the musical proceedings in a chummy congregation under the moniker, this time, of Sleepy Township. With two-thirds of Molasses supplying the rhythm, Blackman showcased the full range of his monotone delivery to much adoration and warmth, including the members of O! who pointed and giggled during a cover of their track, Outskirts.

I was not prepared for the onslaught to follow – all hail the Tucker Bs! More from the Wormfarm side of the Tasman than the rest of the bands, this experience dried my eyes with the most frontal barrage of brilliant blitzkrieg ‘grrrnge’ that I have seen in ages. With a vocalists able to scream in three different keys, I went home and burned my Seattle collection. Yes.

There is nothing in Perth, and maybe on the planet, like Bluetile Lounge. Where else can you have time to contemplate every single note played, go buy a drink, and hop back into the lotus position for the next note. Spellbinding and beautiful, their three song set emanated a ‘wall of mellow’, the eye of the proverbial cyclone for the maelstrom to come.

O!’s short set included “a cover of a Sleepy Township song”, namely Outskirts, which by this time had drawn a big huggy crowd into standing up and wiggling. Fresh Blast, from their CD Sporco, was a pearler and by the time their final song rang out it all seemed to combine and grow into Squadcar 95 and the Lost supergroup. Squadcar lacked the direction of the former, though their sensibilities were in the right place, if not the right time. But hey, that’s the point.

And what can I say about the chuffed fathers and mothers of the new baby CD – whoa, Lost combined artists and audience in a primeval display of O! jammin’ with a Homer doll and a spooky nod to Jethro Tull. With three guitarists, two bass players, two flautists and stage smoke which would not go away, I was just amazed that they didn’t incant the devil. What it did do though was incite the audience into new chapters of this little scene, one which will not cease when Mr Blackman moves closer to his beloved New Zealand next week.

Adam Connors

Tumbleweed; Spiderbait; Bodyjar, UWA Refectory, 7 July, 1995

With three of Australia’s loudest and fastest rock n’ punk bands on the bill, this was not going to be your average university cafe eve. The cavernous fast food grotto that by day is the UWA refectory, was this night transformed into a sonic sweat pit as the majority of Perth’s student skegs fogged up the vast window frontage in anticipation of three Oz heavyweights.

With their tracksuited leg stance of spread, flannelette glory, speed merchants Bodyjar combined blindingly fast musicianship with complimentary choruses from three different throats, giving their punk-ish assault a unique and melodic flavour. Guitarist and lead vocalist Ben Petterson, with shards of plastic flying from his flailing plectrum, surveyed the airbourne antics of the youthful crowd who were being pummelled with the sheer speed of Bodyjar’s delivery. With scant regard for variation, or time restrictions, their Perth touring debut will undoubtedly win over a few more human torpedos if they return soon.

Three-piece Spiderbait, on the other hand, had a bagful of neat timing tricks and false starts which just oozed cool. They were not the mechanised killing machine of Bodyjar, instead opting for a lot more light and dark with bassist Janet’s yelps and high notes contrasting with even harder and faster playing than the ‘Jar. By the time their own infamous interpretation of The Goodies’ Run was aired, the diving crowd had been won over with the combined antics and rapport of Spiderbait’s chubby singing drummer and Janet’s effortless ability to brutally thrash her instrument (of torture?). Remember this, aspiring musos, false starts can be made to look fun if you laugh with the crowd.

Tumbleweed, flanked by the huge sound system that threatened to launch the band through the roof of the rocket silo shaped building, opened with Daddy Long Legs and the heaviest gutteral guitar barrage on the continent. Gone were their predecessors’ range of spiffy effects pedals, these longhairs plugged straight into the AC socket. Sure, Tumbleweed are caught in a mid ’70s timewarp, but their bludgeoning rock is the kind that anthems are borne from. With the very topical Atomic, to Sundial, to their current crop of paced, power chord glory from Galactaphonic, Tumbleweed could do no wrong until … Helter Skelter. Yesiree, someone had better inform these guests that Perth is not a cover band city. The look in a lot of people’s eyes mirrored this, a great original band suddenly became another bunch of well-quiffed bludgers. Some would rather have had the night topped with a cherry rather than a reminder of our now-dead infamy.

Adam Connors

interview | Summersault ’95 – The Local Assault

As well as the stunning array of glamorous, international musical megastars strolling the catwalk at Summersault, Fremantle Oval January 7, a local contingent of glamorous musical megastars will put forth their noise on the same stages. ADAM CONNORS spoke to Perth bands Jebediah, Bluetile Lounge, Outstation, Wormfarm and Thermos Cardy before the big day arrived.

Hi Ara. There was a Two Minute Noodles review coming but they were so shockingly dreadful that I could not find one redeeming feature in it, nor anything slightly interesting to report on. Squidfinger were pretty good but we only covered them two weeks ago, and the ‘Noodles were downright stinky. I’m sorry, but to say anything about them wouldn’t be criticising music as such, just notions of boredom and the rights of people to bear CDs.

Eek, hard words. But if you’re really stuck, reprint this note. ha ha.

Below is the local Summersault coverage. I’ll be back on Tuesday, so Money Mark will be on your desk Wednesday morning. Ta

adam.

—–

The depth of the Perth original scene is obvious to everyone these days when you take in the fact that 20 local bands, plus local club DJs, will being playing festivals this summer. Up to 40,000 people will see these bands at the two big festivals, as well as all the international bands touring here and their A&R overlords. It could be fun playing under such conditions, wouldn’t you think?

Guitarist Craig Hallsworth from Outstation is going to treat it like another day. “I don’t really pay much attention to the audience – as long as they don’t inhibit what we are trying to do.” But punters would know what to expect from Craig and Jim, ex-members of Zuvuya, with Outstation being the new combination with a new drummer.

“We’re not players that are into skill and we’re not punk rockers either. We’ve got a fairly noisy, big sound and I don’t do any solos or anything flashy, the songs are the main thing.

“We might exist on the fringes of pop perhaps, we play heavily and noisily because the songs sound better that way.”

Outstation appear third on one of the two stages which alternate all day. This way you can’t miss the local assault because they are sharing the same stages as ‘the names’.

Starting off the day, Harry Kneen from the mid-fi trio Thermos Cardy expects the Freo-wide audience of thousands to picture him naked. “Well, I remember being embarrassed at school getting a citizenship award, but that was only in front of 300 people. Apart from that, this is going to blow me away.”

Playing by day will also give the bands the chance to see a sea of faces, something which is usually hard to do in the dark pub environment. Similarly, when quizzed as to the appropriate jig that Thermos Cardy promotes, the six-string bass player recommends “the two step, though I find that people who are quite inebriated find it quite easy to sway to Thermos Cardy. In this respect, playing outdoors is a real treat.

“The other guys probably don’t know this but I have a stunning number that I plan to wear and shock the pants off everyone. All I can say is it is fluffy.”

Sassy Gavvy Gold One, or Sassy GG One to his friends, is the bass-wielding limb of highly favoured next-superstars, Wormfarm, and he’s aiming for gold. “It’s just a matter of time, I mean, we’re quite prepared to play the waiting game with the record companies and I think that’s what we’ll be doing. It’s a strategic arrangement we have with the record industry, we’re biding our time and they’re playing the stand-off role at the moment.”

The Wormfarm enigma is set to cause more celebration and confusion when they power-up on the Summersault stage after the ‘Cardy. Sassy GG One sees the event as an opportunity to moon the people above the glass ceiling, to reincarnate early-retired cricketers and to live on the true rock and roll bus.

“We’re a two-bit Perth band really. Yeah, we have our aspirations to not die poor so we’ve decided to die rich with our heads together, maybe frozen in time like Leo Sayer, Hall and Oats. If we can do something along those lines we’ll be happy with ourselves when they turn off the machines.”

With members of Pavement, Sonic Youth etc., possibly getting the urge to saddle up with Wormfarm on the day, who would Sassy GG One like to share the stage with? “Jamie Parry (The Neptunes) has always been our favourite ‘Perthonality’, so to speak, but to get David Boon up to sing a few of our tunes, and some of his, I think that would be very special for us all.”

Meanwhile, on Earth, Perth’s Bluetile Lounge were specifically requested to appear at Summersault by higher beings following the release of their debut album, Lowercase, which has sold 1300 copies in the US in its first month of release. Their slow, slow music should be quite apt in the heat of the day and the ‘Lounge’s Alex Stevens loves the idea of people grabbing an ice slushy and sitting down to listen for a while.

“Normally we just hear incessant chatter so if they all sit down and watch that would be great,” says Stevens of the band which is like no other in Perth, maybe Australia …

“We’re on after Jawbreaker so that should be really interesting. We’re up for a bit of a contrast. And if any of the other band members decided to join in that could be fantastic.”

Now that Bluetile Lounge have finished their university studies plans are already afoot for another batch of recording, seeing that that Lowercase was recorded in March, 1995. But considering that it was only released in November and has virtually sold out in Australia, Bluetile Lounge’s rise is only just beginning.

Wedged in between The Amps and Pavement, Jebediah could well be forgiven for being quite speechless. “We’ve got an excellent position, I don’t know how the hell we got it. I don’t know what it’s going to be like, I just don’t know,” says guitarist/vocalist Kevin Mitchell.

Jebediah’s meteoric rise is quite astounding – their first gigs were done with their parents present because they were underage, by about their 15th gig they had won the National Campus Band Competition and now, 30 gigs down the track, they are playing after The Amps at Summersault.

“It’s going really fast but we’re in control of things at the moment,” says Mitchell. “Some people say that we’re a bit disorganised but I think it’s because we’re still developing and changing and getting our own sound. We are getting heaps more gigs than anyone our own age but every week people are seeing us in this developmental phase.”

And how does Kevin see this renewed interest in fashion on Perth stages? Will Jebediah get into the glitz and glamour? “Oh yeah, I’m hoping Chris (Damon, guitarist) is going to don his jumpsuit again for Summersault, he’s only worn it once in Perth. And Brett (Mitchell, Kevin’s older brother and drummer) is a bit partial to makeup, a Kiss fan from way back.

“Jumping up and down to Jebediah is the easiest thing,” Mitchell answers to the question of essential dance steps on the day. “Anyone can do it and you don’t have to be a great dancer. That is how to deal with our music.”