interview | The Big Day Out ’96 – Local Line-up

folks, here are 10 of the bands from the line-up. fill in the gaps by inserting The Tearjerks, Externals and Challenger 7 where you think they fit in the narrative. sorry, it’s quite long, but it is afterall ten bands and there is some extra stuff about Dirtbag and Atmosfear for CD launch/going away reasons. yay.


blah blah blah ADAM CONNORS spoke to them blah blah

A very lucky thirteen local bands make up the Big Day Out’s Perth contingent this year: an amorous mix of metal, mellow and funk punk fanaticism. From kicking off the day until well into the evening many of the bands will be smashing their tamborines, crooning and cutting sick for thousands of sundrenched spectators in what will be, for many, their biggest stage spots yet.

In one of their last appearances in Perth before they set their seats down in Sydney, Dirtbag will be bidding farewell to not only their hoards of admiring funk metal fans, but also to the Heng brothers which will be staying behind to finish studying.

Drummer, writer and backing vocalist Charles Smith hopes he’s finally going to get out from behind is kit as the band shrinks to a three-piece for the move, with his brother and lead vocalist Will taking up the bass and Josh Paparo still wielding his axe.

“Perth’s a cool city, it’s a great place to get your sound happening. People are accepting, want to hear new music and the punters that come are generally reliable to be there at every gig. But in the population sense it’s limiting. It’s time to get out there,” Smith says while strapping on his backpack.

In their short time on the scene, Dirtbag have dragged a whole new bunch of all-age punters into the live arena – a following which will serve them well at the BDO. “Well, you can do what I’ve heard Flanders might be be doing at the BDO – playing nude – but it comes down to having a few good tunes and fully being yourselves, kids can read that and latch onto the vibe.

“That’s why bands like Beaverloop are the all-age band of all time, the young crowd fully get into their charismatic personalities.”

“Aw shucks,” says the tall guy of the Beaverloop guitar frontage, Brad Coleman. Going on stage somewhere between one and two in the afternoon, Coleman gets to test his new sun-friendly headwear for the adoring masses.

“It’ll be fairly ballistic, Beaverloop in the hottest time of the day, but I do have my new hat,” says the dredlocked, sunwise guitar git. “Well, new in that I found it on the side of the road near the Canning Vale Markets last weekend. A new Acubra, what a score!”

With their Twisted Universe soundtrack on hold (“because bloody Spank are taking up all the studio time at Poons Head,” he laughs) they are instead writing and set to record a new CD for release mid-February.

“I’m ready to jump off a really big building, that’s where the album’s at,” whinges Sascha Ion, the voice of Spank. “March. It definitely has to be out in March.”

Their 14 track debut CD is three quarters through the mixing stage which gives the band a little time to pursue some new activities: acoustic gigs and god-parenting guitarist Sam Hobbs’ new sproglet named Holden Hobbs.

“You can tell he’s going to have long hair, can’t you? We’re all god parents, he’s a real band baby.”

“And we’re doing a few acoustic gigs at the moment, venturing into a different crowd (the Holden crowd?). We get to listen to each other a little more and nit-pick, it’s a lot rawer and we can’t hide behind anything.”

There is equally very little to hide behind in the world of DM3, according to bass player Tony Italiano, with a band who could be considered as Perth’s festival specialists.

“Last year in June the band went to Rossguilder in Denmark, a huge music festival with 90,000 people. We played in a big circus tent which had about six thousand people in it, people were lining the tent singing our songs, it was fantastic.”

The unashamed pop specialists, whose DM obviously springs from the initials of guitarist/singer/songwriter Dom Mariani, are firmly entrenched in the European music circuit with their definitive legacy of Perth power pop over the years.

“The people in Europe, especially in Spain and France, are really loyal to the music we’re playing,” says Italiano, working late at night in his recording studio. “Bands like Flanders and Superscope would do really well over there, it’s a little different to the brand of pop that we’re doing but pop bands will never die in Spain, they’re constantly longing for good pop bands.”

“The nude thing?” queries Luke Bostelman of the Flanders. “Ah, it might be a bit of a rumour. I suppose it depends on how we feel on the day, it depends how violent the organisers get with us.”

As their debut album Spadework starts to attract more and more interest, including its 500-strong launch at the Newport last weekend, Flanders are set to elicit “the flair of Peter Allen” from beyond the grave in their late morning spot at the BDO.

They are also set to tour the east with Treadmill labelmates Bucket in March with warm-ups on the cricket field in those infamous Booragoon celebrity matches throughout January and February. See the small-print sport columns for details.

Fresh from supports with Nomeansno, Front End Loader, Babes in Toyland and Mark of Cain, Mutt have their new CD EP ready to be released, sending guitarist Phil Nickson over to Melbourne the day after their BDO performance.

“It’s sounding really good, heaps heavier than than our last one. We’ve taken our heaviest seven songs and tried to make them all very full-on, left everything that was sort-of poppy out of it.”

As well as one of their infamous parties, the Mutt crew spent the silly season releasing a three track cassette of rough mixes of their new songs for the CD. Phil says their 3:15 timeslot will have all of their new EP, plus stuff from their debut CD in all its surfpunk glory on offer. Go off.

Spending this last weekend recording a new demo titled Trial were mainstay noisemakers, Infected. “The material we’ve just recorded is closer to what we tried to do on Control (their last album) and didn’t quite achieve,” says Joe Kapiteyn, load throat for the much heralded, once death metal merchants.

“We’ve moved over to a more atmospheric sound, less noisy, cleaner and more machine-like. I don’t like using the word ‘industrial’ but it’s probably the closest description to the direction we’re heading in.”

A fanzine is part of the new push for Infected. “We’ve been at it for five years now and it’s an idea we’ve had to get our name out a bit more,” says Kapiteyn. With their two album contract fulfilled with Shock, the next step may be in hand when industry types fly over to check out Infected and the Rothgar/Declan Barry outfit, NIL, in the coming weeks. Infected hit the stage at around 2pm.

Getting in contact with the jazz-thrash legends Cinema Prague sometimes turns out to be a bit of a hassle, but not so now that they have their resident clairvoyant and house-sitter Mel on board. “They’ve just done seven gigs in Melbourne – the Esplanade went off – and they’re currently somewhere between Sydney and Brisbane,” said the insightful Mel, rustling through some tea leaves.

“They’re partying every night – you know how it is with the pressures of the road – and I had a vision the other night (she says, pointing to a flyer) that they may be playing at the Harbourside on the 3rd with their brothers and sisters from Circus Murders and Spank. Oh, and those Pornos For Pyros folk on the 5th.” Eerie.

Keeping their heads down and writing, Six Mile High are sitting back and watching their Homebaker single bounce around the charts. “I think Sony are really happy with how Homebaker has turned out without much push from them,” says Andrei Maz, the front-Maz for the local supergroup on the Columbia label.

“It’s been a long time since Homebaker was recorded so we can’t wait for the new EP in March. It has some really old songs, a re-recording of Hallowed Ground which the label is really keen about and something from our Molecular cassette (from 1992), Safe To Sleep, with cellos and the works.”

While they may be taking it a little easy before the BDO, I’m sure Dick Smith’s favourite customer, keyboard Travis Calley, can’t be too slovenly? “Yeah, ‘Remix’ Calley is still buying toys which blow up on him two weeks later. But look out for a new sound project from him.”

Finally, celebrating a twin achievement is Atmosfear – the launch of their CD being this Sunday at the Newport. The recording studio for their debut titled Stash? A railway carriage.

“Some friends from Audex came down and wired it up for us, so Stash was recorded on a shoestring budget,” says Steve Dick, guitarist and vocalist for the nine month old group. “We’re really happy with it. When we took it to be mastered the guy couldn’t believe it, the sound was as good as anything out of a studio.”

Not unfamiliar with large crowds, their BDO appearance is nonetheless another scene where nerves will play an important role. “Shane (Johnstone, vocals and bass) has just come back from Zimbabwe, he played a big show there on New Year’s Eve, we’ve supported The Cult and have done Bunbury’s Bunnyfest together under different guises, but we always get butterflies with big gigs. Our drummer certainly will, this being his first big band.”

Going on a promotional blitz over the next few days, including free gigs at Trax Megastore today at Midday and tomorrow at the Leederville Festival at 1pm, the only downer for Atmosfear is that the Skyworks are on the night of their CD launch. But we both agree – the choice is Richard Court’s jukebox selections or Fremantle’s Newport with guests Bleach (a Triple J ‘Unearthed’ band from Darwin) and Spank. Mmm, hard decision.