In the early 1990s John Foy found himself in the eye of the storm enveloping the music industry.
Foy’s independent record label, Red Eye, had done a deal with Polydor, the Australian arm of multinational company Phonogram. A sold-out at show at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion in 1991, headlined by Ratcat and featuring English band Ride and Red Eye bands The Clouds and Falling Joys, had awakened major labels to the commercial potential of the independent music scene. Other Red Eye bands like The Cruel Sea would surf the independent wave into the late 1990s, even after Foy withdrew from industry machinations.
Thirty years later, Foy looks back on those heady days with fondness. But even as he trawled through his archive of posters, ticket stubs and memories for his “Snaps Crack Pop!” visual collection cum autobiography, he’s not dwelling on what he should have done back in the day. Foy has always lived in the moment, for better and for worse.
"This room becomes a shrine thinking of you..." - Jesus & Mary Chain
People with money really do start thinking they can take it with 'em, don't they? Ya see the value they put on Shit, mere stuff, and also on just their own most basic climate control, the channel changer, controlling the room, and even the ideas allowed to ever enter their big ceilinged, oversized, white, spartan, multiple empty spaces. I got a song lyric that says, "now all I do is write obituaries", cause all my ole rocknroll friends keep dropping dead, and man. 'Gets weird.
One of my teenage brothers offed himself a couple years ago, and his family wrote some real blunt obit for the smalltown newspaper to publish, I'll paraphrase, but basically, it was like, "He was drunk and depressed all his life and committed suicide". Yeah, so that was grim. I knew they never liked the kid to start with, but according to his side of the story, they were hiding and covering up abuse.
The dreaded Covid has got its hooks into The Sunnyboys forcing this weekend’s performances at Sydney’s Factory Theatre to be postponed until July 28 and 30.
The virus has also knocked Melbourne’s Electric Purrs off their New South Wales tour with supports to The Dark Clouds (Dapto tonight) and Psychotic Turnbuckles (Marrickville Bowling Club on Saturday) falling by the wayside.
The Psychotic Turnbuckles Marrickville Bowling Club gig is tracking to sell out with some tickets remaining here and a few will be reserved for on the door.
Sunnyboys tickets for Friday 1st July remain valid for Thursday 28 July. Tickets for Saturday 2 July remain valid for Saturday 30 July. Full refunds are available from the point of purchase. New tickets available via feelpresents.com All other Sunnyboys shows remain unchanged. Full dates as follows.
9 - Melbourne, Corner Hotel (sold out), with Even & Little Murders
15 - Byron Bay, The Northern, with Mick Medew & The Mesmerisers
16 - Brisbane, Princess Theatre (limited tickets), with Mick Medew & The Mesmerisers
28 - Sydney, The Factory (sold out), with Even
30 - Sydney, The Factory, with Even
BORED! THIS WAS GEELONG (Loco Mosquito)
Sometimes there are insufficient words of adequare to do justice to something and this is one of those times. Let’s be clear: If you’re a fan of underground Australian rock and roll from the 1980s and ‘90s, make it your life’s immediate priority to get a hold of this book.
It’s not an exaggeration to say it’s a watershed in Australian music publishing. All 678 pages of it. Don’t be deterred by its singling out of Geelong as its geographical focus. The city on the western flank of Melbourne is its anchor - but its coverage and spirit extends far past its boundaries.
“Bored!” is many things but first and foremost it’s an outpouring of love for rock and roll by its creator, principal author and driving force Maree Robertson.
Maree – “Rock and Roll Maree” from the Brother Brick song – was a dear friend of the late Dave Thomas of key Geelong band Bored! Besides documenting the band’s rise and its creation of a scene from their mutual hometown of Geelong, Maree wanted to generate profits from book sales to help Dave’s family.
Ugly Life b/w I Just Wanna Die – Mad Brother Ward (Ruined Records)
Uplifting choral music, it is not. Mad Brother Ward is best known as being the North Carolina gutter punk fronting Screaming Street Trash among others in the '90s. who joined sometime GG Allin collaborators Antiseen after guitarist Joe Young checked out.
Mad Brother hasn’t done anything under his own name since when creepy Michael Jackson staged a sham marriage to an Elvis progeny when he really preferred the company of children and his chimp. In other words, 25 years ago. Sheesh, Joe Biden was only old then and Trump might have been careless enough to be paying taxes.
“Ugly Life” is slam-me-down-and-kick-me-till-I’m-dead punk rock, with a riff that’s chewed on until its marrow seeps out. You know the drill and it makes its point without hanging around in the memory bank too long. “I Just Wanna Die” is a more measured mid-tempo rant that’s the pick of the pair. Props to guitarist Chris Michael here. If the sentiment within appeals, you can always call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.
Both songs are one side of a shiny blue platter with laser etching on the other (non-playable, you dummy) side. Buy or die here.
Munster Times Issue 35
Outside Melbourne? Glad you asked, then. Munster Times is a zine covering Australian underground music that’s still published in hard copy form - and that fact alone makes it stand out from the crowd.
Its Melbourne publisher and occasional I-94 Bar scribe, Matt Ryan, (right) is a fixture on Melbourne’s fertile live music scene. Run the rule over its content and you’ll realise it’s a compelling “must read” even if you live outside of Victoria’s windy/rainy/cold capital city. (OK, my Sydney is showing).
Much of the star billing in this issue goes to people and bands from outside Melbourne – Adam Brzozowski (Woy Woy) of Outtaspace Records, The Dunhill Blues and The Link and Pin Café, Howlin’ Threads (Yass and Wollongong) and Dez Dare (Geelong old boy now in the UK). You might call Munster Times location agnostic.
No less than Dave Graney reckons there’s a lot of the charm of the old St Kilda in the Times and who are we to argue with a member of the Melbourne Music Mafia? The zine has a homespun quality and is home to the legendary Fred Negro and his Pub comic strip.
For the unaware, Pub has institution status in Melbourne (which is about the only place in Australia that still confers such honours). I like Equal Opportunity, and if you read Pub long enough, you’ll find it has something to offend everybody.
Munster Time is A4, mostly black and white and has the odd spelling howler. Good. As long as Matt has no plans to do a Prince of Wales Hotel reno job and expunge any dirt or charm from his own zine’s pages, that’s fine with us.
Trailblazing Australian cowpunks The Johnnys will celebrate their 40th anniversary with a handful of New Zealand concerts in late July - their first tour there since the pandemic and only their third in 32 years.
The Johnnys' barnstorming shows at legendary NZ venues like The Gluepot and Warners back in the ‘80s made an impenetrable impression.Their 1986 album “Highlights Of A Dangerous Life” was a runaway success in Australia and New Zealand. It was firmly embedded in the NZ Album Top 20 chart, where it remained for 10 weeks, thanks to infectious tracks like “Bleeding Heart”, “Injun Joe”, and “(There’s Gonna Be A) Showdown”.
Detroit guitarist Robert (Bob) Gillespie died on June 17 after a long illness.
He played lead guitar and provided backing vocals in a slew of outstanding bands including The Rob Tyner Band, (1976-78), The Torpedoes (‘78-80), The Motor City Rockers (with Jimmy Marinos of The Romantics), Powertrane Featuring Scott Morgan and as a longtime sideman to Mitch Ryder.
He appears on the "Ann Arbor Revival Meeting" album with Powertrane and special guests Deniz Tek and Ron Asheton.
Gillespie wrote songs with Rob Tyner, The Torpedoes’ Johnny Angelos, Mitch Ryder and Jimmy Marinos. He is survived by his wife Susan, daughter Roxie, and brother Don.
A Chance To Relax…with The Smart Folk – The Smart Folk (self released)
With a changing of the political guard in Australia, we’ve been assailed with talk about a new, genteel and respectful way of doing business in the Federal Parliament - as if none of the fuckers are going to revert to type and we won’t end up with the same shit-fight on our hands. It’s just as well that 90 percent of the population doesn’t give a rat’s arse.
Rock and roll may be similarly set in its ways, but there are band chosing different pathways to tread. Sixties-derived pop with a jangling edge is where Sydney’s The Smart Folk chose to reside and they're making their mark in their own way.
“A Chance To Relax…with The Smart Folk” is the latest EP from this band of ex-mod scene regulars and if it doesn’t wrap you in a stranglehold and impress with its urgency and energy, that’s fine. It’s mid-paced, obviously freakbeat-influenced guitar pop that has a warm charm – maybe more so than the records that have come before.