Munster Times #29

 


Letter from the Editor issue 29

Now. I’d just like to clear things up. No, I’m not stopping Munster. Issue 28 was not the last issue. I said that as a joke to stick it to Izzy Folau, so rest assured I ain’t stopping. Mind you I was quite humbled by the amount of grief and sorrow that I received when people thought it was the end, and also very humbled people were asking how they can donate to the Go Fund Me, the one that didn’t exist. 

Having said that would have been nice to see how much money I would have raised. But then what would I do with the money? I don’t like flying so I couldn’t flee the country, and all I wear is t-shirts and op shop jeans so I ain’t spending it on a new wardrobe. And there’s about five pubs I’m a regular at and I don’t like change so it’s not like I could move two doors down and drinking the money away somewhere else. I think I could just spend it at the Balaclava and hang out in the pokies area no one would look there. That’s my way of hiding as I ain’t changing the routine now. Geez fraud sounds like a hard gig. No I ain’t ready for it. Anyway we will keep presenting this ‘zine as always, and you’ll read hard hitting opinions like this…

Was Brody Grundy robbed of the Brownlow? Meh, probably. Fyfe’s alright I like him. But Cripps third? Really? And Dangerfield (or DD as me mate Jo calls him to make him sound less dangerous), he’s overrated. He can get plenty of the ball but always turns it over, and when it’s a big game he disappears. Mind you I did enjoy seeing that smug git in that red suit all deflated after realising he wasn’t gonna win. 

Speaking of winning how many times has Brody, or the Samurai as I call him, or the Barista as everyone else calls him, won games for us? Cripps is good but he played for a side that won a handful of games where Grundy was an impact player that was at times the difference between a win and loss and stepped up almost every week. Except for the prelim’, sigh, that was a bad game. That’s the theory me and Bernie One Leg have come up with; Brody was robbed. So stay tuned as our Xmess issue will be a ten page manifesto of how the Samurai was robbed. Working through game by game, quarter by quarter, contest by contest. I bet your glad I’m not stopping now.

One of the reasons I love doing these opening rants is that I found out what my opinion is on something when I sit down and write it. I never knew what an angry young man I was till I started doing these. John Osborne was said to have started that whole angry young man movement, while he certainly had plenty to say on the social climate and the temper and the mood of the time. All I’m doing is moaning about the increasingly high price of fags which is getting so high I think I’m gonna have to give up food to keep it going as it fuels me. I’m scared to say what my specialty fags are now as I’m afraid someone will find out and they’ll jack that price up as well. Sigh. Death never cost so much tax money. 

I sometimes wish I could comment on what’s going on in the world, but with so many fools commentating on the state of the world, you really don’t need another idiot giving his two cents. I’d rather rant on what’s going on in my small world, like how Great Northern is the beer of the month at the Bala. Sigh. Well at least it’s not Boags. The CEO sure picked a good month to leave the state.
Massive thank you to Amy for the wonderful Chad Morgan front cover. For those unaware it’s a reference to the track The Day I Gave Up Drinking

I love Chad Morgan, have since I was a kid. When I said this recently someone said, “What? As in a ‘guilty pleasure’?” I’m like, “No! As in he’s a fucking legend and deserves all the respect in the world!”  

My granddad introduced me to Chad as a kid. Although some of the innuendo went over my head I knew it was silly and rude, and loved him from the moment I first heard Sheik of Scrubby Creek. It might not have been clean fun but it was the kind of fun that was alright for kids to hear, and there was plenty of kids at the Caravan Club where I saw him recently. I was amazed at his age he could still perform a 90 minute show and his voice and guitar playing is still in perfect nick. 

If you ain’t heard it I encourage everyone to listen to the track the Ballard of Bill and Eva.  Let’s just say after laughing to the point I thought was gonna fall of my chair at the gig. He had me almost crying at the end of that song. A heartbreaking tragic song that I encourage everyone to hunt down. I don’t want to give too much background on it, I want you to hear it fresh. 

That’s why I love him. Funny or serious, Chad knows how to get emotions out of people. It was a career highlight to shake his hand. I so wanted to say thank you for all the joy you gave me and my granddad and what a legend he is. Instead, I think all I said was thanks and all the best. Nothing more needed to be said, seeing him on stage was enough. I can’t remember the last time I walked out of a show with so much joy and happiness. I hate the term national treasure, but he really is one.  Onya Chadwick, nice to meet ya and hope you come back soon.

And finally, sadly another farewell. Safe travels to me Welsh mate Mick. What a solid lad he is.  Hit it off from the first time I met him. A bloke that just screams of life and full of advice and was a real joy to have known him the last three years. Hope you’re doing well in the mother land and hope to see ya back in Oz soon. Onya Mick X

Matt Ryan 



The Real World Heavy Weight Champion
Vale Harley Race

"I can't make them believe pro wrestling is real, but I can make them believe I'm real." - Terry Funk 

That quote from the Funkster sums up why I love wrestling and the kind of wrestlers I love. Yes I knew it was a work from a young age, but guys like Bruiser Brody, the (original) Sheik, and Funk I thought where all nuts and they weren’t playing characters they were playing themselves, and in the case of Brody and Sheik there onscreen personas wasn’t far from who they were behind the scenes.

Harley Race was another one in this category. Race was not a steroid freak, but he looked like a guy that could beat anyone in a bar fight. He had a beautiful set of hair and amazing sideburns and moustache combo (and he was the reason I grew sideburns) and was just a mean SOB. And he may not have been a bloodthirsty madman gimmick like the wrestlers above, but no one made me believe wrestling was more real than Harley Race. People give Ric Flair credit for going 60 minutes night after night as the NWA Champion putting over whoever the local hometown hero was but I always felt Race should be celebrated just as much as Flair and other NWA Champions such as the Funks (Dory Jr and Terry) and Jack Brisco.

When people ask me who my favourite wrestlers are, it’s like asking me my favourite bands, books or films, the list is always changing. While the top 10 is always changing, the number one spot is always the same. Favourite Manager is for me Jim Cornette, best tag team is either of Cornettes incarnations of the Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton or Eaton and Stan Lane) best announcer Lance Russell and Bob Caudle. And in terms of best wrestler I saw, Race is always in the top sport.

I hear there a Hulk Hogan movie in the works, which is lame. Mind you you’d get more truth out of that then anything written in his books or in that Andre doco. But Race is someone whose life story deserves a film. Born into poverty, beat polio at a young age, got his start in the business driving a 800 pound wrestler from town to town, being declared dead after a car accident and losing his wife in the same accident, when they wanted a amputate his leg a promoter screamed no, and pulling a gun on Hogan when WWF ran opposition in Races home turf of St Louis. Oh and of course becoming 8-time world heavyweight champion. An amazing story and a bloke that lived life to it's fullest and never let anything get in his way.

I first saw Race when he had his last run in any organization which was the WWF. I thought the King gimmick was silly despite the fact he was the king of wrestling. I heard people rave about him, but I wasn’t impressed from what I saw. In all fairness Race was battling injuries after wrestling for 20 plus years and Race admitted he only went after losing money after WWF raided his St Louis home territory.

But it was via YouTube and tape trading that I saw the best of Race. I’m spewing there’s no footage of him in the AWA with Larry Hennin. God, I would love to see those matches.

I somehow landed a bunch of tapes when I was 15, full of New All Japan and NWA wrestling. On the first All Japan tape was a tag tournament, featuring Race teaming up with Nick Bockwinkel against Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen. It featured two technical wrestlers going against two brawlers and nutcases. It was a classic brawl and I wanted to see more of everyone involved. 

Race in particular as one move stood out when Hansen tried to lift Race and Race reverses it and slams Hansen to the ground. It may not sound that impressive but having gone back and heard Races opinion on that bout he said Hansen legit tried to suplex Race but he was having none of it. The man took no shit. The other match that stood out was Races defending the NWA title against Ric Flair at the first Starrcade in 1983, to this day one of my favourite major shows ever put on.  It was a bloody back and forth match, and this match shows you what Terry Funk was talking about in that above quote. These two where giving it all and they would rather die than not walk out as the NWA Champ. Flair walks out with the gold in what was seen as a passing of the torch moment. 

For me the match that sums up his greatness is his NWA Title defence against Terry Funk in 1977. In a best two out of Falls match it shows the greatness of Funk and Race and the art of wrestling. In today’s wrestling ful of near falls and high spots and wrestlers kicking out of others finishing moves, it was a simple back and forth slug fest. Race wins the first fall and Funk the second in moves that where not high spots but would hurt you or I if we were to take me. Then the final fall, showing storytelling at it's best. Race has a bung knee, Funk tries to get the figure four leg lock which will end it, but Race manages to avoid it. Funk has a bleeding eye and Race keeps going for it making it worse. Eventually the ref calls the match off after he believes Funk can no longer go on. It’s a legit 5-star match. Great in ring action, storytelling at it's finest and while originally, I thought the ending left me flat, Funk comes out and says you never pinned me 1 2 3 and sets up the rematch. The was perfect from bell to bell.

Race carried the NWA and the St Louis territory. during the mid70s to early 80s. He knew when it was right and wrong to drop the title. He denied Ted Dibiase and Captain Redneck Dick Murdoch runs with the belt as he felt it wasn’t right, yet dropped the title to Dusty Rhoades Tommy Rich and Giant Baba for short runs (Race won the belt back from Rich four days later) as he knew it was right for business. 

One of the problems with coming in from town to town if you face the same challenger over and over the fans will get bummed when the home town hero loses on multiple occasions as it gets old and you realises the hometown kid everyone is rooting for will always fall short if it happens one to many times.  Race had a way around this. Race wrestled Ron Fuller eight times, seven for the strap. As Fuller mentioned on his podcast, after five loses to Race, they wondered how can they keep this fresh? Race faced Fuller in a Texas Death Match not for the belt. Race told Fuller he wasn’t worthy of a shot after five times coming short, so they had a non-title match. If Race wins Fuller never gets a shot again, if Fuller wins he gets a shot the next week. Fuller won the bout, Smart booking as Race keeps the belt but gave the hometown something to rave about as their boy toppled the best in the business and because it wasn’t a standard match and fought under different rules Race doesn’t look weak losing.

Another factor of Races greatness was the fact he mixed up his matches. Ric Flair has copped flack for having the same match over and over again in his time as NWA Flagbearer. You gotta remember this was pre internet and the matches usually weren’t televised so he could get away from it going town to town doing the same match again and again. Race was one of the few champions that worked with the wrestlers and figured out what to do as opposed to simply saying we’re doing this and that’s that. He was never one to repeat himself. As Dave Meltzer pointed out he was possibly the most journeyed NWA Champion, wrestling all round the world, including a memorable appearance on World Championship Wrestling alongside Ted Whitten.


As mentioned, he was no steroid freak, just a big mean tough looking dude that consumed a diet of beer and fags, and, with the exception of Andre the Giant, possibly the best beer drinker in the business. 

With the passing of Harley as well as Bruno Sammartino last year an era of wrestling that will never be repeated is slowing slipping past us. The business has changed a lot in the last 20 years since I started becoming a fan and it’s changed a hell of a lot since Harleys first run with the NWA Gold. These days as mentioned above it's all high spots near falls and everyone trying to go out and have a Wrestlemania main event match no matter where they are on the card. 

The art of storytelling and simple mat wrestling for younger fans today would be considered boring, but it takes away the sports element of wrestling. And wrestling should always be treated as a sport and wrestlers need to believe their gimmick which seems to have been forgotten with today’s grapplers. Like I said Harley was always number one to me, for his amazing in ring skill, the way he told a story, and made me believe wrestling was real. And I still do every time I watch one of his matches. 

Eight-time NWA Champion and Wrestler of the year in the first two years of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards (1980 and 1981), and a member of the Observes inaugural Hall of Fame in 1996.

A true legend of the sport and made me believe how real it is, and also how wonderful it can be.

Onya Harley x

John Lawrance



I don’t know how John found me, but I say thank fuck he did. I knew John’s name and knew he was a big player on the Crystal Ballroom scene, and being mad Pies fans we hit it off on the anti-social media dissecting Collingwood games and players. It was always great to hear from John. 

I saw the first gig of the John Lawrance Hour at Lyrebird and was blown away by John's voice and presence. Having never seen any of his out outfits I was amazed how good he and the band sounded, and there LP that came out is a must listen as well. John and I met in the city back in June for a talk ion music footy and what’s wrong in the world right now.

Munster: Now a dear mate of mine Fiona Leonard told me how she used to see you many years ago in your various bands and she mentioned she discovered you by an ad you advertise bus.
 
John: Fiona is one of my first fans. Permanent Press back in the Crystal Ballroom, along with Sandra, they were my two first fans.
 
Munster: So you were all about taking it to the streets?
 
John: Oh yeah. You had to do anything back then, getting in the press was hard. Everything was hard in a sense of getting anywhere, even getting people to gig, pre-Internet and mobile phones. But if you had that drive you can get anywhere
 
Munster: I was talking about fanzines and someone said one good small write up in a zine could land you an extra 50 people at your gig.
 
John: Definitely it was just very hard, as I said. It’s a bit easier today. Everything with the band was hard but if you loved it you just did it. Same with recording it was two grand a day back in the 70s, and that didn’t include mixing.
 
Munster: What where some of the other bands you played in?
 
John: I recorded with Black Sun which was round '86 sort of a underground cult band. 

We played a lot of inner city gigs. Permanent Press in the Ballroom that was the first band I played in. 

The Brotherhood of John Lawrence. I went in to see the manager of the POW (Prince Of Wales) and we played our first gig there. The Brotherhood had Ash Wednesday, Des Heffner, Paul Ericson, Ray Moore, Johnny Volume even Graham Scott played at some point. Go Public in the 2000s, we released an LP that took ten years to make. We pressed it and broke up which is pretty tragic. Now the John Lawrence Hour.


Black Sun, the Evelyn Hotel, 1990, with Graham Scott. Photo by Mick Bell.

Munster: What gave you the idea to have all these bands with your name in the title?
 
John: Des Heffner thought that one up. He was thinking of all the Op shows and there’s the Brotherhood of St Lawrence and I thought it was funny but it worked. It got people thinking and we did live in a poor world and we still do
 
Munster: Was talking to Fred about you and he said back in the day you had this kind of Mark E Smith presence on stage really tense but off stage. He said you were the loveliest guy you could meet.
 
John: I agree. I’d like to think I was a nice person but there was a lot of angst in those bands and to a degree still is. There was a lot going on in the world to mention, and I came out of boys homes and it took me till I was 27 to join a band. I didn’t have the time with my brothers to join a band but I did meet my brother after 40 years and I asked him what he did and he said he played drums and he still plays to this day.
 
Munster: So places like the Ballroom and POW where I bit of a lifeline for you?
 
John: Oh most definitely. 

A guy wrote an article about me recently and he mentioned, because of the Ballroom and how he went there, and he was in the Zorro’s, and said it was a saving grace to you if you had nowhere to go, you went there, and it was total respect with people. Everyone was nice to everyone. And the building and the scene back then really was total respect, and people who played have gone on to be very famous. 

You can call 'em drop outs or misfits, not saying everyone, but I was, and I came off the street and my girlfriend said to me, when I first met, she said, I had a tan suit on. And I said what was wrong with that? And she said, "You look like an oddball." I said, "That’s funny. I looked at John Lyndon’s new LP and he had that suit on." I guess I was ahead of my time. But I loved meeting people there and helped in forming my first band.

 
Munster: You mentioned all the bands you were in, are you the kind of person where you always have to have something on the go?
 
John: Yes. Go Public ended and I was pretty upset. Ash Wednesday came back from Berlin and he was working with Einsturzende Neubauten. I asked Ash if I could write some songs with him. Unfortunately, Ash had MS and couldn’t play which is such a tragedy as he is such a beautiful person. 

I wrote a song called In The Real World and I called the LP that because it made me think of my friends and the position there in, like is this the real world? We went to Geelong to record, there’s a few old tracks on there. Over two years we made an LP and unfortunately It didn’t work, which was disappointing because I had to travel from Cockatoo to Geelong. Ash stayed with me and I went to a place called Nuthouse Studios where I do everything now in Bayswater. We compiled all those songs and put out the John Lawrence Hour. 

In the band are Darren Speara who plays in City Sharps, Carl Matter from Insanity, Maurice Marola who played on Olympic Sideburns and Black Sun. And Matt Masson from Meo 245, and he mixed some massive bands at the Tennis Center. 

I’m looking forward to playing more. We rehearsed for three or four years. We did our first gig at Lyrebird, and I was really sick. I don’t know how I managed to play the gig. I don’t know. I’ve played gigs where I haven’t been well. Fred Negro can tell you more. That particular gig I was very sick but that was the first gig back after ten years, after I had a heart attack at a gig at the Pint on Punt and I had ten minutes to live. So it’s been a ten year gap which is pretty distressing as I want to play but I wasn’t able to. I gave up everything to get better. And that was so hard that gap to come back and you’ve done an LP and it went nowhere, I had to go through all that trouble of getting a band together.
 
Munster: So for that period you were jamming and writing with the JLH?
 
John: Writing and jamming. It's just the pleasuring of playing and doing it, and if you haven’t got that, and that’s what you do, it’s like being a footy player and getting hurt, and then being told you can’t play again. It’s what kept me going. I never thought I’d play again. If I did a job or a chore I'd get worn out. 

But after five years I got into art, with the art I did I had two exhibitions at my house and within the heart attack I have done 35-40 paintings in five years and 20 of them were 8 foot by 8 foot. I did a lot of art which helped me give up smoking. I’d pain’t 14 hours a day everyday. Then I met Ash again and got back into music and that worked out.

When I played the first gig at the Lyrebird it brought a tear to me eye looking out to the crowd. Not only the fact it was the first gig, I was right in the middle of a child sex abuse case to do with the Catholic commission. I was facing the royal commission and I’m playing again. I will talk about this in a book I’m planning on release. 

The fact that my whole life was spent trying to be in a band when I was in the home that’s all I wanted to do. I was sort of rebellious in that home and I wanted to get back at them in a funny way. Pay these people back and let everyone know what I thought. So the royal commission, and that gig, and being sick, it was a very hard thing to do. I could barely walk I’m not sure how I did it. I wanted to call an ambulance after three songs but I thought all the time and effort that went into his I didn’t want to stop. Not sure how I finished the gig.

Munster: What’s happening in the world today that pisses you off?

John: Well I’ve been in the royal commission, and War. I’ve never been in a war. I never went to Vietnam. But it affects me in a way. 

People need to learn from a war but looking around today no one's learned anything from a war as it still continues even though it’s not a war war. When you have a dictator killing two million of his own people that’s what I'm talking about that’s a war within it self so in my opinion this needs to be mentioned in the public area. 

I’ve been an advocate for a group called the CLAN which is the Carer Leavers Australian Network. I will do everything for this group of people as they are people that came out of homes and tortured by the church the Salvation Army and foster homes. So that makes me want to write and sing.

Munster: With the recent developments, such as George Pell being found guilty, do you think any significant change will occur?

John: I can’t see the people in charge now, doing anything. I read some that 122 people have been in this redress scheme where they were payed $80,000 and there talking how wonderful this is. It should have been $400,000 before they talk how great they are. 

I’ve met several politicians and I express my point; how I feel really it's about the dollar and I don’t see too many governments putting their pockets out of caring. They might say give $40 million to mental health but it’s taken from something else. People I talk to in the CLAN (Carer Leavers Australian Network) have been through torture these people are in the 70s and 80s and when you’ve read in the paper they’ve passed away. 

I met this Collingwood fan who was 91, been a fan for 70 years, been to all the grand finals, and the club gave him a jumper. I read yesterday he has passed away. The 40th person that has passed since the CLAN started. 

To answer your question, I think the protests will get bigger the media will come to the aid of our groups.

Munster: Something that my mate Sam mentioned, you were in a movie with Nick Cave?

John: I did casting for Ghost of the Civil Dead. I did a lot in that movie behind the scenes. There were offices set up in Port Melbourne hiring trucks phones put in you named it. I had to find the meanest mother fuckers on this planet. I had heavy people, meaning murders rapists and not nice people. I walked into a gym in Brunswick at 3am with Polly with a camera. This guy screams, "What the fuck do you want?" I said, "I’m here to cast a movie. Do you want to be in it?" He told us to fuck off.  Another guy I thought was about to lynch my throat, he said come in when I told him it was worth 5 million. So I inspected there muscles and tattoos. I had a XM Falcon with ten people as no one else had a car. So I had these ten hard blokes and the cops pulled us over, they didn’t like the look of us. (laughs) 

It was a great thrill and I loved the people that got to be in it and  I loved the film. Even English Paul Goldman Mick Bell was a real pleasure working with them. It got shown in New York and a few other places. I made a few myself including one called Olmo which had 150 people including cops and ambos. It was about me playing a senator and an alien takes me  over. Unfortunately it didn’t come out but you learn and it's an experience for the next thing you do. 

I worked with the Rich Kids and made a bunch of video clips everyone from Men at Work to Elvis Costello. And because of that I ended up in a clip called Quasimodo’s Dream. Even Daryl Braithwaite Marching Girls...14 clips. 

And I’ve been waiting two years for this clip for the John Lawrence Hour and looking forward for that coming out.

Munster: Alright let's get personal. Football.

John: In the home I was made to barrack for Geelong. My brother went for Collingwood and he said you will barrack for Collingwood. We had to play football and I remember playing against Glen Litmus, later Geelong centre half forward. Kardinia Park was across the road from Geelong tech, and I played there. They were rough games, punch ups and all that, but I pushed on. We won three flags Polly Farmer, Dough Wade all came out and gave us a footy. 

In the orphanage I went to Yarrawonga for Christmas, and the ruckman for Yarrawonga was John Ryan who played 300 games. He played with the Richardson brothers of Collingwood Bob Rose before he came to Collingwood, Ron Barassi.

They gave me a footy as well and that was another amazing moment. I remember at the Crystal Ballroom. Me and Dez were sitting on Jackson street and polished off a bottle of gin between us, and we had a cue from Topolinos to the Ballroom about 700 people. I was ropable because I thought our gig was called off and they said you’re on in an hour. I swallowed my tongue and did the gig. We did three songs and something happened. It was an emotional time. There where a few deaths. The band didn’t like me as they thought that was the opportunity. We went down to the Prince of Wales who didn’t have gigs at the time. Our first gig was five people. The second was 490.

When it comes to footy I’m pretty lucky as that experience with meeting those players and receiving the footies, not many kids get that opportunity these days. And they even came to the ground to teach us footy. I got mark of the year in primary school. I just flew up on someone’s shoulders. (laughs) I love the game and I have ever since. And I know times change and money comes into it and people try and buy a team, but I still think the Pies are the best.

Munster: Fred told me a story that the Pies where playing and every time you went to the toilet Collingwood would score, so eventually they locked you in the toilet?

John: Yes. We were playing Richmond and we were ten goals down, we were half blind and not happy. I went to the toilet and they kicked a goal. I had a few so I went again and they kicked two. Fred thought, "Hang on, keep him away!" So I couldn’t be around them until the game was finished. I think I had problems going with them for a few matches. (laughs) 

I went to the footy with Fred a lot and a whole crew. That was the thing you’d go to the bottom bar on a Friday then the next day catch a train to a game the next day.

Munster: You mentioned you are working on a book. Where is that at?

John: I got up to 400 pages. This was until the Royal Commission. I’m a good lyric writer so I tender to write it in that vain. I got to this point where I thought if I wrote a book you have to be honest and tell the truth. And I’ve got so much more to add, photos with politicians and more to the story to add which I can add now.

Munster: Favourite Fall please?

John: Hex Enduction Hour. He was so important. As is Mark Stewart from the Pop Group. They had the right idea. It’s a shame they didn’t go onto bigger things. I saw the Fall at the Ballroom. It was so packed you couldn’t move. That was amazing.

Gemma's poetry

Guru

People
on the street
seem to like
asking me questions.
I must have a trustable
face.
Sometimes
they thank me
for giving them
wrong directions.


Perils of the Public Library
The Port Phillip
Library's copy of
Betting on the Muse:
Poems and Stories
by Charles Bukowski
has a blatant
brown stain across
the top
of half its pages.
And being, as it
is, a book by
Bukowski, that
brown stain could
be anything;
coffee...chocolate…
anything.
This worries me
slightly, as the
stain is not mine;
probably belonging
to one of my reader
predecessors.
It looks like a dark
smudged shit finger
print. With a
bloated cloudy
shadow of shit
surrounding it.
It looks like
someone's DNA print
encoded in the
swirls and loops
of their own body
waste; a testament
to a well-read book.
This is what you get
when you're too broke
(or tight-arsed) to pay
for your own private
copy of poetry. But
when I open the
book and read,
the shit print
disappears from view.


Friendship

At Meredith we stayed up all night
listening to doof doof cyberpunk music
and I saw you cry for the first time,
at four in the morning
bottle of ice tea and vodka in hand
I saw your real face and something changed.
Back in Melbourne some strange anxiety
compelled me to walk to your house
returning your books Equus, and
Diary of a Schizophrenic Girl,
and a men's jacket I once borrowed
to walk home in. You said:
"You can stay here tonight."
Offered me Lipton and McCain's fish fingers
and lying on separate beds,
we shared sleep noises in the night.
In the morning, you said:
"Ï have a lion mask for you,"
fetching it out of the cupboard
placing it on the back of my head:
"Mine is the pig mask, yours is the lion mask."
As if now some animal pact is made.


Incoherence

Tonight, he's having me
over for dinner.
I'll be licking the storms
from his mind like
chocolate.
(He can thank me
later). I'll be exactly where
I always am, dripping off the top
of his dirty counter. Sniffing up it's stains,
The Human Vacuum Cleaner. This one tastes
of coffee, of cocaine, of love, of incoherence.
This one moves like velvet. Becomes murky like oil paint,
doesn't come when called. Annoys me constantly,
this one (I think I
love it).

To find out more on Gemma's poetry go here: www.gemmawhite.com.au ’subscribe’
You can also buy her books at Toot Artspace. 5/17 Irwell St, St Kilda.

CJ Ramone

Massive thanks to Marty Bolton for teeing this up and letting me be in The Age again. Onya lad x

What can I say about the Ramones? Heard 'em for the first time when I was 15 and fell in love with them straightaway. Punk meets bubble gum pop. What's not to like? The first six LPs still to this day are classic records and for my money they never made a bad album. Everything about them I loved, the music, the look, the haircuts, the attitude. Four misfits, each with different personality’s coming together to make the greatest rock n roll music of all time. Name another band that has had a former US Marine, a card carrying Republican and a junkie. They felt like my band, you know four fellas that didn’t fit in, and while they may not have been friends, they had each other and the music, that was enough.

CJ came late to the party joining the band in 1989, replacing Dee Dee, the band's bass player and main songwriter. A hard act to follow but CJ certainly gave his time in the Ramones everything he had and is still fondly remembered by the band's fans. 

Post Ramones CJ has had a cracking solo career, releasing some great LPs, some inspired by the Ramones and some his own taste. While he still uses the all important surname he doesn’t have the same haircut or walk around in a leather jacket 24’7. I saw him at the Bendigo in 2015. He played a bunch of Ramones songs which he did a Steller job of but played plenty of his own original music which also got the crowd pumped up.  While he still plays all those classic songs and pays tribute to the Ramones he also doesn’t want to live on past efforts and is not a lame tribute act, case in point is latest LP Holy Spell one of the best LPs of 2019. I was lucky enough to catch CJ when he was in a van, in-between gigs in Europe round July this year.

Munster: You’re about to tour Australia for the first time since 2015, and I’m reading this is your last tour.

CJ: This year is 30 years I’ve been touring in a band and it’s a good time to stop. There’s just other things I want to do, I’ve been away from my family a lot. I’m still going to record and play with other artists I want to record with and I’ll play the odd show here and there but there’s other things I want to do. I’ve been learning to tattoo for a while I’ve had a couple of big motorcycle trips I’ve wanted to do for a long time, I’m 54 in October I want to do these things why I’m still physically capable, and not to mention the road can be hard on your body.

Munster: Your new long player Holy Spell is a cracker of a record. What process went into recording that?

CJ: I’m constantly writing lyrics, anything I’m inspired by I’ll take notes. This and the last record I wrote in two to three weeks. I lock myself in a room with a pot of coffee and a bottle of whisky and get to work. I’m sure for some that would be impossible, for me I work better under stress and I enjoy doing it that way, and its all pure inspiration from things I see and hear. I’m not sitting down crafting songs they all come from inspiration and something that’s happened to me

Munster: So the song writing you mentioned you do in two to three weeks, how long does it take to record?

CJ: Couple of weeks usually two weeks to get everything flushed out I do all my demos on a laptop and send to the guys so they can get their parts right. For this LP I spent 21 days in the studio straight sleeping on the couch in the studio kind of an unbroken creative process which I really enjoyed, I figured that’s the way to make a record. When you have no distractions from the everyday world you no TV, I was inactive on social media it helps you sharpen up your practices and it was all work uninterrupted. I think it’s absolutely my best record the song writing and lyrics are a lot more mature I covered a lot of ground. I had 20 songs for the record, several where left off because they didn’t fit but I Put them on the side as I figured I’ll use em for what I do next. 

Munster: how did you become associated with Fat Wreck Chords? Because you don’t sound like a typical Fat band?

CJ: Actually Steve Soto was in my touring band. He’s very important in my career. Just really super talented, well connected guy. He suggested we reach out to Fat. I don’t think we’re a typical Fat Records band. Fat bands tend to, stylishly, are more different to what I do. And it’s a very politically driven label as are their bands. So we didn’t fit in, in that sense, but my place on the label is as a legacy name. Every label wants to have one or two. They’ve been very good very supportive. I’ve not put in any demands or expectations. I get full creative control. I do what a good band is meant to do. I put out records and I tour hard. Our relationship has been good from the start.

Munster: We talked about song writing before. In the Ramones you had a few tracks you penned put on record. Dee Dee was out of the band but was still contributing songs. Was song writing something that was encouraged by the other members?

CJ: Yeah. Johnny had told me if I wanted to submit songs feel free. But it’s a very intimidating situation. Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee where still writing songs its really hard for someone who just got out of the military and is now in the Ramones, writing songs and comparing mine to their's. It’s a difficult situation. I wrote a few songs along the way, and I got two on the last LP. And I wrote songs before that but I wasn’t comfortable submitting them comparing mine to their’s. It was intimidating.

Munster: In the End of the Century Documentary, Ritchie said he left the band over an argument over royalties from T Shirt sales, and he was quoted saying, "At times I felt like I was a Ramone and other times I felt like I was just a hired guy." What was your experience like? Did you feel like an equal or just a guy filling in for Dee Dee?

CJ: I guess for the most part but no one had to make me feel the new kid in town because I was. There’s no way around that. I never felt like a full member. It felt more like my own perceptions in how I was treated or whether or not I fitted in the band. It’s tough to go from being in a band to being a band member. I did my best to maintain good relations with Joey and Johnny. I tried to be as trouble free as I possibly could. I never caused them much grief. I had good relationships with both guys after the band was over and when I read interviews and the things were said about me and the credit given blew me away because while the band was going there wasn’t much talking between us. It was a very odd situation. Sometime it was hard to address stuff but for the most part I was happy being in the band and they were happy with me and that’s all that mattered.

Munster: Now you toured Australia 1989 when you just joined the Ramones. What was that like playing overseas after just joining the band? Because I think you where only in the band for 3 months at that point. My mate Marty has a shirt from that tour and Dee Dee is still on the shirt. You joining the band, was that quick a turn around?

CJ: (laughs) It was a really big thing to me. I really felt like I fit in with the fans in Australia. I hung out with the fans after the show. I’d walk out and say you wanna hang out. I missed a lot of tour stuff. I enjoyed every moment. I partied and got to hang out with girls 

Munster: Now here something I really want to discuss, the Simpsons. How did that come about and what where your memories of recording the show?

CJ: ……………………………………..

Munster: Ya there?

Part 2

As I asked the all important Simpsons question the phone died. The publicity company very kindly offered me another 20 minutes at a later date. So about three weeks later I spoke again with CJ, this time he’s is back in New York in-between tours having finished up a European tour and also playing with Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. 

CJ:  So the Simpsons. Matt Groening was a huge fan and they reached out and I was such a huge fan of the show. In my room in the Ramones van I had a Bart Simpsons air freshener so I was so completely out of my mind happy when I found out we’d be going into the studio doing our own voiceover. So we went to the studio and of course my line in the show was, "Go to hell you old bastard!" (laughs) It was one of the highlights of my career getting to curse on prime time TV. So the 9 years old little Christopher Ward was laughing up and down hysterically, you know it's every kids dream to do something like that. But what an unbelievable experience and one of the everlasting memories as that episode still gets played on TV and one of the most watched Ramones videos on YouTube is that. And the other cool thing was I got to do the arrangement for Happy Birthday which made it even cooler.


Munster: I saw you at the Bendigo a few years back and I loved the set and loved the banter. One of my favourite moments was when you did I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend and you said your one regret was you never got to do the slower songs in the Ramones as most of them where written by Joey, who wrote them about Johnny’s wife. Was the banter a short glimpse into life in the Ramones?

CJ: (laughs) Yeah totally. I’m not a natural frontman. I’m not a good public speaker a lot of that stuff has evolved over time. That little comment on Joey writing it about Johnny’s wife, it's based in truth. There’s that long rumour that the KKK Took my Baby Away is about Johnny taking Linda from Joey. But you know it really is just that to get the crowd to loosen up and get a giggle out of it. 

It’s a strange thing to go from these fast songs to something of a love song, but I always felt it lacked from a Ramones show was any deviation from what they did every single night. I always thought we played too fast, or we lost the melody. I couldn’t sing the harmonies we were just playing them fast for the sake of playing them fast. That’s why when I started playing on my own I pulled all the guys in my band and said we’re playing everything around It’s Alive speed, because I wanted to bring the melody back and the nice little grace notes on the guitar that were done as overdubbed. I wanted the harmonies and I wanted people to remember how good the Ramones music was, not the live show. The live show was great 'cause it was wild and you could slam dance. And I wanted to remind people of that as it seems like it became lost, because we became characters where we played the songs so fast, if the sound was bad the crowd didn’t know what song we were doing till we hit the chorus.

Munster: That same gig you were wearing t-shit, Yankees hat, and cargo pants, a world away from the leather jacket. Was that Ramones image something you wanted to escape? 

CJ: I don’t pretend I’m CJ Ramones 24/7. I didn’t live up to the image. I never tried to do that. Like I said, I don’t want to be a character. It’s nice to be associated with the Ramones and taking care of the legacy but not sacrifice all of who I am. I don’t need to do that. I go on stage as I dress in my everyday life and it works just as good. 

People say you need to grow your hair and wear a leather jacket. And I say this isn’t the Ramones. The Ramones are gone. I’m just trying to keep the music going and reminding people how great they were. The image was great but it’s the music and the spirit I want to keep alive.

Munster: As you mentioned in our first chat Joey and Johnny said a lot of positive things about you and Tommy said you kept the band young. Do you feel proud of your legacy in the Ramones?


CJ: Yeah. Everybody was keeping the band going for sure what happened anyone that came in would have been an improvement over Dee Dee as Dee Dee went off the rails. So anyone would have brought a little spark. 

I was a big fan and not a professional musician. I was a machine gunner in the marine core, so when I came into the band I exploded on stage and that really gave Joey and Johnny a little shock. A little kick up the butt to get it going on stage. My enthusiasm and asking them everything. Telling stories  from the glory days made it a much more positive interaction in the band. I made a difference I made a contribution in the band, and I helped them have seven years of the most success they ever had and I was there for it. But it wasn’t all because of me. But I know what my contribution was because Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy, Danny Fields and Arturo Vega, those guys told me what my contribution was. So I know I made a contribution and when I went on stage I gave it my all. 

Some people say I ripped off Dee Dee, and I was a huge fan, so he did influence me, but on stage was all me. Going back and forth with Johnny, that was part of it, but my behaviour and playing style was all me.

Munster: Was there anything you learned in the army that helped you in your civilian life?

CJ: Well as a machine gunner, just in having discipline and understanding what to do and say, is important. That’s really the best thing was discipline and I had none before, and Johnny certainly wouldn’t have gotten along with me if I had none. When I was younger I partied a lot but the army gave me structure. When I joined the band Johnny told me we have strict rules and I told him tell me what they are and I’ll follow them and that helped me all my life, whatever I do I go at it like the military, give everything 100%. Be prepared and show up to win. That’s how I’ve lived my life ever since.

Munster: Now many books have been written about the Ramones. Some by members of the band. Some by people associated with the band. And some that had nothing to do with the band. Do you have any plans on writing your own story?

CJ: I’ve been working on a book for years and part of the motivation getting off the road is to finish it. But mine will be different, those books are by people who were there for a long time before I arrived and where not Ramones fans before they were in the band or associated with the band. I’m a regular blue colour guy that got into a band. I grew up loving, and worshiping the Ramones. So my story is gonna be completely different than everyone else. I’m not gonna be dishing dirt or anything like that. It’s about my life from my childhood up until the Ramones retired, and it's from my perspective and it’s a very unique one and I think the fans will appreciate it.

Munster: What are you up to for rest of the year?

CJ: After Australia I’m doing a cross country motorcycle trip, that’s it, I’ll be spending time with my family learning how to tattoo better and all the other things I don’t get to do when I’m on the road.

Plastic Section 


A mixture of John Spencer and Sun Records, Plastic Section are quickly becoming one of our favourite bands here at Munster. Combining classic 50's Rock with their own tough sound, they are familiar but also fresh. Ben Edwards started the group in Sydney took it to Bangkok and now Melbourne where he has now landed. 

I first met Ben at the GEM and kindly gave me a copy of their CD Frenzy in the City of Hell. 12 tracks in under 30 minutes, short sharp and to the point not a wasted moment. There follow up Trouble is our Business is more of the same and one of the best releases of 2019. One of the hardest working men in rock Pip has joined the group on bass joining Ben and drummer Matthew. Ben and Pip met me at the Last Chance Rock n Roll Bar on a Thursday night to talk rock, the art of recording on cassette and the various locations they’ve called home.  

Munster: So how did Plastic Section start, did the band start in Australia or Bangkok?

Ben: When I was living in Sydney I had a band called the Section sort of garage rock band but I occasionally did gigs on my own or with various people so I called that Plastic Section. When I moved to Bangkok I kept that going as I did gigs on my own. So people came in and it became a proper band but it was always pretty loose with people coming and going. When I moved to Melbourne I wanted to keep it going. 

I met our drummer Matthew first through a mate who put me in touch with him because I didn’t know may people in Melbourne. Pip saw a few of our gigs and asked if we needed a bass player. It’s worked out well.

Munster: I first saw Plastic Section with the Beat Taboo at the Gem and I think that was as a two piece. And not long after that Pip came into the band. So Pip how did you join the fold?

Pip: I was at one of their gigs and I was very drunk and thought they were great. And because I’m very annoying when I’m drunk I told them what I thought and asked if they needed a bass player. A few weeks later Ben called me and that was that.

Ben: I think we played a gig with Wrong Turn at Cherry Bar one night.

Pip: That’s right.

Munster: Pip you play in Plastic Section, Wrong Turn, Blowers and the Exotics how do you find the time to play in all these bands?

Pip: I’ve multiplied myself. (laughs) It's weird. It’s worked out. One day I played three gigs with three bands and it was too much. It’s pretty fortunate there hasn’t been much conflict. Basically it's first come first served. If someone says we got a gig on the 21st  I say yup and go from there.

Munster: Trouble is our Business is your new LP out on Off the Hip. Tell us the process of recording it?

Ben: It was basically the set we’ve been playing lately. Mickster was keen to release something and we wanted something out in Melbourne. We hooked up with Raul from Midnight Wolf and we did it in an arvo at the rehearsal space Raul works.

Pip: Can I just add, at that point I had been in the band for three weeks. I’d only had one gig with them at that point.

Ben: It was rough on him. It was rough 'n' ready. We just wanted to bang something out that sounds like a live set. Raul recorded it on cassette. He had an 8 track cassette tape. He did the mixing as well and Lluis Fuzzhound did the artwork.

Munster:  How did the association with Mickster and Off the Hip Come about?

Ben: When I moved to Melbourne I didn’t know many people but I knew Mick and I knew the shop as I was a fan of a lot of the stuff he released. And when in town I’d always go in and have a chat with Mick. I gave him a demo at one point and when I moved down we played a gig at the shop so it when from there.

Munster: You mentioned you recorded the LP on Cassette. What benefits are there recording on tape?

Pip: It’s warmer.  And also makes you more on your game. You can’t be too fancy as you only have eight tracks. So you need to be fussy with how you play. I’ve recorded with Raul before with the Interceptors and we were really happy with that he does a good job.

Ben: We prefer recording live anyway basically, or do the tracks live at least and do the vocals afterwards. The process is pretty similar but gives it a warmer sound.

Pip: We recorded it all top to bottom in six hours. Then it was a mixing thing. So it takes that pain out of going back. There’s no over-dubs so that was it.

Ben: Ideally the thing would be to record from reel-to-reel tape so you get that in-between sound. Raul is good because he can take that and mix it digitally but has that analogue sound.

Munster: Pip how did you go recording considering you were in the band for a few weeks?

Pip: I’ve become used to it, flying on the seat of my pants. Tex Napalm taught me that. The skill of to this learn this, kind of a do or die scenario. I do find it quite stressful but it's one of those things, and if you fuck it up it's only Rock 'n' Roll. We’re not gonna lose our houses or anything.

Ben: Rock 'n' Roll shouldn’t be perfect there’s always little mistakes.

Munster: When I listen to that record, it feels like a Sun City sound, with elements of John Spencer. How did you get that 50's guitar sound?

Pip: I would say it's Ben's natural guitar sound. It's brilliant.

Ben: The only technicality in terms of recording is basically doing it live which is how they did it in the 50s and 60s. And most bands do it that way now. The idea of overdubbing everything is a 80s and 90s thing.

Pip: And you lose the three piece sound. Overdubs loses the vibe.

Ben: Yeah it never quite connects. And the songwriting is influenced by 50's and 60's Rock 'n' Roll which I love the most.

Munster: Ben, when I met you at the Gem, you gave me the record you did before this and it came in under 30 minutes. Trouble is Our Business is 10 songs also under 30 minutes which I love the keep it short nature of the songs.

Ben: Yeah. I’m not into guitar solos

Pip: People have short attention spans these days anyway.

Ben: And again all the songs from the 50's and 60's were short songs and just perfect little capsule. And if there was a solo, it was a little burst of energy. It’s a part, not a random improvised part of the song, not just banging on for five minutes.

Munster: Pip obviously you were a fan of the band to want to join but was there something you thought was lacking that you thought you could add to the group?

Pip: The bass player on the other CDs, I’m a different kind of player. She’s a natural musician whereas I’m not. I’m by no stretch of the imagination a natural musician. So it’s more the way I play gives it more of a fill. There’s things we’ve put together since I’ve put some ideas in with arrangements so I think we’re working well together.

Ben: And since Pip joined we’ve been going all new stuff and we’ve got another LP of songs ready to go.



Munster: Ben you lived in Bangkok for a period while having the band going what was the scene like over there?

Ben: It was great. Like everywhere else, it’s a real underground scene. They have a massive Pop scene but they have a great Underground scene with venues like this and some amazing bands. And it's quite international. A lot of bands are a mixture of Thai Japanese American Australian all playing together so it makes an interesting mix. We play a few times a month but it's small, most gigs would have 50 to 100 people. There’s not a lot of Rock 'n' Roll bands. There’s heaps of Hardcore Punk and Shoe-gazing and Power Pop. So we were one of the few just doing straight Rock. And it's really diverse. You’d get four bands playing different kinds of music and everyone’s supportive. So it works well.

Munster: And Plastic Section also played shows in Berlin too?

Ben: We just went there for a holiday but planned to play a few gigs while we were there. We had a drummer friend who played with us in Bangkok, who was living in Berlin. We lined up a gig at record shop and he said you can play here as our neighbours have complained about the sound so that didn’t happen. But he got us some gigs. One was supporting Paul Collins Beat and the other in this small basement venue. Loved to go back.

Munster:  And you’ve been on a few TV shows overseas as well.

Ben: Did a few in Bangkok in Thailand. They make their own contact on radio and TV. So there are more opportunities. Where here we get a lot from America. 

Did that a few times but never got to see any of it as I didn’t have a telly.

Munster: Pip your one of the busiest people I know. What is it you're looking for in a band that makes you wanna sign up?

Pip: I have to like the music but I’m more about the people. And that’s generally most of the bands I’ve been in people I know who are friends and I’ve volunteered or they asked me. For me personality in bands, that’s a big thing. If they can gel, you need to have some kind of connection. You read an ad online; band needs guitarist. And for me, that’s not really how I’d work. I’d rather see the band, meet them, and say, "Ah yeah I’ll do that."

Ben: I agree. Every time I start something new I’d rather play on my own and go from there and meet people that way.

Pip: And it’s organic. Not this forced thing. It’s a fun world for us. We’re not gonna make a living of this. This is why we have a day job.

Ben: And that’s one good side of not making a living from music. It means it has to be fun and people have to do exactly what they want to do otherwise why would you do it? Otherwise there’s no reason to do it.

Pip: And I’m no spring chicken. To me it’s an energy thing. It gives me something to do. It beats sitting at home watching…..whatever’s on TV.

Ben: I find Melbourne to be really friendly. I knew hardly anyone when I moved down here. Now I have a bunch of friends via music and it's my whole life really.

Pip: And really, people are quite inclusive. We all give each other a hand or a suggestion or help each other out. You hear stories but you rarely hear of people getting fucked over.

Ben: When I arrived in Melbourne I was walking down Sydney Rd one day and I heard this amazing psychedelic band. I went in and it was Trauma Boys who I didn’t know. I was blown away. I was talking to Jimmy the singer and I told him I play in a band and do similar stuff and I suggested maybe we can set up a gig. They did and that was my first gig in Melbourne. So that’s an example of how friendly it is.

Munster: Ben you’re from Sydney and spent time in Bangkok Pip your from Belfast and you’ve both traveled the world. Do you think Melbourne has earned the live music capital of the world title?

Pip: Pretty much. Coming from Belfast, which in the 60s bands like Them played there, and they had a bigger audience than they did in their home city. There was the reassurance with Good Vibrations in the late 70s. Since then it’s been hit and miss. And here, usually, when a venue closes another one pops up and that’s a great thing. A lot of what it comes down to RRR and PBS. They give bands such a hand up. For me, PBS has been amazing, every time I do something they're all over it. You don’t get that everywhere and because of the population size people will hear it. And with Trouble is Our Business LP, we got reviewed in Viva La Rock. It's like, "Fuck! How did that happen?" Whether it’s a 'zine or public radio, it’s a really good healthy thing to have.

Ben: And the DJs from those stations; they’ll DJ at gigs so everyone’s involved. Melbourne has an amazing amount of amazing bands. Every time I go to a gig I discover a new band. And international bands want to come here

Pip: I lived in Perth for three years before I came here and it was all, "Let’s get to Melbourne!" And here I meet people from New Zealand who also said that, "Let’s get to Melbourne!"  It seems every week someone is getting off a bus or plane saying, "Let’s get to Melbourne!"

There’s two ways to look at it. One way it makes it very competitive, but the other side is it keeps  healthy. It's always moving, things happening, as long as there enough slices of the cake we’re all happy people.

Ben: And it's all healthy competition makes some bands lift their game like every time you see another great band appears it makes the other bands try harder and makes everyone better

Pip: I’ve learned you can’t rest on your laurels. There’s so many new bands coming up. If you have 9 months off it's hard to get back into where you were before. Unless you're something quite special. People just forget and you can be instantly replaced. But in a positive way, that’s a good thing as makes you wanna keep playing.

Ben: Compared to Bangkok, for example; if you played a gig here, people would tell you if you're shit or they wouldn’t come.

Pip: If you’re having fun, people get that. We’re not reinventing the wheel and I don’t want to. It’s the Billy Childish mentality; authenticity over originality. I’d rather do something authentic. This is what’s inside my head coming out as long as you’re doing it for the fun factor you can’t lose.

Ben: As long as you put your heart and soul and having fun there’s no such thing as a shit band.

Munster: Pip you mentioned you grew up in Belfast before. I can imagine it would have been totally DYI over there. How did you find counter culture in a place as controlled as Belfast?

Pip: Belfast when I grew up was a fairly shut down city. Security barriers round the city closed at 11. When you went in you were searched and when you left it was one way you couldn’t get back in. that strangled all the city venues. So for me, I lived round the corner from these guys. It was the first time I touched a guitar. So I went round and hung out with these guys who turned into the Defects. 

My mum worked for a country label. We used to drink bottles of cider and we all loved the Clash records. I mentioned my mum worked for a label and they asked me if they could release our album. My mum asked her boss, and he rang me and said get those guys to get in touch. He said here’s the deal. I’ll make your record but you can’t say who I am or mention the label. And that’s how they made their first single. 

Back in those days you didn’t get many choices. It was you did or you didn’t. You took the avenues that opened to you. My friend Brian Young from Good Vibrations. I was four years younger than them and I looked up to them as I had their record. I always bought records but it was unheard of to make your own record. So when these guys up the road were making their own record it was a massive inspiration. I couldn’t imagine what someone who played guitar looked like. I was terrified because I didn’t know what to say. 

When I was 18, we met over a Johnny Thunders LP. It was the whole, "If you like this you’ll like that." Belfast was nothing like here. Underground gigs where in Scout Halls and Warehouses. There was no pubs. It really was underground. I wasn’t playing in those days and am lucky to have missed that. The whole Good Vibrations things these days, I’m lucky to say I know those people.

Ben: So it was total DIY?

Pip: Absolutely. I had a mate and he said until he went to England he had never seen a Gibson or a Fender because you couldn’t afford it. No one had money. It was all Japanese guitars which today are probably worth a bit of money, but at they time they had zero value.

Munster: What’s up Next?

Pip: Hopefully some more recording

Ben: We have an LP's worth of material. We want to do vinyl next time, whether a LP, EP or single. Hopefully a LP, and just play as much as possible.

Munster: Favourte Fall LP please.

Pip: Frenz Experiment.

Ben: Gonna cheat and say 50,000 Fall Fans. I read Mark E Smiths book and it’s a cracker.

Pip: That’s another thing about musical culture changing from the point of view we’re running out of characters. The Mark E Smiths; up front, fuck you, I don’t care what you think.

Ben: Well they're still there but they're not gonna be on the cover of the NME. It’s a shame you don’t get that in mass culture. That was a standard of the 80s. I remember in that book he goes on for five pages how much he hates Australia but his favourite show was Neighbours.

Pip: Well that guy I mentioned who never seen a Fender and Gibson; he supported the Fall in Belfast and a fist fight happened on stage. He sacked the band and said, "Fuck off! The gigs not happening."


Dalicados

Tony Biggs described Dalicados as a St Kilda supergroup, and I couldn’t agree more. Featuring members of UnAustralians, Hunters and Collectors, the Chosen Few and I Spit On Your Gravy, Dalicados play music that is not genre driven, instead making a genre and style their own. Combining elements of their past bands and their own personal taste, it's music you have to listen to get the vibe and also a must see gig as you get a great show both music and presentation wise. On top of that there all wonderful people who were kind enough to play at my 30th recently. Fiona a James very kindly invited me and the rest of the band Cal, Tracey, Mark and Jack, as well as Di and Fi for dinner, followed by a sit down chat.

 


Munster:  Now a few years ago there was a great band Thousands Left Standard which featured James Tracey Jack and Cal. Is Dalicados a follow on from that band? 

James: That was a bit hard to wrangle, that band, but the idea was really good and the idea lead to Dalicados. The roots of both bands where me and Cal, just jamming and writing stuff. We did Thousands Left Stranded and it wasn’t just right. Then Mark, who I’ve known for a long time and always loved his playing, we got talking, and I thought he’d be perfect. And everyone else is important, and who I think are great people and wonderful friends we got in the band. Playing music these days, if you don’t have to do it you wouldn’t do it, and that’s the only reason I do it. There’s no goals with this band - just to have fun.

Fiona: You're completed to do it, that’s why we do it.

Jack: Now he tells me there no goals. (laughs)

Tracy: Where are the KPIs? (laughs)

James: But it’s the moment, that’s the reason for doing it. Not for money and we're too old for fame. (It's) just for that moment you hit a chord, and moments that make it amazing. Maybe not for Jack, maybe he wants to be the next Justin Bieber.

Jack: I was the first.

Cal: It’s important to say it's original music. We could all be playing in cover bands but the beauty is playing new songs, working them out. And having known Jack, and we invited him down, and he was keen and encouraging. And when Mark joined it took on another persona. 

James: I love everyone in this band. I would hang out with them outside the band and if they brought instruments I would happily play music with these people the same I would in a bar as I would if it was in the lounge room.

Mark: Even rehearsals are fun.

Munster: Does the name come from a cigarette?

James: Yes. A Mexican cigarette. I moved to LA with Fi in 1994 and we lived in a place called Silver Lake and a little store sold Delicados cigarettes, $2 a pack. They were shorter than normal cigarettes. We changed the spelling of the band name not to confuse the two.

Munster:  Much like Thousands Left Stranded and also Jack's band the Long Lost Brothers and a Sister, it's music you can’t put in one specific genre. So what was the pitch when the band started, for the kind of music you would play?

James: I never discussed it with anyone. I’ve been playing music with Cal for 26 years, and we’ve never had that discussion; what style are we gonna play.

Cal: Yeah. When James and I would jam he’d say I’ve got an idea for a song but it was never genre driven. There was never, "We wanna sounds like this."

Fiona: In '97 when we were in Las Angeles, Libby Malone, in LA WEEKLY, said Australia was the last place of un-characterised Rock style music. And I think that still rings true. Australia has this beautiful fusion that ends up something overarching Australian. James is interested in Soul music so you can’t go past the rock and the Blues roots. But when we get together there’s Punk and all the Pop culture references we’ve been subjected to. So there’s all that stuff that goes into it without even having to discuss it being of the same time period. We’ve absorbed those same cultural influences and that goes into it. It’s in the lyrics. It’s the way we approach the songs

Cal: Everyone in this band has 20-30 years’ experience playing in original bands from the start, with varying degrees of success.

James: Every cover band you meet has the original project they're working on and you never see it. You know it’s the whole. I’m just doing top 40 now and you never see the original project. It’s so boring playing other people’s music. If you pick a song and do a cover and nail it, that’s brilliant, but just plan on doing other people’s songs for a gig is like "Ah man." And then you end up writing songs like Nickelback.

Fiona: And that’s the thing with the overarching Australian thing. Carrying that voice and the culture it’s still vibrating and decent. A lot of the stuff overseas has been homogenised a lot.

Jack: We are fortunate enough, there’s enough of a scene here in Melbourne, even if it’s a not a big scene, in terms of outlets.

Mark: We’re blessed with the venues we have in Melbourne. And being round in the 80's, there’s been people that used to go out, they’ve gone off and done other things, then they come back and want to see stuff. The kids have grown up and they don’t want the top 40 cover bands. They want to pick up where they left off. Good original Melbourne music. And I think that’s what we play.

Munster: You mentioned Mark joining the band took the band in a different direction. So what did Mark bring to the table?

James: Height. (all laugh) Mark, I’ve played with lots of great musicians. Fi is one of the best bass players in Australia, I promise you. Mark brings real heart. Everyone talk’s about heart like it's commodity. Mark is what he plays. It is him. It’s not two different things.

Cal: James said to me, and it's not denigrating to other bass players in the line-up, James said to me you’ll love playing with Mark. I hardly knew him as I didn’t pay attention to the Gravy’s and bands like that. But straightaway we locked it in. 

Mark: We had so much space. We could do whatever we wanted and all this power come in.

James: And the whole band is like that. Everyone walks in and does it. It happens and there’s something amazing about that. It’s almost like we’re on a ride and we all get on at the same time. And that’s the best part of it.

Jack: It’s an unusual band. It is a band grinning with emotion it feels like that. And that’s not the usual thing. And that’s part of what draws me into it. And you guys are like the Fleetwood Mac the two married couples in the band.

James: I’d say we're more ABBA. We’re too old for it to end badly.

Fiona: We're too old for Rumours.

Mark: And a lot of it relates to Jenny. Years ago before we moved to the country Fi, James, Jenny and I had a band called the Last Call. That’s where Nevermore came from. When Jenny got sick we put this band together for a benefit as a surprise. So that’s where a lot of the emotion comes from.

Jack: Nevermore was a highlight of the launch.

Tracey: Turning around, seeing my son sing along, I was like, "Oh my god!"

James: Real music played by real people is meant to do that. Whatever the emotion is. I listen to early Descendents and I’m still moved by that.

Fiona: What’s great about this band is the collaboration and I think that’s an overriding spirit with this band. Even gigs we have to all agree on it.

Cal: There (have) been two photos taken of the band after a gig and we all look happy, it not like, "Oh it's time to go home."

Jack: I think that would be a great exercise. To go back through the bands that we love and there’s that period, say two LPs people really love, and whether there in that same spirit of collaboration, before the singer locked himself in a  room and wrote all the songs.

Mark: I think most bands start like that until a certain degree because it has to bring people together.

James: You gotta remember, and Jack, you’re in a fortunate position, in my mind, Hunters where cool indie and where very successful, and always original and became popular. So you had the trifecta. Which is rare. In all due respect, Mark was in I Spit on your Gravy, and never had that kind of success. The songs stand the test of time. Savage Garden were the biggest band in the world and you don’t hear them anymore, yet Hunters is still played everywhere. I’m really lucky as I play in this band with these guys, and Fiona and Cal play in the Long Lost Brothers and I get to see that and just relax. I’m not in any dysfunctional band so it feels super normal what we do. And Jack with Epic Brass he has to wrangle so many people and they all enjoy themselves. 

Jack: Well that’s the thing with musicians. You try and surround yourselves with people you like, and can play, and are professional, and discard the others. Who wants that?

Mark: I got too long a drive to hang around with fuckwits. (all laughs)

Fiona: That should be a bumper sticker.

Tracey: We should put all these saying on t-shirts.

James: And, as I get older, I discover more people, interesting artists. Penny Ikinger is a good example. I knew of her when I was playing with Fi years ago, and recently I got to know her. Really nice. Really talented. And Epic Brass a few weeks ago, and Ash Naylor I’ve known for years, socially for 20 years, and he’s another lovely guy and player. He was great in the band. It’s that excitement that keeps happening. There are no closed doors. Yeah you get idiots but that will happen. I feel I’m seeing more great players then I’m seeing idiots.

Cal: Playing with people you like and admire helps your musicianship. As jack was saying if you’re playing with great players you don’t want to mess up the song.

Marks: That’s what I love about this band everyone gets a voice there no ego.



Munster: So James I remember you once saying the rest of the band organizes the gigs and everything else and you’ll write the songs, still true?

James: it’s giving me too much credit to say I wrote them. I write the lyrics and then it evolves from there. I couldn’t be, I say this to Fi all the time, I love Steve Earle and James Taylor these singer songwriter guys, but I couldn’t do that, you know write the song and say to the band do this do that. I feel comfortable with a skeleton and everyone puts the meat on it. I got to give most of the credit to what I do to Fi 50% . I’ve been with her most of my adult life and a great inspiration. Most of what I know from songwriting I pretty much stole from Fi. Fi’s way more disciplined then me and I wish I could, Charles Jenkins for example is a great songwriter and he can break it down but I can’t I find it was too random and difficult to do. Event good songs you try and make it a song and it's 80% there but it can take two years to get the rest. I wish there was a way you could make it better because I don’t consider myself a songwriter because it always feels disjointed. These really prolific guys that can pump it out a feel envious of and blow my mind it feel difficult to make a family of songs to me….

Fiona: James used the word disjoined he always works a full time demanded job so no matter it feels disjointed so when he has time and time to think of it it does feel disjoined because it’s like climbing rocks to get the write words out.

James: But I couldn’t not work and stay at home and write that wouldn’t work.

Mark: I know what you mean as when your work and have other things going on you tend to get more done. If I have a lot of work on I get more done as opposed to doing nothing.

Jack: The tricky thing with the songwriter is it exists in a slightly different realm and all your life and experiences help with that. Even great songwriters who have written a lot of songs, for example John Hiatt he’s written so great songs but also a lot of bad songs. You know standard whining lyrics and standard chord changes. It kind of dismisses his songwriting as he does a lot of co-writes and sells songs to people and I love his best stuff but he’s written a lot of stuff, because of all that that’s not that great.

Fiona: James noticed that in the Van Gogh museum not every picture was a masterpiece. You try things and you take what works and what doesn’t and take that for the next thing.

Munster: how did the idea come from to have the lead vocals and Fiona and Tracey on backing vocals?

Cal: Diana Ross and the Supremes.

Mark: Looks good. Sounds good.  It’s a show it presents.

Tracey: I feel extremely lucky to be in the Dalicados family as I haven’t been in a band before.

Munster: This is your first band?

Tracey: Yeah, so the support and the encouragement has been fantastic. It’s scary but a lot of fun.

Cal: We honestly didn’t think about Fleetwood Mac. ABBA maybe.

Fiona: Tracey has done a great job learning all the vocals and her voice on the record really enhances it.

Munster: Fi and Trace you guys have a great stage presence, with the percussion and dance moves, do you practice that?

Fiona: Yes, in rehearsal.

Tracey: A lot of it's spontaneous too. Even Jack does the side step with us.

Munster: You’ve just released your first single. Where is the LP at?

Fiona: Nearly half way through. Five more tracks to go, just to mix then mastering. And it’s not a process we did a year ago and worked everyday. It’s just when we’re free so that can make it longer. It’s almost a year since we started it. We started tracking in September last year.

Munster: Mark you play double bass. What made you play double bass as opposed to standard four string?

Mark: The sound. A mate pushed me into it 20 years ago. He plays double bass and thankfully enough it landed at my place.

Cal: How long you had it for?

Mark: 19 years. John Danny gave it to me.

Munster: Tracey you mentioned this is your first band. Did you sing at school in choirs or anything like that? 

Tracy: A Rock Eisteddfod at school. That was it.

Jack: What did you sing?

Tracy: Fernando.

Cal: You sing around the house.

Tracey: When Thousands Left Stranded started, and I told her I was singing, she said you can't fucking sing.

Cal: Part of my courting of Tracey was burning CDs when I was in the country saying you gotta listen to this

James: Tracey’s parents are amazing, Louise was a amazing women and her dad is a legend, so supportive and goes to every gig.

Munster: Jack, you have a few gigs on the go and very busy, so what was the pitch for you to join?

Jack: The number of friends and to be honest it’s come at a time when there’s not many other big gigs. There mates and I liked the music so I wanted in.

Munster: Cal we were talking before how a seven inch you made as part of The Chosen Few that went for mega bucks recently. How did it feel making a seven inch that is possibly the most expensive Punk seven inch out there?

Cal: It’s great. We paid for it and never made a cent off it. It’s been bootlegged from all these companies and we never saw any money off it. It’s nice to know something you did 40 years ago is appreciated. Whereas, at the time, it was shit-canned. The review in Juke was difficult to classify as a collector’s item. Now it’s the most expensive single in the world.

Mark: When they reviewed St Kilda's Alright, they said this is a pile of shit. The only saving grace is a walking bass line, and said it feels like it was recorded on an ocean.

Cal: We got grief because we put six tracks on a 45 size and run it at 33RPM, but now it’s worth all that money. And a hell of a lot of bands are covering us, Eddy Current is one. And an American Band called X Cult. So we got the fame, fuck the fortune.

Munster: Fiona, for me the highlight of the launch gig was your speech about James where you said you were going through a rough period and it was James and his music that got you through it and that particular song really helped. 

Fiona: Cakes and Ginger Ale. Music has the power to make you stay so that’s part of why a married a musicians. (laughs) And James rehearses everyday.

Cal: But that is such a powerful song. When I saw you two do it acoustically it really hit us. And when me and Trace got home we were still in awe.

Fiona: As Jack said about the emotional thing, it exists from the well it came from. And we did that song with Jenny in the Last Call. That was the first band to do that song. I was working stupid hours and had to help 17 people through a redundancy with a company feeding us lies, so that was a sad time. And James would be working on that song, and I would work with him on it. And it’s true we had cakes and ginger ales every day at work, and it was full of wonderful women who would bake every day. And it was so sad through that period, but the music helped me. There was a woman at the place that got let go and James gave her a job.

James: See I’m not a total scumbag. (laughs)

Fiona: And she worked there for six years.

Jack: With that song, everyone’s talks about the emotion, but James is an incredibly catchy guitarist. I feel blessed, as I do with working with Nicky Del Rey, when we write songs, here’s a chord change and lyrics, and some of his riffs are a real x factor and you’re the same James, the instant access to the song.

Mark: One of our first gigs at the Lyrebird, Viv Gaye came up to me and said you’ve got more hooks then a fishing tackle box.

James: With any song, I don’t write songs for people not to sing along. So that’s how my mind works. I’m not writing jingles but I feel I’m a commercial songwriter.

Fiona: You’re writing for people.

James: Absolutely. In my mind I’m writing Sweet Child of Mine.

Cal: That’s a bad example. Possibly the worst hit song ever.

James: What I mean is, I’m not trying to write anything cool. I’m writing songs people will like. People that say I hate that commercial crap. I’ve never understood that. In my mind I’m writing a big song and that’s how I work. I don’t know if everyone thinks like that but I’m not cool so I don’t think like that. I love big commercial radio songs like Spandau Ballet.

Fiona: We had that experience when we’re younger and now when we look back at the radio, we’re still human and not perfect and it's great having music by people in our age group that we get to hear. It’s new and exciting and give us hope and we belong. That’s really important in how we make music.


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