I was on our local radio station with usual presenter Alex Griffin to talk about Australian punk and post punk from the last 20 years-ish and play a few key tracks. Playlist below the cut, AG is Griffin’s choice, RE is mine and RTR are features for the station. If you click through above, you can even listen to it. Continue reading LISTEN: RTRFM’s Up Late with Alex Griffin, 27.01.16
Corey only knew a few songs by The Murlocs, but was convinced this gig was destined.
“You know, I get up this morning, making some toast, turn on rage and they’ve got the guest programmer right? And the second song she plays is Murlocs’ Adolescence!” For the rest of the line-up, a solid turnout of friends and fans to Four5Nine packed out the bar, already sweaty for popping punkers Kitchen People. Continue reading LIVE REVIEW: The Murlocs at Four5Nine, 18.04.15
LIVE REVIEW: DOCTOPUS / HUSSY / DARLING RANGERS / SURF RABBITS / KITCHEN PEOPLE / PISSEDCOLAS
Saturday 20 September 2014 at 208s
There is no live music like live music a foot away from your face.
208s, a makeshift venue at best organised by a group of industrious, tolerant music fans in a residential home just behind Maylands’ shopping strip, has remembered this in a time when small venues are hard to come by and younger or niche bands struggle to fill out large ones with a scattering of fans spread over large dance floors. As you trudge down the empty night road and through the dusty gravel car park to the open back door to 208s, the faint drone of the Pissedcolas’ ‘Mind Detergent’ buzzing through the brickwork, there’s no question what you’re in for. A faint smell of weed and sweet cheap beer hangs in the air around the doorway, with a kitchen-cum-foyer filled with instruments and a jar labelled “Soundproofing Fund” on the table, then inside the dimly lit hot room of 208s, ear-busting PA, plastered wall to wall with band posters, and the deaf white cat Sheba perched on the middle speaker oblivious to the slaughtered sounds around it.
The Pissedcolas started the evening with a grinding set sounding tighter than ever. Though battling the heat and the cat’s twitching tail over his pedals, guitarist Fabian Rojas’ sulky vocals opened the night well to a small gathering rapidly growing in the dim backlight of 208s, and with aspirations to the studio in a few weeks they’re rightly locking down on their unique, drilling sound. Their set jittered and throbbed through the brickwork before dissipating into the hot night air, with the guests pouring outside for the change of guard. Around the corner a girl moans to her friend that it’s so empty – never seen it so empty. There’s a piece of lemon in the bathroom sink. Kitchen People are on next.
An off-shoot of Fremantle’s lauded Hideous Sun Demon, the Kitchen People took the floor tonight debuting new rhythm guitarist Charles Wickham, a recruit from Aborted Tortoise, to supplement their sloppy blare with a sharper backlight towed in during intermission. Drummer Thomas Cahill cast long shadows over his bandmates, unanimously engaged in a twitchy little pogo with lead Jake Suriano’s self-conscious cheekiness countered by squirming guitar solos and Dean Eyeball typically throwing his gangly frame about the sidelines. Announcing “This is a song Jake makes me sing, it’s called ‘Planet’,” he attempted to swallow the microphone hands-free, though the equipment put up a fight of its own before being handed back to Suriano. He checks his phone mid-song, juggling mobile, guitar, microphone and lyrics scrawled in texta on his forearm, as they launch into punk-by-numbers closer ‘I Don’t Mind’; “It’s about Jake’s passive progression through life,” claimed Eyeball, then beat a hasty retreat to the band’s closing bars.
The Surf Rabbits, filling a slot for line-up pull-outs, piled into the room boasting short skirts and their own theme song. With vocalist Sarah Taylor bouncing over to scratch the white cat perched on their amp behind its ears, lead guitarist Dave Owen crowed into the microphone: “We are Aborted Tortoise! Or if things go really well we are the Surf Rabbits!” Their rockabilly surf style brought dancers a light-hearted, fast paced set with shrieking Owen matched head to head with Taylor, with songs about sex (‘So Good!’), the scene (‘All Perth Bands’) and monsters (‘There’s Something In The Pool At Adventure World’) picking up the mood only to have it immediately destroyed by the Darling Rangers.
For the first show the Rangers had 208s stuffed full, with gritty solid rock of an instantly familiar Australian ilk backing black-clad lead Drago ‘Drage’ Lyons as he staggered in small circles wailing and screaming with his eyes fixed somewhere in the middle distance of a bad trip. Having produced an organ and a boat hat from seemingly nowhere, the Rangers pressed deranged Lyons into violent throes, collapsing onto the floor after a sheet of lyrics and dragging the mic stand into the audience with him. The clutching, frenzied audience had as much idea of what was happening as Lyons as he wrestled with his mic, narrowly missing an audience member to slam into the wall.
Hussy entered next, an all-girl group with a shrill warble over garage rock with a poppy bounce. Their lead Shinead Ruby stunned with an impressive clear voice like a marble rolling down a course, Hussy’s brooding sound throbbing under chiming vocals and indelicate drum lines. The large band population – five in this one – beckon the audience closer as second vocalist Marcia D’Souza stepped in with a casual air that cooled the night down, welcome after the Darling Rangers’ previous display.
After a brief intermission outside the immense and stoned Doctopus rolled onto the floor, with bedraggled frontman Stephen Bellair getting approximately half way through the first song before producing a spliff as fat as his finger from thin air with a cry of “Hey, buddies!” as he gestured around for a lighter offered by an audience member. The dim lit room stank of sweat, weed and spilt beer as it filled with smoke and heat, the spliff juggled around the audience and finally back to one leaning forward to expel lungfulls of smoke into Bellair’s face as he belted along to bouncing crowd hits ‘Social Anxiety’ and ‘Chronic Fatigue’. The mood dissolves at the set’s close into a settling haze of perspiration and THC, with Sheba ushered around the beer-stained wood floors as 208s started the laborious job of collecting discarded bottles and the crowd filtered out into the night.
‘LIVE REVIEW: Wrong Side Of The Tracks at 208s’ by Richard Moore.
LIVE REVIEW: METHEL ETHEL / PISSEDCOLAS / DOCTOPUS
Sunday 20 July 2014 at the Bird
First published by the Space Ship News 23 July 2014
Marked eloquently as ‘Fabian Tells A Joke’ on the PISSEDCOLAS’ setlist, DOCTOPUS’ breakneck album release tour was summed up smoothly on its last night by lead Fabian Rojas, recounting a conversation with owner of Da-Da’s records: “I said, ‘They’re releasing the album five times,’ and he said, ‘You can’t do that!’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘They’re Doctopus, they can do it. They’re doing it.’”
As METHYL ETHEL, the skinniest band bearing even skinnier jeans, set up on stage to start off the night there was an air of fatigue around the Bird, with many among the crowd having attended several shows over Doctopus’ five day run. Doctopus themselves kept a low profile, dragging around the merch table with copies of their new album Wobbegong and last issue Buddies or between friends as the Bird swiftly filled for a last chance at the launch.
Methyl Ethel, fronted by songwriter Jake Webb and a host of effects, drove straight into their set with a pummelling bass line picked delicately by their tall, skinny-hipped bassist, his instrument held high beneath his flowing curls and crotch bulging in impossibly tight jeans. Webb’s guitar spat ethereal chittering like sprites or birds, clear echoing vocals and a space age groove as his Fender bounced reflections off the wall of the Bird, finding themselves well at home in its walls. Stand out ‘Idée Fix’, a husky, aquatic track, showed clearly what Methyl Ethel are capable of, crackling through their set to a well-earned end in ‘Narcissists On TV’, a lacerating, kaleidoscopic piece tearing over the rest of their chilly, subterranean offerings.
Just one of the many incestuous bands surrounding the Perth lo-fi and garage scenes, the Pissedcolas quietly skulked onto stage before starting with a calamity quickly and effortlessly dissolving into their familiar Western drone of red dust, mines and social security. Pissedcolas are a band to take a bullet for, their music winding between a solid crunch, a driving pulse and chainsaw distortion, Rojas’ howls and chants over gutsy rock with teeth bared. Songs like ‘Mind Detergent’ and ‘Glue Gun’ tore through the small venue and tightening audience as the crowd barked ‘Fabian!’ and ‘Play one more!’ at the bashful lead while bassist Meagan Bates and drummer Alex Patching exchanged teasing grins.
Finally Doctopus hauled themselves on stage. Whatever fatigue appeared to drag at them initially was quickly dispelled as they launched into their set, the venue stuffed to the brim as the crowd packed onto the benches ringing the walls for more room. Doctopus looked dishevelled in the indie chic of the Bird, but unfazed ploughed bite-sized tune after tune to the welling audience with a muffled quality, a pulse and a spring with Stephen Bellair’s wail torn over the top as he spasmed over the mic and threw himself about the stage. Guitarist Jeremy Holmes quickly disappeared from view to sit on the stage with his guitar, as the crowd howled ‘Man I Think You’re Cool’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Here’ back at the band. “We’re only going to play two more songs because it’s a Sunday and we live in Perth!” jeered Bellair, before delivering a manic version of ‘Wobbegong’ to finish the night.
‘LIVE REVIEW: Doctopus at the Bird’ by Richard Moore.
First published by the Space Ship News 15 July 2014
The wobbegong, a carpet shark endemic to our coasts, is a shy, slightly bewildering creature known for its bottom dwelling tendencies. Such a harmless piece of sea life seems an odd choice for easy-going Perth rockers Doctopus to take as their new album’s namesake, but the band are quick to put it in its place.
‘We like snorkelling. And wobbegong… it’s a good word to say,’ says John Lekais, their alert and bright voiced drummer.
‘I hear they are the bullies of the ocean,’ adds drowsy-eyed, drawling bassist and vocalist Stephen Bellair as he leans over his cider, ‘According to a marine biologist friend. But I saw some while I was snorkelling once and they were chill.’
Doctopus are avid snorkellers. In this light, Bellair’s scream over Wobbegong’s title track, ‘I wanna live underwater with you,’ takes to further depths – for a band with one foot in the ocean, all this sea life banter is unsurprising.
‘It’s like a whole world that no one else has seen,’ says Jeremy Holmes, their scruffy, sleepy guitarist. ‘You look up and there’s people just sitting on the beach and cars driving past and then you look down and no one else is there. Just hundreds of fish. That’s crazy. No one else has seen those fish.
‘When you see something like a big sting ray, it’s pretty creepy – because you don’t know how it’s going to be,’ he says, adding with a smile, ‘But I’m just a scared sort of guy. Stephen would swim right up close.’
‘Water has a healing power,’ muses Lekias, with Bellair quickly jumping in to add with a sleepy grin, ‘That’s why I used all the hot water this morning. Water is purifying.’
When they’re not snorkelling at Mettam’s Pool, Doctopus are a mainstay of the Perth garage scene, blaring upbeat, bouncing rock under Bellair’s shrieking vocals in backyards, bars and roller derbies city wide.
‘Perth is popping,’ says Lekias, Holmes nodding along, ‘Lots of good bands, and new ones every week.’
‘I think it’s nice thing, when you get people and start a new band, you meet other people and they’ll say “Hey, let’s start another one,”…’ explains Lekias. They list a pedigree of Perth garage rock, naming the ‘incestuous’ Dream Rimmy, Hideous Sun Demon, Cool Band, and Kitchen People among their favourites, as well as Catbrush, Murlocs, and Dianas.
‘I will always and forever love to play with POND,’ mentions Bellair, nostalgic for their recent Australian tour with the internationally touring band. ‘Any chance to do that again would be great,’ says Lekias, with Holmes cracking a wide grin beside him: ‘Take us to America, please, POND!’
But Perth first. To launch Wobbegong, Doctopus are embarking on a whirlwind tour of five gigs, give venues in five days, the ‘Tour De Perth’ starting Wednesday at the Rosemount and finishing on Sunday with a gig at the Bird. The highlight of the tour is a place at the Perth Street Roller Hockey League’s play off party at the Claremont Showgrounds on Saturday, playing the backing for the ‘disasterpiece’ Wooden Spoon Death Match, played out in a makeshift ring at the Ellie Eaton Pavillion. Bellair insists it’s not too gory.
‘These people, they’re like puppies. I don’t think they’re even allowed to contact each other,’ he says, but Holmes interrupts him: ‘I heard there’s going to be a fight.’
‘It’s all accidental violence,’ explains Lekais. ‘There’s no malicious intent there, you know when you go on roller skates with sticks… something’s gonna happen.’
Touring with ‘country pop icons’ HamJam, Doctopus promise a flurry of intense, feel-good, high-energy and lo-fidelity gigs across the city to spruik the new album.
‘We’ve had these songs for ages,’ says Holmes, ‘We recorded Wobbegong like a year ago, but you know, when you’re doing it on the cheap it takes forever.’
‘When they’re doing it for free you can’t ask them to hurry up, you know?’ says Lekais with a smile, ‘And we’ve got everything done for a new one which we’ve also been playing a lot.’
Recorded with Shiny Joe Ryan of POND and Spinning Top Music in Bellair’s old house, the band are finally content with the seven track’s mix and ready to send it into the world.
‘It’s just whatever feels good to play together,’ coos Holmes, and Lekais smirks in return. ‘We’re just trying to keep up with Jeremy. He’s got a never-ending mind when it comes to guitar bits. I just try and join everything else together.’
‘John, you are like the glue. You’re a pretty sticky guy,’ adds Bellair with a sleazy grin. With all this sea life, does Doctopus have any savage drum lines of their own?
‘Ooh, hey! That’s awful. Don’t kill those wobbegongs! Let the wobbies live!’
‘INTERVIEW: Doctopus’, by Richard Moore.