Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and our trip to Sydney

KYARY PAMYU PAMYU

(UPDATE! check out the video of Kyary’s Sunrise performance – aired April 6.)

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Me being a goob with a whole bunch of other goobs!

Kyary I think is still the biggest thing in pop music in Japan right now. You pronounce her name just like you would “Carrie” despite the way it’s spelt. It’s not her real name – just a name she assumed in high school when people teased her about being so “western” so they gave her a name like “Carrie Bradshaw” in Sex in the City.

Her autobiography, translated by Kyarychan, is fucking fascinating if you want an insight into how a Japanese teenager grows up (and thinks and deals with modernity in that Japanese cultural-climate) and then just becomes super-famous, at 18, almost by accident by just dressing as eccentrically as she could manage with her resources. That and she took to hanging out in Harajuku quite a bit more than her parents wanted or knew was possible.

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She then hooked up with a super-super amazing songwriter — Yasutaka Nakata. Nakata writes and produces (and I think plays) all her songs while Kyary just comes in later and sings them and learns the dance moves. But I really like to think he is actually collaborating with Kyary — cause she has such an impossibly severe personality. She is different.

The thing that makes her so different is that she is so irreverent — something I really, really admire in pop stars. She is taking that cuteness-vibe and adding spice of surreality and sheer horror. See protagonists of metal, rock, hardcore, speed-core or whatever just assume that stance of being anti-establishment just because their music taste is self-referential. Even if they vote Republican.

But it is super-refreshing to see genuine super-cute rockstars just pushing things into new territories. Just being intelligent about their product and not cow-towing to their stereotype.

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THANKS

I really need to thank the blogger David Brennan from One Week, One Band who opened up my eyes to KPP.

His amazing adventure is documented here.

His words:

Last year I set off on an odyssey of music listening, one I wasn’t sure I would make it through or come back from. For reasons (boredom and disillusionment) I won’t go into here, I decided to stop listening to my music. Cold turkey. Instead I would listen only to albums recommended to me by other people, one album a week for 53 weeks. I would listen to each album at least once a day, and a minimum of eleven times over the course of the week. And along the way I’d write about the experience. Crazy? Absolutely. Stupid? You bet.

That afternoon, still albumless, we headed for the downtown Commons to grab a bite to eat and walk around. In the early January cold we had the place nearly to ourselves…We inhaled a few slices of pizza and stepping back out into the chill I saw her: wrapped in bulbous blue winter jacket, black hair swung over her left shoulder and tucked beneath jacket’s collar, my eyes zoomed to her head, where atop a striped skullcap perched a pair of gigantic headphones…“Be right back,” I said to Kate.

“Excuse me! Hello! Excuse me!”

Looking ready to run, kick me in the groin, pepper spray me or all of the above, she half pulled off her headphones and raised her eyebrows, imploring.

“Uh, I was just wondering if, I mean, if you don’t mind, if you could maybe tell what you’re listening to?”

She glared at me like you wouldn’t be any more of a creep if you had asked me to flash you, and maybe that’s exactly what I had done, in a way, to our headphone generation what are you listening to? 

“Carrie Pamu Pamu,” she said.

“Ah,” I said, nodding as if I knew, then gave myself away with, “What album?”

“Revolution,” she said and bolted, showed me her blue back, bye-bye.

“How’d that go?” Kate chuckled at me.

“Aw-kward,” I sung.

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So I started reading David’s blog on the Monday (or Tuesday in our time) and I must admit I was intrigued not just by his “gimmick”, but by the fact his gimmick touched a nerve because there was this definite notion hidden in my head that a lot of music you may vaguely hear about (and though it seems utterly inaccessible) — it just might be amazing if you give it a chance. I remember John Swingle telling me about some death metal band he was forced to listen to cause a flat-mate played it incessantly and suddenly he “got it”. Just like The Fauves who sung about “Understanding Kyuss”.

And all of a sudden I was watching the video of PonPonPon. And then I watched it again. That video is quite an experience. A revelation. (Even now after 20 or so views it is still intriguing). But I wasn’t completely hooked, I just had the feeling something was stirring. I made myself watch the Invader, Invader clip (image above) just in case and after that dub step breakdown — which literally BROKE me — I knew this was something I couldn’t dismiss.

That night I excitedly showed Dee both clips — but secretly in just in a “LOL way” — pretending like I wasn’t actually a fan — just saying “check out this CRAZY-SHIT!”

I was trying to hold my composure, just in case this was all nonsense and I would come to my senses in the morning. But Dee was pretty intrigued too and so I felt a bit vindicated — not that I needed any encouragement by now.

The next day I was buzzing. Leah — a videographer at work — was impressed but did her best not to look disturbed at my new obsession.

Over the next few days the deeper I got into KPP and the more I shared David’s enthusiasm (cause the blog evolves through the week) and the more I realised she was unique.

Anyway, we got to see her on Sunday. At the peek of my obsession I tried to hook up tickets to her Japan tour in November but they were sold out. 😦

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Not my shot! But this is at the Roundhouse in Sydney on Sunday night.

THE CONCERT and the SUNRISE SHOW

On Sunday Dee and I shrugged off our hangovers and smashed it down to Martin Place to see her on Channel 7’s Sunrise. We arrived just after 9:30 and already there was a decent crowd. It turned out to be just a pre-record of a song for the Morning Show sometime during the week, but it was kinda funny seeing the hysteria and the way that stupid TV show works. Dee retreated to the shadows while I got amongst the crowd. They were mostly western-looking kids, a lot dressed up in Harajuki-kit.

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This is someone winning a signed copy of her album after Kyary’s performance was filmed. (The 3 winners had to be the most animated)

The show at the Roundhouse was pretty surreal. I loved it, though I am not sure I need to do it again.

The line up to get in was incredible. It snaked all the way through the lower half of the UNSW campus. Must have stretched for 600m at least.

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The best shot I could get

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Some randoms getting totally into it

 

SYDNEY (the rest of our trip in photos)

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Burton Street

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Finally got to Bondi after 6km walk from Coogee (below)

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Something you don’t see often – a weather report of the Southern Indian Ocean in prime time.

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Songs of 2013

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Kyary Pamyu Pamyu in the incredible “Invader, Invader” clip

1) Wakin on a Pretty Day – Kurt Vile
2) Invader Invader – Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
3) The Guitar — Darren Hanlon
4) Faded in the Morning – Unknown Mortal Orchestra
5) Reflektor – Arcade Fire
6) Avenger — The Bamboos
7) Brighter — Cass McCombs (both versions)
8) Atomic Man — Portugal, The Man
9) Are you with me now? — Cate Le Bon
10) Stray Current — Baptism of Uzi

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OTHER TRACKS in no particular order:

Xanman — Pond
Everything’s a Thread — John Steel Singers
Happy Before — John Steel Singers
March Over to Me — Little Scout
Pay no Mind — Hanni El Khatib
Come a Little Closer — Cage the Elephant
Crazy — Au Revoir Simone
If I Could Just Make it Stop — Low
Royals — Lorde
Black out Days — Phantogram
Right Action — Franz Ferdinand
It’s never over (Oh Orpheus) — Arcade Fire
Normal Person — Arcade Fire
Joan of Arc — Arcade Fire
Invisible — Annie
Antiphon — Midlake
You Don’t Know Me — The Polyphonic Spree
Mr Caterpillar – Fascinator
Forgiven/Forgotten — Angel Olsen
Duke — Cate Le Bon
Red Eyes — The War on Drugs
When I knew — Eleanor Friedberger
Clear the air — Jacco Gardiner
Avant Gardner — Courtney Barnett
Ocean Blue — Twin Peaks
Last Words — STRFKR
Weight — Mikal Cronin
Evil Friends — Portugal, The Man
Get Lucky — Daft Punk
In The City — Caveman

OTHER STUFF I HAVE GOT INTO THIS YEAR:

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Kate Bush (I was always a fan of the “hits” — but decided to really explore everything she’s ever done. Wow!)
Nick Drake (Again, already a pretty big fan, but just decided to be a completist. Again — wow!)
Jonathan Wilson
Father John Misty
Songs:Ohio
Elliott Smith (again — just delved a bit deeper)
No Through Road
Sexton Blake (Being a massive STRFKR fan I had no idea about this project until recently)
Orange Juice (Edwyn Collins — what a babe!)
The Intelligence
Richard Swift
The Wedding Present
Frank Black
Moon Duo
Robert Forster (Like his solo stuff. Never realised how good this shit was!)

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Nick RIP

Darren Hanlon

I think I am a tiny bit obsessed with Darren.

He’s the one artist I’d really like to have a chat with one day, and not just to say how much of a fan I was (I’ve done that already). But just to talk about shit. He seems to be so wise, so interesting but also so ordinary/pedestrian at the same time. I think I see a lot of myself in him — not his amazing talent if course — but it’s more I think he shares some of my little thoughts and philosophies and intrigues about the world.

But in saying all this I have only seen him live once. And it’s mostly because I am lazy, but also because I had events conspire against me when he was in town and also because I don’t really know anyone here in Brisbane that loves him as much and would be willing to come with me. (If you are out there — let me know!)

In days gone by that was different. Some of my Briz friends (now living overseas) had him play at their wedding a few years back, but I didn’t know them very well at that time. I am so, so jealous and because I am getting married later this year, I am even more jealous and consumed with envy — a nice “envy” I think. Maybe.

So the one time I saw him was in New York in 2011. It was at a tiny bar in Brooklyn and we’d only just been in town for a few hours and we were jet-lagged, only awake cause we had just got toasty, but also excited to be in NYC again.

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So we jumped in a cab, too fuzzy with fatigue (and booze) to comprehend the subway system or work out maps. And then we saw him play in a room with maybe 30 or 40 people.

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After the show I just had to say “hello” even if I fucked it up and looked like a douchecanoe. I didn’t say much, just “hello” and “this is awkward being an Australian coming to see you in New York”. And then I think I said he was awesome and then I made a retreat before things got out of control. So not too embarrassing I think. Quite an achievement for such a deadshit like me.

It is so hard being a fan and talking to a rock star – especially one you adore. How can you seem sincere? How can you seem like a normal person when you are obviously comprimised by gushing wonder and “unbridled enthusiasm”?

When I was in a band and someone would come up to me after a show and say they enjoyed it I would get so embarrassed. And because I am naturally suspicious of compliments — I would think they were either crazy or just pretending. Of course I would be polite and grateful, but I would not be able to hide my nervousness and awkwardness at this attention.

Anyway — back to Daz.

He has a new song that I cannot help but feel those spine-tinglely sensations about. And when I discovered you could only get it if you bought a t-shirt I decided I wanted that song WAY more than the shirt — which was white and I don’t do white shirts very well. (I am a ginger and white fabric on bleached-white-skin is tragic. Trust me.)

(The other option was snot-green which as it happens suits me even less than white).

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And I ordered the white one and I’ve worn it with pride (around the house and maybe doing the gardening when it was getting too dark for anyone from the street to notice) and it was all so worth it. The song — “The Guitar” is simply amazing. It is draw-droppingly good and such an incredible feat of songwriting. It’s over 8 minutes long and it seems to have been recorded live.

It is a story-song of a trip to a market in Berlin where he discovers an old guitar and the gypsy-seller tells him the epic story of it’s provenance.

It must be at least 2000 words long and written with such dedication and thought and belief. Some of the rhymes are a tiny bit gratuitous but that feels like charm and I know it’s probaby all fantasy – but you still kinda believe the story is real – it is that plausible – maybe only cause Darren is singing it.

Anyway — I will see Dazza live again. I promise.

The other thing I would encourage you to do, apart from listen to his music, is to read his tour diaries/blog. It makes sense that he would be a great writer as well as being so great at everything else.

And also — Cass from the Melniks had some wonderful things to say about Darren in my old zine. Check it out HERE!

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Best music of 2012

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You all know how much I like lists — and so I get a bit excited in December when everyone puts out their “best of” lists and thus it seems the world is suddenly in-tune with me. But by January I am a freak again. Oh well.

And reading all those music lists is a bit bitter sweet as it completely distorts the list I have provided below — because I discover all this awesome music I have missed — but I can deal with it.

So here is my top 50 songs released in 2012. (And I have only provided a link to some that might not be so well known).

1) Pretend You Love Me — Sonny and the Sunsets
2) Feels Like We Only Go Backwards — Tame Impala
3) Fold the Cloth — Cate Le Bon
4) Time to Dance — The Shoes
5) Eye Pattern Blindness — Pond (live version linked)
6) DTV — Natural Child
7) No Idea Why — TV Torso
8) Moth Wings — Pond
9) Cooking up Something Good — Mac Demarco
10) Go Quietly — Little Scout

11) Lance Jr — Courtney Barnett
12) Tidal Wave — The Laurels
13) Heaven — The Walkmen
14) Big Love — Matthew E White
15) Black White Blue — Ladyhawke
16) Wild Desire — King Tuff
17) Hey Jane — Spiritualised
18) Nancy From Now On — Father John Misty
19) Seven Stars — Air
20) Skyfall — ADELE

21) Here I Am — Adam Green and Binki Shapiro
22) Bend Beyond — Woods
23) Ploughing Out (pts1 & 2) — Cate Le Bon (live version linked)
24) Ballad of the Golden Hour — Widowspeak
25) What’ll It Take — Graham Coxon
26) How Do I Know — Here We Go Magic
27) Friends of Friends — Hospitality
28) She Got A Mind — Natural Child
29) Alison Road — White Fence
30) Elephant — Tame Impala

31) Ode to Viceroy — Mac Demarco
32) Make it Known — Foxygen
33) Serpents — Sharon Van Etten
34) Roman Ruins — Line & Circle
35) Passenger — Emily Wells
36) Satellites — Catcall
37) Baby’s in Blue Jeans — Mac Demarco
38) Apocolade — George Barnett
39) I Wanna Go Out — Teen Mom
40) Go Outside — Cults

41) Whispering or Singing — Boomgates
42) Are you looking after yourself — Courtney Barnett
43) The Night — School of Seven Bells
44) Myth — Beach House
45) Please Be My Third Eye — La Sera
46) Too Young to Burn — Sonny and the Sunsets
47) Falcon Eyed — Cate Le Bon
48) Messing up my Mind — Fletcher C Johnson
49) Stairway — Yukon Blonde
50) Gangnam Style — PSY

LATE EDITION: Cut Me Some Slack!

 

MOOSIC

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Conan got me into Mac DeMarco. I had seen him on a blog a bit earlier but he looked like a hick and so I was a bit weary. The song Conan suggested to me was “Ode to Viceroy” and I wasn’t blown away, just a bit intrigued. Luckily I delved a little deeper and so this song spoke to me. I think it was the “storyness” and the personality. And plus maybe my secret inner smoker.

Here is “Cooking up something good” by MAC DEMARCO

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_5jyK29VaY

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I source a lot of my new stuff from the Everybody Taste blog. Whomever runs that blog is possibly my music-double. Mostly rock/guitarish songs – but always a bit left of centre and a bit irreverant. And so here is a band they seem to be actually funding/endorsing through their label. I dunno how stuff works — but I do like this song, especially the bass.

TEEN MOM — “I wanna go out”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_0BHILVppY

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We saw Skyfall on Friday and I was entertained but left a tiny bit disappointed by the gooby ending. But it wasn’t a documentary — right?

But I think this song is better.

ADELE — “Skyfall”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StJLvbPIvTw

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But this is my most favourite song ATM. It is by an Austin band called TV TORSO. I love the pick scrapes best. Enjoy.

http://tvtorso.bandcamp.com/track/no-idea-why

Next we have WIDOWSPEAK — ANOTHER band from Brooklyn. Ugh. Anyway — this song is great. It is “Ballad of the Golden Hour

Here is a picture of them:

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OLDER STUFF

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Finally two old-school bands that you might think of checking out if you haven’t already. “Crackerjack” and “Goldstar” and “Brass Digger” by the STARLIGHT MINTS

Next we have ROGUE WAVE (photo below) and “Every Moment” and “Kicking the Heart Out

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My adventures with Custard, pt 4

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PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3

After weathering the embarrassment of “the tape” incident, and generally many other embarrassing things I must have done in their presence, I could still bask in the glory of the humble fame I got from the website and all the people who sent me cold, hard cash for a copy of the 4.66 zines I had produced. (4 official issues and two smaller sub-zines). At least that way I seemed cool to all those “lesser” Custard fans and could hold some pretence that I was important and had exclusive access and some skills in transforming that into print or the web.

I was incredibly assisted by a new best friend — a mysterious character called “Sage Trip”.

We got on famously and he had an incredible wit, an intelligence I could only pretend to keep up with and that devilish demeanour only the truly beautiful provocateurs possess. Alas, I was a bit too sober to appreciate it in perpetuity and maybe a year later, after I had been Best Man at his wedding, we had a bit of a falling out — very quietly and orderly — but then we just lost contact — until recently it should be said. Sorry Sage.

FAME

But I embraced this new world of pretend-fame. You could even call it “run-off-fame”. I wasn’t famous, but I was some conduit and believe it or not the stuff I put down was entertaining and I stand by it to this day.

Over at Mongoloid Dave’s excellent trovish website you can download all those zines — which I have lost, even the digital files.

http://www.musiciscrap.com/davemccormack/cuszine.html

So as part of our “run-off-fame” — this meant Liesl (my GF) and I were getting free entry to shows and some bonus merch and occasionally backstage access. But I suspect the only reason they let us back there was cause in those days we didn’t drink and we were the only hanger-ons that were guaranteed not to steal their rider.

We also got a preview of any upcoming albums — which arrived in the form of a dubbed nondescript cassette tape. At the time I was like, FUCKIN A, but now I realise it meant my bonding with those last two albums was a bit dulled by that process. My understanding of them as a unit — these brand new songs of my most favourite band ever — were as a jumble of recordings, just dumped in a messy pile on my ears. There weren’t even song titles. So when I possessed the album proper, with its (supposedly) thought-out track order, and all the excess fat trimmed-off, plus artwork and liner notes and lyrics — and not to mention the personal process of anticipation of the release date and physically going to a record store and buying it and rushing home to listen to it eagerly — all that was lost.

I guess you could say “no big deal” and “stop your stupid whining dickhead!” Ok, yes. I agree.

Moving on.

THE MOST EMBARRASSING THING I’VE EVER DONE IN MY LIFE (TRULY)

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A publicity shot of Richard Kingsmill

This is the story of something so embarrassing it makes me physically shudder. And this is from someone who — on a plane flight — has projectile-vomited all over himself, and all over the aisle and the person next to him. That experience pales in comparison.

So I felt amazing with all that run-off fame and maybe I even got cocky enough to contact Triple J when I heard Richard Kingsmill was doing a “Custard J-File”. I am not exactly sure how it came about, but I do remember sending him my zines and soon enough I got an email asking my phone number so he could call me during the show. Stupidly I decided to hyper-prepare for the event. I rehearsed a very long and stupid story of how I got into Custard and when Kingsmill asked me a question that was vaguely related, I told that epic story like a robot. It was almost like I was doing my best impression of the Paranoid Android. It came from the heart, but was just idiotically detailed and you know what the worst thing was? I sounded like a twelve year old, and the dullest twelve year old imaginable. I don’t think I had listened to my own voice — the way it sounds IRL — for such a long time, and saying such deadshittedness. It was literally horrifying to listen to and I have not been able to listen to it again. Ever. I might still have the tape, but I have no desire to revisit it.

Anyway. Luckily I got a bit looser later in the interview and managed to tell some jokes but I doubt anyone noticed.

QUIZ

The other really, really shitty thing about that night was that Kingsmill did a quiz later and asked a question based on some “facts” published on my website their researcher had looked up a few weeks earlier, and which I had consequently discovered weren’t true — cause the band deliberately lied (they loved doin that) — and so when the contestant argued with Kingsmill that his answer was right — which it was — I was still hovering on the line and had to correct things. UGH. What a fucking disastrous farce.

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LIESL OVERSEAS

One of the biggest deals that happened in this period was that Liesl went on a 6-month overseas trip.

It kinda broke me. But it broke me in a good way I think looking back on it. I was too scared to come with her. I had just randomly bought a house and needed to pay bills I really couldn’t afford. I was so pissed off and desperate to be faithful and wait-it-out I just retreated into this pathetic, empty world of solitude. Apart from work, I spent that 6 months just with myself. And because I pretended I had virtually no social skills I ended up knowing I was really, really alone. And that meant all my effort into the Custard stuff was virtually full-time work. It was a great distraction, but at the same time that period gave me the skills I needed to break outta that horrible shell.

PAUL’S JOB IN ROCK N ROLL (NO MORE)

By this stage I had been working a while in a graphic-design/website/production company. And because I was so obsessed with Custard I tended to try and convert anyone and everyone to the cause. And pretty much the only person I managed to convince happened to be my boss. And one day the company was looking for a web programmer and I knew that Paul Medew — Custard’s bassplayer — had some skills in this department. So I suggested him for the role and to my utter amazement, Paul was suddenly being interviewed, and then working part-time off-site, and then one day, he was working in the very same building at a desk just like mine, just a few metres away. It was like I had a piece of Custard at my work. It was bizarre and dizzying at the same time. How far this had all come in just three years.

But of course I grew to be quite nonchalant about it all and he gradually morphed from a rockstar into another (almost-everyday) co-worker — albeit a rather cooler one. Although, it must be said, Paul was always the most reliable, business-like and “9 to 5” of all the members of Custard. So it wasn’t such a huge leap for my brain.

This is the vertically-challenged Paul on a set of phonebooks — just for the photo. But the assholes printed the entire picture. Ugh.

WINTAH

Around this time I met Glenn’s son Wintah (pictured below) at a house party at Kangaroo Point in (I think) 2001. He was a 15 year old kid being bored at a grown-ups-party where the only excitement was the tiny set his dad did — playing drums in a living room — with David and Paul. I don’t know how we even got invited to this party, but it was a big deal. But because we were so shy we spent a big bunch of the evening just watching the band and talking to Wintah.

Then Wintah disappeared for ages — back to Dalby where he lived, and then uni — and the next thing I knew he had formed his own band. But the whole Little Lovers adventures is another story.

THE BOOK

The story of my “Book” is a pretty epic one — one that almost got me beat up. So I will just introduce the beginnings here and save a few of the more crazy details for the next instalment.

So when Custard looked like breaking-up, I thought I should graduate from “zines” and start doing something grander and more “Adult”. So I started writing a book. Over the next few months I made it to over 40,000 words. I interviewed everyone I could.

By far the most interesting interview was with Shane Bruun (original Custard drummer) and James Straker (original Custard lead guitarist). We all met at Ric’s one evening and I brought my little cassette recorder, James brought his too — presumably so he could cross-reference in case I put words into his mouth. To a snotty-nosed-kid writing a bunch of bullshit that would never be published — this seemed highly FULL-ON and highly SERIOUS.

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That’s James with the red hair. This picture is at a Melniks show. I ended up buying that guitar he is playing, and I still own it. It is the best guitar ever (well a japanese-made Jazzmaster) and even Tim from Tym’s Guitars agrees with me.

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A list of my 20 most favourite Australian songs

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I love lists, and this is a LIST. After getting butt-deep in INXS and NOISEWORKS and BOOM CRASH OPERA et al — It was around 1996 that I re-discovered Australian rock n roll. And a bit later November used to be JJJ’s OZ rock month.

Anyway, here are my top tunes by Australian bands.

1) Apartment — CUSTARD

I have said an awful lot about this band already — but this song rips the shit up.

2) Purple Sneakers — YOU AM I

3)  To look at you — INXS

Very hard to pick a favourite of INXS so I let my iTunes play count tally choose. And I am so lucky this song just jumped out. So chilled. The video clip is amazing.

4) Cattle and Cane — THE GO-BETWEENS

I read this blog today and it was a bit intense and wordy, and consequently I got a bit lost in the “importance” and let’s face it — pretension — but it was a pretty cool read. And I guess the band deserve a few sentences you have to read three times to understand.

5) DSS — SMALL FANTASY

This is the third Brisbane song here. And I think your home town just slices your skin like it’s an emo-cutter. And the blood flows and you see your nature in all it’s rawness. This is a song about getting employment benefits, something I had to do a few times, and it is also a love story. Perfect.

6) Cops r Tops — THE MELNIKS

The intermets don’t have this song so you get to hear Drew Romance instead.

7) Losin it — UNDERGROUND LOVERS

How chilled is this song? It’s like drinking a cocktail in a very comfortable chair and looking at the sunset and knowing a whole bunch of more cocktails and a decent meal is awaiting you — even though you are thinking about some lover that is quite apparent, but blissfully distant at the same time.

8) That Ain’t Bad — RATCAT

This 3 chord song with chorus key-change made everything make sense. Yeah.

9) Sweet and Sour — THE TAKEAWAYS

I loved this Tv show. It planted the seed in my shitty head that I could one day be in a rock n roll band

10)  You’re The Voice — JOHN FARNHAM

This song almost got me arrested. And yes, this song is pretty cool. Embarrassing but cool. I had this party at my house and we all sang this as loud as we could and then the cops turned up and I had to face them in a “state” and attempt to defuse the situation. “It’s ‘The Voice’ — i thought we lived in AUSTRALIA. WTF?”.  TRUE STORY. The cops let me off with a warning.

11) Talking to a Stranger — HUNTERS AND COLLECTORS

Just a massively dreamy trip. Enjoy.

12) NY Coal Mine Disaster — THE BEE GEES

This song is so sad, so old-school. If it doesn’t make you cry then…I dunno.

13) Fool’s Rush In — DROP CITY

A very heavy but lush and serene song. Rich in textures — the extra guitar with it’s whammy-bar attack in the heavy bits and then violins in the verses which get all heavy again in the chorus. Amazin

14) Dwarf on Dwarf — THE FAUVES

This is a song by “the Doctor” — not the usual singer in the band. But he was my fave. And he was so sensitive and rock at the same time. Kinda my whole life philosophy. Shame I can’t find the song on the intermets.

15) Can’t Help Myself — FLOWERS

Iva Davies when he was cool and edgy and didn’t have a mullet.

16) Pace or the Patience — LOVE OF DIAGRAMS

Fucking hell — this band is all style. The best of art and rock married with crazy-super-glue.

17) Get Free — THE VINES

The BEST, THE BESTEST EVER, middle 8 ever. The whole song revolves around it.

18) Evil Eye — SIDEWINDER

This is actually only my second fave song of theirs. The epic NOT COMING HOME is so much better. All 7 minutes. But this song rocks, especially the keyboard refrain.

19 Rainbow Kraut — JOHN STEEL SINGERS

20) Little Lovers — LIttle Lovers

Cause this song doesn’t exist easily on the interwebs — you get to see Red Devil instead. Good band. I think I in this clip. Whatever

HOW DO YA LIKE THEM APPLES!

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So apparently my new iPhone is coming tomorrow. Now I say that, it will get delayed — but whatever. And in that spirit I just wanna go back to where it all began.

COMPUTERS

When I was growing up, home computers were incredibly primitive. Our first computer had a black and white monitor. In fact it wasn’t even arty enough to be black and white — it was in sickly snot-green and a contrasting darker-snot-green.

That computer was an Amstrad. My dad inherited it from his father who upgraded to a colour version. You loaded the games via cassette tape and literally waited 20 minutes before they were playable — even text-based adventures. If any of my friends came over to play computer-games (all of whom had cartridge loading instant-gratification Ataris) I’d have to entertain them in this deadzone. Maybe that’s where I learnt some social skills.

When I moved to Sydney my mum was dabbling in freelance publishing — so she bought herself an Apple SE. It cost at least $6,000 — she had to take out a personal loan. And it was our only computer and that’s all I knew.

When I moved back to Brisbane after school finished I wasn’t interested in computers until the internet came along. And because my dad was all PC I just had to suffer through that. I didn’t bother understanding anything apart from switching it on and clicking on a browser icon — I just used what I knew and if anything got too hard I whined and carried-on until someone else fixed it.

One day I asked my dad why the lawyers I worked for all used Macs and he said, “Well Apple is easier when you are just starting out.” And he said it like that was a flaw. Like computing was hard and should always be hard and anyone who tried to make it easier or intuitive or human was a fool. I accepted that at the time but naturally now I think he was an idiot for saying such blithering nonsense.

So when I got my first real job I suddenly found myself in an office full of Macs. I looked around the room and asked why. “It’s the industry standard” was the response. And I accepted that in the same frame as I had accepted dad’s “they’re easier” quip. Like you only use Macs if you are forced to.

So I sat down at my job doing basic back-end web programming. And gradually I learnt how to use and enjoy the Macintosh platform. I found them incredibly accessible but also highly sophisticated. All the nonsense and drivel spread by those in the PC world about them being “kiddy-computers” melted away. I was now a fan, which of course evolved into me becoming almost wedded to them.

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I “computer drew” this for a band poster in 2005. Would be very naff now – but it was pretty attention-grabbing back then

THE CULT

People wonder why I am so rabidly “Apple” — and it’s mostly because their aesthetics and their philosophy spoke to me, and continues to do so — but it’s also because these were dire days for the whole Apple brand and for ages I seriously wondered if one day they would implode. And if that happened our whole office might struggle to survive too. It felt like you were walking along a knife edge all the time you supported the company. And so you needed faith in Apple in those days and that “faith” has stayed with me.

BONDI BLUE

One day my dad took my sister on an overseas trip and to balance things out he bought me one of those first Bondi-Blue iMacs for Christmas. And with that very first computer I owned I started self-publishing zines and had a ball doing so.

So fast-forward a few years and I bought my first iPod as a birthday present to myself in 2004. It cost a great deal of money to someone working part-time and with a massive mortgage but I had “faith” that it was worth it.

That morning I had an “experience” without evening touching the iPod. Just opening the packaging was fucking incredible. In those days Apple really invested a lot in the packaging and included lots of extras in there as well as the actual machine — like a remote, a soft case, booklets etc. But it was also an experience just opening everything up.

For years I saved that packaging — it was THAT good.

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I might not have saved the packaging — but I saved the brochure.

But 7 days later things soured a little when Apple upgraded the iPod range and they all got cheaper and had bigger capacities. Ugh. But I learnt a valuable lesson about the Apple purchasing cycle.

After calming down from the event that was just opening the box — I got to know my new toy and it’s no exaggeration that my life changed that day. A week later I took two days off work just to rip all my CDs.

WALKING

And a few weeks later I started working part-time in the city at our union and I walked to and from work and listened to my ‘pod the whole way. So I got an insatiable desire for more and more new music. I became ravenous. I would harass my friends for new music tips and lug my computer to people’s houses just so I could rip their music collection. I think mining Jeffro’s collection was my favourite. (I need to do that again!) So my music library exploded and my whole appreciation of music improved exponentially.

Meanwhile in the city I would get puzzled looks as I swaggered around with my white earphones leading to that tiny bulge in my left pocket. (LOL) You could see people just couldn’t fathom a music player fitting into that tiny space. It was like they were contemplating the physics of the TARDIS. You could literally see the cogs in their brains going, “A walkman can’t fit in there. WTF?”.

And if you saw other people with iPods you would give them a smile and maybe even a wave and it would almost always be reciprocated. Someone once described it like the nod members of Fight Club gave.

I sold that first iPod (to upgrade) and just this year I tried to buy it back — just for nostalgia — but it seems to have been lost to time. Oh well.

After that I wrote a song about my iPod. It went:

I can’t stop talking about my iPod (x2)
Someone’s gonna choke me the next time I take it outta my pocket
But I can’t stop talking about my ipod.
They’re so goddamn impressive, and everyone seems interested,
Until I keep going on and on and on
They’re just hanging out the sheets, mowing the lawn or trying to sleep,
But I can’t stop talking about my iPod. (x1,523)

TRUE STORY

And this is only a fraction of the story. So Apple and me have had heaps of other adventures and we will, perhaps, continue to do so — and yeah — start a brand new one tomorrow.

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 Little Jess and Craig trying to get out of the shot

Belle & Sebastian (and how this introduced me to Dee)

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I took this at the second Brisbane show in 2004. This is arguably the best live rock n roll photo I have ever managed I think.

I have this tendency where I become a sickly-fan-boy sometimes. And it is not entirely dignified – yet it strangely makes me happy.

And my next favourite band, after Custard, was Belle & Sebastian. And it was actually Paul Medew, Custard’s bassplayer, who introduced me. It was like he was passing the baton on. See I somehow managed to get Paul a job where I worked and he became just “Paul”, not OMFG! PAUL MEDEW!!! (And this story will soon be related in my Custard stories).

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Anyway, Paul went to Rocking Horse one lunchtime and bought at least 10 CDs of bands he was interested in hearing — but had no real understanding of. This was super-brave I thought, or just a bit feckless with money. So while he was listening to something else, I asked if I could have a go at the B&S cd. And it was “Fold Your Arms Child, You Look Like a Peasant“.

And the first track on that CD was called “I fought in a war” (and that Youtube clip is a  rather confronting homemade clip btw) and as I sat at my computer doing a rather boring, repetitive task and actually having to play the CD through the computer in the days before iPods and even iTunes, I was dumbstruck at its power and ability to suck you in to its story. It was hypnotic and dark and fucking “heavy” without having to nail the point home with distortion and big drums. But at the same time – it was still rock n roll.

So I was a little late on board with this band. Ex-girlfriend Liesl had been a fan but from what I knew from looking over her shoulder every now and then while she dabbled in their music — quiet, sensitive or wordy songwriting just wasn’t something I was at all interested in.

But within 3 or 4 weeks and I had bought every stick of musical furniture Belle & Sebastian had produced. And then I munched on those tunes almost exclusively like I was a white ant and told everyone within earshot how much I fucking loved it. Like REALLY loved it. And to make things even more acute B&S were the kind of band that had a very rich and consistently above-average output. I couldn’t flaw them. It was like art. While Custard had been humble and imperfect and willing to embrace those flaws, Belle & Sebastian were still humble and “little” but also so precise, so much depth and their grandiosity was actually deserved. A more prosaic soul might describe them as “All killer, no filler” — ie a deadshit like me.

And to further illustrate this I would say a few of their B-sides I just might count in my top twenty favourite songs (like Photo Jenny, Slow Graffiti, Belle and Sebastian, I Love My Car etc).

All the while I wasn’t quite sure why I liked this band so much but I soon stopped wondering and just concentrated on the fact they were so good at what they did, I just couldn’t help but be hooked.

And one day they came to Australia. Their first show was in Melbourne and it just happened I had already booked tickets and flights to see Franz Ferdinand and the Fiery Furnaces — two of my other new most favourite bands. So it was complete coincidence they were playing as well and I organised tickets and although we missed a show in Brisbane (so we could see the FF and FF) we got over it.

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My sister and her partner came too – this was the family pre-party

Back up in Brisbane we saw their second show at the Tivoli and I was so excited and so inspired I took the day off work to make a few t-shirts for them and I gave them to my friend Shelley to give to the band. Shell had previously used to live with Beans (Chris Geddes) in Glasgow and Shelley even appears in a few B&S film clips. This is one of them.

EDIT: And today I am reminded that I met Kate, a woman I was with for a few years, when I randomly sold her an extra ticket for this show, having posted something about it on a forum. Holy moly. Life is strange and sorry Kate for forgetting that!

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The t-shirt design I made — a play on my favourite song, and the state we were in of course.

And all through the show I was just silently wondering if they would acknowledge that effort and then in the encore — BANG! Beans came out wearing that shirt I had made and I could hear the crowd go nuts around me, “OMG Look at his shirt!” I was fucking chuffed. Total Amazeballs!

Also during that show my friends Cat and Alex got to sing on stage for Lazy Line Painter Jane. Here they are:

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AN INTRODUCTION TO DEE

The next time Belle & Sebastian played in Brisbane I made another t-shirt, but this time just for me to wear. It said, “I got thrush from licking railings” — with a picture of a fence. One very, very beautiful woman complimented me while we were alone at the bar. I almost fell over with pride and absolute terror that someone so hot was talking to me. I just smiled and walked away with my drink being too shy to talk to her.

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The shirt itself was lost to time, but here is the design file I kept. The song it refers to a line from this song

And I say all that above because my most dearest Dee was in the same room at the very same time, for THE very first time — and I had no idea, and she had no idea either.

And this was my very first introduction to her despite the fact we didn’t meet or even make visual contact and she would only know I existed much, much later.

DEE:

It was my 18th birthday and, because the universe hated me, I had a uni exam at 5:45pm that afternoon. Just before I went into the exam, I got a text from Laura K or Jess saying they had just been speaking to the band. Being in my petulant late-teenage years, I was jealous-angry as I filed into the UQ Centre instead of lining up to see B&S. I later arrived at the Tivoli, proudly brandishing my ID for the very first time, and got a ‘happy birthday’ from the security guard. When I joined my lovely friends up the front, I was (not proud to say) wearing my best bitch-face, and continued to do so for a while. Later in B&S’s set, Stuart announced that they were going to sing a special song and suddenly one of my favourite bands was leading the crowd in wishing me happy birthday – all orchestrated by my amazing friends, of course! What pals. I definitely could have done worse.

Meanwhile I was up the back thinking, “Who is this goob ‘Dee’ getting all this special treatment – Birthday- Smirthdays. Ugh. Get on with the show ffs!”

TRUE STORY

After all this it should be said I was appalled by Belle & Sebastian’s new direction. So cheesy and uninspiring. And so their last album is absolute shite. Worse than evil. They are now dead to me. Full circle.

POSTSCRIPT (My favourite B&S songs)

1) The State I am In
2) The Boy with the Arab Strap
3) The Boy Done Wrong Again
4) I Fought in a War
5) The Chalet Lines
6) Slow Graffiti
7) The Rollercoaster Ride
8) This is Just a Modern Rock Song
9) Lazy Line Painter Jane
10) The Fox in the Snow

A small announcement (and some recent pictures)

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So I have an tiny announcement.

Secretly — at least from you my blog followers – I have become part of a brand new band. And this is the first band I’ve joined since 2008 and against all my protestations that I have “retired from rock n roll”. We have had precisely 2.5 practices and now have 6 songs – perhaps as much as two sets by some standards. And even though in this process I’ve had to do a few of the things I kinda hated about rock n roll — like lugging gear and organising myself and trying my hardest to think up an appropriate band name — in fact I had a really good time.

And there’s only a few things I love about being in a band — but they are very cool things. Essentially it’s stuff like rocking out in that very random, fragile and bizarre narrative that is live rock n roll. “Live performance” is pretty surreal if you examine it. Sometimes it feels a bit not unlike those musicals where they just burst into song and choreography.

Then there’s that niggling idea an audience might actually see all this one day. And so one of the other things about rock I appreciate is this “getting away with it” vibe. Sometimes I put my songs down and half-expect people to start throwing stuff or being so appalled they race out into the street and overturn a car they’ve just set on fire. So it is entirely amazing when just one person comes up to you after the show and says they loved it. Even though that feels a bit awkward, I appreciate it.

Anyway — we are just three atm. Me on drums and contributing a few of my songs which I think are better handled by Liss — who is an awesome singer — and Michael who knows how shred, has incredible equipment, and crucially — has great hair too.

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We are looking for a band name if anyone has any suggestions. Band names are notoriously difficult and I have this theory that 90% of bands secretly hate the moniker they eventually settle on. But then again — “The Beatles” is the shittest band name ever, so why bother worrying so much?

RECENT PICTURES

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I got my friend Anna to make this brooch for Dee’s birthday — I like it.

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Token picture of the cat

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A chemical spill last Friday turned work into a no man’s land. That white stuff in the pic below is the culprit.

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Last week we picked up Dee’s folks from the airport and this is them surprising Julian (Dee’s brother) because they had come home a few days early. He looks appalled but he was totally excited.

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Band supplies! 

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Dinner with JJ