A Personal History of Ric’s (PART 2 of 3)

Part 1.

We are about pick up the story in the 2000s. But before we do that I want to go back to were it all started.


Photo Matt Brady


Ric Frearson, a local artist, set up Ric’s bar in the early 90s (with it’s obvious “Rick’s” pun) as a means to exhibit his own work and that of other artists.

“At first I had my paintings on the walls, and as time went on it developed into a gallery with monthly exhibition openings — showing painting, photography and conceptual instillations. Music was a big part of my life so it was great to be able to have bands in the bar. I never felt that the size of Ric’s was an issue, instead my thinking was that it was intimate and how cool would it be to have bands in such a small place.

“Trevor Hart had a jazz band at the time and I started him on Tuesday evenings. The Valley was a wild frontier in those days, with only a few spots open in the Mall, so we started putting on more music to attract people into the Valley and to Ric’s.

“Saturday afternoons was a great time in the Valley. We started Saturday afternoon music with a band called Jezebel Dinosaur, very arty Talking Heads style, with a very arty crew that came to watch. This became our base. Music was the reason people came to Ric’s. One of the highlight’s was having the Dirty Three play one Saturday afternoon, Warren Ellis raising the roof and the tempers of some of the business owners. What a gig.

“I had heard of cafe’s in New York having turntables, playing techno music bar and I thought this might be fun. Sunday’s became Techno day and they went off, starting early mid morning and going into the evening with the bigger acts. Photographer Mick Richards documented these events with some amazing images of people going off at Ric’s.” — RIC FREARSON

THE 2000s and THAT SATURDAY JULY 1, 2006

And so getting back to the heady days of the mid-2000s — these were challenging times for any venue in the Valley. But new Laws would make these days/nights of change so much more crazy. Everything just got more enforced and at the mercy of control.

First of all was the noise restriction debacle which I’ve documented already. But then came that first day In July, which happened to be a “Saturday”. On this day a total smoking ban was effected and there was also the party-killing doom of “3am Lockout”.

Admittedly at the time I wasn’t too concerned. Apart from the fact I didn’t smoke I treated Ric’s like a home. It was where I hung out — and pretty much the only place I hung out at — and so getting locked in there after 3am was no big deal. Or so I thought.

I was also convinced myself, and everyone else, should be quite party’d out by that stage and quite grateful to be in eachother’s exclusive company.

So it was only a few weekends later when I was still yet to be used to the system when it became very real and it was suddenly horrible. I had innocently wandered off to the Rev or the Depot or whatever and then attempted to stumble back to Ric’s with the full intention of partying-on in a very decent and civilized manner….but I was denied.

It was about 3:02am and I was almost face-to-face with the big window doors at Ric’s (before they moved the late-night entrance.) And I looked inside with big puppy-dog-sad-eyes and a slight drop in my jaw. I could see all these people inside having a good time, and they could equally see me outside having quite a decidedly BAD TIME like a leper in this cold, cold death-zone.

Already outside there was gathered a bunch of deadshits totally excluded just like me. And everyone inside pretended to ignore us, yet secretly they knew our situation and did nothing to help. I know this is controversial, but it was like an apartheid which those inside accepted, but those outside just had to suck up.

And so I trudged off home through this bleak, bleak no-man’s land and I got this intimacy with all those others left-over in the valley. Everyone around seemed like zombies even though some had purposely missed lockout. Some where sitting crossed-legged waiting for the first dawn train home to those extreme suburbs. Most just found themselves caught up in it, and a whole bunch others were too wasted to notice. This was my first “walk of shame”.


But I will contest that the biggest single influence to the Valley in these times was the very new and acute migration of muscly, thin-t-shirt-wearing metrosexual nightclubbers who had almost overnight decided to decamp from their traditional haunt in the CBD.


(Leon Dufficy and Steven Smith at the upstairs DJ booth) PHOTO: MICHELLE BROWN

The Valley has always had a reputation. In the old days it was always a bit wicked. As a kid I remember being a bit scared as we passed through it on late night car trips. And it’s reputation was well-deserved. It was essentially the physical focus of all that corruption exposed in 4Corners’ “The Moonlight State”. The illegal gambling and money laundering and fire-bombing and pretend “massage parlours” were just part of its furniture. But with the fall of the Beijke-Peterson government, the Valley — in just a few years — had got quite tame and quiet at night. It was still full of prostitutes, the drug-addled, those who might be classed “dodgy” and very, very ordinary buskers, but it was relatively safe to those passing through and certainly not mainstream.

But when the mainstream arrived — that’s when things got nasty. With that sudden exponential flowering of population in the Brunswick Street region — particularly on a Saturday night — the new crowd not only treated the place like they’d owned it forever, but they brought violence and over-flowing bladders with them. Initially there were confrontations outside Birdee num nums which neighboured 610 but the indie-set, and other locals, had no choice but to demure to this onslaught. Violence, omnipresent urination and a new phenomenon — taxi line rage — ensued.

It was a new era of decadence. The McDonalds on the Mall just exploded in popularity. It resembled a paper/cardboard rubbish tip by 3am. The streets were soaked by rubbish and vomit and urine (as previously mentioned).

And our indie set treated the place just as badly I guess.





So the top-most level in the carpark above the Chinatown Mall on the Ann Street side bizarrely had this random bench-seat with a view of sorts across to Herston and Spring Hill. And this level was always devoid of cars on Friday and Saturday nights. And it was here we congregated with our takeaway liquor from the hole-in-the-wall at RGs. At times there were 20 or 30 people up there drinking and having bottle-smashing fun. Wintah and I even had a foot race up there for some stupid reason. He won but then almost died from failing to resume breathing properly.

At one point we had to move the “carpark” to an alleyway a few streets away when it got noticed by the fuzz and the carpark owners I presume. There were a few incidents where people got chased out by the management I seem to remember. But then we were all back there as if nothing had happened.





So Ric’s changed a bit in this era. In a physical sense those days saw the new collapsable stage implemented. That stage was a series of wooden blocks with a cheap persian rug thrown on top. And after the sets the blocks were thrown up against the wall and hidden by this big black curtain.

And soon there was a “night-time” entrance (that doorway that used to be exclusively for the upstairs section.) And so about 9pm the main doors closed and the security arrived.

Dom (from the Rocketsmiths):

“My first ever gig when I turned 18 was seeing The Gin Club play at Ric’s. I now manage that band.

“For years in my old band I used to yearn to play Ric’s on a Friday or Saturday night rather than the usual weekday night. We’d go see all the great bands play there and they were always the fucking great Brisbane bands, and quite often the bands who were just about to do big things. Our big “break” there was when The John Steel Singers booked us to be their support. Raychel, the old booker, really liked us and so she booked us for more shows and we really felt like we’d made it.. Now I look back, it seems pretty ridiculous that we placed so much importance in the place but it WAS important at the time.

“My friends and I used to pretty much spend our entire weekends there. It almost became a bit of a joke, we wouldn’t really go anywhere else or do anything else. It would usually go: – Have dinner somewhere – Go see a band – Go To Ric’s.

“After a little while, I ended up DJing there and having my own night on Fridays upstairs called Honky. Some of my fondest memories are being drunk as fuck at about 3.30am and just having a really great time, even though I was working. Quite often the bar staff were even drunker than I was.” — DOM



Dancing at Ric’s was one of my most favourite things. “Wolf Like Me” became our song. I remember it was me and Danica one night just professing our absolute adoration for it and we must of requested it and just ripped shit up on the dancefloor and done the thing where we sunk to the floor in the breakdown section. We did this countless times, almost ever Saturday night until the increasing omnipresence of security at Ric’s noticed. And that little harmless escapade almost got a bunch of us kicked out one night but when the bouncers started swarming over us, looking quite hostile — DJ Matt told them it was cool and we were saved.

And so whenever WLM came on meant we were compelled to dance to it like we had seen a full moon and we were transformed. And soon we all knew to do that falling down on the floor during the middle breakdown much to the amazement of everyone else around. And it got so natural and understood that a whole bunch of us could lie flat on the Ric’s tiny dance floor like we were a flash mob and then BANG! We’d jump around like nutcases to the outro screaming, “We’re howling forever, oh oh”. Over and over.

Such good, good times.



Matt was one of the best DJ’s ever and introduced me to many, many awesome tunes and bands. He mostly DJ’d upstairs in my day and it was him that broke the news to us about Grant’s death that night I talked about before.

“Ah Ric’s. Lots of good times back in the day. Some crazy ones too. Most of my memories where all great ones. Things like drinking with Grant, seeing friends bands play, DJing upstairs for a couple years with Hinze, Alex and Candice! Ric’s changed when the city crowd decided to make it their home too, that’s when I stopped going there to some degree.

“The first art show I ever curated (i used to skate once), was at Ric’s 8 years ago. Steve (the owner) was cool like that, giving people a chance. I remember my brother playing in his band one night and when they finished, Robert Forster walked up and told him that he thought they were great. Gee, you should’ve seen the look on his face.

So many great bands played Rics.”


I don’t smoke and didn’t even dabble in smoking except for when the smoking BAN came upon Ric’s. And it was then I lit up like a chimney — compared to my former and current self that is. As I alluded to before — Ric’s was more a series of vignettes than a singular room or a singular vibe — which fostered a wandering nature to anyone with some semblance of a social affliction.

And so I would travel around, dancing a bit downstairs, dancing a bit upstairs, talking to friends, waiting for a decent opportunity to pee in the toilet section rather than the trough which was completely exposed.

And when all my friends had disappeared I’d seek them out and find them in that empty Brunswick Mall Rotunda. It was like a second Ric’s but with more space – more seating – less dickheads and the crucial ability to maintain a decent conversation. It was like a cone of silence except those cones were filled with smoke.

Another factor in me venturing out here was when I get really drunk and knew I shouldn’t drink anymore I somehow instinctively would put myself in a situation where I could bum a cigarette. And then after that adventure in the rotunda I would have another beer or two to wash away that evil smokey tar in my mouth. Eventually I worked out the beer doesn’t quell the dizziness and headspins and suddenly I am worse off than ever — only realising in the cab on the way home fighting, FIGHTING like I was in the trenches, fighting so hard not to vomit.

But at least I got to hang with the cool kids and hold some fire for a bit. Right?

In saying all this – smoking is BAD, but it was sooooo social. I remember meeting and knowing and having awesomely good times with a bunch of people in that rotunda who are now all forgotten.

Clay from the Modern Lies and Moon Jog: “Well, smoking inside was only good for a smoker, me and my smoker friends look back on it with gay abandon. But yeah it was not that great for non-smokers. I actually don’t miss it that much.”




2006. Lot’s of drama, lot’s of events and meaning. My soul will be exposed. Woah.


(My thoughts on) Ramones — End of a Century

This week I finally watched “End of the Century” a 2003 documentary about the Ramones which you can watch for free here.

I’ve never really been a big fan of the band but that didn’t mean I didn’t like them. I remember the first time I heard them (Blitzkrieg Bop) in that movie National Lampoon’s Vacation. I love that song, but for some reason they still just passed by me and it was only in the last 8 or so years that I’ve come to truly appreciate them.

It was actually in 2006 when things changed. The band I played bass in at the time — the Little Lovers — were asked to play at a Ramone-a-thon and it was then that I started – or in reality – was forced to pay attention. Acutely.


Ramone-a-thons were organised by Tim – that beautiful, beautiful man from Tym’s Guitars – and they featured maybe 20 or 30 bands all smashing out Ramones songs, with very short sets, over about 12 hours. They’d been running for years and years previous so it was quite an honour to be up there.

So us Little Lovers suddenly had to learn a bunch of Ramones songs and initially I thought that would be a piece-of-piss. Cause, the songs were all pretty straight-forward punk rock — right? There didn’t seem to be any technicality to them.

But how wrong I was. We soon discovered there was nothing “straight-forward” about a Ramones song. We were rehearsing and rehearsing trying so hard to get the time changes right, and then when that eventually seemed to be covered, Wintah and I would get the chords all wrong. For example, if there were 4 chords in the entire song, those 4 chords would on the surface appear to be structured the same way throughout, but we soon discovered there was always a trick to the order of them later in the song which constantly threw us. And added to that a lot of detail found its way into the typical Ramones song that was easily missed (or dismissed) on a casual listen.

Anyway – it goes without saying I had a whole new appreciation for the band after that. I remember coming up to Tim on the eve of the 2006 Ramone-a-thon and saying, “Holy shit man, these songs are fucking HARD.” And he laughed and agreed but there was a look in his eye like he had heard these very same words from all the deadshit musos just like me that had come before playing at their first Ramone-a-thon.

So getting back to the film. It was actually quite a story. They were all such characters. I was genuinely surprised and bewildered by the fact this band functioned for so long, or more appropriately – dysfunctioned.


Johnny was such a disciplined robot, not to mention an asshole. The bit where he has to ask Linda about whether a power-struggle had developed in the band (after Linda, who had been Joey’s girlfriend, left him for Johnny) and later he says he felt bad when Joey died and asked why he felt that way – it was like he had never even wondered up until that point.

And so you just wanted to give Joey a big, fat hug and say, “I feel for you buddy.” Another revelation was the fact he had OCD and was so fragile – both physically and mentally. But then he kinda came out of his cave. All he needed was confidence and rock n roll gave that to him. He initially had confidence on stage cause he was kinda “acting”, but when he got used to the praise and the attention he almost realised he was actually valuable and could stand up for himself. If you look at this story and wonder which of the characters have that “arc” – that was Joey.


Dee Dee was the definitive cartoon junkie, but also their main song-writer and almost the band’s rock, though he hated it. The moment he walks off down the corridor outside the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame after-party – tragic. Even though it makes me gag just to say it – but it was “poignant”.


Then Tommy and pretty much all the other drummers — even Marky — were solid and just a bit dumb-struck by the intense politics going on around them.

The other thing that interested me about their story was how they felt quite cheated – something I can totally relate to. Like they had been pioneers, yet never really made much money out of it. They made more money from t-shirts than records and playing live. There was also an overwhelming sense that rock n roll was not just a job, it was a fucking shit job.

One last thing, I loved their gimmicks. I think rock n roll is about 50% gimmick. A good gimmick differentiates you from other bands and internally it binds you. And the Ramones had a bunch of gimmicks. They had the uniform — like they were modern-day Beatles – but more suburban. They all had the same surname – like a family and they had Dee Dee counting in the songs almost to scientifically demonstrate how fast they were. And thus they had ultra-short sets with almost even shorter songs and no gaps between these songs when they played live.

And now Johnny is dead. The only Ramones left are Tommy and the other drummers. There’s an exerpt from Johnny’s posthumous autobiography in a New York magazine I read recently. He was a list-maker (just like me) and quite anal and methodical. But we knew that already. He also liked cats.

And just saying, but he has some pretty wise insights. He has a story to tell which I suspect anyone in rock n roll would get a hell of a lot out of. Even though he was an asshole.


From New York Magazine – Johnny rates the Ramones’ albums


HISTORY – November 23, 2006. “What Laura did next”

Following up on Laura’s adventures with my washing machine – here is her first show – and by far my most favourite show ever. Here is the words I wrote way back in 2006. It was meant to be my very first solo show but I couldn’t help but ask some friends to help. Mostly cause I was too shit-scared to do it on my own. I had the biggest smile I could manage on my face for days after. And then my face just hurt for days after with the effort. Ow.

Rics, Brisbane, Australia — Thursday, 23 November 2006

Greg Brady (ex seminal bris-band Cunningham) asked me to play a solo show supporting his new band The Anchors, but I am too pussy to play alone so I asked a bunch of my rock’n’roll buddies to play with me. So there were 9 of us: Laura K (Laura K), Michael (Violent Soho), Ben + Wintah (Little Lovers), Clay (Modern Lies), Choomby (Mean Streakz), Mel (Mt Augustus) and Dee (Lovesquints) plus me.

This is Laura K:

This show was also an opportunity to get Laura K up on stage cause she writes such amazing songs and so deserves to have a band. Laura ended up playing and singing on every song and she had no trouble learning the songs. The only hurdle was the fact Laura didn’t have a keyboard stand. “Goob!” I said. “Not having a keyboard stand is like a guitarist not havng a guitar strap!”
“Soz ginger,” she replied.

This is me, Mikey and Laura K. Mikey hit the drums so hard. it was orsm. —>

Putting on a show with lots of guests is logistically really tough. There were three different drummers so I had to have three times as many band pracs as I would normally do for that type of show.

This is Choomby and Laura K’s mad mic skillz:

At the beginning I had decided to cover a Cunningham song just for Greg cause he is such a legend. When the Little Lovers had played Ramoneathon we had to learn a bunch of Ramones songs and they were tough! So decepively simply. And learning Cunningham’s “Giant Steps” was like revisiting all those struggles again. The verses are really short and leap into the chorus and you just can’t stop concentrating or you will be left behind.

This is me lookin a tiny bit ‘rock’:

I also wanted to cover a Little Lovers song and then when I bumped into Clay in the city one day I asked him to play as well. Bang! Clay used to play bass in the Little Lovers before I did and I thought it would be nice for Wintah and Ben. Plus we made it a secret so they would get a surprise. Laura managed to convince Wintah Dee was actually our special guest – so Dee was kinda our Dee-coy. LOL.

This is Clay, me, Loz and the Dee-Coy performing the LL’s tune “Sharp Shooter”:

Loz looks like she has just played the wrong chord or something. It’s hard not to pull faces when yr up on stage. Dee is playing triangle.

This is Laura K, me and Melissa’s sweet glock skillz doin Laura’s song “In my flat”:

Next we played a Grandaddy song called “Hewlett’s Daughter”. Wintah looks pretty tough with his super low-strapped bass:

Jebs took the photos. She has orsm skillz:

All our friends came. It was amazing!

WinTRON rocking out:

Wintah and Choomby rocking out, Loz looking perplexed:

So then the show was over. We played an Extra Foxx song to close and I only just found out Conwae was there to hear it. Orsm. Hello conwae!

Before the show I banned Laura from drinking. After the show it was gay abandon:

Laura is an angry drunk…oh wait! that’s not her arm

Pullin’ shapez: (drinkin shapez)

Ben demontrates his anti-gravity straw:

Loz: “Hey Ben, is this guy a goob, or what?”

Wintah wrestling (again!)

Loz got to slap ben’s bum. So jealous.

This happened after I had gone home…something about a broken water bottle and drinking outta the bottom of it…

Thanks again to everyone who came!