Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Post Lucid Ocean

In part to indirectly answer Oxy question, and part for the sake of a rant, here's another post....

After leaving Lucid Ocean, I tried doing a few different things, including resurrecting my sporting pursuits, eventually making it to the lofty heights of captaining Adelaide University's Z grade cricket team - before my premature retirement due to the overseas travel requirements of my job. More on that below.

I also tried to put another band together with my mate Phil, whose band GSD had just split. We got together with a guitarist Anton, who was a friend of Phil's brother Daniel. One of Anton's tricks was playing his guitar with a screwdriver! So given my Sonic Youth fixation he met with my approval! We rehearsed some Lucid Ocean songs (Flood, and an untitled song that Andrew hadn't put lyrics to before I left), two GSD songs, two or songs of Anton's, and a few soundscapes that had come out of our interminable jam sessions. Essentially it was three guys coming from three different directions, and we desperately needed a drummer to fuse it all together. We tried out a few drummers but none cut it. They were probably completely confused by our experimental wall of noise! Not surprisingly, the "band" drifted apart....

I tried to put together another band closer in style to Lucid Ocean, but I was growing disillusioned with the whole idea of being in a band. One of my motivations for playing in a band was as a means of getting out of this pissant town, Adelaide. A xenophobic town with a big inferiority complex! Possibly best summed up by Paul Kelly's song (see below). I have a personal connection to the lyric "Kensington Road runs straight for a while before turning, we lived on the bend it was there I was raised and fed", as a (long lost) friend of mine Nick grew up in a house a few doors down from here! And I annoy my family everytime we drive along this road by pointing out "this was where Paul Kelly was raised!"

Yes, Adelaide is "nice", but it's boring as bat shit if you're young! And even as a teenager I realised Adelaide had problems. We went from being the most liberal and progressive capital city in Australia to the least liberal and progressive. And the least ambitious. What probably sums this up best is that a recent film set in Perth in the 1980s was filmed in Adelaide, because Adelaide now looks like Perth did thirty years ago!

Anyhow, I digress. But the point is I wanted to get outta here, and a band seemed as good a vehicle as any - combining my love of music with a ticket outta here. But when my job started taking me outta here, most of my motivation for being in a band diminished. But another turning point was when a friend pointed out that there were already so many great bands writing great songs, so why did I feel the need to write my own songs. I didn't have an answer. This got me thinking about my motivations for being in a band, and whether they were honest, or in my best interests.

I got to spend a lot of time overseas. And the offers to live and work overseas came pouring in. And then I fell in love with a girl.....from Adelaide! And one who wasn't keen to live overseas since here parents were elderly. She did accompany me on a work trip to Germany for three months, and this almost ended the relationship! But here we are, still together 15 years later.

And irony of ironies - by spending time overseas, I became much more appreciative of the virtues of Adelaide! And I won't be leaving any time soon!

Still awake? If so, your reward (or punishment!) is three more Lucid Ocean tracks, which come from a four track recording made at a rehearsal three days before our first gig. Someone suggested we should record our songs, put them on a cassette, and (snail) mail the cassette to ourselves. In that way, if anyone ripped off one of our masterpieces, we had dated proof that the songs were ours. Just goes to prove what a (unjustifiable) high opinion of ourselves we had! I recorded the tracks on my 4-track, mixed it own onto cassette, and posted a copy off to myself. I really liked the mix, but when I played a copy of the cassette to Andrew, he commented in his usual disparaging way that the guitar sounded too bright. Hmm, sorry, was I meant to make the guitar sound dull? Which reminds me of the time he described my guitar sound on a particular song as being too cerated! What?

Anyhow, I'm digressing again.

Here are the tracks - far from our best songs, but I think they have some charm. And I love the Rickenbacker guitar sound - bright or not! It's 1986 again!

Song for Someone was a song Wayne bought in with him when he joined the band - including all the guitar lines. Which was good as it meant we instantly had a good new song, but bad in that we all felt it didn't sound like our song. So it was the first song to go when we wrote our next song (Said August). All One Moment was probably the next song to go after that, while Darkest, Lightest day stuck around in our set for another year - although it was drastically changed at least once. I'll see if I can dig out the final version for a comparison, although I suspect I probably only have a boombox recording of it. I've played this version of DLD to a few people, and at least two have asked whether I overdubbed a second guitar. I didn't. And yes, the descending riff that appears after the second chorus and at the end is heavily influenced by Gardening at Night by REM....actually, let's be honest here, it was completely ripped off!

01. Song for Someone
02. All One Moment
03. Darkest, Lightest Day

Thursday, September 22, 2011

5MMM Interview - October 1992

Here's an interview we did before our Governor Hindmarsh gig.

See if you can guess who is who....


This also solves the mystery of the name of the band who supported us.......Oblivious!

Studio recordings - November 1991

As promised, here's some more material.....a studio session we did with our sometime soundman/manager Peter, who managed to wrangle some free studio time over two nights at a studio he had some association with.

I don't remember much about the session, other than Peter and his assistant were shocked at how quiet I had my guitar amp! I had a Roland JC-120 at the time, and I was after a clean sound. I found that if I turned the volume up to high the sound started to distort.

We kept this recording to ourselves as we felt it sounded a bit lackluster and didn't capture our "live" sound. Listening to it now, I can see what we were thinking, but it doesn't sound to bad.

This recording features two songs from demo's I've posted previously, Haunt and This Peaceful Place. The latter sounds almost identical to the demo version, while the latter is again pretty similar, although I played my Rickenbacker on this version rather than my stratocaster.

This recording also features two songs which I considered to be two of our best songs: Led and Said August. However, they aren't necessarily the best representations of the songs. It was a very early version of Said August, and has a poor mix - the guitar solo at the end is barely audible! And Led has a few skips in it for some reason.

It also features another track Sunday, a song we played at our first few gigs, but which was discarded as we wrote new and better songs.

01. This Peaceful Place
02. Sunday
03. Haunt
04. Led
05. Said August

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The End

So why pull the plug?

The short answer: I stopped enjoying it. I realised I enjoyed my day job more than I enjoyed the band. And when that's the case, you know somethings wrong! Actually, I still work in the same "industry. And calling it work is a bit of a misnomer, as it's more like a hobby. And a hobby that brings in enough money to support a family is a blessing!! In contrast, to quote Sonic Youth, all the band did was "burn a hole in my pocket".

As for why I stopped enjoying it......that's a longer answer.

The reasons, in no particular order:

1) Wayne. I couldn't stand him in the end. Giving him the microphone was the last straw! I started to feel like the band was only there to serve Wayne's ego. And while he could come up with great basslines to songs I bought in, as well as great song ideas of his own, he could also come up with rubbish - and it would be impossible to convince him that this was the case.

2) Andrew. I don't think I've ever met anyone so insecure before, and it was usually up to me to reassure/cajole him. And he was sometimes a bit of a loose canon. I became an amateur psychologist from from dealing with Andrew, and I've put much of my learning to good use throughout the intervening years! But in the end it just wore me down.

3) The music. I had a vision of what I wanted the band to sound like and evolve into. When I first heard Radiohead's OK Computer a few years later I was livid - that's what I was trying to do!! OK, we probably wouldn't have done it as well as they did it, but that was the vision. My favorite band at the time was Sonic Youth. They were everything Lucid Ocean weren't: unique, chaotic and anarchic. Lucid Ocean were just another band, and were always going to be just another band - and I didn't see the point in that!

4) Creativity. I felt that the band wasn't able to get the best out of the ideas I bought in. And I took personally at the time - you're not fucking trying hard enough! But hindsight is a wonderful thing! I later realised that part of the problem was actually my inability to express what I wanted. And even later I realised that the main problem was that I couldn't properly translate the ideas in my head onto my guitar. My thoughts in this regard are best summed up by the lyrics to Wilco's The Late Greats - if anyone ever asks me which song I wish I'd written myself, this is it - or at least the lyrics.

The first thing I did after leaving the band was cut my hair short! This had two purposes: renewal, and insurance against me changing my mind. I figured that they wouldn't want me back with short hair! I felt the rest of the band were more obsessed with image than music. This was probably unfair, but it's a pretty good indication of my disillusionment with the band.

The band eventually found another guitarist and started gigging, but I don't know how they went - I couldn't have been less interested. I know they recorded a demo, but I haven't heard it. After they started gigging again, someone I'd never met came up to me in a bar and said he had seen the "new" band recently, and that he felt they were much better when I was in the band! Vindication! Or maybe he just wanted me to buy him a beer!

I did meet Wayne, Mark and the guitarist in a bar about two years later, and they had just kicked Andrew   out! Apparently his behavior continued to degenerate, and they had finally had enough.

The next time I met Wayne was at a friends wedding! It turns out my friends wife went to school with Wayne and his partner Theresa. Six degrees of Kevin Bacon? What bullshit! In Adelaide, I'm sure you can link any two people in at most three degrees!

Wayne and Mark later formed a techno band Superphatass, with also featured Peter, Lucid Ocean's sometime sound guy/manager. I saw the CD in a second hand store for $2 last year so I bought it. Not exactly my cuppa tea, but quite good for what it is.

So that brings things to a close - almost. I thought I might dig up the best versions I can find of some of our better songs - so stay tuned!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

It's still living.....just!

S'pose I better finish this fucker off!

We played three more gigs after recording the demo.

The first, as previously mentioned, was upstairs at Control nightclub. I knocked back a few lagers that night, and was reasonably sozzled by the time I took the stage. This was a fair indicator of my disillusionment with the band at this time, as I had always previously avoided drinking before a show in order to play at my best. As a consequence I fluffed quite a few notes, or so I thought - we recorded the show on a ghetto blaster, and when I listened to the recording later I was surprised at how well I played, and how good the band sounded.

In the previous few months we had discussed incorporating backing vocals into our songs. Both bassist Wayne and myself had a go, and although neither of us sounded too flash, we agreed that Wayne should take on the responsibility. Which turned out to another source of disillusionment for me. The problem was that giving Wayne a microphone on stage gave him license to spew verbal diarrohea in between songs, totally destroying any atmosphere or mystique the music strove to create. And when he commenced his inane ramblings in between songs at this show, my frustration (and inebriation) led me to yell out "SHUT THE FUCK UP!" - an exhortation clearly audible on the recording! Although I expect it didn't even register with the self immersed one! Another indication of my disillusionment was that I didn't record a diary entry for this gig, or any of the remaining gigs!

Our next gig was the release party for our demo at the Governor Hindmarsh hotel, a fantastic venue where I've seen many great bands over the years, including The Go-Betweens just months before Grant McLennan's unfortunate death. Our performance was nothing special, but it was great to catch up with many people that had supported the band, and to see some former members, including guitarist DavidWe were also supported by a band whose name escapes me now, but who featured someone else who has featured several times in this diary - guitarist Tony.

My last gig was the last gig of our residency downstairs at Control - and thank goodness for that!

Our next gig was to be at a festival of local bands. Although the thought of this gig excited me, my increasing disillusionment with the band eventually led me to pull the plug......but that's a bedtime story for another night!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

October 1992 - Rip it up magazine

Have to laugh about this now, but at the time we weren't too impressed!

So what happened?

The magazine asked to interview us, but were reluctant to nominate a time.

They finally settled on a time mid afternoon, which didn't suit any of us as we all worked/studied.

Wayne made himself available to attend the interview, but then they postponed it at short notice.

Wayne was pissed off, and made it known that this was an inconvenience to him. Hence the reference to our "lack of social grace"!

I remember at the time being pissed off with Wayne that the whole band was tarred with lacking "social grace" tag because of his behaviour! But this was representative of my general feelings of disillusionment with the band (and especially Wayne) at this time.

And I have since used the fact that it is stated in print that I lack social grace to my advantage many times since......though I'll leave it to your imagination to decide how I may have done that!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

September 1992 - dB magazine

Change of's our first article from dB magazine. As you can tell from the interview, we didn't take it very seriously.

The photo was taken from a photo session we did in a forest. I think there were around 100 photos taken. God knows why we selected this one - maybe it had the right "atmosphere".

That's me second from right. My partner cannot look at this photo - she thinks I look "gay"! She prefers my more "manly" current sheared look!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

July - September 1992

And that's where the diaries end. I'm sure I wrote more at the time, but I'm buggered if I can find those entries now! Maybe I deliberately disposed of them!

There were a few notable events over the next few months:

  • We got a manager! Sounds like progress, hey? Not exactly. Our manager was actually our sometimes sound guy Peter. The four band members had neither the time not the inclination to manage the band, so we were always on the lookout for someone to shoulder that burden. We had some interest from potential managers, but nothing ever eventuated. And although we never took Peter that seriously as a candidate, we figured he couldn't do us any harm.

  • The first thing Peter did was get us a residency. Ah yes, the legendary residency! Does that conjure up images of The Beatles at the Star Club? Hmmm, not exactly! The dump in question was known as Control, which consisted of a small bar downstairs, and a larger nightclub upstairs. We played the small bar. From memory, we played there every second Saturday night, five or six gigs in all before we pulled the pin. While it was good to have a regular gig, I'm not sure it did us much good. The venue never promoted the gigs, so the turnout was usually small. The main things I remember about these gigs are that:  
      • I once threw a hissy fit when I broke a guitar string, and threw my strat off stage - the most rock 'n' roll moment of my musical career (and possibly my entire life) - pity only about four people were there to see it! 
      •  we played an improptu version of Smells like Teen Spirit - well at least up to the first chorus. This was the closest I ever got to my dream of being in a grunge band

    • We recorded the Anthems for the Estranged demo, as featured in the first post on this blog!

    • We played a benefit gig (I can't remember who for though) where we actually made it to the lofty heights of...upstairs at Control! This will be the subject of my next post - a gig that was a turning point for me as this was when I first thought about leaving the band.

    • We were featured in articles in both local music magazines, Rip it Up and dB. The first of these articles is a classic! I'll post these articles in forthcoming posts.

    Saturday, July 23, 2011

    10th June 1992 - The Tivoli

    We weren't too thrilled to be doing this gig. We contacted the Tivoli since they had an ad in Rip it Up saying they were looking for bands to play there. So we rang up. We were lead to believe it would be our gig. After much stuffing around, we were put down to play with Paradise Interchange and Churchill's last cigar. That didn't impress us. Then we found out we were playing first. My first thought was to pull out, because I felt we had been shafted, and I didn't want to play with those bands. But we just thought what the heck, and decided to play it. I still don't know whether we should have or not. We didn't publicise it or anything, and there were bugger-all (i.e. hardly any) people there.

    This was pretty much the antithesis of the Le Rox gig. There, we felt in control, whereas at the Tivoli, we were basically playing to our friends, and everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong.

    The set list was:

    Circle she is
    This peaceful place
    Darkest lightest day
    Said August
    Autumn color haze

    I didn't like the setlist. It was unbalanced and badly thought out. We opened with Circle because its pretty strong. However, it wasn't really representative of what was to follow. It was a strong opening, but that took away from the end, where it is normally played. It was well played though. While I was feeding back at the end, Mark came in with the start to Flood. Wayne thought he would bang the bass a bit, for atmosphere. Only trouble was, by the time I came in, he'd banged it out of tune, and basically ruined the song! It sounded
    absolutely shit! I had to laugh, but I just hope people realised he was out of tune, rather than fucking up! Speaking of which, Wayne missed the first break in the song, and totally threw everyone out. I'd say he was probably to busy working out how to play Flood out of tune! Then, before Waterfall, he had to retune, and took so long that we lost all our momentum. I played some stuff just to make some noise (My Bloody Valentine impressions if I remember correctly!) Waterfall was pretty shaky. While its an OK song, it will be one of the first to go, out of the current set, when Forgotten plus other new stuff comes in.

    Haunt was well played. Theresa (Wayne's partner) said it was the best we had ever done it! At the start, Peter (our sound guy) was meant to put on the children tape. However, the Circle intro (which had been played earlier) came on instead! Had to laugh again! We false started TPP, as I had my volume knob turned down. We were just about to restart, when the taped into for DLD came on! Another laugh! TPP was played well, as was DLD, except the effects changes still suck a bit (three pedal changes in 2 seconds!). They are sounding alot better though. Led was good. Peter was controlling the strobe. It was coming on and off at really odd times, and pissed me off a bit. Said August was solid, as was ACH, but still not as good as it could have been. The strobe was used to good effect in this song, especially at the end, where Peter put on this radio effect tape that sounded great.

    It was a bit harder to look out into the audience this time, as they were pretty close up. This made me appreciate Le Rox a whole heap better! Overall, I was disappointed with all the fuck-ups, but we did play very well. We did receive some compliments too.

    Before we played, the keyboardist from PI came up and said they were putting a 4 dollar door charge on, and that we could have two guests. We didn't get any say in the matter. We couldn't be fucked staying until the end of the last band, so we left pretty early, and didn't bother collecting any money. Interestingly, there were fewer people there when PI started, so maybe some people did come to see us.


    I have to laugh when I read the reference to the Waterfall and Forgotten now!

    Waterfall never really worked because Wayne insisted on playing a bassline that didn't fit the guitar riff or vocals. As far as Wayne was concerned, it was a good bassline, so he was going to use it come hell or high water. The fact that it didn't fit the song never occurred to him, or he didn't care less - just another straw.....I can't listen to the song now - the bassline still jars even now!

    Forgotten was named as such as it was the forgotten guitar riff - probably the best riff I ever came up with, but one which Wayne and Mark could never come up with a decent rhythm for. I recomposed the riff to make it simpler for them, and we developed a song around that. But we all felt that we were better of saving the riff until Wayne and Mark came up with something that equaled the magnificence of the guitar riff!

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    5th June 1992 - Le Rox

    The general consensus of our supporters after this gig was that Lucid Ocean have arrived! Everything about this gig was more professional than any I remember. During the week we had this guy Andrew takes performance lessons from come and give us some hints. Things like looking out into the audience to communicate. His friend Caroline is a lighting tech, so we got her to do the lights. Our sound guy Peter made some tapes that we used as song intros and outros. It probably helped also that we weren't the first band on, for a change. It certainly made me feel a bit more significant!

    Our set list was:

    Darkest lightest day
    Said August
    This peaceful place
    Autumn color haze
    Jupiter Girl
    Circle she is

    It was probably our best musical performance as a whole. We came on to the sounds of seagulls and crashing waves. After a while I came in with the DLD fade in. I imagine it would have sounded really cool. DLD went quite well, considering I was pretty nervous about starting off with it because of all the pedal changes (I had to hit three pedals in two seconds!). Haunt was really good, the best I remember us playing it. SA was good, and I let my guitar feedback at the end while Wayne came in with the opening of Led, which was good also. I didn't really enjoy TPP, although I can't quite put my finger on it. Guitarwise it doesn't really do much, though.

    Flood worked like a dream. We were a bit apprehensive about doing it (as it was quite new), but it just flowed out nicely, suiting the atmosphere of the place perfectly. We then had a tape of playground noises, to which Wayne started ACH. It didn't really work this time (again, a quite new song), it was just a little loose, but still quite good. JG isn't really working at the moment, and again, I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe its just a little too fast. Waterfall was quite reasonable, although I bollocksed up the start. CSI ditto. Although I had an excuse this time. We had pink noise before the start, and I didn't hear Wayne start! We had lots of sound effects when we left the stage, also.

    Under instruction, I spent alot of my time looking out into the audience. It definitely helped, it was sort of uplifting! Unfortunately, the strobe we were to use blew in the first song! There was a comment that the lights were too bright, and not aggressive enough in the more uptempo moments, like CSI. This was probably partly due to the strobe, and the fact that it was Caroline's first attempt. Everything was really positive afterwards, and there was the definite feeling that we have reached a new level, and that things could get better from here on in.

    A gig that will be fondly remembered!

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    2nd May 1992 - Gordon's 21st party

    The period from February through May was a slow period for the band. We had trouble getting shows, but we were slowly and surely improving our songs and performance. So when the chance came to play a 21st birthday party for a good friend of mine we accepted it..... 

    Gordon asked us to play at his 21st party. He had to move the date for us to do it. I thought it would be a good experience, and a good opportunity to video ourselves to see what we look like. It was a bit of a failure on both counts. Wayne wasn't feeling to good, Andrew didn't want to do it because he didn't think much of the crowd (from memory he labelled them bogans!), and the video wasn't rewound so only 2.5 songs fitted on. I watched it when I got home. It looks OK.

    Since it wasn't a crowd who came to see a band we were never going to get a great response. In fact, after one song, there was just deadly silence - and I thought we played that song well! (I cant remember which song it was though).

    Our set list was:

    This peaceful place
    Jupiter girl
    Darkest lightest day
    All one moment
    Said August
    Circle she is

    I insisted we start with Haunt, as I am sick of TPP as an opener. It sounded a bit lame, and there were a few bad stuff-ups. Waterfall went really well. Led ditto. Andrew didn't sing the bit on the end that I don't really think works. I don't know if thats a permanent change or what. TPP went well. In Jupiter girl, Wayne missed out the old start bit after the second chorus. It sounded OK though, except it went on faaaaaaar too long. The start of DLD sounded really fab, then I stuffed up the first pedal change. It didn't sound to bad though. All one moment was a total fuck-up. Mark didn't go into the slow bit after the second chorus, and went into the slow bit at the end too soon. I fucked up Sunday, I totally forgot where I was, not that anyone would have realised. By this stage I was going through the motions! Said August was not too bad, and Circle was OK, although I stuffed up a few times. At the end of it I put my delay pedal on and let the guitar feedback. A good way to end the set.

    Overall, I thought it was worthwhile. Talking to Paul (my brother) afterwards, most people liked the music, but not the singing (a common response at the time - but I was too pigheaded to listen). A few people liked it all though. I feel a little better after doing it, in terms of experience. I also felt it was a really good song order, in terms of mood-swings and stuff. TPP and Jupiter girl together is priceless!


    The thing I remember most about this night was that the party was in a nightclub that Gordon's parent had hired exclusively for the night. Andrew arrived at the party and went to the bar to order what he assumed would be a free drink. When the barman tried to charge him he made a scene. I was at home watching TV when Andrew called up and started abusing me, and threatening not to do the gig. So I had to rush to the gig to save the day! When I got there Gordon's mum thrust $100 into my hands to cover our bar tab. Made me feel like a real cheapskate! And just another of the straws that would break this camels back later in the year....

    I'm surprised I neglected to diarise this at the time. Maybe this was because it wasn't such an unsual occurence?

    Another interesting thing about this show is that someome who was to become a good friend five or so years was also at this party - hello Stephen if you're reading this!

    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    15th January 1992 - The Big Ticket - Supporting The Mandelbrot Set

    The biggie, and as far as I was concerned, the baddie. I wasn't feeling that great beforehand, and coupled with a few other things, meant I put in a shocker. I don't really know how everyone else felt as I left pretty much as soon as we had finished.

    We overkilled on lighting effect. As the Mandelbrots had their customary white backdrop we decided to use slides. We had a slide for every song, mostly marine shots, with one that Andrew and I found in the library of a cyclone. We tried it out at rehearsal on Monday, but the projector jammed a few times. Thus we didn't know if we should change slides, just using the same slide for everything. I don't know what we eventually did as I was to busy playing to notice. We also had a bubble machine, and eight scanner lights. This was in addition to the lights already there, which would have been adequate. Thus we wasted plenty of dosh (money). The bubble machine was pretty piss weak!

    We didn't get a soundcheck, so it was basically a minute stuffing around to check the sound and then into it. Right away I realised I was too quiet, as was confirmed later when our mixer Simon said he had me up full on the desk, and he didn't even have Wayne going through it. My guitar was totally out of tune after about three songs, so I thinked I subconciously gave up. I remember thinking for the first time that Led was boring. In Said August I completely stuffed up the lead bit, and Haunt was disgraceful.

    The songlist was:

    This peaceful place
    Jupiter Girl
    Circle she is
    Said August

    In TPP I was too heavy handed and couldn't pick the notes properly. JG went quite well, except Andrew came into the chorus too early, but got out of it OK. CSI I don't really know, I couldn't hear a thing I played in it. Led just seemed boring and too long. SA was pretty awful. Sunday came out relatively unscathed, but by that time I was just disinterested. Haunt was bloody terrible. I improvised heaps, and it didn't work but I didn't care. To make matters worse, as I left the side of the stage I went ass up. What an appropriate ending.

    Afterwards I just loaded my gear into the car and left. Some Mandelbrot hanger onner said we were good, and said he liked Circle, but I just couldn't bring myself to say anything to him. I just wanted to get out of there as fast as possible!

    I subsequently found out we got ripped off again. Apparently the Mandelbrots were given $200 for both bands. Their manager reckoned we were not entitled to any of it. But Andrew and Wayne pestered him, and we got $60 in the end, with the Mandelbrots claiming they didn't know what was going on, like they did all the time before the gig when we requested info about it.

    I think I have managed to cause aggro again, as a result of my early departure.....


    This gig resulted in our first mention in the local music magazine dB. Hardly a glowing endorsement. And this was not the only time we were linked to Ned's Atomic Dustbin - unfortunate (for me), as I felt Ned's were possibly the worse band in the universe!

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    10th January 1992 - Le Rox

    Because 5MMM had finally got around to playing our demo masterpiece "Haunt" we were very conscious of trying to impress, as we thought that some people may have heard the demo and come to check us out. Plus it had got some pretty encouraging reactions from the DJ's. However, we were not really pleased to be playing this gig because of the way Le Rox have stuffed us around in the past, and were only doing it to get the money to hire some decent lights for our big show next Wednesday. The combination of all these things, plus an incident immediately before we started meant that as a band, we probably played our worst gig. It just so happened however, that we were playing to the biggest audience we had ever played to.

    As noone else wanted to soundcheck, we went through four songs. It felt really groovy, and we were raring to go. However, as we were onstage getting ready to play, the fuckwit DJ stops the music and we are left on stage, just standing there, with Mark not even at his kit, and none of our amps turned on. That freaked me out. For the first song I was a wreck, and I really thought I was going to lose it, big-time. I got through the song OK, and then relaxed, and enjoyed the rest of it. We got our first heckler! Said something like "Lift the tempo". Andrew retaliated quickly with "Put down your bottle", and then later, when we did lift the tempo, said "This is for the guy that yelled out earlier".

    As we were playing with Capital F, it was our first gig in front of any moronic thrash types, so I guess it was bound to happen. We were going to play a ten song set, but due to no one being entirely happy with DLD, and the fact we have all grown to detest "Time spent", we did our customary 8 songs, with two newies.

    The set was:

    Said August
    All one moment
    Jupiter girl
    This peaceful place
    Circle she is

    Definitely our best set yet. Although I don't think JG is that hot, Circle is cool from the point of view that it opens an entirely new direction both in a guitar sense and a song sense. The high pitched distorted sound blends well with the clean sound, and also adds a bit of aggression. I can't wait to start combining the two in songs, something I am just starting to try. Both the newies went down well. Carelessness meant I botched up the sounds in Haunt and TPP, but they probably both survived anyhow. At the end of Led, we did a U2 walk-off which I don't think really worked. We planned to do it on Wednesday too, but I am going to push not to do it. All one moment was its usual servicable self, the last surviving of the "thrown together" songs.

    We only got 24 people in, as none of us really bothered distributing tickets. But it meant we made $82 when we took out our stand-in mixer Simon's money out. The general consensus was he did a good job. I like him better than Peter, so would probably prefer that he continued, which he may well. We got Andrew's friend Mark to do the lights. I thought he did alright, although he was less than impressed with his performance. Mark, Wayne and myself parked around the back where the gear is loaded in. We all manged to get $33 fines - a fitting epitaph!

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    13th December 1991 - Le Rox

    Black Friday.

    Well, not exactly. It was something of a minor miracle that we actually played this gig. No one was sure if there was going to be a band around to play it. But we weathered the storm, and hopefully this will provide some sort of turning point.

    We were meant to be playing with Just Kidding. However, they pulled out, and Le Rox, god bless their cotton socks, decided to make it into a 5-band thingy, without telling us, with us, The Suedeheads, The Millards, The Daisy Heads and The Happy Patch. Le Rox got our name wrong again, calling us Lucid Ocean Curl, which I guess is better than Weird Ocean Curl of Lucio whatever! We only found out that The Happy Patch were in fact Wintermind (Wayne's old band) on our last rehearsal before the show. It made me sit up and think, although I was probably more pleased than upset about that, although I was feeling both those emotions. Because of the unrest, we played the same songs we played for our last two shows. I had double my normal number of guests, getting Paulus (my brother) and Philbert (see earlier posts!) in addition to Deb (sister) and Michelle (sister's friend. As an aside, I still hadn't invited any of my "non music" friends to a gig at this because I didn't consider we good enough!) 

    As we put l0 pm as our start time on the flyers, we organised to play at l0 pm, making us the first band on.

    The setlist was:

    Said August
    Time spent
    Darkest Lightest Day
    All one moment
    This Peaceful place

    We did Said August in soundcheck, and I totally fucked the lead bit at the end. So I was horrified at having to start with it, but we played it pretty cool. Then the first drama. Andrew, as always, decided to introduce the next song with me still to get the appropriate effect ready. I didn't come in until way after I was meant to. I actually enjoyed playing Time Spent this time, but I'd still rather not do it! Led was cool as usual. I played DLD a bit differently, but it still didn't really work. It definitely needs to be altered. Haunt was cool, except I managed to brake my top E on the last note! Which meant I had to use the dreaded Ricky (Rickenbacker) for the rest of the set. As I hadn't played it for about a month I'd completely forgotten how to play it. As a result I stuffed All One Moment up a bit, but I don't think many people would have realised. TPP was OK. I was reasonably happy with it. We got some good reactions, with some bird who organises Le Rox gigs saying we could headline next time, and Tim from the Mandelbrots (The Mandelbrot Set) asking if we'd like to play with them in January.

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    24th November 1991 - Astor Hotel

    This was a gig that Mark organised. The manager wanted us to play for 90 minutes. Since we only have 45 minutes of stuff we like, we had to get another band to play with us. We tried to get The Always, but they wouldn't do it. So we got The Suedeheads to do it. Wayne produced some cool looking flyers which I put up around Uni. The Suedeheads played a mixture of covers and originals, which I didn't really think much of.

    We decided to change the song order around a fair bit. The set we played was as follows:

    This peaceful place
    Darkest, lightest day
    All one moment
    Time spent
    Said August

    I wasn't really very happy with it. I fucked up Haunt a fair bit, but I don't think anyone would have really noticed. I screwed up DLD again, not as badly as the last gig though. I thought we were probably better than the last gig, but still not good enough.

    The reaction was generally favourable. I got Deb (my sister) to tape the gig, and I listened to it when I got home. Although it was a shit recording, it sounded really alive and vibrant, and I was pretty surprised. It made me feel a whole lot better. It is interesting at the start as Andrew introduces Haunt, when I'm
    still getting my gear together. You can hear me yell out "hold on" a few times! And then at the start of "TPP" it happened again, and he said we'd play it when "Dave gets his shit together!" This time, we didn't get ripped off. But we still made a loss. We are now in debt by $10! We only made $84 on the door, when the PA cost $100, and we had to pay for our mixer, an associate of Mark's who we laughed about at the last
    gig because of his appalling dress sense!


    The main thing I remember about this gig as that we all turned up wearing white T-shirts. It unfortunately made it look like it was a conscious decision - like we were the Beach Boys or something!

    Nom de plume

    I guess it's time to drop the big name is not really Ralph. And my surname is not really Dodger.

    In the finest showbiz tradition, I've used this nom de plume as the name my mother saddled me with is much less interesting.....David. Which just happened to be the most popular name for Australian babies in the year I was born - and an act my mother repeated two years later when my brother was born! Can you imaging my pain and anguish, attempting to eke out an existence as an original and alternative entity when saddled with the most common name in the whole motherfucking universe?

    Thanks mum!

    I mention this now as now as it may help with some of the following posts......

    I should also mention that around this time we dropped the "Curl" from our name to become simply "Lucid Ocean".  We toyed with the idea of being "The Lucid Ocean" until we realised that most of our peers on the Adelaide scene also used "The" in their names. Within the bands inner sanctum we continued to refer to ourselves as either "The Curl" or "Lucio Ocean" - a name we intended to use in Italy!

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    Haunt demo

    We were rehearsing at Tony Nesci's one Thursday, and out of the blue he just asked us if we'd like to record Haunt tomorrow night for nothing. We obviously said yes, as we were at the time contemplating spending $500 to record over a weekend.

    It was pretty much a rush job. We did a few practices, then we played it, only recording the drums. Wayne, Andrew and myself were just audible on the drum track. After that, I recorded my guitar parts. I did about 5 takes, for which two were going to be used. I had a lot of trouble with the start, as Mark went slightly off. Then Wayne did three or four takes, with Tony telling him all the time that he was out of time. Then Andrew did a few vocal takes, and that was it.

    Andrew and I came back the following Wednesday, to supposedly mix it. But Tony had already done two mixes, which sounded better than the one we did, and he then babbled on about musicians not being able to mix, and how they should leave it to professionals like himself! He then said Andrew sounded awful dry, without any reverb, which pissed Andrew off. But we were quite happy with what we had. We then sent it into (local radio station) MMM, who then never played it. But we got something we are all pretty happy with for nothing, so that's all that really matters.


    This is the best recorded version of our best song, as distinct from being the best performance of this song. Although the song didn't evolve much structurally between this recording and the time I left the band, the dynamics gradually evolved and improved. 

    I played my Rickenbacker for this recording. Soon after I switched permanently to my strat, which I found more versatile and easier to play. But the Ricky worked well for this song as it was performed at this time.

    I had the intro riff before I started in the band. I played it at one of my first rehearsals, and although Andrew came up with the first verse and melody quickly, bassist Hamish and drummer Andrew somehow conspired to turn it into a dirge! I resurrected the riff once Mark and Wayne joined the band. Mark came up with something close to the eventual rhythm almost immediately. Wayne worked out a bass-line pretty quickly, and Andrew improvised the second verse - and we suddenly had a new song. And one which we quickly realised up the ante!

    Unfortunately, the only recording of this demo I have is the the one I recorded when it was played on local radio station MMM (now 3D Radio) they did eventually play it, despite my protestations above. Apparently it go to number 15 on the request charts! I was never able to confirm this myself but I'm happy to accept that it did!

    Haunt (demo)

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    15th November 1991 - The Flagstaff hotel

    The second gig. We supported Unprimitive man. Came about as me and Andrew went to Derringers (music store), where I bought a strat (so I could finally live out my Ritchie Blackmore fantasies!). As we were coming out we ran into Andrew's old housemate, Colin, who said his band were playing the following Friday, and couldn't get a support band. So we said we'd do it.

    Played at the Flagstaff. We had to oragnise a PA, which we got from our good mate Craig at Showworld for $100. Peter, Wayne's buddy, did the minimal mixing (basically just vocal, snare, and bass drum). We hired some blue and white scanner lights which rotated form side to side, and a strobe. We didn't really play that well at all, but everybody we spoke to afterwards said it was better than Le Rox (our previous (and first) gig), although I didn't really think so. We didn't soundcheck or anything, so we played the first songs not knowing how the mix was, and as far as I was concerned, it showed.

    We played the following set:

    This peaceful place
    Darkest, lightest day
    All one moment
    Said August
    Time spent

    We only really got Said August into shape the previous week, so it was pretty loose. I think we probably all stuffed it up somehow, but it still sounded OK. I completely fucked up of DLD, when the distorted guitar comes in. As soon as we'd finished I decided it had to be changed, and we changed it first thing at the next rehearsal. I stuffed up the start of Led. I was just about to come in when I realised I was holding down the wrong chord! So I just missed out a cycle. Haunt was played really good. It has emerged as our standout song, and with the lights it came across really good.

    I was pretty upset about it all later, but as everyone who saw the first gig unanimously said we were better, I felt a bit better. We ended of getting ripped off (again). We (naively) assumed we would get half the money. But we didn't, and ended up making $5 (!), which we gave to Peter for mixing us. Not a very savoury experience, but one that probably opened our eyes and gave us a good kick up the arse. I don't think we will go into this sort of scenario again being so blase about organisation.

    Looking back, probably the most satisfying experience was the fact that we definitely got a better reception than the other band. Not that that was really a big deal, as they played some form of outdated rockabilly type shit.

    Postscript - a few other things worth noting:

    1) Said August was written after hearing Adelaide band The Mandelbrot Set (local Adelaide band that had just signed to Australian indie label RooArt) perform on Triple J's Live at the Wireless. I was so impressed with their song Lush that I wrote my own (and IMO better!) version of it.

    2) We had our first heckler at this gig! Someone yelled out "play some Cold Chisel" (Aussie pub-rock legends). Andrew introduced the next song as "Bow River"!  

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    13th October 1991 - Le Rox - The First Gig!

    First gig! We had a meeting last Saturday to come up with a name. We didn't. So Andrew had to come up with a name in half an hour on the following Monday. He came up with "Lucid Ocean Curl". At first I thought he said "lurid", which pissed me right off! But "Lucid Ocean Curl" it was.

    We got to LeRox at about sixish, and waited for The Violets to soundcheck. My immediate thought was that they were heaps better than us, and I got a bit panicky. We did the soundcheck, doing This Peaceful Place, Led and DLD (aka Darkest, Lightest Day) as I remember. I got down off the stage for DLD and was horrified about how shit it sounded. As we didn't have a mixer, we used the in-house guy who obviously didn't give a shit about what we sounded like.

    So I went on a bit apprehensive, but the gig was cool.

    Our setlist was:

    This peaceful place
    All one moment
    Song for someone
    Darkest, lightest day
    Time spent

    It went well. Probably this was due to the fact that the audience (all 50 or so) were so far away that it wasn't much different from a rehearsal. We played pretty tightly, and didn't really fuck up at all. Andrew gave some cool in between song raps, and overall it was pleasing. The response from people was pretty good, mostly of surprise that we came across so good and professional. Got completely and utterly pis sed afterwards and didn't really watch any of the other bands (Lifeform, The Violets, Neptune Lolly Shoppe, Pleasure principle). A good night in all....

    Except for the fact we got ripped off. We were meant to get $100, plus 50c for every ticket that someone gave at the door with our name on it. As we had only got the passes in the week of the gig, we didn't have time to give them out to everyone we wanted. So Teresa (Wayne's partner) stood outside the door and gave them to people who she told to come, but didn't have time to give the passes too. When she got in, the doorbitch said we wouldn't make anything from the door and accused her of giving them out to anybody, which she wasn't. In the end, we got $117.5, i.e. 35 peoples worth, when I reckon we got more than that. We had to take out $25 for the mixer, and was meant to give $50 to the guy who did the lights. But we didn't. We thought we were only going to make $25, so we figured what was the point. But I decided that I might as well get what we were entitled to, and ended up with $97.50. The lighting guy is probably pissed off! We assumed Le Rox would pay him, but as it turned out, we were meant to pay him. So we've probably made our first enemy.....

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    15th September 1991

    Our first rehearsal in a decent room! Rehearsed at Tony Nesci’s studio. He has a great PA and recording equipment. He played us Tease and Paradise Interchange (local Adelaide bands) demos he recorded there, and they sounded great. He told us how to set up and everything, which pissed us of because we’re quite capable of doing that ourselves! We played a few songs without even getting the levels right, and Tony said we were as good as The Mandelbrot Set (local Adelaide band that had just signed to Australian indie label RooArt). He also said we were a “proper” band that weren’t competing with each other. We were well chuffed! I recorded most of the rehearsal on my portable tape recorder and listened to it later – we sounded good, probably the best we ever have.

    Got “TGP” (aka “Translucent green pyramids”, a reference to the appearance, color and shape of some E doing the rounds in Adelaide at the time!) kicked into shape (a comment I find somewhat surprising, since this was just an instrumental jam that we never seriously contemplated playing live). Did our other newbie, “Haunt”.  Took us a while to get it together but I think it’s probably our best song (an assessment I still agree with - atmospheric (dare I say haunting?) with a great dance groove). We did the set we plan to play at out first show at Le Rox (local Adelaide venue) in just under a month. The reason we’re doing it now is because Wayne will be away for a while before the show, so we’ll only have a few more rehearsals before the show. I’m happier with my guitar sound now.

    Started two newbies, “Closet”, which is based around a bass riff. I don’t really think it will cut it (which turned out to be the case – as I’ve got no idea what I’m referring to here!) but….and a song using the old “Close” lyrics which Andrew wants to call “My spine” – but I’m trying to convince him to change it, as it recalls  a comedy sketch I heard recently that mentioned that “spine” is an anagram of “penis” in three different languages!

    We talked about doing a demo. It will cost $300 to record over a weekend, and another $200 to digitally master. We plan to use the money we make from gigs to put towards it (how naïve was I - thinking we were going to make money!).

    Sunday, June 26, 2011

    August 1991

    [Back to the diaries. Again, as a reminder, the diary entries are posted verbatim, except for grammatical corrections. Additional bracketed notes in italics have been added for clarification.] 
    Our first proper performance at a 21st birthday party for a friend of Wayne’s. By “proper”, I mean we knew in advance we were going to do it more than a few hours in advance, unlike the Hamish arranged scenario (I have no idea what I'm referring to here!). I was heaps nervous. The setlist was

    This peaceful place
    Song for someone
    Mystic Road
    Darkest, Lightest day
    All one moment
    Time Spent

    My overall impression was that we were going through the motions, as it sounded crappy. My right index finger was bleeding as it kept hitting the strings when I was picking (suffering for my art?!). We played “Close” and Mystic Road  (Manchester influenced nonsense) for the last time in this sort of format – we will only do them again if we do any acoustic shows. “Time Spent” (yet more Manchester influenced nonsense) got the biggest cheer, but it is basically just energy and no substance. “All one moment” wasn’t really finished, but we played it anyway. The other songs were basically OK. Most people I spoke to later said they liked it. It was OK, but the real good was that we actually got out and played. Bitchin!

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    The classic line up

    I don't have any diary entries between the end of 1990 and August 1991, which is a shame because in some respects this was the most significant period for the band - the period during which the classic line-up emerged. For those not familiar with my sense of humor, I use the word classic with some sense of mirth!

    The most pivotal event of this period was that we eventually found a drummer, and a great drummer at that, Mark. From memory, he was recommended to us by Tony, who appeared earlier in the story. Mark fitted into the band well, owing to his ability, enthusiasm and personality. And he was a massive Ride fan to boot! Later in the year, we went to Melbourne to see Ride on their Australian tour, which was the first time I heard Leave Them All Behind - a truly momentous occasion.

    Mark should have provided the spark that enabled the band to prosper, but solving the drummer problem just unearthed another latent issue - bassist Hamish. Hamish originated from Melbourne, and had considerable experience in bands on the outskirts of the scene that spat out The Birthday Party - Hamish was particularly enamored with Tracy Pew, and the fuck you persona he emanated on stage. Although Hamish was a competent bassist, his presence was like a black cloud over the band. We felt that we were never going to be able to reach for the stars with Hamish around - something ineffable and intangible. So we made the tough decision to kick him out of the band he started. And it was left for me to do the deed - Andrew ran for the hills (literally, if I remember correctly!).

    At the time I just saw it as something we needed to do. Thinking about it a few years later, I would still have done the same thing, but handled it a bit differently. After I joined the band, Hamish was short of cash, and needed to sell some of his possessions, including his prized reel-to-reel 4-track recorder. He eventually sold it to me since that meant it would "stay in the band". I now wish that I just gave him the fucking thing back when we kicked him out of the band......

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was keen to get a second guitarist. And Mark just happened to have a guitarist friend, David, who was looking for a band. David came in and was like a breath of thresh air after Hamish. Since we didn't have a bassist we usually rehearsed acoustically, which meant we didn't need to hire a rehearsal room, and could consequently rehearse wherever and whenever we liked. In fact, I remember once rehearsing at the beach - which became our first (impromptu) public performance when a few people dropped in to listen! And the acoustic rehearsals influenced our songwriting - one of our best songs, This Peaceful Place (as featured on the Anthems for the Estranged demo) was written during this period.

    Throughout this period we were on the lookout for another bassist. We eventually found Wayne, who had previously played in an early incarnation of Wintermind, who in our opinion were the best local Adelaide band by a looooooooong way. Wayne came in and kicked ass. In one of his first (if not the first) rehearsals, Wayne started playing a bass riff identical to one Hamish often used to play, for which I had a rough riff and Andrew had some lyrics. By the end of the rehearsal we had a cracking new song, Led, which evolved into one of our best songs. It was one of those serendipitous moments that convinces you that things are meant to be. But to misquote The Sundays, this is not where the story ends.....

    After a few rehearsals with Wayne, David left. I was flabbergasted! This band was starting to happen - why would anyone want to leave? Was it my fault? Was it something I said? Or did? I was so immersed in the band that the concept that people had a life outside the band never occurred to me. But I guess that's the sort of intensity you need to make it! And I had it in spades at this point.

    Although it didn't seem like it at the time, David's departure turned out to be (another) one of those serendipitous moments. We couldn't be bothered going through the torment of replacing another band member, so I was going to have to be the sole guitarist! In my opinion, this ended up bringing out the best in myself and the band.

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    In the beginning - 1990

    And so we finally get to the diaries!

    This post includes band specific entries from my personal diary. I subsequently started a band specific diary, which will be featured in subsequent posts.

    The diary entries will be posted verbatim, except for grammatical corrections. Additional bracketed notes in italics have been added for clarification.

    1st June 1990

    Made up my mind to actually write out some ads (advertisements) to try and find people with similar musical tastes. I put these in Verandah and Andromeda (local record stores).

    (The note said something along the lines of

    Guitarist looking to form atmospheric alternative rock band. Influences include Jane's Addiction, Soundgarden, Led Zeppelin, REM and The Cure.

    I remember George, the proprietor of Verandah music, commenting that I wouldn't receive any replies because the mix of influences was to diverse and eclectic! I could see his point, but he was wrong......)

    12th June 1990

    I am now in a band! The notes I put up received two replies. The first reply was from a band looking for a guitarist. Coincidentally, the chap who saw the add was about to put up an ad seeking a guitarist for an atmospheric band, and saw my ad for a guitarist wanting to form an atmospheric band! The second reply was from a guitarist wanting to do the same sorta stuff as I do. I'll follow it up, but I don't fancy playing in a two guitarist band (not sure what I was thinking here, given that I later spent the next 18 months trying to convince my bandmates to get a second guitarist?!)

    I rehearsed with the band and it went alright. We did "Walk to the water" (U2) three or four times, and "Rejoice" (U2) up to the second chorus before saying fuck it! We then did one of their originals, and played around with a riff of mine. I am currently learning a Gene Loves Jezebel track, and "I wanna be adored" by The Stone Roses, which I quite like (I hadn't heard the Stone Roses before this, and they influenced alot of my playing and songwriting for the next year or so - especially rhythmically). The next practice is not for another two or three weeks.

    (It was told later that the band had reservations about me in the beginning. I turned up to the first rehearsal wearing a grunge-approved checked shirt (remembering this was a few years before Nirvana broke big and popularised that look), marble wash denim jacket and jeans, and had a Marshall amp and a Kramer guitar, as favoured by the heavy metal fraternity (including Eddie Van Halen!). But they thought my guitar playing was interesting (as in "unusual", rather than "good") enough to justify continuing with me.

    At this stage the band was Andrew (vocals), Hamish (bass) and Andrew (drums)).

    Undated entry

    (My diary entries trailed off towards the end of the year - I was actually starting to get a life - so less time for a diary! But I wrote a summary of the last few months of the year, containing the following entry:)

    The band went OK for a few weeks but then I started to lose interest (it was a bit more "pop" than I wanted - I was more into grunge). So I rang up the guitarist (Tony) who called in response to my ad and said "I've got a band for you" (at least part of my reasoning here was that if Tony joined the band, there'd be less likelihood that I'd want rejoin, since they already had a guitarist. Weird, huh?) Tony lasted a few weeks but didn't work out (though he would re-enter the story later).

    I then returned to the band, and after a few weeks of indecisiveness just thought "fuck it, let's give this band a go and see what happens". And as soon as I committed the drummer left! Since then we've had four drummers rehearsing with us. The first was a guy, Rob, who said he was in a thrash band and was looking for something different. First thing that went wrong was that the clowns who ran the rehearsal room turned up 90 minutes late. Then when the room opened and Rob brought his drums cases in, I spied GSD (my friend Phil's band) stickers on them. Bummer! I didn't fancy stealing my friend's drummer. Then we started playing...but he just didn't have what we needed. We didn't need to tell him so - he knew and so did we!

    We then did half of a rehearsal with Maro (the guy who ran the rehearsal room) on drums, even though we knew he wouldn't be able to play with us permanently. He gave us a good kick up the arse, but again didn't have what we were looking for. But I realised was the importance of having a happening drum kit. Maro hit the skins and they sounded loud and powerful.

    Drummer number three was Kim. He responded to an ad I put up in a music store. I went around to his place and we jammed for half an hour and both enjoyed it. So I invited him to a rehearsal. When he got to the rehearsal Hamish and Andrew saw his kit and gave me a spray (i.e. criticism). And the kit didn't sound too flash either! That day we did "Through my eyes" (our first original), "Fire" (U2), "Spanish Eyes" (U2) "Drive Blind" (Ride), and "Always" (our second original, a hippyish song that ripped off Primal Scream's "Loaded"). It was a good rehearsal. We rehearsed three more times with Kim. A friend of the guy who ran the rehearsal room, Craig, asked (indirectly) whether he could join the band. So we must haver sounded alright! Craig said he liked it too - "tasty, guys, tasty" (which became our mantra - we'd finish rehearsing a songs and someone would pipe up "tasty, guys!").

    Then Kim smashed up his car! Although we were reasonably happy with his drumming, we weren't happy with his ideas (i.e. to be a cover band!). We had a regular booking for the rehearsal room that we couldn't cancel without a cancellation fee, so I suggested we take the opportunity to try out another drummer while Kim's car was off the road. We arranged a rehearsal with a guy Andrew found. I rang to told Kim that we wouldn't be rehearsing, but since he wasn't home I left a message with his dad. The only problem was that his dad is obviously an absolute fuckwit, because he didn't tell Kim! So we had two drummers turn up to our next rehearsal! Roy turned up first, and unloaded his nice new black Pearl Export kit. Then Kim walked in! We were mortified!! But to our surprise, Kim broke out into a grin and said "you hired me a kit?" After a few umms and ahhs, Kim realised what was happening, spat the dummy and left, never to be seen again. So our rehearsal with Roy got off to a bad start, and promptly got worse. We played "Solitary Child" (another original - a song I really liked but which for some reason we stopped playing soon after), and "Lift me up" (more hippy shit!), which Hamish, Andrew and I had come up with only three days earlier. But Roy wasn't up to it. Totally inadequate.

    And that was the last time we rehearsed with a drummer for a loooooong while. We had some nibbles - drummers how said they'd call back but never did. Since then we've written "Mystic Child" (Manchester influenced nonsense) and "Away" (I can't remember this one now?!). We have two or three other embryonic songs, plus a few ideas I haven't played to the guys yet. So we should have 10 or so original songs by February, which is enough to start gigging - if we can find a drummer!

    At least there's been some useful byproducts from this band biz, in respect to the bands I'm now listening too - Ride, Stone Roses, Magazine, Pixies, Charlatans, The Smiths etc, all bands my band-mates turned me on to.

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    The Metal Years

    Phil, Neville and I rehearsed sporadically throughout the years 1985 - 1988 - maybe 20 or so times. We used to rehearse either at my house or Neville's, subject to our parents being out of the house, the availability of transport (none of us drove at that stage), the availability of time (Phil and I had started University), and my amp being in working order - which was a rare occurrence!

    We rehearsed a set of thrash metal standards by bands such as Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Exciter, Diamond head, Blitzkrieg, S.O.D. and the awesome Mercyful Fate! We were pretty ordinary in the beginning, but eventually grew competent enough to believe we were almost ready to unleash ourselves on the great unwashed masses. So we put out ads to recruit a vocalist and lead guitarist. We eventually found a lead guitarist, Dave, but he left after a few months. And then the band just fizzled out. It wasn't a conscious decision to end it - we just didn't get around to rehearsing any more! But when Phil formed a band Genital Skin Disorders (or GSD) with some Uni friends, it was officially over.

    This period turned out to be a turning point in my life. My band had ended, I had some bad relationships, I was involved with a crowd of people I was rapidly growing apart from, and I was in the last year of an undergraduate degree that I was rapidly losing enthusiasm for. But worst of all, my guitar playing was going backwards. To console myself I bought a Marshall amp! Then Dave suggested I start tuition with his guitar teacher, Phil Bann, which turned out to be a good move. Not only did Phil sort out my technique, he got me playing stuff other than metal. Which was just as well as I was starting to get bored with metal. The Big four thrash metal bands (Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth) had all recorded their best work and had already started their inexorable decline. 

    The first "non-metal" band I got into around this time was the Sex Pistols - which wasn't really a quantum leap. This was followed by the Beastie Boys, and specifically their Licensed to Ill album. But the album that totally blew my mind was Jane's Addition's Nothings Shocking. The playing, the diversity, the vision - it had everything. And on a night when I had nothing to do, I went to see U2's Rattle and Hum movie - and was hooked! I then quickly consumed the catalogs of U2, REM and The Cure, before discovering the wave of new bands emerging from Seattle (specifically Mudhoney and Soundgarden), as well as Sonic Youth.

    I was feeling inspired. Time to find another band, and to do it properly this time......

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    Who's to blame?

    The only way to start these diaries is to explain how I ended up in a band in the first place.

    Three parties stand accused of being partners in this crime against humanity:

    1) My parents 

    There was often music playing in our house when I was a kid. When I was seven years old my parents bought me a tape recorder, complete with a cassette on which my dad recorded of one of my mother's John Denver LPs! Fortunately I recognised wretched music at an early age, and John Denver was soon replaced with my first songwriting efforts. When I was nine years old my parents gave me a beat up old record player and a few of their old LPs, including the first few Stones LPs. My parents also bought me an acoustic guitar around this time. This guitar didn't survive long. The closest it came to being used for "musical" purposes was playing open chords while wailing the lyrics to Route 66 or Little Red Rooster! Undeterred, my parents bought me a nylon string acoustic guitar a few years later, which survives to this day - although at the time it only served the purpose of gathering dust.

    2) The hottest band in the world, KISS!  

    The first record I ever bought was (cringe!) Fernando by Abba, followed a few months later by Dancing Queen! The first song that really hooked me was I Don't Like Mondays by The Boomtown Rats. Apart from loving the song, I also loved the fact it was controversial, though I didn't understand why at the time. My feeling for Mondays was later surpassed when I heard The Fine Art of Surfacing, and in particular, Diamond Smiles. And when later I saw the video, it blew my god-damned pre-teen mind! So much so that it's still one of my favourite songs.

    However, my love of The Boomtown Rats didn't last long - I thought their next single, Banana Republic was such a turgid piece of crap that I didn't listen to the band for many years. But it didn't matter, because by this time KISS had finally hit the big time in Australia, becoming my first real musical obsession. And when all the cool kids had discarded KISS and moved on to the latest fad, my passion for the band only increased - as did my desire to be outside the mainstream. And as KISS got heavier and the make-up came off, I started getting into similar bands, such as Deep Purple and Iron Maiden, until I was a fully fledged metal-head.

    3) Phil Howlett

    The main accomplices in my musical journey to this point were my brother Paul and my best friend Phil. At some point Phil and I decided to form a band, despite the fact we couldn't play any instruments! And this is where my parents re-enter the story - I asked them to buy me an electric guitar. And despite my lack of interests in my previous guitars, they bought me a cheap telecaster copy. At first I played the telecaster through my stereo. Later, after reading that the distorted guitar sound from The Kinks' You really got me was achieved by overdriving a small speaker, I commandeered a succession of such speakers, plugging them in through the headphone output of my stereo, and overdriving them to the end of their miserable existence. Later I found I could obtain a similar (albeit more flatulent sounding) effect by playing my guitar through my cassette player at maximum input level while it recording.

    Inspired by my pitiful efforts, my dad decided the time had come to start fulfilling his latent musical ambitions. He bought himself an electric guitar, and promptly proceeded not to play it. So I ended up with a second guitar, which came in handy as it meant that Phil had something to play when he visited. The first song we learned to "play" was Heaven's on Fire by KISS. After playing this for a few weeks, Phil made the insightful suggestion that it might help if we tuned the guitars! My dad's guitar came with a guitar tuner, which we duly (mis)used to tune our guitars - only to end up tuned to D, possibly making us the world's first grunge band! And it was at least a year later that we realised that the rest of the world tuned to E!

    Since I had staked my claim to the guitar, Phil got himself a bass and an amp. I duly purchased my first amp, which was actually a keyboard amp. An amp which I proceeded to blow up at least three times in the next few years, necessitating expensive repairs which I could barely afford.

    And when my brother introduced us to a drummer in his grade at school, Neville, I was finally in a BAND!

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Anthems for the Estranged (demo)

    This demo was recorded and mixed over a weekend at Tony Nesci's home studio in Adelaide. Surprisingly, I didn't write up a diary entry about the recording, and I don't remember much of the details.

    I remember that the recording went pretty smoothly, and that we got all songs down in 2 or 3 takes. This was helped by the fact we used to rehearse at the studio so felt pretty comfortable in the surroundings. We were also pretty well rehearsed. I also remember wearing the worst pants in the world to the sessions - grotesque royal blue surf pants that our bassist Wayne's partner Theresa used to refer to as disco pants! What the hell was I thinking? I also remember sitting out in the garden during a break and making a Daisy chain - jeez, what a hippy dipshit I was in those days!

    The sounds is fantastic for a cheaply recorded demo. However, the sound clarity makes the limitations in Andrew's vocals all too obvious - we probably should have put him lower in the mix or drowned him out with reverb! IMHO our drummer Mark was the best indie drummer in Adelaide, and the drum sound showcases his abilities well. I was the sole guitarist in the band, and given that every other indie band had around two guitarists, I tended to overplay to compensate. I was also in the midst of my Ride-influenced guitar effects obsession, and this reduces the clarity of some of my playing.

    The demo featured three of our best half dozen tracks. Our best track, Haunt, was recorded for an earlier demo, but all I have is the version I taped when it was first played on local radio station MMM (now 3D). I will post this sometime soon.

    So onto the demo......

    Flood is a six minute brooding atmospheric indie pop track. Mark's drums sound awesome. My guitar in the verses is far to busy - let's blame Johnny Marr! The spooky guitar effects in the middle worked well live but didn't cut it in the studio - no lights and dry ice there! As for the guitar solo, it was influenced by a certain heavy metal band from Birmingham, and IMHO works well in this context.

    Autumn Color Haze is another atmospheric indie pop track, but this time at a faster clip. I think the guitar effects work well in this song, and Andrew's vocals work well. I never liked the key change towards the end of the song - I always felt it was jarring.

    This Peaceful Place is pure indie pop. It was one of the first songs we wrote with this lineup, and was written on an acoustic guitar before my Ride influenced guitar effects obsession commenced. And try as I may, I couldn't work my guitar effects or a guitar solo into the song without detracting from it! So it stayed pretty much the same as it was when written.

    Circle She Is was my least favourite song. But everyone else liked it so I just had to accept it. The worst aspect about the song is that it often got us compared with Ned's Atomic Dustbin, who in my opinion were the most turgid piece-of-crap band in the entire fucking universe. I took the attitude that even if I disliked the song, I might as well enjoy what I played in it. I also use to play it with a guitar sound on the verge of feedback, and got some great sounds live. That aspect isn't really captured in this version, unfortunately.

    The demo never had an official title. I always liked that idea of having a song with the pretentious title Anthem for the Estranged, and since there's noone here to argue with me I'm gonna adapt that for use as the demo title!

    Lucid Ocean - 1992 - Anthems for the Estranged (demo)

    01. Flood
    02. Autumn Color Haze
    03. This Peaceful Place
    04. Circle She Is