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.

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