Saturday, March 15, 2008

Australia Part Five: Still Alive...

After Geelong we woke butt-ass early to fly to Brisbane. All our flights are butt-ass early, as if Australia operates on no other time schedule than that of butt-ass. But this is hardly a complaint. As I've explained before, these airports are all but completely empty when we arrive to check-in. We walk straight up to the counter, get our boarding passes, walk our shit over to oversize baggage check, get in the security check line, relish in the fact that we DON'T have to take off our shoes and spend mere minutes in the bullshit that can take upwards of HOURS at US airports.

Plus, and I hope I'm not getting anyone in trouble here, but there's been a few times on this trip where I haven't had to show ANY identification at all for anything at the airport. No ID necessary for a boarding pass. Not necessary to get through security. No one's asking for it to board the plane and you can be damn sure no one's asking for it at luggage claim either.

I mean, I guess it's cool until someone ruins it for everyone. Maybe by writing about it I just became the ruiner.

Brisbane was the first city the band ever came to in Australia. Like our first visit, we went back to 4ZZZ radio where Mick, Pat and Troy did an on-air interview with a guy who seemed barely knowledgeable about the band. I've taken any opportunity I've had lately to AVOID group interviews. It's tiring with everyone tripping over each other's words, awkward silences merely more awkward, nervous laughs abounding…give me a one-on-one interview any day where I can let my unbridled wit fly free.

From DIY community radio to downtown rock club. Upon entering the club the owner asked Troy "Are you a metal band?" to which Troy said "No" and the owner replied "Then have a good show," as if to suggest he would not wish a good show upon a metal band. And really, why should he?

Soundcheck's become whatever but I still feel the need to mention them so that it's known they happened. We ate dinner at some styling hipster restaurant with a tiki bar in the basement, tons of cool art for sale on the walls (one piece titled "Gay Robot Parade") and a cabinet full of old toys from the 70's and 80's that were available for purchase.

I ordered a Hawaiian pizza size large at 36 centimeters diameter. Not terribly proficient at the metric system, I polled the table as to how big this would actually be. Consensus was it would be a respectable 12 inches, where in actuality it was 14.173228 inches. You can imagine my dismay at the extra inches I would not be able to consume and would ultimately be left in our Brisby hotel room, hopeful the people cleaning the room would not judge me for my incremental inaccuracies.

I think we missed some of the opening bands and I surely slept through others. The drums I played were wrapped in some schwank zebra-print fur. I'd always wanted to upholster a drum kit but ultimately proved too lazy to even change the heads on them.

Onstage was hot as shit, all of us sweating balls. I think this would be the night developed a wicked blister/callus on my left middle finger that actually started bleeding in a way that resembled varicose veins. Crowd was lively and dancing. We did a particularly spirited opening to "Candyass" and for some forgotten reason pulled out "Kung Fu" for what felt like the first time in eternity.

From the 'bane we flew to Hobart. Tasmania. Home of the devils. Australia's pubic region. I'd spent a couple days there with the Stripes in 2006 and was curious to see what a trip that doesn't include international rock stars was like.

The club (the Brisbane Hotel) was cool by me. They even had boarding rooms for us to stay in upstairs, European-style. Mick, Pat and I shared a room. I got the top bunk, Mick the lower, and Pat the stand-alone bed.

Before soundcheck we cruised Elizabeth Street and popped into Tommygun Records. It would be the first place any of us saw a proper vinyl copy of We Have You Surrounded…truly a momentous occasion. And it happened in Tassie. The owner had us autograph one for him and he gave me an old issue of MOJO for free. I was stoked.

Checked out some other cool stores on the same street…antique places, instrument stores (with a guitar made in South Africa in the 40's that caught my eye) and a vintage clothing store. Hate to say that I actually purchased nothing and therefore failed to contribute to the economy of Tasmania.

After soundcheck was a hearty bar-cooked meal. Everyone in the band dug it. An army travels on its stomach and the choice cuisine in Australia may be the reason things have been going so well. Plus, I think the more meals shared by the entire touring party the better the band interaction. Also, based on tales from the ladies room at the club, we all agreed that when confronted with completely juvenile graffiti, the best combat is adding an equally unbelievable name of attribution. It would look something like this:

"Ang's vagina tastes like candy"
-David Byrne

Pat and Mick went to go do a radio interview from there while I went to the dorm room and read. There was a radio on somewhere and I was able to listen to the whole thing unintelligible. I mean, I could tell when Pat was talking and I could tell when Mick was talking and possibly even make out a word or two per sentence, but I was ultimately left feeling like a stranger in a strange land.

I would sleep through all the opening bands and bummingly so as I really wanted to check out the Reactions who'd also opened for the White Stripes in Hobart. Instead I went from slumber to stage and we rocked well. We ended the main set with "Theme from the Dirtbombs" and Mick was successful in bringing the crowd onstage to dance. We were all surprised when a particularly excitable young lady removed her shirt and began to dance around in her brassiere. This would be the first time a woman would ever dance around onstage in her bra at a Dirtbombs show.

We had finally made it.

After a late night excursion for some gas station food, I stayed up even later to write. The bar was still open and pouring downstairs and while music was booming it was all fairly benign. After shutting the PowerBook G4 and waiting for my rendezvous with Mr Sandman I was struck with an uncool moment of shit. As I lay there, hoping to be whisked away to dreamland, I heard an all-too-familiar sound.

It was the beginning of the Dirtbombs live show.

The sound man had run a room mic and before we'd gone to bed even handed the band a copy of the night's show. Apparently that wasn't the only copy he'd made as the rumbling tom intro to "Leopardman at C&A" was soon taunting my quest for shut-eye.

Without pause I immediately blurted out "Aw, hell naw!" to which no one replied. Mick and Pat were asleep. Everyone else in the other room was already out as well. I would be the only witness to this moment of Fellini-esque absurdity.

Next day in Melbourne, checking out the public market and came not as close as I'd have liked to buying one of those electric green Borat mankini's. Apparently John Mayer beat me to it. Went back to Missing Link for the third time, bought some CD's on sale and a Nick Drake bio I'd been wanting since I'd visited his grave in 2006.

Also, asking for an Xacto knife in Australia at office supply stores is met with awesomely uninformed stares. You've got to go to an arts supply store to find that shit…just in case you were wondering.

At the East Brunswick Club we finally got to catch up with Jay Reatard and his band. It's always refreshing to meet up with Americans, especially those in the same touring situation, just to trade stories…about flights, food, rental gear, soundmen, and Jay's pointed opinion on just about anything always proves for a fun conversation.

There was some cameraman following Jay around for a documentary that Other Music is working on and the dude was totally clueless. He provided for a few good laughs, asking people what their tattoos meant, not knowing which band member was Jay and generally acting annoying to the nth degree.

My drums on this eve would be a wine Red Mapex bass drum with orange satin flame rack and floor toms. Delightful.

We soundchecked and ate a tasty meal. First band the Ooga Boogas were rock-on. While it was hard to pinpoint exactly what the sound was/was coming from, it was solid, well-done rock and roll that has still yet to bore me.

Reatard's set was blistering. While the mix was off at the start (with completely inaudible drums) things were rectified pretty quickly and the band was in-step with each other. While all eyes in the sold-out crowd were on Jay, I don't know if they necessarily connected as much as they should've. Jay pinned it on the "I read about this guy in Vice some I'm gonna go see him without really knowing what he's all about" scene. Still never seen the guy put on a wack show and even though they didn't play "I Know a Place" I was still very into it.

Our jam was tight. Everything felt in its proper place in the set. I'm growing more comfortable with the length of time in between songs and the crowd there was definitely ours to be had. Other than one song in the encore that Troy tried to transpose on the fly after breaking a string, I think the show was pretty damn near flawless in my mind. The INXS jam went off like gangbusters and we even pulled out "Politicians in My Eyes" to which our promoter Daniel legitimately lost his marbles for.

Seemed like it took forever to get out of the club…Jay and band were acting in the fucked-up, debauched manner which I've come accustomed to from them and it's actually charming in a way. I bought a stack of Jay's tour single (some even with a limited to 50 copies sleeve) to give away to collector friends back home and after ages of sitting around and sloooooooowly packing up and loading out, we made back to the hotel for some much needed rest.


Laurie said...

Another thoroughly enjoyable read. Congrats on reaching the milestone of having a stage-dancing-bra-wearing-girl!!


Anonymous said...

most enjoyable, as always.

I've still not found anywhere online selling the Dirtbombs OR Jay Reatard tour 7"s yet, not even the Stained Circles website offers any clues.


How about a Cass Records singles club?

Art Australia said...

How nice to have simplified travel.

Anonymous said...

Great read once again. Complie all this and get it printed somewhere!


Anonymous said...

Dirtbombs Oz tour 7" available from Missing Link Records website now!

Anonymous said...


thanks boss, already ordered the MIGHTY Dirtbombs and Reatard 7s.

OK, Dirt fans get over there right now whilst you've got the chance:

Anonymous said...

my pleasure :-)



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