Isn’t it hilarious how small computer monitors used to be?! Here are a bunch of postage stamp – sized photos from a website we had back in the 90s. It was a fan site Run by Damien Kalinowski, who now writes the excellent LONG GONE LOSER. He’s a fine gentleman and was a huge help to us in the 90s, in all manner of ways. A total dude. Also, some of the writing from his site, by him and by us.
Then there are some slightly bigger pics we pulled out of the vaults.
Following that is a bunch of photos from proof sheets of sessions we did in the early 90s with Tony Mott in Sydney – these all date from 1992 – 1994 – as well as some live shots from Perth, supporting Pavement in 1993.
Also on this page
Damien’s Screamfeeder rant
Articles By Kellie June 2001 | July 2001 | August 2001 | Kellie’s Tour Diary, January 1997 | THE SCREAMFEEDER STORY By Kellie
Swervedriver Stories Don’t Kill Your Idols by Kellie, 1998 | Swervedriver Interview and Story, 1998
Tony Mott Sessions and live pics – early 90s
Well here it is, my tribute page to one helluva great band from Brisbane, Australia called Screamfeeder. I have been a huge fan ever since I heard their debut album, “Flour” and saw them play with The Meanies at the Governor Hindmarsh Hotel. It was a night of total noise/pop and I couldn’t believe my ears. I had heard of them prior to that show but hadn’t actually heard their music until I saw them and I was hooked straight away. So yeah, well this is I guess my way of saying ‘Thank You’ to them for making my musical listening a sheer delight. Well let’s get on with it shall we…. Let’s shall.
Firstly, here’s a bit of history about them…. They started out calling themselves The Madmen and played a number of shows and released 3 7″ers….
* Almost Past Caring / That’s O.K. With Me
* Tower / End Of This Day
* Walking Through The Village / Cool Kinda Kid
And a 6 track ep called “Thunderegg” which is extremely Husker Du-ish but hey, is that a bad thing?? All 12 songs from these releases are featured on the “7 Year Glitch” album, (with the exception of Walking Through The Village, which was released on FLOUR), but for all you vinyl lovers, the band still have copies of the records for sale, at a good price! Although I really dig the works of Husker Du and Sugar, I happen to think Screamfeeder are BETTER than both of them.
Anyway, let’s get down and funky with some live photos and stuff. The photos of the band live, I took at the 1996 Big Day Out (except this one on the left, it was taken last year). They were greeted with a loads of awaiting fans and played a great set which gave me my first taste of my fave song, Summertime (found on the ‘Dart’ single). There’s a funny (well I thought it was) story to the photo below….
About 1 hour before Screamfeeder were due to play, Tim said to me “Do you think we’re gonna get many people to watch us?? I don’t think we’ll get THAT big a crowd…” so I said, “Sure you will, you’re only playing up against The Bearded Clams, don’t worry…” but no, he still thought no-one would come and watch… um, I think this photo speaks for itself… Note: That guy in the front in the blue safari suit was asked to come up on stage and show everyone his threads… what a dork! He obviously had NO shame.
Other things I remember about that day was that me, Tim and their manager were walking from one stage to another when Tim was stopped by this girl. She was saying that she’s a huge fan and then said, pointing to me and the manager, “Are these the other two members of the band…” So Tim played along and said ‘yes’ and she got all excited and wanted a photo taken with him… I took the photo and what I couldn’t stop laughing about is the fact that Tim pulled the funniest facial I had seen. The girl had no idea as she was smiling away. Hmmm, well I guess you had to be there.
Speaking of facials, their drummer, Dean, can pull the best of them, and as you can (just) see in the accompanying photo, they’re winners! Facials aside, he’s one of the best drummers I have seen in ages and totally puts me to shame. Not fair!!! Mention must be made of Kellie, their bass player, (Check out her page on her solo album by clicking here!) who has finally done lotsa vocal work on their latest album, “Kitten Licks”. She’s got a great voice and her bass sound and playing rocks! To find a complete detailed version of the history of Screamfeeder’s development, check out the booklet to their compilation cd. “Seven Year Glitch”.
So there you have it. Three people who call themselves Screamfeeder and can rock like rockin’s going out of fashion. They have a load of singles out, 5 albums and 2 EP’s PLUS a new single, called “HI C’s”, which is out now and you should all go and rush out and buy lotsa copies of cos it is damn spiffy and rocks the casbah baby! Also, when I know, I will put up the tour dates for each show they play. To find out when they are coming to your town next, read the latest goss bit so you can mark the days free in your Swimsuit Illustrated calendars. Go on, you know you want to!
JUNE 2001 Passionate, Obsessive or just plain retarded? This is a peek inside the part of my brain that simply gets fanatical over inanimate objects.
This month I am reading Wouldn’t It Be Nice the autobiography of Brian Wilson, the musical genius of the Beach Boys. From the man that went insane and wrote Good Vibrations in a haze of pot and acid thinking that Phil Spector was trying to kill him. It’s a sad journey through one man’s life of dealing with child abuse, his extreme competitiveness, alienation and genius that drove him to the extremes of humanity. A totally engrossing insight into the mind of a drugged up scitzophrernic rock star. Whether or not you’re a fan of the Beach Boys it’s just a great story and historical document featuring cameos by Charles Manson, Paul McCartney and Iggy Pop among others. You should also check out Dear Boy, the Keith Moon biography if you don’t think Brian is crazy enough for you.
The only thing that is prying that book out of hands, unfortunately is the stupid Big Brother TV show. I am so hooked it’s quite embarrassing. It’s actually pretty boring and I always feel empty at the end, but one day someone is going to crack and I want to be there to watch it! Although I haven’t picked up the phone to vote for anyone, it’s only got to be a matter of time. I’ve been to the website and registered, but somehow everytime I try to get in, I get refused entry. Maybe they know I want to really smash the place up.
Essential wake up in the morning music this months is Survival Sickness by Swedish band International Noise Conspiracy. Released last year on Shock Records, it’s a gloriously trashy experience inspired by 60’s garage. Featuring some members from the truly amazing trail blazing punk revolutionaries Refused, I.N.C carry the punk socialist anti-authoritarian banner, even recommending on the liner notes to steal the CD instead of actually buying it. Guaranteed to get you ready for your day out in the big bad world.
JULY 2001 Hands up who’s heard of BUST magazine? No one, yep.. thought as much. Well let me tell you about this awesome publication that’s been available for around 5 years. It’s put out by these 2 sassy new york chicks – Betty Boob and Celina Hex. Not afraid to bend the rules and tell it how it is, they’ve created THE best chick mag in the history of the written word. Published quarterly, they choose a theme and let their readers write the articles, they have features on some of the most amazing people ever (director John Waters, Sandra Bernhard, Courtney Love, feminist Gloria Steinham, Iggy Pop, david Bowie, Kathleen Hannah to name a few).
Issues so far have been “men we love” (Thurston More was on the cover of this first issue and John Cusack graced the second time around. Mmmmm john cusack) the SEX issue (first issue had a big preggers belly on the cover and the second had john spencer and his lovely wife Christina Martinez sporting their favourite sexxy sleep ware – not to metion a fantastic article with them talking about sex and stuff.) other issues have been about Make up, My life As A Girl, Girlfriends and the goddess. Yeah, ok, on paper it sounds like shleppy girl stuff, but let me tell you, I have to try and pry my copy off my boyfriend. It’s the real thing here kids. It’s ladies talking about stuff frankly and honestly and with great humour and passion.
You’ll not find one article on ‘how to loose weight and still eat that pound of lard”. Not one. No articles promising fast cures to problems that stem from bad self esteem, only fantastic strong women writing about finally forgiving themselves and their bodies for not being perfect or talking honestly about problems they have. Not only this but some of the best record reviews you’ll read on some really cool indie records you’ve never heard of, but you’ll wanna go buy all of them. They review sex toys, disect your favourite tv shows, every issue has a “one handed read” (know what I mean!) and has luscious ladies on the cover like Janeanne Garafallo instead of Gweneth (I’ve a long neck like a swan) Paltrow.
It’s political without being boring. It’s sassy and cool without being clique-y. it’s like sex in the city crossed with daria with a make over by betty page. It’s the best magazine I’ve ever read. Don’t just take my word for it – it’s on the net too, check it out at: http://www.bust.com
AUGUST 2001 The freak attracter. Yep. That’s me. If there’s one in a room, chances are I already know them. I’m not sure what it is about me that encourages weird and annoying modes of behavior among gig goers. Just take for example our last venture to New South Wales.
Let’s start with Newcastle. Mmmmm. Newcastle. We won’t mention the time before last when we were in Newcastle because that ended in someone I was with being admitted to hospital with a skull fracture and requiring 40 stitched to put his face back on. No, we won’t mention that. We also won’t mention once in Newcastle when the man dubbed Australia’s Serial Pest spent the whole show screaming and making bird calls in the audience and ended with him getting thrown out after he was spotted by the bouncers clambering on stage. We won’t mention that. We also won’t mention the time the bar man at the bar we played got us so drunk with his special little evil shooters I ended up dancing on the bar that he had previously had in flames. No, better not mention that.
I will mention this last time though. This time there was this crazy guy simply yelling his head off. Screaming and dribbling while we were playing. Wouldn’t have looked so conspicuous except he was the only one on the dance floor and the only one yelling and dribbling. Ever seen footballers do that thing where they pull a pretend pin out of a ball and throw it and his whole team falls over like he’s just thrown a bomb, well this guy started doing that.
Funnily enough, he was the only one who was falling over. Following that he would then whip out an imaginary gun and “shoot” himself in the head, only after he had “shot” other members of the audience. It all quickly disintegrated of course. Although he had done this for our entire show, it wasn’t until he tried to hand me a soggy ripped up beer coaster and had got hold of my mike that he was ejected from the establishment. Class A freak by my book.
Not to be out done by small town freaks is the big city freak. I love these people. Sydney, the Anandale hotel. Here is this guy with train track side burns, drunk as a skunk and trying to tell me while I’m singing that “YOU ROCK”. Even in the quiet bits, he was trying to get my attention to let me know again, and quite loudly that “YOU ROCK!!!”. He was quite insistent . end of show I’m on my knees playing with pedals for the big noisy rock ending and he’s fucking tugging on my shirt yelling at me that, yes indeed, “YOU ROCK!!!!!” later someone told me he thought we were Magic Dirt. Class AA jerk and big freak.
Not to be outdone by big city freaks are those who live close to the water. The surfer freak. Check out Woolongong. Now these guys know how to bring on the freak quotient. 2 guys up the front all night with the cover of our “Burn Out Your Name” CD. Scoring 10 points for consistency, these guys stood between Tim and I every song and sometimes the duration for a whole song holding the CD cover up to our faces pointing to the song they wanted to hear. At first I thought we could handle this kind of behavior by simply ignoring it, but we soon realized these guys meant business.
They really wanted to hear that song, but as Tim had explained to them before we played when they accosted him -we actually don’t play that song, it’s over 6 years old, we simply have other songs we’d rather play, we’ve actually forgotten it and our new guitarist doesn’t know how to play it at all. It all adds up to the inevitable. There’s no way we’re playing it.
What they didn’t realize was that their insistence could not alter reality. We didn’t play it and they were getting more and more belligerent. I was actually getting scared, but as Tim pointed out to me after one of them pulled his cock out for me to have a look at, it takes a really dumb member of society to take on a person holding a large lump of wood plugged into an electrical circuit. I thought “nice one” and no longer have to live in fear of being beaten up on stage.
NEW YEAR’S DAY Well, they say what you do on the first day of the year is an indication of what the year will hold for you. We spent the first day of 1997 in a Tarago heading south. A trip that takes 12 hours. A whole day, in a car with a hangover. I guess this year will be a big one! The journey was fairly non-descript, the tape selection was monotonous and repetitive – just the same as on all our other trips.
A new year’s resolution is to get a totally different selection of tapes. Not just the usual 90’s Grunge-a-Rama. God, you know I love Seam, but I think I’m going to hit someone if I have to listen to The Problem With Me in a confined space one more time! Only one speeding ticket this trip to Sydney. We kept to the speed limit remarkably well which resulted in a halved fuel bill. We’re on our way to our first of the suburban Sydney shows with the Hoodoo Gurus, we play the Metro and then up the northern New South Wales Coast as the main support for the ‘Gurus.
2ND JAN MANLY LEAGUES CLUB, NSW Screamfeeder, Tumbleweed, Hoodoo Gurus. We played at 8.30. The doors couldn’t have been open more than 20 minutes and it was still light outside. There were maybe 6 people up the front by the time we left the stage at 9pm. We stayed for 6 songs of Tumbleweed’s set and drove back to our hotel in Bondi, the marvellous Thellelan Beach Inn. You gotta love it, you get a room with 3 singles and a double bed – they all have a really bad sag, it takes at least half an hour to boil the jug for a cup of instant sachet coffee and you get hassled at 8.30 am onwards about house keeping “Do you want your linen changed?” No! “Do you want fresh towels?” No! “Do you need more coffee or sugar?” No! and it goes on until you are totally awake after getting home at 3am totally smashed.
Then when the cleaner goes, you realise that there’s no coffee or sugar left, and a clean towel would be good, but she makes you so damn angry that you refuse everything she has on offer. Don’t even try to leave a note asking to be left alone, we tried that and I don’t think she can read English, let alone speak it properly. Tumbleweed are newly shorn, which takes a bit of getting used to. We used to joke about the day when they would cut their hair, now they have, all except Jay and he’s not gonna bow to the pressure. Didn’t meet any of the gurus tonight. Hell, there’s only about 10 more shows to go.
3rd JANUARY, REVESBY WORKERS CLUB NSW A funny thing happened on the way to the gig…. We found ourselves at the corner of Virginius Street and Uranus Street in suburban Revesby. I shit you not, a town planner with a sense of humour. Imagine trying to catch a cab from the address on the corner. Tonight’s venue, like last night’s, is huge. Tonight, like last night, will be a sell out. This is the kind of place that the Angels and the Radiators play at. Suzi Quatro plays here next month. This is the oldies circuit baby, this is Rock and Roll!
Same story – we play just after the doors open, except we have been put forward a half an hour, so we really finish at the time we’re advertised to start. We did end up playing to about 100 – 250 people and they seemed to enjoy us, so that’s pretty cool. The crew are pretty weird guys who take their job very seriously and that usually means to treat the support band like they’re incompetent.
We’re expecting that so it comes as no great surprise. I think the worst crew we’ve ever had to work with was the Everclear crew. They weren’t nice and one guy even made me cry! We stayed for Tumbleweed’s set which I really enjoyed. It’s a bit freaky how Nick their new drummer has bleached his hair and looks exactly like Tony (our old drummer) when he drums! Didn’t see the Gurus tonight, suburban shows really frighten me, so I talk every body into going home. I can be very persuasive when I’m pre-menstrual, everybody’s seen how I can be and try to avoid disagreeing with me.(Hell hath no fury like a woman about to bleed!)
4th JAN IS A NO SHOW DAY Tim and I go for our first swim on Bondi Beach which is fantastic. We spend the day taking it easy, followed by diner with our lovely manager Joe and his lovely assistant Tom. Dean Challenges himself not to dye his hair anymore and to cut down smoking. Mmmmmm, yes Dean.
5TH JAN METRO SYDNEY On arriving at the Metro for a soundcheck that never happened (gotta love that!), the mixer was playing a tape of stand up comedy(?) by Andrew Dice Clay, the Rock n Roll Detective guy Ford Fairlane. Bitch this, Bitch that, shave your cunt hairs et al. Mmmmmmmm, count to ten Kellie, ignore it all, calm blue ocean. Ok, some of it could be seen as funny, but fuck that macho shit, I thought this was the nineties. Anyway it put me in a pretty fucked frame of mind and I hated the crew more than I did the day before.
GasLight Radio played first, to a small and quiet audience. I think they’re not a bad band, very Pavement-ish and Pixies-ish which can’t be too bad. They walked off pretty shitty about the whole thing. We played to not that many more than Gas light Radio, but more people came towards the end. I had one of the best gigs in ages. It’s like when you’re playing to someone else’s crowd nothing really matters and the pressure’s off, so you have a great gig.(except Tim, who had a fucked one.)
I saw some of the Gurus tonight. I must admit I wasn’t that moved. It seemed as if they and the crowd were going through the motions. I sat in the beautiful Metro foyer with some friends and got drunk.
6TH JAN IS A NO SHOW DAY Another dip in the ocean followed by some Indian food and a movie, Welcome To The Doll House, which I thought was excellent. Dean bought a copy of the Jim Rose Circus Tour Diary from which Tim learnt how to shove a teaspoon handle into his nasal cavity – all 3 inches of it…….ah, life on the road.
7TH JAN WYONG LEAGUES CLUB We spent the day at a world-famous architect’s house just north of Sydney that you can only get to by ferry. The house was incredible, it was an open plan house with walls that open up so that all you’re surrounded by is the amazing view. It was here that Jon, our faithful mixer learnt how to stick a long skewer up his nose, thanks to Tim and the Jim Rose Tour Diary.
Tonight is at yet another huge venue, this place is a football club in the middle of what looks to be like a satellite city. Basically it’s pretty ugly and by the end of the night so are most of the people. You know the story – big footy type guys lurching around with the Chambre get up, carrying 6 plastic cups of rum and coke (fighting juice), no neck, ears resting on shoulders and shitloads of money to spend.
I thought we had escaped hell when we left the 70’s, but no, the guys are out in the carpark next to their cars checking out what’s under the hood and being blokes. The Chicks, well… of course there’s big hair, high heels, pushed up tits and short skirts. We’re the only support tonight. Here the dance floor is an ocean full of sharks. No one brave enough to put their toes in until we play Dart and Static. God bless Triple J, they send the sharks away.
Last night and tonight we don’t get any rider, not even a room to hide in. The crew, the Gurus and us all have one small dressing room between us. During the Gurus set one of their crew dislocated his knee and was in tremendous pain. Tim and I sat with him until the ambulance arrived. We talked to him and encouraged him to hold on and they won’t be too long now. He’s a pretty big and burly type of guy, and he was yelling in pain, distorting his face. I held onto the shin of the leg that was dislocated and tried to stop it shaking, which it didn’t. Soon both of his legs were shaking like crazy and he was close to losing it when the ambulance showed up. His name, I found out after he left is Craig. Everyone calls him Lumpy. Loading out I saw 2 fights. Some guy started laughing at Tim because his hair was red. We tried to leave Wyong as quickly as possible.
8TH JAN FORSTER TUNCURRY SERVICES CLUB Forster Tuncurry is overrun by tourists for the holiday season. The beach is fantastic, Tim and I spent the afternoon in the ocean while Jon and Dean stayed in the hotel room sleeping, as usual.
I have a very fucked gig here. I just can’t concentrate because Tim’s guitar is blasting me off the stage from the fold back and the fold back guy isn’t at his desk, so I can’t get it fixed. Then this real creepy guy is right in front of me, leering, which made me feel weird and the lighting guy is doing a fantastic job, but he’s getting too arty and putting us in darkness so I can’t see what I’m doing and I just hated playing.
Apart from my fucked night, the only other outstanding occurrence was that Craig showed up for work hobbling around and that the rest of the crew were being (very subtly) nice to us, letting us use things like guitar stands and some space for our guitar tech to tune Tim’s guitars.
9TH JAN NORTH HAVEN BOWLS CLUB PORT MACQUARIE North Haven is a sleepy little town about 30kms out of Port Macquarie. The weather is turning slightly chilly and it’s too cold and windy to go to the beach. I sit in the club where we will play in 3 or 4 hours and watch the news with a bunch of old men and eat a plate of vegies from the buffet. It’s a little strange, but that’s touring for you.
I must say I’m totally surprised when about 700 people rock up to the gig. Where did they come from? and how are they all getting home? I play another shocking gig. I just couldn’t concentrate. The crowd once again, mostly hang at the back near the bar, but slowly more and more people come down the front and are dancing and cheering us on, which is what makes me feel better.
Tonight, in theme with the crew being nice to us, the mixer allows Jon more control over the desk for us, less compression and a much better sound, more effects etc. The crowd go nuts over the Gurus, as all their crowds do. this was the first gig that we watched in full. Dave Faulkner had an incredible voice, probably operatic by now. The harmonies are impeccable and made my jaw drop once or twice. They never fail to please by ripping out the hits from all the albums – Tojo, Leilani, Bittersweet, What’s My Scene?, Death Defying and the new ones.
They talk to the crowd and are not the slightest bit condescending towards their fans and always walk off smiling. Everyone leaves satisfied and on this particular evening there are heaps of fights. I watched some guy walk out into the car park and start laying into a car with his fist, trying to break the window, but not getting too far because some of his mates grabbed him, so he started hitting them. Someone punched him right in the head and floored him.
He gets up a minute later, walks straight up to another car and starts kicking and punching it. The police took him away in handcuffs in the back of a paddy wagon. Then a couple of girls started up and it was no scrag fight. They were punching with closed fists and connecting right with the side of the head. It was the scariest and most violent place I’ve been since I got stuck in the surge at the Myer annual clearance sale. Pretty bloody scary.
The next day I find out some CUNT stole all my money from my wallet in the band room. (Just know whoever you are that there is some major heavy bad karma following you, fucker.)
10TH JAN COFFS HARBOUR The Hotel we’re staying at is a popular Back Packers’ called the Hoey Moey. About 2 seconds away is the beach, so Tim and I take full advantage, while Dean and Jon watch tennis on the tele. We play at the Coffs Harbour Ex-Servicemen’s Club. A really huge complex with bars and restaurant etc. We have another buffet dinner consisting of a plate of vegies for $4 and it’s really good.
Thankfully I played well. I broke my curse of the last few days. Things are looking up – we get our own room and a enormous rider consisting of a bottle of red wine, a bottle of Jim Beam Bourbon, a carton of beer, soft drink, bottled water and a deli platter, which includes such delicacies as different selections of cheeses, cold meat and salads.
I walked out into the crowd tonight. There was well over 1000 people. Lots of collared shirts and balding heads. Their crowd seems a little weird to me, the kind I try to avoid at all costs, so I head back to our little band room, (the ladies toilets) off to stage right. It’s been really strange playing with a band that I really loved as a young girl, then having grown out of for one reason or another then having, over the years, fostered a rather cynical attitude about them.
I mean, Dig It Up was the second song (first only to the Peter Gunn theme) that I learnt to play on bass. My brother gave me Stoneage Romeos for my 16th birthday. I kinda lost interest after Mars Needs Guitars. I’ve since lost the cynical attitude and enjoyed hearing the old songs and most of the new ones. I reckon Dave Faulkner is pushing 40. I know that Brad Shephard is 36.
I told Brad that when I was in grade 6 I had a copy of his first band, the Fun Things, single. I don’t know if I said the right thing or not, I was a bit drunk. I did used to think that Brad Shephard was the most beautiful human being alive when I was 15. Then I met him when I was 21. I had long grown out of my teenage crush when we met, and the impression he gave me when we did meet was that he was some great drunken piss head.
He got a friend to introduce us after a Screamfeeder gig at the Anandale one night. He told me he loved the band and the song Sushi Bowl that I wrote, he put his arm around me and I just felt kinda strange. I didn’t realise it was him, until I mentioned it to Tony, that some guy called Brad was practically slobbering on me, “That’s Brad Shephard” Tony said and I almost fell off my chair. “Not my teenage heart-throb, surely!!!” I demanded, but it was.
So that’s the impression of him that was in the back of my mind, it wasn’t until we talked that I realised , hell, he’s a nice enough guy and there are probably hundreds of people who have encountered me as a drunken lush and only know me as that.
11TH JAN MANSFIELD TAVERN BRISBANE According to the trusty crew, more fights happen at the Mansfield Tavern than most places. The room’s capacity apparently is around 2200 people. By the time we get on stage, around 9.30 (again, we are the only support band) the place is practically chockers, which is great and a welcome change.
We all had a great time on stage, although Dean came off feeling shitty because he dropped something like 4 sticks in the first 6 bars of one song and we had to stop and pick up where we left off. I thought it was hilarious, although he thought he looked stupid. I thought it was cool because it made it interesting, it showed that even after 9 shows straight we aren’t a mindless working machine. (After 99 shows we’re nowhere near it either – Tim.)
We’ve started playing Wrote You Off again which is good. We’ve also started playing the very mellow Made Of Stone and turned it into a really heavy experience from start to finish. Bad Time To Be Leaving Town has finally made it back into our live set again and we have been finishing with it a lot lately, which rocks.
It’s good to be back home although I will miss all the swimming in the ocean and the regularity of playing everyday, a sense of purpose to each day. As good as it is to be home, it is also just as weird, as I write this I feel a little lost and directionless. I have to find something to do with myself until we play again – next week.
~~~ Chapter one ~~~
In my second year of film school (1990) I was required to make a film clip for a band. That was what I wanted to do with my life, make images to compliment and integrate with music. I also wanted to make music and play in a band, I’d learned guitar from an early age and bought a bass guitar when I was 15, but it was my interest in film that led me from my home town of Toowoomba in South West Queensland in 1989, to the fastest growing city in the world, Brisbane.
It was also my love of film making that lead me to a guy called Tim Steward. His band The Madmen had also gravitated to Brisbane from Townsville in search of bigger audiences, a slice of a more exciting social scene and cooler climes.
I wrote Tim a letter offering my services to make the Madmen a film clip on 16mm film for free! How could anyone pass up on an offer like that? Suffice to say I received a reply immediately with the go ahead, and an interesting twist with the letter mentioning he had heard of my band November Bled and also heard somehow that we had a neat-o little practice room (Oh,the on-going quest for that elusive half decent practice room!!!!!).
Funny though, at the time I had it sorted – indeed we had a neat little practice room – in my lounge room in my tiny flat above a BBQ shop in Woolloongabba. It was cool because it was on a major road in the middle of an industrial strip with only one neighbour who was far enough away that no noise would reach him. As long as we practised at night time it was no problem. So within the month The Madmen had moved into my little flat above the BBQ shop and I had a band I could use for my first 16mm film clip.
I really loved the Madmen.
They were not only sweet guys, I loved their music. Our bands played a couple of gigs together and soon my band dissolved and our guitarist and my close friend moved back to Canada. I started scheming, with my flat mate Rachelle, ways in which I could kill off Cam (Madmen Bass player) so I could join the band.
I think they must have practiced in my flat for around a year, I hadn’t killed Cam and had in fact started another band with some other film students and called it Krud. By this time Budd had moved into the lounge room and life was getting busy.
One day Cam and Tim and Tony were having a bit of a disagreement. The band now had moved into the spare room left by Rachelle when she moved out to live in sydney (as if there wasn’t enough action in a loungeroom alone!). I don’t remember how it happened but Cam had quit. He hadn’t even made it out the door yet and I was in the band. Tim and Tony just asked me if I wanted to play and I think I was pretty casual about the whole thing and said “Fuck yeah!” and played my first gig with them 3 days later.
At this point I was only a temporary replacement, which I was cool with me, I was busy with Krud, but I knew that after a while they’d realise that there was no way they would be able to replace me, I had already come to the conclusion that Tim and I were supposed to be in a band of some sort together.
The year was 1991. I was still studying, now into my final year of my Bachelor of Arts degree, with The Madmen, Krud, Budd, Chopper Division (sometimes) and now Slugfest (consisting of me, Tim and Jeremy and Jon from Budd as a silly sort of Sub Pop Tribute band – for want of another decent description!) all practicing in my little flat over the BBQ shop and the weirdest thing about it all was that the police never came once to shut us down. That place must have been blessed because this is Qld we’re talking about here!
I’m not sure how many gigs we played as the Madmen after I joined, maybe 4 or 5 , but a change of name was in order. Days were spent compiling long lists of stupid names for us, trips to the library to look through books and magazines produced such trex as ‘Mower’ and ‘Brick’. I think I even came up with the pathetic ‘Crucifixion Y Fronts’ – (Hello?) but it was Tim who came up with ‘Swimfeeder’ one day. A Swim Feeder is a piece of fishing tackle to put maggots in that you can buy in England.
We liked the sound of something to do with that name – it rolled of the tongue in an intriguing way…..”How about Screamfeeder” Tim concluded. Not only does it have more letters so when its on a poster you can hardly read it, but it is barely decipherable when you tell it to people who have never heard it before….PERFECT.
This is a thing Kellie wrote in the aftermath of an exciting weekend with Swervedriver, mid May 1998.
Don’t Kill Your Idols
I’ve been having trouble getting out the door these days. I find this a big problem because I’m quite proud of my punctuality actually – I could get anywhere in the nick of time on the button, if you know what I mean, but these days I forget where I put my keys and then I lose my wallet and I feel I am going senile.
So it makes me feel a little better when I see other people having the same problem.
Trying to leave Tim’s house is kind of like a comedy skit at the best of times, but on this day, we’re getting ready to go to see Swervedriver at Byron bay and things are moving a little slow. It starts to turn into a nightmare. You see I’ve noticed when there is a baby and no less than three babysitters to do a tag team minding operation, it’s more than just keys and wallets that become a problem, it’s food, clothes, cars, phone numbers you name it.
Eventually we have moved about 4 cars into various positions located the keys to the car we’ve been sitting in outside the house for fifteen minutes and then decide another car should be taken – then finding Tim’s wife who has gone missing inside the house we actually start to leave Brisbane.
It’s pissing down with rain and we’re all excited. Dean is celebrating his 24th birthday, Tim and his wife Micki are having a night away together for the first time in a long time and for me I’m excited to be seeing Swervedriver play and being a punter with my boyfriend.
Thanks to James Straker and Something For Kate we have free rooms at the Great Northern Hotel in Byron Bay and we all get a room each and sit around upstairs getting drunk together. Micki sees what we would be like on tour – all the stupid things we talk about – all the burping, farting and the lapses out of normal conversation- such beautiful things to see. We are all relaxed because we don’t have a gig to prepare for. There are no responsibilities for Micki, in fact their daughter is at home in good hands and has been declared a taboo topic for the evening. There is nothing to worry about.
We drove all this way to see Swervedriver for a number of reasons. Plainly we are all big fans. Tim and I first saw them play in London in ’93 after we toured Europe. They played the night before New Years Eve as part of their Mescal Head tour. On entering the club everybody received a miniature bottle of tequila with a Swervedriver label and all, which I still have except I drank the contents and ate the worm the next night. That little bottle has been through so many moves to so many houses now and always has pride of place on my book shelf.
When Swervedriver first came to Australia we played with them in Brisbane and were very chuffed indeed. Tim gave them our latest record (Fill yourself with music) and I decided there was no way I wanted to meet them. I wanted to keep one of my favourite bands a complete mystery to me. I didn’t want to meet Adam Franklin and have him be some ass hole and ruin the perfect picture in my head thank you very much!
I’d met some of my musical heroes and had them deflate into someone I wouldn’t want to know as a person. On the other hand I meet some of those heroes who were incredibly wonderful people, but because of meeting them they became just a person. A famous person still, but a person who had become normal and not an enigma.
Not that there is anything wrong with that. I’m glad that the guys from Pavement were the nicest people to hang out with and easy to talk to, but meeting them and becoming friends turned them into people and not mysteries.
We’ve talked to David Yow about playing scrabble – that’s not very rock is it! So I wanted one band to remain untouched in my tainted world of sarcasm and rock jadedness.
The best show I have ever seen Swervedriver play was on top of the Triple R radio station building in Melbourne. It was a beautiful and uncharacteristic Melbourne afternoon. The sun was out. The sun was low behind us casting long shadows and they played to a backdrop of a deep blue sky with a few wispy clouds and the occasional bird flying by. They played every great song – the standard old faves and a selection off the new album that had just been release here.
Luckily for us through Linda Bosidis from Mushroom Publishing gave us a special advanced copy of the album about 6 months before it was released here so we knew all the songs and were in heaven. The free beer was just an added bonus! We went to see Beck that night after the rooftop show but after seeing such special performance (on a roof no less), the Beck show paled in comparison and we left half way through the show to go back to the hotel and get drunk.
All of these things plus the certain kinship we feel with Swervedriver. Certain things like record company problems and the fact that our music is in the same vein and they have been a big inspiration not to mention big time fame and recognition has eluded both bands, more so us of course, but we can’t help but feel sympathy for their cause. Not to mention the similarity of the name and the fact that we received a bit of flack for that but there are also some photos of us where I look like the Bizarro Adam Franklin.
The White Girl version of him, call me obsessed, but you know the dreadlocks and the sunglasses and a blurry photo copy can do a lot to how someone looks. Have I mentioned that I love them yet. There is that too.
Back to the Byron Bay gig. They came on stage with the instrumental from Ejector Seat Reservation. There is something to be said for the expectation of seeing a band walk on stage and what they choose to walk on stage to. Swervedriver do it beautifully. In London when we saw them they played the drum track off Duress and walked on one at a time. Jez first who filled in the rest of the beat, then brand new bass player Steve who started playing that mesmerising circular bass line (and I just could have cried) then Jimmy saunters on joining in and lastly that beautiful be-dreaded man with the gorgeous voice and the song really takes flight.
The first song at Byron was Wrong Treats off the new album. I don’t think they can play badly, the mix was fantastic, it wasn’t too loud so every thing had definition and the crowd small but enthusiastic. They ended with Duress and I danced the entire gig up the front with my eyes closed. I think Duress is my favourite of their songs which is a hard call because I don’t dislike any of their songs but live that song lulls you into some kind of trance.
People are filtering out, the show is over, Tim is asleep on his feet and joins Micki in the hotel room to go to bed, Dean is really drunk, I’m pretty together after dancing for an hour and ready to go out and party all night I’m so happy. This is when the weird shit happens.
My boyfriend Stephen encourages me to make a conversation with the drummer. We have delusions of grandeur of having him record us for our next single, so I go and say hello to him and Steve remember Screamfeeder from the Brisbane show two years earlier and still have our record (Oh My God!!!). They invite us over to the club across the street to have a drink and stuff. Dean can’t make it and goes off to bed and has a big hurl.
So it’s me and Stephen who go over.
I’m standing at the bar and I look to my left and there he is right next to me. Adam Franklin. I don’t even think about it, I just put my hand out and say “Hi Adam, I’m Kellie.” and instantly we make friends and bond over the culling of dreadlocks. Adam declared quite often “Dreadlocks are so passe!” and I really can’t agree more. We talk about books and authors like Martin Amis and Gabrielle Garcia Marquez who he had just finished reading one of his books and I had sent one to my mum for mothers day the previous week.
I was socially lubricated enough to be able to be unrestrained and completely honest with him about all the reasons why I like his band without coming off like a completely insane pratt and he just said he wanted to hear more! He was really friendly and funny and he was ribbing me in the ribs and messing my hair up and I wore his hat and the most exciting thing was that a Chemical Brothers song came on and I asked him to have a dance with me and HE DID!!!!!! I DANCED WITH ADAM FRANKLIN!!!!!!!!
Meanwhile Stephen is looking on thinking “Cool, my girlfriend is dancing with that guy from Swervedriver!”.
We hung around for ages in this little club full of English Backpackers until the bar closed. When I was leaving I gave him a big hug and told him I loved him and ran away. In retrospect I think I should have asked him to marry me, perhaps it’s better that I didn’t. Needless to say I talked about it all the way home. In fact I nearly exploded.
One of the other reasons why we went to Byron to see Swervedriver was because we were to play the next night in my home town Toowoomba, an hour and a half out of Brisbane, the same night SD were playing in Brisbane.
This is another weird story. We played the Gladstone Hotel, my old hangout while I grew up, the place I learnt to drink and the only place to see bands in the hell hole of a home town I lived in for 17 years. In fact I had seen the Madmen play there before I had even met Tim and this night was the first night we had played there as Screamfeeder.
The local entertainment guide had a big colour picture of us on the cover and a big story. My mum was really proud of me and gave us about 20 copies of it at dinner and I met all her workmates and they all hugged me and welcomed us the way only old locals can.
The Gladstone Hotel had been struggling along lately and was in the middle of a war with a neighbouring hotel. The Manageress explained to us that they had to have a decibel limiter on all night and we could not play about 95 decibels. This isn’t very loud. In fact we measured the drum kit on it’s own and it was 97db.
Apparently if we exceeded this limit the licensing branch had warned them they would march right in and start loading the PA out right then and there and close the bar. To make things worse, we are playing out in the courtyard where sound travels and you have no hope in hell in trying to control it. With that in mind, it was a great relief when heaps of people showed up and at least they could absorb some of the sound, but we were pretty restrained with the volume – a pretty big thing with us.
The show was a complete success, we had a great time, I have never seen that many people in the Glad before and there were lots of familiar and friendly faces. I can’t tell you how much of a spin out this gig was, to play your home town and have it be a big success .
As it turns out, at the end of the night the licensing commission walked in with 3 uniformed police officers and gave them a fine for $3000 and closed the place down. There will never be another band at the Gladstone and it has been a Queensland institution for independent music. But it wasn’t our fault, it would have happened no matter who played there that night, it’s just that it was us and that’s weird.
It’s been often remarked that the best view of Toowoomba is the one you have out of the rear view mirror as you descend the range, I’ve always thought that but today I was happy to be leaving triumphant and it felt like a sign that things are on the up for us as a band. I guess we have to thank triple J for having a big show in a small town.
We’re all pretty shagged and the drive takes about an hour and a half but I’m already making plans to go down to the Gold Coast to see Swervedriver at their last Queensland show tonight and every one else is piking out.
After dropping everybody at their respective homes I go book shopping and I buy 2 books that I think Adam might like. I feel like a very weird freaky fan, but on the other hand I figure that I would really dig it if someone went out and bought me a book they think they would change my life, so with this reasoning I bought him Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow by a Danish writer called Peter Hoeg and Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.
If you’ve ever read any of those books you would understand why I would want to give it to a guy who writes lyrics and words that you really love and have some meaning to you. That’s what I wanted to do. A really good book you will always love and probably always want to keep and I wanted to give him something to keep. I was that impressed that he was such a nice guy. I mean, even my boyfriend won’t dance with me.
I ended up driving down to the Coast by myself and I gave the whole band a copy of our Hi C’s single and I gave Adam his books and one of our t shirts.
After the show Adam Invited me to watch the FA Cup final with them in the front bar of the Playroom because they actually played a short set so they could watch it. I know nothing about soccer and was given the full run down of who was purchased from what other club for Seventeen million dollars and who in the band is going for what team by Jez, who I think really got into the idea of explaining the inner workings of an English institution to an unsuspecting Australian.
He told me who the underdogs were – his and Adam’s team – Newcastle and Steve and Jim were going for Arsenal – who won. I really got into it when I found out that this guy Shearer was the guy bought for all that money and did something he should have been kicked out of the game for and he really shouldn’t have been playing the final. I figured that every Arsenal fan was screaming “Motherfucker” at him and made the whole thing worse for every Newcastle fan who watched them loose. I got the low down on all the politics and actually learned something.
Now Jez and Adam have to tour the states with Steve and Jimmy rubbing their noses in it for the next seven weeks and they looked a little depressed about it.
So I said goodbye to them knowing that one day if we ever go to London for an extended time we have been invited to do some recording with Jez in their studio in London called Bad Earth and that Adam was really stoked that I gave him some books and that I got Steve stoned the night his team made good in the big game.
I drove home by myself and smiled the whole way.
So to conclude this frightfully long out burst of extreme fandom, I’m really happy that I put my hand out and introduced myself and that I may not have been entirely right-minded in wanting to have these people on a pedestal. You see I got to see a nice picture of them and at the end I don’t know wether or not they lose their wallets and can’t find their keys or wether they are hopeless with all the things that I am starting to be.
They are just people, but they’re also still Swervedriver. And thinking about that it’s the same with Pavement and that’s cool. It’s nice knowing that I can still feel just the same about them after meeting them and I have an extra reason for swooning at pictures of Adam Franklin because he danced with me.
The Men Who Fell To Earth – Swervedriver Interview / Story. 15th of April 1998.
Here’s a story that Tim wrote for Brisbane mag Shmoozer, after interviewing Steve – Swervedriver’s bassist, just before they came out to Australia.
Sonic, Stellar, Cosmic, Cyclonic, Sci – Fi, Surging, Chaotic, Restrained, Intense, you can use all these words to try and describe the sound of Swervedriver. Formed in Oxford, England, in the very early nineties, they were in the same gang as Ride, My Bloody Valentine and a host of other loud melodic guitar bands.
Where most of those bands have faded away, seemingly with that particular fad of musical fashion, Swervedriver have stuck at it, supplying us consistently with albums full of guitar driven rock ‘n’ roll songs with themes, riffs and melodies to really, well.. take you to a higher plane.
I was lucky enough to speak to Steve, the bass player, the day after they’d got back from their first major American tour in four years, and he told me a lot of interesting stories. Apparently Adam, the singer, makes baby noises as he snuggles up and falls asleep.. “He goes ..nnyuuh, ..mmhhhm, when he’s comfortable”.
Swervedriver are a band who’ve been plagued by record company hassles over the past four years. They have been associated with quite a few labels too – Creation and A+M to name two. They were also briefly signed to Geffen before their A+R person got sacked, and they were passed on to “someone who knew nothing about the band and wasn’t that interested really – he was working with Metallica and turned out to be barking up the completely wrong tree.” So in the end they were dropped.
As Adam has been quoted as saying: “It was a classic case of accountants running and ruining Rock ‘n’ Roll.” It turns out that their third album, Ejector Seat Reservation was never released in the states, which explains the lack of touring over there.
Now Steve’s happy to be on the road again, finally, with new product under arm – the new album 99th Dream. (Even though the album is a year old now – its release held up by more label problems. The band are releasing it on their own label in England.). He said he’d like “to tour for a year – it would be like that old jazz thing where after you’ve been touring for about 8 months you elevate to another level of competence, which would be quite interesting.
A combination of psychosis and technical whatever, not having to concentrate on where to put your fingers, and just going on the feel.” Well it wasn’t quite a year, but Swervedriver toured America for 7 weeks. They hired a bus and only had 2 or 3 nights off – “Only 2 or 3 nights in hotels, mostly really living in each others’ pockets on the bus.”
It seems Swervedriver are lucky, they like to tour intensively, and they all get on well, now. “In the past over a 7 week tour, there would come a point when everyone would lose it, and we’d all start pissing each other off, but with this tour it wasn’t at all like that. I think we’re all delighted to be out and playing again.”
Back in time briefly to Ejector Seat, which is my personal favourite of all the Swervedriver albums. It’s an album that overshadows its predecessors so incredibly, and really represents a massive step forward for the band, musically and lyrically. “I couldn’t even listen to it for two years – it was a weird one, the band was in turmoil, we knew shit was hitting the fan [label wise] and the title was definitely appropriate.
We thought we should just follow our instincts and make a record we wanted to make.” Maybe Swervedriver were moving away from the scene that they and their contemporaries had been at the centre of in the early nineties, but whatever it was, it was a bold step, and one that payed off with the results of an amazingly creative album; one that’s been referred to as “Better than Sergeant Pepper’s”.
The new album is equally as bold in its songwriting, and Adam’s voice is noticeably more confident too; “Adam had one singing lesson, and the woman increased his vocal range by four notes either way. I mean, on Raise [the first album] especially, he kind of became the singer unwillingly really, he just wanted to play guitar, but now he’s really up for it.” Songs like “She Weaves A Tender Trap” which is my favourite, and Steve’s too – “It’s a bit different, and when we recorded it it was four o’ clock in the morning and we were all a bit ..fucked up..” demonstrate the direction the band might be heading in.
“We’ve got our own studio, and we’ve got lots of bits of music that we’ve recorded from soundchecks, or that aren’t complete songs yet, and we usually just chuck the vocals and the melodies on at the last minute really. The new stuff’s getting a bit more experimental again.” [Jez, the drummer, engineer (and “bad morning person” according to Steve) built and runs the band’s Bad Earth Studio.]
For a band who have outgrown their old scene and found themselves removed, by choice, from the current trend of a lot of new music in England, they are happy to be stepping out into the world and finding new places to play and new audiences to play to. Australia is definitely a favourite location, “We like it there, and mainland Europe and North America are really great for us.
We’re constantly surprised by the cross section of people in our audience, we’re always sneaking young kids in, there are a lot of women, a lot of black people, and even bearded old people, and a lot of them know the words to songs of ours from records that haven’t even been released in that particular country yet. We played with a band called Hum in the states recently, and their audience was so distinctly one kind of person, like sort of 21 year old blokes with glasses, dare I say a geek audience”.
Speaking to Steve I really got the impression that he and the rest of the band are really down to earth, nice blokes, happy to talk openly about what they do and how they do it. “Yeah, mention the record label stuff, it’s boring for us, but I guess it’s an integral part of why we’ve been away for so long.” What’s not boring though is talking about the real issues that make Swervedriver who they are.
Steve is enthused about the way the band members interact, the albums – past and present, the songs, the music and the words. “A song like 99th Dream was basically written by Jimmy [the second guitarist and “gadget collector” of the band] – we really liked all the riffs, and then Adam came along at the very last moment with the words and melodies and then we knew it was really something.” Adam, it seems, isn’t getting morbid about the band’s misfortunes either – a lot of his lyrics have and still do deal with angels, space, stars, dying, flying, sleep, memories dreams and escape – but in a positive way.
Swervedriver’s music itself is the thing that protects them from all the troubles surrounding them – a little noisy space shuttle, with sonic force fields in full effect, flying through a universe of meteors and fire.