October 25, 2004

popular friction.

When I write my autobiography, this week could well end the first book entitled My Innocent Youth.
I don't usually do personal posts but I figured that, since a lot of my friends read this blog, I can afford to be a bit indulgent in the name of efficiency.
First big news is that I got that job I wrote about a couple of entries ago. It only goes for a month, but if I don't fuck it up, it could lead to other places. In other words, the Howard government may have won. I can't keep up these dole shinanigans. I want out. Or off. I whatever it is post-dole.
I went back to my hometown this weekend to hang out with my friend. As part of my employment celebrations, I decided to damage the braincells that helped me get the work in the first place: I got utterly shitfaced drunk.
What I can tell you is that I ended up naked and vomiting sweet potato in someone's backyard. You can fill in the rest of the blanks.
All this means that it might be a while before I write again.

Okay, back to the usual kind of post.

As you can probably guess, I have a conflicted relationship with Australian Idol. I watch the show, know the names of contestants and, yes, I have voted on more than one occassion. Unlike the judges, I make no pretence (well, some pretence) that it is about "talent" or "ability." They could just as easily call it 'Wrestling Idol' and I'd get as involved. I enjoy seeing the humiliation and moral acrobatics that go on. Truth be told, Idol is terrible for Australian music. That's no secret.
What you may not know is that part of Idol fandom, like other popular shows, is fan generated content; that's right readers, I've written some Australian Idol fan fiction!

Sunday Idol Sunday.
Chanel stared into the bathroom mirror. She had just had her hair done and was due for make-up. With the show only an hour and a half away, she hoped that she could skip the distracting pep talk by spending time in the loo.
Chanel began to walk to the greenroom and, as her shoes clacked on the lino, she noticed something was amiss. Normally the hall would be filled with production assistants and cameramen filming their “behind the scenes” shots, but it was empty. Even the security guard wasn’t at his usual station at the greenroom door. ‘Maybe there’s something special happening on stage,’ she thought to herself.

Chanel Cole
The real horror is that Casey won
She walked on to the backstage room, where the pre-show interviews take place, and noticed as she entered that all the chairs had been turned over. Her instincts kicked in and she felt an icy fear in her gut. The stage was a short walk out the door in front of her and theoretically the warm up act should be taking place. She couldn’t hear a thing.
Her first thought was maybe the building had been evacuated while she was taking a slash and she had been overlooked in the confusion. She slowly opened the door that leads to the stage cautiously. There was ten meters of unlit passage before it was possible to get a good view of the stage and audience.

As she eased the door open, she could hear shuffling and screeches, like sneakers rubbing on polished floorboards. As she took a step, the seating came into partial view and she saw a flash of someone running down the aisles, followed by two more people. The rest was empty. Her brow knitted in confusion. If something was wrong, where was the commotion? And where was everyone else?

Without stepping out into the light, she strained to see the left side of the stage without revealing herself. She could see Mark Holden laying flat on his back, with two men she didn’t recognise crouching over him.
She went to call out, when a sweaty hand clapped over her mouth.
“Don’t,” whispered the voice. Chanel recognised it as Casey.
“Wh..?” asked Chanel.
Look,” said Casey in a hoarse whisper.
Chanel squinted and saw Mark was lying in a pool of black oil. No, not oil. It was dark red. One of the men, with his back to her, turned his head and sniffed the air. Chanel saw his face was chalky white save for an open and bloodied maw.
“People have gone crazy,” said Casey. “Everyone else got out through the fire exit. I was… I was too scared to move,’ she said grabbing Chanel tightly by the wrist.
“Come on,” whispered Chanel. “We’ll get out this way.”

As the two went to turn away from the scene of Mark Holden’s demise, Anthony appeared from their blind spot on the right, clutching his torn throat. In the dark they could see his expression, pleading for help. Without thinking, the two women grabbed his arms and silently dragged him back to the interview room.

Anthony lay on the floor as Casey cradled his head. He struggled to form words, but the rip on his jugular just gurgled. His hand slipped away, his eyes rolled back and he died in Casey’s lap. Chanel stood there, unable to comprehend what was happening.

In the silence, Chanel could hear footsteps coming toward the stage door. She leapt and pushed in the lock not a moment too soon, as the person on the other side began violently thumping on the door, making barely audible grunts.
Suddenly, the corpse of Anthony sat up and swivelled to turn to the youngest of the women, still crouched beside him. He stretched his arms out and grabbed Casey by the throat. Casey shuffled along the floor, trying to pry away from his grasp.
Chanel grabbed a heavy sign advertising Garnier products and brought it down with full force on Anthony’s head. Casey scrambled to her feet and ran to the opposite side of the room, trying to put as much distance as she could between herself and Anthony.

Anthony got to his feet, his head hanging around his chest. His neck was broken, yet he manoeuvred his shoulders in order to face Chanel, his eyes looking upward. Blood was streaming from his eye sockets, nose and his slack jaw.
Anthony took a step toward the Chanel, her face a picture of terror. With her stiletto shoe in hand, Casey drew upon her inner strength and cracked Anthony in the back of the skull, burying the shoe’s spike deep into his brain. Anthony crumpled instantly. Casey stood over the body, bloodied shoe still in her tightly clenched fist.

Chanel slowly drew her gaze upward from Anthony’s body to Casey’s expressionless face. The door leading to the stage was still banging, and served to bring the two back from their shock.

Chanel stuck her head out the door leading to the hallway. Still empty. She turned back to Casey.

“Come on,” said Chanel. “We can get out this way.”

Casey dropped her shoe and kicked off the other. Chanel also removed her impractical but stylish footwear and grabbed Casey by the hand. “We’ll get through this, just stay with me,” Chanel said assuredly. Casey nodded in response.
Hand in hand, with impeccable hair, beautiful dresses and no make-up, the two ran down the hall toward the car park outside, hoping to find security guards or the safety of a vehicle. Unknown to them, outside the Channel 10 studios a thousand of the undead were waiting to feast on their flesh.

The End.

October 16, 2004


Jet are so hot right now. They won the ARIAs and everything. Everyone (myself included) thought that they’d have one hit, and then shuffle off to the RSL circuit or something, but the chartbusters just keep coming. When I got the call to interview Jet’s lead singer, Nick Cester, I turned to my knowledgeable friends. Advice alternated between telling me to “do something different” and warning me that Nick was a renowned arsehole. I hate interviews where the journalist says the subject was “a really nice bloke,” so I’ll dish some dirt: Nick was a bit bored, reckoned everything was shit and his answers were too short. Fucking arsehole.

What’s been going on?
We’re on holidays so I’ve got the next five weeks, six weeks off.
What do you plan to do in that time?
Um, I would really like to um… Well, I’ve got this idea. I’d really like to bring a bunch of Australian musicians together and redo 'Evie' parts one, two and three.
'Easy'? What’s that?
You know the song 'Evie'?
Really? It’s like an Australian classic, mate.
For some reason I’m thinking of ‘Friday On My Mind.’
No. You know, [starts singing] “Evie. Evie. Evie let your hair hang down.”
Ooh ‘Evie’. I thought you said “Easy.”
Yeah, so I’m having a meeting with Harry Vander tonight in Sydney to try to get the ball rolling, give me something to do in my time off.
Are you planning to go and see any bands?
Yeah, I’m good mates with Davey Lane so I go and see The Pictures whenever they play, and Dallas Crane whenever they’re playing.
My first official question is about how you’ve said that interviews aren’t your favourite thing to do. What’s to hate?
I don’t really dislike interviews… I’m surprised I said that. You know, it’s just part of the job really.
What do you think fans get out of reading interviews?
I dunno. I like reading interviews with artists that I like and, um, I like hearing from artists what songs they like of their own. I remember reading an interview with Neil Finn and they asked him that and his answer was ‘You’re Not the Girl You Think You Are’, which is my favourite song of his. He said that was the one song that he was the most proud of writing.
I'll flip it back at you then. What’s your favourite song?
Of ours? ‘Come Around Again’ which is most people’s least favourite, which is a bit weird.
What is it about the song that makes it your favourite?
I dunno. It’s something about the structure and the melody and I like the way it flows from one part to the next. The middle eight in that song is one of my favourite moments on the record.
I was think about the song ‘Cold Hard Bitch’ before this interview. I was watching the DVD that comes with the album. I saw in another interview that you said lyrically it’s not the most satisfying song.
Oh, it’s a piece of shit.
Nick Cester from Jet
It's all shit. A piece of crap.

Really? I find that strange because it’s actually one of my favourite songs.
Oh, I’m not saying that it’s not a good song, it’s just that the lyrics are crap. Well, it’s crap on purpose. It’s supposed to be a dumb rock song, that’s part of the schtick.
Does that make you reluctant to realease it as a single, because there’s some part of it that isn’t as satisfying as ‘Come Around Again’?
I love it for that reason. I love the fact that it’s a piece of crap.
At what point does the band decide that the song is finished, given what you think of the lyrics? When do you say, ”Fuck it. Let’s lay this one down”?
When it’s swingin’ I suppose.When you run through it and you say, “This is really swingin’ right now.” [Starts laughing] When you’ve got no better ideas.
Again on the DVD, when you’re playing live you play the song a bit differently than to the studio. On ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’, for example, you extend some bits out.
Just because it’s a different medium. Playing live and listening to a record are two completely different processes, I reckon. There’s a lot of moments where we really extend it out and try to have a bit of a jam and stuff. It’s a completely different process than putting a CD in a CD player and listening to it through a stereo and being part of an environment in a room filled with people and noise. You try to engage the audience as well and you can really build up the crowd and bring them down again, you know?
Do you prefer the studio or the live process?
Both appeal for different reasons. We like all the elements and if you’re not liking one element then you should do something to fuckin’ change it.
I’m trying to get a feel for how the album was put together. What was the first song you completed?
‘Cold Hard Bitch’ was the first one that we did, as the war was beginning in Iraq.
Yeah right. Did that affect anything?
No, not really I suppose. I don’t know why I bought that up.
What song off the album do you reckon is the most political?
Er, none of them [Laughs].
Why not have a political viewpoint in your music?
I don’t believe my opinion is worth much given that I don’t know much about politics. I don’t want to bother anybody with my fuckin’ opinions.
If you could force the Prime Minister to listen to one of your songs to say, “See, that’s what it’s all about,” which one would it be?
I don’t think you can change someone’s opinion with a song. No, hang on. Maybe. I’d like to think that you can. Oh, I don’t know.
I guess I’m trying to find out if there’s a song on the album that could change some body’s viewpoint on something.
On our album? Man, we’re the least political band in the world. Our songs are about girls and how many times you can go “yeah!” over and over again.
“Yeah!” and “baby.”
Yeah [laughs]. If one of our songs changes anybody’s political perspective on anything then they’re not fucking listening to it properly.
I guess I don’t mean just political perspective but, say, on rock music or something.
There are genres of music that I’ve not really liked. Like, I never liked country because all I ever knew of it was Billy Ray Cyrus. Then once I started listening to the [Rolling] Stones… Music is like dominoes; you listen to something and it’ll open a door to something else. I really like country now that I’ve been introduced to it from that angle. I’ve been listening to Gram Parsons, but even that can be a little bit too country for me sometimes. I suppose my point is that any song can open a door to something else.
You know who is weird to listen to in country music? Dolly Parton. She’s really good!
Yeah, I know! She’s really addictive too.
Do you think the music scene is a democracy or a dictatorship?
Shit. That’s an interesting question. I’d have to say, and I wish this weren’t the case, but I’d have to say it was a dictatorship.
Who are the dictators?
The labels.
What do they dictate?
They dictate what gets funded and what gets promoted, what gets played on radio and what people buy, essentially. It’s easier for them to put together some marketing exercise than it is to nurture a musical career. It’s a safer bet, like Australian Idol for example. Then again there are bands like Dallas Crane who, against the odds, still get heard, have an impact and have an influence. Which is fuckin’ great.
What was the first band you were in?
Well, me and Cam have been playing together since I was sixteen. We had heaps of different names because we’d just play friends’ parties. Like we were The Quarter Pounders and dressed in McDonalds uniforms and shit.
Were you rough diamonds or unrecognized geniuses?
We were crap. We were really shit.
I’d imagine that you’ve met a whole bunch of your musical heroes and stuff by now.
Yeah, I’ve met a couple.
Does that demystify the whole thing?
Nah, because most of these people are still pretty amazing. Most of my idols haven’t achieved that status unless there’s something special about them. So when you meet them it’s obvious that they’re pretty special people.
Does meeting them change the way you listen to their music at all?
Not for me. I’ve never become close to any of these people. Oh, except for Tim Rogers. He’s probably the only person I’ve been able to get to know.
That must be really weird.
Yeah, it was. We’d be somewhere in the middle of America and we’d get this phonecall from Tim. He’d be like, “We’re all thinking of ya! Keep going!” He’s been fucking great.
Winning that MTV award for the ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ clip is insanely huge. They are one of the biggest players in one of the biggest sectors in the largest economy in the world. What kind of effect does that have?
Yeah, it was a big deal. I don’t want to downplay the whole thing, but it’s kind of weird winning an award for a video clip that we didn’t really have anything to do with.
What role do you play in making a clip?
You want to be represented in a way that you think is truthful and suits you comfortably. We always have the last say in who we use, but that’s it as far as our input goes.
From your perspective, does it change the way people view the song?
I think so because you get an idea on a few levels of where the band is coming from visually, the way they present themselves and stuff. It helps you form a picture of where you are coming from.
When you play that song, do you have a mental picture of what the song is about and how does it differ from the clip?
Maybe not anymore because we do it so often. Definitely when I was first singing it there was a mental image in my head of what tones and sounds, especially as far as singing delivery went, that I was trying to use. What I think makes that a good flim clip is the marriage between the style of the song and the visual elements, because it’s pretty minimalistic but it’s got style and is rough at the same time.
Maybe an even bigger deal is being able to get Billy Preston on the album.
Absolutely. Even more so than touring with The Stones or anything that we’ve done. He’s a bone fide hero and well-renowned organist contributing to something that we had made.
How does that happen? Do you just go, “Bring forth Billy Preston” or something?
Bring forth? Maybe if it was the eighteenth century we would have [laughs].
Yeah. “Fetch me my codpiece and bring forth Billy Preston.”
Oh, he’s just a gun for hire. It wasn’t that hard.
How did even the possibility of that come about though?
We were talking about one song in particular and I think someone even said, “We’d really like to get a Billy Preston-esque vibe happening.” Then the producer goes, “Well let’s get Billy Preston then.” We thought he was joking and then the next day he goes, “Yeah, Billy is coming in tomorrow.” We were like “Whaaat!?” and he was like “Yeah man. I called him and he’s coming.”
What did you say to him?
I was just a little bit in awe, you know. He walked into the room and he had the worst tracksuit I’ve ever seen in my life on.
Was it one of those parachute kind of deals?
Is it called Fubu? It was fucked. And he had this kid with him who had a matching tracksuit. I had all these naïve images of him walking in with an orange skivvy and flares, like Beatles on the rooftop or something. But no, it wasn’t the case. After the shock of the tracksuit, I realised we didn’t have very long so we just got down to business. We showed him the songs and he didn’t even have to hear it all the way to the end. He just made a couple of passes and nailed it all the way to the end.
Do you have a wish list of other people you want to work with now you know it’s a possibility?
Yeah, well after that we were like, “Well who else can we get to work with?” But we’ve got our own keyboard player now, and we’d rather it be us than to have to go somewhere else.
Is there difference between all-ages gigs and over-age gigs?
Absolutely. For starters, when there is alcohol involved it makes people a bit more riotous and uninhibited. We’ve even noticed that playing in Europe that if we play early and the crowd isn’t drunk they can be less enthusiastic. But the kids will just go crazy anyway and it’s always kinda fun. There’s just a lot of screaming [with the under-age gigs] for no real reason.

dead babies on coke

When I was in Sydney, I caught up with a graffiti writer from the DBOC (Dropping Bombs on City/ Dead Babies on Coke) crew. Like any other scene, graffiti in Sydney has it's own nuances. One of its peculiarities is different crews fighting each other, and even random strangers beating the
Bad single cover
DBOC in the house!
hell out of writers. Actually talking to a renowned writer can be a bit daunting; I get the impression that if you ask the wrong thing, BAM!, he or she will smack you in the gob and write "toy" on your forehead while you cry. Now I think about it, it's a lot like diplomacy with North Korea.
Under the condition of anonymity, one of the members of DBOC showed me a couple of their walls, including one in a squat that smelled like the inside of a tonton (one of those two legged things from The Empire Strikes Back). I asked him a few questions about graffiti and relevant cultural associations.
Your crew is international, yeah?
Part of the crew is in Australia, another part is in Austria and other parts of Europe.
If you're just a kid, how do you start doing graffiti?
Usually you start in your local area. You form a tight group with a few friends. A lot of people talk shit over the internet at the moment. They think that's about getting up, but they've got it all wrong. You've gotta do the groundwork before you become all social about it. Graffiti isn't a social scene.
I imagined graff writers to be like the guy on rollerskates who writes "bad" while going backwards in Michael Jackson's 'Bad' filmclip.
Sure. It's a skill that we do have but that we rarely use, just due to the fact that we like to keep it as a treat for different occasions.
I've heard all of these urban stories on graff writers doing robberies for paint. Is that true?
A lot of people steal them, I personally couldn't be fucked because I can choose the colours or whatever. I do steal them sometimes.
So what's with all the fighting?
There's a lot of trouble between crews and different writers. I haven't painted anywhere else in a solid go apart from Sydney, but I hear that Melbourne is much different. If you go over someone's wall or if someone hears that you've said something, that's what comes back on you. There's heaps of writers in Sydney, so there's a lot of tension. Too many gangsters, too many kids proving themselves by beating someone up.
I thought you'd solve all your problems through breakdancing.
[Laughs] Yeah, that'd be great. Get out there in spandex and an afro and break down your problems. I don't think it works that way. It doesn't even work that way on the walls. I try not to get too involved and just stick with my crew. It's all politics.
You were talking about the Graffiti Task Force before. How big are they?
There's a few of them. Michael Costa decided to turn the train system into a police force. He thinks he's still the Police Minister. There are big hired clowns in grey coats with questionable backgrounds running around doing random searches on people. They hardly catch anyone. They're more of a nuisance than anything.

October 13, 2004

a new hope

I was so determined to not let weeks go by between posts, but here we are. Normally I post something coherent, but this entry I might just rap a little about what's been going on.
I spent a couple of weeks up in Sydney. Did a lot of writing while there. I went to This Is Not Art in Newcastle (NSW). It was great as always. Met lots of cool peeps and became more familiar with past acquaintences (hey Mickey Quick if you're reading).
Saw Dsico do his live electro set and he seemed insanely drunk; he forgot the words to songs etc. The crowd loved it (as did I). That was the highlight of the festival for me. Before Dsico, there was an impressive VJ/DJ duo from Perth called Rawbone. They were kind of like Eclectic Method. If you've got fat bandwidth, definately check out the EM work, especially Paperback Hey Ya and the Kill Bill RMX for sheer coolness. I've been really getting into the video stuff lately.
I interviewed Nick Cester from Jet. Everyone was like "Ooh, look out. He's an arsehole." He wasn't at all. I'll post up the transcript when I get it– I left it on a computer in Sydney and it's being emailed to me tomorrow. It's not funny like the Gene Simmons one.
Which reminds me, I should post up the George Takei transcript when I get around to it.
One thing I've been thinking about lately is hip hop. I've been listening to this shit hot compilation called Straight From The Art 2. Even though it's the best Australian hip hop compilation I've listened to, one thing that bugs me is some of the rhyming. It's not that there isn't heaps of skill involved (there is), but how many fucking songs do I have to hear where the MC says "Look at me. I've made it. I've paid my dues, give me props. Everyone else is a sucker yadda yadda"?
It's not like there isn't a milion things that can be discussed. On the plus said, heaps of the MCs are talking about politics or things that are relevent on that compilation. Fuck, just look at Tzu: I don't think I've ever heard them rap about their own greatness. That's part of what makes them so good.
One huge development is I actually went for a job! It's writing for a youth orientated mag at a huge publishing place in Sydney. Bugger me, I really want it too.
An interesting aside to the story is that I went to dropping my dole form in at Redfern Centrelink (very ghetto) to being interviewed at a swish office in North Sydney (money practically dripping off the walls) within an hour. I think my chances of getting it are good.
This is one of those dream jobs that I fantasized about before the opportunity even came up; writing about toys, cartoons, games and shit. Sure, I'll be a pusher for capitalism but did I mention I could get free cool stuff ALL THE TIME?
Finally, the latest issue of my zine, Oompa Lumpen, is out. Well, it was. I sold out of copies. But I'll do another run soonish (I hope). For Melbourne residents, there should be copies available in Sticky (in that shopping strip underneath Flinders St Station).

fav tunes at the mo

Captains of... — A-Love & Evil Ed
Machine In The Sky (Norman Greenbaum vs Bauhaus vs Goldfrapp) — Manriki
DUI — Har Mar Superstar
Still Life — Patty Medina
What More Can I Say? — Jay-Z & Danger Mouse
Bizarre Love Triangle — New Order
Sunglasses At Night — Corey Hart