Silent Partners

24 May 2012 | 1:55 pm | Tyler McLoughlan

Fiona Horne's active online fanbase has stuck out 15 years of absence.

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Formed in 1990, Sydney outfit Def FX were forerunners in blending electronic beats and samples with rock and metal instrumentation, becoming festival favourites and champions of the ARIA independent charts over several EPs and four albums until their breakup in 1997. Though to truly understand their place in Australia's music scene, one need only flick through a copy of January's Rolling Stone to spy frontwoman Fiona Horne featured amongst the highlights of 20 years of Big Day Out, commanding the crowd from her knees, topless.

“I remember that concert too, because I remember thinking, 'Shit, will I take my top off?'” says Horne from her home in LA. “Because God it was so hot and everyone else was taking their bloody tops off that day – but I was the first female on the main stage... Immediately with the whole audience, there was this roar – we were on the main stage – and there was this roar that came up and the whole audience just turned into a sea of boobs, every girl in the bloody audience at the main stage at five o'clock in the afternoon took their tops off. It was fabulous – it was just so fun. And I remember Billy [Corgan] came up to me after that and said, 'That was really cool,' and we became friends, God bless him.”

Since their last show 15 years ago, enigmatic modern-day witch Horne put all things Def FX to one side, though as the idea of a reunion turned into a six-date national tour, she has been reliving the band's glory days a lot lately.

“I was really surprised when I Googled our name and saw there's a Wikipedia entry of us, there's YouTube videos uploaded – lots of them – and we had a fanpage that someone had created that had like 400 members. And I was really shocked when I saw the Psychoactive Summer film clip on YouTube had like a quarter of a million hits; I was like, 'What the fuck? What?' And people were leaving comments literally the week before – there was a whole awareness of Def FX that I had no idea about because I've just been very focused on doing my books, working in television… I just had no clue. So it was extremely gratifying.

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“The momentum around this has been amazing. Getting Marty [Basha] our original bass player involved, the way I reached out to him was through YouTube because he'd actually posted a comment on there and it was the only way I knew how to contact him – I had no idea where he was in the world. So I put a note up on YouTube saying, 'Marty, mate, it's me – if you feel like connecting, drop me a line here,' and so that's how we connected.” 

Horne admits that in a perfect world, her founding partner Sean Lowry would have been keen to join the reunion, though she's chuffed to have Basha by her side, along with Ant Banister of '90s electronic arts/label collective Clan Analogue, and sonic metal guitarist Wiley Cochrane filling out the lineup. 

“I think in some ways perfection is overrated, and there's a saying I have: 'When I gave up being a perfectionist, suddenly my life was perfect.' Marty and I kind of agree that there's a wonderful opportunity here to recreate Def FX; it's very much a nostalgia nod to what we did and what we created, and I think one of the biggest components of all of this is gonna be the fans that are coming. We're gonna have a moshpit full of 40 year olds going, 'Ouch, don't hurt me!'”