Dysing With Death

24 May 2012 | 10:00 am | Simon Holland

International acts touring, Perth bands heading out into the world… Leading the charge is Soundworks honcho Glenn Dyson – musician, promoter and above all, a fan. Simon Holland catches up for a chat.

As a general rule, living on an island is excellent as long as no one else arrives. The years of a safe and measured evolution tend to play against you when seasoned competition rocks up on shore. Perth's burgeoning metal scene, however, has bucked that trend and it's largely thanks to the efforts of one not-quite-dinosaur; Glenn 'Dysie' Dyson. The level of organisation, camaraderie and the sheer quality of Perth's exports have proven that a sleepy little town left to its own devices can become a regular Jurassic Park.

From playing guitar in the iconic Pathogen, founding his own project (Cuntscrape) and most recently joining successful folk metallers Claim The Throne, Dyson has covered a lot of ground. In addition to his musical contribution, Dyson has founded label Prime Cuts Music and more recently Soundworks Touring. His passion and drive stems from simply being blown away as a youngster by one excellent band. “When I was first starting, it was the early '90s and [Perth Thrash metal legends] Allegiance were really taking off,” says Dyson, moving into to his car for better reception. “You can instantly take it back to there. It was with them that the scene really exploded. I can safely say that if it wasn't for Allegiance, I wouldn't be where I am today.

“The first gig,” recalls Dyson, “was at the old Berlin [corner of Roe and Milligan Streets, Northbridge] and maybe a thousand people rocked up and we were like, 'What the fuck is this! For a local band? You're kidding me.' We were just mad metalheads who said 'There's got to be bands in Perth, so lets get amongst it.' That's what got me hooked into local metal, and 22 years later, I'm still going to local gigs every couple of weeks.”

The remote location would provide an initial barrier for the movement. The metal crew realised there was no place for the attitudes that infected their east coast and overseas counterparts. “The isolation probably has a bit to do with it,” admits Dyson. “In Perth we can't really afford to be fussy and picky and rude and have our heads up your arses. On the east coast, if you want to travel, you can. A quick drive or a cheap flight and you're there. While in Perth, you can do it but it would cost you an absolute fortune, you know?”

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This frustration prompted Dyson to take matters into his own hands. “I started my own band and then had to start my own label because there was no label over here,” explains Dyson with an understated simplicity. “Myself and Brad [Wesson, Soundworks partner and friend] used to fly over east a lot to see bands because they just wouldn't come to Perth. We started supporting a couple of eastern states bands and brought a couple over. Then we brought out [Tasmanian extreme metallers] Psycroptic and became good friends with Dave [Haley, the band's drummer]. Our first tour was a giant effort between us and Dave, and Soundworks Touring stemmed from there. We were like, 'Oh well, instead of flying bands over, let's bring them to us.' So besides work and making money we're fans of about 90 per cent of the bands we bring over. So in Perth, we know the scene inside out. We know people were going to buy tickets so we took a punt.”

The result has seen a boom in the culture and the quality of the metal exported from this town. For Dyson, the hard work and effort has been rewarded through the enjoyment of others. The fan-first approach of the company is reflective of the fun times in the early years with his mates. “It's been great,” reflects Dyson. “Everyone here has supported us because of the close-knit nature of the scene. As long as everyone continues to show up, we can cut the cost for the bands and make a bit of money to keep it a worthwhile venture. We can keep bringing the bands as long as people can keep coming out.”