Described as a “must-have for every Australian music fan”, ‘Sound As Ever: A Celebration of the Greatest Decade in Australian Music (1990-1999)’ will launch on September 1, packed with never-before-seen photos and archives from the time and never-before-told stories about the songs, bands, festivals and break-ups from the artists and industry folk who were there. Ahead of its highly anticipated release, authors Jane Gazzo and Andrew P Street share exclusive extracts with The Music.
I was lucky enough to be there from the beginning, Tumbleweed were one of the first bands to ride the ’90s wave, but some of my fondest memories are from the very early days, before it had really become what it became, when it was a close-knit community of sweaty kids in a pub, we felt it was something special, we felt like it was ours!
It was fun being the freaks, driving into Aussie regional towns and turning heads, playing with ’80s big oz rock bands with our heads down while the whole audience chanted ‘fuck off – fuck off – fuck off!’ They were moments that shaped us and at the same time amplified the changing generation. It was almost a reaction to the past, to the big hair posers and the Oz rock establishment at least — they didn’t get us and we were proud of that. Though we did draw inspiration from a long list of unsung Aussie heroes who blazed the trail before us, like Radio Birdman, the Celibate Rifles, Died Pretty, The New Christs, Exploding White Mice, The Gurus, the Stems, The Hard-Ons etc — bands who forged the underground scene through the ’70s and ’80s.
Our kind of music didn’t belong in the mainstream, we were actually more comfortable in an alternative scene where we felt we belonged, and we would meet kindred spirits all over the world with an equal love for the same secret music.
I remember an early gig in Melbourne, It was the Meanies Gangrenous launch at the Club in Collingwood, when we arrived the place was packed, we had to squeeze through the crowd to get to the dressing room while Fridge were ripping the place apart, we were instantly hit with this massive wall of sound, I thought they were amazing and doing exactly what we wanted to be doing. They were certainly drawing from a common well.
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It was the Meanies crowd and they were at the top of their game and were amazing. They remain one of my favourite bands, Link was on fire, his dreads flying. He was in and out of the crowd all set. He had a meat cleaver hanging around his neck like a necklace and as he threw himself about, the cleaver was swinging and leaving cuts all over his body. When he came off covered in sweat and blood he wanted to give me a hug. I kind of pulled back so he lunged forward and kissed me on the lips. That was my first kiss on the lips by Link but not the last, I’ve had plenty of them over the last thirty years.
In 1998, TISM sent a copy of their single, ‘I Might Be A Cunt, But I’m Not a Fucking Cunt’ to Returned Services League state president Bruce Ruxton — an outspoken and opinionated man whose loud and oafish demeanour was often parodied on TV show Full Frontal.
The aim was to get Ruxton so offended by the single that he would make an issue of it. It worked. Ruxton walked straight into it, and sent a letter to the band’s record label denouncing the title and maximum publicity was guaranteed for TISM — much like their very public spat with artist Ken Done.
TISM’s 1993 EP Australia the Lucky Cunt originally featured a Ken Done-esque style koala on the front cover, with a syringe in its mouth and a sun in the top left-hand corner.
But it was neither the koala nor the syringe that Done’s lawyers took issue with — it was the sun! The cease-and-desist letter specifically mentioned that the sun was a direct lift of a Ken Done copyrighted image.
So TISM told everyone that Ken sued them and that he claimed to own the sun. The EP’s title was changed to Censored Due to Legal Advice.
For more details and to order your copy, click here.