REMINISCENCES OF A TUB-THUMPIN'DAME.
Where was I? 1983 saw The Moodists
decamp to London.We had added a new member,Mick Turner (who is now
in The Dirty Three),who we stole from
local punk act The Fungus Brains.Red Flame records had helped us out getting
over there and promptly put us in Livingston Studios Woodgreen to make
our first "real" album ,"Thirstys' Calling".With
Victor Van Vugt at the controls,It was kids in a lolly shop time especially
me and Chris Walsh as the drums and bass became the focus of the sound
and much time was spent getting "Bonzos" drum sound and Satans'
bass sound. Once this was achieved the rhythm section retired to the
room to celebrate with tubes of Red Stripe beer and countless "stick"
movies,(porno flicks)which for some reason were the only videos you ever
found in studios at that time.Honest. The album was released in 1984
we went out on the road playing dates all over Britain and the continent
with bands like ,The Fall,The Gun Club,The Go-Betweens,The Leather Nun,and
many shows with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.We also did our own tours
made possible because of the government subsidies available to people
to run venues in most northern european countries.Holland ,Sweden,Norway,Germany,Switzerland
and Austria all had deluxe venues that supplied backline,transport,accommodation,promotion,food
,beer,(and in Holland,pot),and you even got paid!!!!This was unheard
of in the U.K.where you were lucky to get paid (unless supporting friendly
bands! )and the foldback would be turned off if you didn't "wedge
up" the operator.The scene over there at the time was VERY aussie
friendly,and bands like "The Scientists","The Laughing
Clowns" ,"The Go-Betweens" ,"The Birthday Party"
and later, "The Triffids" certainly made a big impact,especially
on the continent,and inspired thousands of other musicians.Unfortunately
many journalists assumed that we all came from the same town and us along
with all the above bands were constantly compared with each other.Dave
was often compared with Nick,which I always found weird and I was referred
to as "Lindy Morrisons wayward sister" in one review,but I
guess at the time there weren't ANY girl drummers over there that I could
unlike in Australia and they had to write something! I thought that all
of these bands couldn't be more different from each other,but there you
go. About this time we started to do a lot of press in London,which is
much needed especially for moving ahead in Europe.We met journalists
the N.M.E. and Melody Maker and Photographer Bleddyn Butcher who took
photos for these and other publications and also for the album cover.Bleddyn
knew many musicians including most of the expats so there were many meetings
of like minds at his and his partner,Judes' pad.The old rivalries were
still there but we were all joined in a common bond of poverty and got
together to have a bloody good laugh about it all......NOT!
One tour of Europe in 1984 was particularly memorable.We enlisted the help of an ex-army guy with an ex-post office van to drive us around the continent,he even put a portaloo in the back with a curtain across,should one of us feel the need to relieve ourselves in front of everyone else.The whole band plus partners were present and due to the fact that the venues supplied generous amounts of accommodation etc.this was no problem.Indeed I always prefer to have other chicks around for the company and conversation. Interestingly ,our booking agent had decided to book us a tour which,if you connected up the towns on a map would leave you with an outline drawing resembling the Himalayas. First we caught a ferry to Sweden and drove to the park in Stockholm where we were to do an outdoor afternoon gig,which ,if you are at all familiar with "The Moodists" is actually impossible.Driving through the park to the stage proved to be difficult for our driver,who we were already having doubts about,as there were hundreds of naked swedes lying sunning themselves and as we noticed ,swedish women are just gorgeous.The men on the other hand, tend to range from plain to pinocchio on the dial-o-meter with the needle pushing toward the red.(See.. ABBA) We made it to the stage without running over anyone and after setting up ,retired to the band room (which was a huge bus),for light refreshment.No alcohol!!The Swedes had (have?)very strict laws regarding the sale and consumption of booze and as we all had duty free spirits on us we felt like westerners carrying baskets of eggs into 1960s Albania.After a while it also became apparent that we were being photographed and filmed by types that really didnÕt fit the Moodists Fan category at all.Later we heard ,through a guy we met ,that they treat all travelling musicians with suspicion,and come down very hard on anyone found carrying or taking drugs, this had even happened to Johnny Thunders!!!,hence the documentary.This guy knew all about it ,as he had done time there on dope charges,but on the up side,he was able to do a degree in the slammer and became a journalist when he was released!Great. It was in this atmosphere of suspicion and intrigue that we then had to play,so,after we calmed our nerves with a few wee drams,we marched on stage and proceeded to rock Stockholm.(I think).The reception was mixed ,but I think our guitarist Steve MillersÕuncle who lives in Sweden,summed it up with his critique,"Never before in my life have I had to endure such a cacophonous abomination,I had no idea that it was possible to make "music" like that.....",or something to that effect.We took this as a positive,of course and carried on our merry way. More soon... Clare
|It has come to my attention by a D.N. that in a
previous instalment I referred to Cathy Greens band as "tsk tsk tsk",(or
Skippy).This was incorrect as the name of her band was "Cough Cough" or
**.I shall be sending a donation to nit pickers anonymous anon. I shall
June 1984 The Swedish leg of the Moodist tour was quite successful.Indeed,our APRA forms show that there is still some persistent DJ over there regularly playing our old LPs over the airwaves.We left on a side trip by plane to Finland to play one gig in Helsinki after being warned by the friendly ,but sober Swedes that the Fins were all mad reprobates that drank like there was no tomorrow.Eagerly awaiting landing ,we found that it was just so!I think it had something to do with their close proximity to Russia,(which was still a threat then),but there was a general feeling amongst people that the Soviets could march in at any time and take over,so what the hell .let's party! We were treated like royalty,great hotel,food ,people there just to hang around,but MAN could those Fins put it away.Even seasoned campaigners like us couldn't keep up with the non stop vodka express.The promoter was pouring it into our coffee before sound check. The gig was one of those" here goes nothing"ones,as none of the PA crew or anyone in the venue spoke a word of english,but they were very helpful and very funny so we all had a ball.
We picked up our "van"again in Stockholm and headed off to Norway to play at the Ratz club in Oslo on the 18th of June 1984.We all passed out exhausted not far out of town and unfortunately ,so did our driver. Our driver had been having as much fun(if not more),as us and by the time Dave yelled "WAKE UP!!!!",we were about 2 seconds from ending up in a bloody Fjord. After this episode,we were never really comfortable with our man driving,making travelling a bit of a butt clenching white knuckle ride.I kept having visions of the van flying through space with our hysterical faces pressed against the windows as it falls into the abyss. The show in Oslo was very good.The club was fitted out with recording gear and video equipment ,probably care of Government funding,so we were able to get a video of the gig. The engineer ,however,had forgotten to press the "sound"button,so there is no sound on the tape,but it certainly looks good. There was no time at all to look around Oslo as,we had to high-tail it after we played.Dave and I had so wanted to meet " Ah ha",or at least Morton the singer but it was not to be.
Either there was no map at the booking agency or they were just aussie hating sadists,I'm not quite sure,but, our next gig was going to be in Vienna,Austria. If you look on a map of Europe I believe you have to drive all the way down Norway through Denmark ,then all the way through West Germany,(the iron curtain still being drawn),to get there and the gig was on the 20th of June,2 nights after Oslo!!! .The old van we were in could'nt go faster than about 80ks,which in itself is a very dangerous thing when you're on the autobahns in Germany as there are no speed limits and everyone drives Mercs at at least 120ks.On top of that we all had to take it in turns to keep the driver awake,who completely weirded me out by saying that he had been seeing friends of his by the side of the road,like,we had been driving past people he knew ,that were standing by the side of the road. "O.K.fuck this ",I commented, before insisting that someone else drive for a while,or at least until this guys friends go home. We made it into Vienna about 30 hours after leaving Oslo ,non stop.Well we had to stop a few times when we hit Vienna, as I suffer from car sickness,which is death in my chosen career,I tell you.Dave thought that maybe I was making a personal comment on the state of art and culture in Vienna at that time ,he also thought that it was very funny.I think it may have had something to do with the countless , huge billboards of Kurt Waldheim up everywhere,encouraging people to vote for him, with an evil glint in his eye. The venue promoter was surprised to see us,saying that he didn't think we would make it and that we must be mad to drive that far in such a short time.Thanks Buddy,just what we wanted to hear. We ,of course,explained to him that,being plucky Aussies it was a Sunday drive for us,before collasping in the band room.The show was fine but ,being so tired you just had to play on autopilot really ,so I can't remember it .But after there were some very appreciative music lovers keen to meet and talk,which is always good. We were on the home stretch now,but more weirdness awaited us in Switzerland.....
pic Bleddyn Butcher