Before Dave Graney became the Golden
Wolverine, the Savage Sportsman or the El Supremo King of Pop he was the
big haired, cherub faced lead singer of the Moodists. A band with all
the ingredients for cult status a great name, a good look and fine
Unfortunately, over the past decade the Moodists have been all but forgotten.
At best theyre a footnote when discussing the later success of Graney
and Clare Moore. Buried deep on the resumes of producer Victor Van Vugt
and Dirty Three guitarist Mick Turner. A vague memory for anyone who can
visualise W. Minc Records mogul Handsome Steve Miller flaying away at
a Flying V guitar.
Yet the band lasted seven years mostly spent in London - cutting
two albums, a mini-LP, three EPs and a fistful of singles. To help re-introduce
the Moodists to a new generation W. Minc has just released a 2cd-compilation
"Two Fisted Art" and the band is re-forming for a one off show
at the Tote.
The career of the Moodists can be roughly split into two halves. The first
lasted from 1980 to 85 featuring Turner and the distinctive bass
playing of Chris Walsh. The second with Malcolm Ross and Dave McClymont
from Scottish pop group Orange Juice on board, lasted barely a year.
The nucleus was Graney, Miller (both from Mt. Gambier, SA) and Moore (from
Adelaide). They met in Adelaide in the late 70s before moving to Melbourne
Have the Moodists been a forgotten band?
Chris: Yeah, I think so.
Steve : I tend to think we werent that popular to start with.
Chris: The reason for the compilation coming out was more a vanity
thing than anything else. But the more I heard it the more I realised
we were a great band.
Why would anyone care that the Moodists get back together?
Chris: They wouldnt.
David: Were expecting at the show there will be a lot of
old time weirdos there and we hope so.
Clare: Weve had some good reaction with the record so far.
People seem to think it doesnt really sound like anything from that
time which is interesting.
David: We never suffered from any 80s production forced on us like
our contemporaries so the record sounds just like our band did. Its
like we escaped onto tape and it sounds pumping to me.
Why has it taken so long to get your music back into print?
Clare: It had to be us doing it. Wed lost contact with the
original record company I dont think theyre alive.
David: Its not like you were saying before asking
us is there a demand for it? Whos going to come? Whats it
for? It was like in the original band we just wanted to do it.
When we got the live discs that seemed to spur us on.
Steve, did twist your own arm to put it out on your record label
Steve: Theres been a lot of sleepless nights but it does
mean we can do it ourselves. But there always seems to be a spanner in
the works. I love the cover but its cost the label much more than
we thought. But thats the Moodists.
As a band you spent most of your time in the UK. Is this compilation
going to be released there?
Steve: Yeah, in March.
Most of the tracks on the compilation werent released in Australia
at the time why was that?
David: I think when we left here to go to the UK we jumped straight
into it and never really expected to come back
Chris: Its true, we did.
David: I was always surprised when Id talk to people in the
Triffids and that at the time and they still had flats in Perth, Melbourne
and Sydney that they were paying rent for whilst living in London. But
we were existing wherever we had our feet on the ground. We had very few
ties with the Australian music business and we thought "fuck it
were going over there it looks like more fun".
Clare: The only thing we had to look forward to over here was to
get bashed up by the roadies of some Oz rock band at the Village Green
Hotel. That wouldve been our fate. Maybe the Frankston Pier.
Bruce Milne (Au Go Go Records) has said that The Moodists didn't come
from inner-city Melbourne and he couldnt work out whether you were
unbelievably cool, or just weird...
David: That sounds very good. Bruce occasionally says intelligent
things doesnt he?
Chris you didnt come from South Australia.
How did you hook up with the others?
Chris: No, I was from Melbourne playing in a band but Id
seen them play live and was totally impressed and one drunken night went
up to them and said "look ditch the bass player and Ill join".
I, of course, completely forgot about having said anything and a week
or so later Steve told me I was in.
So were they unbelievably cool or unbelievably weird?
Chris: They were unbelievably cool before I joined them then they
got unbelievably weird after.
Dave, in the past youve been a little reticent about your work
in the Moodists whats made you embrace it in recent times?
David: When I heard the Moodists stuff I would hear my much younger
self and what I was trying to sing about was all very ambitious. Other
people hear it as just a whole thing but I could hear every word. Then
I started to listen to it from a different perspective and I got to like
the words I was singing too because I was a bit more removed from it.
Some sort of shift happened you know.
Chris: I guess the main difference was we never claimed to be musicians
and watching a video that was handed to me recently I realised we didnt
play our guitars we attacked them. The best musician we had was Clare
who could actually play.
As a band youre always compared to the Birthday Party. How do
you feel about those comparisons?
Steve: I really like the Birthday Party.
David: It probably used to shit me off more in those days but its
not such a bad thing to be compared to because they were pretty fierce
and pretty charismatic.
Clare: It did get a bit tiring in England
it was a pain in the arse.
but in Britain when theyd write about us theyd
also mention the Go-Betweens and the Triffids which we were nothing like.
It was just piling Australians together in the same bracket.
Steve: People used to try and lump us in with goth bands.
Chris: It basically cements that whole thing of no-one knew where
to place us and theyd come up with feeble comparisons. I think if
anything, we were closer to Suicide.
Tell us about the video
for "Double Life".
David: We discovered some video of us just hanging about at a gig
in London that Mick Harvey (Birthday Party, Bad Seeds) took. It's quite
odd looking at pictures of ourselves from seventeen or eighteen years
ago. Just sitting around talking.
"Thirsty's Calling" (the bands debut LP) is commonly
referred to as the band's high water mark.
Clare: The one that came after that ("Double Life") was
actually released unmixed whereas "Thirsty's Calling" was completed
by us. Thirstys Calling was our first opportunity to
get into a real studio and have the drums in a big stone room, the bass
in it's own area. It was a real escape from the local studios.
Chris: Motorhead had been in there just before us.
David: And the Yardbirds had re-formed and were hanging around.
They'd stupidly called themselves A Box of Frogs. I really like "Double
Life" and I think we all thought if we could've finished "Six
Dead Birds" it wouldve been quite mighty. I think it's still
Chris: I personally think if we'd continued to write in that vein
it would've blown "Thirsty's Calling" out of the water.
David: We're doing a few songs live from this later period. One's
called "Take the Red Carpet Out of Town" that we recorded after
Chris left. Songs were getting more arranged and had different melodies,
chord structures a different way of writing songs I guess.
Chris, you left the band in 1985 why was that?
Chris: Next question. No, I sort of left like a bloody coward because
my girlfriend at the time had an air fare out of town and a few things
had not gone well. It was something that turned up very unexpectedly and
I just took the ticket and ran.
What did you think of the Moodists stuff after you left?
Chris: It was curious actually because I remember at one stage
being reduced to working at a factory in Collingwood and they use to have
the radio station playing the whole time and Take the Red Carpet
Out of Town came on the radio and I was there thinking "I remember
this song but I don't think thats me playing it". It changed
direction, took a different slant. It wasn't just bass and drums with
this overlay of chaotic guitar. I certainly didn't sit around playing
David: I don't mind some of the later period. We only put one song
on the compilation because sonically it told more of a story. There's
not much of the record "Engine Shudder" either.
You were actually the first Australian band on Alan McGees Creation
label (Jesus & Mary Chain, Primal Scream, Oasis). Are any of those
tracks on the compilation?
Clare: Hes rich enough that bloke.
David: It wasnt a very happy time. They use to record very
cheaply. It was a shock after the great studios we'd been in. They'd throw
you in this rat-infested studio under Waterloo fuckin' Bridge for a midnight
to dawn session.
Clare: It was about 40 degrees.
David: Tuning was impossible.
Chris: Hence the Jesus & Mary Chain.
The Moodists live is going to be quite a different experience to what
the Dave Graney Show have been doing over the past couple of years. No
acoustic guitars, fingerbells
Chris: It's going to be fuckin loud.
David: All that's there just hidden under a wall of ugly noise.
Dave, as a Moodist you were a very active frontman. Will you be tapping
back into those old pixie toes ways?
David: I don't know we'll have to see how it goes.
Is Mick Turner (later of the Dirty Three) going to be involved?
Chris: Rumour is he will be.
David: He'll be playing on the songs he recorded. We'll be doing
the early ones before we picked him up out of the gutter and showed him
where the stage was.
Chris: Though despite our best efforts we could never really change
his fashion sense.
David: His next band after us had no bass player or singer so Chris
and I felt very
What about Malcolm Ross and David McClymont (both ex-Orange Juice).
Are they being flown out?
David: David lives in Melbourne so hopefully he'll come along.
Malcolm's busy in Edinburgh.
Any plans for any new recordings?
Over the past ten years the band has only really been mentioned in
whispers and footnotes. Do you feel the compilation and one off show will
help re-dress the way that the band is viewed?
Chris: Good question.
David: Hope so.