Living It Up On The Dole

As election fever is in the air with only a week to go it seems like a good time to post up this recording. I had moved down to Adelaide to get out of Brisbane for a while, and had been there for less than a year when the Howard government first ran for re-election in 1998. The main issue was the GST, but there was a healthy dose of bash the dole bludger thrown in to the mix for good measure. I was on the dole at the time, and was stirred up enough by the hateful rhetoric to come up with this song. This was also of course the time of Pauline Hanson and One Nation, not referred to by name in the song, but clearly reflected in the words of the third verse.

 

I wasn’t in a band, but I decided to record the song if I could and circulate it to some of the community radio stations around the country in the lead-up to the election.

I was regularly going to Rob Scott’s jam sessions on a Thursday night at his bookshop Bookends in Unley – a very civilised affair, I have fond memories of those nights. Rob put me on to Jim Redgate, from the well known surf rock band GT Stringer.

The song was recorded at Jim’s home studio in Belair on 15/9/98. The guitar I am playing is one of Jim’s. That’s what he does for a living. His home was also his luthier’s workshop. His guitars are internationally famous and sell for thousands of dollars.

I made a couple of dozen cassettes of the recording under my old musical moniker of Fats Parameter and circulated them to community radio stations and friends.

Later on in my stay in Adelaide I was playing in Beige with Patrick O’Grady and John Sullivan, then Patrick dropped out and I was playing in a duo, Hazy Space, with John. This song was regularly included in our play list for live gigs in both lineups and went down a treat with our audiences. Unfortunately I don’t have any recordings of those gigs.

Tony Kneipp

 

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Recording The Fugitive Microbes

Hi, Tony here with my third and last posting on the Fugitive Microbes. As I mentioned in the first posting we recorded the six songs featured on this blog in early 1991. There were two sessions, on 18/1/91 and 24/2/91, at Burbank Productions, a well equipped backyard studio in the suburb of Burbank. We laid down the beds in the first session, and the vocals for Mad Dave. Peter Fergusson from Splat Acrobat was our bass player for the day. In the second session my brother Patrick came in to lay down the lead guitar, adding a dimension that makes these recordings somewhat different to our live sound. Unfortunately I was suffering from laryngytis. Despite repeated doses of the best cure for a “lost” voice that I have come across, a mixture of equal amounts of honey and tinned pineapple pieces, which did work, my voice left a lot to be desired. Luckily, the vocals on Mad Dave had already been done, and on Blackest Heart we opted to use the guide vocal also done in the first session. The vocals for the two songs included here, Fuck Fashion and Six O’Clock Lies, (both mine) were done in that last session under what were obviously less than ideal circumstances. Kristin, fortunately, was in fine voice.

 

 

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Despite any obvious flaws, I am very glad that we made these recordings of the Microbes, and also of my brother Patrick, who was the lead guitarist in the well known mid-seventies Brisbane band, Ronnie Reebit And The Toadettes, before moving to north Queensland. My biggest regret by far is not having done more recordings over the years, leaving many good songs by myself and fellow band members in this and other bands unrecorded.

The photos show the band practicing at the house in Vulture St where I was living at the time. The last photo was taken at Kristin’s twenty-first, and shows myself, Colin and Oscar with a masked friend. Thanks very much to Kristin for the photos.

Tony Kneipp

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Fugitive Microbe gigs I remember

Hi, Tony here with my second posting on the Fugitive Microbes. I mentioned in the last blog that the Microbes were fortunate in being able to play on a relatively regular basis during the band’s short life span. This gave us the opportunity to develop our own distinctive sound. Also, it was a lot of fun, and this was reflected in the positive energy of our sound, in contrast to the often darker tone of the lyrics.

Here are two of our songs, one of mine, Blackest Heart, and one of Kristin’s, Alice.

Here are some of the gigs I can still remember:

The Bye Bye BCAE Breakup Bash at the Kelvin Grove refectory late in 1989, with Oscar still on drums, and Irena on her Roland Jupiter 8 synth. Kristin had just started writing her own songs, and had one song only (A Man) in the set, the rest were mine and Irena’s.

Sacrificial Virgins, which was upstairs at the Roxy in the Valley. The handbill shows that we played there on Thursday 26 July. This was a late night venue, starting about 11 pm and continuing until well after 2 am, so most of the action was after midnight.

World Environment Day. This was held at Albert Park on Sat 2 June. Kristin wrote a song “Don’t Fall On Me” especially for the event. Colin’s daughter Emily, then only about 3 or 4, ran out on stage and started playing on the hi hats.

Story Bridge Hotel, as part of a regular monthly poetry, performance and music venue held there for some time, “Talk It Down”.

4ZZZ live to air. These were a regular weekly event at the time. The Toowong studios were decidedly pokey, and we were all crowded into the one small room. There were no headphones, vocals were monitored by wedge as in live on stage, so levels had to be carefully balanced to avoid feedback.

The BC Club. Held at the then Campus Club bar upstairs at the QUT Gardens Point campus. We played there four times.  This was the regular venue for the Brisbane Band Collective. I remember attending a number of meetings at 4ZZZ to set this up. The Fugitive Microbes were one of the original member bands. Oscar and Irena (by then in Airborne Toxic Event) were heavily involved as well. The collective served a dual purpose, as bands desperately needed a place to play, and 4ZZZ needed a regular venue and a supply of bands for it.

We played on the opening night of the club, Friday 31 August. The poster above lists the seven bands on the night – Goats In The Machine, Idee Fixe, Hooray Henries, Fugitive Microbes, Post No Bills, The Mad Parade, Custard – quite an impressive list. The second time we were the main support act for the Celibate Rifles. On both of those occasions Oscar was still paying bass, and there were upwards of a thousand people there. The last two times we were there Peter Adams was on bass. I managed to find the poster for one of those nights (Fri 9 Nov) on Airborne Toxic Event’s web page. (http://members.optusnet.com.au/~toxicoh/atepage.htm) as they were on the bill as well.

Like most bands, we played at quite a few parties. Two in particular stand out. On December 2 1989 a Queensland state election was held, and the Nationals lost power. The Livid Festival was on that day and TVs were set up around the venue to catch the election updates. During their set TISM couldn’t resist the opportunity to pay out on the Nationals Premier Russell Cooper. Afterwards we played at a party where I was living in Vulture St which turned into a wild celebration. It was also my brother Shane’s birthday. The other occasion was Kristin’s twenty-first birthday party on 11 August 1990 at her parents large acreage place – a huge gathering of friends and relatives, copious food and drinks. We camped out overnight.

In 1993 we reformed especially to play at a HEMP fundraising concert at The Zoo. We had one rehearsal in a storage unit set up as a practice room. Somehow we remembered all the songs, and were surprisingly tight, and got a very enthusiastic reception from the crowd. As the flyer above shows, the other bands were Splat Acrobat and the Tooth Fairies – also an impressive lineup.

Tony Kneipp

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Fugitive Microbes

Hi, Tony here with a post about a different band. In 1989 I spent a year studying for a secondary teaching diploma at Kelvin Grove campus, the last year before it became part of QUT. During the year I discovered that one of my friends at college, Kristin Black, was a very talented guitarist and singer. I asked her if she would be interested in playing in the band I was in, and somewhat  to my surprise she she said yes. At the end of the college year we played in the main refectory at Kelvin Grove in what was the Bye Bye BCAE Breakup Bash. That was the first public performance by the Fugitive Microbes. The other band members were Brisbane music veterans, with  Oscar on drums and Irena Luckus from Xero on synthesiser and vocals. Irena may have played one or two other gigs after that, but was the first to drop out. Around that time Colin Barwick came in on drums and Oscar switched to bass, so for most of the band’s existence it was the four of us, me, Kristin, Colin and Oscar.

We played throughout 1990, quite a few times for an original Brisbane band then or now for that matter. Bands playing original material have always found venues somewhat scarce here, with all but a few of them being lucky to play once a month on average. I’ll mention some of the gigs I remember in my next posting. Towards the end of the year Oscar left to live for a time in Holland (his original home). Peter Adams stood in on bass for us for at least two gigs, expecting that we would replace him as we went on. But the end of the year was the end of the band as people had commitments to go in different directions.

Mad Dave

Living With A Schizophrenic

So the band truly was fugitive, a common enough story. I have very fond memories of this band. Most rock bands are essentially art by committee, and the process is always somewhat fraught at the best of times. There was really none of that in the Microbes, and it was a lot of fun.

Before people went their separate ways I was able to organise two sessions in January and February 1991 in a small suburban studio, Burbank Productions, in which we recorded six songs. Kristin’s boyfriend Peter Fergusson (now husband) was our bass player for the recording sessions. At that  time he was playing guitar in Splat Acrobat. My brother Patrick Kneipp also stood in as guest lead player.

Some time later, in mid 1992 I had two of the songs, one of mine (Mad Dave) and one of Kristin’s (Living With A Schizophrenic) pressed as a single on my own A Records label by Sundown Records. It was never widely circulated, though all the songs from the session were played extensively on 4ZZZ.

Here is that single, taken from the vinyl.

The reversible cover art above is by another of my brothers, Shane, a very keen and well-known (but penniless) Brisbane artist.

Tony Kneipp

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Pig City links

Hi, Tony here with blog number four.
A google search of Pig City quickly shows that it is a childrens book by Louis Sachar, first published in 1987 under the title “Sixth Grade Secrets”; and also an unrelated Canadian television animation first released in 2002. You will also find a number of postings on Andrew Stafford’s book (published by UQP). There are also numerous postings about the 2007 Queensland Music Festival concert both before and after the event. Most of the excitement centred on the unexpected reforming of The Saints. For those who are unaware of it, their perfomance on the day was released as a live CD, The Saints Live 2007 (Shock SA001).

Here are some links about the concert of more specific interest to this blog:

Courier-Mail article before the event written by Andrew Stafford
(http://www.couriermail.com.au/entertainment/music/pig-city-right-at-home/story-e6freqgx-1111113698987)

photos
(http://www.flickr.com/photos/newfarmphotography/3167130747/in/set-72157612101713949/)
(http://www.fasterlouder.com.au/gallery/1709/6/Pig-City-UQ-Brisbane-140707)

(http://www.notaphoto.com/tag/unkle-fats-the-parameters)

reviews
(http://www.fasterlouder.com.au/reviews/events/9777/Pig-City-Brisbanes-Historic-Soundtrack-University-of-Queensland-Brisbane-14072007.htm)
(http://www.ravemagazine.com.au/content/view/4434/82)

And now some other links of interest:

That Striped Sunlight Sound is a blog by a Brisbane music fan that focuses on rare and obscure music from Brisbane in particular and Australia more generally. The download file of Pig City includes scans of the original cover art, sound files are directly from the vinyl. Like the best of such blogs this is fully unauthorised, and doing a great job of keeping the music alive.
(http://stripedsunlight.blogspot.com/2009/06/parameters-pig-city-material-possession.html)

Just as I’ve posted this I’ve discovered they’ve posted up the “Behind The Banana Curtain” compilation too.(http://stripedsunlight.blogspot.com/2008/11/behind-banana-curtain-various-artists.html)

There is also a posting onYouTube by 666IRoNGRoN666 with just a single shot of the cover with the lyrics of the song, not much of a video, but at you can listen to the song on line.
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoStNC1Ifn8)

ABC Radio National Hindsight with podcast
(http://www.abc.net.au/rn/hindsight/stories/2007/2096934.htm)

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pig_City_(song)

 
 
Without 4ZZZ Pig City would never have existed. It was a perenenial in their annual hot 100. Here are the years it appeared, and its position.
1983 #62; 1984 #5; 1985 #6; 1986 #7; 1987 # 6; 1988 #29; 1989 #93; 1993 #77: 1995 #83
1990 #68. Pig City ’90 – UPS & DOWNS

And here is the 4ZZZ website (http://www.4zzzfm.org.au/)

Steve Stockwell did a video of Pig City years ago which was shown fairly widely, including on Rave (ABC TV). It has now ended up on YouTube.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehx4CZSsojI)]

The photo at the top of this page shows Russ Hinze, the National Party Police minister at the time, hamming it up on a police bike for a media photo-op. This and the photo of Police Commissioner Terry Lewis with the machine gun were incorporated in the original cover art, but were also used as publicity posters for the single.

Tony Kneipp

 

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Pig City 2007

Hi, Tony here.

In my first blog I mentioned the Pig City concert in 2007 which was part of the Queensland Music Festival. It was held on Saturday 14 July. The venue was a huge marquee set up on the oval behind the student union complex at the University of Queensland – a fitting venue which brought back memories of all those old 4ZZZ market days. More than six thousand people of all ages were there, though there was a distinct preponderance of men over forty. The headline act was The Saints. The other acts, in order of appearance were: The Apartments, Screamfeeder, Ups and Downs, Kev Carmody, The Pineapples From The Dawn Of Time, The Parameters (performing just the one song, live for the first and only time –Pig City), David McCormack (of Custard fame), The Riptides, Regurgitator, a Go-Betweens Homage with Kate Miller-Heidke and the Brisbane Excelsior Band (a brass band).

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It was a brilliantly clear and sunny Brisbane mid-winter day. As well as the main marquee, there were numerous food stalls and beer tents. 4ZZZ had a tent, which was the venue for a guerrilla performance by the Black Assassins, which I missed. I caught at least the best part of all of the other acts, except for Screamfeeder (sorry, guys, but I did catch a couple of songs), because I was too busy talking to friends. That, of course, was one of the most enjoyable parts of the day. I also missed the first part of the Pineapples, because I was running around getting ready to play, but got to see the second half from the wings backstage. All of the acts sounded great to me, and the sound in the marquee was excellent. The stage and backstage areas were huge. The Saints were on their best behaviour, and acted like they actually enjoyed being on stage together. Their set was a fitting finale to a really memorable day.

Our performance was recorded and posted up on YouTube by uddichschmuddich (December 28 2009) – thanks for posting this up.

youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUJpDWLbFpc

I felt very privileged to be on stage performing on such an occasion which was essentially a tribute to a past era of Brisbane music. I would like to thank all of those who helped to make it happen; original Parameters Steve Pritchard (drums), and Ian Graham (lead); stand-in musicians Mark Halstead (rhythm) and John Downie (bass), and Pineapples Rod, Wendy and Michael and my brother Terry (the Grunt Chorus): also Paul Grabowski, Kerryanne Farrer and Paul Kelly from the QMF, and Andrew Stafford, not just for the book but also for the Courier-Mail article before the event.

Myself, Ian, Steve and Mark had one practice session the evening before, John and the chorus were unrehearsed. It was rough and ready but we were certainly well received on the day.

Tony Kneipp

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The recording of Pig City

Hi. Tony here with my second blog entry.

Police Commissioner Terry Lewis with Tommy gun

Pig City was mixed down and ready for airplay on 4ZZZ just a few days before the October 22 election in 1983.

Some nine months later we went back into the studio and recorded “Material Possession”. I then had 1000 singles pressed by Sundown Records on my own label, A Records.

Here then is the B side, Material Possession. This version was taken off the original master tape, and slightly remastered.

Back in 1983, when I wrote Pig City, I wasn’t in a band at the time. Recording it was the obvious thing to do, but it wasn’t so simple in those days. Very few local bands had more than a four track tape deck.

I discovered that community radio station 4ZZZ had a one inch eight track tape deck, but the rest of the intended recording studio was a shambles. It was a large room, but to make space a staircase had been ripped out, leaving a pile of bricks and rubble, a huge steel girder, and a gaping hole in the ceiling.

After attending a number of 4ZZZ’s station meetings I was able to strike a deal.  I could use the eight track if I built in the ceiling, (floor, from above) with 4ZZZ paying for the materials. I remember a whole team of people moving that bloody great girder with the aid of a block and tackle, but most of the building work was done by myself and my brother Terry. We spent ages drilling holes into concrete to anchor the supports for the beams.

It took us at a couple of months of regular work sessions to get all that done.Then it was a slow rush to get the recording done before the Queensland state election. My brother Terry and friend Nick Paine shared the work as engineers. Both of them were there most of the time. One of 4ZZZ’s former techs had almost built a mixing desk to recording specs which was never quite completed – we used an ordinary live desk instead. We did however have the luxury of two Neumann mikes belonging to 4ZZZ.

Recording by overdubbing is slow tedious work. Most people would get bored rigid within an hour or so of watching the same thing being played over and over.

First I laid down the rhythm guitar to a click track. It took ages and we ended up using two or three takes mixed together. Then it was the drums. Steven is a real pro and the only difficulty was trying different mike positions and settings to get the best sound. With the bed of the track down it was easier but with vocals, chorus, slide, lead, bass and sax to do, it took us a good couple of weeks of constant work. The main vocal was done on the first take, the slide only took about three, and Ian did the lead solo in one single take as well – amazing!

Nick and Terry were incredibly patient through all this, but when I did the sax solo last, I was doing a practice run through to warm up, which they recorded, then, in spite of my protests, declared it was quitting time.

They did the mix down and had it ready for airplay on 4ZZZ just a few days before the October 22 election.

Tony Kneipp

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