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Hazy Space plays Childhood Problems

Hi, Tony here with my first post of the year.

This post is a tale of two cities, two bands, and one song (well, plus another one for good measure). After Trash Of All Nations had finally run its course back in the early nineties, Guy and I transformed its remnants into Childhood Problems. Such is ever the way with bands. The song, one of mine, was basically our theme song, and we would have played it most times we performed. When Childhood Problems performed our eponymous song, Guy used to to do a rap in the middle, with a few basic standard lines, then improvising to suit the occasion. It added a certain edge. I managed to find what appears to be some cover art by Guy for a Childhood Problems demo cassette tape. As far as I can see I don’t have a copy of it. Maybe with a bit of luck we’ll unearth one as we delve deeper into Guy’s archives. In small type at the bottom of the cover is the line “Live in our Living Room”. That would have been Guy’s place in Gibbon St in New Farm. When Guy’s grandmother who owned it died, it got tied up in probate for years, and Guy ended up living there for a fairly nominal rent for the best part of a decade. A modest sized cottage by today’s standards, it would have been built no later than the 1870’s. It was seriously run down, but it had real character. I have some great memories of that place.

John Sullivan and I formed Hazy Space out of the remnants of Beige SA in Adelaide towards the end of  2001 (see the June 2011 posting on this, also note the recurring theme of the regular mutation of bands). With the absence of Patrick O’Grady, who was the driving force behind Beige SA, we began to do more of my songs, as well as John’s original compositions. I did write a few new ones during the life of the band, but naturally we delved into my “back catalogue”. Like most bands doing their own original material, we did some covers too, but very much in our own style.

So here we are delving into my back catalogue, with Hazy Space the band doing Childhood Problems, the song.

 

 

 

John Sullivan, synthesiser, Hazy Space

From memory it was Gary aka Billy Nudgel, who sang with us for about six months during the second half of the band’s life, who organised the recording session featured here, two or three hours with a friend of his who was keen to try out his new computer recording setup. So the first song I chose to record was “Childhood Problems“. The second song of mine was another one which we had played regularly in Childhood Problems, “Nobody Wants To Know You Anymore”. We also did one of John’s songs and one of Gary’s. I might post them up at a later stage, but John’s song in particular is done no real favours by the recording. As a general aside I have serious reservations about recording engineers who are not musicians. However I am thankful that we do at least have this recording.

Me and Patrick O’Grady in Beige SA

I have just recently been back to Adelaide for the first time in eight years after living there for almost six years up to September 2003. I stayed at Patrick’s place, then John’s, and generally had a great time. Thanks to you both for your hospitality. The main excuse for going down was an event for the Adelaide Fringe Festival 2012 celebrating a venue for local bands called Bijou that Patrick organised. Bijou started in 1974 and continued for some years. The do-it-yourself similarities with the Brisbane alternative music scene are striking.

 

Club Contagious

I am including a couple of handbills from gigs at the Governor Hindmarsh Hotel. Club Contagious was a government sponsored monthly event especially for people with disabilities, some in wheelchairs, etc., others with intellectual disabilities. They always seemed to have a really good time, and the event generally had a really good positive vibe to it. We played there several times, both as Beige SA and as Hazy Space.The Balcony Bar gig we organised ourselves,  in 2000 as Beige SA and a year later in 2001 as Hazy Space. Life would be a lot easier for musicians if a few more pubs that were regular music venues were open to letting a band have a room on a Saturday night and keep the door, with the pub settling for the bar takings. I doubt if you could even do this at “The Guv” now.

Tony Kneipp

 

The Second Balcony Bar Gig at “The Guv”

 

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Sweet Marijuana

Hi, Tony here. It’s been a while, but this posting at least follows on from the last one from Guy about his bust for a single joint. This song has a very basic theme – marijuana good, prohibition bad. Marijuana is back in the headlines with the arrest and possible jailing for years of a 14 year old Australian boy in Bali. What has really made my blood boil has been the comments from his fellow Australians on news sites, Q&A, etc., to the effect that if he has done the crime, he should do the time; ie it’s perfectly OK if he does six years or more in an Indonesian jail for a stick of pot.

The local product, Nimbin 2000

The local product, Nimbin 2000

I wrote this song for a competition as part of the 2004 Nimbin Mardi Grass. There were three heats held in the Rainbow Café. The winner was decided by popular acclaim. At the end of my heat the two judges spent at least a quarter of an hour playing back their recording and checking the levels on the applause to try to split me and a Swedish duo. In the end the Swedish duo won out. Later on in the finals, they lost to a local entry, and finished as runners-up. Some months later I made this recording at my friend Kim’s place in the Valley. The set-up was fairly primitive – a Soundblaster gaming sound card and a headset mike, plus an old version of Cubase. This was the first time I had ever recorded on computer myself. It was of course a steep learning curve. I gave the finished song to a few friends, including in Nimbin the following year, but it was never circulated publicly or played on air. Recently, looking for things to add to this blog, I found the disk that had the original files on it, and I was able to remix it to at least get a better balanced result than my first effort.

Me heading up a HEMP smoke-in outside Parliament House
George St Brisbane 21 October 1994

Both Guy and myself have been involved in campaigning for drug law reform over many years. The first time was in 1986, when the Bjelke-Petersen government introduced the Drugs Misuse Act. It had many draconian provisions, including mandatory life sentences for possession of two grams of cocaine or heroin. As a way of expressing my opposition to this particular piece of tyranny, I stood as an independent candidate in the Queensland state election of 1986. With about twenty supporters as company, including Guy, I was arrested in the Queen St Mall smoking what was actually a dummy joint (comfrey leaf), and became the first person to be charged under the new legislation. The charges were later dropped.

 

Cannabis Cup Nimbin 2000

Later on, following the demise of Joh and the Nationals, Wayne Goss’s government started a process of reviewing the drug laws through the CJC (Criminal Justice Commission). In 1993, myself and two of my friends, John Jiggens and Dusan Bojic, started HEMP (Help End Marijuana Prohibition) to campaign for positive changes to the law. We were very active for a period of about four years, with numerous demonstrations, pickets, forums, public meetings, and concerts. Some of the demos were quite large, with over 2,000 people.

The review process in 1993 got off  to a promising start with Phil Dickie, the journalist who had so much to do with bringing about the Fitzgerald Royal Commission, in charge of the process. An excellent discussion paper was released in July, followed by a series of well organised and well attended public meetings. Later Phil was replaced with no explanation by Dr David Brereton who authored the final report. Phil’s response to the report was headlined “It’s criminal what they’re not doing”. He referred scathingly to the CJC’s “timid little report”. Clearly Brereton was the right man for the job. In the end some of the worst provisions of the Drugs Misuse Act such as the mandatory life sentences were changed, otherwise it was business as usual.

 

Judging the Cannabis Cup 2000

As a part of HEMP’s campaign I again ran as a candidate in the 1995 state election, along with Guy and two other HEMP members. At a large demo of over 2,000 I was arrested for the second time for smoking a joint in front of Parliament House. The first time is shown in the photo above. As part of his campaign Guy changed his name to Guy Freemarijuana. John and Nigel Quinlan used the same tactic in later election campaigns, including for the Federal senate. The powers that be hated this so much that later the federal government changed the election laws to stop this happening.

Although the campaign lost some of its intensity after ther first four years, people have continued to agitate around Australia on this issue, and stand candidates in elections. In early September I attended a demo in King George Square organised by a group of students etc. who have revived the old name of NORML. HEMP was registered as a federal party in 2004, and Guy and I ran for the senate in Queensland. They don’t make it easy for small parties, changing the rules whenever necessary, and HEMP was later deregistered, but just recently it has again been registered as a federal party.

I could rant endlessly about this issue, but let me just point out one piece of research (p. 114)  in the original CJC discussion paper which shows that 10 to 15% of cannabis users are upper white collar workers who make up 1.8% of arrests, 30% of users are lower white collar workers who make up 3.5% of arrests, 25% of users are blue collar workers who make up 14.7% of arrests, unskilled workers make up 5% of users and 19.3% of arrests, unemployed make up 5 to 15% of users and 46.1 % of arrests, and students make up 5 to 15% of users and 7.1% of arrests. In other words if you are part of the upper half or society, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. On the other hand, if you are poor, look out.

Tony Kneipp

 

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Say Goodbye To The Queen

 

Hi, Tony here.

I recorded this song in October 1999, shortly before the referendum on the republic. It is essentially reflecting on a basic irony – while we were still getting into a collective lather over whether we should finally assert our full independence from Britain, in reality our allegiance and subservience has long since been transferred to the USA. The recent debate over our role in the war in Afghanistan has once again highlighted this.

This seems a good time to post this up as the media gets into a lather about the engagement of Will and Kate and the impending spectacle of their royal wedding (with constant invocations of the ghost of Lady Di).

The prospect of King William of Australia has already galvanised the republican debate again, although we are unlikely to have another referendum soon. I suspect there is very little enthusiasm for a King Charles of Australia, or a King William of Australia, but neither is there any widespread feeling that a change is urgently needed. The referendum in 1999 was of course set up by Howard to fail, and to postpone change for as long as possible.

For those who want Australia to be a republic, naturally I agree, and the sooner the better, but as I commented at the time, just as importantly, Australia badly needs a Bill of Rights. We also need a much more independent foreign policy.

At the time I recorded this I was living in Adelaide. I recorded it at Big Cactus Studios, a small studio upstairs in the beautiful old Grace Emily Hotel in Waymouth St, a well-known venue for live music.

I had a couple of dozen CDs printed with the above logo, pinched from the 20c coin, under the name Fats Parameter, and circulated them to community radio stations (and Aunty) around the country. Basically this was a throwaway ditty for the occasion, with a short use-by date, and of necessity produced in some haste. But I was happy with the song.

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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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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