Archive for the ‘Rockbrat Chat:’ Category

ARS71.jpgTranscript of interview conducted by the Australian Rock Show podcast (interview conducted 18 May 2017)

Since uploading her first video to YouTube, Juliette Jade (formerly Valduriez) has attracted a huge supporter base online – with 100’000 subscribers and millions of fans viewing her clips. Her covers of Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Metallica, Jimi Hendrix and Ozzy have been widely acclaimed, helping to launch the career of this gifted French guitarist. After an extended break, Juliette re-appeared late last year with the release of her debut album ‘Terrarium’. Her unique style has generated much excitement amongst guitar players and rock fans the world over – and on show #71, in her first ever interview,  Juliette talks exclusively to The Australian Rock Show about her new album, her amazing musical journey and much more.


Australian Rock Show: Juliette, it’s wonderful to talk with you – welcome to the Australian Rock Show….

Juliette Jade: Thankyou for inviting me

ARS: Firstly, I know that there are many many people who are interested in learning more about you, so thankyou very much for taking time to chat with me…..

JJ: You’re welcome

ARS: Now I must start this interview by congratulating you on the release of ‘Terrarium’ – your debut album which was released late last year. It’s a very impressive debut. How do you feel to have finally released an album’s worth of your original songs ?

JJ: I feel relieved. It was a very ambitious project since from composition to production I did it all by myself in a Do It Yourself kind of way. I also feel relieved because people seem to like my work.

ARS: They do, many people like your work so from start to finish, how long did it take you to write and record the album ?

JJ: Over two years

ARS: We’ll look over the album later – but I do want to start by asking you about your amazing journey which began seven years ago…. you uploaded your first video onto YouTube in 2010, which attracted a huge response online – you now currently have over 100’000 YouTube subscribers – your videos have been viewed by millions – I can only imagine you were astonished by the response you received after uploading those first couple of videos ?

JJ: Yes it’s been quite amazing I didn’t expect that. To me, uploading videos on YouTube was the best way to present my work as a guitarist and as a composer (with ‘Lost Paradise’ and the solo’s I wrote)

ARS:and then there was a long four year period commencing in 2012 – where you seemingly vanished from the world of YouTube and social media. Many of your fans would like to know why you took such a long break ?

JJ: Well I didn’t feel like doing more covers and I needed to start working on my own material – not only guitar solo’s on to well known songs. Plus I didn’t want to be known as a YouTube phenomenon, but as a good musician, that’s all.

ARS: Okay let’s go back a bit – an obvious question is how did your love affair with the guitar begin and how old were you ?

JJ: As a child the music I listened to was centred on the guitar. I always loved the instrument itself and I loved the fact that you can take it everywhere with you. I got my first acoustic guitar when I was about 12, but in the beginning I only played a few chords by myself. I started learning seriously how to play when I was about 14 I guess…

ARS: So 12 years old was when you got your first guitar – I have read comments describing you as a musical prodigy – did you take guitar lessons as a child or are you self-taught ?

JJ: Well that’s a nice comment but I consider myself very far from being a guitar prodigy. I’ve had a few teachers but honestly I mostly learned alone by playing over my CD’s, with my books, videos and with my metronome.

ARS: Are you from a musical family ?

JJ: There are no musicians, although there was always music around. My mother listened to a lot of very cool stuff I must say.

ARS: What kind of artists was she playing ? What French artists ?

JJ: French ? Serge Gainsbourg and Françoise Hardy – stuff like that

ARS: Were you in any bands growing up ?

JJ: No unfortunately.

ARS: If you had to choose one or two of your guitar heroes, who would they be and why ?

JJ: Can I choose three ? That would be Randy Rhoads, Zakk Wylde and James Williamson because I love their sound and their energy, I love them.

ARS: What do you like about Randy Rhoads’ style ?

JJ: Everything, everything. I’m very moved by his playing.

ARS: Are there any French guitar players who influenced you ?

JJ: No, not yet.

ARS: I note that there is a keyboard and also a bass guitar in a couple of your videos – I am assuming you can play those instruments too – besides the guitar ?

JJ: I play the keyboard – mostly in my own compositions, but rarely. In my music I prefer working with the synthesizer and I do play the bass and also the drums. It’s actually my favourite instrument to play besides the guitar.

ARS: Wow, okay the drums.

JJ: Yeah I wish I could practice more, it’s one of my favourite instruments.

ARS: Now in your videos you are playing mostly Gibson guitars (an SG, a Melody Maker) yet also a stunning looking Parker Fly (Deluxe) – do you have a personal favourite ?

JJ: Well, I sold them all along the way, so my favorite guitar is the one I have left and it’s the 1962 Gibson Melody Maker. It’s the one I play on my recent YouTube videos. It’s also the only guitar I used for the recording of ‘Terrarium’ – I really love it. I recently got a Fender that I really like.

ARS: Those Parker Fly’s are very light aren’t they – what do you look for in a guitar when you are buying one ?

JJ: The lightness is definitely something I look for in a guitar, I need to feel comfortable playing it y’know ? and about the Fender, it’s one I really like because it has a short scale with twenty two frets, so it’s really comfortable and I don’t make my fingers bleed anymore so that’s definitely a plus.

ARS: With regards to your YouTube clips – why did you select those particular tracks to cover on guitar – ? (for example Pink Floyd, Stones, Beatles, Hendrix, Ozzy etc)

JJ: They inspire me – they gave me the opportunity to present my guitar work in different ways.

ARS: One thing I learned from your YouTube video’s is that you have a wide taste and good knowledge of music – stuff like Hendrix and the Stones are obvious covers – but taking on songs by The Exploited, Motorhead and The  Stooges – that to me shows you have good taste in rock n roll….

JJ: Thankyou

ARS: The one video of yours which has attracted the most attention is the cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’ – and I believe it is because in only two short minutes – you manage to play with so much feel – putting your own touch to a very famous solo – and in some way, you make it your own. I am sure even David Gilmour would appreciate it…

JJ: Thankyou very much. I play this solo with respect but definitely my own way – so I understand why some hardcore David Gilmour fans hate it but that’s okay

ARS: Juliette, let’s look over the album if we may – where was ‘Terrarium’ recorded ? A home studio ?

JJ: Yes, it was recorded at home.

ARS: All of the music – eleven songs – was composed and performed by yourself – which is an amazing achievement – and the reviews and comments online have mostly all been positive. A big endorsement right there, that your hard work and effort in cutting (recording) an album has paid off….

JJ: Thankyou. I’m very grateful for the support of the people who bought my album. If some of them are listening I want to thank them again – and I want to thank you as well for the review of ‘Terrarium’ I really appreciated it.

ARS: I want to touch on the lyrics if I can… they’re wonderful, thought provoking lyrics on Terrarium – some dark and brooding (displayed on the song ‘Killer) – yet the lyrical content overall is very poetic. And these are lyrics that weave themselves around your guitar work so well. Now all lyrics were written by ‘Cati’ – is that your song-writing partner ?

JJ: Yes Cati is my lyricist. She wrote all the lyrics on the album. Except for the lyrics of the song ‘Room 7’ which I wrote myself.

ARS: OK I do want to highlight a couple of these lyrics if I may…..firstly from the song ‘Room 7’: “My limbs are attached, Somehow they do not match. My heart is racing in the chest of another being”. Amazing – can you please explain what the song Room 7 is about ?

JJ: There are several readings I guess, I would rather prefer to let everyone free to find the meaning that the lyrics suggest to them

ARS: ‘Ashes Of Light’ is another stunning tune with some cutting and powerful lyrics – “Night arises In your eyes, Ashes of light Spread over My life, As my heart Falls apart Endlessly” – Wow, that’s impressive stuff, can you tell me the meaning of that particular song ?

JJ: It’s about the dawn of a tremendous sorrow. Everybody can relate to this song because sooner or later we will be confronted by the death of those we love. I think her lyrics are beautiful.

ARS: They are, they’re very very beautiful – Juliette being a rock n roll guy – one of my favourite tracks on the album is the straight forward and infectious song Hellicoptre – one which contains some of your most potent guitar work by the way – it’s sung in french, so I am hoping you can give me the background to that song Hellicoptre please….

JJ: It’s the story of some serialistic and apocalyptic journey on earth and around. it’s a play on rhymes – a play on words

ARS: I love it, one of my favourite tracks on the album – so, having a record contract in today’s modern age is not as crucial as in past years, but I would like to know if any record label have shown interest in you ?

JJ: Not yet.

ARS: Your vocals on Hellicoptre – actually the whole album are easy on the ear and very pleasant – at times a little haunting – but they suit the material on the album so well….. Is singing something you’ve always done or is it new to you ?

JJ: Yeah it’s pretty new – it’s pretty new

ARS: How would you judge your own voice ? You have a good rock voice ?

JJ: Well, I think it’s a good contrast with my guitar playing

ARS: Agreed they work very well together. Now the song that initially got me interested in you online is one called ‘Lost Paradise’ – it clocks in at under two minutes, but displays so much of your style and natural flair so well. Were there any plans to include ‘Lost Paradise’ on the album ?

JJ: Well not really, but maybe in the future I will turn it into a real song I don’t know.

ARS: Please do, I think a lot of people would like to hear that in recorded form

ARS: Are you currently working on new material ?

JJ: Yes, yes I am, I have lots of ideas.

ARS: Personally one aspect I really enjoyed about Terrarium, is that it is not just 11 songs of loud, guitar-shred rock n roll. Yes – the shredding and stunning guitar work – that signature sound of yours is indeed all throughout the album, but that is only one component. And to be honest, I think many people who also bought this album would’ve discovered that fact as well, and if you’ve read the many positive comments online – are enjoying it as much as I am – so again, congratulations.

JJ: Thankyou so much

ARS: Juliette, we should wind this interview up – what are your plans for the remainder of 2017 ? are there any live shows planned ?

JJ: Well not yet, I will do my best to find a record label to work with – unfortunately it’s the only way to produce a decently recorded album – to promote it and then to go on tour – to give live shows..

ARS: If people wish to buy your album and also contact you – juliettejade.bandcamp.com is that the best place they should visit ?

JJ: Yes

ARS: Before you go I want to say congratulations once again on releasing your album and I sincerely hope that your career in music continues to grow – your unique style of guitar playing – the flair, feel and emotion you have – creates a sound which is truly all your own…you’ve managed to captivate and generate much excitement among guitar players and music fans the world over. So please continue to do what you do – because it provides many of us with much enjoyment….

JJ: Thankyou for your kind words, for your support and for inviting me to do this interview.

Purchase Terrarium by Juliette Jade at: https://juliettejade.bandcamp.com

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Mazz-XT-Back-inner-RGBIn a previous post we conducted an interview with Scott Ginn that comprehensively chronicled Scott’s entire rock n roll history. It’s an interview that drew a lot of attention and rightly so, because Scott was a guy who made an immense contribution to the Australian hard rock scene, particularly during the 1980s, and his story deserves to be told. From his time fronting The Breakers, to Boss, and onto Rags ‘n’ Riches – Scott was a multi-talented musician who wore many hats –including songwriter, musician, vocalist, producer and engineer, and if you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to scroll down and check out that interview. After more than 20 years in the musical wilderness, Scott has a new solo project called MAZZ-XT, who have released a killer debut album called ‘At The Brink Of Eternity’. In this interview, Scott gives us a track by track commentary on the new album. Read on! (Scott interviewed by Cowboy Col, July 2016. All images (c) S. Ginn)

RB: Scott, today we are putting the spotlight on the MAZZ- XT album  called  ‘At The Brink Of Eternity’ – an album that features 10 new tunes, and for many readers it will be the first time that they have heard about the album, what can you tell readers about the MAZZ-XT project and how you put it all together. MAZZ- XT – Mass extinction–  What prompted you to begin writing again?  

SG: When I stopped playing live in the mid 90’s I pretty much stopped doing music in every sense. I stopped writing and I mostly stopped playing guitar or any instrument for that matter. I got heavily involved with  building custom video games for the Tomb Raider community, and I think that  became the substitute for music as a creative outlet. Part of that creative process was to add music for the games, either as ambiences or dramatic interludes for cutscenes or battle scenes. I bought a digital workstation and adapted to that very easily as it was like having my old analogue studio all packed up in a piece of software. I got curious about whether I could  produce a good sounding rock song with the software and started noodling around with ideas to learn how some of the software worked. The first thing I recorded was the main riff of the opening track “Spellbound”. Once I had that down and could hear that I was going to be able to achieve what was in my mind, the ideas just started flowing and I had the basic structures down for four of the songs pretty quickly after that. I then set about developing those four ideas and writing  an album’s worth of material. Those first four songs were “Spellbound”, “Lightning strikes again”, “Let’s have a party”, and “When ancients ruled the world”. Because I was writing as I was recording, I didn’t have a ‘big picture’ vision of what the album was going to be. I just let creative ideas come out and let them take me wherever they felt like they were supposed to go. As it turned out, the vibe and sound of the songs led me back to the music of the band’s that had most inspired me when I was first getting into music – Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Bad Company and Black Sabbath. So the album does  have a classic rock feel but definitely  with a modern production values.

RB:  Your press release states that “Mazz-XT music is hard rock. It’s heavy riffing guitars and catchy vocals laid over a bed of thumpin’ bass and drums. Now I agree with that in part, certainly on some tracks (like ‘That’s the way we rock’, and ‘Too hot honey’), but I think the album goes way deeper than that, certainly thematically and lyrically where you are singing about darker themes, everything from life experiences to apocalyptic themes –  ”The new songs are influenced by music from the past but have a modern edge.” I think that statement really sums up the album as whole quite nicely.

Page1-RGBSG: You’re right Col, that tag probably understates the depth of the music on the album.  I probably pitched it that way in the bio for simplicity of communicating that it’s a hard rock album. You can go  to information overload if you try to explain  in too much detail what your music is about. In the first instance, because this is a new ‘band/artist’ the main thing for me is to get in touch with the  fans that I think will like Mazz-XT’s music. So hopefully it’s a good surprise for  listeners to discover that there are more layers to the music, giving the album a bit of light and shade.

RB: Growth as a songwriter, do you think the songs reflect you and your place in the world, and issues that are important to you ?

SG: It’s absolutely an honest reflection of the last few years of my life.  In the 80’s, as we all know,  lyrically  a lot of hard rock was all “Sex, booze, drugs and rock ‘n roll’. Writing  lyrics in that style was fun  at the time, but I think I’ve added a bit more meaningful meat to the subject matter  in this new material.  There’s still the up-vibe party songs, but there’s a mixture of other lyrics, based on personal experiences, or people close to me. But even with the darker lyrics I’ve kept a positive spin or a positive message in what I’m writing about. And that’s very much what I’m about – recognizing we all have flaws but there is always  hope for change or positive reinforcement.

RB: The first song on the album – ‘Spellbound’, a tune that has a really nice breakdown on the chorus, what can you tell us about that tune.

SG: As I mentioned, ‘Spellbound’ is the song that is responsible for me recording this album. For me, it marks the start of my rock rebirth.  But although it was the first song recorded, it was the last one finished.  There were two reasons for that. One, that I had in my head how the chorus should sound , but I  took ages to get the sum of the parts just right. There’s quite a lot going on in those choruses, and  I experimented a lot with mixes and vocal phrases before I  got the final melody with the overlapping chorus lines, and the cleaner guitar sound to make room for the other instrumentation. The second thing was that when I finished it, it all sounded fine, but seemed to be too straight in its arrangement. The middle-eight lift before the solo, got added in right at the end. And I’m really glad I did add it because it really adds a lift to the song. ‘Spellbound’ is about  the evils of alcoholism – it is a disease and it sucks people in, and becomes a false god that they worship when in reality it is the enemy within that destroys people. The positive message is that for people affected by this disease, they have to trust their true friends who are there to help them make changes to regain their real lives.

RB:  Now the next tune, Lightning Strikes Again – Good solid riff, throughout. There’s a lot musically going on in this tune behind that riff, and again nice chorus.

SG: Yeah, I really like the riff and the groove of this song. Unashamedly, my Zeppelin influences  showing through on this one. The jangly guitars in the verses add a really different dimension to the song.  ‘Lightning strikes again’ is  about the black dog – depression. I’ve used the imagery of a  storm, being struck by lightning as an analogy for the way depression can strike out of the blue and how it takes a person to the darkest place in their soul. I lost a dear friend  to depression so the song has a deep  personal meaning to me, and I’m sure there are a lot of people that can relate to this in a similar way.

RB:  Now you play all the instruments on the album. You wrote all the songs, you produced and engineered it as well, you are still very much a one man army!

SG: Yeah  I’m definitely back in one man army mode. I remember a funny comment  in a review years ago for my ‘One Man Army’ album,  where the reviewer stated “ either this guy is very talented or he just wants to avoid confrontation with  other band members”. I’m not sure whether it’s either of those options,  it’s just  the way that works for me to write and create songs.  I  hear the full production in my head, and tend to use the recording process to develop the ideas. For me, the studio is as much an instrument of creation as is a guitar or keyboard.

RB:  ‘Let’s have a party’ is the next tune. This treads more traditional hard rock territory, good time rock n roll, catchy hooks, sing a long chorus. Lot to like about this one.

SG: Thanks Col. Yeah this is definitely more traditional territory for me. This was the second  ‘rough idea’ that I recorded. It was a very simple A to D  progression, and it sat for quite a while  in demo mode, and I thought it might not make the cut for the album because I wasn’t coming up with any melodies for it. It wasn’t until I wrote the chorus hook that it came to life and then the other lyrics just fell in place.  For mine, it ended up being the most instantly appealing song on the album.

bandcamp-artist-imageRB:  What is interesting to me is that although the album does contain many straight ahead rock tunes, much of the other material has a complexity to it, that has not been evident in any of your previous work. Lyrically the themes are a bit darker than just writing about birds, booze and parties –  almost a concept album in many ways.

SG: I’ve always tried to twist things a bit, so even with straight ahead rockers there’s stuff in there that has little tricks and twists in it. It probably seems like there’s an extra level of complexity if you compare this album to ‘One Man Army’, but what’s missing from the picture is the unreleased Rags N Riches material which there are a number of songs that have complex arrangements. Fans will get a chance to hear this missing link in the musical chain very soon with the forthcoming release of Rags n Riches  – “Shipwrecked out in the street” album. So I think it is a natural progression on the Mazz-XT album. But even with the more complex stuff, my mantra has always been “ The Riff is King”, and I think I’ve stayed true to that. Lyrically, yes there are a couple of tracks that fit the concept album tag.

RB:  One of my favourite tunes on the album ‘That’s The Way We Rock’ –  this could be a hit single Scott, great 4/4 rock tune, foot to the floor. What’s the story behind this one ?

SG: Yeah “That’s the way we rock” it speaks for itself. It’s a rockin’ song with a fist-pumping chorus, and it’s a recognition of all the years of dedication that we all put in as muso’s to our art. It’s about the rush of playing live, and serving up no holds barred rock n roll, just giving your all and leaving nothing in the tank. Personally, it’s an acknowledgment of the great years I had playing rock music and all the great people I played with, the bands, the gigs, the friends made and the good time we had. Moving forward, it’s a dedication to the past.

RB:  Track 5, ‘When Ancients Ruled The World’ . Now this is a deeper theme, and musically (with strings even), it ebbs and flows quite nicely with a great guitar solo, this could almost be in a movie soundtrack. Explain this one to us. It’s about past civilizations?

SG: ‘When Ancients Ruled The World’ ties in with the Mazz-XT/ At the Brink of Eternity apocalyptic theme. It’s very much inspired by my video game building  which feature exploration in ancient empires particularly places like ancient Egypt and the Khmer temples of Cambodia. You have to wonder how these incredible ancient civilizations fell away like they did. I hope that emotionally this song takes the listener to those places. It’s based around a hypnotic pad keyboard progression and there’s a bunch of strings going on throughout. It took a while to develop this song. I had the main verse theme very early on, but it took a long time before the heavy chorus parts all fell into place. It breaks down in the middle to an extended guitar solo with Egyptian sounding licks that gradually builds to its climax. The song provides a nice moment to breathe and lay back a bit before the return to heavier tracks. People have likened it to shades of Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and I think many people would kill to write their own “Kashmir”. I’m not suggesting it reaches the giddy heights of such a legendary song, but if folks hear it in that same vein, then I’m stoked with that.

RB: ‘In This  Jungle’, starts off with a menacing riff, its actually a pretty riff heavy song, and the heaviest tune on the album. What’s the story here?  I think this tune actually has the best guitar solo on the album.  The tune has a double meaning – referring to vampires in the literal sense but it’s also a metaphorical reference to dishonest business people i.e. the bloodsuckers of the night.

Page8-RGB.jpgSG: Been listening to a lot of the early Black Sabbath albums of late. And to me the sound that they  had on those first three albums was the definitive original heavy metal sound. I was definitely trying to write something with that sort of sound and vibe.  I was struggling to get a handle on a lyric for this song, but I kept coming back to some sort of a vampire theme. I thought the conventional  vampire theme was a bit old hat, and it seemed to have a more modern meaning if I used the vampire references to describe shady music business people as bloodsuckers of the night. There are two guitar solos on this song. The one in the middle of the song was the first solo I recorded on any the songs. I wasn’t even sure if I could  cut the solo and I was being stingey and I recorded it on my old ‘76 Ibanez Explorer with  20 year old strings on it and missing the high E string. I suppose it’s one way to get a different tone….. The end solo is longer and there are some nice licks  in there.

RB: ‘I’m On The Inside’ is a tune I really like. This is a good rocker, catchy tune, nice riff, great vocal, singalong chorus. What is this one about ?

SG: ‘I’m On The Inside’ is  a Zeppelin-ish funk rocker based around a a simple guitar rhythm, and hooky grungey synth riff.  The catchy vocal melody makes this one work. The lyric is very much tonque-in-cheek, but is essentially about life in a long-term relationship, where things can go a bit pear-shaped, life can become  predictable, the spark can go out of a relationship, and little things get to you. The “I’m on the inside, you’re on the outside, lookin’ in “ chorus lyric is about putting up emotional walls and self-doubt.

RB: Now the title tune ‘ At The Brink of eternity’ . If ‘When Ancients Ruled The World’ could be in a film, then this could be the film’s theme. Looping riff, almost a companion tune to ‘When Ancients’ in many ways – but  lyrically, is this a commentary on the state of the planet ? 

SG: The main riff for this song actually started out as one of my game soundtrack songs. In it’s initial form it was only a one minute track. There was a lot of development of the song to take it to the 6-minute epic it ended up being. Lyrically, yes, this one ties in directly with the album title and cover art. ‘At the brink of eternity’ being  the imminent impact moment before a giant meteor smashes into earth. A very apocalyptic vision, but nonetheless a very real possibility being as it has happened before. I do wonder with the way some things are going in the world, that it might take an event like this to reboot  the world and start over again. I’m really happy with how this one turned out. It’s quite a busy arrangement  and posed the  biggest challenge to mix. I always loved the dual lead vocal harmonies that Coverdale and Hughes had during their period in Deep Purple, and I used that technique in the verse and more so in the chorus on this song. There’s a lot of lead guitar in this song, and I’m pretty pleased as these are some of the strongest lead breaks I’ve done.

RB: The tune ‘Devil In Disguise’ – great tune, likeable riff, whats this one about Scott ?

SG: Probably my favourite song on the album. It’s the sort of killer riff I’ve always wanted to write  but had never quite nailed before.  It’s a song that was written about the challenges of parenthood with troubled teenagers but it could have the same meaning for anyone that has someone in their life that is behaving badly and giving them grief in their life. Again, like with ‘Spellbound’, the message is a positive one – it’s  time to make a change but it has to come from within.

RB: And finally the last tune on the album, ‘Too Hot Honey’ . This treads familiar territory- melodic hard rock, that you have always excelled at.  Great solo! 

SG: Yeah I guess we come full circle with this one.  It’s a pretty straight  forward rock song with a hooky half-time chorus. This was the last song written for the album and is fittingly the final track. It came together very quickly. It’s the notion of a guy with a crush on a hot girl but he’s thinking he’s ‘punching  above his  weight’ and the girl is ‘too  hot’ for him to hook up with, so he’s playing it cool and stepping back a bit. It’s a simple guitar solo but has a great tone and  I think it suits the song well.

RB:  Let’s touch upon the production (because you’ve always been involved in the recording process). Is it much easier to be a producer nowadays compared to the 1980s?

SG: I’d say it is actually easier now. The quality of sound banks and instrument modules available now makes  it much easier and quicker to arrange songs and pull the sounds  I want.  Also, I think I’ve got a more mature approach to music these days, and find it easier to be more objectively critical of my own work. Most importantly, I’m just having fun with making music again. I’ve already started on recordings for a second Mazz-XT album and I’m looking forward to re-releasing the 30th Anniversary – Ginn “One Man Army” album on CD in the very near future. Maybe we’ll  have a chat about this and the new  Rags n Riches album some other sixty seconds.

RB: Thanks for your time Scott! Scott Ginn’s musical output is always first rate, and the ‘At The Brink Of Eternity’ album  is no exception. It is thoroughly recommended by us here at Rockbrat as one of THE Australian albums of the year. The album is available on both CD and digital format, from only $5. Buy it here. Head to the following links below and discover MAZZ-XT.

Bandcamp: https://mazz-xt.bandcamp.com/

CDBaby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mazzxt

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mazzxtmusic/

Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/mazz-xt

Twitter: twitter.com/MazzXTMusic

Mazz-XT Music Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSkvjigiH0ELdrOETPhGEpw

 

 

Scott - Boss 1

Freewheelin’… Scott with Boss

As fans of Australian hard rock in the 1980s, Scott Ginn was a guy who was always on our rock n roll radar.  From his time fronting The Breakers, to Boss, and onto Rags ‘n’ Riches – Scott was a multi-talented musician who wore many hats –including songwriter, guitar player, vocalist, producer and engineer. He released a way underappreciated solo album in 1986 called ‘One Man Army’, and had the cream of Sydney’s 1980s heavy rock bands record at his own studious, Montreux.  As a songwriter, he had the knack of being able to craft memorable and catchy hard rock with a penchant for melody, and as a front man, the flamboyance of David Lee Roth. After more than 20 years in the musical wilderness, Scott has a new band/solo project called MAZZ-XT, who have released their debut album ‘At The Brink Of Eternity’.  Read on as we chat to Scott and chronicle his entire rock n roll history – past present and future. (Scott interviewed by Cowboy Col, June 2016. All images (c) S. Ginn)

RB: Scott, welcome to the Rockbrat Blog!

SG: Thanks Colin, nice to be be back in the rock ‘n’ roll saddle.

RB: Let’s begin by looking at your formative years if we may. I know that BOSS had its origins in Adelaide with both Craig Csongrady and Laurie Marlow both hailing from there, and the band assembled in Sydney, were you from Sydney?  

SG: Born in England, and moved to Australia with my family  when I was 6 years old. I’ve been a Sydney boy all my life. I mostly grew up around the Lane Cove area.

RB: How old were you when you started getting into rock ‘n’ roll and who were your musical influences?

SG: I guess my first exposure to rock ‘n’ roll would have been around the age of 11. My folks had the Beatles ‘Hard Days Night’ album. I would have friends over and we’d mime with air guitars and cardboard boxes for drums acting out the tunes in our lounge room.

My early main influences came once I started buying LPs. My primary influences were Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath, with a bit of Grand Funk and Creedence Clearwater somewhere in the mix. My later influences were AC/DC, Van Halen, Aerosmith and Free/Bad Company.

Richard Wilde Band 2

Richard Wilde Band – Scott 3rd from left

RB: Were you from a musical family, and if so, were you encouraged to take lessons?

SG: I played the flute in primary school. My dad played classical piano, but I was never encouraged to take lessons. I was in my second year of high school and I secretly got myself an afternoon job at a musical warehouse in St Leonards packing instruments and saved enough money to buy my first guitar from there. I can’t remember what brand it was but it was a sunburst semi-acoustic electric. I surprised my folks and told them that I had saved this money for a guitar, and took them up there to make the purchase. The warehouse was having a sale, and we ended up walking out with the guitar, an electric organ for my dad, and a set of drums. We were living  in a unit at the time, so the drums lasted about two months before I gave them the flick to sell them so I could buy an amp and better guitar.

RB: What was the first record you ever bought?

SG: The first singles I had were bubblegum pop songs – The Monkees – Last Train to Clarkesville, The Ohio Express – Yummy Yummy Yummy. I still have those singles! The first real rock LP I bought was Rod Stewart’s  – Every Picture tells a story, followed closely by Deep Purple – Fireball.

RB: First concert you saw?

SG: The day when my world changed was 27th February 1972, when I saw  my first real concert – Led Zeppelin at the Sydney Showgrounds. That concert had a profound effect on me and left me in no doubt that I wanted to play in a rock band as a career. It was the first, and still remains the best concert I ever saw. I feel very privileged to have seen Zeppelin when they were at their performance best.

RB: What was your first band?

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Hammer of the Gods – Scott with Thor

SG: My first band went through a number of phases, names and lineups but was essentially called Hedgehog. The first song we ever played together was Creedence Clearwater’s  ‘Proud Mary’. I played rhythm guitar and we shared lead vocal duties between all the band. We mostly played covers, but even back then we had started writing and playing original songs. We’d play parties, dances and local town hall gigs which were the best gigs to see local bands that we looked up to like Buffalo, Hush and Finch.

I then formed a band called Thor with John Hamilton (Jenny Morris Band) and his brother Rob. We were influenced by Sabbath and Buffalo.  We wrote some original material which I guess you’d classify as Stoner Rock.

RB: You first came to prominence as front man for the Breakers, a band put together by Jimmy Manzie of OL’ 55. How did you end up joining The Breakers? 

SG: I was singing in a band called Class who were well established on the pub rock circuit. I had joined them when (the late) Gary Conlan had left to join Feather. It was such a healthy live scene back then, we’d often play 6 nights a week, and do a double on a Saturday. I think I was pretty much head-hunted by the Breakers. I was approached and told about this new power pop band that ex-members of Ol’55 Jim and Spud were forming. There was already a record deal in the works with Seven Records (later Powderworks Records), and they were looking for a lead singer. I recorded some demos at Jim’s home studio, and was offered the gig. When I left Class to join the Breakers Gary rejoined Class for a while.

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Class

RB: Did The Breakers play any large supports and outside of Sydney?  Was there ever more Breakers material recorded other than the7” single, “When I’m on TV”?  

SG: The main one that comes to mind was a support at the Capitol Theatre to the B-52s. It was a weird one too because the original support act had cancelled  for some reason, and we literally got a day’s notice to do the gig as in  – Booking Agent: “the other band had to cancel, do you want to do the gig tonight?” Us:   Ahh yeah we sure do.” So no-one knew we were doing the show. When the lights went down and the announcer introduced the band, it was greeted with boo’s because they were expecting the other band. Our show started with our lead guitarist Jarryl Wirth going on stage and doing this full-on Angus Young-like guitar solo complete with writhing around on the ground. Jarryl went out by himself to this boo-ing audience and stuck it to them. We were peeking around the curtain thinking he was gonna get hammered by the audience, but he turned them around and the rest of the gig went down pretty well.

At the time, INXS were also just starting to play the pub circuit, and we did a few shows with them too.  The Breakers toured throughout NSW as well as Victoria and South Australia.

The BreakersOn the recording side, there was more than an album’s worth of material recorded as demos. Originally the planned first single was a song called ‘Night after Night’ – a brilliant Manzie pop song with a great chorus. It was never released. Then it was decided that ‘When I’m On TV’ would be the first single, and that’s the way it went with the B-side being ‘Lipstick and Leather’ which Jim did the Lead Vocal on. The second single was also recorded but never released – a song called ‘The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes’ which featured an amazing Bohemian Rhapsody-like middle-eight.

RB: The Breakers appeared on Countdown in 1980 and famously, also appeared performing ‘Lipstick and Leather’ in Puberty Blues’. What are your memories of those experiences? It must have been a blast to be performing on Countdown and potentially going into every living room in Australia. 

SG: Yeah, great memories! There were actually two songs that appear in the Puberty Blues movie  – ‘Lipstick and Leather ‘and ‘The Girl with Stars In Her Eyes’.  The scene clips are truncated so you don’t really get to hear the whole song unfortunately.  For the scenes that we were playing in, it was filmed at the Caringbah Inn – a great live venue back in the day. For our part, we just had to do what we do – like a normal live show, and that was set as the background to the main action of the actors being out at their local rock pub.

Countdown was indeed a blast. And that first one I was pretty young – so it was very exciting. I did it again with The Richard Wilde (aka Richard Wilkins) Band too.

The thing is it all happens so quickly that you hardly have time to take it all in and process. I only recently got hold of a video of the performance from the ABC and it was surreal seeing it back, as I had never seen it as a viewer, and the recollection of it had faded into distant memory. We also made a proper video for ‘When I’m On TV’. From what I can remember it was pretty cool with TVs being smashed with guitars. Sadly all trace of that video has vanished into the ether.

RB: So after The Breakers, I understand that you also toured with Cheetah in 1981 as a guitar player? Was that a tour of Australia, or was it internationally? (The band played Reading in 1982). Rock ‘n’ Roll Women still stacks up as a great hard rock album (which incidentally features another Australian great, drummer Ray Arnott).

SG: Before doing the Cheetah tour there was my original band Montreux – pure hard rock Montreux Mk2 Bio-a(there’s a bunch of recordings in existence of Montreux material too). But yep, this was a national tour to promote the ‘Rock N Roll Women’ album. I played guitar and did backing vocals. The Hammond girls are incredible singers and it was great to play in a band behind such strong vocalists. As you said, the songs on the ‘Rock N Roll Women’ album were great, and much fun to play. It was a great opportunity to work with some great musos. The band was myself and The Doc from my old band Montreux on guitars, Mark Evans on bass, John Lalor from Dallimore on drums and Martin Fisher from the Breakers on keyboards.

RB: Also around this period you worked as guitarist and musical arranger for Richard Wilde (aka Richard Wilkins) in 1982, is that correct? 

Richard Wilde Band

Richard Wilde & Scott

SG: I can’t remember exactly how it came about, but there was sort of a family unit that meant we were all moving in the same circles, because I was doing Montreux on and off, Richard was co-managing Boss, and I was occasionally doing front of house sound for Boss. Richard was preparing to launch his solo career, following on from his band Wilde and Reckless. So we got talking about music and I got hired to play guitar and do backing vocals and had a big role in selecting and arranging the material for the live shows. We even did a couple of Montreux numbers in the live set  (albeit somewhat ‘popped’ up). Richard released the single ‘Young Heroes’ and we performed that on Countdown. We launched the band with a national tour as the support act to Grace Jones, and then toured the band extensively through NSW in its own right.

RB: How did you come to join Boss, and what are your fondest memories of your time with the band?  Do any gigs or recordings you did with the band standout for you?

SG: Prior to Boss, I had formed my first real hard rock outfit – Montreux. Montreux went through several incarnations, but was a seriously kick-ass hard rock band with a lot of original material and influences mostly from AC/DC and UFO. So we were sort of in healthy competition to Boss. We were playing around the same pub circuit as the early lineups of Boss, so I got to know the lads, and when I had a period of Montreux being on hold, I  was sometimes doing front of house sound for Boss. As it turned out, we (my missus and I) were living in and caretaking an old terrace house in Paddington that had been converted into small flats. I got Kevin and Peter into a flat upstairs from us. So we were literally living on each others doorsteps. I think I had helped out with some backing vocals on a demo for Boss, and after that at some point I got asked if I wanted to play bass for the band. I wasn’t a bass player by trade, having always played guitar in bands, although I’d played bass on my own recordings, but I knew what they needed to suit the band’s style and knew I could do that. So it was a case of if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. And in hindsight, it was a good move, because Boss developed to another level in the period that followed. I suppose the song I’m personally proudest of is ‘Hard N Fast’ because it’s one that I largely wrote. Originally it was a straight upbeat  number, but when it got swung on its head in the recording studio and turned into a half-time slobber-knocker for the album it took on a new life and became one of the ballsiest songs with real shades of Zeppelin to it. The other song that stands out for me is ‘Behind the Bar’ which we used to open with at live shows. There was such a raw energy with that song. I recently resurrected some old live footage of the band and matched it up with the only studio recording of that song.

I wish I’d kept a diary, because we did a lot of gigs with Boss and the memory of a lot of them has faded. But the Bondi Astra, Selina’s Coogee Bay Hotel, Chevron at the Cross, Blacktown RSL gigs were always standouts.  The thing with Boss was that there was never a half-assed show. It was always pedal to the metal, turn it up loud and deliver with the force of a hurricane.

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Kick ass rock n roll – laying it down with BOSS

RB: 1984 and 1985 were stellar years for the band. You must have great memories of that time.  What was it like to support Iron Maiden nationally – Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Canberra, Wollongong ?

Well these were undoubtedly the best of days for Boss. Not only did it lift the profile of the band, it put us out there as real contenders in the world of hard rock.  It put us on the big stage. It was actually pretty humbling to walk on stage as a support act to Maiden and have the punters pack the front of stage (usually reserved for the main act) and absolutely go off with the band.

RB: Any memories of the support slots with Leppard and Twisted Sister stand out?

SG: Absolutely! The Twisted Sister band members were really great down to earth guys, and were really supportive of us as a support act. There was a pretty funny scene in Melbourne, where I was outside the back of the venue with the TS bass player before the gig having a chin wag, and of course he didn’t have makeup on. A fan came up to us that must have known me from Boss and started having a chat, and they didn’t even know that the bloke that was with me was from Twisted Sister. Funny as… ain’t anonymity grand???

As much as the Maiden tour was a greater overall fulfillment for the band, I still rate the Def Leppard show at Selinas as the best show Boss ever did. Simply because it was just one of those moments in time. Leppard were on the rise and just breaking through big time. We were so excited to score the support. We were the second band on, with Leppard to follow us. Selinas was packed to the rafters with some 3000 punters. We were stoked just to be playing the gig, but as the lights went down and we were waiting backstage to go on,  a chant went up from the audience “Boss. Boss. Boss” and we’re completely blown out …. “Hey they’re calling for us”. Wow… We had come of age. Kick-ass gig and then the Leps delivered a classic hard rock show (pre all the fancy stuff) that rocked the house down. They were great guys to just chat about stuff backstage after the show.

RB: You were also managing Boss is that right? Doing bookings etc? Taking care of some of the business side of things?

I wouldn’t say I was managing the band. It’s true we were self-managed at that stage, but the duties were shared between Craig and myself. Craig would look after the business negotiations with record companies etc, we’d both look after the bookings side of things, and my role was mostly a tour manager role, looking after all the crew, supports, PA’s and lights.

RB: The ‘Step On It’ album is arguably the best heavy rock album to come out of Australia in the 1980s, (forgetting Mortal Sin for a moment) – certainly in the first half of that decade anyway.  So many great tunes – Kick Ass Rock n roll, Dancing Queen, That Woman, Cry Cry – and my favourite tune ‘Strange games’ – I mean, as good as any heavy rock album internationally. When the album was recorded and in the can, did the band consider that musically you had a very strong product that would push the band to the next level?

SG: There are two answers to this question.

  1. On a musical level – yes we were pleased with what we had created. And the thing with heavy rock bands in Australia (particularly at that time) was that we didn’t even see our songs as something for a local market – our competition was the world market and especially what was starting to happen in the States. So we were certainly aiming to produce something world-class.
  2. On a production level – no we were not happy with the final product.

It’s great to get such positive feedback as yours about the album, which means that not everyone hears what we hear. For the band, we were not happy with the final mix. For me, it will remain one of the unanswered mysteries of the world of what it could have or should have sounded like, perhaps had it been in the hands of an experienced rock engineer like a Kevin Shirley or a producer like Mutt Lange.

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One Man Army – 1986

RB:  For many of us who were heavy rock fans in the mid 80s, we thought bands like BOSS and Heaven in particular were both world class, and should have gone on to bigger things internationally.  Yet there was almost like an inferiority complex kind of mentality back then, people assumed that if something came from America it had to be better than the Australian product. Do you agree with that?

SG: I guess it depends on which ‘people’ you are talking about.  I don’t think there was inferiority coming from the bands themselves nor as you’ve said from fans. Perhaps the prevalence of the Aussie fighting spirit is more apt. Aussie bands tended to fight much harder for their success. The pub circuit allowed bands to harden their live performance. Certainly Oz metal bands looked to the States and the UK for where the bar was being set, and would strive to be as good as if not better than what was going on there. The problem for Aussie bands was that here we were in a smaller niche market down under, and where it was really happening for this sort of music was in overseas markets especially in LA. The Australian record industry was simply not geared for the world hard rock market except to be a distribution outpost for the already established brands from overseas. So in that sense,  again not inferiority, but it was simply easier (read lazier) for  record companies to flog the established artists than actually develop local hard rock artists. Alberts was probably the only label that understood harder-edged rock music.

RB: With that in mind, retrospectively, was there a Sydney (or Australian even) heavy rock band that you thought should have made it but didn’t? For me growing up in that period, the obvious ones were Boss and not withstanding Heaven’s limited success in the States, I think bands like Tough Luxury, Surrender, Bengal Tigers, Assassin, Lightning Rock etc all had the goods. Thoughts?

SG: I would say that had any of these bands been based in LA in the mid ‘80s rather than locally, they would have stood a much greater chance of bigger success than what they achieved here. Simply because that is where it was all happening at the time – therefore a bigger market and a scene and industry that understood the style of music. Heaven proved that ‘being there rather than here’ has its advantages.

Other Aussie bands that should have made it bigger than they did – Dallimore – great songs, great guitarist and singer, great band; The Poor – could have been as big as Airbourne in the right time and place; and my good mates Bronx/ Big Deal – great band, great songs, great guys. As for Boss, – when the ‘Step on it’ album secured a world-wide release, there should have been record company support to get the band touring in any number of those markets. A missed opportunity.

RB: Heavy rock and metal were very much on the fringe in Australia and almost underground. (Pre 1986 and Bon Jovi’s ‘Slippery When Wet’ which opened the floodgates to commercial hard rock on a grand scale), so was the mission statement for BOSS always pitching internationally ‘cos the metal market in Australia at that time was so limited?

SG: I suppose I’ve pre-empted this question in my previous answer. Easy to look back in hindsight, but the thing that attracted me to Boss was that it was born out of the classic local Oz Hard Rock  sound – AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, The Angels.  But the music we were listening to and striving to compete with was the overseas bands – the likes of Def Leppard, Van Halen, Ratt, Dokken, Aerosmith, Motley Crue etc.  And we knew that the metal market in Australia was a small but dedicated underground scene. So yes, clearly for Boss it was the aim to break internationally to a broader market. The subsequent success of Corporate Rock (ugly term for commercially successful) with bands like Bon Jovi, Foreigner, and even the Mutt Lange produced Def Leppard, and then the big  power ballads of Aerosmith and Whitesnake really lifted the profile and mainstream acceptability of hard rock. I guess some of that influence shows through in a song like ‘Cry, Cry’.

RB: Were their plans for Boss outside of Australia. I used to have a Japanese pressing of ‘Step On It’. The band would have gone down great in Japan.

SG: With a worldwide release for ‘Step on it’ the band should have been jetting off to promote these markets with live shows and tours. I would have loved to tour  in Japan. But we never got that financial support from the record company. Maybe if we’d secured a powerful management deal the story might have been different.

One Man Army Band Bio-sm RB: So why did you leave Boss, and what was your next project post Boss. Was it putting together your solo album ‘One Man Army’?

SG: For me this is the only sour note in what was otherwise a great journey with Boss. I was told my services were no longer required and was never really given a satisfactory reason for that decision.  But life moves on, and you live and learn from these experiences.

Actually the next project after Boss was a progressive rock outfit called Future Force which I joined as lead singer. It was a really tight band with all the material written by Ace (sorry can’t remember his last name) – a great guitarist. We did quite a few shows around Sydney (including supports to Midnight Oil and Rose Tattoo). The songs were pretty technical and were very challenging vocally, so it really upped my game in terms of lead vocals.

The upside of the bad experiences that we’d had in Boss with the recording process in a big recording studio, really drove me to exploring production and engineering techniques and growing my home studio into something that could produce high quality hard rock recordings from a smaller studio. That frustration manifested as the  ‘One Man Army’ album.

RB: There are some super melodic and catchy hard rock tunes on the One Man Army LP, stuff like ‘Torment in Tehran, Watching The Lines Go Down’ etc. The album was released on your own label, how well did the album do? Did you have distribution for it?

With the ‘One Man Army’  album I did this literally as a one man army in every sense. It was a solo album that I performed everything on it (bar the percussion overdubs done by Slim McDermott), I produced and engineered the album, I oversaw the manufacture of the pressings, and I distributed the records to local record stores myself or sold the record at gigs – a total independent. The net result  was that I produced a record that I am very proud of and that sounds the way I think it should sound and competed in production quality with anything that was going at the time.  Commercially,  well when you do it this way it’s a small niche market, so all those loyal fans who still have a copy  – hang on to them because they are quite collectable now. A few years ago I cleared out my garage and threw away the last 50 copies thinking  no-one plays vinyl anymore and are not interested in this music any more. That was dumb of me. I’ve had a number of requests recently asking if there are any copies still around.

RB: I remember picking up ‘One Man Army’ when it came out and was floored by the calibre of so many great, melodic, hard rock tunes. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this long out of print album is soon to get a get a re-release to commemorate its 30th anniversary?

SG: Yep, that’s right – 1986 to 2016. Bloody hell 30 years ago! So since ‘One Man Army’ was never released on CD I thought I’d re-release it in this format to mark the Anniversary. I’ve remastered it and added a couple of bonus tracks of unreleased material from the same period. There’s all new artwork for the cover but it also contains scans of the original cover. Production will happen shortly and it should be out in the second half of 2016.

RB: Again, a timeline question. Was there a cross over period between the One Man Army period and when you put together Rags N Riches?

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Rags n Riches – version 1

SG: Rags basically grew out of the touring band I’d put together to promote the ‘One Man Army’ album. Whilst the One Man Army Tour was predominantly about  playing my material from the album, we eventually started to write new songs as a band and I felt that what we would do from there on would be better represented as a band, rather than me as a solo artist with hired players. The first lineup of Rags N Riches was Phil Bowley – guitar, John Dovico – bass, Jimmy Yannieh – drums and myself – lead vocals. Later Kristian Hodgson joined the band on keyboards, and Jason McDonald replaced Jimmy on drums. Glen Farina joined as lead guitarist when Phil left to join the Candy Harlots.

RB: What can you tell folks about ‘Rags N Riches’? From my memory, I recall the band playing great, original hard rock tunes with were very melodic, almost Van Halenesque. Is that the direction you were going for?

SG: I think we coined the term ‘Rag n Roll’ to describe our music. Well we were right in the thick of the Hair Metal era and the thing with Rags music was that it was good time escape music. It was party music. We wanted our fans to escape the boredom of 9-5 and let their hair down and have a good time.  Musically, yep there was definitely the influence of Van Halen, and also  Aerosmith – especially the use of brass in the arrangements like what Aerosmith had started to do. Naturally we all have influences, but we were certainly trying to develop a uniqueness to the sound of Rags rather than follow the sound trend of what was going on at the time. I guess I’ve always tried to explore new boundaries rather than follow trends. Whether that’s been a plus or minus in terms of success I’m not sure, but I have always been an an advocate of making the music that comes out of you naturally, not  ‘cos it’s the latest trend to follow.

RB: Now of course Phil Bowley was the guitar player in the band, (who went onto the Candy Harlots – a band I saw many times, albeit almost exclusively the Mark Easton line up).  Did you know Phil him from his days in Shy Thunder on the Sydney circuit?      

SG: Yes I knew Phil from Shy Thunder and White Widow. So it was great timing  for both of us that he was looking for a new gig at the time when the ‘One Man Army’ album came out. We also struck up a really good relationship writing new material together. I felt like I had lost a brother when he left to join the Harlots, but I understood the move perhaps better than anybody because I’d been in a similar situation when I joined the Breakers, and the Harlots were on the rise and in a stronger position with their live following than Rags.

RB: Some of the Rags n Riches tunes I recall are ‘Dance Baby Dance’, Shipwrecked Out On The Street’, and ‘Money Can’t Change Your Mind’, and the band used to play a lot of material from your solo album. The band was certainly prolific on the Sydney live scene in the late 80s, did the band play outside of Sydney or do any bigger supports?

SG: We worked hard in the Sydney Pub Circuit, also the Newcastle area both headlining and  sometimes doing supports. We’d often hop on a bill with the tribute bands like Gold Zeppelin and Dynasty – the Kiss show, to grow the Rags following. At it’s highest point we headlined our own shows at Selina’s. The band had an alter-ego  – the 5150 Oz Van Halen Show – which was a full-blown tribute show, which helped to pay the bills and up the profile of the band.

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Rags n Riches – version 2

RB: I understand that Rags n Riches recorded material for an album called ‘Shipwrecked Out In The Street’, yet that was shelved and never saw the light of day. The good news is that after all these years the album will soon be released?    

SG: Yes that’s right! And this is an exciting prospect for me. The ‘Shipwrecked’ album is very much unfinished business for me. At the time, our manager was shopping for potential labels for the album. The material was all recorded at my Montreux studios and ready to go. We even had a record launch promo night (I found an old newspaper clipping promoting it). For the life of me, I have no idea why the thing was never released. Perhaps we should have just bitten the bullet and sunk some money into getting it pressed ourselves. Perhaps it also marked the point where I got disillusioned by the whole thing and walked away from the rock scene. Anyhow, that’s water under the bridge now, and the good news is that I’ve remastered all the Shipwrecked tracks and added a few more tracks to better balance the album and it will also be released as a limited edition CD during 2016. It’s sounding way powerful and is also pretty close to going to production. So I can’t wait for folks to finally hear these tracks. The material on this album is really representative of the ‘Rag ‘N Roll’ sound that we had developed. Phil and Glen’s lead guitar work is outstanding. JayDee’s bass is rock solid, Kris did some excellent keyboard/ brass lines and Jimmy’s drum work is thunderous. The only disappointment to me is that we never recorded anything with Jason McDonald on drums who joined the band after most of these recordings had been done and played a lot of live gigs with the band.  There’s a couple of tracks that I played rhythm guitar on, and vocally I guess this was when I was at the top of my game. We’ll see how this one goes, but there is another whole album of what I’d called the heavier stuff that the Rags recorded, which might see the light of day further down the track.

RB: I was living at Gladesville in the late 80s and saw Rags n Riches a bunch of times, particularly at the Gladesville Hotel. My main memory of the band live was that it was fun, good time melodic hard rock. That style of rock n roll was king – it was on TV, the radio, everywhere. I thought those days would last forever and like many others, never saw the tsunami-size change coming to the musical landscape in the early 90s that signified the end of those halcyon days of hard rock.

SG: I share exactly the same memories. Those gigs were one big party and we just happened to be the ones on the stage providing the ‘licence to party’. They were indeed the best of days. And yes, then came the trainwreck that was the mid 90s. And all the music got sooo serious and all the songs are about how bad life is and how depressing the world is. Well so it may be, we all have crap going on in our lives but when people go out they want to escape from their troubles, not hear about them. That’s why the 80s-90s era of rock/metal was so much escapist fun and Rags N Riches was definitely about having a good time.

RB: Did you have a favourite Sydney venue and why?

SG: Back in the early days, the Bondi Lifesaver was THE place to see bands.  It was so rock ‘n’ roll.

From a performer perspective there was quite a few.  Selinas, in either its larger or smaller venue format was always great. The one you mentioned – The Bayview Tavern at Gladesville always got a good turnout and had a great atmosphere.  The Seven Hills Inn was really the centre for the early years of the metal resurgence, so fond memories of that room, and later on The Kardomah in Kings Cross was wild with its late night slots.

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rag n roll – on the road. image C. Gray

RB: In the mid 80s you set up your own studio and label, Montreux Records. Your studio in particular became a bit of a focus for many Sydney hard rock / metal bands. Was this your intent to make it a centre for Sydney metal bands?

SG: It’s funny, because I had really got into recording when I was about 20 – I went halves on a TEAC 4-track reel to reel with a mate. Initially Montreux studios sort of just evolved out of me acquiring more home studio gear for my own recordings. But then I just started doing demos for other bands and it went on from there. My plan back then was that running a studio would be what I would do after I’d finished playing in bands. As it turned out, I ended up running it as a proper studio whilst I was still playing. For a while I had the studio installed at Party Pig Studios at Girraween,  and through the rehearsal studios there I got quite a bit of work recording the local hard rock and metal bands. It seemed to work well because I understood the music the bands were playing and knew the sort of sound they were after. I guess in that period it did become a bit of a centre for metal as the bands would come to my studio because they knew I would pull the sound they wanted.

RB: As I mentioned, your solo album came out on your own label Montreux Records, did the label release product by any other artists as well?  

SG: No, the Montreux label was only for release of my own stuff.

RB: Now I know you also did production and engineering work. You produced the Tough Luxury album ‘Streetwise’ (which I note has just been re issued on CD). Can you tell us about any of the other bands that you produced, engineered or worked with? Bronx? Roxx? Starlet?   

SG:  Yep, I  did the Tough Luxury LP ‘Streetwise’. The lads sent me copy of the reissue CD and it sounds really good. I did the cult classic metal album by Massive Appendage – ‘The Severed Erection’ album – that was quite a production extravaganza. I did some singles for their alter ego power pop band Kings Cross. Wayne Campbell’s  band Grungeon recorded an EP with me. And yes, quite a few of the rock bands of our era – Roxx, Bronx, Starlet, QVs, Assassin, Fetish to name a few recorded demos at Montreux Studios.

RB: Some readers may also remember you as front man for Van Halen tribute band 5150. A lot of fun! Did you also used to front a Zeppelin cover band?

SG: Ha… Yeah the 5150 Oz Van Halen Show – was a full production tribute show. A lot of fun?….. How about three times the fun in half the time!!! This show was the most fun I ever had playing live. Characterizing David Lee Roth was like being given a licence to be outrageous. The wilder it was the better people liked it. It was a great vehicle to supplement our work as Rags N Riches. Same band – different show.

Zeppelin are undeniably my all-time favourite band but no I never fronted a Zeppelin show. But  I’ve played quite a few of their numbers in bands over the years.

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5150

RB: In the mid to late 80s you were playing and gigging regularly. In those days there was plenty of venues and plenty of gigs available. Nowadays, live music is a small percentage of the entertainment industry. I honestly don’t know ANY musicians who can make a living full time out of music anymore. They were halcyon days the mid to late 80s, do you look back fondly on those days and if you had your time over, is there anything you would have done differently?

SG: You’re 100% right, that era was the absolute heyday of gigging. The pressures of loud music restrictions for pubs near urban housing,  the shift in the type of venues  where younger kids go out to meet (e.g. Dance parties etc), the loss of real development shows for bands like Countdown, Sounds and MTV have all contributed to the changing face of what’s left of the live scene.  Back then if you were in a band, you were in that band and that’s it – nowadays musicians are playing in multiple different bands to make a decent living from live work. There are still some awesome bands out there playing live, but it seems to be much harder to motivate people to go out to see live bands and develop a new breed of young and dedicated followers like what existed in the ‘80s.

Anything I would have done differently……maybe I would have worn earplugs so that the hearing damage was minimised, and had I more financial resources at the time, I should have up and awayed to England with the One Man Army band when I was getting great feed back for the album.

RB: The early 90s saw the demise of the hard rock / heavy rock era, which put a lot of us in the musical wilderness. When did you decide that the writing was on the wall and it was time to do something else? You pursued a career in science is that correct?

I think it was about ‘93-’94. We’d finished doing the 5150 show, and were struggling to get Rags to where I wanted it to be. It was kind of weird, because I just stopped. No farewell shows, I just said I’ve had enough. I think I’d put some sort of a vague timer on myself as well like reaching age 35,  and that was it.  Some bands can be like a bad marriage but Rags N Riches / 5150 was a really pro unit – it was a great team environment. I did feel like a professional sportsman knowing when the right time to retire is, and I did feel I wanted to stop on a good note and that was certainly true of what we’d achieved with this band. I didn’t want to end up playing in some broken down old hotel to a man and his dog, so I quit while I was ahead.  I kept the recording studio gear but soon after stopped writing new material as I had no purpose or motivation. I stopped going to gigs because I was sick of answering the question – “what are you doing now?” and the answer was “well nothing, I’ve quit music, end of story”. I’d also done courier work for a long time which was a great job because you were a sub-contractor and it allowed me to go away on tours and still have a job when I came back. But I got to the point where I started thinking  do I want to do this for another 20 years, and the answer was no. So I  walked from that too – I’d had enough. I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I’d had an interest in insects as a kid, and my family encouraged me to do something with that. So I went to university as a mature age student and did a Science Degree graduating with Ist Class Honours specialising in Entomology (the study of insects). That got me a job at the Australian Museum in the Entomology department. I’m now in the museum’s DNA Lab where I look after the Frozen Tissue Collection which is used for the museum’s genetic research on all sorts of animals.

RB:  After several years away from the music industry, you released an album late last year under the moniker of MAZZ-XT, firstly, congratulations on its release! I for one am pleasantly surprised to hear new music from Scott Ginn. You have always had a great rock voice and it’s great to hear it again!  (Readers please note that we intend to do a track by track review and interview with Scott which will appear on The Australian Rock Show. So stay tuned for that). What is the origin behind the MAZZ-XT name?

SG:  Thanks Colin, and I’m glad to be back making music. It’s something that I didn’t think I would do again.

I was brainstorming band names for the project and I had written down a long list of ‘possibles’. But in the modern world with the advent of online presence, I’d start googling all these names that I’d thought of, and of course there was already a band called this or that. So that wasn’t working for me. One of the names was ‘Mass Extinction’ but that had been used as well.  I kind of liked this one because it had a double meaning to me – in reference to a literal mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs (my museum influence) and it also represented a tongue-in-cheek reference to the mass extinction event (the 90s music we talked about earlier) that wiped out the dinosaurs of rock music. So playing around with the spelling and abbreviating it I modified ‘Mass Extinction’ to ‘Mazz-XT’ (pronounced maz-exx-tee) which was a unique name that had not been used anywhere else.  From that came the title of the album and title track “At the brink of eternity” being the moment in time before the imminent impact of a giant meteor on the earth which causes a mass extinction event….. Or perhaps it’s the moment before there was a changing of the guard in the world of rock music???? Make of it what you will.

RB: The MAZZ-XT album, ‘At The Brink Of Eternity’ is a fantastic album of well crafted, hard rock tunes.  What can you tell us about the project, and your first new recorded material in over 20 years?

SG: After I stopped playing music, I got really interested in action video games – not so much playing them but building them. My sons play lots of games, and I was drawn into the process of how they were made. For the last 13 years I have been building and releasing custom level games in the Tomb Raider community under the nik  ‘EssGee’.  For these games I started getting interested in making the ambience and action scene music for the games. So I invested in some software to produce music for the games. These are small mood music interludes written and played on keyboard – some are short 10 second things, other are 1-2 minute pieces.  They started turning out pretty good, and I got curious as to whether I could record a decent rock song using this software. The first song I recorded was an early version of the opening album track “Spellbound”. I was so vibed with how it was sounding that it opened the creative floodgates and maybe what had been bottled up inside me for 20 years just came flowing out, so before long I had an album of songs.

std_12043RB: In reference to the ‘At The Brink Of Eternity’ album, I read somewhere where you stated. “The new songs are influenced by music from the past – but have a modern edge.” I agree with that wholeheartedly. The songs may have a foundation in 80’s hard rock, but much of the material has a progressive edge, and could almost be interpreted as a concept album. Such is the calibre of the songs, musically, thematically and lyrically.

SG: Wow!  I’m so glad that that does come through in the music. It was a very empowering experience just being able to write what I felt rather than feeling the need to write to a particular style because of what is the current trend. Lyrically some of it is a departure from the good times lyrics of Rags n Riches,  drawing from a bunch of more recent life experiences.  But even though there are some more serious subjects broached, I always try to stay positive in my outlook about things. I’m really pleased with how the album has turned out and I think it truly representative of what my music is about.

0005958260_10RB: Do you have plans to get out and gig again? Particularly in light of the reissue of ‘One Man Army’ and the soon to be released Rags N Riches album ‘Shipwrecked Out On The Streets’.  

SG: Good question, and this is where I get to write my own rules. I will never say never again (although I did in the 90’s – ha!). I would very much like to perform live again with this new material and the Rags and One Man Army stuff, but I won’t do it unless there is a demand there for it. Back in the day we would develop a live following first and then hopefully follow that up with release material. Nowadays for me, as essentially a recording artist, it’s the other way around – my passion is to write and record songs. I’ll continue to do that for as long as the ideas keep on coming. It’s something I love doing. If I build a following through my recordings, then backing that up with live performance is definitely on.  So if fans want live shows they will need to show their support through the recorded material first. Like we talked about earlier, the music scene has changed dramatically and musicians have got to come up with new ways to to get their music to the people that want to hear it. Crowd-funding is a good example of this. For me, I don’t need this, I can produce my own albums, I just need people to listen to it and show their support by buying an album or two. (Readers: Click here and show Scott your support by picking up his album – ED)

RB: Thanks very much for your time Scott. If readers want to check out the MAZZ-XT album, they can head to the links below.

SG: Cheers Colin, it’s been good fun recollecting some of these memories. Thanks for that. Scott outta here!

Bandcamp: https://mazz-xt.bandcamp.com/

CDBaby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mazzxt

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mazzxtmusic/

Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/mazz-xt

Twitter: twitter.com/MazzXTMusic

Mazz-XT Music Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSkvjigiH0ELdrOETPhGEpw

Dave Crompton: February 2013

Cowboy Col did an interview with Jed Starr, in which they discussed an old friend of mine.   I decided to look up my old mate, and see what he was up to these days.Now I knew he had retired from the music scene, however I was surprised to learn that he had returned, or at least, was planning to return.

Now, you may or may not know Dave Crompton, or you may know of the bands in which he was a member, and if you dont, it would do you well to Google both Dave and his bands.   They certainly rocked the pubs back then, and it seems there is a chance it will be happening again!

Dave moved from Adelaide to Sydney back in 1982, with his band called Venom.  Over the course of the next few months, there were several line-up changes to Venom, and they renamed themselves Killer.

Killer played many successful pub gigs but when they went into the studio to record their self-funded album, it was suggested to them that it might be wise to change their name, as there was another band recording elsewhere in the world, with the same name.  And Surrender was born.

Surrender made some great inroads into not only the pub scene, but into the national and international scenes as a support act, but more on that later.

Surrender succumbed, as many bands do, to a fall out over what are now long forgotten issues, but not before completing the self-titled album which Jed Star mentioned in his interview.   I caught up with Dave Crompton himself in the palm lined pool enclosure of his Sydney home. (Interview conducted by DarcyDuke, Feb 2013)

DarcyDuke: Shortly after the collapse of Surrender, you were approached to front an up and coming band, for one gig only I believe?

Dave: Yeah, about three months later, I was approached by a couple of the guys from “Godspeed” who told me that they had recorded a few songs for the “THUNDER FROM DOWN UNDER” album, and they needed a front man for the gig at the Hordern Pavilion in a few weeks time. I joined them for the gig, and stayed for two years!

DarcyDuke:  What brought the Godspeed era to an end? 

Dave: {smiling, and hesitating} Musical incompatibility

DarcyDuke: Would you like to elaborate on that?

Dave: No thank you {flashing a smile that indicated there may have been more to the story, but also that I was never going to get it}

DarcyDuke: So that was the end of Godspeed. Though it didnt keep you off the stage long did it?

Dave: No, I was always very fortunate in that way, I had a visit from the drummer from “Tough Luxury”, Grumpy, who I had known for a while, to see if I was interested in fronting them.

DarcyDuke: So what was the reason for choosing Tough Luxury, rather than looking elsewhere, they were not exactly playing what you had been involved in, in your earlier bands. Surrender, Godspeed, etc., were very heavy, yet Tough Luxury were more “melodic”

Dave: I listened to what they had down in demos, and thought with a little creative license, and collaboration between us all we could turn what they were doing into a force to be reckoned with.

DarcyDuke: The first gig I think was at the Seven Hills Inn, a favourite haunt for pub bands back then, and the band had been rebranded Fetish I remember.

Dave: The Seven Hills Inn…….. a lot of memories there.

DarcyDuke: There was also a gig I went to at Mudgee, after you had been together a while, I remember seeing signs in all the shop windows branding Fetish – a Top Sydney Band.

Dave: Yeah, that was a bit of creative license in itself….. we were so “Top” that the support band didn’t show, and we had to do a set as support, then come back and do our own set. I think with the stage clothes etc., no one actually noticed anyway. That place was amazing. You could literally see people moving up and down while standing still, just from the volume we cranked out. Not sure what effect we had on the grapes that year.

DarcyDuke: Fetish played a lot of interesting gigs; I remember one gig on the back of a truck at the Fire Museum at Penrith.  Then there was the Freedom from Hunger Concert in Martin Place, with several unknown and known bands, organised in part by Doc Neeson that was the first time I heard you sing the ZZ TOP song Tush….brilliant! You also supported Kevin Borich at the Seven Hills RSL. Who else have you played support for over the years?

Dave: Shit…. that’s a loaded question, what are you doing? Testing me for senility? Where do I start?   In Adelaide, in a band named “Heist” we supported UK Squeeze, Swanee, Mi-Sex, Radiators.   As Killer/Surrender we supported Swanee, Radiators, Choirboys, TMG, Rose Tattoo, Motorhead, Uriah Heep, Cheap Trick and Sweet in Sydney.   Fetish supported Stevie Wright for a gig or two also.

DarcyDuke: That is an impressive list of names. Over quite a number of years. So…. back to the Fetish years, what brought Fetish to an end?

Dave: Well, Fetish didn’t ever actually end. There was never a screaming match, or a “This is over”  thing. It dissolved…. or decomposed. *laughing*

Fetish performed their last Australian gig at Selinas, and were due to meet up with each other in Vancouver. I left Australia in 1989 to go to England, my grandfather was dying and I wanted to see him .  Fetish were meant to meet up shortly thereafter in Vancouver, and tackle the east coast of the US. But it never happened. Some of the band moved to other places, some moved on with their lives in different directions, and I ended up staying in England for 3 years.

DarcyDuke: So what prompted the move back to Australia?

Things in England were not as glamorous as I had remembered from when I was a kid, I am sure they were close to the same, but I was not. I had been planning a return to Australia for some time, but there were issues. We owned a house there by this stage, and its not so easy to just up roots and leave, and my wife and I now had a second child (our first was born in Australia) so it was not something we could just jump into. Well, so I thought. So it had been on our minds for some time, and I remember one freezing morning, driving to work, I heard a band I had discovered while in England, “Firehouse” on the radio. They were singing a song of theirs that I could not remember having heard before. The song was called “Home is Where The Heart Is”. Well, that did it. I didn’t go to work that day, or any other day. I turned around, and we started planning, and within a few weeks the house was rented out, and we were sitting in Hong Kong Airport with two little kids for a 13 hour stopover, on our way “Home”.

DarcyDuke:  No sooner had you landed and you ended up in another band… how did that happen?

Dave: It was just a simple matter of catching up with some friends. I went to dinner at their place, he was a keyboard player, and was in the middle of putting a band together. The night we went there, he was heading off to band practice, and I tagged along. Apparently they were looking for a singer, which I didn’t know at the time, they asked me to sing a few songs, just fooling about. Next thing I know, “Mad Hatta” was formed… and I was the singer.

It was only a short stint… I think we only lasted about 6 months, and the commitments of life, and the changing access to good venues, all combined to bring it to an end. We now had 3 kids, and I guess I decided to become a “responsible adult” *laughing* and get a real job.

So I put a hold on the music, and I just never went back. It was never a decision that “This is it, I am now never singing again”, it was just what I needed to do at the time.

DarcyDuke:  So Tell me, what brought about the comeback…. what inspired you to get up on a stage, and do it all again?

Dave:  Ha ha….. yeah. Well again, it was not something I planned, not by a long shot. A friend was having a 50th birthday bash, and decided to also make it a “rockers reunion” for the bands from the ‘80s. I was not planning to sing on the night, in fact I was quite adamant I was NOT singing on the night. But, as it turned out, there were others who had different plans, and I ended up getting up and doing a couple of numbers with some old mates.

The candle was re-lit.

DarcyDuke:  So that was it? You just decided to get back onstage?

Dave: Shit no. I was still not thinking about more than the two songs that night, and I might add I was thinking about how bad my timing had been, but then, no rehearsal, I was happy enough. It was not a gig, it was a party, and it was for fun, not a paying audience, so, yeah, I was happy enough. But the real pressure came after that. I got a LOT of pressure from friends, others in the industry, I started getting phone calls asking me to help or do different projects, or work with this band or that, and you know, I still didn’t really think I was going to do anything, but at dinner one night, with my wife and kids, they started putting the pressure on too…. and so I thought “Why Not?”

DarcyDuke: None of your kids had ever seen you perform. Is that right? But they were at the birthday party, and saw you. What was it like singing on a stage, in front of your own children for the first time?

Dave: That’s right. They were all too young to see me before. What was it like? Terrifying!  Not just performing in front of them, but a room full of people, other muso’s. I remember when I walked up on stage to do “Wishing Well”, there was no one on the dance floor. Everyone was hanging about the edges. I turned around on the stage when I got to the mike, and the floor was full of people. I guess some were looking forward to hearing me sing, or I like to think that, but I reckon there were some who were waiting to see me flop. *laughs*  Hey!  It’s a competitive industry.  It was hard to start, but only took a short time before it just felt natural again. My kids loved it, which was important to me, and my wife had a smile on her face for a month!  Well, I hope it was a smile

DarcyDuke: Getting to the original reason I got back in touch with you to do this interview….. Jed Starr in his interview, was quoted as saying that To this day, Surrender (and front man Dave Crompton in particular) were the ultimate band/artist.  How does it make you feel to hear that type of comment from someone in the industry?

Dave: OLD! *laughs* Seriously, somewhat humble really. Something I was never known for in the past.

DarcyDuke:  Jed also compared you, and the self titled Surrender album from 1984 in particular as equal to any Rainbow album, with the exception of Rising. Now I understand Rainbow and Dio in particular were long-time musical influences for you. As a singer, it must make you feel good to be mentioned in the same breath, and compared equally to your idols.

Dave: Yeah…… I don’t see it. I mean, I try to sound similar to others, but in my own style, for me to play Rainbow, Sabbath, Zeppelin…. to be mentioned in that vein, I guess I must have been doing something right. I always wanted to give a “Larger Than Life” show, compared to other pub bands. I really liked Dio’s style.  It is embarrassing, I guess, to be told that.

DarcyDuke: Okay, before we move to the NOW, do you have any regrets from back then?

Dave: You know, as simple as it sounds, I regret screaming too much. I have a reasonable voice, and I can hit some reasonable notes, and NOT scream, but I guess you get caught up in the atmosphere and the lifestyle, and I think there were times I screamed simply to piss people off!  Its weird, but hey, what can I say, it was the ‘80s

DarcyDuke: So, here we are, almost 20 years after your last gig, I guess the question has to be asked….. how good are you, how good is the voice compared to then?

Dave: The voice is nowhere near what it was, but saying that, I am still feeling great, don’t look too bad for an old guy, and the ego and attitude have long worn out – which makes it all better in the long run.

As everyone knows, Metal Rusts *laughs* I was known back then for the amount of alcohol I could consume. These days I think it will have to be Valvoline…. know what I mean?

DarcyDuke: I read your Facebook page… facebook.com/davecromptonmusic. Did you build that page?  

Dave: NO!  In fact I was asked to do a page, by a long-time friend, and when I wouldn’t, he did. I find it a little intimidating actually, but its growing on me *smiles*

DarcyDuke: Facebook must have changed the landscape completely since you were last looking to promote yourself

Dave: I use it, I see it, but I don’t get it. Not really, I mean, from a business perspective, or promotional perspective. You have a page, and all these people come along and “like” you…… But do they?  It’s certainly different.

DarcyDuke: So what are your immediate plans?

Dave: I guess short term, is the SECOND annual rockers reunion, as it has become known, this August (which started out as John Flaherty’s birthday last year, and took on a life of its own).

For want of a better name, I want to put together a “Dave Crompton Band”, filled with musos from some of the previously mentioned bands, do a few songs, and I want that to be really tight, the way it should be.

DarcyDuke: And then? Is that it?

Dave: No, that’s not all, I always loved the encore part of the gig, and here we are, this is now my encore. I am looking to recruit serious members to put a band together shortly after the reunion. I am planning on putting together a band with some new and some old stuff. There are also some serious offers I am looking at to do other work as well.  For example I have just come back from Adelaide where I was lucky enough to record a couple of songs on a Dio Tribute album.

DarcyDuke: Well thanks for your time Dave, and thanks for the memories of the past, I look forward to hearing more from you in the future, and you keep that oil flowing through those vocal cords.

Fans interested in contacting Dave can do so via his Facebook page

To many Sydney and Melbourne gig goers, Jed Starr was a constant on the mid to late 80’s heavy rock and metal scenes. From Kings Cross to Massive Appendage and the Festers Fanatics, he then moved south to Melbourne and found success with Killing Time. I recently wrote a post called, “Whatever Happened To Jed Starr” which generated much interest from readers. We are happy to announce that Jed has been in contact with Rockbrat and has answered many questions we put to him about his musical past, present and indeed future. (Interview conducted November, 2011 by Cowboy Col). This is part 1 of the interview…..

RB: Jed, Where did you grow up ?

Jed: Melbourne and Sydney

 RB: When did you and your brothers start getting into rock n roll and who were your influences ?

Jed: I took an interest in the guitar when I was about five or six.  My very early influences include The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, most British invasion music, psychedelic and progressive rock plus jazz fusion.

RB: Were your parents musical, and did they encourage you and your brothers musical pursuits?

Jed: Yes, my father Ray actually had his own radio program in the 50s and he was a well known drummer and singer. He bought my first guitar in 1973 and my Mum drove us to endless music lessons so yes, they were very encouraging.

RB: What was your first band?

Jed: The first ‘proper’ band I was in was with Tubby Wadsworth, Fester and Squire (Peter Armstrong). A lot of people don’t realise that Fester has always played guitar, and already had an electric set up including a Peavey amp. Our first big event was in 1978 at our school hall playing ‘Johnny B Goode’ and some other twelve bar blues. We also played in other school bands, plays, musicals etc. You could note that we saw Phil Bowley (Candy Harlots, Rags ‘n’ Riches, Shy Thunder, Melody Black) play in school musicals in the late 70’s/early 80’s and this was years before we met him. We are a few years younger than Phil.

RB: What was the first record you ever bought?

Jed: The New Seekers, “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing”. Next main one was ‘Explosive Hits 73/74’.

RB: Was it always the guitar for you or did you play any other instruments ?

Jed: Always guitar, a little piano and lots of vocals.

RB: First concert you saw ?

Kush (Jeff Duff) in Darebin Arts Centre (Preston, Melbourne) and Sherbet in the early seventies at Southland, Cheltenham!

RB: Your favourite guitar?

Jed: All guitars including cheap and second-hand ones (especially 60s and 70s Japanese guitars).

RB: Your favourite guitar players?

Jed: Some Australian players such as Kevin Pratt, Phil Emmanuel, Kevin Borich, Wayne Gardner and Avion, Brad Carr, Rob Riley, Peter Wells, Lobby Loyde  Billy Thorpe.

RB:  In the early 80’s your family relocated from Sydney to LA, is that correct ? How long was the family there?

Jed: I travelled back and forth throughout the 80s.

RB: In the mid 80s, you and your brothers formed a thrash band called Massive Appendage, who along with Mortal Sin and Slaughter Lord, really led the way for that style of music in Sydney and maybe Australia? Did massive Appendage play outside of Sydney? Was their overseas interest in the band ?

Jed: Yes we mainly played in Melbourne and the first tour was with Mortal Sin and Slaughter Lord, who Venom and I thought were a truly over the top, great band. Bands were actually still getting faster and more complex at that stage. This truly was a memorable tour in many ways. Fester couldn’t believe the party bus on the way down to Melbourne, which inspired the Festers song ‘Tripping To Melbourne’. Kings cross also did some shows at the Prince of Wales Hotel in St. Kilda. These shows were also mixed with the help from Rick and John Jiles of Blackjack, who were some of the most helpful and genuine people we met in the Melbourne scene at that time. Melbourne had a really different scene at the time, with bands like Virgin Soldiers, Nothing Sacred, Fair Warning, Axatak – and the most punk of all punks – Smeer and Depression. Depression was at their peak. Smeer (who has also played in the Festers many, many line-ups) was just an outright, awesome vocalist and guitarist. Dakka was on drums. Great drummer. One of my other favourite heavy bands who only played one show in Sydney at the St James Tavern in 1986 was a band from Melbourne called Tyrus, fronted By Peter Hobbs – later to become Angel Of Death.

We also had help from the ‘Metal For Melbourne’ crew – Greta, Jason and Joel and also Taramis. Bird and I went down to Melbourne 6 months before that tour and got the original Massive Appendage demo into a few shops and on the 3RRR Metal Show. We spread the demo around to various sources. The bands first gig was at the Trade Union Club with Died Pretty. I recall Frozen Doberman, a western Sydney rock metal band who were just top,   nice people and of course – Addictive.

RB: In the late 80s you were playing in three bands – Fester Fanatics, Massive Appendage and Kings Cross. In those days there was plenty of venues and plenty of gigs available. Nowadays, live music is a small percentage of the entertainment industry. I honestly don’t know ANY musicians who can make a living full time out of music anymore. They were great days the mid to late 80s. Do you agree?

Jed: Agree completely. It’s gonna cost everything and more to keep investing and playing now – not that it didn’t then. Even in those days, unless you had a good and fair Manager and a top notch agent you weren’t gonna do jack. Not much has changed in that respect, but as long as you can stick to whatever it is you want to do and as long as you are around long enough – things can change. Sydney was a ‘tall poppy’ city – but there were many good bands with many good people who didn’t have hang ups. Box The Jesuit for one, Tex Perkins was another. Tex personally paid us when we were playing with any of his 3 or 4 bands. All three bands that we played in played at the Piccadilly Hotel in Kings Cross, a favourite venue for its diversity of audience who were open to all styles of music without prejudice. That loss of venue killed off a big part of the non superficial scene.

We actually used to go their especially to see The Moffs. Lubricated Goat hold good memories too. We played with them at the Hopetoun and the Old Greek Theatre in Melbourne amongst other gigs we did with them. They weren’t cry babies about volume either and made their own scene.

In early 1983, my Korean mate Sunhak took me to the Hopetoun and we saw the remnants of Heaven and Buffalo play one Sunday afternoon. It was at this gig that I realised that a good, small gig in the right place was (and is) just as satisfying and equally important as many others.

RB: Favourite Sydney venue and why?

Jed: PLENTY. The Sutherland Royal in Sutherland for one. That venue had all the three bands and trios with Snuff and Tubby over many years. Ned was our long time sound guy down there throughout those years. He also did many other shows for us on that side of town, such as at the Penshurst inn, St George Sailing Club, Peakhurst Hotel, Caringbah Inn and the Hurstville Hotel. The Sutherland Royal also hosted our first gig back from the States with Roxx and Phil Bowley’s band. I also remember at the end of 1986, Massappeal plays a brutal show there. This was at the time of their ‘Nobody Likes A Thinker’ EP). Tubby and I stood next to Brett Curotta’s amp for most of that gig. He played equal volume to me and Bird (who is actually louder than me). The only other person would be Blackie (Hard-Ons) who played loud with plenty of feedback but under control. By the way, Rob Reilly in the ‘beast’ days is the big daddy of all volume! Massappeal’s Randy Reimann was an unbelievable front man, and on fire at that gig. Massappeal’s performance at this gig was only to be topped by a gig at the Enmore Theatre, where they had more advanced sound and a shift in their songs and sound style. Massive and Mortals also played on this bill. Massappeal were the most hardcore punk band around Australia at the time – and we had seen plenty in the States up until then. Other venues? The  Seven Hills Hotel , Mount Druitt Hotel, Wagon Wheels Hotel, Kentucky Tavern, General Bourke and many, many others. The Wagon Wheels Hotel inspired the Festers song ‘Wagon Wheels’ and this place rocked as hard as anywhere – along with the Lewisham and Petersham Hotels. I recall the Punk Metal Rockfest of early 1987. It was summer, and the Petersham inn on a Saturday afternoon was completely packed with a queue lined up down the street. No room to move, no way in and no way out and 110 degrees. In my opinion, this was perhaps the peak of that metal crossover era in many ways. Things got a bit too serious after that.

RB:  Massive Appendage played the “Metal Olympics” in Sydney I recall, and the band released the Severed Erection LP. How well was the album received ? Did it sell internationally ?

Jed: Like I said before, it was a special, favourite gig for Massappeal. They had really matured around the time of that gig, and I can actually picture the middle part of that gig for them, which had light and shade in their sound. Mortal Sin was a consistent live band and were full pros by that stage, even though they had their line up changes.

The Massive album went out too many countries and we had much feedback especially from South America, Spain, UK, Germany, Malaysia, Holland and Japan – but, a lack of proper distribution was a major downfall.

RB: What were some of the most memorable gig s you did with MassiveAppendage ?

Jed: Bird could probably answer this question better than me as he was front man. We did have one funny show at the Yugal Soccer Club, where Snuff kept disappearing to the side of the stage into this little room. One minute he was there, the next he vanishes, then reappearing again. This kept happening  throughout the show – but he never missed a note !

RB: Was Original Records your label ? How well did the label do?

Jed: Yes it was. All the bands were on the label. It’s not really defunct, as whatever comes out in the future is still likely to be on Original. I haven’t disowned any recording format, and Killing Time had it written into their contract that vinyl pressings be made, in spite of all the pressures to move to the CD format. It’s sad, because had the music industry listened and not tried to over capitalize on the next sound format and in the process shutout the previous technology. The industry should have protected itself for the future, which has now become a joke, where you have a handful of diehards buying the last remaining CD’s (me being one of them). Yet who knows best – a muso or the industry?

RB: In the mid to late 80, the Sydney live scene was very strong wasn’t it – so many great bands, hard rock, metal and independent. Pubs were booking plenty of bands, live music really was the choice of entertainment for people. You look back fondly on those days ? Also, was their one Sydney band from that time who you considered should have made it but didn’t?

Jed: Before I start, let me clarify that there were different levels of what was considered  ‘achieving’ or ‘making it’. The Waterfront band scene was a separate thing, even more so than Red Eye. Pipe, Au Go Go and Cleopatra were the Melbourne versions. Many bands wouldn’t admit to it – as what was considered being commercial or ‘making it’ to some was uncool. Any form of playing good became ‘anti, which some of us call fake music anyway, Why the hell would you want to play worse than you should or could ? I can tell you straight out, bands like Depression and Massappeal worked their asses off and it payed off in their sound.

Punk is a word of attitude and the hunger of youth, so true punk should be no different. Ian Rilan is probably Australia’s exception to the rule as he was actually a punk originator, stylist and very uncompromising.

X did their own thing and anyone who is unaware of the true talent of a truly great punk vocalist should check out Steve Lucas, who is a master rock, metal, country and blues singer. You name it – he can do it. Check out Bigger Than Jesus. I was lucky enough to be one of the guitarists for him in a tribute to Slade show years ago, along with Max Horsehead on drums, Kev on bass, and Pete on guitar – but with so many factions that branched off to what was cool and what was not.

Bands had started to move on as things were beginning to change anyway. I personally don’t have a genre as I like great pop and all the heavy, blues rock stuff, acid rock, 70s progressive, one hit wonders, disco, dance – its endless really. I also like classical, jazz fusion, gypsy and all guitar styles. I love folk music when it’s not a fake cash in. As the cycles of music revolve, there is plenty of that fake folk rolling along   with it. I also like Frank Frith and the micro tonal improvisational stuff. Originality in music is always there with the right artists.

One band, Voodoo Lust should have had a hit on the radio as they had good harmony vocals and were a tight and consistent band and weren’t crybaby’s when it came to being a support band (as many were). They had a sort of southern Sydney surfish, original power pop punk sound – light years before the Good Charlotte types and the early 2000s pop punk revival etc.

Who else? The Spunk Bubbles. Their  ‘Metal Wench is a classic. I can’t forget Bigbird – who is a star in his own right.

I better mention the Candy Harlots. No front man came close to Mark Easton, from the first gig Candy Harlots played (at the Vulcan Hotel with Kings Cross) through to his last show at Kardomah Café. Killing Time actually played at the Landsdowne Hotel that night. Tubby and I made it back that night to the Kardomah to witness the end of an era for that line up. So I actually saw the first gig with Easton and the last with him.

Also Boss, a great band, but they needed to hold a line up together to some degree. I might go on about Boss but they rocked everytime. No crap gigs, though they might have thought so. I saw Boss throughout their career, from the time when I was old enough to get into a pub, right until they finished. I recall seeing them at Blondies at Rockdale in early 1983. Bengal Tigers and Rob Riley’s Beast had the support as did one other band who I forget. Venom would know. This was the night I met Venom, (who was then 14 years old and had massive long hair), and also his brother Peter Brown, who went on to become main lead guitarist and wailing backing vocalist in New England with Paul Blaze on vocals and Viper on Bass.

Archangel were another (whom Venom and I played with for a year before New England took shape). They had very catchy songs written by Mick Pickleby.

Lotus as well. Their guitarist, Sam had great riffs and s great sound and in Dale Bartley they had one of my favourite singers, who was another choice front man. The drummer from Lotus, Joe Zito also went to Homebush and used to jam with Fester and I in the early days. Yet to this day, Surrender (and front man Dave Crompton in particular) were the ultimate. Their self titled album from 1984 is equal to any Rainbow album, except ‘Rising’. Unfortunately my copy of the album vanished and I have not been able to get another copy. I listened to this album on a plane to America in 84 and have searched all over the internet to find a copy – no one seems to know of them. Their original name was Killer. Early 84 or late 83, Sunhak and I were at the Illinois Hotel at Five Dock for Thursday rock night to see Surrender, when some clown tipped water (not spilt), but TIPPED water on the mixing desk about three of four songs into their set and shut down the gig. We had specifically gone to see Dave Cromton. I recall that the Balmain Tigers player and tough guy  Kerry Hemsley was there. Not sure of the outcome but everyone was pissed off that the gig had finished abruptly.

(End of part 1 of the interview. To be continued!) Thanks go to Jed!! 

No part of this interview may be used without written permission of the author, Mr. Rockbrat.

 

I conducted this brief interview with Rick in April 2000. It originally appeared in the April 2000 edition of Cat Scratch Fever Fanzine, the newsletter of Vicious Kitten Records.

Rockbrat Chat: The L7 Interview

Posted: November 22, 2010 by rockbrat in Rockbrat Chat:
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 Here is another re-print of an old interview we did some years back – this one with the great L7. What a phenomenal rock outfit they were. Am luck to have seen them live many times and to have interviewed guitarist Suzi  – as detailed below. Remember that this interview was done in 1998 and not 2010.  Whilst the God-like Runaways get tons of praise (deservedly) for being one of the finest all-girl outfits – during their heyday – no other rock band (all-girl or otherwise) possessed the same amount of ear-damaging power quite like L7 – and they could’ve quite easily blown every other band off the stage at will.  Great memories friends…  

 They’ve toured downunder three times, leaving a trail of debris in their wake – now, the god-like L7 have just released their first ever live album !! Vicious Kitten chased down guitarist Suzi Gardner recently to get the latest from the L7HQ (interview conducted November, 1998)

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Rockbrat: Let’s start with the new live album ‘L7 Live – Omaha to Osaka’. Where was it recorded at ? 
Suzi Gardner: As the title states, it was recorded in Omaha, Nebraska and Osaka, Japan. However the Overture/Medley performed by the John Marshall High School Marching Band was recorded in Los Angeles

RB: Do you think it captures the energy and mayhem of L7 live and are you satisfied with the finished result ?
SG: Yeah, these recordings capture all… warts and all. These aren’t slick, spruced up recordings with a lot of ‘studio magic’, they are raw and honest. You even get loads of in between song banter, our usually crass commentary. Don’t play this in earshot of your Mom. Really, all you need is a dark room, headphones and a cigarette lighter for the encore!  And it comes complete with Frank Kozik’s kick ass artwork

RB: What’s in the immediate pipeline for L7 ? A new studio album early next year ?
SG: Well we had hoped to have a new album out early in the year, but we are in between labels. I imagine we WILL have a full-length album out sometime in 1999. So in the mean time we taking this opportunity to do a few fun things that we’ve always wanted to do. One of those things is releasing a live album. Bootlegging ourselves, as it were. We’ve also been writing and recording new material. We’re planning to release a single on the net as well.

RB: Gail’s been in for a couple of years now (I think we may’ve seen one of her earliest shows in Phoenix, November ’96 w/D-Gen) and not that she didn’t suit Belly, but she looks right at home as one of the ladies of L7….
SG: Gail is an outstanding addition to L7! She claims she was born to be in L7! She really rocks like no other. Gail instantly melded into the group upon her arrival. We are SO fucking pleased

RB: Personally speaking, ‘The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum’ was one of your strongest albums, containing more killer Sparks/Gardner cuts eg ‘Bad Things’, ‘Off The Wagon’, ‘Drama’. Was it annoying the way certain parts of this fickle industry snubbed it, as there were no instant riff-monsters like in the past (‘Pretend We’re Dead’, ‘Andres’) ?
SG: We too think it’s one of our stronger albums. I really don’t think the album was just ‘snubbed by the fickle industry’…I think that we experienced many obstacles in regards to that album. I don’t mean to point any fingers, but let’s just say, “We did our job”. I also think there were plenty of catchy riffy tunes…go figure.

RB: Is Krist Novoselic’s rockumentary on the band near completion ? Was any Australian footage included ?
SG: No sorry, no Aussie footage unfortunately (L7’s Australian fans are rabid and they deserve their 15 minutes too). Krist has shot and directed a wonderful film. He has completed it and is now working out the distribution details. The footage is from shows in the US; it’s very artfully shot. We’re excited about the film, I’m sure our fans will be too, as there is very little video or film available on us. If you’re interested you can check out our website for the latest details, it should be available in a couple of months. 

RB: L7’s take of Blue Oyster Cult’s ‘This Ain’t the Summer of Love’ off the ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ soundtrack fucking rocks !! I never knew Buck Dharma and Eric Bloom were an influence ?!
SG: We enjoyed doing that. It was fun putting an L7 twist on that song, but we didn’t hand pick the song, it was music folks from the film. I am probably the only ‘real hard core’ BOC fan in L7, they’re a great band….‘Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll’ one of my favourites. Glad you liked the track.

RB: What is currently happening with Rock For Choice ?
SG: Rock for Choice is still a functioning arm of the Feminist Majority Foundation. It continues to raise money and awareness for a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion. For more info: http://www.feminist.org/rock4c/1_rock4c.html

RB: Any plans to work with Joan Jett again ? I’ve always thought that L7 could belt out a stinging version of a Runaways tune, (other than ‘Cherry Bomb’) – something say off ‘Waitin’ For The Night’ – ie ‘Wasted’ or ‘You’re Too Possessive’ !!
SG: Joan rocks. No, there’s nothing currently in the works. I like her latest hair-do.

RB: I’ve always wanted to know if that 1994 radio interview from Fresno (on the ‘Andres’ single) was for real ? Hearing some of those ignorant zombies who phoned in was both funny and frightening at the same time !
SG: I know, what a bunch of ignoramuses.

RB: The sampling of Yoko Ono on ‘Wargasm’ has always intrigued me. Some of her work is indeed hard listening, but her distinct scream works so well on that song. Is she an influence ? Incidentally I’m confident John Winston would’ve dug the mighty L7 !
SG: Yes, Yoko is very influential.

RB: You’ve toured downunder in ’92, ’95 and earlier this year with The Tea Party ? Any highlights/fond memories ? Have you have a chance to break from touring and see some of our amazing country ?
SG: Touring Australia is always fun for L7. I’ve gotten to do a little sight seeing, but not as much as I would like to have. I’ve visited a couple of animal parks. Once I looked right inside a Kangaroo’s pouch, it was really tame and it let me stick my entire head in there almost. We love to hang out with our friends the Cosmic Psychos. There are many more things in your fair country that I’d love to see. Take me, will ya?

RB: Can Australia expect a fourth visit from L7 in the future or is that just wishful thinking on my part ?
SG: By all means. I personally cannot wait to come back down.

RB: What was the first concert you attended ?
SG: One of my earliest concerts was Alice Cooper

RB: Name your five ‘desert island discs’ ?
SG: If I were stranded on a desert island I would only require one CD. I would not be listening to this per se; I’d be using it to ensure my rescue from said island. I would point it at the sun and flash Morse code at oncoming ships and aircraft.

RB: A message for the Vicious Kitten readers/L7 fans out there…..
SG: Be True To Yourself! And if you need a little dose of L7 before we make it back to Australia go visit our website!