Legendary pop/rock/hip-hip scientists Regurgitator were in London last week for the first time in five years. Quan Yeomans spoke to Bryce Lowry about life beyond the system.
The Emergence of Regurgitator back in 1995 heralded an explosion on to the Australian mainstream of a host of innovative young Brisbane bands. It was a scene characterised by a DIY approach and a healthy disregard for the norms; an attitude born from the (up until then) neglect and even contempt shown by the Sydney and Melbourne based industry towards their ‘backward’ Queensland cousins. The exuberance and eccentricity of those bands rejuvenated a national rock scene in danger of succumbing to the post-grunge myopia.
You guys were really the first of that Brisbane crop that went gone on to spawn so many great bands. What do you think was the genesis of that scene?
It had to do with the Joh era. There was a lot of conservatism back then and the music industry was very conservative too. So I guess it was a response to that. A lot of us got together and recorded in this old Target building. We even shacked up with Powderfinger for a while. That produced a lot of competition.
I remember not being able to buy your first album Tu-Plang at my local K-Mart because of some Christian group’s outrage at ‘I Sucked a Lot of Cock to Get Where I Am”.
Yeah, what’s the phrase, ‘all publicity is good publicity’? The irony is of course that they actually helped us sell albums. You know, I recently found out that Alan Jones was in uproar about us as well.
Oh, the radio jock?
Yeah the right wing freak. There was this whole political thing going on apparently. I read about it in a book on the old Brisbane scene. None of us realised that was going on at all.
Have you ever had to compromise art for commerciality?
I think once the industry gets involved it just seems to destroy art. The key is to emerge out the other side unscathed.
Do you bare any scars?
I’m not quite sure I’ve even come out the other side yet; but for the most part I tend to think of myself as being outside of that now. We haven’t been on a major label for some time. Our last two albums were released on our manager’s label. I really don’t feel that I’m a part of the system anymore. It was a very bizarre time, being ensconced in the industry, dealing with that whole thing.
Speaking of being ensconced – the ‘Band in the Bubble’ experience, where you recorded an album locked up behind a window in downtown Melbourne; was that more confining than a studio, or less?
Hmm. Well, it’s a very surreal experience waking up in the morning with a volleyball team looking at your feet and only communicating via text messages held up to the window.
What effect did this have on the end result?
I’m not sure it did have much effect you know. We’d written everything before we went in and said, “right, let’s get this thing done!”. We were scared to be honest.
And for the latest album, Love & Paranoia, you went to Rio. That place is supposed to be a bit scary.
Nah. We looked after each other, watched each others backs.
And now you’ve been working on a solo album?
Yeah it’s finished now. I mixed and produced it myself and did all the recording myself pretty much, with a few guests. I don’t think I’ll ever do another album again though; I’ll just do single tracks from now on.
Really? Why’s that?
I just don’t think I’ve got another solo album in me. It’s just too much work for one person. And in the downloading age I think it’s far more exciting to focus on single tracks. I get a lot more enjoyment focussing on one thing that’s small and, you know, you get that buzz off finishing a track. And then you can just put it straight out there. I think it’s actually a more natural way of doing things.
Regurgitator’s ‘Love & Paranoia’ is out now. For a taste of all things ‘Gurge check out their characteristically cyber-strange website www.regurgitator.net
For, by and about Aussies in the UK.
Conceived in 2004, South West Four initially started as a party for 10,000 of London’s clubbing elite dancing the afternoon away to the likes of Sasha, Xpress 2 and Erick Morillo.
On a grey wet London evening, I joined a crowd of 700 to watch Sarah Blasko, an Aussie girl who has clearly become an expat favourite.