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Lyndon Blue: Review

Filtering by Category: interview

A CHAT WITH STREET ROLLER HOCKEY LEAGUE FOUNDER EAMONN LOUREY

Andrew Ryan

You’ve probably heard of the Street Roller Hockey League – Perth’s most unique, well-populated and funniest grass roots sports organisation. Certain disgruntled Bayswater residents have certainly heard of them – they’ve heard the sound of hockey sticks clacking at their Bayswater Bowls Club headquarters, and lodged complaints that have now left the league without a home. In light of recent developments, and to get a handle on the bigger picture, I sat down with SRHLfounder and tireless boss dog Eamonn Lourey.

Lyndon Blue: I guess first up I was hoping to get a bit more background on the SRHL, because from my point of view it just kind of appeared one day, but I’m sure there’s quite story in the origins. It’s pretty unique as far as sports leagues go, even as an organisation generally… Were there projects abroad that inspired you? Did the idea emerge fully-formed?

Eamonn Lourey: It’s interesting you say that – a lot of people mention that they had never heard of the league and then boom one day it’s all they can see in their newsfeed. It might be something to do with a Facebook algorithm but it’s likely just organic word of mouth through someone in one of your outer friendship circles rather than someone you are super tight with. I suppose it’s a pretty Perth thing in that sense. Looking back I wish I mapped which people or teams influenced the most people to join for further seasons. Would be interesting reading.

From day one, I’ve just tried to ensure everyone is having as much fun as possible. And then harnessing this energy and allowing everyone to become a walking billboard for the league.

But anyway the origin story goes like this.

In 2013 I was in my last year of Physiotherapy at uni. This year was all practical based in hospitals and rural towns. By the time I got to my final year I absolutely despised physio and I was looking for a distraction. The Street Roller Hockey League was that distraction.

I used to frequent a couple of op shops a week on the way home from these hospitals and/or rural towns. One day in May I found an ice hockey stick in Balcatta. It was only $5 so I purchased it for no reason other than it would be stupid not to buy it.

That weekend I went to Luna and watched Spring Breakers with my friend Craig. We got chatting pre-film and we found out we both had bought ice hockey sticks from op shops that week. We decided we should at least try to play a game. We told our mates and they were keen to join in. That turned into the Original 4 teams – the Dalkeith Ducks, Mosman Park Murderers, Cottesloe Street Sharks and Hamersley Rangers.

We then put it on Facebook, wrote a little spiel on SixThousand and another 6 teams joined in time for our first season. I like to thing drinking cheap wine and watching Spring Breakers on that wintry night in Leederville has influenced the league.

My main inspiration was my friends who had all quit sport after finishing school. They turned 18, got into uni, discovered Clubba and part-time jobs and organised sport was the first thing that fell away.

I personally think organised sport doesn’t work for Generation Y and Z. Our generation doesn’t want to commit to 2 trainings + 1 game at a scheduled time every week. If you choose to commit to organised sport you have to schedule your life around sport/recreation rather than sport/recreation around your life.

Loose/social/pickup sports like basketball or frisbee will continue to flourish in the future. Sports that are social and loose also tend to be non-competitive. Competitive sports are a drain once you hit a certain mindset. I believe encourages people to feel like they are part of a community.

Community has always been a major ethos in our league. For generation’s Y, Z and beyond, our main community is now in the virtual realm. But people still want the physical connection too.

I suppose the SRHL is either weird or groundbreaking in linking sport and the virtual community together. Currently there are 117 teams and you only get to play 12 of them per season. Despite only getting the chance to play 10% of teams in a season, people still feel a sense of connection with other players that they haven’t had the opportunity to play yet. I suppose it’s the online community that drives the entire organisations ‘culture’ for lack of a better word. When people meet up in the physical realm whether at a social event or at a game, they already feel connected to that person.

Other inspirations include the films The Warriors (the themed gangs repping their turf); Semi Pro (Will Ferrell as a owner/coach/captain/equipment manager/entertainment manager); Mighty Ducks trilogy (max 90s nostalgia). Another main inspiration of mine in all aspects of my life has been to do try and do things the complete opposite way society expects them to be done. This is true of the Street Roller Hockey League. I actively try to avoid making decisions that dinosaur traditional sporting organisations make.

And I’m also influenced by that Nick Allbrook article on Perth 2 years or so ago.

LB: I’m fascinated by how much it’s evidently grown. 117 teams is a hell of a lot, even if – as you say – they don’t all play each other. How surprised were you by the popularity? Do you think the decoupling of competition and routine with social sport is the main thing that’s drawn so many people in?

EL: To be honest, when I started the league I didn’t see it lasting more than a year before I moved onto my next project. Of the 10 first season teams, I knew 8 of them from various social and existing sporting circles. Our second season started in March of 2014. We had 27 teams sign up. The majority of these new teams were people I hadn’t met before. But often our circles were connected through various mutual friends who they had discovered the league through. It seems Perth only really needs the first two steps in the six degrees of separation theory.
So when random people started joining and becoming personally invested in the organisation I knew it had potential to thrive into the future. There are a number of reasons I think registrations have boomed.
First of all roller hockey is actually really fun to play. 95% of players have never played ice or inline hockey prior to joining the SRHL. It was a sport that was foreign to so many of us. Australian’s knowledge of hockey primarily relies on playing Bali copies of NHL games on our mod chip Playstation and the Mighty Ducks.
We all started at square one together i.e. no one really had a clue what they were doing. People brought their little prior knowledge on hockey and coupled it with loose tactics from other team based sports. And what resulted was sport in its rawest form. Everyone picked up the sport together but learnt how to play in a trial-and-error method.
It’s rare for people to pick up a sport as adults. It’s even rarer for adults to pick up a sport, have fun doing it and not get blown out of the water by experienced players.
Decoupling competition and routine are a major reason behind the league resonating with so many people. Other reasons that differ between the SRHL and other organised sports are…firstly, DIY team creation. For most sports in Australia, you sign up to an existing club. The club likely existed before you joined and will continue to exist after you retire. You have no control over your team name, jersey colours, song, branding, social media etc etc. Our model borrows from other social sports like mixed netball, where groups of friends start their own team. Starting aSRHL team requires both creativity and a DIY attitude. Teams base themselves in a suburb or locality of Perth and incorporate that suburb into an interesting team name. Teams often choose clever wordplay (Fremantle Cappuccino Strippers, Applecross Dressers, Innaloominati) or represent a local ‘tourist attraction’ (Wembley Food Courts, Swanbourne Nudists). Teams also design their own logo, jersey and backstory behind their franchise.The overarching idea behind this was to facilitate an increase in suburban identity – to get people interested in their neighbourhood and community again.
Secondly, structured skill development. A lot of people get disenfranchised with organised sport when there is exterior pressure on them to achieve a certain skill level to be able to play.In the SRHL, we place no emphasis on structured skill development. 96% of the SRHL have never played ice or inline hockey prior to joining. Player’s skill levels tend to progress at their own rate. The more hockey they play, the more confident they are and the better they get.
Third, tiered competition. Due to the loose nature of the league (teams can exist for 6 months to 3+ years), the SRHL doesn’t have divisions with relegation and promotion. As we are catering for a number of different skill levels, teams are pitted against competitors at or around their skill level. This ensures each and every game is safe, enjoyable and a tight contest between two evenly matched teams. Reducing one-sided scorelines also ensures maximum enjoyment.
Fourth, affordability. We charge $55 a season per player. This is remarkably cheaper than registration fees for any other sport. This fresh model of cheap, accessible and flexible sport has really resonated with Generation Y.

LB: Nice, makes sense, those points certainly resonate with me. I’ve always been pretty rubbish at sports but I love the camaraderie, the drama, the strategy and everything – plus those aesthetic things you mention like uniforms, songs, names and all. So the idea of giving people more autonomy over that stuff, and cultivating more emotional investment in one’s locale, is really appealing.
Speaking of location, though, it’s now well-known that you’ve encountered some road blocks lately. My understanding is that residential noise complaints – and a subsequent council decision – have led to the shutting down of your DIY concrete rink headquarters at Bayswater Bowls Club. Is there still hope of using that venue? How’s the search for alternative spaces going? I’m also wondering whether you see these recent development as a gloomy forecast re: support from the extended community.

EL: Yeah so originally the league started off by playing on underutilised and unloved public basketball courts and carparks. There seems to be a bit of taboo about rollerblading on basketball courts and we got kicked off some spots. It was ok as in the first few seasons there was only 10-20 games per weekend and we got find another spot. As the rego’s kept growing we were getting booted from 1 spot a weekend. We decided we would need our own facility or the league would die.
We spent a year and a half fundraising for our own rink. We raised $60K and laid a concrete slab on a disused bowls green at the Bayswater Bowls Club. It was the start of a beautiful relationship. The Bowls Club only had 48 bowlers and we had nowhere to call home. We gave them increased bar trade and a massive boost in membership and they gave us a purpose built spot to play.
We are the first street hockey league in Australia. So when we built the rink we went in blind. We had no prior Australian example or national sporting body to provide us advice on what to do. The international outdoor rink builders didn’t get back to us.
We received informal noise complaints early on and we attempted to mitigate them. Then the complaints were formalised and the council had to investigate. We breached the acceptable background limits of the Health Act 1977 4 times over 6 months. The Councillors called a special meeting 2 weeks ago now and hastily voted to shut us down until we can guarantee we could comply.
It was pretty disappointing as we tried as hard as possible to get the noise under control. The infringing noises were the sticks hitting the concrete, the stick hitting another stick when the puck is in contention and the puck hitting the boards. Verbal communication and cheering are exempt from the Noise Act.
We put conveyor belt and core flute on the outer surface of our rink, which reduced the puck on board noise. The other two noises are harder to modify as they are part of the everyday playing of the sport. We have hired a sound engineer to come up with some recommendations but it is likely that we will need to install a sound proof wall near the rink.

LB: As a final thought – any visions for the future of the league? Or future projects in general? Strikes me you’ve got the kind of brain where things are always brewing…

EL: Future visions for the league are an interesting one.

Long term our goal is to control our own venue. I’d like to theme it similar to a traditional bowls club but with sports and activities more in line with contemporary Australia. This could be hard to achieve though because councils don’t give land out willy nilly these days (as they did with bowls clubs back in the day). Every recreation facility has to be multi-purpose nowadays too.

In the short term, we are making plans to get more street hockey specific rinks dotted around Perth. Our soon to be legit strategic plan is to have 4 purpose built rinks that service their local community of both hockey players and general society. These 4 rinks would be based in the NE, NW, SE and SW corridors of Perth.

Depending on the week I spend between 20-40 hours on the admin side of theSRHL. At the moment this is all unpaid so between hockey and my actual job I don’t have much time to work on other projects.

My mind is definitely always brewing though. Most of my ideas are just silly puns for potential food trucks.

The scheme that has stuck with me since I turned 18 was opening a bar (who doesn’t have that dream though). If I was gifted a milli I would start an alt sports/music bar in Chinatown called Willy Chow Chow’s.

Wally Koochew was the the first VFL player of Asian descent. His father was Chinese and his mother was Norwegian. He was born and bred in Melbourne and turned out to be good at footy. The Carlton Football Club signed him up for about two seasons in the early 1900s. Apparently some Carlton FC members handed back their memberships as playing an Asian footballer was a blow to the White Australia Policy at the time.

As you can imagine he suffered a heap of racial taunts at games. Apparently one of his nicknames from other teams was Willy Chow Chow. Name a bar after him so we can remember our fucked past.

Someone should start an Australian history podcast (like The Dollop). Stories like these need to be told haha.

MATT AIKEN INTERVIEW: DISCUSSING PERTH'S NEWEST BOARD GAME, EGGOPOLY

Andrew Ryan

I find myself down at Maylands foreshore, colliding with a mob of familiar and beloved faces by way of serendipity. A hot and hazy Christmas eve-eve is drawing to a pink-orange close. What I’ve stumbled into is an edition of Paddle Clubb, a new initiative pioneered by local DIY wizard MATT AITKEN; Paddle Clubb is where a bunch of mates (strangers welcome too) slow-paddle in kayaks on the Swan, encountering dolphins, swans, pelicans, soaking up the breeze. I have a gentle paddle in a long blue kayak and also on a little sporty sit-on-top surf kayak called the Thermo Turbo Shane (I promptly capsize). People mill about, sip refreshments in the mud, say hello to cygnets and the boat club’s resident cat, who’s wandering around and lazing on upturned dinghies.

When the crew departs for dinner and the sun disappears, Matt lingers so we can chat about his recently-released independent board game, a cheeky adaptation of a classic – he calls it EGGOPOLY. It was unleashed to great acclaim, with the initial run of 25 copies selling like hot potatoes (spud shed head honcho Tony Galati is the board’s “monopoly man” by the by). By the light of the almost-full moon, Matt floats on a small pontoon, sipping a cider. I wade around him, holding a phone to record our conversation. The cat scampers around on the nearby riverbank.

MATT AITKEN: It wasn’t the launch of a project that friends were expecting, you know, like a band where everyone had been anticipating a release for a long time. I had to promote it and let everyone know what it was.

LYNDON BLUE: What was the moment you decided to do it – the genesis?

MA: I remembered the other day that the timeline of it was… National Science Week 2013. We [i.e, DIY, IRL talk-show Magnolia’s Late Night Live] did a show at PICA and had Costa [Georgiadis, celebrity gardener] and one of the prizes we had was the official Perth Monopoly. The way we did it was, anyone who did year 10 chemistry comes and gets a prize. Our friend Pete got Perth Monopoly and we played it the next week and…it’s not…

LB: It wasn’t what you’d dreamed.

MA: It wasn’t like Nicholas Cage – there are some things that work on a bad level. And there’s other things that don’t even create a momentum of anti-appreciation; there’s no backfire; you know the fine line between familiar and daggy? The whole group wasn’t too hard on it, but we were trying to get into it and couldn’t fully get into it and I remember thinking: phwoar, this could be done so much better. Maybe I should make my own version.

But how was this kernel of an idea to be realized? Making one copy of a board game is one thing, but producing a whole run for people to buy is quite another. We start talking about collaboration.

MA: I realized I couldn’t do this all myself. I started to get more confidence in the project when I would contact, like, Sally Bower who did the textiles stuff. When I would contact her and nervously say things like “maybe instead of a box we could have a fabric bag” she replied so excitedly – “that sounds great!” – and we’d get together all these op shop fabric samples and straight away she made a duffel bag with PERTH embroidered on it. And then the same thing happening with Danni McGrath with screen-printing – I was just like, woah! These people are really excited.

LB: They were proper into it.

MA: Yeah, I guess you hear of people in the arts getting commissions or being sub-contracted to do something, and the gap between the person commissioning it and the person doing it is huge. With this I felt like I was commissioning people more experienced than me – I was such a rookie to any production things – and they’re used to dealing with bigger budget, more professional people… I got the impression that maybe [this was] a simple job that was easier…

LB: And probably a nice change of pace that collaborators could put a lot of love into.

MA: Yeah… I was trying to imagine that, if someone was commissioning me to do something like that, for it to be more fun I’d want it to feel a little bit collaborative. Like, “this is what I’m kinda thinking – what do you think?” I guess I’ve always had a super collaborative approach to everything, but with this one I was totally outsourcing labour – and it was quite encouraging at the end of it, to think that independent people can work together professionally and it works out well. Cause sometimes when you’re doing loosely curatorial, or freelance entrepreneurial kind of arts things, you just lose track of it. At the same time it was nice to feel a bit casual about it, like – this isn’t my opus, it’s exciting, but my world isn’t relying on it.

LB: Yeah, and I think that’s the magic of finding the right batch of people, where everyone wants the thing to be really nice but can still come at it with that casual sort of mindset.

The mozzies start buzzing round, thin whirring insect noises phasing against the sloshing of the pontoon. Matt starts talking about where the project went next.

MA: About July last year I started thinking about doing it, brainstorming with friends what properties to put. Then, the biggest hurdle was how to make the physical characters. I’d seen some friends cast plastic and things and that looked simple, but you still had to sculpt the original, and I’m not very confident as a sculptor. So I found this FIMO oven-bake clay, which was great – saved the day – and started to compulsively make FIMO characters, mainly with Mei [Saraswati, local musician/artist]. When there were enough character pieces, by that time, [Camp] Doogs was about to happen so I had to stop. And then after Doogs I got really into Paddle Clubb and wasn’t straight back onto Eggopoly…

LB: That’s what I was wondering, whether Paddle Clubb and Eggopoly were kinda like twinned projects – because in my mind they are but maybe that’s just cause I’ve seen them become more public at the same time…

MA: Yeah, well I put Paddle Clubb on the Eggopoly board… I didn’t think about it too hard but you know, I had “utilities” to put in. Although I didn’t want the properties on the board to be super obscure, I wanted them to be things that a broad enough group of people thought were legendary, there’s definitely some cheeky ones in there, like the Rottnest Dome. I guess in Monopoly… it’s kind of like in Batman how you need the Batman/villain dynamic, you need properties that everyone wants or doesn’t want.

LB: What’s been the most controversial property or playing piece?

MA: Well, the ones that people have noticed are… the Highgate Continental guys were so chuffed and surprised that they were on the board. Originally there were 3 record stores on the board, but a year later when it came out – like, Planet had closed. There were also three contemporary art spaces, and those and the record store kind of got merged together…

LB: I wondered if that made it quite a weird or interesting process – the fact that things in Perth, at the moment, open and close so quickly.

MA: Another important thing was that, the Perth Monopoly had like, Freo Markets, Kings Park, and then halfway down they had three beaches with Scarborough Beach the highest. I was just like, what planet is someone on that they put this bogan… kind of cleaned-up but actually just less violent beach… the top, then Cottelsoe, which is sort of just the postcard-heavy tourism thing… This is very barely Perth. And things like Council House, that beautiful building, so architecturally significant, as the bottom property – I was like c’mon! It didn’t feel accurate, culturally or whatever.

Matt tells me about Anthony Bourdain’s approach to creating tourism journalism, by discussing local food options with locals, and how this became an influence.

MA: There was that idea of trying to do tourism via, like, subtle interview. And the food properties were always at the back of my mind. I think that was a big thing for me – what if you could have monopoly set that had spots where if, say, someone was visiting town, spots where you really wanted to take them? Spots that were more subtle tourism places, or more slightly secretive, I guess just gems.

[The cat meows]

MA: Sometimes I think we’re a bit lost in terms of having voices in the community – like, if the official Perth Monopoly was to be curated by someone based on cultural value – I don’t even know who that person would be! We’d have to pick someone. I’d be so curious as to what would get chosen. [Eggopoly] was always going to be reflective of my mainly North Perth-based circles of friends…

LB: But that’s part of the beauty, it sort of captures your collective lives or something – and having, like, Paddle Clubb on there, it’s like a snapshot of where we are.

MA: I’ve got Netflix as a utility too – I’d had Uber, and then when I changed it to Netflix I realized that having Netflix and Paddle Clubb was like, electricity and water! There were other things where I felt like I had no choice, or it was the People’s Choice, like I felt like if I didn’t put Hyde Park or Alfred’s [Burger Shop, Guildford] there would’ve been chaos.

LB: What were the top-tier properties?

MA: Number one was Balcatta Tip, and number two was Cannington Salvos… It was this feeling of like, maybe the most valuable thing sometimes is adventure. An op-shop is so unpredictable and everyone’s found really unexpected, amazing things in op shops. When they say “pre-loved,” that’s a bit of cliché but I think it’s also real – someone’s worn this a lot, and aged it, and this bit of clothing has survived. That was another subconscious influence, op-shopping, particularly like Paddington way, and finding these amazing 80’s John Sands board games, like ‘Shearer’ where that famous phrase “we’re not playing for sheep stations” comes from. And ‘Polyconomy,’ where it’s set in the Australian business climate of the 80s, and you play Monopoly with Australian businesses and there’s like telecom logos but you also run a parliament and the Prime Minister can raise the taxes…

LB: Sounds pretty demanding.

MA: Yeah, maybe that’s why it didn’t so well. Maybe it’s a game that intellectuals would play.

LB: How many times have you played Eggopoly so far?

MA: Only once really properly! But I had a trial game during the week to make sure it’d be ok. A couple of friends during the trial were like – you need some more crazy elements, because Monopoly can just drag on. So I added in the ice epidemic, and a few weird rule variations. I think there’s a balance, you want the rules to be pretty simple, so everyone knows the lore, but also…

LB: You want to be thrown and surprised a bit too.

MA: I think I’m pretty good at the first half of Monopoly but pretty bad at the second half.

LB: Me too – my attention starts to wane – but that’s why I’m looking forward to a game of Eggopoly…

MA: Yeah, so one thing I was excited about is instead of Free Parking – which isn’t really part of the game, just something people to do…

LB: Yeah it’s like a life-hack.

MA: Yeah, there’s these little hacks! And it’s somehow emergent. It’s mysterious how that happens.

LB: I wonder if it’s like, a regional variation.

MA: Yeah it could be just, Australia, or WA! And I’m sure journalists and sociologists are just like, not looking at that.

[Both laugh]

MA: They probably have bigger things to find out. But anyway, one thing I did was – free parking, you encourage the rule of putting the rent in the middle, but no-one can ever pocket it. Instead, you have a list of community projects it can go towards; you can do a pop-up “Open House” Perth where no-one pays rent, or free wifi, or if there’s enough in the middle you could use it to buy a property for the…the… Is that a mouse?

LB: Yeah is that a little water rat? This cat’s pretty interested in it.

MA [to the cat]: Yeah, get ‘im! [To me]: Yeah so you can buy a property for the community. I thought it’d be pretty interesting if there were spots that no-one specifically owned, a “safe spot” on the board. There aren’t normally many safe spots on a monopoly board. Another thing were the transport utilities…


[Something flies rapidly from the shore into the water]

[Loud splash]

LB: WOAH! What the fuck was that?!

MA: Was that the mouse?

LB: I think it might’ve been something out of my bag!

MA: What bag?

LB: My bag there, the cat was just in it!

In the end, we’re pretty sure it was the mouse. A supernatural flying water-rat. Just another night in the life of Matt “Acorn” “Maitkens” Aitken.

BAND INTERVIEW: THE BURNT SAUSAGES

Andrew Ryan

So right now I’m in a big white van, zipping along a long grey road from Melbourne travelling west. To my left is a motley string of gnarly trees and endless fields of dull gold and white, rusty fences and occasional sheep. To my right is more of the same. But behind my head is a giant silver meat tray, almost half a van in size; an equally enormous slice of white bread; a bundle of musical instruments; metre-long tongs, hefty tomato sauce bottles and a stack of plastic Esky’s. You might well wonder how all these things fit together, and you might come to the bizarre conclusion that I’m in a tour van with a music-band of human-sized sausages heading for a gig in South Australia. You would be absolutely correct.

THE BURNT SAUSAGES are a trio of charred, reanimated meat-cylinders who came to life when a gust of wind blew them onto some magic heat beads. One sausage, “Johnny Charcoal” picked up a guitar; “Tina Tongs” took to the keyboard, and “Snags” jumped on the microphone. The rest, as they say, is barbecue history. I’m lucky enough to be joining them, along with some other musical mates, on a loop of our dry and grill-burned country. I’ve seen them sizzle on stages in pubs, theatres, country town parks and RSLs. They are a polarizing act – but for my part, not even my long-term vegetarianism has managed to keep me from getting deep into the BBQ Party spirit.

“Human bands suck!” exclaims Steph from the seat in front of me. I’m beginning to agree: why watch a band of people-punks when you can receive equally ferocious jams in snagger format? The BURNT SAUSAGES were kind enough to take some time out of their hectic sausage-schedule to chew the fat.

Lyndon Blue: I’m told you all attended BBQ college, how was that experience for you?

Snags: It was barbecue hell.

LB: Why’s that?

Snags: I was expelled.

LB: What for?

Snags: For tipping gravy on the library lady… spitting sauce on the teacher’s sweater… I didn’t want to wear a novelty apron… The list just goes on and on and on.

LB: Sounds like that wasn’t the life for you. So you formed a band… who would you say are your biggest musical influences?

Tina Tongs: The Sauce Pistols.

Snags: The Bread Kennedys.

Tina Tongs: Black Snag.

LB: We all know the three main sausages in the band (you guys), but can you tell us a bit about some of the special guests that appear during your shows?

Snags: We have the love of my life – the white bread – who appears during one of our songs “Throw Bread Arms Around Me” [a moving Hunters and Collectors reworking – Ed.] And also, Tongs Dancer.

Tina Tongs: He’s loose. Literally. Some of his little screws are loose.

LB: And Johnny Charcoal, could you tell me a bit about this mysterious figure known as “Herbatron”?

Johnny Charcoal: I dunno I’ve never seen him before.

LB: I’ve never seen you two guys in the same room together.

Johnny Charcoal: Apparently he looks just like me.

LB: What do you guys get up to when you’re not playing barbecue punk?

Snags: I chill out… in the freezer.

LB: And just to wrap up – your top three tips for a great BBQ party.

Johnny Charcoal: [Counts on fingers] Bread, sauce, onions.

Tina Tongs: Mum bringing out another tray [of sausages] just when you thought it was all over.

Q. Perfect. Any last words for your fans?

Snags: Tong on!

Johnny Charcoal: Keep sizzling.

[End transmission]

The Burnt Sausages are on tour supporting Darren Hanlon and may or may not be coming to a town near you – suss out their Facebook page for details. If you can’t catch them live, the next best option is to grab their debut LP – “The White Bread Album” – a true meaty masterpiece, featuring such bangers (hawhaw) as ‘Burnt Sausages (Theme),’ ‘Ballad About Salad,’ ‘Total Fire Ban,’ ‘Song About Sauce’ and of course ‘BBQ Party.’

INTERVIEW WITH FEYEK (AKA CHRIS HEALING), TUESDAY MAY 14

Andrew Ryan

Local chameleon Chris ‘Fat Shan’ Healing is the kind of guy who can’t sit still for long. For most people, starting a record store would be sufficient to feel accomplished and occupied for a couple of years. But after co-founding Fat Shan Records in the CBD, Chris swiftly progressed to hosting shows, promoting other events, working in graphic design, DJing, managing acts and more. Now he’s forging sprawling audiovisual works of his own under the moniker FEYEK. I slide through the city just after dusk and descend Fat Shan’s glowing staircase. There, I find Chris blasting digital beings to smithereens on an Xbox. “We’re pacifists, here, really,” he assures me, and we migrate to the couches. FEYEK’s got its first major show coming up, performing a long-form piece called “Everything In Life is a Memory” to headline a wide-ranging art and sound exploration at the State Theatre Centre courtyard. Discussing this intriguing event, I hit the “record” button.

LYNDON BLUE: I’m coming at this with very little knowledge about the project whatsoever, so I’m legitimately intrigued as to what’s going on – when did it start, how did it come about?

CHRIS HEALING: I did a speech at a Kickstart Youth forum… the space was in the Kickstart Hub opposite the Bird, and it’s such a beautiful old room, nicely lit, all old furniture and stuff and I was like: do you guys do shows in here? Sam Leung [of Propel Youth Arts] said, well, we really want to but no-one’s done it yet. And I said I’d love to do – yknow, not even thinking about myself at this stage – just do an avant-garde kind of night with lots of different mediums and music. And Sam said, do you want me to speak to the state theatre and see if we can use the theatre courtyard as well.

LB: Nice one.

CH: Around the same time I was thinking about performing live with the material I’d been doing in my bedroom for the past year or so, which is more ambient, instrumental, noise and stuff – synth, filters, very soundscapey sort of stuff. I didn’t want to do this event at say, The Bird or something, and I didn’t really want to charge people for it either, as it was going to be one of the first things I was doing. So they said if you tie it in with the Kickstart Festival, and make it free, you can have the space for free. So I had the opportunity, and just had to work out what to do with it.

LB: It sounds like you’ve planned a lot of cross-discipline type stuff, collaborations, that sort of thing.

CH: The night opens up with a play, by Chloe McGrath (who plays in The Morning Night); Tem and Mike from Lanark do the sound design for that. There’s two live artists – chalk artists – who’ll work from 7 to 11. There’ll be a live sculptor inside, Dimity Magnus… photography projections – some of Jarrad Seng’s stuff… ummm, and, coffee art!

LB: [Laughs]

CH: It’s a coffee tastings stall, but they do amazing pourover and drip filter coffee, which is – you know – really beautiful to watch. And there’ll be a WAAPA dancer doing interpretive stuff while I’m playing, improvising to different sections of the performance.

LB: I’m interested in the audiovisual aspect of your own project: was FEYEK conceived as a kind of multi-sensory, crossover project or did it start more as a musical thing that grew into other directions?

CH: Well, I’ve DJed for… forever. Then, as I got more confident, and cared less about what I was playing to people and played more of what I was interested in at the time – drone, and so on – I started tying that in with visuals. I started changing up the music so much it became more of a production and I thought I might as well just do an original thing rather than using other people’s stuff. The visuals just complement it, I mean, no-one wants to look at me, you know, standing at a desk…

LB: So it really grew out of a DJ thing, into production, and now this audiovisual experience with dance and the whole thing… how many shows of the original material have you done?

CH: Sunday [at The Bird] was the first one! It was terrifying.

LB: Did it go well?

CH: It went better than I thought, but not as well as I hoped – if that makes sense.

LB: That makes sense!

CH: I thought it was going to go awful, I hoped it would go super well. I made some mistakes that I think come down to focus and pressure being on you – it’s completely different from being in your headphones. It’s terrifying.

LB: And something about making that kind of music – it can be daunting to present that to people.

CH: Yeah, like a lot of the time it’s very quiet, and although there’s stuff happening, it might seems like there’s not a lot happening. Sometimes I felt like I was doing stuff to try and compensate for… people’s boredom?

LB: Like, if you’re doing an extended drone, you sort of have to let that play out for it to work – but there’s also a niggling worry that maybe you’re boring everyone.

CH: You can start overthinking it, so maybe you cut it off short. It really gets to you. If you’re by yourself you can play the same note for half an hour, but live you can feel like you have to do more. Someone like [German sound artist] Alva Noto, you know, he barely does anything. He might play for an hour and a half and it might not change much throughout, but it’s beautiful: he really holds himself back, and I think that’s really difficult.

LB: What’s an ideal set length for you?

CH: I did 50 minutes the other day, this one will probably be about 40, 45. It won’t just be ambience, there’s some some vocals, some guitar… there’s 13 different section to the performance. The idea is, it starts at the beginning of the universe – lots of aggressive, disjointed sound – it settles down into stardust, floats into the human aspect of evolution, then it gets a little dark with “the human plague” and the future destruction of our selves. It comes full circle. That all syncs up with the visuals, too.

LB: So how does that – uh, narrative I guess – tie in with the title [Everything In Life Is A Memory]?

CH: Well I mean – everything – is memory because it’s what you’ve learned, or been told, or come to know, which ties in with the name too. FEYEK stands for Forget Everything You’ve Ever Known. That is, not believing everything you’re told, taking your own original thought, and creating things. [At this point, Chris starts telling me about a friend’s “Galaxy Machine,” before we get back to the question]… Everything is a memory, which you need to take a critical eye to. You can go to work every day and not really assess it and then you die. And you might have just been a character in The Sims and not known about it.

LB: We could be in a video game.

CH: In a video game, playing video games. Those people [points] on the Xbox, have their own consciousness somewhere.

LB: I might stop the recording there [both laugh].

Feyek’s “Everything In Life Is A Memory” event happens from 7pm on Saturday May 25 at the State Theatre Courtyard, 192 William Street Northbridge.

TIMOTHY NELSON INTERVIEW @ THE OXFORD HOTEL, LEEDERVILLE

Andrew Ryan

It’s Monday evening and the moon – round and golden – is hovering near the horizon. I forgot how long Oxford Street is. Finally, past cinemas, continental grocers and date palms I spy the hotel that shares the street’s name.

Inside, there’s a ginger fuzz bobbing in the middle distance that immediately betrays TIMOTHY NELSON’s whereabouts. The barman fetches us drinks: for Tim, an Irish cream ale, for me, an Italian pale lager. Looking for a spot to seat ourselves, Tim nods towards a winding staircase that leads to a sort of beshadowed conversation pit. “I like the darkness,” he offers cryptically. We head down into the pub-dungeon, and Tim starts telling me about a generic-coversongs-guy he saw at this very pub who brought a fiercely elaborate merch table, behind which was the singer’s name, stylised, emblazoned on an enormous banner.

[The following, not insubstantial transcript is abridged from an actual dialogue about five times as long; Tim likes to talk, and apparently I like to say “Yeah, yeah, cool” a whole lot].

Lyndon Blue: Do you have a banner?

Timothy Nelson: No, I’ve always wanted one though. That would be fucking awesome. I don’t think I’d bring out a banner for anything that wasn’t like, the Big Day Out.

LB: Any festival slots coming up?

TN: No.yeah, no.

LB: You kind of just have to be invited to those things don’t you – you can’t really orchestrate it.

TN: You can’t! Well, you can try, and you can think you’re orchestrating it. everyone’s like “yeah, we’re trying to get on the Big Day Out.” but everyone I’ve met whose played [that sort of show] has been like: yeah, we just kind of got an email.

LB: All very casual at that end.

TN: It is. I dunno. There’s like, two kinds of ‘leader of the band’ you can be. you can be “hot headed careerist,” like, we’ve gotta get this support, we’ve gotta go down that road. And you go through that phase, but then there’s the other one which is like: well, let’s try and make some cool music.

LB: Mellow out a bit and allow whatever happens to happen.

TN: And those two types of people, they hate each other. Cause when you’re the hot-headed guy, you hate bands that don’t knuckle down like you think you are. And when you’re the band that’s like, hey this is fun, you hate the people that are like, “ooh my career.”

LB: And now you’re the latter – you’ve mellowed out?

TN: At the moment. It depends. I think I did the hot headed thing, where I got more focused more on what gigs we were playing than the music we were playing.

LB: What have you got coming up?

TN: What have we got. we’re playing at the [WAM Song of the Year] Awards night. And doing a record with my new band, High Horse. Well, newish band. We’ve been around a couple of years now but we’re not on the internet which apparently means we don’t exist.

LB: Yep, it’s like a “Facebook relationship,” it makes it official.

TN: We’ve had reviewers come up to us at shows and say, “Who are you guys? We’ve tried to find you on Facebook and we can’t and it’s really fucking annoying! Do you have a website?” “No!” “Well then what am I supposed to – “ “I dunno, write about the gig?” I mean fuck! It’s like, the minute you pick up a guitar now: we need a Facebook page! And it’s.no! Because how many bands appear and shove their “brand” down your throat…? And then you finally see them in two years, and they’re shit, because they’ve spent two years on Facebook.

LB: It’s kind of the same as that “careerist” thing – always trying to promote, never writing a song.

TN: Yeah. It’s the guys in the band that taught me. When we first got together I was like, “I wanna have an album out in six months, and I wanna have a website, and I wanna have an ARIA.” Nah, I didn’t say that. But [since then] I figured I’m 22, I can be in as many bands as I want and they can all be different. people talk about being too young to settle down, I think that also counts for music. There’s people who say you should be in one band: “It sounds like you’re fucking around, you gotta focus.” I don’t want to do that! The other reason why High Horse has no online presence is because, to be honest, we still haven’t really. figured out our sound. We sort of wanted to do that gradually, without people paying attention.

LB: You were in New York recently, right? What were you doing there?

TN: Just bumming around.

LB: Bumming around?

TN: I’d never travelled before, I decided it was time to travel. I wanted to play shows, and then I got lazy, and didn’t book any shows.

LB: Yeah, I was under the impression it was a musical venture.

TN: Well I wrote some songs, while I was there, I mean everything’s a musical venture in some regard. It did get a bit weird not playing shows.

LB: How long did you go not playing a show?

TN: Well I mean I did an open mic while I was there.

LB: That’s enough: you’ve “played in New York”.

TN: And I played the piano. impulsively. to accompany a comedian. in LA. He’s in the Hangover movies? He’s not Zach Gilifinakis but he’s, he’s like the cop or whatever, he plays the small roles in all those movies. His routine is not really joke based, more about how he’s affiliated with Hollywood but on such a minor level. His jokes are really bizarre. He had these plants in the audience – like, a former child star, I forget who he was, got up with his missus on the stage and just started walking around talking with each other just to “throw him off” – and this woman behind us started yelling about eggplants. We’d seen fourteen acts that night with no break, so our brains were about to explode, and we were like “is this really happening?” ‘Cause we didn’t know they were plants. And he started singing half his jokes, just randomly, and there was a piano there, so I went up to it and did this cabaret theatrical thing and followed his jokes. We found out later that the other people were plants; I just did it because I thought that was “the thing.”

[Tim now tells me about travelling with fellow Infidel Luke Dux and wanting to kill him after four days, visiting Ardent Studios in Memphis and getting a tour by Jody Stephens of Big Star, and lots more stuff. It won’t all fit in here, but ask him about it and I’m sure he’ll fill you in. Tim’s bandmates from High Horse are upstairs, drinking pints and ordering pizza].

LB: So you guys [High Horse] are rehearsing up to record an. EP? Album?

TN: Not sure. We’ve got 15 or so songs – we’re just going to record everything, spend two days tracking every song we have. We’ll take that away and do overdubs and stuff over the summer. I kind of feel like there’s going to be at least two different sounding bands that come out of all that.

LB: Within the High Horse sessions? You could do a double album, a Speakerboxxx/Love Below kind of affair.

TN: Could do – well we’re considering doing an Infidels double album as well! We’ve also got two totally different new directions; simultaneously, with ten songs each.

LB: What would you say those directions are?

TN: One’s more earthy, more Jayhawks/Wilco/guitar-based. there’s even like, a You Am I flavour in there. the other one’s more piano: Supertramp, Elton John. with some kind of Beck vibe in there.

LB: Wow.

TN: All the bands!

LB: So Infidels recording coming up as well?

TN: Yeah, we’ve got a tour for a single in December, so we’re gonna record the single in late October. Then we’ve got three days at Poon’s Head in that little gooch between Christmas and New Years, so we’ll do some demos then.

LB: You’re playing the WAM Song of the Year show. You’ve been involved in quite a few song competitions, haven’t you?

TN: Yeah, I can’t resist them. They’re pretty cheap to enter.

LB: You seem to have a knack for winning them. Do you enjoy the competitive thrill?

TN: There’s not any competitive thrill! You press a button, you enter this competition, three months later you hear back. I dunno, I like the idea of. winning things [Laughs]. Music should never be a competition, but, seeing as it is, you might as well win it.

LB: Ha!

TN: I mean. it doesn’t mean anything, I haven’t got any massive hits, I’m not a big hit on the radio, the phone’s not exactly going off the hook. But competitions amongst it are a fun thing to. make me think I’m doing something?

LB: It’s nice to be recognised, by people who know what they’re talking about.

TN: Yeah, this “Unsigned Only” thing I got. I mean they wouldn’t tell me who judged my category, but they had all these celebrity judges, like Robert Smith, the Mountain Goats… Kenny Rodgers. who’s the bald chick who moans about the pope? Sinead O’Connor. Part of me likes to think maybe Robert Smith heard my song and said: “You know what?” [slams fist on table] – “life isn’t that bad.”

LB: Wipes off the lipstick and opens the blinds –

TN: “I’ve seen the ginger light!” [Both laugh]. I dunno, when you’re trying to get your band on radio, and you don’t, that’s the only feedback you get. But this is separate to all of that – not hype based, it’s just on what the songs are, and if someone decides your song is better than all those other songs – that’s awesome. Because whether it’s very deliberate or subconscious, when you write songs, you want someone to like your stuff. It’s not something you can pretend not to care about. The WAM one was the best because there was actually prizes involved [laughs].

LB: That’s recording, and money and –

TN: Recording, cash, you get a publishing deal, you get flown to Sydney to go to a conference which is like you and 10,000 other wankers talking about songwriting. it was called the Song Summit, the APRA Song Summit. It was really cool, Imogen Heap did a guest appearance. She was awesome. I love her.

LB: I was going to ask you about subject matter. you seem to gravitate towards the ‘love song’ thing.

TN: Well, I did [for debut album “I Know This Now.”] It’s hard not to because, to be honest, if you’re the kind of person that is inspired to write a song because you’re in love (which is kind of how it started), nothing else feels that.inspiring. Because it’s a big thing – even if it’s not a big thing, like who cares if that guy over there fell in love with that girl there – we don’t care but to them it’s a big thing. And people are like “aw you should write about.a sandwich! Or the state of the word!” You’re like, aw yeah, but you try to observe that and it’s not coming as naturally, whereas when I was writing those songs it just spilled, like I had to write that songs for my own. I dunno. just being a dickhead. Anyway, with that need to write those songs, the record was quite cohesive, all of that kind of ilk. Now anything goes, I’m writing about other stuff.

LB: What are you writing about, other than the love songs?

TN: Just life in general; figuring out what’s your place in the world.

LB: Travelling has an influence on that, I suppose?

TN: I actually wrote a song about New York before I went there, because I got really cynical about the idea that I would go to New York and get inspired. I came back from New York still liking the song, so I play it now – it’s called “New York You’ll Never Be Mine.” That’s all about feeling like you’re going through the motions of growing up, how your process of becoming a fully worked out person, everyone already knows what that process is. It’s not like you’re going through some unique way of growing up, you’re just ticking boxes everyone else has done, and when you know that, it’s kind of annoying. But. articulating what your song’s about, you always get it wrong. In interviews, it’s like “what’s this song about?” and “fuck, I didn’t plan for that.” I thought writing the song was me saying ‘that’ [points at an imaginary song] on the matter, y’know? It’s weird, I’m a better writer than a speaker, that’s for sure, I get myself in all sorts of trouble when I try to talk.

I like these in-person interviews better, though. When you’re typing you get all wankery, and you feel like it’s gotta be full of zingers, like quotes, like you have to sound like Leonard Cohen AND Bob Dylan. And then you read this wankery fucking thing and you’re like “well you just released a demo at the Norfolk! Why are you talking like that?”

The WAM Song Of The Year awards ceremony happens at the Fly By Night club on October 11. Performers include Timothy Nelson & The Infidels, Boom! Bap! Pow!, Yabu Band and KUčKA.

Timothy Nelson & The Infidels’ “I Know This Now” is out now.