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Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Filtering by Category: music

Spring Creativity

Andrew Ryan

Slowly feeling more at ease in this city again, after the ravages of winter drift away, and sprigs of spring shoot up and through the ethnically diverse array of plant life in my area, over days and weeks and sometimes hours, the sky opening and closing according to the whims of Antarctic wind and whatever else influences the weather here (will I ever learn, it’s been nearly 7 years??)… I wander around, mostly non-shivering, re-acclimatizing to a mostly sunny world outside of my bedroom and my workplace and my layers of winter clothing. And I take my camera out too, because there is plenty to be documented, if only to satisfy my own need to capture the fleetingness of inspiration and expression, whatever happens around me that I’m worried I’ll forget, or even to capture the aspects of the culture I know and understand, the culture that nurtured me, the one that keeps me here for the time being…

This weekend I took some photos of a two-day album recording session.

It hasn’t been very long since I took photos of a recording session. A few weeks ago I dropped in to a studio in Coburg, a real nice one I can’t remember the name of, and snapped for around 20 minutes the improvised drone sounds of First Response. Apparently I will be featured on the album as something like: “additional footsteps by Tahl Palm”. Lucky the band was too loud to have my camera snaps recorded as they played. Camera shutter but Tahl Palm. The photos looked good, though. I had to leave quickly; that project is an intimate experience between the two players that I could not comfortably be long a part of.

But before that time, it was aaaaaaages ago: WASP, the band that Poiter Bibby played drums in back before he left for tour and things and decided that Melbourne was too cold and grey and nice-beach-less for his sunny-boy disposition. That band he played drums in was a great band, (this video features their stand-in drummer because Pete was on tour) and all the players are fucking sweet (and are also going on to do some interesting things, more of which will mostly likely be documented too, unless it involves me going to a city nightclub in which case SORRY LOUIS NO WAY but, John, I would watch you play anywhere because I’m fucking glad you’re writing your own songs now xxx). I followed them (WASP) to Sydney earlier in the year – that was a mind opening and friendship discovering time, a very interesting and fondly thought of time – and then they recorded once they were back in Melb but no release as of yet, as far as I am aware… and I’ve still got all the footage for a documentary ready for when I’ve got some free time… but yeah, that was ages ago. Seeya next week Peeta!

So I found myself back at The Bank, same place as WASP recording, but different and bigger room; a room that has been the host of many-a-night spent watching friends play music (ey, Perth, Lalić is one of those bands, they’ll be back your way very soon) surrounded by wonderfully like-minded humans in a place where liquor licenses and security guards weren’t a thing, until the council cottoned on and now it’s back to purely artist studios and recording spaces and darkroom (and legit council approved domicile)… Oh, Bureaucracy, the bane of my existence; both as a word to spell and a system to live under. Sigh. You’ll die soon, I’m sure of it. No one has the stamina anymore; there are far too many variables these days.

But this one! The band are called Drug Sweat.

I posted like four photos to my instagram account, that’s how excited I was about it. Because IT’S GONNA BE A FUCKING GOOD ALBUM DUDES. Really good, musically fuckyeah, punk with excellent guitarists and hectic vocalists and electronic beats as well as real drums, all very catchy and driving, good shit. There are songs about drugs and songs about chodes. One song even sounds like a VB commercial. We all got pumped about making a music video for it, though I’m not sure it will be me they choose to make it.

It was the first time I’d encountered a recording session that wasn’t completely live. Or even, it was the first time I’d sat in on one for more than a few hours. I think it was about 11 hours in total I spent sitting there and walking around and taking photos and rescuing beers from the fridge to be given to the hungry mouths in the room and also helping feed when the Japanese food shop was closed and also contributing to the layer of smoke that hung in the air and observing quietly and also being a nice friend to whoever wanted it. And I learnt things too.

I learnt about drum recording techniques, and I learnt about the humans who were playing and recording (three of the five band members I had never met before, except for one briefly, who’s keyboard I confiscated from the bar at my workplace after it sat there for fkn ages as humans drank far too merrily around it for it to be safe from harm), and I learnt about what Ableton Live looks and works like thanks to Liam’s acceptance of my seating position behind his Recording Boss computer screen, I watched hard at what he was doing, it was good. That guy teaches me many things in all kinds of ways without even meaning to.

Thanks Liam. Thanks Drug Sweat. Thanks Zen. Thanks nature. Thanks culture. I’ll let y’all know when the album comes out.

Unsent Letters and a Three Day Rager

Andrew Ryan

I can’t stop listening to this song on repeat, you know when that happens? It vibrates through me, and I’m still not sick of it.

Unsent letters; I’ve got a few in digital and milk-crate storage. The things I’ve felt over the years, ohhhhh boy do they stack up on top of each other in all of my notebooks. So many threats of paper cuts, so many attempts at origami, splashed in spilt red wine and dusted with cigarette ash.

I heard the song for the first time in years and years and years the other night, when I was catching up with a friend who knows me real well at a bar I rarely go to, and Tame Impala was being played over the sound system a whole bunch of times and so was Radiohead, and I was feeling very, very nostalgic, and sad too, and then this song came on and it was perfect. I googled it when I woke the next morning, hung over for the many-th day in a row, luxuriating in tired melancholy, looking forward to therapy, exhausted from three days of a loud and sweaty and masculine driven music festival at my workplace (they called it a “rager”)- two days/nights of those were very exhausting working times, the last day was a non-working wind-down in the scene of the crime, but with my camera in tow, waiting for the sunglasses to come out, donned in doors at night after more intoxication and more aggressive partying, of which I was taking no part in.

I got a much needed massage today, achey as I have been from the bar work and emotional stress, and as I layed face down on that table in my friend’s bedroom, his hands working gently the muscle around my crooked and twisted spine, I stared sleepily at his carpet and wrote a bunch of little letters I’ll never send to the people that swam through my brain.

On that last day of the Rager, I thought about writing a book about my workplace, about the humans that come in there, that work there, that play there, the situations that make a bouncer quit in rage, the social dynamics and complex community hierarchical structure, all of it with narratives that don’t take long to find if you keep your eyes open long enough before you get too drunk to remember how much fun you had, or didn’t have.

I wonder if I will ever write that book? I think I need to figure out a three-month block of near-solitude somewhere near the desert again, but this time where I don’t have to do any work except write the dang book. These days I’ve found I can’t write in this environment I want to write about, the one where some asshole wearing a patch-covered cutoff denim vest yells at me for not playing The Ramones, the one where people cut their hands and the blood doesn’t get cleaned up for ages, where people stage dive in to bottle bins, where I can play Electric Wizard through the bar speakers and it’s totally acceptable, where some of my favourite Australian musical acts play regularly and I get paid to watch them and serve them booze, all the shit and fun things that come with living on the angry boozey fringes of society.

That book, if I write it, will be another letter, and sending it, well, that’s different.

Before I got the massage, I wrote a letter to someone, an email, but it wasn’t sent. It just sits there in the drafts folder, hoping not to be found again, little wordy head hanging in shame about its shape, its messiness. I wrote the letter the morning after a night of drinking because I tried to start writing the book I mentioned previously, and got stuck at two pages because I fell in to conversation with someone who’s likeness will appear in that story I was struggling to write; I decided to slam the book shut and get more ethnographic on that shit instead.

That’s the story. That’s how I’m telling it now.

Today’s letter was a different story, though it has to do with the book story, in a way. It was a story of my emotions, a garbled collection of old triggers and scars that have been rearing their painful heads in all kinds of ways recently, so it was an attempt to sort through the thousands of pages of scribbles in my heart, hoping for some self-organisation, some resemblance to coherency… but I doubted that would come across to the intended reader, I haven’t had much luck with that so far, so I didn’t send it.

And that’s okay, I think. Unsent letters are sad if you want them to be. But maybe they mean you’re thinking clever too, in that moment that you make the decision to not send. But all of those letters put together would make for interesting reading, one day, for someone. I guess that’ll have to wait.

~~~follow Tahlia on Patreon~~~

Orlando Furious

Andrew Ryan

Orlando furious (real name: Ben Snaith) is one of those freaky weirdo genius types. He’s perceptive, intuitive, self-aware and multi-disciplinary. Hailing originally from the Sunshine Coast, QLD, he has the title of Tahlia’s Favourite Housemate in Melbourne, from our 8 months of living together in Footscray a few years ago, not long after he made a huge banner that was displayed for 2 months on a busy intersection right near the centre of town with the phrase “I will always be your friend” in many of the different languages spoken in that beautiful multi-cultural area printed next to a photo of his giant smiling face (back when he called himself “Razorsex”. The guy is just so fucking inspiring: a hard working and open-minded artist with interests in education, inclusion, collaboration, rituals and spirituality… it’s hard not to love him.

This Monday just gone saw the last of his month long Monday night residency at The Evelyn Hotel in Fitzroy, a spot in which I have seen many friends play, but never before have I encountered the wonderful energy and atmosphere that was present for this particular gig; it being a fairly unconventional – though very well considered – use of the time and space allocated (no doubt thanks to Snaith’s experience as an installation artist, as well as theatre actor).

The night went like this:

First, the seating was casually arranged for a screening of a collection of short films by local filmmaker Christina Tester. It was funny timing for me: I’ve been thinking a lot lately about film, toying with various ideas, including animation… and then I saw Tester’s work and I was hit with the reminder of just how painstaking the animation process has to be for and decided that I ain’t ready for that kind of time commitment just yet. Inspiring yet intimating stuff. Looking forward to seeing what she does in the future fo sho.

MC Lloyd Honeybrook, the guy who has recently taken over direction for the well renowned, long running, weekly improvised music night Make It Up Club (he’s also just started as a lecturer for RMIT’s Sound Art course, yeah booooiiiii), stood up, paced the room and yelled a bunch of craftily and delightfully worded information to the crowd about what we had just witnessed and what we were about to witness, which included a respectful shoutout to the Wurundjeri, the lands of which we in Melbourne live+work+play on. That guy is very good at coming up with exciting and rousing shit to shout at people. He also gives me consistently good musical recommendations and for that I will forever be thankful and appreciative.


Usually during gigs I can have a little break from cavernous band room vibes between sets while I go and smoke a cigarette; but not on Monday night, not really, because
SHIMA was set up to play on the floor between sets, off the stage and to the right. SHIMA is one of Angus Doyle’s many musical projects (I reviewed his band Galaxy Folk’s album here a few years ago), and his unassuming confidence and placidity behind his gear made for a perfect musical interlude while the dudes of Spike set up their equipment on stage. Snaith’s curatorial prowess strikes again. I did smoke a cigarette though. Old habits die very, very hard in the body of this little ball of mild-to-frustrating-social-anxiety.

I am not very familiar with Spike, though one of the duo, Pat, is a long term friend and collaborator of Snaith’s, a film and sound guy, a clever guy. He used to come over to our place a bit, helping us with lighting for film experiments and doing musical techy work or something with Ben. He and his musical partner in crime, John, didn’t crack a smile once while on stage, even when people were madly dancing up the front, even when Pat pulled out some sort of gaming device and played it along with the music. My favourite part of their whole schtick was the video projection they had going on: non-expressive faces and awkwardly dancing bodies of the two players in quick loops green-screened over a fighting computer game I didn’t recognise, hopefully the one Pat was playing. I couldn’t help giggling in appreciation. Too good. Theirs is a kind of expression that is near ego-less, non-threateningly humorous, maybe even innocent, and totally enjoyable.

The other thing I liked about it all was the gridded boxes made out of metal that were moved around stage between sets for the musicians to put their equipment on. Being able to see through these things gave the resulting industrial aesthetic a sort of unimposing quality; a chilled gig in a construction site kind of feel. It also offered a sense of inclusiveness with the physicality of the electronic producers, something important in the relationship between performer and audience member in that genre, I reckon; especially when it comes to Orlando furious and his innate understanding of the world and space around him.

Next up was Worng and his pyramid that slowly inflates over the duration of the set, fresh off the boat from Dark Mofo in Tasmania. The crowd pulsated with the music, bodies pointed to the pyramid, it felt dark and heavy but not overwhelmingly so, just enough to twist the mind in to a sense of ritual, a feeling of swimming through murky water but being totally cool with it because you know there’s no crocodiles around. Or maybe that was more of a result of the many glasses of red wine I’d consumed. “I am having a cultural experience” repeated in my head for a little while. It’s nice when that realization flashes behind my eyes, because it means that whatever is happening around me is a cultural expression that is different to my own general experience, a group maneuver, outside of the individual consciousness, everyone in attendance being present in that moment, contributing to some sort of creative outcome for the whole just by being there.

More Shima making his textural prettiness, and then Orlando furious took the stage to introduce and premiere his brand spanking new video for “Ed Sand”, an absolute banger of a track with accompanying video featuring the fkn hologram he created in his studio in Docklands a few months ago. I will post on facebook when the production team put it online. It’s great.

Dancer Carla Ori emerged on stage, and the set began proper, and loudly. I have never met Carla, but I have had a few dreams in which her name is present, I think because I have seen it on facebook so many times and I really like it. Carla Ori. Say it out loud. It’s nice. She moved with the music around the stage, flicking the long braids from under her baseball cap. Snaith moved around between music-making-desk on the side of stage and the center, back and forth throughout the set, throwing his weight around performatively, jumping off stage to belt his stuff at the circle of humans surrounding him, jumping back on stage after a chant of “ONE MORE SONG” erupts from the mouths of enthused and appreciative audience members… and my camera loves it all.

At the end of the set, I came back to the city and realized I was standing on stage. In an unthinking break for the safety of the bar, I jumped off too wildly and hit my head on one of the speakers hanging from the roof… and I may have been a little concussed (if my lack of memory from there on is anything to go by (especially because another act followed and there are not photos of that at all)). Apparently I was wandering the streets alone at 2:30am after the gig, but, you know, that could have been the wine too, OR even the sheer joyous lightheartedness I felt after such a good night of music (here I’ll make a nod back to that invincible feeling summoned by Worng and his pyramid from earlier in the night). Overall the gig was a great display of creative badassery by a wonderful friend and talented artist, Mr Ben Snaith. SOMEBODY GIVE THAT BOY AN ARTISTS GRANT SO HE CAN TRAVEL THE WORLD.


P.s. I got home safe enough to edit the photos and post them here for you to look at.

Three Gigs, Many Bands, Much Laughter, Wanna Go to Darwin

Andrew Ryan

This week I emerged like a big ol’ shiny dolphin out of the depths of a fairly loner/lonely period, and dove straight in to such-comfort-with-myself feels that I went to three gigs in one week, as well as encountering two more at my place of work while strolling through the band rooms collecting glasses and beer bottles and sweeping up after dickheads who break shit because i served them all that clumsy-making liquid. Feels like I’ve absorbed heaps of live music lately. So I’ve got a lot of music to talk about. Won’t be able to fit it all in, but I’ve got to start somewhere, so I guess I’ll start with my main man Pete, seeing as he’s been involved in all three gigs.

Peter Peter Peter Bibby. When he’s not in town, I go out a lot less. When he’s not in town, I prefer to hole up in my room and watch films and paint. Especially when it’s cold. Going to gigs in the cold can be a total pain in the ass, as I’m sure most of you reading this will know, and Melbourne gets pretty cold and shitty this time of year, that antarctic wind blown’ all through the gridded streets, making your face all tingly and weird. It’s kind of pleasant at first, but then it gets tiring… but then Pete got back in to town after his UK sojourn just in time to help keep my bed warm, and we remembered how lovely it is to be in each others company, and I couldn’t really stand the thought of shivering alone on all these nights he had gigs booked, especially with that aforementioned loveliness coming so easily to us both, so i rugged up and followed him out in to the cold, looking forward to whisky and beer and heating and smiles of love and appreciation of my pals doing music they love.

I’ve mentioned WASP to y’all before, they are an improv group of which Pete is an original member, the drummer infact, all doomy and loud and kind of ridiculous. They played their second Last Ever show last Thursday night, this time with the proper line up (plus one extra) because Pete was away last time they did a Last Ever show, so it wasn’t a proper Last Ever show because Pete wasn’t done with it yet. Between you and me, I don’t think it’ll be their actual Last Ever show this time either because those guys actually love doing it too much. They’re not all done with it yet.

I was filming Thursday’s WASP performance (which was at the Tote), helping out my friend George with footage- he had a camera too, and he set up a go-pro up above the drum kit. Turns out Pete filmed the first half of the set with his iPhone set up on the bass amp facing towards the crowd, and the dude who opened the night’s gig (under the name “Fuzzsucker”, he was fucking awesome weirdo rock’n’roll pisstake pop star extraordinaire originally hailing from Canberra) was in the crowd filming it all with his smartphone as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to piece together something watchable with all those camera angles. I am concerned about the watchability of my footage, mostly, because it had been a while between filming assignments and my arms muscles aren’t quite up to the task of filming freehand for almost an hour, so I was shaking more than i would have liked (I left my home-made steady-cam at The Bank after a drunken night of filming for The Shabbab music video I made recently).

And I was having a great time because it was so good. At one point I realised it would be best if I jumped up on stage with my camera. The last time I did that on that stage was when Guitar Wolf played a few years back. Anyway, I got great footage of some dude in the crowd reaching over to mess with Jay’s guitar pedals and Jay launching himself off stage at the guy (good on ya mate), also, John decided to go for a crowd surf with his violin, and he was pushed above the crowd nicely. Georgia got up on stage and sung what I think was supposed to be a John Farnham cover – i’d like to mention here that when WASP say they’re about to cover a song (they don’t rehearse) they just do their usual improv shit and Alan (the vocalist) will moan and sputter and shout his version of whatever the lyrics are… i don’t know if Georgia was keeping true to Farnsy’s words but whatever she was doing, it was great, undulating her body and yelping all constrained and hectic at the same time. The audience was good and loving it all. What comes of this footage we got should be pretty entertaining.

Sunday night saw Pete playing a set in the bar at the Gasometer Hotel for their first birthday party. A bunch of our friends came down- Shiny Joe Ryan and his band of merry men (The Cosmic Microwave Background) were in town for a gig the next night, so we were all in the crowd watching Pete do his crowd-pleasing solo set, full of cheeky smiles and charming quips, with a few die-hard fans up the front singing along to all the words. I went and stood up on the stair ase with Finn and Charlie, our mates from Darwin who play in a band called Gorsha (they’re about to do a tour with Pete driving from Melbourne to Darwin), looking down over the crowd and the show, smiling and laughing and drinking to Pete’s charm. Then we played pool and smoked ciggies and drank beer for hours. It was quite a time. Quite a time indeed. One of the guys who works there got fired after that night, that’s how “quite a time” it was. Teehee.

The next night, Gorsha played the last night of their 5 week long residency at the Evelyn Hotel. That’s where Shiny Joe played too, in support. Flew over from Perth and everything like the wonderful friend he is. Pete opened the night wearing a monkey mask, joined onstage by Lucas (also wearing a monkey mask) and Perth’s own Dirty Dave on drums (wearing a Dalmation mask) for a set of droney doomy tunes he improvises on guitar under the name Chief Richards. The Shabbab played too, but I was too tired after the loooonnnng weekend to do the amount of body movement and dancing this band usually draws out of me (though others in the audience seemed in much more capable). Gorsha are swampy, serious and a little on the dark side musically, but they are refreshingly cheeky and hilarious between songs. Finn’s lyrics are just as sharp and true and wary as he is, just as clever too. Charlie is hilarious when he talks, and is a good bass player. Noah drums likes a sensual pool-boy. Peter Bibby and Gorsha doing a tour “up the guts” from Melbourne to Darwin is a great idea, not only because they fit well as musical outfits but because they’re great friends. It will be the perfect thing, and I’m bummed there isn’t enough room in the car for me to join them and take photos and make a music video or two. FINGERS CROSSED I CAN GET UP THERE TO MEET THEM.

And that’s my week of music. The end.

An Ode to a Couple of Grimy Beer-Selling Music Venues I've Loved

Andrew Ryan

I’ve been working at a pub again the last few months. A few months of working a few nights a week after way more months of not doing anything for significant money except signing government forms and snapping some photos. Job is good. Job keeps you off the dole because no one can live on the dole, not really live anyway, because it is demoralizing. It’s demoralizing because all the dole offices are ugly and all the lighting is stressful and all the seats are uncomfortable and all the staff are overworked and the money you receive when you are incapable of earning your own is not enough to not feel shitty about whatever situation you may be in at that point; demoralizing.

Being on the dole long term is only an acceptable life you can smile often with if you don’t have to pay for food, or you don’t have to pay for rent, or you don’t have to pay for things that will lead to you getting off the dole and contributing to that economy proper. Flawed system. Give ‘em that extra 50 bucks a week you big class-warring meanies. Give ‘em more. Shitty confidence boost programs in shitty offices with shitty trainers does nothing towards people on the dole helping themselves get off it long term because its all just fucking demoralizing. Fuck.

Anyway, so this pub job: I’m working at a music venue in Collingwood. It is a place I used to frequent regularly when I lived close-by, I’ve taken a lot of photos in that place, I’ve had a lot of conversations in that place, I’ve had a lot of shots of whisky there too. I guess it’s pretty good to be behind the bar of that place, workin’ like a little trooper for around minimum wage because it’s the only place that would have me and I wanted OFF THE DOLE DAMMIT, a place of community and adopted family, a place I feel totally comfortable in when there are friendly faces from a few years ago around, smiles and stories about what they’ve been up to between drinks.

Those networks we art types create around our drinking holes, it’s a thing we have to do, and it ain’t too bad. We gather to drown our stresses and sorrows or to celebrate our successes and achievements with the drink and the chats and the silly jokes, and we chat and we share and sometimes we end up doing cool stuff with other art types or with music types or just get inspired to make things based on that environment and that crowd and that area. We have to do it, because we do it, so it happens.

When you work in that kind of place, you get to watch it all go down, get invited in to the discussion simply because you’re standing there with the Jameson bottle in your hand, smiling warmly in appreciation, or staring out the window lost in thought; whatever it is, if you’ve got that bottle of Jamo in your hand, I think everyone who likes Jamo likes you a little bit more because of it, and you don’t mind so much because you like them more for smiling at you with that bottle of Jamo in your hand, they appreciate your service and you appreciate their custom, it’s a nice exchange, far better than grievances or snobbery or disrespect or being on the dole.


All kinds of things are funny, but perception is pretty high on my list at the moment. Recently, I took a test set out by the university of Swinbourne and their automated response based on my answers recommended that I talk to my doctor about what they said are possible chinks in my perception amour or something. I don’t know if my perception is confused, as such, because I’ve watched enough documentaries about quantum physics to be totally aware that reality is pretty hazy, really, and how can we be sure of anything if subatomic particles aren’t even anything until they’re looked at, anyway? Pretty sure I’m not crazy, pretty sure it’s just new knowledge about the world around me that I have absorbed in to my perception of it. That pub I’m working in, it’s not real, but it is at the same time. My version of what that pub means is not real, but it is at the same time.

When I first started working there, some people gushed to me that it is an important place to be involved in. Others scoffed, being more inclined to trash the joint. A lot of friends originally from Perth flock there for the good gigs, and sometimes comment on similarities between this pub and the old Hydey in Perth. The other night Perthian Max Ducker’s band Mutton played a great show to a sizeable and appreciative audience. The last time he was in, I played his old band Mongrel Country.

over the speakers in the main bar- a band I must have seen play at least once in some drunken haze at the Hydey years ago. Every time I looked at him he was smiling and my heart said “Aw man, I’ve known that guy for ages now” and he is great to bump in to.

It is not hard to feel a sense of nostalgia in that pub I’m working at, its history is plastered in posters on walls and ceiling, distortions and reflections of all the posters plastered on the minds of its frequent patrons. It’s kind of filthy. It’s kind of dingy. It’s too loud when it’s full of people and sometimes the ceiling moves so much you think it’s going to collapse, and sometimes it’s a fucking awful time to get people to leave at the end of the night, when they’re all attached to place somehow and they’re keen for a lock in so there ends up being an 8 person dance party behind you when you’ve finally finished cleaning up after them and you just want the chance to offer the vibrations of Ufomammut through the big speakers to the ancestors in the land squashed under the building you’re sitting in for a little bit… just for a bit, before it gets too late for loud music… one of those places where, slightly more than occasionally, artistically minded people who don’t feel like going home end up when they’re a little bit cashed up.

Not all pubs and bars are like that, but this one is, and I guess they’re nice to find when you don’t feel like going home either.

Neo-Nazism in Black Metal and also Australia: An Abridged Version

Andrew Ryan

I like black metal. Sometimes it is the only thing that can lift me out of despair, you know, like even when the sky is blue and the sun is making nice shadows along the fence, and you have friends and family who love you and there are pretty birds singing, but you’re still cloudy in your head with this dumb fuzz of negativity, gloom and nihilism.

This kind of despair is fucking rotten. The worst. All you can do is put on your comfiest clothing and do only the most simple of tasks, the ones that require the most basic of mental process, like putting all the clothes you haven’t worn for a few months in to a pile to consider selling for a little extra cash, but only when you’re feeling well enough to venture on to the internet to do that, lest you over-work your imploding mind and decide that maybe today is the day, fuck it, this is all too much. That’s why black metal is good, for those times, those feels.

But there is another thing I dig about this style of musical expression, and that is its anthropological context, a context I find pretty inspiring: it was originally borne of a group that loathed the cultural and spiritual colonialism they experienced on their land- Scandinavians of pagan origin hating on Christianity for the destruction of their native culture. They were pissed off teenagers, super pissed off, young and pissed off and unsatisfied by metal music, they wanted to push it to the extreme to match their internal darkness etc, and ended up creating something fucking satisfying for anyone else who has a soft spot for metal music and a whole lot of frustration vibrating through their synapses.

But there is something of a tendency within the proponents of this musical expression towards an advocacy of National Socialist ideology (Nazism).

Like today, my bad-mood music pick was a band called Hate Forest. The album is called Battlefields. They are from Ukraine. Amongst the satisfying guitar riffs and growly vocals, there are a few tracks that have vocalists singing what I can only guess is traditional Ukrainian folk singing. It is sad, sometimes gut wrenching. And it is beautiful. I have listened to the album more than a few times since receiving it about 18 months ago. Just the name of the band is occasionally enough to cheer me up: Hate Forest, heh, a forest full of hate, that’s like my soul right now, I’m not alone! ping suddenly I’m smiling.

But I just found out that those guys are totally National Socialists, and I don’t think I can smile about them anymore.

Part of the reason I was depressed enough to put this music on in the first place was because I went to the Reclaim Australia rally. I walked around for three hours watching people argue with and fight each other, occasionally taking photos, but mostly not taking photos because I felt intensely threatened by “patriots” wearing Australian flags and they looked like they wanted to smash my camera. It made me horribly sad. I saw confused idiots and enraged intellectuals, and worst of all, I saw Neo-Nazis shouting over it all, with hate in their eyes and spit flying from their mouths as if they were rabid. It was awful.

Fear of Nazism lead me to the despair that, for me, can only be alleviated by listening to a style of music known for its inclination towards Nazi ideology. Amazing.


Nazism in any context is terrifying in its stupidity. If you look at it in this specific musical context as an evolution from the cultural preservationism displayed by those Norwegian boys who invented black metal, the Nazi feels displayed by bands of the same genre from around the world are a misguided idea about how to keep their culture pure… and one can easily see why this inclination is a thing throughout black metal. You zone out, it’s dark, you are legit full of hatred of the world, and you think it would be easier if everyone lived the way that you did, you’d definitely be more comfortable at least. And you’re so fucking sick of it that you would be fine with people dying, you see everything burning anyway, seeing the corpses pile up would bring a level of satisfaction to your otherwise empty and pitch-black well of a soul. For some metal-heads, this is actualized with a pride in their ignorance and loathing of everything outside the culture they are most familiar with, and then somehow the Jews get involved in their thoughts and BOOM, like big dumb idiots they are speaking with a Nazi vocabulary.

On this subject, my mate L.H. said to me: “But they just happen to make some of the best fucking music”, and I sighed in agreement. We agreed further in that you just can’t take those guys too seriously, because it’s all part of their “brutal” aesthetic; it’s theatrical, and it’s idiotic in its ignorance of the reality of multi-culturalism and the possibility of harmony within that, even with cultural preservationism.

And then look at it from the Australian socio-political context: a group lives in an uneducated clusterfuck out in furthest reaches of white-bred Australian regional suburbia for 3 – 5 generations, they have pretty much lost their religion, they’re not exactly following Christian teachings, haven’t been to church for years mate, and their rituals and ceremonies are now based around sinking piss and going shopping, they don’t understand or like science and they don’t understand or like the humanities, they have no guidance and no solid, sustainable culture of their own so they can only turn to each other and the government to tell them what to do, how to live, and they can only turn to the news to tell them what the government is doing, what the rest of the nation is doing, and they see things they don’t recognise, things they don’t understand. They see things changing. They turn to each other online, find each other across states and across vast areas of farm land and old mines, to talk about these things they don’t understand and decide that these unknown forces are the cause of all their ills. A bunch of dummies riling each other up, spiritually and intellectually lacking, and then they see all kinds of Others and blame them for their low incomes or whatever and then BOOM, like big dumb idiots they’re speaking with a Nazi vocabulary too.

But these ones should be taken seriously, you know, because these guys aren’t being theatrical. It could be partly aesthetic for some, but mostly it’s these humans that might actually go around trying to convince people to kill muslims. Shudder.

Any way you look at it, Neo-Nazism of any kind is proof of humanity’s amazing ability to ignore the lessons of history. Just gotta keep fighting the good fight and be loud about telling the world that Nazism just ain’t right, that violence against other humans ain’t right, that it’s possible to overcome those inclinations through education and reconnection with nature…

But for me, black metal is really good for abating the despair I find myself experiencing when I think about that thing. It’s an interesting situation. Something worth writing home about.


In the unabridged version of this piece, I delve in to Germanic Neo-Paganism, Australian aboriginal culture, consumerism, greed, assimilation, anti-semetism vs anti-zionism, the evolution of black metal in to drone music, and drone music as a spiritual force. Brutal.

On: Death Grips - Jenny Death

Andrew Ryan

I’m listening to the latest Death Grips album, Jenny Death, second half of a double album, released in the last week or so. Each track is in a properly ordered playlist on youtube, and scrolling through the comments is more fun than most bands- it reads like shitty 4chan threads, full of idiots, trolls, attention seekers and die-hard enthusiasts. This is the first band since learning of and falling in love with Radiohead as a 14 year old where I have been aware of the fact that I am entering cult territory.

On the Death Grips reddit page, the threads of comments read like people working out a puzzle. Clues, so many clues seemingly left within the music and the videos and the social media spaces for the fans to busy themselves with, to nut out the answer to an unknown question. Whether or not it is intentional, it’s an interesting strategy in contemporary music business, because they certainly are industrialised, it is unavoidable when you’re playing the kind of crowds that they do, they have to work with labels and all that, it is a business, it’s their job now. Death Grips is work.

One commenter on youtube attempted to define the particular formula that Death Grips uses to suck the money out of their hipster market, something about references to Satanism, amongst other things. It was a cynical call. Not entirely untrue. But they’re not setting out to actually make cash. They wouldn’t have done so, it was a purely artistic thing at the beginning. They’re still doing it like that, no method or formula, or the appeal would be lost.

They deal in experimentation, which is not a business brain’s rational choice, and I find it a little surprising they got to this big stage in the first place. The gamble on extreme experimentation is huge, and for most musicians would not be worth the risk. They get more and more freaked out the longer they go, more extreme within a still mostly listenable context, for the initiated listener at least. It’s for people with minds tied to computers, connections with electronic and mixed cultural movements from the last couple of decades. This album projects a sense of enraged, yet comfortable isolation, and it works because that is what many experience in contemporary life+society. Internet children, all of us Death Grips fans, I reckon.

“Centuries of Damn” and “On GP” are of my preferred flavour created by these guys, because they are experiments with a style I am a sucker for, the deep lull of heavy psych rock, AND IT’S REAL GUITAR, NOT SAMPLES! Noise/punk/psych/hip-hop. What a head fuck, and it’s so satisfying. The completely banal accompanying music video drives home that aforementioned feeling of comfortable isolation. The band are in a room that looks like it has been covered in a layer of tile paint, a large tub of mis-tint from a hardware store. All dressed in tight-black-cool-weather-casual, they are alone in the room save for a big piece of stereo equipment; they hunch over in various parts of the tiny room, mostly motionless, as the track plays, filmed presumably by webcam. That’s it.

That’s all they are, that’s all they have; that’s what I’m reading from this aesthetic and conceptual choice. I wonder if Death Grips cultists will be looking for clues in this? Poor cultists, getting all reverent instead of actually engaging with the ideas put forth. I can see why the group have such a love hate relationship with “their fans” as a separate mass group apart from themselves. This video could definitely act as a Fuck You to the fan who believes their needs as a consumer are the most important thing, ie: the fans who tore up a drum kit in 2013 because Death Grips cancelled their show.

The members of the band are all visual artists, and many artists struggle with the relationship between artist and viewer/listener/fan. The judgment that exists on both sides directed at the other is a dark batch of energy, but what else can you do with it in a time such as this, a time of near-constant information fatigue if you attempt to keep up with what’s going on in the world outside of your own family and social circle, buffeted by waves of nihilism and cynicism on the reg, you gotta get cheeky on that shit for some amusement, get artistic because you’ve got not choice, or else the validity of that game –and it is a game- crumbles, and you can’t have the kind of freedoms you have when an audience isn’t pissed off at you.

I think I get Death Grips better now, and I dig it too, even more. Power. Fucking practical magicians, all three of them. Of course they have developed a cult following.

Reignition of Punk Appreciation: Professionally Worthless

Andrew Ryan

I went to see a gig at the Northcote Social Club, a regular night called Monday Night Mass; a few bands played and it was good. I assessed the music in my head but nothing was too lasting, but I clapped and I tapped my feet and moved my legs and everything. I highly recommend Terrible Truths to anyone who likes up-beat guitar and bass and drum tunes; although they are a little samey after a while, the vibe is pretty great and one of the band members is one of those people that you can’t take your eyes off when she’s roaming around the stage.

The stage is a funny thing; what you do, how you behave, when you’re on stage, it’s funny. I recently watched a film called Farewell My Concubine, which is a Chinese story of two actors who work in the opera. It is epic and beautiful, and over the twelve hours it took me to watch this three hour film, I thought about the actors I’ve known over the years, especially because one of those actors was recently able to show the world the trailer for the horror film she was involved in. It was a good trailer. She has a nice voice, and a good face, and it was interesting to see and hear her screaming on a screen before I’ve seen her do IRL.

Farewell My Concubine told me that during the Manchu dynasty in China, actors were given a lot of respect, mostly if they were masters. Stars. Their training was brutal, not just because of the fact that acrobatics were all tied up with learning the lines and the songs. Actors gotta be told what to do, but they also gotta have the freedom to express their vision of what a character should/could be. Training isn’t nearly as brutal now as it used to be, what with Human Rights and OH&S etc, but one could say that the process of auditioning and being turned down over and over is a brutal one. Fuck that shit. It sounds terrible, possibly worse than having your writing rejected over and over. But a lot of people do it because acting is what they love. Same with writing. Every human needs a skill, and you may as well love the one you choose.

/ / / /

One of the bands that played were exactly what I was in the mood for, what I was hoping for when I decided to go, something I’ve been missing in a live context for aaaaages. It was a mostly fast punk thing, I can’t remember their name – I will find out later and post it on my twitter account maybe – all the boys wearing a black t-shirt uniform, but put them in a shirt and suit pants and you wouldn’t be able to pick them from yr regular young bank teller in the city, at least from where I was standing right at the back of the crowd. I wonder if any bank tellers play in punk bands? Maybe these guys are that thing. Their visual steeze made them seem more professional. They were tight too, mostly very tight, so that helped. I like it when bands look professional, in a relaxed kind of way. Professional. What does that even mean?

It means: “engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as an amateur”.

Punk (in informal Northern American English) means worthless.

Professional looking punks. It sort of doesn’t make sense. I don’t think it’s possible, unless you look at it like… either the main income comes from their creative expression of these things, but that doesn’t work because as soon as they’re selling art of any kind they’re no longer technically worthless so making majority of your income from that art instantly makes that art no longer truthful, and then it looses its validity and then its meaning so maybe becomes worthless again ohhhh goddddd… or they are totally unemployable and are on the dole. I’d say that is a truer definition.


It’s strange to see a gig at which no one I know is playing. It hasn’t happened much in the last few years, but I like it. It’s inspiring, in a way I can’t quite put my finger on. Watching strangers play music I kinda mostly enjoy makes me want to make sounds on my own guitar that make walls crumble. If I could make the walls of my last bedroom crumble with my guitar reverb though multiple amps, I think I could legit die happy. I really want to do that one-day. Maybe that’s all I’ve been searching for, the answer to my last few weeks of hopelessness: a reigniting of punk appreciation. Makes sense; my sense of worthlessness has been very much reignited, especially thanks to my interactions with the mental healthcare system. Maybe I’ll write a damning article about that for something.

/ / /

I moved house the other day, to a place I’ll be in for no more than three months. The front and back doors are never locked. There are buckets in the shower. There is brown wallpaper in my bedroom, and it is peeling. I saw a little mouse running around in the kitchen, near the bin and in the cupboard, which has a faded hand-written sign on each of the doors asking in different ways for said doors to be kept closed. The kitchen is confusing. Turning on the oven was hard. The light hanging from the ceiling does not work and the coffee is kept pretty far from the coffee plunger.

Whenever I have opened my new bedroom window, at least three black flies buzz right on in. There is a vine growing outside my window, and when I walked past it this afternoon, a swarm of those black fuckers zipped from it to gather around my head. I shoo-ed them away, caught myself feeling disgusted. What is it that is disgusting about flies? Their attachment to rotting meat? Their sound? Their connotation with disease and pestilence?

Sometimes I feel like a fly when I am aimlessly wandering around the room, or the house, or the garden – just looking at things, just thinking about stuff, most of it not very happy. Maybe that is why I was disgusted by those flies: they can be viewed as worthless little things. They remind me of myself, the professional punk. I guess it’s time to pick up guitar again and try to rattle my own bones with it. Thanks Monday Night Mass *thumbs up

Finally Doing

Andrew Ryan

A young humanoid emerges from a river. It pulls its shoulders right back, it stands upright, it looks around, taking in the trees, the dirt, the high bank on which I am standing, my camera fixed to a shoddily put together mount I made all-by-my-self, specifically for this moment. It doesn’t hide all the shakes. I’m only human. A human shakes sometimes. I was shaking because I was particularly happy to finally be filming that thing. Organising it was kind of hard, but it happened, finally.

Lately I have found myself reveling in Finally. No, that sounds morbid. It’s not a morbid revelry, not in the slightest. It’s the opposite, in fact; one might call it wholesome. Wholesome pleasures. So it’s not just reveling in Finally; I’m reveling in Finally Doing.

Finally doing things I haven’t done in a while. Making a music video is one of the things. It’s been in the works for months but now it’s happening, and it’ll be kinda cute and kinda pretty, and hopefully also kinda funny. I would like to get really good at nailing comedy in filmmaking, specifically in ways that aren’t reliant on dialogue.

I’ve also finally had a casting interview, sort of out of nowhere, sort of. Blame it on a spur-of-the-moment decision, something to do with a manic up swing. 10 year old me would be so proud of 27 year old me, even if 27 year old me is ambivalent, possibly confused about the prospect of being on a television show. It’s for something amazing though. Something I want to be involved in. So I thought I would give it a shot. Who knows what going to happen? Nothing more can be said, secretttttssssss…

I finally got my eyes tested again, and purchased a pair of seeing-eye glasses. I’ve been putting it off for so long. I was late for the appointment – I decided to join my darling bestfella and visiting fellow-CPNer Ms. Amber Fresh for coffee and chats before the appointment, and I spent too long looking at second hand books and lost track of time. On the train I called the shop to tell them I might be late, and they said if I was going to be later than 15 mins, we would have to reschedule for tomorrow.

I am not used to spending money on things that are good for me, and my gut told me I wouldn’t go back in to the city if the appointment were changed for another day. My eye-sight isn’t completely fucked, so I’ve been able to put off purchasing new frames since the old ones broke a few years ago. They were held together by string for months. Months and months. But then Pete and I talked about it the other night for a bit, and he seemed to think that I would probably smile a hell of a lot easier if I can see all the little details of my environment, and I decided to go with it. So I crossed my fingers as I sat on that train, and hoped I wouldn’t be later than 15 mins.

I arrived at 2:16, just as the previous appointment-haver walked out of the back room. GLORY BE! And the four people who worked in the front of that optometrist place were all a weird kind of beautiful under the harsh fluoro lighting, they were so crisp and neat in their trendiness and I didn’t feel uncomfortable or intimidated in the slightest (even though I still get pimples on my chin from resting it in my hands all the time) because I found their Melbourne-Central retail professional brand of fashion to be easily recognizable, somehow; maybe from a hazy mind-mixture of sci-fi films where retail workers are beautiful robots or something plus fashion shoots from old Vice magazines. The farce was palpable, and I saw it – but I only saw it; I wasn’t angered, or disgusted, or full of so much loathing so as to be tempted to turn around and walk out of that sales hub and right in to the nearest bar. Again with the manic up-swing: I felt nothing but invincible in that situation. And the frames I wanted were cheap too! Fkn tip-top.

I actually love getting my eyes tested. It is so soothing, generally, but this time was a little different because there was the slight “doof-doof” of the trendoid beats coming from the shop front. I didn’t mind so much: it was still nice because I had little laughs with the gal who checked my eyes. She said that there is a little scaring within my right eyeball from when I accidentally popped a bottle cap in to it really hard the other night, but it’s healing well and I’ll be fine.

I finally made a website for my photography things. I finally went to see a psychologist. I finally listened Nick’s album properly a bunch of times, and I finally got to tell him that I enjoy it. I enjoy it a lot (I knew I would). I finally acquired a copy of “The Decline of the West”, but will have to wait before I can finally read it. Finally threw Mogwai albums in to iTunes. Finally went to see a good witchy friend of mine and finally lay on her floor holding crystals in my hands, listening to her talk me through and out of some of my anxieties. Finally found some people willing to sell my paintings for me. Finally skyped my grandmother, and she said it had been a year since she’s seen me and I couldn’t believe it. Finally got a Gameboy Advance emulator for my computer so can finally play Pokemon and my WORD am I addicted to it.

—- —- —-

Two men push a young humanoid back in to the river from which it came, and that is how the music video will end. I’ve been viewing this little film in my head for ages, and I finally get to film it all, edit it together and see it on a screen, get to show whoever wants to look at it what I was seeing in my head for ages. Dunno if I’ll finally get to relax at the end of it all though. One day I will finally get to relax.

These words: those words

Andrew Ryan

Writing words meant only to be read by the eyes of other people is a funny feeling. It’s something that I am still not used to, even though I have been doing it in this format for nearly 6 years.

I know, logically, that 6 years isn’t a very long time, but from where I’m sitting, it feels huge.

That being said, I have been a “working” photographer for about 4 years longer than I have been a “working” writer. That’s about 10 years in total. 10 years capturing the things I see (mostly humans brandishing musical instruments and the tools with which to make them work – be they drum sticks or beer bottles), manipulating the light and the shadows until the combination satisfies my stylistic compulsion, and then showing these images to other humans, knowing that they will see what I want them to see based on that thing I originally saw, which they may or may not have seen too, and if they did, they did so from an entirely different perspective.

Which is what happens with writing, too, I suppose, only it’s different because images speak to a more primal portion of the brain than words. Written words are a late-game addition to the way humans learn to communicate as they grow, and to the way we learnt to communicate as our species evolved and explored this planet.

I am feeling a little sad. But that may very well be because there is a recording of Leonard Cohen playing my favourite of his songs blasting through my computer speakers. It is a sad song. That man tends to have such brutal depth of meaning in his word choices, and the tune plucked over the words making up the song in question has a sort of melancholic wistfulness, with a touch of lamentation, and a much slighter touch of pleading.

Writing words to be performed for the ears of other people is a very different game to the one I described in the opening of this column. It is a game that relies on vocal delivery instead of formatted layout on a page or screen, a game that relies on the attitude of the person performing to portray the intended message instead of the attitude of the reader when they take in the meaning of the words sitting in front of their eyes.

It has been a long time since I’ve written a script. I have never written a song that has been sung to anyone but myself.

I have known many people in my life who do that thing that I have never done.

The person closest to me does this. He sometimes performs songs not written by him to other people too. He’s very good at what he does with all that, and he’s being made increasingly aware of the power of his talent, his skill, his craft. It’s quite wonderful to watch: endlessly inspiring and invigorating. Exciting too.

And with every day that goes by I am made increasingly aware of the difference between our word crafts, the difference between word usage, word planning; the difference between being documented and doing the documenting. Performing in front of a large crowd of people in which your lover is present is pretty different to taking photos of your lover while being present in a large crowd of people. Writing a song about your lover to be played mostly to an audience of strangers is pretty different to writing a review of your lover’s album launch which happened in the city you both choose to currently live in to be published for the eyes of people who mostly live in the city you both originally hail from. I don’t want to do that, but the thought of it has not left my mind this week.

Facets of history, facets of humanity are full of lovers who write words for and/or about each other. Many, many words are written about lovers but appear not to be. A whole bunch of words are not written about lovers and could be interpreted as intended to be. Far more words have been written about anything but lovers and could never be interpreted as ever coming close to describing what it is to have or be a lover of another human being.

Words, huh? They give me funny feelings. Feelings almost as funny as when I love someone, I reckon.

Tahlia sees Nick Cave live for the first time

Andrew Ryan

Dear Casey,

This is an account of my first real Nick Cave Experience.

The first technical one was watching from outside the fence of Sydney Myer Music Bowl, back when I was spending time with a boy who liked putting needles in his arm. I drank wine. He blissed out next to me. I was drunk. I wasn’t very happy, but I kind of was, but I didn’t really see the man play.

This time tonight was more. It was More.

Self individualist crowd,
stage gobblers
~~watching a gig through
some else’s iphone

his silhouette streaming across the back of the wall behind to the side, distorted, shadow like a lanky fluid skeleton, or a sped up sloth—- body cutting through light and smoke, sight hindered by a well hairsprayed hairdo. It was a big hairdo, but it wasn’t dyed black. Ginger is okay these days. Or at least it is in Nick Cave fans who are currently in their mid to late 20’s.

Slow, glow in the dark piano paper through black light, I cough and splutter and laugh, i’ve been sickly for a few days because the weather keeps changing, I accidentally elbow the man behind me from where I sit on the back of my chair, I smile and apologise and don’t look long in his eyes,
I think he smiled too, I can’t really be sure,
my nose is quite stuffed after all (sick, remember?),
I did it another time and I tried to make sure afterwards that I would angle my arm better as I put my phone back in my pocket after writing thoughts,
I wondered if he ever peeked over my shoulder
because I totally would in his situation
but I probably wouldn’t have been smiling
fuck off screen addict etc
and that’s the thing, there was one point early on in the set where almost every human in front of me had their smartphones held above their heads.
And then later when the couple that instigated a fight (fell in to me and a.moon which caused much annoyance) because they tried to push to the front and the guy they pushed said “YOU’RE RUINING IT FOR EVERYONE” and grabbed their throats, and their yelling could be heard clearly from higher up in the rows of building
—- apparently the sound was great up there, the building was designed for it, not like cubical galleries or bedrooms, but like, actually built on the inside for sound, textures, rising,

rousing piano soars with that same soar vocal, build, big,
but not big enough
the screams of a man wanting attention for his friends’ birthday—-
and i’m reminded of cosi’s story
about watching nick cave
an older woman screaming
over and over
I wish I could see his face
and not just the hands of the humans reaching for his crotch

and that fight, what a shit thing.
The crowd around ganged up, even after they’d chilled out when the security guards first left. The couple were fiending, the crowd around was not having a bar of it. Some one behind us to the right shouted “YOU’RE RUINING EVERYONE ELSE’S SHOW”
and that’s when I realised that every set of eyes owns what it sees::

What looks like red velvet curtains
purple light streaming
yellow tungsten lightbulbs

and then
in Mercy Seat the curtains were black/grey velvet and there still sat the yellow tungstenz, suspended like fairy lights on the bow of a hipster wedding tree.

The thing that always strikes me with Nick is how naff I find any religious references. I actually hate it. Sometimes i’m a bit embarrassed by it. An ex-lover (the one I played the black angels to for the first time) once said that same thing to me about Shellac’s “prayer to god” and I have never, ever felt that with that song, maybe the heaviness and the perfect timing distract me from the discomfort attached to the fact that he says “to the one true god above” but like, it’s not like he’s actually praying, he’s just referencing that it isn’t uncommon to “pray” in an emotionally intense situation, like the one described in the song, it’s badass,
that ain’t the same as half of nick cave’s lyrics from earlier days including religious imagery and symbolism or whatever, and it being legitimately the only way he could express the stuff, all those silly words

anita lane and blixa bargeld wrote the words to the Best Bad Seeds song.
In my opinion.

But— the devil is such an easy character. The story is such easy narrative. His new work mentions god, but I haven’t noticed the devil in it anymore. Thank fuck. “The devil” is now lazy story telling.
In my opinion.

Months and months ago, I wrote a thing about nick cave, something about the legacy he and his mates left on the alleyways of this city, its innercity suburbs, the bathrooms and bedrooms of the houses in it: I wondered if he was aware of it now. I wonder how his son, Jethro, is doing now. Where he is— last I heard he was somewhere I wasn’t— how he’s doin’? What he’s doin’? Is he OK?

There was a meat-head to the left of us for most of the show, muscle man short hair tight white t-shirt, arms stretched onto the seats in front of where he was standing, concerned head banging to In To My Arms like it was a stripped back November Rain.

That’s exactly what that song is.

November rain. It never ends in Melbourne. Never forget.

Until next time,


Most of the Places I Sat When I Was At Camp Doogs 2014

Andrew Ryan

Camp Doogs happened the weekend just gone, and I thought I would document for you all the places I sat down, and what happened while I was sitting (as best as I can remember), because I really, really enjoyed these sits.
Next time I attend an event such as this, I am totally bringing my own chair.

-Toilet (multiple):
this is all I have to say about finally sitting on a toilet, every time.

-Hay bales (in front of the stage) (multiple):
too many times to count, I sat with many friends for many musics, I can’t remember all of them, I can’t remember all the people either but it was so nice to be in that area and see so many people I love and have known for various amounts of time, all in the one place. It was almost overwhelming, actually pretty overwhelming, and many sit downs were needed to gather my strength for all those beautiful hugs and kisses on cheeks.

-Hay bales (singular):
by the food trucks while fairly intoxicated and not wanting to risk going down the slope just yet but still vibing.

-Sand (multiple):
the stand out being when I was told during Pete Bibby’s set that my brother had dislocated his shoulder and was on his way to the Busselton Hospital. He wasn’t even being silly when he dislocated it, he was just lying down and skipping stones. What a cutie, I love that guy. I was worried and empathetic but I couldn’t do anything so I got up and danced it out. Boy did I dance. I saw a tiny snippet of footage of that set and I could see myself and I looked like a total dickhead, plunging my hand deep in to the sky in time with Bibby’s words, the words he stole from Kylie Minogue or whoever it is that wrote that song for her (I’m sorry I don’t know your brain bro/sis, it’s a great song).

-On a log by the river (multiple):
watching friends and strangers jump in the river, longing to jump in the river too but knowing it was a bit cold for me and I was also feeling a little self concious, but I was smiling hard at the sheer joy on display. Later that day, in the evening, I stumbled down the incline to sit alone for a while, sitting on that log again looking at the river, feeling like it wasn’t the perfect spot to sit, but it was still nice. Smooth. Smoother that when I was there in the day time. I moved to a better spot in the tree.

-On the incline by the river:
watching Emlyn Johnson, overwhelmed by the amount of people watching and appreciating him, giggling with the friend next to me as we sipped on red wine. Roused. Well and truly roused.

-By the campfire in Spliffton (multiple):
I helped make the fire some times, I helped keep it going a few times, I stared at it for a while, I smashed up some branches and twigs with Splodge a few times, talked with him about god-knows-what, but whatever it was, it brought us closer together, and it made me appreciate him even further; that man has a beautiful brain.

-On the ledge looking out over the stage:
the only time I sat on that ledge- not just leaning on the railings and worrying about the crumbling walkway- I was at first alone, watching Bamodi just as the sun set. I hadn’t seen them in yearrrrrrs, and it was it good, pretty good, but I was drunk and couldn’t bring myself to stand up and drunkenly sway near the front of the stage. I tried to take photos but it wasn’t working, but it was good to watch, and then the boys from Spermaids appeared either side of me, and we chatted and I think we were all a little too intoxicated to make proper sense or connections but it was still chill, I like those guys, and they suggested going to do the Spin the Bottles times together, and I was all “nahhhh I don’t think so” because I expected it to be quite awkward, the people doing the lookings for Six Thousand said it was awkward and they blamed Tinder-swipe-culture, but looking back I probably should have gone and done that thing, because who knows, maybe it could have been lovely.

-In the branches of the big tree by the river:
I had to climb the tree to be alone and up, away from all, out of it, trees. Love trees. I threw the goon sack up in to the branches above me, and climb-jumped up to sit next to it, so that I could hold it above my face and drink it. This was my favourite sit. The pre-dawn, an hour or two or three, I don’t know, I was letting the river sound wash over and through, distracto, disloco, and when I heard the human voices I was hope-waiting for, I dropped my arm down and flashed some morse-code fire. I sat there until the sun came up.

-Side of the road (last day) (multiple):
waiting for the last bus, the last bus that left before the last of us were ready, I imagined starting a new life there at the entrance of the property selling woven craft items made from my own hair. It wasn’t very pleasant, but it was because friends and bottles of water and painkillers. But we got home in the end. Sitting on the bus was pretty good too because I kind-of-slept.

Good Doogs.

Interview with Lucas George, East Coast Goth Shaman Music Man

Andrew Ryan

The other week I sat down with a bloke named Lucas George in my kitchen with a bottle of red wine, a 6 pack of beer, two pouches of tobacco and a dicta-phone. Lucas is my spiritual guru, and I’m not the only one on the east coast of Australia who would describe him as such: the man is incredibly perceptive, and has a knack with Tarot cards. Lucas and I became friends through Peter Bibby; there were a few loose nights hosted at Christmas Street when I got back to Melbourne earlier this year, and Lucas was often there with a big grin on his face, and we quickly bonded over philosophy, writing, being extremely analytical and quieting our analytical brains with booze.

Lucas plays in a band called Whipped Cream Chargers, and does rad solo music stuff that has a sort of Dirty Beaches feel. Whipped Cream Chargers will be in Perth for the first time probably when this mail-out is sent forth to all you lovely subscribers, and I’m very excited to have this crew of Melbourne folk arrive, so many good buddie for Perth to find and learn and watch and listen to! Put them in the Indian Ocean!

I don’t like standard question answer interview things in words, and our interview went for like 2 hours and on all kinds of tangents, some of which cannot be repeated but might come out in like 20 years when no one gives a shit about our careers any more and we attempt to revive them by releasing it in full, when everyone we talk about is either dead or too rich/over it to care about how we described our feelings about these people to each other in 2014…

So this is some of it.

The Creation of Whipped Cream Chargers:

Lucas, Louis and Jeff were in a band together, but that band got really fucked, other members of the band got in to heroin, and those three guys not on the smack wanted to do something that was a bit more fun, musically. Atrocities was what this previous band was called, and they were quite dark, nihilistic, hedonistic, all black wearing crowd, slow nodding of the head in time to the music, all very very very very coooooooool, then the smack-addicted members started stealing other people’s gear so they got banned from every venue in Sydney except for one warehouse space… and they just couldn’t do it any more.

Lucas wanted to start a new band.

One day, Lucas and Jeff took some acid, and because Lucas was really in to following signs at that stage in his life, on this acid walk they would see a street sign that he really liked and would follow that, or some spray paint on the ground and go that way. They were on their way to a rehearsal with their old band, to meet Louis, and they found a box of books, while they were following signs, on Monks Lane. A box full of books that were “totally accurate” for what was going on in their lives at that point: for example: a book on how to take revenge on people, and it was really fucking brutal, describing all kinds of situations that Lucas could recognise in his life and those around him.

They took this box of books to Louis’ place, tripping out really hard. There was one book on poisons and antidotes- when they ate food he’d look in the poison book for that food and he’d see that the food was poisonous if not prepared correctly, so he’d force himself to vomit.
Someone put on Electroma, the daft punk movie- and it freaked him out. The world is becoming like this, everyone’s got their own i-pod and that’s like the helmet that they wear. Then they did some bulbs, the whipped cream chargers, Louis and Lucas did them together and they both started crying, extreme absolute joy and complete pessimism, and Lucas looked at the box, turned to Louis and was like “Do you want to start a band call Whipped Cream Chargers?”, and Louis was like “Yes, yes.” Crying, laughing; a mix of polar opposites.

They didn’t start it for four months. Disrespected by their ex-band members who were jealous of their involvement in this new band, they would rehearse loudly in the jam room of the house they shared in order to piss them off. It started off as Lucas and Louis, then Louis found Seb at a party, he was playing guitar and singing, asked him to jam/sing. Lucas didn’t like Seb at first. Lucas was broke, living off spices essentially, and Seb worked at a cafe and would bring him food every rehearsal, and thus the friendship grew in to something very close, best buddies after a while. At their first gig they didn’t have a drummer, so they “forced” Jeff to drum, “JUST ONE GIG BRO” but he ended up doing it full time.

Lucas says they were so shit when they started. The scene they were involved in while living in Sydney: RIP society, Kirin J Callinan, The Laurels, all proffessh very good styles… Lucas’ spiritual journey at that point was leading him to believe that professionalism was bullshit, in turn leading him to WANT to be in an amateur band, and have fun, do whatever you want, no dick sucking. They were shit for ages, and slowly built up a fan base, and have been together five years now. Have been based in Melbourne for 2 years.

The Sydney scene is apparently smaller and niche-ier than Melbourne, not as many venues to play in, a lot of dark stuff, a lot of suffering. They played all the venues a bunch of times, flitted around different musical scenes: psych-rock, garage etc but they didn’t really “fit in” anywhere. Some songs would fit a psych show, for example, but then the rest of their repertoire would leave the audience thinking “what the fuck is this” in a not-very-great way.

They got bored, had some friends in Melbourne, so thought they’d move there. Melbourne has been “fucking amazing”. A melting pot- they’re from Sydney, all their friends are from Perth or Queensland, everyone has moved there for the same reason, and it’s made an eclectic scene full of rad and interesting things happening all the time. We chatted about the kinds of scenes in Melbourne, how that same sort of thing exists but when it comes to our crew, our eclectic bunch, it’s less about the styles of music and more about the family/friendship connects, and respect for artistry. Which is why I think Whipped Cream Chargers, Mangelwurzel and Lalic will all have a great time in Perth, because that is the best thing about the Perth thing too- the sense of community and bro/sis times.

Whipped Cream Chargers do, however, feel like outsiders to a certain extent. Lucas and Louis are both quite social, Johnny is in various other bands. Because they try to do a lot of different things in the band, but fit in to that rock and roll type thing, and the kind of rock and roll they play is kind of like classic rock/dad rock with a twinge of something else, he feels they get pushed to the outside of things, they don’t play “cool” music though there are moments of cool… it’s just in their nature to be on the outside, they intended that from the beginning, and it has manifested, but he does on occasion find it frustrating.

Lucas hitch-hiked to Melbourne in 2010, had a crazy spiritual experience along the way (the details of which are fascinating and often quite dark, which shall be saved for another time, or a conversation with him if you see him). When he got to Melbourne, he was staying with Johnny through Jeff, who knew them through stuff from Newcastle- so he met Johnny, liked him but thought he was a total fucking weirdo. Then WCC came on tour to Melbourne in 2011, Johnny came to see them play and offered his services as a bass player. Late 2011 saw the big move to Melbourne, and their bass player at the time didn’t want to move to Melbourne, so they asked Johnny to play bass, and the band was pretty much done. Johnny is “one of the best guys that has ever existed”.

Johnny also plays in Mangelwurzel. WWC took Mangelwurzel up to Sydney for some shows, because “these guys fucking rock”- MW were a different band then, different line up, more punk, but Cosi drives that frenetic energy throughout. See: Peter Bibby’s interview with Cosi in this same mailout.

Discussions about how good Johnny is, about how we both are over analytical, about self perception and our variously-sized-at-times egos ensued. At this point we have drunk more than a few wines. We delve in to discussions about other Australian musicians, their drives and ambitions, questioning some and championing others, the question of fame, success, money, all that. And then we talk about smoking inside because we were smoking inside (the next day I was told off by my house-mate for it, I DIDN’T MEAN TO STINK UP YOUR ROOM BEK IT WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN).

What Whipped Cream Chargers ARE:

Big party dance vibes. The first show they played with Johnny was upstairs at the Gasometer, and everyone was going fucking crazy. Chicks were getting their tops off, it was amazing. That’s why they started the band, to have that cathartic experience of dancing. When people get in to it, the band gets crazier, and the crazier they get, the better they are. Vibe feeds man, vibe feeds. I’ve seen it once before- Seb takes off his shirt, Lucas throws his guitar on the ground and vibes off feedback in his amplifier, banging and crashing while the rest of the band keep the audience dancing like crazy people, all colourful and weird lookin’.

“It’s a bit of a silly band in a lot of ways, but that’s on purpose; if people are dancing, then they’re getting it. I guess what I see dancing as is this primal expression of joy, but also of many different things, and I enjoy… well, whipped cream chargers is about primal expressions.”

They like taking pop culture elements, stuff that’s been done before and turning them on their head, sapping them of their value and turning them in to something else all together. Seb has described it as a bunch of 1950s cowboys who are screaming about their loneliness in space.

“Our first do-woop song was called “Come On”- the verses are really romantic deals, like “I wanna hold your hand” and shit, but then the chorus is “I’m gonna sleep with you, you know you want me to”…
…modernise old ideas of what is romance? What is love in this modern age? If it’s all pointless, then what is the good part about here? Let’s have a dance, let’s have some fun, let’s have some drinks.”

They started off as a party band, deliberately only played at parties because they just wanted everyone to be pissed and having a good time, and getting in to their vibe which is just like let’s get pissed and have a good time, if you want to think about stuff there are some messages within the music which are intelligent, Seb’s a very intelligent guy, he’s got a lot of subtleties to his lyrics but no one ever notices that shit…

Then I asked Lucas to do a tarot reading. In my head I asked a question about Whipped Cream Chargers’ upcoming time in Perth, and unfortunately it all goes wayyyyy too long to fit in here because we’re already at like 2000 words… So i’ll make a video of it at soon, and put it on youtube. Rest assured that this little foray for all these Melbourne bands jumping in to Perth for two weekends will be an interesting time for all involved, and if you’re not going to be at Camp Doogs, makes sure you check out the shows that our multi-band Melb cohort at playing the following weekend at The Bird on the 24th and Mojos on the 25th.

Blood Moon Oct 2014

Andrew Ryan

I was hoping to see a red moon tonight, rrrreally hoping to. I missed the last one because there were too many clouds in the sky. I thought to myself: “How often does one get to see a moon looking like that?”, even though I am not physically capable of seeing the moon clearly without the help of curved glass in front of my eyes, and I don’t currently own curved glass to put in front of my eyes.

But I at least wanna see the red, ifinz I can. I like it when things are different colours. Craving different experiences or something. Want to see red moon. Almost primal. Could just be primal. So I did the closest thing I could do to being primal when I found out about This Particular Red Moon and clicked on the “Going” button on a little Facebook event which invited me to join a bunch of local folk going up a rock pile to view this sky-phenomenon.

The other thing going on in my mind was that this is the third eclipse in the space of a few months (lunar then solar now lunar again), and this mind is a little blown by that. I have no memory of such quick succession of eclipses in my lifetime. Despite my general inclination towards researching facts like this, tonight I am not willing to research if my memory is correct, because instead of going to that rock pile in the middle of All Nations Park, I ended up spending much of the afternoon and subsequent evening in a recording studio in Preston.

Reason? Further witness to/documentation of a band who decided to call themselves WASP (no, it does not stand for anything, and yes, the name was chosen with no idea of the 80’s metal band sporting over it a very, very similar looking acronym with which to be known).

I went to Sydney with WASP a little while back, 10 hours in a car each way to follow this ridiculous improvised goth-doom-pop band (P.Bibb’s words, not mine, he plays drums in this thing) to the city from where two of the members originally hail. They played shows, I sat at a table taking people’s money for one of said shows, I sat in various other spaces taking sound recordings and filming some things, mostly.

The band decided to attempt to record their always improvised intensity for the first time this week, and tonight, of all nights, was the night.

I was thinking of blood moon many times throughout this sit-in, waiting for the opportunity to see this thing I had visualised from last season’s descriptions and digital experience-capturation of the event. I was also thinking about the role of the historian in society because I have an upcoming assignment on the topic (reporter vs analyst?). I was thinking about Presentism: to view history from the perspective of the time in which your feet are planted firmly. How it doesn’t appear to be respected by academics in the slightest. I can certainly understand why.
University is fun.
I just wish I could pace it a little slower.
Maybe that’s why so many young people go to Germany to study: it’s so fkn cheap to live there, cheap to study there. You can learn and think all you want while you do all the creation you want too.
But Planehhhhhhhtttttt, I don’t WANT to get in to house music (the apparent germ of Berlin). I want to stay in Australia, I don’t want to waste time leaving it, here, where the land is beautiful and the nation’s borders are huge: many cultures are vastly separated across it, and it is my home, and I want to see it all. I am a student in the history of this land.

Sometimes I think that the status-quo of power in this nation would crumble if those of the land were able to easily and freely gain an education in the history of the complete human world outside these geographical borders. I guess that is what libraries are for. But sometimes people aren’t privvy to the mental health/wealth that comes from finding an understanding of where you came from to help you wisely choose where you’re going; the inspiration to do that.

Different strokes for different blokes.

I wish I could have travelled to the desert to see the blood moon. I imagine it would look quite beautiful. I imagine the rise of the thing to be glorious above the flatland, and if you could situate yourself on a rock formation further above the more consistent level of surrounding country, you would have a stark portrayal of our sky-parents’ ancient and sleepy flamenco playing out all across the sky in front of you.

Instead, I saw a goddess-lumiere sans colour higher in the sky than I meant to, rushing out when the torn up singer of WASP left the microphones in the room for a minute for a reason I wasn’t paying attention to because my camera’s focus ring was making things look rad, and we interacted near the door and then ran outside: open space, air, sky, moon. I realised I could feel my uterus responding to Luna, and I was all “Fuck yeah; it’s nice to have a natural cycle.”

And then I thought of my eyes again, and how nice it is to see things clearly, craved that curved glass some more, and went back inside with a different kind of curved glass flattened against my face, ready for what proved to be an intoxicating, lunician display of musicians doing a less sleepy, far more traditionally spirited flamenco across the recording room floor.

Post Script:

While writing a portion of this week’s column, I got a cramp from moving my foot in time to Sleep, which lead to the end of using Photoshop’s lasso tool to trace the outline of a dark-haired, balding man laying completely submerged, eyes open, in a bathtub; I have been learning how to use Windows 8 again.

I am not sure if I will finish that particular digital collage.

Into the wild

Andrew Ryan

I’d been to Tasmania once before this weekend’s trip, and that first experience wasn’t a great one.

It was a visit to a farm owned by a woman who didn’t believe that I was one of the chosen ones to survive the end-of-the-world; that I wouldn’t live forever in a glass dome with our alien-spirit over-lords guiding us gently through the apocalypse… It was an insular experience and I saw little of what the island had to offer other than isolation for society’s mentally unstable fringe dwellers (though I did learn what it felt like to throw snow at another human being).

So you know, I didn’t have the greatest of memories attached to the place. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever have the inclination to go back. However, after my bestguy Peter spent months regaling tales of the glorious nature of both Tasmania’s wilderness and the creative portion of the population who choose to live there, I was sold on the idea of visiting. So sold, in fact, that I began to crave it. The nightmare of years previous turned in to future-dreams of an artistic commune in which we grow all of our own food and raise however many babies happened to be born amongst us without the evils of corporate advertising to damage their precious sponge-minds…

The perfect opportunity to get a glimpse in to the reality of this sphere arose when my friend moved down there to follow love and aforementioned glorious natures, and it was her birthday, and a gig was booked at which Melb-bros P.Bibbs and Nicky Allbrook and Orlandooooo Furious and various excellent Tasmanian acts were to play at an old theatre in a tiny town on the bank of the Huon River, so how could I NOT go and experience this rad thing? Never mind that my computer and phone had died the week or so before, never mind that these deaths resulted in falling behind in uni-work as well as music-video work, I COULD DO SOME WORK IN THE BEAUTIFUL PLACE YEAH, let’s doooo it etc.

“Do Work” in Tasmania I said. “It’ll be fine” I said. Yeah, you fucking re-big-citi-fied idiot, you delusional stress-head, where did the lessons of time-spent-in-regional-Australia go? I “knew” what was coming, sort of; Pete had done his best to casually drop hints at the nature of a car-less Tassie experience in our circle of humans, but I had no real idea of what I was in for, no true understanding of the power of the chill-vibe so intrinsic to the culture down there.

Entering the airport, there was a sniffer dog running through the arrivals looking for fruit and veg, lest they introduce unwanted bugs and whatnot to what’s left of the precious eco-system. You know what else should be present upon your arrival? A sniffer dog for repressed negative emotions.

If the little beagle comes and sits next to you, its keeper should tell you gently- yet firmly- that you must accept a free massage by a highly trained professional in deep tissue relaxation, and some guided Zen meditation to rid your mind of those destructive-attitude spores. There should be a sign at the gates which says: “Welcome to Tasmania: Leave Your Mainland Stresses Where You Grew Them”. Or something about dropping your bullshit along with your bodily excretions out of the plane in to the Bass Straight, or like, something about the forests having enough work cut out for them soaking up all the CO2 in the atmosphere so why should you expect them to do the brunt of the work with your negativity too… it’s up to YOU, the visitor, to make the choice to go with the flow of the highwinds in the many, many, many leaves and down all the hills and mountains with the myriad streams of rainwater.

I realised 4 days too late in to my 5 day trip that this is what is required to properly appreciate a trip which was planned before technology failed, before fast-paced-creative-city-life went weird. Just let it fucking go, and be there in that moment, on that beautiful property in beautiful fucking Franklin, with that beautiful old lady standing under her 100 year old light bulb proudly hosting a party for a bunch of fun+music loving humans. Be there in that moment with the 6 year old daughter of the King of Tasmania when she’s doing a fucking great job of quickly picking up English after years spent in South Korea. Don’t let thoughts of moving data between a MacBook and a Windows laptop distract you from the beauty of your surroundings as you canoe through a gap in an island on the Huon with your lover. Don’t be a dummy, just fucking chill the fuck out.

The only time I truly lost myself was when I climbed so high up a tree that I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get down, intoxicated by escapism as much as booze and dexamphetamines. I couldn’t smile comfortably in front of a noble sheep, I forgot my manners in the houses of wonderful hosts, I forgot most of the names of the people I met, my heart raced when the wind tore at the roof of the shed we rested in not only from the fear of death in a storm, but from the fear of lack-of-sleep affecting the work I felt I should do the next day but knew I wouldn’t be able to do anyway…

The next time I go to Tasmania will be, Godess-willing, in the summer for Falls Festival. A bunch of good buddies will be playing, and I want to explore more of the island, more of the mountains and the cliffs, drink from more waterfalls, see a platypus in the wild again, get better at landscape photography, learn about the history of environmental activism down there and discover how the locals are keeping Aboriginal culture alive after the genocide that was played out on that land. And next time I will know how to enter that country- with an open heart and a light, breezy mind- and then I will be able to write detailed stories, will be able to freely express the enormity of every situation and every journey being filled with mountains and forests in the background.

Making a Film Clip With Peter Bloody Bibby

Andrew Ryan

I have taken photographs for years now, but I’ve never really felt comfortable directing people. I’ve done plenty of shoots where people have specifically asked me to take photos of them, expecting me to direct them or their venue or whatever in to the sweet-spot that makes a great photo, and then I’ve given them the photos that came naturally to me and if they weren’t up to scratch I’d just be like shrug “the lighting which I couldn’t control was pretty shit” or shrug “you guys were kind of awkward/I was pretty tired/stressed/anxious sorry” or shrug “the stars/other visual elements weren’t properly aligned” or shrug “dude, I’m not actually a good photographer” because honestly honestly honestly, I legit feel that most of my photos are absolute flukes based on the fact that I very rarely direct anything. Don’t WANT to direct anything; WANT to snap up the thing that happens in front of me. Organic (I blame this feel on highimpact sexualised fashion photography).

I guess I am solid in this feel because I got somessortof photography stripes in live music photography, were you cannot dream of controlling anything that happens in front of the camera- except for the direction you’re pointing and whether or not you’re on auto or manual focus. You’ve got to make good choices in yourself, and you have to learn/draw from the physicality of the people you’re photographing. Personal context is a blessing. Digital technology is a blessing. Having money for good equipment is a blessing but we don’t all have the time to be selling shit asmuchaspossible, nor are we all capable of making other sorts of beneficial financial decisions (like being able to get any other job), so I make do with what I have and have thus learnt to make the best of whatever because goddamnit I have very solid ideas about what is worth capturing. I’ll capture things in front of me, but only if I think it’s possible and only if I want to. Documentarian. Cultural anthropology. Artistic and neurotic human. What a catch.

But this capture>direction thing in my brain has just recently changed.

In the last instance of experiencing the days known as Saturday and Sunday, I had my mind warped when it comes to Directing Action. I have come to find that not only do I actually enjoy it, but I might be kind of naturally okay at it. I have come to this realisation because I directed people who were being actors for Peter Bibby and I this weekend in the creation of a music video for one of his songs. We staged a wedding and filmed all kinds of things you will see when it is finished, and it was fun and eye opening and a bit boozy and pretty much anything you could ever hope for in that situation.

It was not my first time creating a filmic thing intended to be available for other people to see, but it was the first time I ever really WANTED WANTED to properly direct the action in front of me. There was a narrative we knew should happen and so I ended up just trying to do it, and it ended up seeming like it worked. I think I have watched enough movies/read enough books/thought enough about those things to warrant a little test of filmmaking fingers, and by the last couple of shots on the second (see: last) day I had discovered an unexpected confidence in the role I’d found myself in.

Not much preparation- not any storyboard at least- but it stewed in my head for a while before we decided one day that well, yeah, should do that thing we talked about, oh we have to do it by this date if we’re gonna do it at all YEAH MAN sick let’s do it, yeah okay, yeah, sick, siq, sikbro, fk yeah ok

and then it happened.

The concept was sparked a few months back when Pete and I were walking to Northcote Plaza; we were hunting food and probably hung over to boot. There was a sign on the edge of All Nations Park advertising a wedding expo. It was facing the road we were walking along, and we talked about marriage and how it wouldn’t do for either of us unless passports had anything to do with it. Marriage as antiquated religious-based social construct which has lasting effects on the way in which lawmaking dictates societal choices + self-perception. I once ranted about how dumb marriage is on a Channel 31 youth panel show; I was in high school and very serious and I had very greasy hair. I guess the ridiculousness of marriage is a long running passion of mine. Makes sense that the concept worked so well off Pete’s reaction to his religious upbringing.

So one of us had a funny idea about going to the wedding expo and sneakily getting drunk, and then we bounced more funnies off each other until we had figured out a pretty good idea, one we thought would make a good video. Refinement after refinement until it was time to discuss and then make food, and then something like a serious “But like, which song would you want to do this to?” and then we had the very startbeginnings of this video we shot on the weekend.

Months happened and we planned a bunch of stuff but we didn’t think we would actually make it until we were sparked to actually make it. And then it was shot and we’re editing it and it looks fucking great with great performances by so many incredible people… I am happy/excited. oooOOOOoooo.

The differences between my favourite initial concept and what actually came of monthslater’s weekend of filming work are quite marked, but it doesn’t detract from the fun of making what we are making because- as I mentioned earlier- getting drawn in to directing people is easily the best self-discovery thing I’ve experienced in the last little while.

Here is a list of things I feel are worth mentioning/have learnt as a result of this experience:

—- I colour coded my shooting plan
—- Bek Bibby is amazing
—- I lost a lot of sleep because I didn’t even WANT to do a storyboard (and I’m glad I didn’t)
—- Some of the things that make me kind of charming in real life might be a little alienating in a digital text format (and vice versa)
—- Answering the question “Why eat lambs but not cats?” is really fun if you need a conceptual break from thinking about drinking culture and marriage
—- The Bottles of Confidence are a good band
—- I feel bad that I haven’t finished my music video for Usurpers of Modern Medicine yet
—- Introducing our Melbourne buddies to Perth is going to be interesting and fun as fuck
—- I want to direct more films, but only if the actors aren’t actually aspiring career actors
—- I don’t have any female-film-maker-idol equivalents to David Lynch and Lars Von Trier and I would really like some suggestions
—- social media probably isn’t my thing
—- making work from what you take pleasure in is the only assured path to a more consistent happiness than any other kind of pleasure could give you

I choose to end this story now.

Honesty + Australia

Andrew Ryan

photo credit: Emma Phillips

This week I have been thinking about how I’ve just started a degree in communications, and I have been thinking about Australian politics. Tonight, I have been thinking about honesty.

So many people I know appreciate honesty, which makes me wonder, does that mean that everybody appreciates honesty? Does everyone I have never met care about honesty? Do the majority? Or is it just the people I take the time to know? If it is the latter, is that because we’ve all searched each other out, anomalous feather-birds seeking desperately to find our thought/feel kin amongst a predominantly (and terrifyingly) dishonest world?

At the gig I watched tonight, the guitarist of one band introduced the song they were about to play as a new one. She then checked herself, and told the audience that she was once told to never tell the audience that a song was new. And then the drummer grabbed her microphone and was all “Fuck that shit, we’re being honest” and then she made a really satisfied facial expression. Was it a revelation? It was certainly something, like a kick in the teeth of whoever said that thing in the first place. A stand-up-and-proclaim-this-honesty moment. Both the drummer and the guitarist felt it important to say this thing out loud. This honesty. And the small crowd continued sipping their drinks, and rubbing their love-interests’ respective legs, waiting for the music to happen.

I imagine that original statement was an attempt at a marketing thing.

How does the marketing steez in that situation work? What is the purpose of holding back the truth of the newness of a song? The audience will probably be able to tell the difference between the well practised/many played songs and the songs that are fresh on the arms of whichever musicians are playing before them. I’m pretty sure they would, even if they didn’t know that was the difference between the quality of performance/song, even if they weren’t seasoned music listeners- they would be able to see a difference. Why would someone impart this advice? From where I sit, on the ground, on a step, stepped on and steeped in an appreciation of the honesty in music, I don’t see the logic.

So, is it dishonesty that leads to profit (much of this world being profit driven as it is)? From what I can perceive, it is necessary to exploit things in this world to create a profit. Exploit the unknowingness of live music punters, exploit the anticipation of ready consumers, exploit the resources that lie deep within the land.

Is exploitation dishonesty? Or are they separate?

To be exploited implies a certain amount of not-knowing. A punter doesn’t know that the song is new. What profit comes from that? The profit of an interest in the dynamics of a band’s set, I suppose. Interest in a potential future sale.

A consumer is waiting to have a certain thing in their possession, and they anticipate that thing, whatever it is, because they’ve been told it is worthy of possession, and they So they exchange something for that knowledge, and it is usually money.

The resources that are taken from the land are taken only for that exchange of things, always money, and those resources are without consciousness, so they cannot protest, in Anglo-Saxon cultural thinking at least. But what about when another culture, born of that land, has emotional ties to that land which lie as deep- if not deeper than- the minerals within it; have emotional ties running through the veins of all the things that grew on that on that land, who scream when their blood and rocks are wrenched from the planet without ceremonious reverence, without thanks?

To create a profit, someone has to loose what another is gaining. To exploit, one is making full use of and deriving benefit from something, in an unfair or underhanded way.

How many human beings actually value honesty?

But I digress. There are men doing honest dances to the live bands, wearing honest pants, and honest shoes. I am not sure of the honesty of their haircuts.

Honestly, they probably look much better in the nude than they do clothed.

Honestly, I probably look like an asshole clapping at the end of a song with a pen in my mouth.

A culture of acceptance around brutal honesty. Around around around.

Overheard in the beer garden tonight:

1. “The biggest misconception about acting is that it’s lying, but it’s the TRUTH.”

2. “The government should push towards making beers in the morning acceptable.”
“Well, the government isn’t ever gunna do what we want, are they?”
…a brief conversation about a lack of unity in the country entails.

If you don’t know something, then either you a) haven’t seen it, b) haven’t gone searching for it, or c) haven’t been told it. The worst is when you’re not told the whole of it.

My left eye has been twitching for at least a month now.

Jack White + Insane Clown Posse Collab: Was It Ahead of its time?

Andrew Ryan

Insane Clown Posse are probably best known to all the non-Juggalos out there for their song “Miracles”. They have been around since 1989, amassing a huge fan base over time, a huge tight-knit fan base who are known as Juggalos, who are generally perceived by outsiders as awful. Insane Clown Posse believe in God (this is shown quite clearly in Miracles) though they don’t identify as Christian, but they have apparently been leading their fans towards Him from the beginning anyway. They write songs with social commentary, which is communicated in simple, easy to digest ways. They express the frustration of social ills through the heaviness of their music, and encourage their fans to express themselves freely too, express their frustrations, get it out.

Social commentary example, from a fan talking on the newgrounds forum in 2002:

“The song “Terrible” off “The Amazing Jeckel Brothers” album:
“The country we live in was built by slaves
Beat down and murdered and stuffed in they graves
You put a slave owner on a 1 dollar bill
And you wanna know why I kill people!!!!
Bombs are blowing up, cops are corrupt
And all ya care about is who the president fucked!
You don’t know terrible, you will
As soon as our wagons come over the HILL!“”

As can be seen in this doco, sense of community amongst fans is very much encouraged, and played out in spades. The focus is definitely on bonding. They crave social interactions that are open, warm, and supportive, just like everyone else… and they get it, in numbers, through clown-painted-faces and celebrations marked with the exploding-of-bottles-of-softdrink. Some Juggalos get in to trouble, like every group, everywhere, but by the nature of their adamant self-identification with the culture (tattoos, jewellery, merchandise), those ones are very much noticed by the authorities.

In 2011, the FBI put Juggalos on a list of gangs to keep an eye on, which lead to negative treatment of those who identify as such. The band and a few fans are suing the FBI to strike the name off this list, and to pay for any damages incurred.

“The Juggalos are fighting for the basic American right to freely express who they are, to gather and share their appreciation of music, and to discuss issues that are important to them without fear of being unfairly targeted and harassed by police.”- Michael J. Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan legal director.

In that very same year, guitar music man legend Jack White collaborated with Insane Clown Posse CP on two tracks- one of which is mostly made up of a Mozart composition about getting your arse licked- and released it on vinyl. I heard this track not long after its release, and was repulsed, confused, amused. I had very little knowledge of ICP, and I was under the impression that Juggalos were a bunch of meat-headed idiots who love wasting beverages on each others – and their own- heads. My respect for Jack White dropped. I stopped caring about listening to his new releases, and perhaps many in my circles of friends and acquaintances did too because barely anything ever came up about him, though we all appreciated and enjoyed The White Stripes at some stage.

Fast forward to the other day, and I learn that Jacky Boy has just released a new album, and that the vinyl pressing of this album has got some experimental vinyl-technology things going on with them. A few firsts, infact. Hear all about it from the man himself in this video.

He has long been a staunch analogue-recording guy, and it makes sense for him to release some never-before-done shit on his latest album, jumping into the recently re-opened market of vinyl collectors; doing it before anyone else has a shot to explore these innovations. Ahead of his time. And I’ve come to think that Insane Clown Posse collaboration was kinda ahead of its time too.

How did the ICP + Jack White thing come about? There are plenty of interviews with ICP about it (not very in-depth ones mind you), and they say he asked them if they wanted to work with him, but I couldn’t find any interviews with Jack, no words on the reasoning. So I want to guesstimate those things.

Maybe there is something to the fact that Jack White was raised in a Catholic family… perhaps there was a recognition that while ICP are one of the most loathed bands in the world, and he garnered a lot of criticism for wanting to cut a record with them… they also have a sort of spiritual fervour that he found enticing, interesting, appealing to work with?

As was explored in the conversation between he and Conan O’Brian (which I highly recommend watching), he likes to struggle in his art, likes to create constrictions on himself to make himself work harder. Perhaps Insane Clown Posse were the ultimate struggle?

Maybe both of those things have something to do with it.

But I think it goes a lot deeper. In this interview I just linked to, White talks about using the idea of a façade as a test to see if people can look past the external to just listen to the music (The White Stripes all dressed up like kids and candy whilst playing blues music, for example). The attitude reminds me of my friend Marty, who has recently been sporting a rather striking- and what some might call a rather offensive- mullet. We hadn’t seen each other or spoken in a few years until last week, and at one point in the evening I mentioned his hair, how I liked it, and his reply was what I gather Jack White is trying to say about the façade concept: “Yes! It acts like a filter, the good ones can see through it.”

Maybe, maybe, Jack White played this facade game again with Insane Clown Posse. Perhaps he set it up to see how ICP’s fans would react, as well as how his own would. He was met with a lot of weirdness and criticism from his own fans- as I said earlier, I was definitely among the omg-wtf-no crowd- but interestingly, among the reactions of Juggalos on the internet, I have come across predominantly positive and supportive attitudes.

So I am finally relistening to Leck Mich Im Arsch, to get a new reading of it, three years later. Maybe he’s trying to teach ICP’s listenership something? Showing them that hundreds of year ago, someone they thought was just some old guy chamber-music bullshit was actually a badass, and wrote silly songs for his friends. It’s a good plan: tell ICP about that song, get them to describe it in their own way, have their producer make their sounds to go along with it, drop in a heavy “look, it’s me on guitar” thing, and Bob’s your uncle, Juggalos have learnt about Mozart, under the assumption that he freaky as helllll. As far as using available communication technology to reach a previously unreachable audience goes, this is pretty interesting.

Who knows, perhaps Mozart will keep the Juggalos from organising themselves in to a political force to be reckoned with? Or maybe it will influence that inevitable uprising in a positive way. Jack White, changing the world for the better, one clown-painted-face at a time. Maybe.

Post Script-
I had never heard the B-side track, so I hunted it down and gave Mountain Girl a whirl. It’s country as fuck; big ol story tellin’. I think what Jack is doing it offering a new medium for the communication of ICP’s own ideas, something they probably won’t do of their own volition or invention. A new medium opens up the potential for a different audience too… It’s a pretty good story, if you can ignore the occasional shouting of the lyrics. Get Blixa Bargeld on guitar, Mick Harvey on drums instead of the twanging fast paced country gi-tar, and you’ve got yourself a near Murder Ballad, only a little less poetic.

Jack White did an experiment, and now that it’s been 3 years or so, I reckon I can say that I totally appreciate what he was trying. I wouldn’t listen to this record for pleasure, but I am certainly glad to give it a little study time.

In-flight Rambles, Perth to Melbourne (Thirsty Work)

Andrew Ryan

The plan was to get to the airport an hour before boarding, so’s that I could find a comfy spot in a chair or at a bar or on the floor, listen to Brian Eno’s Music For Airports on my phone, and write about the experience.

It is little wonder that I rarely make plans such as like: they never seem to work out.

I was so scattered and stressed out before leaving my mother’s house that I totally miscalculated the timing of driving and whatever else sucks up writing time in regular life. We got in to the correct terminal (after going to the wrong one first) a few minutes after the lady had closed the flight. Despite my stressed yelling about baggage weight and frustrated stamping of feet and furious pacing/cigarette smoking earlier in the day, I was calm as fuck as I approached that desk with its “Tiger – Flight Closed” sign. She let me check my shit in. I knew she would. That’s why I was calm.

Also, everything had felt dream-like since I’d told my brother to put my suitcase in Mum’s car: the new freeway we took to the airport, the conversation between my mother and I about the existence of class in Western society, the wandering through the wrong terminal looking for little tigers in places I would never find them. I wasn’t connecting with any of it.

I am on the plane now, and I am still struggling to connect with my surrounds. Not in the same way as off the plane; things are no longer dreamlike. Instead, I am clumsy. I dropped the contents of my wallet on the floor when I tried what little change I had in it, for example.

Two over-sights related to this: I forgot to bring a water bottle, so I wanted to purchase one, and I forgot to check my cash before I left the house, or to get some out on the way, so I am left with just over half of what I need to purchase a very, very overpriced bottle of water.

I wonder if they will serve me a small plastic cup of water? My lips and throat are dry. They must. Why am I so scared they won’t? Subtly pressured in to feeling more comfortable paying for things that shouldn’t be paid for.

So I messed up the Brian Eno thing.

This is disappointing, because never before had I been so looking forward to a writing project. Never ever before. But I guess I didn’t want it enough to make careful plans, maybe? That being said, I am pretty fucking terrible with pre-travel anxiety. Get jittery. Get stressed. Need booze. When I flew to Perth in November, I felt compelled to consume a few glasses of Jamesons before I left the house. At 9am. I am jolted for at least 12 hours before a flight, every flight, and I don’t see that changing until I have enough money to not be scared of anything, ever. Money, again. Money. Sigh.

When I was researching to find out if anyone has published their writing about listening to Music for Airports while sitting in an airport, I came across an album created with a similar purpose in mind. The Black Dog’s “Music For Real Airports”, released in 2010, was that album, so I downloaded it and synced it to my phone Just In Case. Just in case was a good feel, a good call, because that is what I am listening to now, as I am flown over Somewhere, Western Australia, in a metal tube with air hostesses wearing too much makeup. They inch their trolley of expensive food and drink items towards my seat, and I find myself planning how to ask for water. What are the options? I need to practice asking. I still cannot make my mind work to think about asking for something to sustain life, and the possibility of it being denied. I don’t trust these humans. Not at all. The distrust is making me crave a cigarette and a glass of wine.

This Black Dog album is not right for the plane , at least not a plane in the early evening. Perhaps it would suit looking-out-the-plane-window during the day. But probably not. The electronic beat that has hit in Track 8 – “Future Delay Thinking” is more driving and more frantic (also, a very accurate audio depiction of the state of mind it is named after, the album is full of that, good job Black Dog) than the awfully slow process of maybe-water-acquisition I am experiencing now. I must stop this music.

Do these airhostesses have to conform to rules about their hairstyles? Do the men who do the same jobs have to conform the similar rules? Has an airhost-person ever flipped out and caused the crash of a plane? Or at least the emotional discomfort of a passenger? Maybe I should ask one? Not these ones. They might be the ones that flip if they are pushed the wrong way.

They finally reach my row of seats. I got the attention of the older one. She gave me a slow nod, looking deep in to my eyes, a suppression of boredom and impatience I recognise easily from my bar-tending days. Sorry I was impatient lady, I didn’t realise you couldn’t do it, that I had to wait for the other one. I didn’t notice your system, because I am just So Fucking Thirsty. But they gave me a little plastic cup full of water. This quest is complete. Never forget to bring a water bottle on to a plane again.

Sometimes I receive flashes of “Should”, flashes of a thing to write about, different in style to “Want”. The one that just came to me was that I should write about the sensation of the plane dropping in altitude. I should write about that. But who/what is telling me that? Who says? It can’t be me because I don’t want to write about that. When I attempt to follow these should-advices, it doesn’t work out very well. I can’t remember anything fantastic coming from them. But I guess they are internal writing prompt. Maybe I should just follow them.

Should. But not now, because the plane touching the ground is my favourite part, and I am back in Melbourne, indefinitely, and from now on I will only write about things I want to write about.

How I Dealt With Blazing Swan- Inception

Andrew Ryan

We drove through fires to get there, farmers burning the dead ends of their crops, and then we wandered for days through the suburb the hippies built, stuck right where the farmland meets different desolation. A salt lake glistens in the rising sun, after a flash flood the night before, which brought out the fear of death, the celebration of life, and a whole lot of frogs making love in the swales. I haven’t smiled (or smelt) like that for years. Hell, maybe never before, and I’d certainly never explored rocks and bushland in such a way. Nor have I sheltered in a car the way I did that night when half the camp was washed to the other side.

Picking our way through the double-g’s and the acid causalities as we moved from bar to bar, the adult children around us attempted to make peace with their own bullshit, through costumes and face paint and too many hands in a massage. The conversations dried in a drugged out way, and the flesh was on sweet display. Not sugar sweet, but sickly; it begged for attention because something somewhere snapped at some point, and they need to feel absolutely supported by their human siblings. And they created the perfect space to do it, and I watched, and I appreciated the glimmers of honesty I observed.

From stage to stage we moved, too. We came from many places, but most seem like their homes are made of sandstone, and I don’t really have a home, so I was jealous, because I imagined something beautiful. We all shared everything, and only paid a couple of dollars for the privilege of multi-intoxication. Vegetables simmer together on the stoves of those more practical and properly preparious. These friends are hilarious: Irish and Australian humour melting together as accents are exchanged like drugs, in fun. “Porterakkk” screamed repeatedly from beneath the setting sun.

Music as connector, as instigator, as inspiration. The smiles are as intoxicating as the jam sessions. I’m in love, and that feels like enough right now. His bottles of confidence sloshed warmly and comfortable through my veins, like they were a part of my chemical makeup all along, and the only time we parted it was so he could belt the sounds of his strings and his words at the people who shouted his name.

Doof tunes drove us crazy, so we drowned it all out with laughter.

The woman handing out the watermelon slices was dressed like little red riding hood. I wonder how this kind choose their costumes, and what they expect to come from them. Their desperation drives me fucking crazy. My different desperation drives me crazy. Our clashing desperations drive me the most crazy, but my sun/salt-burnt face aches more if I frown to think about it, so I won’t: neeeeeeiiiiiiiggghhhhh, it is all simply absurd, clomping like horses in their stupid shoes, buckles and straps and fur and whatever the fuck else, tacky and quirky, furry and silly, half-open-minds getting buffeted in the outback wind; they wouldn’t know true experimentation if it punched them in their glittery, dithering mouths.

Watching two things burn/ a temple and a fucking giant swan/ one is the biggest fire I’ve ever seen. The orange vests are collecting detritus, throwing stuff to be consumed by the big, big fucking fire. More drugs? More fun. Connection is so easy amongst those who crave a burn, which is probably most of us. Even the ones not here.

Stories about the rains, and now it’s dryer than we expected. At least there is no moisture, except for our socks, not right now. Not tonight. Not like when all of the power went out except for our tent with the boys and the guitars and the screaming, water rushing down to the salt, wrath of god on the high and the hippies, a wasted cover of The Stooges bringing up the sun. Nah, now the clouds are gone and the stars are fucking gorgeous, the fire burns burns burns and booze booze booze and drugs/ drugs/drugsdrugs.

The dregs of doof-sceners move camp to camp as the tents and decorations are packed down and torn apart. Cackle laughter from acid pushed too far, and I can’t handle the thought of seeing another pair of furry pants or shoes ever again. “Living the dream! I wouldn’t have it any other way”, they say, as they answer a question they were hoping you’d ask, before you could even answer theirs. Begone, creatures; though I appreciate your mentality, you are not my chosen kind. Each human wants something different, I suppose.

Dear you: Your stories keep running and driving, they push your heart in to your brain and through your mouth, and the words keep you satisfied, moving and full. I could watch it forever. Someone once told both of us that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but somehow we have both been thriving on it. Juxtaposition is a powerful bitch, especially when you’re wasted for four days in the near-desert.