PISSANT!

 A Story of 80's Australian Underground 

1:  'In The Raw' - Lubricated Goat
2:  'Top End Killer' -
King Snake Roost
3:  'Hard For You'
- Butcher Shop
4:  'Fast Buck'
-feedtime
5:  'Blabbermouth' -
Bloodloss
6:  'Melt Part 1' -
Kim Salmon & The Surrealists
7:  'Dad' -
Thug
8:  'I like Looking at Naked Men' -
Fury Men of The North
9:  'Sleazo Peepshow' -
Box The Jesuit
10: 'Are You Running With Me Jesus?' -
Monroe's Fur
11: 'Angels & Demons'-
Grong Grong
12: 'I'm
Pregnant' - Toe
13: Ernest Ripple -
Bushpig
14: 'Hot Cakes For Daddy'
- Salamander Jim
15: 'Born to Be Punched'-
James Baker Experience
16: Ring Worm'
- Purple Vulture Shit
17: 'Come Down'
Zulu Rattle
18: 'The World's Got Everything In it'
Minced Meat

 

The Australian music scene during the 80’s could be split into just two categories: mainstream and underground.  

Exponents of the mainstream genre included InXS, Men at Work, Midnight Oil,Cold Chisel, The Angels, Icehouse, The Choirboys, The Divinyls & Mental as Anything.  One could also add the plethora of haircut & video bands that riddled the era, but it would only serve as a doppelganger for a “Where are they now listing”.  That this was all the Oz Rock 1 gene pool had to offer, would be true only if you had the mentality of a bloated Australian music industry hack.  Independent acts such as the Hoodoo Gurus, The Go-Betweens & The Church that leaped to the major labels achieved some limited degree of success.  Others weren’t so fortunate, such as The Sunnyboys, The Stems, The Triffids, Lime Spiders & The Johnnys.  They all became misunderstood by a music biz that thought you only made it by reaching the charts or if Molly Meldrum name-checked you on Countdown 2.  The notion of the underground being taken seriously by the mainstream or perceived as any kind of a threat was still several years away.  During this era, dozens of independent acts on labels such as Au-go-go, Waterfront, Red Eye, Phantom, Aberrant, Citadel, Missing Link, Mr. Spaceman & Grown Up Wrong were all quite content with remaining independent and free of hindrance.

The debut 7” on Red Eye Records by The James Baker Experience

 

Sydney based independent Red Eye Records was started by graphic designer John Foy. Its debut release was a solo single from ex-Hoodoo Gurus drummer James Baker 3 issued as The James Baker Experience ‘I Can't Control Myself' (The Troggs) / 'Born To Be Punched'. The legend goes that James used to perform The Troggs tune at early Hoodoo Gurus shows. Backing James was Roddy ‘Radar’ Radaij (The Johnnys) Stu Spasm (Lubricated Goat) and Tex Perkins (Beasts of Bourbon / Tex Deadly & The Dum Dums). A video was also made for the single which is occasionally played on Rage 4. The would-be ambitious music video ran out of funds rendering the bulk of the clip riddled with mostly stock footage (mostly of people walking in the city streets). Red Eye’s second release was the Tex Perkins swamp vehicle Salamander Jim.

The infamous pregnant man image from ‘Lorne Green Shares His Precious Fluids’ (artwork by John Foy).

"I started that (Salamander Jim) with Tex (Perkins). We just wanted to have a guitar, singer and drummer. After going through, the world’s worst drummer, then Billy Pommer Junior, we settled on Richard Ploog (The Church). I don't remember the material that well other than it was a kind of minimalist bluesy rockabilly hybrid. The later lineup did record a song of mine from then called Ugly Breakfast...anyway.. I left early to move to UK to take up with The Scientists, and they continued on with a different lineup and went a whole different way...."

 KIM SALMON 2003

Salamander Jim
L-R Lachlan McLeod, Stuart Spasm, Tex Perkins & Martin Bland

 

After Salmon departed for England, Perkins reformed Salamander Jim, recruiting members Stu Spasm, Martin Bland from Zulu Rattle & Lachlan McLeod from Broken Hill (via Adelaide).  It is this line up that recorded the mini LP ‘Lorne Green Shares His Precious Fluids’ also with Ewan Cameron from Purple Vulture Shit appearing on saxophone.  With a duo of impressive releases, Red Eye is soon turned into the second home to the Kilbey family in the form of solo material for Steve Kilbey (The Church), The Crystal Set (which featured Steve’s brother Russell) and associates Curious (Yellow) (whom featured Steve’s girlfriend).  It was all just getting too damn nice!  Finally drastic measures were taken to put the grunt back into Red Eye.

The Black Eye Records Logo

 

“..I ran into (Tex) Perkins just on the street one day. We hadn’t seen each other for like six or eight months, and in that time he had relocated to the Gunnery 5. Well, he said he was involved in doing this thing; he was at a loss to describe it. He was referring to THUG amongst other things so I rolled long to the Piccadilly Hotel with a couple of friends and, nothing could prepare us for what we saw. I think THUG was on stage and off in about eighteen minutes it was just like amazing. Only visual footage and some strong photographs can really totally capture what THUG were about. And also on the same night I think it might have been Lubricated Goat and might’ve been No More Bandicoots or something like that too. But it was quite clear this was something different and it wasn’t called Black Eye at that point, I don’t know when we decided to call it Black Eye; we knew that somehow it has to be documented and well, vinyl records were the medium of the day. Rather than video footage. yep we started a label, it was the basket case son of Red Eye…”

JOHN FOY 2003

An early Black Eye Records promo photo of Stu Spasm & Thug posing with a sleeping homeless man

Black Eye went onto release the likes of Thug, Lubricated Goat, Butcher Shop + Kim Salmon & the Surrealists.  It fired the first odd angry shots onto a complacent music scene and if musical separatism ever had a schism of its own it would now be forever known as Black Eye Records.

THUG

 

Thug consisted of Tex (Greg) Perkins (Beasts of Bourbon) Lachlan McLeod (Salamander Jim) & Peter Read (Leather Moustache).  Prior to becoming a live act, Thug were initially a home recording project using electronic gear gleaned from Peter Read’s flat mate (who had amassed a collection of gismos). Thug was also a dramatic career change for Perkins who had previously been known as the front man for grunge pioneers The Beasts of Bourbon & swamp-tinged Salamander Jim.  In comparison, Thug was confrontational, experimental, electronically-charged; whose live act upon being translated to the stage could be easily deemed pre-multimedia with an assortment of theatrics, improvisation, dancers and super 8/video loops. The finale of these shows resembled a contact sport involving all participants mock brawling and piling on top of each other.
 

Thug Live

Other times the audience would get involved or get some special attention themselves.  Like the gig when Thug showered an entire audience in flour when the act played a Goth club (a venue Thug were never booked at again).  Thug’s debut was the ‘Dad / Thug’ 7” (also referred to as ‘Fuck Your Dad’ BLACK4) which would go onto cement Black Eye as the most demented Australian label, period.  It also featured a gimmicky campaign reminiscent of Stiff Records6.

 

Thug / Dad 7" the only 7 inch record released on Black Eye Records

"At the time it came out - around July / August of 1987  - I knew that Fathers Day 7 was on the horizon and so we decided to have an advertising campaign with ‘Make DAD Number 1’.  Indeed we had it number one in the Alternative Charts the week of Fathers Day to add a bit of additional irony and satisfaction to that record."

JOHN FOY 2003

 

Further Thug product included ‘Mechanical Ape / Proud Idiots Parade’ EP (BLACK3) & the full length ‘Electric Woolly Mammoth’ (BLACKLP6).  Several cuts were also issued on the ‘Waste Sausage’ (BLACK1) & ‘Leather Donut’ (BLACKLP4) compilations.  Thug imploded after one last gig with Sydney experimental institution The Mu Mesons 8 .

 

Stu Spasm

 

Lubricated Goat was the brainchild of Stu Spasm (Stuart Grey) who had previously played in such outfits as Zulu Rattle, Death In Vegas, Singing Dog & Salamander Jim. Following the demise of Salamander Jim, Spasm went to the UK and teamed up with Renestair EJ & Sharon, both then of Bloodloss. Although some jamming occurred with this lineup, nothing permanent resulted. Spasm did at one stage join UK act Stump  9  but was kicked out after just one gig. Upon returning to Australia, Spasm starts up the short-lived Leather Moustache, a cabaret-styled act with a floating line up including Thug participant Peter Read & Ron Hadley of The Deadly Hume. The sole Leather Moustache track committed to vinyl (credited to Lubricated Goat on Waste Sausage) was ‘Jason’s Place’ a prelude to a later Lubricated Goat song ‘Jason the Unpopular’.

The first signs of what would become Lubricated Goat occurred when Spasm went to Perth to hook up with former Singing Dog drummer Brett Ford who was then playing in Perth combo The Kryptonics. With the help of fellow Kryptonic Peter Hartley, a few shows under the name of Lubricated Goat take place. This line up also record what would later become side one of ‘Plays The Devil’s Music’ (BLACK2) at No Sweat Studios in Perth..

 

Early gig poster for Stu Spasm’s cabaret act Children Holder.

Along with the live debut of Lubricated Goat, Stu also completes some performances for his cabaret persona Chicken Holder.  The act entailed Spasm dressed up mock drag with a percussionist playing an electronic device inside a thawed frozen chicken.  

"CHICKEN HOLDER was a sophisticated nightclub act. When I was in Perth, I was doing CHICKEN HOLDER in places as well. It's an exercise in how much you can get away with under the pretence of the performer.  Me in this really disgusting outfit going around acting like some sort of sexy drag queen. Sort of like being Marlene Dietrich. You'd just go around and sit on people's laps and that, 'cept it's really unappealing having me come up and sitting on your lap.   Instead of being nice to people, it's sort of like "terror crooning". 

Stu Spasm

quote from B-Side Magazine

 

 

Debut EP from Lubricated Goat

Prior to returning to Sydney, Stu drops by Martin Bland (Salamander Jim / Bloodloss)  in Adelaide and the chance visit results in the completion of side two of ‘Plays The Devil’s Music’.

 "When you’re in Adelaide, you can’t go out for amusement except for the pub and that gets a little boring. So just to amuse ourselves, I had a four-track recorder - a Tascam and a very good one. We just started to try to amuse ourselves by writing the most stupid songs that we could. Initially we started to try to write an album of stripper music. A couple of people we knew in Sydney were strippers and we thought it might be nice to have something to dance to. So we kind of wrote this, he tried to write an album of stripper music and we got four or five songs written. Stuart took the tape away; I didn’t know anything about that he even had a band called Lubricated Goat to be honest with you. I didn’t know this was going to be on an album; we were trying to amuse ourselves. Then about a year later or something I get an album from Stuart that’s got me on one side with sort of stripper music."

 Martin Bland 2003

Lubricated Goat
Peter Hartley, Stu Spasm, Guy Madison, Brett Ford
 

Eventually, following an east coast Kryptonics tour, Ford & Hartley remain in Sydney and defect to Lubricated Goat and start gigging.  Around this time, Paul ‘Ringo’ Gill & Guy Madison of Perth act Greenhouse Effect relocate to Sydney which leads to Guy joiningLubricated Goat.

"I was crossing the road one day on Cleveland Street where Burke Street hits Cleveland Street. And I was crossing the road there and Stuart yelled out to me and I crossed the road and he asked me if I was doing anything and if I’d like to play the bass in Lubricated Goat."

Guy Madison 2003

 

‘Paddock of Love' Lubricated Goat

It's this Spasm, Madison, Hartley & Ford line up that record the debut full length ‘Paddock of Love’ on Black Eye Records. At the time of these releases, it should be made known that Black Eye Records were instantly misunderstood, laughed at and flat-out ridiculed by the majority of the Australian music media. It seemed that every release Black Eye issued hit the ground shattering like a cheap china plate. Overseas, the reaction was vastly different: Black Eye was being met with stunning enthusiasm in comparison.

 

It’s largely undocumented how influential a lot of those bands were on Seattle, as a large chunk of that crowd were spinning the aforementioned bands (Lubricated Goat, feedtime, King Snake Roost) and a lot of the Celibate Rifles kinda stuff.. It seemed there was a shared sensibility in Oz to what was happening in the States then, and unlike the vast wasteland that was the Ecstasy gobbling U.K. music scene of the time. Also a shared 100% DIY ethic that came through screaming with a glance at their rosters..

 Tom Hazelmyer 2006

The Seattle interest resulted inLubricated Goat (and King Snake Roost) signing to Amphetamine Reptile (run by Halo of Flies member Tom Hazelmyer) in the USA not long after feedtime signed to Rough Trade there and to Vinyl Solution in the UK.   

I released Lubricated Goat because they were one of a kind. There was plenty of amazing stuff happening in the states but none that came close to this demented, humorous and innovative sound. Combined with the fact that the handful of copies that made it stateside were insanely expensive, it seemed like a good idea. 

Tom Hazelmyer 2006

Sadly, in Australia the only thing Lubricated Goat would be remembered for would not be their music, but rather their nudity.  In November 1988, Lubricated Goat was asked to appear nude on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) TV’s youth show ‘Blah Blah Blah’   (miming along to ‘In The Raw’, the opening track to the ‘Paddock Of Love’ LP).  The year after this event, I managed to interview Lubricated Goat for a fanzine I was doing at the time.  There were claims made within the group that they were confused for another band which appeared around Sydney called No More Bandicoots.  They claimed Blah Blah Blah staff writer Bruce Griffiths (also head of Aberrant Records) had mentioned to fellow staffers about the antics of another band No More Bandicoots. (Delving deeper revealed this actually wasn’t the case.)

No More Bandicoots & free beer for nudes gig pictures

 

Free beer for nudes was No More Bandicoots’ idea as far I know; it was certainly a scam they had concocted. Most No More Bandicoots gigs ended up with the Bandicoots being completely nude; except for the one they started nude and progressively got dressed during. But they had the idea as a gimmick to put on the poster, “Free Beer for Nudes”. So ostensibly people would come along, get nude and get free beer and it would draw people to the pubs. But the actual idea was to get free beer for themselves knowing damn well they’d be nude by the end.

Bruce Griffiths 2003

 

Lubricated Goat on Blah Blah Blah © ABC TV 1988

According to Lubricated Goat, although Bruce had written an idea calling for a nude band, Lubricated Goat was the act Bruce had in mind for the idea.  Yet Lubricated Goat claim that Blah Blah Blah staff members thought Bruce was referring to No More Bandicoots, an act that frequently appeared nude.  According to Bruce, this actually wasn’t the case.  Lubricated Goat was expressly named in his submissions for the ‘Censorship’-themed show, the very first submission, top of the page, which was [quoting] “A program done entirely in the nude [which at the time would have been the world’s first]: nude host, nude guests, nude audience, and guest band Lubricated Goat perform “In The Raw” nude.  At NO time is any reference made to the fact that everyone IS nude.”  According to Bruce, the reluctance of host Andrew Denton to appear totally nude on national TV (and thus ‘own’ a place in Australian – and world – TV history) saw the idea scaled back to just the nude band.  It was also a very deliberate ruse to get Lubricated Goat on national TV: while No More Bandicoots were “the nude band”, Lubricated Goat had the ideal name, song, and sound, and the point wasn’t that they were “the nude band”, merely that herethey were playing nude.  But the end result was Lubricated Goat  went on to being known as the nude band ever since.  The full details of the saga are examined further in the documentary ‘In the Raw’ made for Happening Films of Melbourne by yours truly.

Well we played the song ‘In the Raw’ and the whole thing about our nude performance was like it wasn’t sexy. It wasn’t like the Red Hot Chili Peppers which is ultimately meant to be like sexy. Ours was more like medical or an autopsy, all-dancing all-singing autopsy.

Stu Spasm 2003

 

B Side Magazine with Lubricated Goat with Schadenfreude line up

At this point, Peter Hartley had been fired and Brett Ford had left the group which saw Charlie Tolnay of King Snake Roost join on guitar with Gene Ravet of the Space Juniors on drums. (For the Blah Blah Blah appearance, Hartley was brought back in after Charlie shared Andrew Denton’s reticence to get his gear off on national television, and Peter Read was still deputising in an interim fashion behind the drum kit.) It is this line up that records the EP ‘Schadenfreude’ which seemed to show Lubricated Goat becoming what could be deemed more metallic…

 I’d actually taken Stuart to see Metallica not long before we recorded that, and I think Stuart was impressed by the slick power of that band.  I think we might have tried to do something slick and metal as probably the Goat ever got.  

Guy Madison 2003

 

Lubricated Goat - 1989 U.S. tour lineup:
Martin Bland, Stu Spasm, Guy Maddison, Renastair E.J

With the impending Lubricated Goat USA tour, Tolnay left the group due to American tour commitments of his own with King Snake Roost. Gene Ravet for some reason couldn’t make the trip which saw Martin Bland & Renestair E.J. from Bloodloss drafted to complete the tour. The shows saw The Goat beg, borrow and steal their way across the United States, playing shows with Butthole Surfers and Killdozer. One such incident involved the band purchasing a van which blew up barely minutes after its purchase. It was left to die on a freeway, proving to be an expensive folly from limited tour funds. The group then returns to Seattle, recording a single for Sub Pop Records’ Single of the Month Club 10. The group returned to Australia with the taste of blood of overseas acclaim to an unimpressed Australian scene. Guy Madison would later leave, hooking up with former Greenhouse Effect member Ringo and ex Lubricated Goat Peter Hartley to form Munroe’s Fur who in turn relocated to Seattle a few years later.

"...we left Australia with the hope Peter our drummer would come with us at some point and he never did. And so we ended up here, so Martin (Bland) started playing the drums and Martin lived here in Seattle so there weren’t a lot of conscious decisions of where we were going to be. We did end up here and a lot of it because Martin lived here and we knew some people; we knew like Mark Arm and stuff who helped us get some shows and stuff like that and that’s how we ended up here. ..”

Guy Madison 2003

Munroe’s Fur self releasedtheir debut LP ‘New World Order Catalogue’ and later ‘Sadistfactory’ and a handful of singles before disbanding.  After their demise, Madison then joined Seattle grunge legends Mudhoney as bassist.

 

Psychedelicatessen LP cover

With an upcoming second tour of American plus European dates, Lubricated Goat sets to rush record their next outing ‘Psychedelicatessen’ 11. The line up on this effort sees Spasm, Bland, EJ recording as a trio with Lachlan McLeod only credited on the LP yet joining the touring version of Lubricated Goat. The European leg of the tour comes to a grinding halt when Spasm is involved in a stabbing incident.

Crunt

Post recovery, Stu later forms Crunt with then wife Kat Bjelland of Babes in Toyland & Russell Simins from Jon Spencer Blue Explosion. In 1994, the group releases a self-titled LP on King Coffey’s (Butthole Surfers) Trance Syndicate before splitting when Bjelland & Spasm divorce. Stu then revives Lubricated Goat in NYC, issuing ‘Things You Don’t Understand’ on PCP Records with members of Cop Shoot Cop.

 

The 2nd Black Eye compilation Leather Donut

One of the defining moments of Black Eye which completed its stance as an absurdist paradise was the release of the compilations ‘Waste Sausage’ & “Leather Donut’ 12 compiled by Salamander Jim/Thug member Lachlan McLeod. Both compilations featured cover art from renowned Adelaide artist Ewan Cameron of Purple Vulture Shit / Egg N Burgers 13. Musically speaking, ‘Waste Sausage’ or “Leather Donut’ hardly represented anything of outstanding or of lasting quality. It does however give a glimpse into the collective Black Eye mindset. These collections contained an assortment of tracks ranging from home recordings (credited to certain aliases), outtakes and solo recordings. Nothing set the tone for the series more than the opening track to ‘Waste Sausage’ by Toe (Aka Chris Cashel of Purple Vulture Shit) titled ‘I’m Pregnant’.

 

Chris Cashel circa 2004

While residing in Darwin in the mid 80's, Toe uses a crappy acoustic guitar and home records some improvised songs to send to a friend in Melbourne. One of the tracks included ‘I'm Pregnant' which somehow ended up in the hands of Lachlan McLeod making it onto ‘Waste Sausage’.  

 

Minced Meat Image from Leather Donut insert

'The World's Got Everything in It' by Minced Meat was actually Spencer P Jones & Tex Perkins issued on ‘Leather Donut’. The song was later re-recorded by Spencer for his solo LP Rumor of Death’ issued on Red Eye Records. 

Many of those things are mere snapshots of...not even snapshots, they’re Polaroid’s of brief moments of time that occurred in places like The Gunnery and Glacelands 14. Some of those individual tracks just might have been a result of a bunch of them around a living room one night having a bit of fun making armpit noises. Which became identified as percussive effect and someone would improvise something over that and set the 4 track up capture the moment. Next day, that would then be given an identity and become earmarked as potential track for another compilation or something and that’s the way I see it. I wasn’t privy to the creation of this stuff; this stuff was delivered to me to make some sort of sense of it all perhaps. But it was all discussed rather seriously as one would select a bottle of wine in a expensive restaurant when it came to track running or mastering accreditation for all those that were involved. It was a peculiar pomposity and formality that lead to discussions at times; it was just incredibly entertaining the whole time. It was a great relieffrom the realities or the pressures of what was happening running a serious record company too. It was a hobby, though I think some of the individuals saw more of an opportunity.

John Foy 2003

 

The Furry Men of the North

Nothing screams more absurdist snapshot than The Furry Men of the North ‘I Like Looking At Naked Men’ which could easily be mistaken as a drunken rugby club song, from the Leather Donut compilation. It featured Tex Perkins, Peter Read, Stu Spasm, Lachlan McLeod & Ron Hadley under the personas Fecal Sharky, Bill Shit, Max Walker, Pin Dick Watson & Whistling Ron Hadley.

 

Butcher Shop 'Hard For You' label face

The Butcher Shop featured two incarnations both fronted by Tex Perkins issuing the EP ‘Hard for You’ (BLACKEP1) with Spencer Jones, Phillip Clifford, Billy Pommer Jnr & Kid Congo Powers (Cramps, Bad Seeds,Gun Club). 'Hard for You' was later re-recorded by The Beasts of Bourbon on the 'Sour Mash' LP.  Two years later, The Butcher Shop reappeared with the full length LP ‘Pump Action’ for Black Eye with Tex Perkins again teaming with Phillip Clifford (bass) Peter Hartley (drums), Lachlan McLeod (guitar) along with input from Stu Spasm & John Murphy (Slub/News) on some tracks.

 

Kim Salmon Image © Russell Kilbey

Following the implosion of The Scientists, Kim Salmon headed back to Australia, settling in his home town of Perth. It was at this location where Salmon demoed/recorded what later became ‘Hit Me with the Surreal Feel’ as Kim Salmon & the Surrealists.

“…We quickly formed, did a series of shows round Perth and after which I took the band into a rehearsal room with a borrowed 4 track TEAC reel to reel. I was in a hurry to record it as Brian and Tony, the other two members, were both leaving town for good. Using the rehearsal room mics I placed round the room, I got the band to play some of the material live. I also deliberately got them to play some material that they hadn't heard, and recorded that before they got a chance to learn it or even be comfortable with it. This was deliberately Lo-Fi. When I took the tape home, I didn't have a mixing desk so I just played it through my stereo and placed a cassette recorder near the speakers. I sent this off to Black Eye as they were the only label I could think of that would consider such a primitive sort of demo. Tex (Perkins) and the guys from Thug heard it and loved it, persuading John Foy that it was appropriate for the label. I went into a studio in Sydney when I was in town doing some Beasts of Bourbon shows. Up until this point, the record had cost $60 to record. I always say that's what the record cost because it’s a better story than to mention the mixing and tarting up costs that John (Foy) fronted. The Surrealists continued to make records almost the same way. I'd be in Melbourne or Sydney for one reason or other (I still lived in Perth at this time), we'd organize some dodgy shows, have a rehearsal and get more material together (actually I'd show the other two the songs and they'd play along until it sounded good) and go into a studio and get it down quick. That’s how "Just Because You Can't See It" & "Essence" were done”.
 

 Kim Salmon 2003

Visually, the most striking and most appealing aspects of Black Eye Records were its strong cover art & designs. John Foy was already an accomplished poster artist creating some of the most appealing iconic poster art from the 80’s for acts as varied as The Riptides & The Cockroaches 15. The design to ‘Hit Me with the Surreal Feel’ stands as a true artistic highlight for Black Eye with the image of Kim Salmon posing with fish as eyes.

 

The original ‘Hit Me with the Surreal Feel’ artwork

"...That was an actual shoot that was totally born out of the heads of me and Russell Kilbey under the name of Russell Paper then. As part of keeping Black Eye separate from Red Eye, Russell being one of the regular photographers for us at that time decided to keep his work for Black Eye separate too.  Russell did several Black Eye photo shoots for us.  It was a great shoot; it was particularly amusing because Kim doesn’t like fish and we had to wrap a fish tail in glad wrap (shrink-wrap) and place it in his mouth to achieve some of the effect. So we had to stand there ad nauseous while we snapped away but it was an actual set up shoot. We did quite a few set up shoots like that and again it was like wearing that hat of art director that the end result was certainly a shared thing. Tex did the font, I did a lot of the cut and paste and Russell’s photography is supreme on that. And it totally went with the content of the time of the Blue Velvet; there’s a definite link with that film right down to the run out groove messages. It was just evidence that on certain records you don’t need a budget, it’s the content powering over any other sort of force and a great example of it. It was definitely a large factor over what Black Eye was about; it was all about the content and capturing the moment. There wasn’t time to sit around and analyze it and market it and dress it up and think about which demographic it was gonna hit like a conventional record might demand.  The whole Black Eye thing was very enjoyable for that reason...."

John Foy 2003

 

Towards the start of the 90’s, Black Eye reached a screeching halt even while cornering the market of its ilk. It sold relativity few records in the process and soon proved too costly a venture to continue.

 We ran out of money and we had to do a deal with a bigger corporation to make, we had to focus on a handful of things to pull the whole situation out of the financial quagmire or the whole lot would’ve sunk. So we had to cut a few things loose and Black Eye being the most illegitimate child was loose. When you look at it in hindsight, it was its logical time anyway, it had run its course, it had fulfilled its usefulness at that point in time.

John Foy 2003

One of the casualties was the 3rd Black Eye compilation ‘Hairy Biscuit’ which never saw the light of day other then a few copies manufactured as a test pressing. A ‘Best of Black Eye’ CD and 7” box set were also shelved. Post Black Eye saw Foy continued on with Red Eye then through conglomerate Polydor Records gaining successes with Clouds, Cruel Sea, Beasts of Bourbon & Drop City. Kim Salmon was conveniently moved over onto the Red Eye roster until years later Polydor completely absorbed Red Eye from Foy and drop Kim Salmon & The Surrealists. Kim then links up with Half a Cow Records releasing the adeptly titled ‘You Gotta Let Me Do My Thing’. After Thug & The Butcher Shop, Tex Perkins goes back to The Beasts of Bourbon, also joining Red Eye instrumentalists The Cruel Sea (made up of ex Sekret Sekret members), who went on to achieve considerable chart success with ‘The Honeymoon Is Over’ & ‘Three Legged Dog’, before embarking on a solo career. As for Lubricated Goat, Stu Spasm now resides in New York and in 2003 issued ‘The Great Old Ones’ on Reptilian Records, re-recording a number of the past Lubricated Goat material.

Despite hitting the wall and what could easily be considered just a mere blip on the map of 80’s underground, the legacy of Black Eye is now measured by its very short supply on EBay.  Original pressings demand high prices amongst collectors as well as Black Eye Night posters designed by John Foy.  At the time of this release, very little of Black Eye remains in print.  Tex Perkins through his own Slick imprint issued the Thug compilation ‘’Everything is Beautiful in its Own Way’.  In The Red Records have issued Kim Salmon & The Surrealists’ ‘Hit Me With The Surreal Feel’ on CD/LP (but sadly not ‘Just Because You Can’t See It’).  Butcher Shop has seen it's material re-issued on Spanish label Bang.   Lubricated Goat's output remains sadly out of print; however, a re-issue is planned on Reverberation Records.  As for Leather Donut & Waste Sausage, these are now considered expensive Frisbees commanding as much as $100 a pop on Ebay.  Not bad for a couple of records dismissed as something stupid.

 

Bruce Griffiths 2003

After being inspired by the first wave of UK punk and the fanzine movement, in 1983, Bruce Griffiths started up his own zine ‘Trousers in Action’ and later that year Aberrant Records. Aberrant started out issuing limited run Sydney punk compilations ‘Flowers from the Dustbin’, ‘No So Humdrum’ and ‘Why March When You Can Riot?!’, before issuing releases from the likes of Grong Grong, Examplehead, Kelpies, Toys Went Berserk, King Snake Roost, Bloodloss & feedtime. Aberrant was unique in being the only Australian label with a roster of acts that no one could pigeon hole. Much like Black Eye’s reception in Australia, Aberrant too received more enthusiasm overseas and was championed by the likes of Mudhoney & Jon Spencer (Pussy Galore / Blues Explosion).

 

Grong Grong

Following a support to the Dead Kennedys, Grong Grong impressed Jello Biafra so much that he offers them a deal with Alternative Tentacles Unfortunately, as luck would have it, before they could record further, lead singer Michael Farkas ended up in an extended coma - the result of a drug overdose - which put an end to Grong Grong. They issue a self-titled EP featuring a studio side - their only surviving studio recordings - and a live side recorded at the Seaview Ballroom in St-Kilda (Melbourne).   Amazingly Farkas came out of the coma and went onto front HACK which featured members of Fear & Loathing.

 

King Snake Roost

After Grong Grong, guitarist Charles Tolnay went onto form King Snake Roost. They went through several line-up changes before settling on Peter Hill (Vocals), Bill Bostle (drums) & David Quinn (Bass) ex Madroom. Bruce Griffiths signed the group after only hearing two songs from what later became ‘From Barbarism to Christian Manhood’. King Snake Roost also had a hate/hate relationship with their home town of Adelaide, which was very well documented in Harry Butler's DNA magazine. In 1988 the band relocates from Adelaide to Sydney, releasing ‘Things That Play Themselves’. Overseas interest increased when King Snake Roost signed stateside with Amphetamine Reptile & Megadisc in Europe who re-released the first two albums. The group also released two split 7” with Bloodloss (B-Side Magazine) & feedtime (Aberrant) as well as the ‘Top End Killer’ 7” written about a thrill-/serial-killer in Australia’s Northern Territory, nick-named The Top End Killer by the media. The group toured the United States in 1990 and recorded their final LP ‘Ground into the Dirt’ with Butch Vig at Smart Studios Wisconsin. Tolnay also teamed up with Jello Biafra & Steel Pole Bathtub recording the Tumor Circus LP for Alternative Tentacles.  Upon returning to Australia, King Snake Roost disband. 

Bushpig LP

Peter Hill went on to front the Bushpig project that released a 7" EP on Amphetamine Reptile (featuring members of King Snake RoostNo More Bandicoots & The Thrown Ups) as well as a self titled LP on Hill’s own PGK (Practical Goat Keeping)16 It's also one of the rare moments Australian Grunge jammed with Seattle Grunge as the LP featured members of Bloodloss, King Snake Roost, Lubricated Goat, Mudhoney & Monroe's Fur. David Quinn then went join Deathless and eventually relocated to the UK.

 

Bloodloss

Zulu Rattle started life as Bloodloss with a number of Adelaide musicians residing in Sydney around Oct – Dec 1982.  The earliest line-up featured Sharon Weatherill AKA Zozzie Da Mozzie on Vocals, Renestair E.J.on guitar, Duncan Biscuits (AKA Duncan Colman) on bass & drummer Jeremy Bender.  Soon a line up change occurred with Martin Bland (ex Head On) & Jim Selene joining along with Stu Spasm.  According to Bland, the band acquired an unwanted skinhead following and later changed the name to Zulu Rattle.  Around 1984, they win a week of the Strawberry Hills Hotel Battle of the Bands contest. A compilation of this contest was released which features the only Zulu Rattle track ever committed to vinyl.  A 7" EP was attempted on G.R.E.E.N Records and material was recorded at Albert Studios (home of AC/DC and producers Vanda & Young) with Tony Cohen.  According to the legend, Zulu Rattle recorded after-hours at Alberts and perhaps unknown to the management. It seems Stu Spasm threw a cigarette butt into a trash can which accidentally set off a small fire, which then triggered the overhead sprinkler system (which started to soak Alberts Studios and endanger all those precious Ted Mulry Gang 17 master tapes). Needless to say, the tape for this session was never recovered (perhaps as retribution for the incident) with only cassette dubs from the sessions surviving.  Band members did break into Alberts some nights later to find the masters but returned empty-handed.  Around 1986, Bloodloss (Mark II) begins after Sharon & Renetsar E.J return to Adelaide after an extended stay in the UK.  In 1988, they release a 9 track self-titled cassette-only effort (due to Greasy Pop’s release schedule, the band opt for a cassette-only release). The band then go through a line up change, incorporating a 2 drummer line up with Martin Bland, recording what later became 'Human Skin Suit' on Greasy Pop. Soon Sharon leaves the band, leading to yet another line up shift with Martin Bland taking over the guitar and vocals duties, and recording the self-released 'Smell Machine' 7" & 1990's 'The Truth Is Marchin' In' LP for Aberrant. The band went on to complete some Melbourne / Adelaide shows and soon afterwards Bloodloss is put on hiatus with Renestair & Martin joining Lubricated Goat on their USA/European tour.  In 1991, Bloodloss (Mark III) continues in Seattle with Renestair & Martin teaming up with Mark Arm of Mudhoney, releasing material on Sympathy for the Record Industry, Au-go-go, In the Red & Reprise.

 

feedtime

A band which would forever be known only in lowercase, feedtime were a trio from Sydney consisting of Rick (guitars and vocals), Tom (drums) and Al (bass and vocals). According to some rumors, feedtime rehearsed for years before they ever started playing live. feedtime were unique for constructing a stripped-back blues similar to X, early Rose Tattoo & punk-fueled minimalism. They made their debut on Aberrant Records compilation ‘Why March When You Can Riot?!’ in 1985 with two tracks ‘Don’t Tell Me’ & ‘Small Talk’ before they issued their debut self-titled and -released LP. They soon moved directly onto Aberrant Records, releasing their remaining product ‘Shovel’ & the all-cover LP ‘Cooper S’, all of which were later licensed to Rough Trade in the late 80’s. The band called it quits after their LP ‘Suction’ and shelved a USA tour with rumors of some members becoming born again Christians. They later reformed in 1996, issuing the ‘Billy’ full length on Black Hole & Amphetamine Reptile. On their comeback tour of Melbourne I interviewed them on Melbourne radio 3RRR. When asked as to why feedtime reformed “Boredom!” was all they had to say.

Tom of feedtime also found his way into a combo called Three Toed Sloth.  According to DNA Magazine, PGK was mentioned to be issuing their debut LP.  It was then scheduled to be the last ever release on Aberrant, however Bruce G had since wound up operations.  The band then opted in 1990 to self release the disc.  One can almost sense the saga on the A5 sheet insert

"A couple of things should be noted... This has been a totally self funded learn-as-you-go project.  It's not as easy as it sounds this do it yourself bit.  Just how many things can go wrong in the production of 500 records.  You'd be surprised, pal" ... 

Three Toed Sloth

 

With bands breaking up or moving on, and time restraints with Bruce Griffiths’ other job commitments, Aberrant soon dried up.  The majority of Aberrant remains out of print, although in later years they are slowly making their way onto CD.   Reverberation Records (run by Ian Underwood of Challenger 7 /Kryptonics & Russell Hopkinson of You Am I) have re-issued Toys Went Berserk & Grong Grong; Dropkick Records of Melbourne had long promised a feedtime anthology, Sub Pop Records have now announced a March 2012 compilation of the complete Aberrant recordings.  Also, in 1997 Sydney record store Silver Rocket issued all the Aberrant compilations as a double CD titled ‘Go & Do It’.   Aberrant’s contribution to underground music was far reaching and considered by some critics and collectors as fostering a persona later adopted by several American Indies.

Aberrant bands had a huge influence on the direction of a lot of American bands that are now (were) on labels like Amphetamine Reptile and Touch & Go. Most of these bands haven't got a quarter of the imagination or talent of those original Aberrant groups that influenced them, and most of them never even bother to mention where they got their ideas in the first place. Aberrant was a jewel of a label, and those lucky enough to have most of their releases should consider themselves very fortunate indeed!

Noise for Heroes Magazine 1996

 

Box The Jesuit circa Murdercycle

While Sydney became center for the majority of bands issued on this compilation, some acts did have some association with but didn’t quite fall into the Black Eye / Aberrant camps.  Box The Jesuit formed from the ashes of Sydney group Madroom and featured Goose & Susie Beauchamp. Their association with Black Eye was releasing the track 'Satan' on the ‘Waste Sausage’ LP. They also played a few of the Black Eye Records showcases and were known to feature dance ensemble The Butchered Babies during some live performances. They released their debut EP ‘Bloody Mary’ on Snoyd Records (released by then roadie Simon Grungehead financed via an inheritance) then later signed to Timberyard releasing ‘Punch Out That Loony Sappy Tune’ & ‘Murdercycle’. Their final CD 'Guide Dogs for the Spiritually Impaired' was issued on their own Kosmik Ganda label.  Sadly Goose died on 1 August 1993 following a long battle with lymphoma after its release.

 

live photo of Ewan Cameron of Purple Vulture Shit

Prior to Sydney being the headquarters of underground music, Adelaide was the breeding stock which took place on Beulah Rd Norwood in Adelaide during the early 80’sBeulah Rd set an ethic of DIY creativity which would later remerge at Gracelands (a large three story household on Cleveland Street in Redfern) & The Gunnery (a squat house art collective in Wooloomooloo ).  

DNA Tape no:4

One of the bands from this household was Purple Vulture Shit, a noise art collective which featured Chris Cashel on vocals (then known as Toe Biter, a name he acquired from being able to dance with his toe in his mouth), Tex Tunks 18 (under the name Texas Chainsaw) & artist Ewan Cameron.  They released one cassette on the DNA Magazine 19 tape label El Crapo (DNA Tape #4 PURPLE VULTURE SHIT / DISCIPLES OF JIM JONES), the only track ever making it to vinyl being 'Ring Worm' issued on the Waste Sausage compilation.  Ewan later went on to form the Egg 'N' Burgers and is now based in the Netherlands.
 

Unreleased promo photo of Tex Tunks as a Leather man with Stu Spasm as The Cunt for Leather Donut.

Tex Tunks moved to India and little is known of his current status.  Chris Cashel moved to Darwin setting up a similar satellite Beulah Rd household and punk act The Spring Rolls.  He later returned to Adelaide forming a strange body function obsessed collective called VD.  He later retired from music and in early 2000’s returned under the persona Raw Sex releasing an endless series of CDRs though Harry Butler’s El Crapo (DNA Magazine). 

 

Daily Mirror front cover post

In 2003 I began work on a music documentary to once and for all get The Black Eye Records saga on film.  The idea was to start from Beulah Rd and finish with Goat’s infamous nude appearance on Blah Blah Blah. 

Andrew Denton still from In The Raw

I then decided to split stories into two parts starting with ‘In The Raw’ about the nude appearance then finishing with ‘Gracelands on Cleveland’. In making any documentary, they take time and although film making is perceived as being glamorous, the real time consuming portion is re-search.  During this period of inactivity (waiting for ‘In The Raw’ to be released & ‘Gracelands’ to get completed) I decided to publish a bulk of my activity with the tracks on the ever emerging MP3 Blog phenomenon. 

 

Another  still from In The Raw

Upon receiving a positive reaction from the Black Eye Records Jukebox blog, I encountered people seeking CD reissues or a compilation of the said material.   I posed the idea to a certain predominant American independent label and received somewhat of a green light and set to work acquiring masters/licenses.  In making the ‘Gracelands on Cleveland’ documentary I had filmed over three hours with Tex Perkins and thought getting his approval/masters would be a mere formality.  I was certainly in for a shock when I received Tex’s reply to my request. 

From: "Tex Perkins"

To: "Cousin Creep"

Sent: Friday, March 17, 2006 5:38 PM

Subject: piss ant.....

thats right now i know who you are ,your THAT piss ant 20,lachlan put me on to that black eye blog of yours , obviously you have very little respect for me so i see no reason to help you at all ,and withdraw any permission for use of any footage of me .you seem to have a very dogmatic view of what is and isnt cool ,we think youre an idiot have a nice day,

tex perrrrkins

{ ps a lot of the imfo on your blog is incorrect ( factually )

 (Spelling, grammar and capitalization are all as per original.)

 

Later Australian music columnist Ben Butler wrote about the incident in his ‘Music & Money’ and received this reply from Tex.

Cruel Sea frontman Tex (ne Greg) Perkins is embroiled in a dispute with documentary filmmaker Craig Barnes (aka Cousin Creep). Barnes is making two films about the 80s-90s Sydney rock scene: one concentrating on the appearance of a naked Lubricated Goat on ABCTV's Blah Blah Blah and the other looking at the scene around Black Eye Records more generally. Perkins says he's withdrawn permission to use footage from a 2004 interview Barnes conducted, and doesn't want anything to do with the accompanying compilation records. Asked (via email) why, Perkins replied: "go f*ck yourself". A second, longer explanation followed in short order: "dear ben , sorry about my last e-mail(just an automatic reaction when i see the words BEN BUTLER)anyway i withdrew permision for the doco because,allthough its hard to fault his enthusiasum ,craig barnes just dos,nt get it ,and for someone that was,nt there, seems to have a very fixed ideas about the way it was and should be remembered, (the whole blackeye thing (WHO FUCKING CARES ANYWAY)of course he can have his own opinion,but thats all it will be .hes an annoying piss ant (he also said unkind things about a friend of mine(tim rogers) and he gave my e-mail address to that c*nt BEN BUTLER" (Spelling, grammar and capitalization are all as per original.)

Music & Money (March 2006) themusic.com.au

 

Tex’s refusals did effectually put both projects (CD & my 2nd music Documentary Graceland on Cleveland)  on hold.  Rather then waste the time and resources of those already involved, I decided to proceed and publish this article on this site.  I've also placed the MP3s as a compilation you can stream (one of the only ways you’ll get hear some of the music once and for all).

Cousin Creep 2006

 

Footnotes

 1: ‘Oz Rock’ is a slang or derogatory term for mainstream Australian music used mostly by critics of mainstream music.

2.  Countdown was a long running music TV show between 1974 – 1987 on ABC TV hosted by Molly Meldrum.

 3.James Baker from Perth was already by this time a legend, having already played in Western Australian acts The Victims and The Scientists before moving to Sydney and playing for The Beasts of Bourbon & The Dubrovniks.


4. Rage is an overnight TV music show and is another long running ABC TV production having aired for over 20 years.

   
5. The Gunnery was a squat house located in Wooloomooloo
which served as both artistic residence and venue.


6. Stiff Records was a UK independent run by Dave Robinson and Andrew Jakeman (aka Jake Riviera) who were kings of record marketing whose slogan was “If it ain't Stiff it ain't worth a f**k”.


7. Father's Day is celebrated on
Saint Joseph's Day, 19 March, though in most countries Father's Day is a secular celebration.  In Australia Father’s Day is celebrated in September. 

 
8. The Mu Mesons was the brainchild of Jaimie Leonarder (SPK) who worked in psychiatric nursing who enlisted psychiatric patients in the Mu Mesons. 

 
9.Stump was a UK outfit who later signed to Ensign and, according to DNA fanzine, NME reviewed the only Stump performance with Spasm as a member.


10. The Sub Pop Singles Club was a legendary mail delivery service that provided the subscriber with one 7" single per month by Fugazi, The Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth, Rapeman, Unrest, Rocket From the Crypt, Jon Spencer, Ween, Soundgarden, Nirvana and lots more.


11. Years later Citadel psychedelic outfit The Moffs would also release an album titled ‘Psychedelicatessen’.


12. A slang term for an anus.

13. Ewan Cameron had previously designed the sleeve to The Scientists ‘This Heart Doesn't Run on Blood, This Heart Doesn't Run on Love’ on Au-go-go Records.


14. Gracelands was the nick-name of the 3 story mansion on Cleveland Street Redfern which was home to members of Lubricated Goat, Bloodloss, Thug & The Butchered Babies. It was also used for art exhibitions and nude discos.  

  
15. The Cockroaches issued their debut on Phantom Records before achieving some chart success on Regular Records.  Years later its members transform into children styled band The Wiggles and effectually make millions in the process. 

 
16. Practical Goat Keeping was also the name of a short lived absurdist cassette fanzine issued by Caroline Birkett of B-Side Magazine.


17.     The Ted Mulry Gang was a glam styled combo from the mid 70’s.  Their biggest hit ‘Jump In My Car’ was later covered by David Hasselhoff. 


18.
Tex later became known as Big Tex performing as the dancing Leather Man at Thug live shows.


19. DNA Magazine is known as
Australia’s longest running fanzine, written by Adelaide tape collector Harry Butler.


20. Slang term for insignificant.

Certain edits, updates, corrections & opinions have been made to this article

CORRECTION:  The Gunnery was previously mentioned in this article as being situated in Newtown.  This was incorrect and the correct location was  Wooloomooloo. 

INCLUSION: Three Toed Sloth information which has been updated and extended.  DNA mentioned PGK was issuing the LP.  It turns out the Three Toed Sloth LP was self released. 

UNSUPPORTED STATEMENT: Removal of feedtime band member's name I interviewed at 3RRR, I don't really recall which member was interviewed. 

UPDATE: Reverberation Records mentioned as the label re-issuing Lubricated Goat, also Sub Pop re-issuing feedtime March 2012.

DISPUTED:  Since starting this project I have encountered people who have challenged and criticized the legitimacy of the statements included in this article (as well as the Black Eye Records Jukebox Blog).  This seems confusing when you consider the facts in this article were obtained though interviewing the people involved at the time.  More puzzling still was Trevor Block (former contributor to B-Side Magazine and Melbourne / Sydney scenester) took issue with our version of the Grong Grong deal with Alternative Tentacles mentioned in this article.  According to Mr. Block (via music discussion site garagepunk.com) he claimed one of the members of Grong Grong had won a trip to America and while over there met with Jello Biafra.  This is what lead to the Alternative Tentacles deal and not Grong Grong's Adelaide support to the Dead Kennedys.  This information was told to Mr. Block via members of Grong Grong post gig at the Prince of Wales Hotel in St. Kilda during the mid 80's.  In retrospect, it's a shame Block wasn't able record an interview with Grong Grong at the time of this encounter for B-Side.  Interviews published in fanzines from this era are the closest thing to a deposition in terms of cementing facts.  Both Charles Tolnay & Michael Farkas were interviewed for this project in 2004.  The statement made in this article came from Tolnay's version of the Alternative Tentacles deal (Farkas during this interview never disagreed with Tolnay's claim).  So what do you do?  Do you go by someone's possibly accurate account yet unsupported statement, or do you take the word from the participants like the band members themselves?  This is where this saga has gotten ugly where fact meets myth and hazy recollections give rise to dispute.  Recently I received an email involving a member from a touring Australian act who had a conversations  with Jello about  signing Grong Grong to Alternative Tentacles in which Jello backed up Tolnay's story. Once again it's something which can be considered a rumor, Jello doesn't use or respond to email so verifying this encounter proves difficult.
 

TRIVIAL:  While reading over the amendment to the Grong Grong saga, it makes me realize how stupid and trivial this whole thing is.  Most trivial of all is being told "If you weren't there (Sydney circa 1986- 1990) you have no right to write about it (Black Eye - Aberrant)"  or "Who gave you the right to attempt to write about blah if you weren't at the BBQ drinking beer with the person who said this to that person"...  Is involvement during the era you choose to historically cover the only thing that qualifies you to write about it in the first place?  If you subscribed to that ethic then Jean-François Champollion was out of place to write about Egypt as he didn't help build any of the pyramids.    If that theory was your mentality then history as we know it would never be written.
 

 

References

 DNA Magazine, Trouser Press, Noise for Heroes, various interviews & correspondents with all those quoted 2003 – 2006 in these liner notes.

 Permissions

All portions of these liner notes may be re-printed/quoted with no restrictions. 

Last updated Jan 2012