Monday, July 6, 2009

West End, Brisbane, 1990

Band: Slaughterhouse Joe
Members: Paul (d), Jim (b), Carl (v,g), Id (k)

SHJ never paid for a rehearsal room.

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This room was the first floor of the fashion label Tschico, where Paul worked as a pattern designer. It was a warehouse floor, and again, No PA.

Practice sessions with others bands were all in enclosed systems, which you entered and exited at night. The SHJ rehearsals were always during the day, in rooms with natural light, and I expect that had an influence on what we chose to play.

Jim was the guitarist for Dirt and The Rebels, and took Brendan's place on the bass when he left for Melbourne. We had lost a great character in Brendan, but his replacement had no less powerful effect.

Jim had a vision for music and he found his collaborators in SHJ. The vision was 1960s, and, hey, doesn't everyone want to go there? The band itself was different from other bands I played with, in that there was no menace in the music.

The only studio recording was made at Red Zeds in Red Hill, engineered by Jeff. He was sceptical at first, but he seemed to like some of our ideas, which included a Latin prayer that sampled Benedictine monks and a sample of Peter Fonda for the Wild Angels theme.

Today, sampling is a common term, but the parameters of rock music of 1991 dictated that using someone else's sound in your own recording was only acceptable if it was appropriated as an affect, or as a catalyst to an altogether different and original song. The technique of sampling became legitimized in the 90s through the success of hiphop, and since varying degrees of sampling have pervaded contemporary culture including songwriting - in some cases the sample is no longer a catalyst, but a foundation. Lifting someone else's riffs has almost become an advantage, because the public do not have to navigate a new terrain, they are already familiar with it.

Where was I? The Red Zed 6 track went to tape, Jeff played a solo on it, he was preceded with a reputation as a shredder, which he is, but I imagined Hendrix, and out popped Eddie Van Halen. Still, it worked a treat on the recording.

SHJ scored some gigs, and somehow we landed one at the Downs Hotel Drayton, west of Toowoomba. It was an afternoon show in the courtyard, we were the only band, $5 entry, lucky door prize, sausage sizzle and first keg free. We set up, had a beer off the keg, and then the doors opened at 12.30, and one beanie-clad dude who had been waiting outside for an hour, coughed up the $5, got himself a jug and sat in front of the stage. You beauty, I thought, the punters are going to be rocking up soon.

Sadly, no. This guy was the only punter to show up, and he drank there by himself enjoying the show. At about 3, when fan number 1 was fairly trashed, the licensee switched off the keg. Then this guy wants the lucky door prize. The manager reluctancly gave him a six-pack.

A few years later I saw the Drayton punter again. I got to know him as Geoff and he went on to sing for Greenacres and then Six Foot Hick.

Back in the rehearsal room we thought we'd wander further down 1960s lane, and there was no-one more qualified to enlist than Mr Id, who we knew from Dementia 13. Brendan played in D13 until he was thrown out for being too drunk, or some other unlikely excuse.

The band played around at UQ, QUT, Carseldine, St Paul's Tavern. There were original songs, inspired by Sonic Youth and Straightjacket Fits, but there was also The Beatles' She Said She Said, The Who's See Me Feel Me.

We wanted to be free to do what we wanted to do. We wanted to be free to ride. And we wanted to be free to ride our machines without being hassled by The Man. And we wanted to get loaded. And have a good time.

And, can't complain, it was a good time.

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