Who can remember WHAT occurred, let alone WHY after twenty plus years? My memory of Brisbane in the mid 70's was boredom, frustration. If there was any "action" I couldn't find it or was not interested in it. But then at age twenty, I suspect that I had so much attitude that...

The Saints, Radio Birdman, the Ramones and the Sex Pistols had got into my mind, glorious sounds, fantastic attitudes! (It took me years before I could appreciate some of the records I had earlier bought). Peter Miller over in Corinda was imitating Sniffin' Glue with a fanzine called The Rat. I wrote offering to help and sent $$ as a stimulus. Soon we were meeting at Discreet Records in Elizabeth Arcade. Discreet had a better choice of punk records than the other import record shop, Rocking Horse (its still going strong, but Discreet is long gone). The idea for a band came together with other people that Peter knew such as Robert Lewis, Rod & Gavin McLeod sometime in early/mid '78.

It was classic DIY punk as none of us had much musical talent and even less equipment. Somehow I became the drummer. I think Bruce Anton, then in the Survivors helped get a cheap kit. (Peter tells that I got the drum kit from Ross Gardiner, a freelance writer for Ram magazine who funnily enough reviewed the very first Fun Things gig). Certainly Bruce tried to give me a few lessons, and I remember weekends at their Adelaide Street practice rooms, but not enough I suspect. We on the other hand started practicing at the McLeods' house. It helped that their parents were away working a lot of weekends. To this day I can not understand how or why the neighbours allowed it for so long as there was none of this soundproofing nonsense. We just set up and switched on in the garage. Yes that Clash song had special meaning, and the Young Identities used to do a great version of it, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Our band had a number of names, and there is some disagreement over what ones we had but my cassettes show we started as Mental Noise then became Urbaine Panique and finally Just Urbain. My memory is that that I thought Urbaine Panique too arty and suggested why not just...

everybody The original lineup was myself on drums, Peter Miller vocals, Rod McLeod and Robert Lewis on guitars and Gavin McLeod on bass. Everything went through distortion boxes and the noise was big? ugly? tuneless? Gradually we stripped out the vocals then drums then bass until only the guitars were distorted. Somewhere in there Gavin was gone and Rod was on bass. Hot damn the classic lineup. Gavin meanwhile took the opportunity to get the Young Identities going with his younger brother Clayton, who was only 15.

During this time Peter was involved with a local Brisbane band the Leftovers, who should have been much more well-known but that's another story. He might have been their manager in as much they could or would be managed. Anyway Peter and I financed their second recording session then Peter and Rod paid for the 7" EP. We never had much opportunity or desire to play live. This recording looked a great idea and we were keen to follow suit. Put it this way: the first time I met Peter was at one of his Rat dances at the Darra Cement Works. The Survivors played, we danced, members of the Leftovers started the fire extinguishers, lots of fun. Mainly it was the suburban civic halls that got hired and trashed for the night. However by mid/late '78 punk rock in the sense of safety pins and mindless violence had arrived and the opportunity to hire these places was getting tougher. Anyway it forced us to consider the recording studio. We knew Col from when he had a record shop then a video shop so when we heard he had a studio, fantastic. For a couple of hours Just Urbain, Young Identities and a side band of Rod's the Bodysnatchers recorded, mixed and produced what became the first three Savage Music releases.

The second recording session of Just Urbain and Young Identities was done up on the north coast at Forrest Glen by Mungo Coates. For those who need to know, the Fun Things used that studio also. I think we spent double the amount of time for what was to become the fourth and fifth Savage Music releases.

drum The third recording session was back at Mungo's but by now Young Identities had become Kicks with a slight change in their sound. Just Urbain had brought along a friend of Peter's to provide the keyboards. Wolfgang Kuepper had been in a band called Same 13 who played out a fair bit during '77/'78 but never released anything. Just Urbain was going through a lot of self-doubt, and we thought a shift in sound would help. It's obvious to me now that we were listening to too much Joy Division and Killing Joke. Aside from "Sounds Like" and "Goddess" we recorded a third song "My Love". It is so turgid that it is never going to surface. These songs were released on the Kicks cassette release of their songs "Leather" and "Godzilla". I think they may have beat Bow Wow Wow with their "Cassette Pet" release. If not the first we were very close. The first 20 copies or so came in hand made cloth sleeves of the McLeod tartan, very impressive.

Kicks continued to play around and record. They released a great 7" with "Return of the Action Man" b/w "The Secret". They also released another cassette with "Red Blood" and "Kicks Theme". There was only 25 copies of it and the other side had three songs from Public Execution.

However Just Urbain was over by early 1981. Peter had gone to the UK and I followed a few months later. But by mid '83 both Peter and I were back and felt the urge to preserve a few more of the songs. Nobody knew where Robert was and still don't. (Peter tells me that he manages a cattle station in central Queensland). Gavin agreed to play the bass and Rod moved to guitar. The songs recorded ended up being "Obsession" and "Rather Watch TV". Unfortunately other classics such as "Your Mine" or "Stealing Stevie's Guitars" didn't make it.

Those two songs together with the two songs from the third recording session became the final Savage Music release. We were worried about reaction to the name Just Urbain so it came out as Section Urbane. We called the EP "The Final Program" after a M. Morcock story, and it was correct for the band and the label. Oddly we shouldn't have worried about the name as very few bought it and it would be the rarest of the vinyl releases. Still for me, those last two songs were a great finish and perhaps we should have kept the tapes rolling for a few more. Note the very clean sound as all distortion had gone by then.

liveWe didn't play live much in the accepted sense of the word but if you were interested in either Just Urbain or Young Identities then the practice room was where it was at. We had a number of "interesting" places. For a long time there was under the house at the parents of the McLeod brothers. There would be anything up to a couple of dozen people there, drinking, smoking, watching the band, getting physical, whatever. I can remember two girls from Darwin offering to put on a show back home if we could get there but how they got to the McLeod's garage...? Sometimes we used the McLeod business workshop at Woollongabba, but that was not popular for all sorts of reasons also. Then there was the little room in Wharf Street in the city which was an all Saturday afternoon/night deal. Unfortunately one door down on the left was the World By Night strip club and three doors up on the right the Orient Hotel. It didn't work out. We had a shed for about five minutes across the road from the Mater Hospital in Woollongabba. I think the Young Identities got into the second song before the landlord and police arrived. No money back from that deal either.

There was the room in the basement of Little Roma Street in the city, another all-night deal. The whole street has since disappeared a few years ago for a development that never happened and is still a hole in the ground. But for us and the couple of dozen friends it was heaven with the Majestic Hotel a quick walk up the street for supplies. Well all goods things end... the evenings started to get a little full-on... the landlord must have suddenly realized what was going on and one evening four or five car loads of police were pouring down the stairs. An interesting and for some painful night at the Petrie Tce Police Barracks which resulted in money being handed over for some damages to property, hopefully...?

section There was the practice room in the Alliance Hotel at Spring Hill. It was a gay pub then but that was no problem. It was the narrow steep stairs up to the room lugging the equipment particularly those monster bass amps that did that place (and almost us) in. The final practice room was a school room at Camira, half-way between Brisbane and Ipswich. I have no idea who organized it or how. I can't even recall keys. I always thought it was through a fellow band the Upsets or a friend of theirs since they were around. It was a good half-hour drive there, let alone the picking people up and loading the gear as we only had two vehicles. Our most serious equipment were the two Vase amps which were about five feet tall and felt like they weighed a ton. They rested on the roof racks of the car but on one drive someone must have forgot to tie them down. There we are belting up the highway and then the amps take flight. Impressive now but then, well nobody got hurt and the amps still worked!!!

There are only a few live events that I recall. We had a "dance" with the Leftovers at Griffith Uni called Ready Steady Punk or something. As to how the bands went I have no memory. My memory is a lot of running around for leads and gaffer tape to keep the equipment working. The other memory is the ugly damages bill from the administration including destruction of assorted things including a "black boy" tree when Rod's pissed girlfriend took the car bush.... Savage Music put on a dance at the Caxton Street Hall in Petrie Tce. My memories are of the girls trashing the toilets and my (respectable looking) friends arriving after we had played only to be told by the hall care taker how lucky they were to have missed us as we were really bad!! The other memory I have is of a Savage Music night at the Silver Dollar Restaurant. It must have been near the end as Wolfgang was with us. A number of the people there must have decided to get punker than thou or had just discovered Metallic KO as they proceeded to throw all sorts of stuff at us during the set. What fun.

So what happened to us. Well most of us had or got a "real" job. I also worked on the weekends at Rocking Horse Records during the rest of the 80's while doing a couple of nights a week as an announcer at 4ZZZ. Rod produced the Public Execution single then put together a band called Pineapples From the Dawn of Time. They released a 7" and LP. Finally he was associated with Disgraceland. Peter was in a number of bands. There was The Fatal Charm who shared a 12" with Downtown 5. Then there was The Shining Path who also had a 12" out. Some of those people who were in the practice rooms with us went on to start their bands, both here in Brisbane and down south. Some of those because of bad luck or stupid habits just didn't make it at all.

— David Holliday

Will miracles never cease? The SHAKEDOWN: Original Brisbane Punk 1978-83 CD retrospective is FINALLY out. The CD includes all the recorded output by Just Urbain, Young Identities, Kicks, and more!

Can't find any Just Urbain records? The answer lies in the paper trail.

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