SAVAGE MUSIC — A VERSION
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
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...
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.
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.
We 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...?
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
Can't find any Just Urbain records? The answer lies in the paper trail.
CONTACT: Break My Face