The Big Beat In The Heart Of The Vinyl Jungle
Tell me about the Sunnyboys. Were they your first financial success?
Well, you could say that in that we made a little bit of money out of them. But we never checked the money. Everything went into the same cash register. If someone paid us for something, we stuck it in the bank account, you know?
Well, two of the guys in the Sunnyboys were in Shy Impostors, and I got to know them through the Shy Impostors – my girlfriend’s band. We’d split up by then, Penny and I, but this new band was forming with Richard and Peter from the Sunnyboys. And Rob Younger was the lead singer! They were rehearsing a lot – I think it was before Jeremy came down. I’m not sure if Jeremy was in the band as well…
But anyway, they never played live with Rob. They did a few rehearsals, and I don’t know what else they did after that. Because Richard Burgman was a very good friend of mine and I was in contact with him a lot. Unfortunately, I never saw one of their rehearsals. But anyway, Rob dropped out and they continued rehearsing, and all of a sudden they played their first gig, with the Lipstick Killers – I think it was down at Chequers – an amazing gig. I still remember picking out “Alone With You” on first listen live and thinking “Fuck, that’s a good song. That’s gotta be a single one day.”
We didn’t chase them or anything, but Jeremy came to us one day with this tape. We didn’t even have a tape player in the shop at that stage, now that I think about it. But we had a hi-fi shop next door, so I used to take all my demos there. People would come by with a tape and I’d duck off next door and go upstairs where you could just sort of lounge around. That had this nice area where you could listen to the stereo and they just let me have the run of it. I’d go there and play my demos – take the band up and listen to it.
But I used to hate listening actually with the bands. I stopped doing it completely after the first couple times. Because they all look at you like “What are you thinking?” And you’re thinking “Fuck, this is horrible!” or “I don’t know yet, and I don’t want to say anything because it might be great, but it’s not apparent yet.”
So I remember going up there and playing it, and I wasn’t too sure about it straight up. Originally I thought the lyrics were a bit naff on first listen. And then after a few listens I really liked them. But that was the four songs from the first ep.
They were a band that took a while to grow on me, too. Some bands just hit you right away, and other bands you have to play them six or seven times before you start to really get it.
I definitely played the demo three or four times before I really got into it. But that’s OK, because some of my absolute favourite bands are bands that I didn’t like right away. I thought, this is OK, I’ll play it a little bit more.
And they were definitely one of the greatest live bands ever, the Sunnyboys. You know how good that first album is – it’s one of the greatest, most totally consistent guitar pop albums I’ve ever heard. Ever, of any band anywhere in the world.
How did you come to do a Dagoes record?
Neil Perryman, who was known as Tony Rome, he was a good friend – to this day he’s a very good friend – I met him because he came into the Ripple Records shop in the 70s. He came in and we got talking and he became such a good friend of mine that he and his girlfriend Jude even invited me to their wedding. He wasn’t in a band at the time, but then he formed this band called the Dagoes, and we just continued in contact.
And because there was no independent distribution – there was no one to distribute independent records in Australia. No one had an independent record label, so how’d you get them around? I had the phone numbers of all the shops in Australia that were like Phantom – Augogo and Missing Link in Melbourne and whatever. And Neil started a shop in Adelaide that only lasted for a year or two, called Modern Love Songs. He was a baker by trade – he still is – a fantastic baker in Adelaide. But he suggested that he could distribute our records around Adelaide to two or three shops that might take some. Or maybe that started when we did the Dagoes record, I don’t know.
Because he sent me up this demo, and it had six songs on it which became that double ep – have you seen the double ep of theirs?
Yeah, I just found it down on Pitt Street – been looking for it a while. Only the one I found just has one of the two records in it.
Well, those two songs that we put out are on that. It’s a weird thing that – you know how you might do an Australian pressing of an overseas single? Well we were doing like a Sydney pressing of an Adelaide thing. I mean, it’s weird! But that’s what it felt like at the time. But in Adelaide they’d only done like 300 copies of that ep, so it’s very rare. And we knew that, but we knew that we were a little bit bigger and could maybe run a little bit further, and it would add to our roster. And it fit in perfectly – incredible guitar pop as far as I’m concerned.
That was another one that made me nervous. I remember distinctly driving in Dare’s car, playing this tape – putting it on for the first time – and going, “Fuck, I hope it’s good, ‘cos it’s my mate Neil”. And it was fantastic and we loved it, and we picked out those two songs. They said they were going to do something with it anyway, but they weren’t going to do very many. So we did that. But it’s kind of odd, because I don’t know many places who have ever done that – a new record gets picked up by another indie to do a slightly more widespread version. It was only that we could sell to Canberra and Brisbane quite easily.
And then Neil ended up distributing our records in Adelaide. I think it was on the back of the Dagoes one. Because he wanted to take that around to a few shops, so he took all of our stuff. So he became our distributor in Adelaide for as long as we had the vinyl label – three or four years, or whatever. And I had a guy in Brisbane who did the same thing.