AUTOreverse #14, Summer 2011
Swerve has been a part of the Sydney music scene, in particular the experimental music scene for as long as I’ve been around of it. I first met him in the mid nineties sometime as his label had organized gigs which they had asked my band at the time to be a part of and also I had witnessed insane shows that contained Swerve and other acts from his label Dual Plover that I’d never seen or heard anything like before! Generally challenging musically in many ways but also also visually spectacular and energetic unlike a lot of ‘noise’ shows which can be great to listen to but dull to look at. I noticed that never with Swerve or any of the associated acts you would get this, they always went off in some way and had fun.
an example of a live dualplover act:
(Sweden solo, who also played in the band Winner with swerve)
I think it would have been around the same time i discovered that he along with Lucas Abela as Dual Plover offered their own pressing service as well as having a small roster of artists being released and doing shows around Australia. ( for the full roster of acts over the years check out: http://dualplover.com/product.php ) I have been getting all my stuff done through him ever since, he still does the pressing for others as Cardboard Robot Creative and his own music although no longer shares the label……..but not before releasing over 30 albums by various artists which has been a great effort and inspirational to heaps of us in Australia that always tried to release bizarre stuff locally. They were probably the first people I met who were recording & releasing home made stuff that looked, sounded & felt professionally made and not just photocopied ‘punk’ style.
Swerve was also a vital member of the collective that ran the LanFranchis Memorial Discotheque venue in Sydney for about 5 years which has recently been made the subject of a doco by aussie film maker Richard Baron: “Lanfranchis Memorial Discotheque was Sydney’s favorite artist-run space, situated on the second level of an inner city warehouse. Lanfranchis doubled as a residence and unauthorized performance venue for 5 years, growing from unlikely beginnings to become what director Neil Armfield described as a ‘major strand of our city’s cultural DNA’. The decaying warehouse hosted hundreds of shows and was an accessible starting point for Sydney’s emerging performers, artists and musicians.” – from www.lanfranchismemorialdiscotheque.com
(very worth while checking out this doco, for anyone into underground music & venues)
On top of the LanFranchis venue he as part of dual plover has been behind many underground events in Sydney (scroll to the bottom of this page for a bunch of flyers of their shows over the years)
He has always played in many many bands, one of my highlights being his duo Spazmodics doing their version of Duran Duran’s ‘girls on film’ at the big day out 2005 whilst in a silver cape!
“There are actually song structures here mashed together in frantic diseased attention span, ADD infused flurries of activity. It’s all proudly lo-fi, a crazed broken carnival ride melding Venetian Snares with Faxed Head, then giggling hysterically at the confused torment it dishes out.It hurts you but you love it” – Bob Baker Fish (review of the ‘Vermin Perm’ c.d by Spazmodics)
“WINNER have won the right to prevail in a world of crap cover bands,they have secured the rights not only to sing these shitty songs they sing but to own them as well and no jury in the world would give these songs back to the so called original artists once they have heard WINNER realize them for what they should have been in the first place.” gig ad for swerve’s band Winner
When did you first become aware/ interested in sound in general and what do you remember of your earliest ‘hearing ‘experiences whether musical or not?
I can’t really remember a particular point in time, sounds and music has always been part of my life. I’d say probably my mum playing the organ when I was really little maybe 3 -4 year of age? She used to play all sorts of stuff, most pretty M.O.R classical with some god songs thrown in for good measure.
First instrument/sound making thing of any kind you played/owned? Did it come to you or did you go looking for it?
My mum’s organ , yeah it was old sit down analogue jobby – it had about 5 presets and a drum machine! I think it was a Yamaha…….. its long gone though now.
So did you take instrument lessons of any kind or did you just go off and learn to play yourself? And what about your earliest ‘jams’ with other people?
I did get about 2 or 3 guitar lessons when I was about 13 – 14 and my parents were gonna buy me a guitar when I was about 10 but I think they never really got the cash together for it as it kinda just got pushed under the rug. I just used to jam with my mates in my street, you know suburban ‘bogan’ jams – slayer – metallica some dead kennedy’s & some other punk and metal stuff. Simple stuff you could play after having a bong ha hah.
How did you approach forming your first bands? mates in the garage kinda thing or advertising for players etc? And when did you do this, how early did you get band stuff going?
Nah, it was just a bunch of my friends who used to get stoned together, we kinda just played what we could get together you know like plugging heaps of instruments into the one amp or using your dad’s old stereo speakers. I ended up playing bass as there were so many guitar players (this was the early 90’s) in my first band “the Burning Spastics”. Now, when I say playing its really debatable as we were all pretty shit and could never agree on what we were playing, so we just kinda jammed, we thought it was sorta metal – rock stuff but I have heard some of the recordings and its just retarded harsh noise with all sorts of stupid shit going on like manga samples on dictaphones and truck springs being smashed with mic’s on delay pedals!!
What about as a music writer, can you recall any articles on music that really had an impact on you influencing you to write? Or just any big writer influences?
Ah man I am such a shit music writer! I think I have probably written 2 reviews and one interview with ‘release the bats records’ for Mountain Fold music.
Words are not really my thing to be be brutally honest………
When you can make sound and do great art like you can i think we can forgive you! So aside from songwriters & bands what about experimental stuff, noise, free form kinda sound that some wouldn’t call ‘music’ how did you come about that stuff? What acts, artists of this nature did you first hear/like? When did you realize others actually did this sorta stuff on purpose, by preference?
I have no idea , the three of us in the Burning Spastics moved out of the ‘burbs into a house in Waterloo (inner Sydney, city) in an old run down industrial estate, we used to have big street parties and play out in the street and so we kinda got adopted and influenced by the weirdo music and noise community. This is how i meat Lucas Abela (these days performs as justice yeldham) and Damien Sawyers as well as a whole bunch of other active weird outsider musicians. I think this sort of music always exists its just the nexus where it happens changes. Anyway the stuff we were playing was a bit out there and unusual we were just getting high and playing whatever weird shit came into our heads there was no real other stuff like us at the time, not that we were any good or anything! and I don’t know if any of the other people we played with were similar – they just didn’t fit anywhere else either really.
How about other forms of art…whether doing it yourself or as a fan or both, writing, painting, drawing, reading etc When & how did you get into these things, what influence you in other creative fields aside from music & sound?
Well I have always been employed as a graphic artist of one form or another , I try to get away from it but it always pulls me back . That was from getting a job at the daily telegraph (Sydney newspaper) way back when I left school, most of the stuff I do for myself is audio, visual art stuff is too much like a job although I did exhibit some visual art recently which did sell and was pretty well received. Music is really for the love of it in my mind, making money from music? forget about it. I don’t think anyone i have ever met has really made a decent living from music.
What role, if any, have various ‘altered states of consciousness’ whether it be drugs, sleep deprivation, belief in bizarre powers etc played in your musical life, as listener or creator?
Well its definitely influenced the scope of my listening and playing, if I never started taking drugs I do not think I would have been as open minded to new forms of sound as I am now. That said if I never started taking drugs maybe I wouldn’t have the mild brain damage I have today ha ha. I think also the outsider D.I.Y ethic I have now is also kinda influenced by all the bad stuff I did in the past also.
Equipment, instruments, sound gadgets, home recording gear etc can you list and/or tell us a bit about different things you’ve used over the years, favorites you’ve had?
Ah, fuck. There is heaps of shit, roland sh3a , roland system 100 module (I loved that synth module) dr rhythm hock shop drum machine which sucked , roland drum machine , which was Ok but got sold to pay rent, riverhead bass which I still have, roland cube amp which died at lanfranchis and never got repaired, roland sh2000 which I still have and is awesome, metal zone pedal – stolen (cunt) , I did have a whole bunch of chinese instruments for a while which lucas brought back from china, guitar equivelant – bass equivalent and chinese violin, akai mirage sample (I HATED that thing) , at the moment i am using a electroharmonix voice box which is killer for my band wizard bong, roland bass synthesizer pedal, sans amp which was amazing for the time, and a few delay pedals. There is other stuff like stylophones and electric pianos but I reckon that’s enough.
Can you list (and tell us a little about) all the bands you’ve been a member of and any releases or performances you’ve done solo or played a part in some way over the years?
whoa! Okay, this is what I can remember!
Peadophile (horrible heroin band, really nasty, we did one gig at ‘what is music?’ (experimental noise festival in Australia)
Band from Bloody Elle
……….some of the big shows
Winner, Spazmodics, Band from Bloody Elle – ‘Big Day Out’Festival from about 2003 or 4 up to couple of years ago.
Megahead, Peadophile, Burning Spastics – ‘What is Music?’ over many years……..
…………….mainly the shit ones before they got Sunn O)))
Burning Spastics – Waterloo Tavern every weekend for like 2 years , we played with everyone from macedonian black metal bands to total shit pop bands……. Got paid in beer!
Winner – ‘piss cave residency’ (aka Castles on Castlereigh street. Sydney) we played a residency here for almost a year every Friday night. Some memorable shows were the valentines day show when someone threw a glass ashtray at my head and another steamy night when the old piss head QC (it was a lawyer bar) tried to get up onstage with use and take the mic – we stacked on him in the corner until he submitted and got off the stage! Did terrible damage to my liver at both of those long term shows as we never really got paid in anything expect free booze.
Releases: the Spasmodics – ‘Vermin Perm’ album I am very proud of
the Wizard Bong – ‘Small’ album we are working on right now and I am very much looking forward to releasing it. The rest of the bands were all on some shit comps at some stage or another but the audio was just too fucked up to release, no direction and pretty fuckin nasty so its probably better the vast amount of this work stays unreleased.
I am working on a Winner short doco also to accompany the Winner ep which will be for download later this year which is really cool. And of course all the stuff I did with Lucas on Dual Plover, 14 years and 30 + releases (including the excellent ‘Rebirth of Fool’ 1-3 compilation series)
All kinds of amazing artists and music which I am very proud to have been a part of.
thank you, Swerve!