First, these 20-minute interviews seem to be the bane of journos everywhere. It seems the time-limit prevents the journos getting chummy with the artist. No wonder Prince doesn't give interviews anymore, who'd want a bunch of music journos crawling at ya, total strangers wanting to be your pal. Twenty minutes is fine. The artist is there to promote the album, use the journo as a conduit.
Folk and punk may seem a bizarre match, but they're a perfect marriage. They're both about belief, emotion and bags of power. The Bad Shepherds make it all look easy; I know damn well it's not.
James Williamson in 2011 - Robert Matheu photo
James Williamson staked his claim to rock'n'roll immortality based on just eight songs, but what songs they were...the ones comprising Iggy & the Stooges' epochal 1973 "Raw Power" album, still cited as a prime influence by purveyors of Rock Action from Stockholm to Seattle to Sydney.
Ron Asheton has the creepiest answering machine message on the planet: "LEAVE...A...MESSAGE.... Thanks a million."
Photo by Greg Walsh of Grinda Pics
If they paid musicians retrospectively for being ahead of their time, iconic Australian drummer James Baker would be a billionaire. Picture his teen years growing up in The World’s Most Isolated Capital City (that’d be Perth) at the far end of Australia (that’s Western Australia.)
The Downtown 3 are (from left) Carrie Phillis, Craig Jackson, Scott Nash and Johnny Casino. Emmy Etie photo.
During some lean times for rock and roll in Sydney, two staples of the live scene have been Johnny Casino & The Secrets and the Booby Traps. Casino (aka John Spittles) is a guitar toting veteran of hard-hitters Asteroid B612 and a variety of bands also much of his own making, The Secrets being the most durable (and essentially a two city collective with bases in Sydney and Melbourne) playing rootsy but righteous rock. The Booby Traps were a wonderful collision of fuzzy garage pop and girl group pizzaz, fronted by fetching songstress Carrie Phillis.
James Baker and Joe Bludge: The Painkillers.
The name James Baker is synonomous with Australian garage rock. His musical exploits read like a who’s who of legendary Australian music – one third of legendary Perth proto-garage punk outfit The Victims, original drummer (and songwriter) with the garage pop incarnation of The Scientists, skinsman in the first (and best) line-up of Le Hoodoo Gurus, founding member of Australia’s best known rock supergroup, the Beasts of Bourbon and drummer with the sadly underappreciated Dubrovniks.
Dick Taylor, second from right, with the current Pretty Things.
Pretty Things guitarist Dick Taylor is down the line from Tunbridge Wells in the UK, ensconced at his mother-in-law's house, where he's preparing for a band rehearsal and in fine spirits.
In a wired world of passing trends, the Buzzcocks remain a comforting constant. One of the best of the first wave of UK punk, the original band plied their singularly melodic, buzzsaw trade from 1976 to 1981, disappeared and resurfaced in re-tooled form eight years later. They’ve been going strong since then, with two early line-up members intact.