This is Filth - Filth and The Sound of My Broken Heart - Dead Rabids (Full On Noise)
The Barman has already reviewed "The Sound ..." EP, but I thought I'd have a listen as well.
"The Sound of My Broken Heart" leads and it's a firmly-driven tubercular guitar snarl which allows Bob to vent in his rather strangulated vocals. I was never able to see the Dead Rabids, unfortunately - and I suppose that's the thing we find to our horror as we get older - other stuff gets in the way of us getting out the door.
There are about five or six local bands I enjoy seeing, and if I were able I'd be at pretty much every gig. Did the Dead Rabids deserve that kind of love? I've no idea, but "The Sound of My Broken Heart" is, as the Barman says, a stone cold classic. Buy yourself admission and freak people out when the track comes up on your mix cd in the car (no, I won't buy a car without a CD player) or your (snigger) mix stick - "My god," they'll squeak, "What's this?!"
"Sydney outfit," you can say knowledgeably, "Very underground."
Insert their response here.
Meanwhile, go here if you have space on your 32gig 'stick'. https://deadrabids.bandcamp.com/track/sound-of-my-broken-heart
Anyway, there are two other songs on here as well. "Do the Harold Holt" is a bit like a political exhortation of useless politicians to do the decent thing. In my imagination I can see Bob and his Rabids bouncing about on Top of the Pops, but the world has moved on (I am told). This is a luscious bit of Top 40 UK pop-punk smarts; dance until the song stops (far too early).
The last track is "White Rabbit", a song I've never been especially over-excited about - and yes, I know the lyrics, blah, and the significance of the song in 1966 or whatever ... I just never responded that much to it. On the other hand, Bob's sneering vocals add meaning which seems to be a bit more so than I'd remembered the original. Maybe I'll have to go listen to "Surrealistic Pillow" again. (or not)
I asked the usually media-shy Bob Short about the EP.
Bob Short: The Dead Rabids EP was recorded 10 years ago. It got a vinyl release because the pressing plant had a special offer and I looked at my saving account and I could afford it. Wade Macpherson is on bass, John Gunn is on drums. John was the drummer with the Urban Guerrillas and The Last Words.
Now then, to Filth. This EP has been made in a one-off issue of 150 copies.
The Filth 7-inch I received in the mail has no song titles. No other information. What I do know is that Bob Short went to great lengths to recreate the band's sound (some 40-odd years later).
Why go to so much trouble?
Do you know who Filth are, readers?
Filth were Sydney's first self-proclaimed punk rock band (1976-1978), taking their name from what an outraged burger bar customer called them before making a hasty and abrupt exit. All you need to know is: they were very good, very annoying (physical, too), often played the Stooges' "LA Blues" to end their gigs.
Like News, they declined record producer Barry Earl's kind offer to be on the Suicide Records compilation "Lethal Weapons"; one of Filth's members grabbed the nearest object (a chair) and threw it at Earl. Unlike News, Filth were too chaotic to get anywhere near a recording studio (unless weeing on the outside counts). Bob Short provided me with the journo's cheat sheet: "Filth did maybe 20 to 25 gigs. In that space of time, there were at least four drummers. Five bass players. Bob Short was the guitarist. Pete Tillman was vocalist in all but the last the last two party gigs."
I know what you're thinking: "Lethal Weapons" was the starting point of The Models and The Boys Next Door.
Bob Short, and Pete Tillman. They coulda been humungous rock stars.
Mmmmmm. There's a thought.
Searching for modern context, I again pestered Bob Short, the leader of The Dead Rabids, and the guitarist in Filth.
Bob Short: 'This is Filth' was created as a gig souvenir. Obviously (ED: witth the death of Damien Lovelock), I don't know what will happen now. Side 1: 'Australia' and 'Euthanasia'. Please note Australia does not advocate the behaviour it speculates upon. Side 2: 'In Love' and 'Thalidomide Child'.
The cheat sheet continues: "“When I was asked to play a Filth gig, it didn’t bother me that I couldn’t recreate an original line-up. I’m not even sure what that would entail,” said Bob Short. “I can’t even remember the names of some of those involved. To some, Filth were nihilistic and talentless. To others, they were the truest punk band of all. (Maybe those things aren’t mutually exclusive). Most of their gigs quickly descended into violence."
Why aren't the other members there? Well, put simply, they've either all long-since moved on to other things, or died, or declined Bob's offer of joining in the fun and mayhem. For example, one is a posh lawyer in (redacts name of country and company) who I suspect earns more on his lunch-break than I do in six months.
Short: Noel was hit by a bus. This is odd in itself as Jez who played bass for Blood and Roses (ED: Bob's UK band) was also hit by a bus. To lose one band mate to a bus is unlucky ... Elvio was locked up to prevent him going to Adelaide. I bumped into him about 10 years ago. He expressed some interest but couldn't really remember how the songs went. But I lost his number and who knows where he is. The Sedition Festival wanted Filth. And Filth was much more of a loose construct with a shifting cast. Many times various Psychosurgeons filled in in different capacities. There were at least four other drummers. I would like to have had Pete Tillman involved but you do what you can.
Right, so. Most readers won't know, so what did Filth sound like?
Bloody hell, they were noisy. Fast, catchy (like chicken pox), rather nasty punk, if you stand back and listen dispassionately. Which you can't really do. Not that endless buzzsaw (TM) stuff, though you're sort've in the ballpark. Also, very Australian; but anti-ocker, anti-bloke. Sure, if you squint yer ears (yes, you can) you'll hear an echo of Birdman, but more likely you'll hear the Dolls. In fact, think of the Dolls strung out on a couple of flagons of homemade vino left out in the summer sun for a few days, no sleep, denied high heels, irons, curlers and blowdriers. Yup, that'd be pretty ug-mo. Oh, and without the Dolls' knowing NY humour.
Filth's humour resembles a punch in the face from a random enraged Sydney train commuter.
I-94 Bar: 'Australia' has a couple of lines to bug-eye the easily-triggered. Er, 'where no pooftahs dare', Bob?!
Bob: The poofters line should be held next to the line 'we can whack each other off because it's what mates do'.
I-94 Bar: Well, I suppose there wasn't a lot to do in an impoverished share house except get drunk and ...
Bob: It was taking the piss out of how others viewed the world.
Now, can we trust Bob Short not to have tidied up the sound, the speed, the songs? Well. Given that most of their gigs held some sort of unpleasantness in store for the unwary, I'd say that any attempt to record the band would result in things being a tad tidier, sharper, crisper.
That said, imagine if you were on your way out to a disco, and popped into your local for a drink. I you liked the band, your date would dump you. Instanter. If you turned around and bundled her out the door, she'd be equally as annoyed. So there you are, faced with the shock of the new.
What to do? Easy solution (I'm here to help). Buy a couple of jugs and tip 'em over your date. Then grab the singer and roll around in the increasing quantity of broken glass until the bouncers arrive to put you to sleep in a nice ambulance.
Why? If this little EP is anything to go by, Filth were music to commit violence to.
Bob Short: The Filth recordings are something I have been working on for some time, trying to recreate the sound. I thought about trying to get Pete Tillman to sing but he is a lawyer in Singapore. I thought about getting Ripley Hood but he fucked off to Melbourne. In the face of this proposed gig (the 11th of August in Sydney, but it's sold out), I got over-excited when I listened to the backing tapes. I checked my savings account and it said no. I listened again and got overly excited. I went fuck you and did the vocals. I pressed it. I am stupid. I am broke. I think the record is fucking wonderful. I realise most people won't. Fuck 'em. But fuck. I confess. I hit random things for months trying to recreate that atrocious drum sound. When it sounded like someone had dropped their kit down a flight of stairs, I was satisfied.
I-94 Bar: Your cheat sheet mentions Filth live recordings: ]Truly appalling audience recordings released as bootlegs. Nothing that would make you mourn their passing.' Any chance we'll see them in the wider world one day?
Bob Short: They were useful in remembering parts. I shopped them around. The quality was probably beyond any release. I love them. If I had infinite resources, I'd release them to an audience of no-one. But they are down my list. I have a Light Brigade single I want to do. A Full On EP. And an album called "Darlinghurst 77". If I can stay alive and pull together the money, they are my plans. I am also considering collaborative compilation albums.
So, from the cheat sheet again:
"Musically, what made Filth unique? Well, the guitar style was pretty confrontational. Most guitarists employ a combination of riffs, barre chords and power chords in different proportions to press a point. Not Filth. Guitars used all chords, all the time, all six strings sounding and hit in frantic up and down strokes. Like how hillbillies thrashed acoustic guitars in early rock and roll records only faster. This caused several problems. One, strings went out of tune real fast. Two, strings snapped fast. And three. What do you do when you play a solo? If you’re making so much noise in the vocal parts, you can’t suddenly start playing a single note riff because it sounds piss weak. And thus, the noise break was born. All strings hit while randomly hitting notes up and down the neck. It was no wonder Filth would happily announce a cover version of the Stooge’s “LA Blues” and proceed to make a godawful racket bearing no resemblance to anything for the next three minutes."
Oh, I should add there's wah-wah in the snarled-up racket and it sounds really unhappy about it. If you'd never heard anything like it, chances are excellent you'd be offended or upset. Either way, you'd react.
These days, of course, people will squeal "I'm offended!" and expect nannies and police to attend immediately, followed by legal action and lump sum payments for unspecified emotional harm.
Bob Short: The Filth record is Filth. Like it or lump it.
Can you get the Filth EP? Not yet. At the time of writing, understandably we don't know if the Celibate Rifles' (sold out) gig on the 11th of September will go ahead. If it does, the EP will be available - and will also sell out - on the night. If there are copies left over, we'll let you know at the I-94 Bar.
- Dead Rabids