Mickster Baty at home in his Off The Hip shop.
The music industry is a shallow trench full of sharks and transient imprints, to paraphrase Hunter S Thompson. Independent record labels come and go with the regularity of manufactured reality TV stars and only a few manage to find their niche and prosper. In Australia, only Citadel is still standing from the halycon days of the 1980s. A few rose in the '90s to fill the gaps left by the demise of Phantom and Waterfront. Since the 2000s, the most enduring has been Melbourne-based Off The Hip.
Off The Hip grew out co-founder Mick ("Mickster") Baty's love of all things garage rock, powerpop and psychedelia. A drummer and veteran of one of Sydney's finest garage-trash outfits, The Crusaders, he went on to killer powerpop bands The Pyramidiacs and The Finkers. Baty saw Off The Hip as an outlet for his own music. He had re-located to Melbourne by then and formed The Stoneage Hearts, a shifting cast of players who produced top-shelf garage rock with a pop bent.
A retail operaiton operating out of his house morphed into a bricks-and-mortar shop in Melbourne's CBD and a floodgate of releases via the fledgling label ensued. It's been an enduring success - on its own terms - since then. Off The Hip - the label and the shop - have inspired and contrinuted to the existence and growth of hundreds of bands.
Last month, the Off The Hip label celebrated its 15th birthday. We decided it was high-time for Mickster to occupy the interview seat.
Pange, Chris and Yolanda of Beat Taboo.
The Beat Taboo,
The Metro, Adelaide, Friday, August 18, 2017
The Grace Emily, Adelaide, Saturday, August 19, 2017
Pics by Mandy Tzaras
For a while there I didn’t think I’d be able to see any bands this weekend, as your poor scribe being pulled in several directions at once seems to be a bit of a hobby for some.
So we were only able to squeeze in Melbourne visitors The Beat Taboo on both nights of their Adelaide stand. I must apologise to the other bands, they know who they are, and, be reassured, I will see them again, properly.
In the meantime, I would like you to cast your mind back to the dimly recalled halls of the (yes, I know, here we go again) 1970s and 1980s.