maximum security - The I-94 Bar

BARFLY TOP TEN: Sydney's Celebrity Roadie Peter "Rossy" Ross

rossy 2018It's almost 2019… and the world seems to be going mad. But the big question I ask myself… is rock dead?

I see alternate styles of music like rap, hip-hop and commercial pop dominating youth culture. I wouldn’t recognise Drake or Flume if they dropped their USB sticks in front of me. In closeted rock’n’roll enclaves such as the I-94 Bar dirty rock’n’roll seems to be thriving, but one by one icons are dropping off the perch. How much longer can it survive?

The benchmark I’ve been looking at is guitar sales. Electric guitar sales have slipped 22.7 percent since 2008… the price of guitars is rocketing, yet it appears that the acoustic market is on the up… Something like a 15 percent increase over the same period. Although insipid, whiny vocal sounds have probably been tied to the same trend.

The trend that parallels the increase of Ed Sheeran wannabes is the rise of vinyl sales. I’d guess that pot smoking hippies, listening on their Technics SL1200 to Bob Dylan re-masters trying figure out how to play protest songs while avoiding the dreaded F chord are to blame.

Despite my sense of foreboding I did manage to catch some quality rock’n’roll but I put that down to confirmation bias. My personal faves:

Bowl me over! The Johnnys are back.

johnnys bowlo webAfter seven years, thousands of kilometres and innumerable demolished backstage riders, The Johnnys were Australia’s indisputable, rough riding champions of cowpunk.

Fresh from two gigs in New Zealand, The Johnnys – Graham Hood (bass and vocals), Slim Doherty (guitar) and Billy Pommer (drums) - will play their first Australian show in two years, headlining Marrickville Bowling Club on Friday, April 13.

They’ll be joined by The Four Stooges (Australia’s only Stooges homage band), Maximum Security (launching their debut album) and Bob Short & The Light Brigade.

The Johnnys formed in Sydney in 1982 when bass guitarist Graham Hood tried out for the Hoodoo Gurus after quitting the Allniters. He met Hoodoo Gurus' guitarist Roddy Ray'da and, with drummer Billy Pommer, they formed The Johnnys, playing their first show at Palms Disco on Oxford Street in Sydney.

New Zealand-born Spencer P. Jones joined on guitar and the four-piece released their single "I Think You're Cute" in October on Regular Records. Ray'da left and the band signed with independent label Green Records before joining major imprint Mushroom.

Legendary Melbourne venue Bombay Rock comes alive again to the sound of punk rock

ferocious chode bombay rockFerocious Chode get down at Bombay Rock.

Hello I-94 bar users and abusers; it’s been a while but I'm very pleased to let all you Melbourne punters out there know that the wonderful Bombay Rock (on Sydney Road in Brunswick) is back up and running as a venue. 

The State of Victoria has championed the Australian underground music industry. Fuck, it is good to see Bombay Rock back. Run by Smash, the wonderful lady who also backs up playing bass and looking bad-arse with Ferocious Chode (more later), who has hand-picked all the venue’s acts. 

Then, there’s the most friendly crew of bar staff - shit, they make you want to drink just that few more - and for the prices, this old pensioner can certainly do that. So folks, I highly recommend this fine place. And Smash, you are awesome.

Never To Be Released - Maximum Security (self released)

never to be releasedThis is a clever record. Meaning: just enough thought went into its recording and production to make it special. 

Two declarations up front. I know most the people involved with “Never To Be Released”, so there’s a slight degree of bias in their favour. Secondly, most music that passes for “punk rock” bores me shitless. 

It’s like the second wave of UK punk: Once the first rush of anger and spontaneity had subsided, it fell victim to fashion. Style over substance. Saying the same thing over and over got real old, real quick. Learning two chords and starting a band is fine but you need to educate yourself in what to do with them. The chords and the band, that is.