Adelaide-based writer, editor, and sometime-musician Robert Brokenmouth took the time, during lockdown — well, lockdown for us non-South Australians, at least — to reflect on his literary and musical trajectory. It’s a curious bundle of projects and interests that Brokenmouth juggles — the war buff and the punk music-buff occupy the same territory (no military pun intended) without apparent contradiction.
Brokenmouth’s published achievements include his chronicling of Melbourne’s punk scene in the 1996 book “Nick Cave: The Birthday Party and Other Epic Adventures” as well as editing ‘fictionalised’ military histories such as Australian WWII navigator Ray Ollis’s 101 Nights and air gunner John Bede Cusack’s “They Hosed Them Out”.
For Brokenmouth, war and punk have one thing in common, perhaps: both are opportunities for adventure, in very different shapes and forms, but adventure nevertheless.
With COVID-19 limiting opportunities to meet for an interview, Robert kindly responded to my questions via email — and though you might not getting him talking so prolifically in real life, it’s clear that when he puts pen to paper, or finger-pads to keyboard, he’s got a lot to say, and a rollicking history all his own.
I’ve pulled out some choice tidbits from Robert’s life and career to give you a sense of the Boys’ Own, Boys Next Door fan.
Unconditional Loop – Ekranoplans (LedaTape Organisation)
One of the enduring paradoxes of the past 18 months has been the adherence of certain apparently progressive communities to the discourse of compliance.
For communities that see their antecedents in rebellion, hedonism, nihilism and two-fingered defiance in the face of state intervention, cleaving to the rhetoric of "doing the right thing" is worthy of lengthy academic analysis – even more so when the impact of compliance on the very existence of fringe communities is thrown into the mix. Still, the discourse of 60s radicals is polluted with self-serving assertions of piety, so it’s nothing new.
Compliance is a necessary thread in social fabric, but it’s not an ends in itself, nor is its practice an invitation to prance around wearing the thin cloak of moral piety. Because no society ever progresses without judicious acts of non-compliance, compliance is a behavioural instinct that must always been second guessed.
Unfortunately, in the current warped political climate, libertarian protestations of ‘freedom’ – itself a nebulously defined and ideologically charged term rarely understood by its cheerleaders – have been become the rambling tropes of wingnut conspiracy theorists and renegade elected officials who wouldn’t know their Derrida from their derriere.
So where does that leave Melbopurne’s Ekranoplans? Bent, most likely, but in a good way.
On the approach to the world's oddest rock and roll label's 30th anniversary, Voodoo Rhythm Records is marking the milestone with a return to its compilation series.
“Vol. 5” is the Swiss cult label’s first collection since 2013 ,and will showcase 15 tracks of new and old cuts from a global stable of outlier artists in the punk, garage, one-man band, cumbia, psychedelic, and country folk-trash genres.
The bands featured hail from Europe, America, and Japan. They range fromn the amphetamine n' vinyl fetishes of The Devils, the lonesome drifter country-trash ballads of Trixie & The Trainwrecks, the heroin-groove reverb of francophones Destination Lonely, and the dark, rural folk orchestrations of The Dead Brothers.
This limited edition compilation will be an exclusive vinyl release with an animated, live-action illustration by Bucharest-based artist Andy "Sinboy" Luke. You can view Sinboy's portfolio, including his gig posters, animation clips, and graffiti work. “Vol. 5” is out in October and pre-orders are here.
It should be no surprise that Ron S Peno and The Superstitions have delivered their most fully realised album yet in “Do The Understanding”.
With 12 years and three previous long players behind them, they’re a crack outfit of experienced Melbourne players, fronted by a vocalist who made an indelible mark with Died Pretty.
Everyone has a COVID-19 story, and musicians are doing it harder than most.
But Ron Peno’s own experience was preceded by a diagnosis of esophageal cancer, followed by chemo and radiotherapy, and then remission. A much-delayed Died Pretty national tour in April this year was sandwiched between lockdowns.
“Do The Understanding” has a prolonged and disrupted gestation stretching back to its formative writing in 2018, but it’s a contender for best Australian album of the year.
It’s a record full of drama and delicacy; a superb collection of songs underpinned by soulful playing and (arguably) the best vocals of Ron Peno’s career.
“I really pleased with it. It's taken a while to surface but we're really pleased with the seven songs,” a dapper Peno says over a Saturday afternoon Zoom connection.
“I think it's seven wonderful songs. Nice, strong, rather than putting too many tunes on there.
“It's just an hour. It's seven songs. Nobody says you have to have 10 songs. It's a little journey…start here, you finish there, drift off into the distance, you know, and if it's too short…play it again. Take the take the journey again.
Racket Du Jour - The Prehistorics (Sonic Artillery Records)
The fifth album from Australia's The Prehistorics and it's a real return de force!!
From the first note of the first track “Circus Maximus”, I knew that I was in for a rockin’ good time with this album, as I quickly ran back to the stereo to turn up the volume a little bit more. And, by the time I get to the third track “Scene Queen” and its awesome riffage, I’m yet again turning it up just a bit more. This track would make a great single.
“Caveman” brings on some fun dynamics, the time signature changes from the engine room of producer Michael Carpenter, playing both drums and bass, is almost hypnotic.
Joey Pinter, Walter L:ure and Daniel Rey.
When we were young and skinny and fearless, it was easier to celebrate the ch-cha-cha-changes, than it is now, when so many of our favorite places, people, bands, and way of life are just vanishing a little more each day. I can't keep up with all these changes.
In my head, I'm still a new wave kid with a Walkman. Probably listening to the Cult "Love", on 10, right? Making rehearsal tapes on a boombox in the basement. You could save 20 or 30 dollars, and come home from the big city record store with a new t shirt, some little buttons, a copy of "Flipside" or "Maxiumum Rock And Roll", some Jesus & the Mary Chain and Bauhaus postcards to send to your goth girlfriends in far away cities, a Gene Loves Jezebel or Flesh For Lulu promotional poster the nose-ringed death rocker cashier gave you for free, and a whole stack of winning indie punk $1 vinyl from the cut out bin. Those were different times.
For most of us, there ain't no rock ‘n’ roll no more, just the ludicrous worship of bullshit do nothing politicians, media monopoly lies and propaganda, and cos-play lab-coated scientific astronaut rich people on TV, and/or, always more blandly insufferably mediocre and meaningless mainstream garbage like the Foo Fighters - there's nowhere to go, no more basement shows. No real underground bands or real underground rock press in Amerikkka.
Space Travels - Sonic Garage (self-released)
Welt – I Am Duckeye (self-released)
Sydney's Sonic Garage have produced a fine rock'n'roll album. Victoria's I Am Duckeye have produced a brutal, beautiful fucking monster. The fiorst bvand is from Sydney, the latter from Melbourne.
There are similarities to both records - Sonic Garage dedicate their album to Luke Lovelock. Duckeye dedicate theirs to one, Matt Browne. And both have striking covers; Sonic Garage show us Saxon Wyatt's bonnet art (it's got that 1970s and Eric Von Daniken vibe which all Hyundai cars should have), while Duckeye found a roadkilled bird which had then been half-painted over by a careless road-line marker.
Their back cover is very boganista - a bunch of beery customers you can barely see as most of a very smashed guitar goes sailing over someone's adjoining breezer block wall.
Sex Punk Power – Grindhouse (self released)
Grindhouse – Melbourne’s most sexy band (their words, not mine) - have released their fifth album. Fuck, this band has been busy. That’s five albums, numerous singles and a couple of split singles. And gig after gig, here in Australia and in Europe .All since forming in 2014.
“Sex Punk Power” is just a really good album with plenty of garage rock to keep you, well, drinking VB after VB.
Grindhouse is fronted by Mick “Two Fingers” Simpson on vocals, guitar, grunts and groans. He’s accompanied by Rick Audsley on guitar, Adrian Cummins on bass and Neil Matthews on drums. They’ve also called on the fabulous talents of Shannon Cannon from Juliette Seizure & The Tremor-Dolls on vocals and guitar.
Live at the Forest- The Rip Offs (Ladymann)
Elektrosphincter - Geezergosis (self-released)
Red Desert Rain - The Systemaddicts (self-released)
The Rip Offs are made of: Sarah, guitar & vocals; Hermann, bass and standing stillish; and Michael, drums and expressions.
(The Barman wishes me to tell you that I know them all and love them dearly. Needless to say this CD wouldn't appear on here if I thought it were not up to snuff. Oh, and, erm. Probably adults only, OK?)
I saw them at a recent gig at the Grace in Adelaide, supporting Fear and Loathing (1980- present); they're damned forceful and completely intoxicating. And - their two covers are bloody good.