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.
Catharsis through music is not new but Astrid Munday manages to weave a dignified and reflective joy into “Beauty in the Ordinary”, a tribute to her departed husband Tony Cohen.
It’s been 14 years since her last album and three since the passing of Cohen, one of the greatest producer/engineers to occupy an Australian studio in the last four decades. If you’ve heard an album by the Beasts of Bourbon, Hunters & Collectors, The Go-Betweens, The Cruel Sea, Dave Graney, Kim Salmon, the Birthday Party or the Blackeyed Susans, chances are that Cohen had a hand in it.
1. The Damned at The Triffid, Brisbane, March 15 A school night: Wednesday. The Mesmerisers go on at 7.30pm to a packed house. We carve, the crowd makes us feel like they are there to see us. The Damned 's tour manager remarks that he has never encountered a support band being granted a bottle of Gordon's gin as part of their drink rider: another milestone ticked.
The Damned play for two-and-a-half hours - brilliantly. They are a big hit with the audience - and with Captain Sensible back in the band, they could hardly miss.
2. Perfect Match Now I do know where she comes from: Banyo. I’ve got a Date with a Banyo girl, tonight.
3. Died Pretty, Radio Birdman and The Mesmerisers at The Tivoli Theatre, Brisbane, June 23 The crowd have all turned up early and turn on to us straight away. Died Pretty get better every time I see them. They always were a fantastic band.
4. Perfect Purchase My Zoom H5 portable recording device does everything i wanted it to.
5. Gap Farmers Markets, Brisbane, June 25 Andrew Ross and Co sure know how to put on a festival . We go on before dusk. I wear my sunglasses for half the set. Michael again chooses the right shirt for the occasion.
KC goes to more live shows than your mother goes to Tuppaware parties. Here's his Top Ten of Sydney gigs.
EVEN – NEWTOWN SOCIAL CLUB A power pop fans dream and a very early “gig of the year” contender from the Fab Three. Supported by the wonderful On and Ons and Soul Movers on a stinker of a summer EVENing. Is it heresy to say I like them and their songs so much more than You Am I? I eagerly await the Christmas Even show at The Landsdowne on December 23.
THE APARTMENTS – THE FACTORY FLOOR A wonderful set of sparse songs, full of emotion, not sentimental but heart tugging and soul searing. Spare and simple arrangements enhanced by nuanced and subtle musicianship of Peter Milton-Walsh’s fellow musicians, including Amanda Brown.
DIED PRETTY – ENMORE THEATRE Following on from two cracking shows in 2016, Ron Peno and co delivered another amazing set and they were the band of the night at Radio Birdman’s big show. Brett Myers, what a guitarist.
It's been three years since Died Pretty last played on an Australian stage - as part of the Dig It Up concert series - and the same classic lineup of Ron Peno (vocals), Brett Myers (guitar), John Hoey (keyboards), Chris Welsh (drums) and Steve Clark (bass) has announced two sideshows as part of their partcipation in the A Day On The Green dates in March.
This will be a rare opportunity to see the band perform a selection of their most loved songs in an intimate club setting. Supports are to be announced soon.
Friday 4th March, 2016 The Factory,Sydney NSW Tix:Ticketekand SABO
Ron Peno, Died Pretty frontman and leader of his own band The Superstitions, has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatment in Melbourne.
Died Pretty was scheduled to play festival shows with Bryan Ferry and two gigs of their own in Australia this month. Died Pretty's management announced Ron's diagnosis via their Facebook page:
Died Pretty Management sadly advises that due to ill health all upcoming Died Pretty shows have been cancelled. Ron has been diagnosed with oesophageal cancer and will be commencing immediate treatment. Please direct any messages of support via this Facebook page and they will be forwarded to Ron. We know everyone will be hoping for Ron's speedy recovery.
There’s good news on the medical front for Died Pretty frontman Ron Peno, who has been fighting his own battle with cancer. The band posted a message on Facebook earlier today, indicating that the much-loved singer is on a long road to full recovery:
The program of radio and chemotherapy was successfully completed. Shortly afterwards Ron was operated on to remove the tumour in his oesophagus. The doctors have reported the procedure was completed successfully and they are confident that he will make a full recovery. The operation itself however was a major undertaking (lasting over six hours) and Ron will take an extended period to recover physically.
The good news is that the medical staff are confident that all the cancer has been removed from his body. Naturally there will be extended monitoring of the situation but this is the best possible outcome and we are very grateful for the wonderful job all the medical staff involved have done! We thank everyone for their amazing support and all of the messages of love and positivity.
With beginnings as a guitarist in the high energy scene for Zen Genies, and more recent service as drummer for bush punks Handsome Young Strangers, indie band Wifey and country act Dave Favours and the Roadside Ashes,ubiquitous Mark “Looch” Lewis has as much claim as anyone to being a Sydney musical fixture.
Now fronting his own Looch Lewis and The Press Gangsters instead of playing in other people’s bands, dropping this a solo single seems a logical progression.
Yes, it is that “Free Dirt”, the Died Pretty song from which they took their debut album’s name and that ended up on their second LP, ”Lost”, and while it might initially seem a bold choice, it’s done so well that it raises the question why more people haven’t tackled the much-loved music of Ron, Brett and Co.
It will be an all-supergroup affair when the eminently well-credentialed Joeys Coop (pictured) launch their debut album in Sydney on April 8 with help from an all-star supporting cast.
The On and Ons (featuring ex-Hoodoo Gurus, Screaming Tribesmen, Kings of the Sun and Stems members) and Cub Calloway and The Revolutionaries (featuring ex-New Christs, Saints and Died Pretty members) will join them at The Factory Floor in Marrickville.
“Service Station Flowers” is the forthcoming album on CD on the Citadellabel.
Joeys Coop was formed by Mark Roxburgh (ex-Decline of the Reptiles) who co-wrote the album with bandmate and Died Pretty guitarist Brett Myers. It will be the first record with Myers credits in almost 10 years and the band includes past and present members of The Barbarellas, The Visitors, Deniz Tek Group and Loose Pills. You can score tickets here.
Noise for Heroes Complete 1980-83 Vol 1 Noise for Heroes Complete 1988-91 Vol 2 Noise for Heroes Complete 1991-2004 Vol 3 Edited by Steve H. Gardner
Imagine a decade like the 1980s without zines. For the uninitiated (because they weren’t born then) zines were self-produced magazines, often photocopied and sometimes hand-drawn, focused on subjects that the authors were passionate about. More often than not, the topic was music.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of zines in a pre-Internet world. Along with college radio, theypowered the American underground music circuit. In Australia, they connected underground bands, and fans across a country of disparate cities and gave insights into scenes overseas in a way mainstream music papers could never reflect. In Europe, they were oxygen for a culture considered low brow that fought to find an audience.
Zines were lapped up by people into punk, high-energy and left-of-centre music that didn’t manage to gain exposure elsewhere. They were the epitome of DIY culture, making the passion of others tangible. You’re “consuming” the digital equivalent of one right now.
One of the best was “Noise for Heroes” from San Diego, USA. The very lanky Steve Gardner kicked it off with some like-minded friends in 1980. It initially had a focus on punk rock. In its second life, it moved onto the Aussie and Scandinavian underground scenes with Gardner its writer rather than editor. Steve drummed in bands, ran his own record label, NKVD, and had a mail order music business.
"In The Flesh" with Joeys Coop + Paul Berwick The MoshPit, St Peters, NSW October 11, 2020
I attended a very special show from the delightful Joeys Coop. Must have been something in the stars or numbers - as on 10/10/20 we were part of something special. In these Covid days where we have been starved of live music, the hip MoshPit played host to 20 fans and close associates of the band AND it was live-streamed by Zenn Stream.
I felt hugely privileged being there and in the company of my music bestie after a wonderful Greek taverna feed nearby, and felt obligated to share my thoughts.
For those who need an intro, JC is a supergroup of sorts with the critically acclaimed Brett Myers (Died Pretty) on guitar, Mark Roxburgh (Decline of The Reptiles/ME262) on lead vocals, the engine room of Lloyd Gyi on percussion/vocals (Perry Keyes/ Sicarios et al) and Marc Lynch (Glide), they are a tight and sophisticated outfit who play smart Rock from the heart.
Ron S. Peno and the Superstitions have a new video out to promote "The Strangest Feeling" from the magnificient album "Do The Understanding". After months of lockdown, they'll finally launch the record with three shows in hometown Melbourne:
“Someday soon, will you tell us when it’s time to play for you?” asks iconoclastic Australian music legend Ron S. Peno, towards the nd of “See You When I’m Looking At You”, the nearly nine-minute long "chain" song from Mick Thomas’ Roving Commission and friendsand released this week.
It’s a question that many artists hope will soon be answered, and one of many telling moments in an epic song, sung and worded by a cross-generational selection of some of Australia’s finest singer-songwriters in COVID-19 isolation.
Conceived by Thomas – the ARIA-winning singer-songwriter of Weddings Parties Anything – in April, “See You When I’m Looking At You” began life when Mick wrote a verse and a chorus while isolating in his Melbourne backyard.
The bad and unavoidable news is that Died Pretty has joined the ever growing list of bands impacted by Coronavirus. The good news is that the band has re-scheduled all but one of the four shows for later in the year. The Perth gig unfortunately cannot be re-booked due to member availability, so has been cancelled.
Five years since they played their last full set to a roomful of adoring fans in Sydney, Rock and Roll Wrestling World Champions the Psychotic Turnbuckles are back to destroy Dull City. The Turnbuckles will play Fusebox at the Factory Theatre in Sydney on Saturday, April 17.
Tickets will be strictly limited and go on sale here at 9am on Wednesday. Supports are White Knuckle Fever and southern Sydney punk rock jukebox The Stallers. The show has been timed so punters from the earliest of two Died Pretty shows in the adjoining Factory Theatre can attend.
Living in idle luxury in their hometown of Pismo Beach since their last Australian gig with San Francisco legends The Mummies in March 2016, the Kings of the Ring are itching to smackdown all comers. Guitarist El Siccodelico has hung up his Mexican wrestling mask during the lay-off and has been replaced by Italian grappling royalty, Count Forza.
The Turnbuckles will be fast-tracked through Australian Government quarantine protocols to play this one-off show and there’s no telling if and when they’ll re-appear again.
White Knuckle Fever is the runaway psychobilly duo that’s been tearing up Aussie stages off the back of a new single, “RSA Blues”. The Stallers are a veritable garage punk jukebox and will kick off the night with a set chockful of smash ‘em up classics.
Iconic underground products of the Sydney music scene, Radio Birdman and Died Pretty, are undertaking a double-header tour of Australia.
Although they formed 11 years apart, Birdman and Died Pretty had their roots in the same Darlinghurst breeding ground. Died Pretty's Ron Peno was a patron at the Oxford Funhouse and a member of Birdman support act The Hellcats. Birdman's Rob Younger has been a production hand at critical points of their recording career.
Muscially, they veered in disparate directions. Spirit-wise, the bands shared a common sense of independence and going their own way. Both bands will be alternating headline positions.
It’s tempting to do as the marketing does and label Joeys Coop’s “Service Station Flowers” as an outlet for Died Pretty guitarist Brett Myers. His distinctive sound is all over this album, like sunscreen and a rash-shirt on a redhead in summer, but this really is a record that’s more than just a billboard with all-star billing for one.
Singer Mark Roxburgh conceived Joeys Coop a couple of years ago, after the implosion of the reformed Decline of the Reptiles, and his vision was simple: He wanted to play with people whose work he’d long admired and to find an outlet for his own songs (something that Decline clearly was not.)