Like a Little Grave

•December 2, 2016 • Leave a Comment

like-a-little-graveToday the groundskeeper cleared away the fallen gum tree leaving a patch of dirt within the neatly trimmed lawn, like a little grave.

Yesterday the thing had lain full length in the school yard.

The previous night, during the electrical storm, a shock of lightning had snapped the tree at the roots.

The day before, an elderly woman had visited the front office ladies to say this may be her last year. It was getting to be too much.

One week earlier, on the anniversary, she had knelt at those roots like a pilgrim before an altar. Once more she tied a bouquet with an emerald green ribbon around the trunk and, between the bow and the bark, inserted a little card with a photograph of a fresh-faced young someone on the front.

Ten years before, she had knelt in the same spot and planted that tree in his memory.

Today the groundskeeper cleared away the gum tree leaving a patch of dirt within the neatly trimmed lawn, like a little grave.

The sound of one man clapping XII

•November 25, 2016 • 1 Comment

Boxer's Fracture

Everything broke one Saturday afternoon when the band was meant to be rehearsing.

I waited alone at my parents’ kitchen table, an heirloom on my father’s side, and gazed through a silent window. My brother and I had once shattered that thing in a middle of a clamorous driveway cricket match. Today, the rustling of leaves was audible through closed doors.

Nobody would turn up. I knew that. But my body sat and stared while I hovered above, lonely as a storm cloud, snapping and cracking with electric golden violence.

Clocks. Breaths.

My body stood up, picked up the handset and dialed the bassist. He was waist-deep in seawater 189 kilometres away. Oh, yeah. Saturdays. Rehearsal days. Sorry,mate.

I knew I didn’t need to call the guitarist. I could feel a squall in my stomach and fire in my fists. I knew how this story would end and I knew I had written it start to end and I knew I would break something and I knew I would have nobody to blame. I knew I was hoping to break something, someone, anyone.

I called the guitarist. He was ringside 42 kilometres away at Australia’s only cow race. I hung up.

When I punched that mahogany heirloom, I heard the sound of one hand snapping. Cruel kitchen walls echoed the sound.

The end.

I ended up driving myself to hospital in the van I’d bought to move my drums around, and sat in stupid solitude with the trampoline victims in Emergency while my two friends surfed and raced cows, their hands and lives intact.

The beginning.

The sound of one man clapping XI

•May 17, 2016 • 1 Comment

20150107gothclubtoronto

How do you know when your band is breaking up?

Sometimes you can see it happening, like when the bassist brings his new girlfriend to a rehearsal, but things are usually clearer by the time you are deciding who gets to keep that microphone stand you bought with band money and what to do with the seven boxes of shrink-wrapped CDs.

In our case, things started to come unglued when we were invited to play third on the bill at a Gothic nightclub.

The problem wasn’t the punters or the promoter. It was the porn.

One member of our band had booked a nearby hotel room with some friends and they were planning to get drunk and watch a whole bunch of R-rated films.

That was weird. It was even weirder that he had negotiated for us to play first so he could get back to his night in.

The rest of us spent our gig money at the bar, surrounded by a thousand kinds of black.

That was definitely the end of something.

The sound of one man clapping X

•November 22, 2015 • Leave a Comment

THE PACE 09Having produced our first CD, we could now book gigs with even greater idealism. We had made a record, and that reason alone was enough to convince us the offer of a show at the museum seemed like a good idea.

The concert series was called “Out of the Glass Case, Onto the Show Case” and it was to be held on a massive stage out the front of the museum in the city. A lighting rig, a sound guy and a sheltered backstage area. We three punks had never played a show like it.

We were booked for a Sunday morning performance, out the front of the museum. (You might like to read that sentence again. It’s a beauty.)

Even our girlfriends didn’t turn up to that one.

When we finished our set the sound guy told us, through the multiple high powered fold-back speakers, that we still had five minutes left. We told him, through the giant stack of front-of-house speakers, that we had already played all of our songs. He told us to play the first one again.

Sunday morning at the museum.

We packed up in sabbath silence and were home in time for lunch.

The sound of one man clapping IX

•November 15, 2015 • 1 Comment

Scratched CDWe couldn’t give those things away.

We’d even had band meetings about titles, track listings and cover art. We figured democracy would make us great, but it just made us dumber. Insanity in groups is the norm, you know.

After democratically downing a carton and giggling with the tired sillies, we decided to give the EP two names so that if you looked at the front, it was called Prologue, but if you held the CD upside-down it was called Slightly Miffed at Technology, an in-joke reference to a similarly named rap-metal band.

We did the cover art ourselves and enlisted the help of a friend-of-a-friend, who worked at a printing press, to turn our dreams into shiny papered reality. We printed the lot under cover of night, loudly promising to pay him in beer. He kept telling us to be quiet and told us we would have to cut and fold everything ourselves. He seemed kind of nervous.

We burned our six masterpieces onto Princo blanks.

In keeping with everything else we had done to that point, people were underwhelmed by our debut. Good thing we put the lyrics in the cover, so that our genius could finally be seen for what it was: Whelming.

Also, we misspelled one of the song names on the back.

The sound of one man clapping VIII

•June 28, 2015 • 1 Comment

Pop Filter

They say you get what you pay for, so when we saw an ad in the street press for a studio with cheap recording rates we should have known what was coming.

We called up and asked to book eight hours to record, mix and master our debut EP. The engineer said this would be fine. We practiced wholeheartedly, deluding ourselves into believing this would improve the outcome.

The pop filter on the vocal mic was taken from a reused stocking which had belonged to the engineer’s ex-girlfriend. So, for the better part of that day, Danny was singing through a section of the nylon which had once warmed the leg of an unnamed 40-something woman.

We left that studio with a new CD in our hands and granny leg DNA on Danny’s lips. In retrospect, we probably got more than what we paid for.

The sound of one man clapping VII

•June 13, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Bass Guitar

Everyone knew that a band’s busyness was evidence of their credibility. That’s why street press journalists always said such-and-such “took time out from their busy touring schedule” to talk to them.

Nowadays, everyone checks a band’s number of Likes for the same reason. It’s all bollocks, but nobody much seems to mind.

So, pre-Millennium Bug, we booked ourselves heaps of gigs.

Once we had two on the same night. One was an early evening support slot at a southern footy club and the second was a post-midnight set in a city pub.

Drive, set up, sound check, play, feedback in the foldback, play, break sticks, play, pack up, drive.

We even took time out of our busy schedule to loiter near the street press guy who would later include our band name in his gig review. Misspelled, but phonetically very close.

Like.

The organisers of the second show paid the bands by asking each punter, as they arrived, to state which of the twenty bands they were coming to see. The guy on the door had a list and would then put a little tick next to your band’s misspelled name and the punter’s money would end up in your pocket at the end of the night.

If you said you were coming to see more than one band, or all the bands, the guy on the door had no idea what to do.

When we split the cash at dawn there was money enough for each of us to buy a kebab with coins left over for our ash tray (cash tray).