The Adelaide music scene: to many of you it might be little more than a touring speed bump between Melbourne and Perth but to us it's a way of life. Feast within, on all its dysfunctioning splendour, as we bring you the highly satirical, laughingly fictional and intellectually imbecile tales from our rock & roll wasteland...
LIKE LEAVES + MORALS OF A MINOR LIVE @ ED CASTLE / Saturday December 20th 2008
It's all about choice. I find it helps to remember that shit sometimes. As much as I've conjured up a nightmare of my own creation; I choose to be here. I choose to do all this shit out of my own free will. I choose to be "that guy" and to live this insane lifestyle that you read each week. I even choose the name "Spoz": both as the signifier and its befuddling cipher. It mystifies, it confuses, it bugs the crap out of you. Many have tried to guess my real name in the past. I'm Batman, I'm 007, I'm Dr Who, I'm a figment of your imagination. I've created this myth that gets more hilarious with every retelling. I'm clearly fucking insane. I make the rules, I define the world in which I live, I can come and go as I please, I have my finger on the trigger. It's how I've written this blog all year. It's why I choose to start writing THIS episode now on a Tuesday night so close to Christmas day: when I've had all of two to three hours sleep, wired on caffeine and holding my eyelids open to make sense of the nonsense I string before me. I do all of this shit because I love it. It's the only way I want to live. And yet through my choices there are also consequences. It hasn't always been easy. Everything has its own cost. I bury myself in my own work, I don't have a personal life, I dig my own grave, I am the architect of my own assassination, I hand them the bullets everytime I write. I chose this over a nine to five job, I sure as shit don't make any real money; but I don't care! It all about choice. I've made mine. This is where I want to be. It agrees with me in every which way that it shouldn't, it will show me the way. I'll find the means, I'll carve my own career path, I'll walk the earth like Kung Fu. I'll go from place to place, get into all manner of idiotic adventures. There's so much more to see and do! There's so many more stories left to tell, so many more colourful characters yet to discover! I'll be the very antithesis of the nine to five wageslave! I'll be everything rock & roll should be. One of God's own prototypes: a high-powered mutant never even considered for mass-production. Too weird to live, too rare to die!
And when you live the antithesis of a normal life, when you swear by it, when the sun and moon dance and weave different patterns through your skies, when you live for the weekend and the nine to five between dusk and dawn feeding upon the laughing fools that dwell within it; there is no place better to cater to your quirks quite like the Ed Castle tonight. You'll find freaks just like me here: we're the artists, the writers, the poets and the musicians. We've all chosen our own unique path through the forest, some of us don't even have paths yet, many of us still live up in trees smoking kaleidoscopes of leaves, twigs and berries and swim on mad frequencies way beyond the electromagnetic spectrum that your five senses are yet to fathom (they scare me a little but they're awesome all the same!). There is no definition of insanity here, we all create our own reality, we make our own choices, we commune with the infinite. Through our music and our madness we will find the maps to guide us. These are the means and memes in which to live our lives. This is our inspiration, our inebriation, our endlessly renewable energy source..
Which brings us here to the fateful return of one of its more infamous acolytes of ages past: Morals Of A Minor. They've taken a strange journey to get here, stranger than most, they've made some weird choices, their history (especially on this website) has been one of colourful extremes We met years ago in the field of battle. It was back in July 2006. Back then they were quite simply one of the WORST live bands I'd ever seen in the Adelaide scene (back then many of you would've happily agreed with me). There's been plenty worse since, don't get me wrong (don't get me started!) but there was something singular about the sight of their lead singer Surahn Sidhu: him prancing about the stage with his spastic afro, his disco shirt, and his stripey tights thrusting his knob glaringly into the spotlight that burned itself into my memory for ALL the wrong reasons. It also didn't help that Nick Du Bois their guitarist had a malfunctioning amp who's only setting was "sibilant ear bleed". In their "best moments" they sounded like every reason to hate Wolfmother, they were a total trainwreck and OOOOH MAAAN did I love to rip shit into them for it!
But if ever there was a band to do a complete 180 on me, it would be this one. As it turns out they read that review. They laughed themselves silly, printed it out, stuck it on their fridge in their rehearsal room and they proceeded to prove me wrong. To their infinite credit they could've sought violence but instead they chose sweet revenge in the very best way possible: by making me eat my own words. Sixth months after that fateful gig they were well on the way to becoming one of the BEST bands of 2007. Sixth months after that they released one of the BEST albums of the year: "Questions And Answers". That album fucking killed it in every single conceivable way and it still kills it: it's a masterpiece of rock & roll excess and self destruction to very this day. They were like all the best bits of U2 back in the early 80's, back at their most brutal and raw. The heat and the energy of their live album: "Under A Blood Red Sky". Songs that sounded just as incendiary as "Sunday Bloody Sunday", "New Years Day" and "I Will Follow". They were Bono's shrill voice and punching fist. They were a call to arms. And combined with the 70's excess of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" at its most paranoid and The Police at their most infectious they were everything a rock band should be: sex, drugs and a fiery corpse shot dead into the heart of the sun. Triple J went freaking nuts for them. They were destined for big things. Then sixth months later they chose to move to Melbourne instead only never to be seen again (damn!). They all soon chose different career paths. Sid ended up here booking bands for the Ed Castle. Tony Mitolo their drummer went on to bigger things as Pnau's touring demolision expert. Whilst Jed Smith on bass and Nick Du Bois on guitars simply disappeared into a life of nine to five, wage and worry (or at least as much as I'm aware of). It was a strange way to end a story that could've been ever so much more insane and it was a story that always made me wonder in its epilogue: what if they ever chose to return?
MORALS OF A MINOR (*****) myspace :: And finally we get to answer that very question, as more than a year after they "broke up", they've chosen to return here to The Ed Castle tonight. I wouldn't call it a comeback, I wouldn't call it a reunion, I wouldn't call it once-off, I wouldn't call it anything (or qualify it by any means) as quite simply I don't want to jinx this shit. Oh no! Suffice to say, through otherworldly means we can't quite fathom (or whatever the fuck Lady Strangelove are fashioning out of bat guano and smoking in effort to see into the future these days), they've chosen to manifest themselves in this dimension tonight; and through fluke or chance we're lucky enough to witness it. "Morals Of A Minor!? shit daaamn maaan it's been too long!". It's insane I know! We never thought this day would ever happen. Still, there was a lot of hype to live up to. We were expecting a LOT. Who's to knew if they could actually deliver? As brilliant as they were back in the day it's been more than a year since last they played ANYWHERE. A year in this music scene is a lifetime (especially if you write a blog about it), a LOT can change to throw off that dynamic they worked so hard to perfect. Simply the act of Sid shaving off that afro could fuck everything up (or at least give me some easy ammunition). This could get ugly, this could go either way! Worse still, when I bumped into Tony Mitolo the night before; he also told me that this morning would be the first time they've ever rehearsed in over a year. They're late to the stage tonight. Everyone's asking me where the fuck they're hiding. There's a sense of rising tension in the air. Ooooh crap I can't bear to look!
And then they jumped onto the stage and just like we hoped, they fucking killed it. There was no doubt about it. Two or three songs in we fucking knew. They were back. This was Morals Of A Minor microwaving our innards, atoms boiled, dried husks, white ash and our shadow dancing and burning shapes into those walls around us. This was an apocalyptic gravitational force that bent time and space, contorting our faces into chipmunk grimaces moments before our heads burst like balloons. This was the most psychotic, take no prisoners, explosion of heat, noise and energy we'd ever hope to find on a teeny tiny live stage; short of standing ground zero to an atomic bomb blast wielding a teeny tiny cocktail umbrella whilst wearing nothing but our birthday bits whistling in the breeze. It's Sid on vocals bouncing off the walls like a superball shot out of a cannon, like a spastic cockerspaniel yelping, like a kid on fifty redbulls following it up with a china white chaser. It's Tony Mitolo on drums like Animal from the Muppets, like a boxing match, like he's stuffed into a tumble dryer, like he's Aphex Twin sped up to speeds that'd flatline a hummingbird. It's Jed on bass making a mexican wave out of our intestinal organs, one giant blitzkrieg brown note after another grilling us like a gatling gun. It's Nick Du Bois on guitar cutting into blood, bone, and forming a shower of gristle out of anything that was still left standing. Only one rehearsal and THIS is what they unleashed!? SHEEEIT!! I quite simply can't fuck with this on any level. Granted if only Sid would've grown a goatee tonight I could've pulled a "You Don't Mess With The Zohan" joke but that's it! (and a desperate one at that). I've got nothing on this maaan.. absolutely nothing! I bow to their insane brilliance. I am so not worthy to be standing in their presence tonight. I will renounce all others, sell all my earthly possession and wander the earth as a penniless waif..
Still I know what you're all thinking, you're reading between the lines, you're waiting for the punchline, the sly wink and the sarcasm; but I ain't shitting you here! This isn't the same "Spoz" from last week writing this whimsical gibberish for your amusement, this is the new "Spoz" they called in to replace him moments later (we have a temp agency now dont'cha know!). The last one quite simply couldn't take this shit no more and exploded out there. At the rate we're going, if we get any more gigs anywhere near as volatile as THIS shit anytime too soon we're gonna be swapping meat shells around like you skip songs in an ipod. Still all is not lost, we did manage to recover SOME footage from his blackbox flight recorder moments before his camera burnt up in re-entry. The first I captured is "Flower" off their Questions And Answers album: otherwise known as the most awesome fuck-everything-that-moves bassline you'll ever hope to hear..
And the second here is this b-side, simply called "Halfway There": otherwise known as the trigger happy "bankrobbing jam" where Tony Mitolo drummed so fucking hard and fast out there that he broke a terminal speed barrier or two, appeared at all points of the universe at once and the skies rained cocktail shrimp for three days. Yup, sometimes we can count ourselves lucky that this may very well have been just the ONE gig and they'll surely NEVER repeat this shit ever again. Could you even begin to imagine if they ever staged an ACTUAL comeback!? No I think not.. don't even joke about that shit. We've gone through four or five "Spoz's" already. Don't make this a sixth!
LIKE LEAVES (****1/2) myspace :: And then quite to the surprise of just about everyone in this room (or more accurately those who came soon afterwards in Hazmat suits and geiger counters to scrape all the blood, bile and semen off the walls.. yeeeouch!) there was a still "headlining act" to follow. FUUUCK! I don't know what Morals Of A Minor were thinking when they planned this shitstorm tonight (although apparently I'm told they thought it too "pretensious" to headline a gig if they'd been absent from the scene for over a year.. pfffft you idiots!) but here we are regardless: Like Leaves on a stage, covered in plastic sheeting (accompanied to the gentle sounds of hoses, flamethrowers and vacuum cleaners cleaning up all the mess) and wondering just what the fuck hit them. Still as counterintuitive as any of this shit may appear to the casual observer (although not entirely unfamiliar to anyone who's ever gone to Producers Bar after a Friday night of Syke) there may have been some inherent logic to this plan. If Morals Of A Minor were the white hot sound of meat flying off your bones after a few too many rounds "chasing the dragon", Like Leaves would be the sound of the barbeque bringing it right back to you again. Yup, there's something altogether soothing about these sounds both delicate and savage that satiates hunger at its most primal level. As much as there's words, beats notes and rhythms here; there's also elemental vitamins, minerals, starch, proteins, oils, fibres and carbs cascading out of their compositions. They're imperceptible to the ear but they're readily absorbed by osmosis all the same. You could feed off this shit for weeks. They're nothing short of a four course meal and Like Leaves have spent all year perfecting this recipe. They're three master chefs brilliant in their own right. Ryan Manolakis (drummer with Mr Wednesday, BrotherSister and Cookie Baker), Patrick Saraceno (bass player, vocalist, Rocket Bar's house mixer, producer and solo artist) and Daniel Varricchio (guitarist, vocalist, mixer, producer and solo artist). And to top it all off they're also joined by the infamous Juliet Hunter (bass player, vocalist and one third of Artax Mission)!? FUUUCK! To most these names wouldn't signify much of anything but to those of you familiar with the Adelaide artrock scene: duuude you'd be salivating like crazy!
Like Leaves. Like any feast before them (whether it be audiovisual, olfactoral, tactile, culinary or a combination of all five verging on the synaesthesic) are a study of contrasts: day and night, black and white, checks and stripes, chalk and cheese, oil and water, church and state, vodka and orange; and how they come together to find an otherworldly peace swirling in the bottom of your glass (where logic would otherwise dictate you rapidly finding peace in the bottom of the porcelain screaming a shower of noise) quite like the insane contrast it is to see Frodo Baggins, Gimli the Dwarf, a Nazgûl and 80's rocker Joan Jett joining forces to perform on stage tonight. They make the impossible happen. All throughout their set I collected these polar opposites like fortune cookies and laugh myself retarded. They make the insane happen. Like Leaves. They're mathematics meets the mesolithic. They're Sonic Youth meets My Disco. They're prog meets zen. They're bucket bongs playing a game of Pong. They're Helmet meets Hare Krishna. Granted most of what I've just said probably sounds like nothing more than gibberish (I mean shit.. what else were you expecting at the tail end of a year I've chosen to live!?) but they open up doorways of perception quite like no other in the Adelaide scene. There's an intangible ease and a volatile ferment here that brings all the universe into harmony. They're the stem cells with which all internal organs can regenerate. A strange brew, a rich stew and one that only but improves with each listen. This first taste I have on offer here, is a mad jam ironically called "Fruit"..
And for those wanting a second offering, you're in luck tonight. You can also feed to your heart's content with this: A Mars Volta meets Josh Homme's "The Desert Sessions" piece, called "Swordfight". Like a rotating pig on a spit, like a well tossed salad, like all of the above fought over with forks by circling buzzards. Watch out for these gnomes, wizards, witches, and warlocks come 2009: if you thought this was nuts? duuude.. wait till you see what they do with dessert!
4:09AM - Thanks to the madenning spectacle tonight that was me being pulled apart limb from limb by Morals Of A Minor, exploded to all points of the compass only to be reassembled piece by piece by Like Leaves again (and given a tiny serving of chinese green tea to boot); there's a subsequent three hour blank spot to my memory. Who knows what the fuck I did in that missing time. All I do know for sure is that I find myself here, outside of Supermild, exactly where I always find myself at this time of night on a Saturday: only with all my clothes on back to front, a notebook filled with my own mad hieroglyphs and diagrams (I believe they're engineering blueprints of some kind!?) and a freshly laid egg. I'm hard pressed to find the significance in all this shit but I'm pleased all the same. I couldn't have chosen a better outcome if I tried. I fold the notebook into a small cube and stuff it into my back pocket (oops, I mean front pocket!), smash the egg into the face of the bouncer standing before me and I walk down those stairs..
4:20AM - Still, for all my choices I'm beginning to see the consequences around me. It's true what they say about the whole butterfly effect: one tiny insect flapping its wings in Manhattan CAN cause hurricanes in Tokyo. No one's actions are truly insignificant, we all have flow on effects that oscillate and interract in the atoms around us to form tidalwaves that can overturn centuries of adopted thinking. Sure we can just as easily dismiss all this shit as one of those Godzilla sized butterflies that all those wacky Japanese keep inventing in between mad hits of wasabi and saki, but I'm seeing the parallels. I'm seeing the writing on the wall, I'm reading between those lines, I'm finding that humour, I'm also pretty certain they've spelt "graffiti" wrong but it's there all the same. Hmmm.. whatever I'm causing out there is yet to catch up with a spellchecker it seems..
4:31AM - It only gets all the more disturbing the minute I stumble out of the toilet and make the mistake of wandering into the beer garden. Nothing good ever comes from wandering into the beer garden at Supermild. You think those weirdos out back of the Ed Castle are fucked up, this is a whole OTHER level beyond that. It appears they know of my work. I could've sworn only three to four people ever actually read this shit but beyond my perception there's a whole movement growing out there, a cult, a mad mob of torch bearing lunatics all chanting my name as one and following me wherever I go (no wonder I can never get to sleep at night!). They've come to see me as their spirit monkey, their good luck leprecaun, their matyr complex that just keeps on coming back at the end of every episode like Wile E. Coyote to chase that roadrunner. I don't know WHO the fuck this dude is and I swear we've never met but I'm beginning to understand just what Oppenheimer must've felt. WHAT THE HELL FUCKING SHIT HAVE I CREATED OUT HERE!!?
4:36AM - Pupils to pinpricks I ran screaming and flailing back inside to drown myself at the bar: a non too uncommon sight in the Adelaide music scene of late. I believe some out there are even beginning to sell tickets now: "come see Spoz lose his fucking mind, make an appearance, and he'll blog for you four days later!". This may explain why it was next to impossible to move in the Ed Castle tonight. It may also explain all the crowds here in Supermild. Just as surely as it's probably just summer; but it's ALL my doing!! I'm the master of puppets now but someone else is pulling my strings. It's me outside of my own body floating and laughing. It's shit like this that almost makes me want to quit drinking altogether. I know it has a magnifying effect and tends to exhaggerate things: but ALL around me too!? FUUUCK! I've developed some kinda über freaky superpower in this scene (it wouldn't be the first time either). I'm bending physics like a pretzel, Reality is a balloon pissing out air and flying faaar away. Isn't that right Brett, crazy xmas tree guy invading my shot here at the very last minute? oh yeaaaah! you fucking know it!
4:48AM - Deeply disturbed by my influence upon this mad mad world erupting around me, I make hasty exit from Supermild; giggling, dribbling and howling all the while as I burst out that door. I'm running down Hindley Street. I'm seeking the last late night bus and the FUCK out of here. "There's no place like home! There's no place like home! WOOOHEHehAhAHAHA!!". Only to stumble into THIS shit in the car park behind Jive. A mad cacophany of honks and howls echoing the instability flowing out of my fractured mind like waves. Who knows just WHAT they're doing out here!? Are they transmitting thoughts to alien motherships floating above sight unseen? messages of peace? dope cookie recipes pulsing deep into space by binary or morse code?
5:16AM - I seek solace in the solemn stoner's circle that magically sprouts before me like a cloud of mushroom spores in the dark. Weird.. where the FUCK did they all come from all a sudden!? Perhaps I summoned them, perhaps I'm imagining them (one wonders how the fuck I captured them on camera then!?) but they're here all the same just when I needed them the most! YES! After much hysterical flailing, waving and wild gestures from me pointing this way and that they explained in very simple terms, words and concepts (most of it unfathomable in english but quite possibly transmitted telepathically) that immediately put my illbient mind at ease..
5:19AM - I watched the moon and the stars swim their patterns overhead as if in timelapse. I watched as the sun slowly rose in the east. The slow fluttering of leaves in the light breeze of pre-dawn was altogether soothing, meditative and enlightening. Here I was so caught up in the microcosm of chaos exploding around me that I failed to see the bigger picture. I can choose to be anywhere. I choose to be here. From just the right angle it looks pretty damn awesome. What was I ever so worried about in the first place!? I can switch this shit on and off like a tap!
5:38AM - I thanked the stoner circle for the gift of perspective, for showing me the way through: only to realise they weren't here in the first place and somehow I'd found myself close to home (fuck damn it's freaky when that happens!!). I'm all the more wiser now, I see things as they are, as they could be, they're all superimposed as layers and dancing as one. I'm also feeling a little light headed and in some serious need of munchies at this 24 hour servo here.. weeeird!
It's all about choice. It helps to remember that shit sometimes. I chose this journey from the outset, to see and document it all. From dusk till dawn. From January to December. I wanted to see the complete picture, all fifty two weeks of the year comprehensive, and in some way understand it all. I never thought I'd become a part of it. Sometimes I want nothing more than to escape from it, to burn it all to the ground laughing but I created this mad trip; it's my own to keep and to spread so that others may follow and lead. Choice has its consequence, butterflies flap their wings. They change the channels with which you both see the world and the world reflects right back at you, flickering mad shapes into the static, a feedback loop that echoes in an infinite different ways. This isn't the beginning, this isn't the end; there is more yet to come!