…while being raised on a diet of Motown and '60s pop, the thing that really turned me on to plugging a guitar in was my first taste of The Ramones. I remember listening to a bunch of records on a Saturday morning with friends when The Ramones double live album hit the turntable. After being confronted with the sound of "It's Alive", my buddy John Rooney (Coronet Blue) and I headed down to Roger's music store in Fairfield and pooled what money we had to purchase a white Ibanez Les Paul copy for $165…(without case). Neither of us had mastered the barre chord yet but with the sound of Johnny Ramones' guitar still ringing in our ears we knew it had to be.
Owning one half of that guitar was what got us into a band. 3 friends of John's older sister - Steve Dowse, John W and Stephen Rawle (drummer from The Lime Spiders) who had just finished their BA’s were putting a band together. They heard that we owned a guitar between us, liked the idea, and decided to ask us to join their group. The fact that none of us could actually play was unimportant. We rehearsed that weekend and learnt around 30 covers (and wrote 2 songs...'Special $1 Disco' & 'Rubber Cat') for our first gig, a 'Battle of the Bands' the following Tuesday night at "Louie's Loft" in Liverpool. Also playing that night were The Pop Tops (who later became punk popsters, The Assassins). Our show ended up a perfect rock'n'roll shambles. We refused to turn down the volume, our rather drunk singer got into a slanging match with Louie (the owner of the venue), and the 'Battle of the Bands' in its first week, was canned. Our debut show was a screaming success and The Lonelyhearts were born.
A few line-up changes down the track and with a song list chockfull of pop staples like Badfinger's "No Matter What",The Troggs' "With a Girl Like You",The Bee Gees' "Spicks and Specks" and "Tin Soldier" by the Small Faces, (we also did a version of the theme from the TV show Gidget and a punk version of America's 'A Horse with No Name') it wasn't long before we found ourselves with a booking agent playing a few gigs a week. It was the heyday of Sydney's live music scene, every pub had live music and everyone went to see rock'n'roll. Our sped up fuzzy versions of '60's and '70's pop classics made for some pretty sweaty shows and strongly influenced the few original songs we had. The Lonelyhearts went on to play hundreds of gigs and developed a strong live following. The band never recorded an album but did go on to release a string of singles in the first half of the '80s until that line-up folded in '85. A few years later a number of those Lonelyhearts tunes made it on to the self-titled album, 'Coronet Blue'. The album was recorded & mixed by Mitch Easter (Let's Active), at his "Drive In" studio in North Carolina. The record features Mitch on guitar, Jamie Hoover (The Spongetones) on bass, Eric Marshall (Let's Active) on drums and a guest appearance by Esta Hill(Lava Love) on backing vocals. John Rooney sang the lead vocals and I sang the harmonies.'Coronet Blue' was the first release for local independent Laughing Outlaw Records.
The Lonelyhearts reformed in 1989 and recorded a single, "The Spell" with Regular Records. An album was talked about but never eventuated. We played live till 1993 and then called it a day. The band has reformed a couple of times since to do a few live shows. All the singles and demos the band recorded as well as some live tracks are currently being hunted down for a compilation CD that's in the works.
Darryl Mather (The Someloves, Lime Spiders) and I bumped into each other while playing handball in the quadrangle at Liverpool Boy's High School. Somehow we both managed to survive the rough and tumble of secondary schooling in Liverpool, I went on to study osteopathy and chiropractic as well as playing in The Lonelyhearts while Darryl went on to form legendary garage retro-rockers, The Lime Spiders. For myself, playing in bands during the early to mid '80's made for some very fun, albeit fuzzy memories. After a number of unsuccessful band line-ups and a few too many years of good old rock'n'roll, I found the need for a "tree-change" and made the move to central western NSW to manage the family farm. Not only were the wide-open spaces and clean country livin' the right thing for me at that time, moving to the country had an effect on the music I was listening to and the songs I was writing. Without losing any of my love for music from the ’60’s and ’70’s and power pop music, I found myself listening to more country/alt.country music…everything from Uncle Tupelo to Gram Parsons and Long Ryders to Buffalo Springfield. I was pretty content living in the country and wasn't in any rush to move back to Sydney, it wasn't till I got a phone call out of the blue from Darryl in '95 that I considered a return to the big smoke. Darryl was calling to see if I'd like to get involved in a recording project he was putting together.
From the Lime Spiders 'Slave Girl' to co-writes with ex-Stem Dom Mariani in The Someloves onto the songs he was calling me about, Darryl has proven to be a fine writer of pop music. This latest crop of songs he had been working on would become the blueprint for the 'Assorted Creams' album, the first of the three Orange Humble LPs. Most of the tracking for 'Assorted Creams' was done here in Sydney using a great bunch of local players including Peter Kelly (The Gadflys) on drums, Bill Gibson (Eastern Dark) on bass, Matt Galvin (Perry Keyes, Joey’s Coop) on guitar, Amanda Brown (The Go-Betweens) on violin, Jess Ciampa (Dog Trumpet) on percussion, Christian Houllemare (New Christs) on bass and Paul Berwick (The Happy Hate Me Nots) on guitar. Darryl worked with Mitch Easter during the making of the Someloves 'Something or Other' album and was the obvious choice to mix the record. When the Sydney leg of the tracking was done, Darryl and I traveled to the US and completed the recording at Mitch's place. Mitch played a number of the lead guitar solos, Ken Stringfellow (The Posies) joined us and laid down the lead vocals, and I did the harmonies. Mitch, Darryl and I then drove to Charlotte and mixed the album at Reflection studio with engineer Mark Williams. It's quite a lush sounding record and with up to 60 tracks of recording per song the album was a bit of a monster to mix. On the last day of mixing we finished at 4a.m. and got dropped off at the Charlotte bus depot and caught the 6a.m shuttle to Nashville. The record was mastered the next day at Disc Mastering in Nashville by Randy Kling. 'Assorted Creams' was released in '97 by Nick Dalton's Half a Cow label. The album was well received by pop fans and reviewers alike.
Pretty soon after getting back to Sydney we started working on the songs for the second OHB record. We agreed to keep things a little more simple this time round recording wise so we limited our tracking to 24 tracks and recorded the whole thing on 2'' analogue tape. We pretty well mapped out the record before we headed off to the States to lay it down. The Humble's second album, "Humblin'" (Across America) was recorded at Ardent Studio in Memphis. Spending a couple of months in Memphis, recording at Ardent, and having the opportunity to record with musicians who have made some of the music to influence our generation was a pretty special time for me. Jody Stephens (Big Star) played drums on the album (with the same kit he used on the Big Star records!). Jody, who works at Ardent, is a super nice guy as well as one of my favourite drummers of all time. Jamie Hoover who sang some harmonies and played mandolin on 'Assorted Creams' fired up the Hofner bass as well as adding a sprinkling of dulcimer on Humblin', and Mitch Easter delivers some of his fabulous guitar playing. Singer/songwriter Ken Stringfellow (The Posies) who tours with REM and is a member of Big Star sings the lead vocals on The Orange Humble records. Ken is always a bunch of fun to work with and just the best singer.
I was pretty chuffed to be in the control room when the late and great Memphis producer, musician and scenester Jim Dickinson (The Replacements, The Rolling Stones) came in & played piano on a couple of tracks. Not only was Dickinson's one-take piano piece on the albums' opener, 'Vineyard Blues' the single most inspiring performance on the record, we also got to hear a bunch of Chilton stories and also got the low-down on Daniel Lanois' miking techniques on Dylan's 'Time Out of Mind'. We had a great session with a wonderful Memphis brass section that included Scott Thompson (Al Green) on trumpet, Kirk Smothers (Slobberbone) on sax and Howard Lamb (Nancy Wilson) on trombone. Not only were these guys great to work with, their brass pieces literally jump of the record! I had the pleasure of meeting pianist/songwriter Spooner Oldham (Neil Young) when he was in Sydney playing at the Basement with long time writing partner Dan Penn. Penn & Oldham have been responsible for the writing of dozens of hits for many artists including The Box Tops, as well as the soul classics 'Do Right Woman' & 'A Woman Left Lonely'. Spooner's minimalist piano tinkling was a perfect fit amongst the soul flavoured pop of Humblin'.
After the tracking was done, Darryl flew back to Australia while I headed off to New Orleans for a break and then caught the train to Carolina for the mixing of the album at Mitch's brand new recording studio, Fidelitorium. A lovingly designed space with all the great analogue gear you could ask for to make records. He's even got a Chamberlin! Mitch has been responsible for shaping the sound of a stack of great records including the early REM albums Murmur and Reckoning, as well as albums by Game Theory, Marshall Crenshaw, Pavement & Velvet Crush. Always a great thrill to sit on the lounge in Mitch's control room and watch him do his thing. The album was again well received through its release by Half a Cow in 2000.
Not only was Laughing Outlaw Records busy releasing a ton of stuff locally, they had set up an office in the UK."Humblin'" was officially released in the UK/Europe in 2002 and has been Laughing Outlaws' most successful release to date. With the single 'Any Way You Want It' getting it's fair share of airplay on a number of London radio programs including Bob Harris Country on the BBC, and along with some wonderful press, (the album made the top 10 'roots' releases in UK Mojo Magazine for 2002) the record ended up selling a respectable number of copies over there.
The Memphis/Ardent experience inspired me to make my own record. I started writing songs and selecting musicians for the recording of the album ‘Skindeep’. I first met Nick Kennedy (Big Heavy Stuff) when Knievel were the backing band for Ken Stringfellow during his Australian tour. Nick is a great drummer, a great guy and a pleasure to make music with. It's little wonder he's the driving force behind a number of top Sydney outfits including Knievel, Anatomy Class and Imperial Broads.
Apart from running a recording studio, Steve Balbi (Noiseworks) on bass is a producer and singer/songwriter. Aside from his solo performances, Steve has recently been singing with Mi-Sex. Nick, Steve and I only had one rehearsal before we put down the drums and bass in a marathon session at the very luxurious Milk Bar studio. We then moved the caravan to Paradise studios. Matt Galvin (The Barbarellas) chimed in with some killer power pop electrics as only he can. Matt played guitar on 'Assorted Creams' and it's was great to get him on board this project. The next day of recording at Paradise we put down the piano and organ with Cameron Bruce (Paul Kelly). Cameron produced some stunning performances, mostly one take straight to tape. We then hooked up with Velvet Sound studios and finished the record there. In-house engineer Daniel Clinch did a great job. Warm sounds, great attitude & along with Anthony The made recording a bunch of fun. Guitarist Charlie Owen (The Beasts of Bourbon) plays the dobro and electric guitars on the more rockin' and country flavoured tracks on the record. Charlie flew up from Melbourne for 2 days but remarkably got all his stuff on tape in 1! I picked Charlie up at the airport about midday, drove him to the studio and he plugged straight in. Without a break, 11 hours later, and with some stinging electrics and beautiful dobro playing, he had put his stamp on the record. Two other local musicians who played on 'Assorted Creams’ also appear on The Forresters album. Peter Cross delivers some beautiful trumpet and flugel horn lines on a number of tracks and Jess Ciampa (Bernie Hayes) dragged in his entire collection of vibes, chimes, bells and whistles for a very fun percussion session. I was extra fortunate to have Wayne Connolly come in for the mixing. I love the way Wayne works those sounds and he's a lot of fun to record with. Many thanks to Wayne for some great mixes and also sitting in on the mastering.
The uninformed have asked me why name your band after a Surry Hills pub or a model of a Subaru? Truth is, I've been hooked on the daytime soapie Bold & the Beautiful for a few years. The show is centered around The Forresters, an LA based family involved in the fashion industry. I was struggling for a band name when a dear friend and fellow devotee of the show jokingly suggested the name The Forresters. With an appropriate amount of silliness, Ridge, Brooke and the rest of the Forresters happily go about their day-to-day lives trying to deal with their everyday issues of incest, the obligatory switching of paternity tests, as well as the occasional family member returning from the grave. For Sydney viewers, Channel 10, 4.30p.m. You too will love it.
Apart from my day job as an Osteopath & Chiropractor, I also run an art gallery. My partner and artist Madeleine Preston and I curate regular group shows in my terrace house featuring select interstate and unrepresented local artists and the finest of recent graduates. We exhibit painting, photography, ceramics, video, glass, sound and installation works. The gallery is located at 735 Bourke Street in Redfern as is called Home@735 Gallery. You can check out our website, Facebook, and Instagram.
I’ve invited 4 video artists to create a clip for each of the songs from The Forresters EP which is scheduled for release in April/May. The video works will be played on a loop and shown at Home@735 Gallery during Art Month. The show opens on March the 2nd and will also feature painting, sculpture and photography.
The 4 songs from the EP are from a collection of 14 songs that I have recently recorded at Albert Studio. Sadly, my recording project was the last to be recorded at Alberts as the iconic studio and home of AC/DC has been sold and is to be demolished.
Very pleased to have Wayne Connolly (You Am I, The Vines, Boy & Bear) produce these tracks. A number of the musicians who contributed to the first Forresters album, ‘Skindeep’, have also played on these new songs including; Nick Kennedy (Knievel) on drums, Steve Balbi (Noiseworks) on bass, Matt Galvin (Perry Keyes, Orange Humble) on guitars, Cameron Bruce (Paul Kelly, Karma County) on keyboards, Charle Owen (Dark Horses, Beasts of Bourbon) dobro and guitar, Jess Ciampa (Dog Trumpet, Orange Humble) on percussion. Great to have two of the musicians who played on Orange Humble’s first record ‘Assorted Creams’, Peter Kelly (The Gadflys) on trumpet and Amanda Brown (The Go Betweens) on violin contributing to this recent recording. Also appearing on the Forresters new tunes are Ross Middleton (Percy Sledge, Skunkhour) on saxophone, singer/songwriter Jason Walker (Loene Carmen, Willian Crighton) on pedal steel and Nashville based singer Emma Swift on vocals.
The Forresters will be performing in acoustic mode at Home@735 Gallery on Wednesday the 16th of March. The EP will be launched at The Bearded Tit in Redfern on Saturday the 25th of June from 4-7pm.