An approach to things - by Eve
My first “scene” came in the form of liquid eyeliner, a thick fringe and bouffant hair, colourful heels and plastic earrings, 60s new wave films versus 90s riot grrrl music. I was quite a “feminine feminist” in hindsight but with an underlying rebellion: I would have liked the image of a bored housewife poisoning her guests then dancing on the dinner table. Generally, the look was 60s revisited in the 90s with an 80s element … when it was in fact the early 2000s. Happiness was records arriving in the post every week, mixtapes from friends and crushes and for friends and crushes, homemade flyers; and power was your favourite song at full volume, frantically flipping 7 inches. The obsession was dense, almost manic. A few important bands for me at the time were a lot (then) off Kill Rock Stars (early Gossip, Bangs, Comet Gain, Slumber Party, Shoplifting) or Troubleman Unlimited (Glass Candy, Erase Errata), K Records (Tiger Trap, The Blow), What’s Your Rupture (The Long Blondes, Love Is All), a whole bunch of UK post-punk/punk like Maximum Joy, Essential Logic, Delta 5, Mo-dettes and … not UK, like Bush Tetras and Kleenex. I list these examples (and leave off others) for a reason, which is that the majority of the bands I loved at the time, that I would play while I got ready to go out (often the best part of the night), had women I could sing along to, who were kickass, who were my epitome of cool. The girl gang was a source of inspiration. I was also discovering the things I liked turned out to be linked. On a small scale, it felt like my own culture puzzle. Social media was new. It was a tad novel that you could find people everywhere that all liked the same stuff and this made it easier to find new bands, new films, and access your other next favourite thing, easier than it had been before, than it was to locate a copy of Careless Talk Costs Lives in Adelaide … or mail order records. A culture of sharing the things we like in case others might get excited by it too remains important to me. I like to do our own flyers when I can using images from favourite films or photographers in the hope people like the image and check out more, or that it reminds them of something they revisit, or makes them think of something else to investigate. I still love making mixtapes (well, mix … CDs or USBs). It turns out that finding that sense of self for the first time becomes a highly romanticized memory and holds more of an influence over what we think is cool now than we might like to admit.
It never really occurred to me to try to play guitar and write songs. Some friends in what I’ll call the Adelaide DIY scene for now for convenience, would play in each other’s bands, swap instruments during the set, were very unassuming about making music and seemingly outwardly unambitious and by that I mean, it should have been a feeling that “anything goes”; I should have entertained the idea. We would go see Love Like Electrocution, Hit the Jackpot, Birth Glow, Fair Maiden, Shame Spiral. Antony of the Future, Wolf and Cub, Pharaohs. (Kiosk’s first show in Adelaide). I also watched Dan Pash, my future partner, and future member of Leader Cheetah, jump off piles of stacked amplifiers in his Shellac-ish band, Bad Girls of the Bible. I feel a small amount of sadness or regret about not being a part of this now – because the hometown scene is what seeded it, but also why did I lack a belief I could do it to the point that I didn’t even think of playing? Is it because I was ‘just’ a girlfriend of someone in a band? And, later, did I think I was too old to learn something new and have sufficient time to garner any skill? Had I reached a point in life where I tried to avoid uncomfortable and vulnerable situations?
My second home in a scene came after I moved to Sydney. By this time, I was a bit older and happy to spend energy on something and not care if it looked like I was spending energy on something. Dan and I made friends with Lauren and Liam because Leader Cheetah and Belles Will Ring had toured together. Lauren and Liam are those kind of ‘music lovers’ who ‘live and breathe it’ as cringe worthy as I have managed to make that sound with those choice of words. They consume and contribute. They came over for dinner and Liam saw the Harmony Bobkat guitar Dan had given me for Christmas. [As a footnote, I had been a bit puzzled by this gift at the time. A vintage Harmony case is actually very small. It looks like a viola case to someone who doesn’t know what a viola case looks like, which is me. I thought “mmm what’s going on here?” opened it up and … looked at a gutted guitar. Dan had taken out the great gold foil pickups from the Harmony and put them in a cheap Japanese guitar. I learned how to solder the pickups back into the Harmony body before I even knew how to play it. We also got to find out its birth date, September 15, 1965, which in my culture puzzle is the year Godard’s Pierrot Le Fou was released which is linked to Comet Gain’s Tigertown Pictures’ dedication to, among other things “Anna Karina looking sad”]. Liam asked Dan a question about the Harmony and Dan said “well it’s not mine it’s Evie’s!” Lauren immediately turned with glee and a corralling smile while she asked me to join the band that would become Imperial Broads, an acceptance before I even said yes. She just wanted to make music, no pretentions. That kind of dedication is infectious. I think she’s “hardcore” about making music – ready to say yes to every offer and stack on challenges when you think you’re pushed to breaking. Lauren sent through a rough demo of ‘Best Shot’ and I was immediately excited about a punk 60s girl group vibe (although being a yé-yé girls and a riot grrrl fan, I was probably “hearing” that into the song more than was intended on Loz’s end!) Pip sent me what would become the song called ‘Can’t Grow Up’ on our upcoming debut, and I thought she must be pretty cool having written this wonky, dirge-y, uneasy song (the demo was pretty rough and gritty). I soon found out Pip put on readings as part of Penguin Plays Rough and was impressed by that positive side of engagement, getting people involved in what you love, trying to carve out your own space in it, giving people an opportunity to join and share their art. Nick was this great drummer “who has been in a bunch of seminal Australian 90s bands!” declared Dan with envious glee. He was revered before I met him, and thankfully ended up being a gracious guy who is incredibly positive and enthusiastic about making music. Patient while Pip, Loz and I worked out how to play guitar and sing into a microphone at the same time, he would make endless morale boosting comments. A dedicated true music fan and participator.
My experience with Lauren, Pip and Nick has expanded to my experience in our band’s local industry generally. My experience transitioning from music fan and audience member to writer and player has also changed my view on what I think it might mean to make music in the small space our band is in here, today. I must have held the view that the music scene was clique-y and judgey and maybe my naivety means I don’t see that yet (in case those in the know are thinking: “Oh but it is…”) but there is such a supportive collegiality as well: Fans who come to almost every show, sharing gear and making new friends with the other bands, friends who come and see you play and take the time to say something thoughtful about it, who take photos at your first show, give you what you think is their coolest painting for your album cover, design a logo that captures the spirit of the band, provide music video tips, cut your video on the cheap, help you get your music out there. The gang of ‘boyfriends’. True music fans who help because they want the scene to be healthy and interesting and because they, too, want to share their art and contribute to the scene, expand it. Shows like the Earopound Music Festival we played earlier this year and, more recently, Coven Presents Howlers, are great examples of shows specially curated for inclusiveness, getting new stuff out there or giving a greater voice to bands and artists that might not otherwise have as much exposure. They are a real pleasure to play as a result.
We may be wary about how we engage with a scene. We may worry about “looking good”. We probably don’t want to amplify a basic skill or “lose face” in the process of trying to operate in a (mostly) functioning democracy. But sacrifice for the sake of contributing to something as one of four equal parts, as part of a larger community of friends and colleagues and partners and family, yet staying true to what is a meaningful ethos to us, one Broadsy whole, is an incredibly rewarding feeling.