"My Life as an 80's Sydney Punk!" Slam Dance Corrobboree 4
MY LIFE AS AN 80’S
Slam Dance Corrobboree 4
By Ian Browne about Ian Browne Shamrock News
It’s 2019 and I’m 48 years of age. I have spent the past 12 years working with both indigenous and non-indigenous students in NSW, Qld and the NT Top End. I have travelled the length and breadth of Asia as an activist journo - putting the corrupt to the sword. Am I still a punk today? Well, they say that if you love someone you always will. I fell for the look from a lass at a party one night when I was in Year 11, a stunning girl I’d known as child. I was too shy over the coming years to try to win her over, but I ponder her magic to this day.
Punk was everything to me and for such a long time, so to answer this question ‘yes’ I still love punk, but while my vinyl is out of action, less so now. My punk energy transformed; morphed into sticking up for those in life that require a leg up, and the innocent. I also love many other genres nowadays, finding solace in loungie-trance and modern Oz Goth. The 90’s helped that along; more on that later, while my heart now sings the wistful tune of 'want’ for another.
PUBERTY BLUES Growing up down the NULL
My life as a Cronulla-Caringbah grommet
1982 Cronulla - southern beachside Sydney
Bugger me, no one said ‘The Shire’ back then - not much anyway. I was from Woolooware, not ‘the f’n Shire!’ The phone book announced ‘Cronulla’, but really, we were wedged between Burraneer Bay and Woolooware, and I went to both those schools respectfully – primary to high school in the same order (funny that); loving both. Woolooware High was Dirtpipe heartland; my street clan, my family: The DP’s! But before all that; and before I was a Sydney Punk, we’ll start in the surf at Cronulla, rashies-n-hat now required please!
Through primary school it was all skateboarding and catching cicadas with da crew: my sis Suzanne, Geofrey with 1F (my bro), along with Jocko, Aaron, Mick (Cawston bros), and neighbours Jay & Megan Cordy, down the road - fresh in from Frankston Melbourne - Jamie Clarey; and Jason and Joanne Harvey. Next door, my beautiful Greek Cypriot neighbours: Phil, Yvette and Adrianne Costas. We also played lots of sport with close friends: Jason Whitaker, Craig Saunders, Adam -Anarchy Cicada- Gould, Nathan- Harry- Harris and Scott-Pickle-Wade. I knew just about every animal on the planet and was absolutely enthralled by birds – still am. Later in life a lecturer of mine, Richard Noske stated: “Ah, but birds are more interesting than other animals, they can fly!” And, so could I, straight down to Jenola oval after school on my skater, ciggy in hand, waiting for the lads to arrive!
I was something of a stud back in primary, heh, but high school stuffed all that: skinny with freckles, not so great in a beach town it seems. In the summer of 1982 my best pal Scott (Pickle) Wade and I hit the surf every day. I had grown up with snow-white hair, but by then it had turned to gold in summer, and as my mum puts it: “a beautiful auburn colour” in winter. This year I was a sun-bleached grommet! We played shit loads of squash too. I had myself a really slick-looking Town & Country thruster board – a swallow tail in those days. Not sure what Pickle had, certainly not as sexy as mine! At the time we saw friends Stu Gooch, and bros Dave and Greg McKinley, surfing off the back of the Cronulla Alley. They started surfing about the same time as us. They went on to become wicked surfers around the Null: Elouera Board Riders (Dunny Hangers) - while Pickle and I seemed to let it lapse.
I loved body boarding. My bro 1F and I were surfing stand up off Currumbin Alley- Gold Coast, a few years later. I was going okay but went back to the tube rides on the booga once more - never to return to stand up. I could do all the bodysurfing comp tricks, I was pretty good there, and I loved snorkelling too. Body bashing with my pal Screamen Larry (John Morton) over Shelly Beach’s ‘Sand Shoes Reef’ - in face masks - was a buzz! As for body boarding, even though I thought I could read the waves well, I was no match for Screamen Larry. He was in a punk band with me later in the 80’s, and he and his bro ‘Dirty B’ grew up right near the beach. He’d take off deeper than me, and I was left scratching my head, saying: “How the fuck did he read that?”
One of my best surfs was with Screamen and Bugs at Suck Rock. It was as sharky as all buggery, but you’d pull in for that train tunnel ride around its mushroom reef - which was so damn splendid man - it was the bomb! Heh, Screamen was a tad ‘under the weather’ out there one day, and a whale popped up right next to him! He is in NZ right now catching up with Maori family there. Even during the punk days when 1F and Jocko were on stand up, I used to enjoy body-boarding with Toby King, Screamen, and Scotty (Toady) Griffin. Loads of our Dirtpipe crew in the late 80’s - 90’s were good surfers, but we were never ‘show bags’ (Dirtpipe for ‘show offs’).
For whatever reason I decided to lop off my blond locks and I got myself a skinhead cut. It was the winter of my Year 7 at high school. My sis Suzanne and I were heading home from the school bus when a neighbour in her year (Yr 10) Danny Dean, and his mate (Norm Proven’s son) sung out to me - saying I was a punk now - and I was welcome to join them at the punk gigs. My sis replied: “I don’t think so Danny.” Well I did wear Rollers (Ripples) at school when first falling into the whole punk thing. Some of the skins, perhaps SKA folk, did so too. I wanted to make sure that I looked a bit more unique-stylish than those wearing the westie desert boots!
Suzanne was my hero. I adore her. She was the first person to introduce me to punk via Triple J (or was it Double J then?) But though she was known in the area for big spiky, colourful haircuts, she was into pop and loved The Cure. The first ‘Goth’ album I purchased was Siouxsie & the Banshees’- ‘Tinderbox’- I got it for Suzanne’s 16th or 17th birthday. Man, I listened to that album millions of times, it is such a great goth album!
In the 70’s it was The Beatles, The Beach Boys, ABBA, Sherbet and REO Speedwagon that did it for me. I loved all the KISS paraphernalia too, but their music never really hit the mark. By the late 70’s: “Video Killed the Radio Star”, Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes”, and songs like “Echo Beach, Far Away in Time” - turned me on. “Better look out for the skin deep” by The Stranglers; I so loved that song in the early 80’s. Though punk was whispering to me, I was still listening to mainly mainstream stuff in the early 80’s - like Simple Minds (do love his voice though) and even Brian Adams; Tina Turner, and Split Enz (still love em!) Bands like The Johnnies, Talking Heads, The Radiators and Hoodoo Gurus (whom I later toured with wit Succotash!) awoke something in me, even KC & the Sunshine Band - getting closer right. Who couldn’t love The Church, but really it was the Oils (post-punk enough), The Allniters (Sydney SKA), Billy Idol, and The Sunny Boys (punkish) - that lead me to the alter. I was also smitten with the New Age romantic hit by the Thompson Twins “Hold Me Now”- as it reminded me of the way I felt about Sarah. I was in love with a blonde babe named Sarah Goodhew then, the crush lasted four years! Mind you, I still love the flange-n-synth in A Flock of Seagulls “I Ran” – hence my yearning to this day for 80-90’s sonic goth.
I remember in Year 7 at Woolooware High, I took a shirt with a screen print of Siouxsie Sioux’s spiky head on it, from the art room, from someone in a more senior year – a human wise to the ways of punk rock - undoubtedly. But silly me painted the blue shirt with a title above Siouxsie’s spiky head: INXS! I knew it was weird doing that myself - but INXS came from punk anyway, and I do enjoy a couple of their songs to this day, including “I’m Standing Here”. I even ‘accidently’ landed up at Michael Hutchinson’s funeral down in Town Hall, on a sultry summer’s day.
Dem folks that B PUNK!
In the year ahead of me in years to come, a fella named David Rogan, would go off to punk gigs with a couple of fellas and girls from his year and beyond. At this stage The Trade Union Club in Surry Hills was all the rage. His spunky younger sis Sam would become a Dirtpipe (DP) in time and would hang out at 2 Pandala (where 1F and I grew up). Another bloke in this year called Charlie Rowe came into school with a mohawk and was sharply booted out by the principal. His bro Peter would hang wit me in the senior high school years, nice fella. Another guy in the year ahead of me into punk was Wharfe, his younger bro Dave and sis Rachelle, both DPs too. Stuart Thomas, a tough but likeable fella I knew, was a skin. His dick-wad skin mate gets a mention later on. Two years ahead of me a fella named Danial Ryan‘s older bro left the Burraneer region and moved to London, where he became a well-known punk entity. Two years ahead of me crazy dudes like my pal John Hook, loved his indie stuff. In his year, there was a gorgeous honey-haired, surfy-sporty type named Jody Mears. I was surprised when I saw her once in the city near Bondi Junction, all gothed-out, still looking gorgeous of course. I am filled with sadness when I think of how she passed away so young with cancer.
In my sister’s year a few guys were punks, and a lass from Suzanne’s year was still at the gigs when I hit the scene too. Two years ahead of them punk was more the norm. My good mate Dave Jackson’s (singer for Succotash) two sisters, Barbs and Robin, were spunky, charismatic punks in the senior years. Robin went and lived in London for a spell. I reckon Dave was pretty proud of them. When I was in Year 7, Robin or Barb’s year on ‘Muck Up Day’ all lined the school block roof tops, all in punk-goth mourning gear, and in rode a posse of push bikes pulling a black coffin on wheels - with RIP Hilton (the principal) splashed over it. It was brilliant!
Young Suburban Punk!
By Year 8, I was heard roaming the blocks of Woolooware High screaming out The Damned’s “Elouise, my Elouise!” Wow, what a song, and a fine fulltime commitment of mine for getting a giggle from Kylie Arndell as well, my biggest fan. I had no shame as a junior. If it wasn’t Yr 8, then it was Yr 9, when I went into the city with Craig Levy (Banger metal head) to buy my first punk album. There was a bunch of skins hanging around, they paid no attention to us though thankfully. By Year 10 all my closest mates: Jerm, Levy, Adam Gould and Nathan Harris were denim jacket wearing metal heads, while Scott Garlick was just a funny, feral-bogan kid. Blimey, it gave me the shits their music, but fun guys. I kinda liked Metallica though, a wee bit, not much though, but in time I would grow to really like em, particularly their cover of Killing Joke’s ‘The Wait’ on ‘Garage Days’, and their awesome song ‘Creeping Death’.
My other close pal, Jason Whitaker, loved The Jam and Spy V’s Spy, which are both mostly good sounds I feel. Luckily my good mate Antony Smith - who had moved to Cronulla from London - gave me some tapes from his older bro Neil, who was a punk. My mate Peter Mackey, who I would play bass alongside in a punk band; Pete belting away on drums, well I would head up to his for an ale and we would listen to his older bro’s punk albums. His bro is well known surfer Michael Mackey, and he and Pete liked the Ramones, Radio Birdman - New Race and MC5. When closer to 18 years of age, Pete was at mine watching The Cure ‘Live in Orange’. He borrowed the video tape, went home and fell asleep, only to awaken to find me with a mohawk up, chatting to my cat Tinker in his lounge room. He asked me what I was doing there, only to realise it was all playing out on the video tape he had fallen asleep to!
I was also lucky, as another friend at school, Dove Maquilty, taped some wicked shit for me via his bro Jeff, who was a punk too: The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Generation X (Billy Idol), and Wa Wa Nee (just kidding!) On one of the Pistols’ tapes a song by Channel 3: “I’ve got a gun, I’ve got a gun man, and I’m looken out for number one!” was my fav, though the Pistols’ “Holidays in the Sun” and “Pretty Vacant” are both grand!
Man, I so loved Sydney surf-punk sound: Radio Birdman. I listened to Birdman and the Dead Kennedys at least a zillion-times over! During this time, a friend, Troy Tatfield, a nice fella originally from Wagga, well his older step bro Harold Miller rocked up, and promptly offered to fight the entire year on his first day! That day he particularly had it in for Matt Brown, an Alley Boy (a local group named after a surf break at North Cronulla Beach). I had known Matt all through school. Matt liked to fight in primary school, but at half my bodyweight, well, we all found him pretty sedated and harmless in high school. He was chosen as the depiction of ‘Surfer Boy’ in the sequel book to Puberty Blues. We got to meet the authors of Puberty Blues: Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette, I am pictured in the book too – not that I can find it anywhere. Anyways, Harold had arrived up from Wagga and was placed in my year with bro Troy. He was only there for the remainder of the year, but made his presence felt. Harold should have been placed two years ahead of us, and he was big, and at times dangerous. It was just his way of passing time. After hoofing the soil and letting everyone know he had arrived, he promptly joined the footy team (rugby league). Word had gotten about ‘The Shire’ (ouch) about him, and another school’s footy team sat on the bus teasing him through the wee windows. They soon became very quiet indeed though, when Harold screamed wildly and ran hellbent onto the bus to smash em all!
Harold and Troy loved punk, for a spell anyway before they went to metal, and I could draw good punk skulls with mohawks, so I was off the hook during art classes. Heh. I was never bullied at school other than a couple dead arms thanks to Harold, and I never bullied others. I was good at judo and so was Troy. But we never had to duel in class, we were always matched up against others. I threw a bloke in the year ahead of me over my shoulders once, after school and at the end of my street. He was so impressed that he promptly took himself off and became a kung foo black belt and rising. At the age of 27, and living in a rooming house in St.Kilda -Melbourne (by accident, I thought it was a nice guest house to be honest) with junkies, alcoholics, runaways; visiting gangsters, pimps and smack dealers, and new arrivals to Melbourne from overseas, a fella in his mid-thirties from Romania decided it a nice idea to grab me from behind. He landed up near the ceiling for a spell only to find himself sprawled out like a dead chicken across a couple of tables! My good mate Craig Saunders was pretty good at judo too. During lessons, Troy was more interested in taking down the older, giant student, Craig Sewinsky, and he did. Troy went on to become thought of as one of the toughest guys around the Null, but he was always happy to see me. By then, no one was pushing me about, just quietly, and those that did try, realised it was not in their best interest. I was everywhere, and so were 40 to 200 or more Dirtpipes too!
I did another trip into the city, with South African pal, Hans Van Huffle (DP Berent). We went to Centrepoint Tower to the best punk and metal clothing gear in ol Sydney town. It was here that we stumbled upon actor-comedian Rick Mayell, and as big Young Ones fans, we followed him into David Jones - where he fled and hid away from us in the change rooms there. Heh. I did another trip into the city with punk friend Chris McQuellan. He was more advanced in the punk scene than was I at the time, later becoming a metal head. I bought a punk album and featuring on it was perhaps one of my favourite punk songs of all time: ‘Outlaw’ by pommie punks Chron Gen. Getting around suburban Sydney as a young punk, you were made to feel like an outlaw, the skins had a lot to do with that though, as you will see. Anyway, the pic on that album cover is the one seen on the cover-pic to this story. You may well have gathered that it’s not me lying there, I never owned a leather jacket either back then. It was my favourite punk image, though some of my own Sydney Punx cartoons I also enjoyed. I wanted to look like this London punk with his big spiky mohawk, and ‘lie in the dirt’ – ‘don’t give a fuck’ attitude - and in time I would, only minus the leather jacket of course.
By now my bestest pal Pickle and I were listening to Oi Punk: The Exploited (‘Dead Cities' a wicked song, so too is ‘Fuck the USA’!) And I loved Charged GBH: songs like ‘The Hunted’ and ‘Generals’ are wicked! That guitar sound was special; simple, but edgy, and special kinda spacey, almost Egyptian - but firm and fast. I will never forget going on hols with Pickle and his sis Sue (DP Pleasant) to the Entrance, and us lying in the back of a van at night listening to another creative punk experiment, Killing Joke – ‘Complication’, ‘The Wait’ etc- wicked album! I was also listening to The Clash in the early days and did so enjoy the vulgarity of The Anti-Nowhere League (Live in Yugoslavia, if you please). Down-the-street neighbours, the Cawston bros, loved all the punk coming from 2 Pandala Place. Jocko still gets about in Exploited t-shirts and refused to give me back my bros’ Hellmen album last year (after all these years, just too in love).
My brother loved punk just as much as I did and got me into Stiff Little Fingers, and later on, the LA skatecore scene. He somehow managed to get his hands on an I Spit on Your Gravy “Fruit Loop City” album. It was funny, and good, and I also had one of the film clips for it, ‘Piranha’. They were a Melbourne crew and the punks in the clip looked just like the Sydney Punks (London 80’s Oi look). Radio Birdman and The Dead Kennedys would become my favourite punk bands by the end of Year 10. I had a Hard-Ons album, which was pretty cool too. By this stage I had begun wearing fashion more a tune to the London 80’s punk scene - but still no mohawk, as yet. One time I was watching the Cronulla Sharks play (across from my high school) and a lady in her 30’s approached me and began to slander me - suggesting I was a skinhead. Wrong haircut lady, and wrong shirt (London’s Calling) –The Clash are as ‘left’ as you get baby. I remained calm while her boyfriend made it clear to her that she was in the wrong, and gently escorted her away from me.
So, I was on my way, now a mid-eighties suburban backyard punk from a safe middle-class background, right? Only not so safe. In the space of nine months two of my family members were killed by cars, well the fuckwits driving them I should say. Around this time a friend named Danielle Little John’s boyfriend, a punk fella called ‘Chook’ - would hang a bit, he rode in on his motorbike to parties around Caringbah etc and he looked like Sting a tad (not a mod though, heh). A backyard punk that never left the yard was Mathew (Lozell). He was in my bro’s year. I liked Lozell - “I’m living in the 70’s” was something a friend sang about him in relation to him not coming into the 80’s - and out to the punk gigs with us all. Another friend from a group of lads Pickle and I grew up with, ‘The Boaties’ Peter Johnston (RIP) - was a punk. He got beaten up one day out west at Australia’s Wonderland by metal heads. How things would change when the punks and metal heads all hung together at the gigs in the late 80’s, well closer in towards the city at least. As for my banger mates: Levy, Jerm and bogan Garlick, well they joined local Caringbah street group, The Sneddies, while Adam (Anarchy Cicada) Gould, and Nathan (Harry) Harris, us DPs. The Sneddies were all mates of mine and some of em were pretty tough guys. None were punks though. Jerm, the son of a biker, used to say to me: “Punk is funny”. In time he would be seen cruising the streets of Caringbah in a Ramones' shirt. A couple of Snedds joined the DP’s later too, like Bronson Branch, while Andrew (Roo) McPherson, and Todd and Bindi Farrow, were cosy in either camps. Young skin, Adam Pinkus, was for a time a Sneddy who turned DP. Up at Miranda Fair before his Sneddy and DP days, Adam was an agent provocateur for the older skins, used to coax young fellas into a fight, only to see the older skin-heavies rock up for the biff. Adam’s sis Tegan is a DP too. Their old man owned Power Station Records at Miranda, and the Hard-Ons’ Ray Ahn worked there too.
I remember when a couple of Sydney Punx rocked up to school and visited a girl in my bros’ year - whose older sister was a punk. I joined them, fascinated by their leather jackets covered in punk artwork. They were pretty passive, and easy going. I wasn’t long from looking like these guys too. Other than the punk gigs I was starting to see in the pubs and scout halls, the only live punk band around Cronulla I was going out to see by this stage was local fellas Horizontal Action. The big draw card was Horizontal Action playing - “I’m an Orgasm Addict” - by Bolton UK's Buzzcocks. Cracker! My pal Jason Brown (Rev) played bass for them a few times. The singer, Michael Hill, is a top bloke, and Justin Robertson on guitar, is too. Justin would hang wit me at some of the punk gigs and would go on to play for the biggest of Sydney’s punk bands Toe to Toe. He always had red eyes, and 10 years on he had moved to Nimbin, just when I was leaving hippy-ville to move back to Darwin. My housemate, DP pal Jamie Uren, ran into him there.
As time moved along, Geof and I had a decent LA ‘Venice Sound’ skatecore selection in vinyl, exciting in years to come when our DP band ‘Throwdown’ would tour with the God Father of LA hardcore, Mike Muir, singer of Suicidal Tendencies; twice, in part thanks to Nasser Sultan helping finance the first tour, and Kyle Horton heading over to LA - knocking on Mike’s door!
Other fav skatecore groups included: No Mercy, Beowulf, Excel, Crumbsuckers, Scatterbrain, San Frans’ SOD & MOD, and Anthrax. And the fastest of em all, Uncle Slam! I too fell for Oz band The Lime Spiders, and international groups like Ministry, Mudhoney and Dinosaur Jr. (early stuff like “Forget the Swans “ & “I’m a Leper” and on to Bug). One of my favs was London’s The Stupids (Jesus Meets the Stupids) who did a harbour ferry gig with The Hard-Ons. Anthony-Trousers-Short and Dave-Jacko-Jackson went to it, and Cronulla lads Patch and Jimmy were there on board, slamming too.
There was a skin in the year ahead of me at school, quiet on his own, but mouthy when with his crew. One of his mates was the biggest unit I’d seen within any of the ‘gangs’ in our area. When I was in Year 10, Mr Napoleonic used this lump of a sapien to suggest he would have my docs for his own. I was so impressed when the young lady hosting the party, friend Kirsten Woodland, came to my aide. She was furious and fearless and let them have it! Needless to say, I went home in my boots that night! When we occasionally saw this skin out of school, he would say something negative to Pickle and I. We just ignored him. Around the time of the Millenia, I was lining up out the front of Biggles with my good friend Robert Bearne. Biggles is a nightclub I didn’t get off on, but my good mate DP Craig Schoinders DJ’s there. Anyway, just up the street only moments before this, I ran into a bunch of cheerful skins, all except one, that is, and who, like the old days, started with some mouthy crap. I hadn’t seen the local skins, mostly Engadine crew, for a few years by this stage, having lived elsewhere other than the Cronulla region. Now, out the front of Biggles, some of the older Engadine Skins remembered me, and a friendly yarn ensued. It surprised ‘big mouth’, his armoury knew me, and he now looked very timid indeed, particularly as Bearne and I lurked above him, and Bearne is not a fan of Nazi skins either.
He only mildly irritated me anyway, and I only believe in self-defence; most hominoids just aren’t as fast as me. As for Bearne, well, in the early days of London Punk, he was the drummer in D.T.A Mission, and they used to support well-known band The Rutts. He remains good friends with the fellas from The Rutts. Bearne grew up in Hayes, gangster land London, and in the late 70’s at the age of 12, he’d sell bootleg punk albums to the older punks around London. With the new haircuts travelling the old streets of London at the time, he liked the look of an American Indian’s mohawk he found in a book, and it became a part of his head too. As far as anyone knows it was more than likely the first mohawk in London, though ‘Cat Woman’ from the Pistols’ entourage had a twin mohawk at the time as well. So, Bearne rocked up to catch the school bus and everyone on board were very inquisitive, asking him what he called his new cut. A few years later, his fancy for the exotic had made its way onto the streets of Sydney - to land up on my 80’s head. We shared a house with others in Perth, then swanned around the gigs of St. Kilda when I had dreads, and here we were, hanging on the streets of Sydney as a new century dawned – best of mates, but by now mellowing ‘long-hairds’. Even in punk-town London, Bearne would still voyage down to Cornwell in his awesome vintage split-screen-combi van, to hit the waves. Bearne landed up marrying a lass he knew from Hayes, Steph, whom he ran into in Oz, and they call subtropical beachside Qld home now.
When I was living in London, hanging by the river in Camden on a sunny Sunday with the rastas and punks, I met a woman who said she was the first person in Newcastle (UK) to wear the mohawk. Apparently, the New York punks, who usually wore leather bike jackets, a few chains, or torn knees out of jeans, with their long hair, took to the mohawk after viewing Robert De Niro in the film Taxi Driver. The main 70’s punk look definitely came from Malcolm Maclaren’s bondage ‘ripped-n-torn’ fashion influence on the Pistols; art student Johnny Rotten in particular, and later Sid Vicious’ spiky-studded rocker look, of course. There is also footage of a fella named Charlie in 74 Melbourne, a Sharpie (a subculture unique to 60-70’s Oz) with a closer-to-da-skull mohawk.
1990 Caringbah Maccas: The tall albino looking chap be moi; Uren bros out front, beige-n-brown by Glen Cochrane at the counter: On the set of the Dirtpipe film, a comedy by Craig Saunders where the DP’s take on the infamous Fat Cops: Craig Schoinderpant & Dave Mason. Craig played this film regularly to all and sundry at Biggles Nightclub. I have bright orange leopard print on the side of my head there, hanging down my back a rabbit in leather-n-chains with a pink mohawk. We went in that night to see Henry Rollins wit Toys Went Berserk and Massappeal at the Mars Club. I stood beside Henry while he psyched himself up for the gig, heh, but I preferred the two Sydney bands. Jamie fell asleep in the toilets. Hooray!
The Sutho Royal If you made the effort to look so different from others in society, you might as well help each other out. Sure, the skins had the whole Doctor Martins look previous to punk, but they wanted to all look the same - control freaks. But really, the street fashion I had inherited had all been done before, but I loved it too much to avoid it.
Pickle would beat me to getting a mohawk. He used to dye it black-n-purple. It looked great, and I used to borrow his army jacket with The Exploited patch on the back; his GP army boots when I could. However, he went up to rural Kempsey and the cops used to follow him around the streets. He soon tired of this and changed his look. There were loads of punks up the road in Coffs Harbour, and they had a bad name apparently. Anyway, before he visited the north, we started going out to punk gigs. He had already seen Houston - Texas’ Dirty Rotten Imbeciles (D.R.I) who, though still more punk than metal, were the first of the crossover hardcore bands. My first gig was The Hard-Ons and Melbourne’s Depression. Pickle had a live Depression album and my bro, a studio one. We met the singer that night. He was cool, he reminded me of a punk Angry Anderson, with a tattoo on the side of his skull. The Sydney Punx loved em, chanting with great jubilance: “DU-PRESH-ON!” The band’s title ran as ‘Ultra Hardcore Mega Heavy Punk Metal Thrash!” …..Hooray I say!
I remember looking around in awe at all the Sydney Punxs, many in their twenties, and some were very tall. They seemed really calm and polite too. Punks tend to look out for each other. If you made the effort to look so different from others in society, you might as well help each other out. Sure, the skins had the whole Doctor Martin look previous to punk, but they wanted to all look the same - control freaks. But really, the street fashion I had inherited had all been done before, but I loved it too much to avoid it.
There was a different smell in the air at these gigs too, especially when the ‘Crusties’ began to rise in numbers. “Leather, bristles, studs and acne” - I had finally landed! In time this would be my cauldron. But it was one where friendships were made, amongst the moshing, headbanging, stage diving and boozy-slamming of course.
My next gig was with 1F, Dave-Jacko-Jackson, Pickle, Anarchy; and from Caringbah, good friends Glen Cochrane and Anthony Short (Trousers). We went out to Kogarah to a scout hall ‘All Ages’ punk gig. The Sydney Punx rocked up, some with rats hanging from their shoulders. My pal The Berent had a pet rat that ate a tube of dencorub once! On the bill was a metal band called Lazarus - with a teen prodigy on lead guitar. There was also a punk band getting about with a bunch of older fellas called Lazarus, their drummer was awesome! I saw them in town one night at a venue called The Cave, I remember out the front of the gig a Sydney Punk I knew called Greyson was playing up to the traffic, like a real Cockney git. The other band on the bill in Kogarah was a group of muscular skins in their 30’s. Now, Jacko and 1F were still only 14, but pretty tough guys. They were right into the mosh and slam, while these big skins picked them up and actually tossed them onto their heads! The boys were fine with it, heh, and the men (skins) weren’t so much being pricks – but just being skins, I guess. I also remember seeing Under the Influence (U.T.I) play at the Kogarah scout hall one night. Singer, Scott Mac, had grown up around Redfern, and told me that he was a skin at some stage too. There were all sorts of skins, some were communist (Red-Skins), some Oi, some Nazi but still Oi. Others hated being affiliated with racists and dropped the look. I love SKA music, but by then SKA had pretty much withered away in Sydney town. In the early Sydney 80’s, Ska and Oi didn’t mix so well. Scott Mac is very much against racism. Very energetic on stage, he went on to sing for Toe to Toe, and I would bump into him around Cronulla, his new home. Both U.T.I and Toe to Toe had a big punk following.
By this stage Trousers, who also loved Rap incidentally, and could climb up into my bedroom door well and hold himself there, was drumming with punk band The Stifled Scream, with Scotty Rimbault cruising on bass, Paul Tagg on guitar. Paul was a very well- known sound mixer down the track for bands like The Clouds and Tumbleweed, and I got on well with him. Scotty too I might ad. The Stifled Scream were advertised as: “ex Vultees members”. I remember in my English class a Vultees tag had been scratched into the table, they were popular. The Stifled Scream were fun, a real 70’s pommy punk feel. They played Stiff Little Fingers (Irish) covers, and other songs from the late 70‘s and 80’s, amongst their energetic own.
Slam Etiquette: If you went down - the slam would cease!
We used to either pile into Anthony’s (Trousers’) sky-blue station wagon, with his drum kit, or catch the train up to the Royal every Friday, or Saturday night. From Cronulla, the Alley Boys would all hang around the speaker stack near the pool table. I used to chat to Brownie, by his side would be top skater Dave Evans. The Alleys could be pretty territorial around the Null, but they were calm up at the Royal. Along with a few of the older fellas, I got on well with Patch and Jimmy McMillan, and my close pal Stephen Stack (Stacka - sadly since departed) and I enjoyed slamming with these two lads, as they went in a bit harder. Now the rules of the slam in the Sydney Punx days was that if you went down - the slam would cease - and everyone would lift you back onto your feet. We all looked out for each other, while across the road at the Civic Centre, The Angels were playing to much larger crowds of try-hard-suburban types, slamming into each other as hard as they could. Oh, in case of injury, the Royal Hotel only served beer in plastic schooner glasses, and man did we knock a few of those back. I used to do a circle slam where I’d swing my long legs around everyone in a circle, which allowed me to bounce off everyone, while still being able to keep my balance. I was rugby league tough in those days, so I was fit, and could go all night long (but better in the sack post 30). I picked up this circle-work-slam style by watching the LA punk film ‘Suburbia’ – over, and over again. I used to pick up human movement easily and could automatically mimic it. This worked in my favour later in the 90’s Acid Dance era, when being able to emulate the speed and technique of MC Hammer with ease, while not necessarily being a fan of his either. Anyway, some of the guys in my year at school said that I was a different creature when I was in the mosh-pit at the Royal.
A friend of mine at the gigs was a fella who hung with the Alleys called Boots. Other than a couple of backyard punks around the Null that didn’t commit to the Sydney punk scene, Boots and I were the only Cronulla punks getting about looken London. By that stage though, we were listening to local music, and U.S stuff more so, but thanks to Toby King scouting them out, I did like UK’s Sore Throat. Boots used to complain to me about how his pals wouldn’t go out to the city gigs, so I introduced him to my Sydney Punx mates, and he was chuffed with that. A surfer who used to spend part of the year in Bali in years to come, Boots landed up hitching up with a DP lass - who was both beautiful in personality and looks. Rash Rider was also a Null surf-punk that got about in a mohawk. He moved to Bondi and had a TV comedy show. Rash Rider was mates with Mick Mackay too. Also known to all around Cronulla was a mohawked Gary Hughes (Charm School). We became friends in the early 90’s.
No matter how avoiding one was of injury, most nights I’d head home with a little bit of claret somewhere on me. Man did it hurt when stage diving and the crowd would suddenly disperse! The floor would just rush up and smack you in the face. One night there by the speaker, one of the Alleys was standing there quietly, and he had punched bro 1F in the face down at the Null one night. I wasn’t having that, so with my mohawk sidling halfway up to the roof, and looking straight through the lad, I approached all the Alleys and explained to him what he had done wrong. Looking a tad concerned by this stage he offered to apologise. I said: “Great, Geof, here you go!” I don’t think the guy realised my bro was there in the moment, heh.
We also enjoyed going to the punk gigs at The Chicken Shack, The Den, Caringbah Inn, The Hopetoun at Surry Hills, The Annandale, The Haunted Castle at Lewisham, by the harbour at Drummoyne, The Mars Club, and The Lansdowne Hotel near Sydney Uni; across the road the wonderful Phoenician Club, The Cave, and both the Sandringham and Berlin Clubs in Newtown. During 1987/ 88 the bands we were seeing included Lethal Overdose (L.O.D), Under the Influence (U.T.I), Drokk, Rocks (the biggest Sydney punk band for whom my friend Nasser Sultan drummed); as well as Spunk Bubbles, The Hellmen, Roaring Jack, Psychedelic Turnbuckles, The Happy Hate Me Nots, The Hard-Ons; my friend Melissa James’ band The Epileptic Pigmeez. Other groups included friend Scotty Rimbault’s band Loveage, and Fester Fanatics, Terrible Virtue (TV), The Celibate Riffles, Lazaras (metal) and of course the loudest of em all: Massappeal! These bands all had good musos in their fold who understood the scene well.
There was a joke in Sydney at the time that everyone knew someone who had played for Massappeal, I knew a couple of lads myself. Though Massappeal were brilliant, my fav was DROKK! Trousers was the drummer, and by that stage one of the fastest drummers in ol Sydney town. Rod Hunt (later singer for Persecution and Summonus) was the singer, his bro Jeff a DP in time, and our mate Mat (Jughead) on rhythm guitar. Carlo was quite a talent on six-string and bass, and he was there within the Royal’s pungent air on Drokk’s lead.
The tall lad out front is my pal Rod Hunt - seen here with Summonus. Good band photographer too is Rod.
Drokk were crossover metal-punk (skatecore)…we loved em. But one of the best nights we had up the Royal was a quieter than usual Hellmen gig, on Christmas Eve. We loved their songs and got right into it. By this stage, I had an army jacket covered in studs. I painted a big skull in a bandanna onto the back - with Suicidal Tendencies scrawled over as the title. Down one sleeve an ODE to pommy punk: Charged GBH. The other sleeve, our DROKK! I never could afford a leather jacket with someone else’s punk artwork on it, and even in winter, Sydney by day was just too warm for London gear. We always pondered how the goths in Brisbane got on with the warm humid weather there, there were loads of goths slinking around Brisvegus in the 80-90’s. On my first visit to Darwin, I watched a goth band play in Smith Street Mall by day, the singer was a melting foundation-n-eyeliner mess, while attempting Cure covers.
Now, one of the guys from L.O.D worked with my dad, it turned out, while one of the other lads went on to play guitar with You Am I. I remember over hearing a lady from Waterfront Records (situated down near Central station in the city) say how a conservatively dressed middle-aged man wandered in and purchased a Massappeal album there one day. “That was my dad!” - I interrupted - it was a birthday present for 1F, the album ‘Jazz’. Dad never did like all my punk haircuts, but mum helped me glue up a mohawk once, and she painted in eight colours for me. Pal, Jason Fewell, glued up my head one night, and Jocko used to do this for me too sometimes - beer in hand, and a good yarn at the ready. Mind you, I used screen printing paint! The glue went to gelatin in time, which washed off nicely. Some city punks told me to try that. On my Year 12 ‘Muck Up Day’ I painted my mohawk orange and used wood glue to stiffen it! Blimey, stiffen it, it took three fkn days to get it out, and yes, tokenistic, I did a stage dive in front of the whole school. As if I wouldn’t! I accidentally patted the back of my head down while applying the glue, so half my mohawk was stuck down that day. Toady-Griffo, Antony Smithkin, and I, were going to sing “Staying Alive” while I ate a can of dog food. But we were too ‘under the weather’ by that stage. 1F, Toby King and Adam-Anchovy-Cabestead did a crude SOD song on their Muck Up Day – by then half the school were DP’s!
It’s funny, but my good pal Roo and I were actually voted in as Yr 12 School Captains for 1988, at Woolooware High, but the teachers banned us! This happened to 1F a couple of years later too. My friend Alex Slaven got in, instead, but was ‘fired’ due to appearing too long-haired and messy, heh. They at least allowed me in as Sports House Captain. I was a speedster on the footy field, and on the track, and though I could swim fast, I used to make the teachers hit the aqua to race for me instead, heh. The guys in Terrible Virtue and their crew would hang with my crew at the gigs. They were all from Caringbah and would eventually become Dirtpipes themselves, especially as Adrian Murray (Muzza) lived with my good friend Mal Lloyd (bass in Succotash, and later on This Thing). Muzza was popular wit da ladies, and he and 1F became good mates down the track. I taught Muzza’s daughter last year on the Gold Coast. When she told her dad this, he said that he fell into complete hysterics, gasping: “Shamrock taught you!” His bro Brenden was a really nice fella too, kinda hippier, but streetwise none-the-less. Andrew Murray was a cool cat too, still is. From the scene, Caz Bah, shares loads of nostalgia from the Royal days. Scarily, he even put up a video selection with me featuring! Mind you, I still scratch my head wondering just where the hell I am in some scenes – pretty sure that one dude moshing in the limelight just isn’t moi.
The early days of Sydney punk rock documentary:
TV had some cracking songs, and Michael Brady (also known as Bagus) still plays guitar in hardcore bands. He also lived at Mals’ joint for a spell, suffering all the DP’s around each night for a hound (don’t ask) and a try at their luck at Shit Head (card game). TV singer, Richard Ford, would get around Caringbah in his punk-skater gear. He could be quite sincere, other times cheeky. Dick enjoys sharing his band posters and videos of those fun times. Drummer Peter Allen, trained as a jazz drummer, and would go on to drum with Massappeal. Peter, alongside Trousers, I reckon were the two-best punk-hardcore drummers in Sydney at the time. I appreciated Spiker from Spunk Bubbles, none-the-less.
My good friend Anthony Short - aka Trousers!
Other guys from the gigs that require attention were the De La Sal Caringbah/Cronulla - Howe bros. Many of the De La Sal High School lads sponsored the Sydney punk scene well. A few of these De La guys, like Trousers, Jocko, Steve Leuver, Ben McNair, Sean Allen and Neil Moran (da two latter lads being in Earthworm) - were DPs themselves, and a few of the De La girls also hung in the scene. As for the exotic Howe bros, they were fucken hilarious! We loved em. The older bro would stand at the gigs amongst all the Sydney Punx with a big bright orange parker on. Both could also be seen with other local punk friend – long-haired-Eric - down at Shark Park watching the footy - with their 2EA Radio shirts on. They were soccer fans, going out to the matches, and 2EA was mostly enjoyed by Sydney’s ethnic groups- and they aired the games too. I saw older Howe bro in Ubud Bali, about nine years ago, cruising along happily with his wife. I remember when he married her, they were young. It was nice to see them, but I was sitting above the street in a restaurant and was too shy to approach them - as they wandered by towards the Monkey Forest.
Just as funny from our crew were Kyle Horton (later Succotash sampler, and singer for Throwdown) and David Prowse. They were in 1F’s year at school and had grown up with us. This was about the time when they started hanging with our crew, they were also good pals with Neil Moran, Ben McNair and Sean Allen. Both Kyle and Prowsey are awesome surfers as well. Anyway, they used to drop down on the floor amongst all the punks and start rapping to the bands. It was very funny.
In Year 12, I decided to get a real mohawk, so I got my head shaved to the bone. My head used to get stuck to the pillow. Summonsed by ‘Green Sleeves’, I remember heading out onto the street from 2 Pandala with the DPs, to get an icecream. The Mr Whippy operator stood there staring at me - like I was something out of a wildlife magazine. He probably remembered me as a sweet, blue-eyed child with the snow-blonde hair (I was always loud). Another time I opened the door to see a smartarse nerdy kid from junior high school standing there trying to con me into some Mormon crap. He appeared a little nervous, and not so smart arse after all. Kyle and Prowsey had one too, a mohawk I mean, not a smartarse Mormon. Anyway, Kyle and I were walking through school one day when the principal stopped and stared at us. But he didn’t send us home for a shave, so the mohawks remained! He, Faram, did pull me out of class for a chat later on in the year though, suggesting the deaths in my family had attributed to my identity crises. This really got me down to be honest, but he meant well. He also described how his son was beaten up one night on the way to a party, due to him being dressed as a ‘rocker’. When I used to head out to the gigs from Woolooware, neighbours would ask if I was off to a party ‘all punked up’ etc. “No!” I would reply, “Off to a gig!” …PUNKS NOT DEAD after all!
Also fun, was when slightly tanked middle-aged couples would enter the gigs like they had just taken acid, and they were enthralled when all the punks took them under their wings to party. A couple of happy 30 somethings took snaps of me out the front of the Royal one night, requesting I wear their John Lennon glasses with my big mohawk. We all got on well at the gigs.
The older, bigger men bikies, who played pool to the side of the gigs, well, I wondered what they thought of the alien invasion to their boozy abode. I tried to approach a big bikie there one night for a yarn, but he just quietly ignored me. A couple of our crew’s families were bikers, but nothing to do with the rest of us, we had our own ting happening. But as time moved along, I would become friends with a few burly bikers myself. They can be vulgar, but funny.
My 30-something mid-life punk crisis!
Amongst the Sydney Punx, I was friends with two fellas from Kogarah: Dean and Stu Magoo. At the age of 31 while living in Newtown, some ex-Sydney Punx came out with friends of mine, and one of them said he was still in touch with Stu. So, I rang him up. It was a buzz to chat to him, telling him I was getting about Newtown with long sun-bleached hair, minus the mohawk, the only one in town looking like a surfy! I did go through a punk fashion revival though while I lived in Marrickville-Newtown and would yarn with an ale with a few ex-punks, and remaining punks there. You know, when I was a young punk, I saw a 30-something getting about Town Hall in a suit, a big mohawk up, while lugging about a briefcase, and I thought: “yep, that be me then too”…but it isn’t, life changes things. Though my head is 100% indie, I have become daggy in fashion, just as happy in the surf t-shirts my sis-n-law Nicky buys me for Christmas, as I am in my Parap Market (Darwin) Indo shirts.
My pal in Newtown, Henry Tunks, who I’d met years earlier in the Null with my friend Andy Downs, well Henry was my besty at the time, both of us supporting each other when going through the grief of having to leave lovers. Henry’s friends were all SMS goths, some Aussie, some pommy. I hung out with them all the time, they were very fashionable. From this group a girl I was friends with at school- Fiona- was living with well-known Sydney goth, Wally (Wallemina Van Dutchland) - who in earlier days ran the Sanctuary at the Sight - Goth night in the Cross (which I used to frequent). I became pals with Wallie, I found her very well-centred; strong, but peaceful. She was from Holland originally, and got around Newtown with a big husky dog. Wally also owned a bondage clothing store on Enmore Road and she also made some of the latex clothing for the Matrix film. I also knew another Dutch lady on the film Matrix, hangen out around Newtown at the time, and she was a spunky model. She had the hots for me it turned out, her partner told me so, hehe. Anyways, both Wally and Fiona lived through a secret door on the wall of the mural to Newtown’s Martin Luther King’s: “I Have a Dream!” Since high school, Fiona had become goth, and she looked amazing. The first time I ran into her on Enmore Road, all those years since 1988 Woolooware High, she was pushing her bub in a pram; all ‘funeralled up’ - but looking hot!
Another friend of Dean’s and Stu Magoo’s whom I liked during the Royal days, was Graysen. Another fella looked a lot like my mate Stacka, and he was a nice bloke too. A group of these guys caught the train down to Woolooware once to see me, but I couldn’t meet them sadly. We hung out at the gigs together though, and at one of the Punx Picnics at Sydney Park - where they played live from a generator by the old clay kilns. One of their crew was a fella Pickle went to Tafe with. His name was Chucky, and he came from somewhere near Miranda, having previously been a metal head. In later days these guys became more hippy – northern NSW influence.
Pictured above: English punks squatting in ol Sydney town, 80’s. My pal Kol Dimond, missus & bub - See my Kol Rant story here on this website as Slam Dance Corroboree 3 for more on the GOA rave scene influence on Sydney Punk culture.
The Sydney Punxs were more diverse than I have made out here though. There were the Newtown Oi Punks and others. Some skins asked me once if I was a ‘Sydney Jump Punk’ – a group that bashed skins. The moment when I was asked this occurred during an edgy moment with the Engadine Skins, which I will get to later. Then there were the Crusties: kinda feral punks, harbouring far-Left anti-nuclear war protest ideals etc (see my Reclaim the Streets Newtown story here too, with my friend Deb from Lismore’s Music Bizarre pictured).
Something that would have caused a stir at the Royal was a raid by Sydney’s toughest cops. And it very nearly happened. One of the DP’s dads was a big unit who took down all the meanest crims in Sydney. Now, he explained to his son, who was partial to skatecore himself, and came out to the gigs with 1F and I, that he found punks rather strange, and to stir up 1F, who through soccer and ruggas knew the big fella, that he and his pals had intended to raid the Royal, and shove us DP punks up against the wall - to carry out a drug inspection. “Joost for a laugh, lads!” Blimey, I’m glad it didn’t happen, but at least I had da-inside word.
The Red Emperador: the punk bands I was in…
I inherited my sister’s red Emperador bass. Apparently, it is a Japanese Fender copy, a tad heavy, but a good sound for punk-n-goth. Suzanne was pretty good on it herself. All my family are clever in our own ways and she was a super brain; invited to some advanced learning school which mum and dad dismissed as snobbery. Part of what she was doing at university was to enable her to promote bands, something I do myself now. I enjoyed playing “She Sells Sanctuary” by The Cult (need I say). I also played “Holiday in Cambodia” by the Dead Kennedys (again, need I?) -and The Cure’s “A Forest”. Later when The Cure’s ‘Disintegration’ arrived, I loved playing “Fascination Street” and “Love Song” (still do!)
Other than jamming about wit 1F on our red friend, the first song I ever jammed out was with The Berent on synth, and Aaron Cawston on his mum Di’s acoustic guitar. This was upstairs at 2 Pandala and it was a really intense B-side single for “In Between Days”. “In Between Days’’ was the song and film clip that turned 1F and I into ‘Cure’ fans, even though Suzanne had been listening to them for years. Not long after this, The Berent and I went into Darlinghurst and purchased a bass amp off the bass player for Lubricated Goat. This was pretty cool, as he had just been on Andrew Denton’s “Live & Sweaty” (ABC TV) playing bass live with da Goat, and nude if you please! He was a cool dude to chat to, and in time to come I inherited the old valve amp. About a year on, I went to a party after a brief 30min romance with half a bottle of Tequila (my first time too) and I also guzzled down a twist top for good measure. I was on my way down to meet a future DP lass (I’m all class right) I had been flirting with at the time. I arrived at the party at Elouera Surf Club; a nice hug and snog, then the treachery of spinning walls began. The DP lads got me the hell out of there, oops sorry, and two blokes, Dave Burrows (Bugsy) and Toby King, helped me along the way too. Dutifully, Harry carried me up the stairs to Pickle’s and Johnny Hollian’s joint, on his shoulder; not sure which one, while bloody Glen Cochrane sat by the cold bathtub they had laid me in, whispering all sorts of deranged enchantments to me - while I lay motionless in my stupa!
Anyway, I was so impressed by their comradeship, that I started inviting Toby and G-banga Bugs out with us all. This would see the DP numbers swell a whole heap. Toby’s younger bro’s, and all their crew, became DPS too, along with he and Bugs’ High Street neighbours: Joelsa- Longcut-Penfold, the goddess Croaker and Coot girls, and Paul ‘Pommie’ Blanch - just for starters. Anyway, Toby and Bugs started to get into the punk fashion and loved the gigs. Toby inherited my Suicidal Tendencies punk jacket. He had kinda become a younger bro to 1F and I. He and Bugs started jamming with me too; Toby on flange-guitar, Bugs on drums. We did gothy-punk stuff; it sounded great, and we loved playing “A Forest” too. In time to come, DP Jamie Uren (pictured here) jammed as our drummer - before he went on to play with Giraffes Casino. By then we had started calling ourselves ‘Masters of Dogweed’.
Along came Screamen Larry, and like Toby, I had a real infinity with his flangy-wa-waa guitar sounds. Screamen, or I, would decide on a song we’d manifested, and in no time at all we had it down pat. Yep, also three-chord punk stuff. In the late 80’s just before we had adopted 1F’s title “The Dirtpipes”, Screamen Larry on guitar, Mook (Ben Schwartz) as singer, Johnny Seal on bass, and a friend of ours from Cronulla High, Eddie Reed on drums, played as ‘Rabid Creatures’. …..So Mook; one of the funniest of the DPs, came along to sing with us sometimes. By this stage Peter Mackey (later Crane No.6) was our drummer. Mook and Pete were good mates, well, we all were, but Pete and Mook loved the banter while we played. It was funny, well at least until my old valve amp blew up midway through one studio jam. We too were belting out three-chord punk then. Nice times.
In the final stages of my time on the red Emperador, saw a return to Bugs on drums, and Screamen and I, chugging along on punky rhythm. Screamen loved 70’s bluesy-hippy stuff, you know ‘Morning of the Earth’ kinda gear, as well as punk. So, he had a great sound from his wa-waa - flange fusion. Screamen and I would hang a lot at his ‘joint’. His wife, our Louise, is Mook’s sis. Lou is a full-tilt DP mama and was in 1F’s year at school. Their fine establishment was known to all in the DP world as the ‘Reactor’ (don’t you dare ask!) The Reactor was situated across from North Cronulla Surf Club, and smack-bang right where all the TV shots of the Cronulla Race Riots were filmed - many years later (not our kinda thing, and he and Lou had moved to Caringbah by then).
Like me, Screamen was as passive as they came, but if you in anyway harmed anyone close to him, he would go fkn ballistic! Anyway, Mook by this stage was playing bass and he started jamming with Screamen and Bugs too, going on to form ‘Van’ with Mal Lloyd on six-string. Mal (Fat Head) thrived in the DP scene by joining Succotash on bass. He came over to Succotash from Kogarah, via his death metal outfit ‘Cruelty’. His pals Troy Sherry, Derek Turner and Brian (singer in This Thing with Bagus and Mal) were also welcomed into the DP family in time. Mal loved the whole Cronulla DP scene so much that in time he became a big (positive) mover-n-shaker in the region, putting up with a lot of nuisance trickery on my part along the way – all tasteful and in loving jest of course: Stacka -n- I swapping Mal and his flatmate Dready-Thelma’s rooms about. Bongwater-n-off Chinese in Mal’s bedrest while romancing his new girlfriend; a dead black snake under his quilt, ooh, and of course a DP fav: moi freezing Mal’s undies on a monthly basis.
MAL Lloyde: Then & Now.
I was never as experienced as Mal on bass, but he always gave me positive reinforcement, suggesting that a sound (a band) that moved around my freestyling action, would be an intense one. In time I became very fast (like everything I did) with my fingers, the plectrum long gone, and I turned to slap, which I was pretty darn good at (just ask me). It should have been a worthwhile craft, I had a few blisters from all the time I spent getting my head around it - after all. Mook’s bass was left-handed, and having never played a lefty before, I took to it immediately like a pig to delight shite. Mook stood there watching me, and casually stated: “You’re a freak Shamrock.”
The last jam I had around the Null was with rogue local Spocky on drums, and my bestie Anarchy Cicada on guitar (both metal heads). We named ourselves ‘Uncle Spock’ (Slam) for the day. We were shite, but it was pretty fun. None of the bands I played in made it out of the garage to be honest, heh. But bloody hell it was fun.
I still fly around on the red Emperador, and I also play 6 strings sometimes - supporting students in their lessons. But one of my fondest memories jamming was up in Darwin when 1F and I lived there for all those years. A lazy Saturday in the steamy Top End heat; both us Browne bros on acoustic guitars, while a big Fijian friend of 1F’s sang along - I think stringing about on a ukulele - while his kids and Geof’s kids- sat about with big grins and sparkling eyes. Too nice.
One of my many nephews Jake. I had just arrived up to Darwin once again from Newtown and I lost a tug-o-war wit 1F's dingo-dog Jessie, the long palm seed casing landing up in my eye – under the patch I looked like Bowie for a while.
Punk Chics Coo grinned at me while ignoring other requests and I would have my time in the goth limelight: “Cowards” it would be.
I really didn’t know many ‘punk chicks’. In the final days of the 80’s hardcore gigs, some of the DP girls would come out to a few of the gigs, but mostly it was the lads. Later on; as you can read in the final chapter here, we had so many DP indie bands playing the pubs that we were always out in unison.
There was a punk lass a few years older than me, probably well into her twenties, who was at all the gigs. This sullen looking lady with spiky blonde hair was a full-on Sydney Punk. One night at a Kogarah scout hall gig, I stood beside her while the band was in full swing. “Ouch!” her cigarette had burnt me. I turned to politely tell her so, and she just looked at me all dead-pan, as if to say: “Who gives a fuck!”. I didn’t bother trying to communicate with her after that. But I’d like to ad that her wee wasp sting really wasn’t all that burdensome, as I was known for my enjoyment of putting people’s cigarettes out on my tongue, though they tasted bloody terrible.
Photo sourced: https://www.pinterest.com.au/sarahrussellmua/the-1980s-hairmakeupcostume/
There were always girls at the gigs, only a few slammed, though they moshed enough. I’m sure in earlier times at the big punk gigs they were right into it though. A few years later when I was working for Succotash at Promises, the singer from Sydney punk band Cactus Mantras spotted me and headed over for a yarn. We had flirted at the Hopetoun a few months earlier. She was pretty hot; nice brown skin, I reckon Koori, and she was great to chat to. I was enjoying where the convo was going when my ex-lover, Kate, a nice goth lass, turned up, and sat all on her lonesome at the back of the gig. I got all protective and bid my farewell to the attractive singer, to join Kate. I never did see the gorgeous cactus punk princess again.
It was funny at the gigs when goth or feral chics entered the room. Of course, there was never any animosity towards them, but they did look somewhat out of place. I thought the same thing when at the Kings Cross goth club Sanctuary at the Sight, a few years later, when a group of Sydney Punxs turned up – they looked out of place there themselves. Around this time- post punk days- for us, Toby and I and others were drinking in a pub between the Lansdowne Hotel and Central Station, when a group of about 12 Sydney Punxs headed out onto the street chanting “Oi, Oi, Oi!” I thought that this sounded strange, surely only skins bothered with that shit, oh, and boring Aussies at the tennis! Of course, there was a group called the ‘Oi Punks’ by this stage, and they looked really rough to me. I relayed this thought to Toby, of course we had both looked like them ourselves only a few years earlier.
So, my feminine punk experience was limited throughout the mid to late 80’s. However, during the 90’s when hanging with Toys Went Berserk (pictured here), singer Leslie ‘Coo’ Bennet had ‘potioned’ a soft spot for me, as she knew I was her biggest fan. Man, a few of us DPs worshipped da Toys, we loved Coo’s amazing voice, and stage presence, and of course the droning goth bass and sonic guitar was amazing – but we were also in awe of drummer Mark Nicholson’s abilities. Succotash were doing gigs with Toys by then, and we got to hang with em a bit. I used to mosh out big time at the front of the stage, head banging myself into a trance. Now, guitarist Andy Jarvis was a pom, and Coo and he were going to try their luck over in England after the band’s breakup in 92. At the Lansdowne Hotel, they played their final show, and Coo asked the crowd to request the final song - before they left for greyer skies. I shouted out “Cowards Beware”. Coo grinned at me while ignoring other requests and I would have my time in the goth limelight: “Cowards” it would be. Am still so proud; chuffed, can you tell?
Many years later (2005) and Geof and his clan were down from Darwin; me Nimbin, visiting family in the Southern Highlands for Christmas. 1F announced that Toys were playing in the city that night, a reunion with Rat Cat in tow. Boy, I would have loved to have been there, but we were too far out of the city that night. A year earlier I was in Newtown, visiting my friend Louise, whom I had lived with in Marrickville-Newtown till 2002, before I moved back to Darwin once again. Sitting together sharing a cosy catch up, I noticed a nice-looking lady at the table beside us who kept sending gentle smiles my way. It was only later in the week while sifting through my memories that I realised it was Coo!
This chapter lays barren. But I do so love the title!
Not that I condone animal cruelty, or in this case ‘human frailty’, but if you think you’re tough - then please, just bugger orf down to Macquarie Island and wrestle a bull elephant seal! Leave the rest of us alone. I don’t appreciate violence and the following history is not a promotion of such. Young blokes grunt and lock horns and the punk scene was not free of this unfortunate behaviour either. And really, a young life lived on the streets of LA-Compton, El Salvador, or even the housing estates of gay-Paris, makes the life I lived in Woolooware - a gentle breeze.
So, did I believe in Anarchy? Well, no. Sure, I scrawled it all over my school books and clothing, but we need some protection in society to deter the tyrants; the deranged dictators. I just didn’t like conformity to the ‘norm’, and the Far Right of any group. I resented commercial radio, I still grind my teeth at all the dumb-arse-bogans who drink at the same pub every night and spring out of their chairs when “Sweet Home Alabama” shifts into gear, as if it was their new fav song! Each to their own, don’t wanna sound all ‘fun police’, but the same crap songs I disliked in the 80’s continue to mortify me to this day!
Punk to me wasn’t violence, it was sticking up for what you believed in, and getting shit off your chest…but mostly it was adrenaline-filled, creative music. A world of creativity thrived out there. I didn’t believe in senseless vandalism either. Blimey, as much as I talk about the angsty stuff in some of the pages that follow, I was still reading Enid Blyton (The Enchanted Wood etc) at the start of my young punk days (gentle escapism sure, but Enid could be dark and spooky too!)
During the punk days, my crew weren’t known as the Dirtpipes, that came alone later - towards the end of the late 80’s gigs. But the main ‘roots group’ were there amongst it all, while a few of our crew didn’t partake, thus not everyone made it up to the punk gigs. Firstly, these days were 29 years ago, so don’t let the following ‘melee’ lead you down the wrong track, we never sought-out violence, ever. The name Dirtpipes in itself was a joke, a piss-take on society made up by my bro 1F on a camping trip down to the south coast. We were about the good times, we loved nothing more than a surf, a beer, a hound, and a jolly good laugh (sponsored by The Jerky Boys). There was no one standing over you, no hierarchy per say. We were just so big in numbers though, that at times warfare broke out with passer byes, so to speak. However, we had so many other local groups that hung out with us, that we got on really well with most people. There were a few tough guys amongst us, sure, but we were into indie music and having fun.
1990: In tartan, my DP embroidered hat on back to front, doing my best to hold onto some severance of punk with Cronulla Leagues Club's 'must wear shirt policy’. Dirtpipes from the roots group earlier days: Kyle Horto enjoying his time on the pavement; Anarchy Cicada putting in the boot; Shamrock, Pickle, Stacka, Seal, Jocko, Jacko, The Berent, and Trousers.
I am more peace, love and lentils man, but I’m streetwise, and I don’t take crap either. But violence is not required. One of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me was when one of the younger DP fellas, Dan Muir, while explaining how he felt about me when he first entered the scene: “Compared to other older guys around, you were approachable. You were nice to me and would stop and listen.” Even though I would break up fights, when us DP’s were out and about, and anyone touched me, the younger blokes would go ballistic, and showed no fear. My own bodyguards it turned out. Caring for your crew brings respect, thuggery is for the stupid!
Up at the Royal one night, Sydney Punx lad, Grayson, all chirpy with spiky blonde hair and a studded jacket, headed out of the gig to find some tucker. A group of Cronulla gents turned up, one was known to me, the other trouble maker I’d seen about, but we had not met. I didn’t see any of the following take place, as I was in the gig, but at least one of these silly buggers belted Grayson. I saw Grayson, he was looking slightly dishevelled, and worse for wear. When word got back to the Royal, one of oldest punks, a Scouse somewhere near 40, headed out for blood. He was a seriously tough northern pommy dude. In tow, was the slightest, junkie-looking punk you’d ever seen. It was ‘he’, when on return from the revenge sortie, who relayed to me as to what had taken place: “I walked up to the guys who smashed Grayson and I pointed out to them all that this was to be "one-on-one”. This was followed by ol mate Scouser beating the living shite out of the stocky Nulla lad. Sadly, the Cronulla fella fell into a coma, and I was told things weren’t so good for him after that night.
It was this Scouse leader within the Sydney Punx a few weeks later whom I told about my ‘altercation’ with one of the Alleys at a friend's party. He replied: “Yep, you just gotta keep getten em!” I didn’t tell him that this ‘chap’s’ Alley friends frequented some of the gigs themselves. It had nothing to do with them, they were fine with me. Most of the Cronulla Alleys were but I did come to blows with one, not such a good night for him, and my bro 1F wasn't about to take their crap either. Anyway, Scouser man also told me how back in Ol-Blighty, there were always more skinheads than there were punks. Well, at least in the towns he frequented.
As Andrew Murray reminded me recently, skins versus punks occurred at some of the city gigs during the 80's. Down at the Newmarket Hotel, and near Central station at the Journo’ s Club, the National Front Skins used to slog it out with the Unity Punks.
One night a possie of us DPs decided to head out to an all-ages Massappeal gig at Engadine, about 14 km from home. Just as the 80’s punk scene was edging ever closer to its retirement, the formulation of the Dirtpipes had taken hold, and new faces wanted to join us at the gigs. Two teen DP girls wanted to be a part of the action, Jodi Miller and Melissa Alexander. It was their first punk gig. Out the front of the gig I stood beside Trousers, as he yarned with Massappeal’s singer, Randy Reimann. I remember Randy glancing at me, probably wondering why I still bothered to get all ‘punked up’ for the gigs. Toby and I had jelled up massive spiky horns on our heads, I had my punk jacket on. During the gig Toby and I, slightly pissed, decided to go over to KFC for dinner. We left everyone. As we made it out of the gig, a young skin chick came up to us and said: “You guys get the award for the best hairstyles tonight!” I thought she was being cheeky, and I replied: “Fuck off fascist!” I never spoke to, or treated, females like this, and I did feel mean. It was wrong, especially as it turned out that she was just trying to be sociable – sorry! As we returned from Kentucky, all the local skins had come out of all the nooks and crannies around town, to ‘greet’ us. Even though I was bigger than all the skins that had milled around us, it was just two versus 20 or more. It was never a safe bet. I saw the young skin lass at the edge of the group, looking my way, and I felt sorry for her. She looked hurt, and rightly-so-scratchy: “You told her to fuck off!” one of the skins cried out. It was then that one of the skins queried whether we were the ‘Newtown Jump Punks’- the pre-mentioned group that had been throttling skins at the time, apparently. I tried to grovel for common ground by mentioning a local fella known to them, who was a friend of mine. He was a blond-surfie looking cat, but I saw him a few years later in Caringbah Inn, and he was sitting amongst all the Engadine Skins, his head now shaved, and looking my way - very timidly indeed. Now, the biggest hunk of flesh within our clan at the time was Davo. Loyal to friends, but not to be messed with. Anyway, unsure how Toby and I were going to get out of this without having to drop a few of the buggers, the crowd parted, and a sudden hush filled the air. A full head and shoulders above anyway, big Davo had headed out of the gig to check up on us, and that was the end of that. Well, for a spell anyway.
Later after we left the gig to head home, all the skins had once again mobilised. They rounded a corner a block away, only to see Davo once again, and by now us in full numbers, and decided to yet again surrender their attack. As we walked along the highway, we saw Boots, Paul M, Paul S, and other Alleys, sprinting from the train station with the skins in pursuit. I wasn’t too impressed by this and was ready to rattle some bones, when “crash bang” the skins had begun hurling massive rocks over our heads, onto factory walls and roof tops. It was just too dangerous, and feeling guilty, I had Melissa jump onto my back, Jodi onto Toby’s, and we all legged it away from trouble, as the head skin came roaring across the road, all psychotic and worked up, but not making any ground on us. Just as well he didn’t, I would have worked him, no probs. We had to walk all the way to Sutho that night, more than eight K’s I think.
The cops turned up, looking at us all like we were crims, and I explained that it wasn’t us that had been causing grief, and that we were on our merry way in peace. We got home without a scratch on us, but it left me feeling silly. I wasn’t happy how I’d put others at risk and how I’d been so disrespectful to the skin gal. As for Davo, we still catch up when we can; drink coffee and chat all day. Davo’s stories of the subcultures of Sydney play out on the award winning SBS drama, East West 101.
I knew one of these skinheads from the Royal and I liked him. Later I saw him down at the Null. He smiled at me with his cat eyes, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t there that night, but part of me still wanted to go over and take his head off. He was fine. At the Cronulla Leagues Club a few weeks later, Toby left us all downstairs near the dance floor to head upstairs. Here he ran into a few of the Engadine Skins. Toby arced up: “Oi, you guys chased us the other night!” …only to see the young skin closest to him go into panic mode: “There are loads of us upstairs, don’t try anything!” When Toby came back downstairs to tell me, I clenched my teeth initially, but then left the moment with a smile. They were at the Null, our territory, and fk me they were in world of sorrow, as we knew everyone! The young skin’s fear was enough I felt, and we let it slide.
As the years went by, and after living in Britain and travelling Oz, I was at a DP party on Flide Street, Caringbah. It was close pals: Steve (Wonderstuff) Miller, Benny da Gecko Evans, and Pommie-Blanchy’s home. Suddenly, all the Engadine Skins rocked up! Our pal Kieran had invited them all. They were fun, no probs. Well at least until a 30- something lady skin belted Kieran’s future wife Simone, out on the front lawn! He was inside at the time and missed it. So was I to be fair, but he was sour at me for not having reported the incident to him. I remember feeling sorry for the older skin lady, as anyone still acting like this at her age must have been lost and troubled. Keirin was close mates by this stage with the two lead guys, one being the fella who war-cried with the rocks that night. The other was known as the Damme. He came out to a few of our parties after that and was really polite. He told me that they operated less as thugs by then, but more professionally (hmmm). Anyway, those lead fellas liked me because amongst all their: “Pauline Hanson is so hot” (oh please!) - I wouldn’t take a backward step when arguing ‘race and environment’ issues with them. I remember the Damme watching me quietly one day at Shark Park during a Sharkies-n-St. George game. The Dragons were his team, and here I was blowing the breeze with their skipper, Lance Thompson (sadly since passed). Poor ol Damme was undoubtedly thinking: “Fuck this bloody Shamrock, he even knows my skipper!”
While we’re talking Shark Park, I used to head down some days, mohawk up, ale in hand, with a cigar jammed up my nose, heh. Anyway, there’d be at least 40 DPs there on the hill, we actually amused the crowd somewhat too. One day, this skin about my age took a shine to me, and started singing Long Bay Gaol songs, hehe. I liked him, though he was getting a tad annoying. Next minute Dan Muir arrived and pushed the fella down the hill directly behind us, the poor lad hurtled frantically 20 or so metres to the fence-line below. Now, that, my friends, sobered him right up!
When I was living in London, in the summer of 94, I caught the train in to Camden Town from my place in Lark Hall. Now, it was a perfect sunny day, so like I would in Sydney, I didn’t wear any shoes for the journey. Man, it seemed like the whole of London town stood staring at me in bewilderment. As I got off the train accompanied by another Aussie fella, we were met by two lines of about 30 or so skins, some with pitties. A nightmare, right? Well no, not really, as they took far less notice of me than did the rest of London that day. My friend had had a car accident, and this left scarring about his face, and with me in bare feet, I guess to the ‘booted children of the street’ we just looked like crazy homeless folk (with respect to the fella that accompanied me that day).
Before I went over to London from Sydney, I would lie back in my bed on a lazy Saturday morning listening to the SKA nostalgia of The Allniters: “Breakfast in bed, kisses on me, you don’t have to say that you love me” …thinking: “Great, this will be like my time in London”. So, I headed down to a SKA club in SOHO, only to see a huge skin looking more Oi than SKA crunching the pavement towards me. Inside the club all these fellas from the Bahamas, and few of their white SKA mates, were dancing to perhaps a derivative of old 60’s Bahaman SKA, and rocksteady beat. All the while the big Yardi-Rasta on the door sat grinning at my long, sun-bleached hair, and beetroot coloured silk shirt (sir, the girls dug it in Sydney at least!)
Picture sourced via Pinterest
I prefer the Aboriginal & TSI flags
There was no love lost in Sydney between some punks and skins. On the Punx Picnix fliers and posters were invites for skins to show up (not a good idea). The homeboys from the western suburbs (multi-ethnic rapper-tagger groups) were having organised battles with skins in the city too, the skins lost out in the end. One of the punks around town with a massive mohawk was killed by some homeboys too, while the Crusties killed a skin around the time. When Mook was cheffing in the city, he said that he had to avoid a warehouse in the Cross, as a group of skins would hang out there, causing passer byes grief. All the Paddington Skins had police mug shots I was told, glad I never crossed their paths. I saw some heavy units one day down in Chinatown. Not long after this a fight broke out in the gig at the Hopetoun I was at. It was the early 90’s, I was by this stage into everything, mostly goth, and myself and my friend had long hair. His band were all in paisley, I think they were supporting Cyclone Smile that afternoon. Anyway, this old skin with a plate in his head, turned up, and the next minute the long-haired sound mixer was rolling the ol skin around on the floor, turfing him out. All the while, a young skin apprentice just stood there, not quite knowing what to do. A warning came over the loud-speaker suggesting that the patrons might need to be careful when leaving, as some skins may turn up. They didn’t.
I did see a few getting about around Sydenham 10 years later, and a group of mods hung out at a pub called The Edinburgh Castle, which I frequented on Enmore Road 2000/1, their scooters lined up, and nice blokes. One was an ex-British commando.
But really, other than a few minor hiccups, getting about Sydney city, and going to the gigs, was fine. The biggest metal band in Sydney at the time, Mortal Sin, even played a song in my honour: “This one is for the bloke in the dirty tea towel!” (bandana). I was chuffed, this was while Toby, Bugs and I sat on the ground in the middle of a metal head crowd, eating hot chips. I got into a fight somehow with a biker twice my age at a gig at the Chicken Shack one night. I think he was the doorman. I did consider it, but he was a bigger human than was I, and he looked like he had nothing to lose. I just wanted to go home to be honest, so I stood my ground and waited for him to calm down, and quietly left - with some dignity in my six-shooter. Another time on a train to Sutho with 1F and Toby, three bogans; probably 10 years older than me, sat there staring at us. One started giving me grief. I had already clocked them and had decided that I could take them all out if necessary, so I remained completely at ease and didn’t even take any notice of what was coming out of his dopey, inbreed-hillbilly head. His friends told him to snap out of it in the end. I had heard of a Maori fella throwing a punk from the train once to his death, bloody horrible, but most Polynesian gents were fine with me.
I was so passive that I would mostly let things play out until I was pushed to my limit, and then it would end badly for my opposition, and quickly. I was fast to calm though, and I always felt concern for the enemy. I’m a lover, definitely. One time, Trousers, 1F, Jacko and I, were on our way to see a gig at the Royal after a ‘peaceful sitting’ listening to the new release of The Cure’s ‘Disintegration’, comfortably kicking back on Jacko’s sis Barb’s big red Persian rug. Will never forget that. Anyway, when we got on the train, some wee fella who was sitting with three other guys, all about my age, got up and yelled out: “Oh, I hate these guys!” and started trying to antagonise us. He then started slapping Trousers on the side of the face, and I started to heat up. He turned to me and said: “You don’t like that do you!” We let him have his moment before returning to his pals, who looked not in the least bit impressed by their Napoleon, worried in fact. If only he had known just how close he had come to meeting his creator in that moment. My old neighbour Danny Dean was in the next carriage too, so they were all lucky really – but he was pretty mellow himself.
Every now and then a scuffle would break out at the front of the gig. But compared to the early-mid 80’s Sydney inner-city venues (probs between skins-n-punks undoubtedly) the gigs I went to were polite. During a Lazarus gig at the Royal, a curious thing occurred. A few glam metal heads rocked up and were banging down the front of the stage, not unusual, but the dainty tight gear they had on; their prissy frilly hair, well they just looked so fk'n hilarious, and so damn out of place, heh. Anyway, the next minute my mate Justin of the red eyes was in the thick of it with em. Every time I saw him after that he would thank me: “Thanks again for your punk mates stepping in to help me out, hey.” One of the glam-heads could fight; pretty fast too, and my Sydney Punx mates ended it - to Justin’s relief. I found his thanks both welcome and humorous, because in time to come he was on guitar for Toe to Toe, and all the Sydney Punx would have known him - now not just ‘my friends'.
The same weekend we had trouble with the Engadine Skins, Toby, Davo, Anarchy Cicada and his bro Scotty Gould, and I, caught the train down to Sydney Park, near Newtown. Toby still had his head up high in spikes, mine had collapsed, so I soaked it all in blue screen-print paint, and wearing my Martha Splatter Heads shirt, headed out in anticipation of a wonderful day of unadulterated ‘Anarchy!’ (passive-partial of course, heh).
We were the first to arrive at the park when a scrawny junkie looking Kings Cross punk arrived with a satanic looking goat thing on his jacket. He was chatty, well at least until a biker arrived. I looked across the road and saw about 20 Harleys lined up out front of the pub. Thinking to myself; “Oh, skins are one thing, but bikers on the same weekend, now that’s harsh!” We decided to retreat up the hill behind all the redundant clay kilns to see what this biker had in mind. Not a soul in sight, he left the ghost town to return to his mates in the pub. As the party kicked off a big Maori fella and his missus arrived, all excited by the colourful fashion surrounding him, as loads of punks rolled in from all around Sydney, even one from Bankstown; punks from Melbourne, England and New Zealand. My Sydney Punx mates: Dean, Grayson and Stu Magoo set up their guitars off a generator and played punk from inside the archway to a kiln. It was fun. The biker again made his way into the park, but this time I was standing right next to him. He had a “PUNKS NOT DEAD!” tattoo on his left shoulder. He was coming home! The fuzz rocked up and everyone kept their distance. Bugger this, I thought, and headed over for a yarn. I explained that we were all here for a good time, not trouble. The male copper and his female companion slowly rolled their necks around at the crowd, realised that what I had suggested was true, smiled at me, and left.
We hung out with this punk chick, a few years older than Anarchy Cicada and I, who had a mohawk that must have scraped against Venus. It was huge! She had a bub in tow too, wrapped in slumber across her back. We also climbed up on top of one of the kilns where a handball tournament was in play. It was fun, and it was here that we met our friendly punk chick mate, Rat. She had such a kind smile and fun nature. We ran into her at a Mudhoney gig at the Phoenician Club a few years later and she looked grungier-more feral now, suggesting that she wasn’t a punk anymore (either were we by that stage). Anyway, well-known death metal head, Slasher, was up on top also, and he had decided it was his mission in life to leap from the roof top. It took the next hour for fellow punks, including us, to stop him from achieving his Nirvana. Eight years later when I had moved to Newtown, I saw poor ol Slasher, still in his Slayer shirt and long studded arm band, slowly crawling along the pavement, but now with the use of a walking stick. At some stage during the proceeding Punxs Picnix, it appears he had achieved his flight path plummet to Mother Earth!
Northern Rivers punk lords Tutti Parze rocked up, and all the Sydney Punx I knew were happy to see them. With Tutti Parze and assorted punx, we headed up the road to a party in a town house near Newtown. There were a few young punks sitting in the hallway shooting up, not our scene. We left, returning back to the Null. But what a wicked day out wit da boyz!
My Romantic Sonic-Psychedelic 90’s!
There I stood, 1990, a wiry punk from Cronulla, the Sydney city hardcore scene slowly corroding, time drifting into change. I stood gratefully entranced above the ‘Pit’ at Cronulla Leagues Club, as a young couple jousted time across the dance floor in perfect synchronised harmony to the funky thumping acid dance beats. They looked so handsome, so proud, and rightfully intelligent. I just had to learn how to do this, this movement in beat and connectivity to feminine consciousness. Other than getting down at the Toys Went Berserk and Succotash gigs, my Friday night drunken slam dancing gave way to gliding amongst the glitter and shadows of the dance scene, and the inner city dark-cloaked Goth nightclubs. It was this unison in human formation that sent a wondrous jolt through my soul, the sheer beauty of equality; we are all ‘one’. Besides, it’s very difficult meeting women whilst stage-diving.
The paragraph above featured in my eBook: ‘An Invite to Burma’ within the chapter: ‘The Women of Myanmar”. The 90’s were so exciting; the music fusions make it for me the best era in music. I so loved the ambient sonic-goth; some of the Manchester Pop, like Inspiral Carpets, the trip hop beats, and a time when metal was now seen as ‘acceptable’ to all. It was a time of change for me, a time to immerse myself into the experimentation of new themes, and more than anything, a time when females once again found me somewhat ‘appealing’. I was no longer a Sydney Punk, but the fashion still lingered within my wardrobe.
1990, Shamrock & Toola at a party at Bugsy's on High St. We are just playing up to the camera, I wasn't allowed to kiss girls till I was 40. Wearing my shirt of sperm from Paddington Markets, and my hand-painted shorts with an ODE to The Cocteau Twins.
My brother didn’t enjoy my transformation to New Wave Romantics; well not quite, I still listened to Death Angel, but the throbbing pulse of sonic-goth and trip hop was just too seductive for me. In Year 6 in primary school, I was Class Captain (was sacked in all honesty); one of the brains of the year, and my besty was a stunning Tina Larkin, if you may. I also went out with Lara Kennedy for a spell, a girl I had an ocean of respect for. In Year 3, Lara was a newly arrived student to Burraneer Bay Public, and I was the first person to sit next to her in Ms Lyons’ class. When I was in Year 7 at Woolooware High, Michelle Russel decided she wanted to go out with me. Taller and far more mature than moi, and already a bikini model, I found her attractive, sure, and she had a great sense of humour, but I was also very much scared of her. Anyway, Michelle soon grew tired of this shy kid and landed up going out with a fella two years ahead of us, a guy whose mates suggested looked very much like me.
My love life all went south from then on in. Previously to high school I had enjoyed plenty of pashing in my younger years, I know that sounds cringeworthy, but it was all innocent enough. Sure, I still had long-standing crushes on girls at high school, but a skeleton wrapped in freckles just didn’t make the cut, even if I made em all laugh. A year out of high school and my luck had changed, and I was taken off-guard with it all. Hot young women from all the high schools around wanted to dance with me, snuggle up in my lap and whisper their desire to make love to me. All the while I was left pondering just what the fuck was going on, the change was drastic. Blimey, I even had a soapy star who went on to have her own TV show, who had a wee crush on me. Though I kept this to myself, secretly I was fk'n stoked.
There were better looking fellas in amongst my crew anyway, and though I had some secret weapons, I didn’t make for such a good ‘Casanova‘- as I was always ‘wanting’ for the ‘right woman’ (Lamb’s beautiful song ‘Gorecki’ comes to mind). There was a special person, you can find her in the first paragraph of this diary. She also liked me, and even though I was extravert -party man- Shamo to everyone else, I was so darn shy around her. And anyway, though very down to earth, she went out with all the most exotic blokes around the area. But we had a spiritual understanding at least, even if I never did walk the treacherous plank of love towards her heart.
A beautiful smile, a kindness that could endure my challenging persona, and a lust for the rich beauty in life - is what turns my head. I’m sure women are disappointed by the vulgar ways of men, us ‘common folk’, but I’ll never understand why so many women have such vast enthusiasm for the sizzling hot-n-rich in Hollywood. This yearning, a vain, unfettered quest for perfection. My heroes don’t necessarily come packaged in beauty. Sure, I get lost in the gentle eyes and charisma of Jenna Coleman, but at the end of the day it’s the women in my life I want wrapped up in my arms, and no one else comes close to that.
By the 90’s the whole Dirtpipe scene had ignited and there was something like 200 of us nutters living the good life around Cronulla-Caringbah. Playing the pubs and clubs of Sydney’s indie-scene included DP bands: Succotash, This Thing, Earthworm, Throwdown, 3 Speed Dragster, Thatcher, Primordial and Van.
So, punk had taken a backward step, and with the funkier new wave Sydney fusion emanating from bands like Def FX, Caligula and our Succotash, the old-school punks were grumpy at this transformation of punk to Triple J airplay. I remember being backstage at DCM’s on Oxford Street, having completed the light show for Succotash. We were sinking ale, a few hounds, and I saw Fiona Horn trying to shuffle her big blonde wig back into place as two massive blue flashing lights patrolled the evening. No one realised that in the early days of Def FX, Fiona was trying to grow her hair out. Fiona had been a full-on shaven-head punk Queen, singer for The Mothers. Def FX were drawing huge crowds and getting loads of airplay. It’s funny, but the first gig we did with Def FX was in Hurstville and a grand total of just 18 turned up!
A Mook Session in the Freddy Krueger Suite of a Dirtpipe share house on Jacaranda Rd, Caringbah - early 90's. I put on a 'housewarming party' with Succotash playing in the chicken shack, and 300 rocked up. The fuzz took Glen Cochrane away, hehe. Four of the 'Tash' fellas are in the pic here, not sure what I have my hands on there.
Doing the light shows for Succotash meant heading in with Craig Saunders (Schoinderpant) to collect his smoke machine and lighting equipment from a storage site, downtown city somewhere. I had the songs down pat and would send out the smoke, and charge on the strobe-light to Trousers’ double kick. Bugsy did the same when I wasn’t available, while the other outfit spawned from bands like Massappeal – Caligula - also became popular. I did the light shows and lugged for Succotash, they are all DP of course. From Massappeal, Kevin McCrear came across on bass, just as Sean Fonti did on bass from Massappeal to Caligula, joining his singer bro. Succotash were so much fun with their mix of death metal riffs and trippy ambient trance-meets Rap. When we toured for Triple J to Toowoomba - where we were advertised by the establishment as “Sydney Guitar Pop” (heh, what?) - and to bogan chants of: “Play Smoke on the Water” (oh, go fuck yourself) the following morning the publican said he would never hire another Sydney band again. The tour got better and included the Gold Coast, a stay at Brisvegus’ Sheraton Hotel - where we were in trouble for the noise broiling from our room during the gig’s afterparty - and the Sunshine Coast. During a gig in the Brisvegus inner-city, these Brisbane punks slunk around as we set up, sending a few cheap shots our way, not realising of course that we had all been punks ourselves. When Trousers’ double kick rolled into gear, and Bev Wilkerson’s metal riffs drowned down time - from behind the light desk I saw the look of utter surprise on these young punks’ faces!
With Succotash I got to hang out with Rat Cat, who were No. 1 in Oz at the time. As much as I thought Simon Day was a great dude, I didn’t like their music much, it was fine, but I take poppy punk (Green Day, The Offspring, Wank-off-n-blink 82 or whatever the f’ they call themselves, with a grain of salt). Succotash played with Died Pretty, Ed Kuepper, Hoodoo Gurus, Baby Animals, Hunters & Collectors, The Aints, Def FX, Caligula, Sound Unlimited Possie, Fish Bone, and they almost did the Ice Cube and Red Hot Chili Peppers concert, but it was cancelled due to a falling out in the States between the bands. When it was rescheduled, it fell to another Sydney band, all timing. I also met Igor from Sepultura with Matty Hurworth, and like me, the lads both went in later to see Succotash play at the Lansdowne, the Tash lads getting photos with Igor. Jocko did a bloody stage dive that night in a full leg plaster and knocked a guy clean out!
I had started collecting money backstage from the bands headlining at the gigs for the managers of Succotash: Nasser Sultan and ‘Mark of the 3rd Dan’. I was being groomed to manage Succotash on a tour to Perth with another No.1 band at the time, UK’s EMF “Unbelievable”, but for whatever reason that too fell through, and with it my chance to swan around downtown Newbridge in my smoking gown. Four years later, I ran into Paul Tagg at a Clouds’ gig in Newbridge on my first night of a seven-month stint in Perth. I loved listening to, and going out to see The Clouds play live, and there he was doing their sound on a tour around Oz.
The Buzzcocks wanted Succotash for an east coast tour as well. I went on tour around Sydney with da Tash, Hoodoo Gurus and Baby Animals. In my skin-tight not-so-great-on-da-bollocks …tie-dyed black-n-grey-n-white jeans, and docs of course, I used to do poster runs in the city for the Succotash gigs, landing up at Red Eye Records to chat to a really cool goth chick friend of mine who worked there. By this stage I loved a bit of punk still, but was more ‘goth’ really, though The Pixies were probably my fav band. I used to purchase both new and second-hand Cocteau Twins albums, as well as other 4AD groups like Bauhaus. Also going home with me were: The Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim, along with The Damned, Peter Murphy, The Sugarcubes, and even some popular acid dance stuff that I loved getting funky to at the time. My bro got me into metal-rap crossover bands like Dog Eat Dog as well, and who doesn’t love Faith No More! I guess you had to be there, but I really loved Enigma’s “Sadness Part1” when it came on in the clubs with that ‘la mentful’ film clip.
I still love The Pixies: Shamrock, Johnny Seal & Mook
With Succotash, I drank some vodka and went to see Noiseworks at the Horden Pavilion, not our kinda ting! While lining up with the Tash’s managers and the band to go backstage (why?) I made such a commotion that the whole crowd stood there watching me, and the managers walked! One summer’s night at The Den, Succotash played with a trio called Sesame Sessions, their claim to fame was a cool song called “Counting by Numbers”. It was a gig the night before we DPs went down the south coast to Durras - to camp, surf and party. At the gig: moi, Jamie Uren, Bugs, Toby, 1F, Screamen, big Johnny Seal, Cocko, and others, were having a blast. We thought the band good entertainment, but the singer thought we were taking the piss. The drummer was a pretty cute lass, and her drum kit began to slip off its mount. So, 1F went up on stage to fix the prob. He also took a bunch of flowers to her as well, heh, not sure where they came from, and the singer was fuming. Not much more than a week or so later, at a Succotash gig at the Sandringham in Newtown, the Tash were jammed up between the bar and a wall on the tiny stage, while the barman threatened them with a baseball bat as they played! It was Sesame Sessions’ front man! Bev was not impressed, and I was doing the lights, but readying myself to jump the counter if required.
Jamie Uren & Jodi Miller @ a 2 Pandala nerd party, 1989
In the early 90’s, I also acted and danced in a few film clips, due to invites from friends in bands, and a filmmaker teacher of mine. This included a fun clip in empty-by-day Kinsella’s in Darlinghurst for Flash in the Pan, ex-Easy Beats fellas who were huge in Germany. Another wicked day out acting was on a Succotash clip, which went on to be beamed into loungerooms across Australia on Video Hits. Unfortunately, an animal rights activist group situated in Newtown completely misread the storyline, and it was dropped! It was a song against animal cruelty called ‘Payback’. Arriving in from Perth to live in Sydney, were ex-punks Bev Wilkerson, partner Nadja, and her sis Jenny, known in Perth during her punk days as 5. She hooked up with Tash-sampler Kyle Horton. All four were vegan by this stage and the RSPCA had lent the lads some footage of pitbull fights, while, with my long strawberry-blond hair, and fancy-pants shirt, played the part of a bookie - running bets on the dog fights to a crowd of gangsters: 1F, Screamen, Sawnoff , Peta O’Neill & other DP guys-n-gals, along with the girls from Nitocris: the all-girl hard-rocken-punky Newtown ladies, who were Mark of the 3rd Dan’s second band he managed. Now, the catch was that there weren’t any pitbulls in the ring, but the band itself as the victims of abuse, Dave Jackson doing his best to sing while being attacked in the pit. At the end of the song all hell breaks loose, and metaphorically-speaking, the dogs get their revenge on society (us) and here’s me swinging my long hair about in slow motion; 1F and Screamen et al too were being confronted by a wall of revenge-sound.
Payback is such a great song, and it ended with Jacko lying on a couch, all happy laughs, as manager Mark’s gentle pet pitbull leapt onto him, doing his best to lick his face – the dog I mean by this. Such a good message which was blown away by a lack of insight by the activists!
Dancing at the Sanctuary at the Sight was awesome. As prementioned, my friend in later days, Wally, MC’d the goth nights, but was not known to me then. The goths had a really cool way of dancing, but as the strobe-light sizzled against a moon crater wall; and goth-illustrations flitted within manufactured breezes by lamps, I tried some acid dance moves. One night I was dancing, and a young goth bird snuggled up into my chest and started snogging me. Now that’s more like it!’ It’s funny, but one time in a club closer to home, a spunky goth chick from some other part of Sydney approached me and said: “I’ve heard about you and your friends, Ian Browne.” Again: “What the f….!”
Around this time, I went in with Screamen to see The Cramps at Selina’s, and we could not stop laughing at the still-faced band members, while Poison Ivy, and the other lady, looked so damn fine in leather! Anyway, in the end, the drummer relented, and began laughing at Screamen and I too! A moment I will never forget.
With a few DPs, we went to Selina’s to see The Beastie Boys. One of the Beastie Boy lads approached me before the gig and asked if he could join me for an ale. Trying to find him a spare chair, my pal Andy Downs said “No!” – for whatever reason - and the Beastie Boy took off back stage! I am still spewin about that, and they played a punk song that night describing ever so earnestly about how it was from their roots. I was wearing a black bandana, docs on, and black clothes, so I guess he singled me out as he wanted some common ground in a mainly non-punk crowd. After a Summersault concert on the Spit - Gold Coast, Qld, with the Foo Fighters, Sonic Youth and The Beastie Boys, a group of us DPs headed for the carpark while just ahead of us the lads from the Beastie Boys were heading for a boat on the estuary. We were just blowing the breeze when the Beasties turned about in great concern and got the frighteners by us. Bummer, two bad moments for the ‘B-Boys’ by us DPs!
One of my fav gigs of the 90’s was My Bloody Valentine at the Phoenician Club. The night we saw Gary Clail On-U Sound System, supported by trippy Oz beasts Gondwanaland - followed by us lads hitting The Sanctuary in the Cross – well it was a ‘colourful night’ to say the least. The 90’s were great too because by now the younger Dirtpipes were able to hit the gigs, and with DP bands drawing healthy crowds, and big names like Mudhoney and Jane's Addiction flying in, 1F and I would put on kegs at 2 Pandala, enticing music lovers like the Kritzler bros, and 40 or so other DPs, who would enjoy the life before heading into the city - with painted hair and big smiles.
THROWDOWN - oh yeh! Been a few Dirtpipes in this band...
In time Succotash became Throwdown and were playing gigs with Toe to Toe. They had returned to their hardcore roots and toured with Suicidal Tendencies. My bro 1F was actually the first singer for Throwdown, but he joined Joelsa Penfold and I in travelling Oz instead. A couple of years back, Kyle Horto, Trousers, Jay Shellhorn and Bev Wilkerson, all DPs, did a Throwdown reunion tour of the north coast of NSW. They were popular up here, and on the Sunshine Coast. Nowadays, Bev plays for Rust, and another band The Core, in Sydney. Rust’s tour of the Rebel Fest in Blackpool, England, also features on this website. Bev is a seriously hot guitarist! You can see his story here on my website too which includes info on his Black Ball work. He tours with The Exploited and Stiff Little Fingers, has supported Drop Kick Murphies, and as mentioned, every second year Rust heads over to the massive Blackpool punk Rebel Festival in the UK. Bev has a doppelganger, a fella in GBH. So, when they tour, they get snaps together just to confuse everyone. A couple of years ago Bev was doing a Rust gig in Maroubra and a fella came over and asked him if he knew Shamrock. At the time some of the Bra Boys had been reading a story of mine on the DPs in 90’s Cronulla, which also included my time working with remote indigenous community students in Darwin.
Bev Wilkerson flying away in hardcore heaven
Years later, while having moved back to Darwin to live for a couple of years after a long stint in Sydney, Richard Kingsmill was on stage for a ‘live to Triple J cross’ from the pub - situated just across the street from where I was living in Rapid Creek as a student. He was calling up local indie bands to the stage, like the lads from NEO, to have a chat for live radio - all the while staring right at me - drifting back through the millions of gigs he had attended in Sydney, and wondering just how my face fitted in. I enjoyed this torment and walked up near the stage, smiled at him, turned, and walked off. Shit-kicker pal for Succotash, and bass player in ‘Masters of Dogweed’, really didn’t
require a stage call, I felt.
Goodbye 80’s Sydney
So, the 90’s broadened my horizons and allowed me to explore other dimensions to my alter egos. As Kol Dimond describes in my story with him on this website: “I listen to all sorts of music, but I’m still PUNK!” Punk is an energy, a protest, but too it was like what us Dirtpipes were always chasing - tis a bloody good laugh as well! To some it is that poppy stuff coming out of the U.S. in the 90’s, from bands that used to really be ‘punk’. That works for some. Whether it be a move from being a Null-grommie, to a backyard punk; on to cruising the gigs of old corroding Sydney town with friends’ bands, I was in the scene for quite a while. But the 90’s just had too many offerings – especially the feminine wonder. Embrace change and use your wisdom as a tool to open doors …..and support others. Here’s some punk propaganda from an ex-Null-aging-punk in northern NSW: “Stop whinging about how the world is failing you and get off your mortgage paying arse and do something about it!” And if you are a Right-Wing racist, bugger off down to Macquarie Island, so the rest of us can enjoy the beauty and intrigue of a multicultural Australia!”
Even before the 90’s swindled us into change, an older well-known punk, who at times featured in the local ‘Shire’ paper, The Leader, with his lofty red mohawk, turned up to the Royal all dressed in mauve paisley and wearing a bandana. He had become a Guns-n-Roses fan! I felt a tad sorry for him, even though I didn’t know him. I just didn’t like Axle Rose! (though some of the band’s lyrics are beautiful). Yeah, Punks Not Dead, sure, but some of us were being filled with wonderous new adventures; embracing change, which is both beautiful and enriching.
Since the operation, I’m now known as Felicity. A voluptuous, middle-aged strawberry-blonde, I live above the Jerzei Balowski bookshop in Erskineville - with my two poodles Prancine and Nudance………..not really! Kick out the Tories…..