Spiderbait celebrate Janet English

In the near-decade since Spiderbait last released an album, their bass player and singer, Janet English, has completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She’s not sure if she wants to practise. “I was just really interested in how the brain works,” she says.

English is the owner of one of the most interesting brains in Australian music. At school, she excelled as a gymnast as well as at hockey, mime, theatre and art, before forming Spiderbait in 1991 with singing drummer Mark Maher (better known as Kram) and guitarist Damian Whitty (Whitt) in the Riverina town of Finley, New South Wales.

Kram was an accomplished musician but, back then, English could barely make it from one end of a song to the other. “She’s kind of an accidental hero in a way,” Kram says. “She was a painter and artist who sort of stumbled into music through her friends and then discovered that she had these incredible talents.”

Kram talks like he plays drums, at an overdriven mile a minute. English is more reticent. With Spiderbait marking their 30th anniversary last year, Kram had an idea: to celebrate English’s work in a single 33-track compilation, Sounds In The Key Of J.… Read more..

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Damian Cowell’s Disco Machine: Get Yer Dag On!

DAMIAN COWELL was the guy in TISM. We know because he told us so (in a song called I Was The Guy In TISM, recorded with the DC3). Anonymity can be a tough mask to shed. Think of Kiss without the war paint, or the Residents without the eyeballs: what lies beneath can only be a disappointment. Years ago, a friend of mine ripped off Ron Hitler-Barassi’s balaclava in a mosh pit. Stupidly, I asked him who it was. “Some guy,” he replied. Who did I expect?

But amid the constant clamour for TISM to reform (how many original members would it take? Who would know? Would anyone care?) Cowell, the artist formerly known as Humphrey B Flaubert, has been quietly building a catalogue that’s not far short of his old band. And if people aren’t as interested in listening to an advertising copywriter in his mid 50s as they are in TISM, maybe they’ll listen to him alongside a supergroup featuring the cream of Australian satire. Hence the Disco Machine.

The first Disco Machine album boasted cameos from Shaun Micallef, Tony Martin, Kathy Lette, John Safran and the Bedroom Philosopher, along with a bunch of other celebrities and fellow musicians: Lee Lin Chin, Julia Zemiro, Tim Rogers and Kate Miller-Heidke.… Read more..

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