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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Too far gone: The return of the Hard-Ons

NB: This is a really old piece, from 1999. It was originally written for Rolling Stone (Australia) but never got published. I found it when I was going through some old papers at home – and thought I may as well give it one.

It’s a Thursday night at the University of New South Wales Roundhouse, and the new, improved and reformed Hard-Ons are rampaging through Suck & Swallow. As the song descends into a maelstrom of noise, Peter Black is making like Nigel, Spinal Tap’s spandex-clad guitar hero. After a final squeal of feedback, there’s a pause. “As you get older,” Blackie tells us, “you become even more of a wanker.”

The Hard-Ons began their meteoric rise (OK, OK – that’s the first and last bad pun of this story) in 1982, as teenagers growing up in Sydney’s western suburbs. Blackie, bassist Ray Ahn and singer/drummer Keish de Silva went on to become one of Australia’s greatest ever singles bands, and probably punk’s unlikeliest success story.

Between 1985 and 1993, the Hard-Ons topped the Australian independent charts with an incredible 17 consecutive releases and made significant inroads overseas with a succession of high-energy, ultra-melodic gems. Career sales figures are conservatively estimated at around the 250,000 mark, although Blackie will tell you that “a quarter of a million sounds better”.… Read more..

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