Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Banana Peel Sessions - VA

We are in for a treat here, David sent me an email the
other day part of which read,

I have some music you might be interested in posting.
Some Brisbane bands from the early noughties,
a 4ZzZ compilation CD that got all the way to being
recorded and mastered before being given the red light by the
management of Zed (no reason given, as usual).
It's been on my hard drive for about six years
waiting for me to do something with it.

And interested I most certainly was.
Dave has knocked up some artwork and
included a very funny written acount called
the reality of live to air. He has also writen
some brilliant background to this unreleased cd.
Thank You Dave.

I moved to Brisbane in 2000, when the city's live scene
was unbelievably healthy and vibrant and I spent most
of my spare time and money going to gigs. There were
nights where I'd be "doing the runner" from Ric's to the
Healer to the Zoo to Reefo's or across the river to the
Railway or the Gabba and back again, catching a dozen
local bands in a night. And that could be just a Thursday night.

When I started at Triple Zed I became determined to
resurrect Live to Air to capture the amazing scene Brisbane
had to offer. Station management weren't particularly
receptive to the idea, but I basically refused to be
dissuaded and got the program up and running.

The deal was that any subscriber band could come on air
on a Saturday afternoon and play, and we recorded their
set to a CD-R, so basically they got a free, reasonable quality
demo for their subscriber dollar and we got recordings of
some amazing bands doing their thing live, which was where
the essence of local music found. In a city the size of Brisbane
not many bands can afford to get a great studio sound
and a lot of artists are plain uncomfortable in the studio.
This way we got as close to both worlds as possible.
Some weeks the bands were smoking hot, though some
weeks they were terrible. Some weeks the gear was smoking
hot, some weeks it was just smoking. Which lead to some
great bands not making it to this mix and some
not so great bands not being used despite their pristine recordings.
That's they way it goes.

The room (amusingly called 'Studio 3') was terrible -
a brick triangle with windows on one wall, exposed mains wiring
on the second and and the broadcast chain on the third -
and the gear was borrowed from a certain
Zed pseudo-celebrity who had been booking gigs around town
for about fifteen years. He proudly told us his kick drum mic
had been found in someone's yard being chewed by a dog.
The arrangement was that he picked the gear up from Studio 2
(with all Zed's production equipment in it)
after we knocked off. What gear Zed did have disappeared piece
by piece as he left with his own. After we changed the lock on
Studio 2 and left his gear in the hallway our equipment stopped
going missing and he stopped lending us his.
(I guess enough time has passed to admit that I stole some
of it back from a now-demolished pub while he wasn't looking.)

After a brief hiatus, we eventually wrangled a deal with a
PA hire company to lend us whatever they hadn't hired out
over that weekend. Some times that was a geriatric six track
desk and three mics, but one week it was a 24 track portable
digital desk that didn't fit in the recording booth and
a dozen SM-57 and '58s. Naturally we had a two piece
band in that week.

This compilation was put together as a fundraiser due
to Zed once again going broke to dwindling public interest
and the usual confusion about direction and audience and
whatever else a station could be confused
about. The idea was that it cost us nothing to make,
acted as a promotional tool for the station and the bands,
and might make some bucks to boot.
Change was in the air at the station and huge arguments
ensued over changing the station's sound, removing the
female and local content quotas and even the station's
news programs. Somewhere in all of this the
decision was made that this compilation wasn't in the
station's best interests and nobody ever called me back
after I submitted the master for review.

It gives me great satisfaction to note how often the
bands featured on here cropped up in the yearly Hot
100 afterwards and that a track from one of these
sessions actually made it to the top two in an unmastered
form. So I do sleep better at night knowing they made
the wrong decision in not optioning the album, as they say.

I also have to give a special shout out to the people
involved in this: Damon, whose job as roadie mostly
consisted of keeping our engineer away from the desk
and mixing himself ; Tony, who never told anyone just how
many liberties I took with cables and gear from the office ;
Ben, who once or twice did actually help out ; Alex O, Waz
and Andy who did the engineering when Damon didn't ;
also a massive thanks to Adam R for mastering the tracks
in a way that made them go from live to alive.
You're a legend.

Given the differing circumstances from week to week,
it's probably important to say a little something these tracks.
The Community Cervix track was recorded with all two
hundred members of the band (okay, there was nine of them
or something) in a room the size of your lounge room with
no foldback. Dougie (vocals) couldn't hear himself at all.
Frankly, I think they deserve a medal for staying anywhere
near in time with one another... ... Dick Nasty's set was recorded
with the worst gear we ever used, though Adam managed to
'fix it in post' as they say... Listening closely to the first track
Gorgeous offered to us you could hear an eighteen wheeler
passing under the studio window, panning from left to
right - we had almost no soundproofing and relied on bands
being louder than the Valley traffic, which obviously didn't
work with a duo whose percussion instrument was a glockenspiel.
This one must have been during a red light... ... Double Chamber
had no compression on their recording whatsoever -
the gate and compressor were busted, and they were really
loud, so this recording is remarkably good, all things considered.
They were a band that never got their due, with the hilarious,
satirical desert rock with wicked intertwining guitar solos... ...
Giants of Science were the loudest band we ever had in -
in Studio 1 the lightbulbs were humming in their sockets
and I'm happy to say that this session raised their
profile a little, though they never made it as far as they
should have... ... I saw Mouthguard with Brisbane band
legend Ben Nose on guitar about two weeks before their session -
on the day of recording he carried in a drumkit, set up and played
drums instead... ... Steve Towson turned up
with the smallest amp and cheapest guitar any of us had ever seen,
played the fastest soundcheck in history before knocking off a
bottle of Stone's ginger wine while playing his totally unique
take on old school social movement folk music... ...
Omar's Basement performed as a two-piece on a week we had
about ten mics. In a different dimension (one where Zed had
released the album) I feel this song would have been an
instant classic in that Zed style of Pig City or Fuckhead Zone... ...
The Badnitz and Cervix shared some members and played back
to back weeks, one of which was during a no sleep weekend for me,
so it's all a blur... ... Kev, guitarist of the mighty Psychotic
Lemmings was asked by our engineer at the time, Warren,
to play his loudest and fastest sound and Kev complied.
Warren then asked for the slowest and quietest sound and
Kev shrugged and repeated the same riff. We fell about the
studio laughing... ... Dollarbar was our first band and about
all I remember was Dale being sober (a rarity) and Zed's
Alex O being behind the controls... ... Gazoonga Attack were
their charming and sultry selves and caused me a headache
by playing some of their songs double time, thus finishing
their set while I was out getting lunch... ... In hindsight,
the Fulcrum song included here probably isn't
their best nor is it a great recording (we were still having
problems with the gate and compressor), but they were
another top-notch example of the wave of rock bands
springing up everywhere at the time. The guitar player
was amazing - I hear he now lives in a tent with only
an acoustic guitar and a Bible... ... The Standing 8 Counts
put on a great gig in my absence. I was at my father's wedding.
No idea how that session went... ... Cherry
Cherry and the Export Data were easily one of my favourite
Brisbane bands - singer Cheryl's eccentric vocals and guitar
non-playing and drummer Alan's non-drumming (two toms,
no kick drum) were always entertaining and energetic... ...
Alan Nguyen's solo project of processed noise was great
to engineer - two cd players and a mixer... ... Solotaro was
one of those collaborations that feature a lot of talent and
only last for a short period of time. DMC turntable champ
DJ Sheep is now doing Ministry of Sound and trotting the globe.
This was their first gig, I believe, and mixing the violin,
flute and beatboxing was a trial... ....

Track List

Alan Nguyen - Birds on wire
Badnitz - IX to V slob instrumental
Cherry Cherry and the Export Data - Underwear song
Community Cervix - Friends
Dick Nasty - Ignorant Generation
Dollarbar - Journey to the centre of attention
Double Chamber - Earth buzz
Fulcrum - Typhoon Struggle
Gazoonga Attack - Chix
Giants of Science - Ive Tried
Gorgeous - The Butterfly Song
Mouthguard - Down the drain
Omars Basement - Busted
Psychotic Lemmings - Dugong Song
Solotaro - Funky chord jam
Standing 8 Counts - You make me stiff
Steve Towson - When the revolution comes

Download Here


chuck said...

this one looks nice..nice read thx dave for the effort.. good to see the zeds are still shooting the only remaining leg ....
all hail the blog !!

Bob, Brisbane, Australia said...

Your gonna love this one Chuck,
boy are you up early>
All hail the blog

John said...

Yeah long live triple zed!

Bob, Brisbane, Australia said...

Brisbane without 4ZzZ is unthinkable

Andy Chopper said...

why doesn't someone just put it out?

Raga said...

Another one I'd love to hear if you've still got a copy of it, Cheers Bob!

There shouldn't be too many to go!

Bob Nebe said...

back up