Posted March 22, 2007
Capital of the state of Queensland in Australia's sub-tropical and tropical north, Brisbane used to be a place where southerners escaped to retire or make a fast buck. Just about every left-of-centre musical endeavour (read: non-mainstream band) was either crushed by a repressive, police regime or moved elsewhere to make a name for itself. As time marched on and Brisbane became less of a backwater, the climate for rock and roll normalized, and while there still aren't many venues around, there is a small but thriving core of bands making a go of it. One of the best is the DangerMen, who have a new and very rocking second album, "The Dark Place", in the racks.
Drawing a line through gritty Australian R & B forebears like the Missing Links and the Purple Hearts, adding a dash of surf and applying a grimy second skin of Saints and Stooges-influenced, blood-and-peanut-butter-flecked punk rock, the DangerMen are breathing life into the local circuit of sticky carpet, beer-stained pubs. They're also on the eve of taking their thang to Melbourne, in tandem with two-chord mock horror punks The Hymies. THE BARMAN decided that was reason enough to corner DangerMen drummer MUCHOS LARMOS for a beer and a game of 20 Questions. The cartoon is by RICK CHESSHIRE. Here's the tale of the tape...
Muchos gracias for joining us in the Bar, Muchos. Give us a quick rundown on the history of the DangerMen? How many years have you been going and how did you start?
G’day Barman, thanks for having me over. We originally formed eight years ago as The Tarantulas, a band that never played anywhere other than under Dr Rock's house. Things seemed to click pretty well and it was always more about having a few laughs and drinking beer – we'd laughed so hard about starting a band that we finally had to go and do it. Then Dr Rock went overseas for a year and when he returned we started jamming a bit more seriously and out of that The Dangermen formed. We've been going for about five-and-a-half years now and have been through a few line-up changes but the current line up has been together for about two years and is the one you can hear in action on our new album, "The Dark Place".
We put out a 7” single at the end of 2002 on Wild Eagle Records and released our debut full length CD “Summer of Danger” in 2004, also on Wild Eagle.
What's the current line-up?
Zoltane the Maniac on vocals, Dr Rock on guitar, Sven Switchblade on bass, and myself on drums.
Where did the band's name come from?
We sat around a table drinking beer and brainstormed around 100 names. We then each picked 5 of the names on the list that appealed to us and it was decided that whichever name occurred most out of the short lists, we’d run with that. No common names came up the first time so we had a second tilt at it and The Dangermen came up trumps. In my mind at the time I always thought of how in the paper and on the news certain players in sports teams would be described as the Dangermen. Funnily enough, I don’t have that association any more. For a brief time before the beer fuelled ballot we called ourselves The In and Outs.
Were you pissed off to hear Madness had ripped it off for an album of cover versions?
Some guy who moderates a Madness message board e-mailed us asking for comment on the whole issue at the time and our second guitarist at that time, Dover, e-mailed back with “No Comment”. So they were aware of us and they ended up calling the album The Dangermen Sessions and releasing it under the name Madness, originally they were going to call the band The Dangermen. We joked at the time that we could get a bit of publicity out of it but in the end we just couldn’t have been bothered beating it up and I don’t think anyone would have given a toss anyway. We’re definitely not fans of Madness though, although I’ve been guilty of humming along to "Our House" at one time or another.
You guys are mentioned, more often than not, for the antics of your singer Zoltane the Maniac. You must get a good view from behind the kit so what's the most extreme thing he's got up to onstage?
He’s fallen into the drum kit a few times and moved everything around making it very difficult for me to keep playing. He’s also done a few shows lying on the floor for most of the gig. We played with Devil Rock 4 at Ric’s Bar in Brisbane a good six or more months ago and they put on quite a polished show, bit of a contrast to us that night. We played before them and Zoltane was off his chops, jumping all around the room, writhing around on the floor and generally being quite belligerent. He got kicked out of the bar as soon as we finished playing. He definitely adds an unpredictable element to shows, which is good.
How often do you play? Is it a problem getting shows in Brisbane? How many venues are running regularly?
We generally play one or two times a month these days. We used to play a bit more than that but it’s not really worth our while to do so any more. A few venues have shut down over the years and a few a more have opened up. You’ve got about half a dozen or more places to play in the Valley and a few others in the city and inner suburbs – not that many now that I think of it. The Troubadour in the Valley is a great venue and it’s pretty Rock ‘n’ Roll friendly. Fat Louie’s in the city is nice and dingy and welcomes all types of music.
The bigger touring shows are at least getting to Brisbane much of the time. Who have you guys supported?
We haven’t really supported too many touring bands. Guitar Wolf, the Datsuns, 50 Kaitenz and we’ve played with the Cosmic Psychos and the Queers at Festivals – that’s all I can recall. There seems to be a handful of Brisbane bands that keep getting support slots, probably because they’ve got management or connections. We couldn’t be bothered with any of that bullshit. We missed out on supporting the Von Bondies because I was overseas – not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. And we missed out on supporting the Hard Ons because Sven was overseas.
While we're on the subject of the local scene, give us a couple of names of Brisbane bands to look out for?
The Hits, R.A.D., The Shrewms, Warm Guns, The Ten Fours, New Wave Hookers and frequent visitors to I94 Bar may already be familiar with The Hymies, The Money and The Busymen.
This is album number two and it's a marked progression from the first. How long did it take to work up and record? Is it hard for Brisbane bands to get a break?
We’re fairly pleased with it. We worked the songs up over about 6 months, a new song here and there at rehearsal, and recorded it over 2 days at Scream Ahead Studios in Brisbane tracking all the beds live on the first day with guitar, vocal and other overdubs on the second day. Adrian Carroll, who is Dr Rock’s cousin and played guitar early on with the Splatterheads, produced it. Scream Ahead is set up so you can record to two-inch tape and has a good room sound - at least that's what Adrian led us to believe. He scouted out places and settled on Scream Ahead. It’s probably a bit harder for Brisbane bands to get a break as compared to Melbourne or Sydney bands. Rock ‘n’ Roll is a bit overlooked in Brisbane as well. It definitely seems to be an indie town.
Merenoise looks to be a pretty active label up there. What happened to Wild Eagle?
Yeah, Merenoise is coming along in leaps and bounds, it’s run by Pete and Ben from the Vegas Kings. I hope they’re selling a few records and generate enough interest to keep going because they’re putting out some good stuff and will attempt to continue to do so. I don’t know that they’ll be counting on us to put a bit of coin in their money boxes though.
It seems as though it’s all over for Wild Eagle, I’m not sure though, it may continue to put stuff out sporadically. James, aka Scarlet Eagle, is working hard towards becoming a sparky and I don’t think he has the time to give to running a record label that makes no money at the moment.
The songs on 'The Dark Place' sound a bit more developed. Is that a fair call?
Yeah, that’s a fair call. It’s probably a function of us becoming better as players and taking a little more time with songs. Dr Rock writes pretty much all the music and Zoltane comes up with all the lyrics and I know the good Dr was going out of his way to come up with some different sounding songs for the album – “The Dark Place” (the song) is the Dr trying to channel the Sunnyboys, for example.
There are a couple of songs with surf themes. Do any of you surf or do you just hate the people that do?
We don’t hate people that surf and we’ve all surfed or attempted to do so at one time or another. Zoltane loves the Beach Boys and I think he may also have been attempting to appeal to surfers who like Rock ‘n’ Roll, maybe harkening back to that golden pub rock era ruled by bands like Radio Birdman, the Celibate Rifles and early Oils – with his own unique take on it all. I should call him and ask him about it but his phone’s always off the hook.
I know you featured on Carbon 14's Monsters of Australian Rock disc, released with the magazine and including people like Birdman and The Drones. Have you had much reaction from the US to that?
We’ve had a few people who run underground Rock ‘n’ Roll radio shows e-mail us and ask for free CDs to play on their shows! That’s about it I think. Maybe we’ve made a few garage rocker MySpace friends as well…
Your tour of Melbourne with the Hymies is coming up. Do either of you get out of Brisbane much? Any plans after that?
We made it to Melbourne in November of last year to launch “The Dark Place” and we had a blast so we wanted to make it back down sooner rather than later – we’re playing at Exile on Smith St on Friday the 13th of April and will soon confirm a Saturday show. I’m not sure when the Hymies last played outside of Brisbane – we did play a Turbojugend Boat Cruise together a few weekends ago but that doesn’t really count. The Dangermen tried to line up some shows in Sydney last year as well but it proved to be too much of a hassle, it seems to be a pretty dead scene. Generally we don’t get out of Brisbane too much, it’d be cool to play up and down the Coast in Queensland but no-one would know who the hell we are. But I think we’d go down well with those crowds, so we might look into that.
We’ve got nearly enough new songs for another album so we might start working on putting that together soon. I put a sound proof room in under my house recently and nabbed a Tascam eight- track, we’ve been experimenting with that and you can get some pretty good sounds out of it. So good that we think we’ll do the next album on it, over a period of time rather than in one hit. Maybe one song a weekend, just a few hours here and there. That’ll give us time to experiment a bit more and allow us to get takes that we’re happy with, no paying for studio time.
Since we're in a Bar, what are you drinking?
Cooper’s Pale Ale. Later in the evening, a Bloody Mary or three.
The DangerMen's album "The Dark Place" is out now on Merenoise Records. Hear some DangerMen on myspace.
The DangerMen and The Hymies play Melbourne in April 2007:
Exile on Smith Street, Collingwood
The Dangermen and The Hymies
April 14th (normal time - not late show)
The Pony Bar, Melbourne City
The Dangermen and The Hymies + more TBA.