Posted November 21, 2005

Six Ft Hick: We used to suck but we're alright now

Six Ft Hick is one of the most exciting live bands in Australia toda. A bald statement of fact.

These guys have been around since 1995 but probably haven't gotten the attention they deserved until recently. Drawing from the deep wells of '50s rock and roll, country, punk and garage - but with a bias towards none of the aforementioned - the Hick are a sight to behold. It's largely due to them boasting the two-headed Rock Hydra up-front of brothers Geoff and Ben Corbett on vocals, variously expert in skills like bar-climbing, crowd-diving and chest hair incineration. You won't meet two more arresting frontmen unless Iggy pops into your local or G.G. Allin is re-animated. With these folks, however, it's all good clean fun, but there's that homicidal glint in the brothers' eyes that makes you not quite sure.

With two albums ("Chicken", "The Lap of Luxury") to their credit and another in the offing, Six Ft Hick have been builkding a substantial following outside their hometown of Brisbane. Brother Ben has been moonlighting with the Tremors and his offbeat psychodrama band Gentle Ben and His Senstitive Side, who take country blues and twisted crooning to places they're rarely been.

RICHARD SHARMAN decided to corner Gentle Ben and Geoff before a recent headlining gig at Annandale Hotel in Sydney. Here's what they spoke about. Live photos are by RUSSELL COOPER.

RS: Thanks guys for joining me… so the Six Ft Hick Story.

GC: In the beginning, there was God. In the beginning, there was a stone egg.

BC: And he created the Heaven and the Earth.

GC: Then you go forward a couple of thousand years…

RS: To a place named Brisbane?

GC: Yeah… but God didn’t create Brisbane.

BC: It was the other fella.

GC: We were hatched on the Sunshine Coast, inland a fair way. You know where the Big Pineapple is? About 500 metres from there.
And that’s where we grew up on a chicken farm.

I don’t know how it influenced Six Ft Hick – I don’t know if it did.

BC: It did.

GC: Down the track.

BC: We have a lot of songs about chickens.

GC: But music wise we never listened to country or anything. Not when we very young.

BC: The first album I ever got was the Thompson Twins, "Into the Gap".

GC: The first one I got was "Disco Nights". (much laughter on the tape). That just goes to show just how fucking old I am!

RS: How old are you today?

GC: I’m 37.

RS: Happy Birthday.

RS: I have a couple of years on you.

GC: There you go, you would have appreciated "Disco Nights".

BC: And "Into the Gap".

GC: They were both fucking good albums; I wish I had copies of them still.

RS: So you moved from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane at some stage.

GC:Via Toowoomba.

BC: Geoff went via Toowoomba.

GC:I went to uni in Toowoomba and did the degree that took five years to hatch. Toowoomba was great. That’s where I learned to appreciate country music and horrible drugged-up music.

RS: So, were your family musical?

GC: No.

BC: It was just us.

GC: Dad was into Gilbert and Sullivan musicals and Mum read books, that was about it.

BC: Mum probably got me into the being on stage thing. She used to enter me in Eisteddfods to do poetry.As a little girl.Because we’d stand more chance of winning as a girl.

GC: With your full breasts.

BC: And there was big prize money in the speech and drama eisteddfods.

RS: What age was that?

BC: That would have been probably between 9 and 12 or something I was doing that stuff mainly.And then I started listening to punk rock and that ruined my prospects of going anywhere with life.

GC: In general.

RS: Is Six Ft Hick the first band you guys were in?

BC: The first one we were in together. Geoff’s been playing music a lot longer than me. I stepped into his band Greenacres on a couple of occasions just to do a couple of songs. But he was in a band called the Grim Rippers which went for a while before that. I used to sneak into pubs underage and go and see them. They were great. I loved the Rippers.

GC: Yeah, they were a very weird band. Costume rock.

RS: What type of music?

GC: Just fucking party rock. Three chord party rock.

BC: Well you could sort of ascertain what kind of music just by looking at their choice of covers, stuff like Fight for Your Right to Party by the Beastie Boys and a cover of Drop Out by the Beasts of Bourbon.

GC: Black Flag, Husker Du, Beasts, Beastie Boys, Big Black.

BC: All that shit. It’s all good stuff.

GC: The first song I ever did live on stage was Drop Out the Beasts’ cover.

RS: And you’ve still got the Beasts shirt on.

GC: Yeah, Yeah. Well you know it’s good.

RS: So how long ago was that and then what was the journey to Six Ft Hick.

BC: Well the Hicks began in '95 and I was coming to see you in the Rippers when I was like 15 or 16.

GC: Grim Rippers was '87, I think.

BC: Yeah.

GC: '87 shit – I’ve got no fucking concept when that was. It was a long time ago, I wasn’t in bands when I was 16 or 17 I kinda drifted into it in my early 20s. I left it really late.

RS: Does it really matter when?

GC: No it doesn’t, it just matters how.

RS: How long were the Rippers going for?

GC: Two or three years I think at least. We put out one EP.

RS: So that was in Brisbane.

GC: Toowoomba and then we moved down to Brisbane.

RS: What was the music scene like in Brisbane at that stage?

GC: It was kinda pre-grunge. Grunge was just about to hit. Bud was just starting up. We used to play with Bud when they were just a Mudhoney covers band. There were bands like Blow Hard around.

BC: Aim, The Killers.

GC: Aim were a Brisbane hardcore band. They just recently got back together to play some shows. Which was really cruel and funny. I saw all those blokes at a funeral a couple of weeks ago. It was good to see all those guys. Fat was another one.

RS: What happened between the Rippers and Six Ft Hick?

GC: I was in a band called Green Acres and then that kind of dissolved.I think there was seven months between that finishing and Six Ft Hick getting together.

RS: What was the catalyst for that?

GC: We did this stage show, Ben and I wrote this stage show called Country Style Livers, which was like a death country musical. Six Ft Hick was the band in this musical. When that finished Ben was trying to get a band together and it broke up.

BC: Because, the drummer went insane.

GC: Yeah, yeah the drummer went insane.

BC: He took a red dragon. He fucking lost it.

GC: He was a fucking unit, and I’ve dealt with some units in my time. So they decided they can’t do that. I was doing something and it fucked up and we just went, hey why don’t we just be in this band where we both fucking sing. That’ll be funny.

BC: And we sucked for the first three or four years. We sucked it bad.

RS: Was the performance aspect always a big part of the show or is it something that grew with time?

BC: It pretty much was but it definitely grew with time.

GC: We really hated the shoe gazing grunge thing. Everyone was into fucking Swervedriver and shit like that and we really dug Black Flag and stuff like that. We were getting around in very small shorts and Dunlop volleys and just fucking shit up. It just went right over peoples’ fucking heads. But mind you, the first few years we made some fucking horrible music (and continue to to this day).

BC: Now it’s our kind of horrible music. It took it a while to find our feet; we didn’t have that charming thing a lot of young bands have.
We were really raw and just sucked.

RS: One of my best friends said you guys scared the shit out of her, but not in a bad way.

GC: We get that. (laughing) A few people have said they get freaked out by the macho thing. I was just saying at dinner people just have to get to know us and they will know our love of Gilbert and Sullivan and our quaint art deco ceramic collections.

BC: He’s not kidding!

RS: Over the last few years, you guys have gained a reputation of putting on one of the best live shows in Australia.

GC: We’ve had lots of practice.

BC: We might have been getting something right.

RS: What is it about 500 shows?

BC: Something around that. We haven’t been keeping count unfortunately, but I’d like to know.

GC: We lost count around 400.

BC: We’ve lost count of the number of tours we’ve done.

GC: We used to hire vans from this one place in Brisbane and every time we would take a van out, we’d put a notch on their sign. I don’t know how many we hired through them, we lost count. All of those were East coast tours; I think it was 38 through them. You take into account the tours we’ve done in my van, the ones we’ve flown. We’ve flown shitloads.

The tours that Gentle Ben and The Tremors have done we’ve been up and down must be about 100 times by now.

BC: We’d be up there with any current bands as far as road miles go.

GC: Frequent driver points.

RS: What about some tales from the road, highlights or lowlights of life in the road with The Hick?

GC: My favourite one is outside of Goondiwindi when Fred (drummer) was drunk coming out of Brisbane and he had to have a piss. I don’t know who was driving but they refused to stop.

Fred climbed out and went like that over the back of the Hi Ace. (Geoff leans back and demonstrates a rather hilarious pose for urinating at this point) arched over the back as we took this sweeping bend with a road train coming the other way at 130k’s.

BC: Yeah, that’s a good one.

GC: It was a beautiful golden arc.

RS: Any favourite shows?

BC: I really enjoyed some shows we did in Perth some years ago supporting Frenzal Rhomb. It was the first time we had been to Perth and Geoff and I made a pact in the plane on the way over that we would take no prisoners.

GC: It was one of those things, we love those Frenzal Rhomb guys but their crowd kinda hated us. They didn’t all hate us; we managed to pretty much split them down the middle between just loving it and hating it. The shows were like a running battle with the crowd, shit got broken badly, people spitting on us, throwing glasses at our heads, trying to pick fights. It was just like, Yeah Alright! And they were good shows.

BC: It was a great time and that kind of stood us in good stead for whenever we returned. We’ve been back twice.

GC: Always good gigs.

BC: We always had this thing when we first started touring to Melbourne. We’ve just spent 20 hours in a fucking van; we didn’t come here to fuck up.

UNKOWN PERSON: What the fuck is going on here?

GC: An interview. (much laughter as the person made a rapid exit)

RS: So you have a new album in the can? I guess we’ll be seeing a bit of that tonight.

GC: Yeah there will be a few, more than a few new songs and we’re going to play some really old shit.

RS: When does it come out?

GC: The album is out in March.

RS: Also, there are some live recordings tonight and tomorrow night, are they coming out at the same time as the album?

GC: Yeah. We’re going to do a limited run of double albums with the new and the live album together. After that, you will just have to get them separately.

RS: Is it being videoed tonight?

GC: We’re not but The Annandale is. I think they might put something out at some stage, which would be cool.

RS: Did you make it on to the first Annandale DVD?

GC: No, I don’t think we’re mainstream enough. (laughter)

RS: How’s Six Ft Hick fitting in with your side projects, The Tremors and Gentle Ben and His Sensitive Side?

GC: It’s working well. We’ve managed to get everyone who books shows to get hold of each other’s numbers.

BC: It seems to be working OK.

GC: It actually works to our advantage sometimes because it means some people are in a certain city at some stage so it’s easier to fly a couple of people down rather than fly the whole band down.

RS: What’s going on with Gentle Ben and The Tremors?

BC: The Sensitive Side have just released another album and we’re gonna be huge because of that. Massive!

GC: Well you’re already over six foot.

BC: Only when I’m wearing heels. Which I am. We’re just going to tour that.

GC: The Tremors have just got out of their record deal with Due Process/Universal.

Fred (drummer interjecting from the background): I’ve just signed them to my new label – This Band Sucks a Lotta Cock.

GC: We sold our souls to Fred.

Fred: So you have souls?

RS: Is there a new Tremors album in the works?

GC: Not in the near future, just going to do the Hick thing for a while.

RS: You mentioned you had some other project in the wings.

GC: Nosferatu D2 – yeah that’s in the wings.

BC: We’ve got a lot of projects in the wings.

GC: Yeah, The Scouts will be coming out. Which is another incarnation of Six Ft Hick.

RS: What’s different between The Scouts and The Hick?

GC: We wear scout uniforms! (much laughter)

GC: And we get drunk and we play loud rock n roll.

BC: We’ve written a lot of song titles but we haven’t written the actual songs yet.

GC: “Possessed to Scout”, “Scout or Die”

BC: “Kick out the Jamborees”

GC: “Scouting’s not a Crime”, you get the idea.

BC: “Dib dib dib dob dob dob”, that’s a favourite of mine, “Camp as a row of tents”.

RS: We might wrap this up because you have a show to play and Ian Rilen is starting. But before you go seeing this is an interview for The i94 Bar, what’s your favourite drink?

GC: My favourite drink is a cocktail I invented myself called The Downward Spiral. It’s a scotch on the rocks with a dash of water!

BC: That’s damned classy!

RS: What about you Ben?

BC: What about your Six Ft Hick cocktail?

GC: It’s every brown spirit in the bar poured into a cowboy boot. I’ve had that – it’s quite nice!

RS: Thanks guys and have a great night.