Posted December 7, 2004


We have to confess a deep and abiding conviction that it's the veterans who show all but a handful of youngsters how to make Real Rock Action. You can insist that rock and roll is a young man's (or woman's) game, but there's no substitute for experience in a tight spot.

That's why it warms the cockles of the heart to say that Sydney's latest debutants, Vindicator Electro, are bringing to the stage a whole of lot of history.

Consider the pedigree:

Frontman Mark Sisto is the former singer for the Visitors who, prior to that, was Minister of Defence and back-up singer for Radio Birdman. Shows with a couple of line-ups of The Manifestations in the '80s and '90s dot his musical curriculum vitae. He was also raised in Detroit and saw the MC5 and the Stooges in the flesh. So there.

Guitarist Dean Coulter was an integral part of the seriously underrated Decline of the Reptiles in the 1980s. He also did time with the Slaughterhouse Five (featuring later Celibate Rifle and The Eastern Dark member James Darroch.) Sang/played guitar for the shortlived Free Radicals (along with current bandmate Andy Newman), some of whose songs Vindicator Electro have adopted.

Behind the traps is guitarist for Radio Birdman and numerous other infamous bands, Chris "Klondike" Masuak. You may think he's unaccustomed to the drumming role but, no, it's one he's filled before with surf band The Raouls. He just loves to hit things and make a racket.

Bassist Andy Newman has played with ME-262, Rattlesnake Shake and a final line-up of the Screaming Tribesmen. He also played in the infamous Party Bores, a party cover band that garduated to "real" shows and featuring (among others) James Darroch, future The Eastern Dark drummer Geoff Milne and Sheek the Shayk guitarist Steve Lorkin.

Bruce Tatham rounds things off on keyboards, and his history includes Mother Jones, Decline of the Reptiles as well as session work for the Lime Spiders and a dozen other Sydney bands.

THE BARMAN was treated to a preview of the band in rehearsals prior to their forthcoming first Sydney show, and leaned on Mark Sisto to answer a few quick questions.

Q: Vindicator Electro is an evocative band name. It sounds like you're committing an act of vengeance. If so, who against? Who came up with the name anyway?

Against who? All the fuckers who are fucked, yeah , fuck 'em.

I came up with it. It rhymes with Vincebus Eruptum and it also means "to arrogate", "to lay claim to","to clear one's self of guilt", "to take action to regain possession," "to uphold", "to put things right" and the medium is "electric". Get it?

How long's the band been in rehearsals and how did you all get together? Is this a one-off show or a project with a longer lifespan?

Our rehearsals go for about three hours, it's been slow getting on a roll, we get along great, a shared spirit. It should be more than one show, fer sher, fer sher.

It's been a long time since you last got up on stage in Australia. Apart from doing a couple of Visitors tunes with the Deniz Tek Group a few years back, the last Manifestations line-up must have been in about '95. Why the lay-off?

I have been a prisoner of an Illuminatti , psycho mind control cult - and that is no cute joke. Very traumatic. And there may be some legal things, so the rest is hush hush.

I do know you played a show with Easy Action in Philadelphia earlier this year. Tell us about that.

Not Easy Action, That was CHROME HORSE DIPLOMATS: Steve and Kevin McCarthy...damned sorry but I can't remember the names of the others except the incomparable Cosmic Commander, who may be gracing our shores in January. A hell of a guy!!! He fucked my head up , he will fuck with your psychology in a heartbeat. He is a psycho brute. I love the guy. Pete Patterson (ex-Melting Skyscrapers, Rattlesnake Shake and Mother Jones) was in on it too. I love Philadelphia - the home of Chuck Bednarik (Philadelphia Eagles football hero).

How come you're a Philly Eagles fan? I thought you'd be Detroit Lions, through and through.

When I was a kid, my father being a New Yorker and my older brother - who still remembered NY - were Giants fans, It wasn't fun to be on the same side. The Giants' rivals were the Eagles. They had a cool helmet logo,

I also liked Philly because of American bandstand (Dick Clark) it was the original Countdown or Rage type show. And my favorite band at the time was the Four Seasons and Dion and the Belmonts (who was from Brooklyn, but what did I know? I was six, we're talking 1960-61.)

I also liked Ben Franklin . So Philly was on my map.

I loved that helmet design.

Now Chuck Bednarik was one fearsome linebacker. Well, the short story is THAT Bednarik gave pretty boy and NY Giants quarterback Frank Gifford a skull slamming tackle. The Eagles won. Gifford was finished. It was the talk of football for two years.

The Detroit Lions were sad. The only thing enjoyable about the Lions was Alex Karras, a very funny guy. He made the mistake of teasing pro wrestler Dick the Bruiser about being a phony athlete, The Bruiser busted up Karras and a few other Lions, and six Detroit cops - one in particular a 6ft 6in guy - had his femur snapped. The Bruiser, who was already on parole, got kicked out of wrestling (again.)

This happened at Lindel AC, a now defunct but famous Detroit sports bar.

Back in those days, Detroit had Gordy Howe (hockey) and Al Kaline (baseball). I was a Detroit fan enough to have room for the Eagles who are kicking ass this year.

Back to Vindicator Electro. Who are the main songwriters and how do you describe what you do?

That's Dean ("What do you mean Dean") Coulter: I love this guy's songs. He is a generous soul; on occasion I have bent some of the lyrics and he isn't too precious about it.

Of what we do, I can't describe it too well. It's doing live music, like a million people have over all time. The need is the same as ever - a fleeting grasp at some inner sovereignty. Sound goes out, instead of the usual IN IN IN assualt of the psychological warfare waged on us all.

Also we would like to hope we can find a moment of real generousity, do something of some value for the listeners, try to give back to the big well that gave joy to us. Something playfulland other moods too. And to do so NOT WITH MUSIC that is merely, more notes, more speed, more louder and calling that More Music.

You and Chris Masuak have an association spanning 30 years and I believe he played in the first line-up of Manifestations. How long do you go back with Dean and Andy Newman?

I became acquainted about 1990, then over time friendship grew. Andy was in the latter version of the Manifestations.

From the little I've heard of the band in rehearsals, Bruce Tatham's keyboards play an important role in filling out the sound and adding texture. I know you've worked with a keyboard player (Pip Hoyle and Bruce, I think) before in the Visitors and Manifestations. Was that something you wanted to do again with this band?

Bruce was in The Manifestations as well, Bruce is WAY welcome to be on board, its is difficult to keep people together with day jobs and families. Minimalism is easier to manage. Bruce is a plus.

I believe the set you're doing is almost all originals but boasts one cover song that you chose. Tell us more.

Johnny Cash's " When the Man Comes Around" It is the last major piece he did, and it's off the American Series. He said it was the song he spent the most time on, more than any in his whole life, I wish I could hear some of the other
versions, to me it's so rich.

Somebody said they thought it was a Nick Cave song, THE FUCK!!! I ALMOST STARTED TO SWING PUNCHES!!!!! FUCK SHIT PRICK!!!

Now you've put your foot back in the water with Vindicator Electro, what odds a Visitors reunion?

No ideological reasons against it . For me nor Deniz. Just logistics and time (which is tough and hard to beat) Also, it would be a nice way to plug the Vindicator which deserves it righteously, I swear.

Vindicator Electro supports the final Sheek the Shayk show with special guests Asteroid B612 at the Empire Hotel at Annandale, in Sydney, on Friday, December 10. Vindicator Electro plays from 8.30pm.