Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Bad!Slam!No!Biscuit! poetry slam at the Phoenix is Canberra’s most popular regular art thing of any kind and their 20-minute feature slot has been a real boon to some of my more specific music ventures. Last nights’ Bad!Slam! was a particular hoot, as my friend Reuben Ingall and I launched our split single Nick Delatovic/Reuben Ingall’s Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah. It was a fitting launch venue as the whole premise was hatched in the Phoenix to start with.

It was a Monday night and the legendary Magic Rob Universe has just taken the stage. The inimitable Magic Rob introduced their first song by saying ‘this one’s called Led Zeppelin’s Rock’n’Roll’. They of course launched into a cover of Rock’n’Roll, but I turned to Reuben in the moment and said that I wished they’d written a song about Led Zeppelin’s Rock’n’Roll and named it Led Zeppelin’s Rock ‘n’ Roll. It took about three minutes for our conversation to escalate into an agreement to both write a song called Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah and release it as a double A-side.

Reuben is one of the best sound artists and music-makers I know but he’s less known for doing narrative lyrics, so I was completely blown away by the sheer classic songcraft of his track. He really jumped into this with both feet, and his sweetly sardonic tale of being at the mercy of a daggy-but-devastating funeral slideshow milks more genuine feeling than our starting premise could have ever suggested. His song is the best of the two, God-dammit.


My track is about a sad-sack music snob who’s just been dumped and is ill-advisedly trying to drown his sorrows at the same pub his ex and he used to go. As he gives into drunkeness and despair the cliched jukebox playlist starts to pull him in against his better judgement, and he becomes dimly aware of the raw spiritual power that horrendously overplayed songs can hold over a group of struggling strangers at 2.30am. The lyrics are very music-nerdy and it’s has nowhere near the weight of Reuben’s effort, but it’s become one of my favorite songs that I’ve ever written.

Aside from Reuben this was a great excuse to work with some of my favorite musicians. Our band had Reubs on guitar, my Missing Lincolns FamBro Chris Glesson, Finger Your Friends bandleader Emma MacManus on bass, Cathy Petocz on backing vocals and Matt ‘Jesus of Ainslie’ Lustri on guitar. Nick McCorriston produced it and nailed the dashed-off garage vibe by recording us in an actual garage.

As our Bad!Slam! slot was 20 minutes we padded out our set with a cover of my favorite track by my friend and ultra-prolific SongBorg Fuzzsucker. Youse should all check out his whole deal:





Among many things, my dad is an artist. We’ve bonded over our love of painters for years now, trading stories of museum visits (I’m still jealous of his trip to the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh), and discussing ideas and composition. Dad’s painting more and more at present – his workshop, formally festooned with power tools and equipment, is now stocked with paintbrushes and biscuit-joiners (he also makes his own frames). I was fortunate enough to commission a piece last year – following a cover version he made of The Night Café, I asked him to recreate one of my favourite Van Gogh’s (The Yellow House) from the postcard facsimile I brought back from Amsterdam. Both now hang on my wall.


We also share a long-running love of Jackson Pollock. Years ago, we went so far as to make our own action painting, standing side by side dripping paint over the canvas. It quickly took pride of place in the living room. Contemplating ways to decorate my soon-to-be daughter’s room, I thought a similar work, painted by her father and grandfather, would be a perfect addition. It’s a way of passing the baton, initiating her into our cult from a young age. And what kid doesn’t like a Pollock (or a well-intentioned knock-off)? It’s a style that fires the imagination, that has something interesting and different in every corner, that could be a forest, or a map, or a galaxy, all three and more, at the same time.


The result now hangs above the crib. Our only concession to its setting was the palette – bright but soft, like melted ice-cream. We christened it Gold Poles (though Icy Poles might be more apt), and it reminded me of this recollection I wrote in 2008 after a visit to the NGA:

Pollock remains my guy. Or our guy. He’s our man on the inside, who somehow slipped past all the phonies and hustlers, and now he’s up on the wall. I’ve loved his paintings for so long I thought it might have been something I’d grow out of, like getting an undercut or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle soundtrack. But no, he’s still the Shit. Even at the NGA there is so much wank – you’d be forgiven for thinking half their collection was made by that girl in high school with the chipped black nail polish and a dream journal. But turning the corner and seeing Blue Poles still jolts.

“Expressive spontaneity as a means of bypassing the constraints of Western tradition”. Whatever. The fact is Pollock is no bullshit, zero pretension. He’s not being clever, there are no riddles. There’s no irony. There is nothing in his work that makes you feel dumb for not getting it. There’s nothing to get. It needs no explanation, it just stuns. It’s pure velocity.