Thirty-five years ago, Australia’s booming ‘pub culture’ provided a fertile ground for the country’s live music scene and bands like The Angels, Cold Chisel and Rose Tattoo were permanent fixtures at boozy, smoky rock venues all around the country. Venues where your shoes stuck to the beer scented carpet like chewing gum and probably more than the legally allowed number of sweaty patrons filled the room to the rafters to see and hear their favourite bands play the songs that are now referred to as ‘classic hits’.
The Bombay Bicycle Club in Melbourne’s Brunswick was one such venue and the recently released ‘Tatts: Live in Brunswick’ is a 14-track album recorded live at the venue in the early 80s and now remastered to capture that time in the band’s history.
I caught up with singer Angry Anderson to talk about the live album and a series of gigs his band will be doing to promote this latest release.
According to Angry, it is believed that the recording was made at a Rose Tattoo gig at the venue in 1982. “We’re not absolutely sure but then again, never let the truth get in the way of a good tale. It’s the early 80s and we think it’s 1982. It’s the classic romantic story of the missing treasure trove and this one quite literally is true.” He tells me that there are, apparently, some missing tapes of out-cuts and tracks that didn’t make it on to the album, from the days when Rose Tattoo recorded with Alberts. “Alberts released it through a series of major labels like Festival originally I think and then EMI and then later on I think BMG maybe and then Sony. Having said that, we knew that there was a box of tapes from the studio sessions. We also knew that there were reels, tapes of live albums that had been recorded over the years.” As Angry points out, it seems that over the years many tapes of classic albums had been thrown out, probably by people who really didn’t understand what they were doing or the significance of the items they were discarding and there was, of course, the possibility that some of the tapes they were looking for might be among those. “So, our crew went looking through these labels at old warehouses.” Some of the boxes weren’t clearly marked and some weren’t marked at all. It was a tedious process, going through each box of tapes but the search proved fruitful. “Our crew found several boxes of missing tapes and so we’ve got enough live tapes for about half a dozen very good, very well recorded and played well enough on the night to release pretty much as they are. In fact, this one was remastered only digitally to boost the frequencies because it’s an old tape and that’s it. There’s no overdubs or anything, even though it was a multi-track, we felt that the recording was true enough and good enough. There’s some pretty rough moments in it but that’s the beauty of live music so we basically just remastered it and digitally refreshed it, so to speak, and it came out ‘warts and all’ as they say.”
He points out that there were a couple of songs that were not included on the album. In one instance, a fight had broken out close to the front of the stage. “And, as I used to do, I’ve stopped the band mid song and basically verbally gave these fellows a lashing, threatening them with physical violence and using language that shouldn’t appear (on the album). They chose not to reproduce that bit and the great thing about it was, we sort of launched back into the song almost at the point where we finished as if nothing had happened which was pretty funny but the language was too blue to put it on and there was another song where the tuning was really, really bad in the opening chords and the band kept playing and I tried to get in on the vocal and just couldn’t because the tuning was pretty bad.” He believes that this recording really captures the feel of the band’s live shows during that period and is a good representation of what the gigs were like back in the day. “There’s a few songs off the first album and a couple of songs off the second album but predominantly the songs are off the new album which at that stage was ‘Scarred for Life’. We were just writing those songs and we recorded the album around about that time and then we took it straight to America and that was ’83. We toured in America in ‘83 and that was the year a lot of things changed for me, not just musically but my daughter was born so I decided to clean myself up as a person from my physical habit as well as my emotional dependencies etc. It’s a real slice out of a pivotal moment for Rose Tattoo because, in a roundabout sort of way, it was the beginning of the recognition that Rose Tattoo now enjoys internationally. When we toured ‘Scarred for Life’ in America, we toured part of the year with ZZ Top, part of the year with Aerosmith, we toured with Nazareth, we toured with a couple of other bands doing smaller venues and that was when we met the boys that went on to form Guns ‘n’ Roses. So, it was a very pivotal moment in our life; in the history of the band, for a lot of different reasons.”
“We were never very comfortable in the studio. We liked what we produced but we saw ourselves more as a live act. Most bands will say that but a lot of bands really record well. They can do that right from the very beginning. They just have a natural affinity with the studio or they’re very good at being recorded or having themselves recorded. We were a live band and we just lived to play live. We toured obsessively. We hated not being on the road and that took its toll later on but we weren’t to know that at the time. It was going to wear us out or burn us out.”
“Anyway I signed up with a few other old crusties, joined a new label called Golden Robot and they signed a bunch of old war dogs, rock dogs, rock pigs whatever you want to call them because their philosophy was that these people helped to establish the industry and they’re without deals so the guy who started the label thought that was a travesty of justice and people like myself and a few others should have deals so we were offered deals and, quite properly, he has signed a bunch of new acts because they’re the future. It’s kind of like having faith in your own industry.” Angry readily admits to not knowing some of these new, younger artists but, he says, “having listened to some of their music, I think there’s some really talented young people out there doing some really, really good stuff.”
Acknowledging that the music scene has changed a great deal over the years, he recalls what it was like thirty or forty years ago when the so-called ‘pub culture’ kept live music going in this country. “As you know, in our day, you used to play a different pub every night of the week. You could do that for weeks and weeks and weeks or months in a row, moving from state to state of course but in N.S.W. alone, there must have been fifty big pubs you could play at any one given time. There was a big rock pub in every main town. It was a better industry then, as far as fertility goes. It was nurtured and supported. (There was) some amazing talent. We have been doing a bunch of shows in recent years, ten or twelve bands each playing a couple of songs from the seventies and the eighties. I remember sitting around having a conversation with Glenn Shorrock and Ralph (Richard Clapton), the guys from 1927, Pseudo Echo and Ross Wilson was there and we were just nattering about the old days and none of them have got a major deal anymore,” he laments, remarking on what a travesty it is. “Because these people are even better than they were back then. You keep on doing gigs for a lot of different reasons but one of the benefits, one of the bonuses is that you get better at it.”
And right now, he is happy to ‘blow the trumpet long and loud’ for his new band. “The Angry Anderson Band, (until we get a proper name),” he says, “is arguably some of the best rock players in the country and so we’re getting an amazing musicianship. We play the entire set and I have to say, these guys are so good that they could easily be Rose Tattoo in name.” But Angry is adamant that he has no immediate plans to reform Rose Tattoo. “I promised our drummer (Paul DeMarco) that I wouldn’t reform the band; that I would only reform the band to celebrate him getting out of jail. Having said that, part of his rehabilitation process is that he gets rid of his addictions and he’s got to work very, very hard and has been for the last three years to put that chapter, that episode, that part of his life behind him. And one of the things I promised him was that (in) Rose Tatts, he’s the drummer. That’s a commitment and I intend to keep it and when he gets out, we’ll reform the band but like I said, the band that we’ve got now… my band… is as good a band as I’ve ever been in. They are on fire.”
The Angry Anderson Band is Angry on vocals, Dai Pritchard on lead and slide guitar; as Angry explains, Dai took over from Pete Wells when he became too sick to travel. “So, he’s been in the band twelve years at least, maybe longer”; Peter Heckenberg on drums; Dario Bortolin on bass and Joel McDonald, rhythm and soloist guitarist.
“One of the things which is really good is that it’s very boyish. It’s great when you realise there’s still boyishness within you. We’re so happy with this band and we’re grinning from ear to ear every time we talk together on the phone and particularly when we get on stage. This is such a great band. We want to play; we want to play all the time, every night of the week. You know what I mean? It’s that kind of enthusiasm. And that’s terrific because I’m happy to say that most of the people that have been around as long as I have, we’re back doing it and no one does it better and we’re all so charged, we’re so in love with what we do, and falling in love with our own music and that’s the great thing. When we go out and play back to where we started and you get all these younger people in the crowd, and they’re just looking at you with big eyes and they sing all the words and you know that they’re getting it. You know it; you can feel it; you can see it; you can taste it.”
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2017. All rights reserved
You can catch The Angry Anderson Band on their
‘TATTS: LIVE IN BRUNSWICK’ ALBUM TOUR
at the following venues:
Friday, May 5 | Beresfield Bowling Club | Free Entry
w/ The Kids and Darcee Fox
Thursday, May 11 | The Bridge Hotel, Rozelle | Ticket link (Moshtix)
TATTS: LIVE IN BRUNSWICK
released via Golden Robot Records
SFR Store (fan bundles/signed CDs) | http://bit.ly/RT-LIB-SFRStore
iTunes | http://bit.ly/RT-LIB-iTunes
Last updated by Sharyn Hamey Apr 17.