Edward Neale

by Horror Sleaze Trash on June 27, 2012

“I Cut my teeth as a freelance street press journalist, spoken word performer and zine-maker in Australia’s regional Victorian rock and roll scene in the mid to late nineties. Armed with little more than a beat up PC, a bong, and a pocket-book full of band and press contacts; I began booking and promoting indie rock shows. After several years in the industry I was disillusioned, burnt out, and in serious need of drug rehab. I gladly threw in the rock bizz towel for a path with heart; studied sociology and began working with refugees. Nowdays I’m a Zen hermit living in Japan. I write haikus, polish my hot rod, pomp my hair, and meditate with Day-Glo shamanic idols. I don’t have friends, just a spotty pink ferret that does Britney Spears in exchange for hash pellets. Sometimes we do tours.”

My website: http://www.writerscafe.org/Lee%20Edward%20Neale

Confessions of a Gonzo Rock Pig

L. Edward Neale

Let me make it abundantly clear. I was a reluctant child of the information age. In 1991, in the absence of the instant gratification of a shotgun, I was more than happy to destroy my stone-age word processor with a cricket bat. I did quite happily with pen, paper and a typewriter for several months after that; until I saved up enough between dope binges to gets me a new-fangled desktop PC.

I am a survivor. A nomadic loner come good. A black sheep become black shepherd. One of the few left standing from a youthful tragedy of bile-ridden carnage too horrible to recall in all its grisly detail.

I’m the veteran of a few hundred rock and roll interviews (battles?) during my adolescent tour of duty as a rock and roll street press journalist, spoken word performer, publicist, band manager, event manager, roadie and door bitch (all round industry whore basically) in regional Victoria, Australia; during the mid to late 90’s. It should come as no surprise that I’m damaged in a number of interesting ways because of it.

My nose is still twisted thanks to the speed-fried toe-fuck of a bassist from Ballarat, who brutally slugged me over a review I had written comparing his band to Seattle’s Mudhoney. Mind you, I was so bombed on hash, Passion Pop and pills that night, that the truth of it hardly mattered. I thought I was doing his band a homegrown favour. Apparently not.

My most heinous of sins was not only in comparing their musical style to a legendary Seattle band, it was also for making the inference that their musical ability ranked something above several cold shades of mangy mutt-crap. Go figure.

“Don’t tell us were not the most fucked-up band in the world, we don’t wanna hear it,” the bassist screamed as the bouncers wrestled him away. That was pretty much the motto for the regional Victorian rock and roll scene during the mid to late nineties. Not so unusual as far as indie rock is concerned. The difference was that there they really, really fucking meant it. They were hardcore grassroots to the hilt and then some. Militantly practiced their disaffection to the point of tragic self-defeat by beating up or vomiting on out of town record label staffers, and then going home to shoot up and moan about how no one gave a flaming fuck about trying to sign them.

To be “shitter than thou,” was to be holier than thou. However, to say to a musician in that scene that they were shit at being shit was unforgiveable. Because it meant that they might even be the faintest bit good. This was worse than bad; in fact, it was cardinal sin. Like if you even bothered to properly maintain your band equipment or hire a professional sound mixer instead of luring some tone-deaf local junkie out of the back alley to dry-hump the sound mixing desk for a bag of low grade sherbet, then you were a dick whisker away from becoming a “sell out.”

Borderline or not, many of the rock bands in that Regional Victorian scene during the mid to late nineties embodied genuine rock ethos in ways that left  their metro Melbourne counterparts for dead. Maybe it was something to do with the oppressive winter season. Something about the tiny clusters of satellite towns with their hardened cores of university arts majors, battling it out against the elements. Maybe it was the abundance of leering-jeering redneck arseholes, boredom, cheap smack, chronic unemployment or steadily rising tuition fees. Maybe it was none of these things. Whatever it “was,” it had an irreverent rustic swagger equaled only by the force of its violent aversion to Seattle grunge references.

However they saw themselves, those regional Victorian rockers were hellishly seasoned for ones so new to their local scenes. It wasn’t about showing off. It was about the politics of choice. Showing that they absolutely could, but didn’t want to, have to, or need to, buy into the big city and the big labels that went along with it. Life at the coalface in sticksville was more vital and meaningful, and that’s were they wanted to stay. If not always in body, at least in spirit.

Many of these bands were just grateful for a decent place to play. Somewhere with nice people: a bar tab and a shot at something resembling civility. For many of them the scene wasn’t a luxury weekend option, it was home. Sometimes it was the only real family they had ever known.

Parts of this communal clique extended throughout the regional network of squat houses. Between my numerous rental evictions I would join it: sprawling on a half-massacred foam bedroll with boots laced-up for a quick getaway, and cop torches or an all-singing, all-dancing crab circus performing the nut-sack itch symphony in G major for a wakeup call.

In every sense, those Regional Vic rockers punched above their weight. Gave a steadfast leg up when needed, whether in the dance-pit or behind the scenes. They formed the often unknown bedrock of much of the great rock and roll that emerged out of Victoria via Melbourne in the mid to late 90’s and early 2000’s. Perhaps some of them never got the recognition they so thoroughly deserved. Maybe because they didn’t want it; or need it. They knew who they were and why they did it. They weren’t about to let some slap-happy street press hack start chucking fancy magazine labels around. I that learned that the hard way.

Previous post:

Next post: