MUSIC / 1980s
I have no natural musical talent. I learned the piano when I was a kid and made it through 7 years of classical training, probably because my hand/eye coordination is pretty good. I don’t have an ear for nuance or pitch, or vocal cords that can carry a tune. By the time I was 14 I hated classical music, and my piano teacher would not let me play Monkees or Beatles songs. I retaliated by refusing to practice and that year I failed my exams at the conservatorium. Finally my mother allowed me to quit.
But I loved listening to music. As a teenager in Sydney I went to hear about every overseas performer who made the wretched journey to our shores. Lots of blues like Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. I also saw Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Santana, Eric Clapton, and many more that I can’t remember as it was so long ago, and I smoked a substantial amount of weed at these shows.
When I came to New York I discovered No Wave. I loved the sound and the concept: anyone could play, even people who weren’t musically trained. There were no rules. The sounds that resulted from these collaborations were unique and inventive. I’d never heard anything like it before. I went to hear No Wave bands regularly. I became friends with many of the performers, started going out with one, and eventually picked up a guitar and started playing. It was fun. I liked the idea of being in a band and loved the rehearsals, but I am not a natural performer and being on stage scared me to death. I did it anyway and played venues all over the city. We also did our own fliers. We would go out late at night and plaster them around town.
There were sound engineers in this community of musicians so we made some recordings, and there is one show that someone videotaped. We also recorded some of our rehearsals. These are some of the recordings I have from this period of my life.