Middle guy looks like the organ player from the Hold Steady, no?
THIS WEEK: dreaming of a better life
I think I’m having a relapse.
In about 10 days time, my wife, son and I are upping roots and heading for Australia—Brisbane, initially, home of The Saints and The Go-Betweens (we’ve been warned by a Sydney sort that it’s like heading for Hull, or Madison in US terms, I guess). We’re excited, stressed—the stress not helped by the fact I’m trying to rip my entire CD collection to MP3, and iTunes keeps slowing down. That’ll be 67,550 songs and counting, and still with my Tom Waits, Timi Yuro and Rough Trade CDs to transfer. There’s been plenty of reminisces, but—bearing in mind our imminent change—one has really stuck with me.
I’m kind of embarrassed about it. I mean, it’s not like this group has many redeeming qualities. Most of their CD is unmitigated sub-Blink 182 rubbish: crap lyrics, wank fantasies to Posh Spice, transvestites and Mums You Wanna Fuck, with a Viz-style cartoon cover of four cheeky Neanderthals crossing a road, plenty of songs about drinking and chucking up too, all set to the most obvious three chords in the punk songbook. The guitar is Johnny Ramone buzz-saw drone. The lyrics are borderline football crowd quality. There’s a totally crap Buzzcocks cover thrown in somewhere (“Ever Fallen In Love”). But I guess there’ll always be a part of me that’ll be a wannabe crap Ramones tribute band member—because I can’t help myself. I fucking love (entirely obscure, and probably rightfully forgotten) Melbourne punk band THE TWITS.
I can’t explain it. But I can’t control myself. I was sent their original Albert Road 13-track demo while I was working at Melbourne broadsheet The Age in 1999, and two songs from the collection went straight onto our punk/soul driving tapes when we were visiting New Zealand over the Millennium – the classic loser/stalker song “Chelsea Heights,” a song dedicated to a girl with a “lot of love bites” who “works at the Safeways at Mentone”… “I’ve been there 15 times for nothin’/I’ve got four cupboards full of muffins/Why don’t you ask her out you gutless little shit?!/I guess I’m just a dopey Pommie git.” (The second verse where the singer eulogises the joys of being able to being able to look straight through the Desired One’s shirt at her “tits” is pure dumb genius.)
And then there’s the brilliant, prime Sham 69 (That’s Life, for anyone paying attention), autobiographical “Another Shit Saturday Night”, a song that could easily have soundtracked (um, part of) my teenage years. “Was at the disco-tech where you first caught my eye/You came towards me, and I just stood there starin at your thighs/You asked me what my name was, I told you 10.44…” Me and Charlotte have many happy memories of singing lustily along to those two songs as the gorgeous, verdant scenery of NZ’s North Island rolled by. (I think the appeal probably dimmed for Charlotte somewhere round the 21st listen.) For these songs—and these songs alone (trust me)—I’m willing to overlook Melbourne’s appallingly bonhomie-laden pub rock scene and once more embrace Australian rock to my bosom—um, Wolfmother aside, of course.
A quick Google later, and I discover that not only are The Twits still going, but they’re now managed by Tim Rogers—who, in Australia (and in some parts of Seattle too), is a Very Famous Rock Musician Indeed. Oh shit. If any of them get to read this, it probably means I’m going to be inundated by a million offers of crap punk shows…
It’s not too late to turn back now, is it?