Another week, another episode of Hugs and Kisses from Mr. Everett True, Plan B editor at large, Friend of Kurt, the guy who may’ve coined the term “grunge,” whose Wikipedia entry says it all, and who’s recently relocated to Brisbane. The Vampire Weekend bassist can reach him at email@example.com
Everett True, many years ago, with some guy.
This week: Big Sound, the Southern Hemisphere’s SXSW
I’m at Big Sound—the Southern Hemisphere’s equivalent of South By Southwest, set in an equally beautiful city (Brisbane) but on a much smaller scale (all five rock clubs are within five minutes of one another). Folk are genial, affable, surprised—a handful of foreign delegates breaking up the gaggles of prematurely jaded music students from QUT and occasional Minister For Trade.
I’d forgotten quite how draining these events can be. The last time I attended one in the US was in New York in the early Nineties when I gate-crashed a panel, resolutely refused to divulge my name, wore dark glasses with flashing lights across the top, drank steadily from a bottle of vodka passed to me by the girls from Ben Is Dead magazine, and routinely mocked the editor of Spin magazine for following UK trends 18 months late. I ran out my “rock is dead” line and picked on whatever easy target I saw fit. By the time I’d finished, people were screaming at me non-stop from the floor, and there were long queue of people outside trying for a better look.
This affair is much more sedate (so far—the panel on music journalism that pits me against those I may inadvertently have offended takes place in a few hours). I conducted the keynote interview with Sub Pop CEO Jonathan Poneman (we toyed with the idea of switching roles beforehand but realised my photograph had been printed too many times locally) wherein we praised the M&Ms. I sat in on a panel entitled “The Tastemakers (facing up to the challenge of a digital society)” or something—me, a couple of web dudes who felt the medium was a decent way to make money, some radio dudes (XFM from the UK, Triple J from Australia), both of whom have been perfectly friendly to me in the past, and—oh, me. I revealed that the bassist dude from Vampire Weekend had once extended an open invitation to me to perform oral sex upon his member. A generous offer indeed, as I pointed out. Someone threw in a question as to whether there had ever been a point where money became more of a motivating factor in my chosen field than music, and someone shouted “alcohol” to gales of laughter, making me once again realise that the name “Everett True” has long since taken on a life of its own that really has no relevance to my current situation whatsoever. (Now I know how Charles Schultz felt.)
Afterwards, God know how many affable, friendly and (weirdly) star-struck Aussies came up to press my flesh and state (to a woman) that they found my attitude “refreshingly honest” (which made me start really wondering about what sort of country I’ve moved my family to, as I was in no shape or form particularly candid on that panel) and that they would totally love it if I could give them a “refreshingly honest” opinion on the CD that they were now pressing onto me. By hones, read “positive.”
A producer dude with a delightfully white wispy beard who was responsible for creating some of my most sublime pop moments of the early Eighties (Martha And The Muffins’ “Echo Beach,” early OMD singles)—helped me stay sane, simply by talking to me.
In the evening, on the way to see The Gin Club play a searing, scathing set of sea shanties, country teasers and inebriation I was recognised in the street by a drunk 21-year-old art student. After a few minutes chatting in a shop doorway, she asked if I fancied coming over to the car-park to drink strawberry-flavoured liquor with her mates. I declined (um, strawberry?) but…man.
Ain’t it nice to know my name still has some cache?