Regurgitator at the Hi-Fi…
September 11, 2011

A lot of people write comments praising the virtues and energy of being a part of the audience at a live show.

‘Nothing beats it,’ they often say.

Maybe so, but what about when the audience sucks?  It is undoubtedly exciting to drive into a show with the night’s headliner’s album blaring from the stereo wondering which songs they will play, how they’ll sound live, and imagining the hits performed on stage whilst in the midst of a room packed with the like-minded, all jumping, waving, and pulsing at just the right moments.  So often lately though, this isn’t what eventuates, and an audience of alleged fans suddenly devolves into a beast focused on little more than elbowing its way as high and forward as possible.

So it was refreshing to walk into a steadily-filling Hi-Fi Bar to see the floor starting to fill with people actually dancing to little more than the piped music filling the air between sets.

Regurgitator,
The Hi-Fi Bar, Melbourne, August 26, 2011

Boys Boys Boys! came out and were perfect for those already on the floor to keep going with.  It turns out they are a Perth group and they encouraged the dancing with their own choreographed moves.  The three front-women wore matching sequinned outfits whilst the boys in the band played a kind of pop-rock that reminded me a little of The Harpoons.

They were followed by a solo act calling himself Disasteradio, who seemed to keep much of the audience in hysterics, and I suppose I can understand it.  I mean, I get it, he’s fat.  I just didn’t think it was all that funny.  His kind of laptop electroclash is getting to be kind of run-of-the-mill lately, and there was little to set himself aside from anyone else, a fact highlighted by his vocals mixed beyond comprehension.  But I guess he provided an acceptable routine to while away the minutes before the headliner.


When Regurgitator emerged, they were clad in matching skeleton costumes – which is apparently still all the rage in the local performing industry – and backed, as promised, by animated footage.  The opened powerfully with their crude favourite I Will Lick Your Arsehole.  They continued on to power through a set focused mostly on the classics from their first three albums, which ensured everyone was happy.  I was glad to hear Blood And Spunk from the grossly underrated Love And Paranoia album, and the samples from the infamous new album were promising.  All Fake Everything covered a lot of ground and made me want to rush over to the merch stand to buy the much-hyped badge-format album (but it had sold out earlier) even though I couldn’t tell whether its introduction was paying tribute to, parodying, or just ripping off Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade Of Pale.

Despite Polyester Girl getting tiring when it featured on pretty much every seasonal compilation in 1998, the night’s hyper-speed punkBeat rendition breathed new life into the song.  After an extended encore featuring The Song Formerly Known As and a Kong Foo Sing/Pop Porn medley, few would have been left with any doubt that Regurgitator are most certainly still around and, even better, still going strong, amidst so many local groups of their era calling it quits.

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Regurgitator’s New Stuff…
September 1, 2010

The sounds of explosions shake the seats and walls of the Sydney Opera House. The roar of racing motorcycles echos through the iconic venue for the first time in its history.  Over 1,400 people watch on as scenes of gang warfare are fought out before them.  And dwarfed beneath this action, a set of musicians.

‘That was the Akira project,’ says Quan Yeomans of eclectic local favourites Regurgitator.  The project, a part of the first Graphic Festival – a series of events exploring the medium of comic books and graphic novels – saw the band reworking and performing live the score to the classic Japanese anime film, Akira.  ‘The film was a masterpiece.  They spent ten years creating the damn thing, so you can imagine how long must have been spent on the soundtrack – the to-ing and fro-ing, and changing arrangements to get things exactly right.  It’s amazing.  And we thought, “What the hell are we going to do?”

Although Quan typically speaks in a chilled out monotone, it is easy to detect the enthusiasm for the project seeping through when he talks about Akira.

‘It was an arduous task.  Sitting down to work on it was daunting.  It worked out really well though.  We started with trying to do something completely different.  We watched the film, and every time we heard something, we tried the opposite of what we’d heard.  We spent two months sitting in front of ProTools and watching the film over and over again.  It was so tiring, even though the finished work seemed quite simple when we played it all the way through.  We’d love to play it again, though.’

With both anime and Australian music fans left reeling from the spectacle of Regurgitator’s Akira remix (‘They don’t even get that many people in there for opera!’ noted Quan,) the founding creative forces behind the band have found themself living in the same city for the first time in years, and free to develop new music.

‘Ben [Ely] and I are living in the same city for the first time in several years,’ Quan explains the parallel moves to Melbourne, and returning to recording music after producing the live score.  He says that the plan now is ‘to focus on the band as a music producing band.  It’ll take a little while to get back into the swing of things.’

In the meantime, Regurgitator have released Distractions online, a collection of the songs that have been produced since the return to Melbourne.  The songs’ styles range from pitch-shifted electro-vocals, punk-rock ditties about web-trends, and bubbly romance fantasies.

The songs are now available online, and Regurgitator fans will be quick to notice that there is no discernable style or connection running through the four songs.  Quan says that this is the result of having ‘shed some of the old habits of a “band,”‘ one of the benefits of now being signed to an independent label.

‘We’re trying to focus a little bit more on what we want to get out of what we do, and what the best artistic approach is.  We’re not going to focus on albums anymore.  We’re on an independent label, so why the hell should we have to adhere to this creative paradigm that’s been around for 80 or 90 years and just doesn’t seem appropriate these days.  I know that I haven’t bought and album, or even listened to one from start to finish in years.  It is just not the way that 90 percent of the young listeners are listening to or acquiring music.’

It is a trend which will suit the ‘Gurge, and allow them to return to their musical roots.

‘In a sense, it is more like when we first started out,’ Quan reflects. ‘The band started because we made a demo tape at a School of Audio Engineering course that I was doing.  Four-tracks is what I used to use all the time to create.  For those last four songs that we did, we went into a studio for the first time in years and felt completely uncomfortable.  Listening to it, it sounds cool.  It sounds like a band playing.  But I don’t think it’s sonically superior to anything we could have done by ourselves.  We both have decent spaces here and ways of recording, so we can use that.  That’s kind of in keeping with the spirit of the band.  Essentially, if you look at us, we are kind of like a punk band who got into pop music then became stupidly popular.’

Looking forward, the band plan on releasing more music via their soon-to-be-updated website, with songs uploaded as they are completed.  Compilations of favourites may then be released on CD and vinyl to tie in with tours.  This new style of releasing music will be a load off Quan’s shoulders.  ‘We won’t have to sit around figuring out how to try to list them.  It was always one of the pains of being in this band.  The music has always been a bit all over the place.’

Coinciding with the website update and release of the Distractions recordings, Regurgitator will be touring nationally, avoiding the consistency of sound which Quan identifies with touring for the last album, Love and Paranoia.

‘I think we’re going to avoid that, and go back to a more eclectic kind of thing.  We’re really interested in bringing some visual elements, particularly after doing the Akira thing.  Also I explored quite a bit of that with my solo shows, just because I felt completely naked on stage on my own.  I needed something happening behind me to make it a bit more entertaining.’

Beyond the tour, Regurgitator hope to delve more into other artistic projects, as they did with Akira.  Since their last album the group have collaborated on a dance performance called Rock Show in Brisbane, and other projects they’ve worked on independently.  Quan notes that he and Ben ‘tend to do a lot of different things now.  Ben is a really good painter… I like to do my animation and theatre work.’

Of course, the most prominent performance art piece would be 2004’s Band in a Bubble, which saw Regurgitator locked in a glass dome in Federation Square to record their album Mish Mash!  Quan says that it was ‘the ultimate version of making ourselves uncomfortable,’ and ‘a bizarre experience.’

In the end, though, he decides that ‘the band is this lumbering, creative beast that does whatever it turns its focus to.’

For the time being, that will be the September tour, with supports from Rat vs. Possum and Japan’s DJ Krush, and the release of new songs via http://www.regurgitator.net.