’Gurg swear by irreverent humour
THERE is something terribly wrong about sitting down to watch Regurgitator. This tear in the fabric of rock history occurred two weeks ago when the Australian music industry congregated at the opening soiree for the annual BigSound conference in Brisbane. The ’Gurg made mention that it was their first seated gig ever and launched into I Will Lick Your A..hole. It was the first of many gigs the band will play in support of its new Dirty Pop Fantasy album.
Released earlier this month, it proves the band formed by Quan Yeomans and Ben Ely two decades ago still has plenty left in the tank. Nineteen songs’ worth of fuel.
Rather than indulge their love of technology to create the record, Ely travelled to Yeomans’ base in Hong Kong to get the Dirty Pop Fantasy party started.
‘‘I went over there for five and a half weeks and lived with Quan in a little apartment and then back again to finish it off,’’ Ely says.
‘‘It was close to Central in this nine-storey walk-up and we were on the top floor so once you walked all the way up, you were staying there all day. It was an old yoga studio and we felt like a couple, without the sex part, having little dinner parties and sleeping on the floor.’’
After 20 years, the pair intuitively know each other’s songwriting and musical strengths and weaknesses.
‘‘We are definitely more thick-skinned now and don’t take anything to heart. If I tell Quan I really don’t like a song, he’ll just say ‘OK, all right’,’’ Ely says.
They joke that they are the only constant in each other’s lives, outlasting their romantic relationships. But the other constant in Regurgitator is there are no rules. Like all ’Gurg albums, there’s punk songs and pop songs, a folk aberration and every shade of rock from metal to electro.
‘‘The one thing we probably draw a line at is emo. Because there is a certain Regurgitator sound,’’ Ely says.
‘‘I think the one conversation we had before we went in was that we wanted every song to be strong in its genre.
‘‘We love it when our music jumps around stylistically, when there’s these jagged jumps between punk rock and a pop song. The more extreme, the more we like it.
‘‘The next album we should start with classical and end up with country.’’
And of course the other non-rule, which is genetically observed on every album they construct with their drummer mate Peter Kostic, is humour; naughty, irreverent, sweary, more dirty than your drunk uncle at Christmas humour. One track which they may not want to alert the US immigration department to is My Little Terrorist.
‘‘We won’t be taking that to America any time soon,’’ Ely says.
As for the swearing, which includes the song title F ... You Sweetness, a song that namechecks all your favourite confectionary, the ’Gurg make no apologies.
‘‘I think swearing in music has lost a lot of strength. I remember when we released Tu-Plang and Christian communities in Queensland tried to get the album out of Kmart and Myer,’’ Ely says.
‘‘That helped us to sell more records. these days it doesn’t have the same value.’’
With eight albums of shoutout anthems, Regurgitator could play marathon gigs should their fans desire it. But Ely isn’t too keen on three-hour sets yet.
‘‘It’s funny that when you get older, the shows go longer. We’re not at the Bruce Springsteen level but we can still cover a lot of songs in close to two hours,’’ Ely says.
– KATHY McCABE
Regurgitator play the Coolangatta Hotel on October 12 and the Great Northern Hotel, Byron Bay, on October 13.
– Picture: LESLIE MONTGOMERY
Regurgitator’s Quan Yeomans (left) and Ben Ely.