Frenzal Rhomb : J Files on Double J 30 Jun 2022

Caz Tran Type identification. Thursday 30th of June 2022. It's the J files on Double J . Caz Tran presents Frenzal Rhomb end of type ID
Caz Tran The J files.Yes. The J files. Yes. It's still a great album. A wonderful accident. The J files on Double J
Jay I feel like everything in Frenzal Rhomb's career has been a bit of a surprise, the longevity of it and when you know and with the release of each record and having people interested in it at all
Caz Tran Well, it may come as a bit of a surprise to you. But this year marks 30 years since the Good Ship Frenzal Rhomb set sail initially to take on Sydney Uni's Battle of the Bands Competition. But much like the frenetic pace of their punk rock opportunities kept swiftly coming their way, whether it was gig bookings, a spot at the Big Day Out, media coverage, overseas tours and then surprisingly for this group of mischievous pranksters mainstream chart success to their fans though.

There's absolutely no surprise. We could not get enough of the hilarity harmonies and of course the high octane punk charge that could only come from Frenzal Rhomb.

Caz Tran here with you welcome to the Frenzal Rhomb J files

I'm really stoked to be joined by Jay Whalley, Lindsay McDougall and Ben Costello who will guide us through the band's early days making of their albums the hard lessons learned the great triumphs and what lies ahead in the future for Frenzal Rhomb?

And if you know anything about Frenzals, you'll know they'll be lots of irreverence, the crest, the obscene and the absurd on the way in this show and just loads of straight no BS kind of talk. So can I just give a massive hard language warning to you and the outset so with that in mind, let's set the scene with this classic from A Man's Not A Camel on Double J
Caz Tran The J files joining on Facebook, Twitter and Insta #jfiles
Frenzal Rhomb J Files Studio
Frenzal Rhomb J Files Studio
Ben Underground vomit merchants
Jay Of cheap air conditioning units and [his] free set of steak knives
Ben That's right
Jay Because we thought we were hilarious and then we entered ourselves into the band competition at Sydney University and I'm pretty sure they said "don't come in here with your stupid band names, like if you have a band, have a proper name and you need it by this afternoon", and so were like frantically sort of looking around for things and we opened up one of Ben's textbooks and there was this french physicist
Ben Yeah, and we sort of mangled his name and came up with a Frenzal Rhomb
Ben I think his name was Frenel. It's like spelled Fresnel. Yeah, and we got and he had this thing called the Fresnel Rhomb and yeah, we sort of butchered it and came up with Frenzal Rhomb
Jay Yeah, the worst band name in the history of band names!
Ben Exactly. Friends of Ron
Jay Yeah
Lindsay I got Fred's Wombat a couple of years ago
Lindsay McDougall J Files Studio
Lindsay McDougall J Files Studio
Caz Tran On Double J from the imagination that rises like the Kraken deep from within the Grog soaked bellies of Frenzal Rhomb that is Ship Of Beers from the gents 1997 album Meet The Family and the Frenzals showing with this record that even the broadway topics like guns, American culture masturbation, genitalia, racists and beaded curtains. You could still enjoy chart success, which they did with this their third record
Caz Tran Caz Tran here with you on the Frenzal Rhomb J files. We are racing a frothy one to these Legends who are marking up 30 years of shenanigans shit stirring and some of the most unforgettable turbocharged punk rock songs in Australian music on the way soon. You're gonna be hearing more hilarious hair brained band names. The guys were tossing around ahead of their Battle Of The Bands birth and how they managed to find their way onto the Big Day Out line up before that even released any recorded work. Right now though on Double J.

Let's borrow deep to find out more about the Frenzal LADs childhood musical upbringing now some of these childhood Heroes may surprise you especially Jay's love of a certain ponytailed english pop star listen up for that and Lindsay's obsessions which continue to this day but first up though. Here's Jay and Ben talking about the music they bonded over
Jay We'll be very first met like we both like Deep Purple and Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and
Ben Jimmy Hendrix
Jay Yeah, basically all the enemies of punk and it was only when we sort of met and started going out. I think that we sort of were introduced to bands like Hard-Ons and The Meanies and Splatterheads
Ben Some of the US Lookout stuff like Screeching Weasel and early Green Day
Jay Yeah, and we thought that seems pretty easy, like way easier than Led Zeppelin
Caz Tran To replicate for yourselves or what about growing up as kids what are you hearing around the house?
Jay For me definitely. So in our house, my dad would do this thing where If we're having people over for dinner, he would go out and buy whatever was number one on the charts so he could see him cool. And but as a result, we sort of had, you know, I mean he was into his sort of more folks sort of stuff generally, but then we also had like Talking Heads and Blondie and you know Billy Joel or Eurythmics
Jay And I feel like that sort of melodic that 80s melodic, big choruses, hooks, you know, things like that were
Lindsay Simple Minds was your first show?
Jay Simple Minds
Simple Minds
Simple Minds
Jay Howard Jones was my first gig
Lindsay All right [wouldn't it be]
Caz Tran That is so cute. I can just imagine a young Jay Whalley at a Howard Jones gig
Jay Yeah. Yeah. I loved it. Loved it
Caz Tran Were you singing along?
Jay Yeah
Caz Tran Wow
Jay I'm blanking on any of his songs but
Caz Tran What is love? Anyway?
Jay Oh, yeah. And it was his Dream Into Action tour
Jay There was a ponytail at my school called the Howie
Lindsay Like a hairstyle?
Jay Yeah. Named after Howard Jones
Ben Did you ever have one?
Jay No, no, didn't grow it in time
Ben I think I had a similar sort of home life. Like my dad used to go away and when he'd come back, he'd bring the kids the latest compilation album like 1982 Out of the Blue or you know, all of those things. So we had like a full collection of those through the 80s. and but the stuff that he used to listen to my mum and dad used to listen to is kind of Bob Dylan and Jim Post and Led Zeppelin
Caz Tran Lindsay, what about you?
Jay You can't tell in your songwriting now at all
Lindsay The fan of my clothing choices and Mum was into like Rod Stewart and that kind of stuff, but I used to get the The best of the I had 1988 Be Happy which had Don't worry Be happy with Bob Bobby McFerrin on it. I remember that
Lindsay That's you know those and John Farnham - Whispering Jack that was one of the first albums that I ever got from my parents, you know, so that's my vibe and just to this day
Caz Tran And what was the album that you bought with your own money though that you went into the shop?
Lindsay I feel like it was Max Q
Lindsay And mine was Max Q Michael Hutchence side project when you went a little bit crap, I think that was my first thing that I bought
Caz Tran That's an interesting choice
Jay Yeah, I reckon mine was 1982 with a bullet and What about me (Moving Pictures) and The J. Geils Band. My baby is a Centrefolds, you know, The Stranglers - Golden Brown
Ben Adam and the Ants, I'm pretty sure
Jay Yeah, yeah. Uhm bang it wall-to-wall bangers
Ben All right, I don't think I bought a record myself until sort of the 90s or the late 80s because I didn't have any money. But I remember my grandma gave me this record, which I later found out to be cool, but thought it was really strange at the time, which was a Specials record. And I played it at the wrong speed for like the first five years
Jay Yeah Ghost Town would have been slow
Ben It was Ghost Town and it was really slow
Ben And I didn't really realize until maybe 10 years later. I've been playing the wrong speed the whole time
Lindsay It's kind of invented that weird 90s sort of heroine slow
Ben Exactly. Yeah
Caz Tran You're listening to the J files on Double J
Jay I think yeah, I've saved time quite organically. I guess like we've been writing songs the two of us. Remember we wrote Urban Myth maybe first and some other couple of other ones and
Ben Constable Care
Jay And yeah, stuff like that, and then so we sort of had a set of originals. I guess we must have like, I don't know, I think we knew how to do covers at that point
Ben I feel like we we just kind of decided to do it on a whim and then and then like frantically tried to put together the set properly and assemble the band
Jay And I think as well because we'd met or I'd met Bow (Bowden Campbell) from Front End Loader at um outside of philosophy lecture and we sort of met each other and I think we had maybe already recorded a tape of a couple of songs because cause bass player was at the school of audio engineering we got some free time recorded a demo tape and remember Bow giving me his tape from Front End Loader and then listening to it and going. Oh my God, we need to get our tape back from him. This is like a really good, our's so shit compared to this and It was kind of embarrassing but then you know, and that sort of I think spirit us all a little bit too to try and you know, maybe try and do it a bit better
Front End Loader
Front End Loader
Caz Tran [...]
Jay Which we didn't actually succeed until 2011
Caz Tran So it was who was in the band for this Battle of the Bands at this stage. It was you, Ben? And uhm, was there Lex?
Jay Yeah, Lex is in it. I think it was Bruce Braybrooke in it?. Or was Karl in it then
Caz Tran Karl Perske?
Jay Karl Perske
Karl Perske and Frenzal Rhomb
Karl Perske and Frenzal Rhomb
Lindsay Bruce Braybrooke from The Beautiful Girls?
Jay Bruce Braybrooke played in my high school band Vivid named after A Living Colour, song or album
Ben Which is funny because the tape that we did was recorded with two guys from my high school band, which was called Haze after Purple Haze
Jay Yeah
Ben Because we loved Jimmy Hedrix
Caz Tran Um, yeah. So yeah Bruce played drums on that demo and maybe the band comp
Jay I don't know because he was playing in a band called Studley Lush And The Teenyboppers From Hell, which was they were like [Santa] Half A Cow, I think for a single and I remember at the end of well, we're here after a few shows with us and recording and Bruce came up and said listen, I've got to make a decision here and I think the band that's going to be taking me forward into the future is Studley Lush And The Teenyboppers From Hell, so see you later
Bruce Braybrooke. Studley Lush And The Teenyboppers From Hell
Bruce Braybrooke. Studley Lush And The Teenyboppers From Hell
Caz Tran Oh. Bad calls
Jay Thanks mate, anyway, and then he ended up in The Beautiful Girls and some doing various other projects, but Yeah, I think that was the band then
Caz Tran Okay, and did you come second in The Battle Of The Bands?
Jay I would think it was a hard third
Caz Tran A hard third?
Ben I had my memory is like yeah, it's like there was first and everyone else was second
Jay [So you're in denial?]
Caz Tran on Double J. This is the J files
Caz Tran Did you somehow get on The Big Day Out in the early 90s?
Jay Yes
Caz Tran How did that happen?
Caz Tran Was that because of The Battle Of The Bands were getting, you know, shows around Sydney?
Jay Yeah, we were playing. We were playing a lot at that time. We've been playing these kinds of minute sounds cool to say we were playing at these punk squats, but they absolutely hated us and didn't want us to be there
Jay Yes, so we were doing shows like that and then kind of Pub shows a few support slots, but we're doing our own shows like vic on the park and Um because it was after Dick Sandwich. I think that we played The Big Day Out maybe
Caz Tran Alright I thought, it was before. Okay, maybe
Ben 1994?
Jay Yeah. Oh no. Maybe it was after Sorry About The Ruse
Jay You probably shouldn't ask us anything about timelines
Lindsay Frenzal Rhomb the 1994 Big Day Out cuz I was there in the crowd
Jay Yeah. Yeah, and that changed things for us. I think like that was we had a particularly sweet times but the time slot where there was no one else really playing on the main stage. I'm saying that now like there would be some amazing band that was playing to go how fucking dare you
Ben But I feel like they had to get past our stage like if we were near the entrance and yeah pass our stage to get to the other stages. Yeah, we're playing it like midday and sort of we ended up with like a huge crowd of probably a traffic jam of people trying to get to other stages
Jay Yeah, but then for some reason like we I guess we must have played okay, and then and we had this big crowd of people watching us and then at the end of the show remember saying, oh we're playing on Thursday night at the Vulcan if anyone wants to come and you know, there's like 8,000 people watching us in the Vulcan holes like a hundred and twenty and and so yeah and remember that that show was a big difference in what have been happening before all the sudden there's these people from the suburbs and turned up and you know, they're sort of lined up around the block ready to pay their five bucks
Ben It also did get us on TV
Jay The Big Day Out?
Ben entered into TV week
Jay Did it?
Caz Tran What, the show at the Vulcan or the Big Day Out?
Ben No, the Big Day Out because we had
Jay Are you sure this wasn't a dream you were having?
Ben No, no it might look Stop me if it sounds like a dream but no we we had this song called. I wish I was as credible as Roger Climpson and here's the channel 7 news reader and in a sort of package they played that night on the news. They had us, they showed us playing that now crowd jumping around and
Roger Climpson
Roger Climpson
Jay That's right
Ben and Roger somehow. His publicists go in contact with us and invited us into the studio for a photo shoot with Roger Climpson, and we've got that photo on … it's on Dick Sandwich?
Frenzal Rhomb photo shoot with Roger Climpson
Frenzal Rhomb photo shoot with Roger Climpson
Lindsay I think it's Dick Sandwich
Jay Yeah
Lindsay Like the because, that's with Karl in the band
Ben Okay. So The Big Day Out was definitely before the Dick Sandwich then
Jay Yeah there you go
Caz Tran On Double J. That's Roger from the Dick Sandwich EP, an interesting story. The guys are telling about how Roger Climpson's publicists got the lads in for a press shot with the news reader because I'm not all that sure the lyrics are entirely flattering, but that's a sort of stuff that Frenzal's managed to get away with more often than not you also heard Chemotherapy from the same EP more on the band's early days soon for your stories of how the lads managed to wing their way onto their first overseas tour to Japan whilst unsurprisingly being on the Dole at the same time stealing sandwiches and beers from other bands riders in the US just to get by Caz Tran here with you on the Frenzal Rhomb J files. You heard Jay and Ben talking about how the band were weapon madly around the place playing a lot of shows early on getting their sound and set sharp enough to get the attention of the Big Day Out Bookers. Well as you're about to hear on Double J A lot of that had to do with the supportive Sydney music scene they were coming up in
Jay I think it was pretty I mean it seemed pretty easy I mean there were lots of places to play I guess but this is still is better
Caz Tran but they willing to give you guys, you know, some young punks, you know a [go]
Jay I feel like we played with sort of every like we would support Skunkhour and Rat Cat and Splatterheads and you know, like sort of anyone that would have us we would kind of kind of latch onto
Ben like it was kind of that Golden Era of like the Annandale and the lands down and the Howdy Definition Club
Ben But there are I mean, it's I mean it's easy to look back and think everything was good then and things honest good now, but I'm not sure there's this there's a lot of venues around there's a lot of bands playing it seemed pretty easy for us at the time in a way, but we used to like we have a sort of rent a crowd all our friends would come to all of our gigs and until they got sick of us. But yeah, but we used to turn up to the gig with you know, 50 of our best friends. That's every gig
Jay Yeah. Yeah, we used to do the landline calls like every show that we had. We'd like get on the landline and call like a hundred people and
Lindsay ..clap in hand
Jay Yeah, and they get home to our own house where we were actually paying for the phone bill
Lindsay All right
Caz Tran Yeah I saw that recovery interview. Where Nat was talking about not paying the 1,000 dollar bill actually with that was that a legit bill that you're racked up from calling all your mates
Jay Yeah it would have been yeah
Caz Tran Wow. There was a lot of legwork
Jay Yeah
Lindsay I remember maybe it's probably just after that when I started going to All Ages gigs, there were a lot of all ages gigs in Sydney at that time as well. And so maybe it was easy licensing wise to play all ages gigs. And so you could just go to Sydney uni and The Phoenician club and the metro and Sutherland Entertainment Centre where I live and just go and see bands like Frenzal Rhomb like quite often
Caz Tran Yeah, right. Okay. Yeah. I think that that would have been a huge factor actually in your exposure. Just letting the kids in through the door, but did it surprise you in some way, you know the initial releases how well they did? I mean your first EP Dick Sandwich
Jay I mean this sounds like a backhanded question here Caz
Jay Yes, it was surprising. Thank you very much
Ben We thought that
Jay Anyone ever liked you music
Jay They are terrible records and we were very surprised
Ben Yeah, we're very surprised. We thought that would sell a lot more
Jay Yeah. No, I feel like everything in Frenzal Rhomb's career has been a bit of a surprise, uhm, when, the longevity of it and when you know and with the release of each record and having people interested in it at all. Um that especially that Dick Sandwich record. I mean that does sound like an absolute pile of shit
Ben And it's hard. You can't even say that the name in some company the covers disgusting
Jay I know we couldn't tour like our first tour up to Lismore
Ben We sort of turned up it we turned up at Lismore and the owner of the venue came out and told us we weren't playing because they had the poster up in the window all week of the cover which is you know
Jay it's like a cartoon drawing of someone like munching on some severed penises or whatever
Ben And we got out of the van on our first tour and they came out and said there's no way you're playing here tonight. This is disgusting
Jay actually had the poster still in the still in the window, but with the penises scribbled out
Jay and like oh man, but we decide we had like on tour written on the inside of our van, window
Ben We were very excited
Jay It was so exciting. And then yeah it was a terrible album EP and It didn't sound good. I mean, yeah, I like
Ben I mean, I like the songs. I just think the putting it together and recording it and everything else was
Jay Yeah
Ben Kind of crippled it
Lindsay Yeah, even from outside like I think everyone that liked it. I just loved all of those things about it. No one noticed that it sounded rubbish because everyone was like, this is a ridiculous sound this title is ridiculous everything about it is louder than everything else and it's very fun to listen to to read
Jay Do you mean the bass is louder than everything else?
Lindsay The first 10 years of the band or so. Yeah now I but I just yeah, I just remember hearing it and just because it didn't sound right and I maybe this is just me reinventing what I thought at the time but it didn't sound like the American punk rock stuff didn't sound you know perfectly Sheen that was on everything and those, you know fancy, you know weird California punk rock guitar chords and stuff. I didn't hear that
Jay That was definitely what we were trying to do. Yeah, so not sound like that at all
Caz Tran This week on Classic Albums. We're tuning in. To the Rock Rave Colossus, that is French Duo Justice. In 2007 Justice delivered a musical Trinity of drama Distortion and Electro disco on their debut record Cross. Join me. Caz Tran for Cross by Justice listen now at the Double J website
Caz Tran On Double J. This is the J files. The tours you went on with Bad Religion, The Offspring. I mean, these are separate tours. Aren't they?
Ben I don't rub it in
Caz Tran blink-182. This is like mid 90s you did with NOFX as well and then Fat Mike signed you?
Jay Yes, I think he signed us after so Ben was in the band at that point
Ben Right
Jay And he signed us up when they came to Australia and we did some shows with them here and to put out a 4 Litres seven inch which is a few songs of the Coughing Up A Storm album, the first album. And then yeah, they've been played on you played on the next record and then Lindsay jumped on his cock tails
Lindsay Yeah
Jay And toured that record that Ben was playing on
Caz Tran Not So Tough Now
Jay It was there in spirit
Lindsay And guitar and on the actual record. Yeah, but I was in the video clips except for Parasite
Ben Yeah. I did one video clear
Lindsay And then bailed and I just swanned on in and mine
Caz Tran In his wake forever
Lindsay I've been doing that ever since
Caz Tran So Jay, you're probably the only one who can you know have some memories of the first two overseas. What was that? Like for your Young Band to be with all these huge punk names?
Jay Well, I think I mean, I think the first tour we did was overseas was to Japan and it was with Shounen Knife and Rocket from the Crypt. Yeah, and and for some reason us and I remember Lindsay and I how we handed in our Dole form on the Friday and then we were back by the following Fortnight to hand in the next form
Jay And that was the point where they said you can't go overseas and pretend that you're looking for work. Like at least when you're pretending to look for work. You have to do it here
Lindsay And you could get away with riding the rehearsal studio and our manager's company every two weeks
Jay Yeah
Jay And that I remember remembering that, like thinking that that was like a big sort of leap for us to be able to get kicked off the doll and be able to survive and to be going to Japan of all places and playing these songs
Jay And yeah, it was very very exciting times to you know, be going over especially as Those two is to the states those early tours and stuff and just sort of feeling like, you know, I mean everyone's had that experience of going to America and kind of feeling like you're in the movies or something and
Caz Tran Yeah
Jay And you sort of you know in the place where all that your favourite music comes from and you know meeting all these people and stuff and you know, very very drunk for most of the time
Lindsay Drunk and poor and tired. I wrote on my dull form. I'm going to Vegas baby you leaving the double
Jay Massive wake up
Lindsay But you know going to Vegas baby meant we were but we were only we were getting 10 bucks each a day to live on and so, we spent a lot of time waiting till the headline of band be that like Less Than Jake or blink-182, Real Big Fish went on stage and then we just go into their room and eat their Rider so we could have some food and obviously drink all their beers and and then yeah spend the rest of the money on beers and stuff
Caz Tran Yeah on Double J Frenzal Rhomb facing down the dickheads on run in that set taken on the fraudsters and shysters on genius dealing a swift blow with Punch In The Face and some more sincere examinations on that song. We just heard called Disappointment those tunes from the first two Frenzal records Coughing Up A Storm and 1996's Not So Tough
Caz Tran Now those two initial albums providing some really important lessons for the band, which they'll tell you more about really soon on the J files. You also heard Ben and Lindsay talking about the musical chairs that was going on with the band at this stage. Listen up to here Lindsay talking about just how much of a fanboy he was of the band before he joined their ranks. But first up here is Ben taking up the story about why he decided to leave Frenzal Rhomb and chase some other pressing life pursuits
Ben Jay and I started off at Sydney uni, and we kind of left Uni, and we were sort of touring all the time and recording and I was sending this letter of deferral every year thinking I would go back to Uni and I sort of Harvard this dream of doing um like a PhD or something in maths. And for some reason I was drawn back to Uni and I thought I look I'm just gonna you know, like I've really loved everything about Frenzal Rhomb, but I also wanted to do that and I couldn't really do both at the same time. So Jay and I talked about it. And yeah and I sort of decided to get back to UNI. So I did do that and I'm I also got involved in some animal rights sort of activism stuff with an organisation in Sydney called Animal Operation
Lindsay You are chaining yourself to pigs
Ben Yeah. Yes. I had we were like doing actions like chaining ourselves in piggeries in Paul Keating piggery. I remember at the time so I didn't do that PhD I got as far as honours and thought I don't want to be sitting in a dark room for the rest of my life looking at maths symbols. So I did go out into the world and get a job. But yeah, so I left the band
Caz Tran Right
Jay Coward massive massive coward
Lindsay and it was one of those like such a such a beautiful change I'd hand over like I got invited to go to Ben's house and he taught me how to play the songs on Not So Tough Now
Jay And then ironically recently when Ben got up to play with us he had to ask you how his songs went
Ben I actually had to find YouTube videos of him teaching other people how to play the songs, but I don't remember like. What was that chord?
Caz Tran So did you I mean Lindsay you were in the picture somewhere along the line already at this stage you said it was a natural kind of shoe-in situation for you?
Lindsay It didn't seem very natural for me. I mean I was a shitty little kid from the Sutherland Shire who would you know, I was into grunge about three months before I joined Frenzal Rhomb. I was playing Pearl Jam songs at school. So I'd left school in December and then joined the band in like April or May but no I had gone to a bunch of Frenzal's shows this is the embarrassing bit. I'd bought I gone to a Frenzal show at Sydney University and all ages gig and I got a set list signed by the band. I got it framed and gave it to my girlfriend for her birthday around about then then I joined the band very soon after that just a little bit embarrassing but it was cool. My friend Mary Ellen ran the video shopping and getting where I grew up and she sold me some Frenzal's CDs that she didn't want and that's how I learned the songs
Ben She mustn't have had them for very long time
Lindsay It was Dick Sandwich and Coughing Up A Storm that she sold me and that was and that I'd listen to those and learn to play those songs
Lindsay And that's how I knew how to play the songs
Lindsay I'm going to auditions
Jay Well, I could have sold you some CDs
Lindsay I know I never hadn't bought I don't think I even had any Frenzal merch at the time besides that set list
Caz Tran Wow, so you're a big fan, you know before you kind of joined the band
Lindsay Yeah me and all my friends were
Caz Tran It's like the Jason Mewsted joining Metallica thing?
Jay Yeah
Lindsay I didn't get a million bucks 💲 like he did or was that
Jay that that was the next guy the dumb?
Jay Yeah, that's always been my key, like surround yourself with good musicians, but preferably people that really like your band beforehand. So, you know, they're gonna be loyal like dogs
Lindsay Well our bass player now Dal "Failure", he is in a band called Local Resident Failure, which were named after a Frenzal Rhomb's song
Local Resident Failure Band
Local Resident Failure Band
Lindsay That's how much he likes our band
Jay Yeah and Gordy he claims that you know that he sort of, you know, not really like or you know beds. All right. Yeah, but we found some footage of him skanking on stage before he joined the band
Lindsay at the Frenzal Rhomb gig
Jay Ben's last show. -
Ben He was in a support band at my last show
Jay That's right Blister
Ben Blister, yeah
Lindsay Yeah. He was skanking. Yeah, one of the scars the scar influence, right?
Lindsay Oh, yeah something you listen to that Specials album
Ben Well, he must have been listening to The Specials album at the right speed
Ben That's right
Jay Coughing Up A Storm. So we recorded that in Sydney In Surry Hills the Old Rhino Recording Studios made famous by the Jimmy Barnes Michael Hutchence cover of Good Times
Caz Tran Good Times
Lindsay Yeah I'm gonna have a good time tonight
Jay So I think that comes across in our record the feeling of that song
Caz Tran The Good Times
Jay Yeah, we sort of didn't really know what we were doing. I think on that record like I think like the songs were mainly like mainly good but the I don't know productions weird
Jay Do you like it? Don't you Ben?
Ben Yeah, I quite like it
Jay Yeah, cuz you don't know anything about music but
Lindsay It's got Get Off. It's got Genius. Come on
Jay Yeah, that's a good ones on that. It's got some real dumps too. But yeah that was sort of yeah kind of we were sort of beholden to whoever was producing that one and Tim Someone (Johnson). It's terrible that I can't remember that
Ben Yeah, it was fun. It was close. It was in Sydney
Jay Yeah, it was fun
Jay Yeah, and then we've went to Melbourne to do. At this great idea that we would use Tony Cohen because you know, Tony Cohen was this sort of legend, you know, he'd done all this bands that were not necessarily it's that similar to us, but you know, like his name was the same size as the artist on the posters for the records that he produced so, you know, he would do The Beasts of Suburban and he did a bunch of Nick Cave stuff and just had this kind of heavy sort of filtering we thought it would work well with us and so we contacted him and sent him a demo and he pinned it straight away. It was just like you guys want to sound tough, but you're not
Ben That's exactly right
Jay Yeah, you're exactly right dude. And so he was like, yeah, I'm just gonna put distortion on everything. turned out to be slightly a disaster working with him, you know, it's sort of addiction issues and stuff. And
Caz Tran Yeah
Jay And so we ended up having to kind of take the record away from Melbourne and bring it back to Sydney and mix it with Cal you but he I think he (Tony) mixed two songs on the record, right? And yeah, it was still a great experience even though you know in hindsight probably don't give fifteen thousand dollars up front to a heroin addicts, but you know the lesson for us all you know, and I haven't done that since
Lindsay Bag O' Bucks was a great tune written about the
Jay Was it?
Lindsay The envelope of money that would end up with the band at the end of the show after you get paid by the venues that would sometimes end up with in Jason Whalley pocket
Jay Pants
Jay We put it down the front of our pants. So we get in case we got rolled and yeah was Ben and Ben and my unique management style that nearly said this old bankrupts where we would like. We've been I think dealing with Chris he'd sort of come on board as an actual manager and prior to that. It has been Ben and I trying to do it ourselves and he had this idea that he just get this double-sided kind of Manila sort of paper bag and on one side. You have your money coming in and you know where it was from and then on the back you'd have all your money going out and so you can sort of keep track of your spending so our idea. Of managing. The band was basically to put it down our pants after a show and go to the pub
Caz Tran There you go. Shoving a bag of bucks down the front of the Pan's not entirely surprising that the Friends rules employed as it accounting methods
Caz Tran You just got to feel sorry for the bar staff that had to take those damn notes as payment for their beers. We have been storming through the early years of the Sydney Punk legends from their uni Battle Of The Bands days getting to play the Big Day Out before they've released anything their first tours overseas and the important lessons learned from their first two albums
Caz Tran Caz Tran here with you with Frenzal Rhomb Zone Jay Whalley, Lindsay McDougall and Ben Costello still with us this hour to talk about their mainstream breakthrough with third album Meet The Family backed up by the huge success of a man's not a camel which has some of their best known and loved songs and listen out soon too to find out once and for all if the stories you heard about Frenzal Rhomb's song Mum Changed The Locks was indeed fact all fiction
Caz Tran Let's get this hour underway with this Meet The Family Classic track something I love about the Frenzals all they might sing a lot about dumb fun. But when it comes to bigots and alarmists, these punk is do not be around the bush on Double J. This is Racist
Jay Meet The Family I'm trying to remember how we were
Lindsay We were Shock records
Jay Yeah, we were signed to Shock by this point
Caz Tran At Shagpile wasn't it?
Jay Yes
Lindsay Yeah. That's right. A little sublabel. Yeah, so I joined the band and then I had to do nothing basically, because Punch In The Face was already written and was getting played on the radio and then we got signed to the Shock Records
Jay Yeah, and we decided that we would get the guy Donnell Cameron who had done How To Clean Everything by Propagandhi thinking, "What a great sounding record". And we got him to come out to Sydney. We're recorded. I think at the Albert's AC/DC's Studio thinking "With all these things combined, how could it not sound like an amazing record?
Jay And it really doesn't sound like that at all.
Lindsay The thing was Propagandhi are really good songwriters. And AC/DC were not in the studio
Lindsay But it was yeah, but like that album How to Clean Everything probably doesn't actually sound that good
Jay Probably not. Yes. Yes. It was the it was the intent of the playing probably to make it sound so great
Lindsay But that's the same thing without with Meet The Family. Like there's some pretty dodgy production decisions that we I think we made on it, but there's some damn there's some really cool songs
Jay Yeah, there's some fun songs on it for sure
Jay Yeah, that was kind of cool having an American guy sort of working on it. We sort of seem to be. Yeah, we were playing a lot of all ages shows at that time
Jay We'd played with tour. I think when Ben was in the band too, we would tour and we'd be doing two shows a day, doing that all ages in the afternoon and then I grown-ups at night and the all ages were always way more packs and there the over 18's
Ben Yeah always
Lindsay We were doing that right around this record [When] this record was written and recorded during like we were on tour constantly the whole time like I'd only joined the band a year ago
Lindsay And yeah, we were just we somehow recorded it at the start of '97 I think and then yeah it came out in September
Caz Tran Yeah and you being on tour a lot Lindsay that inspired the Mum Changed The Locks, right?
Lindsay Is that a real story? I feel like it's become a real story
Caz Tran No no I don't know. I want you to verify?
Lindsay I feel that it's become a real
Jay It's really not as a real story. But but my mum was a high school teacher and so she would cop a lot of shit from her students knowing that she was my mum.
Jay "Oh, Miss, did you really change the locks? Oooh Oh my God, kill me!
Lindsay People still talk about when I came home from the first tour because apparently there was an interview where Jason said that I just told my mum I was going to the shops
Lindsay And then we went to America for three months and came back and locks were changed (everything). That was the explanation of that song at the time.
Caz Tran Who's Mr. Charisma, by the way?
Caz Tran Is there a particular inspiration or just you know somebody? Somebody random along the line
Jay Yeah. I don't know. I think I feel like [in] most of my songs I just invent these characters and think probably, you know, maybe this will be someone that's definitely people like this around, you know, yeah, and
Lindsay Then I just tell people that it's someone we've kicked out of the band so probably Ben
Caz Tran What was your reaction, you know saying this album getting into the top 40 mainstream charts in Australia?
Jay Um, my reaction?
Caz Tran Yes, how did you feel?
Jay Shock, absolute shock
Jay No. I mean, I think I feel like at that time, everything was sort of going better than the thing before so I figured that that was the thing and I guess we got our first gold record around that time
Jay And that was sort of a very strange it was like this sort of world's colliding. I guess like we'd sort of always operated outside of the any kind of assistance from the industry really like it was minimal radio play
Jay I think by that so like we'd sort of been kind of bounced from Triple J after an interview at this festival, where we were just full of the devil and probably pricks actually, in hindsight, but you know, so we're
Caz Tran Begging Triple J for playing the same 40 songs?
Jay Yeah that stuff, you know, yeah and and sort of
Caz Tran That's what we love, you know, you speak it you speak the truth
Jay Yeah, I mean that time we had a sense that, That you know Triple J was sort of helping bands that didn't need help. You know that there are already doing really well and playing festivals and getting lots of people to their shows and there was this whole other culture of bands that were being totally ignored that could have done with a bit of a leg up, you know, and that wrote great songs and you know would have fitted well with their audience and all that stuff that you know, we thought was sort of being ignored and I remember our manager is such a shit stirrer and he's like "If you're gonna go in and do an interview just make sure it's memorable" Like all right, and that was you know that all the Shaving head of trying to shave Dylan Lewis's head [Recovery host Dylan Lewis] and all that stuff stemmed from that. I reckon like, yeah
Lindsay He seems so like the songs were such I mean the vague importance to him but everything else, you know, if you're gonna play the Big Day Out, you know, let's get some giant John Howard piñatas, you know, and get kids are on stage to bash them until the blood falls out.
Jay Let's get Neil Hamburger and throw McDonald's burgers and people or whatever
Lindsay Exactly. I mean, that is, I guess, that the job of a good manager, is to do all the other stuff. We do the music, he does all the pizzazz.
Jay Yeah. Yeah, but yeah, we felt at that time around that time that Meet The Family time, I guess that we were there was a lot of people coming to our shows with no support really from any from anyone, you know, so all the radio stuff and whatever just seemed kind of alien and you know getting gold records, it was like it was what we the infiltrated this other world somehow
Caz Tran Yeah
Lindsay We're still shooting here in America. When we were playing also we're touring a lot in America during 97 98 99
Jay Yeah, no one gave a shit
Lindsay Yeah. We're still doing our best to try and like yeah, We were playing with a lot of, you know, bands that were getting a lot of people to the shows and we were having a great time and you know, making sort of you know, making fans sort of just one one after another but not like we weren't doing anything like, you know, The Living End or anything were doing in America at the time. So it was very like to come back to Australia and people were like, you know, we're getting played and we're going on Hey Hey It's Saturday and playing at the ARIAs and all that. It was just yeah a very very different thing to what were mostly doing in the rest of our life and oh yeah broke for a lot of that as well. We're getting like I was getting 250 bucks from the band, I couldn't get on the dole. And couldn't and that was all that was like our entire income and that was mostly going on rent. It was funny little world to be a part of
Caz Tran On Double J that song showing us exactly what's so great about Frenzal Rhomb, tough messages delivered with hooks and a smile. That is all your friends your sir heard Mr. Charisma, Mum Changed The Locks and Racist at the top all from the FRs classic album Meet The Family still as snotty Shameless and infectious as it was when we first heard it 25 years ago
Caz Tran Caz Tran here with you for their next record. The guys once again prompted by their manager. Chris Moses opted to change things up by slowing things down just a Ted exploring harmonies and letting their pop instincts surface. Just that little bit more the guys tell us about what they were aiming for with A Man's Not A Camel really soon on this Frenzal Rhomb J files though. One thing that was not changing. Was the eye for a good time as we heard in this track on Double J
Caz Tran So Gordy went into making A Man's Not A Camel with you which was you know that that album is it's a punk classic, you know,
Jay Yeah, it's which is amazing because it's got two good songs on it
Lindsay It and it's really slow and poppy
Jay Yeah
Lindsay That was the style of the time. I mean, this was all like, you know, this is of course when the you know, there's so many Australian alternative in inverted commas bands doing big things across Australia. So it was kind of swept up in that but yeah, it was it's funny to listen back to it now and up against like actual punk records
Jay Yeah. I think we went into that record with an intention to again direct a Chris Moses directive like you should change punk like you should just reinvent it and like play the whole thing on different instruments or do just something different, you know, and we failed at that but we did have a ladder in one song
Caz Tran Ladder?
Lindsay Yeah, we put like blankets over a drum kit
Jay Yeah, and I was definitely trying harder with songwriting and stuff and trying to make it trying to kind of yet. I guess that's where some of those earlier sort of 80s pop sort of sensibilities crept in
Caz Tran Yes, Oh that's gonna say that that it's most evident on this album actually and yeah, And you sing, I mean you actually, you know sing with I can feel it the pathos
Jay Another backhanded comment there about the previous records
Lindsay We had a lot of fun doing harmonies and stuff and working out fun little kind of
Jay Yeah little tricks getting little little twists and stuff little rhythmic twists and things in being massive massive wankers
Lindsay But like because we were doing slower like drum beats not what everything wasn't just fast the whole time. It means we could do cool little things with especially having Gordy being he can do anything. Yeah, ask on the drums except for the Rosanna Toto Shuffle you can do you can do anything and and this means that yeah, we could just do whatever we wanted really and we were enjoying having a bit more space in the songs to do silly things
Jay Yeah and still sort of I guess enough of those kind of fast sort of fun songs that you know, we didn't alienate absolutely all of our audience
Caz Tran How is working with? Well, this was another American producer you got to work with on this record, wasn't it?
Lindsay Eddie. Eddie Ashworth
Eddie Ashworth
Eddie Ashworth
Jay Yeah. Yes. He was a great dude
Jay We pulled him off the bench again for Sans Souci a few years later
Caz Tran Yeah
Jay But yeah, that was great. We're Redondo Beach in LA which was like the Total Access which was kind of like a home of all those cockroach bands from the 80s. So like Don Dokken turned up at one point and that banned Great White. They had like the same limo that they had in the 80s like driving past blowing smoke and dents in the doors and stuff and
Lindsay and Pennywise my next door as well
Jay Yeah and Guns and Roses did something in there at one point. And yeah, Pennywise was used let us use all their gear and Fletcher was a total menace and it was like really
Lindsay beautiful way
Jay Yeah. It was a really really fun fun record to make
Lindsay We're staying in some cheap sort of hotel this sort of in the next suburb over and it was just all like, yeah like we do actually do half the record in Singing in Melbourne, but then yeah all of this entitled over in Redondo Beach was just very strange time being there, you know where I remember seeing a like at some because this is like essentially Hollywood, you know, and if you if you kilometres away from all of that stuff and it was a band doing a photo shoot on the beach and the photographer was digging a ditch because the singer was so short so he was digging ditches for the other members of the band to stand
Lindsay Same height
Lindsay That's the world we were in yeah, it's ridiculous. And then we're there with Fletcher with his device which is what he called a bottle of rum just like stalking around the hotel telling us what songs we need to release and all this sort of stuff
Jay That's right. Yeah betting us to do is like I'll give you $3,000 if I Missed My Lung doesn't go to number one. He still owes us that
Caz Tran The J files on Double J
Ben Most songs that the during the recording Jay was still writing, finishing up the lyrics
Jay Yeah, just remembering sitting like outside whatever studio already in Melbourne on the median strip with a long neck and a pen just frantically trying to get lyrics but we were tour without lyrics like we would play like Punch In The Face with no lyrics Just like bebebbebebebeb
Ben Or like the same verse song five times
Jay Yeah. Yeah, and then and I think I sort of thought because those records went well. I thought that that was fine. And then by the time we got up to A Man's Not A Camel, you know, there's a few yeah, really really lazy songwriting things on there and then and then it got worse
Lindsay Yeah, but then it got good again though. So that's okay
Jay Yeah
Caz Tran On Double J. Taking our pick from a stack of great tunes from the classic Frenzal Rhomb album A man's not a camel a record. They worked on with US producer Eddie Ashworth who had made records with the likes of Sublime, Pennywise, Unwritten Law. to name a few the efforts on that record was reflected in the album being their highest charting record and also highest charting song in that tune. You are not my friend. You also heard I miss my lung and we're going out tonight in that set here on Double J Eddie Ashworth returned for the making of Sans Souci, which kicked off a new era for Frenzal Rhomb approach to making records which included the advent of their punk rock spreadsheet. The guys are gonna explain more about that fully democratic process to you really soon and believe me. It's a long way on from the sweaty bag of bucks protocol they employed in the earlier years with all the hullabaloo though around a man's not a camel the massive career high points and heap of attention on them. There was in the band's eyes a creative misstep in the next album that they made he's Jay, Lindsay and Ben on Double J giving their thoughts on Frenzal Rhomb fifth record Shut Your Mouth
Jay Very worst record which is acknowledged by all and sundry
Caz Tran Really?
Jay So maybe there's like eight people who really like that record. Yeah within the band for a long time. It was unmentionable
Caz Tran Really? What went wrong with this album?
Jay Yeah, we weren't even allowed to not say its name
Jay Well, I guess we'd we've done them as A Man's Not A Camel record and to much accolades and you know, aria nominations, we played at the area awards and all this stuff and then deal with Shock was up and we were just basically just wave as money being poured on a faces by by Sony who yeah, just offering us all this money to record the next record and we're like, well, maybe this is it. Maybe this is the amount of money that you know will quite happily just get on our knees and suck dick
Lindsay It paid my rent up until 2000 until we started Triple J. in 2004 2005. I was fine with that. It was yeah, we would we were so not so poor but we were it was pretty hard
Jay Yeah, and it was the most money that we'd ever seen ever say and but also not enough money to you know, buy a house or anything like that and because we had been you know, our previous years, you know income was more like $4,000 or whatever and then so the idea of going into a bank and saying, you know, I've got enough for a deposit on a house, you know
Jay Yeah, and how much are you gonna earn next year?? Um, maybe a dollar
Jay And so it was sort of a weird thing to have all this money and nothing to sort of spend an except for rent and kind of living
Caz Tran Yeah
Jay And then we sort of because it was an advance, you know, we that we had to pay it back through record sales and we delivered them the worst record that we've ever made
Jay And they quietly just sort of let us walk away at the end
Jay But yeah, we recorded it in Chicago with some totally unsuitable guy
Lindsay Someone from the record label had got this other band to lie to us and say that he was really great. And then we found out later that yeah, they've been told to tell us that he wasn't great at all
Jay Yeah, not a good guy
Lindsay Yeah, not a good guy. Not a good at recording punk rock
Jay Yeah and the and we're but also I hadn't written any good songs and I was a bit at Sea myself. I sort of a kind of quick drinking after a bit of a health scare and then you know, what was this kind of party band and all the sudden I'm like, oh maybe people want to hear what I have to say about my emotions, but I'm incredibly insightful, you know, ideas on the world
Caz Tran Yeah
Jay Turns out that was wrong. Oh and I shouldn't have done that. Well, you know some people like it, it's all it's time. Oh, yeah, I can't listen to it
Caz Tran You know, what was this one did come out more easily for you. You was less kind of deliberating and
Jay yeah and more focusing on demos and actually finishing lyrics beforehand that was the start of the new era of Frenzal Rhomb. The Frenzal Rhomb process
Lindsay Yeah, right and you started you bought a like a little record a little late track recorder so we could actually do demos
Jay Yeah, we started doing all our own demos and stuff. Right?
Caz Tran He's the first time in the band's career that you've done this like doing your own demos?
Jay I've been feeling Lex might have done a few for the previous couple of records, but then before that would be going into the studios and spending a fortune and you know, demos and stuff and yeah, at least this way, yeah could start recording rehearsals and really like filtering out all the shit songs and you know working out what sound good and stuff and it was also when we brought in to play the punk rocks spreadsheet
Caz Tran Really, tell me
Jay So at the end of the demoing process we get to get so some of the recent records but we've written sort of between 50 and 70 songs sometimes for a 20 song record and we basically have a spreadsheet with we get four votes each plus our manager. So five. Five people get to pick their songs for the record and any song with three votes or more is automatically on the record and then if that's not doesn't make up enough to make up half an hour's worth of music then everyone gets one wild card
Jay There's a lot of lobbying going on like i will vote for your shit song only if you vote for mine
Lindsay A lot of background deals,
Jay But it sort of works. Everyone's you know, everyone's sort of relatively happy with the records, but that was the yeah Sans Souci was the first time we'd attempted that and it worked out pretty good
Caz Tran Wow
Lindsay Yeah, because it was the first time we ever written like demo so many songs, but we all we had them all when we had them all on these discs and so like oh, what are we going to actually put on the record so we could actually get rid of all the crap songs like for the first time rather than after the album comes out go on. That's a shame that that's on the record
Jay And it made sense the process because we'd always split everything equally like including publishing. So no matter who wrote what, everyone would get equal money whenever there was money for anything
Jay Well for what for what you played on
Caz Tran Your first album with Bill Stevenson
Bill Stevenson
Bill Stevenson
Jay Yes, so he has a real cool melodic sort of sense for that. That kind of high energy kind of punk music
Caz Tran Yeah
Jay Good real good harmonic sense. And yeah, he sort of kind of plugged ourselves into their machine. They've got this kind of round robin system where no one there's no real downtime in the studio, like everyone's working all at once. So the drums get flown into the base room the base gets done and gets flown back to the guitars. And by the time I'm halfway through singing the records kind of half mixed
Caz Tran Wow, What was that like was that that must have seemed a little bit chaotic or was that fun doing?
Jay It was great. I mean that's the worst thing about recording is sitting down listening to bass tracks for four days
Jay It's like It's yeah kind of grim. So it was really good that yeah, we could sort of everyone could be doing something at any any time
Caz Tran Hi-Vis High Tea you worked with Bill again. Was that round robin process you a lot? You enjoyed it so much
Jay Yes. Yeah back for that but plugging yourself into the machine. That was a slightly more difficult record to write because I was doing so I've sorry, I just remember what's Smoko at the Pet Food Factory's about I am an idiot so my recording studio is called The Pet Food Factory
Caz Tran Oh
Jay Because we don't produce very good music, but we produce a lot. Which is what's called The Pet Food Factory where we're recording that all the demos for that record in my studio. We spent the vast majority of the time sitting on the balcony outside not actually making music
Jay So that was that was why that record was called that and then so in my fast forward a few years later and I was brought on board to do Blackie from the heart on song a day. So we basically recorded 366 songs and released one song every day and all of them had kind of multiple tracks, you know proper production
Jay It wasn't even the acoustic songs. Like yeah, even the acoustic songs had you know, multiple layered harmonies and keyboards and different things are most songs were sort of full band. And there was cross genre, you know from sort of art rock to punk to you know, acoustic and folk and all see all sorts of different styles and stuff just blackies wild mind being able to just produce that many ideas it was kind of crazy and I'm being a you know Ben and I very old big fans of hard on so it's good, but I was also trying to write Hi-Vis High Tea At the Same time and really not having very much time to do it
Jay So yeah, I have some slight. Well listen to it now. I'm like, oh could've tried a bit harder, but I still like it but I mean, I think if you you know, like everyone would say if you did you perfect record, you would never do another one so very much looking forward to the next one
Jay So we're going back to Colorado in October (2022) to record the new one
Caz Tran Wow with whom?
Jay with Bill Stevenson
Caz Tran Bill again?
Jay Yeah
Caz Tran And so the years of well less the less activity with Covid-19 and crap like that's giving you a lot more time has it to to really focus on the songwriting
Jay Sort of but also not like i was really hating it during Covid-19 when you'd hear people in the radio going What a great time for artists to really knuckle down and not be distracted by the performances?. Whatever. I knew like man. I need people around me to write like yeah, you know I'll come. With What I think at ten of the best ideas never known in the history of music and it's only when I Jam them with the bands that I realise that nine of them are awful
Jay And you know, it's really you just lose total perspective. If I don't have people around me. So the idea of trying to be creative in that bubble was impossible for me
Caz Tran On Double J The Black Prince from Hi-Vis High Tea some apocalyptic Mad Max styled scenes from 5,000 cigarettes and sticking it to celebrity bad behaviour on Russell Crowe's band from the Sans Souci album. And you heard Jay talking about the highly demanding time around the making of Hi-Vis High Tea, which he thought had an impact on the songs from that 2017 record. Not that you could tell really titles like Classic Pervert, School Reunion, I'm Shelving Stacks (As I'm Stacking Shelves), Food Court and the gut churning real life brain infection suffered by Jay the song Pig worm
Caz Tran It really showed there was no shortage of things that the Frenzals could take inspiration from for these songs and speaking of brains though. Let's stay on that topic for another couple of minutes. Shall we with this next ripper track on the Frenzal Rhomb J files?
Caz Tran On Double J from the Frenzal's Meet The Family album which marks up its 25th anniversary. That is Guns Don't Kill Ducklings, Ducklings Kill Ducklings
Caz Tran I love the line. It's not a sport. The other team doesn't want to play taking on the controversial sport in inverted commas of shooting and also spinning a gun lobby slogan in the title as well really goes to show the many ways this band continued to punch Us in the face with not just lyrical vitriol and aggressively snappy songs, but also layers of double meaning and word play, although they had probably baulk at that assessment. It is absolutely true of these bunch of punk rockers. They really know their way around a clever and catchy song and we can't wait to hear what comes next for the guys too. Is they get sick to knuckle down and bash out a stack of new songs for their upcoming new album. Caz Tran here with you. I've got one more Frenzal Rhomb song to play for you. But before that let's find out what's happening next week on the J files when we will be hearing from a group who came from a little place in Adam land and went on to forge a massive musical legacy it is of course Yothu Yindi
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