The first portion of this interview I did with Brendon via e-mails in late 2010. At the time we were trying to do some international zine cross-pollination, where he would write some stuff for the third issue of Scratch-n-Sniff and BG and I would contribute to issues of Negative Guest List. SNS #3 was planned to be a very Aussie-heavy issue, with a fold out map of Australia as the centerfold with a chart that pointed out current bands/labels and which city they were from and some other humorous (at least we thought so) tidbits. Brendon also did the heavy lifting in helping me figure out the band geography for that. The interview discussed Meat Thump, and was kept short on purpose, as it was going to run as a "sidebar" to Brendon's own article on the RIP Society festival. Obviously, I now wish we would've discussed things further. Anyway, Brendon kept his end of the deal, as I started doing some film writing for NGL and Clandestine Golfer did reviews in a few issues. We, however, failed miserably, and SNS #3 is still not complete to this day (although it is entirely written and laid out for the most part). It's been bothering me that this stuff was unpublished, so here you go. Reading it now during editing, I'm reminded of Brendon's wit and incredible way with words, and am glad I had the chance to become friends with him through our correspondence. I was just looking at the last e-mail he sent me, where he explained to me the nuances of where Eagle Boys took their name and stated that Degreaser are The Ramones of today ("a NYC based band whose songs all sound the same and are incredible"). It's shit like that I miss. The second part of this interview was done by Termbo co-conspirator Dinosaur Mahaffey (also an NGL contributor) a bit later (over the course of 2011) and was the beginning of a feature for TB that never reached completion - or something like that. Another item that was sitting on my desktop staring at me that I didn't want to be wasted. I still wish there was more.
TB: Please explain the purpose and/or driving aesthetic behind the band Meat Thump. What's it all about and what are your plans?
Brendon: The purpose was to start a driving rock and roll band that I could sing for. Stupidly enough, our first cassette "Neck Tattoo" has only one tune with singing on it and it's tacked on right at the end. The rest of it is just practice room crap and an extended jam on the flip with Matt Earle from XNOBBQX that we made a night of. That tape basically documents the first month or two of recording. The aesthetic has shifted over time, and each live set will see a drastic change from the one before it. The last gig we played was heavily nu-metal/Butthole Surfers influenced. We are all Korn fans.
Alright mate, I'm gonna be that asshole and say that generally we sit somewhere between the country and hard rock genres. That's what I'm going for at least...I like V-3, country and 'Freaks, Faggots & Junkies'-era GG Allin and early Seventies Rolling Stones (and Neil Young and Country Teasers and the Sick Things and etc etc etc), and my songwriting tendencies gravitate that way. Writing a new tune is remarkably easy with this band. I will come up with the lyrics and write a riff around them based on the 4-6 chords that I know how to play, and the other guys will throw killer leads/solos over the top until the lights go out. Then we hire out a practice space and finish it up with drums. The lineup is revolving and instruments get swapped around a fair bit. The plans are to continue working on tunes which will make the few records (probably a 7"EP and split sevens with Blank Realm and the Boondall Boys) and hopefully develop enough of a fan base to afford us the pleasure and hardship of playing shows all across this great brown slice of planet.
TB: The name sounds very sexual and somewhat violent perhaps. Which is Meat Thump more driven by? And how does Sarah Jessica Parker fit into this?
Brendon: It was just a case of throwing two words together that sort of worked. I think Meat Thump is an excellent band name. There were no sexual or violent connotations intended, but I did take it into consideration afterwards and I guess I get a kick out of it. Sarah Jessica has one of the most unique facial structures of all canines, and in her honor we did a tune that slowly mutated into a riff on Icky Boyfriend's "Katemania". This was our first gig, where we covered the Ramones and set off scud missiles.
TB: What topics do Meat Thump songs approach lyrically?
Brendon: Some of the constants in our current live set include "Poetry Reading on Boundary Street", which is a concise attack on the irritating West End guerrilla poet/bum scene and also a kind of lonesome meditation on bachelorhood; "Ode to Christopher Columbus", which references Scott Walker and drug addiction with a stupid chorus about menstruation, and "Metal Gun", about phone sex. It's important to try and combine thoughtfulness or a sense of storytelling with humor, whether it be black or brown.
TB: How does writing about music incessantly in Negative Guest List affect your making of it?
Brendon: Writing about music and making music can both be enjoyable, moderately fulfilling things. I enjoy writing lyrics and having them turned into tunes as much and as often as I like hearing an excellent new record and telling my keyboard about it, or tracking down musicians/writers whose work I respect to feature in the mag. Having said that, sometimes both can be a real hemmorhoid of pain to try and get right. As far as the constant writing and its effect on the way I go about making music...well, I want to make better music than the bands that myself and the big team shit on, sure. By avoiding delusions of "criticism" and "journalism" in NGL - which at this point are simply terms for decrepit dinosaurs and useless blog-heads- there's less of an obligation to be all prude and self-conscious about making a racket.
TB: Has Meat Thump replaced White Cop as your full-time musical vehicle? How and why?
Brendon: Bands like White Cop invariably have short life spans. No punk in his right mind wants to die in the arse slowly. White Cop was basically six months of beer-by-the-carton by-the-day, drive-thru kebabs and crawling under people's skin. We recorded a ten minute tape and filmed a music video for the lead cut "Gambling Banshee" that I enjoy revisiting occasionally, proud of the display, and our behavior was documented fairly accurately on that tape. There wasn't much room for baggage to stink things up, but there too were no signs of professionalism, diligence or self-preservation in the way that we operated. We've had a few requests to do some one-off shows with someone filling in for Matt on drums, but unless there's a tape running I can't imagine any "new" recordings surfacing. But (The) Who knows (how to be a shitty band).
TB: Tell me about your day job.
Brendon: I am in the sandblasting game. It is a family bidness, my father started working for his father when he was 15, and I started working for my father when I was 18 (in the 35 years between, they fucked with the age restrictions for entry into the workplace, which worked out fine for me because I had no interest in working at 15). The job is based mostly at a fetilizer plant next to a water treatment facility alongside the Brisbane River. I deal in rust, essentially. I'm taking a day off today to answer your question and to finish up on the new issue of the magazine; editing down Les Rallizes Denudes reviews and watching the Travel Channel with the mute button on. About to watch Midnight Cowboy for the first time after this. Then gonna eat some leftover chicken jalfrezi and potato bread. Why should it matter if I've masturbated yet today, and whether or not I winced when I came? Fuck a day job.
Actually, I'm pretty grateful to have the job that I do. It would be very selfish of me to complain, I didn't have to fight for this job and I can essentially work whatever hours I choose; from 30 to 60 per week. I believe you should work for a living, and if you can't find a job that offers you enough satisfaction and fullfilment that you would just as soon do it for free, then you should at least work a job that affords you to have as much fun on your downtime as possible. Drink on weeknights, I do it and everyone else who works a trade should. I'm lucky because I can avoid drug tests, which are uneccessary and just filter out the people who know what they're at and know how to make it that much more tolerable. Who cares if someone has been drinking until 2am and shows up to work with a headache and .06 of alcohol in their system the next morning? For that matter, who cares if someone is blasting half a gram of go at 5:30 in the morning just to make it through their shift? I seriously doubt that drugs or hangovers are to blame for any more workplace related accidents than a lack of foresight or general idiocy. Things were a lot different twenty years ago when my dad was growing dope in the plant's sheds and cutting his employees paycheck's in half with a couple of ounces. Now I wouldn't be surprised if I was the only one in the whole plant smoking the occasional joint! Most trade workers are miserable people who live for their paycheck. They grow old and their prostate swells up to a melon and maybe by the time they're dead their wages might've gone up fifteen dollars. What a legacy! They do some good lunch specials at the canteen every now and then, though.
TB: Trace the trail from sandblasting to Negative Guest List (zine branch).
Brendon: Sometimes while I'm at work I write text notes into my mobile phone for use in the Negative Guest List magazine. Doing a four hour sandblasting job gives you time to think. You grip the hose, tell your stand-by man to fire up the hopper, and contemplate under a protective helmet. It is in this zen-like state (though still professionally focused on the job at hand) that ideas are frequently born.
TB: So what is the connection between your day job and NGL?
Brendon: I've tried, professor, but I just can't draw a connection between the two. It is simple and inconsequential if you really break it down: I work so I can afford to do exciting things like drink beer and buy equipment for the row boat I am building, and middling, tiresome things like releasing vinyl records. I do the rag to win recognition and accolades from people who I might meet once in my life. There just isn't anything that binds the two, they do not affect each other in any interesting or significant way. Maybe if I didn't have an actual job I would have time to fact-check and the magazine would be more refined. Who knows? Next question.
TB: How'd the label get started. Tell me about the exact moment! And then discuss some upcoming stuff.
Brendon: The "record label" started at issue two of the magazine, with which I released a compilation CDR featuring tracks by a handful of cocksuckers. Some of those fagwangs have gone on to great fame and salutation in the rock crit hustle. I wanted to sell the CD separately so I gave it a catalogue number: Negative Guest List Records #1. Few were assembled, and I even managed to sell a handful of them! The second release was a cassette by my band at the time, White Cop. A truly abhorrent group, but an incredible tape. Easily the best Australian punk recording of the last decade. A one sided 12" vinyl version of the tape I guess is sitting in the basement of the guy who runs Leatherbar records...maybe it will get released someday. Tentatively, the label would continue to give catalogue numbers to the compilation CDs released with the mag every once in a while, and I would use it for other small run cassette stuff like the Meat Thump album "Neck Tattoo" and the Kitchen's Floor live tape.
One night I was very high and Bobby from the Wonderfuls kept muttering the lyrics to "Piss Fist" to me at a party. "She takes a piss in the face, a fist up the ass", he kept singing. And then he went into an unneccesarily lengthy digression about the story behind the song, which I'll spare you here. I humored him and asked to listen to the CDR he was carrying with him. I thought "Piss Fist" was a cool, weirdly catchy tune, like something off the "Leather Donut" or "Waste Sausage" comps. Then he played the next track "Hatred Man", and I thought it might have been the pills, but it sounded incredible. I later realized that it wasn't the drugs at all, that tune was truly something special. I didn't really know Bob too well back then, outside of his reputation locally as a loose cannon and a drunk. Of course now he plays drums in Meat Thump, I've flown him down to Melbourne for a couple of solo Wonderfuls shows, and he is one of my best friends. Anyway, I didn't do anything about "Piss Fist" for six months, but that was my first serious consideration for a vinyl release on NGL. My second was to make an LP compilation of the best tracks from the first three compilations- expanding the label into the realm of a micro press vinyl operation- and after deciding that I would go ahead with the comp I remembered the deal I made with Bobby and decided to go forth with the Wonderfuls 7". My girlfriend graciously helped pool in money for the first release and I am now paying her back with both a bitt'a cash and the respect I get from the community. Some of the releases were originally planned for what was going to be called Gabba Records, a two person operation between myself and a local punter. Kritzler from Slug Guts asked if I wanted to do a small run press of a live recording of Slug Guts, which I agreed to, and Chris Lutkzo from Unholy 2 asked if I wanted to do an Australian press of their LP. I would do the comp, Wonderfuls and Slug Guts through NGL, and do the Unholy 2 and all other releases for Gabba, keeping NGL strictly a small run kinda deal. Things didn't work out with Gabba Records, because any amateur will tell you that starting a label with a second party is a recipe for shit pie, so I gave him his money back and told him to go and shove it up his penis (we just started a new band and are good mates again). All releases I had scheduled for Gabba - the Blank Realm "Jukebox" single, the Low Life and Hatefuck EPs - were given a new catalogue number and identification. I had to juggle over whether to keep the NGL name or start with something new; and for reasons of familiarity I opted for the former. We dove head in and have not looked back. Pressing numbers have grown, and housing jackets have elaborated. We have spoken amicably with the old guard and the new-wave, forging an alliance marked by quality, determinism, and all that shit. The future will bring better records yet. Some might even show up in your home.
There you go, the boring genesis and spectacular rise of Negative Guest List records. If you haven't got the Lost Domain 2xLP reissue yet you are probably an idiot.