Monday, October 15, 2007
GOD... The band, not The Man. God were a big fuckin' deal to a teenaged Dave Lang. OK, scrap that last statement; I promise to never speak of myself in the third person ever again. To folks overseas - probably somewhere 'round, say, Spain - God remain an almighty musical force from 1980s Australia, still spoken of in hushed tones as if they were a deity; to many Americans they're probably a footnote Aussie band from the '80s who eventually spewed out members into more highly-rated outfits like Hoss, Bored! and the Powder Monkeys. For a kid from Melbourne's inner Eastern suburbs ca. the late '80s - that's me, by the way - they were the bees knees and then some, and it kinda galls me when I hear the high praise heaped upon them by revisionist members of the press in the 21st century - usually done in eulogies for now-deceased members Tim Hemensley and Sean Greenway - since they were the object of much derision in their hey-day. They were a band who split the camps: those who saw them as a load of no-talent hype foistered on the world by an eager record label (that was Au-go-go), and those of us who saw them as, well, I'll dumb it down to the nth degree and sum it up in a soundbyte: Australia's answer to Born Innocent-period Redd Kross. That is, teen punkers weened on HC who took a backstep, lapped up the sounds of Kiss, Thin Lizzy, Stooges and a whole lotta trash and spat out an inspired musical stew.
All four band members - Joel, Matt, Sean and Tim - rank as some of the most shockingly precocious teenagers not known as McDonald brothers the '80s saw. Both Matt and Sean had been in Foot And Mouth as 13-15 year-olds, a local "funny-punk" outfit who even managed to release a 12" EP in their day, whilst a 14-year-old Joel had already managed a few issues of his own fanzine (Man Cannot Live On Eno Alone... was that the title?) and a public-radio show, whilst Tim had already hit wax (on a compilation at least) with his pubescent punker outfit, Royal Flush. Somehow, these four minds came together and created God.
I first heard 'em on 3RRR's Danger: Lowbrow programme in mid 1987, being interviewed by the most undervalued (and underachieving, given his sharp wit) media personality in Australia, Leapin' Larry L, and I heard the guys in the band - all my age or thereabouts - joke, giggle, talk about Kiss, Redd Kross and punk rock and generally take the piss out of everything, and I decided right there and then that they were indeed the business. The "legendary" - and I say that because it's hard to spend a night out in a "hip" rock club in Melbourne these days and not have the DJ spin a copy at some point throughout the night - "My Pal" 7" came out at about that time, my brother grabbed a copy and we nearly wore the grooves out on it. Around this time, they also appeared on the Saturday-morning ABC "youth" programme, The Factory, performing the song, and you can bet yer ass I taped it and wasted a good deal of time watching it on repeat. You can witness it here...
God were also on the bill of the first live show I ever witnessed: in March 1988 I managed to bluff my underaged self into the Prince Of Wales Hotel to see Massappeal (hot on the heels of Nobody Likes A Thinker, so they were a-firin'), My Heart Bleeds For You, The Dorks and, yep, GOD. They rocked, they rolled, they were out of control. Goddamn it, they moved my loins. Smart-assed middle-class high-school a-holes both rocking and mocking a room full of straight-faced HC-bots, angering some, disinteresting most and winning over a few. I saw them a couple more times over the next 12 months at various all-ages shows - an afternoon gig at the Richmond Town Hall w/ S.I.C. and the Extremes springs to mind, if only for the sheer awfulness of the other bands, not to mention the awesome shambles of God's set, in which they spent the bulk of their stage time arguing w/ each other and fixing broken equipment.
God also released a poorly-received 12" EP, Rock Is Hell, which saw the clueless douchebags coming out of their hovels and deriding them as a one-trick pony (fuck the critics, it rocks), and by the time their one LP hit the shelves, For Lovers Only, the band was pretty much on the skids and the record stiffed.
Band members fled to other projects pretty quick and the days of God were gone. Maybe you had to be there to really give a shit, but allow a man to get all misty-eyed like an old geezer about a band who mattered. Back in high school I didn't give much of a damn for most Australian music; I liked the American stuff. Outside of the likes of The Hard-Ons and Massappeal, Australian HC totally sucked, and whilst I dug the likes of X, feedtime and Lubricated Goat, nothing had the visceral impact of hearing and seeing God in the flesh. Fellow teenagers giving the world the finger and having a laugh. I can sum up God only as thus: divine inspiration.