Though Ben Ely’s scene is sometimes detached, it is not disconnected. Life as an artist can be solitary and Ely balances that with his family and his music. A good sense of humour helps as well. . Bassist and co-founder of Brisbane indie pop band, Regurgitator, Ely states: “My scene is probably my family. I think my family is my gang. It’s like we’re either a bike gang or a band or we surf together. So I think my family is my scene. I don’t really get to see many people because I kind of work alone – that sounds sad and Nigel No Friends doesn’t it.”
Growing up listening to his parents’ record collection of Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel, Ely relied on his surroundings to develop his own taste, and “growing up in the suburbs, the alternative at the time was heavy metal”. Ely recalls: “Until a few friends of mine went from being metal heads to punk heads and then they were going to gigs and coming back with these Hard-Ons t-shirts that Ray (Ahn) had designed. So we started going to those concerts and getting really inspired because the audience kind of became part of the show, with stage diving that happened a lot in the ’80s. I just loved the whole community vibe of that kind of music world. Then I guess your tastes just kind of evolve over the years.”
As for their own music, Ely states: “It’s funny because when we met we were all in these kind of heavy, kind of technical, kind of metal bands, and punk metal kind of thing. And then when I met Quan I think the thing that sort of unified us was that we both wanted to create music that was a bit simpler, a little bit more fun. I was getting into bands like Sonic Youth that were kind of arty but also poppy at the time. And Quan really loved the idea of playing with words and writing these really intense kind of dirty words but write them into a pretty pop song, like Blubber Boy or Suck a Lot of Cock so we’re playing with this juxtaposition of cute sounding sounds with these really kinda X-rated lyrics. Which is funny ’cause that song has the C word in it, and it got played on Triple M, and at the time they had a no swearing policy, but they didn’t even know that it had the word in it. I think that was the kind of vibe with our band. We were kind of playful and just wanted to play around with different styles and see what we could do with pop music. I think Quan was genuinely obsessed with that idea.”
With the beginning of Melbourne Music Week and Ely playing with Regurgitator at the Civic Sounds Laneway Party on Sunday, the major difference is much more than simply the scope of the music scenes. Ely explains: “I love the Melbourne music scene but I do feel it’s very different. Well obviously the music scene is a lot smaller, and the town’s entertainment area is one little spot so everyone kind of hangs out together and knows everybody so the community’s a lot smaller. And I think in the early days, especially in the ’80s, and ’90s, especially before Triple Z radio station. And back in those days it was kind of encouraged, the police were encouraged to go around and beat up punk kids or unusual looking arty kids. We’d always get stopped and searched on the street. We used to always get pulled over and they’d go through your bag and look at your drawings and tease you. So, there was a lot of animosity towards authority. In Queensland, with the police state, we used to have markets where pretty much every single band in Brisbane would go and play, and the cops would always, well usually, turn up on riot horses and trample kids or beat them up with batons. I think there was a much stronger anti-authoritarian sort of vibe going on there. I actually lived in Melbourne for about 9 years and I would go down the streets and see a police officer, and I think the first cop came up to me because I looked lost when I first moved there and asked me if I was lost and if was looking for somewhere to go. And I just was completely shocked ’cause I went, oh wow, policeman are kinda friendly here! Whereas if you were in Brisbane they’d probably arrest you or go through your bag or something. It’s changed a little now.”
In August this year, Regurgitator released their ninth studio album, HEADROXX. It encompassed their textbook technique of fun pop songs with cheeky lyrics. The process may have been consistent but the result was not repetitive or tiresome. It includes tracks, such as Head Roxx, Roxx for Brains, and Not Alone, that have already become fan favourites. Ely discusses the process: “It’s weird. It’s a really weird thing because we both write lots of songs, and we write them individually and then we get together, and we play each other our demos. And we ask the question: ‘Is this our song?’.” He continues: “I think as long as it’s got a kind of energetic vibe to it, if there is a certain sort of sound even though you can sort of swing between genres. It’s still has to have some elements to be a song that would go on one of our records. Generally it has to be a bit cheeky. A bit kind of energetic. Something that might transpose live well.” A fun, live rock show is essential. Ely still loves touring. He states: “I really love it. We don’t do it as often, so when we do it, we really appreciate it. I think the main thing for us is that we have such a great appreciation for the crowd that keeps coming out. That’s really amazing. It totally blows us away that there’s still an audience there, which is lovely. We just did this last tour, and we did this HEADROXX record and tour. And it’s all great. We had great turnouts. I think we’re a little old though. We usually got to bed a bit earlier. A bit more tired. Apart from that I think that we actually really enjoyed it, and enjoyed each other’s company. We don’t live in the same city now so when we see each other it’s kind of special. Kind of like if your brother moves away to a different city, and then you seem him and hang out for a couple weeks, and it’s great. It’s like a functional family.”
This “functional family” will get together again at Civic Sounds Laneway Party, AC/DC Lane and Cherry Bar, this Sunday. Ely states that the audience can expect: “We’re just going to put on the best Regurgitator party show because it’s a street party so there’s no gonna be any sort of serious ballads or anything, It’s just gonna be non-stop party time; one of those gigs where we go, okay, let’s pull out all of the dance-y, party, fun time, rock and roll, good time, street party. It warrants a fun time show.”
DON’T MISS REGURGITATOR at CIVIC SOUNDS LANEWAY PARTY.
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Melbourne’s laneway culture is getting amped up and loud for one day only on Sunday 18th November as part of the Melbourne Music Week, when AC/DC Lane will play host to the first Civic Sounds Laneway Party.
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REGURGITATOR formed in Brisbane by core members Quan Yeomans and Ben Ely, along with drummer Martin Lee, played their first show March 1994. Current drummer, Peter Kostic joined late ‘99. They have released numerous EPs and albums that they have recorded in dubiously idiosyncratic scenarios: Tu-Plang (1996) in the remote jungle outside Bangkok; the triple platinum selling Unit (1997) in a condemned Fortitude Valley warehouse as demolishers waited outside; …art (1999) in a sun soaked Byron Bay beach house lapping up the waves; Eduardo & Rodriguez Wage War on T-Wrecks (2001) amidst the thick cigar smoke of (Gang of Four) Andy Gill’s London lounge-room; Mishmash (2004) in a glass box in Federation Square, Melbourne as part of the disturbing Band in a Bubble parody of reality shows; Love and Paranoia (2007) in a bullet riddled studio in Rio de Janeiro under the looming rock arms of Corcovado with a gang of Brazilian sound engineers; Superhappyfuntimesfriends (2011) in Ben’s old Melbourne shopfront; and (2013)’s Dirty Pop Fantasy in a Hong Kong skyscraper apartment; along with the more recent meta-virus HEADROXX (2018) they fabricated across the internet.
In the past 24 plus years they have toured all over Australia, NZ, Japan, UK, Europe, USA, Asia and the Middle East along with numerous festival inclusions including the Big Day Out, Clokenflap, Reading, Fuji Rock, Groovin’ the Moo, The Falls, Meredith etc. Always drawn to the odd they collaborated with dance choreographer Gavin Webber on the live music/dance project ‘Rock Show’; performed a self-written live soundtrack to Japanese film AKIRA at the Sydney Opera House; reproduced the debut Velvet Underground album inconjunction with a Chinese collaborator… among other weird trips down the light fantastic.
Still touring and flooring it… more than ever they find themselves extending the vitality of their live performances, continuing to infuse them with exuberance, mania and their mashedup motion of rock, punk, electro, funk, pop, whereever it goes vibes.
Along came album #9 to drive you to the meta-brink – the augmentally named HEADROXX. Sliced, spiced and reintegrated in their domestic chop shops – Quan & Ben continue to record and mix their special take of audio mayhem to rebirth albums that reflect their engagement with the worlds around them. Fabricated on the deep dark metaworlds of the internet, augmented with certain time in reality recording together in Greg’s studio in Byron Bay.
Don’t miss the ‘Gurge live at CIVIC SOUNDS Laneway Party.
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Check out the line-up:
The seminal Regurgitator will headline the inaugural Civic Sounds and will be bringing their boundary pushing blend of everything from techno-surf-rock-dub-hip hop and electro-pop to our laneway party!
When she’s not fronting the Grammy Award nominated Hiatus Kaiyote or featuring on a Drake track, Nai Palm is delivering a minimalist masterwork that was her solo debut Needle Paw. Always looking to expand her sound when played live, this is your chance to catch her perform under the stars!
One of Australia’s break out alternative bands of late, the Romy Vager led RVG have been wowing audiences across North America and the UK (including showcasing at SXSW) with their infectious, post-punk tinged hooks. Always an intense and captivating performance that is not to be missed!
Fun loving punk-ska-party band The Bennies are bringing their trademark sense of humour, wild stage antics and pure sing along anthems to Civic Sounds! Whether it’s 4:20PM or not this super hard working band brings the party.
+ Bec Sandrige, IV League, Ro, Batz, DPRS, & Destrends
** Civic Sounds Laneway Party in AC/DC Lane
Sunday 18th November, 12pm – 10.00pm
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