Throwback Thursday: Altamont Diary ~ BLACK CAB

Black Cab interview and Altamont Diary CD Review

In preparation for Black Cab’s upcoming Altamont Re-dux gig, presented by Press Play, at HOWLER on December 5th, let’s step back in time, to 2004, when BLACK CAB released Altamont Diary.

First printed in BEAT magazine in 2004, read Mary Boukouvalas’ interview with Andrew Coates, plus her Altamont Diary CD review, below:

Andrew Coates hopes Mary Boukouvalas will dig Black Cab’s trippy experience on Saturday night at the Ding Dong Lounge.

With his eclectic taste in music, skilful ability to manipulate sounds into atmospheric soundscapes, and a line-up of “a good bunch of people from really good, different bands locally”, Black Cab’s Andrew Coates may be wrong in claiming that Black Cab “is not a supergroup”.

Black Cab is a combined project between ex-Foil lead singer Andrew Coates –also in Hope Addicts, and Registered Nurse guitarist James Lee –also in Crow and Underground Lovers, but also involves artists from great Melbourne bands and artists from Pharmacy Records, such as Rich Andrew from Registered Nurse, Anthony Paine from High Pass Filter, Alex Jarvis from Automatic, and Steve Law from Zen Paradox.

As Coates explains, the recording of their critically acclaimed debut album Altamont Diary came about from his interest in the late 60s/early 70s period.  “Altamont Diary grew out of my interest, particularly with the concert, I had some time on my hands and wasn’t really in a band or anything and began messing around with some ideas and some chords and loops and things like that, sort of roughly centred around the day of Altamont.

“It did start off as: let’s capture some of the thrill and fear that you get when you watch Gimme Shelter, the film that was made, and there’s an amazing feeling that you get watching that movie, you kind of get a sense of excitement and doom at the same time, and I really like that and it’s something I’ve been obsessed by with for many years and I thought it’s a good enough reason to make an album.

“It then became a series of songs loosely arranged or based on the album as we wrote it … trying to re-create from start to finish of the day of Altamont.”

Black Cab will try to recreate the fear and loathing of the Rolling Stones’ fateful 1969 free concert at Altamont by playing their critically acclaimed debut album, ‘Altamont Diary’ live at the Melbourne’s Ding Dong Lounge this Saturday. 

Coates claims: “For the live shows, rather than have a rock show where we get up there and play our songs, we want to try to re-create a bit of the feel of being at Altamont so we’re projecting video of very slowed down tripped up images from the Altamont concert onto the stage.

“We want to really give people a kind of unsettling feeling of being there, and so we’ve got snippets from the concerts from various sources, and we’ve super-slowed them down to make them a little bit spooky.  So we’re going to try to get that dark 60s gloom and fear happening.  That’s the plan anyway. 

“Black Cab is not a working band in the sense that we’ll be playing down the corner hotel every two weeks, cause a lot of the songs are experimental, they’re not classic rock songs, we’ve decided to take the live gig and make it a bit more experience driven. 

“So, we’ve got the full screen video –and that’s going to be an important part of the launch, we’ve got a couple of good supports of course, and we’re going to be spinning some late 60s weird music throughout the night to try to give people a kind of sense of being a little bit out of time and not quite stuck in Melbourne in the middle of winter.

“Hopefully it will all come off.  It’ll be interesting, even if it’ll be a dog’s breakfast.  It’ll be an interesting dog’s breakfast.“

To partake in the whole Black Cab experience, get down to the Ding Dong Lounge on Saturday 31st July.

 By Mary Boukouvalas.  First printed in Beat Magazine 2004 

CD review

Black Cab Altamont Diary (Interstate 40 Music/Pharmacy Records)

Altamont Diary by Black Cab is amazing.  Black Cab is a combined project between ex-Foil lead singer Andrew Coates –also in Hope Addicts, and Registered Nurse guitarist James Lee –also in Crow and Underground Lovers.  Their sound is a mix of hard rock and electronica. 

In Altamont Diary, these two skilful musicians take the listener on a dark psychedelic trip, back to 1969 but still with the present in sight as they pick up bits of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane on the way and combine it with Primal Scream and Underworld and then combine it all up with the weirdest acid they can find and finally let the listener down, with a peculiar sensation that the world will never be the same again.

Altamont Diary is basically a concept album and was inspired by the notorious Rolling Stones’ free concert held at the Altamont Speedway in December 1969, where the Hells Angels were employed as the security and beat down the masses with pool cues, culminating in one young man being killed.  The actual footage of the brawling and the killing is documented in the 1970s film, Gimme Shelter, and the safest thing for the Rolling Stones to do was to play on.

The music on Altamont Diary traces through the day from blissful with tracks such as Summer Of Love and It’s OK, to the darker Angels Arrive, to the trippy middle-eastern feel of Good Drugs, to Black Cab’s cover of the Grateful Dead classic, New Speedway Boogie, to the industrially bleak A Killing, to the inspiring look towards the future in 1970.  

The artwork on this cd is brilliant. Black and white photographs, splashed with red to symbolise the blood that was shed in Altamont.  Visuals from Altamont can be found via links on and will be an upcoming feature when Black Cab launch Altamont Diary live at the Ding Dong Lounge in Melbourne on Saturday July 31st.

Altamont Diary is truly a trip into the psychedelic darkness of rock n roll, and with impending live shows and album of the week on 3RRR for the week commencing July 28th, as well as impressive album reviews, Black Cab should be on a high.

By Mary Boukouvalas, first printed in Beat Magazine 2004

  Press Play presents:
BLACK CAB 'Altamont Redux'
8:00pm, Thu 5 December, 2019
 Following their sold out Corner Hotel show from earlier this year plus recent appearances at "Supersense Festival of the Ecstatic", Black Cab will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the fateful Altamont Concert (6th December, 1969) with a one-off show at Howler on Thursday 5th December. The band will revisit works from their acclaimed debut album Altamont Diary’ (celebrating 15 years), taking listeners on an immersive journey through the highs and deep lows of the death of the Summer of Love.
Special guests Hugo Race's new electro project "Gemini 4" + Psychedelic Coven DJs.
Watch the video for Black Cab's song '1970': 

About Mary Boukouvalas 1576 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos,,,, She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.