Australian ‘90s punk band, Blister, mean the world to me! I love a lot of bands but, these guys will always have a very special place in my heart—I spent my teenage years going to see them play most weekends. They pretty much played with every punk band that came to Oz through the ‘90s: Millencolin, Unwritten Law, Lagwagon, All, Pennywise, Blink-182 et cetera… and some of the greatest Australian bands ever: Toe To Toe, One Inch Punch, Gilgamesh, Bantha Fodder, Frenzal Rhomb, Nancy Vandal, The Porkers, The Living End… the list goes on. They were only together for a few short years but did more than most bands ever will. They released two EPs and an LP, then not too long after the latter was released disbanded and were never to be heard from again, there was no goodbye, no last show, no farewell tour… they were just there one day and then they weren’t! Until now!!!
I’ve never stopped loving Blister! I can say confidently, I have the biggest collection of Blister memorabilia outside of the band members themselves. In August last year, I made a post on my Facebook page excited that after 20 years of searching I finally got my hands on a copy of the very limited edition Blister comic book (thanks Adam!). Within the post comments I expressed how stoked I’d be if they could reunite to play a show and tagged Blister members – Phil Adams (guitar-vocals), Gordy Forman (drums-vocals) & James Aspin (bass- vocals). A few days later they were in talks to organise a rehearsal, the first in two decades. Fast forward a few months and I am very, very, very EXCITED to share with you that they are playing a show!! DREAMS DO COME TRUE dudes! I got my wish.
In the past few weeks I caught up with Phil, James & Gordy to chat about all things Blister—the breakup, what happened after Blister, the reunion, Green Day’s Tre Cool roadie-ing for them, the stories behind the songs and recordings, life before Blister, the pitfalls of the music industry and so much more. Blister were the very first band I ever interviewed…
How did you first get into music?
PHIL: Music has always been in my life from as young as I can remember. My mother played music all the time, she wasn’t a musician but she loved music. There was always music in the house. I have three older sisters and a brother, they’re quite a bit older than me and they listen to music so, I heard all the stuff they were listening to; it’s stuck with me my whole life. I remember my brother bringing home the first Black Sabbath record, early AC/DC, stuff like that, so that’s what I was listening to—I would have been four or five. All I ever wanted to do was grow up and play music. I’d cut out cardboard guitars and stick them to a broom handles and pretend that I was in Kiss! [laughs]. I’ve always liked so much different music, still to this day too. I listen to music all day every day and would go crazy if I couldn’t.
I’m exactly the same!
JAMES: I had two older brothers which is always a good influencing factor, they were well into music – Midnight Oil but also punk and ska. My eldest brother got into ska and was crazy into Madness and The Specials. That influenced me getting into bands like The Clash, The Cramps, Sex Pistols and the Ramones. I was one of those high school kids with a bag emblazoned with the names and logos of all these bands I loved, I did the best copy I could of their cover art [laughs]. I met this guy, he moved up from Canberra and started school, we had a pretty good music department, not that I was studying music at the time but he came up and wanted to study it. He was mad about Metallica and had their name and all these other bands I’d never heard of emblazoned all over his jeans, he had longer hair too; I was like, what’s going on with all that?! We got to know each other and he introduced me to Metallica’s music, I hadn’t heard anything like it. I then bought my first guitar and he taught me my first guitar licks. I did a couple of classes…
I was a bit crazy about The Clash, Gordy still has a go at me about it [laughs]. I had all their books, their photobooks, their guitar books with their chords and lyrics. That’s where I started learning basic chords from songs like ‘Career Opportunities’. Great songs, easy to learn and full of heart—that’s what I loved about them. I loved how they were angry too; I guess most of us around 15 or 16 or so feel angry about the world, whether we live in the suburbs of Sydney or whatever, we still have something to argue about. That’s where my love for music grew. I still love The Cramps, how they can take different songs and mould them; the performance aesthetic they brought with Lux Interior is incredible as well, the mad growls and rolling around on the floor. You look at someone like Iggy Pop and their influences, it’s like everything brews together to create these wild, fun, bands full of power and passion.
GORDY: Shit, that’s going back. My sister, she’s six years older than me, she had heaps of Prince and Michael Jackson records—all the shit that was popular in the ‘80s. One day I was watching telly and an ad came on for Bon Jovi’s New Jersey, and I was like, I’d love to have that! I was seven or eight. My sister had just got her first job, the next week she brought home a copy of it on cassette for me, my parents bought me a copy too, so I had two copies! Next time we were in town I went to the music shop and I told them I really like the cassette but I had two copies, could I exchange it for something else? He said, if you like that you’ll like this and handed me Appetite For Destruction [Guns N Roses]. At that point it was the fucking heaviest thing I had heard in my life [laughs] having only ever listened to Bon Jovi and Prince. It all stemmed from there.
How did you get into punk rock?
P: My earliest memory of it is, I woke up late one night and my mum was up watching, Rock Arena. It was on in the ‘70s on ABC around 10 o’clock at night, it was kind of ABC’s sophisticated approach to rock music, it had all the stuff coming out of the UK… anyway, mum was watching it and the Sex Pistols were on it and I was like, what is this?! I was really lucky that my mum had an open mind about music. I can remember her saying, I don’t really understand it and I don’t really know what it is but, it’s really crazy right! That stuck with me forever. As I became a teenage I remember finding [Sex Pistols’] Never Mind The Bollocks in a remainder bin at a record store at Capalaba Park Shopping Centre, it was two bucks, so I bought it and took it home. Without wanting to overblow it, it did change my life.
Cool. I totally know that shopping centre, it was my local growing up; I spent the first 20+ years of my life in Capalaba.
P: I grew up in Redland Bay that isn’t too far from there. My first job was as a trolley boy at Coles at Capalaba Park. Before I was old enough to catch a bus into the city to find music, I used to try to find music there. I used to by records that I thought looked interesting, I’d basically buy records off the cover art or the name of the band. I bought [Dead Kennedys’] Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables there—that was another one of those records that you’d get home, put it on and go, what the hell is this?! It had a profound effect on playing guitar as well.
I had guitar lessons when I was younger, as I said I always wanted to play guitar, but to be honest I hated lessons. I’d have to get hassled to practice, it was terrible. I stopped playing because it was boring, learning to play things like ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’. When I got Never Mind The Bollocks – I’ve always been fortunate enough to have a good ear, I can work out what people are playing – I found I could play along with it—that got me really inspired.
G: I don’t know how I got into punk. A kid across the road from me had went to Canada on an exchange students program for six months, he came back and handed me a tape with SNFU on one side and on the other side was License To Ill [Beastie Boys]. We were living in Mildura, a country Victorian town, there were no record shops or ways to get any of that shit. I got into Metallica after that. I guess I got into punk mostly through skateboarding videos.
How did you come to playing the drums?
G: No one in my family has ever played an instrument. I was at a mate’s house having a playdate after school. We were outside and I was like, let’s kick the footy, where’s the footy? He said in his bedroom. I went in there to get the footy and at the end of his bed there was a full drum kit setup. I went, what the fuck is that thing?! I picked up a stick and hit it and thought that was pretty cool and kept hitting it. 40 minutes later he comes in and is like, where’s the footy? I was sitting there wailing on his drums [laughs].
That afternoon I went home and was like, I’m asking Santa for a drum kit. They said, no fucking way! [laughs]. Santa came through! It was cool because we lived out of town in a big house that was surrounded by vineyards, so our nearest neighbour was a quarter of an acre away, I could just bash away whenever. I used to drag mum and dad’s stereo speakers to the other side of the room and put them next to the drums and turn it up super loud and play along to records, like all my dad’s Elvis records, stuff like that.
Tell me about some of the other music you’re into.
P: I got right into rockabilly in the late ‘80s when I was in high school. I still listened to punk and lots of lots of different stuff but I’ve always loved rockabilly. Even at the time Blister started I was still playing in rockabilly bands, I still listen to it to this day too. I tend not to be a fan of a particular genre, like I can’t say, I like punk so I like every punk band; there’s punk I love, rockabilly I love and hip hop I love and country and western and heavy metal that I love too, all sorts of stuff.
What was your first band?
J: When I was in Sydney with my mates we had some garage jams but it didn’t really go anywhere. I moved to Queensland to the Gold Coast but didn’t really know anyone and felt kind of isolated. I auditioned for a couple of bands who rejected me [laughs]. I wasn’t too heart broken. I met Phil at TAFE and we hit it off.
I’d been into rockabilly, not as much as Phil, but I always loved the Stray Cats and the Meteors. When I met Phil he was so embedded in music, his whole life has been in music. We ended up meeting each other at uni a few months later. We were doing an arts course and in there, there was an opportunity to write poetry, songs and stories; Phil and I spotted a gap where we could start a band and probably get credits for it [laughs]. We started working on songs together. I was a very average guitarist, I had a Telecaster I had bought. I thought if I upgraded my kit I could upgrade my talent [laughs]. I also bought a Tele because Joe Strummer had one and I wanted to be like Joe Strummer.
Phil really gave me my first lessons in punk, I know it sounds cheesy but he got me going as far as playing like a band. Blister was my first band. We were working on things like Radio Birdman, The Clash and the ‘Pistols, then things like Offspring, Dead Kennedys and Green Day. One of the first covers we did was ‘Dirty Magic’ by Offspring, it’s a great song. I really felt like I was starting to get it. Practising with Phil, he was very patient.
P: [Laughs] I had a band at high school, at first we were called, Blame Ferdinand. We were just trying to do covers, we were absolutely terrible by the way, absolutely terrible. We would rehearse under my house in Redland Bay. Redland Bay is kind of a cool place to live nowadays but at the time it was a farming community and it seemed like the end of the Earth to me, it felt so isolated, as if Brisbane didn’t feel isolated enough back then either. When you were a weirdo like me, being in Redland Bay you felt you were in the wrong place. I gradually found a couple of guys that were into similar stuff and we’d jam under the house and police would come all the time – there was no police in Redland Bay either so they would have to come from Cleveland which is miles away – and tell us to turn it down. I can’t blame the neighbours either ‘cause we were horrible.
G: Right after I got drums, we moved back to Scotland. I went to high school and it sucked, I got beaten up every day for being Australian. I met the two guys in the entire high school that was into metal. By that point I was fairly into all the early Earache [Records] bands, Napalm Death and all that shit. They were the only two dudes that were metalheads, we used to jam in my bedroom. It wasn’t really a band, but it was my experience playing with someone. That was fun!
We eventually moved back to Australia and I answered an ad that was up in a music shop on the Gold Coast. Their influences were Slayer and Kreator and Sodom. These three long-haired dudes came around to my place, I actually still keep I touch with one of them, they were like, ok, we need a drummer; how good are you? What do you know? I put on ‘Blood Red’ by Slayer and played a long to it. Iit was really awkward because there were these three dudes I didn’t know just staring at me. I’m really super self-conscious. I finish the song, they had a huddle and whisper and said, you’re in! We started a metal band and called it, Desecrate. It was 1992 I think. We played with Brisbane band, Misery, and the band Frozen Doberman. It fizzled out after a couple of years.
P: The first band I was in that did a show was called, The Walking Dead. I was still in high school, in grade 12. We played at a place in the [Fortitude] Valley called, The Outpost. It was a great little night club that had live alternative music seven nights a week; it was closed in 1988 because of Expo! Sir Joh [Bjelke-Petersen] shut it down and turned it into a stripclub because they didn’t want alternative music.
It sounds like a rad place, reminds me of the Crash & Burn nightclub/venue.
P: Yeah Crash & Burn was such an incredible place, I have so many fond memories of playing there and hanging out at that joint.
Me too! I feel so lucky to have grown up at that time and have a place like Crash & Burn to go to. I’d get to see so many all ages shows and then at night you had the 18+ shows. I got to see my favourite bands twice in a day!
P: I agree with you. I feel incredibly lucky to be playing and seeing bands and being a whole part of that time because it certainly was an amazing time, something I remember very fondly.
Was there anyone in particular that inspired you to play guitar?
P: Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols without a doubt. I can appreciate them, but I have never really been a fan of technically great players. I think Steve Jones is an incredible rhythm guitar player but when players get so good they tend to play stuff that just loses its appeal to me completely because it just becomes about the technique and showing how great they are. Other guitarists at school would be talking about how great these guitarists are and I’d be like, oh yeah soooo boring [laughs]. Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath was a huge influence when I was young, Angus and Malcom Young from AC/DC too.
Records really inspired me as well. I can still remember when I heard, Inflammable Material by Stiff Little Fingers, I was in high school and the singer in, The Walking Dead, had two older sisters and they were really switched on to underground music, one of them had Inflammable Material. I remember thinking it was the greatest thing ever, I still think it’s the greatest thing ever! It was records really in particular rather than particular guitarists that inspired me.
I know you’ve collected vinyl since the early ‘80s…
P: Yeah, well the first record I got was when I was 7 years old – Dynasty by Kiss – for my birthday.
Do you still have a lot of records?
P: I do. I’m a bit cynical about the whole record thing. It’s become fetishized, it’s become more about the object than what’s contained within the grooves. Records are great because they sound wonderful. I always loved them because I have a link to them, it’s what I consumed music on. There wasn’t the internet and stuff and you’d lay on your bed looking at the record while you listened to it, poring over it, looking for any details or clues as to who these people might be. Maybe I’m just bitter and twisted about it all [laughs]… I think people just care more about all these crazy different pressing or something… Record Store Day is one of the worst things in the world, it’s not actually about bands putting out records, it’s just about major labels cashing in on the trend of everyone being so excited about vinyl. People listening to music though, that’s great! I guess I’m fond of vinyl ‘cause of my history. I was probably the last person in Australia to buy a CD player [laughs]. I always thought they were a terrible format and I still think they are; they came in those silly cases and the art work was always tiny and small, there wasn’t a magic about it like that magic of putting on a record.
Totally, even having to flip the record is part of the magic and experience.
P: Yeah. I’ve always loved 7” as well. I would have afternoons where I’d just play 7” all afternoon. People would tell me that they bug them because they only get one song or two… I’d be like yeah, but that’s great! You can flip through a whole bunch of 7” in an arvo.
I still do that. I have a two turntable set up so I can listen to one after the other with minimum fuss. What’s one of your most prized pieces of vinyl?
P: It changes all the time. Records that I have connections to, that take me somewhere back. Again, Inflammable Material or the first three or four Black Sabbath records, or even rockabilly stuff because it takes me back to then. Milo Goes To College [Descendents] or Suffer [Bad Religion], any of those records on vinyl, you feel like that’s how music is meant to be consumed as soon as you hear it. I don’t have a top end stereo or anything but, I have a really cool late ‘70s or early ‘80s Japanese set up, so it sounds really good.
I have a ‘80s set up too. It took us ages to find a great old school stereo, a lot of the new stereos are horrible.
P: Yeah. There’s so many records I love, it’s hard to narrow it down, and on any given day it can change. I tend to obsess about a band! Not necessarily discovering a new band but a band I have been listening to for years, I’ll get obsessed and listen to them over and over again. The last few weeks I’ve been obsessing about, Johnny Thunders. Often it leads me on to something else.
I get that, a lot of the time my listening to music is intuitive and goes by how I’m feeling. I can listen to the same song over and over all day.
P: I agree, I can do the same too, I have listened to a song all day [laughs].
What was the song?
P: [Laughs] I’ve done it more than once! It’s probably unusual behaviour for people but t’s not unusual for me to do.
I’m the same, when I love a band I need to know everything about them, I think that’s partly why I got into doing interviews. I nerd out on everything!
P: I’m completely the same. It’s different today though because it’s so easy to access all that stuff, which is great. When we were younger it was much harder to get information and find out more, you relied a lot on what was on the album or in the liner notes or a zine.
Because Blister I found out about so many other bands and different types of music.
P: That’s really cool. Yeah mates would switch you on to other stuff or someone’s older brother or sister would. I’d catch a bus into the city Brisbane and go to record stores, Kent Records was my favourite back then. They had their records in categories, they had a punk, rockabilly and psychobilly section, you’d flip through them and take them to the counter to listen to them; I found so much music like that. Now you just sit at home on your phone and scroll through the internet and listen to stuff or buy stuff online.
I love nothing more than to find records out in the wild at record fairs and garage sales, it seems more fun to me that way. Can you tell me about Blister’s beginnings; how did you all meet?
P: James and I went to uni together, we were studying at Griffith Uni, I’d moved down the [Gold] Coast. We were in the same course, we were doing creative writing. Through socialising and hanging out we learned that each other had a passion for punk rock. James was a really big Clash fan. I remember, we were probably meant to be in lecture but we were at the pub drinking and talking about music, we thought maybe we should start a punk band. He and I were jamming and playing covers like Stiff Little Fingers. When he came down here [Melbourne] for a jam recently he actually told me that we tried someone else out for a drummer but it didn’t work. Particularly on the Gold Coast, there wasn’t many punk drummers; grunge was really big so really slow, heavy stuff was happening, there wasn’t too many people that could play fast like we wanted. We did up an ad to put in Metal Invasion and music stores. We went into a guitar shop in Southport to stick an ad up and there was an ad from a drummer that said: looking for a band, influences Bad Religion and Pennywise. We called the number and it was Gordy! I don’t know if he was still in school or just finished, but he was really young.
When we first started jamming it was originally just me and James at my Southport rental house, we were both playing guitar. We thought we’ll find a bass player and drummer, that’s what it was always meant to be. When we found Gordy and he was keen, I said, why don’t you [James] play bass for the moment, we’ll jam, and we’ll find someone else down the track. Of course he was stuck playing bass forever. I’ve turned so many people into bass players [laughs] just because there’s never been anyone to play bass. So that’s how it started really, we had been jamming for three weeks before we got our first gig.
J: We didn’t have a bass player. We found a drummer, or rather he found us [laughs] and I switched to bass. I just happened to have a second-hand bass I bought from an op shop, it was crummy but at that stage who cared. Phil helped me buy my bass amp rig, which I still have, 20-something year old.
We’d jam at Phil’s house every couple of days for fun. It was a former kindergarten they were living in and there was an old double decker bus in the front yard. We responded to Gordy’s ad, I think it sad something like ‘no time wasters’ [laughs].
G: I don’t’ know where I got the balls to say that because I was never in a real band. Desecrate played shows but we never toured or anything. Thinking back I’m like, who the fuck gave me permission to say that?! [laughs]. That’s what happens when you’re twenty. They saw my ad I put up in Musician’s Pro Shop. Phil actually still has the ad I put up on the notice board!
J: When we first met Gordy he had pink spikey hair, a ‘shit-eating Gordy grin’ and was in high spirits. He was sitting on Phil’s doorstep waiting for us and when we came together it was the moment that it all clicked. Gordy is such a good drummer, he added that killer element!
G: All the Fat Wreck Chords kinda band stuff hadn’t blown up on the Gold Coast yet and it was so great to find two guys that were into that kind of stuff. I remember walking into Phil’s house and thinking, wow! He has so many CDs and they’re all punk rock. He had that NOFX video ’10 Years of Fucking Up’ and I didn’t know anyone with that so I thought, this could work! [laughs].
What was the first gig?
P: It was at The Party nightclub in Surfers Paradise.
Ha! I know that club well, I spent most weekends there for around five years in the early ‘00s.
P: What a terrible place right?! [laughs].
P: It was really just a nightclub-nightclub, I don’t know why they were having bands there. We played on a mid-week night. There were all these dudes James knew that came, all these surfers and skateboarders. We started playing and they started going ballistic in the mosh pit and the front of house speakers fell over and The Party owners freaked out and we never really got invited back [laughs].
J: I wish I could remember that first gig at The Party, I was actually so nervous that I threw up in the back alley before we went in.
P: It wasn’t too long after, there was an ad, the Crash & Burn was looking for bands on a Thursday night, you had to be original… we had about three original songs and the rest were covers. We thought no one else is gonna know these are covers, no one knows these bands that we’re covering, so we went and played. The people there loved us and we were invited back many times and things went from there.
Did any of the songs you were playing back then make it onto the Blister recordings (Busted EP, Hoots Mon EP & The Revenge of Tommy Lobster LP)?
P: ‘Please’ was one of the first ones. ‘Eddie Munster’ was really early. The ones that didn’t make it onto the recordings disappeared from memory. When we were reminiscing when James was down here jamming recently, we were talking and realised that there were some other songs, we wrote a song about, Pauline Hanson. We did a demo pretty early on and ‘Please’ was on that.
‘Please’ was inspired by the Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise, right?
P: Yeah that’s right. It was the whole idea of, could a punk band even come from the Gold Coast ‘cause it was such a glitzy touristy glamour-y type of place and you weren’t living in the slums of Manchester or somewhere like New York. It was a reaction to that.
It’s funny ‘cause I always wanted to move to the Gold Coast because you guys came from here, now I actually do live here.
P: [Laughs] Was it a disappointment?
No, I really love the Coast, it’s a beautiful place. A lot of Brisbane people I know put it down, there’s a lot of false stereotypes about it; wherever you live is what you make of it though really.
P: I think we bitched and moaned about the place a great deal back then because we felt like we were trapped and there wasn’t much going on as far as music-wise. I still do have very fond memories of the place and I miss the place like crazy to be honest. It is a pretty beautiful place, all that beach and sunshine. Brisbane has grown up a great deal since then though too.
I remember you guys kind of felt like outsiders in Brisbane because you were from the Gold Coast…
Many musicians I know from the Gold Coast say they’re based in Brisbane.
P: I think maybe it’s a bit of a handicap for them to say they come from the Gold Coast.
Three of my all-time favourite bands are from/started on the Gold Coast: Blister, Fur and The Death Set!
P: For us it made a lot of sense, the breeding ground for a lot of that style of punk rock came from surfing and skate videos, a lot of those guys were hearing that stuff, it wasn’t all over the radio or anywhere else, we had a pretty strong following because of the surf and skate crowd that was there.
J: The Gold Coast had a big skate and surf scene and we were getting a lot of those videos, snowboard videos too had rad music. We encapsulated that and took that energy to Brisbane and introduced it there. At the time we were so busy with it, we didn’t think, oh we’re influencing a scene, we were just doing what we do and playing music we love.
You guys did so much! You played everywhere, you played with pretty much all the international punk bands that came out in the ‘90s: Pennywise, Blink 182, Lagwagon, All, No Use For A Name, No Fun at All, Unwritten Law, Strung Out, Rancid… is there anything that really stands out?
P: I remember a lot of them and it’s not necessarily about who we played with but… playing that first festival, Summersault. I still think that’s probably the greatest line-up for a festival that Australia’s ever had! It was Rancid’s first time to Australia, I got to see the Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth played, and Beck did an acoustic set. For me, the fondest memories is stuff like touring with a band like, One Inch Punch – they’re one of my favourite Australian bands and up there as one of my favourite bands of all-time!
I love One Inch Punch/Mid Youth Crisis too!
J: The highlight for me performance-wise was the Big Day Out. At the time it was the biggest festival in Australia, everyone wanted to get on the bill. We were amazed we got on it. We were playing ahead of Silverchair! We were like, oh no people will be there to see them and no one will want to see us but when we came on in our kilts ready to have fun all these people just came over the hill, it was so cool to see—it must have been the biggest crowd we ever played in front of. A lot of my friends were in the audience, it was really special. We had a 20-30 minute set and it was the fastest set we ever played, we smashed through everything. It was one of our tightest set, before that we were, or maybe just I was going through a bit of the doldrums. That set totally reenergised us though, it was killer. We got to sit side of stage when Rancid played too!
I remember that! I was sitting on the opposite side of the stage to you guys eating shish kebab! Their set was so amazing, I loved that Tim [Armstrong] walked out with the ghetto blaster from the Ruby Soho film clip.
J: The Riverstage show we played supporting The Living End was great too. Maybe we had a point to prove, we love TLE, there was a little bit of a competitive thing but in a fun way.
G: Yeah the Riverstage with TLE and Spiderbait! I have never ever, ever packed up a drum kit as fast in my entire life. We sprinted to Festival Hall the second we finished playing so we could see Bad Religion play their show. It was the best night of my life! Funnily enough I know those guys now.
It was pretty amazing, I went to your show and then bolted to see Bad Religion too! We had a pizza party after their show.
P: Other highlights were things like, that crazy, funny night we played the Green Day after show party and those guys came down and watched us play. Tre Cool kept getting mistaken for our roadie [Mark Smith]. They actually swapped shirts and Mark started signing autographs and Tre Cool packed up our drum kit and packed it into our van for us [laughs].
G: That was cool! Dookie had just blown up so they were getting fucking massive! As a 20 year old having just played Crash & Burn, for a punk band to be playing Festival Hall it’s like holy fucking shit, what’s going on?! We were in the middle of playing and Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt just end up moshing in the middle of the pit. We all looked at each other while we were in the middle of a song and were like, is this real? Is this happening? [laughs]. …when he offered to pack my kit up, I was like great! As long as I don’t have to do it! [laughs]. That was pretty funny that moment, I was a little bit starstruck that night.
P: When you meet people like that and they’re actually genuine, great, down-to-earth guys and people who love music, it’s really, really nice.
Totally! I remember the day they played, I found out where they were gonna be and waited for them to show up and when they did, I asked Billie if I could do an interview – at the time they weren’t doing too much press and were wary of media but because I was a little ol’ DIY punk zine he said, yes! I skipped school to do it. I thought it was really awesome of them.
P: That’s really cool. They went on to what they went on to, to be bigger than Ben-Hur but, it doesn’t take away where they came from and who they were and how genuine it was. That album that made them Dookie was a genuine punk rock album, as the ones that were before it. It’s not like they went out and did something in order to become famous. They just did what they did and got better and then suddenly everyone jumped on it.
I thought it was sad how people, especially people in the punk scene, hated on them because they got big.
P: That’s just punk rock all over though isn’t it? What’s punk and what’s not is the most boring conversation in the history of the world. To me, it’s absolutely pointless. I remember hearing that when Offspring released their big album Smash, zine Maximum Rock n Roll gave it a huge review saying it was great, then it went big and they panned it, it’s the height of hypocrisy… the whole, just because a band gets big that they’re sell outs thing.
Yes! You know how on the promo poster for your Busted release it had written, ‘Punk? Pop? What?’ was that because you guys didn’t want to be labelled?
P: I can only speak on my behalf but, I don’t really care for labels. To me it was exactly that: punk? Pop? What?—I don’t care! Punk-pop has become a dirty word since the ‘90s because it got turned into this massive commercial money making thing and there was a lot of bands that came in the aftermath of the original thing that were probably just jumping on the bandwagon and cashing in, it just became this thing. That as a term for a long time almost became a thing people were afraid to say or call their band, it became a derogatory term. To me, I couldn’t care less, I’ve always loved punk-pop, the Ramones are a pop-punk band! The Undertones ‘Teenage Kicks’ is THE greatest punk song ever written.
And, this is why I find it funny when punks go on about bands selling out or being on major labels, bands like the Ramones wanted to make it!
P: The Ramones, The Clash, The Damned, The Sex Pistols, all those guys! It really just came about because in the ‘80s when the more political punk scene came up, that was a new thing, bands like Crass coming along, and putting records out to a large audience became a dirty thing, that became something that all punk after that was measured by. The Undertones wanted to sell records, Stiff Little Fingers wanted to sell records, The Clash, The Damned, all of them. I think if you create music of a style and think this is what’s going to make you successful then that, kind of doesn’t sit well with me. Do I really care? No. Do what you want to do, go for it. If you’re just making music that you’re passionate about and you become really good and people like it so it’s successful then, more power to them.
Any other Blister highlights or memories you could share?
G: I don’t recall any time that wasn’t fun. Even driving from the Gold coast to Melbourne with no stopover, in a van with three across the front it was fun. There’s a funny story that still gets talked about to this day, even when I’m on tour with Frenzal [Rhomb]. It was my 21st birthday and I was like, cool, that’s a good one, I should celebrate – I don’t really give a shit about birthdays. We were driving back from Melbourne… I had exactly $2.50 to my name, at the point I ate meat and I thought, I’m going to buy a chicken sandwich because I’m fucking starving. I bought it, took a bite and it had a fucking bone in it! Happy Birthday to me! That still gets laughed about in the tour van.
Phil and James pretty much remember everything. When we were hanging out and they’re pulling out these stories I’m like, fuck, was I even there? [laughs]. We played Crash & Burn on New Year’s Eve one year, they put us up in a fancy hotel, at least by our standards it was fancy. The chick I was going out at the time – back then you could smoke in hotels – she was smoking and left the cigarette in the ashtray on the bed while she got ready and put it out… we went and did the show and the Happy New Year bullshit, then went back to the hotel drunk as skunks and as we pulled up there were all these people in fancy cocktail dresses and three-piece suits milling around outside the hotel. We found out that the chick I was dating didn’t put out her cigarette properly and it set the hotel room on the fire! The whole place got executed before 12 o’clock on New Year’s Eve [laughs]. Not funny then, but funny now. It could have been pretty dangerous.
I met so many people playing in Blister. Most of the bands I love, I’m mates with these days but back then, getting to play with Millencolin from Sweden, it was like they’re actually in Australia! And, I got to hang out with them and play with them—that’s a big deal when you’re 20 years old.
Do you still write songs now?
P: Yes, all the time. I have a new 7” coming out soon. We should have test pressings within the next few weeks with the new band. The new band just come from me sitting in my lounge room writing songs. I just grabbed a bunch of mates and said, hey do you want to work these songs up and see if we can demo them. It was really natural, it wasn’t like I was writing songs to do a particular type of band, I just wrote songs. I stood at a microphone, started playing on the guitar and my friends just played along with me and they turned into what they turned into.
That’s Modern Fidelity?
P: Yeah. It’s just me and some mates.
I can’t wait until it’s ready to go! I remember reading in a super old Blister interview from 20 years ago that you said it was a dream to get a CD of yours into a shop, when Busted came out you finally achieved that and walked into a store and saw it on the shelf…
P: It was incredible! Playing in the awful bands that I played in when I first started and being terrible, it seemed like such a pipedream, it felt so unachievable to do. We kept going and going trying to get better and then Blister happened. We were really lucky in that we were three guys with our hearts all in the same place, something was happening, we felt really creative, the energy was right and we were having so much fun—the chemistry was right! We laughed all the time. When we recorded something and then saw it in a record store like, Rocking Horse, it just seemed so surreal and crazy. I remember driving home from practice one night and Triple J played us! We pulled the car over and were jumping around like crazy, jumping on the car ‘cause… I know it seems really stupid right now but at the time we were blown away! We couldn’t believe we were on the radio.
Everyone in the Blister wrote songs, right?
P: Yeah. There wasn’t any set process. James was and is still a great lyricist, his lyrics are amazing. He would write something and bring it in, Gordy and I would do the same. It would basically be an idea and we’d all have input and turn it into what it would become.
J: Phil was surprised but I think ‘Tony Pepperoni’ was the best song we ever wrote, maybe a more mature song in a funny way. We were very immature all the time [laughs]. There’s lots of nice music and melody in there and we were experimenting a bit but it still had a punk ethos behind it, it’s got a good energy. ‘Windsor Beaver’ is another song I like, we played it a lot and it has a great bass riff; Gordy wrote it, he said he couldn’t even play bass but I think he did pretty good!
There’s songs like ‘My Baby Left Me’ that we wrote all together in the rehearsal space. Someone started a riff, we liked it, we adapted it and changed it around a bit… for a while that song was actually pointing fun at me [laughs] but we changed the lyrics. I was like, you can’t be singing that, it’s got my name in it!
G: I had a really good time playing Eddie Munster last week, I thought, fuck, this is fun as shit!
I heard that there is an unreleased Blister film clip of you dressed as Eddie Munster as you skateboard?
G: Yeah, James has got it on video. I don’t recall it being any good but my memory is pretty curvy. I remember putting a wig on and a jacket and skateboarding around Labrador skate bowl [laughs]. Aaah some of the dumb shit we did!
I like the ‘Share My Stuff’ song because it’s about The Simpsons and I think its funny [laughs]. ‘Windsor Beaver’ I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, even though it’s the one riff the whole song. I was watching [David] Letterman one night and you know how he’d walk up the aisle to talk to the crowd?
G: Well, he stopped to talk to this girl. He asked her name and she said, it’s Windsor. To a 20 year old that’s a very unique name! [laughs]. He asked her what her last name was and she said, Beaver, and I fucking lost it! I started squealing with laughter and thought it was the funniest thing that I’d ever heard. I wrote the song on the spot. Years later when I got into Frenzal and social media became a thing, she actually got in touch with me! We were doing a Frenzal Rhomb tour with NOFX and we were in New York City, she came to the show and I hung out with her. She loves the song and thinks it’s great and couldn’t believe a band all the way from Australia had written a song about her. She thought it was hilarious. I still keep in touch with her from time to time. Shit like that you can’t even make up! I thought it was amazing that I got to make a new friend just because I wrote a stupid song. It’s crazy. You don’t get shit like that happening in a 9 to 5 job.
Song ‘Boogie Board Rider’ was somehow influenced by a Beatles song?
J: Yeah. Paperback Writer. It was in my head one day when I was out having a surf. Maybe it was me seeing boogie board riders get more wave than me and I’m like, hang on! I thought I’ll get my revenge on them and write a song [laughs]. Being out in the ocean is always a good place to clear your head, it’s a good place to work out lyrics and melodies. I still surf but not as much as I’d like to. People probably look at me weird, I sit out there singing and bopping my head. I still skateboard with my kids now and I’m trying to teach them to surf.
I love that you guys all contributed equally to songwriting and the band in general.
J: That was always it about us, we all contributed, that’s why it could of never gone on when it ended—it was the three of us or none of us. From the start everyone contributed equally. Early on, and later on, Phil did the managerial work; it was more pressure for him than Gordy and I realised at the time, we possibly took it a bit for granted even. I was the guy with the van so I was transport. Gordy contributed in lots of ways, especially with the driving, if you remember Phil didn’t have his license back then.
Do you enjoy recording?
P: Yes. I still do. I love the process of recording, I know a lot of musicians that do hate it. There’s something about that creative process when you’re in the studio and the capturing of a song. With Modern Fidelity, we had such an incredible recording experience because the engineer was like, I’ve been having a heap of success with bands not doing isolated tracks and just playing in the studio like you’re jamming. That’s exactly how I wanted to record. That was an amazing experience.
Going back to Blister, I loved that experience of recording. I love how you create something that will last. You can talk about all the gigs we did, they were experiences and if you were there it’s a memory that you have or I have, but when you create something and record it, it’s like an author publishing a book or an artist finishing a painting, whatever it is, you’re creating something permanent. It can be nerve-racking, because you can be terrified of how it’s going to turn out.
There’s a lot of us in the songs. James and I were talking about songs and where they came from and what it reflected in our lives. We didn’t tend to write songs that were about big and important subjects, we tended to just write songs from our lives and us and what was happening.
J: For me with Busted it was my first proper time in a real studio, we did our first demos with Phil’s old friend Terry in our regular recording studio. We recorded it in Brisbane and I remember wondering around the streets buying records and CDs and stuff. My experience as the bass player, I had a really shitty bass and it sounded awful, it was barely even coming through no matter what they’d do. We rang the bass player from Screamfeeder, Kellie [Lloyd], and asked if we could borrow her bass. So that recording is using her blue Jazz Master bass.
For the second EP Hoots Mon, the songwriting advanced more, Gordy got involved more in the songwriting, he’d always wrote drum parts but never really put his lyrics forward. We did the EP with Magoo, he got our vibe straight away. We were looking for samples to put on the recording, we wanted something real Aussie. We were like, what can we use? We thought we have to get the film, Puberty Blues, for The ‘Towel Song’ ‘cause it’s got that thing about girls not being able to surf. We went down the video store and got it out and while we were there we found movie, Sirens as well – that ‘get fucked, get fucked’ part at the beginning, it’s some old drunk at the pub from that movie.
G: In 2011 we [Frenzal Rhomb] went over and did a record with Bill [Stevenson; Descendents] and Jason [Livermore] at, The Blasting Room. It’s an ongoing joke but it’s not really a joke, that it’s taken Frenzal 20 years to find a good recorded sound. We were like, if we do another one we have to go back. We were going to start writing songs and go a year and a half ago but, I fucked my arm and was out for 14 months so it all got put on the backburner. The dollar went to hell and the budget had to be changed, long story short, we got there though. They’re just so good to work with. I grew up listening to the Descendents and here I am sitting next to Bill as he’s working on our record… then he farts [laughs] and you go, well he’s just a fucking dude. He doesn’t deal with the drums on the recording, Jason does that stuff, Bill will be in another room. I try to race through the songs as quick as I can, because I don’t like being in a room with no windows longer than I have to be… so I’m ripping through the songs and these dudes can’t believe how fast I’m getting through them. Bill comes in and I can hear him out of the blue come over the talkback say, ‘I really need to come in here and see how this midget’s getting through this shit, it’s so fast’. Bill is staring directly at me while we’re making the record and I’m like, fuck! I’m 40 and I still freak out about shit like this [laughs]! That dude is probably one of my biggest drumming influences.
You don’t sing in Frenzal but did in Blister, right Gordy?
G: Yes. I shouldn’t have sang in Blister. It’s fucking horrible, I can’t stand it.
J: Gordy did the keyboards on most of the [The Revenge Of Tommy Lobster] album too, so when you hear organ, that’s Gordy! He was like, I can’t play piano! I was like, mate you did it. Some of the backing vocals on the songs were done by The Living End. Phil’s been mates with Chris [Cheney] for years.
There was a lost moment with that album. We toured with Agent Orange but we never did our own tour for it. If I ever had a broken heart about anything, it was that. I love every song on that album, it was such a great album! I think Lindsay Gravina did a great job of producing that album, I don’t think he was ever listed as the producer on the album, I think there were some complications with that.
Do you have a favourite Blister song?
P: I love ‘Biding Our Time’ which is off the LP. I really love it because James wrote it about, he was living in an incredible surf shack, it was an old, old broken down house, I don’t even know if it had hot water… they were in there and the owners were waiting for these surf bums to get out so they could knock it down and build apartments or a high-rise, he wrote the song about that. I like it because there’s a venom and anger in that song. I like some of our really fun songs as well. Mosh Pit Girl I really love!
J: Yeah, my girlfriend and I lived in Main Beach in a dodgy fibro shack, our mate lived upstairs and friends lived next door, it was a bit of a Melrose Place for the punks of Surfers [laughs]. We were being looked down on by people in high-rises because we played our music loud and had a skate ramp next door and parties all the time—totally irresponsible. We had a ball!
I really like ‘The Towel Song’/‘Baby Won’t You Mind My Towel’ I wrote the lyrics and the riffs, the elements that the other elements the other guys brought to were so good. It encapsulated a lot of our influences, like surf guitar, punk and even Beach Boys oooohs and aaahhhs, Gordy carries those! It was a powerful, fun, quirky song that play on words and things like feminism. The first song I wrote for the band was ‘Axe To Grind’, Phil has always been very complementary about that riff. I didn’t really quite have the melody sussed for that song and Phil jumped in and bam it was a song.
I know that there’s some lyrics in Blister songs that these days may not been seen as being very PC…
G: There’s a couple of disparaging comments in a couple of the songs but, you know what? We were 20 years old, who cares. Let’s just have a good time. We weren’t trying to change the world, just get free beer and hang out [laughs].
J: Phil and I having studied writing were also trying to twist our perception of things. Things like ‘The Towel Song’ is about playing with the perception that all surfers are dumb and girls just want to lay on their towels, that’s not reality! Then I had my angst-y songs like ‘Dissolving Dream’, sometimes I think I just wrote songs so I could see Phil scream them [laughs]. That crazy face of his!
Excitingly, Blister recently had a jam for the first time in 20 years; how did that feel?
P: It’s pretty cool we’re jamming, I have to say. We’re all in a pretty good place right now, it just felt right. The weekend we got to spend together was just awesome. We were all a bit nervous, it’s been so long. There wasn’t a lot of pressure, we thought let’s just get together and have a jam—if it’s good that’s great and if it’s terrible, at least we get to spend the weekend together, have some laughs and reminisce about old times together. The opportunity to spend some time with those two dudes was just too good to pass up.
J: It was amazing! From setting up everything it was fun, Gordy setting up his kit and Phil and I wheeling in our amps and joking about how old we are [laughs]. I hadn’t been playing for years and this has really inspired me to play music again, it’s put me touch with my good friend Pete from John’s Not Mad and we’ve been jamming. He’s been helping me get up to speed on Blister stuff too, that warmed me up to go down to Melbourne. Phil and Gordy have been playing in bands for years, they’re very attuned musicians, but I was feeling a little out in the wilderness. I’m feeling much better now though. It’s all starting to click. We’ve had so much fun! We’re still self-conscious buggers [laughs], maybe that’s just me though. Gordy would listen to a track on headphones, take them off and just play it, it’s like whoa man! That’s so good.
G: When it first came up I was like, really? Should this be a thing? Will anybody going to care? Once we got in the room, the same old jokes started flying. Phil was like let’s just have fun! I thought perfect. If five people turn up we don’t care ‘cause we’ll be having fun. I can’t believe we’re doing it. I haven’t really thought about it until right now, and now I’m kind of nervous [laughs].
The first couple of run throughs was pretty rusty for everyone but, once we blew the cobwebs out it was shockingly easy how it all just came back. I haven’t listened to any Blister stuff for 20 years until we decided we were going to practice. I put it on and my wife is like, what’s this? I’m like Blister! I’ve been with her for almost 20 years and never played it to her. She was like, this is great! I like it better than Frenzal [laughs]. I was like, cool, thanks.
P: To be honest, jamming and playing the songs again for the first time in 20 years, we were all a bit nervous about jamming. Once we started it all just came flooding back. I have a hard time remembering what I did yesterday but the lyrics from 20 years ago were all there, the guitar pattern were just there. I had the craziest grin on my face, it felt like just an incredible opportunity to relive an incredible time—it fills my heart and makes me so happy! Even if we never play a gig and things didn’t go further than that jam, to play those songs again with those guys was incredible.
Awwww you’ve made me all teary and I literally have goosebumps! I can feel that joy and warmth from you.
P: I love those guys! It was a short period in our lives but it was the single most incredible time for me. It was so much fun! As you were saying before, we were always outsiders and we certainly weren’t accepted by the cool punk rock scene, so we felt it was just us doing our thing. Even when we’d go interstate to places like here, Melbourne, it’s so frickin’ cool down here! We’d play and people would stand with their arms folded like, yeah go on impress me. That partially comes because there is so much great music down here, so many great bands at that time. In Brisbane and the Gold Coast when we first started there wasn’t really anyone doing the kind of stuff that we were doing. You know what it’s like in Brisbane, bands play and people go crazy. When I’ve been in other bands and played Brisbane or the Coast, it’s just gone off tap! I remember back then in Brisbane if a band like Toe To Toe were coming up or Bodyjar, you were so excited and looking forward to it and when it did happen, you’d lose your shit and just go crazy.
That’s why I always used to go to all kinds of shows, punk, hardcore, ska, rockabilly…
P: Yeah! The fact we got to play with Toe To Toe a lot was amazing. I remember the first time we played with them was at Bangalow RSL of all places, them and Gilgamesh were coming up and we were doing the string of shows… it was a bowls club and there was hardly anyone there, there were a few ex-Sydney punk hippies who now lived in Mullumbimby there and – maybe my memory is stretching it a bit far but – guys in cowboy hats sitting at the bar and a picture of the Queen behind the stage. We played and they were looking at us like, who are these weirdos? Then Toe To Toe got up and I still remember Scotty Mac saying, ‘Yeah we’re not as danceable as the other lot’. [laughs]. They nearly blew the walls off the place! They were at their peak, they were on fire.
I adore their No Gods EP, it’s still to this day one of my favourite Australian hardcore releases ever!
P: It’s totally great, mine too.
When I saw Scotty’s other band, Demolition High Style, it is literally the loudest thing I have ever heard. I had to keep going outside because it was so intense.
P: Toe To Toe were a force to be reckoned with. I remember the first time Millencolin and No Fun At All toured, we were on the tour with them. We were all sleeping in Scotty Mac’s lounge room – three bands plus Toe To Toe just crashed out, all mixed in. There was no, well here’s the pathetic punk-pop bands and here’s the hardcore bands, then it was all together, which was great.
I know what you mean. I don’t really go to hardcore shows so much now, unfortunately… I don’t really find it as welcoming of a place to all as it often claims to be. Actually at most shows whether it’s punk or hardcore or whatever, I always feel like the outsider.
P: Me too. I went and saw Mindsnare on the weekend, they’re one of Australia’s great, great live bands. Down here, the hardcore scene as well as the music scene in general is pretty fractured. Mixed bills in Melbourne don’t really happen and when they do, they don’t tend to work. I miss mixed bills.
Me too. Do you have a favourite show you played?
P: It would definitely be one of the shows at Crash & Burn, it felt like our home. I remember how many hours I spent outside sitting against that wall smoking cigarettes talking to you, talking to whoever, in between shows. Like you said, you’d come to the all ages and then over 18’s show.
J: Crash & Burn was definitely the making of us, an intimate little venue like that we could fill with our friends so early on in our career as a band really made us. You gotta thank the Crash & Burn for even existing, one of the best venues of the time. Joe, the owner, was really helpful to us.
When you guys told me that you had got back together for a jam, it seriously made me so happy! Like I cried. I love you guys! You were such a huge part of my life…
P: And that’s incredible! That blows my mind, in a really good way, you’ve shared something that was really incredible for us, you’ve shared in it, it’s you as well.
My Blister posters are still on the wall 20 years later!
P: [Laughs] That makes me really happy.
You guys helped to shape my life in a lot of ways. I learnt so much from just hanging out with you, you were like my big brothers. You were the first band I ever interviewed. I started making zines because I wanted to put you guys in it and let the whole world know how rad you were! I still remember you filling out the answers on that piece of paper, I didn’t even have a tape recorder to do the interview!
P: [Laughs]. I remember that.
Ok, I have to ask this question; where did you guys go? What happened to Blister? One day you just weren’t around anymore?
P: I don’t know. It just suddenly wasn’t there, it wasn’t there for any of us. I’m not going to bore you with gruesome details but, I was in a pretty bad place personally and I was really struggling – relationship breakdowns, nowhere to live, we got done over by our manager, we got put in a very bad place and taken for a lot of money and had to dig ourselves out of that hole. I had to take over doing most things and trying to get us out of it.
J: That’s one of the things that made it hard on Phil, he was bottling a lot of that up. Our manager pulled the rug out from under us.
P: At the time I thought, cool no worries I can do it but I now realise how much I was struggling—it killed music for me. I hate to say it but, I put my guitar under my bed and didn’t get it out for eight years. That’s saying something because, for my whole life I would have a guitar beside me on the couch, I do these days as well, I would fiddle away on my guitar as I’m watching telly. After everything that happened though, I absolutely put my guitar away.
That seriously breaks my heart to hear that!
P: It kind of broke my heart as well. It wasn’t just that though ‘cause there was a whole bunch of other issues, not between us as a band it wasn’t about that, but for me personally there was a whole bunch of issues. The business side of music can be so cutthroat. These companies aren’t there because they love it, they’re there to make money; you’re a commodity and you’re there to make money for them. It became a lot about that and nothing else, I hated that. We were living poor, none of us was working, we were living on the dole and doing music fulltime. All we wanted to do was play music. Having to do the business side of it, killed me, it ruined everything for me. When I eventually came back to music it was at a very, very grassroots level with dudes playing street punk that didn’t want anything to do with the music business and just wanted to play at the pub. I was like, this is what it’s about, that really got me back to wanting to play again. I never stopped being a very passionate, mad music consumer though, I just didn’t want to play. As corny as it sounds like I said, it did break my heart.
J: We all have slightly different versions depending on the way we feel or remember it. I felt there was a little detachment from us all, you get that with anything though. Sometimes it’d feel like Gordy and I were close, or that Phil and I were or he and Gordy were, with three people you’re always gonna get some of that sort of thing. There were times when I thought I wasn’t practising enough or playing good enough, Phil thought he wasn’t singing good enough at times too—I think that’s what I was getting at talking about before the Big Day Out performance. I didn’t feel that great about my playing so I was practising less and that wasn’t helping, rather than fixing it, I was avoiding the problem. Phil got up me in a constructive way like, Speedy you better sort it out. There was never anger between any of us. I think we were all being torn apart by different things. Phil was dating a girl from Melbourne and decided to move down there to be with her, he did say we could make it work though, he’d fly up for gigs. It got to a point though where it got too complicated. Gordy got an audition with Frenzal Rhomb, one of his favourite bands, and as soon as I heard that I knew it was it, there was no way he wouldn’t get it, it was his dream job.
I have so many good memories, it really was the best time. Sadly things fell apart. I lived in hope that Blister may do something eventually again. I still have the same amp and bass guitar I had in the last couple of years of Blister, so when I plug in, it still has that same sound I had in Blister 20 years ago. When we played together it was so easy, a few dodgy bits [laughs].
G: I remember playing the last show of the Agent Orange tour at The Playroom. I was living on Burleigh Hill at that time, not even 10 minutes away. I got along really well with Agent Orange’s drummer and bass player at the time, Dave and Sam, we got drunk as shit and I was like, let’s go back to my place! We were awake until 7 am and got hammered. As we left, Phil was like, I’m going to Melbourne for three weeks to meet up with this girl and I’ll be back and we’ll do whatever we’re doing—he left and we never really heard from him again. It bummed us out. At the time the band was the only thing we did. We were getting offered tours and thought, this is a thing, we’re doing a thing! As you know the story, it pretty much set the course for what happened after for me… Frenzal knew who I was because Blister had played with them a bunch of times.
Dude, I’ve always thought you were the best punk rock drummer in Australia. Frenzal would be crazy not to have you.
G: Wow! That’s a bit flattering.
It’s true though, you play so fast and hard.
G: I’m surprised I got the gig, again it was three dudes in a room I didn’t really know staring at me. I asked what they wanted me to play, someone said a song and so I counted it in, and straightway I started the complete wrong song. I thought I had fucked it! [laughs]. I loved Frenzal, I always thought, how can Australian band be on Fat Wreck, it still freaks me out!
You also joined one of my favourite hardcore bands, Mindsnare?
G: Yeah, which was through Frenzal, which was through Blister—thanks Blister! [laughs].
P: I don’t think Blister was ever going to be a huge success, but for us it was everything! It was a passion, we loved it and did it. All the record companies were doing their job but it just didn’t sit well, to make all the decisions like, oh it’ll be good to play this gig because it will be good exposure… it’s like who cares! Let’s just play a show to our friends and have fun. If four people come so be. That’s why I am so, so happy to jam with these guys again, back at this level, for sheer fun! We laughed, we cried, we had a ball. It was genuine. Before the jam we had all these messages going back and forward and Gordy said in one of them, let’s just make sure it’s fun, that’s the main thing. That is totally on point!
I have that same philosophy with all the stuff I do, if it’s not fun then I don’t wanna do it. There’s a reason why I don’t work in the music industry, I’ve tried so many different areas of it when I was younger, being a music lover I naturally wanted to be involved with it, but once there and seeing how it operates, I found out it’s the worst!
P: It is! It basically turns something you love into something you have to do to pay your bills, it’s the pits.
I’m lucky because I found I can have a day job I love that pays my bills and then I do everything else for the love and pure enjoyment. I just chat with people and do interviews because I love it.
P: You just do it because you have to!
Totally. Like we were talking about, when I interviewed you I didn’t even have a tape recorder but still found a way to interview you. When I started writing for Brisbane street press, Rave, I didn’t even have a computer to type my stories on! If you’re passionate you find a way.
P: That’s so cool.
I often run into people that ask about what I do, or how I got started. I tell them that I had no idea when I started, I had no money, I didn’t know anyone, no one showed me… some of the first shows I went to were Blister shows at Crash & Burn, from there I met people, bands and just started doing things. I wanted to be a part of making something. SO, Blister are playing a show?!!
P: Yes, we are playing at Crowbar in Brisbane.
On March 18!
P: Yes. We’re playing with Bantha Fodder and John’s Not Mad.
Oh my god! Since I’ve known you were playing a show, my husband and I were dreaming up who we think could be or would be the best supports for the show and Bantha Fodder and John’s Not Mad were the two at the top of the list we thought of!! It’s made my whole year.
P: It’s going to be a real trip back in time.
You’ve got me crying again, just WOW!
P: You better not be doing anything else, you better be there otherwise the whole world will collapse [laughs]. You should be involved with this because you’re much as part of the Blister history as we are.
I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I’m actually missing one of my family members’ wedding to be there! It is going to be the best!
P: I don’t even care if people come, just as long as the people that do are there because they have fond memories or just wanna have a good time, let’s just all get together and have fun. It’s such a rare opportunity and I feel so blessed to have a crack at it again. AND we get to see John’s Not Mad and Bantha Fodder!
So awesome! I think you’ll be surprised at how many people turn up! You guys as individuals and as a band inspired and had an effect on more people than you know. I was talking to Ben from Regurgitator recently and he said that you (Phil) got him into playing bass. Like I mentioned, I pretty much started doing interviews and zines ‘cause of you guys, and I’m still doing it. You were the first band that Darren Hawthorne was tour manager for and that’s what he still does. So many bands I know were inspired by you too; there was even a band in Brisbane a while back that did a set of Blister covers for a gig. OK, I’m a big vinyl nerd, so I gotta ask; will there be a vinyl reissue of any of the Blister releases?
P: Yeah well we’ve talked about it, but the problem is we think all of the masters are probably lost now because of what happened with Mushroom.
Even the first EP Busted?
P: They didn’t do it but when everything happened with our management, Mushroom bailed us out basically and they did the next two releases, they took Busted too because it was being repressed basically every six months as we would sell through it. They would have all the parts but Mushroom don’t really exist in the same way. I contacted them out of the blue and asked them about everything and they hadn’t responded at all. If we could use the CD and see if that was doable to master for vinyl. In the ‘90s there wasn’t much vinyl happening and recording studios were producing music to sound really great on CD. It’d be great to put one of our releases on vinyl though. We’ll try. We’re doing a show, who would have thought that! So if that can happen anything could [laughs].
J: I have VHS tapes of Hoots Mon, so if we could do something legally with them, maybe we could release that on vinyl. There’s got to be some way we could do it.
P: When we were going to jam I had to dig out the songs and listen to them again and I was like, you know what? I’m pretty proud of all this stuff. It was dumb and silly, we were young and it was the ‘90s and it wasn’t all politically correct but I’m still proud of it and happy with it—it makes me smile.
Anything else to share?
Gordy: For the first time in my life I have no complaints, it took a lot of shit to get here though. Last year was my hell year, everything pretty much stemmed from fucking my arm up [Gordy snapped his arm stage diving at a Frenzal show].
What got you through that?
G: Things spiralled and ended up being full blown depression. I didn’t think it was getting to me that bad. One night it did and I got drunk at home and fucking took 18 sleeping pills and ended up in ICU. I spent three day in ICU, went and saw a shrink and ended up getting all of this counselling. I went to my doctor and he said that he was going to do this test that not many people do, it’s viewed upon in the medical industry as a hippie type of thing… he did a blood and urine test and I have this thing called, Pyrrole disorder, where your body can’t absorb certain vitamins like zinc. I read the list of stuff it can cause like depression and ADHD, the way to treat it is supplements. I went to a compound chemist to get it made up and I have to take five vitamins every morning. Within six months my life had completely fucking changed. I used to have a hair trigger temper which I don’t have any more, I’m fucking calm. I used to be a full blown high stress dude. It sorted everything out. I had anxiety issues, panic attacks, all that sort of shit. I don’t have any of it anymore.
I know we haven’t spoken for a really long time but I can hear how happy you are in your voice.
G: Awww dude, even my mum was like, I don’t even know who you are anymore [laughs]. She knows how much of a stressor I was.
Here’s a cool story. Last year when my arm was completely buggered, I was so down in the dumps, I lost my job, I couldn’t really move my arm… my friend Spud told me I had to come to The Rev to have some beers and hang out, see some bands. I was on pain killers at the time and wasn’t in the mood, he was adamant, you gotta come! I’m like all right if it shuts you up, I’ll go. Turns out it was a secret H-Block  show.
Oh my god! I love that band so much. I still have letters they wrote me when I first started making zines and H-Block stickers.
G: Send me some [laughs]. It was in the small room and there were maybe 100 people there. I’m standing up on the bench, on the side but up the front against the wall so I could see. I’m like, I can’t believe I’m seeing fucking H-Block! Karl [Mautner] goes, this one goes out to a friend of ours, he’s been through a lot of shit lately, blah, blah, blah… Gordy this is for you! I’m like, sorry?! What? Matt Bodiam their drummer comes up to me afterwards and hands me a wad of cash and he’s like, this is the door takings from the gig, this is for you. I’m like, fuck you guys! [laughs]. It was crazy! It was the best.
Hearing that story makes me love those guys even more!
P: I’m not doing too much else. I have my little boy, Harry, he’s five and he’s my whole world. He starts school next year, he’s excited about that. He plays music and is learning piano. He has his own playlist on my phone he gets me to add to. He’s making his own taste in things, I’m just trying to expose him to as much as I can so he can make his own mind up about it. I encourage him to listen actively and we talk about the songs, I’ll talk to him about why he might like it, listen to the drum track or listen to how great the bass player is or whatever. One day he said to me, ‘Dad, when I grow up I want to be Jimmy Page!’ I said, well mate, when I grow up I want to be Jimmy Page [laughs].
Awww, heart explosions! That’s lovely.
P: I surprised him, he got to turn up to the Blister rehearsal and see dad sing.
What did he think?
P: He was pretty blown away. Gordy let him have a play on his drums and he was so stoked. Afterwards he told me he wanted to be a ‘guitar-ing singer’ [laughs]. It’s nice to see him get joy out of music like his old man does. We cruise around in the car with the music cranking and singing along!
I’m looking forward to seeing some of your faces at the Blister reunion gig! CROWBAR, Brisbane – Saturday 18 March, 2017. Supports: Bantha Fodder, John’s Not Mad & The Cutaways. Doors at 8pm, Tickets $10.
See you there! To keep up to date with Blister happenings follow them on Instagram: @blisterpunk
*All images from my personal archive or Blister’s.