Along with Blister, Bantha Fodder are one of my all-time favourite Australian bands to this day. Influenced by bands such as the Misfits, Rocket From The Crypt and The Cramps, I lost count of the amount of times I saw these guys play in the ‘90s. Their live shows were always a straight up rock n roll extravaganza! Tonight (and tomorrow night) I get to see them play for the first time in around two decades. Over the last few weeks I interviewed each of the five members about all things Bantha Fodder: Scott, Peter, Paul, Angus and Mark.
How did you first get into music?
PAUL: Definitely through something like Countdown the TV show while growing up, every Sunday night for 30 minutes. As a teenager I moved back in with an uncle who had his music collection lying around—Bowie, AC/DC, Angels, Radiators stuff like that. I was totally hooked and on my path to collecting and constantly absorbing all sorts of music.
MARK: Father’s record collection—Led Zeppelin, Queen.
SCOTT: My father was a singer in bands from the ‘60s onwards, so there was always music around. He had a record cupboard and I went from left to right listening to them and if I liked it I taped it, so I had compilation tapes of anything from the who or The Kinks to Indian ragas or old blues like, Jimmy Reid.
I taught myself guitar chords from one of those learn to play guitar books you got at the newsagents, and I found some guys at my high school that played guitar as well, and we played in the garage at my house – the songs I remember we worked out were Del Shannon’s Runaway and a Buddy Holly song… we were all into ‘50s and ‘60s stuff, and our modern common ground was Billy Bragg, but they were Smiths people and I didn’t really understand the appeal of that at the time…
PETER: I wanted to be a jazz saxophonist, then came rockabilly, go figure.
ANGUS: Pretty much it was watching countdown on TV when I was a kid – It was my favourite show and I was right into KISS and Peter Kriss. I always loved music as far back as I can remember and was constantly listening to my dad’s record collection. Billy Joel, Wings, Elton John, Meatloaf. I had a 7” of ‘bat outta hell’ which I pretty much wore out.
Who or what made you want to become a musician yourself?
PAUL: Just that feeling of hearing a good distorted guitar sound on many records then playing around with the idea of, hey, Guitars make those sounds! Mastering a really simple riff like say [Violent Femmes’] ‘Blister in the Sun’ to play at parties pretty much put me on the path to trying a band yourself.
MARK: There was a guitar at home so I taught myself.
ANGUS: Mainly it was Peter Kriss from Kiss. I was so bummed when I wasn’t allowed to go to the Kiss concert at Lang Park in 1981. My parents told me if I went I would probably lose my hearing.
I remember also going to the pub with my folks at the Everton Park hotel one night when I was about 10 or so and there was this band playing called ‘The hilltop holdout bluegrass band’ and I was blown away to see live music – I just wanted to do it. I got my folks to buy their 7” too.
SCOTT: It was probably inevitable that I would be in bands because of my dad and being around musicians and going to see a lot of live music…it wasn’t an unknown or foreign thing to me, I guess….The Dead Kennedys made me want to play guitar in a band… the singing – I don’t know, I went through a massive Elvis 56 phase, but I never really emulated anyone, there was just already someone playing all of the instruments in the band when I joined it, and none of them wanted to sing, so singing it was…
PETE: I think you fall in love with the dream, how to be part of something that is a deadly
source of inspiration, then you just gotta learn how to do it.
Why is music important to you?
PAUL: One of the ultimate mood enhancers; the saddest song can make you cry, the best song pumps you up for a good night out, a bad day or mood can be turned around by hearing your favourite music. Certain songs speak to you on a deeper level, they mean something. Some music never gets old or you never get sick of hearing it.
MARK: ‘Cause music is the best!
PETER: It lets me be part of a gang without being a gangster.
ANGUS: It’s a release from stress among other things – hitting drums feels good and listening or going to see an awesome band or artist is an incredible feeling. I went to see Radio Birdman not that long ago and I was on a high for about a week. Playing music just takes it to another level – I’m kind of a junkie for a good crowd!
SCOTT: Music has always been an immense part of my life since I can remember… It’s one of the best things humans do. It’s an immediate way of expressing what is going on in your head, and of getting an idea of what’s going on in other people’s heads.
What’s been on your stereo lately?
PAUL: My most recent acquisition I picked up at the flea markets—the 5-disc box set of Martin Scorsese presents The Blues. It pretty much runs from 1920 to 2003, it has 116 tracks on it over 5 CDs, so that will take some digesting. I picked it up for $12. Amazing!
MARK: Captain Beefheart and Zappa mostly.
ANGUS: My musical taste has been described as pretty schizophrenic by my workmates, so its heaps of different stuff, from Ringworm to Kvelertak to Paul Kelly, Baroness and Toto!
PETER: I’m looking for the dirtiest blues I can find. Tom Waits is all I care about.
SCOTT: Lots of different stuff: Bo Diddley, Curtis Mayfield, Velvet Underground….usually old old stuff. I still do the Fugazi in the headphones every couple of weeks..
What are your first recollections of Bantha Fodder?
PAUL: Five guys starting to jam on ideas and make a racket. Band names are hard, thus why at the time, coming up with an obscure Star Wars reference seemed like the way to go; 1) We all loved Star Wars in some way and 2) Star Wars was kind of uncool and buried in the mid-90s somewhat, only kept alive by geeks like us. It turns out we weren’t alone though, with us there was Nerf Herder, Boba Fett Youth to name but two Star Wars inspired bands. I remember Greedo being bandied around for a little while as a band name, there was a short list of Star Wars inspired names to choose from.
SCOTT: I went for an audition at Mark’s parents’ house in Bracken Ridge – which was literally down the street from my parents’ house. I’m pretty sure we did Velvet Underground’s ‘Heroin’…don’t remember what else they had lined up, ‘Granny Jones’?
PETER: Witnessing the band’s first gig at a party (before I joined) and totally digging Paul’s high
ANGUS: I was the 3rd drummer in Bantha Fodder. My first recollection is going to see them play at the Metro in Brisbane. They were like no band I’d seen and I liked how they didn’t take it all too seriously. Pete was playing this polka dot Flying-V and I thought they were pretty cool and did a good version of ‘Dream Police’. They asked me to record an EP with them as a favour because their drummer left, so I did – Scott and I got drunk one night on the beach at Kingscliff and I asked if I could join full time and he said yes. So that was it really.
What do you recall about the first Bantha Fodder show?
PAUL: It was at the Orient Hotel, it went by really quickly, it’s all a blur, deer in the headlights moment. I remember Scott had a guitar strapped to him probably for comfort but he barely played it out of nerves, kind of like he forgot to play it. Pretty funny.
MARK: Rollo from blowhard was mixing.
PETER: I played a Flying-V [guitar], I was so happy!
SCOTT: I think it was under someone’s house and it was a bit angst-y… then cartoonish… then angst ridden again.
ANGUS: I was shit scared I’d mess up and people would think this new guy was no good. My first show with them was supporting Chopper Division at Crash & Burn for their EP launch. It was an awesome night – we sold heaps of $5 homemade t-shirts and I was stoked that people were into it! It totally made me even keener to play more and more.
You guys did so much and played with some many awesome bands (for example playing in front of 10,000 people supporting Green Day); share with us one of your favourite BF memories.
MARK: Back stage at the Green Day show would have to be top of the list—great guys, good fun!
PAUL: Green Day support was a definite highlight and then going back to Crash & Burn after the gig and playing again at the after Green Day party was good fun! We were pretty liquored up so the after party was loose. The big support gigs are always fun, one of the first ones we ever landed was NOFX at the Arena. Stepping out on that stage to that crowd was utterly amazing. The first Australian tour we ever did was the Fourplay tour with Game Over from Melbourne and 99 Reasons Why from Adelaide. Going from Brisbane to Adelaide and all stops in between for about 3 weeks will always hold a special memory as it was tough, fun, character building, every other cliché and just awesome times! The first time you hit the road has got to be a special memory.
MARK: Green Day was a totally surreal experience. Unbeatable. The most rewarding were rocking other bands shows, winning new fans they didn’t see us coming.
SCOTT: Well, meeting Green Day did for me completely dispel the idea that famous musicians are inevitably arrogant knobs—they were just good people. My fond memories of Bantha Fodder aren’t very specific – just a mash together of all the Crash & burn and Playroom shows, and the people we would hang out with before and after. I was pretty good at drinking in those days.
ANGUS: Definitely Green Day was a highlight – they were awesome to us- watched us from side of stage and let us hang with them backstage. Probably the best gig ever I reckon. To have your idols be nice guys and treat you with respect was an awesome feeling. The Warped tours we did were cool too, but also the tour we did with Frenzal Rhomb and Toe to Toe up to North Qld would probably be the best fun I’ve had on tour. Awesome memories and awesome dudes. Also the tour with Game Over and 99 Reason’s Why was amazing – made some friends for life on that tour. That’s 3 memories… sorry.
Bantha Fodder spent a lot of time playing the Crash n Burn; what was THE greatest time you ever had there?
PETER: Crash & Burn was just such an awesome venue for a rookie band to cut its teeth on.
We were very lucky to have that place our home, we learned to be an exciting live band there.
No one time in particular for me, just hearing the Star Wars intro music playing and walking on to adoring crowds, best feeling ever.
MARK: We were there that often it is hard to say but, the after Green Day show was pretty cool.
SCOTT: Always a winner for me was when we played song ‘Nice One Johnny’. Paul slumped against the plastic road barriers, bleeding a bit, after a mostly successful crowd surf.
PAUL: I think all the gigs there were great but I guess looking back and seeing some of the national bands that came through like say Living End and Something for Kate, who all went on to be major players in Oz music, just turning up and playing with them when they were nobodies paying their dues is an interesting experience.
ANGUS: That’s a hard one – Most memorable gig I watched was CIV on a Tuesday night. Probably the best we played at was probably supporting Bodyjar?! I remember Ross (drummer) being a top dude and it was packed with the walls dripping with sweat! Watching Girls Germs play for the first time was awesome too.
Apart from Gigs – I met my future wife there! Nat was the bar manager and I thought she was way out of my league. It turned out she had terrible taste in men so we ended up getting married! So you could say that Crash & Burn changed the course of my life!
BF released two EPs: AAieeee and La Sangre Del Vampiro; can you give us a little insight into what it was like for you personally, to write and record each?
PETER: Our first EP was hilarious. I personally was just playing rock star. Being in a recording studio was a rush. La Sangre’ was a real challenge, mostly because we played so fast, and I had a lot of guitar parts to nail. Which I did methinks.
PAUL: Both EP’s were probably complied of the best stuff we had at the time, which is how most bands do it. I think there is a quantum leap between Aaieeee and La Sangre. Aaieeee was a bit confused I think, it’s varied as we were at the time but, I think La Sangre has the focus, the vision, the cohesion from start to finish—even though it’s only about 15 minutes long!! Ha-Ha.
SCOTT: We didn’t really know what we were doing for the first EP, but that was good. Phil the Ponytailed Pirate recording guy was very patient… don’t really remember it much, to be honest. The second one was with Jeff Lovejoy, it was easier for me, because I just had to sing everything a couple of times.
ANGUS: With AAieeee I was pretty much a session drummer playing what Nigel their previous drummer had been playing – he was pretty creative- so it was fun to play.
With La Sangre, writing those songs was super fun. Trying to create interesting drum parts was a challenge. I had recorded with a couple of bands before so had a bit of an idea on what it was like. It scared the shit out of me to be honest – knowing that what I played was going to be there forever so I put a bit of pressure on myself to get it right. I’ve always been a bit of a ‘meat and potatoes’ drummer, so I tried to challenge myself and make it interesting. There’s plenty of mistakes in there but that’s punk rock! It was awesome to hear the final mix – I remember thinking it was way faster than what I thought we were playing. We got Jeff Lovejoy to mix it which was pretty exciting at the time.
What’s your favourite BF song?
PAUL: ‘Amphetamarines’ it’s a pretty well arranged 4-chord number, again it was a remarkable leap forward in song writing and execution for us.
MARK: ‘Nice One Johnny’.
PETER: ‘Pyre Awaken Vampira’.
SCOTT: From my writing perspective ‘Betty The Devil’ was just one of those experiences I have had where it all popped into my head in a complete form and my job was to get it down before it vanished. I have a soft spot for Leigh too.
ANGUS: Probably ‘Amphetamarines’ – it’s kind of anthemic which I like and fun to play. ‘Vampira…’ is good to play too.
What do you remember about the last Bantha Fodder show?
ANGUS: Actually not that much – I must have had a good time. I think it was at the Gabba Hotel? I have a crap memory and was more than likely very drunk at the time.
PAUL: It felt like every other gig, but I guess there was a little emphasis on wanting to go out like a prize fighter. You’re still wanting to punch hard! You never want any show to be bad. It was good fun to try and rip out everything from every era of the band on one night. An interesting fact is that the very last show was down the Gold Coast and the very last song we played was ‘Boogie Board Rider’ by Blister.
PETER: Like making love in a plane that’s gonna crash. Bitter/Sweet. I’m very proud of all that
Fodder did in our time.
SCOTT: We all have a copy of that show, and I played it about a year ago. It was a bit sad, but it was wasn’t a negative or down experience the way I remember it.
MARK: I was in the audience, the boys did well as a 3-piece.
When did you realise that BF was over? How did you feel when you guys called it a day?
PAUL: Life was getting in the way as it does as you get older, some people had moved interstate, and others were starting families. All of it was workable of course but it broke down to how much longer can we keep doing this objectively as it was getting way harder, no less fun but, harder so some common sense had to be in there somewhere. We had a good solid 6 year run I reckon.
MARK: I had had enough, so I left about a year before the band broke up… I was sick of being broke.
ANGUS: I think after we became a 3-piece and had changed our name to the Blood Idols, the writing was on the wall. Pete moved to Sydney which made it difficult to keep up the momentum and Nat and I had our first child which I was focusing on. It was sad when we broke up, but I think we were all pretty good with the decision. It was time.
PETER: Life happens, things change. To reinvent ourselves over and over again with so many line-up changes would have been pointless.
SCOTT: It was obviously different for me because I left earlier. We had been going for a pretty long time, and I had always wanted to live somewhere else for a change. I was in Melbourne four months later. It’s hard to leave the people you know and the scene you feel a part of, but if you have a yearning to see what it’s like in other places, you have to cut out and do it at some point.
What have you been doing since?
PETER: I build custom, one of a kind electric guitars.
PAUL: I was doing Roshambo when I was still in ‘Fodder then I played bass with Vanlustbader for about 3 years, we recorded an album and then after that Angus and I played together in the Arcolas for a few years until that disbanded early last year
SCOTT: I went to Melbourne for 5 years, Japan for a year, came back and was about to head off overseas again, but ended up staying here, swapped the singing for guitar in Lords of Wong, am in another band, La Mancha just recording lots of songs at the moment, and did a radio show for 4ZZZ for a few years, which we are resurrecting soon.
MARK: I got married, had two awesome kids and get to play with Lego!
ANGUS: Done heaps of stuff musically – I played in Roshambo for a while before I joined Vegas Kings and did heaps of great shows with them. We did a couple of tours of Europe and heaps of East coast tours. I loved that band and Pete and Ben are awesome musicians, songwriters and mates. More recently I was in the Arcolas with Paul, Chip from El Borracho and Tony from Sixfthick. That was fun too – we never really broke up – just haven’t rehearsed in a long time! I’ve filled in for a bunch of other bands over the years and played with Girls Germs at their final show at the Crowbar recently. That was super fun – that’s one of the best things about bands – playing with your mates and sharing some awesome experiences. Music has been good to me.
You guys have gotten back together to play a couple of shows with Blister; what made you decide to say ‘yes’?
PETER: I’ve been waiting for a reunion gig…
MARK: It was time.
PAUL: An opportunity to play with Blister again is hard to say no to. It was an honour to be asked in fact. Who doesn’t want to relive 97-98?
ANGUS: Pretty much the fact it was Blister and also Gordy asked us to. We’d talked about doing a reunion previously but it was always a bit half-hearted. Definitely, reliving the Blister/Bantha Fodder double act of old was the deciding factor.
SCOTT: As soon as I saw the word Blister I was in.
Can you share with us a favourite Blister related memory?
PAUL: Just watching them go from strength to strength was pretty amazing. Busted/Hoots Mon EP was great but when they dropped Tommy Lobster album on you and heard that for the first time it was like, damn you! They were killer!
PETER: Seeing them at Vans Warped. Gold Coast pride.
MARK: Seeing them play was always awesome great band that had way too much energy.
ANGUS: I was always impressed with Gordy’s drumming and over the years we became friends which is really cool. He’s one of the most genuine and foul mouthed people I know – a totally great guy and I love his folks. I think generally I just loved playing shows with those guys and they always inspired us to play better and be the best band we could be!
SCOTT: I have nothing specific to recount, but having a massive amount of respect for a band musically, and then hanging out with them and finding out how much you have in common with them, and that they are just awesome people, is a great thing to happen. We were so lucky to have bands like Blister and Chopper Division, Wiseacre to name a few, to aspire to.
What happened when BF got back together in the same room for the first time?
PAUL: New jokes, lots of laughter and not too long until you’re going “That sounds like Fodder” it was like putting on an old leather jacket.
MARK: Weird as first but it all seems to be falling back into place nicely.
ANGUS: Mark wore shorts and thongs, which for anyone that knew him back in the day, wouldn’t even seem possible! It was shaky at first to be honest, but then it all pretty much fell into place – we still had some muscle memory going on and the songs just automatically came back! It’s great to be playing with these guys again – we have all remained friends over the years and all are now dad’s and have different lives, but getting back together to play a couple of shows is pretty exciting – I can’t wait.
PETER: It just all came flooding back—the vibe, our bond, the music we’ve made and the energy we create. Were all probably better muso’s now too.
SCOTT: A bit trippy. Everyone kind of looked the same – certainly not 20 years older. We were practising within 20 minutes. It all came back instantaneously for me, I just had to sing though.
MARK: I am thinking that this will be it for the time being…
PAUL: Let’s never say never if Blister want to do another show we might want to do it with them.
PETER: I hope we play again, maybe our time as middle-agers has come to show these kids how it’s done.
SCOTT: What’s next? The future’s not ours to see.
ANGUS: Not sure – maybe a couple more shows? Maybe another reunion in 20 years? I’d like to do something in Melbourne but not sure if the others are keen – maybe let’s keep that topic open for now – watch this space?
Looking forward to seeing some of your beautiful faces this weekend!
Punk rock hugs,