In mid 80s there was an interesting band from Australia, that mixed various of styles from Crazy Horse kind of guitars to various of other psychedelic music and released two LP's, but never had the right opportunity. We are happy to present you the story of The Sunset Strip.
How did The Sunset Strip come to life?
Warwick: It would have been 1985/86. Me and Wayne Arnold and Les Butrims had been in a band called BEHIND THE MAGNOLIA CURTAIN with John Nolan (who ended up in Bored! and Powdermonkeys)…anyway us 3 would hang out and jam at my house in Carlton, Melbourne, and it just evolved from that really.
July 1984\GUMS Magnolia interview
What do you recall from the early basement sessions you had?
Warwick: Mmmm, I just recall we had a room with all these instruments in it and my house was a house were everyone would hang out and party all the time so people were always playing instruments and making music. I really loved just hanging out and playing. It was more fun than gigs which always involved carrying heavy equipment everywhere. We also played a lot at Ian Hill’s house. He had a large lounge room and we would all meet there and spend days jamming and making up songs…..great fun!
Your first LP was released in 1987. What's the story and how many pressings were actually made?
Warwick: Hell we were just happy that someone we knew was connected to a studio and we had a chance to record some stuff. We were happy just to have a chance to make a record. We were very inexperienced with recording at that point so maybe we let the dude who owned the joint take over and have his way a bit…it was kinda’ a thrill to hear our first song on the radio and stuff. It’s not a good record though.
Andy: I came in late on the album. I’d heard Going Home the first 7” and loved it and loved the other tracks I’d heard that were planned for the album. That original lineup, though, had changed somewhat and Warwick wasn’t happy with how it was sounding. When he decided to change and expand the lineup I jumped at the chance to put my hat in the ring for the guitarist slot. A couple of wonderful rehearsals later and I was recording with them for the first time on a track called Satisfied Mind, a sorta’ late Clash-meets Country rock tune. I think I only played on one more track called Run On and my rawness and naiveté really shows up badly on that one. It became one of our best live show rockers in the end. I was proud to be on the album but we all agreed that it was patchy and out of date as soon as it was released and gave some fans the wrong idea of what to expect when they came to see us. From the whole album we only ever kept Rising Wind and Shotgun Blues in the live set.
You must have been a big Neil Young fan. What are some other bands you liked and would say influenced you in the process of making albums?
Warwick: We listened to lots of Crazy Horse but we listen to lots of different stuff too. Most of us in the band were huge record collectors of all genres - free jazz, delta blues classic pop, country…whatever…but I think we kinda wanted to stay away from being another band who just sounded like The Stooge , The Ramones or The Birthday Party…there was enough of that around. We liked playing long guitar jams, but liked writing country and pop stuff too. I guess we like Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crazy Horse and The Grateful Dead - all bands that would cover all sorts of genres on one album. I think Zuma would be the best example Later on our albums were taken from all sorts of sources. We recorded a lot of 4 track cassette stuff at home and stuff in bigger studios all over a period of time. So we’d take the best songs from wherever and put them together. Our ‘new’ album (the never-before released) Stone Lazy was recorded from around 92-95 in about 5 different places.
Andy: I love Neil but Warwick is the bona fide Neil fanatic. He lives and breathes Neil. We –certainly took from Neil the mighty guitar solo and the ramshackle live-style recording. On the other hand we have incredibly eclectic tastes. I adore the Stooges and the big rifferama, Big Star, The Beatles, the blues, jazz, psychedelia, Sonic Youth, Wilco, Yo La Tengo on and on...
Later one EP and another LP followed. "Holocaust" was the name of EP and the name of the LP was "Move Right In". The last stuff you did was EP from 1992 called "Scrape It Out" and another in 1993 called "Nothing Lost Nothing Gained". Tell us about these releases.
Warwick: There were very different eras and lineups for those records. Holocaust and Move Right In was from the mid to late eighties. We worked our arse off trying to get Move Right In right. Turned out to be a pretty good record! Scrape It Out and Nothing Lost were with a whole new lineup. We were recording a lot of stuff at home on a portable 4-track and then mixing it later in the bigger studios. Life had sunk downhill for most of the band. Way too many drugs, bad relationships, just bad, bad times…but we ended up making easily our best music. I remember the sessions we did at Recordio Studios as complete chaos and dysfunctional...but those eps have great stuff on them that really represent how it was back then. The album we have about to come out is called Stone Lazy. We never got to finish it or release it even though it was recorded at the same time as the eps…we lost interest in it for years…but it’s great to listen to it again. A double cd of it will be out soon.
Andy: Holocaust came out of wanting to do more than just a single for our second non-album release. We wanted a chance to stretch out a bit and name-check a few influences. The choice of non-originals came from tossing names and songs around. When we decided to do Holocaust it was my idea to bring in John Dowler on vocals. He’d sung it before with his band The Zimmermen and I knew he did a great job and would give the ep some variety. It’s a neato little ep though it’s the title track I’m most proud of. I think we really nailed an original take on that track. The cover said ‘Avec John Dowler’ as a sort of in-joke cos ‘Going Home’ had topped some chart or other in France, so ‘big in France’ became a joke amongst us. Amazingly, one reviewer took it seriously and thought we were trying to suck up to the international market and took us to task for it! The Move Right In album was another album of multi-lineups over multi years but this time The approach worked. Prior to its release we had recorded a whole album’s worth of material with the Holocaust lineup and I wasn’t happy with it at all. I was certain that if we released the album as it then was it would have been hated and we would have been sunk. So, I left the band and regrouped as a duo with Warwick for one of the album tracks. From that we got a few other lineups happening and recorded a bunch of new, much heavier stuff. While we were never a Stooges-type band Move Right In channeled a bit more of our Iggy side. The album was a critical success (“a minor masterpiece and the best album ever released on Au Go Go” said one review) but never sold much. I love it. The eps were tracks originally recorded for the Stone Lazy album but we were impatient and wanted to get something out quickly. Think of those 2 eps as part of Stone Lazy and play then all together. The eps are wildly eclectic. Just about every influence we ever had came out in those. They veer from deeply psychedelic to slab-heavy rifferama, from the quietest we ever played to the loudest. Nothing Lost got some great reviews.
You must've been very unlucky with the press. I mean did you ever get any reviews or what do you think was the main factor, for you remaining pretty much over looked?
Warwick: Oh we never pushed ourselves. Never bothered with that side of it too much…never had a manager etc…we just presumed no one really liked us!
Andy: It wasn’t so much the press – though I recall we did get some brutal live reviews. When I compiled the reviews we had kept I realized there were more in total and more positive ones than I had originally thought. So, critically we were generally a success, particularly the records. We were a very, very erratic live band though. For all sorts of reasons (getting waaay too wasted before a gig and having lots of songs in different tunings and spending forever tuning up were two of the most common) we could soar or hit the ground hard. So we never developed a significant following, certainly not enough to push our name into the wider gig-going public consciousness. We were always under the underground, a cultist’s delight!
Where did you play concerts?
Andy: We never made it out of the pubs really. Pubs were the lifeblood for the type of bands we were and played with. The Prince of Wales. The Tote, The Punters Club. The Evelyn. The Richmond Club, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Great Britain and so many more long forgotten names. We did some Uni gigs and some of the bigger clubs like The Venue and our biggest audience was probably the Meredith Festival in 1995. We also did some live-to-air for radio and a couple of tours of Sydney that were pretty depressing!
What happened after the 90s for you guys and what currently occupies your life?
Warwick: Kids and running a record store for me.
Andy: I completely abandoned music to recover my health after a lengthy period of drug addiction. In the end I became a drug and alcohol counselor. In the last 5 years I’ve had some other health problems that have kept me busy as well as focusing on getting out the long lost 1995, never before releases Sunset’s album Stone Lazy. That should be out this year. It was all finished in 1995 except the cover and then the record company went bust and so did we. It’s been a long time coming. Apart from that I do my best to be a Dad, watch TV, follow the football, waste time on Facebook and play the guitar.
Any chances of getting back together?
Warwick: We never officially broke up!
Andy: Warwick and I have also played a gig as a duo and we have enough rough material for at least one more album. We hope to get a lineup together to at least promote Stone Lazy a bit.
What's currently on your turntable and what are you reading?
Warwick: I’m reading Louise Eldridge’s books…and Japanese stuff like Kafka on the Shore. Currently playing The Flaming Lips’ new album The Terror, which I love. Also the new Big Star double album. Lots of Bill Fay.
Andy: Wilco. Alice Cooper. The Beatles. Robert Pete Williams. Cinematic Orchestra, various 70s Aussie rock on youtube, Zero 7, Brian Eno, God, The Monkees, Neil Young live in Australia and the Zuma album, Old Time Radio plays (esp hard boiled detectives) BoBigoks – Athiest Universe (David Mills), Some of Your Blood (Theodore Sturgeon), The Cold 6000 (Ellroy), lotsa Agatha Christie for a retro-kick.
Thanks a lot of taking your time. Would you like to send a message to It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine readers?
Andy: While we don’t identify ourselves as a psychedelic band there is much in the attitude and sonic approach of the Sunset Strip that is deeply psychedelic. One local writer described Stone Lazy as “deep, psychedelic 'decomposing' rock as I like to term it, in fact I'd go so far as to say you guys are the kings of that genre! It's a pretty epic record, lots of extended jams and wah wah, reminds me of Sister-era Sonic Youth, On The Beach Neil young, Sticky- era Stones, Big Star, Swerve driver and those Rowland S Howard/Nicky Sudden/Jeremy Gluck records from the 80s.” If you dig psychedelica check us out, especially Stone Lazy. Move Right In is also available for sale via bandcamp too. Yeah I’m pushing the promo. Mostly wanna say Hi and hope you keep expanding yer minds.
Warwick Brown: git, voc, harp, keys, bass
Andy Turner: git, voc
Complemented at various times by:
-Les Butrims (Endangered Species, Behind The Magnolia Curtain) - drums
-Matt Cadush - git
-Wayne Arnold - (Behind The Magnolia Curtain) bass, voc
-Ian Hill (Olympic Sideburns, Bo Weevils)- keys, voc
-Kerrie Hicken (Klu Klux Frankenstein) - bass, voc
-Paul Ryan (Endangered Species) - bass, slide git
-Rod McMurrick (The Gas Bavies, LSD) - drums
-Tim Hemmensley (GOD, Bored!, Powder Monkeys) - bass
-Joel Silbersher (GOD, Hoss, Melonman)- voc
-Mike Glen (Hoss, Souls Stirrer) - drums
-Ian Wettenhall (Philisteins, Seminal Rats, Wrong Turn) - bass
-1986 One track on Polyester Records cassette-only compilation. Deleted
-1986 Going Home 7' AuGoGo Records vinyl only. Deleted
-1987 'The Sunset Strip' 12' Au Go Go Records vinyl-only album. Deleted
-1998 1 track on Au Go Go christmas giveaway 7" Going To A Go Go Deleted
-1989 Holocaust 10" Au Go Go Records vinyl-only. Deleted but re-released as bonus tracks on Move right In cd. also, you guessed it, Deleted.
-1990 1 track on Hard to Beat, Au Go Go compilation. Vinyl and cd. Deleted. This was a collaboration between Warwick/Andy, Dave Thomas from Bored and Dean Bateup, singer from Behind The Magnolia Curtain. Listed under band name Behind The Magnolia Strip
-1990 Move Right In. 12' Au Go Go Records vinyl & cd release. Deleted
-1991 1 track on Set It On fire compilation (bands doing Scientist songs). Deleted
-1993 Scrape It Out cd ep Dog Meat Records. Deleted
-1993 Nothing Lost Nothing Gained. cd ep Dog Meat Records. Deleted
-1993 2 tracks on Home Is where the Floor Is. Dog Meat label roster compilation. Deleted
-2013 Stone Lazy cd. (recorded 92-95 but never relesed) Death Valley Records
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2013
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