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Explosions by Regurgitator - An Interview
Anticow catch up with Australian music messiahs "Regurgitator" and grill them in a thrilling interview, to be consumed then reconsumed by the entire family.
Regurgitator formed in 1994, when Ben Ely and Quan Yeomans met on a bus. Discontent with their current musical endeavours the two began to jam and drummer Martin Lee was added to the mix, resulting in the release of the 1994 EP Hamburger. The three-piece then went on to record a number of radio hits including "I Sucked A Lot Of Cock To Get Where I Am", "Polyester Girl", "Social Disaster" and "! (The Song Formerly Known As)".
Seven years, seven ARIA awards and a drummer later, the band released it's latest album Eduardo & Rodriguez Wage War On T-Wrecks, in October of 2001, with the tracks "Fat Cop" and "Superstraight" working their way into the Australian Broadcasting Corp's "Triple J Hottest 100" of 2001. Since then, the band has taken off on the Big Day Out festival tour of 2002, covering the length and width of Australia, as well as a single show in New Zealand. Since the staff members of Anticow Studios are residents of New Zealand and have been writing about the Big Day Out, we found this was a great excuse to track down these interesting folks. Some fifty e-mails later, we bring you this interview...
Anticow: So Ben and Quan met on a bus?
Quan Yeomans: Not strictly true.
Ben Ely: No, We actually met in a gay club in Geelong.
Quan Yeomans: Not strictly correct either.
Ben Ely: No, we actually met whilst working in a abattoir. The acid Quan had been taking for the previous week had led him to inadvertently stray into my area. I had momentarily taken the form of a cow and had to defend myself from being ineptly slaughtered.
Quan Yeomans: I served my community and in my spare time paid regular apologetic visits to him until he asked me to start a band.
Anticow: Was this bus full of people? Did none of you have a book to read or headphones or some other way of whittling away your time?
Quan Yeomans: I can’t read on moving vehicles.
Ben Ely: No, he tends to get car sick or bus sick, whatever the case may be.
Quan Yeomans: Yeah. And I’m mean when I’m sick, really mean.
Anticow: Who are the top three people you would actually put a book down, on a bus, to talk to?
Quan Yeomans: Well, I know I harp on about him, but David Attenborough will always be my number one (that is until I actually meet him and he crushes the fantasy), then I’d say, Frederico Fellini (but I suspect he’s dead) followed by Jane Rule (who seems nice and interesting). Of course it depends very heavily on the quality of the book
Ben Ely: Well absolutely. If we’re talking a real page-turner...say a Bryce Courtney, then Tom Cruise, Jay-Z and Osama Bin fully garbed, fresh from an “all seeing eye association” meeting, strolling on arm in arm might not necessarily warrant a look!
Anticow: For those who haven't heard of you or have yet to hear your music, tell them a little about Regurgitator? (And where the hell did you get that name?)
Quan Yeomans: What’s to tell? We’re just a tedious little band from Australia. We offer a distinct lack of aesthetic consistency, we’re frustratingly poor performers and we’re more than likely to have reached our creative peak, smiling like puppy dogs with our heads out the window as it sped past us a long time ago. Of course, describing music (or any abstract form, like the aesthetic career of a musical group for that matter) with text is generally a pointless and often misleading exercise.
Ben Ely: Quite true. The divining of the name itself couldn’t be more dross a tale. Naming things is a difficult affair, invariably tinged with disappointment. We obviously displaced this disappointment for long enough for the name to stick.
Anticow: In October of 2001 your latest record Eduardo and Rodriguez Wage War On T-Wrecks was released. Did you have a specific goal in mind when you recorded this album?
Quan Yeomans: We have always had trouble with “specifics”, haven’t we?
Ben Ely: Yeah. “specifics” and us rarely mix.
Anticow: How did you go about following the extremely popular releases of Unit and Art?
Quan Yeomans: We wanted to get closer to the “street”
Ben Ely: Yeah. The previous successes had really inflated our chakra glands to the point where we felt we may have lost touch with the ground a little.
Quan Yeomans: It felt like we’d been living in the penthouse for too long and that maybe it was time to ride the elevator all the way down to the basement just to get to know the architectural foundations again. You know, look at the plumbing, electrics and all the other nitty gritty that you sometimes forget are, and always will be, the roots of who and what you are.
Ben Ely: So we took that “ride”, and I can tell you it was a hard one, like one of those lifts you step into where a previous occupant has over doused themselves in bad cologne and their child has gone and pressed the button for every floor. It’s a long ride, holding your breath, watching all these doors open to nowhere you want to be.
Anticow: Do you guys have a favourite track or tracks on this record?
Quan Yeomans: I like Come On (The Video that Janet did really set it off for me) and The Man Part 2.
Ben Ely: I think Hullabaloo was a fav. But after the amount of times I had to listen the fucking thing whilst making the clip I’m not so sure...
Anticow: What is the strangest instrument that you used on this album? (Other than that funky piano guitar)
Quan Yeomans: My voice and the computer.
Ben Ely: Computer’s are weird. We had a bit of a “HAL” thing going on every now and then. “I’m sorry Ben. I can’t let you do that.” Quan had to hold me back from smashing the fucking thing in on several occasions.
Anticow: Have any of you ever considered becoming producers so you can sit around all day doing remixes and fattening your wallets?
Quan Yeomans: Sure all the time. It’s the credibility that’s missing.
Ben Ely: Unfortunately the only thing that gets fatter sitting around all day doing remixes is your arse.
Anticow: It's been almost two years since your first drummer, Martin Lee, left Regurgitator? Why did he leave? Are you still in contact? What is he up to now?
Quan Yeomans: He got sick of being our bitch. And the thought of all three of us crammed into that elevator was a nightmare that no one really wanted to go through.
Ben Ely: We rarely see him, but I think he`s managing an R&B act now.
Anticow: Peter Kostic has joined you on tour as your drummer. Where did he come from? Was Peter involved in the creative process on the latest record?
Quan Yeomans: Pete’s primarily from Sydney based band Front End Loader, but he’s such a slut we asked for blood tests before he joined.
Ben Ely: You just never know where the guy’s been! At the moment he’s on tour with the Hard Ons in Europe. Pete was living in Sydney while Quan and I were in Brisbane recording the record. So he flew up a few times and jammed and recorded drums with us throughout the process.
Anticow: In terms of musical influences, if you could have anyone pat you on the back and tell you that ‘you rocked’, who would it be?
Quan Yeomans: Mayo Thompson.
Ben Ely: Peaches and MC Mignon.
Anticow: What type of music did you listen to during your formative years?
Quan Yeomans: The first record I bought was the Ghostbusters soundtrack. I thought it was hot! I drowned out the noise of my parents divorcing with various Fleetwood Mac albums. I suspect that left invisible scars.
Ben Ely: Metallica and Sabbath made who I am today.
Anticow: If you could have any band cover one of your songs who would you want that to be?
Ben Ely: Just to have someone who wanted to would be fine.
Anticow: You guys have an extremely diverse spectrum of music on your albums, ranging from early 90s styled alt rock through to melodic 80s synth-pop. Do you believe in art-rock and all those other genre terms? Could you classify Regurgitator into any of these vague genres?
Quan Yeomans: Sure! Genres could be the only thing worth believing in in these troubled times. Classify Regurgitator? No, but you could probably vaguely classify Genre into us.
Anticow: Regurgitator has a very complex sound, how do you go about recreating this live? (We saw that you had a Mac laptop on stage at the Big Day Out)
Ben Ely: HAL [the laptop] actually IS the show!
Quan Yeomans: That’s right. What you actually saw was a few IT programmers jumping around in front of Steve Jobbs. Okay, so we’re a highly paid information technology market research team currently employed by Apple to infiltrate the youth market culture and collect demographic data. Us divulging this to you only makes us more hip and untouchable.
Anticow: You performed a Public Domain track (We think you did? Or maybe you just looked like Public Domain for that tune. We don’t mean that as an insult either!) and a Ramones track at the Big Day Out. Do you particularly admire either artist or…?
Quan Yeomans: I don’t even know who Public Domain is!
Ben Ely: I’m insulted!
Quan Yeomans: The Ramones track was a bad idea.
Ben Ely: That’s why we did it.
Quan Yeomans: Right. But I didn’t think it was going to be THAT awkward!
Ben Ely: You’ve been in the band for seven years and you haven’t learnt to adjust to these likelihoods yet?!!
Quan Yeomans: Point taken.
Anticow: Your live act has become more animated since the last time we saw you, which was two Big Day Out's ago and a couple of earlier gigs in Western Australia. How'd this come about?
Quan Yeomans: Wow! We must have been really dull before!
Ben Ely: We watched a lot of rock videos, looking out for what may have been missing in our own performances. I guess that just kind of paid off.
Anticow: When on tour have you guys ever had your own bus? Or even shared a bus? (If so, how much damage had been done to it by the conclusion of the tour?)
Quan Yeomans: Does a one ton Van riddled with influenza count?
Ben Ely: I hopped on a bus with Filter and God Lives Under Water on a few occasions during our one and only Euro tour. I think it may have been slightly damaged by the stoning it received from the Turkish hash gang that saw us off after a show in Vienna.
Anticow: What do you find are the best and worst things about being on the road?
Quan Yeomans: The travelling.
Anticow: What is the strangest place you have ever performed at?
Ben Ely: We once performed an impromptu mini set of three songs in the middle of a Thai pop band’s set at a dance club in the middle of Bangkok. Half way through they just stopped and handed their 80s metal musical equipment to us and we played a few pop songs on it, then handed them their gear back. They finished their set, then a giant mothership (which turned out to be a DJ booth) descended from the roof in a rain of balloons and streamers. Slightly surreal.
Anticow: What is your favourite place for performing?
Ben Ely: A venue in Sydney called “The Metro” has been kind to our egos over the years.
Quan Yeomans: In our minds anyway.
Anticow: How do you like playing in New Zealand?
Quan Yeomans: The tap water is great!
Ben Ely: And I love the accent!
Anticow: Did anyone try and force a Steinlager on you? Or make baffling comments involving sports games where you roll around in the dirt?
Anticow: Do you have any favourite New Zealand musicians?
Quan Yeomans: The Finns are an admirable lot and Bic Runga seems nice.
Ben Ely: We love King Kapisi’s stuff and really liked touring with him last year.
Anticow: And who is the least favourite person you have met in Auckland?
Quan Yeomans: Can’t say there was anyone particularly outstanding.
Ben Ely: We don’t generally dwell on anyone nasty for too long. They tend to have accidents...
Anticow: We understand Quan is moving to Italy?
Quan Yeomans: I’m off to attempt to enrich my flagging personality for an extended period. This is obviously going to take quite a bit of time and effort.
Anticow: What has Regurgitator got planned for that time period? Are you going to continue to collaborate long distance and play gigs or is Regurgitator on hold? To be brief – What’s next for you guys?
Quan Yeomans: Solo works with a euro flavour for me. Maybe do some recording with Peaches in Berlin. And hopefully learn Italian and French. B’s got a wholelotta fathering to do so I guess he’ll be doing that and remixes in the quiet moments.
Ben Ely: Yay! My first’s due in just under a month so I’m excited!
Quan Yeomans: So essentially it’s on hold, but not to break with reality we will be providing some really goddamn awful muzak to listen to while you wait for us to come to the phone again.
And to conclude our witty banter…
Who, out of the following three, would you prefer to have a romantic dinner with?
1. David Attenborough
2. A cross-dressing Frank Zappa
3. An Orange-haired Parking Warden
Quan Yeomans: You’ve made it too hard! Romance is a strange and often unpredictable thing. I’d rather not degrade the notion by delegating it to mere multiple choice.
Ben Ely: Let love live! Bye!
Cashcow is the collective column run by the members of Anticow Studios, NZ. Click here to read Anticow's review of Regurgitator's latest album Eduardo & Rodriguez Wage War on T-Wrecks. For more from Anticow click here.