Tuesday 26 June 2012

Primitive Calculators - Primitive Calculators

Glaring Omissions III

"We were suburban filth from Springvale"
Stuart Grant

Glaring Omissions started as a series of records that deserved to be in The Top 100 Australian albums book and the Age's Top 50 Australian Albums list. This is the 3rd installment with perhaps another 4 or 5 to come. This record came into my life as a teenager living in er....Cardross. For those who don't know that's like 15 KMs out of Mildura and over 600 ks from Melbourne. My bro was living in Melbourne and would often bring back strange and interesting things for me. This was pre JJJ National Radio/ pre internet etc. This record probably reached me pre Rage era perhaps. BeatBox and Rock Arena were probably the only 2 shows on tv at the time where you could hear the weirrd, wonderful and independent. So sometime in the mid to late 80s I first heard The Primitive Calculators. The LP also came with a postcard and a 7" single and was recorded in 1979 in a Melbourne pub. Many years after leaving home I asked my Dad where were the records I left behind? he said I gave them to the op shop. Anyway I still had a Sony C90 tape of it in some kind of working order until that reissue on Chapter came along in the 00s.

Me and my little sister used to put it on and go what the fuck is this? It was so anti social and noisy we thought it was hilarious and a bit frightening. Were they for real we wondered. Or were they just havin' a laugh. The music was a harsh onslaught of electroncly fucked with guitar, 2 keyboards and drum machines with what seemed like no regard for recording technique or er.. melody. Were there really people like this living in Melbourne? It was great music for a teenager because it was so obnoxious and fuckin funny. Mum didn't like hearing that one comin out of the bedroom.  Anyway over time it seemed to never leave me and never get old. It sounds just as great now as it did over 25 years ago. This was no fuckin' Clash record. This was beyond punk, what punk should have been, sonic violence for the demented. So over time I have noticed the chaos is more controlled than I used to think and just maybe there were some great pop songs hidden in there somewhere. It is not a record I expected to still be diggin at my age. I think I love it more than ever actually!

So maybe they are pop songs. Stuart says he saw the band as an Australian Boogie band in the vein of The Purple Hearts, The Throb, Chain and Billy Thorpe. It starts to make a lot of sense they were an electronic version of a one chord Aussie boogie band with a bit of Stockhausen chucked in. My favorite track from the album bake in the sun was so funny and had great lyrics. These are some I randomly recall probably not in the right order. This could be our national anthem.

I'm bake in the sun
I wanna spend my life down by the sea
I wanna shrivel up
I wanna smell some seaweed
I wanna peice of cake
I wanna go home
I wanna revolution
I don't wanna do another days work in my life
I want some food from the kiosk

"If their intention was to be hated then they certainly acheived that.....on a personal level as well"
Rowland S Howard (Guitar/Saxaphone/Vocals in The Birthday Party)

Back cover to Primitve Calculators LP

"Nothing else in Melbourne influenced us. We were such obnoxious little shits, we didn't give anybody a chance to like us" Stuart from Primitve Calculators.

Stuart Grant (guitar and vocals) in the We're Livin On Dog Food doco and RadioNational's Hindsight: Do That Dance radio show has been incredibly insightful and articulate about what circumstances, theories and attitudes shaped the band and that entire Melbourne Post-Punk scene. He really enjoyed the idea of punk and the fact it was saying something truly antisocial. He thought the anger and disillusionment of it just seemed right. He thought with the Ramones arriving there was a strong sense that his culture had arrived. Stuart aknowledges the legacy of the Whitlam Government and their making the dole liveable with my favorite quote of his."The State Paid us to Reject it!"

Stuart is eminently quotable. I could quote him all day but here is one last one that sums up the bands ethos.
"What we realised when we started using the drum machine and we got electronic (was that) we sounded much nastier. We started to actually try and make music that would hurt people. Making the sounds as brutal and horrible as possible. Making the drumbeats as repetitive and fast as possible and tried to get it ugly"

I Can't Stop It-The Primitive Calculators
Their one and only film clip I think.

"The Primitive Calculators were a completely unreal band and there's no 2 ways about it! Live and on record."
 Quote from Natioal Treasure Philip Brophy.

*One cool thing I've just noticed that I'd forgotten is that this record was recorded at Hearts in North Carlton where my brother's band did some gigs and even my old band played there once,

**Here is where to download that podacast Do That Dance about the Melbourne Post-Punk scene.

***Many quotes taken from Richard Lowenstein's doco We're Livin' On Dogfood. Thanks Dick I'm sure you won't mind anarchy and all that.

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