Pic: Bridget Julie-Anne Photography

Perth trio The Holy Smoke chat with Bob Gordon about freedom, empowerment, and letting your light shine as beloved band member Delilah Rose prepares to move interstate.

The Holy Smoke are in fits of laughter and it’s not unusual.  

The trio of Rose Parker, Delilah Rose and Karlee Rae entertain each other as much as they have entertained audiences over the last seven years with their soul/gospel/folk/country trio. Emotionally compelling songs, beautiful guitar and keyboard interplay and oh, those three-part harmonies. You could cry until you laugh. 

And laugh they do. 

“I’ve never had so much fun in a band as I have had with these girls,” Rose Parker says. “We get to dress up and have to decide, ‘am I gonna wear the tan boots or black boots? I like that kimono that you’ve got on. Can I try that on? You need my belt. Oh, what lip gloss colour do you have on? Can you put my false eyelashes on?’   

“Then in between a child will wander in whinging, ‘Mummy, I’ve done a poo’. ‘Alright, we’ll deal with that too’. Then there’s another child having a meltdown and a dog wanting to go out or come back in. It’s just all handled with aplomb.”    

It’s a lively triumvirate to say the least, what with families, full-time careers and the demands of their other bands and solo pursuits vying for attention at all times. The Holy Smoke, however, is a realm where they can all revel in each other’s company and abilities. And oh, those harmonies. It’s downright harmonious.  

“The fact that our three voices come together so well, like it’s one voice, it’s incredible,” says Delilah Rose. “It’s otherworldly, there’s no other word. It’s literally magic.  

“And the best thing is – and we say it so often – that Rose and I do our band stuff and it’s great and it’s fun and it’s hard work, and it’s awesome. But it’s so easy, us with Karlee, and there’s this sense of egality and equality. We’re happy to do that in our bands; to be the bandleader and make the decisions and that’s how we want it to be. But in this wonderful prism all the things come together. We have these beautiful strengths in these three separate areas that really just work as a trio.”  

It wouldn’t completely be a beautiful story of friendship, however, if it wasn’t just a touch bittersweet. Delilah and her husband are taking their two children to live in Queensland to be near his family. She goes, of course, with the full support of her bandmates, but she will be missed and there have been tears.  

It’s not totally the end, Karlee points out, simply “the end to this little season.” In typically poetic fashion, The Holy Smoke played their ‘last’ show at Lyric’s Underground in Maylands on May 14, but the event itself was something of a birth as in doing so they launched a new single, Little Light.   

The story behind the song is something of a hallmark of The Holy Smoke itself. Reeling from a challenging period of time in terms of family and work dynamics (not to mention the Covid effect on those sorts of things), Karlee had hit a creative wall and had misgivings about what she was bringing to the songwriting table. She was in good company to be in such a dilemma though; Rose and Delilah run Australian Songwriting Retreats, a workshop series that helps people reach their songcraft potential.  

“I know right?” Karlee laughs.  “They’re really good people to be around. I was sitting in the shed one night and just said, I said, ‘Man, I’m just really struggling to feel like feel like I can contribute anything in this space’. And Dee said, ‘just go write a crap song. Don’t overthink it. Just go write a crap song and start somewhere’.  

“So I went home, and this was literally the song that I wrote. When I went to show it to the girls, I realised that as much as it had a story for me – coming out of this cave-wilderness time that I felt like I was in, my own version of darkness – and coming back out creatively, we realised that actually, I think this has a message that’s broader than just my story, which goes out to a lot of people.” 

Spoiler alert: it’s not even a crap song. Not remotely.  

“Imagine what her good ones are like!” Delilah laughs. “You have to give yourself permission. Have a play. You know, like, we play music. And it’s good just to go and have a play and allow yourself freedom in that space to fail. Not everything has to be a hit song. It’s good to not have to have an outcome and an algorithm and a KPI and all of those things. It’s good just to throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks sometimes.” 

“That’s so true,” continues Karlee. “That was pretty much the reason why I was struggling to write because I was getting so stuck in whatever the song was, it needed to be a really good song and it just shut me down. And so I kind of feel a little bit like sure, even though I might have been the one that wrote it, I feel very much like these two have contributed to this just as much because it was kind of through them and their encouragement that it even got out.” 

Part of Little Light’s appeal is that it references This Little Light Of Mine, the traditional gospel song that was picked up by the US civil rights movement and recorded in various versions by the likes of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and Paul Robeson.    

“I’ve grown up in church, my whole life,” says Karlee. “I’ve been surrounded by those sorts of gospel songs my whole life. You know, you go to Sunday school and you sing the songs. I don’t know what made me lean to that, it just seemed appropriate at the time. ‘I need a bridge, what can I bring in?’ That just popped out.” 

“I love it,” Rose says. “I think thematically it just amplified what you were trying to get out, which is like, ‘don’t wait for yourself to become perfect and polished. Just start right here and right where you are right now. And just let your little light shine’. The actual old scripture that it references is Don’t hide your light under a bushel. So it’s saying whatever your light is, whatever your gift is inside you, don’t hide it away out of shame or fear. Or thinking you’re not good enough. Let your little light shine because everybody’s got their own light… and just let it shine.  

“Even though that’s a little gospel reference, I think it’s probably present and relevant in many, many cultures and many good things.” 

What Little Light shares with its reference point is a universality, its arms are open to all. Considering it came from an individual predicament, it speaks to the power of good songwriting which is even more impressive when you consider it emerged from a serious case of writer’s block.    

“Whether it’s COVID, or anyone else’s own personal stories, I think everyone’s got a story where life has just sucked the life out of them,” Karlee posits. “And it takes some courage, I think, to step back out of that, and back into those things that actually bring joy.  

“So Dee and Rose are a big part of that for me and it was very interesting that we would end our final show with that song. It was a very full circle for me.” 

The Holy Smoke at Lyric’s Underground, May 17 2023 – Photo: Grace NW Film www.instagram.com/gracenwfilm 

The ‘final’ show was always going to be an emotional affair. As much as the trio steeled themselves and put on brave faces, a look or a lyric was always there to tug at the heartstrings. 

“It was great,” says Delilah, fondly. “It was full of story and song, and we laughed uncontrollably and I ugly-face cried and I forgot words and as usual Karlee and Rose scooped me up and it was like the most fun you can ever have with your pants on and with no drugs.” 

“Before we went on stage we all looked at each other and went, ‘No, don’t go there. I’m not crying yet’ Rose laughs. “We had to keep our chins up, so no one was allowed to get too deep and meaningful. We’re just doing the business, putting on the lip gloss. Let’s go do this.” 

“And then I managed to break the banks,” adds Karlee.” So when I intro’d the song, I just said thanks in gratitude to the girls… that was it, as soon as I said that I was like, ‘waaaahhhh’

“And then of course we got asked for an encore at which point we started to play Landslide, it was the encore, that was the moment that it was like, ‘Okay, this is real, this is actually the end’. And I looked at Rose and you were like, ‘you have to stop looking at me…baaaw’.” 

‘Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’ 

‘Cause I’ve built my life around you 

But time makes you bolder 

Even children get older 

And I’m getting older too’ – Landslide, Fleetwood Mac 

Karlee and Delilah’s youngest kids were 3 and 6 months old when The Holy Smoke formed. They will turn 7 this year. 

“It’s a song about changing and kids and listing off all the things,” says Delilah. “The girls have been around since my son Wyatt was born. That’s his whole life.  

“My mum had organised some flowers and my hubby got up and gave us them and said about The Holy Smoke rehearsals – no matter how much time and energy and effort it was for everyone – having that backdrop, a soundtrack in the shed to our kids’ lives has just been incredible. And it really has.” 

“That was very beautiful,” adds Rose, her eyes welling.  

While their tenure has been bookmarked by the pandemic, The Holy Smoke have achieved much and affected many. Appearances at festivals such as Nannup (Karlee: “we did it at the Town Hall and we got a standing ovation. Half the people hadn’t even heard of us!”) and Harvey Dixon’s Rodeo, where they played Jolene to 3000 well-refreshed pogoing cowpersons and Delilah got called a MILF (“I was like, ‘I’m putting that on my resume’, she laughs.) are highlights, as are the many intimate venue shows the trio performed over the years. The experience itself, however, seems to be the greatest takeaway.   

“The fact that we can get together and make music together with pants on and are mostly sane with five children between us, three full-time jobs, and three other bands that we play in, that feels for me like biggest accomplishment with the band,” says Delilah. “And we did two EPs, that’s fucking amazing.” 

“That is our greatest achievement,” Rose adds, “how much each of us has grown. I sent the girls a message before the show that night. And I said, ‘working with you girls makes me bigger and braver’.  

“And it does. It’s been so confidence building. I think it’s because we’re just so encouraged, we champion each other, you know? We’ve all got each other’s backs. We laugh our freakin’ asses off. I love delivering such a great end result and having so much fun putting it together.” 

The Holy Smoke at Lyric’s Underground, May 17 2023 – Photo: Grace NW Film www.instagram.com/gracenwfilm 

There is one more farewell. The Delilah Rose Band will also wave fondly off at Lyric’s Underground on June 16 and then sunny Queensland beckons. For The Holy Smoke, however, a long-distance relationship is not out of the question… 

“I’m still applying for festival spots in the West so we’ll just see what happens,” Delilah explains. “As it goes we’ve still got another four songs to get out over the course of the next nine months. So we’ll just keep going with that and see what happens.  

“The whole thing with Holy Smoke has been so organic. It’s been very easy just to convince people we should play (laughs).” 

The trio are hopeful of airplay for Little Light and the other songs they have planned for release down the track. Clearly though the greatest wish is that if there’s a chance Rose, Karlee and Delilah can be in the same room or on the same stage, they’ll make the very most of those opportunities. 

“What we didn’t get to do because of COVID was tour,” says Rose. “So I’m hoping that with Dee over there we might jump on a plane and go over and do a couple of different things but do some shows while we’re there. We’re resourceful chicks and we’ll make it work somehow.  

“Wherever we are and whenever we get together, we will create magic. That I know.” 

Nick Mason Of Pink Floyd: TDSOTM50

Nick Mason Of Pink Floyd: TDSOTM50

Here’s the full transcript of my 2011 interview with Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason.

That sound you can hear is one of Pink Floyd fans rejoicing. The 200 million album-selling band and their label, EMI Music, have embarked on Why Pink Floyd?, a full re-issue of all Pink Floyd albums, re-mastered. These are known as the ‘Discovery’ editions, but for more avid fans there will be staggered ‘Immersion’ releases (CD/ DVD/ Blu-ray /memorabilia box sets) and Experience editions (coupling a classic album with a second disc of related content from that album).

Previously unearthed gems have now been made available simply because it’s possible. The Dark Side Of The Moon ‘Immersion’ box includes a Wembley Stadium live concert from 1974, which Mason says couldn’t have been released 10 years ago. Band-endorsed engineers Andy Jackson and James Guthrie repaired and sorted through various recordings, which were then given the all-clear by the three surviving band members, drummer Nick Mason, vocalist/bassist Roger Waters and guitarist/vocalist Dave Gilmour (keyboardist Rick Wright passed away in 2008 and co-founder Syd Barrett left in 1968 and died in 2006).

The band’s long-charting 1973 LP, The Dark Side Of The Moon, was the first to receive this release treatment late last month. The ‘Immersion’ edition of Wish You Were Here is released on November 4 (along with new best-of, A Foot In The Door), with 1979’s The Wall just over the horizon, scheduled for a February 24 issue.

I want to begin by asking you about the fandom; the listening audience of Pink Floyd. You’ve seen the devotion on tour, saw how Dark Side Of The Moon was in the charts for 15 years; but with these re-issues coming up, does the ongoing love of the music and the curiosity as to the background of it, continue to amaze you?

Yes I think it does. Part of the reason for doing this big re-issue is really to cover a number of bases in one go. There’s what’s known as the Immersion versions, which really just apply to the old fans, but there are other parts that are geared to people who really don’t know very much about it. It’s just to give them a taster of what’s available, really. It’s a lovely thing, particularly to have young audiences discovering something they can get something from. We’re all so brought up with the idea that rock’n’roll is ephemeral and only lasts a few years. It’s quite a change, really.

 It seems amazing that within the claustrophobia of the studio that things so universal and seemingly eternal can be created…

Yes, I think there’s a couple of things there. In the studio the only thing you can do is please yourself. You can’t even begin to second guess what the public are looking for. What you can try and do is get it right as you see it. The common question for Dark Side Of The Moon, is ‘why has it been around so long?’ and the answer is, ‘there is no simple answer’.  It’s a matter of a number of different things which include luck and timing. If there was a simple answer everyone, including us, would have made more records to that formula.

 What’s your relationship with the music of Pink Floyd, over all this time?

It’s an odd one, really, because I think people get a lot of pleasure from it and enjoy it. Whereas when I do listen to it I tend to listen to it rather critically. I’m hearing mistakes or things that could have been done better. It’s very difficult to listen to it and go, ‘God, I’m brilliant’. You don’t tend to listen to it and go, ‘oh, yeah, that was really good’. Maybe it’s, ‘well that worked, it was quite good’. You must remember, I first heard these in the recording studio.

How long was this project in planning? It seems overnight when you read about it in a magazine but clearly there’s much more to it…

There is and in fact it was a very painstaking job. An example is that the Wembley live concert from ’74, we couldn’t have released it 10 years ago. It’s really due to advances in digital editing that have made it possible to repair the tape. There were various microphones that hadn’t picked up a bass drum and things like that. (Project directors) Andy Jackson and James Guthrie, between them, have done a fantastic job of repairing some of these things.

 Has the passing of Syd Barrett and Rick Wright made this series all the more poignant?

Yeah, I think so. I mean, particularly with Rick because Syd, in a way, had been absent for so long, that was sort of less significant. But Rick was at Live8, we’d seen each other on holidays a year before, so it was very sad. I mean, I’ve known the people in the band longer than almost anyone else in my whole life. That includes people I’ve been married to and my children. I mean, the band’s been around longer than that.

 How involved were the band members in the remastering process; was anything remixed, or were the original mixes transferred with updated technology?

Everything that goes out was passed by all of us. James is brilliant in that respect,

we all trust his judgment and we all work very well with him. Whatever James did he would then send out to all of us, take the comments back and he was very good if someone was critical or had a suggestion. James was really capable of judging and taking the advice or perhaps not taking the advice (laughs). It was a very good process, mainly creative rather than critical.

The 14 EMI-released studio albums have all been remastered, as part of the Discovery editions. Some are better known than others in a universal sense; what are the albums you’d tell people to have a go at?

I think Dark Side, is always a good start. It’s shorter than something like The Wall, which is a bit more epic, kind of like Wagner’s Ring Cycle (laughs).  The Discovery compilation is a bit more than a best-of, it’s meant to be a taster of a number of different albums rather than just taking the most popular tracks. What’s nice is when people find something interesting in some of the less-known ones. For instance, I have a great affection for Saucerful Of Secrets, because there’s some interesting ideas there that were carried on all the way through Pink Floyd history. I also think Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun was one of the really great live Pink Floyd songs.

At the time of Dark Side Of The Moon, how did the musical tastes of the various members overlap?  What could they share, and what really set them apart in the music they were each into individually then?

That’s really a fabulous question and I completely unable to answer it (laughs). I’ll try and remember. The answer would be that there was a lot of influences at the time, particularly from what was going on in America. Always one of the great things about going to America was being able to go into American record shops, it was a very different selection of records to the UK.  There was a lot of interesting things coming out of America at the time. There was a guy called Moondog. I think he was New York-based, almost a street vagrant. He recorded a lot of street sounds and used them as the background in a lot of his songs.

          There was a lot of sharing of music. There was always that thing of listening to stuff together, lending each other records and so on, in that period. In ‘71-‘72 we were still very influenced by all the English bands from the period. Clapton, Cream, Jimi Hendrix in particular; that sort of thing. But there was a lot of stuff coming out of America at the time; slightly more off-the-wall things were going on.

What was it like going in to record an album that had been already performed in entirety 12 months before?

It’s not quite like that. In fact what we had been doing is playing four or five of the songs, in different versions, live. Actually, the way it really came together was more in the studio; because it was there that we actually had the big meeting and decided what it was going to be about. We hadn’t actually decided that in advance. We’d done a number of shows where things were continuous and segued together, but the actual idea for Dark Side came very much when we were in the studio and had started making the record; the idea of linking it all together with the sounds and the cross-fades was later in the process.

It was the album that changed so many things. Did you have an inkling?

I think the answer is we knew we’d done the best work to date and we knew it was good. But the fact that you know it is good doesn’t guarantee any sort of sales at all. You can do something that is really good but there’s a lot of brilliant records out there that no one’s ever heard.

Clare Torry provided some amazing, soulful backing vocals for Great Gig In The Sky. It was a collaboration that ended up in court. How does it feel when a guest comes in to do their piece and 30 years later ends up with a co-writing credit?

Yeah, well she came in for one session and was given some sort of advice – and probably conflicting advice by us – on what it should be and came up with her interpretation of our suggestions. I think she only needed three takes and we kept all three. I think there was a bit of mixing between the different takes. As I say, I think we all had different ideas of what should be done and she came up with her version, which was terrific.

1975’ s Wish You Were Here album was released in the aftermath of Dark Side Of The Moon’s popular and iconic success. So many playing fields had changed; what are your memories?

Well, it was hard work because of exactly what you’re talking about. We were now charged with making the follow-up to a very successful album. So I think we spent quite a lot of time casting around trying to decide what we were going to do. It’s quite well known that we started work on something that was known as The Household Objects project, which really went nowhere. It was just sounds without any real ideas as to what the music should be. We actually ended up spending quite a lot of time on something – a couple of aspects of it ended up getting used. That was not a great step forward.

The new re-issue features a version of Wish You Were Here with the celebrated violinist, Stephane Grappelli. Were you so spoilt for riches that it didn’t make the album release?

I absolutely cannot understand why we would have discarded it. It’s terrific. As you say we were spoilt for riches, but even so we were absolutely convinced that we should try and make the album ourselves. We didn’t want the other people… but weirdly, we ended up using Roy Harper (on Have A Cigar), so we were open to using other people. I mean that, to me, is a bit of a mystery.

Syd Barrett visited the studio during those sessions…

Yeah, that was very odd. It was all a bit of a puzzle, I think, for all of us. It was upsetting for all of us, actually. But in a way that became the catalyst to give some real point to the record.

 Is it true that he came in at the very time you were recording Shine On You Crazy Diamond (a song penned in dedication to him)?

No. Well, the answer is no one really knows. Everyone’s got a different version of it. I just cannot remember for the life of me if he did come to that session or whether it was something else. I suspect we were recording something else, partly because I was in the studio at the time and the drum track was laid down early on. I suspect that we were working on some other song at the time.

What are your memories of recording The Wall (1979)? Were things, in every aspect, getting more complex?

Actually most of The Wall recording was quite good. It must have taken a year of recording and most of that was spent with everyone working quite well on it. The politics of working together became difficult, just in the summer, when Rick wanted to go on holiday and CBS had just said they’d give us a lot of extra money if we finished it in time for Christmas. That sort of drove Roger demented. But in general most of The Wall recording was rather good because we were quite spoilt and our accountants – who turned out to be crooked – told us we might be in for a massive tax bill. We were suddenly forced to really concentrate. We left England to record abroad for the tax breaks and there was no more messing about, really. We were there to make the record and that was it. There was no going off and doing something else.

You can possibly make sense of your life and career in a way that many people can’t, what with people throwing it back at you in interviews and all sorts. Do you have it all rather sorted out and in context because of all this re-examination?

The problem is really I can’t answer that; I’ll have to put you onto my psychiatrist to respond on my behalf (laughs). But the answer, like most people who do peculiar things, is that for me it’s normal. It’s what I’ve done for the last 40 years. I remember quite a lot of it, which seems to make some sort of sense. For the most part it’s been great fun and I really enjoy it. There’s the odd moments where you think, ‘God that was pretty dreadful’, but on balance what you do realise is how lucky you are, having a career doing something that you really enjoy, that a lot of people think you’re rather clever for doing. So, no complaints from me (laughs), but also I’ve been lucky with my motor racing and cars and so on. That’s given me a counter- balance for what rock’n’roll is like. So, I’ve had a world outside music.

What’s it like, when at Live8 in 2005, or at Roger Water’s show in May, when you gather to perform? Surreal, or familiar?

I think it’s more that thing of feeling great in familiar territory. That’s what I’ve really enjoyed when playing with Roger, for instance. Coming back and playing with the same bass player I worked with for so long. There’s a source of music that you fall into, and you might like it or you might hate it, whatever, but it’s a source of something natural. It’s the way you feel easiest, I suppose. It’s comfortable. That’s the thing. It’s not actually a sort of high pressure thing at all. It’s more a case of, ‘oh yeah, I know how to do this’.

Now, the most predictable question…

Yes? (laughs).

What are the chances of the three of you going out again as Pink Floyd?

I don’t think it’s very likely, but my own prognosis is that the one thing that could make it happen would not be money. It would be a Nelson Mandela or Bill Clinton type figure, and some sort of reason why us playing together would change the world or enhance some peace process. Whether music is capable of doing that, who knows? But for reasons beyond other things, Live8 was like a junior version of that, if you see what I mean. It would be an enhanced version of Live8, I would have thought that Roger and David would find hard to refuse.

Well there’ll possibly be people hoping something will go wrong somewhere…

Oh no we can’t have that (laughs). I can see the mad scientists threatening nuclear holocausts unless the band plays. Dr Evil won’t make this happen. Let’s just go and correct something that’s wrong already.

Speaking of Dr Evil, has the flashing light on your copy of (grandly packaged 1994 live LP)   Pulse gone out yet?

I think, by now, it must have gone, on every copy that everyone’s got. So no one is being tape-recorded anymore. The microphones are gone (laughs)



Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon album turns 50 this week. I interviewed drummer Nick Mason upon the album’s deluxe re-issue for this article in The West Australian, originally published in September 2011.

If ever there was a band to come in for constant re-examination and theorising, it’s Pink Floyd. The band had many trademarks, they made music that circled high and wide, that tripped the universe yet could make biting social comment on the world we live in.  

And it has been analysed to the nth degree, but importantly it also has been oft-celebrated. Drummer, Nick Mason, has written about his life in Pink Floyd and has had a lot of sense-making done on his behalf by both journalists and fans. 

“I’ll have to put you onto my psychiatrist to respond on my behalf,” laughs.” But, like most people who do peculiar things, for me it’s normal. It’s what I’ve done for the last 40 years.” 

Fans of Pink Floyd will be happy to know that shortly there will be a new kind of normal. From September 23 the band and their label, EMI Music, will embark on Why Pink Floyd?, a full re-issue of all Pink Floyd albums, remastered. These will be known as the Discovery editions, but for more avid fans there will be staggered Immersion releases (CD/ DVD/ Blu-ray /memorabilia box sets) and Experience editions (coupling a classic album with a second disc of related content from that album).  

The band’s long-charting 1973 LP, The Dark Side Of The Moon, will be the first to receive this release treatment on the kick-off date. 

“It’s a lovely thing, particularly, to have young audiences discovering something they can get something from,” Mason says. “We’re all so brought up with the idea that rock’n’roll is ephemeral and only lasts a few years. It’s quite a change, really.” 

Technological advancement has been kind to Pink Floyd fans, with previously unearthed gems now being made available simply because it’s possible. The Wish You Were Here box includes a Wembley Stadium live concert from 1974, which Mason says couldn’t have been released 10 years ago. Band-endorsed engineers Andy Jackson and James Guthrie repaired and sorted through various recordings, which were then given the all-clear by the three surviving band members, Mason, vocalist/bassist Roger Waters and guitarist/vocalist Dave Gilmour (keyboardist Rick Wright passed away in 2008). 

Pink Floyd have sold over 200 million albums, but the point that some albums are more iconic and better known to the world at large than others, prompts Mason to offer some listening tips. 

“I think Dark Side Of The Moon is always a good start,” he offers. “It’s shorter than something like The Wall (1979), which is a bit more epic, kind of like Wagner’s Ring Cycle (laughs).   

“What’s nice is when people find something interesting in some of the less-known ones. I have a great affection for Saucerful Of Secrets (1968, Syd Barrett’s final album), because there’s some interesting ideas there that were carried on all the way through Pink Floyd history. I also think the track, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, was one of the really great live Pink Floyd songs.”  

The Wish You Were Here box also contains a version of the album’s title track featuring jazz violinist, Stephane Grapelli. The fact that it wasn’t used on the album suggests that Pink Floyd may have been spoilt for riches. 

“I cannot understand why we would have discarded it,” Mason says, in reflection. “It’s terrific. As you say, we were spoilt for riches, but even so we were absolutely convinced that we should try and make the album ourselves. We didn’t want the other people… but weirdly, we ended up using Roy Harper (on Have A Cigar), so we were open to using other people. I mean that, to me, is a bit of a mystery.”  

Another mystery in the Pink Floyd realm is original singer/guitarist, Syd Barrett, who left the band in 1968, as a result of drug excess and psychological strife. Barrett, who died in 2006, turned up unannounced and disoriented at the 1975 sessions for Wish You Were Here. He was overweight, with a shaven head and eyebrows, a scenario referenced in the film version of The Wall. While it was an unsettling day for all concerned, it proved strangely helpful to the album’s strained creative process. 

“That was very odd,” Mason confides. “It was all a bit of a puzzle, I think, for each of us. It was upsetting for all of us, actually. But in a way that became the catalyst to give some real point to the record.” 

The Immersion edition of Wish You Were Here is released on November 4 (along with new best-of, A Foot In The Door), with The Wall just over the horizon, scheduled for a February 24 issue. While Roger Waters will soon hit Australia with his own tour of The Wall, the mega-release of Pink Floyd re-issues does prompt the question if Mason, Waters and Gilmour would consider reforming for a tour, as per their 2005 Live8 appearance? 

“I don’t think it’s very likely,” Mason considers. “But my own prognosis is that the one thing that could make it happen would not be money, it would be a Nelson Mandela or Bill Clinton type figure, and some sort of reason why us playing together would change the world or enhance some sort of peace process. Whether music is capable of doing that, who knows?” 



Iconic composer Burt Bacharach has passed away at the age of 94. I was fortunate to interview him for this article in The West Australian, originally published in April, 2012.

On his Farewell To The Symphonies tour, Burt Bacharach will trace through a life of hits and classics, songs such as Walk On By, Do You Know The Way To San Jose, The Look Of Love and, appropriately enough, Always Something There To Remind Me.

It’s not the only reminiscent gesture that Bacharach is in the midst of, however. It seems the notoriously guarded composing great is preparing to spill the beans and is publishing a memoir entitled Anyone Who Had A Heart, in November.

“I’ve not held back,” Bacharach reveals. “I’ve been pretty upfront about not avoiding anything. I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with my daughter Nikki’s (2007) death, from suicide. Instead of just having a couple pages, I go deep into it; it’s all been about not holding back. In a way, by the very process of having to do that and having to confront your feelings on something like that, you’re not permitting yourself to abbreviate or short-circuit it. It was pretty cathartic.”

Bacharach has already laid bare his memories on tape, which are now being collated by US writer, Robert Greenfield.

“I didn’t just want this to be about music,” Bacharach says, “I wanted it to be about where I am in my life. He’s spoken to many people in my life, which is very interesting because I’ve found what’s left of my family.

“I like that he’s spoken to people. He’s talked to all four of my wives – my present wife and three ex-wives.”

Paula Stewart, Angie Dickinson, Carole Bayer Sager and Jane Hansen aren’t the only relationships on the table. Bacharach’s also been through tempestuous times with lyricist Hal David, who co-wrote many of the composer’s most iconic hits.

“It’s sort of a marriage that ran into trouble,” Bacharach says of their relationship. “It all exploded because of a (1973) film called Lost Horizon, a musical which should have never been made. It caused a split between all of us; Hal and Dionne (Warwick) and it was a mistake.

“It fractured the relationship. Hal and I didn’t speak for 12 years. There were lawsuits and all sorts. There’s nothing like a disastrous film that affects a studio to break up a relationship, if you know what I mean.”

Time heals, however. After his Australian tour Bacharach returns to the US to receive the prestigious Gershwin Award, along with David.

“We’re fine, fine, fine. Not that we write together anymore. Hal wrote with other people. I wrote with Carole Bayer Sager, Elvis Costello, Dr Dre. Is it to say that Hal and I will never write another song together? No. But it’s a different music business now.”

The man who counts Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, Ravel and Debussy as his heroes and first toured Australia with Marlene Dietrich in the late-‘50s, says he’s had moments where he’s been over the whole business, but is always led back.

“The thing about making music and performing your music is that there always will be people who it will make an impact upon. It will make them happy. That’s not a bad thing, is it, to make people happy?     

“You might ask, ‘why is he still performing?’ You’ve got your answer right there.”



As Shane Pinnegar sips his beer and gazes upon South Terrace in Fremantle one senses he’s allowing himself a slight sense of pride, but mostly a feeling of relief.

He did what he set out to do. As he was growing up the Kalgoorlie-based writer and chef often pondered the varying moods of his beloved father, Tony, a good man with some anger inside and no intention of pinning any excuses on anything that had made him feel this way. Shane would often ask his father about coming to Australia from the UK with his brothers to settle at Fairbridge Farm School but there were no answers forthcoming. Firmly so.

“He just wouldn’t go into detail,” Shane says, “would not talk about it. Sometimes he’d get angry and have an argument rather than talk about it just to change the subject, I think. So it was obvious something was there, and something was broken.”

A cancer diagnosis with its long-term treatments (chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a long list of medications) and the passing of the years seemed to unearth a feeling in Tony that a personal history captured is invaluable for – at the very least – a family to share. When, in 2017, Shane found a handwritten speech that Tony had just given to his beloved local Rotary Club branch about coming out from England as a child migrant it was a catalyst to at last begin conversations not only about the journey Tony and his younger brothers Christopher and Garth took, but the harsh life experiences that awaited them at Fairbridge.

They had conversations on this topic – some more successful than others – over a period of four years. Tony passed away on February 24, 2022. Six months later Shane completed the book. It was published on Sunday, January 8, the 70th anniversary of Tony walking out of Fairbridge and being taken up to Perth to begin his life anew… but not quite unshackled.

The book is called All That Was Taken From Us: A Child Migrant’s Story, by Tony and Shane Pinnegar. Both the title and a shared authorship credit say a great deal indeed.

“We started getting bits of information out of him,” Shane recalls, “and for every little bit of information that he’d reluctantly give up I would then have 10 more questions. Some of which he would deign to answer and some of which would just make him grumpy again and not want to talk.”

Shane persisted and eventually recording and formal note-taking came into play. Conversations were notarised and emails collected but the focus being that however reluctantly expressed, this was Tony’s story.

“I don’t own that story,” Shane says, pointing to the book. “I don’t want to take credit for that story. I just did my best to present it as honestly as I could.

“Bearing in mind that it’s difficult when so few people wanted to talk about it… and it was 70-plus years ago. So that’s why the credits are the way they are and it’s a sign of respect. As I said it’s his story. He’s never going to write a book now, obviously. So if there is an afterlife, then I hope he’s looking down and is a little bit proud of it.”

Shane notes that Tony was a very proud man who was protective of his negative experiences to the point of disassociation – preferring to move on with life as though they never happened. As such, there are parts of the book that he may not have been entirely happy with in the final result.

“I’d had a couple of months to really mull that over after he passed,” Shane says. “It was important for me to present the good side of him as well as the bad side because that’s what the British and Australian governments did to him. That’s what the effects are of being forced into being a child migrant and forced into those few years at Fairbridge did to him because he had some problems. He had some temper problems and some issues. And that was a by-product of the life he lived without having any say in those decisions that were not made for his benefit.”

Tony Pinnegar and Shane

Tony Pinnegar was initially christened Anthony George Blood, born on September 22, 1936, in Stourport-on-Severn in The Midlands of England. His mother, Molly Pinnegar, had five children between 1936-44 to a married man named George Blood, who initially was a regular visitor to Stourport delivering petrol and oil products and then, during World War 2, became an RAF Sergeant.

Two of the siblings were adopted out as infants and Tony only ever met his father twice. George Blood returned to his wife and their children at war’s end, having never made good on promises to join Molly. Tony was told that his surname would be changed to Pinnegar at around 11 years of age.

If it sounds dysfunctional at this point, it wasn’t helped by the fact that Molly was less than maternal, wont to wander off at whimsy (which was often). In the 1930-’40s it was regarded as poor form to have an affair, or to have a child out of wedlock, let alone five of them to a married man.

“Molly was never going to win any mother of the year awards,” says Shane. “She was very single-minded. Very, what we would call today… selfish. They were different times but I still can’t fathom how anyone would treat their children like that. She showed very little love and affection to her kids.”

As such, Tony and the younger brothers, Christopher and Garth, were on unsure footing with the rest of the family and then within wider society. The three boys were shuffled around between family members, foster parents, and children’s homes, at the end of the priority line in all circumstances, and made to do chores beyond their years in each. All during wartime, as if the terms weren’t already harsh enough. ‘The Williams’ – the last foster family he stayed with – wouldn’t allow Tony visits from his mother or any other family members, and seemed to barely tolerate his very presence. Quite possibly his presence benefitted them financially.

One day a Catholic priest – unusual given that the family was Church of England – visited Tony and asked if he wanted to move to Australia, stating that his younger brothers had already agreed to do so. At this stage, the younger boys had been separated from Tony and were at a children’s home. It seems unlikely that such a decision to enter the Child Migrant Scheme would be left to boys aged between 7-13, but this is what had been stated as the case.

From the family’s point of view, it was believed the boys had been sent to Australia at the behest of their (always) disapproving grandmother Florence; however the ensuing years revealed that Molly was complicit in this. To add another sting in the tale, Molly married a man named Ted Mitchell merely months after her children were sent away.

British children sent to Fairbridge had to be approved by a psychologist. While this may sound like a duty of care, there were more sinister undertones.

“The whole thing with the Child Migrant Scheme was ‘Good White British Stock’,” Shane explains. “So they wanted to send the best to populate the colonies and there was a line in there about doing that in order to outnumber the indigenous people. That was part of it. It was steeped in racism and was just a horrible thing. And there was no care or anything about these kids’ feelings and no affection shown to them.”

The four weeks aboard the ship proved to be an exciting experience for the reunited brothers and 31 other children, but they were to be short-lived salad days for most. Upon arriving in Fremantle on June 24, 1950 – and subsequently reported in The West Australian newspaper two days later – the boys were billeted in Rhodes Cottage (then later, Cook House) at Kingsley Fairbridge Farm School. Each house had a Cottage Mother, but again the maternal aspect was absent, as Shane notes in the book…

As if the ignominy and emotional confusion of their childhoods weren’t enough, now the children were placed with sometimes tyrannical and vicious overseers, often as quick to snap and dole out punishment as to assign endless chores’.

The reality was quickly felt. The carers and staff had no truck for niceties, let alone affection for children whose dysfunctional lives had been upended. Essentially they were there to provide child labour in order to keep the farm going, and suffered physical and emotional abuse for the slightest of (often misperceived) wrongdoings.

Instances of sexual abuse at Fairbridge by teachers – and horrifically by that of local men allowed access to the grounds and the students – has been documented in books such as Ron Hutchinson’s Two Birthdays and in numerous personal histories related over the last four years to Shane. He is unsure if his father was sexually abused, but the nagging doubt persists.

“Imagine there’s a core of the truth,” he posits. “So we burrow in there and bang, we stop. And we burrow in there and bang. And we burrow in more and bang, we stop. There was that sacred bit in the middle which he was never ever going to crack open. I think it would have been too much for him to do it.

“A few times over lunches he cried because we got a little too close. And that was that was the end of that. ‘Let’s change the subject now’. He’d get angry so much, ‘it just doesn’t fucking matter anymore, Shane!’. We could have talked for another 10 years and I don’t think he ever was going to get to that bit.

“He may not have ever been sexually abused, because he was also older. So he may not have been as easy a target as some of the younger kids. I’ve spoken to a couple of the kids who he was at Fairbridge with and they got abused. They got fiddled with and raped, in one instance.”

The abuse was rife. The dentist that visited the school was allegedly the head of a paedophile ring and would take boys down to the beach in Mandurah during holidays were they were sexually assaulted by his ‘friends’. A young student reported being abused by an older student – possibly echoing their own treatment – and was caned for ‘dobbing’. The elder student was let off scot-free. Newspapers reported a case of a young woman accusing the Deputy Headmaster of rape, and of another being raped while helping tend to the farm animals by the livestock manager. 

“This stuff was endemic,” Shane says. “It went on over years and years and there’s no way in the universe the powers that be had no insight or understanding. They had to know what was happening. Girls were sent out to do work experience on farms, and gang raped by the bloody guys at work there. And then came back bawling their eyes out only to be told, ‘well, you must have led them on’.

Tony Pinnegar RIP

Five months to the day after Tony Pinnegar passed, Shane and his wife Trulie, his mother, along with his surviving uncle Christopher and his partner Diane visited the school site for the Old Fairbridgian’s Founder Day Service. A plaque for Tony had been installed on the Remembrance Wall, but when his name was read out during the service he was cruelly snubbed of any meaningful description or memory. For Shane, it was another in a long line of hurts perpetuated by Fairbridge against his father. He recognises that some Old Fairbridgians may have had a positive experience at the school, but for those who did suffer daily, the years of white-washing represent yet another form of abuse. 

During one emotional writing lunch with Shane, Tony began to ponder what he didn’t have. Sure, there were his own memories of a tough upbringing, but no photos, no school reports, no records of anything from his childhood. The UK government had by this time paid out 20,000 pounds to all surviving child migrants. As he understandably allowed some bitterness to line his words, Tony inadvertently came up with the title of the book he would not live to see published.

“He looked at me,” Shane reflects, “and said, ‘is 20,000 quid enough to compensate for life without parents, without cousins, without aunties, without uncles, knowing that they’re all living their lives where you used to be, and you not having anything, any kindness or anything?

“‘No! It’s bugger all next to all that was taken from us’.”

Shane says that as a rule his father could not normally bring himself to criticise people or institutions for things that hadn’t gone right in his life. He even recalls being amazed at how Tony and his uncles fawned over Molly – despite all she had done to them but hadn’t done for them – when she visited Perth from the UK in the late ‘70s, still bringing with her a steely and distant outlook.

She was, of course, their mother. As was their way, the Pinnegar brothers would focus on the fact that their lives were ultimately better because they left the UK.

“Christopher and Dad both insist their lives would never have turned out as good as they did had they stayed in England,” Shane says. “They were very happy with the lives they’d forged here.

“So there’s that duality. You don’t want a kid to be treated like that and to go through what they had to go through, but they also don’t want to deny the fact that they made the best of it in the end.

“They had to go through a tunnel of fire to get to that point, of course.”

Shane Pinnegar has been nominated in the ‘Literary Category’ for an Artgold Award, celebrating Goldfields artists and creatives. All That Was Taken From Us: A Child Migrant’s Story is published through Bark Side Books and available via shanepinnegarwriter.com. Having launched the book in Perth, Shane will be having a Kalgoorlie-Boulder launch on Thursday, March 2, at Artgold (tickets available from ArtgoldPinnegar.eventbrite.com.au).



Main Photo: Alan Holbrook

Dr Errol H. Tout’s son Sam reflects on his father’s life and passing upon the posthumous release of his album, ‘Small Window Large View’…

A beloved figure in the WA music scene, as well as the corridors of architectural academia, Dr Errol H. Tout passed away in November after a courageous, 10-year battle with cancer.

It was by no means a decade of sombre contemplation. Going back to the 1980s when he was a young firebrand virtuoso guitarist who was accepted into the tutelage of none other than Robert Fripp, Errol was a prolific creative force. Following suit, in the difficult latter years, despite the intense physical demands placed on him by ongoing treatments, he recorded and released four albums – including the new posthumous release, Small Window Large View – over that decade.

“It’s a part of a continuum of one’s life work,” Errol told this writer upon the release of his 2021 album, Dancing About Architecture.

“It’s another chapter, and there’s lots more to come. I kind of like that – doing stuff and moving on, then moving on and moving on. Doing something better and different and in other ways than before… but it’s nice working with these same people because they’re just so bloody good!”

One of those bloody good people is Errol’s son, creative collaborator and music curator, Sam, who has brought Small Window Large View to its fulfilment.

“He finished off mixing Dancing About Architecture, sent it off to the label and pretty much immediately after he’d done that started work on the new album and never really stopped,” Sam explains.

“It’s how he ended up with all these albums because pretty much ever since 1984 when he started working on Atmospherics, he was always either finishing an album or starting the next one.

“It’s quite a body of work, and it goes through all the different segments of his life. It’s a great thing to have after he’s gone… to be able to listen to it all.”

Errol Tout, circa 1992

In 2012, a week after his mother had died, Errol was informed that he had blood clots on his lungs and a two-kilogram tumour on his kidney. He was given roughly year to live, but the spirited Mr Tout was having none of that and sought new and potentially risky treatment.

“Basically, everybody said, ‘there’s not really much we can do, you’re gone’,” Sam recalls. “He just didn’t accept that and then started talking to another doctor in Melbourne who was like, ‘we can give that a go, but you’ll probably die on the table. But you know, if you’re willing to take the risk come over’. He did, and they did this crazy 10-hour-procedure, chopped him in half and put him back together again and he lived another 10 years.

“He always was at the front of experimental treatments that had never been tried before, but I think he just wanted to keep going and wanted to keep doing stuff so much that he just allowed himself to be poked and prodded all that time. He had a very, very uncomfortable last 10 years but he just kind of got on with it.”

Errol’s dedication to craft and his ability to be prolific had long been proven, but the quietening down of his life – and the constant reminders of his mortality – seemed to drive his desire to leave behind a remarkable creative legacy.

“Probably because once he became really quite ill he obviously had to stop working as an architect,” Sam says, (Errol was Head of the Department of Architecture & Interior Architecture at Curtin University of Technology until 2008, then worked as a Senior Lecturer and Chair of the Science and Technology Stream).

“And he couldn’t play live anymore because it was all a bit much. So he was left with a lot of time at home, and I think he just kind of put all that time into working on music. And that’s how when he had cancer, he recorded four albums in the time that he was sick.”

Errol documented his busy creative life with Facebook posts of his “modest, yet tidy studio.” More often than not Sam would be featured in these images, as he collaborated with his father’s constantly growing stream of new music.

“I used to go every weekend and hang out there,” Sam recalls. “He would always run the tracks past me, and I would always say, ‘Oh, that’s good’ or ‘that’s shit, change that bit’. I was always quite involved in the arrangements and I recorded the keyboard parts for the last few albums and a few other songs we worked on together.

“So that was always a cool thing for us to do. He would send me 25 different tracks that he had for the latest album or something and he’d say, ‘can you go through and cull them down to 12?’ (laughs). He just wanted another person’s opinion.”

Sam Tout. Photo by Sampson McCrackan

The opinion of his son, most importantly. Sam is close to all the music on the new album, but there are some tracks that truly speak to him.

“Yeah, there’s a few nice tracks… there’s one called Pumpin’ Pulse, which is track number two. Dad wrote it in, I think, 1990 and had played it live. There’s a video of him playing it live but then he’d never really got around to recording it.

“He and I worked on the arrangement with Mike (Gorman) as well and put that together. I was really happy with how that worked out and I played the piano part on it. That was a nice one that we worked on together, which is cool.”

Car 54 has a really creative guitar part that is something I’ve never really heard before. I’ve put together a music video for that one based off of old footage that we had and that will that will come out with the album, which will be cool. So those two are probably the ones that speak to me the most just because I have more involvement in those ones.”

The opening track on the album, Spoice Journey, also has a poignance which speaks to Errol’s gentle encouragement over the years for Sam – a multi-instrumentalist who plays bass in alternative/blues/rock trio, Redcliffe – to play the guitar.  

“Dad and I both played guitar on that,” he notes. “So I play the guitar on the left channel, and he plays guitar on the right channel and we kind of spent a day working on that together in early 2022.

“And I think that was the last time that we recorded together, actually. That was a good experience doing that. I think he was pretty happy to see me pick up a guitar.”

Small Window Large View features the wondrous guitar work of Errol and Mike Gorman, with the rhythm section of Roy Martinez and Ric Eastman and Sam on keyboards.

Guitars and keyboards were recorded in Errol’s “modest but tidy studio,” with bass and drums recorded by Lee Buddle at Crank Recording. The album was mixed and mastered by Tony Geballe in New York.

Small Window Large View will be launched on Monday, January 16 at The Ellington Jazz Club. It will see songs from all parts of Errol’s career performed by guitarists Mike Gorman, Glenn Winter-Smith, Graham Greene and Greg Dear, with Ric Eastman on drums and Sam Tout on bass/keys.

All proceeds will be donated to cancer research.

Both moving and playful, the 13 tracks are testament to Errol’s unique approach to composition and his dedication to his instrument. The album title itself – Small Window Large View – seems to hint at a design for living.

“I don’t recall him ever telling me a meaning about it,” Sam says, “but I’ve done a little bit of thinking about it myself. And I think it could potentially be about your outlook on life and making the most of things.

“Which Errol did… because if you think about it, he had a very small window, but he had a large view. He had a lot of barriers and things holding him back, but he just ignored all that and did so much anyway.”

Sam cites as a perfect example of this being Errol’s commitment to performing the album launch show for Dancing About Architecture in September 2021.

“He was incredibly unwell,” Sam reflects. “He was in hospital and could barely walk, but he had the gig booked and he was determined to get there, if it was the last thing he did. So we broke him out of hospital, and they pumped him up full of drugs and we wheeled him over onto the stage. Then he played and really it gave it everything he had, and it was great.

“And then he went straight back to hospital afterwards. He was just relentless.”

Errol Tout RIP. Photo by Skip Watkins

Sam has become the curator of Errol’s recorded work since his passing but in another sense he already was. It’s a role that is clearly of the utmost importance to him.

“About a year ago, it occurred to me that Dad had all these albums, but they were all sitting on a shelf. Just physical copies – like records and CDs and stuff – but not much out there online for people to listen to, if they don’t have a copy. And of course all the original copies of his albums are sold out.

“So I went through and scanned all the covers and digitised all the tracks and put them all up so that people can listen to them forever now. So I’m very glad that we got to do that, and he got to see that while he was still alive, which was awesome. He loved knowing that people were still listening to his albums that were 35 years old or whatever.

“Pretty much the whole back catalogue is now up there on all the streaming platforms it can be listened to forever now which is great.”

Small Window Large View – along with Errol’s entire recorded catalogue – is available on Bandcamp and all streaming platforms from January 10.


FeaturedTHE HARD-ONS Yes I Am

The Hard-Ons at the Link and Pin Cafe,  Woy Woy, Dec 10 2021. Pic by Mark Fraser

If there’s one consistent reaction to the live shows that The Hard-Ons have been performing in the last year with new frontman, Tim Rogers, it’s that the band have been on fire.  

“Man, for me personally, it’s been amazing,” says guitarist, Peter ‘Blackie’ Black. “To me, it finally feels like we’re a four-piece. All four of us are really gleeful when we get up onstage. It’s a magical unit. It really unreal together, we really connect.”

It’s now embedded in Australian music history that Rogers joined The Hard-Ons in early 2021 to record the excellent I’m Sorry Sir, That Riff’s Been Taken album, following the departure of Keish de Silva, due to a combination of issues pertaining to his personal life and perhaps not sharing the same fire as his ex-bandmates.  

“Look, it is difficult to talk about,” ponders Blackie. “And personally, I don’t want to speak on anyone else’s behalf as well. People grow up together and then nearly 40 years later, they feel very differently about certain things. I think Keish thought he liked being back in a band but he kind of forgot that it isn’t just rocking out, there’s actually a ton of fucking work that’s gotta go into being in a band. And I don’t think he was as enthused as we were.

“So it kind of felt like he was really, not ho-hum… but it was like, ‘ah, that’s a drag’. It’s like, ‘yeah, but man, you gotta work it’ – because you know, The Hard-Ons are a band that has never sat still. We’ve always wanted to write better songs, be better players, be better everything. It’s what we do. We love this shit to death. I think as soon as you stop getting better, as soon as you start resting, then you become one of those bands that starts start to suck, you know?

“And with this line-up, all four are really, really into it. When we bring a new song in, all of us jump on top of it. We give it everything and that definitely carries over when we play live. It really gels.”

In a previous interview, Rogers told this writer that for the first couple of shows with The Hard-Ons he’d pre-planned moments on stage as he was fronting the band onstage for the first time and doing so without a trusty guitar around his neck. Once the first show (in December 2021 at the Link & Pin Café in Woy Woy) kicked in however, all ‘pre-plans’ went out the door and simply being in the energy of the moment was everything.  

The Hard-Ons. Pic: Michelle Young

“I guess everyone performs differently and everyone has different ways of getting themselves ready,” Blackie considers. “To me, I never ‘perform’ you know? I never know what’s gonna happen. When I get up on stage and switch the amp on and we’re getting enough drums out of the monitors that sort of tells me how the night is gonna be. I don’t like thinking about it; I just love that first rush that you get.

“It’s not just the tunes and playing with these guys, it’s also that awesome excitement of the volume that you get to produce. Like, I can turn right up now and that is really enjoyable. That’s the physical aspect of the volume. And then obviously, there’s also the killer energy that you get from people who have come to see you and they want to loosen up as well so they’re yelling back at you and we’re yelling back at them. And it’s like this constant to-and-fro exchange of energy and that’s kind of how, for me, a show goes.

“But I know what Tim meant, you know? Like he was really intimidated by it. ‘What are your fans gonna think of me?’ And we’re like, ‘man, we think the world of you, and we know how strong this is. It’s like, don’t worry about it. Let’s just go out there and do it’. That’s exactly how it went – he got offstage and went, ‘yep, that was something else!’.”

Upon joining The Hard-Ons, Rogers presented the band with a wishlist of 70 songs he was keen to perform. It turns out his choice of gems was right up their alley.   

“Man, that’s what I really liked,” Blackie says. “I reckon – especially that album Peel Me Like An Egg – we’ve had so much bad luck with some of our last few records. In terms of Peel Me Like An Egg, which I was stupidly proud of, but then it fell on the back of our 30-something-or-other anniversary. So it’s like, ‘I don’t want to do that shit. I want to promote our new record’. And it’s like, well, ‘it’s kind of rude not to acknowledge the fact that you’ve been around for this long’. So I say, ‘oh alright’.

“In a lot of ways, a lot of the stuff that Tim digs are the records that kind of got forgotten. So picking up these songs was like, ‘shit yeah! We played this maybe twice’. So getting to play them again, has been a buzz.

“You know, whatever’s new is the most exciting thing and you’re proud and want to show it off and all that. But I’m not a dick. Man, if I went to see Slayer and they didn’t play Reign In Blood I’d be pretty pissed off. So of course we’re gonna play old songs as well, but the thing that sometimes people have to understand is, you might still dig a song that we might be a little bit bored with at the moment. If we attempted to play it, and we’re not into it, it probably won’t be a stellar performance. So you’ve got to sort of balance it. So we rotate old songs and you know, you play something for a while and go, ‘well that was fun, but let’s give it a rest. Let’s pick out some more’.

“So it’s been pretty fun having Tim and Murray as well, when he joined, he was like, `Man, I’d love to try this and that and that’. So… mix it up, make a call.”

While a new 7-inch single and video clip for Needles And Pins (backed with a non-album track, Spider Tree) has been released just this week, Blackie has been working on demos for the next Hard-Ons album which is set to be recorded at a studio inside MONA in Hobart in December. And, according to Rogers, the guitarist/songwriter already has his ears and eyes focussed on the one after that.

“People think it’s strange, but it’s actually not. It sounds like a lot, but I really like writing. So that’s all I do all day long. I remember reading an interview with Pete Shelley not that long ago. And he goes, ‘I probably write I don’t know, maybe 200 songs a year, but it doesn’t mean that they’re 200 good ones it means that of 200 I might get 30 that will go on a record’.

“So it’s not so much so I’m planning the next record. I am seeing what this record is shaping up to be like and might think, ‘I love that song, but there’s too many songs already with the same vibe. So put it aside for the next one’, or maybe do it solo. Whenever I’m blessed enough to get an idea, I just fool around with it and do a demo and wherever it goes, it goes.

“So yes, I am, but I always do that. I can’t help myself, it’s fun!”


Thu Aug 4 – The Prince, Bunbury (Leeches + Ocean Drive) –TIX
Fri Aug 5 – Amplifier. Perth + Seawitch + Leeches – TIX
Sat Aug 6 – Indian Ocean Hotel, Scarborough + Seawitch + The Secret Buttons – TIX
Sun Aug 7 – Mojo’s, Fremantle + Rinehearts + The Shakeys –TIX



An accomplished jazz/opera/contemporary vocalist with a unique talent for song interpretation Etta D’Elia has made an indelible impression in Perth in the decade since she moved here from her native Italy. 

And with a new fringe show in the works, this spirited performer and teacher is looking to expand on all that she has done before. It’s taken hard work but in so many ways it’s about destiny.  

From an early age, it seemed that Etta was naturally theatrical, so much so that by the age of five visiting relatives would pay her money to tell jokes and stories. It wasn’t all for laughs, however, the power of music was also taking hold.

“I always wanted to sing and perform,” Etta states. “My mother says that since I was basically three or four, I wasn’t really walking, I was dancing and performing all around the rooms in the house and out in the street. My games were always to create shows to perform for an audience. I was pretending to be Liza Minnelli singing into a duster. So really, it’s always been in my blood.

“My grandfather, my very beloved Nonno, was an opera lover and he used to play piano for me. It has always been basically clear to me since I was a baby that I would become a musician and a singer and a performer in general.”

By the age of six, Etta was taking piano lessons, a dedication to craft that was complemented by her enrolment at The Conservatorio to learn classical singing followed by a Master’s Degree in Music Education. Her academic focus had been strictly classical but encouraged by a lecturer to branch out musically she discovered a love for jazz and was soon performing with Italian pianist Gianni Lenoci and his jazz quartet, featuring the French double-bass player, Joelle Leandre.

It was the first page of a musical love letter. A truer calling.      

“I felt that that was really my dimension because I felt free, really free to express myself,” Etta explains. “I’m not the person that writes music, but I love the freedom of improvising and scatting. That’s my creativity.”

Even so, at 23 Etta won first prize in an international opera contest, so work and further success opened up in that environment. But, she says, “still there was something missing.”

In 2012 Etta moved to Perth, Western Australia. It was a bold step and a big change.

“The impact that living in another country has on an artist is huge,” she says. It’s a huge transformation that can happen.

In Perth, there is not a huge demand for opera singers. I got more involved with the language, with the expression, and I felt a stronger connection with English and everything that is related to English expression.

“So, I want to go back there, and I decided to start slowly putting some more jazz songs in my act.”

Etta worked for several years with popular accordionist Nikki D’Agostino as a duo called Prima Donna. “It was a bit of classical music and a bit of jazz and a bit of pop all coming together,” she says. “We did a lot of work together. It was all based on Italian music and Italian humour.”

In 2021 Etta made a conscious decision to focus on jazz, adopting her grandmother’s nickname with a nod to Etta James. “It’s less aristocratic than Antonietta D’Elia and more direct,” she notes. “It’s more who I am now. It’s my jazz identity.”

She has pursued jazz performances all around WA as a guest vocalist and as the featured performer in duos, trios and quartets at venues such as Perth Concert Hall, The Crown, Pan Pacific, Ritz Carlton, Duke Of George, The Volstead Lounge, Velour Lounge, Kalamunda Jazz Club and more.

What jazz also offers for Etta is a sense of fun. The six-year-old jokester is still very much present, and even in her opera days – specialising in Mozart and Puccini – her voice and demeanour saw her cast in the more comedic roles.

“I would never be the big romantic, dramatic character,” she recalls. “I would always be the one that makes people laugh. So I decided to bring all that experience and knowledge in theatre into my shows, and that’s why they’re probably in between a jazz singer and a comedian, a stand-up comedy person. I always make a lot of jokes and try to interest people. That’s the other big component of it, the fun.”

With that in mind, Etta is working towards her Fringe Show to be staged in early 2023, a humorous melange of Italian music and jazz.

“There will be all the popular Italian songs,” she says, “love songs that belong to our culture that are not necessarily very popular here in Australia, but still very representative of our culture and our customs. This is a show where I explain a lot of curiosities and things about Italian culture through the songs.”

Going forth, Etta feels stronger than ever as a performer by acknowledging her past experiences and taking them with her as she evolves constantly as an artist. 

“I believe that making a stylistic choice when you are an artist reflects who you really are, and I believe that I’ve been through different phases of my life because I was discovering myself,” she says.

“I’ve reached this point where I’m happy to call myself a jazz singer and this is the point in my life in which I understand who I am. I like this dimension and I want to be here because I want to be free to use everything that I’ve got from my past to create something new.”






Saturday, June 25, 2022

Nevermind the water, there’s something in the coldening air that makes a melodic stomp around Fremantle on a musical evening out such a fine thing indeed.

A few weeks back the Harbour Road Porch Fest eased South Freo into the winter of our content and now it was North Fremantle’s shot as RTRFM strolled back into The Shire once again with its annual Winter Music Festival across the hallowed stages of Mojo’s, the Swan Lounge, Swan Basement, Port Beach Brewery and the footpaths betwixt and between.

There’d been a wee dust-up out the front of Port Beach Brewery, but rest assured it was a gaggle of day-drinkers raining fists like cats and dogs and not any of the cockle-warming RTR massive, who were already imbibing to Mal De Mer’s laconic takes/tales of suburban lives interestingly powered through an indie-funk propulsion and the words of vocalist/keyboardist Saskia Fleming, whose voice seems somewhere between Missy Higgins and Stella Donnelly but whose intent and tone is all its own.

‘Maybe not today but one day’ Fleming pondered in a poignant moment during the alluring Pray To You. Perhaps that one day is July 8 when Mal De Mer launch their second EP, Sanguine. Catch the video for the first single from it, Mirage, here.

On the outside stage (pictured above) the genre-diverse sounds of Romeo Walker were filling the night air, which was gratifyingly wind and rain free. Benjamin Witt’s music on the other hand, carries many elements both earthly and ethereal and with members of Grievous Bodily Calm serving as his backing band, they sure do make a lot of intricate stuff look effortless. The set referenced earlier solo moments such as the delicate-to-dangerous sounds of 2016’s Future Reset, but mainly focussed on songs from recently released album, The Shape Up. As such Transformer and Ketchup conveyed menacing film noir brushstrokes, whilst Everlasting caresses you all feathery like a love song for the ages.

Inside the Railway Hotel Bar Hector Morlet and band – a pleasing presentation of hairstyles and hats – were rolling out his blend of sophisticated yet fun lo-fi pop, with the most exquisite falsetto ever heard at 9.50pm on a Saturday night. “They’re more a 12 o’clock/1am band,” someone uttered between songs. You take it when you can get it, would be my thinking. Hector Morlet’s presenting a Variety Night at Mojo’s on Tuesdays in July/August. Go get some!

Ra Ra Viper give off an impression that they’re mainly just a bunch of mates having a laugh, but it’s more likely a shared confidence that comes from their experience with previous bands (Pissedcolas et al) and the clear fact that they simply love playing and performing. Clearly it’s infectious, as their recently sold-out show at Freo.Social attests.

A version of Alt-J’s Breezeblocks (‘Please don’t go, I love you so’) was sweet fun, even if vocalist Oliver Bolt decided to stop the song to announce to everyone that he couldn’t sing the high part. The highlights came from their own material in any case, current single, Big Surrender, is modern indie rock at its most charming. Ra Ra Viper are taking their good times on an East Coast tour at the end of the month. What could possibly go wrong?

Over at the Swan Lounge it was feeling like a cool night out somewhere in Melbourne. WAM Song Of The Year nominee Anna Schneider’s solo set was just sublimey. Her lilting confessional songs have an alluring, caressive nature to them and are well worth diving into. Down in the Swan Basement it couldn’t have been more different, with Electric State romancing the rock with a balls-out set that was met with literal screams of delight and a good deal of folk singing along word-for-word as frontman Rob Viney prowled the front of the stage locking eyes with almost every individual in attendance. Let’s hear it for hard rock showbusiness.

Over at Mojo’s Otiuh were bringing this thing to a salubrious close.  Touting themselves as ‘men of leisure and your favourite rappers you haven’t heard of yet’, Cesare Papa (wearing the biggest safety glasses you’ve ever seen) and Jahmeil Baker have been RTRFM favourites for a while now, and they were the perfect choice to end proceedings. The dancefloor was full, the venue was vibing and with guest appearances by the likes of Downsyde’s Optamus and Super Ego’s Nelson Mondlane, this block party was on for young and old… well, not that old.

This was but a portion of the line-up, what we happened to catch on our little rock’n’stroll. It was the warmest cold winter night you’d like to imagine.