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.”



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.”



Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Upon the 40th anniversary of David Bowie’s ground-breaking fifth album, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, co-producer Ken Scott has no problem describing where Bowie was in the popular scheme of things when they went in to record it in late 1971.

“Nowhere,” he says, bluntly. “He’d had success with what at the time was considered a novelty record, which was Space Oddity (1969). He was almost more known for (widely panned 1967 single) The Laughing Gnome than he was for anything else. He was really nowhere, but he knew what he wanted to do.”

Scott had engineered Bowie’s 1969 self-titled and 1970 The Man Who Sold The World albums with producer Tony Visconti, before taking the production duties for Bowie’s 1971 LP, Hunky Dory. While well regarded, the iconic singer had yet to really break through, though Scott has it that Bowie wasn’t too worried about being a nowhere man.

“No, he was very calm about it,” Scott recalls. “He was fine. I think he needed to see if he was going to sink or swim on his own terms, because he’d tried it not on his own terms and it hadn’t worked.

“I had come to realise, at least in my own mind, that one of the reasons he went to work me with rather than Tony Visconti, was that Tony, being a bass player and a member of the band, was so in control of what it was turning out like, musically. I don’t think those first two albums were really David’s albums. They were more Tony’s, and I think David wanted his own voice. He wanted to form his own direction.”

The album famously dances around the tale of Ziggy Stardust, a prophetic rock star in a world that has only five years left to exist. Conjecture has raged for years about the multiple characters Ziggy was allegedly based upon, fuelled by Bowie’s enigmatic musings on the topic. One thing is certain, it seems; Bowie didn’t sit around conceptualising it in the studio.

“It was much looser than that,” Scott says. “It was never discussed upfront; the only comment that was made between Hunky Dory and Ziggy was David saying, ‘I don’t think you’re gonna like the next album because it’s more rock’n’roll’. He was proved completely incorrect because I did love it.

“One of the interesting things, that must have had an effect on all of us in the studio and our relationship, was that Ziggy was done so soon after Hunky Dory. Normally there’s a six-month span where you all go off and do different things and you come back and almost start your relationship afresh. Whereas because Ziggy was done a month after we completed Hunky Dory we didn’t have time to get involved in other things.

“So we came back in as the exactly same team and we were almost thinking along the same lines. We didn’t have to say anything to each other; we knew what we had to do because we’d already started that thing with Hunky Dory.”

Recorded at Trident Studios, London, The Rise And Fall… contains its fair share of Bowie classics, including Starman, Ziggy Stardust, Suffragette City and Rock’n’Roll Suicide. Arrangements were handled by Bowie and his longstanding ‘70s guitarist and foil, Mick Ronson.

“I don’t think David would have achieved the success he did without Ronno,” he says. “Ronno was exceedingly important. But for those early records, so were Woody (Mick Woodmansey, drums) and Trevor (Bolder, bass). It was that typical thing of the whole being more than the individual pieces.”

Ken Scott, David Bowie and Mick Ronson in the studio

Scott went on to co-produce Bowie’s 1973 albums, Aladdin Sane and Pin Ups, in a portfolio that includes work with The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Sir Elton John, Harry Nilsson, Lou Reed, Supertramp, Duran Duran and Devo. He keeps in touch via occasional email with Bowie, who once referred to Scott as his ‘own George Martin’.

“As a vocal performer I’ve never worked with anyone, since or before, who was as good,” Scott says. “95 per cent of David’s vocals would be recorded in the first take. It was amazing. He’s an exceedingly talented singer/songwriter/musician and a really nice guy.”

Since his last world tour for the Reality album in 2003-04, the 65 year-old Bowie (married to former Somalian model Iman, with whom he has an 11 year-old daughter, Alexandria) has rarely been seen in public and not released any new material, leading to constant speculation about the state of his health. Scott offers another take.

“I don’t know about all that,” he says. “But remember, when David Bowie would change character he would change it 100 per cent. I think he’s changed into the character of a doting father. And he’s done it 100 per cent.”

The remastered 40th Anniversary Editions (CD/vinyl/DVD) of The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars are out now. Ken Scott’s book, Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust, is available through Alfred Publishing.



West Australian polymath Ben Frichot has, for several decades now, motioned his way around all points of pop cultural expression.

Combining elements of old and new, obscure and commercial, rock and/or roll, Frichot has excelled in artistic fields ranging from music (bands such as Storytime, The Hot Rod Sinners and Day Of The Dead), concert tour poster art (from Motorhead and Shihad to The Hives and Nick Cave), fashion design (Knucklehead Shipping Co.), web design (Knucklehead TV), commercial graphics (The Design Factory), a high-end sunglasses brand (Dillinger Optics) and a new avenue under the nom de plume, Lucky Amour.

The highly-respected Lyons Gallery represents Lucky Amour (AKA Frichot) amidst a stable of artists such as Banksy, Chet Ferry, E$cobar, Pino Ambrosino, Masayoshii Sukita and the estates of Roy Lichtenstein, Helmut Newton, Andy Warhol and others.

The ‘Lucky Amour’ moniker harks back to the ‘90s when Frichot was staging his first exhibitions. “I came up with that and was using it a long time ago,” he recalls. “I don’t remember why I was doing it at the time, but the gallery people really liked it and that’s what they’ve run with.”

Quite simply, the name fits. “It’s a whole fantasy world created by that art and it is all very much in a theme. 

“It’s funny when it gets to signing stuff and you have to sign another signature. I hadn’t invented a signature since I was nine years old,” he laughs.

‘Power To The People’ – Lucky Amour

At nine-years-old the young Frichot would come home from school and do his homework. There was no television allowed in the household by his father, so he would retire to the sanctuary of his bedroom where he began to create the kinds of fantasy worlds that he shares with the real world to this day.

“I was always drawing as a kid,” Frichot recalls. “From when I was little, I was always the cartoon kid… through primary school and high school I was always into that.

“In my room, I had a table with drawing stuff and a guitar. They were the two things I would spend every night doing – trying to learn how to play blues licks and creating comic book characters. I really liked comics, and I still do.”

The Cartoon Kid was making headway on guitar having taken a few lessons. That was okay and all, but it was an archetypal rock’n’roll scenario that got him totally hooked on six-strings.

“When I was 14, I met this girl who was 16 who played guitar and was all about it,” he says. “I thought she was the coolest chick in the world, so all of a sudden I was trying to play guitar and I was all about it.”

The dual/duel love-affair of art and music was set in stone. Frichot teamed up with some friends at school who had been jamming and soon evolved his presence from an outside guest to the creative driving force, as the (frankly average) singer was ushered aside and Frichot began to create original guitar riffs for them to jam on. It was instrumental music and an extension of the ‘theatre of the mind’ stuff that Frichot had already been creating for some years in his bedroom.

“Much like the drawing, I’d be figuring out shapes that I thought sounded good in my bedroom which became riffs,” he says, of the band that came to become known as Storytime. “Then I’d go and jam them with the guys.

“That’s what Storytime was, an endless collection of riffs.”

As the members left school and channelled their energies into the band and playing gigs, Storytime took off. They won the National Campus Band Grand Final in 1991, which set them touring nationally almost from the get-go. They played hundreds of shows and released several EPs and albums.

Storytime was a very physical band in every sense, as Frichot came to recall when they reformed for a few shows in 2016. John Lydon’s prescription for energy held true.

“I think that was partly an expression of a lot of anger,” Frichot concurs. “At the time I was young, and my father had died suddenly in a car accident when I was 17. I was basically homeless after that. Then I was basically a young parent with a barmaid that I met when I was working regionally, and life really spiralled. I felt as if I was in the driver’s seat, but I wasn’t, and I don’t think I was very aware, and I didn’t really have any good guidance around me.

“So I made a lot of mistakes, and I was more and more drawn to that anger stuff, musically. When I was younger, I thought that strength was like a rock. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that strength is like water. But it’s been a long road to get to that and lots of bad things happened along the way.”

‘Robo Coin’ – Lucky Amour

Frichot’s ability to face emotional hardship and learn from it is admirable. He was particularly tested in 1999, when his former partner abducted their children.

“That was really hard,” he says, “but it was in so many ways a turning point because I got so angry and disturbed during that time, I had to begin to understand about letting go of things.”

By this time Frichot had become ensconced in the national touring scene, but his artistic work had not let up. In fact, it was quite the opposite, as he went from doing poster art for local gigs to becoming a go-to artist for national and international artists touring Australia. 

On breaks from touring, he would not only be working on poster designs for upcoming concert tours, but, as an artist without any formal training, create opportunities to be able to refine his approach and learn new techniques from the best artists he could find.

“When I was 18, I didn’t have a home. I had no money, and I was keen to try and figure any which way I could to learn whatever skills that I could so that I could do something with my life that I was interested in, as opposed to just being trapped. That has actually become a bit of a habit… trying to learn on the run.

“I would beg, borrow or steal any opportunity I got to learn from anyone.”

During these early years, Frichot shared a house with an illustrator who worked at Perth’s daily newspaper, The West Australian, where there were 20 full-time artists in the artroom.

“Every night someone had to be in the studio on call in case there was a late-breaking story that they needed an illustration for,” Frichot explains. “So there’d be a rotation with this crowd where every night someone would do the 7-12 shift.

“He had introduced me to these guys so that I could go in there at night while they were sitting around doing nothing and I could use one of the workstations. So I’d be there going, ‘how do you do this? How do you do that?’ I’d be there two or three nights a week, just trying to extract as much information out of all these different artists as I could. They gave me some technical points although I’m sure they kept much of their special sauce for themselves.”

Nonetheless, it opened things up for Frichot, as he was seeing first-hand how artists operated in what was, at that time, the best commercial illustration studio in WA.

“It was much better than what you could get taught in an institution,” he says, “these were the professionals. I did that for about a year, and I was really lucky to have gotten that exposure.”

‘Lucky Sailor’ – Lucky Amour

The learning on the run approach and the eternal thirst for popular culture continued from 1999-2001 when Frichot formed the rockabilly-inspired The Hot Rod Sinners with drummer Eddie Fury (Fireballs) and Andy Burnaway (The Convertibles). He revelled in yet another new and interesting cultural experience.

“I think a lot of my really interesting exposure to a lot of retro culture was from my time with Eddie and Andy,” he says. “They were absolute connoisseurs of everything vintage. They were those guys that had the old cars and the old clothes, and a million records and they knew every artist from this, that and the other. Andy used to collect all these postcards and stickers and this stuff that I thought was so cool. All of it, I just loved and got really interested in all of those things.”

It was through Fury that Frichot met acclaimed US graphic/poster artist Frank Kozik in 1998 at his San Francisco studio. It was to be another revelation.

“I was looking around at a lot of the work that was going on,” Frichot recalls. “I went out to Frank’s studio and it was incredible. His factory set-up was amazing and what he was doing with silk-screening posters was super cool. At the time I was 25 and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world and it fitted in with everything that I had dreamed about doing, because I was already doing a lot of poster stuff and I couldn’t get enough of opportunities of doing posters for bands. That was another bit of nitro in the engine – the inspiration of visiting him and seeing where it could go.”

Suitably inspired, Frichot returned home with the intention of stepping things up, in terms of both artistry and making a living from art. He started Frichot Design Factory…

“It’s just this never-ending series of steps from then on where you just keep trying to push and improve and push and improve.”

As the 2000s motored along, Design Factory was followed by Knucklehead TV, which (in name) begat a fashion label Knucklehead Shipping Co., which Frichot co-founded with several music-and-style-minded cohorts. Frichot’s music clients included the likes of Nick Cave, Foo Fighters, The Hives and more. Meanwhile he formed the surf-guitar-meets-desert-highway outfit Day Of The Dead, a band whose very existence echoes his own overall artistic development.

“Ironically, I feel I’ve gone full circle and I have an appreciation for the simple, pure idea that isn’t encumbered by all these contrived technical layers,” he says. “It’s like that old gag – good taste is knowing how to play the piano accordion but choosing not to.

“I think musically I’ve ended up going more in that way. Day Of The Dead is a good example of that, just good tones and really melodic stuff that was fun to play, as opposed to ‘look how tricky we are’.”

Frichot also maintained a steady line in commercial work for the likes of Brookfield Multiplex, SAS and Australian Army regiments, Barbagallo Motors, Homesmith and a multitude of liquor brands, venues, promoters and… hospitals.

“I’ve always loved art, illustration and graphic design,” Frichot says. “For me the lines between them are very blurred.”

The unleashed creativity of poster art (which feeds into the fantasy worlds of Lucky Amour) is where he truly saddles up.

“When you get a brief to do a poster for someone and you’ve got a lot of creative license over making some sort of a giant robot elephant or a space station in the shape of a skull or whatever it is, that represents to me not only a great opportunity to explore imagination and creativity, but there would always be a technical challenge in how I would achieve the outcome that I was after.

“And again, in not being trained I think there’s something of a clumsiness to my work. Which ends up giving it character in some ways, or perhaps childishness is a better word (laughs).”

Dillinger Optics

Then there’s the sunglasses. Looking for a creative outlet of his own during a long stretch of commercial work and having long been forced to wear glasses due to eye problems, Frichot brought the old-school, classic aesthetics he loved to eyewear. Enter Dillinger Optics – over-engineered, high-end and handmade in Japan by masters of the craft.    

“I thought, ‘what a great product!’. One size fits all; at least that’s what I thought at the time, but it isn’t true. ‘It’s small and you can ship to the world and how hard could it be?’

“Turns out it’s really hard. So that was a long and self-taught journey on how to design a pair of glasses, what they’re made of, what the difference is in terms of where they’re made. That was a long journey. To eventually get to the point of the product that we have now, I’m really proud of it all. They are beautiful, but far out, it was hard to get there.

“And it’s only really just begun, to be honest. If that’s an idea that started five or six years ago, I’d say that’s four years of very expensive trial and error and research and a year of actually getting stuff that we’re really proud of and can sell. But that was a big investment and of time as well. I mean if I was charging someone that would be a very expensive job!”

It’s looking like it’s worth it. Dillinger Optics was recently showcased in The Telegraph (UK) on the front page and inside-spread of its men’s fashion lift-out, Luxury. It made for incredible exposure.

Telegraph (UK) Luxury September 2021 Cover

Similarly, the international interest now shown in the art of Lucky Amour is what Frichot good-naturedly describes as “a 30-year overnight success.” His sign-up to the Lyons Gallery, who operate three main galleries in Australia – Melbourne, Sydney and Port Douglas – and have affiliations with galleries around the world, particularly in the UK – is a significant moment in his career as an artist.

“Lots of different good things have always happened which have kept me going and I’ve got lots to be grateful for,” he notes. “There have been lots of people who’ve been really supportive and lots of good things that have happened, but at the moment there’s a nexus of really exciting international, purely artistic opportunities which is literally a dream come true for me. Simple as that.”

‘Milk Bar’ – Lucky Amour

Frichot looks up and around the walls of his Fremantle home. They’re adorned with Lucky Amour originals, a rogues-and-roses gallery that mashes and mixes and twists timelines with beautiful, fanciful evocations of Elvis Presley, Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, Audrey Hepburn, Lee Marvin and Bridget Bardot among assorted cars, skulls and robots from the 1950’s. It’s post-modern, past-gloried and future-storied; reduxed, refit and remodelled for the new now.

An endless collection of riffs. They’re selling well, too.

“I’m mixed between extreme gratitude, extreme excitement and a little bit of nervousness that I hope that nothing goes wrong,” Frichot admits.

“Or that anything interrupts it. Even then I need to push that thinking aside, because it is what it is and it’ll be what it’ll be and all you can do is the best you can do. The other thing is I actually really love doing it all and what’s really exciting about that is if you can achieve some success around doing something like that which I’m so invested in and passionate about, then every day is exciting.

“There’s every reason to bounce out of bed every morning just to make more.”

The Works Of Lucky Amour, AKA Ben Frichot, Available From The Lyons Gallery



(First published on Facebook – July 3, 2021)

I’ve spent the last fortnight staying in a room upstairs at The Local Hotel on South Terrace, South Fremantle. I’ve been in the throes of moving house, and as a new place fell through just before my exit date, my dear friends at The Local sorted a room for me to stay at in the interim.

I practically live there already. I’ve hosted a weekly talk/performance event on Thursdays off-and-on (mostly on, 28 shows to date) since last October; regularly find a spot to write on my laptop there, and constantly enjoy drinks with folks from the wondrous Freo musical scene. I dearly love the creative community around South Freo, and The Local Hotel is both a heart and hub for this.

In the last week it’s been oh-so-quiet everywhere along South Terrace due to lockdown. While my first week staying at my favourite pub was incredibly social, the second lot-of-seven-days has been a contemplative experience, to say the least.

Week-2 has seen lockdown and the realities that hit a venue such as this. The constant murmur of bubble and squeaks and beats and basslines from DJ sets squirreling from downstairs-to-up; the tales and riffs from local musical heroes, the laughter of fond friends and even the hints of early romance in the front bar have made way for radio silence. It’s all rain and wind outside and faraway footsteps within. THE LOCAL HOTEL HAS BEEN CLOSED.

At times I’ve felt as though I’m the only person in the whole pub. There are other people staying here, but no-one is doing anything or going out. I only hear people and never see them. It’s like they’re ghosts. Which means I am also a ghost. In a Ghost Hotel.

I endeavour to be Casper (The Friendly Ghost, if you recall). It helps a bit as early in Week-2 I develop minor cold symptoms, resulting in a refreshing day trip to Fiona Stanley Hospital.

Turns out she’s not even related to Paul Stanley. Even so, I’m open to being thoroughly doused and dubbed then directed to go home and self-isolate. In a closed pub, during a lockdown. Quiet stuff. My test result comes back within 12 hours and is reassuringly negative. Such a mild experience compared to the scenarios of so many.

But I’m left with this playground. This lovely/lonesome Local Hotel which has been so good to me. So I take a mid-morning to take a walk-around (masked, mind) to capture the quiet, closed moments. It will open its arms and doors to its charming, salt-of-the-earth staff and clientele, but for this moment and all the moments (and the new memories, and the old ghosts), it literally has become my favourite haunt. And I love it now more than ever.

Pandemic or not. Support your Local. Whatever it’s called, wherever it may be.

(Vax, also).