Perth rock’n’roll icon James Baker and Cath Podger are celebrating their marriage with a huge gig featuring The Scientists, Le Hoodoo Gurus, The Dubrovniks, The Painkillers, The Television Addicts, Kim Salmon & Spencer P Jones – plus Spencer P Jones (solo), and Greg Dear (solo). I’m Flipped Out Over You happens on Saturday, June 6, at the Rosemount Hotel. BOB GORDON chats with Baker about rock’n’roll’n’romance.
What’s it mean to you and Cath to have friends and band members from all over the country here for your wedding and to be able to play together as well?
It’s fantastic that they’re all available for a start. Everyone’s looking forward to a fun night.
It’s amazing how it’s come together in terms of availability. Le Hoodoo Gurus can now play because Kimble Rendall happens to be in town for an entirely different reason…
Yeah, it has nothing to do with it, he wasn’t going to come but he has a film conference or something on here. He was going to leave on Thursday but said he’d stay longer if I wanted to pout the band on. I said, ‘alright, let’s do it’.
You probably wouldn’t have dared dream what is actually about to happen…
No (laughs). The first reunion I did was the Beasts Of Bourbon; all you need is Tex (Perkins) over here and we could have them as well! These reunions, well they’ve all happened in the last 18 months really … and I have no reason why.
I’ll get you to say something about each of the bands that you’ll be drumming with on Saturday night.
Television Addict (aka The Victims).
The Victims were a great band. We didn’t give a shit. We said, ‘fuck you, we’re the best band in town. The rest of you are shit, we’re number one’. We just played rock’n’roll right to the edge. We loved it; it was loud, obnoxious, out of tune and out of time but the attitude was 100 per cent rock’n’roll. That was the great thing about The Victims; we didn’t care less. We were there. Like it or lump it. Absolutely no compromise!
The Scientists (first line-up).
Again, in a way, the same attitude but a different style of music. We wanted it more to be like The Flaming Groovies versus The New York Dolls and The Heartbreakers. That’s the real Heartbreakers, Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers. That was different to The Victims, but not that different in attitude. It was still saying, ‘get fucked we’re gonna play as loud as we want. If you don’t like it then leave the room’.
Le Hoodoo Gurus, wherein you all upped-shop and moved to Sydney. What were the feelings at from the beginning of that?
Good feelings. I really appreciate some of the early songs we wrote even now after 30 years or something. Le Hoodoo Gurus were more influenced by stuff like The Cramps and the psychobilly stuff than punk. It was different to the other two bands. I have fond memories of playing with them live; lots of tom-tom drumming, which I love to do and was in a lot of the songs.
When we were playing in Sydney it seemed like very band wanted to sound like Radio Birdman. How fucking boring is that? There’s only one Radio Birdman. All these guys just wanted to copy them and we stood out because we didn’t copy that style.
The Dubrovniks, whom you’re soon to tour Europe with…
Yeah, we’ve got shows booked in Athens, Vienna and a big festival in Spain, so that’s all exciting. I never expected that to happen. Actually I never expected any of these reunions to happen actually, but they did!
But The Dubrovniks were a great band. We had a different slant on rock’n’roll. I mean, they’re all rock’n’roll bands, but it was a different slant to the other ones, a bit more simplistic, a bit more influenced by bands like Suicide. It had three songwriters, so there was a varied selection as well. And there were different members which made it sound different at times. There were about three different line-ups of The Dubrovniks and they were all sort of different and the albums vary. But it was all still pretty much good fun rock’n’roll.
And more recently, though it’s just ended, The Painkillers…
The Painkillers? The Painkillers are still going strong! We’re the best we’ve ever sounded.
I thought you played a last gig earlier in the year?
Yeah, I think there’s been a change of heart here. I haven’t confirmed that (laughs). As far as I’m concerned The Painkillers are just as good as any of those other bands, you know? People just don’t know us as well over here.
So the future of The Painkillers is more in the air than some of us had thought?
Yes! Yeah, I think so.
You’ve had good creative partnerships over the years. Perhaps some journeymen drummers don’t often hook into those, I guess it’s because you’re a songwriter as well. I mean you’ve really forged partnerships over the years with Dave Faulkner, Kim Salmon and more recently in The Painkillers with Joe Bludge (Josh Reynolds).
Well a lot of drummers feel that in life all they want to do is play drums. All I want to do in life is play rock’n’roll. And I studied rock’n’roll; I knew its history. I’m more interested in being in a great rock’n’roll band than being considered a good drummer. It way more important to be in a great rock’n’roll band than being considered a great guitar or bass player, that’s irrelevant. You write a good song and you have a great band and you play reasonably well that’s what I’ve always aspired to. I never aspired to be a great drummer; my heart was in rock’n’roll. That was more important than the instrument.
There’s a special single recorded especially for this; Ain’t Gonna Let You Go, which is sung by Cath…
Yeah I wrote the lyrics and my friend, Ash, wrote the music and it’s a love song to Cath, even though it sounds like some trashy Nuggets thing. It’s not a romantic ballad, like Burt Bacharach would write or something. It’s a really good single and everyone, well the first 350 people, get a lime green vinyl seven-inch, which they’ll never be able to get again because it’s not going to be released.
This week’s been wedding and band rehearsals?
Yep, I’ve never rehearsed so much in my life! I forget which band I’m playing with sometimes.
Rock’n’roll, romance and friends. What do you think I’m Flipped Out Over You will be like?
It will be a fun rock’n’roll night. That’s the only way I can describe it!