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THE MEANIES Still pissed off after all these years

Legendary Melbourne punk outfit The Meanies hit Badlands in Perth on Saturday, July 15 as part of their Last Tour For Who Knows How Long? It’s set to be a bittersweet encounter for the group and their passionate fans with front-man Link Meanie putting the live future of the band on the back-burner with a move overseas. BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with Link Meanie on how his mind and body managed to survive the mayhem of fronting a punk band for a chaotic three decades. He recounts his worst onstage injuries, their 2015 return album and why a world “crazier than ever” needs punk rock as much as it ever did.

The Meanies have been unlike any other band on the Australian music scene over the past 30 years. Their highly energetic live shows are the stuff of legend, resulting in everything from multiple injuries to band members to support slots with the most iconic acts of the 90s.

It was a little quiet on The Meanies front for a while there, but your 2015 album It’s Not Me, It’s You was a great return. What compelled you to put out your first full-length in over 20 years?

We’d been talking about doing another album for many years but I think it was Poison City re-releasing our albums on vinyl that gave us the impetus to get our arses into gear. The Meanies had become exciting again. To ourselves anyway.

The Meanies originally disbanded at what you might say was the height of their powers. Do you look back and think that was the right decision and the way things were going just wasn’t sustainable?

It was the right decision for my mental health. I wasn’t in a good place and stopped playing music altogether for a year or two  which was the only time I’ve ever done that. In terms of The Meanies it was certainly bad timing and I feel pretty guilty about that. But if we had of kept going I don’t think it would have ended well.

You’re known for your highly energetic performances that sometimes can take a physical toll. What was your worst… or best… ever onstage injury?

(Laughs) There’s been so many it’s hard to choose. Getting king-hit onstage while I was wasted and naked was a good one. Got a broken jaw out of that. Tripping over a lead and landing on my shoulder was painful. My collar bone snapped in half and the bone was sticking up in my shoulder. That was with (Link’s other act) the Bakelite Age but it deserves telling. Apart from that I’ve broken my collar bone another time, my foot, hand a couple of times. I’ve done ac joints, tendons, concussions and lacerations. My body is basically a creaking mess. We’re pretty clumsy in my family.

Do you still have that same passion and energy these days? There’s a real spirit in punk rock of being pissed off at the state of the world or a disdain for the mainstream. I guess there’s no shortage of reasons you would feel the same way today as when you started the group in the late eighties?

Yeah, very true. I still get pissed off but I inject it into the music. The world seems crazier now than I ever remember. I thought having a B-grade actor as president of the USA was weird. I’m almost speechless at the current state of world affairs. We’ve finally gotten to the point where people are so blase about politicians lying that you can just blatantly spew out complete and obvious fabrications and it feels like there is a large portion of the world who are okay with that. It’s just business as usual.

Looking back to those formative days you played with some of the most iconic acts of the nineties like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the Beastie Boys. What can you tell us about one of those artists that maybe their fans today might not know about them or expect?

I never kiss and tell. Although I will say that Eddie Vedder was an extremely generous person.

Being on the Australian punk scene since the eighties you must have seen a lot of changes for better or worse. You’re now signed to Poison City Records which has become a hot spot for an emerging new wave of punk acts. What new acts nowadays best convey your idea of what punk rock should be?

I don’t know what punk rock should be. There’s a lot of things it can be and many of them are valid. I know what it shouldn’t be, and that’s being obnoxious to people because you have a cartoon cut-out image of that as the punk ideal. That’s just pointless. I think most people associate a social or political conscience with punk but if someone just wants to have fun with a stupid band and call themselves punk I don’t care.

You’ve called this the ‘Last Tour for Who Knows How Long?’ What’s going to determine the future of the Meanies and the chances of seeing them again?

It may be a fair way down the track before we play again or never. I’m not entirely sure. I’m moving to Spain with the plan to marry my Spanish sweetheart and live there. If she gets sick of me and kicks me out I’ll be back. But I’m so god-damn charming I can’t see that happening. Who knows what will happen? I might get run down by several dozen bulls on my way to the supermarket. It happens all the time in Spain.



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