Proto-Punk and dead set legends The Meanies are currently zipping around the country on what is likely to be their last tour for quite some time. Link Meanie is moving to Spain and getting married, so it is likely that those occasional Meanies gigs will be more occasional than ever before. Link is on the line from Melbourne to chat before they hit Enigma Bar next week.
The Meanies are still kicking your ass just shy of thirty years since the first time they kicked your ass in 1988. They always played their brand of melodic punk rock at a break neck speed in short scatter gun bursts of energy. I mean they played FAST. Fast enough that International touring punk bands would be slack jawed watching them in the support slot, on many a major tour, wondering how are we supposed to follow that? 10% Weird only runs for 92 seconds.
Seriously take a minute and a half to jolt your memory. And marvel at the genius editing of the Nah Nah Nah bit of the song, quite possibly my favourite bit of any 90’s video ever.
Apart from playing great songs at super speed, they also had the self propelling, long dreaded, self demolition unit out front in the shape of Link Meanie. Flinging himself all over the stage (and beyond) he was a constant danger to himself and others, bless him. The tour had just started a few days earlier.
We did a couple last weekend. Which were….painful (laughter). I’m out of shape man, but they have been a catalyst for me giving up smoking, let’s put it that way!
You have had a reputation over the years of act now, bandage later.
That hasn’t changed. I guess as we all get older things hurt more, and we bounce back more slowly and less high. YOU get older – I am in denial! It does get a bit harder. The stamina is the thing. I was never the healthiest person even back in the day, and because we haven’t been playing that much it doesn’t take long to turn into a puddle of soft goo.
What is the single worst injury you have given yourself on stage?
Oh Jesus. Dunno. There has been so many broken bones and stuff, it’s hard to say. Probably a broken foot, in terms of mobility sake is a pain in the arse, but having a broken jaw was annoying but not being able to get around was the worst.
The impression I got from a lot of that was you weren’t getting the reaction you wanted from the audience.
That was more in the early days and a lot of it was frustration and anger if I am being honest (laughs). These days I am sensitive to natural feedback to some degree. But it doesn’t phase me that much. I get in my own zone and enjoy it and do it.
I remember seeing The Birthday Party and I’m sure some of the things Nick Cave was doing back then to illicit reactions from the audience would still shock most people.
I think when you are young and mentally unhealthy there is a real desperation that you need to prove something and that somehow you have failed if you don’t get that response. Hopefully as you get older, not everybody, but if you have worked on yourself as a human being, then you feel a little bit more comfortable in your own skin and it more fun. It still has intensity because that has been hammered into your brain over the years, you don’t suddenly lose that vibe for the show.
The last time I saw you guys was at The Day on The Green show last year. You guys were on first and people were still arriving and sitting around eating slices of salmon and the cheese platters sipping on a chardonnay, so not the premium audience or environment for The Meanies to play, but you guys still gave it some pretty serious welly.
You know part of it was that it was such a great environment for those shows. They really looked after us and you were with all your peers from years gone by. It was a really good party vibe to be honest. Although there was that square area in the front of the stage (the VIP section) was relatively empty, outside that they were filtering in, but it felt great and the response was great.
One of my favourite things from that gig was that every single other band on the bill doffed their cap to The Meanies that day. Either telling what an inspiration you had been, or that The Meanies had given them their first gigs or a support spot on an early tour.
No shit?! Really? I didn’t hear any of that, probably having too much of a good time out the back. I didn’t notice that. Wow that is really cool.
You guys and The Hard On’s is another band that I don’t think ever got their proper recognition in this country.
The Hard On’s really deserve a lot. They have inspired a lot of bands and were such a pivotal part of the Australian punk scene. They are starting to, and I think overseas they do, but here they never really got the level of respect that they should have. In the right circles they obviously do, but in the bigger picture, not so much. They really were important. They were a huge influence on me when I started writing songs for The Meanies early on.
Ray Ahn’s book of his artwork has just been released and you did all the artwork for The Meanies releases, when will we see your book?
Oh look I’m not an artist. Ray is an artist. I just drew some stuff. I don’t even like drawing to be honest. I guess I used to but these days I’d rather do collages in Photoshop or something.
I’m pretty sure I know what we are going to get at Enigma, high octane, four to the floor big energy gig with the songs people expect and love to hear. But if people don’t know what The Meanies do, how would you explain it to them?
I think you just did. It’s just a lot of fun. There’s a lot of energy. Meanies shows are a really good environment to go and blow the cobwebs out. It’s very cathartic… I can’t believe I just said cathartic, I hate people who say that.
Congratulations on your coming nuptials too.
Thanks man, it’s really exciting. I’ve spent a lot of time over there and hopefully by the time I get over there my partner will have found us a new place to live in the town she lives in, which is just outside Barcelona, and we’ll get married within a month or so. And that will be the start of my domestic life. It’s a little bit stressful in terms of getting outside your comfort zone and thinking about getting a job and that sort of thing. But when you meet the right person it’s all worth it. Doesn’t stop me being a stress head though.(Laughs).
Would you look at doing a band over there?
Eventually. I have only ever stopped making music for one brief period when the Meanies first broke up. And when that happened my partner at the time ordered me to go and be in a band again.
You released a kickass record eighteen months ago (Secrets of The Ancients Revealed) and the band is still firing on all cylinders, so these shows aren’t the end of the Meanies are they?
It just means the commute is a little longer? Punching Air
We are not calling it the end. You just don’t know what will happen in the future do you? I am sure at some point I’ll be coming home for a visit and Wally will be on my case to do a gig. Hahahha.
Interview by Ian Bell
The Meanies play The Enigma Bar on Friday July 14th along with Rat Catcher and the Toss.
Tickets from Moshtix http://www.moshtix.com.au/v2/event/last-meanies-gig-until-who-knows-when/96089