Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Punk in Australia #1: The Sunnyboys

The Guardian is currently promoting punk, as there is a retrospective at MOMA. I have decided to document some punk of my own. Punk in Australia was unique. Harsh, uncompromising and largely ignored by most people who were not part of it. This made it a longer lasting phenomenon than it was in societies where fashion took over after a matter of months. I would like to begin with The Sunnyboys;
Show Me Some Discipline

Sunnyboys was an Australian post-punk, power pop band formed in Sydney in 1980. Fronted by singer-songwriter, guitarist Jeremy Oxley, the band "breathed some freshness and vitality into the divergent Sydney scene". Their first two albums, Sunnyboys and Individuals both charted into the Top 30 of the Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart.

The Oxley brothers, Jeremy and Peter, and Bill Bilson hailed from the northern New South Wales town of Kingscliff where they played in a garage band called Wooden Horse. The band gained early experience when the students of Tweed River High School were obliged to attend a compulsory concert in school hours arranged by the Oxley's father, who was an Art teacher at the school. Anyone who failed to applaud or was in any way unsupportive was awarded detention. Richard Burgman (Kamikaze Kids) came from Wagga Wagga, and they all met in Sydney in 1979, forming The Sunnyboys. The band's name was based on an orange flavoured frozen ice treat of the same name. It came in a triangular pyramid shaped ‘tetra-pack’. These ice confections were very popular as a cheap summer treat all over Australia. According to Richard Burgman the band chose the name because it represented ‘bright, happy, young, fun’. On 15 August 1980, they played their first gig, supporting The Lipstick Killers, and Me 262. In October of that year the band recorded four songs with Lobby Loyde who also acted as their manager. The tracks, "Love To Rule", "The Seeker", "What You Need" and "Alone With You", all appeared on the band's self-titled and independently released 4-track 7" EP on Phantom Records. The initial pressing of 1,000 copies sold out in two weeks.It was later remixed and reissued as a 12". The Sunnyboys signed to Mushroom Records in February 1981, becoming the first Sydney-based band on the label, and by July that year had cracked the mainstream charts with the single "Happy Man". The same month they released their own independent EP which was given away at gigs, entitled Happy Birthday containing the tracks "What You Need", "Why Do I Cry?", "I Want To Be Alone" and "Let You Go". Their eponymous debut LP was recorded at Alberts Studio during May, June and July 1981 with producer/mentor Lobby Loyde. The album had an initial print run of 2,000 on yellow vinyl, reached number 13 on the national album charts in October 1981 and remains an Australian classic. The album produced a second hit single, a new version of "Alone With You", which reached number 15 on the national singles chart, establishing The Sunnyboys as a bona fide headline attraction. In the midst of their heavy touring schedule the band recorded their second album, Individuals (issued May 1982). The album peaked at number 19 and two singles from the record charted briefly: "You Need A Friend" and "This Is Real". Their fifth single, "Show Me Some Discipline" charted in Sydney only. The band meanwhile travelled to the United Kingdom where they played two sold out shows at the famous Marquee Club before recording their 3rd album at Ridgefarm Studios, Surrey. The resultant album, Get Some Fun displayed a greater diversity and more confident musicianship. To coincide with the album's release, the band embarked on their first national Australian tour since May 1983. Neither the LP or the singles from the album ("Love In A Box" and "Comes As No Surprise") charted. Internal dissent plagued the band; Jeremy Oxley was battling mental illness and drinking heavily as a result. The Sunnyboys announced their break-up in June 1984. Their farewell tour produced the album Real Live which was recorded over two nights in Sydney (29 and 30 June).

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