Hi, Guy here with my second blog on Trash Of All Nations.
Trash of All Nations
“The 4 Hit Packet”
Recorded July/August 1987 in St Kilda, Melbourne. Packaged in brown paper.
Guy Katz; Guitars, vocals, percussion, pinball machine
Fats Parameter; Guitar, saxophone, harmonica
John Treason; bass
Ingrid X; drums
Side 1: Raining in Penang
Cage in Your Heart
Side2: Bad Scenes (in the Dressing Room)
Dirty Little River
It’s not easy for me to listen to this record, for it takes me back to a time which was not very happy at all. To paraphrase William S Burroughs, it’s like stepping back into a poisoned river from which I was lucky to escape. Never mind, let’s go for a splash…
It was 1987. The cold war was in its final phase. Most of Trash had drifted down to Melbourne in dribs and drabs, escaping from the horrendous atmosphere of oppression that was Queensland in the last days of the Bjelke Peterson regime. It was no place for anarchists. We were basically cultural if not political exiles, and exiles are rarely happy people, being generally beset by anger, powerlessness and despair.
The Qld anarchists hooked up with the Melbourne Anarchist squatting movement, and Trash of All Nations had fetched up in a rather nice squat in St Kilda. A fireplace in every room and you could crawl thru a hole in the back fence to get to the beach. Nevertheless, away from our native land a kind of moral malaise seized us. Half the band were on smak and the other half were drunk. Aside from the squats no venue was interested in putting on a Brisbane anarchist band. There was much madness, overdoses and an attack by a skinhead with a meat cleaver. I think the song “Bad Scenes in the Dressing Room” on side two sums up the general vibe nicely.
So in an effort to get things going again I decided we had better put out a record. Give us all a project to raise morale.
So I sold my beloved record collection and my childhood coin collection to raise the money to hire a recording studio and get 500 records pressed. Perhaps I should have kept the coins and records, who can say? Still the die was cast.
We used the old gambit of cutting recording costs by hooking up with a “sound engineering student” at one of those dodgy “Audio-engineering colleges” with him passing us off as a recording project for his assessment. His name was Tony as I recall. Anyhoo, the usual studio battle then took place between the engineer who thought he was a producer and the band that had its own ideas.
One of the major problems with this record was the lack of a drummer. Oh we had a drummer all right, it was just she couldn’t drum. Ingrid turned up at the squat one night when we were sans drummer, and told us she used to drum in a girl punk band in Paris called Nitro-Glycerine. Cool, we thought, and signed her up on the spot.
Later, on further inquiry, it transpired that Nitro-Glycerine had only ever had one rehearsal and one gig before disintegrating. But by the time we worked out what her drumming skills were really like, it was too late. No-one had the heart to sack her and besides the bass-player wanted to bonk her. So we solved the problem when recording by mixing the drums right down so you couldn’t really hear them, except for the occasional splashes of cymbals we left for a bit of colour. So it goes.
Thus the percussion duties on the first track, “Raining in Penang” largely fell to me, banging away with a stick on an empty beer bottle. At least I could keep time and helped create a sparse, minimalist feel.. On the plus side also Tony’s evocative saxaphone curlicues did much to create the mood in this song.
Sadly Linda Loop was no longer with us by this stage, and her trumpet was sadly missed, but Tony Kneipp (aka Fats Parameter) filled in ably wherever called for. Tony was the multi-instramentalist on this recording, playing sax, lead guitar and harmonica. His harp-playing on our Jailhouse blues number, Cage in Your Heart, written in the shadow of the Boggo Road jail riots, really blew up a storm while I wailed and raved. Yes, despite the lurching, shambolic drums I feel the band really kicked out the jams on that track. Nice and raw.
“Dirty Little River” my eco-protest song about the polluted toxicity of the Brisbane River (still relevant, sadly, in 2011) has a completely different sound than the other three tracks. It sounds like it was recorded live in a particularly sleazy night-club.
What happened was we decided to horrify the college-trained engineering student sitting at the desk by doing the opposite of everything he’d been taught was right. Thus instead of going directly thru the desk for a nice hygienic signal we plugged the microphones into a guitar amp and did the vocals and sax thru that at the same time to get a nice gritty sound. Then we recorded me playing a pin-ball machine and dubbed that over the top. And we put the bass thru a dirty old fuzz box. How we laughed. Personally I think it worked. I like my yelping vocals on this track and the reference to that old convict era ballad, “Moreton Bay”
I organised a tour to promote the record and that was when the band really disintegrated.
(Some day I’ll tell you the story of that tour. Perhaps when the statutes of limitations on various crimes have expired.) While our previous records had done well in the alternative charts this one was like poison. No shows to promote it. No-one reviewed it. No shop wanted to stock it. Perhaps designing a cover to resemble a folded up packet of heroin, and calling it the Four Hit Packet was a marketing mistake. We thought it funny (laughs to self).
This was pretty much the end of Trash, although we did reform back in Brisbane briefly in the early nineties. Then we decided to stop flogging that horse and Tony & I went on to form Childhood Problems. After that I’d had enough of music and bands and I went back to poetry, writing and art and occasionally making sounds to go with my poems which is where I started and is where I’m at today.
Guy Katz, ex guitarist. (Thank god that’s over!)