Seminal Brisbane indie-guitar four piece Ups and Downs have recently resurfaced for an all too rare return foray into the live arena, recently supporting 90’s English alternative band The Wonder Stuff on the Brisbane and Sydney legs of their Australian tour. Prior to this run of special shows, Anthony Gebhardt chatted with drummer Darren Atkinson, with a bit of input from his brother Greg, who was also in 90’s indie-rock rumblers Big Heavy Stuff.
How did these shows with The Wonder Stuff in Brisbane and Sydney come about?
Firstly, we are huge fans of ‘The Stuffies’. So when I contacted the promoter to find out who the support band was, turns out he is a huge fan of Ups and Downs. One email led to another and here we are.
What are your thoughts on the seeming proliferation of seminal Aussie bands returning to the live touring arena – there seems to be a real market for it?
I guess I have mixed views. The ‘younger’ me would say “get out of the way you oldies and let the young bands through”. On the other hand, I think there is an increasing appreciation of some of the great bands Australia has produced over the past decades. From our own perspective, it is amazing to have our old fans come along to shows and bring their grown up kids, who get right into what we are doing.
Are there any thoughts of reforming the Ups And Downs in a more permanent guise either as a live entity or recording new music, or is life outside the band too all consuming these days?
We do talk about it. Greg, John and I are currently playing around Sydney in the band Worker Bees and we have a Worker Bees album that Peter played on. It’s only a short step from there to calling ourselves Ups and Downs, so it may well happen.
Do you recall your time based in Brisbane fondly?
The politics of the 80s made for a really determined and inspired art/music scene. Radio station 4ZZZ was really opening people’s ears to alternative music and our sound, and I guess our look, captured people’s imagination. So everything just fell into place for us.
What was your experience like being part of the Pig City Festival and celebration of Brisbane music in 2007?
I think it was a defining moment for Brisbane music. I think the quality and diversity of sounds that day finally banished the idea that Brisbane is some sort of musical backwater and vindicated 4ZZZ’s faith in local music. And it was great fun to be part of!
The magazine that I write for, Blank, is a new street press publication that has recently launched on the Gold Coast. I recall seeing you in Big Heavy Stuff guise (at a criminally under-attended show!) at The Troccadero, Surfers Paradise, many moons ago. Did the Ups And Downs ever play shows on the Gold Coast (such as at The Playroom) back in the (hey)day?
Oh yes, we did The Playroom pretty regularly, also The Jet Club and The Patch at Coolangatta, and Bombay Rock. I also recall a great festival we did at Tweed Heads with Midnight Oil in front of thousands of people. The Coast was always good to us and I hope we can come back some time soon.
Music wise what are you currently listening to/inspired by?
I know Greg still listens to loads of new music, from dark electronic stuff right through to sweet pop. I think that wide variety of influences is the key to why we always stood apart from the whole ‘60s revivalist crew.
Greg here…new music I’m listening to includes Kurt Vile’s latest, Shocking Pinks, Mount Kimbie and These New Puritans.
Greg, any thoughts of resurrecting Big Heavy Stuff one of these days?
No plans at the moment to resurrect Big Heavy Stuff. We’re all moving in very different circles these days. Not to mention I’ve got my other music projects; Worker Bees with Darren and John, we’re working on the follow up to the first album, and Theories Of Everything who are finishing up an album at the moment. And I’m trying to make myself available if any Ups and Downs shows come up. Phew!!