Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Rush begins

I want to look back on how Indigo Rush started, so in this post I will take a stab at detailing how it all began.

Brett Stevens and myself had played in a ramshackle band called Shiyan, in which we had gigged around the Bathurst area, recorded a four-song demo and done surprisingly well in the short time we were together (that's another story). But after some rather odd behaviours from certain members Shiyan broke up, and for a year or so Brett and I continued to hang out socially.

Brett had heard of a guitarist called David Powter (long before that other guy with the same name), so we went to check him out at a gig. I remember we went to his share house in Keppel Street in Bathurst, where he seemed like the most outgoing, affable and fun-loving person I'd ever met. I was pretty uptight at this time in my life, and Dap seemed like the friendliest guy I'd ever seen! So right away the three of us struck up a friendship and soon we were vibing musically as well.

I don't know how two scruffy ex-Shyian members convinced a pro like Dap that we were worth his time and trouble but after a few discussions - where Brett did most of the talking - he was convinced that we could do something together. There was enough musical common ground to go forward, and I think it was mine and Brett's sheer gall and unbridled enthusiasm that sealed the deal.

Dap had played in several bands prior to us and was already something of a seasoned, even cynical, professional. So maybe we were the breath of fresh air he was looking for - and so was he for us. Also, his current band had a female vocalist and while this certainly drew crowds, having me as a male vocal would allow Dap to play more of what he personally liked.

Dap's first genius idea was to recruit Cameron Ashpole - his drummer in Out for the Weekend - for the new band. His second master stroke was to look up a legend, a man and a bass player who in his time had PA'd for The Hoodoo Gurus, had played in many local bands and was an engineering guru and computer whiz. Oh, and he had his own PA - which the rest of us didn't and needed desperately. And while it was not our original intention to be a five-piece, the fact that this guy had all the gear was too much of a necessity to pass up. (Certainly at this time both Brett and myself could not afford the gear!)

We (somehow) managed to convince this mysterious figure from the mists of Bathurst's golden time of rock - Garry Anderson - to come to a meeting at Dap's new digs in Lambert Street. He sat down at the kitchen table, seeming like he was wondering what the heck he was doing there, judging by the smirk on his face. But to our credit we soon won this veteran over. We outlined the kinds of music we were interesting in doing - the best of some of the older stuff (Zeppelin, Van Halen, Queen) and the new stuff (Green Day, Third Eye Blind) and everything in between. Once again it was our enthusiasm and the prospect of being the kind of versatile, kick-ass band not seen in Bathurst since the good ole days that made him come around.

It was agreed that Garry would receive an extra share of the proceeds from gigs for his contribution of PA gear. Garry and Dap would also contribute their knowledge of contacts at local venues, and Brett knew a couple of people as well. Phew - lucky for me as a rank novice that I had all this terrific experience to support me in the new group. It was an exciting time - for the first time I was going to play with guys who actually knew the local area and the local industry, who had played extensively in the past and actually knew their shit - and could get us proper gigs (unlike in my previous band)!!.

I still recall our first gig, at what was then called The Tavern in George Street (now The Waratah Bar & Grill - how fucking tame is that!). Garry had gotten access to begin setting up in the afternoon (it was a Friday), and after finishing my casual shift at Mitre 10, I went to give him a hand. I can't tell you how fucking cool it was for me, as an inexperienced, know-nothing kid, to head in to a venue and see this nice guy Garry smiling over at me as he was setting up the mixing board and the PA in the dim day time lighting of one of the most popular venues in town. The fact that it was for something I was a part of was a feeling I will always cherish.

The gig was a massive hit. People had no idea who we were, but they knew the songs we were playing. And it went off. There had not been a versatile covers band like us in town for a long, long time - the music scene in the country had declined massively since Garry's heyday in the 80's - and the crowd lapped us up. Plus, all my years of bedroom mike and singing practice came to fruition in that moment.

Afterwards I was absolutely drained but the feeling was incredible.

So that's how it began. Four fantastic years of fun, hanging out, meeting girls (but not a lot of "action" I can assure you!), singing my heart (and throat) out and playing around the countryside. Together with my time at uni it was the very best time of my life up to that point.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Band member profile - David Powter

Also in this blog I'm going to write a series of profiles of the four other band members, based on what I can remember about each of them. Bear in mind that this was fifteen years ago now! Also, I may not know everything about them as when we were in the band we were pretty focussed on the band; I don't remember too many conversations that I was involved in where we talked about what we did outside the band...

So to the subject of this post.

David Anthony Powter - or as we all called him, DAP - hailed from the small NSW country town of Condobolin. (Current population: approx. 2,800). There he attended high school, and qualified as a teacher. When I first met him, Dap was teaching in primary schools around the area (including my own Raglan Public School) and playing in bands at the same time.

Dap's influences were Stevie Ray Vaughan, Cold Chisel, Van Halen, and many others that I cannot recall. He could play just about anything you gave him, and was a consummate professional in the studio.

Dap was always one of the friendliest, nicest, and one of the most considerate blokes I'd ever met. (This was in stark contrast to my own behaviour at the time - more on that in a moment). I didn't drive, and Dap always had no problems in picking me up from my home at Raglan, 10 k's out of town, and taking me to band practice. In fact if I remember rightly, the guys had a system whereby they would take turns picking up their singer - what a bunch of guys eh!

Dap was a Scorpio if I recall, but unlike a lot of Scorpios Dap had a really pleasant disposition - most of the time. Certainly if crossed or mistreated then the dark side would emerge, although this happened only a couple of times during the time I knew him. And only once was it directed toward me (again - more on that in a moment).

As a school teacher Dap was possessed with a great sense of humour, always enlivening rehearsals with his sense of fun, and a great deal of patience (again - usually toward myself!). Indigo Rush would have been nowhere near as much fun as it was if it wasn't for Dap.

Also, Dap was a seasoned musician who had been performing for a number of years before Brett and I met him (more on this in a later post about the origins of I.R.) I think his band at the time was Out for The Weekend, in which Cameron Ashpole was also the drummer (we poached them both for our new band, tee hee!). Brett and I had ended our previous band and we were not really looking for new members, but when we met Dap and realised what a great guitar player he was, and well we knew it was the right time to start again.

Some of my greatest memories involve going over to Dap's share house, which at first consisted of the bass player with Out for the Weekend and two girls. This for me was my big discovery of girls and how they operated, since I'd had a rather sheltered life and gone to a Catholic private school and had basically no life experience. So knowing Dap enabled me to experience a whole new world, of laughter, friendship, togetherness, getting to know girls, making silly mistakes, and of course, music and performing.

I won't go into detail about the not-so-good-times, but let's just say that I was, I can easily admit, highly immature at the time. I was new to all this fun stuff, and I just wanted to suck the marrow of everything I could. I was therefore incredibly selfish, whereas Dap, Garry and Cameron who were a little older, wiser and more experienced than me, all knew more about giving and taking, sharing and being generous. I knew fuck all about those things, so usually I was a taker. I think I knew this deep down so I tried to give my role as the singer 150%, especially on stage. But in the end I made things hard for the guys, and when I later returned to Bathurst and bumped into Dap he didn't want to know me. Which hurt at the time, but looking back and seeing all the things I did, I can understand.

The last I heard of Dap was that he was no longer in Bathurst and was playing with a band called Razor Glass. I've tried googling Dap but nothing ever comes up. It's probably for the best. I wish Dap nothing but good fortune and a lot of happiness, he was a great mate and a great band member.

As mentioned in a previous post, Dap contributed the song Rushman and the original riff to Foreign Land to the band's catalogue. Dap could always make any song sound good. Good on you, mate, maybe we'll meet up again when the karma is cleared.

Edit, 18 Oct 2012: I have now found Dap, Brett and Razor Glass on Facebook. Also Garry Anderson's oldest boy, Chris, plays bass in Razor Glass.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Deep Inside (a.k.a There's A Way)

This was my favourite song of ours, mainly because it's very personal to me as I wrote the words and the main chords, and because I feel it's the best in our catalogue.

Due to the rise of raunch culture I no longer call it (the quite innocently titled) "Deep Inside", although the guys will still know the song under that name. To me it's better expressed under the title "There's A Way". I think we all need to feel there's a way through our problems, especially at this time in history when so many calamities appear to be occurring and there is so much fear and trepidation about the so-called "end of the world".

My belief is that we are heading toward a new age, that these troubles are just the birth pangs of a new world wanting to come into existence. "Lo, Heaven is laid out all around ye, but yet do no see it", said Jesus Christ. For too long mankind has been focussed on its greed, its avarice, its desire to conquer and possess all that we see. This sickness has its worst expression in how we have treated the Native people of the world. We in the West think we are so enlightened when in fact we are, based on the evidence, quite insane.

I remember a Native American man who said that when he first saw a white, he was immediately struck by the manic look in the white man's eyes; to him it seemed that all white men were possessed by some inexplicable fear which drives them crazy. To the Red Man, life was simply lived, in rhythm with nature and in tune with the Earth; what need do you have for fear when you are living in harmony with All and you desire nothing? Desire breeds fear...and fear drives us mad.

The drive for ownership has gotten out of control in our European culture. We need to return to simple rhythms, not necessary a completely minimalistic life but a life where all things are in their proper persepective. As far as I am concerned, the present tribulations are a gentle reminder to get back in harmony, to reset our values to be in alignment with the gentle rhythms of the earth. To this end we will need new technology, one that instead of being based on the idea of destruction (splitting the atom, the agitation of electricity, the burning of coal), it will be based on the idea of nurturance and creation (the energising power of the Sun, the natural power of the wind, and perhaps also superconductivity).

There's A Way tries to give a beacon of hope; a reminder that although we are all just "flowing with the tide" and "hating what we see", there is something working on all our behalf to push things forward to a better tomorrow. And yes though there is fear and pain, there is also hope, and it is we who need to learn to "see heaven in our midst" so as to make that a reality.

It's all about Mind - how you choose to see things is what becomes your reality.

God bless to all.

Lyrics (c) Anthony Tobin, 1995 and 2011.

Flowing with the tide
Burning deep inside
Hating what you see
Wanting to be free

There’s a way for you to make it through

People never know
The inside of your soul
They can never see
What you need to be

But there’s a way for you to make it through

And the pain that you feel
You can’t tell if it’s real, yeah
As your life slips away
Hold on to every day
As the world keeps turning
You feel the fire burning
All the sadness you see
Inside of you and me…

As the end draws near
The old things disappear
Have we come so far…?
We don’t know who we are

There’s a way for us to make it through

And through the pages of all time
Comes the rhyme and the song of all mankind
And with the memories of the past
Here at last we can all look back and see
How the war was fought and won
For everyone, the children of the sun
See the light that never ends
Don’t pretend it isn’t burning deep inside...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Foreign Land

I want to kick things off by writing about an original song by Indigo Rush, called Foreign Land.

(Note: this blog will contain posts about our individual songs as well as memories about stuff we did.)

We used to rehearse at our guitarist, Brett Steven's workplace. It was a carpentry and woodworking place in a large warehouse style building on the main highway, just 2 k's out of Bathurst. The acoustics weren't so great but it was good of Brett's boss to let us rehearse there.

We would open the front roller door during the evening and we could see over to the homes that covered the slopes on the other side of the highway. The lights of the homes were a trippy setting for a jam session!

Foreign Land came together at one of our rehearsals. As best as I can remember, Dap was noodling on guitar during a break in practicing. It was an arpeggio in D minor he was picking out, and I remember feeling it had a strange, haunting, almost Eastern feel to it. I improvised some lyrics about feeling alone, and we jammed on it thinking hey this is going somewhere.

Brett came back in and heard what we were up to, and he was inspired to add his own arrangements and riffs to the tune, changing it up just enough so that it had extra polish. Garry laid down a chugging but effective bass line, with extra bits that punctuated the bridges nicely. Cameron added a suitably dramatic drum score and with a full set of lyrics - and getting over the obstacle of forgetting a whole verse that I'd written!! - the song was complete.

Foreign Land is my second favourite song of our catalogue. Like Deep Inside (which I now call "There's A Way"), the lyrics have personal meaning for me. They were prophetic, because they summed up how I felt about leaving my hometown, moving out of home for the first time and venturing into the unknown. Change has not been comfortable for me in the past, but I've had plenty of practice since!

So the song is about change and how it makes you feel; it's also about conformity, and encountering pressures from others when you're out there adrfit in the world and feeling vulnerable. It's also a call to stand up for yourself and resist the pressure to conform.

An early demo recording of the song has Dap (Dave Powter) shouting out one of the ending refrains, he was so excited to hear the song that he had originated coming together on tape. I love that moment, and I still have the demo cassette. A driving, pumping song with a strange feel and great backing vocals from the guys, this song sits fondly in my memories of my Indigo Rush days.

Lyrics (c) Anthony Tobin, 1997, 2011.

Driving down this road toward my home
I'm left with nowhere left to roam
Say goodbye, say goodbye to all I've known
And find a new way to be, yeah

Way to be, way to be yeah
Way to be yeah

Tailoring my soul to suit your scene
I'm not quite sure what this could mean
I make my mind with all I've seen
You try to give your thing to me, yeah

Thing to me, thing to me, yeah
Thing to me, yeah

Like a stranger in a strange land
I am guided by a foreign hand

Summer comes and so another night
Taking my sight, leaving me blind
The words I cannot seem to find
This is not the way it's mean to be, yeah

Meant to be, oh yeah
Meant to be, yeah
Mean to be, yeah yeah

Like a stranger in a strange land
I am guided by a foreign hand
Guided by a foreign hand
In a foreign land...

What was Indigo Rush

From 1994 to 1998, I was lead singer in an Aussie rock outfit called Indigo Rush.

We were based in Bathurst, in country NSW, Australia. We gigged extensively around the local area, playing in surrounding towns like Orange, Blayney, Cowra, and Canowindra.

We were primarily a covers band, but we did put together a demo of 12 songs, one of which - Rushman - made it onto local radio station 2BS, and thanks to helpful family members it reached no. 9 on their Top 40 request charts.

The members of Indigo Rush were:

David Powter - guitar, vocals, songwriter
Brett Stevens - guitar, vocals, songwriter
Garry Anderson - bass, sound & studio wizard extraordinaire
Cameron Ashpole - drums, percussion, wildman
Anthony Tobin - lead vocals, guitar, songwriter (that's my real name by the way)

We were a powerful five piece, and crowds always responded to our balls-out, hard rock style of playing.

Our set consisted of mainstream rock such as Green Day, Led Zeppelin, Third Eye Blind and Van Halen but also quirkier choices such as songs by Edwyn Collins, Faith No More, and our own original tunes. Worked into our set were originals such as Rushman, Deep Inside and Brave New World.

This blog will reminisce about the times and tunes of Indigo Rush. Please enjoy this memorial to a great time in my life and a great band.