Here’s what your favourite Aussie indie bands did after they broke up
DAVE RUBY HOWE sets out to prove that the music doesn’t always stop when the band breaks up.
For any music fan charting their musical formative period in the mid–to–late ’00s, there are more than a handful of well–loved Australian bands who may not have went on to make the biggest impact on the world stage, but remain dear to your buttoned–up chambray heart. After making an impression on the CD-Rs hiding at the bottom of your glovebox, many of your favourite bands faced the inevitable and put out their official break–up announcement on Facebook in a time before fans could react with the sad face emoji. But what happened next for the band members? We squeeze on a pair of impossibly skinny jeans and take a stroll down memory lane and find out.
Along with contemporaries and label-mates The Presets and Cut Copy, Van She completed Modular’s holy trinity of indie-electronic crossover bands of the 2000s, with synth-driven delights like ‘Kelly’ and ‘Jamaica’ the band’s calling card. Though Van She’s been silent since 2012’s Idea Of Happiness LP members of the Sydney four piece have continued to have an impact with their respective solo projects.
Moroder-moustachioed synth player Michael Di Francesco adopted the Touch Sensitive moniker, Nick Routledge has been producing club smashes as Nicky Night Time while Matt Van Schie dropped a solo EP and splits time between Du Tonc (with UK’s Mighty Mouse) and Tear Council (a collaboration with old mate Di Francesco).
Hungry Kids Of Hungary
Because I don’t have XXXX pumping through my veins I’ve never laid eyes on it, but I’m almost 1000 percent certain that if you’re a musician from Brisbane you’re required to sign a binding agreement that locks you into performing in multiple projects – main, side or otherwise. Think about it – past members of Yves Klein Blue have since reappeared in Babaganouj and MT, while DZ Deathrays and Jeremy Neale share a past as members of sprawling super-cooper-group Velociraptor.
After two albums of sunny and classy indie guitar pop songs QLD foursome Hungry Kids Of Hungary called it quits, but in its wake we got three new groups to love; Kane Marlin and Ryan Strathie are making power pop as a part of Sans Parents, HKOH bassist Ben Dalton fronts Born Joy Dead and Dean McGrath started Rolls Bayce (with Millions’ old drummer James Wright, no less).
The ups and downs of perennially energetic Melbourne rockers Children Collide have been well documented over the years with the band’s 2012 LP, Monument, the last we’ve heard of the band on record. Following the release of Monument and frontman Johnny Mackay’s decampment to New York, the band’s personnel have kept busy in new projects, notably Mackay’s psych-electronic-kitchen sink offerings as Fascinator while ex-drummers for Children Collide including Steph Hughes and Ryan Caesar have notched up impressive credits in Dick Diver, Boomgates and Darren Hanlon’s band (Hughes) and Melbourne glam-flirting act Pearls. While the majority of the bands on this list don’t exist in their original incarnations any longer, 2014 saw members Mackay, Caesar and Heath Crawley reunite for a pair of Children Collide shows – so don’t rule out a proper comeback just yet.
For a spectacular moment in the middle of the ‘00s, Sydney’s The Valentinos felt like the keepers of some secret cocktail that could potentially turn them into heavy hitters of the Australian scene. Their debut EP, produced by The Presets’ Kim Moyes, captured the band’s livewire energy and very-2005 mixture of angular guitars and indie-dance rhythms. Though that future didn’t eventuate for the band – later re-dubbed Lost Valentinos after Bobby Womack sniffed a lawsuit – the core members have all kicked on after winding down following the release of their long gestating Cities Of Gold album.
Jono Ma moved on to spearhead Jagwar Ma, while brothers Andrew and Patrick Santamaria founded techno loving label, party and renowned vibe council Motorik. That doesn’t even mention past members who departed before Cities Of Gold like Dan Stricker (Midnight Juggernauts) and Kirin J. Callinan.
Speaking of Kirin J. Callinan – in between his origins as an early Valentino and the forever unpredictable solo artist we know now, Callinan contributed a fierce rattle to Sydney could’ve beens Mercy Arms. That band seemed destined for big things as they notched up remarkable tour supports with The Strokes, The Horrors and The Pixies and recording sessions with Dave Sitek (TV On The Radio) and longtime Nick Cave studio hand Tony Cohen. Cohen handled the band’s 2008 debut album, the under appreciated Mercy Arms, but the band called it quits the following year.
The sum of Mercy Arms’ parts though have all moved onto new and notable acts; as well as Callinan , singer Thom Moore has struck a vein of sunny indie-rock with Wild Honey, drummer Julian Sudek now rolls in Future Classic-signed World Champion and bass player Ash Moss relocated to London for stints in Dark Bells and most recently psych outfit TRUISM.
I suppose the advantage of starting a band when you’re in your mid-teens is that you’ve got time after its dissolution to put that creative energy and accumulated experience into new projects. That’s the case for a few of the irrepressible youngsters from Gold Coast’s Operator Please. After two solidly received LPs, Operator Please has since been dormant while frontwoman Amandah Wilkinson has relocated to the UK to pursue a new project called Bossy Love collaborating with John Baillie Jnr of Dananananaykroyd on thumping diva-voiced club tracks.
But original OP drummer Tim Commandeur has been busiest of the bunch, previously forming Colour Coding with Operator Please bassist Chris Holland, and now turning out tunes for his own solo project, Commandeur, not to mention playing in Panama and KLP’s live band.
Classic pop revivalists and well dressed young men Little Red had listeners on a string from the time the Melbourne five piece opened their account in the mid 2000s with bopping and popping tunes like ‘Coca-Cola’ and ‘Waiting’. The band’s second album, 2010’s Midnight Remember, saw Little Red reach their commercial high with ‘Rock It’ in particular impacting the the top 20 of the ARIA singles chart and scoring #2 in the Hottest 100 of 2010. The ensuing splintering of Little Red’s members has provided fans with a raft of new projects; Tom Hartney went onto front his own barn-burning group Major Tom & The Atoms, Quang Dinh began the blues-infused four piece Naked Bodies, drummer Taka Honda leads Melbourne garage lovers The Hondas, while New Gods features two fifths of Little Red in Dom Byrne and Adrian Beltrame. The latter has just released its second LP, Respice Finem.