Wednesday, July 25, 2012

PHO BAND/FAUX BAND 10" LATHE CUT (GREATDIVIDING) The greatdividing label of Queensland, Australia is back with a clear-vinyl 10-inch release that I'm guessing is a lathe cut -- it's got that Peter King feel. I'm never 100 percent sure who a greatdividing release is by, even as I'm looking at what I can only assume is the band name on the label. Other than the a range of greatdividing comp, it's either a record by house band Exiles From Clowntown or some combination of "Arob" and "Soottyb" (when Arob and Soottyb release records, are they split releases? Collaborations? For gods sake, are they split collaborations??), except this one is a split between the Pho Band and the Faux Band, although the Pho Band label also says "Arob/Soottyb," while the Faux Band label says "Soottyb/Arob." The greatdividing website says "Two 11 minute long tracks recorded at separate times in different places by the same two blokes," which actually explains it. Both sides of the record do have a very similar M.O., which is almost exactly 11 minutes of one guitar or instrument playing slowly morphing atonal skipping-record-style machine loops, which are improvised over by another with softly sketching guitar scribbles. I do wonder if all the greatdividing music released so far has been improvised, even when they are playing in Exiles from Clowntown, which has riffs and stuff, and sometimes even vocals. The Pho Band/Faux Band is more blatantly improvisational, mellower, and longer. The sometimes-maligned 10-inch format is actually welcome here, because it retains that quick-hit greatdividing style while going on plenty long enough to carve a quite nice and rarefied atmosphere, which I'm going to call 21st Century Industrial Electric Beach Dirge Raga.... good to know someone's doing it. You know, by the time greatdividing has built up 70 or 80 minutes worth of these obscure little 7-inches and 10-inches and lathe-cuts and whatnot, I'm going to want, get this, a CD of their whole discography, something in a nice and somewhat annotated foldout digipak, preferably with a high-quality slipcase. Hint, hint...


Is greatdividing an improvised music label? A rock label? Do you call your music anything, like when people in the real world ask you what kind of music you play? 

"a simple band of simple mates/ making sounds on a budget rate/ we make no claims to be great/ just simple sounds for simple tastes."

greatdividing was started to release some of the music we'd been doing that would otherwise never see the light of day.

We've been playing and recording in kitchens and halls since the late '70s / early '80s. We started in the same small town, but have lived in different states/cities for a lot of the time since and have swapped stuff and collaborated when visiting and via the post. By the mid '00s we had a heap of tapes and were still recording regularly. Although we had talked about releasing stuff over the years, it just never happened. Eventually greatdividing came into being in 2003. Our criteria for releasing stuff is 'would we want to own this ourselves, if we knew nothing about it?'

When people in the real world ask we're usually pretty flippant about it. We have no reason to label what we do. That's up to others. We are interested to hear other peoples takes on our stuff though. We like reviews, positive or negative…especially if they make us laugh.
Arob and Soottyb are two separate artists on the Greatdividing label, right? Two different people, right? Why does the Faux Band side of the lathe-cut say "Arob/Soottyb" and the Pho Band side say "Soottyb/Arob"? Does it have something to do with who plays 'lead' and who plays 'rhythm'? Are Arob and Soottyb also two of the three Exiles from Clowntown? How do you pronounce Soottyb anyway? I want to say Sooty B, which sounds like the name of a rap MC that performs dressed as a inner-city chimney sweep.  
Yep we're both Exiles and most definitely two different people. Both our 'handles' are taken from our email addresses. Soottyb is an amalgamation of a few different nicknames from over the years which got distilled down to Soottyb. It's pronounced : soot-tib. Thats a good one about the rappin' chimney sweep tho, ha!

The credits on the 10" reflect who instigated which track. We keep our real names out of it because our egos aren't involved. We'd been doing this for a long time without anybody ever knowing about us and we'd still be doing it if we had never released anything.

"kicking a few ideas around at greatdividing h.q." Pic by Soottyb.

You said you grew up in a small Queensland town. Where at and what was it like? How did you get into music there? Play in any shitty cover bands, or any good ones? Eventually you ended up in Sydney, right? How did 3 Toed Sloth come about? How did Exiles from Clowntown come about? 
Ah yes, Clowntown…a beautiful spot that the government seemed intent on turning into just another suburban shit hole (and succeeded). For instance, when i was a little kid there were miles of sand dunes along the beaches just outside of town where once you weren't even allowed to stop your car and walk because it was so environmentally sensitive, but by the time i was in my early teens those same dunes were being bulldozed to make way for canal style estates and shopping malls.

Like a lot of small towns, there were a lot of small minds, but also a few of the finest characters you'd ever wanna meet. Needless to say the small minds ruled. None of us have lived there for a long time now. We were run out of town by vicious mobs of grey haired pillars of society and golden haired hitler youth wannabes. 
We played music there purely for our own amusement. The place was ruled over by zealous senior citizens who's motto was There'll be NO FUN in this town! There were no venues or bands. We initially all bonded together through a mutual liking for punk rock. We got into music in the usual ways, friends, older siblings, radio, t.v. etc.   
3 toed sloth' were born from the ashes of Rodent. Rodent was the elder punk in Clowntown. He was great. He told me he could teach a five year old child to play guitar in 15 minutes flat, but he couldn't teach me. One day Rodent took his own life. Later i got his guitar from his parents and taught myself to play (take that rodent!) then i moved to Sydney where I tried unsuccessfully to join a few bands, but i could only play my own songs... A few years later Sharon (a friend from Queensland) turned up in Sydney with a bass. We started going to practice rooms where we would drink beer, make a racket and laugh at ourselves. After a year or so of this we invited Tom along because we wanted to hear what our racket sounded like with drums (feedtime had recently split). We sounded much better. I sang because i wrote the lyrics and nobody else wanted to. After awhile we were asked to play with our friends La Sect Rouge. We played our first show supporting them late '89. We never played all that often, it wasn't a good time for small bands like us. I only remember bits 'n' pieces…at one show i broke all my guitar strings by the fifth song. We were all good at breaking stuff. A friend once said that seeing 3 toed sloth was "like watching a bull in a china shop". Not exactly sure what they meant, but it rings true anyway. By the end of 1990 we had loads of songs and decided to record some to document what we'd been doing up to that point. In '91 we self released an lp. Our attitude was that it should live or die on its own merits. No promotion. We kept at it for another two years and recorded once more, when a fan offered to record us at his college studio as part of his course. Those recordings finally got released seventeen years later as the '…against the odds' dbl 7" on Unwucht and the Negative Guest List Jukebox Single #2. We never stopped coming up with new songs and it was always fun, but nobody wanted to know about us and towards the end we couldn't get a show for love nor money. Sometime around late '93 we just kind of stopped. People seem way more interested now than they ever were when we were around…we played four shows in 2011 (including SS-Ten in SF) to celebrate the release of the 7"s and twenty years since the lp. We had a blast. No future plans. 
Exiles from Clowntown is a bridge of friendship that links our futures and pasts. Although we'd all known each other for a long time, we only started playing together in this combination when the other two shared a big cheap house in Melbourne in the mid '90s. They had a room soundproofed with old mattresses where they practiced with a band they had with someone else. There were always instruments lying around so we would just muck around playing stuff off the top of our heads once in awhile. When it clicked it was effortless fun and we'd play for hours, if it didn't click we'd just hang out drinking and listen to records. After they moved out of there we all ended up in different cities and only got to play very occasionally. Somehow that made us focus on it more and its become our main musical focus. We enjoy it and although we do it for fun, we are serious about making music we want to hear.

Exiles in Clowntown live at 'greatdividing and friends' night. Pic by Kris Morriss. "Framed picture of the queen is part of the decor, not a prop."

"3 toed sloth and feedtime play their first shows in 17 and 22 years respectively greatdividing night easter 2011." Pics by Brendan Boucher. 

How often do greatdividing bands play shows? Do you ever tour in Australia? Any plans to travel to the USA and lose thousands of dollars playing to 10 or 15 weirdos at a time? Any other greatdividing plans being hatched you'd like to unveil here? An Exiles from Clowntown full-length perchance?
Everyone involved is scattered around the country, so its hard to arrange anything, let alone shows. We mainly play when people are kind enough to invite us…we try to oblige. We put on a 'greatdividing and friends' night last year in a small club on top of a large cliff over looking the pacific ocean. It was pretty great. 

We'd like to play more often, but its difficult with the distance thing and us all having busy lives etc.  As far as us coming to play in the U.S…that sounds only slightly less far fetched than saying we're going to tour Mars, but never say never i guess…we're open to offers! 

Current plans:  There's a new comp of new and old stuff 'Another range of greatdividing' in the works, with Unwucht doing the vinyl late 2012 or early 2013. 

There's been a long standing plan to do an Exiles from Clowntown LP.  Brendon from Negative guest list was a big supporter and had asked about NGL doing it, but that's not gonna happen since his unfortunate untimely passing. Since then Soft Abuse from Minneapolis have been in touch and offered to do it, so thanks to them it may actually happen in the not too distant future… 

Some good people here have offered to help organise Exiles…shows in Melbourne and Hobart later this year and we're looking forward to that.

"the small question mark in the middle of this poster was the only hint of a particularly well guarded secret that our friends feedtime (with tom on drums) *might play for the first time in twenty two years (as a public warm up for their one off at SS-Ten in 2011) *might  because we made them an open invitation and despite them all being in attendance, it was only confirmed they would play 45 minutes before they took to the stage...after saying 'fuck off, no way" when asked half an hour before that…"

Speaking of playing shows, what's the story behind this youtube clip? Some sort of outdoor festival, smart drink tent not visible? Was it a good night/day? If it isn't obvious by now in the interview, what's the lineup here?


It was a free festival of experimental and noise music. Held inside a large tin shed on an old government ship building island in Sydney Harbour early 2012. It was a good day, borrowed gear, no soundcheck, broken bass string in first song (no replacement), drum kit that kept falling apart…it all went pretty smoothly. Not saying we were best or anything like that, but we were definitely the loudest and most rocking.  Lineup: Soottyb - guitar + rav-box + shout , Arob - bass + mumble, Mr Mopriss - drums + inspiration *we like mix it up and swap instruments every so often. 

Who are these other bands on the range of greatdividing comp . . . Shoptoprockers? Rock Boycott? The heavily named Deep Brain Thrombosis? Rock Boycott & The Yellow Steed?? What's their deal, are they all still playing? Is either Arob or Soottyb or both in all of these bands too? 
Shoptoprockers: One of many projects that flourished in the cheap rental accommodation above shops on busy inner city roads in the 80's/90's. With no next door neighbours to annoy, we played to irritated flatmates and pissed off passing pedestrians. 

Rock Boycott: A jack of all instruments and master of drum (machine). Rumoured to be the bastard love child of Big John Zupp and Jackie Mac (minor '70s Brisbane t.v. celebs). Abandoned in the Beau Desert as a child and raised by dingoes. One day he crawled from beneath the rock ledge they called home, stood on two feet and walked. During this forward trajectory he turned laughing to himself and mumbled "rock boycott"...has made little sense since.

Deep brain thrombosis: Originally inspired to make music by T.V. advert jingles and later obsessed by the Radio Story from the second album by Alternative TV. Dbt is still trying to perfect the art of the downer jingle…its a real dilemma! 

the Yellow Steed: An early incarnation of Exiles from Clowntown during their space junk rock phase. Although they didn't know it at the time, they would prove to be the perfect backing band for Rock Boycott during his rock hard cock phase. 

Dbt and Rock Boycott are on going. Shoptoppers and Yellow Steed have been subsumed by Exiles… 

Arob and/or Soottyb are involved.

There has been a lot of exciting underground punk/rock musical activity coming from Australia just in the last couple years. Arob, in a previous communique you listed a bunch of killer Australian bands that inspired you growing up. So, in closing, the multi-part question from hell: who are the best Australian bands currently active, who are the best Australian bands of all-time, and who are the best non-Australian bands of all-time?

That's a great multi-part question from hell, but we don't really know much about best-evers…here's some Youtube stuff we like.


O string buster san 

A Warning


Nyuck x 3 


Village idiot 

Shirt Dance




Jesus christ in reverse


Some old guy




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