Weddings Parties Anything

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Weddings Parties Anything
Origin Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Genres Rock
Aussie Rock
Folk rock
Alt-Country
Years active 1984–1999, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012
Labels WEA
Utility Records
Virgin
rooArt
Mushroom Records
Mushroom Records
Website Official website
Members Mick Thomas
Mark Wallace
Paul Thomas
Michael Barclay
Stephen O'Prey
Jen Anderson
Past members Wendy Joseph
Paul Clarke
Dave Adams
Dave Steel
Janine Hall
Richard Burgman
Peter Lawler
Marcus Schintler

Weddings Parties Anything were an Australian folk rock band formed in 1984 in Melbourne and continuing until 1999. Their name came from The Clash song ("Revolution Rock") and musicologist Billy Pinnell described their first album as the best Australian rock debut since Skyhooks' Living in the '70s.[1]

The band was led by Mick Thomas, the only continual member throughout the group's history. The single "Father's Day" was nominated for Single of the Year as well as winning Song of the Year at the 1993 ARIA awards.[2] They were renowned for their energetic live performances and in particular their annual Christmas shows at the Central Club Hotel in Swan Street, Richmond held in the lead up to Christmas Eve every year from the late 1980’s to 1998.

The band have reunited to play live on a number of occasions since their original break up. In November 2012 the band were inducted into the EG Hall of Fame, with Mick Thomas stating that the show would be the last time the band performs.

Biography[edit]

Formation and early years[edit]

Mick Thomas grew up in Geelong, Victoria, Australia, where he played in bush bands in his youth. In 1981 (at age 21) he moved to Melbourne[3] and after a couple of years in Melbourne's pub rock scene with bands like Where's Wolfgang and Trial, Thomas formed the first version of Weddings, Parties, Anything in late 1984.[1][4]

"I couldn't get any rubber on the road. By about 1983 I stopped - and that was the closest to an epiphany I had, to quit and say 'I have to enjoy this or there's no point'."

— Mick Thomas, [3]

Thomas' idea behind Weddings Parties Anything was to combine that punk rock inspiration with his original love for the honest storytelling in folk music. The band was essentially based on a song he'd written, ""Away, Away"".[3] In early 1985 the group's original piano accordion player Wendy Joseph was replaced by Mark Wallace.[4] Michael Thomas had placed an ad looking for an accordion player, but didn't receive any responses. He then looked through the phone book for music schools and lists of their past students. After four or five schools he came up with Mark "Wally" Wallace, who'd been playing in his dad's Scottish Club band. Wallace was also listening to rock bands such as The Violent Femmes and like Thomas he was keen to put the accordion into a modern context.[1]

"He'd rung accordion teachers out of the phone book looking for ex-students, he got on to me, and wrote me a letter with a tape with five songs on it

— Mark Wallace, [3]

Another inclusion to the line-up was guitarist Dave Steel (Strange Tenants and Fire Down Below).[4]

With original drummer David Adams, it was this four piece Weddings Parties Anything which released a four track self-titled EP on the group's own Suffering Tram label.[4] By the time they released their version of Tex Morton's 'Sergeant Small' as a single, the line-up comprised Michael Thomas, Mark Wallace, Dave Steel, bassist Janine Hall (formerly of the band The Saints) and drummer Marcus Schintler returning to work with Thomas, after the two met at an audition as the rhythm section for Melbourne band Little Murders two years earlier.[4] Clarke, Schintler and Thomas worked on early versions of Away Away and The River is Wide, never performing live. 'Sergeant Small' was written in the 1930s about the Queensland Railway Police, and was banned soon after its release in Australia.[5][6][7]

First albums and success[edit]

In 1987 Weddings Parties Anything released its first album, Scorn of the Women. They recorded it as another independent release, but on the strength of the group's ever growing live following, the group ended up being offered a recording contract and the album was released by Warners.[1] Janine Hall left the band following the release of the album, and was replaced by Peter Lawler, adding a mandolin to the band's repertoire. It was that line-up that produced 1988's Roaring Days. 1988 also saw Weddings Parties Anything winning its first ARIA award for 'Best New Talent', which was followed by another ARIA in 1989 for 'Best Indigenous Release' (Roaring Days).[2] Dave Steel left the band following a tour of North America, citing exhaustion as the chief reason. He also noted in several interviews, at the time of his departure (1988), that he was feeling frustrated not getting a lot of his material on the Weddings Parties Anything albums.[8] He released his debut solo album, through WEA in 1989. He was replaced by Richard Burgman (The Sunnyboys, The Saints) for the band's 1989 release, The Big Don't Argue, and accompanying tours. In 1989 the band won a third ARIA for Best Indigenous Release (The Big Don't Argue),[2] the second such award with the nomination causing the band to boycott the awards for the second year running. In 1990 Weddings Parties Anything parted company with Warners.

The band spent a great deal of time touring over the next three years, and managed to release only one EP in 1990, titled The Weddings Play Sports (and Falcons), featuring cover versions of the bands The Sports, and Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons. The band resurfaced, in 1992, with the release of Difficult Loves and yet another guitarist, Paul Thomas (Huxton Creepers), replacing the departing Richard Burgman.[4] It was only when the album was finished that at a new distribution deal was signed, with RooArt. The single "Father's Day" reached number 42 on the ARIA charts and was nominated for Single of the Year as well as winning Song of the Year at the 1993 ARIA awards).[2] This line-up (Michael Thomas, Paul Thomas, Mark Wallace, Marcus Schintler, and Peter Lawler) remained intact for another two years, producing another album, King Tide in 1993. Following the world tour to promote that release, Marcus Schintler left the band for family reasons (later joining Sydney surf band The Wetsuits with Jon Schofield, Clyde Bramley, Stephen "Bones" Martin and Katrina Amiss). Schintler went on to pursue a career in Government as Chief of Staff to the NSW Minister for Industrial Relations and Aboriginal Affairs. Peter Lawler left a year later to pursue a solo career (later to work with Jimmy Barnes and Tim Rogers among others).

Reformation in 1996 with new lineup[edit]

Thomas reformed the band, and by 1996, the new Weddings Parties Anything lineup was ready for its first release, the independently produced Donkey Serenade. The band now included Jen Anderson (violins, mandolin)(formerly of the band, The Black Sorrows), Michael Barclay (drums)[Paul Kelly & The Messengers, Little Murders], Stephen O'Prey (bass) (formerly of The Badloves), as well as Michael Thomas, Paul Thomas and Mark Wallace.[4] The music style shifted somewhat from folk to a more alternative country sound.[8] The band decided at this time to concentrate on the Australian market, and did less touring outside of their native Australia.

The band finished 1997 with a new release and what was to be its final studio album, Riveresque on a new label (Mushroom/Sony), and by 1998, the band decided to take a break and work on several solo projects, including Michael Thomas's musical Over In The West.

""I felt like the market, the industry, had pushed us into a corner. What they wanted of us was this huge Christmas tour every year and that was it. We were in danger of becoming pawns for Carlton & United Breweries. We were selling a mother lode of beer and not coming back with much to show for it."

— Mick Thomas, [9]

Weddings Parties Anything initially gained a reputation as a hot new band through their constant touring in their early days, however they never really became a commercial success.[citation needed] They did however, form a fanatical supporter base, known as the "Wedheads" that continued to sustain the band for years.[citation needed]

"Trouble was, I didn't have any room to move in the end. All the things that evolved within the crowd, the throwing of coins, all the audience participation, that became the show in itself. I started having to apologise before we played a new song!"

— Mick Thomas, [10]

Upon the conclusion of the band several members continued on to other projects, with Mick Thomas embarking on a solo career and eventually settled with a new band 'The Sure Thing', which went through many different lineups. He also established Croxton Records with friend Nick Corr. Thomas has also written or co-written plays Over in the West and The Tank and is an accomplished music producer and engineer.

Jen Anderson has composed live music for the black and white silent movie Pandora's Box and to accompany The Sentimental Bloke for the Melbourne International Film Festival.[11] Anderson has toured with Tiddas, Paul Kelly and Archie Roach, and she has also composed the soundtracks for Clara Law's film The Goddess of 1967 and the TV mini-series Simone de Beauvoir's Babies. She has performed on albums for Dave Graney, Hunters and Collectors, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and has produced recordings by Ruby Hunter and the Waifs.[12]

Further reformations[edit]

Weddings Parties Anything reformed for the Community Cup Football match on July 2005[13] and also performed at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne as a warm-up show two nights prior. The band reformed again later the next year for a one-off performance at the Queenscliff Music Festival in November 2006.[14]

"It became obvious to us at Queenscliff that a lot of people never saw the band while we were going, and more than any time since the band broke up, we were friends. I guess we just had to wait until the time felt right. We were careful not to jump into the first thing that was offered, and believe me, we've been offered stuff."

— Mick Thomas, [15]

In January 2008, Weddings Parties Anything announced March/April dates for the band's Ten Year Reunion Tour 2008, including an international performance at the Astoria (formally The Mean Fiddler) in London on April 25 (ANZAC Day). They sold out four consecutive shows at Melbourne venue The Corner Hotel, adding a fifth to surpass the record previously held by the Hilltop Hoods from 2004.[16]

We’ve got no plans for any new recordings at all for the time being. We’ve been pretty strong that this tour be seen as a ‘reunion’ and not a ‘reformation’."

— Mark Wallace, [17]

In 2010, 2011 and 2012 the band played Grand Final Eve shows in Melbourne.

EG Hall of Fame induction and final show[edit]

On the 20th of November 2012, the band were inducted into the EG Hall of Fame (Entertainment Guide – The Age). The band played at the event which was held at Billboard The Venue in Melbourne. Joined by original guitarist Dave Steel, they performed their first album ‘Scorn of the Women’ in its entirety. In the lead-up to the show, The Age newspaper reported that Mick Thomas had posted on his Facebook page stating that it would be the last time the band performs, using the show to say a heartfelt farewell to long-standing fans.[18]

Television Performances[edit]

On the 17th of September, 1997 the band performed on the RMITV show Under Melbourne Tonight.[19]

Live performances and Christmas shows[edit]

Renowned for their energetic live shows, Weddings Parties Anything had a handful of live songs that were nearly always guaranteed to push the mosh pit into a frenzy, particularly "A Tale They Won't Believe", the story of Alexander Pearce, a cannibal in the convict days of Tasmania.[20] Fans would traditionally have their coins ready to throw at the band as they sang the chorus of "Ticket in Tatts", while shielding their eyes. This was in reference to the lyrics concerning being "ten cents short of a dollar".[15]

The legendary Christmas Shows were held at the Central Club Hotel in Swan Street, Richmond in the lead up to Christmas Eve every year from the late 1980’s to 1998. Due to their increasing popularity and live reputation as a band, the number of concerts increased as the years progressed, culminating with 7 nights in a row for the last year in 1998. In the liner notes for the CD They Were Better Live – a live recording of the concerts from the final year, the bands main songwriter and singer Mick Thomas stated:

"We could never seem to make up our minds when the Christmas shows started. We’d played there when the stage was facing east and when it faced north, right through to its final resting place looking west, up toward the Tennis Centre. We’d seen it re-carpeted, painted, renovated and re-named. The only thing that never seemed to change was the enormous pillar in the centre of the room. How people cursed that pillar, but it provided a convenient place to hide, to leave your drink or cigarettes, to meet someone. And in reality it was holding the whole place up.”

Live Recording[edit]

Various songs from the last shows in 1998 (and one track from 3 January 1999 at the Belvoir Amphitheatre near Perth, Western Australia) were recorded and released as a double live album They Were Better Live, which was nominated for an ARIA award in 1999 for 'Best Blues & Roots Album').[2] The last performance was also the basis of a play, A Party in Fitzroy, by Victorian playwright Ross Mueller.

"That last series of shows was a big break-up for a lot more people than the band. I'd go every year with a certain group of my friends, and those last ones had a real sense of transition for us."

— Ross Mueller, [10]

Musical style[edit]

Musically, Weddings Parties Anything were a combination of Australian indie and garage rock, sixties folk, punk and (later) country and are usually described as being a ‘folk rock’ band. The audience for the band was close to a mainstream rock crowd, their folk credentials were further evidenced by Celtic influences and an affinity for traditional Australian songs ("Streets of Forbes", "Sergeant Small"), plus original songs by Thomas which drew upon a similar repository of colonial folklore ("A Tale They Won’t Believe"). Canadian commentator Jeremy Mouat, concluded that their "music is largely concerned with the connections between past and present, whether it be the bond of memory or an identification with tradition".[21] They led what later became known as the alt-country scene in Melbourne.[citation needed] The band were often compared to The Pogues,[22] though the two bands were actually contemporaries rather than one following the other; the two bands toured Australia together in the early '90s.

Members[edit]

  • Mick Thomas (vocals, guitar, mandolin) 1984-1999, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012
  • Mark Wallace (piano accordion, keyboards, vocals) 1985-1999, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012
  • Paul Thomas (guitar, pedal steel) 1989-1999, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012
  • Michael Barclay (drums, vocals) 1993-1999, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012
  • Stephen O'Prey (bass guitar, guitar, vocals) 1993-1999, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012
  • Jen Anderson (violin, mandolin, guitar, vocals) 1992-1999, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012

Former members[edit]

  • Dave Adams (drums) 1984-1986
  • Richard Burgman (guitar, mandolin, tin whistle, vocals) 1988-1989
  • Paul Clarke (guitar) 1984-1985
  • Jaxin Hall (bass guitar, vocals) 1986-1987
  • Wendy Joseph (violin) 1984
  • Peter Lawler (bass guitar, vocals) 1987-1993
  • Marcus Schintler (drums, stubbie, melodica, vocals) 1986-1993
  • Dave Steel (guitar, vocals) 1985-1988

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Singles/EPs[edit]

  • Weddings Parties Anything (EP) Suffering Tram (1985) - 1,000 copies
  • "Sergeant Small"(live)/"Go! Move! Shift!"(live) Suffering Tram (1986) - 600 copies
  • "Away, Away"/"Bourgeois Blues" WEA (1987) #92 AUS
  • "Hungry Years"/"The Swans Return" WEA (1987)
  • "Shotgun Wedding"/"Australia Goodnight"/"The Bells of Rhymney" WEA (1987)
  • Goat Dancing on the Tables (EP) WEA (1988)
  • "Say The Word"/"Bright Lights Tonight" WEA (1988)
  • "Tilting At Windmills"/" Misfits" (Kinks cover) WEA (1988)
  • "Darlin' Please" (1989)
  • "Streets Of Forbes"/"Missing In Action" WEA (1989)
  • "The Wind And The Rain"/"Marie Provost" WEA (1989)
  • "Reckless"/"The Great North West" Virgin (1990)
  • "Father's Day" /Ship In The Harbour,Fortitude Valley,Alone And Forsaken,Hungry Years Narration (1991) #35 AUS
  • "Monday's Experts" /Theatre Of Rascals,Things Will Be Different,One Perfect Day,Taming of the Shrew (1992)
  • "Step In, Step Out"/"Shores of Americay"/"Wrapped Up and Blue"/"Over in the West" rooArt (1992) #60 AUS
  • "The Rain In My Heart"/"Chewin' On Her Fingernails"/"Everybody Moves"/"All Over Bar the Shouting"/"Everywhere I Go" rooArt(1993)
  • "Island Of Humour"/Bring 'em Home" rooArt (1994)
  • "Luckiest Man"/"Lights Of Devonport"/"Reason To Believe"/"Sweet Thames Flow Softly" Mushroom Records (1996)
  • "Don't Need Much" /House Of Ghosts(Live Acoustic),Sergeant Small(1930's Live), Away Away(Live Acoustic) (1997)
  • "Anthem"/"Traffic Goes By" Mushroom Records (1998)

DVD/Video[edit]

  • Live in Richmond/Christmas at the Central Club VHS - 18 song live recording at the Central Club in Melbourne, 1993. The video also contains interviews with members of the band in between songs.
  • Into Time On VHS - 20 song recording of the band playing at the Metropolis Nightclub in Perth on Friday, October 16, 1998.
  • Siren VHS - Live recording of the band's last official performance at the Belvoir Amphitheatre in Perth, in January 1999.
  • Long Time Between Drinks DVD/CD - Recorded live at the Queenscliff Music Festival, November 2006. Extras include Music Videos & Roaring Days film. Released in December 2007.[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Nimmervoll, Ed. "Weddings Parties Anything". Howlspace – The Living History of Our Music (Ed Nimmervoll). Archived from the original on 27 July 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "ARIA Awards - winners & nominees". ARIA. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  3. ^ a b c d Johnston, Chris (2006-12-18). "Mick Thomas and the Sure Thing". The Age. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Weddings Parties Anything". Australian Rock Database. Magnus Holmgren. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  5. ^ "Australian Railway folklore & song". Warren Fahey. Retrieved 2008-10-22. 
  6. ^ Gregory, Mark. "Solidarity in Song". Workers Online. Retrieved 2008-10-22. 
  7. ^ Creasey, Art. "Railway Voices: The Depression". Australian Railway Story. Retrieved 2008-10-22. 
  8. ^ a b Badgley, Aaron. "Weddings Parties Anything". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-10-22. 
  9. ^ Dwyer, Michael (2005-06-24). "stage fright". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  10. ^ a b Dwyer, Michael (2003-12-19). "The ghost of Christmas past". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  11. ^ Latham, Marianne (2001-07-15). "Composer Jen Anderson". Sunday. Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  12. ^ Winkler, Michael (2004-10-26). "Puts strings to her beau". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  13. ^ Dwyer, Michael (2005-06-24). "Stage fright". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  14. ^ Queenscliffe Music Festival press release 2006
  15. ^ a b Roberts, Jo (2008-04-16). "Weddings Parties Anything return". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  16. ^ Corner Hotel
  17. ^ "Weddings Parties Anything interview". Access All Areas.net.au. Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  18. ^ "Thanks for the Parties". The Age (Melbourne). 
  19. ^ http://web.aanet.com.au/vfok/umt/episodes/list97.htm
  20. ^ Collins, Peter (2002-10-29). "A journey through hell's gate". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 2008-10-24. [dead link]
  21. ^ Mouat, Jeremy, Making the Australian past/modern: The music of Weddings, Parties, Anything, Australian and New Zealand Studies in Canada, 1991
  22. ^ Mueller, Andrew. "Australian Rock". eMusic. Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  23. ^ Hunter, Michael. "Weddings Parties Anything: A Long Time Between Drinks". dB Magazine. Retrieved 2008-10-24. 

External links[edit]