The Apartments

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The Apartments
The Apartments.jpg
The Apartments December 2013 in Paris
Background information
OriginBrisbane, Australia
GenresIndie rock, jangle pop, chamber pop
Years active1978–1979,
1984–present (with several periods of inactivity)
LabelsRiley, Microcultures, Talitres, Able Label, Hot, Rough Trade, Glass, New Rose
Associated actsThe Go-Betweens, Out Of Nowhere, Laughing Clowns, The Colors Piano Magic
MembersPeter Milton Walsh
Past membersCurrent and past players, live and on record (alphabetical): Nick Allum, Greg Atkinson, George Bibicos, Amanda Brown, Miroslav Bukovsky, Antoine Chaperon, Wayne Connolly, Jeff Crawley, Eliot Fish, Ken Gormley, Gene Maynard, Natasha Penot, John Willsteed. Guest member: Ed Kuepper

The Apartments an Australian indie band created in 1978 in Brisbane by Peter Milton Walsh. Based in Sydney, Australia, the band has continued to perform and record, with the eighth album and most recent release, No song, No Spell, No Madrigal released in 2015. With Peter Milton Walsh as singer-songwriter, The Apartments continue as a core group of players from the UK, Australia and France for recording and touring.


The band's name derives from Billy Wilder's 1960 film The Apartment. The Apartments have had a strong following in Europe since being based in London in the mid-1980s. Since returning to live in Australia in the late 1980s Walsh has continued to tour The Apartments in France and occasionally in Australia.

Early Apartments and Brisbane Connections (1978-1980)[edit]

The Apartments first came together in Brisbane in 1978 with Walsh (guitar, vocals), Michael O'Connell (guitar, vocals), Peter Whitby (bass, vocals) and Peter Martin (drums).[1] The Apartments played regularly during a period of flourishing creative activity in Brisbane in the late 70s

While in The Apartments, Walsh briefly joined The Go-Betweens as guitarist when they were offered an 8-album contract by Beserkley Records. During an interview at the time, Robert Forster and Grant McLennan spoke about Walsh and the "variety of personalities and image" in the Go-Betweens. McLennan said "Walsh is night" and Forster "We are day" with McLennan adding "We’re sun, he’s rain."[2] Four years after Grant McLennan’s death, Walsh wrote about this period and his friendship with The Go-Betweens in a piece entitled "Who will remember your tunes?"[3]

When the Beserkley deal fell through, Walsh returned to The Apartments and The Go-Betweens resumed as a three-piece. The Go-Betweens affectionately commemorated Walsh's style and his time with them on the B side of their next single, "Don't Let Him Come Back": "Here he comes, with his twelve o’clock junk…who’s that dressed in black? Who’s that in his apartment?"[4]

The Apartments' first EP Return of the Hypnotist was recorded for The Go-Betweens' Able Label in May, 1979. The Apartments broke up in October 1979 when Walsh left Brisbane.[5] Some months later, the Return of the Hypnotist EP was released.

Out of Nowhere and New York (1981–1983)[edit]

In 1981, Walsh next formed a four-piece Out of Nowhere (Walsh, guitar/vocals, Gary Warner, soprano saxophone, Tony Forde, clarinet and Graeme Hutchinson, drums) and recorded "The Arrangements" a cassette-only release with Pink and Blue, a duet of artists Jenny Watson and John Nixon, then curator of the Institute of Modern Art. After a string of shows around Brisbane during their first year, the band relocated to Sydney in 1982, adding Joe Borkowski on bass and Jeffrey Wegener of the Laughing Clowns replacing Hutchinson on drums. This incarnation of the band recorded Out of Nowhere’s first and only single for Ed Kuepper’s Prince Melon label "No Resistance/Remember, Remember.".

In early 1982, Walsh moved to New York City following an invitation from future Go-Between, Robert Vickers, to join The Colors as guitarist. The Colors split up within months of Walsh joining the band and Walsh remained in New York. A number of songs written during these years would later appear on the first Apartments album “The Evening Visits... And Stays For Years.

Walsh was then asked by Ed Kuepper to play bass in his band Laughing Clowns. Walsh toured England, Europe and Australia extensively with the Laughing Clowns and also recorded the Law of Nature album and the single "Eternally Yours".[6]

The Apartments reformed (1984-1985)[edit]

A year later Walsh returned to Australia and reformed The Apartments with a line-up including ex-Out of Nowhere members, Gary Warner (piano), Joseph Borkowski (bass) and Graeme Beavis (guitar), and Bruce Carrick (drums). The band then recorded one of the set of New York songs as a single, "All You Wanted" (with ex-Out of Nowhere member Gary Warner on piano), (b/w "Fever Elsewhere"). Early in 1985 The Apartments recorded demos for a proposed debut album.

In June 1985, Rough Trade records signed The Apartments on the basis of the demos recorded earlier in the year. Walsh then moved to London and released The Apartments’ first album, the evening visits...and stays for years in 1985. The Apartments were joined by guest musicians Clare Kenny (formerly of Orange Juice, bass, vocals), Ben Watt of Everything but the Girl and Graham Lee of The Triffids.

Reviewing the evening visits… for the NME, critic Jane Wilkes wrote "after whetting our appetites with last year's classic import single 'All You Wanted' The Apartments have stunned us to a reverential silence. This album is a pure heart-wrencher, and should only be listened to after dark."[7]

French music critic and biographer of Serge Gainsbourg, Bayon, writing in Libération drew favourable comparisons to a diverse range of musicians, both contemporary (Cocteau Twins, Felt, Nick Cave) and preceding (Nick Drake, Bob Dylan, Alex Chilton.)[8] "the evening visits…" subsequently appeared in the NME’s 1985 Albums Of The Year End Of Year Critic List and became a cult hit in France.[9] A track from it, "mr somewhere" was later covered in 1991 by This Mortal Coil on the Blood album.

Following an English tour with Everything but the Girl, a new line-up emerged that included Jurgen Hobbs (bass), Judy Anderson (piano, organ) and Nick Allum (drums). This incarnation of the band played shows in the UK and Europe and released a single, "The Shyest Time", in 1988. The Shyest Time was featured on the soundtrack of John Hughes’ movie Some Kind of Wonderful[10] Subsequent litigation between The Apartments and Hughes’ production company over recording prevented The Apartments from releasing new material for nearly 18 months.

In 2015 Brooklyn Label Captured Tracks reissued the evening visits... on vinyl, CD and cassette along with extensive liner notes.

Australia and France (1989-1999)[edit]

With Rough Trade in receivership as the Eighties ended, Walsh left England for Australia. He continued writing and occasional performances as a duet with Amanda Brown of The Go Betweens and as The Apartments with Ed Kuepper. Recordings of both were extensively bootlegged.

In 1993, The Apartments recorded Drift, the first Apartments album released in Australia, on Melbourne label, Torn & Frayed, the Dirty Three's first label. Drift was next released in France on New Rose, the European label for Alex Chilton. The album (like its predecessor) achieved high praise in France, with Les Inrockuptibles placing Drift at #19 in their end of year list in 1993 and 7th place in the reader's list.[11] Due to its high cult status in France, the album was re-released and remastered through French indie label Talitres in 2010.[12]

A tour of France followed in 1994 with The Apartments consisting of Walsh, two members of Big Heavy Stuff — Eliot Fish (bass, vocals) and Greg Atkinson (guitar, vocals) — and Nick Allum on drums.

The Apartments then recorded three more albums in quick succession: A Life Full Of Farewells (1995), and fête foraine (1996) and apart (1997). Rolling Stone reviewer Rob O'Connor described A Life Full of Farewells as "the sort of ornate pop record one usually associates with big-budget psychedelia or overstudied Anglo pop. For the most part, Walsh's songs enable listeners to enjoy time spent in places we would usually rather not be.".[13] MOJO said “Taken together, 1985’s ‘the Evening Visits...’, 1993’s ‘Drift’ and 1995’s ‘A Life Full Of Farewells’ constitute the finest, most distinguished catalogue I’ve heard in the past decade or so”.

On the final day of mixing and recording apart Walsh was informed that his young son had been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. After this, Walsh suspended writing and touring for The Apartments to devote his attention to his son, who died two years later in September, 1999. Walsh later described his reasons for not resuming his musical career after his son’s death. "I just wanted nothing to do with anything that didn't have him in it. I felt like I had been given every chance of happiness and he got none. I felt entitled to nothing."[14]

2007 reformation[edit]

In 2007, encouraged by John Willsteed, bass player on 'drift', Walsh was convinced briefly to perform again and The Apartments (Walsh, Fish, Willsteed, Jeff Crawley, George Bibicos and Gene Maynard (drums)) played the Pig City Festival at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, along with The Saints, Regurgitator, Ups and Downs and many others. Walsh then agreed to shows in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.[15]

"Peter Walsh of The Apartments" played three shows in France in November 2009. Peter Walsh played with Eliot Fish (with two French musicians on some songs) in Chinon, Paris (L'Européen) and Clermont-Ferrand, to critical acclaim and many articles in the French press celebrating his return to live performance). The Apartments were supported by French band 49 Swimming Pools [1] who, as fans of The Apartments, organised the tour.

A French tour for 2012 (It's Not Our World Anymore) was announced via French crowdfunding site Ulule.[16] A series of shows took place in November/December - in art galleries and boutiques in Paris and La Rochelle and in regular music venues in Paris (Bouffes du Nord[17]), Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Nantes and Allonnes. Peter Walsh played with Amanda Brown from The Go Betweens, Nick Allum from The Fatima Mansions, Wayne Connolly of Knievel, Fabien Tessier and Samuel Léger of 49 Swimming Pools and Gaël Riteau.

The tour featured the use of photos of Jean Seberg taken on the set of À bout de souffle by influential New Wave film set photographer Raymond Cauchetier. In collaboration with Parisian graphic designer Pascal Blua [2] Cauchetier personally approved Walsh’s using his images, some never before published, as stage backdrops and in promotional material for the tour.

During the 2012 "It's Not Our World Anymore" tour, The Apartments recorded a live session for the Label Pop. [3] radio programme on Radio France. This was later released by French label, Talitres, as a limited edition vinyl LP of 500 copies for Disquaire Day (Record Store Day) 20 April 2013. The album, Seven Songs, sold out within two weeks.

A double CD/LP/Cassette reissue of The Apartments debut album the evening visits... and stays for years along with rarities and demos, "the last look is a stare" was released on 31 March 2015 by Brooklyn record label Captured Tracks. Available in cassette, vinyl and CD formats it covers the first seven years of material including the first EP Return of the Hypnotist released on the Able Label in 1979. Also included are liner notes by Walsh, Steven Schayer (ex-The Chills) and Robert Forster from the Go-Betweens.

Forster’s notes recall the early days of The Apartments in Brisbane, Walsh’s move to NYC, and then London, and the ongoing relationship with the Go-Betweens. “Things got foggy. Travel. New cities. Brisbane had two good years of energy in it in but no more. The Go-Betweens crept on. The Apartments stopped, Peter as indomitable spirit remained. He was ghostly. A correspondent through letters, someone you saw for a night only to then vanish. Again he became a person of heroic unseen exploits, head shaking stuff that got passed around kitchens and bars. ...” [4]

In October 2013 Peter Milton Walsh began recording a new Apartments [5] album in Sydney, Australia, at Alberts Studio with Wayne Connolly as producer. This album, No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal, was the first since 1997's apart and was released by French label Microcultures in April 2015.

The album was recorded with Apartments players Eliot Fish, Amanda Brown, Gene Maynard, Wayne Connolly and various guests. Nick Allum recorded additional percussion and drums at Press Play Studios in London while French collaborators Natasha Penot and Antoine Chaperon from Grisbi [6] recorded vocals and other instruments in their home studio in France. Natasha Penot features in the duet, Black Ribbons, which was originally released by Chapter Music in 2011 as a single with a Spring mix by Grisbi and an Autumn mix by John Willsteed. The NSNSNM recording of Black Ribbons features additional backing vocals as well as flugelhorn by Miroslav Bukovsky.

Artwork for the album was done by Parisian graphic designer Pascal Blua [7] and 50 copies of limited edition handwritten lyrics were made available through Microcultures during the pre-order stage.

The first single "Twenty One" was released in January 2015. [8]

The Apartments toured France in September 2015 and reviews of the live shows reflected the strong reviews of No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal.

Lyonel Sasso in French based Magic Revue Pop Moderne wrote "...This album is like our favorite season, a sky full of promises and memories. The choirs of September Skies resound as loudly as the heart racing - a simple joy. Walsh is like Ulysses, returning from his odyssey and his miracles. He continues to play the same pop music, regardless of the time spent, deadlines, contracts, money and disappointment." [9]

Uncut Magazine awarded the album 9/10, with Jon Dale writing "...Played with quiet grace, the eight chamber-pop songs here are alternatively harrowing and redemptive, anchored by loss."

In Australia, Noel Mengel said "Loss courses through these songs like blood through the veins...Just eight songs, less than 40 minutes of music. But what songs. It’s perfect just as it is." [10]

While in Tours, France a clip for Please Don’t Say Remember was made by US Director Paul Harrill. [11]

The close of 2015 saw both critics and fans alike making The Apartments No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal their #1 Album of the Year.

At year’s end, influential French music magazine Magic [12], named No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal #1 Album of The Year, a position never before achieved by an Australian artist. No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal was accorded the #1 spot over significant albums by international acts such as Sufjan Stevens, Father John Misty, Kurt Vile and Low.

In Australia, ABC Radio National's leading music show, “Inside Sleeve”, named “Twenty One” #1 Song for 2015. [13]

European critics also listed the album in their lists of Top Tens and Twenties… in France, Greece, the Netherlands and Italy. In the US, ex-MOJO Editor Dave DiMartino also made No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal his #1 in his Albums of the Year list [14] saying “The first album of new material in years from Australian Peter Milton Walsh of the Apartments is fantastic, emotionally profound, and maybe the most moving collection of songs I’ve heard in years. Untouchably great.”

On POPnews, one of France’s leading music blogs, music fans have also voted No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal #1. “Dear readers, we asked you what were your favorite albums of 2015 and hopes for 2016. As of writing, you have praised Sufjan Stevens and The Apartments — which topped your Top“[15]. POPnews Editors’ List had Sufjan at #1 and The Apartments at #2 [16].

On New Year’s Day 2016 The Apartments played a headline show as part of the Andy Warhol | Weiwei Exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria [17]. The Apartments played a sold out show in The Famous Speigeltent at the Sydney Festival in January 2016 [18]

After two solo shows by Peter Milton Walsh at The Junk Bar Brisbane, The Apartments then undertook a nine-show Three for the Road French tour as a trio with Antoine Chaperon, Natasha Penot and Peter Milton Walsh, playing Chartres, Saint-Lô , Lille, Paris, Amiens, Beaumont, Hyères, Grenoble and Lyon. Jim Yamouridis, Seb Martel and Fabrice Fabrice Barré supported The Apartments for part of the April tour.

In July 2016 The Apartments, including Amanda Brown, Wayne Connolly, Eliot Fish, Miro Bukovsky, Clare Moore and Peter Milton Walsh played a headline show as part of Monet’s Garden: The Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris at the National Gallery of Victoria

On 13 October 2016 Peter Milton Walsh flew to San Francisco to play a show at the Make Out Room. That date, 13 October, just happened to be the anniversary of the last time The Apartments, Act 1, had played together – in 1979, at Cloudland in Brisbane. Michael O’Connell from the original Apartments joined Peter Milton Walsh on stage for two songs, playing Nobody Like You from the first Apartments EP they recorded together 37 years ago.

In September 2016 Riley Records released No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal in Australia and New Zealand. This release includes two exclusive bonus tracks recorded following the April French Tour, Nobody Like You, from the first Apartments EP Return of the Hypnotist and an acoustic version of Swap Places, featuring the tour trio, produced by Wayne Connolly.

A clip for the acoustic version of Swap Places was also released in September [19] and features the photography of Jérôme Sevrette.

In December 2016, Netherlands based label Brandy Alexander released No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal [20].

In January 2017, Brisbane label LCMR [21] released a limited edition of 300 copies of The Apartments’ first EP, The Return of the Hypnotist. This EP was first released by the Able Label at the end of 1979.

In 2017 The Apartments released two albums from their back catalogue and for both it was the first time in vinyl and releases were limited to 1,000 copies each. Talitres and Riley Records released drift in September 2017 and Microcultures and Riley Records released fête foraine in November 2017. Both albums were remastered for vinyl by Australian mastering engineer Don Bartley.

The albums were reviewed together by Uncut in March 2018. drift was rated 7/10 and Jon Dale wrote the album is “...full of transit, a series of set pieces for urban anomie and romantic collapse...“ With a 9/10 fête foraine includes “... a devastating Sunset Hotel which is deeply moving yet unsettling.“

Peter Milton Walsh is guest vocalist on Attention to Life [22] a track on Piano Magic's final album, Closure, released by Second Language Music on 20 January 2017. The album also features guest appearances by Audrey Riley, cellist on The Apartments first album the evening visits...and stays for years, Josh Hight (Irons) and Oliver Cherer (Dollboy).[18]


The song "Mr Somewhere" was covered by This Mortal Coil in their 1991 album Blood.

Other covers include Ed Kuepper's reading of "Places Where The Night Is Long" on his 1995 album, Exotic Mail Order Moods and "Knowing You Were Loved" by Renée Geyer in 1999 on her Sweet Life album.


Singles, EPs[edit]

  • Return of the Hypnotist EP 7" (1979), Able Label, reissued 2017
  • "All You Wanted" 7" (1984), Hot
  • "All You Wanted" 7"/12" (1985), Rough Trade
  • "The Shyest Time" (1987), MCA (split single with Flesh For Lulu from the Soundtrack to the film Some Kind of Wonderful)
  • "The Shyest Time" 7"/12" (1988), Glass
  • Sunset Hotel EP CD (1994), New Rose
  • Life EP CD (1995), Hot
  • "Part" CD (1997), Hot
  • "Black Ribbons" 7" (2011), Riley Records/Chapter Music

Compilation tracks[edit]

  • Some Kind of Wonderful Soundtrack (1987). Song: The Shyest Time
  • POPvolume#1 (1999) POPnews. Song: Knowing You Were Loved
  • Behind the Banana Curtain – a collection of 41 Brisbane bands (2000) 4ZZZ. Song: Help
  • Can’t Stop It! Australian Post-Punk 1978-82 (2005) Chapter. Song: Help
  • Inner City Soundtrack (2005) Laughing Outlaw. Song: All You Wanted


  • The Evening Visits... And Stays For Years (1985) Rough Trade / Virgin France S.A.
  • Drift (1992) New Rose / Torn & Frayed
  • A Life Full of Farewells (1995) Hot
  • fête foraine (1996) Hot
  • Apart (1997) Hot
  • drift (2011) Talitres
  • Seven Songs (2013) Talitres
  • The Evening Visits... And Stays For Years (2015 reissue) Captured Tracks
  • No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal (2015) Microcultures + Riley Records
  • No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal (2016) (Australian Release with bonus tracks) Riley Records
  • drift (2017) Vinyl 12" reissue Talitres + Riley Records
  • fête foraine (2017) Vinyl 12" reissue Microcultures + Riley Records


  1. ^ Walker, Clinton. Inner City Sound. Wild and Woolley, 1982, p. 66.
  2. ^ Nichols, David. The Go-Betweens. Allen and Unwin, 1997, p. 11.
  3. ^ Milton, Peter (2010-05-05). "Peter Milton Walsh". Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  4. ^ Nichols, David. The Go-Betweens. Allen and Unwin, 1997, p. 55-56.
  5. ^ "The Apartments – Free listening, videos, concerts, stats and pictures at". Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  6. ^ "Law Of Nature". The Kuepper Files. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  7. ^ Wilkes, Jane. New Musical Express. London, 12 October 1985, p. 36.
  8. ^ Bayon. The Apartments: musique de chamber, Libération, Paris, 25 January 1986.
  9. ^ " End Of Year Lists 1985". 1992-05-09. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  10. ^ "The Soundtrack". Some Kind of Wonderful. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  11. ^ " Inrockuptibles Lists". Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  12. ^ "The Apartments" (in French). Talitres. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  13. ^ O'Connor, Rob. Rolling Stone. 28 June 1995, p.56
  14. ^ "Drifting among ghosts - Music - Entertainment". 2007-06-28. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  15. ^ Chrissy Layton (2007-07-14). "Pig City-Queensland Music Festival - Australian Music". Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  16. ^ "The APARTMENTS en concert - Ulule" (in French). 2012-09-15. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  17. ^ "Site Officiel Du Théâtre Des Bouffes Du Nord". Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  18. ^ "Piano Magic". Piano Magic. Retrieved 2016-12-08.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]