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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

THUG

This is Thug, Black Eye record launch, Piccadilly Hotel, Kings Cross, Sydney, June 2nd 1987. Thug consisted of Tex (Greg) Perkins (Beasts of Bourbon) Lachlan McLeod (Salamander Jim) & Peter Read (Leather Moustache). Prior to becoming a live act, THUG were initially a home recording project using electronic gear gleaned from Peter Read’s flat mate (who had amassed a collection of gismos). Thug was also a dramatic career change for Perkins who had previously been known as the front man for grunge pioneers The Beasts of Bourbon & swamp-tinged Salamander Jim. In comparison, Thug was confrontational, experimental, electronically-charged; whose live act upon being translated to the stage could be easily deemed pre-multimedia with an assortment of theatrics, improvisation, dancers and super 8/video loops. The finale of these shows resembled a contact sport involving all participants mock brawling and piling on top of each other. I was a fan but never saw them play, being 18 and living in Queensland at the time. Thug put the art into pub rock in Australia.

Other times the audience would get involved or get some special attention themselves. Like the gig when THUG showered an entire audience in flour when the act played a Goth club (a venue Thug were never booked at again). Thug’s debut was the ‘Dad / Thug’ 7” (also referred to as ‘Fuck Your Dad’ BLACK4) which would go onto cement Black Eye as the most demented Australian label, period. It also featured a gimmicky campaign reminiscent of Stiff Records6.

Fighting was Thug's bag, the obligatory end-of-show rumble becoming the spirited finale of every performance in the band's short life between 1986-88. On one occasion at The Site in Victoria Street, Kings Cross, Tex Perkins (for the singer was he) announced that he and Thug were getting tired of the barney at the end of every show and demanded that “you kids down the front” take over the duty and “fight amongst yourselves this time”. Which they did, even Tex watching on in astonishment at the low-level bloodbath he'd so easily orchestrated. And it was the toe-tapping Sneaky Leather Man that invariably saw some strange fellow in leather take the stage for no responsible reason, leaving at song's end having achieved very little.

"..I ran into (Tex) Perkins just on the street one day. We hadn’t seen each other for like six or eight months, and in that time he had relocated to the Gunnery. Well, he said he was involved in doing this thing; he was at a loss to describe it. He was referring to THUG amongst other things so I rolled long to the Piccadilly Hotel with a couple of friends and, nothing could prepare us for what we saw. I think THUG was on stage and off in about eighteen minutes it was just like amazing. Only visual footage and some strong photographs can really totally capture what THUG were about. And also on the same night I think it might have been Lubricated Goat and might’ve been No More Bandicoots or something like that too. But it was quite clear this was something different and it wasn’t called Black Eye at that point, I don’t know when we decided to call it Black Eye; we knew that somehow it has to be documented and well, vinyl records were the medium of the day. Rather than video footage. yep we started a label, it was the basket case son of Red Eye…” - JOHN FOY 2003
For more on an amazing time for music in Sydney here (includes 18 tracks of crackling madness and lots of links)

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