An Extensive History of The Cannanes
By the end of the year and after no less than five different cover designs
and changes of title the Stumpvision EP was released, undeniably the band
at their toughest (and possibly tightest) which got some very odd (but
at the same time strangely favourable) reviews describing it as "cynical
and vicious", "solemn as well as intriguing", "bluesy" and "despondent";
as well as getting plenty of airplay on college radio in the U.S. and
scoring #1 position on the WNUR ROK Show chart in the first week of 1993.(Our
first No.1?). Also near the end of the year the "Broken Bottles" 7" finally
In January 1993 we went back to Electric Avenue studio to record the rest of Arty Barbecue. The epic "King of Lilliput" and "Prototype" which would soon be released as a single) being amongst those songs recorded at this session.
In 1993 Fran lodged an impressive application for an Australia Council grant to see one of our long term projects the Australian National Biography album completed. The album is or was to include in song form details of some of the countrys' lesser known heroes such as Reg Sprigg, discoverer of the fossilized remains of jellyfish (other palaeontologists though this impossible), Victorian artist Maria Kozic (her blue boy was muse enough itself), Bennelong (the first Aboriginal Australian to visit Europe and return alive) and Ern Malley (the non existent poet). The application failed but we still haven't given up on the concept...
Mid 93 and the long awaited "Caveat Emptor" and "Witchety Pole" CD's finally saw the light of day (after we sent a very pissed off letter of demand to John H. in August threatening to have them released by another label), things were hotting up release wise but for some bizarre reason we were still having trouble getting shows in our home town of Sydney.
The last few months of 1993 were, to say the least hectic; having discovered we had a decent sized following down south we toured twice to Canberra and again to Melbourne getting ripped off (ie. paid with a cheque that bounced and was never honoured) by Steven Kease at the Richmond Club Melb. (who we believe has since been hounded out of live music promotion). One of our more memorable shows was on this tour when we "went off" (as the young folk say) at the Evelyn, moving large parts of the crowd to wild dancing (or maybe it was the drink), anyway it was particularly satisfying to see this happen, as Melbournians do have a reputation of being cool cucumbers when it comes to showing their appreciation.
David: "apart from anything else the Henderson experience was a very galling one for me also I felt that Gus's imminent departure which seemed fairly much on the cards was going to bring us back not to square one but to square three i.e. just the three-piece of Love Affair and Caveat fame and as much as I adore under-instrumented pop songs with joke lyrics and unrehearsed endings I didn't want to spend my whole frigging life doing it. And once we did Short Poppy which I still tend to feel was/is the Cannanes' greatest moment I thought it was really a good time to get out. I always have the courage of my convictions at the moment I'm having them but never long afterwards."
At the end of 93 / start of 94 Stephen and Frances spent some time in the United States, somehow managing to retrieve the precious and irreplaceable master tape of Love Affair from John H., catching up with people they had met during the 91 tour and loosely planning to play a few shows as a duo to promote the stack of recent releases. However as John Henderson was involved in organizing these shows they never happened (which we didn't find out till we arrived in L.A.). They did however meet up with the enigmatic Aubrey Brengelman (who showed us his tape loop collection) and Carol Paine (both of The Ah Club), and spent a lovely evening recording with them by candlelight in their San Francisco bedroom.
Early 1994, Stephen and Fran had just returned from the States and Gus announces his intention to leave the band citing "musical differences" a seemingly insurmountable problem (as anyone familiar with The Cannanes' "sound" would understand).
A long overdue contribution to John Porcellino's split single series finally forced S + F into the studio to record (& very quickly) two songs as a two piece. Songs were also recorded for the joint Cannanes / Spinanes project which seems at this stage to have gone by the way.
One night at a party in March our long time friend Francesca told Frances
she would love to join the band, after a very speedy consultation process
we decided to ask her to join.
|Get on board the big red bus
Read you your rights but you're coming with us
Rock'n roll takes you prisoner
Sit back let your chains rattle
Get on board - get with the Cannanes
Get with the strength, with the pleasure and pain
You gotta be with us to dig our scene
If you're stupid or weird, you'll know what we mean
If you're a loser or play with the fluffy dice
The Cannanes can be sweet but we'll never be Nice
Oh yeah swing it say it
The story must be told
Take it to the bridge, the moat
Take it to the swings see how it floats
Yes oh yes oh no oh yeah
lyrics to Cannanes Anthem by D. Nichols 25/12/92
Kerry met this American chap who had a gateway made from wrought iron, that spelled out the tune to the St. Louis Blues'. Apparently, said gate used to belong to the chaps recently demised dad, who upon making famous the tune in question (& what a memorable one it was eh?!), made pots and pots of money and promptly bought a house in Australia had a few kiddies & had the said thing fashioned.
I wanna have a gate with the tune Met You As a Baby' emblazoned on it. That's why I joined the Cannanes.
Also I want to find out the name of Edgar de-Winters 2nd wife in Rebecca'.
I expect all this to be fulfilled in a matter of weeks.
Yours, Francesca (from newsletter #5 July/August 94)
Not long after Francesca joined the band we realized we would need a stand in for David or else we wouldn't be brave enough to play live, after some necessary discussions about band loyalty (that we weren't trying to poach him) we convinced Ivor Moulds (who was playing with Flywheel and Hot Water Music at the time) to join us for the remainder of the year which he did, and put in some sterling live performances as well as being captured on tape for the Good Time Not A Long Time CD.
Mid year Short Poppy Syndrome was released and doing very nicely in the
States charting well on numerous college radio stations and in June reaching
a high position of 101 on the CMJ top 150. This wouldn't mean much to
most people but seemed to catch the attention of at least some of the
music press here in Aust. (scoring album of the week! in OTS on 28/6/94)
who began to give us more column centimetres which made getting shows
a damn sight easier. To take full advantage of this sudden interest we
played a fair bit in Syd. and toured to Melb. & Wollongong (where
we played our first show with the new lineup which was quite a daunting
as the audience were plainly there to drink and have ice cube fights,
only looking up during the louder rockier numbers like "Met You As A Baby").
Meanwhile David was off touring the U.S. with his brother Michael and their band Blairmailer to promote their most excellent Home of the Falcon CD.
In October/November Stephen (details are lost in the rock-n-roll stratosphere but possibly something to do with the indie pop underground sleep over thing that was going on at the time... it had a name but I can't recall right now) teamed up to drum with a couple of "RRiot Girls" from the United States (Corin Tucker from Heavens to Betsy, and Carrie Brownstein from Excuse 17) they played their first two live shows under the name Sleater-Kinney, one great, one maybe not quite as good as it could have been! As is often the case in the Cannanes history Carrie & Corin went on to become very well respected internationally in their genre!
Most of the rest of the year was spent recording A Good Time Not A Long Time at Troy Horse Studios in Newtown and in the bowels of the Sydney Opera House (where a studio had recently been built), yet another tour to Melbourne, Canberra and Wollongong, as well as the odd show around Sydney.
In December David returned and we made our first trip to Brisbane at the invitation of Ian Wadley and Richard Salty to play one show only. We had a fine trip up, met some really nice people, played a bloody awful show (sorry about that) and drove back in one ridiculous unbroken (by sleep) 21 hour hit.
We'd been planning something for months as the event couldn't go uncelebrated and a brace of shows in early 1995 were the means. The most memorable of which was held on the 31st of March at The Britannia Hotel in, Chippendale! (how appropriate). Saddened as we were that certain ex-members couldn't be there/perform (Sue now lives in Brisbane, Michelle in Canberra, Gordon in Darwin, and Nick had family commitments); there were some excellent guest spots including Gus doing a stirring rendition of "Singing to Satellites", Randall doing a truly touching "We drink bitter" (I doubt there was a dry eye in the house); James Dutton doing the recently recorded "Simple Question" and Will Stubbs (down from the Northern Territory) doing some precisely choreographed movements to an instrumental version of "Pearl". Tony and Joanna got up to dance and play Maracas and Shaker on "Met You As A Baby", Ivor drummed on "White Rabbits" and Annabel almost got up to do "I'm in love with your elephant", but due to a very unfortunate misunderstanding (and a sad lack of planning) she was in the toilet at the time and we all missed out!
The evening opened with Flywheel a band of three people who at various times over the years have performed with the Cannanes (as all did this very night); Gus Butler, Ivor Moulds, and James Dutton. Their set was superb and provided the evening's first calls for encore!
Next up were Ashtray Boy (the Australian lineup) another three piece band with strong Cannanes connections who's members include; Thomas Tallis who co-engineered/produced our second album (and also set up the Wood & Wire internet site (which was the virtual home of The Cannanes at the time), Randall Lee (if you've forgotten already, see chapters covering 1987/88), and Neil Johnson (long time friend of the band who has played with other cool pop outfits The Craven Fops and Even As We Speak, and who actually set up the Cannanes page on Wood & Wire). Ashtray Boy did the honours in style and included in their set versions of "Felicia" and "Dead Animal".
The Cannanes played one of their best shows and included many past glories in the (potential) hit studded set lists, two of which were executed; we could have played all night (well at least till 2) when the evening's only disappointment came, we were told to stop at about 12PM as the old lady down the street had complained, which when you consider we'd exceeded the noise curfew by at least half an hour wasn't too bad! Reluctantly but blissfully we left the stage.
We were anything but slack for the rest of '95 with much time spent on home recording with David's four track. We also stretched the 10th anniversary tour to Melbourne and Wollongong and spent a fair bit of time at various studios compiling material for the A Love Affair With Nature, and Arty Barbecue CD's. These were both huge jobs and a story in themselves which we may go into at a later date. Stephen spent a ridiculous amount of time researching and putting together the Baby Take A Bow book (which later became this website). Frances changed jobs and is now working for Kingsford Legal Centre at Uni of NSW. David and Francesca finished their theses at Sydney Uni (where both were occasionally working in one of the research libraries). Francesca (who scored first class honours!) moved to live in Coledale (about 90 kilometers south of Sydney), Stephen and Frances moved from long time residence in Redfern to nearby Erskineville and in December David moved to Hobart in Tasmania where he concentrated on finishing off his biography about The Go-Betweens. Despite the logistic difficulties The Cannanes we remained!
END OF PART-THREE :
Which brings us to Part Four