| HOW THE FOPS GOT STARTED
by Daniel Morphett
I was 22 in 1984, and people had been telling me for some time that I should start a rock and roll band, and I'd been dreaming about it for longer than that - as an 11 year old kid I used to feign various types of illness so that I could stay home from school and play Alice Cooper records and pretend to be him in front of the mirror and scream and scream - and it so happened that my favourite bands of the time, X and the Particles, had both broken up, so there was no-one to play me the kind of music I lived for, and one night James and Bryan and I got drunk enough and brave enough to go down to the rehearsal studios at the old Pie Factory in Palmer St - gone now - and we made noise until something emerged from it that was less unmusical than the rest, and it came further out until it was a song, no words or anything, just moaning, but it came out, and it was ours!
We called it "#1". We didn't have a tape recorder, so after that it was lost forever, but flushed with success, we made up another one called '#2', which eventually became 'Mustard'.
James was probably the most accomplished musician of us. He had learnt to play the guitar by lying in bed watching TV all day smoking cigarettes and playing along with the themes and background music. We needed a drummer, and so Mandy Pearson, who was James' girlfriend at the time, and who now stars in Love Me, was recruited, but when Kit Quarry, who lived next to James and I in Camperdown, found out we were starting a band, she demanded to try out for the drumming spot. Mandy didn't care one way or the other, so Kit's fervour got her the job. In fact it was that way all down the line - we came into being because of great longing, which overcame lack of ability.Kit's sister Penny joined up too, to fill out the sound, and we spent six months rehearsing three nights a week, and writing songs, at the end of which we were pretty good, or so we thought.
Soon after we tied for first place in the Strawberry Hills Hotel band competition, thus attaining cult status in Surry Hills. Our future was assured.
It's all rather a long time ago now (15 years) but I'll see if I can recall some of the highlights.
Getting arrested for drunken driving after a show at the Evil Star. As usual, I was pissed out of my head - I remember times when I couldn't even walk to the car properly - I'd have to hang on to the vehicle to stop from falling over.
Having to miss a show at the Trade Union Club because a mounted policeman, who had noticed my ambo (which was painted to look like a flying saucer, with "Craven Fops" in big red letters on both sides) , checked my record, found I was wanted for non-payment of parking fines, and decided to bring me in. Then followed a series of attempts to arrest me. He eventually placed his horse right in my path one day and managed to get me to stop. They wouldn't let me out to do the show, although it was only down the road.
We had a residency at the Lismore Hotel in Pitt St, and every night before the show James, Bryan and I would go into the men's to smoke dope. This hotel, however, was also the local for the Central Police station, and all the cops would come down after work for a drink. After one of our sessions we emerged from the stall to find a big fat off duty cop waiting for us, who explained that it was hardly a very bright place to practise that sort of activity. We thanked him for his advice, and smoked outside after that.
One night at the Green Park hotel in Paddington, as we were playing, I noticed this guy running full pelt from the back of the room. I thought he was coming up the front to dance, but he didn't stop, he leapt up to the stage and tackled me, pushing us both into the drum kit. I still had the mike, so I kept singing, while Kit started hitting the guy with the drum sticks and James and Bryan, also still playing their instruments, came over and started kicking him.
On our first Melbourne tour, I was so hung over one day that I started to feel incredibly sick as I was driving the ute (my car before the ambo), which was plastered with band posters and had band equipment piled up in the back, and was full of band members and entourage in the front, through the Melbourne streets. It was a three lane affair, with traffic either side of me, moving quite quickly and the lanes curving. I started to vomit on the steering wheel, not daring to take my eyes off the road, as we were going round a curve in the road, then I spewed out the window (down the side of the car, as you do) while I think one of my passengers grabbed the wheel. I looked up to see another driver giving me an indescribable look ("Fucking Sydney drivers!"), then I somehow managed to change lanes , still chundering, pull up in a side street, get out of the car and finish the job.
On our second Melbourne tour, our then drummer Belinda got locked out of her house one day. She thought it was a good idea to pick up the little dog she had with her, and stand on the seat of her bicycle to try and get over the paling fence. Of course the bicycle fell over and she and the dog with it, and in the process she broke her arm. So of course she couldn't play drums. So there we were at soundcheck for the show that night, no drummer. Luckily Jim from Venom P. Stinger (now plays with the Dirty Three) filled in for us. Now, he was and is a very good drummer, but of course he didn't know the songs, so it kind of ruined the show. For us, anyway. We had a giant row in the dressing room after the show that night. I wanted to do the rest of the tour with Jim and rehearse during the days to make it good. The others wanted to go home. I couldn't convince them, but afterwards I was talking to Living With Robert, who had come from Sydney with us to do the support. We ended up forming a new band, doing some rehearsals in a friend's garage, doing some songs of mine that the Fops weren't doing, and finishing the tour. Thus was born the Godbotherers.
To be continued...