(No argument, they're SnarskiCircusLindyBand: l-r, Shane O'Mara, Lindy Morrison, Rob Snarski, Graham Lee. Dan Kelly absent.)
YOU THINK YOU ARGUE with your partner, your colleagues, your friends, a lot? Mate, you are but an amateur.
Let me introduce you to Lindy Morrison (drummer, most famously with The Go-Betweens, social activist, no lover of moustaches, once of Brisbane) and Rob Snarski (singer/songwriter, most famously with The Blackeyed Susans, solo artist of some renown, wearer of a moustache, once of Perth), founding members of a band whose name we’ll come to soon.
Today, Morrison and Snarski are in different cities, only seeing each other on screens, But that’s no barrier to banter.
“We were up at 10.30 last night arguing, by Messenger. Arguing about whether or not I was going to make a 3 o’clock interview with the ABC, face-to-face on Friday, when the sound check is at 4 o’clock,” says Morrison, still flummoxed by Snarski’s view that it all was possible, including the rest of the band making it to the venue for the EP launch by 4 after landing at the airport at 3.25.
Snarski responds “I understood that argument. I understand why you didn’t want to go, but what I didn’t understand was you saying that Randwick is on the way to Marrickville from Ultimo,” he says shaking his head. “That didn’t make any sense to me.”
“Randwick is on the way to Marrickville,” she insists. “No it’s not,” he says. “It’s a triangle.”
Morrison looks to the unaligned/innocent party in this conversation. “Every time I say or do anything Rob gets out a map and checks everything, or gets out a statistical chart to check if what I’m saying is actually truth.”
By now the argument has moved from how to get around Sydney to whether one airline is cheaper than the other – needless to say, each has a preferred airline and reconciliation seems unlikely.
“We have these sorts of arguments all the time,” says Snarski, only mildly exasperated. He can’t really complain. After all, it does take two to tangle, so he is definitely not innocent.
Do these two agree on anything?
“Yes, we agree on one thing,” says Snarski. “Never hire a car.”
Right. It’s a start, though it seems a bold position to take as touring musicians.
“It has found us in some sticky situations,” he admits. “For example we played in Ipswich, which is I think south of Brisbane by about an hour and a half, and one of Lindy’s friends took us out there. And then after sound check she said, ‘I might go home’. Okay … We tried to work out how we make it home after the gig and we had a little discussion and I thought, I’m gonna ask the audience. Consequently, that’s what happened. I was up on stage and asked the audience if anyone was driving back to Brisbane and a lovely couple gave us a lift back.”
No doubt, that lovely couple enjoying the spectacle of this other couple bickering all the way back to Brisbane. But hey, they do agree about hiring cars so let’s not waste that moment of unanimity or equanimity.
“And also it has encouraged me to drive,” says Morrison. “I drove to Melbourne so I could take my Ludwig 64s [drums] and we’d have a car there for gigs in the regions, like Castlemaine. I don’t know if you’ve listened to our record but we sing this song about the Theatre Royal in Castlemaine, called Shane O’Mara Wore Mascara.”
Guitarist and producer Shane O’Mara, mascara status today unknown, is not present. Though as someone who on stage in one of his many supporting roles is frequently the butt of jibes from Melbourne singer/songwriter, Lisa Miller, he’d recognise this environment.
Speaking of O’Mara, he and the other two what you might called non-named partners – pedal steel specialist “Evil” Graham Lee and singer-songwriter and frequent offsider to his uncle, Paul, Dan Kelly – are old hands at simultaneously bringing something extra and supporting the front folk. It’s a five piece for whom collaboration is anything but a dirty word.
“Dan Kelly was incredible coming up with all these sorts of ideas, not realising that once he started playing live with the band he actually had to then record with the band,” says Snarski. “He was like, what’s going on here?”
Morrison agrees about the lack of ego evident in this collaboration. “Shane and Dan and Graham really do lack ego. In particular, Shane. He’s so clever. Robert Forster [her old mucker in The Go-Betweens] recently said in an interview that when he was in The Go-Betweens, towards the end there, it felt like everybody wanted to be at the front of the stage. I thought that was a really hilarious comment, and possibly very true. But in this band none of us want to be at the front of the stage, except maybe Rob.”
“And you,” he almost shouts over her laughter.
“I do not,” she responds through the laughter. “I do not.”
Like it or not, these two are upfront, name-wise anyway, in this project called SnarskiCircusLindyBand, – and yes, that is written as one word, with internal capitalisation. A name that deserves its own thesis as well as its own shelf for length alone.
Is this another product of two people who can’t agree on the time of day or the state of the weather? Or proof that they both love the circularity of King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard but thought they should have gone a step further?
“Originally it was one or the other,” says Snarski. “I used to refer it as Lindy Band, and Lindy didn’t like that attention: it was too much. She doesn’t like the spotlight, she is actually very shy [Morrison chuckles away in her corner]. I remember a review in Melbourne which referred to us as Snarski Circus, and we combined the two.
“I sent Lindy a list of about 20 [names] after we had suggested this one, and none of them seemed to work. It is ludicrous, and it is kind of apt as well. The circus part? Try and organise people who are really quite busy in other musical projects, and with their own lives.”
And here I was thinking the “Circus” part was just these two in conversation.
“It was Rob’s suggestion and I did run it by [former head of EMI, and alumni of Patrician Brothers Fairfield, by the way] John O’Donnell,” says Morrison. “And he said it was the worst band name he had ever heard. The worst one. He said get rid of that. But other people said it’s a really great band name.”
Typically for this duo, both things are true: it is the worst band name, it’s also brilliant. We wouldn’t want it any other way. And look, it features Morrison in lyric writing mode, on a fuzzed up, fizzed up song that might surprise those expecting your more organic, folk/soul areas normally associated with Snarski.
“I love cowriting, when it’s with the right person,” says Snarski. “Generally it works really well. I haven’t done a lot in recent times, apart from with Lindy. This is new to us as well: Lindy has just started writing lyrics. For example, one of the songs on the record, Since I Slept With You, Everybody Wants To Sleep With Me, is Lindy’s, and I just tinkered with it a little bit.”
He says he offered a choice of three styles of music he could put her words to “and she ticked the box ‘fast and furious’.” so that’s what they got.
“I wanted it to be, musically, a little bit Only Ones, a little bit Buzzcocks, but I think it turned out to be more like Supergrass meets The Banana Splits or something,” he says. “It’s so poppy it’s like the Archies.”
Morrison says that as soon as O’Mara heard it “he said ‘I’m singing that’. This is a man who has never sung before.”
What madness is this? So, when did these two realise that this ridiculousness of coexistence actually made sense?
For Morrison, there is no oddness at all, pointing out that they both came up through the alternative music scene, growing up in “the same subculture of music … we both know where we belong, and it’s not in the mainstream”.
“It just seems to me a natural progression,” she says. “Apart from the fact that he is a lot younger – but he started a lot younger – he writes such beautiful, melodic songs and I tend to work with the very best songwriters. As we all know [she laughs]. Robert, what do you think?”
Brace yourself people, here comes another shock.
“I agree with what you said, Lindy,” says Snarski. “We’ve got a lot of similar records, we both read NME, and I guess we grew up outside of the bigger cities. We didn’t grow up in Sydney or Melbourne, and there’s a sense of being a little bit of an outsider, a bit socially uncomfortable, and clumsy.”
A bit socially uncomfortable and clumsy? And how does that sometimes manifest itself, you might ask. Well, let’s go to the band’s origin tale.
“Lindy came up to me after a [solo Snarksi] show, and she’d had a few drinks, and was feeling quite vulnerable, and essentially berated me for playing such sad, slow songs, and said she would never see me again. It was goodbye, farewell,” says Snarski. “And then several weeks later I was playing down in Canberra with Peter Milton Walsh [another habitué of Brisbane, and a man not unacquainted with sad, slow songs] and she sent an email saying look, I think I might come down and see the show. I thought well that’s a turnaround, but if you’re going to do that why don’t you bring a snare and sit in on some of those songs and see if you enjoy playing them more than maybe listening to them.”
It went well enough that one time for them to go again. And again. Shows as a duo followed. Then the new songs. Then the new band. Then the mini-album, Someone Said That Someone Said. Hallelujah, clearly this is a marriage made in …
“Although we sort of clash and sound like an old married couple, essentially, at the end of it all, we really celebrate being able to enjoy playing music together,” Snarski says.
“It’s an absolute joy mostly. When we are not wading through the arguments.”
SnarskiCircusLindyBand launch Someone Said That Someone Said at:
The Great Club, Marrickville, May 26
Carrington Hotel, Katoomba, May 27
Brunswick Ballroom, Brisbane, June 3
It’s Still A Secret, Brisbane, June 16 (evening) and June 17 (afternoon).
Darwin Railway Club, July 8
The Wheaty, Adelaide, July 15 (evening) and July 16 (afternoon)