Sunday, 8 June 2008

RE-DIRECTION NOTICE: click on this text!


Friday, 6 June 2008

West Australian

Today a story on the film has appeared in The West Australian. I myself have not yet seen this story. However, should any person feel that the story reflects any form of unsavoury direction for the film that uneccessarily invades David's privacy, they should please accept my assurances I have no such intentions. This man of poetic grace will be remembered as such. Read my other posts: I don't feel they reflect any such intent. I am, however, intent on making the life story of a great artist. I do not suffer dirt diggers gladly and understand others who feel the same.

Monday, 26 May 2008

And in Dave Flick news in brief today....

Emails. Easy to read. Harder to read into. Some make your heart leap, others make them sink. And, happily, some make you think. They're the best ones. Off to Sydney this weekend to visit one Sally Collins, former Triffids manager. Stay tuned for reports...

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen! Mr MICK THOMAS!

Mick Thomas Added to Love in Bright Landscapes Benefit Bill

Fresh the triumphant reunion tour of the legendary Weddings, Parties Anything, MICK THOMAS confirms his appearance at The Corner Hotel June 22!

And.... the 'voice' of Triple R"s Sunday afternoons, the man for whom thematic wrangling and tangling is second nature:
Mr Jonnie Von Goes.



Mr. Charles Jenkins!
Diving Bell
The Mime Set, featuring Mr Sean Whelan who will read a Dave poem to music!
Mr. Mick Thomas
and.... The Blackeyed Susans Trio

We will be auctioning off LOTS OF GREAT STUFF YOU WILL LOVE..... on the day, to raise money to make the film.

SO: come and drink, see the bands, catch up with you fellow friends/fans, enjoy a superb afternoon evening and help us

Tuesday, 13 May 2008


News Flash!


Mr. Charles Jenkins
The Diving Bell
The Mime Set, featuring Mr Sean Whelan who will read a Dave poem to music!
The Blackeyed Susans Trio

We will be auctioning off LOTS OF GREAT STUFF YOU WILL LOVE..... on the day, to raise money to make the film.

SO: come and drink, see the bands, catch up with you fellow friends/fans, enjoy a superb afternoon evening and help us MAKE OUR FILM.




Because I work for a magazine during the day ( I have been sent the latest series of Triffids re-issues. Now, I'd admit a certain bias given my all encompassing thirst for all things Dave related... but they are exceptional. They look, sound and feel superb.... As many of you will have read, Treeless Plain has been re-created from its original 8 track (8!) masters by the person who created them in the first place, Nick Mainsbridge (who also produced Dave's Love of Will). I love the powerful , melodic simplicity of the songs, remembering that TP contains bona fide Dave classics in the form of Red Pony and Hell of a Summer. It also contains the glorious My Baby Thinks She's A Train (with early '80s Aus music's coolest guitar hook; open to hearing a slinkier, tighter, cooler one; nice work R McComb) , a song Lynden Barber was enthused about in Sydney back in January. Beautiful Waste should be bought because it contains one of David's greatest lyrics combined with one of The Triffids' finest. most fiery performances in the form of Field of Glass. And it's never been issued on CD before. Amazing in 2008! BW also contains the Lawson Square Infirmary EP with notes on the story of its recording by James Paterson. G Lee has seen fit – happily – to include some of Dave's scrawls on inspirational films, songs he wanted to flag for reference when they were recording, etc. So, BW sounds like what it is; a note from the past that tells us something about the time and place from whence it came. Also... that big radio station in Sydney... what 's it called? :) Back in the day they recorded a live Triffids set (before G Lee joined the band, right on the eve of recording Treeless Plain) containing Old Ghost Rider, My Baby ,Hell of a Summer and more. The opening interview/introduction is a cack. The tongue tied and rather ra ra announcer bounces in with 'we could call you a Sydney band now couldn't we?' , fresh as a daisy. Dave responds by saying "Er...No. We can't quite grant that honour just yet. But, we are IN Sydney. That's for sure"
His droll refusal to go along with the schtick goes right over the announcer's head. Gold. The Black Swan is so deep, messy sprawling and downright interesting I will have to post on this super record another time. It won't take two months this time. Promise

We're Alive

So; wondering where we'd been? Busy little bees. Bees who should have had more time to blog, but busy none the less. In the wake of Sydney , we re-thought a great deal of the film. Now, we've completed a 13,000 word documentary treatment on Love in Bright Landscapes, that we're going to circulate to key people in David's life this week for their thoughts. I personally will be quite worried if they all say 'it's fine'. But I don't feel they will somehow....! While the treatment has meant several late night sessions up late accompanied by cheap red and endlessly reinvented Dave/Triffids playlists, it's been so immersive, so intensive that it's made me think about every frame of every scene. We're off to visit The Triffids' former manager Sally Collins very soon before she jets off OS, and we'll pop in on James Paterson while we're in Sydney. Just a little note to tell you we're alive and that the film is alive and well.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Triffids Treasures

This week a small treasure trove arrived: original pictures of The Triffids from the early '80s, a copy of Son of Dungeon Tape, original fliers, old press clippings and even gig runsheets from old venues with The Triffids and other bands of the era included on them, featuring special requests such as this gem.

"James Baker is not to be paralytic before 8.30 pm" Johnny Topper , The Pelaco Brothers.

All this came courtesy of Neil Rogers from Triple R's 'Australian Mood' programme. Click on link above to see Neil's page on the RRR website. I think the fliers could maybe work together as floating montage that are assembled onscreen together like a slowly forming jigsaw puzzle over voiceover/similar.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Last Post on Sydney

Herein the Final Post on the Sydney Shows in January 2008

We burl down the hill after discovering an amazing Korean place near the Metro. We feel human again. There is beer. At the bottom of the hill lies a ferris wheel and a Chinese garden. To my consternation we are granted to shoot in both the following day. The idea is to put Marty in the ferris wheel and and interview Alsy in the Chinese garden: get the co-founder's memories flowing.

We return to the Metro , and snap up a quick backstage interview with a well spoken Toby Martin (Youth Group) who appears to possess the sort of natural, unforced, unearthly charisma that lead vocalists sell their souls to inherit. Toby is proof Dave's legacy can be enduring, he's young enough to have never seen or met Dave in any setting but finds the music astoundingly rich. Further, he truly rates him as a vocalist... and listening to soundchecks, its true; the vocalists have really had to work to hit not just the notes, but the phrasing; the real mark of really superb vocalist .... not the what, the how.

And then it's time for the show.

Those that were there, know.

For those that were not.. Graham asked me what I thought afterwards,the word that sprang to mind was 'spellbinding' . It truly was: I go to scores of shows every year, and I hear several albums a week.

I confess to being a jaded old bastard. At times.

To hear this canon of songs, the stage decked out in flowers, Dave's colleagues, friends and family on stage; made them come to life; not that they don't live on in memory and on the re-masters, but there's nothing.... nothing, like hearing these stories rendered large before an enthralled audience. Bless John McComb for his readings.

Now, I had maybe 2 or 3 reservations; the odd arrangement I didn't like, the mix on a couple of early songs, what? In the context of the show, these are meaningless. Anyone who picked these shows apart is incapable of still being made happy by music and is a hereby a WOWSER.

So.... potted highlights.

Rob Snarski singing Hell of a Summer ; like he was always supposed to sing it. He 'sang the fucking song'.
Mick Harvey delivering The Seabirds; perfect for his rather underated singing voice.
Toby Martin doing Save What You Can.
Jill doing Tarilup Bridge: still bloody ghostly after all these years; and it was spookier still live
Melanie Abrahams doing I Want to Conquer You from Love of Will just about stole the whole show.

Then, there was Steve Kilbey.
Now, excuse me...but I don't really rate him most days. Don't get me wrong: there are certain Church albums, Sometime Anywhere and Gold Afternoon Fix in particular, that I love and always will. And all the early stuff. BUT.... I've never enjoyed him live. Sorry if that ruffles the feathers of Australian Music Orthodoxy That is, I've never enjoyed him live.... until tonight. He attacked Lonely Stretch and Wide Open Road to create an atmosphere of tangible drama and tension. then on the hastily changed encore; he sang Field of Glass. The band – and they are a BAND again tonight – patently love this song – ; maybe because they never quite touched the mood Field of Glass achieved again on record. Live, its one of moments I don't think I'll ever forget. It's indescribably, violently, uplifting.

And then, the first evening is over. And there are standing ovations. Of course , the band go backstage and don't see them. they have to be told :)

It Rains. Damnably. Locations are out : the Ferris Wheel isn't running and Marty says he 'gets vertigo on a doormat'. Daubney Carshot will need to be captured elsewhere. The Chinese Garden is shut.
We do manage, ... of course, as one must. and get a laconic but absolutely fascinating hour with Marty.
There's loads, loads loads... loads more to tell.

But you'll have to get the film to see and hear more about that. won't you? :)

Stay tuned to read more about how it all pans out.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Diversion Continues

As promised I will return to A Secret in the Shape of a Song and recollections from the shoot in due course.

Any Australian readers may remember the TV show 'A Long Way to the Top; tracing the modern history of Australian music. Apart from some truly hilarious (for right and wrong reasons) moments involving The Models, it also contains Dave's last interview. The fragility of his health is apparent, but his humour is still some what intact. Paste the below into your browser or click on the title of this post to see it.

A footnote regarding The Models. A few years ago now, Melbourne radio announcer Tony Biggs (of Triple R) had some health issues and a benefit concert was held at the Espy in St Kilda. A variation of The Models line up played the show. I was in the middle of a catch up with Rob Snarski. As we tried to make ourselves heard over the aerobics lesson whining out of their synthesisers, Rob turned to me and said "You know, I just don't think I can do this", turned on his heel, and left.

Monday, 4 February 2008

I'll Be Back

For those readers wanting more on the Sydney Shows : I am beavering on some other work related to the film; normal transmission will be resumed shortly

Feb 2 2008

Dave died 9 years ago on Feb 2. I listened to Eric B and Rakim , drank some wine, and then listened to Save What You Can and Too Hot Too Move Too Hot to Think. It then occured to me that barring listening to Paid in Full , I do this most days anyway. So I started reading Tim Winton's Dirt Music instead. The combination of Dave and Winton's world finds me immersed in a WA that I am not sure exists outside the imagination.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Pk Towers, floor 55, probably Apartment number 9

Jan 17 2008
And onto the second Blackeyed Susan of the day , Mr Phil Kakulas ; possibly the coolest double bassist ever. Today though, we're starting with Phil's role as a first and last Triffid – he was in a very early lineup of the band, and then played on a few tracks of their final studio album. Phil was part of the original triumvirate of trouble: comprising himself, Alsy and Dave; Phil brings this sense of history into perspective by casually dropping into conversation that he had photos of David at his 7th birthday party – in 1968. The year of The White Album, Beggars Banquet, the Paris Riots, the Tet Offensive ...sorry, I have no idea who won the premiership that year. Four decades ago. The band went for ten years and Dave's music career 15 or thereabouts. His life ; though far shorter than it should have been, spans so much frantic , energised sheer... TIME. Phil remains a great interview: he's always been very considered, slyly funny, and rather astute. Take 1 is abandoned due to noise in the venue, so we decamp, at Phil's suggestion, to PK Towers, floor 55 just around the corner; overcast Sydney stretches around us. Phil – a music teacher – relates a wonderful thought when considering his reaction to hearing the Dalsy tapes for the first time in 30 years , the previous evening, wondering aloud if "anyone should ever have music lessons" because the tapes are so 'free". We get more on the story of Dave's involvement with The Susans and particularly the superb and highly under-rated All Souls Alive (get it if you don't already own it) ; and some discussion on co-writing takes us only into the fundamentals before time is called and Phil has to report for soundcheck duties. We decide a second interview is in order to delve further into this specific subject. On the way down in the lift I remember my fave Dave show with BES, outside Flowers Vasette in Fitzroy; Dave sort of mooched around during songs he didn't play on snapping pics of the band. He seemed so breezy and laconic that day. But that's just a memory. And they are always selective.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Recollections from the Show... part 4

Today is dress rehearsal day for the Triffids and friends. Sydney is itself. Indifferent, busy and still captivating to look at the odd moment you have spare to raise your head. I've been here so often now over the last decade it's just like .... urban furniture. Sydney is a place people come to I suppose; they move here from other places to try and reach its people, penetrate their strange superficial ether. The Triffids did – somewhat inevitably – before they decamped to London. It's wonderful watching this band feel one another out a little bit musically again, hitting their straps as they do it... ; its rehearsal; some notes aren't hit, some notes are fluffed  – ironing these things out are is what rehearsals are FOR. The moments come when a song is tired again a while later and those notes are hit, the solos are nailed, the melodies sing. For all the absence of Dave hanging over the band – that they must surely be feeling somewhat – the brilliance of his songs is driven home run through after run through. In this way, Dave will live longer than a lot of us. Cold comfort to those who'd just rather have him back around no doubt.

So.... to today's interviews. Rob Snarski. Someone I've interviewed a lot over the years. A truly, wonderful singer; it is no exaggeration at all to say that Rob is geuinely gifted; the guy just sings like an angel. Rob knew David in Perth when was in a band called Chad's Tree and Dave was in The Triffids, and eventually they made records together in The Blackeyed Susans. Rob has forewarned me that he is prepared to speak to us about Dave, but is not keen to answer questions connected specifically to music. This will make this one a little harder, but not impossible. My feeling as we roll is that Rob wants to do a good interview for the film, to perhaps play his part in ensuring an accurate and fair account is given of Dave to the audience. We're not long in and we break for Rob to have a minute – one we're perfectly prepared to give him. 9 years on from David's passing and the emotions float to the surface like that. We must be ever mindful of this with our subjects. I am thankfuk to Rob for his honesty; it's helping the film already; and it's a good reality check for us; these people are here because Dave's not, playing his music. A celebration of him and songs? Certainly; but absence tinges it all with an inevitable sadness. So all we can do now is create a captivating hour and a half that depicts why he was special, unique, timeless and brilliant. And that, is what Danielle and I are going to do.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

recollections from the show part 3

Thursday January 17
Yesterday we had a bright idea. We know we're going to get several Australia voices and perspectives on Dave in our film. It's a given. But given Europe's apparent infatuation with the Triffids/Dave we're going to need plenty of those persectives too. We're asking Fergus Linehan from Sydney Fest, but the guy's just opened his event; he's going to be just a tad busy. Then I remember a name: Lynden Barber. I knew Lynden for several years because I used to plug DVDs for a living, and he reviewed them in The Australian newspaper. I kept him well stocked in Hong Kong cinema among other things. Lynden was the director of the Sydney Film Festival for a time, but in a previous life, was a journalist on the Melody Maker and the N.M.E.
Yes: he was agent for the scurrilious agents of villiainy that fuel the UK MUSIC PRESS. But, we forgive him this ; he was one of the first scribes to recognise the sheer greatness of Dave's songs, and as he put it, the 'vim' of the The Triffids. Out of the blue we rang Lynden, and asked if we could pop around and chat to him about his recollections of speaking to the band at their dilapdated London flat in about 1984. I was rather delighted when he said yes.
So, here I am in a back st of Paddington, one of my favourite parts of Sydney. But, they grow VERY big mosquitoes here. Mutant ones. They've been to the Lucas Heights reactor for drinks and bloated to the size of winged tennis balls , and now they're biting me. Anymore of this and I'll be in what Dave used to call Club Sickup. I hate these bastards. Don't react well to them. After a minor heart attack caused by a non existent cab Ms Dan arrives camera on back to capture the thoughts of Barber on Dave. LB invites us in ; he''s got his Born Sandy Devotional vinyl out. I tell him the re-master is well worth his time. (get it if you haven't already). Outside in Lynden's back garden we mike him up. And suddenly a little moment arrives. The very first shots of our film on Dave McComb. Oooh. This is... a time to take a wee breath and get on with it. Important people are waiting! Lynden does have some genuinely riveting insights into Dave's manner; and particularly the advancement of the band's stagecraft between their 1982 selves and their brocked up 1984 UK press darling rock star selves. Well, they moved a bit more and had better shirts. Lynden also unwittingly provides a superb DVD extra/outtake by telling us about being on a plane with a journalist who was flying back from Elizabeth Taylor's funeral. I momentarily considered pedantically telling him Liz is still with us (at least in body), but knew it would ruin a moment; this proved correct as he twigged a minute later, realising the funeral must have been for one of Elizabeth's numerous husbands. Lynden had some quite unique comparisons to make: Echo and the Bunnymen I was expecting. But Julian Cope and the Teardrop explodes? Interesting one... He also made it clear; in no uncertain terms, that the Triffs, Gobies and Cave and his Birthday Circus truly DID create a real wave of interest and inspiration to the moribund UK music scene in the early '80s. All I had to do by way of thanks was help Lynden move his ancient old telly out into the street. And with that, the first interview for Love and Bright Landscapes, is in the can.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Recollections from the Show , Part 2

Jan 16 2008
Soundcheck rolls on. On and on, into the night. This band – who have played together once in 19 years and haven't played to a home audience since 1989  – are so determined to make this all work. This reminds me of theatre: going and going to all hours , until you're buggered, until it's RIGHT; working until you can reasonably demand payment from an audience by their means of money and time. Tonight Jill (Birt: Keys) and Alsy (McDonald: drums) filled me a little more on in the threat to The Cliffe, the McComb family home at Peppermint Grove where Dave often brought the band to practice (in fact the pic on the back of their final studio album The Black Swan was taken there). Dave's parents moved out in 1995. The new owner apparently refuses to entertain its preservation on the original site , although he's supposedly (?) offering to pay for the removal of the house to another location. A fascinating titbit from Alsy: the house was one of the first made of Jarrah, as opposed to brickwork, in an effort to prove that dwellings in Perth could indeed be built of wood; all apparently in the name of the people that started Bunnings, of all things. So, think of that next time YOU buy a useless father's day gift ok? The McComb family home helped create that combine...powerdrill... beer brewing, rat killing...implement of destruction you hold in your hand! However .... in all seriousness, we must shoot there before they ruin it all. Mick Harvey is singing The Seabirds. It suits his voice to a T. It is a a song written for storytellers.

Recollections from the shows. Part One

Recollections from The Shows Part 1 - Jan 16 2008

Today I walked into the Metro Theatre in George St Sydney, and there playing onstage, were The Triffids. Or more accurately, the remaining Triffids, but it was a moment; of course intellectually I had known – and been very excited – by the prospect of hearing those mighty songs in their natural, fully heated and explosive life. Equally I had known that David had died in 1999. But knowing something in your mind is nothing to feeling something intangible and unexpected. Walking in , hearing the bassline for Hell of a Summer, lyrics in the care of Australia's finest vocalist Rob Snarski (if you think I'm exaggerating, listen to a Blackeyed Susans album, then tell me your argument) , caught me at an unguarded moment. I've been listening to Dave sing in my head for two years every day as I ran over his life and this film in my mind ;and I felt his absence very keenly. Not as his fellow musicians would have done, of course; but I had just had to sit for a minute and take it in, and to be quite honest it more difficult than I expected. Oh well poor me; ha – I'm just the guy trying to make the film , Dave wasn't in MY band for over a decade, it's these fellas (of both genders) who'll really be feeling it. If things were different he'd still have stone classic songs falling out of his head and writing his superbly entertaining tour diaries, keeping his bandmates up at night watching late night movies on their hotel rooms' 'brocked up colour viewers' . and all manner of other things. But I feel we must tread carefully.

Two things occur to me at odd moments. 1) Dave might have enjoyed blogging; he was nut for lists, diaries, and screeds of correspondence. 2) He would have loved the tv show Black Books.

Soundcheck continues. They're all rolling out of the speakers. Red Pony, Save What You Can, Bury Me Deep in Love ... it's all moderately surreal. Rob McComb – Dave's brother and the Triffids' guitarist – has begun to express a cautious interest. After politely and gently drilling me on why I was interested and who Danielle and I have spoken to, he's being very supportive, introducing us to people to whom he thinks we should speak. G Lee is as enigmatic as ever, directing operations behind his pedal steel , he's solely focused on the show, as you'd expect. I think if you look up the word 'inscrutable' in the dictionary you see a picture of Graham. David used to call him Ted, as in Teddy Bear. His other more widely known nickname is 'evil', because he's not. Evil Teddy Bear. I feel a DVD extra coming on already.

My old radio friends The Blackeyed Susans arrive. Not we've ever done radio shows together, more that I've had them on to talk about their records and shows more than any other band over 14 years with Triple R (Melbourne's independent broadcaster - ; Phil Kakulas and Rob Snarski formed the BES with Dave as a kind of holiday band in the late '80s and despite Dave leaving in 1994 , the band have powered on with a series of acclaimed records. One of my fave Australian acts of all time (s!)

The Secret in the Shape of a Song

Tornado Alley Productions (that's me, your correspondent, Jonathan Alley –  and my very intrepid co-producer Danielle Karulas) have just completed our first phase of interviews and collection of initial footage , collected over three days in Sydney Australia. The remaining Triffids have just completed their tribute shows to David McComb (1962-1999) in a triumphant series of gigs entitled 'The Secret in the Shape of a Song' (taken from the song Suntrapper on the album In the Pines (1986). ))

This series of remarkable concerts, with guests The Blackeyed Susans, Chris Abrahams, Melanie Oxley. Toby Martin and Steve Kilbey among others, have done a great deal to cement David's body of work as one of the world's great 'canons of song'. Dare we say the greatest? Within Australia; assuredly. The Triffids rehearsed 44 songs (including Blackeyed Susans and solo work) and they aren't any duds. The flowers adorning the stage and the images of Dave from his childhood only accentuated his absence.

The shows , whilst partially the brainchild of Fergus Lineham of the Sydney Festival who's an admirer of David's work, were largely produced, curated and organised by The Triffids' Graham Lee, whose choice of songs and guest artists to interpret them reflected his thorough and intuitive knowledge of David's musical legacy. Graham, whose work is also reflected in the quality of the Triffids' reissues series, maintains The Triffids' website at