When Regurgitator followed up their heavy-hitting rap-rock 1996 debut album, 'Tu-Plang', with the '80s-inspired sophomore 1997 release 'Unit', people thought they were crazy. 'Unit' won five ARIA Awards.
When they abandoned their award-winning sound and went back to hip hop on 2001 release 'Eduardo And Rodriguez Wage War On T-Wrecks', people again thought they were crazy.
Well, after 25 years, the 'Gurge are about to embark on the biggest tour ever, while many of their contemporaries are relics of history. Are they crazy? Yeah, crazy like a fox.
2019 marks the silver band anniversary for the alternative pioneers from Brisbane; founding member Ben Ely reflects upon the secrets to maintaining his long and happy creative union with Quan Yeomans for a quarter of a century. “It is pretty unusual; you kind of get sick of your family after 25 years sometimes; not all of them, some of them are alright," Ben says.
“I think the secret is that we used to take it pretty seriously when we started, we used to fight a lot. But I think over the years, we’ve learnt to not care so much and learnt how each other works and how to treat each other, and get along in a positive kind of way.”
For Ben, the band’s perpetual reinvention and genre swapping has also been a longevity tonic as he explains. “We can do a lot of different styles and do whatever we want, whereas I think if we were just a middle-of-the-road rock band or just had one sort of sound, I think we would have left it years ago.”
For Ben and Quan, the economic realities of being in a band in Australia have meant that working with Regurgitator full-time hasn’t been feasible in the long term, which has forced them to pursue outside interests; Ben works in visual art, while Quan makes music for cartoons.
Their time apart, Ben says, makes their time together more fruitful. “When we do get together, it’s like ‘oh that guy, how are you going mate, haven’t seen you for ages’, and you really appreciate each other’s company when you do have that space away.”
Even after all this time, though, Ben is continually surprised by the opportunities that being in Regurgitator present. They just released a kids album. Who would’ve expected that from a band whose opening track from their debut album was 'I Sucked A Lot Of Cock To Get Where I Am'?
“People like sport because ‘oh, what’s going to happen’, and music’s a pretty cool vehicle for that because there’s always these nice surprises along the way and you don’t know what’s going to appear or what our manager’s going to call and say. We’ve found ourselves in some very strange situations over the years.”
They’ve played gigs in the desert, been a band in a bubble and toured with some of the biggest names (including The Prodigy and Red Hot Chili Peppers). But it doesn’t take Ben long to identify his favourite tours. “I would have to say the Big Day Outs, which were the most amazing touring experiences that we’ve ever had – especially during the '90s, meeting and playing with all these amazing musicians that you love.
“Touring with Devo was a really big highlight for us because we’d always been such huge fans and they were my first favourite band. That was really a pinch-yourself moment.”
For their 'Quarter Pounder - 25 Years Of Being Consumed' tour, Regurgitator are bringing along The Fauves, a band they spent plenty of time with travelling in Taragos back in the '90s, as well as Japan’s sugar-punk-power popsters Shonen Knife; the tour is another brain bubble turned into reality.
“You start to think about it and think 'that can’t happen, that’s too crazy', and then I spoke to our manager Paul and he goes 'no, I think we can do that',” Ben says.
“That’s a really nice feeling to have this cool project where you can do that kind of stuff, and we’re really grateful for our fans because the sort of people who come to our show and support us really allow us to come up with this stupid stuff.”
While Ben is coy about revealing the complete details of what the ‘Quarter Pounder’ stage show will entail, fans can expect an audio-visual retrospective spectacular that will be full of surprises.
“I don’t want to give away the show, but there’s going to be multiple acts with costume changes and video content. It will be spanning our career. There will be some special moments in the show.”
While the ‘Quarter Pounder’ tour will make pit stops at the Caloundra Music Festival (Sunshine Coast) and Lost Lands (Werribee, VIC), they have something special lined up for Brisbane: a two-day 'Gurge fest featuring Screamfeeder and a host of other bands from the '90s Fortitude Valley scene.
With such a prolific and eclectic back catalogue to revisit, Ben says the band are making some uncustomary pre-tour preparations. “We’re playing songs that we’ve never played, haven’t played for years as well. So we’re going to do a lot of rehearsing which we never do, so we’ll probably be able to actually play this tour; just joking, but yeah, not joking.”
Regurgitator Australia Tour 2019Fri 4 Oct - Monash Uni (Melbourne)
Sat 5 Oct - Westernport Hotel (San Remo)
Sun 6 Oct - Caloundra Music Festival
Fri 11 Oct - Tanks Arts Centre (Cairns)
Sat 12 Oct - Darwin Surf Club
18-19 Oct - The Gov (Adelaide)
Sun 20 Oct - Uni Bar (Hobart)
Thu 24 Oct - The Basement (Canberra)
Fri 25 Oct - Kingscliff Beach Hotel
26-27 Oct - The Tivoli Theatre (Brisbane)
Fri 1 Nov - Prince Bandroom (Melbourne)
Sat 2 Nov - Corner Hotel (Melbourne)
Sun 3 Nov - The Lost Lands (Melbourne)
Thu 7 Nov - The Cambridge Hotel (Newcastle)
8-9 Nov - The Metro Theatre (Sydney)
Sun 10 Nov - UoW UniBar (Wollongong)
Fri 15 Nov - The Astor (Perth)
Sat 16 Nov - Metropolis (Fremantle)