After A 30-Year Absence Brisbane Post-Punk, New-Wave Rockers The Goths Are Back

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The Goths are a new wave, post punk band from Brisbane. The Goths are a new wave, post punk band from Brisbane.

The Goths were a two-piece post punk, new wave gothic outfit who originally formed in Brisbane and released three albums in the early '90s before calling it quits.

Some two and a half decades later it was during the '10s when guitarist-singer Johnny Stowmarries reactivated the group after receiving overseas interest.

Lovingly restoring the band's back catalogue and uploading to several DSPs, Johnny now has plans to form a new backing band to tour The Goths' back catalogue (original singer, bass player Percy Blakeney now lives in Japan) as well as recording material for a possible new album.

What's the elevator pitch for The Goths; what's the history and what's the future?
We are a mainstay Brisbane underground duo from the late '80s, best known for our three LPs: 'Lost Art', 'Creature Feature', and 'Evocations' – all original songs out now on Spotify and more; songs we first performed at our nocturnal shows, the Bohemian, Bertie's & Metropolis, The Sitting Duck, The Dead Rat, and as one of the first acts at The Zoo.

The future is? I'm back, Johnny Stowmarries, and working to get back on stage with a small backing band to showcase the songs past, present and future. Yes, I am planning a new album in the future.

What sparked the renewed interest to re-activate the band, releasing the back catalogue on streaming platforms?
In March 2015, The Goths were the MuSlate Featured Artist Of The Week for my song 'Neck Romancer'. It gained 10 million views on YouTube, sparking renewed interest in audiences to re-activate the band.

That led me to release our back catalogue on the mainstream music platforms, Spotify, Apple et al. To undertake this has taken me literally years because from time to time, I'm DIY-ing this, it does unfortunately end up shelved from time to time. But persistence pays off.

The interest in the band now stretches far and wide internationally; to have people (fans as well as music industry) from Europe and North America still connecting with your music must be extremely satisfying?
It is extremely satisfying receiving feedback whether it's from fans, followers on social media or from the industry, record labels, radio stations or entertainment publishers, it means recognition of our artistry.

It's been a big driver to me continuing to put out more work behind our success to date. It's beyond satisfaction – it's led to my releases with Wave in Brazil and Desdoble in Mexico thus far.

The Goths music is rooted in many respects to classic repertoires across the punk, new wave, post punk aesthetics; what attracts you to these styles?
Personality-wise, I think I've always been attracted to a certain level of gloominess.

It's got me like, what affect does listening to something like 'Eleanor Rigby' or 'Paint It Black' have on you as a child? At some point it becomes you, your favourite songs. You then progress to the punk, new wave, post punk aesthetic rather naturally.

It's not exactly a conscious move. It's more a process of osmosis. I've loved all music from as long as I can remember, and punk, new wave and post punk happened to me when I was a teenager.

Pride, newness and abundance of artistry attracted me to its particular styles, and continues to attract me today. My emphasis is on the glam and escapism aspects, however, that period in popular music, 1979 to the early '80s, contributed enormously to music.

With Percy now living in Japan, what is the future direction the group; are you wanting to remain the sole songwriter while building a backing band that'll allow you to tour The Goths back catalogue?
That's very much the idea. I've managed to get over 120,000 streams on Spotify in a relatively short space of time. I didn't have to try too hard. My audience is burgeoning in 2022.

I think putting on a show is the only logical way forward. But it will have to be a professional undertaking this time. What I want to do is team with a music industry company focussed on bringing my material and image up to today. I've got plans for a new album that can work via re-releasing my existing stuff.

Take us back to the band's open-ended residency at The Bohemian Cafe; those must've been integral moments in the band's rise to fame at the time?
The achievement Percy and I had at the Bohemian I liken to The Beatles in Hamburg and The Cavern Club.

It wasn't just writing albums worth of material, but honing the sound, the image, the concepts, everything. It was because we put ourselves out there with barely our boots on, and we had a go.

Before we started at the Boho, I'd demoed a couple of songs. I was totally green, but fortunately those demos turned out classics and set us on a path of recording. Our first performance at the Boho we were equally green, but the integral moments started coming thick and fast.

'Raven' was our first single, then 'Quest' was a success with the regulars, then 'Crusade' opened up a sort of a fandom. The inception of those numbers, then becoming seasoned performers as a result of fans at the Bohemian becoming fans of our songs, set us up.

We progressed to transforming ourselves, and at the Boho we became more skilled in directing and improving our work. Our Boho audiences became more responsive and resulted in more audiences leading to our rise to fame.

Our timing was right. It made us more innovative, creative and inventive and gave us more know-how, confidence and poise.

Who were some of your contemporaries during the band's original run; how entrenched in the local scene were you guys?
We had so little to do with other bands or the local scene because all our performances were exclusive.

We never appeared on a bill with anyone else, we never supported any other act, and no act ever supported us. Purple Avengers played a gig just a few doors down from the Bohemian, and that was about it with bumping into contemporaries.

Our entrenchment in the local scene occurred quite a lot earlier than our first Boho gig in 1989. Percy and I separately went out to see bands before we formed. For me, I went to Amyl's a lot and The Tube Club in the mid-'80s.

There were an assortment of post-punk bands in Brisbane at the time. I regard it as the biggest era of live rock in Brisbane history: Mystery Of Sixes, Vampire Lovers, The Black Assassins, The Screaming Tribesmen, Presidents 11, The Skeletones, The Go-Betweens, Pineapples From The Dawn Of Time, Batswing Saloon to name a few. Clearly it drove me to pursue music over everything from then on.

It's hard to imagine for the current generation of music lovers just how different the scene was back in the '80s-'90s Brisbane for anyone who was slightly alternative; tattoos, piercings, different hairstyles and clothes could get your pulled over by the cops; I'm sure you have some wild tales of your own; what are are your recollections of that era and how it fuelled the creative passion of so many?
Fortunately for us, when we first played live at the Bohemian we'd just had the Australia-changing Fitzgerald Inquiry, and Wayne Goss from Labor had just won the state election, so the entire tide of victimisation of anyone slightly alternative; tattoos, piercings, different hairstyles and clothes, began to turn.

Back when we formed in the mid '80s, victimisation by police was all too common and it was usual. You could get pulled over by the cops. I was extremely lucky because when I was pulled over, the cops were frustrated in never finding even a slight reason to accost or arrest me.

But I count myself lucky. It paid to hide in the shadows, so to speak, back then. How it fuelled the creative passion of so many, post-Fitzgerald, I think is interesting. There was a noticeable hollowing-out of the movement of bands I just listed for a start.

When we entered the scene, it struck us as being a post-modern equivalent of what went before. It became the new beginnings of a subculture that was turning to the production of art and media, a bit more of an anti-corporatist approach to producing music. Soon after our de-activation in 1993, bands like Regurgitator came to the fore.

In terms of modern technology, have you embraced the digital revolution especially in terms of recording, using modern equipment?
I'd demoed all of our song recordings on my Tascam Porta 05, and I began in 2013 remastering these in a state-of-the-art studio.

I mean, it's ridiculous looking back now at my rig from the Bohemian days. For effects, I had a 1986 Boss DD-3 and a 1983 Boss CS-3 that I moved up with a 1991 Korg A5. I had a 1989 Shure 48 and a 1987 Roland PR-100 through which I sequenced a Boss DR-660, which I mixed through a 1988 SoundLab 4 channel mono Micromixer into my 1978 Roland Cube 60.

Almost every one of those individual takes, with the exception of 'Arch', were replaced or otherwise edited using a customised JNP Cubasis 2 digital audio studio in the 2010s. 'Arch' was different because I worked with Logic Pro on a Mac at the Aldergrove. Live recording and using gear is much simpler and functioning nowadays.

On the flip, any old-school techniques you still utilise when you're in the studio?
Definitely, I am old school. For 'Arch', I used my 1973 Fender Telecaster Custom and 1978 Roland Cube 60, and my 1969 Musicmaster bass.

I started with a track of just power-chords. I added a lead guitar part that was just a chordal melody of the theme. Laid down a bass track, just a simplest common fifth. Double-tracked my vocals an octave apart, added some very basic percussion and keyboards and a very basic thunder sound effect. The whole thing was done in an hour or two.

What's next for The Goths?
Very much my idea is putting on a show. But it will have to be a professional undertaking this time. This article should help any entrepreneurs out there to get a handle on what The Goths represents going forward. Making a show out of The Goths will involve a switched on company to work with.

Thanks for your time; anything else you'd like to add?
The pleasure's mine; The Goths played in front of hundreds if not thousands, considering our frequency of gigs, every weekend nights, in many cases till the sun started coming up over our active three years.

I've devoted a lot of time writing about it, from books and articles to short grabs. There are bound to be lots who saw us and remember us to the present day.

We welcome readers coming forward and sharing their recollections with us, and I would like very much to publish more about us, in particular, sharing with our listeners our stories and the meanings behind our songs. I can't wait to getting more songs and other material out there soon.



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