2021 seems to have become a bit of a conundrum for Regurgitator frontman Quan Yeomans.
On the one hand, he's stoked to be back playing live and loud with an "extended family" of audience members, but on the other, the constantly changing schedule means he "literally has no idea what's going on".
"To be honest, I've just not been paying attention at all in the last six months, because every time my manager sends me through something it's like, 'These are the updated dates, rescheduled for the 12th or 13th time,' and I just have stopped looking because you can't plan anything these days, it feels like.
"I just go, 'Oh, we're going this weekend? Wow, alright, that's amazing. Let's do it'," he laughs.
"'How do you play these songs again?' That's all I have to kind of take care of – googling my lyrics and remembering the chord progressions and stuff."
The band dusted themselves off at Yeomans' mother Lien's 80th birthday fundraiser in April, which was their first live show in over a year. Quan says it was an emotional experience – not just because there were a lot of friends and family present.
"That definitely added to it," he says, "but you really feel that extended family feeling when you're in front of a crowd now, because you haven't been with them for so long.
"So there is this kind of instant connection and instant relief that you can do the things that you love together again. That's a really special thing.
"And it is, when you have that feeling of sensory deprivation as well, that, 'Oh my God, I haven't experienced loud music for so long'.
"I had it for the first time when I did the 'Spicks And Specks' thing in the middle of the lockdown, or towards the end of one of them in Melbourne. I was allowed to go and shoot one of the shows at the ABC, and saw a band that they brought in to do some covers.
"They were a soccer band playing live instruments, and I hadn't heard live instruments for a year – it wasn't rock music or anything, it was just brass and steel drums and stuff like that – but it was just so phenomenal. I really felt that sensory deprivation and that 'wow' feeling again."
Regurgitator will be sharing a stage at the Enmore Theatre (Sydney) next month with extended family of a different kind, when they perform with Custard and Front End Loader
"Well obviously we poached Front End Loader's drummer many, many years back; he's still the ring-in after 23 years or whatever it's been, 22 years? He's always going to be the ring-in," Yeomans laughs.
"But Pete's great. I feel sorry for him that he has to play two shows that night, that's never a good thing, especially for a drummer I think. But yeah, we've played so many shows with both those bands over the years, especially in the mid-'90s. They were definitely among the first lot of guys that we played with.
"I've seen Dave McCormack recently; I think I saw him in Sydney for some sort of bushfire benefit we did last year or the year before? God, I can't even remember now. He seems well. He's got his whole Bluey thing going on, and he's doing the dad thing as well in the suburbs somewhere in Sydney.
"But yeah, it's just nice to be able to do all these kind of runs with all these '90s bands we were kind of formed with in our formative years and got to know – or didn't get to know particularly well, because we were too shy or too competitive at the time – but kind of re-connecting with as older gentlemen, and ladies if there happened to be any in the line-up.
"It'll be good to catch up again and just see how we feel about it again after all this time, more than anything else. So a nostalgia trip for the audience and also for ourselves, which is cool."
Yeomans jokes that "everyone was competitive" back in the day, which probably came with the territory in a creative environment. "I mean, when you're growing up and you're young and you're playing in bands, everyone's competing with everyone," he laughs.
"There's always a band that leaves you in their dust, and you're always leaving someone in your dust. . . I think you have to have something to fight towards and people to bitch about and stuff like that, it’'s like any job or industry.
"It's a completely different ball game now, I think. Being on stage again is just a fun thing for us to do. It's weird that we've just gone on doing the same sort of stuff that we have done for the last 25 years, nothing has really changed.
"We've moved along at a snail's pace, really. Neither going up nor down, just going at a really conservative trajectory, I guess you could say."
That's not to say the 'Gurge haven't mixed things up a little bit. They have been performing the past few years as children's entertainers under the guise of Regurgitator's Pogogo Show – even getting an ARIA nomination in 2019 – but don't expect them to swap 'sucking cocks' for 'sucking lollipops' full-time just yet.
"I always love the reaction that ('I Sucked A Lot Of Lollipops') gets from parents. . . And sometimes I find myself almost slipping as well, which is kind of funny," Yeomans says.
"I mean yeah, being a child's entertainer is pretty tough. I think Ben and I have kind of realised it was fun at first, but now it's kind of like, 'Woah'. It really takes a certain kind of personality to pull it off over a career, that's for sure.
"So I'm not sure how long we'll do it for. It was literally the first show back up in Cairns like, two weeks ago, and the first one was great but we had to do another one back to back and the second one was not as good.
"After the first show we were both like, ‘Oh, that's why we do it, it's fun!' It's so silly, and we just kind of wing it. Second show we were like, 'Oh, that's why we don't really enjoy it that much'."
Having been "smacked in the face" with the necessity of finding a work-life balance after having his own family, Yeomans says it's crucial not to overdo it on either side.
"As soon as you have kids you kind of have to slow down, because time is not the same, it's so much more precious and you want to spend enough time with your kids so that they know who you are, and you know them a little bit.
"You also have to feed the creative monster that's inside you as well. So yeah, it's a really tricky balance to get right."
At the peak of their career, Regurgitator would have been performing up to 150 shows every year, "which was ridiculous," but Quan considers them lucky to still be performing 30 to 50 shows a year without COVID disruptions, including touring festivals like Spring Loaded.
"I think the only reason we do it is it just feels fun to still do. And, you know, our muscles and bones are still working, so that's good. It's a nice little exercise regime, I guess you could say. A 25-year-old exercise regime. That's pretty much what being in this band is like.
"It's weird, when you're working on something that's timeless in a sense, because you have to play the songs a certain way and the only thing that alters is your body and your mind, then yeah, you have that kind of perspective change over the years.
"And, at this point, or for the last decade or so, I guess we've actually got a handle on it probably better than we did when we started.
"I think at the beginning we were just touring so much it became a very hit and miss kind of thing with how good we were live. And of course, there were heaps of personality clashes in the early days as well.
"Now it feels like we just tour like a family and it's fun to see each other and we get on stage and just have a good time. There's no roughness and there's no clashing going on behind the scenes, so we always give it as much as we can on stage.
"I do remember there being a lot more up and down in terms of consistency in the early days. Like, I do remember very clearly we'd have a run of two or three good shows and then definitely one that was just terrible. I don't really know why that is.
"Maybe it was a lot to do with gear, as well? Like, gear consistency back then was a lot more dicey, because we had to travel with amps and drum kits even on aeroplanes; God, I can't even think of doing that now, it's just insane.
"Whereas now all of my gear is pretty much digital, and I just have a stomp box on the ground and that's it. And we use in-ears now, which kind of makes singing a little easier.
"You know, there were all these monitor issues back then as well. So yeah, in terms of technology a lot of it has changed to make it more consistent, also."
Spring Loaded will be "a mega flashback" for the band, and a completely different vibe to touring with Groovin The Moo a few years ago. "That was a strange vibe for us, we felt so old," Yeomans says of the experience.
"I mean, you could tell the whole crowd was like, Spotify assisted, AI-assisted, because there were just kids that had never ever heard of us I don't think. It was kind of like standing in front of 15,000 people and being completely ignored for the most part.
"But yeah, it was interesting. And there were some great bands to see, like young bands that I'd never seen before, so that was cool."
Yeomans admits if he wasn't in a band himself he wasn't sure how much effort he would put into going to see live music, because he'd "probably be a quiet nerd working away on a computer somewhere", but as introverted as he may be, he's not a fan of livestreaming.
"I mean, you realise how important the environment is. I tried watching, I think it was The Hives, on one of those televised internet shows, where they were just in a room with a film crew, and I was just like, 'Oh, I love this band'. I've seen them live and they're phenomenal live – one of the best rock bands live, ever – and I was just like, 'This sucks. This really sucks!'," he laughs.
"I mean, this is my opinion, but for me streaming just doesn't cut it at all. I didn't enjoy it at all, I literally felt awkward watching it. It was just weird.
"I don't know, for some people maybe they enjoy it, and it's one way to keep in touch with your favourite music and bands, but for me it felt like it really was unnecessary and it didn't really achieve anywhere near what it was aiming to achieve.
"I would kind of just prefer to watch them just chat about stuff in an armchair than watch them play music like that. It just felt really; I don’t know, like an extended music video or something like that. Something really staged and really kind of unnatural. But these are the times we live in, unfortunately."
For Regurgitator fans, there is the promise of new music on the horizon; and there's even better news if you like their old stuff better than their new stuff. "I think we are going to release something fairly '90s-oriented, you know, all the classic tropes, some rap-rock and all that kind of stuff. Bad kind of sounds, terrible drum sounds, all that kind of thing," Yeomans laughs.
"So yeah, there may be something on the horizon, I think. For better or worse. But I've been writing a lot of lyrics and mucking around with some production stuff, so yeah, it should be not too far off in the future."Regurgitator will be joined by Custard and Front End Loader at Enmore Theatre (Sydney) 9 July. The band also play Spring Loaded festival. Regurgitator's POGOGO Show headlines Spark Ipswich's Little Day Out at Ripley Town Centre (Ipswich) 18 July (9am, 1pm sessions). The 25th anniversary digital deluxe edition of their classic 'Tu Plang' album is available now. The album will also be released on a special 25th anniversary picture disc vinyl on 5 November, 2021.
Spring Loaded 2021 Tour Dates
Sat 19 Jun - Bribie IslandSat 26 Jun - AdelaideFri 23 Jul - DarwinSat 23 Oct - WollongongSat 27 Nov - Mornington Peninsula