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TUMBLEWEED - Musical legends in Australia, the ‘stoner rock’ riffs of Wolllongong’s Tumbleweed inspired a whole generation of music lovers when they emerged in 1990s from the seeds of the Proton Energy Pills. Tumbleweed burst onto the scene in a huge way by gaining infamy courtesy of a national support slot to the one and only Australian tour by the legendary Nirvana back in 1992.

Originally signed to the revolutionary Australian in...dependent label, Waterfront Records, the band’s debut release was a 7” single, “Captain’s Log”, recorded by Mudhoney frontman Mark Arm and legendary Seattle producer Jack Endino. With their single “Stoned”, an EP titled Weedseed and the single “Acid Rain” making them bigger by the day, the ‘Weed’s self-titled debut album (out locally on Waterfront Records) was released to massive praise and chart sales, resulting in a rather quick signing to the American giant Atlantic Records’ subsidiary Seed – although that’s another story!

It didn’t take long for Australia’s major labels to realise that a national treasure existed in the fivepiece, after which Polydor Records became the recording home of Tumbleweed in ‘92. (Incidentally, Polydor/Polygram later came under the umbrella of Universal Music Australia). Tumbleweed released the (in)famous albums Galactaphonic and Return To Earth, all the while undertaking countless tours around the country as well as throughout the UK.

Despite their chequered history with its many ups and downs including several band line-up changes, Tumbleweed has survived many an ordeal to prove that they’re still a force to be reckoned with. Sporadically releasing few singles since the release of the Return To Earth, the band hit back in the new millennium with their long awaited fourth album, Mumbo Jumbo, out in June 2000 through Universal Records.

Thankfully, having arrived at the same age, Spiderbait itself is in somewhat better shape. A year ago the rockin' trio enjoyed the first number one Australian single of an already illustrious career with their high-octane cover of Huddie Ledbetter's "Black Betty". The album it announced, Tonight Alright, went on to earn platinum sales status, pushing the group's collective sales of their six albums towards the 500,000 mark.

The extensive touring that followed the hit single and album reminded anyone who saw a show on the 2004 jaunt that whether controlling the main stage at the Big Day Out or creating chaos in a packed club, Spiderbait remained a blistering live proposition: Kram flailing at his drums, Janet resolutely slamming her bass and Whitt coaxing out waves of noise from his guitar.

But something odd was happening after each show: "We'd talk to these excited kids who didn't know our previous albums," recalls Kram. "It was like Tonight Alright was our debut album in some ways."

To apply a swift bump to the knowledge base of their new fans, not to mention compiling the highlights of a varied and invigorating back catalog for longtime supporters, Spiderbait have put together Greatest Hits.

Running in reverse chronological order - it begins with new single "On My Way" and "Black Betty" and ends with 1991's "Circle K" - Greatest Hits is a reminder of how Spiderbait have combined their punk rock roots with an appreciation of pop song craftsmanship. It has concise guitar anthems ("Buy Me A Pony" - #1 on JJJ's 1996 Hottest 100), metal mayhem ("Sam Gribbles"), the best song the Jackson 5 never recorded ("Stevie"), moshpit madness ("Calypso") and a fitting tribute to the genius of The Goodies ("Run"). It is, in short, a plethora of riches. With three talented songwriters, Spiderbait have never been confined by genre or the expectations of others. "We definitely aren't a normal band," Kram admits. "There's a singing drummer, a painter bassist who doesn't smoke and a partying guitarist - but all of that helps make us unique."

In this era of truncated careers, it is no small achievement for a band to not only survive 15 years together, but to come out of it still enjoying the experience of writing and playing together. "There's two main reasons why we've stayed together so long: the first is that we've always remained close and the second is that if we ever made any money we always split it equally," explains Kram. "Everyone's always been willing to compromise in order to keep things running smoothly."

The seeds of that bond were planted in the small southern NSW town of Finley, where all three members of Spiderbait grew up. The band formed in Melbourne in 1990 after all three members had relocated there, and they soon graduated from raucous house parties to the city's stages.

Influential but now defunct independent label Au-go-go issued "Circle K" in 1991 and Spiderbait's debut long player, ShaShaVaGlava, in 1993. Following the cataclysmically catchy "Jesus" single, Spiderbait began their partnership with Universal Music in 1995 with The Unfinished Spanish Galleon of Finley Lake, which brought them to national prominence and earnt them a gold album.

In 1996 enjoyed further success when their authoritative third album, Ivy And The Big Apples, sold over 180,000 copies and earnt the band several ARIA Awards. After extensive touring locally and overseas, Spiderbait recorded their most complex studio creation, 1999's Grand Slam, which was followed by 2001's The Flight Of Wally Funk.
"We have been around quite a while," marvels Kram. "It's crazy, it really is. We're a lot more easygoing these days, just happy to be in a band together, but at the same time, after all the recent touring, we're playing better than ever."

With the 22 tunes on Greatest Hits as compelling evidence, long may it be that way.

HYTEST - The brainchild of 2 longtime friends Michael Curley (guitar) and Luke Armstrong (bass), found life in an old jam room in Tarrawanna, Wollongong, With Adam Rogan on drums the three rock'n'roll undergraduates with a love of all things rock, punk, and stoner, soon gained reputation locally and interstate for their destructive and chaotic live shows.


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