The Moodists were quite a sociable bunch but we never thought that what we did really resonated that much. Not with the people we were bein' sociable with anyway. It wasn't cool to be sappy and talk about anything serious. I asked a few people who were around at the time what they would say about the music scene in the early 80's.

I was an art student for the early eighties.
The Government gave me 40 bucks and I earned another 30 cleaning offices 2 nights a week. Rent was 35 dollars for a dump in Nth Fitzroy with one power point and a backyard the size of a toilet cubicle surrounded by 20 ft high brick walls. I survived on the remaining $35.
Thursday evenings I would do my cleaning job in St. Kilda Rd. then shoot down to The POW on my pushbike to catch 3 bands for free.
It was mostly happening in St. Kilda then. I was right into the local music scene and saw as many bands as I could each week at The Ballroom, Venue, St Kilda Inn. Sometimes I'd sneak back door into a gig for free by hoping I looked cool enough to be mistaken for band crew. Sheesh, I barely looked 15.
After my fill of music and a couple of beers, I'd get on the treadly and power back home along Punt Rd. On weekends I stayed in a garage by the beach and went surfing. I also hung out at Missing Link records having just polished off a free meal at Gopals Hare Krishna drop in.
I would save all the money I could for weeks on end then blitz the store and buy 10 albums at once. I hardly ever bought singles.
I left the price stickers on all my records. "Send Me A Lullaby", $6.99. UK IMPORT $17.99
When all my favourite local bands started going to London I had to have all their records. Triffids, Moodists, Go-Betweens.
I taped all that stuff onto cassette so that my vinyl could stay in mint condition in those protective plastic sleeves but that didn't stop my house mates playing, scratching, borrowing and losing my beloved vinyl.
I've still got the Moodists' records and I bring them out occasionally to grind and shudder the turntable.
Robert Tickner, musician (the Stream and now the Mysteries)


The swirling sea mist drifted into the Crystal Ballroom in St. Kilda in 1981. Through the haunted house atmosphere the singer's curly bonce appeared. Pasty faced, mouth tight like a cats' arsehole, he was crouching down in a pool of beer, moving back and forth like a one legged seagull, warbling Orbison like, calling up dead spirits from the bottomless lake of his hometown.
The guitarist stood on top of the PA stack, a never-before-invented chord ringing out from his upside down semi acoustic. The bass player - string singlet, leather pants - jaw jutting out like he was protecting the little singer, pounded the bass strings - his forearm a 'Machine Machine'.
The drummer, painted lips sneering, rusty locks glowing, sent jungle messages from her tom tom drum - out into the seedy metropolis of Fitzroy Street where hash dealers, speed freaks, taxi drivers, bent business men, drunks, toerags, transsexuals, prostitutes, the
homeless, the psychotic and the bewildered yabbered and marched up an down the street until 4 AM.
When the Moodists tore off their 'Pure Gold Flesh' country drunks visiting St Kilda for the weekend and art students quivered and convulsed together on the dance floor below them.
They argued "They played it too slow"
"That's their best song"
"No it isn't"
Kids in new black threads stared -'not getting it' - as the bass player began playing his mesmerising bass lines backwards.
Like a colonial outpost of decaying Rome the Crystal Ball room still throbbed to the pulse of the punk rock shock administered from the other side of the world. This morphed into an orgiastic feast of bands outdoing each other in displays of Style/anti Style/dumb rock/ robot rock/ fem funk/tribal techno/awkward flower pop/violence as art/noise as art/ jazz horns with drum machines.
The Crystal Ballroom had stages upstairs and downstairs and music every night of the week. You could always find a twerp in an op shop suit selling drugs and glamour hags holding court in the Birdcage Bar. Nearly every one wanted to start up a band.
To this scene the Moodists appeared as inbred country cousins playing a thrilling and regressive primitivism. 'Gone Dead' was a teenage hellride we took again and again. You couldn't hitch a ride in 'Chad's Car' because it was full of beer cans.
The Moodists slotted in perfectly with a wildly diverse group -The GoBetweens, Ed Kuepper's Laughing Clowns, the Birthday Party - who all played with an exhilirating intensity. They often played on the same bills and we followed them to other parts of town; The Tiger Lounge, The Venetian room, The Chevron. Eventually, and naturally, the Moodists took off for greener pastures and we only had 'Thirsty's Calling' & 'Engine Shudder' to call upon when we wanted to drink and dance and jump around.

Malcolm Hill (musician - solo performer. At the time of the Moodists he fronted Buick KBT and Headon)

In Melbourne’s late-1970’s underground culture, Nick Cave was a "Face"; in the Mod sense, a prominent stylist. If artists were attracted to Cave, it is because they were propelled by similar desires and trafficked in similar myths, which appeared as a Melbourne mood. All were intent on crafting a new cultural identity in a fusion of popular music, literature, film, theatre, art and fashion. Identity became a kind of performance; the slippery politics of the symbol and the psyche replaced the old politics of party and class.
When the theatrical style of Glam displaced the non-style of pub rock, the real cultural impact of dressing up and striking a pose was recognised. Style communicated; it transgressed boundaries, it broadcast one’s attitudes and became an attitude in itself. David Bowie’s many personae---alien, soul boy, Berlin bohemian--set the benchmark, but rock’s great stylists---delinquents like Gene Vincent and wannabe poets like Jim Morrison---were rediscovered.
Dressing up inevitably meant playing a part as well. Members of Melbourne’s subcultures acted out their identity, drawing inspiration from rock, art, literature and film. Rock’s most mannered performers were favoured---Bowie, Roxy Music and the Stooges---as were those cultural precedents whose theatricality challenged the conventions of everyday life---Dada, Surrealism, Expressionism.
In the tradition of the Romantics, the fusion of style and performance saw a constant, theatrical articulation of subjectivity. Costume, grooming, language, behaviour, the emotions and the intellect were joined in a celebration of the aesthetics of outsiderism. Melbourne’s mood was a bohemian one, both nostalgic and contemporary, articulated across diverse media. The boundaries between art and life, performer and audience, amateur and professional blurred, with the whole held together by the common realisation that it was symbolic language that mattered, not the medium itself.
This symbolic language drew on the great modernist precedents; romanticism, film noir, the gothic novel, black humour. Strong emotions, cathartically expressed. Passion and intelligence struggling to be heard over each other. Darkness and violence, poetry and machismo, along with a good deal of bluff and name-dropping made up Melbourne’s bohemian pantheon. The Southern Gothic novels of William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor found favour. Artaud, Rimbaud and Captain Beefheart formed a new Holy Trinity, stacked with eccentric poets.
Difference was the constant theme; new values, new media, new venues, new hybrids, new stars. But hadn’t the ’60s counterculture, and the Beatniks before them, already grafted lifestyle with aesthetics? Weren’t all those allusions to modernism’s avant-gardes just the latest chapter in bohemianism’s long narrative? Perhaps so, but there real difference in artists’ sense of escalation---the sheer diversity of the hybridisation---and above all in dissemination---the rendering popular of what was once a highly specialised mix of art, ideology and lifestyle. What began as a Melbourne mood is now a new form of culture; a distinctively Australian voice fusing romanticism and irony, invention and citation, energy and humour.
Dr Chris McAuliffe, Director of the Ian Potter Gallery at the Museum of Contemporary Art ( from catalogue for the Nick Cave exhibition/shrine at Mornington Peninsula Gallery)

I saw the 83-85 scene in London through thick beer goggles (which may or may not prove to be helpful). My favourite memory is drinking with you guys at the ICA during the Gene Loves Jezebel gig, meeting John Cale there (who you kept calling 'Jack' as I recall), then getting in a car with you, Clare, and Bleddyn, and going to some hotel near Marble Arch for after hours pints with all those Welsh people.
I can't wait for the comp- my vinyl of Thirsty's and Shudder Engine are starting to show their age.
The greatest plans sometimes go astray. . . Lots of pints but not the bartender who lets me spin whatever I want. So now I am home, listening to Thirsty's Calling, and I can see you guys before the Fall (no pun intended)- I see you, indistinguishable from the microphone or the words coming out, Chris not just playing bass, he was a bass, body language projecting every note, and Clare, looking so small and sounding so huge behind the kit.
I first met you guys at that bar that ran off the side of the main room at the Electric Ballroom in Camden- you introduced Steve (I think) as being from Hoboken, New Jersey- "Same place as Frank Sinatra" as you said at the time. I have no idea how I remember this stuff, but I have a pretty good memory for good things, and for some reason I remember lots of Moodists stuff. As I listen to Thirsty's Calling, for the first time in probably 6 months, yeah, you guys were amazing in London 83-84, not only musically but as people too.

Jay C. Bond, resident of Canada.....
Member since 1983

The early 80's were rough on touring club bands. The venues were more often than not, depressing and ill-equipped for bands and their music. As a player, you had to be tough and grind it out show to show. Although I would not like to return to such environs to ply my trade, I think that time spent treading the boards in places like this really make you a better musician and gives your playing a real edge that you can't get in the posh joints. I remember those grimy times fondly and would not trade the education I got in those places for anything
Henry Rollins, musician.

Dave used to dance around on stage like a dyslexic ballerina. Some called him "Pixie-Toes", and the name stuck (though I doubt he ever heard it).
Grinding rhythm section (in the days when a female drummer wasn't out of the norm). Handsome Steve playing his guitar as though it was a big game fishing rod. I wonder what ever happened to the pointy shoes Dave used to wear. I had no idea what the Moodists were on about (most of the time), but it sounded soo damn interesting that I wanted to know more. And so did a lot of other people. Where the trees walk downhill??!!??
The Moodists didn't come from inner-city Melbourne. I don't think anyone could work out whether the were unbelievably cool, or just, umm, very weird.........

Bruce Milne
....the following is from Bruce as well...from an interview at the release of the 80's compilation "just can't stop it" early in 2002.
so I started working out of Missing Link in late 79, putting out Augogo singles. The bands paid for everything at that stage, and got all the money in return, so they were on Augogo in name only. I was also working on the Fast Forward cassette magazine, and by the time Keith sold Missing Link, I started to get serious with Augogo, putting out 12-inches by the Scientists and the Moodists."
"There's not even a hint, on any of those tracks, of trying to have commercial success".
"Gone Dead" was NME's single of the week, and they were off overseas not long after that. The exciting thing about it was that anyone who had anything going for them could go overseas immediately. They would think, 'Hell, we're only going to sell to 0.0001% of the Australian record-buying public, so we're got nothing to lose."
"There'd been a little wave before that with Radio Birdman and the Saints, and at another level up, concurrent with this era, the Birthday Party and the Models were making serious inroads.
"A lot of these bands couldn't play at any of the normal venues, apart from the Crystal Ballroom, so they'd play at church halls, and at parties in share households. It was a social scene as well - as social as it was musical.
"Rock's a lot older", It's become more entrenched in various systems, and there's more avenues to success within Australia now.
It was easy to break the rules. We were all involved in something we knew no-one gave a fuck about."
Bruce Milne , Musical activist/ Au Go Go records/ Reliant Records/ Bar Owner/



Clare Moore, Steve Miller...1981































picture Bleddyn Butcher




























a short bio of Clare and David

The Australian Rock Encyclopedia's entry on theMoodists

An interview with the Moodists in 2003.

page two, more writings from people who were there at the time