Today, Golden Robot Records drop the live recording of one momentous night in Brunswick – the night Rose Tattoo took to the stage of Bombay Bicycle Club and cemented their place in the annals of rock ‘n’ roll history.
After supporting Guns N’ Roses on their Australian tour, the Tatts intend to relive those heady days, tearing up the same old venue (now called Bombay Rock) and fulfilling the prophecy of late band member Peter Wells.
Gary ‘Angry’ Anderson remembers Wells’ insight like it was said yesterday – it came at the moment the band found out their single ‘Bad Boy For Love’ had hit the peak of its success.
“We were standing in a pub on City Rd and a mate came in and said ‘the Tatts just went pucker number 1, that’s Bad Boy!’” says Anderson. “Pete turned to me in the wonderful way that he’s got with wisdom and said ‘You’ll be singing that fucking song for the rest of your life, ya cunt’.
Sadly, Wells is one of six former Tatts to have died in the band’s 40-year history, but Anderson carries on in their stead under the same banner, writing and recording in the new Golden Robot studios.
“I’m to do a new solo album. The lineup that’s gonna play the Guns N’ Roses show, as there’s no Tatts lineup that exists, is my band, the Angry Anderson Band,” he says. “The Tatts thing is in limbo at the moment while [drummer Paul] DeMarco’s still in jail.”
While DeMarco does time for gun running, Anderson is turning to young guns to revitalise the old style; folks like Golden Robot Records founder Mark Alexander’s son Jagger, who Anderson says “cuts a very tasty swing”.
“What I see the next Tatts lineup being… We’ll trade off what we do best, which is rock ‘n’ roll or the blues, but we’ll write and record music that’s more reflective of today. We always wanted to make not as many albums but evolve musically.”
Anderson has been in the fortunate position to witness the evolution of the scene over four decades in the industry. He must therefore, be a genuine authority on how rock ‘n’ roll has shifted and changed over time.
“That’s not as easy as it may seem to answer,” he says. “I may be opening myself up for the Old Fogey award, but I don’t think rock ‘n’ roll is represented in its truest form [today] – everything’s rock ‘n’ roll. Well, everything isn’t!
“Rock ‘n’ roll is a very clearly defined genre of music. The term rock ‘n’ roll is derived from black people wanting to describe the sexual act. Rockin’ n rollin’ is like boogie woogie, it can all trace its origins back to sex… It has to syncopate, it has to shuffle, it has to swing. [Modern bands] rock, but they don’t roll.”
For Anderson, the genre’s always been an instinctive thing, something buried in the bones that the Tatts appropriated and teased out of their listeners.
“The reason that people can’t resist it is because it’s a natural rhythm,” he says. “It’s derived from the black feel of music which has got a history that goes back hundred and hundreds – if not thousands – of years of interpreting the natural body grooves, not only in song but in dance.”
Somewhat ironically, he still has a bugbear for the most prominent genre in modern music; one that’s also core to black cultural expression through music. It’s a frustration that seconds his self-nomination for the Old Fogey Award.
“I was one of those completely ignorant people that said I’d give hip-hop five years, 10 at the most, and here it is still driving us nuts,” he says. “It’s a legitimate form of music… black people, not your Lionel Richies, etc., but the kids on the street finally had a voice in music.
“You can argue the benefits of it… their heroes and the people they look up to glorify the abuse of women and the violence of young men against one another as young males in their songs, and that’s probably the downside of hip-hop music, but there is an upside to it as well.”
Genre battlefield lines (and racial politics) aside, Anderson is optimistic about where music is headed, even if his beloved blues are under-represented.
“Historically, all music evolves and then gets to a certain stage and revitalises itself,” he says. “There were calls in the seventies, before the Sex Pistols and all that happened, that music had died. Music didn’t die, it was just journalists being overly dramatic. You know, video was gonna kill live music – that never happened, it was never gonna happen! They said the same thing before the Beatles.”
The next iteration of the Tatts will be its swansong, by Anderson’s admission, but he’ll no doubt be a familiar face on the pub rock circuit. There’s new material coming, but he’ll never escape Pete’s prophecy – he’ll be singing that same fuckin’ song for the rest of his life, without a moment’s regret.
Rose Tattoo open for Guns N’ Roses on Tuesday February 7 at Brisbane’s QSAC Stadium, and on Friday February 10 and Saturday February 11 at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.Write a Letter to the Editor