Australian punk legends the CELIBATE RIFLES are having their complete back catalogue made available digitally for the first time.
The first phase of the release programme, the result of a deal with Australian digital company Laneway Music, includes their debut EP But Jacques, The Fish from 1982 and each of their studio albums, from ‘83’s Sideroxylon to their most recent, Beyond Respect from 2004. The live albums Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Yizgarnnoff are also included, as are the compilations Platters Du Jour and Sofa. The programme is rounded out with frontman Damien Lovelock’s two solo albums, and guitarist Kent Steedman’s various side projects, including the Tubular Greens album of aussie punk covers live in Spain.
The second phase, due early next year, will feature a series of never before released ‘from the vaults’ recordings, including a live performance of the classic ’89 album Blind Ear.
First forming in 1980, Sydney surf-punks the Celibate Rifles were the first band to release a record on legendary Australian indie Hot Records, going on to become hugely influential on Australian and US punk. Their catalogue is now available on iTunes and Spotify and various other places.
Laneway is also working on digitising the back catalogues of fellow Aussie bands, LIME SPIDERS, THE HITMEN, SCREAMING TRIBESMEN and X. They also have an excellent Aussie Underground playlist on Spotify which you can check out here.
In a Vive Le Rock exclusive, we spoke to Celibate Rifles founder Kent Steedman….
The 80s and 90s Australian underground scene was really on fire, wasn't it?
Yes it seemed so. It was a time people went out more, when music and seeing bands were considered good things to do and life was not as expensive. Venues existed, publicans made money so bands were tolerated, there were dozens of shows to choose from or play 5 nights a week. The 2JJ (radio station) What’s On went for 30 minutes or more some days. In the early 90s it changed pretty quickly with the advent of sports bars and gambling machines. Bands got dumped rapidly when pubs could make 10 grand a week out of each machine. Most major cities seem to have a special period of time where the energy flows in music and art, Sydney had the 80s, and Melbourne also to a lesser degree.
The Celibate Rifles have always had an incisive social and environmental awareness. How has your audience responded?
Like attracts like. However, our crowds could be as dumb as any, certainly as drunk. I assume that they related to what we created and sung, and thought similarly. Live it was as much about the energy and humour, we made our views clear, so it would be pretty silly to be there if they thought we were fools. A few people told me they loved us ‘cause they met their wife or husband at our shows, that is a nice way to touch people. Our massive record sales and worldwide mainstream success may answer that question more accurately?
The digital release programme is pretty thorough. Is there anything left in the vault?
There is a bit, whether it's worth hearing is the issue. Lots of live stuff, some dodgy out-takes, some gems and some crap. I'll try to find the funny stuff at least, some will depend on the condition of the source... Cassettes don't always last that well. If your people want to hear stuff let us know, otherwise we may not bother.
Rifles activity has been scaled back in recent years. Any chance of one more album?
Unlikely, but who knows...who really wants to hear one?? A 7-inch or two is perhaps possible. We have a few new riffs we've worked on.
What would you say to the young kid downloading the Rifles for the first time?
Buy the LPs! Hope you enjoy what we do, I guess... We played how we felt it at the time, the best we could within the confines of fairly live recording with no digital edits and limited time. We worked to expand ourselves beyond what people thought was possible of us, ourselves included. We got better at it each album. We were often told “the Rifles are the tightest most powerful band I’ve ever seen.” I can't verify that but it certainly felt good where I was standing.
Check out the Celibate Rifles playing 'Bill Bonney Regrets' from The Turgid Miasma Of Existence.
Don't forget that Vive Le Rock's Aussie special - featuring Celibate Rifles, THE SAINTS, ROSE TATTOO, RADIO BIRDMAN, THE BIRTHDAY PARTY, THE CHURCH and more - is still available to order here!
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