If you entered any high school in the eighties it would not take long to find a group of teenage boys calling themselves a band. A rite of passage along with pimples and stolen kisses, a musical dalliance to be explored through gigs at birthday parties and youth clubs, and if you were lucky perhaps even the local skate ranch. With unbridled enthusiasm and a mastery of three chords they were the true believers of Oz rock. Playing music as god intended it, as a means to pick up chicks.
Most soon succumbed to vocational realities. Cutting their hair and getting “real” jobs packing shelves rather than the stadiums of their dreams. Days in cock rock that never quite made it past puberty. But then there was Whodeani.
Armed with a fourth chord and enough pubic hair to satisfy even the most hirsute fetishist, Whodeani burst out of the eighties to become one of the most influential acts of the post Gulf War era. Bourbon fuelled and provocative, Whodeani pushed the limits of a conservative society crying out to be liberated, (or for their money back, one could never be sure).
He was the avant guard and set the precedent. In fact judges in criminal nuisance cases are following many of these precedents to this day.
Whodeani formed back in the crazy days of the early eighties at that bastion of adolescent intimacy, the Blue Light Disco. Lead singer Art Pamphlett fondly recalls...
“I was pashing this chick and the next thing she starts spewing up Brandavino and Twisties everywhere. So I go an’ tell one of the supervisors to go get a mop and who should show up to clean up the chunder than Lucky Quimby. Seems he was on a bond for some thing or other, and the coppers had him on mop duty at the Blue Light. Every time I smell vomit nowadays, and lets face it that’s quite often in a rock band, I can’t help but thank that lucky quirk of fate and gastric juices that brought us together.”
Art’s distinctive vocals have been a feature of the band since the earliest days. Somewhere between a yodel and a Muslim call to prayer, the squeaky falsetto tones are a legacy of a locker room towel flick gone wrong. Rather than being a setback, however, Art sees having testicles that refuse to drop as being the godsend that set him on the springboard to rock immortality. It also came in handy during the subsequent clashes with schoolyard bullies and nightclub bouncers that punctuated his earliest song lyrics. One cannot listen to “But my names on the door you sadistic prick” off the “Beer Bong” album without sharing his pain.
Art’s startling blue eyes and shiny, bald head, are in complete contrast to the boyish good- looks and rock-star spiked hair of Roger ‘The Admiral’ Browning. Almost replaced by a drum machine in the late eighties, Browning managed to hold his spot in the line up due to diligent practice and the need for three people to move Quimby’s antique bass amp around between gigs.
Further illustrating the differences within this unholy trinity is the effeminate locks of Lucky Quimby. Looking more like a pole surfing alter boy than the bile spilling anarchist he aspires to be, Quimby pushes the limits of artistic performance through energetic stage presence and pitch perfect flatulence. Known for his penchant for squeezing one out to give resonance to a bass line, Quimby adhered to a strict dietary program that enhanced his performance. He pioneered the use of rectal release as an art form. A path since followed by luminaries Mr Methane, The Tokyo Shock Boys and Anthony Mundine.
Caught in the twilight between street credibility and commercial acceptance, Whodeani were the true outlaws of the beer barn era. They played hard and they partied even harder often to the chagrin of their contemporaries. Pamphlett still bristles at the hypocrisy of the time.
“Cold Chisel go on the Count Down awards and trash the set and end up as legendary anti heroes. We do the same thing on the Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal and we get hounded out of town.”
The off stage exploits of the band should not overshadow the music. Whilst the bar room brawls with the rhythm section of Wa Wa Nee made the papers, it was the live show that stamped the Whodeani sound. As the world recoiled at the threat of Aids and hid their love behind layers of latex, Whodeani championed the truest love of all on the “Feeding the chooks” EP. Pamphlett summing up the mood of the times with the tortured refrain...
“How can you ignore me and say its not right, when I paint your portrait on the inside of my sheets every night.”
Despite the success of the 1990 international tour, personal differences began to surface within the band forcing them to leave “Fairstar the fun ship” in Vanuato, and make their own way back to Australia. A dark period for “the Deanies” and despite Art Pamphlett’s brief re emergence into the spotlight as “Sphinktor” in televisions Gladiators, individually they could not capture the magic that sparkled when they were together. Until now.
Older and wiser, the original members of Whodeani stumbled into each other at a St Kilda soup kitchen one frosty winters night in early 2001. Agreeing to put their personal differences aside the trio vowed to have one last crack at the big time. Sober and focused for perhaps the first time in their lives, Whodeani have rediscovered the edge that catapulted them to the second or third tier of rock stardom in the eighties.
The song has evolved into an anthem with the sing along chant "no way, get fucked, fuck off" becoming an Australian tradition. Whilst never having the opportunity to grace the stage with Doc and the boys back in the days of Count Down and thin leather ties, Whodeani share a special affinity with this song having been told to fuck off more times than Caitlyn Jenner’s publicist.
These new versions of “Am I ever...” have a distinctive, unique style ranging from Electro-Rock, to Indie, to Halfbeat to Mainroom with fast-paced rhythms, driving base and sharp vocals.
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