Regurgitator – a History
Low fat version…
Formed in March 1994… Ben Ely, Quan Yeomans, and Martin Lee started a side project to the bands they had going at the time – Pangaea, Zooerastia, Brazilia respectively. Regurgitator was an appropriate moniker to describe the assembled mass of styles, sounds and attitudes, fueled as much by an unmitigated irony and geekish nature as an irreverent take on themselves, corporatisation of culture and human social behaviour. From their early guest spots with Primus, Beck, The Buzzcocks, John Spencer Blues Explosion, Ministry, Pansy Division, TISM they quickly developed a following that led to signing a record deal with the Warner Records corporation.
The first self-titled EP was released in late 94… quickly followed by the second EP New in early 1995. Late 1995 after constant touring Australia, they embarked on their first international trip with a European tour with Filter, followed by their first shows in Tokyo. After their debut Big Day Out tour in Jan 1996, they relocated to Bangkok to record their debut album with Magoo. April 1996 the first single Kong Foo Sing broke the cookie jar – an ode to the humble fortune cookie, it paved the way for the debut album Tu Plang (Thai for Jukebox) – a rubble of punk pop, hop-rock-beats and discarded sounds; and coincided with a national tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, followed by another crazier one with Japanese avant garde guests, Boredoms. The band was picked up by Reprise in the US, in conjunction with their first US tour as guests of God Lives Underwater (as well as a Sub Pop 7” vinyl of I Sucked A Lot Of Cock To Get Where I Am). After a Japan/Australian tour together with CIV from New York (including an incredible show with the Boredoms in Osaka at Wo`Hol) and the Japanese release of Tu Plang, sold out Brisbane`s Festival Hall headlining Easy Cheese – a celebration of Brisbane music with guests Powderfinger, Custard etc. After various Summer Festival appearances in Australia, along with supports with The Prodigy (Sydney) and Rocket From The Crypt (Auckland), they open 1997 with another tour to USA and their only SXSW appearance, before embarking on an extensive tour from Sacremento to Boston with Helmet and The Melvins.
Upon return, they set up their own mock studio The Dirty Room in a condemned warehouse in Brisbane`s Fortitude Valley backstreets to record the second album UNIT – it heralded a new direction with a strong pop ala 80`s electro vibe although never short of their self-deprecating sense of humour and fun. UNIT was released in 1997 culminating in a national Australian tour with The Prodigy and their gold ranked single Polyester Girl. Unit ended up dry reaching triple platinum in Australia. This was followed by far more relevant Anti-Jabiluka Uranium mining protest for the Mirrar people – a 5am performance with Midnight Oil and Coloured Stone at the blockade of the proposed mining site in the Kakadu National Park. A third tour to Japan is followed by the sellout Australia/NZ Caveat Emptour with guests TISM and The Fauves, that incorporated for the first time the usage of a large scale visual projections and computer animation of (and made by) the band members. More dates in Japan and the UK (including the Reading Festival and the UK release of UNIT), their second Big Day Out tour before relocating their studio bits and pieces to a Byron Bay beach house for sun, surf and to make …art – the third album.
After tours with Japan`s Audio Active, and the subsequent visual ridden Art Tour with Custard and The Resin Dogs, drummer Martin Lee departed the fold to be replaced by Front End Loader/Hard-Ons drummer Peter Kostic. After more Australian festival shows and tours over 1999/2000, the SNOOZER presented Japan dates were their most successful so far, with the album going on to sell 12,000 copies there. Quan and Ben commenced work in their home studio setups on their fourth album Eduardo and Rodriguez Wage War on T-Wrecks, relocating to London to mix it all with Andy Gill (Gang of Four). A quick trip to Japan for the great Fuji Rock Festival as the album was released in Australia, NZ, Japan, Singapore, Germany and Scandanavia in July 2001… along with Australian Canon Fodder tour with guests Gerling through Aug/Sept 2001. After another appearance at Brisbane`s 2001 Livid Festival, they headed back to Japan again with special guests The Zoobombs, followed by a New Years Eve show at The Falls with The Hives etc and the 2002 Big Day Out tour in Jan/Feb (performing between System of a Down and Garbage on the mainstage). The highlight of this tour being the inclusion of Peaches and a duet on her track Rock Show.
In June 2002 they performed in London at the Fierce Festival to 20,000 people, along with Midnight Oil, Spiderbait etc. After ending the arrangement with Warner, the JINGLES single compilation and Infomercials DVD compilation was presented in Oct 2002 as final contracting ending condition. A short Australian tour – Nein, Nein, Nein…the Slumber of the Beast also led to a DIY DVD release of live tunes from this tour as their first self-produced independent release through Valve. In 2003 while Quan was based in Switzerland, Sweden and London a UK tour and release of Jingles (via independent label Kennel) took place. Following a second tour to the UK in early October, they performed at one of the first alternative music festivals in Hong Kong… the Rockit festival along with the 17-piece Spanish Harlem Orchestra from New York, Electric Eel Shock and Ride… This was when plans were hatched for the Band in a Bubble concept to take place in conjunction with the independently released fifth album MISHMASH! An idea suggested by their manager in 1999 and given some context when Quan witnessed David Blaine suspended above the Thames in a Perspex box while on tour there…
After various festival appearance including a very torrid night at the Sydney festival with Peaches and Spod, a headline spot on the St Kilda Festival in Melbourne, and the Bong in my Eye tour with Spod and The Grates … the Band in a Bubble was born in Melbourne’s Federation Square Aug 2004. Regurgitator had a history of trying to buck shit up but as of August 31, they bent themselves over to that system, exposing themselves to the reprehensible machinations of the “culture industry” whilst still getting to happily shit in its pants. In partnership with Channel [V], Regurgitator sealed themselves in a transparent, “fishbowl” studio to record their fifth album MishMash! and show the world wide web how the creative process is ultimately both destructive and hypnotic, liberatory and constraining, beautiful and very ugly. By creating a panoptic platform for their public, they gave themselves over to their viewers/fans/citizens and allowed the intrusive eye of the public to pierce their “bubble”.
After Band in a Bubble and the release of the album they escaped to another Australian tour with Wolfmother and Lucas Abela playing his broken sheets of glass (venue banning his appearance as the tour went on), a second ROCK IT appearance in Hong Kong, Homebake in Sydney (early Dec) and the 2005 Big Day Out tour. In Sept 2005 they released their Mishmash follow EP #*?! featuring Pretty Girls Swear and set out on the Regurgitator Lives tour with friends New Zealand’s brilliant The Mint Chicks, and Snowman (from Perth). They performed at Earthcore in late 2005, where Quan and Ben were joined by Ben and Simon from The Bird, turning our drum and bass versions of their tracks. Feb 2006 saw them perform at the Dusty Days Festival in Wagga Wagga and an awesome performance at the Domain for Tropfest2006. Mishmash! came out on Avex in Japan Apr 2006. They headlined Come Together, Luna Park in Sydney in June 06 and followed this up with a periodic string of shows over the remainder of the year… Quan produced a fantastic animated video for The Game.
Band in a Bubble, in conjunction with Valve Records, was licensed to take place in London (unfortunately losing its way to never emerge) and in New York (produced in the Meat packing District over May/June 2007). Ben also released a solo project under the name JUMP 2 LIGHT SPEED and Quan relocated to Hong Kong working on solo projects including the EP he released with Spod entitled BLOX. Regurgitator did an extremely fun tour in Feb/Mar 2007 across NSW, VIC and SA prior to Quan’s departure and before starting working on new tracks for their sixth album.
In 2007 off the back of a poorly realised US version of Band in a Bubble in New York (spending the whole time laughing at how bad it was), they headed to Brazil to record their sixth full length album Love and Paranoia. Recorded in Rio de Janeiro right under the arms of the looming Corcovado, with Seja Vogel joined on keyboards, and featuring the singles Blood and Spunk and Romance of the Damned. Upon release they set out on a highly successful 28 date 7 week long tour of Australia in Oct/Nov with special guests New Pants from China and Brisbane indie sensations I Heart Hiroshima. From that point they launched into a string of festival appearances over the coming year culminating in another great mainstage Big Day Out 2008 run all in white playing after Antiflag and before Arcade Fire.
In April 2008 they returned to live fire headlining the Essential festival along with shows with guests Ratatat. Plans were set afoot for dates and releases in the UK, China, Japan, Brazil, Vietnam, Singapore… and whatever else stuck to the wall. In July/August they had a rather special tour in Australia as super special guests with hugely influential DEVO! (plus Eddy Current Suppression Ring opening Sydney and Melbourne shows)… where at the final show in Perth Devo invited them on stage to perform Beautiful World together. After this and various headline shows they headed off to the UK to play shows in Glasgow and London in support of the album release there on Valve/Weatherbox. This was followed by an extensive Asia tour through Hong Kong (in a makeshift club put together on the tenth floor of a warehouse building with Macy Gray), Laos (in this incredible old Russian Circus building in Vietianne presented by Tiger beer and raising money for prosthetic limb support group COPE… and where the power went out just as the band started due to dodgy pyrotechnics installed by the promoters… hilarious moment), Vietnam (to 1500 people on the site of the US embassy with a great lineup of Vietnamese artists including Ngung Guc) and China (with 5 shows in Beijing, Shanghai and China’s capital of punk rock Wuhan… and where the album was released by Modern Sky). The sold-out Chinese shows were an amazing run playing with guests Hedgehog, New Pants and more. They also shot a video for Hurricane in the confines of the Forbidden City with Peng Lei from New Pants.
The final months of 2008 saw them return to Australia to play well received sets at Stonefest in Canberra, Fat As Butter Festival in Newcastle, the Meredith Festival in Victoria… before another trip to Vietnam to play the Loreto Festival in Ho Chi Minh City to raise money for education facilities for unprivileged, handicapped and blind children. Early in 2009, with both Quan (The Amateur) and Ben (Radio5) releasing solo albums, Regurgitator played one final Brisbane show – a debut at the Brisbane Riverstage with Spiderbait, Pnau, The Herd, etc as part of Hear and Now festival. Time for a breather… well except for Quan who focused on solo work The Amateur touring, with the Big Day Out and supporting Prodigy, followed by various festivals and Australian/HK tour dates with Ratatat. Ben took off for travels to Turkey, Berlin and Japan. Late in the year they hooked back up to play a small festival in the Japanese Alps with Hoodoo Gurus… before working with dance choreographer Gavin Webber and 6 dancers on the live music/dance/theatrical project Rock Show at QPAC in Brisbane.
In 2010 Quan and Ben relocated to Melboune and set studios up in their new dwellings before they started work amid various distractions on new recordings planning to eschew the typical album release [;an for a take it as it comes approach. After a few shows including the Tenth birthday of the Brisbane Powerhouse they performed a highly successful live soundtrack to Japanese anime film AKIRA at Sydney Opera House. To coincide with a Sept Australia tour they released a batch of recordings under the title Distractions followed by various Festivals plus shows in London, Dubai and Bahrain… returning for Festival of the Sun in Port Macquarie and a NYE show in Newcastle. 2011 started with a huge two-night flood benefit show in Brisbane which also featured a special appearance of Custard. Following this a massive 3 song set in front of 60,000 at the Australian Soccer Grand final held in Brisbane where the Roar fought back to win an exciting penalty shoot out. After an extensive Australian tour was announced for Aug/Sept – the “Annual sail tour” the guys set about completing more music that rose with the tide in August and turned into an full blown album under the title SuperHappyFunTimesFriends, with first single One Day surfing up the radio and net waves. It was released on vinyl, CD, cassette, download… and a new format Playbutton (a wearable badge that contains the whole album).Coinciding with this Regurgitator’s UNIT was voted #10 on the Triple J Top 100 Australian albums. The Annual Sail tour concluded with sold out shows in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Geelong, Hobart, Adelaide and Perth and was possibly the most enthusiastically received tour they have done since the 90s. They then followed this up with performances of their album “UNIT” over the Falls and Southbound festivals end of 2011.
2012 kicked off with the Big Day Out tour – their 6th time around – plus performances at the Margaret River Surf Classic, Red Deer Festival in Qld before touring seminal albums Tu Plang and Unit – The Retrotech2012 tour (with special guests from Indonesia Senyawa and China Hedgehog) was highly successful with the majority of shows sold out. Following this with the hot spot on the sold-out 2012 Meredith Music Festival.
The past few years have seen Regurgitator do some superfluous shit. It’s all pretty interesting – the costume changes, the gimmicky record and release strategies, the full-album live sets – but tonight they achieved something far more pure. In straight power-trio formation (no spandex onesies, no heavy metal wigs), they performed what could well be the set of their careers. Hearing thousands sing along to I Will Lick Your Arsehole never gets old. They’re a punk band at heart, and one of the finest this country has produced. (Beat Magazine Dec 2012)
In April 2013 they headed out on the rural Groovin’ The Moo festival tour and then released album #8 Dirty Pop Fantasy in September 2013… followed by the Australia/New Zealand Dirty Pop Tour with guests on the majority of the shows from Portland, Wampire.
From there they ending up playing their last show for who knows how long as part of a short Asia tour in Beijing mid December 2013 with friends New Pants. This tour also included a great slot on the Clokenfalp festival in Hong Kong. Regurgitator are currently on some kind of hiatus.
Never ones to compromise or shy away from the unusual, the untried, or any genre that infects their creative sensibility… more than ever they continue to infuse their irregular live performances with exuberance, mania and their mashedup motion of rock, punk, electro, funk, pop, where ever it goes vibe.
Always more to come…