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An Extensive History of The Cannanes
Part 4 : 1996-97 : Baby take a bow!


1996 started with a bit of a panic as we realized it was only about eight weeks till we toured the United States again and the new CD wasn't yet finished. The final overdubbing sessions went like a breeze as did the mixing and after a bit of tooing and frooing about the artwork and numerous heated debates about the title (it came extremely close to being called 'Like A Goblin' !) we were finished. The Cannanes was the result: "a new beginning" as David put it, and we were all pretty pleased with it at the time. Release of Arty Barbecue ( superb as it is ) had to be put back yet again as we decided we'd rather tour with the more recent material out and chronologically Arty Barbecue precedes even Short Poppy Syndrome.

US TOUR TOO! (Francesca remembers)

Aspic in transit


It began innocently enough with a lot of worrying about the location of things (passports and tickets, not destinations) and we all bravely laughed at the prospect of an indefinite amount of shows (and therefore an indefinite amount of money) and possible personal injury. Fran and Hairy went first, and David and I followed in tears. (We still owe a large debt of gratitude to Nancy; the hostess that brought us tissues, crayons and milk and allowed us to visit the cockpit. Nancy, if your reading this, we luv ya). Reunited at last, we spent a few days happily huddled in a small blue hatchback driving around Chicago reminiscing about oily rub downs on Air United and reveling in the knowing solidarity of a family abroad. Reg Shrader and Tim Adams (master AJAX) proved to be excellent shepherds and also provided several reasonably accurate impersonations of various characters from the Simpsons. The feeling of safety was, at first, a warm and unexpected joy that had not as yet become sticky and stained all our clothes.

Initially America seemed to offer little but food and plastic utensils as well as a large amount of snow. This was OK. So were our more than agreeable Chicagoan hosts (to the afore mentioned Reg and Tim we must add Bill and Jessica Meyer (absolutely indispensable) the sweet Chris Butler and Tim's very clean house mate Steve). This too was OK. America however, was still sneaking up on us.

Happily we procured a large amount of 'gigs' and after an exciting first show at the Lounge Ax in Chicago amidst a snow storm we set off, armed with the 'new CD' and a thousand T-shirts, to conquer the East Side. Reg was our astoundingly indispensable 'tour manager', very good at parallel parking a 15 seater van and curiously pedantic about the positions of its contents. He also provided us with many (similarly indispensable) sayings such as "bad meat is no bargain" and gestures of incredible if illegal kindness such as "I sleep on the floor. I don't trust hotel beds". In deference to these skills, we spent the next 10 days laying around in the van sucking our thumbs and fighting over blanky occasionally commenting on the vagaries of talk back radio.

But boy did we rock. We rocked our way through various 'joints' such as Stache's in Columbus, Maxwell's in Hoboken and The Middle East in Cambridge near Boston. We rocked our way into the houses (if not the hearts) of some incredibly kind and hospitable folk - special mention goes to the boys in Sukpatch, Gilmore Tamny, Ed in Hoboken, Phil and Susie in Cambridge, Gail O'Hara and her roof in New York and Kathleen, Kate, Mora and Liz in Ann Arbor (and many others too numerous to mention here) - and of course we shook the roof offa the Country Comfort motel. We rocked so hard that the Internet was blazing with praise and Boston found us, as David pointed out, at "the peak of physical performance".

All such things must come to an end sometime however, and the boulder finally shuddered to a halt, as boulders are want to do, back in the familiar surrounds of Chicago. Phew. With childhood behind us, newly breached and relishing puberty, it was off to witness once again the crazy neon lights of that crazy airport; a psychedelic delight that issued in a new leg of the Eyes Closed Baby Tour. Perhaps we might call it disco. Perhaps Emo. Perhaps Funk. Whatever it was it led us to Sea-Tac airport and the home of industry: Olympia.

Aspic congealed
After some very tired and ultimately expensive decision making in front of the Hertz counter at one in the morning, we slithered into the very plush, very big CAR that Stephen "Keep to the right" O'Neil was forced to drive, poor soul. Fortunately we were greeted an hour and a half later by the lovely Pat Maley in his big old house in Olympia and Fran developed a taste for Bagels with cream cheese. (Didn't we all). The next week saw us playing, if not rocking, and recording, if not puttin' it in the can. We had some nice dinners and were given succour from an extraordinary array of people - the elusive folk of ABC house were very patient and the Puncture magazine people in Portland demonstrated a profound hospitality tempered with a curious mix of love and hate for the film Taxi Driver. Cats were also very popular, which made Hairy sneeze and the rest of us raise our eyebrows. It was a different America, but no less American, a sprinkling of bran made it all the more digestible. We were getting it on, but we were starting to develop curious sticky stains.

Next stop - after a dangerous but quaint gig in Seattle - was sweet sweet San Francisco home of mad German hippies and smelling of Chicken mole and weed. Alan Korn came across with a new flat which we made a mess of and he showed us old Simpsons tapes as well as his good self on a Negativland doco. We are forever in his debt. Talking of funkin' it up in that fine city, we dashed down to LA in some terror of gangs, but uplifted by the sight of hundreds of (we expect) functional windmills en route. Little did we know that the stickiness of nervous uncertainty was to be washed away at the hands of two of the sweetest twins in the land; Adam Hervey and Adam Garcia. (Well, in truth, we were sponged down by Adam Garcias mum and dad at their Pasadena ranch; what dirty water it was too!). Even the horror that was Huntington Beach could not force us into despair, and as we wiped the grime of dirty money on our jumpers and kissed fair Janet farewell, we smilingly returned to TV and blue corn chips around the fire with mum, dad & the horses. Mmm, warm tortillas & vitamins.

Having spotted a fair quota of celebs - a fat Nicholas Cage and a thin Ethan Hawke - we shot back up to San Fran cleansed and hysterical, if not a little cranky, straight into the arms of Aquarius records. Therin Fran and I steadfastly locked eyes so as to pretend no one else was listening and David persistently waggled his bum at all and sundry, pretending to play on a curious drum thing. Stephen, poor old prawn, gave as good as he got, and whilst occasionally mistaking Davids arse for the dash board, only once drooped his eyes and began to snore.

Our last show at the 'Bottom of the Hill' reunited us with old and dear friend Dawson Prater and saw us all looking considerably more mature - a result of a new development in facial hair. Festooned, bedecked and bedazzled, lit up by the glare of a hundred hot stadium lights, the Cannanes camp drew back it's shoulders and, as David twirled his handlebar moustache and Fran her sideburns, as Stephen re-strung his guitar with strands from his beard and I with ones from my nose, the strains of America the Beautiful seemed to us as never before, a poignant reminder of what Australia could only hope to become. America, that sticky, big weather town. America that sneaky land of indefinite security. Home of hospitality and Big Boy restaurants. Home of blue corn chips and a zillion plastic utensils. Home of the nervous, the thirsty, the misunderstood. America America, I want to go home.


On returning from the States the band was dealt the first of a series of blows as David moved to live in Melbourne and quit the band again (this time for good!). More bad news was to follow with the news that Tim Adams would be winding down his AJAX label which meant finding another home for the strangely jinxed Arty Barbecue as well other future releases. But stop press Tim has relented and Arty Barbecue will be out on AJAX September 1997! [and eventually was in '98]

Thankfully Ivor was available and a short but rockin "Post U.S. tour" followed, grinding to an abrupt halt at the beginning of September when Francesca announced she had the flu and glandular fever and was pregnant and that her rock - n - roll days were over.

Fran, Stephen and Ivor met to decide yet again the fate of the unfathomable beastie called The Cannanes and resolved to seek out another soul mate to share in our never ending trials and tribulations. During all this mayhem Stephen was asked to join the band Flywheel (see Baby take a bow chapter) an offer too good to refuse.


The beginning of '97 had seen a very full years activity already and it was only March. Randall & Carla Lee's wedding party + Redfern Legal Centres' 20th birthday party despite some initial angst saw the largest group of dancers ever for the band. Unfortunately the Redfern evening was marred by a complete arsehole whom no doubt was paid handsomely for spending the evening bossing us around. We thought at first he was OK, just someone a bit officious doing a difficult job despite his stupid phone calls asking us "Where does each muso stand on stage etc" but when bands ran 7 minutes overtime as of course they are wont to do he ordered us off the stage despite the afore mentioned exceptionally large group of enthusiastic and by now very vocal dancers. Fran persuaded Hairy to play just one more song which resulted in a torrent of abuse from our friend (Mr Fordham) about amateurs and how he will never work with them again etc. (Hey where have we heard that before?). He completely harassed our mixer, the delightful John Rafferty all evening and deserves a nasty punishment though I am at the moment at a loss to think of a suitable one. Tony Pooley suggested that Joanna and I should drag him into the toilets and put thongs on him so we could have the satisfaction of seeing him thrown out by the also rather officious Souths Leagues club bouncers but we failed to seize the moment.


This year we returned to home recording in a big way, not that we ever stopped but since the 2nd US tour so many requests for contributions to various compilation albums and tapes were received that the only practical way to keep everyone satisfied was to do it at home. We did our best to see that not a one was refused and nearly every deadline was met. Despite numerous logistic problems and time restraints much was done in the front room at 55. Our planned first world tour unfortunately had to be postponed due to Stephens' mothers serious illness. September the 4th '97 saw a new breakthrough in the term 'indie' for us. After months of boring and tedious interpretation of computer manuals for both hard and software we were able to burn our first CD at home!


Okay, now Red Fran has submitted a Tour Diary, it's on to Black Fran's 1988 U.S. & Japan Tour Diaries ie History Part Five

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