The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

SHANE ROCKPIT INTERVIEWS THE POOR

 

When THE POOR released their 2009 album “Round 1” after more than a decade off, we at The Rockpit weren’t the only ones excited about the possibility that this could be a long term reunion.

 

Although we are a long way down the line from the glory days when these larrikins were touring America with Van Halen and toasting the success of their 1994 album “Who Cares” and hit single ‘More Wine Waiter Please’, “Round 1” featured some great hard rocking tunes so we’re rightfully anticipating next month’s release of “Round 2”.

 

 

The band played its first gig in Darwin on 10th October 1987 – the date of vocalist Skenie’s brother’s 17th birthday. It wasn’t until August ’91, after 3 years of touring, that they upped stumps and moved to Sydney.

 

Originally featuring drummer James Young – a nephew of Angus & Malcolm Young of AC/DC, the band were plagued with comparisons to that band, despite their sound being classic Aussie pub rock rather than Accadacca-alikes.

 

A lot of people had the band pegged as AC/DC copyists in the beginning – do the guys think the band ever shook that tag?

 

Skenie – “Definitely, I don’t think we sound like them at all now – and no-one says it anymore either!”

 

Bassist Matt Whitby disagrees. “Not really. It kind of gives us the shits because The Poor never sounded anything like AC/DC. But hey, if people interpret a similarity then there’s not a lot you can do about it. Anyway, now ten years later there’s been a few more “copies” that would rate a lot higher than us!”

 

I mention the quote from their website bio, “The Poor were, in essence, a tribute band – a tribute to Aussie pub rock”. Do they still stand by that?

 

Skenie – “In a way yes, because we are a no bullshit straight up kinda in your face band! And we all know what havin’ a beer in an Aussie pub is about!”

 

Matt – “I don’t think that was something the band ever said. I think a journalist said it in an article. Personally, our thing was never a tribute to anything. It was just Rock “

 

Asked how much they feel they helped to pave the way for the success of more obvious AC/DC fans such as AIRBOURNE, they are gracious.

 

Skenie – “Good hard drinking and partying guidelines to follow!”

 

Drummer Gavin Hansen – “They are a good bunch of guys and came along to one of our shows last year and were right into it and said The Poor were a massive influence to them growing up and starting the band.”

 

Hansen stepped into the breach in ’97 after a long friendship with the band, and now manages The Poor as well. I asked him how much of the heady success he got to experience in his first time round with the band.

 

Gavin – “The good thing was I was already mates with the guys, so we got to hang out when they would come through town and I’d help drink the rider, so the success meant more beer in the tub! Seriously – when I came into the band the guys had been through a lot with the ups n’ downs of the bands’ record label and management, and we all knew it would take a lot of hard work to get back out there and soldier on but most importantly we knew it felt right and all that mattered was that we were happy and enjoying it, ‘cos sometimes you lose focus on why you’re doing it…”

 

Vocalist Skenie, meanwhile, confirms that some of the songs on “Round 1” and “Round 2” date back to the songs written but never recorded for a follow-up to “Who Cares” – “Mainly on Round 1, and some on Round 2”.

 

Before releasing the “Who Cares” album, the band had released two EP’s as THE POOR BOYS – “Rude, Crude & Tattooed” and “Underfed”. Are these EP’s still available anywhere?

 

Skenie – “I don’t think so, that’s a good question!”

 

Matt – “You’d have to ask Gav.”

 

Gavin – “There is a version of “Who Cares” available on US site Amazon, but there are plans to make the earlier recordings available on iTunes next year, possibly repackaged together – we’re just waiting on the final legal details of it all.”

 

As both THE POOR BOYS and THE POOR the band played with some real legends both in Australia and around the world. I invited the guys to share some of their memories of those times.

 

Matt – “This one time at band camp…” [laughs]

 

Skenie – “Well, where to start!?! On tour with The Angels we broke into their change room and dragged everything – food, chairs, eskys, palm trees, the lot – on stage and threw food at the band, and wrapped them all in toilet paper! On tour with Van Halen Eddie, Alex & Michael Anthony were in our band room trying to pick up all the girls we would have there every night! [We spent] countless nights out with the AC/DC boys, went pistol shooting with Alice In Chains, run amok at the Arias, MTV and The Grammy Awards both here and overseas, partying at mega fashion shows in London, Hells Angels in Chicago, Rockford, San Fran – etcetera, etcetera! You name it, we did it! We lived the rock n’ roll life to its fullest, and would love to do it all again!”

 

Gavin – “Once we pointed out to the Van Halen guys that they were drinking non-alcoholic beer, we couldn’t get rid of them each night!” [laughs]

 

 

So why did the band originally call it a day and go on hiatus in ’99?

 

Skenie – “My daughter got very sick and nearly died, which took up a lot of my time and the band slowly drifted apart doing other things. Matt was studying, I moved to The Gold Coast and hooked up with Gav and joined Lump, then that finished in 2008 and The Poor started again.”

 

Julian [Grynglas – guitars] – “Hiatus? I thought it was a Hyundai!” [Laughs]

 

What did the rest of you get up to in the 10 years The Poor wasn’t active?

 

Matt – “I experienced the real - fathered children, followed different career paths, went to uni, bought our first homes, married our current wives. Regrouped.”

 

Skenie – “Worked, moved , took different jobs, wrote and jammed with different people - ironically I worked in a CD plant as a CD destroyer once! That’s working with a machine that mulched CDs to make more CDs! We started families - life goes on with and without rock n’ roll!”

 

Gavin – “Geez, it sounds tiring when you put it like that…”

 

Skenie goes on to tell us that having full-time jobs nowadays is “the nature of the beast”, but with an extensive Australian tour lined up in November & December to support “Round 2” they’re excited at the prospect of their first full Aussie tour for a long time.

 

Skenie – “The first one to all the capital cities for a while, that’s for sure”

 

Gavin – “We only did a few shows for “Round 1” as that was just a process for us to work through to get us to here and then from here to the next step. A lot of people wouldn’t know we are back together, let along have “Round 1” out there, so hopefully they will be pleasantly surprised when they find “Round 2” and “Round 1” “

 

Julian – “[But] you don’t notice or think of it as an “extensive tour” when it’s just a part of your life. It’s not like touring used to be where it was all the time where you’re just constantly gigging - this is more like [just] a couple of weekends away!”

 

Skenie – “We’re talking to people in Europe at the moment too – stay tuned!”

 

Matt – “There seems to be a lot of interest from Germany, stronger than it ever was. Sounds like that could be fun…”

 

Gavin – “As Skenie mentioned, we are looking into it as we speak.”

 

How has the response to the reconvened band been, both in and out of Australia?

 

Skenie – “About time! Has been the reaction!”

 

Julian – “Everyone says same thing “It’s about bloody time!“ “

 

 

What are you guys listening to at the moment?

 

Skenie – “Alterbridge, Sevendust, Slash”

 

Julian – “AC/DC”

 

Gavin – “Dora, Ben 10, Luna Jim” [laughs]

 

That leads me to ask, how appealing is the prospect of doing a hard slog on the road when you’ve got a young family?

 

Skenie – “If it happens, so be it. That’s life – we live it or die!!”

 

Gavin – “We all agreed when we got back into the jam room that we’d keep it fun and enjoy it and take it as it comes, and that it has got to work around all of our other commitments”

 

Julian – “I’m going to work. Doesn’t everyone’s families go on hold for their job? I see a few thousand people every day doing it round here - where do you live?”

 

So I guess some of the backstage antics are more subdued nowadays compared with way back when?

 

Skenie – “Only the girls!!”

 

Matt – “No! Why would you think that? [laughs] Yeah, the girls I guess.”

 

Julian – “You guess…”

 

Gavin – “Red bull!”

 

 

With two newer albums to choose tracks from, I wonder how are the band approaching writing a setlist now?

 

Skenie – “The new songs take preference to the old”

 

Matt – “It’s definitely a challenge.”

 

Gavin – “It’s going to be hard to please everyone, but I am sure they’ll dig it”

 

Julian – “You always want more songs that’s the nature of it, like good food”

 

And finally, our time is up. So as we ask all our interviewees – for you, what is the meaning of life?

 

Skenie – “To make people happy including yourself!!”

 

Matt – “There is no meaning: Eat – Shit – Sleep – Fuck and Rock!”

 

Gavin – “Don’t take anything for granted as it may not be there tomorrow”

 

Julian – “If I knew that I wouldn’t answer anyway - it’s the journey that’s important.”


The Poor are back – older, wiser, but still ready to kick some arse from a stage near you soon. Both “Round 1” and “Round 2” are indispensible slabs of hard n’ dirty rock n’ roll on a par with their early EP’s and the “Who Cares” album – pick them up now and turn the volume all the way up! Don’t miss ‘em on tour around Australia:

 

30 October, Jubilee Hotel, Brisbane
12 November, Enigma Bar, Adelaide with our friends Generation Swine & Bad Blood Broken Bones
13 November, Portland Hotel, Melbourne – Back In The Day’s birthday bash, with Elm Street
26 November, Hinterland Hotel, Gold Coast
27 November, Albany Creek Tavern, Brisbane
3 December, Pace Road Tavern, Medina, Perth
4 December, Charles Hotel, Perth
10 December, The Sandringham, Newtown, Sydney with Black Label
11 December, The Maram, Canberra with Tonk & Black Label

www.thepoor.com.au
www.myspace.com/morewinewaiterplease

Shane Pinnegar
The Rockpit
October 2010