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Crime Fiction is Silly
[ Sydney Post-Punk Memoirs ]

Kim Beisel

Crime and The City Solution #2 - Melbourne

Simon Bonney - vocals
Don McLennan - drums
Dan Wallace-Crabbe - guitar
Kim Beissel - alto saxophone
Lindsay O'Meara - bass
Chris Astley - keyboards

Crime formed in Sydney in 1977. I saw them play at a party in Melbourne in 1978 (October?). I don't even know if they had any real gigs on that trip, maybe just a couple of parties. A day or two later I ran into their sax player Dave McKinnon (tenor & soprano) and chatted with him. I was an alto sax player, studying at Melbourne College of Advanced Education and a big Boys Next Door fan (I'd been a regular at their Tuesday night residency). Dave was into Coltrane (tenor & soprano) and I was into Ornette (alto), and we were both into punk. He seemed like a nice bloke. 

My elder brother Craig had been in the same year at Caulfield Grammar as Nick, Mick, Phill & Tracy of The Boys Next Door. I'd seen them play school functions and in Phill's garage in their pre-punk days (Suffragette City anyone?). We used to hang out at the bus stop with Phill and he had a big influence on what my brother, and consequently I, listened too: Alice, SAHB, Tubular Bells. I got into punk off my own bat in 1977 from listening to community radio and picking up on Beefheart, Patti Smith, Pistols, Blondie and Iggy. Phill, Nick and the boys had long since left secondary school.

Late 1978 (November?) I was 18, in first year at College and desperate to be in a band. Hanging around The Ballroom (in St Kilda) as usual when Mick Harvey approached me in the foyer. He asked me if was I still playing sax as a friend of his was moving to Melbourne to form a band. Mick was recruiting! You bet I was keen. Simon, Don and Simon's girlfriend Bronwyn Adams moved down from Sydney. We started rehearsing in a tiny room at Dan Wallace-Crabbe's grotty house in (inner city) Fitzroy. Nick Seymour (bass, later of Crowded House) came to one rehearsal but wasn't into it. I said I knew a keyboard player and got my best friend Chris on board. Not too long after, Lindsay (bass) moved down from Sydney with his girlfriend Drosma. I'd seen him in Voigt/465 play Melbourne and would later play with Mark Boswell (the drummer from Voigt) and his girlfriend Christine Boyce in the 'Little Band' scene.

We weren't a punk band. Someone later said that Crime #1 were idiot savants and Crime #2 were near virtuosi. I'll take that as a compliment, but I wish some of the Sydney line-ups cassettes had survived. Surprising as it may seem, I had never heard the first two Roxy Music albums but Crime #2 shares something with them: posturing teen angst and introversion with loud post-Velvets riffs (and a saxophone). Simon was into Jim Morrison; Don was into The Laughing Clowns' Jeff Wegener; Dan was into Tom Verlaine; Lindsay was into Henry Cow and Soft Machine; I was into Bismillah Khan and X-Ray-Spex. Later UK critics would say that Simon was a Nick Cave clone, but I think the stretched-out soundscapes and introverted lyrics of all Simon's bands differ markedly from Nick. They just hadn't heard Simon in the early days. Or maybe they thought Simon and Nick were both aussie-goth wankers?

I think we rehearsed for about six months and then gigged for about six months, with a combination of material learnt from cassettes of Crime #1 (with me replicating Dave McKinnon's parts) and new stuff we wrote. We had a few supports for The Boys Next Door at various venues, and a Wednesday night residency with Pierre's World at the mouse-hole sized Exford Hotel. We we're hoping to put out a single and in August I gave a copy of our demo to Keith Glass who managed The Boys Next Door and ran the Missing Link label. There was always a bit of friction in the band; we were young and headstrong. When we met I was 18 and I think Dan and Simon were 17! Don and Dan's gear was held together by gaffer tape, they were poor and living on toast. Lindsay was using the plastic clips from bread bags for plectrums. Chris and I were still living at home in the suburbs. Dan was really the musical director of the group and sometimes Simon wouldn't even come to rehearsal, or he'd come and listen to the instrumental stuff we were writing, then go and work on lyrics. Dan could play piano and guitar both very well and he finally cracked it with Chris. Chris was my best friend but his keyboard playing wasn't tight. Dan and some of the others decided to sack Chris. I stood on loyalty and said "If he goes, I go!", so we were both gone. They got another guy in on baritone sax for one gig and then it was all over. That was late 1979. 

I went on to play with Hot Half Hour and The Connotations and hang out with Tsk Tsk Tsk and Essendon Airport. I picked up guitar and started singing and forming my own bands. Later I even played in a band with Phill Calvert. Recently I put together two 'musicological' CDs about Nick Cave [Original Seeds Vol 1 & 2]. Simon (and Bronwyn) eventually got a call from Mick Harvey in Berlin and they formed Crime #3 after the demise of The Birthday Party. Dan went onto The Laughing Clowns playing piano and moved to Sydney. Don hung around St Kilda and didn't do much that I know of. Chris played in some Melbourne 'Little bands'. Lindsay and Drosma went back to Sydney to hang out with Pel Mel and form The Tame O'Meara's.

Kim Beissel, May 2005
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