AUSTRALIAN pub bands. Love 'em, hate 'em, fall over comatose to 'em. The mature versions like INXS and Midnight Oil have been receiving more than their fair share of positive publicity. Darren Richter, a native Queenslander and computer animated graphics whizz has certainly quaffed a few pints while building up his encyclopedic knowledge of the alehouse rockers of the Lucky Country. He shared a few of the essentials with the Sunday Morning Post Magazine.
What is Oz pub rock all about? ''It's about going to a pub, drinking beer, having a really sweaty time and then falling over.'' What kind of music is it to fall over to? ''The roots are a lot closer to R&B than anything else. I suppose interest in home grown Australian rock music started with The Beatles' tour back in '64. It kind of made people aware of R&B. But the big change came in 1973 with the Skyhooks' first album. That sold huge amounts of units and it coincided with Countdown.
Countdown ? The ABC music programme that ran every Sunday night for about 10 years. It created its own monopoly of exposing local bands on TV and at its peak was enormously popular. I think it had something like four million people out of a population of 12 million watching it at one stage.
And the effect of this was? ''Australians started to take pride in Australian rock music.'' But what is the essential difference between an American and Australian rock band? ''These days not much. It's so easy to get influences from all over the world now that Oz music has lost a lot of its identity. But back in the '70s and early '80s there was a real difference in the way the music was presented, something rawer about the way it was performed.
So Australian rock has had its heyday? ''Well, these days I can't even tell if a band is Australian or not. INXS recorded their last album in Capri, and I listened to Baby Animals' new album a few times before I realised they were Australian. The pub thing goes on though. There are still bands gigging away, and remember that for every band that makes it, there are 50 that don't. It's still about being on the road and hard work and tattoos and loud guitars for all those guys.
Essential albums? ''Any of the early Cold Chisel albums, the Skyhooks' Living in the Seventies, Midnight Oil's 10 to 1 and any of the Angels' albums.'' The epitome of Oz pub rock? ''The Angels' lead singer, who broke a leg while on the road and finished the tour in a wheelchair.''