Hailing from Perth, Western Australia is the notorious 80's skinhead band Quick and the Dead, who are now back after almost 20 years. This interview is with QATD founder and bass player Murray Holmes.
The begining of the band goes back to 1978...even earlier than that Glen Sheridan and me were mucking around with a drummer..nothing serious. It all progressed from after that, after many band member changes until we had a permant line up that was semi reliable.
Were there any bands in particular that influenced the sound and style of QATD, and were there any other local Perth bands that played with you guys? What sort of a following did you have?
Skrewdriver of course was a big influence, although we did some cover versions of the songs, we could never ever really sound like them. There were 100's of bands around at the time. I quite like the early Cockney Rejects, they had a great oi sound. Motorhead I never really got into at the time but listened to them from time to time.
Local bands were few and far between. They consisted of our supporters getting something together and making a noise. Thats what the whole thing was about. Everyone could have a go, some of them went on to join other bands some faded away and some turned to drugs..well they didnt last long after that.
The followers were were a mixed breed..you could say a bunch of blue heelers punks/trendies/mods/alternatives/a small amount of the general public and of course a growing pack of skinheads.
As time went on, QATD built up a reputation for attracting violence and inciting the occasional riot at its gigs. Did the bad press make it difficult for you to secure venues for gigs? If so, how did you get around this?
It seemed a natural progression for the violence to start. Its the usual...a cocktail of loud aggressive music and a fueled up audience packed to the wall, full of alcohol not to mention the band members.
Every time we played I got the feeling everyone had a good time weather they were on the recieving end of a smack in the mouth or a relativly violent free night. Not all the time it was a blood bath. One reporter said it was more of a neo Nazi style rally. I had to laugh when I read that. My mother wasnt amused. My Dad didnt make too much of a fuss. I think he just used to shake his head. Its was always a shit fight to get gigs.
You sometimes played gigs well out of the city limits of Perth, and even out there riots managed to kick off. The country town of Northam comes to mind. Can you tell us about that night and what exactly happened?
Thats a big question to answer. I will start with after exhausting all avenues of these rundown doss holes we played in, the country side looked like a brighter future. Thats what I thought....The town of Northam wasnt all that far out of perth, about 100 klms , a 1 hours drive. One of us went on a reconnaissance drive one weekend and secured the local town hall. All the pubs seemed to be a bit too public and to avoid trouble we decided on the local hall at the end of the main street. We went to the Avon Valley pub and saw the publican to arange the beer for the night. Paid a deposit at the local council and we were there....got the flyers happeneing and lied through my back teeth to get a liquor license. Every thing was sweet, I think it was $6.00 entry and all the beer you could drink. It was that cheap I nearly bought a ticket myself.
The day had arrived. We all got there early to set up the gear and the beer arrived to plan. Big Nick Anderson was put on the door to let only the skinheads head in. I instructed him no local were allowed in as it was a private function. Thats fair enough, but alas our little private function was the only thing that was happening in the town that night. As a matter of fact its was the only thing that ever had happened in that town since the end of the last war.
All the skinheads/punks had arrived and were admitted. Already the local youth of Northam were agitated but their presence, as quite a few rolled up early and went around the town getting food smokes etc. Something was brewing.
The band started and every thing was going well. Nick was still at the door when a group of locals demanded to come in. Nick told them the drill and and they didnt like his answer. One of the hairy bastards threatened him saying he was the hardest man in Northam, so Nick produced a wooden picket and belted him. I wish I was there to see the look on his face.
Anyway they ran off only to return with about 300 people. We were out numbered. There was only about 100 of us that included the girls as well, some of them were harder than some of the blokes, but never the less we were out numbered.
The police turned up, all 4 of them and they were powerless to anything except hold them back for a while until reinforcements turned up from neighbouring towns and Perth. The locals seemed to get through the lines and stoned the building breaking most of the windows, and a fruitless atempt of ramming one of the emergency exit doors. We all remained inside as it was inevitable suicide to go out to the mob.
Eventually everything had calmed down and the crowd dispursed without a single arrest. As everyone left to go back home there was only one main road back to Perth. The bastards beat everyone out of town a few kms and stoned all the cars heading back. The result was one car full of skinheads and their girlfriends running off the road and rolling the car. They were pretty badly cut up and shocked. The car was a write off.
I didnt know anything about this till the next day as some of us stayed in Northam that night in a guest house . I saw the billboards on the way back to perth the next morning "SKINHEADS IN WILD COUNTRY BRAWL". I drove past the hall in the morning before going home, it was a fucking mess. It looked like a bomb hit it.
A few phones calls later when we got home everyone was okay. The acident victims were cut up a bit but not too bad. That was the first and last time we played in that friendly country town.
Are there any other gigs that stand out as memorable to you? Perhaps the "Bunbury Holocaust Tour"?
It was actually a small hall outside of the town of Bunbury in the locality of Elgin. The hall was a typical country set up where years ago it was used for the old time dancing, meetings by the Masons and probably the CWA headquarters.
It was quite funny, as the club had a bit of a theme for the night and everyone had to attend in fancy dress. As usual the band and a couple of roadies arived early to set up. Tank made the backdrop up out of some black concrete plastic and masking tape reading "Bunbury Holocaust Tour" and put it up over the stage.
Around 1984 you went over to England to play bass for Skrewdriver and record "Hail The New Dawn" and the "Invasion" EP. How did this eventuate and what was happening with your band? Had QATD split up during this time?
I went to the UK in 1982 and first met Ian Stuart. I visited the Last Resort shop quite often and eventually saw Skrewdriver reform. I wasnt in London long enough to see them play live. I think the first concert was at the 100 club. By that time I was back in West Australia. I got to know Ian quite well by the time I left, so he obviously remembered me in 1984. Adam Douglas knew I was going back to the UK and told Ian....Frenchie had left the band by then so I replaced him.
How was your experience playing with Skrewdriver? Did you play many gigs? If so, where were some of the places you played and what was it like?
There wasnt a second that I didnt enjoy being part of Skrewdriver. Everyday was like an adventure. I must have met 1000 skinheads in the time I was in the band at least. Everyone was friendly and all asked what Australia was like. All of them had never left their suburbs let alone leave the country. I used to fill em up with bullshit like stories of our venomous spiders the size of dinner plates living in ya boots in the morning. and ya had to put them into the freezer to stop them. The poisonous snakes stories were good ones I used to tell them. I am sure they didnt sleep that night with nightmares. All harmless yarns of the country Down Under.
Brutal Attack played their 5 songs over and over again as they had just reformed and thats all they could play. Ian sang well and there were minimal mistakes by everyone as we had to do 30 odd songs in about 2 weeks.
The police made there presence felt by patroling around the streets of the church. The night went without any incidences.The night started as quick as it ended..One minute the hall was full as everyone arived the same time and I quess everyone left the same time to catch the last tube train. It wasnt what it was like in Perth where everyone used to hang around after we played and had more drinks and went onto another pub.
Back in Australia, QATD went through various line up changes. What in your opinion, was the line up were you most happy with and why?
I think the unquestionable line up that was the best was when we changed the band name from QATD to FINAL SOLUTION. The name QATD had too much trouble asociated with it, so we had a name change again. Glen Sheridan - guitar. Jim King - vocals, Steve McCoy - drums and me on bass.
Steve the drummer was really good, he spared no expense. He bought a brand new kit and he was a hard hitter just like his amature boxing career. We had a responsible line up everything went well. We all turned up on time for practise and didnt waste any time.
I had built a lead lined rehearsal room at my new home with double glazed windows and a split unit air conditioner. It was comfortable to rehearse in and we could make as much noise as we liked. Glen always rehearses on volume 11 and it was hard on your ears but it was only for an afternoon once a week.
I always got the feeling that Glen didnt like Steve all that much maybe because Steve took the piss out of him all the time and it may have got to him. I must have been right because when I handed the bass playing over to Glens best mate, he sacked him as well and got Jamie to play bass, then got Dave Mussolini back on drums and changed the band name to WHITE NOISE.
For a brief period you played in a band called Final Solution, which in turn became the internationally well known band White Noise. Why did QATD break up and can you tell us about this transition of bands and musicians?
White Noise recorded an LP entitled "The First Assault" which featured many of QATD's original songs. What did you think of this album and did it bother you that these classic songs were used?
It didnt bother me much at all. Although I thought it was a bit cheeky of Glen not to tell me. I think he was a bit scared of me after I sacked Dave Mussolini and he got him back. I havent spoken to him since.
There have been various recordings of QATD circulating over the years, most of them bootlegs and poor recordings but officially you had at least 2 albums out. One being the "Kicking into 82" cassette, and the now extremely rare "Another Violent Night" EP. Where and when were these albums recorded and who released them?
We recorded just about every practise we did, whether it was on 2 track or 4 track. Most of the tapes deteriorated over time as they do.
More recently, an Australian distro by the name of Cold Sweat Records has released a 2 CD box set entitled "Quick and the Dead - The Intimidation is Intentional/Another Violent Night". Can you tell us how this project came about and the efforts involved with releasing it?
I always get a laugh out of that, as I take the piss out of Sven Woulters on how many years it has taken to do...4 years to be exact. You dont get that for murder!
It was actually Mark Oakleys idea to get something out there as its part of Australian history. All the material had to be found. Andrew Bored (singer) had kept a lot of material so between us all, we had more than enough.
A million phone calls later and we had a heap of material. My sister had an old doco on a BETA format video tape, that had to be transferred over to DVD and the second doco was on VHS video tape.
All the songs came on cassette so they all had to be digitally remastered and Sven had the QATD EP. There is still alot of stuff left over that didnt make it to the box set like the fanzines we bought out, and heaps of photos. I got given a heap the other day.
Everything was slowly getting done. Getting prices for printing and CDs etc etc. It’s selling well now through out the world at a steady pace. A lot of interest has come from Europe, and the Jew.S.A is taking quite a bit. I am content with it all but never happy, as we could have done better years ago.
In 2007 we finally got to see the Quick and the Dead make a triumphant return to the stage, playing a small gig at a pub in Perth, and the following weekend in Melbourne at the B&H Australia ISD Memorial concert. Can you tell us who's in the current line up of the band and what bands, if any, the other guys have played in? Also, how do you feel these gigs went?
Next I asked Big Lindsay to sing. He was a QATD punter from years ago and rarley missed a concert. He sang in a band in Sydney called LAGER ASSAULT. That band was short lived but he is a good bloke. It’s important in a band that everyone gets along together. He ended up being a bouncer with Jim King before fleeing the state to live in the east. He returned a few years ago to the west and I am really happy with his voice but not too impressed with his memory of the songs. He will get there.
Now the band was complete so every weekend we practised. There were good days and very bad days but we soldiered on and got to our Perth concert after 20 odd years. That went well...... private invite only.
Have you been working on any new material and do you have any plans to go into the studio and start recording?
Too be honest at this stage we havent done anything since Melbourne. Scouser Mike went to the UK for a couple of months and our drummer took off to JEW.S.A for 6 weeks. Now Mike is back and the drummer's leaving again for another 3 weeks over there.
Do you have any final words for the readers of B&H Magazine?
Yes. More bands are needed no matter how good or how bad and if everyone could make an effort to support the ISD and the Midwinter Fest in Adelaide.
Campaign and spread the word especially on the eve of this SORRY DAY.
Support the Cause that supports you!
Thanks for your time Murray and your ongoing support for the Blood & Honour Movement.