radionotes podcast episodes

The Violets after 20 years apart have a brand new release called Smoke, Mirrors & Other Half-Truths. They’ve supported RIDE and other major acts back then and were the first band to take the stage of the Adelaide Big Day Out. Now a few decades on with said new record ready to go, three of the four members joined radionotes‘ John Murch for a chat.

Hear from Peter, Gary and Matt from The Violets – here…

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IMAGE CREDIT: Supplied – Drink Responsibility 

Chat recorded on 4th December 2021 – new album now know to be Smoke, Mirrors & Other Half-Truths (2022).

SHOW NOTES: The Violets

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First version provided by REV team member Helen F – check to audio before quoting wider

John Murch: This is the first time in a long time, that The Violets have actually, three of the members at least, have been in the same room. What is the dynamics like now that you are back in the same space, the same state?

Gary Bowen: Officially The Violets ended in 2001.

Matt Cahill: I think it’s better.

Gary Bowen: There was a long pause where we didn’t really get in touch. But with the digital age, made things a lot easier, obviously. So texting and FaceTiming and Zoom calls.

Matt Cahill: I think the real catalyst was COVID put the brakes on everybody doing anything. I guess, you navel gaze during that time and that’s when the phone calls started going around, “Hey, you doing anything? What are you doing?” Just a lining up of the planets really, wasn’t it?

Peter Kershaw: A complete unknown as well. I hadn’t seen, Jeremy, must be 20 years. Matt, I maintained a friendship with very close. Gary, I hadn’t seen probably off and on over the years.

Matt Cahill: And you wonder how the chemistry will be.

Peter Kershaw: Yeah, absolutely. And just to answer your question, when we got to the studio, we were all, “What’s going to happen?” All excitement, everything else. As soon as I saw Jeremy, I gave him a huge hug. It was just a beautiful moment, same with Gaz. And we rocked in there and within probably three hours, the chemistry was there. I think we wrote two songs on the first day.

Matt Cahill: Yeah.

Peter Kershaw: It was bizarre.

Gary Bowen: Day and a half we had probably five or six of those songs down. Quite exciting after such a long time, we went in thinking, “Wow, how’s this going to go?”

John Murch: And this is around November of 2020.

Peter Kershaw: Exactly a year ago.

John Murch: And this was in Wizard Tone Studios.

Peter Kershaw: Correct.

John Murch: Which I have great respect for the work they do.

Matt Cahill: Oh, they’re fantastic.

John Murch: Talk to us about that space and what Wizard Tone offered you as a band.

Peter Kershaw: Oh, it’s beautiful.

Gary Bowen: Yeah.

Peter Kershaw: I call it the mini Abbey Road.

Gary Bowen: Yeah.

Peter Kershaw: It just has that feel about it, not that I’ve ever been to Abbey Road, by the way. It has that feel about it, that beautiful… And you walk up the stairs and then you go into the studio to listen back. But the room itself acoustically, is great. The mic technique is magnificent.

Gary Bowen: The guys you’re working with.

Matt Cahill: Any instrument you want is there, it’s laid on.

Gary Bowen: Wall to wall amps.

Peter Kershaw: Yeah.

Matt Cahill: It’s so spacious as well

Peter Kershaw: Could have killed each other, so we had the space in between us, so that was nice as well.

Matt Cahill: Yeah.

Peter Kershaw: But no, the chemistry was definitely there, it was a great feeling.

Matt Cahill: Well, it was exciting to realise once we plugged in and we started jamming that, wow, it’s back.

John Murch: When you mentioned five to six songs, how many of those have ended up on the actual album?

Matt Cahill: All of them. Yeah. All of them.

Gary Bowen: I think Pete pretty well bought the shell of one song, but other than that, everything was from scratch.

Peter Kershaw: It was only a basic shell, every song starts with a shell or an idea or a chord structure, whatever, someone will bring it. And as a group, you start hearing like, Jeremy’s sound, that’s the master lyricist for me, I rate him highly. Locking in with Gaz again was unreal. I mean, I left in ’97, I departed in ’97 and they had another drummer 18 months later for a few years. And I was still a fan of the guys then and they made some great music.

John Murch: We’ll start off with Sideways. How do we dive into Sideways? Because the chord at the start, bam, we’re in.

Matt Cahill: Incidentally, it was the first track we wrote.

Gary Bowen: It was. I remember thinking we’d got into the studio that morning and by the time we’d set up and had guitars playing 10 o’clock that morning, it virtually came out within the first 10, 15 minutes, those chords. And I remember being quite excited, I was thinking, “Wow.” Of the group of songs, that is quite a strong song, I thought.

Matt Cahill: It felt effortless.

Gary Bowen: It did.

Peter Kershaw: It had that live groove that we used to get-

Gary Bowen: Yeah.

Peter Kershaw: Back in the nineties, dunkadackadun, and Jeremy’s riff come over the top, it was like, oh. I started smiling.

Gary Bowen: Jeremy has always been so creative, how he came to the studio, he just came with a guitar and some effects where… And there were very guitar based as opposed to his sonicness that he used to used back in the nineties.. I was a bit apprehensive seeing him do that, because I thought, “Oh wow, he’s just going to pair it right back to a guitar sound.” But it was perfect, it was just spot on.

Matt Cahill: Yeah. I think it was the springboard for being able to explore the chemistry of the band in a different way. We were kind of forced to approach it differently.

Gary Bowen: Jeremy has no boundaries when it comes to making music, I think. And it’s suited us three as well, I think. There’s no… It just…

Matt Cahill: Yeah, but there’s still a sensibility about it that you can grab onto when you’re trying to create.

Gary Bowen: Yeah, absolutely.

Matt Cahill: That’s what I like about it.

John Murch: As we’re going to hear across this conversation, there is that period of absence as well for the band. How much has that informed what the new Violets sound is going to be like? And I guess, maybe for you, Peter, you’ve done a lot of live performances during that time. In fact, I think you probably all have done, where you can, a lot of live performance in other bands during that time. But how’s that informed this new sound?

Matt Cahill: It is strange, because I’m a different singer than I was originally in The Violets, that’s for sure.

Gary Bowen: And 20 years is a long time just to evolve as a person.

Matt Cahill: Yeah. The fact that the four of us were so different to begin with, created a particular sound for The Violets. And I think the experiences that we’ve had since not being together and we brought all that back together again, has created yet something else. It’s a mutual respect for what everybody does that is the nucleus of what we do.

John Murch: That sense of letting go of certain parts of our lives and our personality and being, and sometimes the beings in our lives, that’s happened for the band as well, I would guess, over that time, that 20 years of maturity.

Peter Kershaw: Letting go of, you mean the past?

Matt Cahill: We’ve all been to our own version of hell and back in between. Everybody’s done the typical hurdles of life since we’ve last seen each other.

Peter Kershaw: Absolutely.

Gary Bowen: I think listening to the new songs in the last six months or so for me, I’ve thought back to the previous years, 20 years ago when we were used to write and record. And sometimes you get caught up with the intricacies of the relationship within the band. And that takes the focus away from music sometimes. And to look at it now and just look at the music, and I mean, as a more mature person, to look back and think, “Well, music’s what matters.” We sometimes got caught up with some…

Matt Cahill: Plus, we were young.

Gary Bowen: Insignificant little kids.

Peter Kershaw: Kids.

Matt Cahill: Yeah. We were just kids with a passion to make music.

Peter Kershaw: Initially, the phone calls were, “Is anybody interested in doing this?” And it was a resolute, yes, from everybody. And then it was planning it, we had seven days, because everyone had to fly in from everywhere else and all that sort of stuff. So we were very work minded about it, we weren’t there to stuff around, we wanted a result at the end of it. But just the fact that once we started playing together, it was all still there, that was such a joy.

Gary Bowen: Yeah.

Peter Kershaw: I’ll never forget it going, “Oh my God, this is actually possible.”

Gary Bowen: It way exceeded my expectations.

Matt Cahill: Oh, me too.

Gary Bowen: I didn’t think we were going to achieve what we achieved, so it was very pleasing.

John Murch: The mix is actually at the end of the recording process, but I actually want to mention it at the beginning, so people can listen through what you say now about it, as we talk through these other tracks in a moment and that of Brett Sody of Sodypop. Talk to me about that experience, because he also has been a long time collaborator of musical ventures of various artists in front of us right now.

Matt Cahill: Well, we met him when we were given… It sounds weird, but when we signed our second or third record deal, we were given him as an engineer like, ‘here’s your engineer boys’.

Peter Kershaw: He spent a lot of years with you with EVOLETAH as well.

Matt Cahill: Yeah. Well, I’ve never used anybody else since.

Gary Bowen: Back in the nineties, I think, when we recorded with him, a lot of ease about him, he’s a really great guy. And I think we all just connected with him.

Matt Cahill: Yeah. He doesn’t flatten a good idea, if you want to be adventurous, he’ll support it.

Gary Bowen: Yeah.

Matt Cahill: Right through to the…

Gary Bowen: Encourage it.

John Murch: Does it also help that he’s a local South Australian, instead of getting someone from Sydney who might be stuck in that scene?

Matt Cahill: Yeah. Well, we were fortunate enough to work with other producers. We worked with Tony Cohen and we worked with an English producer called Chris Dickie as well, so we’d worked with enough other people to contrast him, I guess.

Peter Kershaw: But he’s basically part of the family over that time. As I mentioned before, Matt’s continued to work with him, post Violets.

Gary Bowen: And he brings just an enthusiasm.

John Murch: Love Lies in the Rain is another cut, travel, the memories, the wonderment. Who is the nostalgic one out of the four, or particularly out the three here with us?

Peter Kershaw: We better clarify it. Well…

Matt Cahill: Do you think it’ll stay fashionable?

Peter Kershaw: If we’re going to run through every song, lyrically.

Matt Cahill: Why not? Yeah.

Peter Kershaw: Well, it’s really your call man, because you’re…

Matt Cahill: No. Well, that’s true.

Peter Kershaw: Matt’s the key lyric writer.

Peter Kershaw: Musically, okay. So how we initially did it back in the nineties and how it still works today, is the same formula. I guess, with most bands, especially our little union, is we just jam.

Matt Cahill: Conjure.

Peter Kershaw: Conjure.

Matt Cahill: Yeah.

Peter Kershaw: And things come up and then you fold it into the song, flesh it out.

Gary Bowen: Flesh it out riff. It’s whatever. Yeah.

Peter Kershaw: Matt will scat over it, blah, blah, blah. Then he’ll take it away and then write lyrics over it. You’ve written some lyrics in the past as well, but predominantly 99 percent of the time it’s Matthew.

John Murch: But are those lyrics Peter, based upon the life experiences of other members in the band? Because I had a long conversation with Matt, tried to relate some of these lyrics to his life. I’m like, “I hope he hasn’t gone through that as well. I hope one of the other members has gone through this.”

Peter Kershaw: You wrote it, Matt, you answer it.

Matt Cahill: I draw from everybody’s lives, that is true. You’ve busted me. Yeah, so if I’m watching a friend going through something and I know I can relate, I don’t do it deliberately, I just can’t help it. I can’t write anything that’s run of the mill, I guess, that’s very ordinary or pedestrian. I’ve got to write what I’m feeling about or it’s not sincere, that’s all.

John Murch: How much is wonderment part of, well, let’s ask Matt, part of your life, Matt? How much do you fantasise of in the land of wonderment?

Matt Cahill: Oh, constantly. I’ve developed a new technique when I approach a song now. When I scat for the guys in the studio, when we bounced it all down, I said to the engineer, “Don’t use any of my dummy vocals. I want to forget all of this.” And when I go away, I deliberately let go of it and forget it all. And then I have a red or two and I dim the lights and I sing, whatever comes out, I just go for it. I don’t write anything down to start with, I just let it come out.

John Murch: By having listened to the album seven to eight times, I get a very strong feeling this is a storybook narrative.

Matt Cahill: Yeah. But sometimes I don’t even see that until I zoom out and…

John Murch: Amplified by the fact that five to six of those songs were done within a couple of days as well.

Matt Cahill: Sure.

John Murch: So that would’ve been a head space, you may have been in at that time.

Matt Cahill: Possibly. I mean, I’ve had a lot of loss in my life and I think that is generally the starting point that I come from.

John Murch: Are you less dark these days with the new records?

Matt Cahill: Yeah, I think so.

Gary Bowen: I don’t know. You listen to a track like Sideways, that is quite a dark song. It’s…

Matt Cahill: Well, Here I Am is pretty dark.

Gary Bowen: And Here I Am, but then My Whole World is probably as poppy as we’ve ever been. We tried to be dark back in the day, but when we went in recently, we just did whatever came out, it just is what it is.

Matt Cahill: But Mary Who wasn’t a dark track.

Peter Kershaw: Well, I was going to say.

Matt Cahill: Oh, yeah.

Peter Kershaw: Cutting across that. I mean exactly, Mary Who.

Matt Cahill: It depends who you work with too, that’s the thing. When we worked with Tony Cohen, he extracted that really bouncy rock.

Peter Kershaw: Yeah. But we were perceived a lot of the time as being dark and shoegazing, which we weren’t really.

Gary Bowen: Sleeping Eyes was very straight up and down pop. That was…

Peter Kershaw: It was, it was a rock track.

Gary Bowen: Yeah, yeah.

Matt Cahill: I think we came out of bands, like the Straitjacket Fits and The Church and there was all that darky period. We were around at the same time. Did you mention Ride?

John Murch: I was going to mention Ride later, yeah.

Matt Cahill: We opened up for those guys, and they were darker than us.

Gary Bowen: There was a period… And I know a quote of Matt’s that always sticks in my head. And back in the day when we had B sides, he said, “I wish we could just write B sides and not have to worry about…”

Matt Cahill: The singles.

Gary Bowen: A single. And we did it all, he used to enjoy just jamming out on more obscure…

John Murch: That was also the pressure of the commercialisation that was occurring at the time as well.

Gary Bowen: Yeah.

John Murch: In terms of Ride, there was that gig on the 15th of July 1992. It was a Wednesday at The Tivoli.

Matt Cahill: Was it really?

Gary Bowen: Yeah.

John Murch: I remember being there.

Peter Kershaw: Oh, you were there?

John Murch: Yeah, I was there, it was Ride. As I embarrassingly say, there was only one cover band I was ever in, only one time I’ve ever tried to be a front singer and it was for a Ride cover band.

John Murch: My Whole World is a song we were getting up to. Those words that stick, even define who you become, those things that we say, Matt, is that where we’re going with this?

Matt Cahill: I literally did carve some initials in a tree in Sheffield Street in Malvern when I was very young and I did cut myself. So I was able to draw on that. I can’t even remember what she looks like now. When you’re over 50, you’ve got a lot of experience you can draw on. It’s like a well, just reach down into it.

John Murch: Shaken and Stirred, apart from having the Bondesque feel both in the title and the rhythm to it, is a bit of a nightclub late night vibe.

Matt Cahill: Well, it’s actually a spy story. That’s a collaboration between Gary and I. Gary shoots me a whole tonne of ideas and then I phonetically finesse it into a…

Gary Bowen: Unlyrically on that. But I think that musically, I think it’s something unlike The Violets have ever done before really.

Matt Cahill: Yeah.

Gary Bowen: It’s got that fifties, Hollywood cabaret thing going on.

Matt Cahill: Do you know the truth is, I think we’ve got to a point now, where what made the Beatles great, was they didn’t care what approached. They didn’t go, “Oh, that’s pop or that’s rock or that’s whatever.” You know what I mean? Like Billy Joel said, “I want to eat from everything on the menu.”

Gary Bowen: Yeah. We just embrace whatever we do. And we put our own little Violets stamp on it in the end. So we don’t say no to ideas.

Matt Cahill: Yeah, it’s not written to be pop and it’s not written to be rock. We don’t say, “Oh, let’s do a rock track or a heavy track or a this track.” We just do whatever falls out.

Peter Kershaw: That’s a good point. We don’t follow the charts.

Matt Cahill: There’s a certain liberation in not being popular anymore.

John Murch: There’s no expectation of where you need to reach.

Matt Cahill: That’s right.

John Murch: And it means that you can actually reach across the years and cross the genres as well.

Matt Cahill: We just please ourselves.

Peter Kershaw: And that’s the key to why we like it so much. We didn’t have anyone to please, except ourselves.

John Murch: Let’s talk about that guitar riff.

Gary Bowen: It’s good, isn’t it?

John Murch: It’s pretty good, isn’t it?

Gary Bowen: And that comes about with Jeremy, he’s playing a Jaguar just through a-

Matt Cahill: Through a VOX.

Gary Bowen: Through a VOX and he’s just got that real twangy…

Matt Cahill: Old school pedals, yeah.

Gary Bowen: Old school sort of…

Matt Cahill: It’s great.

Gary Bowen: Not rockabilly, but it’s got that twang, that surf twang thing about it.

Matt Cahill: Yeah.

Gary Bowen: And it was refreshing, because… And with Jeremy, you really don’t know what you’re going to get. You know you’re going to get something good, but you just don’t know where it’s going to be. I guess, sometimes we do follow his lead.

John Murch: Yourself, Gary and Peter have that rhythm section down pat. But the way that Jeremy then introduces himself-

Gary Bowen: Yeah.

John Murch: Together to have a really jazz-strong, trio happening,

Gary Bowen: Yeah. It’s not something that we’ve ventured down before really, that sort of style. But we all loved it, I don’t think there was one that…

Peter Kershaw: There was no boundaries or no, “We can’t go here, can’t go there.”

Matt Cahill: Yeah, that’s right.

Peter Kershaw: It was just, as Matt said before, whatever came out, came out. We’re there to please ourselves. And essentially, that’s what we did.

John Murch: One thing to that we know about Matt’s work, I do at least, is that when it needs an extra vocal, he’s not afraid to introduce someone else into the mix.

Matt Cahill: Well, I just wanted somebody that sounded a little sixties, but didn’t have a noticeably, overtly recognisable voice. I just wanted it to be… Yeah.

John Murch: Machinations, whose word is that?

Matt Cahill: That was mine.

Gary Bowen: I think it was Matt’s.

Peter Kershaw: You hated that one, didn’t you, Gary?

Gary Bowen: Oh, no, I didn’t hate it, I didn’t hate it. Matt gave me a call and said, “Do you want to collaborate on this song?” Which vocally, it’s always Matt’s domain. I never tried to muscle in at all, it’s not my domain at all. But he asked for some… Yeah. So we worked together.

Matt Cahill: Well, we generally did at least one song per album. We used to lyrically-

John Murch: Chuck a word in.

Matt Cahill: Just one, just to mix up.

Gary Bowen: So it just evoked that whole, like I said before, that Hollywood, cabaret sort of feel. And I wrote a little short story about… It had that spy overtones and Matt put it to lyrics and voila.

John Murch: Let’s talk about your favourite films, Gary, yours.

Gary Bowen: Oh, on the spot. Love Tarantino, his stuff’s good. But I’m quite open, I like watching anything. I like the old Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry movies. Yeah, you got me on the spot.

Peter Kershaw: My favourite film is, Shawshank Redemption and a close second will be, In the Name of the Father. Both brilliant films. Funny, Green Mile was on last night too, it’s got to be in the top 10.

John Murch: Matt, your favourite?

Matt Cahill: Jaws 2 and then Jaws 1, but in that order. No, I’m kidding.

Peter Kershaw: I think Jaws 7 was better.

Matt Cahill: No, no, no.

John Murch: Home Alone 3, did you say?

Matt Cahill: Home Alone 7.

Peter Kershaw: Rocky 14.

Matt Cahill: No, I think my favourite film of all time is, Blade Runner.

John Murch: Peter, my question to you, is have you seen Peter Jackson’s, The Beatles film?

Peter Kershaw: I was hanging for it for months. I’ve only ever actually seen one hour, so I’ve got seven more hours to go and I don’t want to hear anything about it, preferably. But now we’re on the spot, we’re in a studio, I’ve got no choice. Matthew’s seen it through and we’re hanging to talk about it, but go for it.

Matt Cahill: Yeah.

Peter Kershaw: I guess, I’ll just block my ears.

Matt Cahill: Oh, it blew my mind. I think it’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. As a long time deep fan, it felt good to be that close to them. It’s changed my whole perception of everything since then.

John Murch: Let’s talk about Paul McCartney in your dream band.

Peter Kershaw: He’s my… No, actually George Harrison is my favourite member, always has been. And actually -.

Matt Cahill: I remember the last time I spoke with George.

Peter Kershaw: I was just about to say a quick story about my Violets days. Matthew actually met him at the Grand Prix.

Matt Cahill: I did. I had just met George Harrison. Would you like an autograph?

John Murch: Hang-on picking up a name?

Matt Cahill: Argh. Yep.

Peter Kershaw: Yep got it.

Matt Cahill: I said, “Oh, can I have an autograph?” And he’s like, “Sure. Who can I make it out to?” And I said, “Oh, to Pete.”

Peter Kershaw: So he wrote Mary.

Matt Cahill: No. And then about 10 minutes later, Pete rang me and said, “Guess who’s in town?” And I said, “I just met him.” That was exactly those two statements.

Peter Kershaw: Back before the days of mobile phones.

Matt Cahill: Yeah.

Peter Kershaw: It was amazing. So anyway, I’ve had-

Matt Cahill: I had a mobile. You called me on my Motorola brick.

Peter Kershaw: Oh okay. I have it in a frame now, for years it was sitting in the bottom of a box.

Matt Cahill: Yeah.

Peter Kershaw: And I knew it was there, it was a memory box. But now a friend of mine saw it and he was a Beatles nut too and he said, “No, that’s got to go in a frame.” So he took it home and he built a frame with it and put three pictures of George, different periods. And it’s now hanging in pride of place, so I’m very happy with that. Favourite member was always George, Paul, I rate.

John Murch: If there was a film to be done about The Violets, because you do have that longevity, who would you get to direct that film? So Peter Jackson of course, has done The Beatles.

Matt Cahill: Well, I’d have to say Ashley Starkey, probably.

Peter Kershaw: Yeah, good call. Yeah, absolutely. Been there since the inception and…

Gary Bowen: Back in the nineties, he did a clip for us.

Matt Cahill: Well, he did Pianohead.

Gary Bowen: He did Pianohead, award winging video. He gets us, he understands what we’re about and stuff –

Matt Cahill: He’s not sycophantic, but he’s just a great filmmaker.

John Murch: Our very special guests are The Violets. I want to have a chat about Peter’s most memorable gig.

Peter Kershaw: So do I.

John Murch: Because I was at this gig.

Peter Kershaw: Oh, beautiful.

John Murch: I think it was the one that-

Peter Kershaw: Was I there?

Matt Cahill: That’s…

Peter Kershaw: That’s really crucial information.

John Murch: Off Rundle Street.

Peter Kershaw: Ooh.

John Murch: At Synagogue Place.

Peter Kershaw: Synagogue.

Matt Cahill: Oh, yes.

John Murch: Supporting Max Sharam.

Matt Cahill: Yeah.

Peter Kershaw: Max, that was definitely up there with one of the great gigs.

Gary Bowen: That was a great gig, yeah.

John Murch: Talk to me about that gig.

Peter Kershaw: For us personally, leaving Max alone for a minute, the place was packed, our song was on the radio. It just felt like that five minute brilliant patch in anyone’s life. We were tight.

Matt Cahill: We owned it. Yeah.

Peter Kershaw: When we hit the stage, there was just… And we just owned that audience, it was a magnificent feeling. We played tight, probably the best we’ve ever played. Then Max come on and she basically sued us and said, “Get out of here.” No, she didn’t. We spoke last year and she remembers it.

John Murch: What are your memories, Gary?

Gary Bowen: I remember it being… I think, it was almost a pinnacle of our time together. We were riding a bit of a crest of a wave and that night I remember looking up and for some reason Shattered comes to mind. When we were playing Shattered, the crowd were just still and just looking at us and we just felt like we had them in the palm of our hands.

John Murch: They were very much there for you.

Gary Bowen: Yeah.

John Murch: And that was the vibe of Synagogue.

Gary Bowen: Yeah.

John Murch: It’s a music venue, you’re not there for the drinks, you’re there for the music.

Peter Kershaw: What happened to that place? That was a brilliant venue.

John Murch: Became a nightclub.

Peter Kershaw: Oh, okay.

John Murch: And then I think closed from there.

Peter Kershaw: Long gone?

John Murch: Yeah.

Peter Kershaw: Okay. What a shame.

Matt Cahill: I went there actually with my wife. Yeah, when it was a Nightclub.

Gary Bowen: Matty was in Piper and Steve Kilby.

Peter Kershaw: Did they?

Gary Bowen: Acoustic –

Matt Cahill: Yeah.

Gary Bowen: We were there.

Matt Cahill: We went and saw that show, yeah.

Peter Kershaw: We’ll just talk amongst ourselves.

Matt Cahill: Sorry.

Gary Bowen: Pirie Street. What was the place in Pirie Street. I remember seeing Steve Kilbey.

Matt Cahill: The Tivoli? Oh, no, that was… No, The Office?

Peter Kershaw: Where The Badloves used to play.

John Murch: Which bands of when The Violets were big, would you like to relive like yourselves? Obviously, you are rejoined, you’re making new music. What band would you like now performing with you? Maybe they’re not making music anymore, but you really want to bring them back.

Peter Kershaw: From that particular period?

John Murch: From that period, yeah.

Peter Kershaw: Oh gee whizz. Are Ride together again?

Matt Cahill: Yeah. They’re kicking it again.

Peter Kershaw: Okay. Well, that’ll be wonderful.

Matt Cahill: I used to stand mesmerised at The Mandelbrot Set.

Peter Kershaw: Okay.

Matt Cahill: We did a couple of shows with them and I, for the life of me, couldn’t figure out what they were doing. So I used to stand front and centre and their mixer really had an idea of the width of how they should sound. And I just remember looking at them all and going, individually, when I look at them, it shouldn’t work, but collectively it was mesmeric. I would literally stand there in awe, in a way.

John Murch: The gig I can remember seeing you guys perform live back then and listen, we will move on in a moment from nostalgia, but it was playing with The Undecided? Second on the line up for that as well.

Peter Kershaw: Was it Le Rox?

Matt Cahill: Whereabouts?

John Murch: Possibly at Le Rox as well. You could see the potential.

Gary Bowen: That was early days, wasn’t it? Le Rox days. It was ’91, ’92.

Matt Cahill: Our first year.

Peter Kershaw: I mean, I don’t have a diary on me, I’m just going by –

John Murch: The Miltons was the other band I was thinking of.

Matt Cahill: Ah, yeah.

John Murch: The question was asked on your social medias, if it was ’92 or ’93.

Matt Cahill: Oh, okay.

John Murch: And checking the dates and checking a few other things, e.g, when I’d left Triple M and how long I’d been somewhere else, it’d be 1993.

Matt Cahill: Yep.

John Murch: And you’d be right to think 1992, would’ve been a stronger time for you for that, but it was 1993. Dissolve would’ve been just released for The Undecided, at that time.

Matt Cahill: It happened really quickly for us, we got signed and then there was an immediate need for material. So we hit the studio within weeks, we were with Mick Wordley.

Peter Kershaw: It was a rush, really.

Matt Cahill: Yeah, looking at dates, ’93, we actually got signed.

Peter Kershaw: It was jam packed, it was like day in, day out, they wanted that material out.

Matt Cahill: Yeah, that was weeks.

Peter Kershaw: We didn’t have the luxury of taking time. It was on a budget, had to be done. We didn’t even really get to pick producers or anything like that.

John Murch: What we mentioned in the introduction, you were the first ever band in the Adelaide Big Day Out. So when the Big Day Out hit Adelaide, you were the first band on stage-

Matt Cahill: On stage.

John Murch: To kick off the whole… And people were so excited about the Big Day Out being there, they were there from the start to the finish.

Matt Cahill: Sure.

John Murch: It wasn’t like later on, you’d just turn up for the big bands or whatever, they turned up for every single act.

Peter Kershaw: Absolutely. They were hungry for it. I have vivid memories of everyone running towards the stage, getting their place. It was huge.

Gary Bowen: And being very hot, it was a very hot day.

Peter Kershaw: It was a stinker. It was-

Matt Cahill: 44 degrees on stage.

Peter Kershaw: Yeah, it was damn hot.

Matt Cahill: It was just insane.

John Murch: People had no idea what a Big Day Out was, so they thought they could do the 12 hours, 11 hours or whatever it was. And so by the time the big acts like Iggy Pop-

Peter Kershaw: Sonic Youth.

John Murch: And Sonic Youth were on stage-

Peter Kershaw: Sonic Youth.

Matt Cahill: I met Iggy that day.

Peter Kershaw: We did. He comeback stage. Who was the… Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy.

Matt Cahill: Michael Franti, Michael Franti.

Peter Kershaw: Michael Franti was playing and Iggy was backstage just hanging to get up there. He was busting at the bit.

Matt Cahill: I remember him saying to Michael Franti, “I got this scar when I fell off an amp in New York playing at some club.”

Peter Kershaw: As they were playing, he got up for Foxy Lady and just tore the place apart, it was fantastic and afterwards we had a good chat. And Michael Franti was a gentleman too, he was really nice to talk to.

John Murch: As we mentioned, you kicked off the whole kit and caboodle of what became the Adelaide Big Day Out series.

Matt Cahill: Pretty big, to be honest.

John Murch: And you got to do it twice as well.

Matt Cahill: Yeah, we did. Our touring promoter was Catalyst who were right in with Lees West, so they wanted to feature us every point possible, really.

John Murch: And so what was that live experience like back then, to compare to how you are feeling it now, both emotionally as well engagement wise?

Peter Kershaw: We haven’t actually played live, so we can’t really compare it.

Matt Cahill: No, we haven’t played live as The Violets, but we’ve all played together in other incarnations and whatever live. I think it’s different now you know that you’re capable. At the time, I remember Pete Curnow said, “I want you to open that show with, Ain’t Love Grand.” And I was like, “I don’t think it’s an opener.” I really didn’t think it was an opening track. But he goes, “I want to hear the strains of the initial guitar chords, just ringing out over the audiences. And I really…” And he had a vision. And I remember standing up there playing it, thinking this is the wrong song, it’s not working.

Peter Kershaw: Yeah. But people look at you, they wouldn’t know.

John Murch: Let’s talk about the bands that you have been in.

Matt Cahill: When I finished with The Violets, I had a whole heap of songs that I’d written for The Violets. So I just put together a project crew to record those songs, called EVOLETAH. And I’ve just been doing that ever since, just went well for me and I kept it rolling.

John Murch: Our chat with Matt [as EVOLETAH] is in the show notes. Gary, where have you been at?

Gary Bowen: I’ve been doing not much at all, to be honest. By the time The Violets came to a head, I think I was done with the music industry. I love music, obviously will forever, but I think at that stage, my wife was pregnant, we ended up raising a family and I just let music go for quite a while. Matt rang me, probably 2012, something like that and planted a seed about getting together and writing again. But it’s taken seven or eight years to get to that point. But it was always in my mind that I wanted to do it again. But yeah, in the last 20 years, I’ve just been a twiddler on the couch or at home.

John Murch: Can anyone speak to Jeremy? What he’s been up to?

Peter Kershaw: He’s a remote recording artist all over Northern territory. So has his-

Matt Cahill: It’s got his solo project.

Peter Kershaw: He did a bit with Gurrumul, I know that.

Matt Cahill: Went to New York with him.

Peter Kershaw: Went to New York with Gurrumul.

Matt Cahill: Cooper Black.

Gary Bowen: Cooper Black. He’s been very prolific with Cooper Black. He’s gee, what? Got to be at least half a dozen releases with Cooper Black.

Matt Cahill: Records predominantly indigenous artists across the Northern territory.

John Murch: Peter, I want to ask you about KENNETT and particularly that element of the dark blues. Do you want to talk to us about the live music you’ve been doing with KENNETT?

Peter Kershaw: Up until a year ago, yeah. I was attracted to that. Nigel was a very dark songwriter. I love Nick Cave, I love that element. That was probably as close as I got to The Violets again, performing life. It’s hectic, it’s scary, it’s unpredictable. Some people hate it, which I love, I love that idea of-

Matt Cahill: It’s pretty intense.

Peter Kershaw: Repelling people. So call it blues, it’s not blues, but what is blues?

John Murch: I haven’t had the privilege of listening to the music and I did try to find it. And I ended up just finding Jeff Kennett. Is it like Jon Blue’s Explosion?

Peter Kershaw: Take it right out of the blues, because the blues police will be listening and it’s not-

John Murch: Forget about blues, yeah.

Peter Kershaw: Forget about blues, essentially. It’s hard to… How do I describe it? Very dark. He’s got a… What do you call it? Johnny Cash, a low voice, but the guitarist actually comes from a local metal band, young Alex, and he’s a-

Matt Cahill: It’s a hybrid really, isn’t he?

Peter Kershaw: Yeah, exactly. So you got Nige on acoustic guitar who comes up with all these things and you got Alex. And I think I’m the third drummer to come through. We’re a bit idle at the moment. I was attracted to it, the music, big time

John Murch: There are other live music experiences that have been taking your time.

Peter Kershaw: Since 2016, I’ve been heavily involved with theatre music. We did a tribute to George Harrison with The Highlights. A lot of, dare I say, cover bands or tribute bands. I know people can’t stand that, hello, Gwen, that term, but it’s kept me busy and interesting. I think, about 14 months ago, I was approached by a local band, Mojo Dingo and they are specifically American south blues influenced, Bondi Cigars sounding stuff, and funky and soul driven, which I really dig. I’ve done so many gigs with them this year, it’s been great. We just recorded an album a few months ago, stoked with that. It’s only a short album, but it’s getting some really good reviews overseas.

Matt Cahill: Oh man, it’s a great record.

Peter Kershaw: We got picked up by PRS Records, which was phenomenal.

John Murch: One level you’re talking about repelling the audience, but then the whole idea of doing cover tribute type music is to actually-

Matt Cahill: Draw them in.

John Murch: Hug and embrace and draw them into memories and stuff.

Peter Kershaw: My tastes are eclectic. That appeal of KENNETT was a small part of me, that absolutely loves it. It’s probably not something I’d go home and listen to 24/7. I’d rather go home and listen to Simon and Garfunkel or even a Neil Diamond song. And then some KENNETT and then some Nick Cave and some Beatles and then-

John Murch: Some Robert Plant.

Matt Cahill: But can I say something?

Peter Kershaw: Yeah.

Matt Cahill: You would only tribute to a band that you loved their material.

Matt Cahill: Yes.

Peter Kershaw: I did whore myself out for couple of years.

John Murch: What is it about Split Enz then?

Peter Kershaw: I do love Split Enz.

Matt Cahill: Yeah.

Peter Kershaw: But what’s not to like about them? Theatrical, brilliant band. Musically, if you break it down and listen to the structures of the songs, especially the keyboard part. And magnificent songs, which morphed into Crowded House, Neil become a wonder. So to perform no songs live is a challenge, I’m smiling the whole way through. We did a Fringe show this year, and we’re not a tribute band, we are just playing their songs, had a packed show at Norwood, every song they were singing along to, they adored it.

John Murch: We started the year having a chat to Kyan Burns, which was a suggestion of The Show on 5PBA. They said, we should have her as a guest and I thought, “Let’s.” I reckon 5PBA fits into the history of The Violets, is that right?

Matt Cahill: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Gary Bowen: Yeah.

Matt Cahill: A hundred percent. Big time.

Gary Bowen: Absolutely.

Peter Kershaw: Matt and I go back well before The Violets, we had a little band called Listen Here, which morphed later into The Violets. But we won a competition…

Matt Cahill: Songwriting competition.

Peter Kershaw: And we performed live out at the Salisbury TAFE.

Matt Cahill: We got a mate who had a home studio to do a terrible home demo. We sent that in and we won a day’s recording.

Peter Kershaw: Of course. What did we record?

Matt Cahill: Don’t Take My Mind. We’d already done a track at 202.

Peter Kershaw: That’s the one.

Matt Cahill: Yeah.

Peter Kershaw: And I reckon that’s the one that won us the competition, to be honest.

Gary Bowen: First start a band, your first entry into air play is with those radio stations.

Matt Cahill: All the winners-

Peter Kershaw: Yeah.

Matt Cahill: Got invited to do a concert there.

Gary Bowen: Yeah, of course. Yeah.

Matt Cahill: That’s right. We did.

Peter Kershaw: And that was actually 1989, going back in my memory bank, September, so there you go.

Matt Cahill: And then Gary and I, and Jeremy did a cassette and we just used the drum machine. And the only reason that I didn’t ask Pete, is because I didn’t think he’d be interested in the material.

Peter Kershaw: I come from a hard rock background in my teens, so I was more Bonham sort of stuff. And the stuff that Matt was showing me was, to me at the time ignorantly, I was calling it flower stuff, just very soft. That’s just youthful ignorance, plus I’m a contrarian at heart,

Matt Cahill: But when it came time to demoing, we just invited Peter in and that’s where it really began.

John Murch: And so that’s the step from ’89 to 1991. So The Violets started in 1991, so that’s over 30 plus years as a band.

Peter Kershaw: Strewth.

John Murch: Can I take you Peter, to 1980 and the Christmas of 1980? What was in the garage?

Peter Kershaw: Oh, bless. It was a shiny drum kit that my folks managed to hobble together. In retrospect, it was a fifties drum kit, barely hanging together. But yeah, I ran in, it was sparkling, it was beautiful. I jumped on it and I haven’t stopped since.

Matt Cahill: And can I just chime in and say that I’ve seen the Super 8 footage from that day and it’s incredible to watch, he could already play.

Peter Kershaw: Oh, I was banging on everything anyway, I was tapping on… As drummers do, you can pick up drumming straight away when I start tapping on everything. But there’s a strange thing when you’re a kid and you love music, that’s all encompassing. And you just have this belief inside you. “Well, I don’t care what you think I’m going to be…” Hate the word famous, but there’s no doubt when you’re a kid.

Matt Cahill: I knew we would be signed. I’d feel the energy of the group, it was bigger than the four members.

Peter Kershaw: I’m sure a lot of people think that as they grow up, but I was lucky enough to meet Matt, form a great friendship and these guys got together and jammed and then I joined a bit later, so that was fluky, but a beautiful thing.

John Murch: And as you said, that was 1980. And yet again, we’re now talking like 40 plus…

Peter Kershaw: You’re scaring me with figures.

John Murch: Oh, that’s…

Matt Cahill: You’re scaring the heart of me.

John Murch: Figures are scary, aren’t they?

Matt Cahill: They are.

John Murch: Less scary is Gary in how he got his first instrument and introduction to music.

Gary Bowen: It was probably a couple of years after Peter getting his first drum kit. It was about ’82, ’83. Me and my guys I was hanging around with, we were into that Sex Pistols, Jam, Clash sort of stuff. We decided we wanted to get a band together. I remember going to, I can’t remember the name of the shop, but it was in Flinders Street. And I went in there with my dad and I got a Les Paul copy and I was off playing guitar in those days.

Peter Kershaw: How old were you?

Gary Bowen: 14, I think.

Matt Cahill: I ended up playing that guitar, it’s a bloody heavy piece of equipment, I tell you.

Gary Bowen: It was heavy. I’m not the biggest fellow. I remember it being quite heavy and giving me shoulder aches, even as a teenager. Played guitar in my first couple of bands, but I think as I got older, towards 20, I moved away from that sort of punk.

Peter Kershaw: You’re a big Clash fan, always been.

Gary Bowen: I still am, love The Clash.

Matt Cahill: Yeah.

Gary Bowen: Got into a lot of Australian independent music, mid eighties’ time. And then when I first met Matt, we just hit it off straight away. We had very similar tastes in music and it was almost like leaving behind my past. And it felt like a step up, it felt like these guys are serious, they want to make some really good music here.

Peter Kershaw: You did a cassette, it was… I’ve still got the cassette, I should have brought it in actually-

Gary Bowen: Oh yeah.

Peter Kershaw: Called Violet Town, if I may mention the name, that’s what they called themselves after a church song. And I was hovering around all the time. And then Matt said, “Oh, come on.” I kept on coming for jams.

Matt Cahill: Yeah –

Peter Kershaw: “Er, I don’t know.”

Matt Cahill: Pulled an engineer in to my home and we actually set up a recording studio in my home. And that was full on, there were machines and wires going everywhere and I’ve just never enjoyed something so much in all my life. I’ve been addicted to recording ever since.

John Murch: So the Violet Town is that… I don’t want to ask other people who are listening at home, so is that where the name The Violets came from?

Matt Cahill: Well, we got a call from Violet… there was a band called Violet Town already, and we didn’t realise, and we got a call from their management and they said, “Don’t do it.”

Peter Kershaw: Violet Town, that was the cassette you had.

Matt Cahill: Yes.

Gary Bowen: Yeah.

Matt Cahill: Yeah, yeah.

Peter Kershaw: Okay. Jeremy, come up with the name, “Why don’t just call it The Violets?” When I joined.

Matt Cahill: Actually, I think it was me.

Gary Bowen: And now as it turns out, The Violets, I think there’s about eight Violets around worldwide.

John Murch: Well, I was going to ask you, The Violets WA have just released their debut single.

Matt Cahill: Wow.

Gary Bowen: At the end of the day, I guess…

Matt Cahill: I only found out a couple of years ago that there was a punk band from Athens, Georgia that had a two year head start on us. But back in the day, you didn’t really have the internet and you didn’t really know.

John Murch: Yeah.

Matt Cahill: And there was a Nirvana before there was Nirvana.

John Murch: I’m going to put in the show notes, the WA one, because they are really good. The closing track, Here I Am, strains of relations, who gives the all, as well as mercy lips.. I’m still reading into all that. This is going to go off live, there’s so much body and flow to the song.

Gary Bowen: I think it comes about with Jeremy striving to chase different avenues. And that moment he had the keys out and that riff came out. And I think sometimes one person might be in the room just playing and tinkering, you hear something and then we just go, “Yeah, that sounds good. Let’s jump on that.”

Matt Cahill: Yeah. Well, my memory is we didn’t demo that.

Gary Bowen: No.

Matt Cahill: You know how we’d been demoing little live things. Jeremy stuck his little recorder in the middle of the room and-

Peter Kershaw: These are just phone recordings you’re referring to.

Matt Cahill: But we didn’t do that for Here I Am, it just eventuated on the spot.

Gary Bowen: My recollection is hearing Jeremy play it and Pete Turning his head and going, “Wow, what’s that?”

John Murch: The freedom of the longer track as well, I think radio should really embrace this one as well, it does head towards that six minute mark. But at the same time, like a good Ride song, as we mentioned previously in this conversation, if it becomes the final track on the album, it really will be leaving us a little wanting as well, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Matt Cahill: No.

Peter Kershaw: Absolutely not.

Matt Cahill: It’s a good call. Yeah.

John Murch: What are you looking forward to, releasing this music?

Gary Bowen: It’s funny, I think back in the day, you look forward to getting the CD in your hand, but those days are gone.

John Murch: The vinyl, maybe?

Gary Bowen: The vinyl, maybe. Yeah, the vinyl.

Peter Kershaw: That would be lovely. It’d be interesting to see how people…

Matt Cahill: React.

Peter Kershaw: React. Yeah. Their memory of us, if it’s still around, it’s not that far removed from what we did sound like.

Matt Cahill: If you’ve got a band you’re into and they come out with something new, just curiosity’s enough to make you venture in.

John Murch: What about the new audiences? How’s your vibe on that? Or can you not even gather how they will react?

Matt Cahill: No, I played it to a really young guy. First impressions, he goes, “I’d buy this even if I didn’t know it was you. This is the type of thing that I’d like to listen to.” So that was reassuring.

Peter Kershaw: Again, going back to before, when we were talking about… We had no idea, we didn’t prepare or write specifically for that market. Well, I have no idea who’s listening to what these days I wouldn’t have a clue.`

John Murch: How great it is to not write for a market, which I know Matt touched on before.

Peter Kershaw: Yeah.

John Murch: But Gary, your vibe on that as well, to not have a market after so many years, and particularly in those very formative years, having a market.

Matt Cahill: Well, there’s silly pressures associated with it. I remember when our singles did well on radio, everyone was our friend and when they didn’t do as well, we couldn’t get a door open.

Peter Kershaw: It’s like everything in life though, Isn’t it?

Matt Cahill: But it was shocking, because we knew these people intimately. And then things would go well for us, incidentally a song would do well on the radio. And then suddenly all the doors are open and the phones are ringing. And then when they didn’t… And I found that really difficult to tolerate. I thought-

Peter Kershaw: That’s human nature.

Matt Cahill: “Are they disingenuous? What are these people like?”

John Murch: Try 25 years in radio and then calling it a day.

Matt Cahill: Oh man. And that’s why I was determined to do it my way. That’s why I started my label, because I wanted a co-op of great musicians without people that are fair weather friends. I’ll stick with the band no matter what.

Peter Kershaw: The music world is full of fair weather friends though.

Matt Cahill: Have you heard Ozzy Osborne say, “You meet a lot of people on the way up, be good to them, because you’ve got to meet them again on the way back down.”

John Murch: Thanks very much for doing radionotes today.

Matt Cahill: Oh, thanks for having us.

Gary Bowen: A pleasure.

Peter Kershaw: Thanks very much.

Gary Bowen: Thank you.