“I don’t go to parties baby, ’cause people tend to freak me out…”
So begins the most brilliantly anti-social party tune to come out of Australia in over ten years which still sounds as vibrant today as it did when I was eleven. Regurgitator have always been an odd bunch; even when they fit in (for approximately two and a half seconds somewhere towards the end of 1997) they were still doing things differently. While ‘!’ seems to blend seamlessly into any modern DJ set and has all the trappings of the crossover hit it is and was, you have to remember that pulling these kind of moves pre-2000 was just as likely to get you lynched on the streets of Brisbane as it was to win you a swag of awards. That the album which ‘!’ comes from, Unit, eventually went triple platinum to me represents a fantastic spirit of rebellion that a generation of twenty-somethings before me funneled through their wallets. Make no mistake, this is a record was challenging; it had a grooving synth-heavy hit called ‘I Will Lick Your Arsehole’, and that wasn’t even the worst of it by half. But for all their experimentation and correct predictions for the future (“In 2008, keyboards will be cooler than guitars…”), Quan Yeomans’ trio had enough sense to wrap their insanity in some pretty strong writing, and ‘!’ is the best of the lot.
This song is an early proto-type for what would eventually become an electro-pop standard across the world; a cacophony of V-drums, warped, double-octave and effected vocals that barely even sound like the singer anymore and a bass line that pulses on the same root notes while replacing (for the most part) any need for chords. The opening twenty five seconds of ‘!’, in which skanking funk guitars give way to this crunching bass sound that I can only imagine is born when two Transformers start beating each other up in the street remains as exhilarating as ever. There are certain tracks that can be thrown on a stereo like steaks on a barbeque and anybody in attendance will go ‘Oh shit I love this song! I haven’t heard it in ages’ before promptly losing their shit. I’ve been to three clubs over the last week where a dance track written by a punk rock band essentially elicits the most rabid response of anything the DJ can throw at them. While the chorus is mind-bogglingly dense, there’s only about ten words to remember and then you’re good to go.
Every time I play this song now, I hear all the extra percussion sounds Regurgitator managed to sneak in when they were producing it. Whether that’s the looping cowbell figure that sits in so well the the riff that you barely notice it’s there or the thrashing splash cymbals that just rock up out of nowhere in the chorus. There’s samples coming in from all angles, whether it’s the crowd chatter or the cheerleader ‘That’s Right!’ which drops at the end of the bridge. But best of all, this is a toe-tapping tune entirely devoted to the hatred of toe-tappers. It’s like taking two different sides of your brain and sending them in decidedly different directions. It’s very easy to sing along to this without having the faintest clue what it is you’re talking about. That’s the sign of a great pop song, albeit a weird one. But what do you expect from a band who recorded an album in a bubble? This really is a great entree to the weekend.
Regurgitator – ‘! (The Song Formerly Known As)’
Bonus: Regurgitator’s hilarious ‘Fat Cop’, which is possibly the first song that D and I obsessively loved and easily one of the first ones we downloaded illegally off Napster.
More ‘Gurge here.