an interview with Rob Younger
by Mary Mihelakos - Beat Magazine #141 (Sydney) - 22nd July 1997
One of the best kept secrets of 1997 was that The New Christs released a new album, Lower Yourself.
Following all the exhilaration which surrounded the Radio Birdman reformations over the last couple of years this seemed relatively low key. But as Rob Younger explains there was no airplay, therefore no touring and little interest in the first place from Australia.
The New Christs came together in Sydney in the early 1980s. Led by Radio Birdman's Rob Younger backed by a not so stable line up which has included members of The Screaming Tribesmen, Lime Spiders and Celibate Rifles. They released a string of singles, eps and long player on Citadel records, continuing in the tradition of Detroit rock, The Stooges and MC5 yet more textured and darker.
The New Christs have just returned home from their third European tour.
Beat: Why are the New Christs so much more appreciated in Europe than at home?
RY: It is harder here, there is more mystique in Europe. And we are way more successful over there.
Beat: Was the Lower Yourself album recorded for fans overseas?
RY: More or less. We knew if we wanted to tour Europe we had to have a record to promote. Radio stations want something to play and all the rest of it. If you have any fans at all they want to hear something new after 8 years, there were some eps.
Beat: How was the European tour?
RY: It was a typical New Christs tour, we got treated like kings as opposed to the way we get treated in Sydney, like shit. We were going around playing medium sized venues, driving long distances every day and getting a decent response. It was a good life for a while there.
Beat: Any tour adventures?
RY: A couple of band members decided to turn their brains into mush, but every one has their own way of coping with tours. I am married and have no interest in staying out in bars until 6 in the morning then drive 900kms. I was trying to lead an example, but we do have a youthful demeanour.
Beat: Why haven't the New Christs have toured Australia much?
RY: There is no point because our profile was so low in Sydney and virtually impossible to get JJJ to play it on radio for whatever the reason so we just went to Europe with out worrying about it. We are not exactly wearing out the welcome. If they liked it before they'll like it now, if they didn't like it before they have not got a chance.
Beat: Are you disappointed with Australian audiences?
RY: I think that any audience that we did have probably should be disappointed with us. We have played a lot of uncommitted shows and not been putting out consistent releases and so forth. I think there is a perception that we get together every now and then and fart around.
Beat: So there are no plans for a national (Australian) tour?
RY: No one will want to see us in Perth, no one is interested
there; Adelaide is a glorified country town and wouldn't have a clue. Sydney is a pile of shit and has been for ages, it's not getting any better for us. Sydney will be uninhabitable in ten years, mark down the date that I said that and check it out in 10 years time. It's a shithole. Brisbane do me a favour, I hate going up there. But we would play any of these places if they wanted us. Having said all that, it is terrible isn't that? We will do what we can, I am the only one in the band with a family. So maybe I am keeping back our progress. We can only put out the record and see what happens.
Beat: You only have this Melbourne date booked, are the New Christs giving up on Australia, especially Sydney?
RY: I just want to put out good records and I would like to play more than what I do, I just don't hold a lot of hope. If you don't get any airplay, you can't elevate yourself to a position of scoring the good shows and making a life out of it. Other cities are healthy. Melbourne is a hipper town and sees the value of artistic things, rock'n'roll maybe included in that. We only have one chance, hope we don't go down there and make arses of themselves. This is an upfront apology. Lower Yourself is out now on Citadel Records.
The New Christs are playing a one and only Melbourne show, Saturday 19th July at the Upper Fitzroy Town Hall (corner Napier and Moor Sts, Fitzroy). Supported by Damien Lovelock (spoken word) and Hard Candy, tickets at Ticketmaster Bass 11566.