Kick-starting this site again

After languishing for most of the last few years, I thought that now is the time to get this site back on the go again since things are finally coming into place for me where my pursuits are concerned.

In December last year, I made the decision to move from Deagon to Chermside with a friend of mine Karley Staehr, whom I have known since 2013 from Model Mayhem.  Although the first couple of months were a bit rocky for her, she’s now settled in nicely and looking forward to this year.

Musically, I have been working with Aboriginal elder Roderick Tyson on a band with him playing at charity concerts like Closing The Gap and NAIDOC which help the Aboriginal community with health, housing and wellbeing.  We mostly do covers and will eventually be doing some original numbers as well.

I’ve also been taking up singing lessons with a couple who live in Nudgee called Tara Neilsen and Khesrow Rasta.  They recently recorded me doing a cover of the Tears For Fears song “Mad World” in a similar style to how Gary Jules and Michael Andrews did it.  It received 100 views within 4 days of putting it out onto YouTube.  Although it isn’t the type of music that I normally sing, nevertheless it has still put me on the musical map.

D-Wizz 2.0 recorded some tracks for the upcoming albums “Success Is Not A Number” and “Paper Tiger” with renowned Brisbane rock music producers Jeff Lovejoy (The Cruel Sea, Powderfinger, Six Ft Hick, Pretty Violet Stain, Regurgitator, Lavish) and Brian Mann (The Girlies, The Screaming Tribesmen, Mick Medew & The Mesmerizers, Preston).  This act shows D-Wizz’s and my own love for 60’s and 70’s music, particularly glam rock and power pop.

Laissez-Fayre has been rather on and off due to the rather conservative musical political climate of Brisbane.  I had been jamming with a couple of hopeful candidates for the band Tayjsha Tarrant and Sarah Jane Edwards, and done a couple of gigs at Pacific Sun Friends with Sarah before she turned her attention more to the metal scene.

This year, I am working on a new lineup and hoping to re-record the vocals for the songs “Nekkid” and “Botoxic” to put out as singles.  “Nekkid” ended up becoming my most listened to song on YouTube in 2013/14 garnering over 113K views, even outdoing The Veronicas song “Cross My Heart” before it was deleted after somebody falsely flagged the video as ‘pornography’.

The Brisbane Naturists group has had a few good meet-ups, most of them being hosted at a couple’s place in Carina who are part of the Vita Nuda Brisbane group.  The VNB group is mainly targeted towards young adults, although their meetups haven’t been all that well attended for some reason despite having over 625 ‘likes’ on their Facebook page.

Work-wise, I am now working with Meals On Wheels in Geebung on a Tuesday morning, and have been doing so since 2015.  I have no intention of giving it away as I get on well with my co-workers as well as my clients, and it gives me joy to be able to contribute to the community again.  I’m also looking to get back into doing some paid work in the near future.

I’ve also been studying for a diploma in Business at Careers Australia in Bowen Hills, as well as one in leadership and management which I want to apply to my music and naturist interests.  It’s a lot harder than I had originally envisioned, but I’m still determined to finish them.

The main goal that I am working towards is getting the Soundtrack Productions record label up and going again.  This is Brisbane’s premiere indie label, which originally ran between 1965 – 1967 at a disused bakery in Cannon Hill and put out a few records by Bobby Dean & The Worried Minds, Robin Gardini and a community choir.  In mid 2014, I approached my long-time friend Andrew Ainsworth (now a music and sci-fi writer) about reactivating the label.  He agreed to do it along with a Gold Coast music trader called Greg Cuffe.  The next couple of years they spent unearthing a whole load of obscure and never released recordings that some Brisbane bands had made to send to radio stations.  In November 2016, they were released on a compilation album called “Kaptain Kavemen From Brisbane” and launched at the Brisbane Record Fair at The Rumpus Room in West End.

I have since started up a Facebook page for the label at https://www.facebook.com/soundtrackproductionsptyltd as well as a group in which members can make their own posts at https://www.facebook.com/groups/soundtrackproductions

Anyway, that is about all that I can write about at the moment, but I will be getting a host for this site as dariowestern.com shortly so it will be very easy for people to locate this page on the Internet.

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Digital Music & Reality Shows: Is A Revolt Necessary?

The narrowing of Australian society (and indeed the Western World) is one thing that has made me feel angry with pop culture.  When Big Brother first exploded on our screens in around 2001, I thought it was going to be a passing phase.  Just a bunch of yahoos and yahettes enjoying a bit of debaucherous fun that you could easily get at any weekend party or on Schoolies Week.  But the scary thing about the reality shows is that they have virtually taken over and monopolised 90% of the entertainment world.

It’s given rise to some pretty ugly people and egos whom in real life you would want to punch out so badly that they would never ever get a career in TV such as Simon Cowell and Gordon Ramsay.  Bullying, adultery, betrayal, talentless gits and sexual and social debauchery.  On one hand society hypocritically cries about cyber-bullying, kids safety and social decadence whilst on the other hand gleefully relishes these TV shows that show humanity at its lowest.  How many people in your day-to-day life do you see cry or get a hissy-fit if you don’t like their food?  If I was on a show like Master Chef, I’d tip my food over Gordon Ramsay’s head and calmly tell him to go fuck his mum up the jacksy if he was to lose his temper with me.  I refuse to listen to or co-operate with people who yell at me for anything be it a boss or business associate or politician etc.  I have no time for people who think they can manipulate me by yelling and screaming.

What’s worse about these shows is that they are on at a time when our young and impressionable are tuned into the TV the most.  Bring back the likes of Delia Smith, Peter Russell-Clarke and Bernard King to prime time TV if you want to learn how to prepare a special dish than laugh at other poor fools hamming them up.  TV is a wonderful device for education purposes, but the problem is that the government has abused it to allow all this reality show garbage on it to keep the masses ignorant as to what is REALLY going on in the world!

As for music reality shows, how many of us remember most of the people who got their break on them?  Remember Lee Harding, Cosima, Wes Carr, Paulini, Casey Donovan?  No? Thought not.  Unless you are someone like Guy Sebastian, Shannon Noll, or Ricki-Lee – forget about sustaining a successful and fulfilling career via a reality show.  At least Noll and Sebastian were accomplished musicians and had years of technical credibility behind them before their chart careers took off.  And now with Simon Cowell finally caught with his pants down, it looks like the era of reality music shows is coming to its much needed dismal end.

Being a fan of rock and pop music, as well as the musical styles that influenced them like blues, gospel, jazz, soul, reggae, folk, R&B, and even world music (yes, rock’n’roll originated in Africa way before Jesus Christ came to Earth!), I think it’s time that the ABC and the commercial channels brought live music shows back again like Countdown and Top of the Pops.  These shows featured bands and artists who had been slogging it out for years to build up a following and get signed to major record labels rather than overnight wannabes with no previous music experience or street cred behind them.  Audiences can spot fakes easily, and communicating with audiences is something you need to work on.  It’s not something you can buy over the counter like a bottle of orange juice.

When I lived in the UK, virtually everybody used to know who was in the charts thanks to Top of the Pops and the major radio stations all playing what was in the Top 40 regardless of whether people liked the music or not.  It’s time that the Australian TV industry stopped trying to compete with other countries and took things back to how they ran successfully for decades.  Leave the wannabes and hams for the show “Red Faces”, and let the true professionals perform their music on prime time TV shows.

The advent of digital music is something that I believe has been both a boon and a curse to the music industry at large.  When I first installed iTunes on my computer in around 2006, I was very excited and thought it was going to be an avenue for cheap music and being able to buy songs that I previously could only get on import through Rocking Horse or Skinny’s Music back in the 80’s and 90’s.  This year, when I tried to purchase the single “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead” which made it to No.2 in the UK charts following the death of Margaret Thatcher, I got a message saying this song was only available to the British public!  Say what?!  If you are going to set up a digitised music service then you’ve got to work to make your music available to EVERYONE.  Unless I am mistaken, one of the reasons why many people decided to stop buying physical singles was because they wanted to buy stuff that was easily available to them on the Internet they couldn’t get anywhere else.

Digital music should really serve as a taster for physical singles.  As my friend d-Wizz had done with his music on mp3.com.au many moons ago, he only featured edited versions of his songs on MP3 so that people would buy the full versions on CD at gigs or at his studio.  Being somebody who likes tangible music in which I can hold the single or album cover in my hand musing over the photos and lyrics whilst the record is playing, the digital age has sapped that sense of spirituality with digital-only downloads.  I do not want record companies telling me what to buy or what’s hip – I want to buy my music the way I like it!  It’s like Hungry Jack’s – you can have a whopper your way or if you’re a vegetarian/vegan you can also buy veggie burgers if out on the road and there are no other places to buy a snack (which I will leave for a future discussion).  This is why I believe the public are slowly starting to lose their faith and trust in the major labels.

Today’s kids are wising up to physical music again with the gradual resurgence of interest in vinyl records and CD albums, and if the remaining three major labels want to continue to prosper and create healthy competition in the market again they’d better start pulling their fingers out and aim to please every corner of the market and stop being so greedy and arrogant.  It’s not the fat-cat CEOs that make the hits and call the shots: it’s the public you sell to.  And once the kids get fed up of squeaky-clean boy and girl next door reality music stars and clinical digital music formats, they will revolt!

Remember what happened in the late 70’s once the big record companies got too complacent and mainstream radio kept plugging away leftover 60’s superstars who were fast turning into yuppies?  Well, mark my words: I think it’s going to happen all over again.  The music and entertainment world moves in cycles and eventually the sheer greed, hypocrisy and political correctness of the mainstream entertainment world will be shat all over by the underground movements clearing the way for real talent and DIY music business ethics that made rock’n’roll, R&B, punk and rap so exciting in the first place.

Don’t join the revolution: BE the revolution!

Violent Soho’s video “In The Aisle” and my rant on public nudity

Brisbane grunge rock band Violent Soho have been around for quite a few years now pleasing audiences in Australia and the US with their angst-ridden toons like “Jesus Stole My Girlfriend”, “Tinderbox” and “Neighbour, Neighbour”. Citing classic 90’s bands like The Pixies, Nirvana, and Soundgarden as their musical role models, they have developed a steady following with diehard 90’s rock fans as well as the college circuit with airplay on radio stations like Triple J and Brisbane’s community radio station 4ZZZ FM.

Now they are set to become a household name with their new single “In The Aisle” and the forthcoming album it is taken from called “Hungry Ghost” (available in September through I Oh You Records). This album has a recurring theme to it, and that is about examining people who are often treated with scorn by society or who are considered eccentrics in some form. Previously, ethnic people, disabled people, homosexuals and lesbians and bisexuals, witches and Pagans and science-fiction fans were treated like pariahs by society because they would not conform to “mainstream” values. Nudists and naturists are the last bastion of a sub-culture that are still ostracised and shunned out by society.

A bit of insight into my nudist history: I first became interested in nudism when I was 8 years old and saw the BBC documentary “Let’s Go Naked” in January 1979. I thought “Wow, this is an interesting way to live!”, but it wasn’t until 1990 that I actually took the plunge to go to a nude swim party in The Gap called Sunrays which was advertised quite heavily in the local press by a guy called John Carpenter. It took me three visits to it before I was finally at ease with being naked with other people in a confined space. Since 1990, I have visited various nudist camps, clubs, resorts, and retreats like Pacific Sun Friends, BALKAZ, Tony’s Beach Cottage, The Cooroy Colony, Noosa Edge Nudist Retreat, and River Island. I’ve also been to nudist beaches like Alexandria Bay in Noosa Heads, Tyagarah Beach in Byron Bay, Rocky Bay in Magnetic Island, Cobbler’s Beach in Sydney, and Little Digger’s Beach.

At time of writing, I am the Secretary for the Free Beaches Australia lobby group to fight to get nudist beaches legalised in Queensland as it is the only state in Australia that does not have any legalised nudist beaches (or “Unofficial” nude beaches in Nudistspeak language). I am also the organiser for the Brisbane leg of the World Naked Bike Ride, an annual clothing optional rally which protests against over-dependence on fossil fuels and environmental disasters like Global Warming, and promoting naturism and biketivism as valid ways of life and have been doing it since 2007.

In the mid 00’s I joined Brisbane magazine Time-Off’s forum under the moniker “fatpizzaman” (as I am overweight and have worked in pizza restaurants as a kitchenhand and delivery driver for most of my adult life). I started using the forum to talk shit about music, art, religion and politics as well as promote family nudist swim parties for the Brisbane Forum Social Club (now known as South East Community Sun Club). A number of the forum members jumped down my throat including Jean Nicotine from the band The Butcher Birds and vilified me as being a “rapist”, a “paedophile” and a “drug addict” on account of my nudist beliefs. A few phone calls to the magazine to complain about the forum behaviour didn’t help as the bullying just kept on and on. Finally, one poster had said that “nudists are all fat old people with a superiority complex” and I rebutted by posting a link to family nudist video sites like enature.net, russianbare.com, purenudism.com and Charles Macfarland’s site Synetech video. Several posters considered this anathema and falsely accused me of encouraging “child porn” and said that family nudist activities were not appropriate for Australian culture. The admins decided to ban me from the site without even checking out the links to find out that there were NOT child pornography, but only wanted some peace of mind.

I re-joined again briefly under a couple of other monikers like “PG Tips”, “Gentleman Jim”, “Ramoni” and my own name but the admins still banned them after a few posts to keep the idiots happy. Fast forward to 2012, when Luke Henery from Violent Soho messaged me on Facebook asking me to appear as an extra in their single “Neighbour, Neighbour” as he said that he was open minded about artistic nudity and nudism as a way of life and was curious to meet me again (we had actually met very briefly in 2000 when he was still a teen at a mutual musician friend’s flat when I was managing garage rockers The Busymen and he was friends with the bass player Richard Buchanan’s brother Ben). I agreed to feature where I jumped into a pool wearing a g-string and then whipped it off and chucked it at the camerawoman. It was fun, but the video was a very rushed affair and the scene unfortunately didn’t make it in. A few months later, he messaged me again this time saying that the band and their director Tristan Houghton wanted to make a video for their new single “In The Aisle” and they wanted to feature me riding a bike nude around various parts of Brisbane. I agreed to take part since the band are all really nice guys and also come from a similar background to me having been brought up as devout Christians and becoming disillusioned with organised Christianity and the superficiality of the people in the church they first met at, which is what inspired them to write “Jesus Stole My Girlfriend”.

The bass player Luke Henery picked me up from my place on June 25th at about 5.30am in the morning to take me up to Redcliffe where the first scene was being filmed. They got me to pose outside a suburban house with a bike and putting some dummy World Naked Bike Ride posters in the basket and then rode around the streets to the main Esplanade whereby I handed them out to members of the general public in the cafes and on the street. Everyone thought it was a real hoot, but the police eventually called the band and the crew together to ask us to move on due to some “complaints” (probably fabricated ones) but once we told them what it was in aid of they mellowed out and said “Well, that’s good as we were nearly going to refer the guy on the bike to Caboolture mental health institute!” in a jesting tone. We then went to John Patterson and Patience Hodgson  from The Grates’ cafe Southside Tea Rooms in Morningside for morning tea, which is where the original lyrical inspiration for the song comes from about some weird guy who haunts there and brings his own teabags and asks them to make his own tea from him rather than ordering their own teas.

Next stop was Paddington where Tristan wanted some shots of me riding down a hill with the Brisbane skyline in the background. This was probably the most difficult scene to film because it took about 12 takes before he was satisfied with it and the road was very hilly and I was scared shitless I would have an accident from riding too fast and having to break suddenly at his order. Third stop was Fortitude Valley in James Street where we did another poster drop at the cafes and chatting to local passer-bys. It was here that I encountered the only negative reaction. Whilst walking up to a couple of yuppie businessmen in suits at a cafe, they saw me, gave me a dirty look and got up and stormed out. Everyone else was cool and some wanted to get a photo taken with me.

Fourth port of call was King George Square right in the middle of the City. This was the most fun scene whereby I put up a poster on a statue and all the Asian tourists were laughing and filming the scene with their iPhones and iPads. Last scene was the Kangaroo Point cliffs whereby I rode down the bike path and sat on a wall enjoying the afternoon scene. We got one dude who was most likely drug-fucked starting to complain saying something like “You shouldn’t be exposing kids to this kinda shit guys, it’s totally inappropriate. You’re a load of loser skateheads anyway, so what the fuck would you care?” There were kids having a bbq with their dad nearby and none of them were in the least bit perturbed that I was riding a bike in the buff. If only Hetty Johnson from Bravehearts could have seen us, she’d have had a heart attack and died (and I wish that fucking bitch will just FOAD anyway, she’s an idiot!)!

In all, this was the best fun that I’ve had this year and probably since 2001 when I met two of my musical idols Sparks at the Corner Hotel. Appearing naked in the video was a form of self-empowerment and also revelation to the fact that the general public in Brisbane are not offended by non-sexual public nudity even if they may not choose to take part in it themselves. I’ve also become disliked by several people in the local nudist movement for my values of honesty, openness and accountability as to what goes on instead of sweeping the dirt under the carpet.

To me, nudism and naturism is about “nothing to hide” and being a completely open book. By contrast, the GBLT scene has made more progress than the nudist scene because in the past the activists went out of their way to risk their jobs, and their relationships with their families and friends to stand up for what they believe in. Most nudists don’t – at least not in Australia. I’m one of the few who has never turned down an opportunity to talk to the media or promote nudism in a creative manner.

Since 2001 I have been struggling to get a band promoting naturism/nudism together called Laissez-Fayre which is going to me more female orientated. I was even kicked off the Star Now website for casting for members for this band with the deadshit admins saying “It’s okay to look for models and actors to perform nude, but not musicians. That’s just not on!” Oh yeah – so what about musicians like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Danielle Dax, Amanda Palmer, and The Flaming Lips then? Fuck off, Star Now!

Basically, I did not do this video to impress the chicks or to entertain young kids. I did not do it to agitate the police. I did it as a form of revenge. Revenge against the bullies and bitches who have given me grief on the Time Off message board. Revenge against the brain-dead fundamentalist “Christian” losers at the Pentecostal churches and the Catholic churches who call social and public nudity a “sin”, “indecent” and a “bait for fornication”. Revenge against nudists who have ostracised me from their online groups and bitched about me behind my back for no good reason other than holding them to accountability and a higher standard of living. And finally, revenge against anyone in the main who calls God’s greatest creation “lewd”, “disgusting”, “ugly”, “sinful”, “embarrassing” and “shameful”. You can burn in hell for blasphemy for all I fucking well care. You make me sick!

Thanks to Violent Soho and Tristan for giving me the break with promoting public nudity at a time when I think I need to do it the most. At the start of the year, I decided to myself that this year was going to be the year that things all come together for me finally since 1991. This is a new frontier and precedent for Brisbane. Now that we know most people aren’t offended by nudity in a non-sexual context, the next step is to create a critical mass so that more people can get in on the act.

My vision for Brisbane is that it will eventually be the next Cap d’Agde. It’s got the ideal weather for it, and would no doubt cause a huge influx of tourists from the UK and Europe. Let’s start lobbying the politicians for the right to public nudity NOW. The ball is in our courts! 🙂