Regurgitator have been crushing it since 1993, crafting a retro Aussie hero image with their computerised, shifting alternative rock. Poster boys for ’90s rebellion and countercultural rule-bending, the last few years have seen them play a choice few shows to audiences that, after all these years, still adore the three-piece.
Amongst all this madness, we caught up with frontman Quan Yeomans for an honest and unglamorous chat.
What you see is what you get: despite living a world apart, Regurgitator are still ready to hit festival stages all around Australia.
HAPPY: We’re still pretty fresh into 2018, but how’s the new year been treating you so far? What’ve you been up to?
QUAN: I feel like I haven’t been capitalising on my initial enthusiasm.
HAPPY: With all members of the band currently living in different areas of the globe, are there any challenges of making music and/or preparing a live show?
QUAN: Yes and no. Not having to rehearse and more or less get away with being utter shite live is a plus. Making and producing music in an anechoic chamber with only your own ears and opinions to guide you is also a nice luxury, but it does make it slightly tougher to pinpoint just how terribly each one of your new songs fits into the soundscape of contemporary music.
HAPPY: You’ve always maintained an honest and often unglamorous presentation of the band. What kind of relationship have you built with your fan base, being so open?
QUAN: I’d like to think it was a quite honest and often unglamorous one. Some people make the elaborate subterfuge needed to paint a marketable picture of sophistication look so easy. We’re more like a ‘warts and all, WYSIWYG’ type of first date experience.
HAPPY: Your music has always been changing and evolving. Is this due to different members bringing different things to the table?
QUAN: It probably has more to do with the fact that none of us ever really knew what we were doing as a team. There’s a certain level of diversity of practice that comes with such a fundamental lack of artistic focus.
HAPPY: Have you found it increasingly difficult to create music that you find satisfying and creatively fulfilling?
QUAN: Oh yeah absolutely. It seems to me that the buzz I get from the act of creating something that works on all the levels you require to get that palatable dopamine release, becomes shorter and shorter. It’s like the drug user that eventually kills off all of their pleasure receptors as a result of over-stimulation. You’re always an addict but the high you got as a dumb teenager becomes more and more elusive. Of course music is not the only drug out there and it does help to be multi-disciplined.
HAPPY: At the end of 2013, the band took a brief hiatus. What was the importance of this phase for the band’s progression?
QUAN: I have no recollection of that and therefore have no idea about its overall bearing on our progression or regression as a band.
HAPPY: With all members having worked on musical projects outside of Regurgitator, do you find these have influenced the sound and presentation of Regurgitator?
QUAN: Generally they’ve aided the overall lack of commitment and focus/energy that we’ve applied to the band. I’m not suggesting that’s a bad or good thing but time and energy is unfortunately, at least from my human experience, a finite thing. I would say however that Ben’s dance theatre experience has lead him down a more theatrical/soundscapey path perhaps.
Let’s hope my recent experience with scoring for cartoon shows doesn’t leave the next album riddled with shitty incidental stings and Carl Stalling-esque sound fx..
HAPPY: The band has been quite involved with the protection of the Great Barrier Reef, could you walk us through what you believe the importance of something like this is?
QUAN: You probably don’t need me to explain that human nature is a convoluted often contradictory thing. We seem to spend a large percentage of our time on this planet desperately attempting to convince ourselves that we all somehow magically float above the complex ecosystem that sustains our existence.
I think the ‘saving the planet’ rhetoric is a classic example of an ongoing cognitive dissonance that we human beings have had with our own inhabitance on a planet that we have clearly thought of as an ‘other’ or a large thing separate to us that we live on, exploit and attempt to manage the resources of.
Perhaps the slogan ‘Save Ourselves’ just cuts a little too close to the bone for a relatively self-conscious, extremely self-centred bunch of parasites. I don’t know but it seems obvious that if you destroy the environment that has, beyond all odds, somehow fostered life for one of the more unlikely species in the universe, then you jeopardise the life of that species. It’s pretty simple stuff. In other words, anything that shits where it eats usually gets very ill and eventually dies.
It may seem that I might not have the most sentimental attachment my fellow human beings but like any good, self-respecting parasite, the destruction of stunning and vital ecosystems like the Barrier Reef is now scary as fuck to me because I have kids.
HAPPY: With a set coming up at Wide Open Space festival, what’s the experience of playing a festival set like, as opposed to your own headline show?
QUAN: It makes me feel like I really need to lift my game or at least work on my onstage hype-banter.
HAPPY: Beyond that, what does the future hold for Regurgitator?
QUAN: I’m really hoping that we all make it to the scientific era of brain uploading, at least the rudimentary clinical trial section of it. We’ll probably only be able to afford a shared data storage server. Hopefully the albums we produce in the cloud will usher in a new progression for us.
Catch Regurgitator live:
Feb 23 – Byron Bay Surf Festival – Beach Hotel, Byron Bay
March 3 – Hotter Than Hell – Gateway Hotel, Geelong
March 9 – Adelaide Festival – The Palais, Adelaide
May 4-6 – Wide Open Space Festival – Alice Springs – Tickets
June 29 – Regurgitator does Velvet Underground – Melbourne Recital Centre