I had the pleasure this week of being a guest host on the Boxcutters podcast, along with the ever-delightful Josh Kinal and Brett Cropley. Yes, a podcast – it’s a bit like what I would call “being on the wireless”, only it doesn’t exist anywhere. Or it exists everywhere. Like Skynet from The Terminator.
Anyway, Boxcutters is a weekly show about television, so part of the show involved discussing TV projects I’ve been involved with. I was trying to be on my best behaviour throughout, but God knows if I succeeded. I do have a tendency to go on a bit, so it’s turned out to be one of the longest Boxcutters ever, and that’s even with me manically speeding up as the show goes on. So if you want to hear me rant about Battlestar Galactica, defend Six Feet Under, and jabber on about meerkats, simply click here.
Ironically, even though Boxcutters is a high-tech information-superhighway zero-gravity-haircut hoodie-and-skinny-jean wearing podcast, it’s recorded in a radio station. Old school.
The radio station in question is none other than Melbourne’s much-venerated RRR. This brought back memories for me, as I spent a lot of time at the Rs back in those heady days of the early-to-mid 90s. We were young then, and it felt like the summer would go on forever (or something). Every day promised another Killjoys record, or an Angie Hart lookalike walking up Brunswick Street carrying a sunflower. Remember sunflowers? Remember when they were really in?
The station has changed a bit since then – for a start it’s in Brunswick. That’s new. But there’s still an integral RRR-ness to it, including the retro couches and the industrial door buzzer (just like the old one, you press the button and shout “it’s me” repeatedly until someone lets you in). The studios are distinctly roomy compared to the Fitzroy ones, even if the door handles aren’t worth recording anymore (why did we repeatedly record the door handles? Why didn’t we just record them once and keep the tape?). But there was one – huge – shocking – change.
The kitchen is – I can barely bring myself to say this – quite nice. Back in the day, the RRR kitchen was small and depressing, a place you would only enter if you’d got tired of cutting yourself (self-harm was so 1990s). Every cup was dirty, and every cup was chipped. As a matter of principle. In fact, I suspect Stephen Walker used to chip every cup himself, just to stop the kitchen from sinking into the stagnant mundanity of the bourgeoisie. There was usually a large tin of Nescafe, the type you see in offices where all the workers have given up hope. And if you were lucky you might find a spoon, or some sugar. But never both.
The new RRR kitchen has an espresso machine.You heard me.
The cups are still pleasingly mismatched though, and there was a flyer on the wall that called back the old days – “Wanted. 20 000 Soy Sauce Fish. Melbourne artist working on a sculptural project needs your help”. With an address to send your recycled soy sauce fish. I wonder how that project is coming along? The deadline is the end of August, so there’s still time, but what if August ends and the artist only has 19 999 fish? What happens then? Remember Don Music? He was the puppet on Sesame Street who used to bang his head against a piano saying “I’ll never get it! Never!” He was such a role model.
As I was leaving the Boxcutters recording, musicians were borrowing chairs to set up for a live performance in one of the studios, and the strains of Pinky Beecroft’s cover of “Call Me” were wafting down the corridor. I was thinking – again – how great it is that RRR exists. And also how pleased I am that since my time there I’ve never been so poor that I had to steal light globes and toilet paper. From a community radio station.
I was going to tell you – yes you, gentle reader – about The Third Ear, the reason I was at RRR, but I’ll keep that for another time. Instead, let’s travel back to the summer of love – February 1993 – for a slice of pop perfection with Frente’s “No Time”.