R. F. Coleman
R. F. Coleman | Credit: Chris Hillary

R. F. Coleman on Being a Dickhead, Hanging Out with Neo-Nazis and Falling in Love

I Couldn’t Trust is the debut EP from Melbourne/Naarm-based pop experimentalist R. F. Coleman. Amid elements of Madchester and art pop, Coleman spends the EP channelling a lifetime of misadventure into five compellingly bent compositions.

Coleman – who’s previously devoted his time to writing grisly investigative journalism and publishing fiction – worked on the EP with producer, Josh Moriarty (Telenova, Miami Horror). The record came together quickly, with Coleman encouraged to pursue music after his kids told him he was “their favourite rockstar.”

R. F. Coleman – ‘Crazy For You’

In conjunction with the EP’s release, R. F. Coleman tells Music Feeds about his experiences drinking “house white” in a Bangkok bar, trailing far-right extremists around Australia and summoning the know-how of a chess Grandmaster in his hour of need.

Five Things R. F. Coleman Has Done That You Should Not

Putting a Hit Out on Yourself

R. F. Coleman: I was in Bangkok, writing a piece on the coup. One evening I went solo to what can only be described as a “cocaine bar.” The “house white” didn’t come in a glass; it came on a heated plate. I noticed a couple were having issues with their bill. It came to about $50 USD, so I paid for them; remember, I’d had a few house whites.

The man asked me if I wanted to come back to his place to keep partying. Jumping on the back of a motorbike with an extremely high stranger I met in a cocaine bar sounded like a plan. Back at his high-rise apartment there was – what a shock – more gear. We tucked in, then got stuck into serious D&Ming. I probably told him about my childhood dog and how he died. He started giving it all that about his uncle being some Thai hitter. I secretly pressed record on my dictaphone. That’s right, I carried a dictaphone.

He told me he could get anyone killed for $50. All he needed was a photo and an address. I asked him for his number, sent him a picture of myself and the address of the small apartment block I was staying in, except the number of the unit next door, which I knew to be vacant.

“This is you,” he said. I said something to the effect of, “Yes, and this makes us even for the $50.” The rest of that story I don’t want my kids reading in 10 years if the internet is still around, but he held up his end, I know what a heart rate of 230 BPM feels like, and no one got hurt. That’s the main thing.

Hanging Out with Neo-Nazis

Coleman: For the best part of seven years, my friend “J” and I followed far right extremists around Australia, from Toowoomba to Ballarat. We wanted to make a documentary, independent of any news outlet, in a naïve attempt to get a “genuine” understanding of how and why an increasing number of mainly young men in Australia became radicalised.

We drank a slab Woodstocks in Phillip Galea’s house as he showed off his synchronised seven-screen set-up for watching porn. He’s now serving 12 years on domestic terrorism charges.

We filmed 100+ hours of intimate interviews, reckless stunts, rallies, parties, and private events. On multiple occasions we were threatened. I had kids, and “J” was expecting, and the risk was becoming too great. Plus, listening to the justifications, rhetoric and hate for hours on end takes its toll. A pin has been put in the documentary.

R. F. Coleman – ‘I Couldn’t Trust’

Being a Dickhead

Coleman: Took me 34 years of putting myself in danger, ruining relationships and friendships, and living with regret, trauma and shame before getting sober. Being inebriated was what compounded my outer dickhead.

I don’t know if you’re a dickhead, or why you’re a dickhead, but if you are – on the piss, when you’re stressed, or for reasons you haven’t quite put your finger on yet – then sort it out. The last two years I’ve had more fun in life. I can still be a prick, but it’s no longer my resting state. I’m proud of that.

Putting $2000 on One Game of Chess

Coleman: I was young, living in a shithole share house in West Melbourne and owed the local bar about a grand. The owner was/is an asshole – self-proclaimed. He’s also a formidable chess player. I wasn’t. But I was dumb, perpetually drunk and didn’t have the funds to pay what I owed. So, I asked if we could settle it over a game of chess. He countered with the offer of “double or nothing.”

I am not a Grandmaster, but one must have passed through me that evening. I won. Word was kept, the debt was settled. I still pop my head in occasionally.

Falling in Love

Coleman: Got ya there. Falling in love is the best. Give it a go if you haven’t. Just don’t eat a $1 footlong hot dog in Vegas the night before you’re meant to elope. You will shit the bed. But, with rest, an IV or a few a dozen litres of Gatorade, you’ll make it down the aisle. Perhaps looking a bit ashen, but you’ll be in love. Smiling, laughing, committing to a life with someone who didn’t bat an eye or threaten a chuck as they scraped your faeces from a mattress only 72 hours earlier. That’s love.

I Couldn’t Trust, the debut EP from R. F. Coleman, is out now.

Further Reading

Telenova: “There Isn’t Any Pressure – It’s Still a Gas”

The Return of Essendon Airport: “We Probably Sound a Bit Retro These Days”

“Weird Al” Yankovic Review – Just Deserts for Daring to Be Stupid

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