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We Chat 25 Years Of Regurgitator With Frontman Quan Yeomans

Written by Brenton Harris on September 26, 2019

Since busting out of Brisbane during the Aussie rock explosion of the ’90s, Regurgitator has taken us all on a joyously unpredictable sonic journey. The band first rose to national prominence thanks to their 1996 debut, Tu-Plang, home to the tongue-in-cheek smash hit ‘I Sucked a Lot of Cock to Get Where I Am’ (Alan Jones was quite famously NOT a fan). The band immediately established themselves as one of the more unique musical acts of the era.

Fuelled by a punk rock ethos yet armed with creative energy and a level of musicality that reaches well beyond the genre’s confines, Regurgitator has produced a back catalogue chock-full of undisputed bangers that sound almost nothing alike, yet somehow remain immediately identifiable as Regurgitator. 

This creative elasticity is deployed to perfection on 1997 classic, Unit, a record home to rockers like ‘I Like Your Old Stuff Better Than Your New Stuff’ and ‘Everyday Formula’. The record is also home to synth-laden ’80s pop-influenced jams ‘Polyester Girl’, ‘! (The Song Formerly Known As)’ and ‘Black Bugs’. Regurgitator’s malleable sound is notably present on every release since. Combine that with a refusal to take themselves too seriously and some truly innovative publicity work (see: Band in a Bubble), all helps make Regurgitator one of the most interesting, fresh and relatable bands across three distinctly different eras of music. 

Before heading on the Quarter Pounder – 25 Years Of Being Consumed tour frontman Quan Yeomans had a chat with Music Feeds about the wild ride that has been 25 years of Regurgitator.

Music Feeds:  Speaking of years, Regurgitator are celebrating 25 years as a band, which is a long time for any band, let alone one as unique as Regurgitator, how does it feel?

Quan Yeomans: I know, it’s embarrassing, who does something like THIS for 25 years, for fuck sake? 

MF: I think part of the secret might be that you’ve never really done the one thing?

QY: That’s true, you’ve got to keep yourself entertained though don’t you?

MF: You do, it’s also oddly useful as a quality in 2019, because genre delineation seems to be dead, so your genre-hopping makes you a perfect fit for the playlist generation.

QY: It is a little bit isn’t it? I mean there is still some sort of idea of success through consistency, but I feel like you sort of just need to poke your head out every now and then on a regular basis, rather than all at once, it seems like these arcs of success are very blippy, people seem to be able to maintain a career or trajectory, but they kind of just have to stick their heads up in peaks.

MF: That’s very true and I think the approach of putting Regurgitator to the side to work on other projects every now and then, and then resurfacing, refreshed, is a good match for the way attention spans work these days.

QY:  Believe me we didn’t think it through, it just sort of happens, man, I mean you run out of fucking energy, especially at our age, it’s just quite difficult to maintain. You’re right though, it is very hard fighting for space in people’s minds, they’re so cluttered with lots of stuff, so it’s a bit much to expect really. 

MF: It is but you can always do fun things like start a kids band.

QY: You can! As long as you’re doing something you enjoy, really, but honestly the kids band (Regurgitators PogoGoGo Kids Show) is starting to get a bit hard  man. I don’t think either of us really understood what it takes to be a children’s entertainer. I’d actually love to do a sitcom about kids entertainment, I know Jim Carrey has done one, I haven’t watched it, but I’d like to make my own, something super dark would be great.

MF: I actually saw you perform as the kids band at St Kilda Festival!

QY: Oh no! That was probably our worst show, we played as this kids outfit, so I’m sorry about that. I think from that show we learned that you can’t really do a scripted performance in that type of environment. I think the ones we’ve enjoyed the most and that have really connected the most are the ones in the theatres.

MF: Well from an audience perspective, it was still a really cool experience; it was particularly interesting to see how my little cousin responded to the show in contrast to how I did, I mean I was too busy losing my shit at how you changed the lyrics to some of your hits to make them suitable,  but she seemed to vibe with it on a whole other level.

QY: It’s really weird playing kids shows, the audience is really hard to read. They’re not like drunk adults and they’re not going to respond the way that you expect for them to respond and sometimes they’ll spend entire sections of the show with just a blank expression on their face. So you can’t tell if they’re just so completely engaged that they’re not able to react or what else is going through their little brains, so I find that part of it quite challenging actually. 

MF: Do you expect to encounter any audiences like that on your upcoming tour?

QY: No, I think mostly it’ll be veterans of the experience. I’m finding it much easier to do Regurgitator shows a lot easier than they have been in the past. This one is going to be fun though because we are doing ridiculous, extravagant costume changes and stuff, we have this cool fashion designer from Brisbane named Cindy Vogels who has this label Racy & Lucky, onboard, we’ve collaborated with her on the costumes and it should be quite visually interesting I think.

MF: That’s another way then that you’re distancing yourself from the Australian scene then, another quirk to the Regurgitator experience.

QY: I mean it’ll be awkward as hell no doubt, ‘cos it’ll just be a bunch of old guys, dressing up, but it’ll be a really cool dynamic, ‘cos there’ll be a visual guide that comes with it and videos produced to play in between while we’d getting changed. It’ll be a bit more of a structured show because it’s a career retrospective show, so we’ll be playing a wild variety of tunes, kind of in order, but also not.

MF: So approximate chronological order? The old High Fidelity biographical approach even? 

QY: Yes, it’ll be mostly chronological, but then we might get a bit creative towards the end of it.

MF: I think this sounds really fresh and not what fans would get from a lot of acts given that your generation of bands is now what gets booked by A Day on The Green?

QY: It was weird playing Groovin’ The Moo recently, because it’s sort of a festival seemingly booked by whatever Spotify algorithms and promoters tell them, so it is a little bit strange playing to those types of younger crowds now and then also playing these nostalgia-themed ’90s events, that present all these acts from the 1990s as if they were an era. Which always strikes me as a little bit odd, because living it, it didn’t really feel like a moment or a movement it was just life happening.

MF: It’s an era that appears to be happening again too, so it seems you’ve chosen the perfect time to come back!

QY: Yeah! It’s funny isn’t it. You look back on it and again just think that it wasn’t an era, it was just this really dull time when nothing really happened! That’s the weird thing about being in a band that’s been around this long though, you become this source of nostalgia for other people, and your music and the experience of your shows gets recontextualised and becomes about people reliving their youth. With the kids show, they’re bringing their kids along, so they can have this connection with their kids and share this experience with them!

MF: Yeah that’s really cool, now random question, why quarter pounder?

QY: You’d have to ask Ben, man, he just does these things and then we’re like, “what, what did you say?’ Haha. I think it’s because our first EP has a picture of a hamburger on it, people call it the Hamburger EP, and a quarter pounder is a hamburger, and 25 is a quarter of 100, and that’s just how his brain works, we’re all really lazy, so we just let him run with these things, and it generally works out.

MF: As you’re looking back over the band’s career, is there anything that stands out as the “holy shit” moment?

QY: It’s different when you’re there compared to when you look back at it. 

Looking back at it you’re like, “I wish I’d done something better with my money” but when you’re living it, you just expect that it’s going to keep getting better and better but then it kinda doesn’t haha. I think playing the Big Day Out for the first time, playing in front of 10 000 people is always going to be amazing, then playing Fuji Rock and just touring Japan over the first couple of years, and playing China, Laos, and even these cool places like New Zealand, places you never thought you’d ever get to travel too, let alone play, was really cool. There’s been loads of those kinds of moments where I’ve been really thankful and really amazed to have gotten to experience them. Especially having it all come from this type of job too. It’s very strange, but I can never really believe I’ve been able to do it for this long and still being able to do it now in my late 40’s!

MF: I find it hard to get my head around the idea of you being in your late 40’s! 

QY: Neither can I, as you get older, you still feel like the 18-year-old that you were, it still lives inside of you. It might just take you a little more energy to jump, or longer to heal when you twist an ankle or something, but I still feel really young and the band still has a lot of energy still.

MF: It’s refreshing to hear a band at your stage of your career saying that because a lot of acts tend to be just grinding it out by this point. It sounds like you’re really still engaged in the process?

QY: There is an aspect of it when you have kids that you have to think of practical things that you didn’t need to when you start out, but there’s always other things that grab you when you’re interested in the creative process and help to keep you engaged and developing as a creative. It’s not just the band, Ben paints a lot, I’m doing cartoon music on the side to keep my chops up and try different genres, and I still want to do a hip-hop record with one of my best friends and I’d like to eventually do some writing, I’ve got a show and a novel I’d like to get to at some point. The one truly great thing about the band though is that we got along like a family now, and it’s this thing we’ve built up, that we can go out and do that’s physical and enjoyable and you can really feed off of the energy.

MF: What you’re describing sounds rather wholesome, to borrow a phrase from the younger generation!

QY: Wholesome?

MF: Yeah wholesome! It sounds like a really wholesome time! 

QY: Oh well yeah, I guess it is, it’s always been relatively wholesome to me, I’ve never really been this raging drug fiend or anything, although I must admit our manager has been getting us to read some of our old interviews recently, to get the nostalgia running, I must’ve been a real intolerant cunt back then, judging by some of my answers, so I can see why our first drummer and I didn’t really get along! He’s recently been doing some interviews actually, for this documentary someones been trying to make about the band, so that’ll be interesting.

MF: That will be interesting, these are the types of experiences you’ll get to start having more frequently as a band now too, because as we touched on earlier, as the band gets older, the significance of the band on other people’s lives get older. All of a sudden your band has played this massive role in other people’s life stories.

QY: You start to realise that when you go out and you speak to these people, and you can see it in their eyes, and their wrinkles that they’ve been with you for 25 years.  The stories that they share with you are incredible. The moments that they associate you with in their lives is sometimes pretty amazing.

MF: That can go either way too, I’m sure you’ve soundtracked both the start and end of relationships and probably been involved in more than a few folks being conceived!

QY: Yes! A lot of conceptions and all sorts of other things you really don’t want to know, but people share with you anyway.

MF: Getting back to the music, as you look back over all the genre-hopping you’ve done through 25 years, is there a song or a record that you’d identify as the definitive sound of Regurgitator?

QY: I don’t know if you could say we’ve ever had a sound other than “what is this” this just sounds like “some guys trying to do something”. I feel like there’s this kind of amateurish vibe to our music, which is engaging and I think when something has that energy to it, you can tell that it is coming from a place of love because that’s what the word means essentially.  I don’t know how you’d describe it. There’s this amateur DIY aspect to it that comes from our punk background, that lives on, despite us trying at times to create something more slick and polished sounding. I’ve never had that discipline as a creative craftsperson to really push that in myself or the band. I’ve always been more interested in writing songs and getting what it sounds like out of my head and onto the record, and then that’s how it sounds. Fuck it. We’ll try and copy ideas from time to time and we’ll inevitably make an error somewhere and in that lacework of errors,  it’ll just come together to create what amounts to the sound of the band. It’s the sound of error, I guess. The sounds of missteps that come together to make the band sound the way it does.

MF: Good album title! If you ever get to making a new record it should be called The Sound of Error.

QY: It’ll probably just been an hour-long recording of some electric glitch or something.

MF: One last thing before I let you go, what’s your personal favourite children’s TV song?

QY: OOOH, there’s so many! I had a listen to quite a few of the 80’s ones recently to reference, I mean He-Man’s pretty awesome, the one for MASK is pretty good, I have all these one’s in my head from my childhood too, Astro Boys theme, having to actually reference them, most of them are just this really bad soft-rock and cherry rock with these crazy synth solos and vocalists doing wild vocal lines. Some of the new ones are cool like the Clarence one is super cool. SuperJail is pretty awesome but I think the one that sticks in my head the most is AstroBoy!

Regurgitator’s ‘Quarter Pounder 2019 tour kicks off on October 4th. Dates and details below. 

Regurgitator ‘Quarter Pounder’ 2019 Tour Dates

With Guest Superlatives, Shonen Knife & The Fauves at selected dates

Tickets On Sale Now

Friday, 4th October
Monash Uni, Clayton
Tickets: Venue Website (on sale from June 7)

Saturday, 5th October
Westernport Hotel, San Remo
Tickets: Oztix

Sunday, 6th October
Caloundra Music Festival, Caloundra
Tickets: Official Website

Friday, 11th October
Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns
Tickets: Venue Website

Saturday, 12th October
Darwin Surf Club / De La Plage, Darwin
Tickets: Moshtix

Friday, 18th October
The Gov, Adelaide
Tickets: Venue Website

Saturday, 19th October
The Gov, Adelaide
Tickets: Venue Website

Sunday, 20th October
Uni Bar, Hobart
Tickets: Oztix

Thursday, 24th October
The Basement, Canberra
Tickets: Oztix

Friday, 25th October
Kingscliff Beach Hotel, Kingscliff
Tickets: Oztix

Saturday, 26th October
The Tivoli, Brisbane
Tickets: Venue Website (on sale from June 10)

Sunday, 27th October
The Tivoli, Brisbane
Tickets: Venue Website (on sale from June 10)

Friday, 1st November
Prince Bandroom, Melbourne
Tickets: Oztix

Saturday, 2nd November – SOLD OUT
The Corner, Melbourne
Tickets: Venue Website

Sunday, 3rd November
The Lost Lands, Werribee
Tickets: Festival Website

Monday, 4th November – NEW SHOW
Howler, Melbourne
Tickets: Official Website

Thursday, 7th November
The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Tickets: Oztix

Friday, 8th November
The Metro, Sydney
Tickets: Venue Website

Saturday, 9th November
The Metro, Sydney
Tickets: Venue Website

Sunday, 10th November
Unibar, Wollongong
Tickets: Moshtix

Friday, 15th November
The Astor, Perth
Tickets: Venue Website

Saturday, 16th November
Metropolis, Fremantle
Tickets: Metropolis

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