I was listening to 3RRR’s show, The Golden Age of Piracy, a couple of weeks ago, and heard Link McLennan AKA Link Meanie, run through his “Formative Five” songs. For the record, they were:
- Dudley Moore Trio – Song for Suzy
- The Beatles – Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite
- The Royal Guardsmen – Snoopy Vs The Red Baron
- Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66 – Mas Que Nada
- Jesus & Mary Chain – Taste the Floor
can listen to the show via Triple R’s on-demand service.
This reminded me about the interview that I did with Link, back in the day, around when the 10% Weird album was out. In case you didn’t know, The Meanies are the doyens of Melbourne’s indie/punk scene. You can see the video for the song, 10% Weird at the bottom of the blog post.
For the interview, I ventured out to Pascoe Vale, in Melbourne’s north. Link was living in a bungalow in a cul de sac street that ended at the perimeter fence of Essendon airport. It was a little bit like the movie, The Castle.
Driving back home, I popped the tape in the car stereo, and to my horror, discovered that the batteries in the recorder had cut out. At the same time, I went past a speed camera, and in my agitated state, was pinged for traveling a couple of kilometres over the speed limit. Not great.
So I rang Link (on the land line!) and travelled back to Pascoe Vale, and did it all again. The results appeared in Blast Issue 3 (The One With the Purple Cover), I think. Thanks to the wonders of OCR, here it is.
The Meanies – Big in Spain
LINK MEANIE spends a pleasant afternoon with Ed. He chats about music, touring, pinnies and Jake and the Fatman.
“In Spain they loved us, as far as we can tell. Maybe it’s just their way of showing us that they hated us? No, we got a good response in Spain. Spain just stood out like a sore thumb when it came to response and excitement. We’re doing six shows in Spain this time, at the end of the tour and that’s just perfect, to end on a high note.”
We’re talking about the exploits of The Meanies as they jet around the world. They are soon to head off to take in Europe for another five and a half weeks. Along the way they expect to revisit some of the countries that they played in when they toured last time, such as Spain, France and Germany, as well as introduce Belgium and Austria to the Meanies vibe.
I’m looking forward to it more now that it’s looking like my girlfriend’s coming. I didn’t want to go at all before that, I’m not really into the long haul, when it’s like thirty shows in a row.
You were saying that you’d rather do shows constantly rather than have days off.
Actually not so on this one, actually more last time on the last tour because I didn’t have any money. I wanted to be doing shows because we got a bit of money each day that we were playing. If we had a day off, I had no money so I had to sit around on my arse. And we had three weeks off in Seattle and Hamburg and I was going out of my brain. So stuff like that, that’s kind of like terrible.
Maybe this time you can have a look around?
That’s it, I don’t mind the time off so much this time because I’ve got my girlfriend, we’ll go and do a bit of sight seeing, which I didn’t do last time. I didn’t see anything in Europe. I saw one French province.
What about America?
We only really saw Seattle. That was nice, it was a pretty laid back kind of place, not unlike Melbourne. I had a bit of money a that stage still, so I could afford a pizza or something. We went to the gridiron, the baseball and um, I probably came up like a whingeing Australian you know…’This game’s boring”…The baseball I saw was extremely boring and the seats were really cramped. The gridiron was really entertaining; that was hilarious. It was college football that we saw, and they had a thousand piece band; they’re so extravagant with everything they do. They had a whole stand at the end of the ground where the band sits and they had ladders on either side of that with conductors up on them so people could see them, it was incredible. And every time they scored a touchdown this big helmet would drive around, like a helmet car. Going around the outside. We just sat there pissing ourselves laughing.
I suppose that brings us to, “the Jam”.
Oh. I like The Jam, Especially “That’s Entertainment”. What do you mean by “the Jam”?
Well, Pearl Jam.
Pearl Jam. Oh…(puts on posh accent) “The Jam”. You have to say it in that voice. There’s not really a whole lot to tell. Without sounding like we’re kind of doing the old name dropping thing, but they were nice guys, Eddie Vedder was a nice fellow. Made sure that things ran smooth for us. I mean, all of them were really cool. We hung out with them a couple of nights and had a drink with them. They were fun people.
What were the shows (supporting Pearl Jam) like around the country?
Adelaide and Perth were really responsive. We actually had a Mexican Wave going on cue. Then I tried it in Melbourne. I pointed into the crowd and said, “Mexican Wave, now!” and about eight people stood up. So that was a bit embarrassing, but I took it in my stride. I’m a professional. Yeah, Melbourne crowds were nowhere near as responsive as some of the shows. The Music Bowl, we did OK. Eastern Creek in Sydney was awesome, the crowd was so responsive.
So now a lot of people know about The Meanies.
“I hope so. Hope the buggers buy records.”
How’s the record going?
“Nice lead on there!”
You’re a professional, not unlike myself. That’s why we work well together. The record? I’m not sure. It’s selling well but I’m not sure of figures. It had want to do well after all of the publicity we’ve had. I’d be disappointed if it didn’t. Also I think that it’s a fucking really good album.
Of course, we’re talking about their latest album, 10% Weird. However, prior to the recent wide exposure they have attracted, they have released a fair amount of material.
I think I met DD at the end of 88. He was playing with a gothic band called Crucifixation and I just happened to be there for whatever reason, I can’t remember. Funnily enough the bass player who was first in The Meanies was in Crucifixation as well cos he lived with them and came about how we wanted to get a punk type band going and we had similar interests in bands at the time and this and that We put an ad in to get Ringo, it’s kind of a boring story, we got Ringo along and practised with him in this bungalow here and he was in.
So you didn’t just accidentally meet him after you hit him with a car or something?
“No. no, nothing like that. He didn’t fall out of a building onto us or anything.”
Then Wally joined later on?
Yeah, Dave decided to leave and go back to Adelaide because of a job with the Meteorology Department. He’s a bit of a mad scientist, the old Dave. He plays in Free Moving Curtis now. Then Wally joined, and he did a pretty good job, so we kept him. He’s a good manager too.
Us, Nice Girls from Cinncinatti and the Throwaways, were seeing a bit of each other back in those days and we kinda thought it would be a good idea if we got an album with all three of us on it.
I can’t remember who talked to Au Go Go about it, but they went with it and it was a success. Then Au Go Go decided to do records with, um, I don’t think they did anything with Nice Girls, but they did a record with the Throwaways and the four singles with us, Dark Side of My Mind, Lyin’, The Reason Why and Paranoid. That worked fairly well for us and then the ball just kept rolling from there. We’ve kind of gone down and then we’ve gone up, and we’ve gone down and gone up, it’s a mad rollercoaster ride.
It’s a nice sunny day, so I ask him what the vibe is.
Um, at this very moment, I’m feeling kind of positive. If you had have got me half an hour ago, I was feeling really pissed off cos I was getting upset about not being able to see the Suicidal Tendencies gig. But I rang up Ansett about ten minutes ago and realised I had enough frequent flyer points to fly to Sydney. So now, I’m back in a positive frame of mind. Ha ha I don’t know if you’d call me a big fan, but I’m a fan. I’ve got a few of their records. I missed them last time because we were overseas when they came. That’s why I’m trying so hard to see them. Last time, we came back and my girlfriend was rubbing it in my face, she’d bought me a t-shirt and everything and I just figured that I’d get em next time. But this time I’ve gotta see them or I won’t at all you know (because they are breaking up).”
So who do you admire musically?
I’m really only kind of listening to, I guess mainly Australian stuff (at the moment). Like, I’m waiting for Beanflipper’s new CD to come out, I really enjoy them live, Free Moving Curtis, oh Snout (especially since Snout is brother Ross’ band, see Issue 2).
How about Even?
“Yeah, I like em, they’ve got some great songs.”
It’s coming out soon isn’t it, their CD?
Um, I really don’t know I haven’t kept track of it. It should be a good buy. Oh, I like Screamfeeder, I haven’t seen them for a while It’s a pity Bored aren’t still playing cos I usually like going to see them. There’s just so many good Australian bands it’s just hard to really.”
Link has a Tascam 8 track recording desk, so this reminds me of the tunes that he had been working on with his brother.
“The Meuscram”. The name came From when I was a kid, my dad made me this bike and he cut out some letters and wrote Meuscram on the mudguard and he said it meant “go very fast” in German and I believed him. So I went around bragging about it to all of my friends in school and I think there may have been a German exchange student at school so he probably thought I was a complete fuckwit. He’s probably telling everyone that story to this day.
You’re planning to put it out?
Yeah, as soon as Ross does the cover artwork and sends it off to Au Go Go. We did anything we wanted to do and had fun doing it with Simon Grounds in his studio. We did all of the styles and fucked around having a good time doing it. Hopefully if it sells, we’ll do another one, we’ve got lots of ideas.
What else besides music do to pass the time with?
I sort of alternate between watching telly, writing songs, recording songs, trying to write a novel which I’ve been doing for a few years now and not getting very far.
You draw a bit?
Yeah, I do the artwork for the records and I design most of the T-shirts. Ringo’s done a fair whack of them too. We’ve got tons of em. If all the t-shirts we’ve sold were worn at the same time, everyone in Australia would be wearing them. Maybe not. We’ve sold tons of the things. But you know, it doubles up sometimes, because you get people telling you that they’ve got five of your tshirts.
Do you play pinball?
“I love pinball. I wasted a fair bit of money on the blasted things. I’m probably a Twilight Zone, World Cup kind of guy.”
Not to mention the old classics such as Kiss.
Kiss, the Kiss pinball. I used to wag school and go and play it up at the tenpin bowls. When I got my first job, it was also over the road in the coffee shop. lt was following me around for a while, the Kiss Pinball…What about The Meanies pinball!?
Yeah, what if there was a Meanies Pinball, Link. What features would it have?
If it was to do with Wally, there’d have to be a mobile phone in there somewhere, “Hit the mobile phone”. It’d be hard to work a mobile phone into it. You could have me on a spinner.
Each of the bumpers could be a member of The Meanies.
“This is a boring pinball isn’t it! We’ll have to put more thought into this.”
If any reader wants to make a Meanies pinnie .
“Send it ln!”
What else is there to talk about?
Jake and the Fatman. We should put this in the interview because it really bugs me that he’s totally incidental to the show, he comes in it for two minutes and yet he’s part of the name of the show. And you can’t even understand him when he speaks, his jowls just vibrate. He just kind of . I guess his name got him the role. It bugs the shit out of me because Jake does all of the hard work in the show and Fatman gets half of the credit in the title.
What other TV do you watch?
I don’t really watch Jake and the Fatman that religiously. The Simpsons. Seinfeld. Star Trek the Next Generation. The New Statesman when it’s on. I’m sure I’m missing something, oh and Roseanne. Apart from that, there’s not really much else I watch that sinks in, I just sit there like a zombie.
Say a last thing for the tape, Link.
“Empathy my friends, Empathy!”
Link Meanie, thanks a lot for talking to us!
“Thanks a lot, Edouardo. Heh, heh, heh.”