It was 30 Years Ago Today: Tall Tales of a Planet Shaking Year in Rock.  Part 1

This story was first published in The Big Issue in June 2021, as ”The Year My Voice Broke”

Geelong 1991

It wasn’t quite Dickensian, but Geelong in the recession of 1991 was the best and worst time to form a rock band. Best because you couldn’t get a job and there was nothing else to do, worst because bands all over the world kept reinventing rock.

After uni and share house rites-of-passage in Melbourne, I’d moved back to Sleepy Hollow. Paul Keating’s recession was in full dip and Geelong’s Pyramid Building Society had collapsed, deepening the downturn. There was barely enough underemployment to go round, but that didn’t matter. I’d finished my journalism degree and I was ready, with my Bono-esque singing and lyrics, to form a band and save the world. Work was just a means to noodles and cabbage, so I was happy enough with a job caring for a disabled man a few hours a week in his home. The rest of the time I spent in a one-bedroom flat in Geelong West I shared with my girlfriend, trying to speed learn guitar. I’d been at it a year because I’d realised that, even though my voice would make me the next Bono, it’d help if I added some music to my as yet unformed band.

Luckily for her sanity, my girlfriend was still studying and wasn’t often in the flat during the day. We’d moved to Geelong because I had family there and she needed to travel between Melbourne and Warrnambool for classes and placements. She did her best to avoid my band mania, insisting on headphones when I tried to learn electric guitar, and she no doubt relished her quiet train trips to Melbourne. But on one of them, she made the mistake of meeting one of her Geelong-based classmates. His name was Andrew