Rockbrat Remembers: Lobby Loyde

This is a re-published interview/article we conducted with the much-missed Lobby Loyde in 1998

If ever a book is written on Lobby Loyde it will sure as hell make for interesting reading. Loyde is an Australian rock n roll icon, who has been treading the boards since 1963. His cutting edge guitar playing has influenced a generation, unquestionably bestowing upon him the tag of Australia’s first real guitar hero. In a 35 year career he has pushed the boundaries of rock n roll, searching for new limits in sound whilst destroying others. From raw R&B, to thunderous boogie and then into the psychedelic unknown, he remains an innovative, captivating musician, whose rock n roll remains essential listening. Born in 1946 in Longreach, Queensland, Loyde studied classical music at an early age before taking up the electric guitar as a teen. The early 60’s saw him playing in Brisbane instrumental outfit The Stilettos, before he joined R&B outfit The Impacts as lead guitarist. The Impacts became The Purple Hearts, an Australian equivalent of The Pretty Things. Their brash, almost destructive, approach to R&B coupled with the group’s unkempt appearance, ensured their reputation as Brisbane’s finest. The Purple Hearts made some uncompromising R&B singles, moved to Melbourne, and Lobby became the name on everybody’s lips. When he was not blowing out amps on stage and punishing the crowd with excessive volume, he was electrifying all around with his original and punchy guitar work. In 1967, The Purple Hearts folded with Loyde looking for new progressive experimentation as opposed to the limited trappings of straight RnB. He set about leading The Wild Cherries from free jazz/blues experimentalists into anarchistic psychedelia. Well ahead of their time, the local industry was nowhere near ready for the Cherries, and after four singles they folded (although Loyde revived the band again in 71). Rock historian Glenn A Baker says, “They are equivalent to Detroit’s Stooges or MC5. They were what rock dreams are made of !” In 1969, Billy Thorpe was living in Melbourne, re-inventing the Aztecs, both in image and sound. The man teaching Thorpie his new heavy rock guitar sound was Lobby Loyde. Loyde spent three years with the Aztecs and was no doubt responsible for the Aztecs status as undisputed heavy weight blues-rock kings of the early 70’s. Yet as has been repeated in his career, Loyde again opted for change, and split from the Aztecs. He released his rock solid debut LP ‘Lobby Loyde Plays George Guitar’ in 1971, and performed with Gerry Humphries (of The Loved Ones fame) as part of the Gerry & the Joy Band ensemble. Lobby Loyde then set out to shake the Oz music industry to its foundations with The Coloured Balls. The Coloured Balls arguably represent Loyde’s finest work. To this day I can still listen to The Coloured Balls and the music remains raw, uncompromising and captivating, combining heavy rock power with purpose. Fantastic straight ahead heavy rock with a boogie flavour, and an obvious influence on Rose Tattoo and Angry Anderson in particular. By 1973, Coloured Balls were the biggest crowd puller in Melbourne. They appeared at Sunbury in that year, and released the brutal ‘Ball Power’ LP (thankfully now available on CD). An image of skinhead rock n roll outlaws did not endear them to an industry caught up with the sluggish and pompous sounds of others around at the time, and greater success eluded them. Again, Loyde was ahead of his time. In 1974, they farewelled with the ‘Heavy Metal Kid’ LP and folded, leaving Loyde somewhat bitter from his experiences. He cut a second solo LP called ‘Obsecration’ and by the mid-70’s had split to England, fed up with the Australian industry. He embraced the punk revolution in England, perhaps only then understanding just how close to the punk pulse the Balls really were, both in attitude and sound. At that time he began to fulfil a desire to produce bands, and sat in on recording sessions with Siouxsie and The Banshees, The Police and Roxy Music. He returned to Australia in 79 where the punk/new wave movement had moved the cobwebs from the industry. He played bass with Rose Tattoo and formed the Southern Electric/Sudden Electric aka Empty Halls Band (which featured Angry Anderson on vocals). This outfit released the ‘Live With Dubs’ LP and is well worth picking up. Lobby did appear on some recordings with Rose Tattoo but they remain in the vault. However, it was as a producer which Loyde began a second career. Since producing X’s seminal classic from 1980 ‘Aspirations’, he has gone on to produce artists of such calibre as Kevin Borich, the Machinations, Flaming Hands, Sunnyboys and Painters & Dockers to name but a few. He remained behind the scene for much of the 80’s before returning to Melbourne’s stages with supergroup Dirt, an outfit he still performed with in the early 90’s. He currently performs with Melbourne based outfit Fish Tree Mother, who play ‘music for the mind & body’ and by all reports are a killer live unit. Vicious Kitten caught up with Lobby recently and found him living happily in the Dandenong Ranges with his family, content to make and record music in his sandstone garage. I asked Lobby to describe Fish Tree Mother. “Hard to say, the sound is hard but experimental. It’s a pleasure band, the audience seems to like it but the industry would hate it”. I asked him about his current projects, whether he had been recording or gigging of late. “We play the odd gig, the Espy and what not, but Fish Tree Mother is a fun band, we jam, we enjoy it. We are knocking up a CD which may see release before the end of the year, but who knows, the songs may be available on the Internet.” I asked Lobby about any future releases, like maybe a double CD collection of his entire works ? “A collection of my works ? It’s hard to get the rights to your own stuff. Back then we signed contracts not knowing too much about it cos’ we were just in it for the music, I don’t know. Sooner or later something will come out.” I asked Lobby about the possibility of a book being written about his career. “Not really, most people are only interested in the Coloured Balls stuff, but I guess if the right person came along it would be fine”. I also asked if he was content at this stage in his life ? “Yeah, I am. I’d like to keep playing. For me, the pleasure I get out of the music is the most important thing nowadays, and I consider myself to be very lucky to have gone from good band to good band. The most frustrating thing about the industry is the teen oriented scene; there is nowhere where we can play. The industry is very big on trends and clones and re-birth. Life shouldn’t be a parody from your past.” Which leads to further discussion about the current Rose Tattoo reformation tour. “Rilen and Cocksy have put the oomph back into it. Wellsy and Angry are legends anyway, but Rilen is one of the geniuses of the rock scene. I love Sardine, and X. Rilen is one of the great visionaries, the music industry never understood him. He’s a pretty intense guy, there aren’t too many like him.” So there you have it, a one-page introduction to Lobby Loyde. If you want the whole story, you will just have to hope that a book does indeed see the light of day ! (note: some source and inspiration taken from Vol. 1 No. 2 of From The Vault magazine)

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