From 1990 – 1992, the one band whom I looked forward to seeing more than any other was the Dubrovniks – and I was fortunate to have seen them a stack of times around the pubs of Sydney. Yet they were more than a pub band. With a pedigree that boasted ex-members of the Scientists, Headstones, Beasts of Bourbon, Girlies and the Hoodoo Gurus, they were indeed an ‘inner city super group’, cooler than Fonzie. Leather jackets, great songs and a major label behind them. Indeed, the formula was right for success. The Dubrovniks as a band though, never reached their potential, and it was the pubs, and not the stadiums that were to be their stage. It must have been disheartening for this band to fly home from successful European tours (including headlining over Faith No More in 1990) and return to Sydney to play to sparsely filled pubs. On one occasion I saw them play to about 20 punters at Parramatta’s General Bourke Hotel. I never understood why more people were not into the Dubrovniks. Both James Baker and Boris Sujdovic believed in the project so much that they bothe jumped ship from the Beasts Of Bourbon to concentrate all their energies solely on the Dubrovniks. I saw the band play at the Annandale Hotel with guitar player Peter Simpson’s last show. I saw them at the Manly Vale Hotel, The Iron Duke, The Phoenician, The Hopetoun, The Lansdowne and other venues I now forget. I saw them play the big stage at the Enmore Theatre supporting Deborah Harry – and they were awesome. I could have walked out content and not bothered with Harry. I have great memories of seeing them on a summer’s Sunday afternoon about a week before Christmas at the Annandale Hotel in late 90.
Their first of two albums they released with Mushroom Records was ‘Audio Sonic Love Affair’ a blistering, power packed burst of guitar fuelled rock n roll. Recorded in December 1989 and eventually seeing release in 1990, the album was produced by Kevin ‘Caveman’ Shirley, who now produces Iron Maiden. Short, sharp and driven by big, fat guitars, this album should have been massive.
The band had an amazing front man in Christopher Flynn, who with his brother Brendon Flynn had served their time in The Headstones. (Brendon Flynn would later go onto a career with Lovecraft, whom I also saw on several occasions) Chris Flynn was a natural and dynamic front man. A charismatic cross between Neil Young and John Fogerty. He had such a great rock ‘n’ roll voice too, and was a perfect fit for the Dubrovniks, certainly a much better vocalist than the man he replaced, Roddy Rayda. In my mind – Chris Flynn was very cool. With his baseball cap or bandanna, black leather jacket and black guitar – he was very much the rock star. Flynn was no image conscious pretty boy though; he had the musical chops to match. This guy has such great potential and talent – maybe no one ever told him, but like a lot of bands back then, they pinned their hopes on Mushroom making it all happen for them – and of course when it went pear shaped, there was no backup plan.
The Dubrovniks muscled up a bit more with the more metallised ‘Chrome’ album from 1992, but again, there was little radio or media support in this country. I can’t remember the last time I saw them, but I do remember hanging out backstage at the Iron Duke. Next thing I knew, Chris Flynn was out of the band. Now I don’t know the reason why, although I did ask him on at least one occasion. The Dubrovniks released one final album in Europe only called ‘Medicine Wheel’, without Flynn, and without Flynn’s pop sensibilities and likeable vocals, it sounded more like early Dubrovniks to me with Boris handling all the vocals. I saw Flynn in a band called Surry Hills 2010, they played one gig at the Hopetoun, and that was it. I bumped into him in the gents and he was quite pickled. When I asked him what happened to the Dubrovniks he asked me, “Do you wanna start a band with me?” He resurfaced on the second CD single by Kcrunch called ‘Jarrah Cattle Dog’ where he did the lead vocal, which for me was great to hear. I saw Kcrunch a couple of times but never with Flynn. After that though, I used to run into him at Pete Wells gigs, but that was about it. I saw him dancing around at a Wells gig at the Brittania Hotel at Chippendale, during ‘Rock n Roll Outlaw’, but I left Sydney in 96 and never knew what happened to him. I believe he released a solo album, which came and went without a trace, and lastly resurfaced on second guitar in Boris Sujdovic’s Black Dirt. It’s a travesty that he never had the success that belied his talent, because in my mind, Chris Flynn was a superstar.