While we’re only a few days into December we all know how crazy things can get in the coming weeks so I, your conscientious correspondent, thought I’d jot down a quick note about the year that was for our favourite purveyors of slapstick soul, punch-drunk funk and unsteady rocksteady.
The Offtopics played their last gig for 2018 at the legendary Festival of Folk, Rhythm and Life in Eldorado. It was a tough slot that day on the Camping Stage as they had to follow a popular young act in the form of “The Northern Folk”. Just as the Offtopics took the stage the capacity audience drained from the tent like someone had pulled the plug from a bath. Where did they go, you might ask? It just so happened that a true giant amongst troubadours was starting his set at the same time. Archie Roach was on the famed Creek Stage and you could hardly begrudge the audience for voting with their feet. Only those too listless to get up in the 33 degree heat remained at the Camping Stage… but get up they did as The Funk Dynamo’s antics demanded a quick caper in response.
Slowly a crowd gathered – perhaps drawn by a certainty that the suited one would succumb to heat stroke? Those happy few who witnessed The Offtopics debut at FRL were left wanting more. After the end of the set the tent refilled with perennial folk festival favourites “8-Foot Felix” just as a cool change came through and the temperature dropped to a more tolerable 26 degrees.
It was tough but, on balance, perhaps others had it harder? Literal giant (as opposed to “true giant” – though perhaps he qualifies at that as well), and old mate of Linc and Polash – Kutcha Edwards had a prime time slot at dusk. Unfortunately his audience also included a swarm of moths attracted by the stage lighting. Kutcha was spitting wings and kid-friendly curses while still managing to put on a great show.
I make it all sound like a slog, actually, FRL was LOTS of fun and it represents a milestone for The Offtopics as their first gig away from Melbourne. 2018 had a lot of firsts. The band completed its first series of releases – the much touted “Back on the Zine” records. In what many might consider a radical departure from the norm, the band put out three vinyl singles and then an EP. To tie them all together the EP came with a fold out poster that pulled all the comic strip art together into a satisfying whole.
The Offtopics also launched a video clip to go with their third single, “A Man Needs Cooling (Girl)” shot by the inimitable Patrick Stapleton and featuring Donna Dimovski-Kantarovski as “The Woman”. When the afore-mentioned Kutcha Edwards saw the video his response was “Har! That is so COOL!”. We hope you’ll feel the same way…
2018 was also the first time the band performed live on radio at one of 3PBS FM’s “Live in Studio 5” sessions.
A forthcoming first will be a four-song, live EP from this performance due out in 2019.
Another first was the band’s first overseas sale of a physical record. A fine, funk enthusiast in Yorkshire bought himself a copy of “A Man Needs Cooling” on vinyl seven inch. 2018 also marked the first time the number of live gigs done by the band in one year entered the double digits. It’s a fair effort for an eight-piece band made up of busy family men and motivated artists.
Outside of activities directly associated with the band we had some firsts for our individual members. Tim’s band Johnny Longshot released their first album. Howard was honoured for the first time by Moreland City Council for his leadership and service to the municipality’s musicians through the Moreland City Band. Polash and Tony Champagne’s side project “Quasimodo’s Dream: Adventures in Australian Pop” podcasts went live after threatening to do so for a very long time indeed. Polash also played a couple of solo gigs for the first time in an aeon.
So, as you can see, 2018 has been a year of firsts. What will 2019 bring? There are already mutterings about the 4 song EP of live material but in addition there are plans to record an album (of more than 8 songs this time!) with Kalacoma frontman and engineer Nick Hererra manning the desk for us again but with a twist. What will that twist be, dear reader?
You’ll have to join us in 2019 to find out!
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
And stay Offtopic!