Those of you familiar with the chap in the hat will, of course, recognize him as Frank DiNamo from the first three releases in the “Back on the Zine” series. The final release will be a beautiful 12″ vinyl EP in a gatefold press. Why a gatefold? Because it will take a full two pages to conclude the comic strip story that started all the way back in October 2017.
Part two, “Funky Grandma” got a live on-air launch during Vince Peach’s “Soul Time on 3PBS in March 2018.
Part three, “A Man Needs Cooling” saw The Offtopics return to the scene of the crime… er… (the band’s first ever gig was at the Brunswick Mechanic’s Institute for a Metanoia Theatre Season launch). The band packed out the theatre and put on a fabbo show!
The show also included this video shot by Patrick Stapleton and starring Donna Dimovski-Kantarovski. We shot the video at Brunswick’s Daddy Bar and had heaps of fun in the process.
And now, Sydney Road’s iconic Spotted Mallard will host the band for the final installment – the big, fat 12 inch to finish it all off. This beautiful record comes with the aforementioned gatefold cover and an A1 sized poster designed by the inimitable Melanie Myles of Hybrid Expression. The poster is designed to let all you collectors hang and display the full Back on the Zine story. Here’s a sneak peak!
The EP will include all the hitherto released material as well as two additional songs. One of them is our rollicking cover of the old Jo Jo Zep classic “Shape I’m In“. We Offtopics merely stand on the shoulders of giants like Joe Camilleri, Tony Faehse and Jeff Burstin. (We also love Wog Rock!) Joe Camilleri once said to Polash that “It’s better to have one really good thing than a whole pile of shit”. Our Funk Dynamo is clearly hoping for one of those over the other. Guitarist Dave Sheehan (who plays cricket with Jeff Burstin at Clifton Hill CC) is hoping he doesn’t cop too much crap over our version of this great Aussie anthem.
So what the hell is a “zine” and what does “Back on the Zine mean, anyway? The term, short for magazine or fanzine, comes from the counter-cultural publishing movement of the 60’s and 70’s. A lot of comics and music writing got printed in this format. Pronounced “zeen” there’s also a wry association with us old musos being back on the scene – though did we go away? Perhaps we did…
We’d love to see YOU back on the scene with us though, on Sunday 4pm 18 November at The Spotted Mallard. The Offtopics being family men (for the most part) have chosen a family-friendly time to get their funk on. This venue is pretty kid-friendly (for a place without play equipment – Polash DID try to find a place with both a PA and a slide…) so bring the whole family if you like. Kids enter free. There’ll be plenty of food and drink. We’ve been working on this whole series since April 2016 – literally two and a half years by the time we launch. Don’t miss out! Come celebrate with us in November. We’d love to see you at what will most likely be our last gig for 2018!
Tickets are available via Moshtix
The Facebook event is here.
And you’ll be able to buy advance copies (along with previous releases) here.
But wait – you’re probably thinking – it’s only August! Well, here in Offtopics land with the kind of extensive stakeholder network we have (eight band members’ kids, partners, work and other commitments) we have to work several months ahead. The big news is that we’ve set a date for our EP launch – the final part in our epic, four-part vinyl series but we wouldn’t be us if we only had one thing to share with you so, with that in mind, here’s a raft-load of announcements…
We’ll play a couple of sets and you can wash down your burger and beer with some of our funny funk. In those environs we’re looking forward to some mellower, more romantic songs… unless of course we have a repeat of the infamous events of a couple of months ago at The Union Hotel. Trakkie-dakked punters unexpectedly put aside their parmas to kick their heels up. There were some excellent renditions of the tracksuit pants dance (where one keeps one’s hands in the pockets to avoid an elastic let-down).
This is a free gig and you can find out more about it here.
We’ll be refining that show further with some new songs, dance moves and stage business. October’s all about craft, craft craft for us.
Like it says… SAVE THE DATE! Due to the Funk Dynamo’s commitments to the FIH World Cup in Bhubaneshwar in December this will be The Offtopics’ LAST GIG FOR 2018!!!
Two and a half years in the making, turnover in the band, three vinyl single launches, graphic designers losing their minds, numerous radio and other interviews about it and we’re finally approaching the launch of our “Back on the Zine” EP.
We’re really thrilled to be playing at this iconic Sydney Rd venue at a family friendly time. Although the band’s name might suggest a certain randomness of approach (and we try to be as free as we can on stage) there are usually considered reasons for us doing what we do. Without giving away too many spoilers it’s all about the story. If you’ve been following the adventures of Donna and Frank as they try to get to The Funkhole you might have an inkling of why an afternoon show in Brunswick makes all kind of sense.
We’ll put out a thorough write up about the EP Launch once the ticketing link is live. In the meantime you can read up on the back story via these links:
[media release] The Offtopics – SINGLE Launch #1 (2017)
Stay tuned for more folks!
Wowie Zowie! We are heading to a climactic close to July, funk lovers!
Our “Back on The Zine” series of gorgeous vinyl seven inch records continues apace with this, the third installment. It’s called “A Man Needs Cooling“. What does that mean? You can find out at our launch party. It’s gonna be a doozy!
On Friday 27 July we’re throwing an epic party at the place where it all started for The Offtopics: The Brunswick Mechanics Institute. We’re going to push back all the seating in the theatre to make some heel kickin’ room. We’ll treat everyone to a screening of our brand, new film-clip and before we play we’ll have some support from The Fix Ups.
Hey, I know what you’re thinking… we know all about The Offtopics peculiar blend of Slapstick Soul, Punch-Drunk Funk and we LOVE the way they put the scatalogical into Ska… but WHO are The Fix Ups. Well… this is what they have to say about themselves:
“Melbourne based trio The Fix Ups are all about the real deal automobile life machine living the dreaming or whatever this is seeming, like twin flamin’ datin’ boots guitar riffin’ vocals a shimmering, sexy bassing, mimimg the drumming, organs pulsing, amps hiss and deliver original wordly kibble and droney rhythm dribble… Yeah your hips will wiggle.”
If, dear reader, you understood what all that meant then please write your answer on the back of a fifty dollar note and post that pineapple to us here at theofftopics.com c/o The Funk Dynamo’s Benevolent Trust. Sigh… kids…
What we CAN tell you through close listening to The Fix Ups is that they perform a very groovy blend of danceable indie pop that draws on electro stylings. Here’s one of their said “groovy tunes”.
They’ve also been known to whip out a charming cover of Althea and Donna.
What all this means is that you can get all of your dance hesitations out of the way before The Offtopics take the stage. Do some sharp electro moves and then get loose and funky as the night goes on!
Word on the street is that, if you imagine The Fix Ups’ front man without hair, he’ll look a lot like The Offtopics’ very own Tony “Hit Man” Champagne. Word on the street is obviously onto something because The Fix Ups’ front man is none other than the first-born fruit of Tony’s loins: Nikos Shannon. We like to make it a family affair at our little shindigs so, by all means, bring all the fam along for a good time!
Tickets are available here
Plus a bit more info about the event.
“A Man Needs Cooling” Single Launch Party by The Offtopics
Date: Friday 27 July
The Fix Ups: 8pm
Video Clip Screening: 8:55
The Offtopics: 9pm
Tickets: $15 (minors and companion card holders free)
That’s right folks!
The Offtopics are kicking off June with a cozy show at Brunswick’s newest, most magical music venue – Red Betty. We’ll be playing on the world famous stage* down Houdini Lane. For those of you not in the know, Moreland Magician, Dane Certificate (what were his parents thinking?!) built this performance space behind 859 Sydney Rd Brunswick a while back in order to perplex prepubescent people with pulchritudinous prestidigitation!
It’s now a bar.
And it’s friggin’ cool!
We’re playing a free entry gig supported by the hilariously talented Jo Cotsonis. She’s also pulchritudinous… look it up.
Like the poster says – the doors open from 7 and it’s free! Jo will be on around 8 and we’ll be on after. Come along for a good time. Or even – dare we say it – a great time!
Here’s the Facebook event if you’d like to let us know that you’re coming… or if you’re “interested”: https://www.facebook.com/events/165137544163726/
In other June news we’re also playing a gig at The Union Hotel in Brunswick on June 16. We also have some news about our third single launch “A Man Needs Cooling” but that’s in July – so you’ll have to wait for news about that.
*not actually “world famous”… yet.
This Saturday evening, folks! It’s a dinner and show at the Post Office Cafe. $50 gets you a reserved seat and a delicious meal of your choice with an accompanying beverage. You also get the original soul stylings of The Offtopics playing their funniest, funkiest tunes.
Contact the venue or call Fab on 0421 117 472 to book a table now!
More info on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/421850284920330/
Today’s feature image depicts The Offtopics’ tenor sax wrangler, Omid Shayan, stylishly combining white water rafting with manspreading in the green room at 3PBS FM. And without any further ado – time to manspread the news. We assume that’s the correct way to use that term…
The band had a great time last Wednesday performing in PBS’s Studio 5 Live. We played five songs during “Soul Time” and then Mark, Polash and Omid popped into the studio to chat to Melbourne Soul legend, DJ and all round good bloke Vince Peach.
Vince was in fine form despite wearing a limp after an unfortunate scooter dismounting incident in Tasmania. Mark looks smooth as always and Polash looks… rough. If he looks like a sweaty Bengali Babu that’s basically because he is one. It’s also because, in spite of the fact that this was a radio performance and no one could see him, he insisted on dancing around the studio like a loon. Actually – that’s not altogether true. You CAN see the performance on this video here. The set kicks off at about 8 minutes in. For better sound listen to the Soul Time show archive. Vince introduces the band about an hour into the show.
The gig went pretty well and kind of caps off all the work we’ve been putting into our latest 7 inch vinyl release “Funky Grandma“. Now that’s out of the way let’s talk live shows that everyone can come to!
The Offtopics will play their signature blend of sexy soul and funny funk at Back Bar in Windsor. Full disclosure: this event has been organized by and for the polyamourous community of Melbourne. While no one in the band *ahem* “swings” that way we all believe in love. Who doesn’t right? Surely there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing, amirite??? The event organizer told us that this cocktail night is “safe for the general public as long as they are somewhat interested in socializing with people interested in open relationships.” If that sounds like your jam then we’ll be playing funky danceable songs from 10pm onwards. You can find out more and buy tickets here.
“Live at the Waterfall” is what this one’s called. It’s a special dinner and a show type performance being put on by The Offtopics’ old mate Bill Lowe at The Post Office Cafe in Hurstbridge. We’ll play two sets of original funk, soul and ska by the waterfall at the back of the restaurant. It turns out that Vince Peach knows this place well and took pains to tell us that there’s an eel at the bottom of the waterfall. It also turns out that Polash gets a bit deaf sometimes. The wheels almost fell off the interview because he was convinced the illustrious DJ was talking about having a “meal in his bottom”. Oh dear… There’ll be a bespoke menu and drink specials on the night. Apparently capacity is limited for this one so you might want to purchase your tickets early. See this link for more info about the event and how to buy a ticket.
That’s it for the April gig round up. Stay tuned for further news. 2018 is gunna be big!
Something something something press releases…
No wait – put that excruciatingly Gen X cynicism aside for here’s the majestic press release that’s going to tell you all about The Offtopics’ new 7″ vinyl release – FUNKY GRANDMA!
Ah yes… so MUCH majesty!
Funky Grandma is available right now as a pre-release via our own music page and will be in stores in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned!
Hey ho all you Offtopicalistas,
What a year 2017 has been! Before we get too drawn into looking back – here’s a quick look forward to this Saturday night at Cross St.
Find the gig on facey here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2054401591457397/
Come on down. We’ll open the doors at 8pm (as advertised) and start our first set around 8:30pm. Plenty of time to settle in, maybe order some takeaway, grab a couple of cheap Cross St drinks and chow down during the first set? Then dance dance dance away the calories for the second set! …or lie back, clutching your bloated tum bemoaning your ill-advised Uber Eats choices. You can do what you like at The Offtopics Cross St Christmas Party.
Now – consider 2017. What a year! It started with blood, loss and blood loss. While the funk dynamo recovered from an overdue surgery of an “ahem” intimate nature we farewell’d founding fret monster Dan “The Man” Kerr. Despite our sadness at his leaving (or maybe spurred on by it – who can say?) The Offtopics knuckled down and completed all the unfinished recordings started in 2016.
We welcomed two new plucky pickers into the band in Dave “Irish” Sheehan and Tony “Champagne” Shannon to fill the steel-capped Caterpillars of Dan Kerr and then it was all systems Off Topic from there on in.
Once you include this Saturday the band will have played seven gigs this year. That might not seem like a lot by the standards of yesteryear but when you consider that The Offtopics is a collaboration of highly talented, highly sought after and busy individuals it’s pretty good! The gigs we played went from strength to strength and we’re confident about saying that this is the best sounding version of the band ever. Two of those gigs represented personal bests for us in terms of payers. Our Single Launch at Melbourne’s iconic Cherry Bar smashed our previous best number of payers by a hundred percent! No – that doesn’t mean two people paid to enter because the previous PB was one payer. We got 120 actual payers at Cherry which is huge for us old folks late on a Thursday night in the CBD. Owner James “Hound Dog” Young was on site and witnesses say he looked “pleased”.
You can see a little bit of the fun from that gig here.
The Legendary Vince Peach thought we sounded so good that night he invited us to do a live to air performance at 3PBS! (More about that later) Soon after the launch he gave our single a spin and called it a “GREAT record” and said we “put on SUCH a GOOD show”. Picture us chuffed… (No – seriously. Draw a picture of what the Offtopics look like chuffed and post it on our Facebook page.)
2017 also saw us form a productive relationship with Hot Off The Press Publicity who’ve been helping with the band’s record launch projects. Parts 2, 3 and 4 of the “Back on The Zine” series will be coming out in 2018 – stay tuned! Part 1 is available now on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify and most importantly you can buy a physical copy to own for your very own from the link to our bandcamp page on the music page of this website. Or here if you’re feeling lazy.
The band pulled together at very short notice on a hot November night after some heavy rain to shoot a video clip for one of our songs. Can you guess which one? Many thanks to Nick and Ellie of “Daddy Bar” in Brunswick for being so kind to us that night. We’ll launch that in 2018.
Outside of band business we’ve all been super busy in 2017. Omid and his partner just enlarged their family by 50% this year (not a fat joke – they had a baby). Amazingly his own band, Shayan, got even busier in the afterbirth. Linc’s band The Deans launched an EP. Howard made multiple baseball related trips overseas while keeping things copacetic with the Moreland City Band. Mark Bretherton, in between dealing with clean energy and the politics of climate chicanery in his job, managed to have a holiday in the UK and Dubai. Polash squeezed in a trip to Malaysia where he was MC’ing a friend’s wedding, returned to coaching the Old Carey hockey club (the team got to the elimination final but lost) and was generally super busy teaching at Melbourne Uni. Tim’s band, Johnny Longshot got more active as well, playing at the Jamaica Jump Up, flying the flag for Rocksteady in Melbourne and getting to share the stage with one of the legends of Jamaican music – Stranger Cole!
With all of that going on in the background: seven shows, a film shoot, a single launch, completed recordings and exciting things lined up for 2018 we have to say it’s been a pretty good year!
With that in mind we’re going to quieten down for a couple of months before we resurface. Plans are underway to launch our second single in mid March (see above when I said “more about that later”. This is the “more”.
Ok – that’s enough. For now we’ll leave you with the immortal words of Viv Savage…
If we don’t see you on Saturday – you suck! But also we love you and hope you have a great Christmas and New Year.
See you in 2018!