Special guests, long-form performance, theatricality and hijinx… These are all the things you get to flirt with when you have an ongoing relationship with a venue. We’re very excited to announce the commencement of our residency at The Moldy Fig! Dorelle, the owner and chef, enjoyed our first outing there featuring Tony Pain and Richard Giles from our buddies The Short Order Schefs so much that she invited us to be regulars once a month.
We’re looking forward to playing some laid-back New Orleans themed tunes during dinner and then serving up some crazy funk for dessert. And, of course, playing at The Moldy Fig sees the return of our signature cocktail “The Stormy Steamboat”.
More details on the Facebook event. We hope to see you there sometime in the coming months!
Coming up this Friday at Cross st is a funtacular winter warmer. Your loveable purveyors of punch-drunk funk and unsteady rocksteady are doing an earlyish show at Cross St. Supporting The Offtopics will be the delightful ex-Adelaide import Mary Webb.
Polash met Mary a couple of weeks ago at the I Manage My Music workshop and hit it off almost immediately (meaning she displayed a high tolerance for his Dad jokes). Mary’s voice has hints of Angie Hart and Suzanne Vega. We’re hoping she adds a bit of class to our otherwise shambolic act.
Here she is a few years ago back in Radelaide:
Friday’s gig will be an EARLY one with Mary taking the stage around 7pm. All the details are here on Facebook (if that’s your jam).
In other news, Tim our bass monster, has developed an obsession with this song:
What do you reckon? Should we cover it? Was Ian Dury taller than Polash? Let us know!
We have a few little announcements to make and the picture above is related to one of them. More than just a gig, our resident Funk Dynamo, songwriter and showrunner has been working up a solo show of stories, songs and images. It’s an intimate and personal journey through his life, his musical influences and how they relate to the songs he’s written over the years. It’s also an hilarious account of his parents’ marriage, their subsequent divorce and that time he took his father’s ashes to be scattered in the Ganges.
This showing at The Brunswick Green on Sunday 7 July is the second rendition of the show since the first one in May at Red Betty (see below).
He’s taking a slow and steady approach to this by presenting it in small venues every couple of months but eventually the plan is to take it around the country performing it in people’s living rooms. It’s all about that search for a feeling of being at home…
Here he is feeling at home at Red Betty:
Find out more about the showing at The Brunswick Green here.
This focus on solo work doesn’t mean that The Offtopics are on hiatus – far from it! Your favourite vendors of punchdrunk funk and unsteady rocksteady have shows coming up on Friday 12 July at the Cross St Hall. Friday 2 August sees The Offtopics start a monthly residency at The Moldy Fig.
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?
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.
The Offtopics launching “Sunrise in Richmond” at Cherry Bar in 2017 (Photo: Con Cotsonis)
Part two, “Funky Grandma” got a live on-air launch during Vince Peach’s “Soul Time on 3PBS in March 2018.
Pictured Right to Left – Mark Bretherton (looking smooth), Vince Peach (looking cool) and Polash Larsen (looking like a sweaty goonda) (Photo: Probably Omid with Mark’s phone)
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!
So much pointing! Don’t they know god kills a fairy when you point?? (Photo: Eddy Acheson)
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!
This is how it’s supposed to be. Don’t miss out!
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!
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…
First up we have a cosy, little gig at The Edinburgh Castle Hotel in Brunswick on Thursday 13 September. We’ve had our eye on the EC since our old mates Checkerboard started playing the occasional show in the front bar. As Dave, our lead axeman (and older brother of Checkerboard’s bass player Amos) said “there’ll be twice as many of us and we’ll be half as loud.”
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.
October won’t see us doing any public gigs. We are playing at a private party but for the most part we’ll be using the month to prepare for our November EP launch. From the feedback we got about our “Man Needs Cooling” single launch in July, the set we played was pretty killer.
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.
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!
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!
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.