It’s been a bumper weekend for music fans at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival.
You’ll have to excuse the oxymoron.
Given, the two are entirely different disciplines; one centres as heavily on melody as it does on the written word, and the other strives to arrange its lexemes in such a way that they take on their own melodic shape. Contingent to both, however, is the sense of narrative that promoter Michael Chugg and performer Brian Cadd are exceptionally well versed in.
The pair spoke on a panel in the Weekend Australian tent this Sunday afternoon as a part of the festival’s continuing In Conversation series.
Chugg, the stocky rock manager fluent in the kind of French that would shock your grandmother into an early grave, and Cadd, the bearded (and slightly more mannerly) balladeer, shared stories from their interlocking pasts while promoting their respective autobiographies (released last year).
Chugg’s book, Hey You In The Black T-Shirt, draws its title from a now infamous Guns and Roses concert in Melbourne in 1993.
“The thing sold out,” Chugg said. “We had 40, 000 kids running up over the hill and going nuts. So I just grabbed the microphone and said ‘HEY! You, in the black T-Shirt! Stop f**king running! And then 40, 000 kids stopped, looked at each other, and fell over laughing.”
The two men at times appeared to be chalk and cheese – one Statler and the other Waldorf [perhaps better known as the grumpy old men from The Muppet Show]. Chugg wasted no time dobbing Cadd in for a severe case of stagefright in the eighties:
“We were playing to 3,000 people in regional Victoria – the first show of our tour – and this bastard was backstage drinking and trying to get up the nerve to go onstage. So I ended up going on before him; I took my shirt off and did pushups, just generally made an arse of myself, and we had them in stitches. So I went backstage and I said to Brian: ‘If I can go out there and make a complete arse of myself, you can go out there and bloody play!'”
“I didn’t have much choice, then,” Cadd countered. “I could stand backstage and be yelled at by Chuggy, or I could go out and sing in front of three thousand people. So I sang, and neither of us ever looked back.”
The two giants also offered their insight 0n the Australian music industry as a whole, having worked for forty years to foster it into what it has become today.
“We used to work so hard just to get noticed here and overseas … now we have sixty or seventy bands in Australia making serious inroads in the US because of the crazy shit we used to do!” Chugg said.
“It’s true,” Cadd confirmed. “In my autobiography [From This Side of Things] I wrote about working in France writing songs … I didn’t ever understand what the words were, but I certainly knew what the cheques meant!”
Max Quinn is a Southern Cross University Media Student
Music promoter Michael Chugg and musician Brian Cadd talk about their life on stage and behind-the-scenes in the Australian music Industry. Chaired by music writer and journalist, Iain Shedden, who co-wrote Hey, You in the Black T-Shirt! with Michael Chugg.
Beware: Very strong language is expressed with the expected eloquence of someone who has lived life in the close vicinity of a road crew and a stack of Marshall amps.
Highlights edited by Southern Cross University media student Justin Fenwick