Thursday, January 17, 2008

Custard (David McCormack) - Bootlegs

David Liam McCormack was born in 1968 at Mater Hospital in South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He received his first guitar when he was two years old, as a present from his dad.

McCormack's first band was Who's Gerald?, named after Gerald V. Casale from Devo. The band existed from around 1986-1989 and also featured Paul Medew of Custard fame. Who's Gerald described themselves as a "Neo ethnic glam electro cow gothic psychosardonic fusion rock" outfit. The music they made was very, very bad. Despite this, the band managed to scored some high profile support slots for bands such as INXS and Sonic Youth. Who's Gerald released one 7" single, entitled Wrestle Wrestle / Gerald Is Stumbling Away Along The Highway Of Life.

When being interviewed during the 1990s about Who's Gerald, McCormack said:

Who's Gerald? was a bad band in a time of very bad music. The people in the band, although fine people now, were all idiots at the time. I was the biggest idiot of them all. All the songs, without exception, were atrocious. There are no good memories of that time. Except when we broke up.

After the dissolution of Who's Gerald?, McCormack formed Custard Gun in 1990. The band also featured Paul Medew, James Straker (The Melniks) and Shane Brunn (Hugbubble, Vanlustbader). Their first gig was a BBQ at Straker's house. They then played one 'proper' pub gig, before Straker was kicked out of the band. He was replaced by a sprightly young bank teller named Matthew Strong, and Custard Gun morphed into Custard. One of the band's early bios read:

We all met in grade one at primary school. Glen A. Baker, then 21, was our teacher... Our music is a hot bed of raging sexual liberation.

Custard's first release was the four track vinyl EP Rockfish Anna, which was issued in November 1990. A fire breathing Elvis impersonator was part of the EP's launch festivities. Custard's debut album, Buttercup/Bedford, was recorded in 1991. It was meant to be released on CD in March 1992, but things went awry. The band, who were self-financing the project, gave all their money to an American company called "Bandit Audio", who were going to manufacture the CDs in the USA because it was cheaper there. Unfortunately, the CDs never turned up on time for the band's CD launch - forcing them to give away copies of the album away on cassettes to keep the punters happy. It wasn't until the end of 1992 that the band finally got their hands on the elusive CDs. By this time Custard had signed to Ra Records and had released their first "major label" CD - an EP called Gastanked. As a result the Buttercup/Bedford CD was only sold by mail order. (The band later re-released many of Buttercup/Bedford's songs on a compilation called Whacked Not Whacky, which they sold at gigs in the mid 90s).

Gastanked did very well for the band, peaking at #41 on the ARIA singles chart. Gastanked was followed in 1993 by another EP, Brisbane, and two singles - Casanova and the double A-side Singlette/Flanelette. By this time the band was onto its third drummer - Shane Brunn had been replaced by Grant Herrinberg, who had subsequently been replaced by Danny Plant.

Custard's debut major label album, the Wahooti Fandango, was issued in 1994. Wahooti is a slang word the band used to refer to marijuana. The video for the album's first single, Aloha Tambourinist, was the only Custard video to ever get played on Video Hits. The video, set on a beach, featured males models pretending to be Custard, while scantily clad women roll around in the sand.

"That video got more air-play for us on Video Smash Hits than any other video we'd ever made. All of a sudden everyone was saying, 'Wow, this Custard are a great looking band.’ And they're thinking, ‘This is fantastic — they're playing that new teen-beat music called Grunge'. Then they found out it wasn't us and we were probably never played again. They couldn't believe that we were pretending to be something that we're not, whereas they manufacture act after act to be something that they're not. It's just full of hypocrisy." - David McCormack

Wahooti Fandango was critically acclaimed. However, the band's "breakthrough hit" didn't come until October 1995, when they released Apartment, the first single from Wahooti's follow up, Wisenheimer. Apartment received a lot of airplay on Triple J, and was voted in at number 7 in the 1995 JJJ Hottest 100. At the time, it was the highest ever placing by an Australian band. Custard's drummer woes continued. Danny Plant was kicked out of the band. He was temporarily replaced on tour by John Lowry, before eventually being replaced by Glenn Thompson. From around 1995, Custard music video Andrew Lancaster would also sometimes play with the band at their live shows.

1996 and 1997 were big years for Custard, touring Australia with Weezer and the Presidents of the USA, and venturing back to America (where Wisenheimer had been recorded) with to play more shows with the Presidents. While in the USA the band also recorded album number 4, We Have the Technology. Nice Bird, the first single to be lifted from We Have the Technology, tanked. The second single, Anatomically Correct, faired better. However, it was the final single, Music is Crap, that captured the public's attention. The song was written and sung by Thompson, and reinvigorated public interest in Custard.

Music is Crap's follow up, Girls Like That, became the band's biggest hit. It bruised the ARIA top 50 singles chart, and came in at an impressive number 3 in the 1998 Triple J Hottest 100. The album on which Girls Like That was issued, Loverama, was also the band's most commercially successful. Loverama was the band's first album since Buttercupt/Bedford not to begin with the letter 'W' (following Wathooti Fandango, Wisenheimer, and We Have the Technology).

Through 1998 and 1999 tensions were emerging within the band, with McCormack and Thompson on one side, and Medew and party-animal Matthew Strong on the other. Strong was becoming increasingly unreliable - even getting to the point where he refused to play one gig, so the band dressed Andrew Lancaster in a hat and a wig and got him to play guitar! Custard went on a six month "hiatus" at the end of 1999, before eventually calling it quits for good a few months later. To date, the band has issued three posthumous releases: a best of compilation entitled Goodbye Cruel World (2000), a compilation of the Brisbane and Gastanked EPs (2002), and a DVD, Spaces by the Side Of the Road: A Digitial history of Custard. The DVD was completed in 2005 and slated for release then, however SonyBMG delayed its release. Spaces by the side of the Road was finally unleashed on the public in late 2007.

1997 Live at the Wireless

Scared of Skill / Anatomically Correct / Pinball Lez / Music is Crap / Piece of Shit / Very Biased / Memory Man / Hosef / Draining the Pool / Nice Bird

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