Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Fergusons

The Fergusons have that distinctive Australian sound – it marries layered guitars, pop harmonies, and powerful percussion for a catchy effect, but it’s what the band could do live was what they excelled at. These recordings are low-fi….. it doesn’t matter……. great songs, well played …. as ‘Molly’ would say’ Do yourself a favour’

The Fergusons formed around late 1999 / early 2000 in Perth, Western Australia. The band comprised Al Nistelburger (vocals/guitar), Mike Bruce (vocals/guitar), Wayne Beadon (guitar), Grant Joyce (bass) and Matt Wheeler (drums). The band's first gig was at the Grosvenor Hotel as part of the 20 Minutes of Fame band competition in March 2000. The Fergies did well in the comp, and as a result they scored their first 'real' gig - supporting Turnstyle, Red Jezebel, Cartman and Fourth Floor Collapse at the Grosvenor Hotel's 113th Birthday Celebrations in May 2000.

The Fergusons continued to play shows around Perth, and quickly built a sizeable fan base. The band's cause was helped by glowing live reviews in the local street press. X-Press Magazine's local music editor Julian Tompkin declared that the Fergies were "Undoubtedly the most exciting band Perth has seen in years" and that they would be the next Perth band to break nationally.

In June 2001, the Fergusons' released their debut EP, Hurting the Washing Machine. The EP topped the local charts and received airplay on community radio nationwide. Lead track Waste of Time was added to moderate rotation on Triple J. The band was interviewed by Richard Kingsmill on the Oz Music Show, and they later recorded a four track live set for the program. Somewhere along the way JJJ breakfast presenter Wil Anderson become a big fan of the band. Anderson was in Fremantle one day when someone came up to him and randomly gave him a Fergies CD. He loved it, and then repeatedly talked the band up on the radio.

In September 2001, the Fergusons won three WAMI awards, including most popular CD launch. The band then headed back into the studio, recording their second EP, Never Too Young To Hitchhike. The EP was released in May 2002. Lead track Everything's Gone Bad received heavy rotation on Triple J, and went on to garner a spot in the Hottest 100. The band's live following in Perth continued to expand, culminating in a massive show at the old ABC Studios in Perth for Triple J's Live at the Wireless in September 2002.

Following a slot on Perth's Rock It Festival, the band headed to the east coast for the first time, playing a couple of shows with UK band Seafood. The Fergusons live show impressed representatives of the label Dew Process (home of the Grates, run by Powderfinger's management team, and funded/distributed by Universal Records). The band eventually inked a deal with Dew Process, and the label re-released the Hitchhike EP in digipack format in early 2003.

February 2003 saw the Fergusons play the Perth Big Day Out. In April the band ventured east again. Whilst in Melbourne they recorded the Sinner is Red single with Lindsay Gravina (Jet, Magic Dirt, Spiderbait). The band also appeared at Triple J's Wrong Way To The Top gig, which was part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (the Fergies covered AC/DC's Back in Black). The band also toured New South Wales with You Am I and Palladium.

Sinner is Red was released in July 2003. The song received solid airplay. The CD launch took place at the Rosemount Hotel in North Perth, the support bands being Little Birdy, the Tucker Bs, Next Stop Jersey and Kav from Eskimo Joe. The band then headed east for another tour, including a slot on the Splendour in the Grass festival.

The band spent the latter half of 2003 bunkered down in Perth recording demos for their debut album. From time to time the band would appear to play live shows. By the end of year the Fergies had supported Powderfinger, The Tremors, The Breeders, Veruca Salt, The Salteens, Spiderbait, Bluebottle Kiss, Sekiden, Eskimo Joe and Jebediah - to name just a few.

Around the end of 2003 Mike decided to leave the band. He played his last show with the Fergusons' at Curtin University's O-Day in February 2004. The band continued as a four-piece, and in March and April the Fergies toured regional Western Australia (from Karratha to Esperance) with the Hoodoo Gurus. Upon returning to Perth, the band continued demoing new songs and playing the odd gig.

Jonathan Burnside (Eskimo Joe / Sleepy Jackson) was recruited as producer for the Fergusons debut album. Burnside came to Perth in July 2004 to do a week of pre-production on the album. Along the way he added horns, strings and other instrumentation. However, this also saw the album's budget skyrocket. Universal Records refused to fund the album, meaning Dew Process (and therefore the band) were left stranded. In September, the band and the label severed ties. Come November, Fergie-drummer Matt decided to move to Melbourne. Faced with the choice of continuing with a new drummer or splitting up, the remaining members of the band decided to call it a day.

.Four Piece Demos (2004)

  • These album demos were recorded during 2004.
  • Tracks featured are EF, Sad Simone, Trouble, Caps Along the Way, Hotel, Matador, Bikini, Bulletin, Sediment, Radio Song, Never Better and Heavy Machinery.
  • Also included in the zip file is a live version of Heavy Machinery, performed at the band's farewell show, and an alternate mix of the Sad Simone downloadable single.

Live at the Wirless (2002)

  • In September 2002, The Fergusons played a memorable show at the old ABC Studios in Perth. The show was broadcast live on the radio. The show featured the first ever live performance of Sinner is Red.
  • Tracks: Waste of Time, Napalm Waltz, Sea down South, Die, Sinner is Red, Grant Starts, Everything's Gone Bad, Cream Chargers, and As Time Goes By.

  • In February 2007, Al, Wayne and Grant played a one-off reunion show at Mojos Bar in Fremantle. They played acoustic versions of Fergusons songs, plus a couple of coves.
  • The tracks are: Hotel, Die, Pink Triangle (Weezer), Sad Simone, Never Better, As Time Goes By, El Presidente, Sinner is Red, Everything's Gone Bad, Throw Your Arms Around Me (Hunters & Collectors).

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