Saturday, 13 November 2010

INTERVIEW: Murray Gracie

What was the response from the community when you started compiling this volume? Was it what you expected?

When we first toyed with the idea of recording some of the memories of the glory days of rock and roll in WA it was received with a great deal of enthusiasm from anyone we broached the subject with. It never occurred to us that this project was as huge as it turned out to be, or as rewarding, and that the end product would look so good.

Tell us about a highlight of your early rock and roll days.

There are so many memories of these years it is hard to think of one in particular! In the book are several of the more interesting ones. However some of the things I didn’t write about were that we were able to earn more money playing than in our day jobs, which allowed us to purchase the latest fashions, buy flash cufflinks, get your hair styled at a hairdresser not a barber, buy new guitars (on hire purchase of course) and put petrol in the car to get to the gigs.

And of course the girls.

How would you describe the sound of local Perth bands in the 60s?

Raw is the best way, everything was experimental. You did the best you could with what talent you had and hoped it was appreciated. I suppose you played 80% for your own enjoyment and 20% for your audience.

Did you often get a chance to ‘jive, twist and stomp’ yourself, or were you too busy providing the tunes?

In most cases there was an unwritten rule that musicians don’t dance or fraternise with the punters when working – but hell yeah, I have been guilty of twisting the night away!

I think I enjoyed playing at Canterbury Court ballroom the best, a great stage, a big dance floor, a good sound and most of all an appreciative crowd.

Western Australia still has a healthy music scene, with lots of local bands getting national attention. How would you describe the connection between Perth bands of the 50s and 60s and Perth bands now?

We taught them well didn’t we!

What do you hope this book will achieve?

With so many of the musicians of the era no longer with us – and as the years pass and the rest of us leave – it would be nice to think that in the future fans, family and friends can see that WA really wasn’t a sleepy little backwater and that we made a considerable contribution to the music that enriches their lives.

Jive, Twist and Stomp (December 2011) is available from Fremantle Press.

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