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Can I Get Your Number....? The Earthmen Interview,
by Courtney Allardyce & Susan Fitzgerald,
2 September 1997.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Earthmen finally meet their match...or something to that degree. Possibly the two biggest Earthmen-heads join forces to bring you the interview of the century, if only Scott could stop laughing long enough to answer the questions. It was after the Swinburn Uni, Melbourne "Turn Up Your Radio Tour" gig that Susan Fitzgerald and Courtney Allardyce (with a little help from our friend James Tickner) trotted upstairs with The Earthmen to have a meaningful and intellectual exchange of ideas. Many thanks to the Earthmen, as a whole and individually, which, to the uninformed are, Scott Stevens-vocals, Nick Batterham-guitar, Matthew Sigley-sometimes bass and sometimes organ, Nick Murray-sometimes guitar and sometimes bass, and Craig Mitchell-drums, for their time. Also thanks to Smart Artists, Karen in particular, and Rob the Earthmen's tour manager. Special thanks go to Courtney for setting up the interview and for transcribing the whole darn thing. So if you care to read on, you will find a most in-depth analysis of the Earthmen's minds, discussing everything from Dandenong to sex tours and being at the peak of their form.
* Just a little warning for all offended by profane language - there's lots of it ahead so beware (hey, these guys are rock stars and so must swear at regular intervals : )
Courtney: So what did you think of that show, out of curiosity? (a lot of snickering)
Scott: It was, um, can you answer please?
Nick B: It was a great show...I thought we were at the peak of our form to an audience that appreciated our peak of being.
Susan: Must be very satisfying....
Nick B: Yes, hugely satisfying but then we're doing it for us and not for anyone else so that's why we can do things like that and enjoy the fact we were at the peak of our form.
Scott: There should've been a song about that.
Nick B: Mmm...its called The Peak of My Form...when my form is peaking...
Susan: There's a thesis in there I think..
Courtney: Have you enjoyed the Turn Up Your Radio tour?
Nick B: Its been good that we've been able to play so often in a point of time when we're obviously at our creative zen.
Courtney: At the peak of your form, some might say.
Nick B: I was looking for other words!
Scott: Its been OK.
Courtney: Would you do it again?
Nick B: No.
Scott : No, no. I wouldn't do it again.
Nick B: Its not exactly the same as a pub tour.
Scott : I'd like to go to some of those places again.
Courtney: Did the tour put a strain on the band as a group at all? Like did you guys start hating each other?
Scott : Its more your health.
Courtney: More your health? But don't you get sick of each other --
Scott : Nah!
Courtney: --considering you've been seeing each other 18 hours every day for the past month and a half?
Scott : We love each other!
Nick B: Well, its kind of 24 hours really when you include the sleeping together. No, its ah --
Scott : We had so many other people to shit us we were secondary shits.
Nick B: There were so many other people involved we would hate, it was kind of like us against them.
Matt: Even though we know each others a cunt, we go, "I know you're a cunt, but he's more of a cunt and he's not in the band so how lucky are we." (snickering) Very lucky, is the answer to that question!
l-r: Scott, Nick B & Matt pondering something...    Courtney Allardyce 1997
Courtney: So what's your opinion of the Australian recording industry at the moment?
Scott : I know nothing about it. You don't write music to know about the Australian recording industry. And you don't really pay any attention to it 'cause you can get hooked up in the idea it's a big boys club and it can really shit you. So you don't pay any attention to it.
Courtney: What do you think of your ARIA nomination? [ "Love Walked In" was nominated for best debut album]
Nick B: I think...
Scott : We're happy with all the work Nick (Murray) put into sleeping with Mol. (a lot of laughter) Finally its come to fruition. We're pleased his technique has been applied to a much-used member.
Courtney: Are you going to win?
Nick B: I doubt very much we are going to win but its enough just to be recognised as a band at the peak of their form.
Courtney: This might sound a bit contrived but how would you describe your current style?
Nick M: This might sound a bit contrived but we don't have a style.
Scott : You (Nick M) can just talk about yourself in another junction!
Courtney: So how important was the "Teen Sensations" era to what you're sounding like now?
Matt: Irrelevant.
Courtney: Irrelevant? Totally?
Scott : Oh, well its relevant, its all relevant in terms of where we were.
Nick B: I think everything we do, even this tour, we can say in the long run might end up being totally irrelevant as far as people turning up to shows.
Nick M: But it has been the peak of our form.
Nick B: Just, ah, recordings we did in the past....for whoever's involved in them, they learn something from that process. Nothing is irrelevant to what we we're currently doing. Its hard to see the connection to that recording but then the experience of recording and getting a whole lot of shit out of our system so that we don't do shit anymore was really important.
Susan: So you consider it shit?
Scott : No, its just that, well --
Nick B: It was a band not at their creative time.
Matt: Not at their best!
Nick B: Not at their peak.
Scott : All the time we were thinking it was really good and now its like, "Ah...OK."
Susan: Does that mean what you're doing now is much better?
Scott : Yeah, I think so.
Nick B: Well, you know, I liked what we were doing then quite a lot. Imagine in a couple of years we'll be going "Oh look at that, we weren't at the peak of our careers at all, and that record we made..."
Scott : Mental.
Nick B: I think at 80 we'll be very zen dudes.
Scott : Yeah, I though Stacey's Cupboard (an early single) was very good.
Courtney: You (Nick B) have taken the role of lead singer in the Blindside and stuff. Are we going to see any Nick Batterham fronted bands in the near future? (A lot of badly suppressed laughter)
Craig : It'll be out soon!
Nick B: You've heard Frampton Comes Alive? I'm working on something at the moment called Batterham Stays Dead. (Scott squeals)
Courtney: So how did you (Matt) and Nick (Murray) and Craig come to join the band?
Matt: I used to play in Blindside too.
Courtney: Yeah, so you just sorta said, "I'm here"--
Scott : Sex tour.
Courtney: What???
Matt: Yes, yes, they offered a sex tour and I said, "Well....OK! I'll join the band!"
Scott : (to Courtney) What are you drinking?
Courtney: Its a Pop Top, isn't it a wonderful invention?
Matt: Not really! Beer's a good invention.
Courtney: Anyway--how did you (Nick Murray) come to join the band?
Nick M: I was in Frampton's backup band and Nick punched me.
Courtney: Ah, really?
Scott : It was the sex tour.
Nick B: No, we were advertising and he was the least worst of the bunch.
Courtney : So has the current line up affected what you sound like at the moment do you think? Like if it was just you two (Scott and Nick B) and three totally different guys--
Matt: They've got some talented musicians playing with them now.
Courtney : Do they? Really?
Matt: And me.
Courtney : Did you view the Scene Stealer single as a kind of transistioney type thing from "Teen Sensations"?
Nick B: Landmark, landmark in the Australian music business. That song, the recording of that song will always be remembered.
Courtney : Why is that?
Nick B: Because it wasn't nominated for an ARIA award.
Scott : That was significant, 'cause that's when we signed to Warners.
Courtney : So how come you didn't put it on the album?
Scott : 'Cause we didn't really like it that much.
Courtney : Really.
Scott: And it didn't fit on the album, as an album.
Courtney : Is there any significance to Untitled II (bside on Hug Me Tighter single) being recorded 3 days after Christmas?
Scott: Would that not have been we were still pissed? (laughter)
Nick B: Well maybe we were kind of...
Scott: Pissed?
Matt: There you go, that was the answer you were looking for!
Nick B: We got back home after Christmas, 'cause I know Scott went to Venezuela...
Scott: Yes, yes...sex tour...
Nick B: And I went to Dandenong...
Matt: For a sex tour of Dandenong! (Scott squeals while eveyone else laughs)
Nick B: I think it was a celebration of what we'd caught. (At this point Scott yells something unintelligible for no apparent reason)
Matt: It was an untitled disease.
Scott : Its actually after non-specific uritis.
Nick M: Isn't it urethritis?
Scott : Yeah, whatever, the thing with all the pus! mmm...
Courtney : So why do you think your success with singles hasn't been as great as your success with the album?
Nick B: I think when you're tossing up a notion between no sales and five, you can pretty much say after a number of turns, you suck.
Courtney : Because the week "Love Walked In" was released, you were number 9 on the Alternative charts.
Scott : We sold heaps that week.
Courtney : You're being sold in places like Target and K Mart.
Nick M: Are we in the half price bin?
Courtney : No you're in the "Alternative" section
Scott: That question, I mean you can answer it. We were never going to go to number 1 with Hug Me Tighter, but we just liked the song.
Matt: Maybe number 2...
Courtney : I don't know why you didn't though, because it seems like such a commercially viable song.
Scott: 'Cause it wasn't that commercially viable when you're listening to Fox or Triple M or TTFM. (Melbourne's commercial radio stations).
Matt: It doesn't go "woo hoo!" it goes "doo doo!". If we had've gone "woo hoo!" then it would've been a hit.
Courtney : Oh well, that's a bit sad. Do you know you are actually being played on Fox at the moment?
Scott: I think they play it every now and then.
Matt: Just to tease us. "Could be a hit this one."
Scott: "Yep -- oh, nup."
Matt: "Could be a hit -- nah!"
l-r: Nick B, Craig, Scott & Matt Earthmen    Susan Fitzgerald 1997
Courtney: The video of Whoever's Been Using This Bed is pretty original. What was the premise for it?
Scott: Couples and people.
Courtney: How people interpret couples maybe?
Scott: That was about it.
Courtney: And cameras.
Scott: Cameras...it wasn't really about cameras.
Nick B: We needed a reason for having all the couples standing around and cameras seemed like a good idea to connect the couples with us.
Courtney: So are you actually photographers, or was that all very very pretend?
Scott: Most of us have studied photography at one stage.
Courtney: Yeah, I liked your haircuts then too. Nice haircuts.
Matt: That means she doesn't like your haircuts now! (laughter)
Scott: We had professional modelling! We were actually made to look good. And we tried really fucking hard to look bad.
Matt: Remember we said we had to go out to give out fliers for extras for our video. We had to, we had to be out!
Scott: We had to drink with other people to coax them into being in our video. It didn't really work, 'cause you (Matt) got really drunk.
Matt: And I left the fliers under a table so we got pissed! (laughter)
Courtney: The follow up to Whoever's...., Coloured In, considering your previous releases, is a bit of a change of pace for the general public
Scott: Mmm, in sales too!
Courtney: So why did you actually pick that one to release?
Scott: Liked it.
Courtney: You just liked it?
Susan: Didn't Triple J like play something else? (another track off the "Love Walked In" album called First Single). How do you feel about that?
Matt: Well they're supporting our other single....only its not a single.
Courtney: Yeah, a small problem!
Nick M: I'm happy they think the album's strong enough they think they can take another song off it.
Susan: Would you consider doing the b-sides [remixes of the song] live?
Nick B, Scott and Matt in perfect unison: The remixes?
Susan: Yeah, doing that sort of thing live.
Scott: Nah.
Courtney: Never?
Nick B: Nah, we don't want to do anything that might make us successful.
Scott: No, we just wanted to do some remixes 'cause some of us like a lot of dance music.
Courtney: Were you happy with them?
Scott: Um, I was really happy with one of them and the other two I thought were alright.
Courtney: The ten minute one?
Scott: Not the ten minute one. Which one was the one I liked?
Matt: It was the Nick Batterham solo one wasn't it?
Nick B: The Batterham Stays Dead mix.
Susan: Who wrote the new songs you're playing live now?
Scott: Our secret sixth member! Its like the Stones with their ugly keyboardist, we've got the just plain ugly guy to do that stuff. (laughter)
Matt: Rob wrote them! Rob's our tour manager.
Scott: I mean, the sixth guy, he does nothing. He's just the writer, the writer guy.
Matt: I want to be the writer guy!
Courtney: So will the songwriting aspect widen to include the new guys?
Scott: If they ever get off their fucking arses.
Matt: Don't think so!
Nick B: Depends if they decide to write anything and if they write it in a hurry or not.
Courtney: You (Matt) wrote a song didn't you?
Matt: Yes, I wrote a song when I was 12 and it was called "I Love Me". But it didn't get anywhere, so I gave up the idea of songwriting.
Scott: We've got millions of songs sitting around.
Matt: Oh yeah yeah yeah.
Courtney: You don't play them live or anything?
Nick B: Not yet, no.
Scott: We don't play three quarters of our songs that are waiting to be--
Susan: Is it because we're not ready for them?
Scott: No we actually just haven't had any time.
Nick M: We haven't had a rehearsal in months.
Matt: Yeah, back to the docks I say.
Courtney: So what are your plans for overseas?
Matt: We're doing a Diana tribute album. We're going to tour that around and see how we go with that.
Scott: No its going to be for that Speed movie!
Matt: Yeah, Speed 3 - Rush Hour!
Nick B: You're disgusting. I personally feel very bad about the Diana tragedy.
Scott: I don't know, its sad but....Overseas, I don't know. The album's being released in Japan and America but I don't know. Don't know when, don't know when.
Courtney: I heard you guys signed (in the US) with the guy that originally signed Madonna. Must be a good omen.
Scott: Borderline is our first US release.
Nick B: I wanted to do Cherish.
Scott: I liked Borderline.
Courtney: So what are you guys listening to at the moment besides The Mavis's and Moler?
Craig : The Wiggles.
Scott: (Singing) Hot potato, hot potato!
Matt: Cold spaghetti, cold spaghetti!...see, we are!
Scott: Mmm, I don't know.
Matt: Fini Scad, Automatic, Diana Ah Naid, all the Triple J faves, y'know! (snickering) We go off!
Craig : Actually, our favourite band at the moment is the J Babies. The J Babies from Perth are our favourite band.
Courtney: The J Babies from Perth?
Craig : All they play is the Hottest 100.
Scott (to Matt): You've been listening to....Left Banke.
Matt: Left Banke, there's something serious. I've also been listening to the Radiohead album 'cause I like that.
Courtney: I love that.
Scott: I really think that is so shit. I think its one big drone of no song. (Scott screams for some reason) Sounds like fucking Queen.
Matt: I don't care. I like Queen and I like U2 and I like Radiohead and I like....yeah.
Scott: You've (Nick Batterham) been listening to your fucking library. Nick's got his library.
Craig : I think we've been listening to a lot of the Verve actually.
Matt: Too much of the Verve I reckon.
Scott: I love the Verve.
Matt: Nuh, I hate the Verve.
Craig : Scott's put it on tape for the van.
Nick M: Good video...
Courtney: So whose parents go to gigs?
Craig : I'm the only parent that comes to gigs.
Matt: My parents have been a couple of times.
Nick M: My parents have never seen me play a show in my life. (pretends to cry)
Scott: They don't like you!
Nick M: That's true.
Matt: Mind you, your parents haven't spoken to you in twenty years! (laughter)
Courtney: So have you found that if your mum and dad come they'll sort of sit there going, "Oh that's our son up there," type of thing or...
Craig : Nah, Matt's dad (Ernie Sigley, media *personality*) just gets on the radio the next day and says, "When are you getting paid son?"
Matt: Nah, last time they came, mum said, "Your eyes are looking a bit red Matt, what've you been up to?" (a lot of laughing)
Scott: He said "crying"!
Matt: Yeah, "Crying mum. I'm sad, don't shit me!"
Courtney: Apart from today do you ever get requests for your earlier stuff?
Scott: Yeah.
Courtney: Do you ever do it?
Scott: No.
Matt: Well, we did today but that's the only time it's ever happened.
Craig : Nick did it today.
Scott: Craig and Nick (Murray) don't know any of them... Matt seems to remember all of them!
Matt: Yeah I remember all of them for some odd reason!
Courtney: How come you're still playing Figure 8?
Matt: It's to shut all those people up who keep asking for old songs.
Craig : It's to keep Nick (Murray) and myself on our toes, 'cause its really...
Scott: I mean, that will go out, it will disappear.
Matt: Those are the three hardest chords you could possibly play (in Figure 8).
Courtney: What are they?
Matt: Can't tell you, they're too hard!
Scott: Yeah, that will go. Scene Stealer's gone.
Nick B: Pretty much by the time we play shows again a lot of the songs we play now will be gone.
Scott: Bye bye!
Craig : Pretty much all of them.
Nick B: I can't imagine us playing very many songs... (laughter)
Scott: Stripping the set down!
Craig : We're doing a Radiohead, one long song. (Scott shrieks again....loudly.)
Nick B: As it is we've kind of got it down, as far as the album's concerned, we were really only playing songs that have been singles already.
Craig : I think we'll be playing Whoever's.... for the next twenty years.
Scott: I'm not playing that song ever fucking again.
Courtney: Are you sick to death of it?
Scott: Nuh. (giggles)
Matt: Its like playing a brand new song every time you play it!
l-r: Scott, Matt & Nick M     Susan Fitzgerald 1997
Courtney: So when's the next album coming out?
Matt: Tomorrow. We just taped that show!
Scott: Live album! (snickering)
Courtney: So will the next album follow the same style as "Love Walked In"?
Scott: Be a bit different.
Courtney: In how, in what way?
Scott: Mmm, don't know.
Nick B: Very more TTFM. And we're not going to make the same "doo doo" "woo woo" mistake we did on the last one.
Matt: We need some "woo woo's" on every single song.
Courtney: You're not bitter about that at all?
Matt: Nah! Just twisted.
Scott: Um, it'll be just a bit different. I don't know how.
Susan: Have you started to think about it?
Scott: Yeah, we've thought about it a lot. We've got about a million songs.
Susan: Any more singles from this album?
Scott: Possibly one.
Courtney: Which one, do you know?
Matt: Not telling! (laughing) The secret track at the end of it-oh, didn't you get the CD with the secret track? (more laughing)
Courtney: So overall, what would be the most enjoyable part of being in this band?
Nick B: Western Australia.
Matt: Sex tours.
Courtney: Sex tours and being at the peak of your career?
Craig : Driving from Sydney to Melbourne.
Matt: Ethel Hall. (the tiny hall they just played in.)
Courtney: So are you happy with where you are, as a group now?
Craig : No way! University tour?
Matt: Nuh. Stadium tour maybe. Let's do that!
Nick B: There are things about where the group's at that are really good. I think the band, in all its thoughts and communications is at the best point its been at. So as far as the interaction and knowing what we're doing, um, and enjoying what we're doing it's great, but I can't speak for everyone. Everyone's been in different bands before. But it's definitely not the international jet-set stars at the moment....

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